"Talks a good game about freedom when out of power, but once he’s in – bam! Everyone's enslaved in the human-flourishing mines."

OT77: Opium Thread

This is the bi-weekly visible open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit, the SSC Discord server, or the Cafe Chesscourt forum.

1. Comments of the week: Mazirian on Ashkenazi demographic expansion, Majuscule on history of the Jews in Hungary, and B (at Information Processing) on the role of assimilation. And from the subreddit, an experimental philosophy question and very clever response.

2. Thanks to an SSC reader who will remain unnamed until I remember to ask him if he wants his real name on the Internet, we have an Esperanto copy of Laszlo Polgar’s Bring Up Genius (as mentioned here) and an offer to translate it into English for $1200. If you want to help pay, donate at the GoFundMe page [EDIT: Campaign is complete, thank you!] Legal issues permitting, I’ll try to post the translation here once I have it.

3. A new ad on the sidebar, Meditation For Atheists, an audio course by an SSC reader interested in non-religious meditation practices. If you’re interested in advertising on SSC, you can find more information here.

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1,065 Responses to OT77: Opium Thread

  1. Nabil ad Dajjal says:

    Three cheers for the anon who found a copy of that book! I’d be glad to have an English copy someday.

    That said, would it be possible to get a “proof of life” for the book? A scan of the front matter for example. I would be willing to donate $50 towards translation but only if I’m sure there actually is a copy there in the first place.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      It’s an online scanned copy. I’ve seen the scan and can vouch for its existence. The person involved has also translated the first few pages as proof that he can actually translate Esperanto.

      I’m wary of linking the online scan directly here because again I don’t know what the legal issues are and I’d rather not call them down at this early stage. Maybe I am being paranoid here, I don’t know.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        Yeah, I specified the front matter because putting the whole scan up seems like a mistake. I don’t know anything about the law here but from a practical standpoint it seems like it would reduce donations.

        And thanks for vouching for it. For the record I was never worried that you were going to steal the GoFundMe donations so much as that it would be unrecoverable if the other people involved didn’t hold up their ends.

        Just donated.

      • Aylok says:

        Has anyone tried contacting Laszlo Polgar about this? His daughter Susan’s contact details are here and maybe he has an unpublished English translation in his file drawer or something: http://www.susanpolgar.com/contact-info/

        Also, $1,200 seems perhaps a bit on the high side. I have literally zero knowledge of Esperanto, but with Google Translate and a background in
        Romance languages for unusual words I find I can read Esperanto wikipedia articles without difficulty – it seems to be a matter of copypasting the scanned text into google translate and correcting one of two sentences per paragraph, and it’s not a particularly long book.

        • Viliam says:

          Could you perhaps also translate one chapter as a proof of concept?

          • Aylok says:

            Here’s my translation of p.15, done through google translate and smoothed out with wiktionary:

            About the pedagogical consequences of my theory, I am certain, but the general philosophical connections, lying behind my experiment, even I myself have not definitively decided. With respect to this, to use the words of Wallon, I say only: I can not give a definitive solution, I can only indicate a direction.
            In the current discussions between philosophy and genetics, neither point of view has yet won. In this situation, I would like to get along with my program of action.

            I plead for the socieco, and can say that on this hypothesis a coherent system is constructible, on which the pedagogues can put faithfully their base, and by proceeding with it, as my experiment proves, may achieve success.

            Q: It is an important recognition of your successful experiment that you are invited to become a protector of the next congress of the European Society for Talent in 1990 in Budapest. Also in this year’s congress of the Society in Zurich was felt the undecided discussion of which you had spoken. For example, Sebastian Coe, a two-time Olympic champion said society is responsible for talent. The world famous physicist Manfred von Ardenne thought that talent is not merit, but a gift. The president of the World Council of Talent, Harry Passow said: the talent is a possibility – a child is talented, if we, the educators, call him such.

            – At the development of my system, I come out with two facts. On the one hand from the fact that the contemporary genetics yet knows very little about the human; what it knows, this applies primarily to diseases. On the other hand the fact that healthy people have such an elastic brain-system and flexible genetic-structure that their performance substantially is developable with pedagogical resources. The road in front of the pedagogue in this regard is free, the child is developable, and from the point of view of the intellect is formable in any way. (The outstanding Hungarian writer Illyés Gyula noted in his diary about the widely known English phlegm: “The English are English because of their schools, even their famous phlegm they have there not out of the mother’s uterus.”)

            The American psychologist J. B. Watson stressed confidently several decades ago: if he would receive tens of healthy babies, he could bring them up to be whatever was asked from him: scientists or criminals. Following the same concept, the Soviet psychologist V. Turchenko says: “It is rather not to say that geniuses are rarely born, say, rather, that geniuses are rarely educated.” I myself tend to the psychological-pedagogical optimism of Watson, Turchenko, the Japanese psychologist Sunigi Suzuki and the Austrian psychiatrist A. Adler; precisely so I began to develop and explore the capabilities of my three daughters. The basis for this I already worked on before their birth. I must mention moreover, that there exist so-called talent-forming, genius-educating schools in Japan, lsrael, the GDR, USA, etc. (e.g. the Superbaby Farm of Glenn Doman in Philadelphia).

          • Error says:

            Points to Aylok for actually doing so when challenged.

          • Deiseach says:

            there exist so-called talent-forming, genius-educating schools in Japan, lsrael, the GDR, USA, etc. (e.g. the Superbaby Farm of Glenn Doman in Philadelphia).

            This immediately raises the question: has anyone any information about the success or otherwise of this Philadelphia experiment?

            (Sorry, couldn’t resist. But it is a seriously meant question – if this Doman guy was working on raising baby geniuses, what happened?)

            Oh, boy. The Wikipedia article on “The Institutes for The Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP), founded in 1955 by Glenn Doman and Carl Delacato” raises several flashing red lights; some of the therapy seems conventional enough but other parts? Seeing as how parents are taught the method and then left to carry it out at home, advice such as this could go wrong:

            IAHP recommends dietary restrictions, including reduced fluid intake for brain-injured children in an attempt to prevent “the possible overaccumulation of cerebrospinal fluid”. Alongside fluid restriction, IAHP recommends a diet low in salt, sweets, and other “thirst provoking” foods.

            Well-intentioned parents sticking rigidly to “the method” and under-hydrating their child, even perhaps to dangerous levels, is not going to help with “brain injury” (and they seemingly include Down’s syndrome as ‘brain injury’).

            Really, the more I read about “any kid can be raised to be a genius”, the more and more sketchy the whole concept seems.

          • ksvanhorn says:

            Deisach, here’s one data point on Doman’s method. My parents bought Doman’s book “How to Teach Your Baby to Read” and started teaching me to read at 3. Forgive the bragging, but… I ended up being accepted to Princeton (turned it down) and was offered the highest academic scholarship they had at both the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. I started college at age 17 and completed two B.S. degrees by the age of 19 — one in physics and the other in computer science. Later on I got a Ph.D. in computer science.

            I don’t come from a family full of doctors, scientists, lawyers, etc. My father was an electrical engineer, but my grandparents were farmers and blue-collar workers. Did being taught using Doman’s method make a difference? Seems possible.

          • rlms says:

            I think SSC probably has a lot of people who learnt to read at approximately 3 without any particular method other than the presence of books.

          • Small comment about the translation:

            “socieco” appears untranslated in your comment. It refers to the abstract quality of society — society-ness would be an okay transliteration if you consider that to be English. To contextualize this, a better translation would be “nurture”, to play off “nature” in the common English idiom about this tension.

            But otherwise, yeah, Esperanto is super approachable, and there are some automatic translation programs that even break down words it can’t translate into the morphemes for you (I recall an old school text editor that could do this but suspect something better would exist by now).

          • I read what may well have been the “teach your baby to read” book and tried it with my daughter when she was one or so. No damage was done, and we determined that her bear puppet could read, provided the flash card said “honey,” but she didn’t learn to read until she was five, taught by her mother assisted by Dr. Seuss.

            Her younger brother, who was two, watched the process and taught himself.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            I think SSC probably has a lot of people who learnt to read at approximately 3 without any particular method other than the presence of books.

            yeah, but what if he wasn’t fated to be one of those people without the method

            personally I hear I read earlier than that. Couldn’t tell you for sure though, for obvious reasons.

        • ksvanhorn says:

          $1200 does not seem at all high to me. It is 24 hours of work — three working days — at $50 per hour. Do you think it can be translated in three days?

      • Bugmaster says:

        I was ready to donate, but then I’d read the disclaimer about the possibly “very illegal” status of the project. Seeing as gofundme requires me to log in with my real name, I’m a bit wary of clicking that “donate” button, since I don’t want my name to be associated with “very illegal” things. I’d still love to donate, but I need to see some legal reassurances first.

      • Aylok says:

        I see that the gofundme page has reached its goal. I really think it would be a good idea to get in touch with Laszlo Polgar through Susan to find out who holds the foreign rights to the book – even if the original edition was self-published the English rights could have ended up owned by some company that bought the rights even if they didn’t ever publish it. I would hate it if Scott ended up trapped in a BOTTOMLESS PIT OF LAWSUIT SUFFERING for the rest of his life.

        • Aapje says:

          BOTTOMLESS PIT OF LAWSUIT SUFFERING

          Come on, guys. Get a little perspective.

          It is extremely unlikely that if the owners take offense, it will go further than a cease and desist.

  2. J says:

    Typo thread: the “very clever response” link is the same as the link to the problem setup.

  3. James Miller says:

    I requested an Interlibrary Loan English language copy of Bring Up Genius on 5/30. The title on my request got changed to “You may bring op a genius, bring up a happy person!” and the request now says “KOB only holder” and “Awaiting Unfilled Processing”. I don’t know what KOB means.

    • BeefSnakStikR says:

      A quick Google Search finds that “Awaiting Unfilled Processing” means that libraries have the book but don’t want to, or can’t, send it to your library.

      I’m guessing that KOB is a special collection or format that’s particular to the library that has the book. My school library for example has a CR collection for “course reserves” that aren’t lent out except to students enrolled in that course.

      Perhaps the K stands for Kindle, and it’s an ebook?

      You could probably dig around WorldCat and find the library that has the book. You may have better luck digging through a state-wide catalogue. If I’m inferring correctly from your Soundcloud profile, that would be Massachussets, so try https://commonwealthcatalog.org/MVC/

      If all else fails, your school library can probably look into it more deeply.

    • John Schilling says:

      A quick Google Search finds that “Awaiting Unfilled Processing” means that libraries that have the book but don’t want to, or can’t, send it to your library.

      Or don’t actually have the book but do have an erroneous catalog entry for the book (which explains why they can’t send it to your library).

      • BeefSnakStikR says:

        That too.

        One more speculation: if the book is in Hungarian, it could be translated into a language that isn’t English. The KOB may stand for (for example) “Korean”, in which case they would have an English translation of the Korean title proper for cataloguing purposes

        Which would also explain the telephone-game translation: “You may bring op a genius, bring up a happy person!” .

    • youzicha says:

      KOB is the worldcat symbol for Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Netherlands, which is the only library which is listed as a holder of the book in worldcat.

      That said, per the discussion in the previous thread it seems likely that this is an error in their catalog and they don’t actually have it (because there never existed an English translation). If so that would explain why they’re not sending it to you (“awaiting unfilled processing”).

      • herbert herberson says:

        Heh, and how confused must they be to suddenly get a spat of requests from around the entire world for a book that was previously so neglected that they didn’t even know they didn’t even have it.

    • James Miller says:

      Update, I got the following:
      We have exhausted all possible sources.

      No library is able to supply this item. ONLY 1 COPY IN THE NETHERLANDS AND IT IS NON-CIRC.

      • John Schilling says:

        “CIRC” being a non-standard Dutch spelling for “Existent”, I suspect.

        • Mark Dominus says:

          “Non-circ” is an abbreviation for “non-circulating”, which means they don’t lend it out.

      • markk116 says:

        I did some digging on the website of the KOB, and it turns out it exists, and it a photocopy of the one held by Geurt Gijssen. Unfortunately, they don’t lend it out, and the only way to access it is to come and look at it in the library. http://prntscr.com/fg9b1w

        I’m thinking about going there Thursday if I can find the time.

        • Aapje says:

          Don’t you have to do a request first? They might not have it ready for you otherwise.

          BTW. I’ve found Geurt Gijssen on Facebook and have just messaged him. His last post on Facebook was from a year ago, so I’m not holding my breath. But I’ll let people know if he responds.

          • markk116 says:

            I just made an account and paid the membership fee. And I emailed the librarian, who thinks that the language of the document is english. Either today or tomorrow I’ll go there and scan it. The librarian said that the document was a scan of a book so the quality mightn’t be the best. I just hope that gofundme stuff is easily refundable.

  4. thepenforests says:

    Looking for some random reading recommendations.

    First, I love reading “behind the scenes”-type pieces. Things that take you into a world you’re only superficially familiar with, and show you all the nitty-gritty details of how that world really works. You know, “how movies really get made”, “how skyscrapers are actually built”, stuff like that. Example that randomly comes to mind is this series of posts talking about how Crash Bandicoot for the PSX came to be made. I’m sure there are many others I’ve read that I can’t think of right now. Basically I’m looking for anything that will give me a peek into the inner workings of an industry/subculture/organization that I’m peripherally aware of, but don’t actually know that much about.

    Second, I love reading about plausible depictions of present-day military scenarios. You know, “what would happen if the US actually went to war with China/Russia/North Korea” or whatever. These could either be fiction or non-fiction, as long as they’re well-informed/realistic (let’s say to the level that typifies SSC military discussion). I guess I’d prefer if they involved the US (it’s not a nationalistic thing, I swear – I’m Canadian!), and the larger-scale the conflict the better.

    • J Milne says:

      Here’s a nice article looking at the history of the video game studio Lionhead — http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2016-05-12-lionhead-the-inside-story

      And as sort of a mix of the two categories you describe, you might enjoy Watergate by Thomas Mallon.

    • Björn says:

      I really like this article about pickpocket-magician Apollo Robbins: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/01/07/a-pickpockets-tale

    • J says:

      Steven Levy’s “Crypto” fits that bill. You might also like “Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down”, which gives a sort of layperson’s introduction to mechanical engineering without all the math, and with lots of fascinating insights into things like feathers, greek stone columns and blood vessels. There’s also “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman” and “QED” with insights into the Manhattan project and quantum physics, “The Man Who Loved Only Numbers” about the famous mathematician Erdos, and “Turing’s Cathedral” about the early days of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies.

    • BeefSnakStikR says:

      I read the autobiography of the VeggieTales creator years ago (Me Myself And Bob, by Phil Vischer). It’s as much about the early CGI adoption-aspect as it is about the religious/moral aspect, IIRC.

      I can’t remember much about it, but it was interesting, especially since we usually only hear about the trials and tribulations of big-name companies, like Pixar.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Possibly of interest: How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand.

      It’s about how buildings get modified rather than what they’re like when they’re new, and Brand said it was the first book on the subject.

      The reason I’m marking this as tentative is that it may be more about general principals than what you have in mind.

      • Neutrino says:

        Buildings seem to learn in various ways. Observe an occupied building and then an unoccupied building. Any town may have examples. The latter type seems to age rapidly with peeling paint and other signs. Is there some human impact on a structure that delays inevitable decline and need of maintenance?

        • random832 says:

          Occupied buildings will tend to have a more stable interior temperature, since they will be heated in the winter and perhaps air-conditioned in the summer.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Is there some human impact on a structure that delays inevitable decline and need of maintenance?

          Mostly maintenance itself, especially (in my area) keeping vegetation under control and fixing leaks. Partly selection effects; a building that becomes unoccupied was quite likely poorly maintained before that, so by the time it becomes unoccupied it’s already well into decline.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Yes, maintenance, but also renovation.

            I think the replies I’ve gotten is evidence that people should read the book.

            For example, it talks about buildings that are loved so much that a family makes the building a high priority for generations, and buildings that aren’t cared about (like warehouses in cities) which are revised casually.

    • carvenvisage says:

      random

      so it doesn’t have to be in one of those categories?

      the northern caves, gene wolfe’s book of the new sun, roger zelazny’s chronicles of amber, The ball and the cross by G.K. chesterton.

      _

      • carvenvisage says:

        N.b. the first of those was what I happened to have read recently, it comes less highly recommended than the others.

      • Nornagest says:

        I resisted Amber for a long time for dumb reasons that boil down to not liking the sound of it, then earlier this year I finally broke down and ended up going through all ten books in about two weeks. (They’re short books, though.)

        Solid fantasy. Not at all derivative, which is always a concern for me when I’m looking at something from the Seventies.

    • Anatoly says:

      I recently reread Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower and came away even more convinced that it’s one of the finest, most sublime novels I’ve ever read, a true masterpiece of 20th century literature. Set in the 1790s, this short novel masquerades as a fictionalized biography of Georg von Hardenberg, a German poet-philosopher who died at the age of 28 and is better known under the pseudonym Novalis. It has nothing in common with either of the genres you specified, so I hope that makes it sufficiently random. I cannot recommend it enough.

    • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

      “what would happen if the US actually went to war with China/Russia/North Korea”

      Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War,
      by P. W. Singer and August Cole

      well-informed/realistic — check.
      (let’s say to the level that typifies SSC military discussion). — check.
      I guess I’d prefer if they involved the US — check.
      and the larger-scale the conflict the better. — US vs. China, including space as theater — check.

      EDIT: storyline ist fictional, I guess you could tell 🙂 , technology is real.

    • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

      Not war, but deep in the behind-the-scenes category:
      Future Crimes: Inside The Digital Underground and the Battle For Our Connected World
      by Marc Goodman

      EDIT: not fictional.

    • dodrian says:

      I recently read Argo by Tony Mendez, a retired CIA officer. It’s really interesting behind-the-scenes stuff and lots of technical details for how the CIA worked to rescue defectors, and specifically Mendez’s role rescuing six Americans trapped in Iran at the time of the embassy hostage crisis. Until you realise that the man’s job for many years was to create convincing lies, at which point he becomes the very definition of an unreliable narrator (I choose to believe it’s mostly accurate though!).

      Gene Kranz’s Failure is not an Option gives an inside view into life at Mission Control for manned space flight up until the end of Apollo. I knew quite a bit about NASA history, but this still had plenty of gems and technical details I hadn’t heard. Kranz’s boss Christopher Kraft wrote his memoirs, Flight, which gives more info about the organizational side of setting up mission control, and the internal NASA politics involved.

      • CatCube says:

        For the Apollo program, NASA has an official history of the construction of Kennedy Space Center: https://history.nasa.gov/SP-4204/contents.html

        It was interesting to learn about all of the decisions that had to be made while working around the politics, and how many of them turned out to be in error. For example, Launch Complex 39 was initially designed around the assumption of 50 launches per year, and once they realized that wasn’t going to happen it was too late to change without missing the end-of-the-decade timeline. This is why they use the vertical assembly method and roll the rocket out to the pad. This method is only financially viable above something like 12 launches per year; there turned out to be 15 launches total. There was a GAO investigation into the program before the first Saturn V ever launched.

    • yossarian says:

      I highly recommend Ignition!: An informal history of liquid rocket propellants for a “behind the scenes” look at some parts of rocket science. A nice scientific read that doesn’t require a deeply scientific background, and it’s really humorously written, too – I don’t remember any other book on the topic that had me literally rolling on the floor laughing that many times.

    • qwints says:

      I really enjoyed Twinkie, Deconstructed. I was worried when I was given it that it was going to be one of those “OMG CHEMICALS ARE IN UR FOOD” type screeds, but it’s a really well researched look at where all of the ingredients in Twinkies come from, which also means where the ingredients in most processed foods come from. It gets into why particular ingredients are so important, the impressive achievements of 20th century chemical engineering and the weirdly varying levels of security in the food supply system.

      This interview gives a good sense of the author’s perspective:

      Petrovic: Were you looking to make a social statement with this book?

      Ettlinger: Oh, no. Not at all. I was just curious.

      Petrovic: You were just curious?

      Ettlinger: I’m a curious guy. … I’m not a scientist, but it’s definitely a book in the popular science tradition. It’s knowledge, which you can use any way you want.

      I want to make it very clear that my book strikes a generally neutral tone because the task was to explain where this stuff comes from and how it’s made. I can’t imagine that people who are sophisticated about food would fail to be, maybe not appalled, but certainly it would reinforce their decision to eat whole and local foods. And I certainly speak out in favor of that all the time, but I felt I couldn’t speak to that throughout the book without boring the reader with the same message over and over. So, in my mind, I let the reader decide based on the facts that I give them if they want to eat food processed with toxic chemicals made in factories that are a mile long. I don’t, but … this book isn’t about me, it’s about, “What is this stuff? Where does it come from?” It’s the pure unadulterated pleasure of knowing where your food comes from so you can make an informed choice.

    • SamChevre says:

      Maybe not what you had in mind, but Dale Cramer’s Levi’s Will is a great, fair look at the Amish world as a subculture. I grew up Amish-Mennonite, and left; it feels accurate and fair.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      Neil Postman’s How to Watch TV News for a look at how news direction works.

    • Bearing directly on your first criteria and not unrelated to your second, The Sleepwalkers is a pretty good account on how WWI ended up happening with lots of details on how diplomacy actually functioned and what people were thinking as the embarked on that disaster. Plus it contains the only example I’m aware of of a secret conspiracy actually trying to direct the fate of nations and succeeding (but not how they wanted to).

    • Shion Arita says:

      Here’s an interesting lecture on how anime/animation is produced, and how its styles have evolved over time, and a little analysis of the styles of some prominent animators.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLNHSrJoqFM&list=PLuPNSyztkHPqV-M4ePSmN_2BLhONu0WLg

  5. ThirteenthLetter says:

    This whole “keep calm and carry on” thing is getting a little threadbare.

    I posit that the modern understanding of the slogan is wrong, because it’s missing an unspoken second half. The whole thing should be, “keep calm and carry on while we take care of the problem.” Yes, you should go about your daily life despite the unusual situation of the Luftwaffe bombing your city, but you should feel comfortable doing that because meanwhile the government is fighting a war with Germany trying to stop it. You are not expected to accept that bombs will be dropping on London for the rest of time; it’s supposed to be a temporary situation that the government is clearly attempting to put an end to, so normal life can resume.

    The equivalent of that today would be, “keep calm and carry on while the government does X to make the problem of frequent Islamist terror attacks stop.” Where X, even if a very general concept, is still public, and well-known, and proudly acknowledged, and has a clear progression to an end-state where the goal is accomplished. What is X today? And for that matter, can you even imagine anyone in authority proposing an X of any kind?

    (George W. Bush, for all his faults, did propose an X: if there was democracy in the Muslim world, then the conditions which lead to terror would end. Turns out he was hilariously, disastrously wrong, of course, but at least he proposed something. So since that didn’t work, what’s plan B?)

    • Fahundo says:

      What is X today?

      I thought it was the surveillance state

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Putting aside arguments about its positives and negatives, the surveillance state is the equivalent of having the RAF patrolling over London trying to shoot down as many incoming German bombers as possible. It’s performing a vital service and saving many lives, but it’s not going to end the crisis. X is something that will end the crisis.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        That’s a terrible plan, since the surveillance state keeps failing to.catch terrorists before they strike. It’s as if the state imports Muslims to justify surveillance powers that it instead uses to make the natives more “legible”. Hooray for high modernism?

        • quaelegit says:

          Do they mostly fail? We (or at least I) only hear about the failures, so no idea what the success rate is.

    • Anatoly says:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bombings_during_the_Northern_Ireland_Troubles_and_peace_process

      What was the X that should have been “public and proudly acknowledged and have a clear progression to an end-state” with respect to IRA terrorism in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 or 1993?

      (In 1994, the first ceasefire happened, so some sort of solution was achieved, and then, in 1998 the problem went away almost completely)

      Do you think it’s fair to say that for 23 years between 1971 and 1994 the British public lived in fear comparable with “the unusual situation of the Luftwaffe bombing your city”? Is it the case that an entire generation grew up shell-shocked?

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        X doesn’t have to be war. Perhaps X is a complicated peace process that is slowly, grindingly producing results, and we just need to keep a stiff upper lip until Good Friday and then it’ll all be over. I’m fine with that (assuming we aren’t, you know, giving up our right to free expression or religious liberty or anything like that to get the agreement) but I’m not aware of the existence of any such process. Instead, what we usually get is folks smugly telling us that furniture causes more deaths than Islamic terrorism and so we should just live with it, which is an obvious non-starter argument to anyone who’s ever met a human being.

        Do you think it’s fair to say that for 23 years between 1971 and 1994 the British public lived in fear comparable with “the unusual situation of the Luftwaffe bombing your city”? Is it the case that an entire generation grew up shell-shocked?

        Probably not! But I would imagine they would have preferred to not have any IRA bombings at all, given the option.

        • Fahundo says:

          If you’re willing to accept literally any X over literally any time period, then I’m pretty confident there is an X at work out there.

        • Matt M says:

          X doesn’t have to be war. Perhaps X is a complicated peace process that is slowly, grindingly producing results, and we just need to keep a stiff upper lip until Good Friday and then it’ll all be over.

          X, in the case of Islamic terrorism, is “we elect people who will implement all the policies necessary to remove the root causes of terrorism” with many people believing the root causes are things like western chauvinism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, capitalism, freedom of speech, etc.

          This is exactly what people mean who insist Trump’s rhetoric makes us less safe, and exactly why Obama got a Nobel peace prize simply for being elected. There is a basic, but rarely explicitly stated assumption that terrorism only exists because of right-wing policies, and that if we simply elect people who are sufficiently progressive, the terrorists will lose all motivation to attack us, and go away.

          • X, in the case of Islamic terrorism, is “we elect people who will implement all the policies necessary to remove the root causes of terrorism” with many people believing the root causes are things like western chauvinism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, capitalism, freedom of speech, etc.

            Etc includes bombing the ME less. Is that insanely stupid?

          • Matt M says:

            So long as we continue to watch countries who bomb the ME less suffer greater amounts and ferocity of terror attacks than we do, yeah, probably.

            If foreign policy is the primary motivator for attacks, why are the UK and France seemingly more popular targets (recently at least) than the US?

          • albatross11 says:

            Matt M:

            That line of argument seems wrong to me for two more-or-less independent reasons:

            a. If military action leads to more terrorism, probably a lot of the mechanism for that is creating unstable conditions in which terrorist groups can grow. Iraq and Libya look like current examples. That mechanism doesn’t necessarily direct the added terrorism at the countries that did the military action.

            b. Terrorist groups are weak (that’s why they use terror attacks instead of missiles or tanks or something), and their ability to strike within a given country is limited by stuff they have little control over. Even if ISIS would love to strike at the US, they may not have anyone inside the US who will carry out the strike, whereas they’ve got a bunch of guys in Brussels ready to go. Again, that redirects the consequences toward countries that may or may not have had much to do with the military action originally.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Intentionally directed vengeful blowback is only one of the reasons to stop bombing the Middle East, and I wouldn’t put it at the top of the list. Far more important is the fact that it destabilizes countries, which both promotes migration and damages their secular civil society (which, in turn, allows methods of societal organization which are more resilient to flourish).

          • Matt M says:

            albatross,

            That’s all well and good, and I don’t really disagree with any of it. But it seems you are conceding that a large part of the terrorist calculus involves “How easy is it to attack Target X?”

            Therefore, a country and do a whole lot to stop the amount of terrorism it suffers by making itself a “harder target,” if you will, compared to other countries. So why don’t the UK and France get to work on doing that? (Well, the UK already has started with Brexit, we’ll see how much more of this the French are willing to put up with)

          • John Schilling says:

            Far more important is the fact that [bombing the Middle East] destabilizes countries, which both promotes migration and damages their secular civil society

            AFIK, the only Middle-Eastern countries the United States has bombed recently are ones that were fully engaged in civil wars at the time we started the bombing. I grant you that destabilizing countries promotes migration and damages civil society, but I can’t help but see motivated reasoning in your ascribing the cause of e.g. Syrian instability, to US bombing.

          • herbert herberson says:

            The word “recently” is doing a lot of work there. It’s not even a little hard to build a causal chain from the Iraq invasion to the rise of ISIS.

          • John Schilling says:

            It’s not even a little hard to build a causal chain from the Iraq invasion to the rise of ISIS.

            The Iraq invasion that happened fourteen years ago, or the one that happened twenty-one years ago?

            We are told that if the United States stops bombing the Middle East, Islamic terrorism will stop, and that it is “insanely stupid” to imagine otherwise. If there’s a footnote to that claim that says the terrorism will only stop some 14-21 years after we stop the bombing, that seems like it ought to be mentioned somewhere.

            The kind of bombing the US is presently doing, the conspicuously not-invading kind which is the only kind it could actually stop doing, seems to be working quite well, and it didn’t take decades to take effect. So I’m going to be rather skeptical of any plan that involves stopping the one thing that seems to work fairly well, waiting twenty years, and seeing if that miraculously works better still.

          • Brad says:

            Is Pakistan Central Asia rather than the Middle East?

          • Enkidum says:

            “The Iraq invasion that happened fourteen years ago, or the one that happened twenty-one years ago?”

            I think both, but primarily the second? I mean, are you disputing that either was a major cause of ISIS’ rise? Or, perhaps more usefully, are you disputing that ISIS is anything other than a fairly logical extension of trends that had been going on in the ME for at least 50 years, and which were greatly exacerbated by US foreign policy, particularly the occupation of Iraq and the continued support for the madmen in Saudi?

            I agree that targeted bombings as are currently going on might actually be useful. But I also think that the Iraq occupation was possibly the greatest foreign policy mistake in the history of the American republic, its repercussions are only beginning to be felt, and they could quite literally lead to the destruction of the Western world as we know it.

          • LHN says:

            @Brad: Pakistan is usually characterized as South Asia rather than Central Asia.

          • bintchaos says:

            Its more complex than that.
            Terrorism is antifragile in that it exploits disaster to gain payoff.
            Terrorism is emergent in the right environment.
            So Trump rhetoric helps islamic extremists to burn the middle ground and force “moderates” into their camp (Boyer, Religion Explained). So do bombing and droning create recruits.
            Its widely accepted that OIF caused/allowed the rise of IS. The destabilizing of the old equilibrium system of authoritarian tyrants that cracked down hard on Islamic insurgents was disrupted. I spoke of Obama’s [now failed i think] disengagement plan. But we are just beginning to see the implications of Trumps lead from the gut strategy.
            This is probably a direct result of “Trump’s rhetoric” in Riyadh, Saud is emboldened by Trump to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood(apparently now lumped in with terrorists), Shia, Houthis, and dissident Arab intellectuals and critics.
            Doha split
            The problem is this a knife edge– if the arab populations realize that this is all being done to benefit Israel, there will be a revolt. The idea Kushner is selling is what benefits Israel will benefit you too– this sales pitch wont work for elected representatives because Arab populations loathe Israel with the fire of a thousand suns. I don’t know what will happen. Israel is demographically unsustainable in its current instantiation.
            I think it winds up as a Division 30 situation, where US makes a deal with the leadership but the mujahideen soldiers revolt.
            mw KSA is emboldened to behead more, stone more, clamp down on dissidents more, imprison kill Shia and Houthis and continue to use the Quran for its constitution.
            In the same time frame there are massive weaponized migrations of Quran-carrying refugees flowing into any country they can reach.
            This is a very unstable situation.
            Probably the most damage Trump can do with his “gut feels” is to periodic equilibrium in ME and Africa.
            The Founders built pretty well and even FOXnews is experiencing a sea change– they still want to make money after the incoming blue wave.
            All the “war on terror” has done is increase terrorism.
            This is how antifragile emergent systems work in Complex Adaptive Systems Theory.

          • Furslid says:

            @ John Schilling

            The connection I draw between the second invasion of Iraq and ISIS is as follows. Sadam Hussein was a repressive bastard. He was keeping the elements that made up ISIS repressed and without political power. When the US invaded and tried to set up democracy, it gave power to the people. They used it to fund ISIS. The central government didn’t have the same ability to repress or will to repress as the Baath party did.

          • John Schilling says:

            The connection I draw between the second invasion of Iraq and ISIS is as follows. Sadam Hussein was a repressive bastard.

            The problem I have with that is, Saddam Hussein was pretty much the exact same sort of repressive bastard as Hafez Assad, right down to party and ideology. Only difference is, Hussein was the repressive bastard who invaded a US ally and so got himself an “axis of evil” membership and ultimately an invasion in return.

            So, we know from experience what happens when the US invades and topples a Ba’athist variety repressive bastard. Occupation, insurgency, power vacuum, and ultimately ISIS moves in to take advantage.

            We also know from experience what happens when the US doesn’t invade and topple a Ba’athist variety repressive bastard. More repression, until Arab Spring, then protests, demonstrations, riots, escalating to civil war and power vacuum, and ultimately ISIS moves in to take advantage.

            The second “IS” in “ISIS”, seem to stand for “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.

          • bintchaos says:

            this is exactly true…except

            So, we know from experience what happens when the US invades and topples a Ba’athist variety repressive bastard. Occupation, insurgency, power vacuum, and ultimately ISIS moves in to take advantage.

            We also know from experience what happens when the US doesn’t invade and topple a Ba’athist variety repressive bastard. More repression, until Arab Spring, then protests, demonstrations, riots, escalating to civil war and power vacuum, and ultimately ISIS moves in to take advantage.

            ISIS is just another emergent form of islamic insurgency. Unless the initial conditions change… a different, more virulent and powerful adaptive complex system will emerge when IS is eradicated.
            The problem is its not possible to terra-form culture and change the consensual rule of law of a population.
            Like JMS says–

            An evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) is a strategy which, if adopted by a population in a given environment, cannot be invaded by any alternative strategy that is initially rare.


            I can do the math for this if anyone wants to see it.

          • albatross11 says:

            John Schilling:

            I’m sure there are people somewhere making the claim that we could stop terrorism by stopping bombing, but that seems like the weakman argument. A stronger version[1] is that *at this point right now*, our military interventions are probably doing more harm than good, though a combination of destabilizing countries (Libya[2], Iraq, maybe Yemen) and blowback/creating the next generation of people who have some historical reason to hate us.

            That doesn’t mean we’d be better off in a world where the US never bombed or invaded anyone, and it doesn’t mean that we’d have zero terrorism if we stopped bombing/invading long enough. It just means that at the margin, more bombings or more invasions probably don’t make things any better.

            [1] I believe this to be true, but I don’t feel like I know enough about the subject to have a lot of confidence in it. I’m more confident in the claim that the payoff to us of the more aggressive side of our foreign policy is likely negative.

            [2] The big problem with Libya, to my mind, is that it was anti-deterrence–we rewarded Gadaffi’s moves to get onto good terms with us (apparently in response to our actions in Iraq) by turning on him as soon as it was politically convenient. IMO, everyone in power in Iran and Syria paid very close attention to that.

          • John Schilling says:

            I’m sure there are people somewhere making the claim that we could stop terrorism by stopping bombing, but that seems like the weakman argument.

            You haven’t noticed e.g. TheAncientGeek making that claim right here? Kind of needs to be addressed here.

            A stronger version is that *at this point right now*, our military interventions are probably doing more harm than good, though a combination of destabilizing countries (Libya, Iraq, maybe Yemen) and blowback/creating the next generation of people who have some historical reason to hate us.

            Aside from Libya, which I agree was a bad move and for similar reasons to yours, American bombing campaigns don’t destabilize countries. Quite the opposite. We are very carefully and selectively targeting groups which not only plan terrorist attacks against us but who wage civil war against their own governments. Countries like Syria, Iraq, and Yemen are being bombed by the United States, and they are not stable, but you’ve got cause and effect backwards there.

            As for people having historical cause to hate us, that’s a sunk cost. Again, Al Qaeda – back when it was a group of primarily Saudi citizens – claimed to hate us because we had defended Saudi Arabia from invasion and conquest by its enemies. If they’ll hate us for that, they’ll hate us for anything. There might have been things we could have done differently twenty years ago, but there is now no realistic plan that doesn’t have every disaffected Arab for the next twenty years hating the United States out of habit.

            It just means that at the margin, more bombings or more invasions probably don’t make things any better.

            Where did “more invasions” come from?

            More bombings, the way they are being done now, do make things better. The break up the organizational and logistical structure that allows disaffected Arabs who hate us to conduct coordinated terrorist campaigns, and they break up the social structure that makes it edgy and cool to hang out with the terrorists. Individual disaffected hateful Arabs who hate us occasionally driving cars into crowds, is much better than that plus organized transnational terror campaigns.

            The plan where we let the disaffected and hateful Arabs spend the next twenty years conducting organized transnational terror campaigns rather than breaking them up at the source, on the theory that in twenty years they won’t hate us any more and will stop doing that, is so politically implausible as to not be worth considering.

          • albatross11 says:

            John Schilling:

            I’m thinking of our aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East, which has been going on for a very long time. I’m not just talking about the assassinations by drone-fired missiles. If I look overall at, say, the Obama administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East, it doesn’t look like all that great in terms of outcomes. The Bush adminisration’s foreign policy looks worse, but it’s hard to see what’s happened to Libya and Yemen and think “yeah, that’s going well.”

            You seem very confident that the current drone assassinations are good policy and are working well. I’m pretty sure you’re better informed about this stuff than I am, so can you explain why you think so? It’s not obvious to me that it’s all that successful in, say, Afghanistan.

            The way it looks to me, the net value of our drone assassinations turns on whether we’re doing more good by messing up the organizations and killing people who’d otherwise attack us, or whether we’re doing more harm by making enemies (blowing up members of my family will pretty reliably make me your enemy for life), or by having other bad effects like destabilizing countries or undermining the local government’s legitimacy. I’m not sure how to make a good estimate of the relative sizes of those two effects.

            Somewhere in there, we should also be thinking about moral costs. Killing bystanders with drone assassinations isn’t nearly as bad as bombing a whole city, but it’s still something we ought not to do without having a really good reason.

          • Furslid says:

            @John Schilling.

            Don’t forget that the US was initially friendly towards the Arab spring. There was a bit of covert support, criticism of repressive measures, and optimistic statements. The US signaled that it would support certain insurgent movements. The US did provide some support against repression. Would the Arab Spring have happened without outside support and encouragement?

          • AnonYEmous says:

            Etc includes bombing the ME less. Is that insanely stupid?

            Like herbert says, it is a very good idea for many reasons. But while it is a partial reason for terrorism, it is very annoying to see it used as the main reason to deflect from the real problem.

            by the way fun fact: you may have noticed a rather large amount of terrorist attacks recently, and wondered why. I certainly did, so I did some googling and…it’s Ramadan. 18 days to go, everybody!

          • If you take the view that non invasive bombing is something that should be continue, and also take the view that it’s something that promotes terrorism, then you are in a position where you are tacitly accepting domestic terrorism as collateral damage.

            the real problem

            Which is?

          • Jiro says:

            Most people would not consider something as collateral damage if the chain of causation is interrupted by someone with volition.

        • Hamiltonicity says:

          The steelman version of the argument is that furniture kills more people than Islamic terrorism and therefore we should not be willing to accept an X which involves sacrificing significant parts of our liberties or values. It’s not an argument against all X, just against a few specific X’s.

        • Murphy says:

          Look, I live in London, I sometimes shop in borough market.

          I’m still vastly more likely to die from falling down the stairs. There’s a certain level of background risk that I’m just willing to accept in life as a reasonably rational human being. I’m not willing to become an unthinking panicky animal just because the national newspapers devote hundreds of pages per death by terrorism and approximately nothing per stair-fall death.

          My micromorts per year barely change at all due to terrorism.

          Keep calm and carry on because your fears of terrorists are primarily an artifact of the way news is reported.

          Your post further up appears to be quite literally completely in favor of “something must be done, this is something hence it must be done” as a general concept.

          The UK is involved in a number of conflicts, those conflicts tend to involve asymetric warfare, in times past it would have been called guerilla warfare but that’s fallen out of fashion. As a result there’s occasionally retaliation against the UK. Again due to the same kind of dynamic that means you don’t hear about stairs-deaths you see hundreds of times more reporting of every UK death vs reporting on people killed by stray RAF bombs so people get into this weird headspace where they genuinely seem to believe it doesn’t happen or that it just doesn’t matter because, I’m honestly not quite sure but, it’s as if they don’t even consider that members of the out-group might be as disturbed by deaths of members of their own ingroups as we are ourselves about deaths of members of our own ingroups. (Some kind of massive empathy failure.)

          People in the UK probably would have preferred no IRA bombing at all but it wasn’t just a simple matter of IRA members being evil and doing evil for the sake of maximizing evil. There were lots of Catholics in northern Ireland who would have preferred to not be treated as 2nd class citizens but it took IRA bombings to get attention and to get the other side to come to the table and actually sort out the issues. There were approximately zero newspaper pages per teenager getting their teeth kicked in by the RUC vs lots of newspaper pagers per terrorist event in london. Again, similar basic empathy failure.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            because your fears of terrorists are primarily an artifact of the way news is reported.

            A better way to think about it is that fear of terrorism is a result of the fact that terrorist attacks are specifically designed to terrorize people. That’s why it’s called terrorism.

            An good analogy is lynchings of black people in the Jim Crow South. The total number of lynchings over 50 years was very very small compared to the total population and deaths from other causes. However, lynchings — killing people in a splashy spectacular fashion — were specifically designed to terrorize people which is why the problem of lynching deserved public attention way out of proportion to the total number of deaths.

            The fact is that everyone knows perfectly well that the “body count argument” is bogus, it’s just a tired chestnut raised by people who want to virtue-signal by whitewashing terrorism.

            People who trot out the body count argument inevitably get all wound up if the police shoot a small number of black people in the ghetto or if the IDF fails to do a perfect job in avoiding the human shields used by Hamas.

          • Fahundo says:

            People who trot out the body count argument inevitably get all wound up if the police shoot a small number of black people in the ghetto

            I think this is fair analogy to make when you’re confronted with someone whose solution to the problem of the police shooting black people is along the lines of “expel all cops from the country” or, as we’ve seen upthread, “publicly execute all cops who we suspect might have shot a black person at some point.”

            I’m not saying they don’t exist; I am saying I don’t think any are present.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I think this is fair analogy to make when you’re confronted with someone whose solution to the problem of the police shooting black people is along the lines of “expel all cops from the country”

            Is it a fair analogy when responding to people who argue that people should not get all wound up about terrorist incidents like the recent ones in the UK?

          • Fahundo says:

            What happened in London was a tragedy, and tragedies tend to wind people up. But this thread wasn’t started by someone simply being wound up; it was started by someone demanding a solution right now.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            But this thread wasn’t started by someone simply being wound up; it was started by someone demanding a solution right now

            The current iteration of this crap has been going on for more than fifteen years. I think people have been remarkably patient, almost patient to a fault even, and maybe it’s time to start demanding results a little more loudly.

          • Anonymous says:

            What happened in London was a tragedy, and tragedies tend to wind people up.

            For what it’s worth, it’s fast becoming a statistic.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            What happened in London was a tragedy, and tragedies tend to wind people up. But this thread wasn’t started by someone simply being wound up; it was started by someone demanding a solution right now.

            Umm, does that mean “yes” or “no”? I’m just trying to figure out your position here. You seem to be implying that the lynching analogy is not “fair” in response to Murphy’s post.

          • Fahundo says:

            Yes in response to someone hypothetically telling you that you aren’t allowed to feel wound up, no in response to that particular post?

          • AnonYEmous says:

            I think this is fair analogy to make when you’re confronted with someone whose solution to the problem of the police shooting black people is along the lines of “expel all cops from the country” or, as we’ve seen upthread, “publicly execute all cops who we suspect might have shot a black person at some point.”

            I can find you BLM activists who want to remove all police from their positions, if that’s what you’re looking for.

            The complaint of us waging war on them is just a canard at this point. France isn’t doing that much to ISIS, or even just Muslims generally, that I know of, and they’re catching plenty of heat. So too is Sweden. At best, you can point to them being disenfranchised minorities, except most disenfranchised minorities don’t do terrorism either.

            But allow me to tackle this from a different angle: most accidents are those which we live with because we do not have any good solutions – especially, because they aren’t caused purposely by anyone. There are no documentaries called “the bad drivers next door”, but there was the jihadist next door. Currently, many people seem to think terrorism is easier to solve than most think. Maybe they’re wrong. But at best, they’re wrong because European countries already made the mistake of letting too many Muslims in…which is a real fucker of a counter-argument, isn’t it?

          • Nornagest says:

            France isn’t doing that much to ISIS, or even just Muslims generally, that I know of, and they’re catching plenty of heat.

            It’s complicated. France isn’t involved in the Syria situation other than the odd airstrike as part of CJTF-OIR, but they’re taking a leading role in the Northern Mali conflict, on the government side. Opposition forces there include both Tuareg nationalists and a grab-bag of Islamists such as Boko Haram (which claims allegiance to ISIS but probably isn’t part of its main org chart) and a couple of different Al-Qaeda branches.

            France has a long and ongoing history of military intervention in North Africa and the Sahel; it’s just that it doesn’t make it into Anglosphere news much.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nornagest

            Yeah, but these reasons are just justifications. Russia killed a lot more Muslims in Chechnya & in worse ways and yet the Chechens are the only ones committing terrorist attacks against Russia. The rest of the jihad community don’t care. For them, the West is the big Satan.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I admit this is derailing the discussion of Islamic theology/culture as a security problem… But what’s up with the term big/great Satan? Is that Iblis, and if so, who are the other Satans? I was under the impression that Islam doesnt believe in fallen angels.

          • Salem says:

            Shaytan is not quite the same as Iblis (i.e. the Devil). Anyone on the devil’s side is a Shaytan. The other Shayatoun are his evil little minions.

          • Aapje says:

            I admit to not being Muslim and to using Christian/Jewish terminology which IMO should be clear to SSC, who, according to the last survey, almost all have a Christian/Jewish background.

          • John Schilling says:

            But what’s up with the term big/great Satan? Is that Iblis, and if so, who are the other Satans?

            In the specific context of Islamist geopolitics, the Ayatollah Khomeni and I believe several other like-minded Islamic leaders consistently referred to the United States as the “Great Satan” and Israel as the “Little Satan” a generation or so back. This may be an outdated usage; a quick google doesn’t come up with much I would trust on whether the current generation of Islamists still use the terminology.

          • rlms says:

            Is there a medium Satan?

          • John Schilling says:

            Google suggests that the Soviet Union was occasionally referred to as the Lesser (but not Little) Satan.

          • Aapje says:

            I want my own little Satan, in a little box, with pink satin to keep him from being scratched.

          • Randy M says:

            Some ditz would probably just come along and let him out.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Yes in response to someone hypothetically telling you that you aren’t allowed to feel wound up, no in response to that particular post?

            Well what is different about the post I was responding to?

          • John Schilling says:

            Some ditz would probably just come along and let him out.

            I’m told she isn’t big on opening any more.

        • albatross11 says:

          Some problems can be solved once and for all, others have to be continually kept under control, and still others just have to be endured with measures taken to minimize their damage.

          An example of the first category is a war–we can fight a war and eventually win it and then the war ends and we can go back to normal life.

          An example of the second category is crime–we probably won’t ever be completely rid of crime, but we can keep pushing back on it, putting new criminals in jail till they age out of violent crime, keeping cops patrolling the streets.

          An example of the third category is aging–we can’t cure it and we can’t really treat it or push back on it, but we can try to minimize the damage/suffering with medicine and adaptations (elevators, walkers, self-driving cars, etc.)

          I suspect Islamic terrorism is in either the second or third category. There’s not some war we can win that will end it. We can keep trying to push back on it with policing, military action, surveillance, propaganda, etc., but it’s not clear how much good most of those things actually do. (I suspect our military actions w.r.t. the war on terror have made things worse, for example, and the surveillance state seems to have less to do with preventing terrorism than with concentrating power.)

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I have to wonder how old you are. It wasn’t always like this.

          • skef says:

            It wasn’t always like this.

            Why specifically is this relevant? The U.S. hasn’t always been as polarized as it is now. Does that imply that there’s some solution to polarization — do X and things get less polarized? Would would be doing X?
            Suppose lead exposure does cause anti-social behavior. You can work to prevent future exposure, but there’s no wand to reverse the situation for those already exposed.

            Assume, for the sake of argument, that Muslims are conveniently in an out-group that can be walked all over without much changing the lives of the corresponding in-group. That doesn’t mean there’s a way of doing that that would decrease terrorist acts, beyond what traditional policing accomplishes.

          • albatross11 says:

            The question is, can we actually *solve* the problem of Islamic terrorism in a way where the cost isn’t larger than the benefit? I don’t see how. So that leaves figuring out how to limit the damage and push back on it as much as possible, rather like we do with crime. And while ISIS and Al Qaida weren’t always in the news, terrorism has been going on for a very long time. Terrorism isn’t an ideology or a religion, it’s a *tactic*. Probably it’s a tactic that works better in the current media environment than in the media environment of 30 years ago. This wikipedia page lists a huge number of terrorist attacks in the US over the years. This isn’t something that Muslim extremists invented in 2001!

          • onyomi says:

            The question is, can we actually *solve* the problem of Islamic terrorism in a way where the cost isn’t larger than the benefit?
            I don’t see how.

            Costs and benefits to whom?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Assume, for the sake of argument, that Muslims are conveniently in an out-group that can be walked all over without much changing the lives of the corresponding in-group. That doesn’t mean there’s a way of doing that that would decrease terrorist acts, beyond what traditional policing accomplishes.

            You could, if it comes to it, expel all Muslims from your country and forbid any from immigrating in future. That would solve the problem of Islamic terrorism pretty well.

          • albatross11 says:

            Mr X:

            Sure, but there’s a pretty high cost–once we do that to Muslims, we establish a precedent that we might round up and deport members of other religions. Indeed, we’d have to pass laws and build up bureaucracies and policies for doing so, and those would stick around. That also means establishing the precedent that we’ll deport US citizens, even people who were born here and have never been outside the US, even military veterans and government employees and people with security clearances, for being the wrong religion. Before you hand the state a new powerful tool for solving the burning issue of the year, you should think about how that tool will be being used a few years down the road.

          • I’m pretty old, and it has always been like this…Islamic terrorism started up just as the IRA died down

          • Mark says:

            You can massively reduce crime, to the extent that it isn’t really an issue for people.

            We can cure ageing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28340339

            Growth mindset, people.

          • Anonymous says:

            Sure, but there’s a pretty high cost–once we do that to Muslims, we establish a precedent that we might round up and deport members of other religions. Indeed, we’d have to pass laws and build up bureaucracies and policies for doing so, and those would stick around. That also means establishing the precedent that we’ll deport US citizens, even people who were born here and have never been outside the US, even military veterans and government employees and people with security clearances, for being the wrong religion. Before you hand the state a new powerful tool for solving the burning issue of the year, you should think about how that tool will be being used a few years down the road.

            That – a Test Act and revival of exile as a punishment – doesn’t sound all that bad compared to the alternative of tolerating undesirable immigration with all its deleterious effects (crime, wage suppression, terrorism, loss of trust, etc).

          • skef says:

            You could, if it comes to it, expel all Muslims from your country and forbid any from immigrating in future. That would solve the problem of Islamic terrorism pretty well.

            And this poses no problem for the now-global supply chains the economy depends on, because no other country will have any substantial reaction to massive deportations? Or maybe you’re thinking that a shift to economic protectionism is a net benefit, and that the shift away from a market for things the U.S. manages to make money on now will be quick and painless?

            (Or, what, if the trade policies shift just invade whatever countries necessary to shift it back?)

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Sure, but there’s a pretty high cost–once we do that to Muslims, we establish a precedent that we might round up and deport members of other religions. Indeed, we’d have to pass laws and build up bureaucracies and policies for doing so, and those would stick around. That also means establishing the precedent that we’ll deport US citizens, even people who were born here and have never been outside the US, even military veterans and government employees and people with security clearances, for being the wrong religion. Before you hand the state a new powerful tool for solving the burning issue of the year, you should think about how that tool will be being used a few years down the road.

            There’s nothing new about mass deportations; they’ve been happening literally for millennia. And in very few cases do they seem to have had the kind of bad precedent effect you talk about; mostly they seem to have remained one-offs used to deal with a particular perceived problem.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            And this poses no problem for the now-global supply chains the economy depends on, because no other country will have any substantial reaction to massive deportations?

            You’re assuming that the rest of the world is dead against the idea. Given the spread of Islamic terrorism in the West in recent years, I suspect that, if the situation is bad enough for one country to be seriously considering mass deportations, it will be bad enough for several countries to be seriously considering mass deportations.

          • skef says:

            No, I’m assuming that there will be a) many countries very, very angry with the U.S. if they do this, and b) some countries won’t do it, and will be happy to step in as trade partners.

            You, on the other hand, are assuming is that the U.S. can do this with no consequences because everyone else magically will too.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Who said anything about the US? In case you haven’t noticed, there are other countries in the world besides America.

            You, on the other hand, are assuming is that the U.S. can do this with no consequences because everyone else magically will too.

            Lots of countries in Europe are currently having issues with Islamic terrorism. If the situation in, say, France gets bad enough for a politically significant bloc of the French public to support expelling all Muslims, it’s likely that the situation in Germany, Belgium, the UK, and probably other places as well will be similarly bad. It’s got nothing to do with magic, and everything to do with these countries all having similar problems.

          • Anonymous says:

            By the time the US gets anywhere close to considering this as a solution, I expect Europe to be engaged in open civil war. It’s tragicomic that once the Soviet Union died, the US is continuing its legacy of spreading the revolution against human nature.

          • rlms says:

            @The original Mr. X
            “There’s nothing new about mass deportations; they’ve been happening literally for millennia”
            Examples? Specifically, examples with a low death toll.

          • You could, if it comes to it, expel all Muslims from your country and forbid any from immigrating in future. That would solve the problem of Islamic terrorism pretty well.

            I don’t think you could. because whether someone is a Muslim isn’t directly observable.

            You could expel most Muslims and keep most Muslims from immigrating. But how hard would it be for a serious terrorist organization to provide a few terrorists with fake non-Muslim ID, send them into the country, and have them kill some people?

          • Aapje says:

            @rlms

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deportation

            It’s impossible to say whether the earlier deportations, like in the Achaemenid Empire, had a low death toll, but the more modern deportations of British criminals to Australia seemed to had a relatively low death count.

          • rlms says:

            @Aapje
            Deporting a small number of people who are already in custody and have little sympathy from the general population to a distant foreign territory under your control is pretty different from what is being proposed. If the British empire comes back I’d be fine with deporting a few tens of thousands of people convicted of terrorist offences. Deporting the entire Muslim population to some ill-defined location is not the same at all.

            I don’t think it’s very sensible to bring up the Achaemenid empire. Hardly any alt.SSC commenters would support deporting the (alt.)Boeotians of today, right? 🙂

          • Aapje says:

            @rlms

            Muslim nations don’t seem to be very willing to take refugees in general, so it may be hard to find a willing recipient.

            On the other hand, many Western Muslims have dual citizenship, so presumably you could deport them, as it would be little different than if Russia told American-Russians to sod off. They would then show their American passport to the US and be allowed in.

            I also think it very likely that the remainder would be taken in by Canada, if the US is persistent enough.

            It seems to me that the more solid objection is not that mass deportations can definitely not work, but rather that attempting to do it will get you a civil war in the US.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Hardly any alt.SSC commenters would support deporting the (alt.)Boeotians of today, right? 🙂

            Mayyybe you should take a break from your ML project. The abyss doesn’t blink 🙂

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Examples? Specifically, examples with a low death toll.

            Dunno about examples with a low death toll, but the earliest people I can think of to go in for deportations were the Assyrians around about 600-800 BC. More recently you had things like the periodic expulsions of Jews from various European countries, the expulsion of Muslims from Spain, and more recently, the population transfers after the post-WW2 redrawing of Europe’s borders.

          • rlms says:

            @Aapje
            “Muslim nations don’t seem to be very willing to take refugees in general, so it may be hard to find a willing recipient.”
            Are you referencing the idea that Saudi Arabia has taken in fewer Syrian refugees than Germany? That may be true, but it’s more indicative of the fact that Germany has taken in a disproportionately large number. Most Syrian refugees who have moved countries have gone to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

            I agree that the most probable failure mode of a mass deportation would be civil war or something similar.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I agree that the most probable failure mode of a mass deportation would be civil war or something similar.

            I think the only circumstances in which mass deportation would be considered would be ones which might fairly be described as a civil war anyway, rendering this point somewhat moot.

          • Anonymous says:

            I don’t think you could. because whether someone is a Muslim isn’t directly observable.

            Maybe not, but you can profile everyone who looks middle-eastern, rather than everyone in general. I’m pretty sure that with the amount of invigilation, privacy invasion and paperwork modern states do, you could determine whether or not someone is/was Muslim with certainty that criminal justice would be envious of. And it would certainly be necessary to treat the question of Muslimness as the British royal succession laws treat Catholicism, to avoid easy deception.

            You could expel most Muslims and keep most Muslims from immigrating. But how hard would it be for a serious terrorist organization to provide a few terrorists with fake non-Muslim ID, send them into the country, and have them kill some people?

            How many terrorist acts in the name of Islam were carried out by western converts?

          • rlms says:

            @Anonymous
            If you count Russia as Western, you have this guy. This guy technically fits, but did his (non-Islamist) terrorism before converting (edit: just noticed you said “in the name of Islam”. It seems plausible that some of his co-conspirators were Islamists, and he did later advocate Islamism, but I don’t think he technically counts anymore). At least one of the guys who killed Lee Rigby was a convert. Others who attempted terrorist attacks but didn’t succeed include Roger Stockham, Andrew Ibrahim, Derrick Shareef, Bryant Neal Vinas and Jason Walters.

          • Anonymous says:

            >Pavel Kosolapov
            >Roger Stockham
            >Bryant Neal Vinas
            >Jason Walters

            Granted.

            >Carlos the Jackal

            Yeah, being a Marxist-Leninist makes him a potential terrorist in the first place.

            >Michael Olumide Adebolajo and Michael Oluwatobi Adebowale

            >Africans
            >western

            Suits me right for not specifying phenotype explicitly.

            >Andrew Ibrahim

            Half-western, but okay.

            >Derrick Shareef

            Doesn’t look particularly western to me, but I might be wrong.

            Thank you for these links. I didn’t realize that it was this bad. I’m henceforth updating towards Islam being more of a problem than I thought until now.

          • Anon. says:

            Sure, but there’s a pretty high cost–once we do that to Muslims, we establish a precedent that we might round up and deport members of other religions.

            How is that a quote? Precommitting to mass deportations should lower future terrorist activity. It’s a benefit!

          • Aapje says:

            @rlms

            To clarify, some Arab nations are willing to temporarily take in refugees, but they are very unwilling to grant permanent residency, which is what you would need to deport people permanently.

            The most likely reason is what I’ve talked about earlier, that these nations don’t have a culture of respect for minority rights, nor strong individualism, but a might makes right culture and a focus on ethnic/religious groups, which makes demographic changes extremely threatening.

          • One of the ironies here is that one tranche of British Muslims were previously expelled From Uganda by Idi Amin.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        Operation Banner and related operations that established the ground conditions that made those ceasefires possible.

      • Furslid says:

        I don’t think the IRA bombings are the same. Their goal was not mass civilian deaths. It was to kill key political figures, kill soldiers, gain publicity, and inflict economic costs. The modern Islamic bombings have the primary goal of killing the general public. The IRA even had a habit of calling the police and news before detonating their bombs. They didn’t want the bad press.

        Not to defend the IRA.

        • Wander says:

          There’s a sense of morbid curiosity in me that wonders if the response would be different if it were politicians targeted in the next attack rather than the general public.

          • rlms says:

            The Westminster attack in March was pretty close to politicians, and there was no noticeable reaction.

          • Iain says:

            One of the few terrorist attacks in recent Canadian history occurred on Parliament Hill. It did lead to a new anti-terrorism bill, although I believe something along those lines was already in the works.

            That said, the attacker in that case was a mentally ill lone wolf, so it’s unlikely his choice of targets was part of any larger strategy.

          • Wander says:

            rlms, I’m thinking of something like the Manchester attack but in parliament.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Progressives are being very opaque about what their plan for Muslims is. We know it requires no criticism of their beliefs… but then what? They all become secular, like Europeans became secular after intellectuals spent two centuries never criticizing Christianity?

      • JulieK says:

        Did the average European in the street become secular because he had carefully considered the critiques of Christianity, or because secularism seemed easier and more fun and was no longer stigmatized?

        • Nornagest says:

          It is not clear to me that secularism would have seemed cooler if that criticism hadn’t been there.

          Of course, we’re not actually talking about magically nulling criticism of Islam here, we’re talking about officially discouraging it in some way. And criticism of Christianity was officially discouraged for a lot of the time that intellectuals spent attacking it; blasphemy laws are still on the books in a number of European nations and Canada.

      • Yakimi says:

        Their plan appears to consist of retaining a violent, dysfunctional Janissary caste in perpetuity to employ themselves as activists, bureaucrats, community organizers, diversity consultants, quangos, etc. in parasitically funneling services and patronage in the name of alleviating the oppression of their imported clients. Those on the far left support importing a population of alienated lumpenproles in the faint hope that the revolutionary vanguard they’ve been seeking will arise from the detritus of the Global South (“a specter haunts the world and it is the specter of migration”), or if not, then at least to punish the native proletariat for betraying their world-historical role.

        • VivaLaPanda says:

          This is a pretty clear straw man.
          Generally the left wants Muslim nations to form stable nations that don’t commit genocide and have too much to lose to have terrorism on a large scale. Outside of that, don’t those nations have a right of self determination? I feel like saying that we shouldn’t accept the existence of Muslim nations doesn’t follow principles of the right at all. I mean, I think it would be better to have secular nations, but I also don’t advocate invading all countries we don’t like and occupying them until we can rewrite their culture.

          Regardless of what the plan actually is (or if it’s even meaningful to talk about the plan in this context), I’m pretty sure it isn’t a jobs program based on terrorism.

      • Anatoly says:

        > Progressives are being very opaque about what their plan for Muslims is.

        This is my new favorite example of Isolated Demands For Rigor, Political Edition.

        I don’t like X and I think Y is a problem they don’t appreciate enough -> “X are being very opaque about what their plan for Y is”. All the other factions have written out and published nicely detailed plans that solve all problems and provide for all contingencies. Why won’t those X stop being so damn opaque?

      • Whereas the plans of the right are stuff that’s terrible , like expel all muslims, or stuff thats happening already.

        • albatross11 says:

          It looks to me like the plans of the right involve restricting further Muslim immigration, and perhaps expelling people in the country illegally. That may be bad policy[1], but it’s not “expel all the Muslims.”

          [1] Making an explicit religious test for immigration seems like a terrible idea. On the other hand, making it really hard to immigrate to the US from countries with a lot of local terrorist activity seems pretty sensible.

          • Matt M says:

            On the other hand, making it really hard to immigrate to the US from countries with a lot of local terrorist activity seems pretty sensible.

            When Trump did exactly that (except with visiting rather than just immigration), everyone reported and reacted to it as a “Muslim ban” anyway.

          • John Schilling says:

            everyone reported and reacted to it as a “Muslim ban” anyway

            “Everyone” was just following Trump’s own lead on that. You can’t spend six months telling people you are going to lock out all the Muslims and not have people looking for the measures that will make up the promised “Muslim ban”.

          • Iain says:

            Everyone reported it as a Muslim ban because a) he had previously called it a Muslim ban, and b) it did not include any countries that had actually been the source of terrorist attacks in the US. See the Ninth Circuit decision (pdf):

            The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            He literally called it a muslim ban again today.

          • random832 says:

            He literally called it a muslim ban again today.

            Unless there’s some other statement I’ve missed, he called it a travel ban and everyone declared “gotcha” on his previous denials that it was a muslim ban.

          • Matt M says:

            Why do you care what he calls it?

            People say “Instead of banning based on religion, he should ban based on country of origin” and the law, as written, does exactly that. I guess you can say he picked the wrong countries (although my understanding is that the list comes from some executive agency and was originally created during the Obama administration) if you want, but still. It’s NOT a Muslim ban, no matter what he says it is.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            It’s not a law, it’s a (blocked) executive order. Presidents can’t create laws ex nihilo, as that is not a function of the executive branch of our government.

            I care about stuff Trump says because he’s a very powerful idiot, and his words matter a lot.

            “It’s NOT a Muslim ban, no matter what he says it is.”

            Mr. Bannon’s White House whiteboard disagrees.

          • Matt M says:

            You’re still playing pointless semantics games. The law/exec order/whatever, call it a goldfish if you want, I don’t care. It explicitly bans people from certain countries, NOT people of certain religious faiths. Ergo, it is exactly the sort of thing albatross is calling for.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            “You’re still playing pointless semantics games.”

            If you don’t see the difference between a law and an executive order, this entire thing might be above your pay grade, and you might need to brush up on basic civics.

            “It explicitly bans people from certain countries, NOT people of certain religious faiths.”

            You seem to be confused about the nature of discrimination. What you are saying is this:

            “Sure, Your Honor, my client may have denied the job to this black person from Alabama. But he didn’t deny the job to every black person currently alive. Therefore, there is really no discrimination here!”

            No, this is not how discrimination works. Discrimination does not require universal discrimination. Indeed if that were so, no behavior would be discriminatory at all.

            The vast majority of folks in the banned countries are Muslim. That’s sufficient. This is similar to how folks use race proxies to discriminate in bank loans, and hiring decisions, even though they are forbidden from using race directly. The country is a proxy for religion. This is all very very well covered ground in the legal literature on discrimination.

            In fact, on top of all that, there were explicit exemptions for Christians from those countries at one point. Bannon, the guy in charge of actual strategy, and his whiteboard, calls it a Muslim ban. Trump called a Muslim ban multiple times, and called for a complete shut down of Muslim immigration.

            So to summarize: (a) you are confused about basic civics, (b) you are confused what the legal definition of religious discrimination is, (c) but that’s ok, none of this matters to you, nor is it going to stop you from running interference for Trump’s band of merry men anyways. You are reaching for those stars!

          • The original Mr. X says:

            The vast majority of folks in the banned countries are Muslim. That’s sufficient. This is similar to how folks use race proxies to discriminate in bank loans, and hiring decisions, even though they are forbidden from using race directly. The country is a proxy for religion. This is all very very well covered ground in the legal literature on discrimination.

            That’s just ridiculous. If Trump’s real goal was to ban all Muslims, why focus only on a few countries which the Obama administration had identified as high-risk terror threats, leaving the vast majority of Islamic countries unaffected?

            In fact, on top of all that, there were explicit exemptions for Christians from those countries at one point.

            Statistically speaking, Middle Eastern Christians are much less likely to commit or support acts of terrorism than Middle Eastern Muslims are. So this fact is equally compatible with the theory that Trump is actually worried about terrorism.

          • Matt M says:

            I’m not “confused” about anything. I was replying to albatross, who said, and I quote:

            “[1] Making an explicit religious test for immigration seems like a terrible idea. On the other hand, making it really hard to immigrate to the US from countries with a lot of local terrorist activity seems pretty sensible.”

            This is exactly that Trump has attempted to do. Whether it comes from a law or an executive order is irrelevant. Whether it disproportionately affects Muslims is also irrelevant. What Trump and Bannon choose to label it in tweets or on whiteboards is irrelevant. It does exactly what he is suggesting should be done.

            Your ridiculous outraged response actually proves my point. You CAN’T simply “make things more difficult for people in countries with a lot of terrorist activity” without a bunch of hysterical leftists showing up and screaming about religious discrimination. Because hey, it just so happens (a complete and total coincidence I’m sure) that “countries with a lot of terrorist activity” are almost exclusively muslim-majority

          • John Schilling says:

            That’s just ridiculous. If Trump’s real goal was to ban all Muslims, why focus only on a few countries which the Obama administration had identified as high-risk terror threats, leaving the vast majority of Islamic countries unaffected?

            Presumably because even Trump isn’t stupid enough to believe that an explicit “No Muslims Allowed” executive order, created ex nihilo, would pass judicial scrutiny. In which case a viable strategy might well be to start with a watered-down version that will pass, then progressively increase the restrictions later when people aren’t paying such close attention and consider the matter to be done with.

            Proving that would be tricky. Absent psychic powers or remote brain scanners, you’d need the president to e.g. explicitly say in public that he was going to seek expedited review of a watered-down travel ban and then implement a much tougher version later.

          • You CAN’T simply “make things more difficult for people in countries with a lot of terrorist activity” without a bunch of hysterical leftists showing up and screaming about religious discrimination

            Maybe you could figure out the equivalence yourself this time.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            If you don’t see the difference between a law and an executive order, this entire thing might be above your pay grade, and you might need to brush up on basic civics.

            this is hot fire

            i say sarcastically

            Matt is clearly discussing the intent of the law. You took that as an opportunity to…what? Score some points? Flex on an ideological opponent? Whatever it is, please don’t do it again.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            “If Trump’s real goal was to ban all Muslims.”

            My point (and essentially the entire legal literature consensus on discrimination agrees with me) is that regardless of what Trump/Bannon’s real goals are, discrimination against a group does not require discrimination against all members of that group. What matters isn’t Trump’s goals, what matters is what the legal definition of discrimination against a religion is. This definition is, in fact, quite well established, and this definition is what’s going to come up if the Supreme Court hears the Muslim ban case.

            Think about a typical discrimination case — someone does not hire an applicant because they were black. This was done to that particular person, or perhaps a small group of people of African descent who applied for the job — not all Africans-descent people everywhere on Earth. This is still discrimination.

            The fact that Trump’s ban didn’t target all Muslims on Earth is completely legally irrelevant — and the judges who blocked his ban pointed this out when Trump’s lawyers brought this up.

            “Religious discrimination” isn’t a hysterical leftist concept, it’s a well-established legal concept with a ton of precedent cases. But, if you are operating on the level where you can’t tell the difference between a law and a hole in the ground, then probably reading precedent is, as I said, above your pay grade.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Disparate impact is not necessarily the standard for immigration law. It would be ridiculous if it were, too; any country with a different religious makeup than the US would be excluded from travel bans.

          • Controls Freak says:

            What matters isn’t Trump’s goals, what matters is what the legal definition of discrimination against a religion is.

            What matters isn’t “discrimination”. It’s “establishment” (maybe not even that in the immigration context). And as you say, “[I]t’s a well-established legal concept with a ton of precedent cases.”

            …this one is coming back after lucid analysis.

          • random832 says:

            Disparate impact is not necessarily the standard for immigration law. It would be ridiculous if it were, too; any country with a different religious makeup than the US would be excluded from travel bans.

            It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for it to be de facto impossible to make a travel ban without making a case for whatever the state equivalent of “business necessity” is.

          • CatCube says:

            @random832

            It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for it to be de facto impossible to make a travel ban without making a case for whatever the state equivalent of “business necessity” is.

            It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if it was de jure impossible to make a travel ban without making a case for whatever the state equivalent of “business necessity” is.

            The problem is that Congress hasn’t passed a law to that effect. Like many other things, courts are just making things up to implement their preferred policies. If you want to know why judicial nominations have become so vicious politically, it’s because they’ve become another political branch; if they’re going to create policy, everyone’s going to work to get their politicians in there.

          • random832 says:

            The problem is that Congress hasn’t passed a law to that effect.

            Er…

            8 U.S. Code § 1152 – Numerical limitations on individual foreign states
            (a) Per country level
            (1) Nondiscrimination
            (A) Except as specifically provided in paragraph (2) and in sections 1101(a)(27), 1151(b)(2)(A)(i), and 1153 of this title, no person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.

            This was passed, I’ve heard, in 1965. If anything, the president would be on firmer ground with an actual muslim ban, than one which plainly discriminates based on nationality, place of birth, and/or place of residence.

          • Salem says:

            No, CatCube is right and you’re wrong.

            It’s true that Congress passed a law stating that the President may not discriminate on nationality in terms of issuing visas. True but irrelevant, because it also explicitly said (in the very same act!) that the President may discriminate on nationality in terms of denying entry.

            Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

            But the 9th Circuit majority collapsed the distinction between entry and visa issuance because they’re politically opposed to the ban (as am I, full disclosure). Partisan hacks.

          • random832 says:

            It’s true that Congress passed a law stating that the President may not discriminate on nationality in terms of issuing visas. True but irrelevant, because it also explicitly said (in the very same act!) that the President may discriminate on nationality in terms of denying entry.

            It says “class of alien”, which isn’t defined anywhere.

            More to the point, the original travel ban revoked visas (and permanent residency!), and since an indefinite travel ban makes visas a dead letter, an effectively permanent ban clearly violates the spirit of the law.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The original travel ban, bad as it was, was not permanent nor did it revoke permanent residency (though it made it ineffective as a means for entering the US for the duration of the ban). The permanent part was a ban on certain refugees.

    • OldMugwump says:

      “While we take care of the problem” is a misinterpretation.

      The point is that carrying on as usual – showing up at work, growing food if you’re a farmer, making machines if you work in a factory, etc. – is necessary to the the war effort. To solving the larger problem (whatever it may be).

      If people panic, stay home, run away, don’t do their job, etc., then war materiel won’t get produced and the war will be lost. Or the ways and means needed to solve the larger problem won’t be available.

      By carrying on you are not simply waiting for the government (or somebody) to solve the problem, you are actively participating in solving it.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Right, but that assumes the existence of a war effort. British citizens who kept calm and carried on during the Blitz were ensuring that their bombers could attack Germany and, later, that D-Day could proceed, Germany be defeated, and peace restored. As we keep calm and carry on in the midst of terrorism, what is the long-term solution we are helping to come into being?

        • Matt M says:

          If anything, there’s a plausible argument to be had that the government is actually making the problem worse such that “carrying on” not only isn’t contributing to solving it, it’s contributing to exacerbating it.

          If you believe, for example, there’s a direct link between admitting refugees and terrorism, and if the stated goal of the government is to use tax dollars to bring in and support refugees, then your carrying on is more likely to make the problem worse, rather than better.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      The thing is, Islamic terrorism wasn’t a big problem before the 1980’s. So it is plausible that doing nothing will work.

      There are a lot of one-off events that got us to the current high-terrorism environment (Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, US invasion of Iraq, Israeli invasions of Palestine). If those were the only sources of terrorism we could just wait for their effects to wear off.

      Terrorism (or at least violent radicalism) is also supported by Saudi and Pakistani state policy. On the bright side, this makes resisting terrorism in Iran’s interest (see http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-security-iran-idUKKBN18V0NX), so maybe they will solve one of these problems for us.

      • aNeopuritan says:

        “UK, then US, supporting the worst people in the world” isn’t a one-off event. Iraq also had anti-terrorism interests; look what happened to it.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        Define “Wasn’t a Big Problem”? You had a plane going down or someone shooting up an airport every few months for most the 70s.

        And Iran’s Anti-Terrorist Interests?! Are you fucking -kidding- me? Iran is one of the biggest historical and current state-sponsor of terrorist attacks and maintains an elite section of its military whose day job is more or less to be the dark side version of the US Army Special Forces. I will certainly agree that in many cases the people they supply with training, explosives, intelligence, small arms, and logistical support are blowing up and attacking the Salafist and Sunni terrorist groups in addition to western targets, but they’re far from shy about attacking western civilian targets when it advances their ends.

        • Murphy says:

          If you’re not american the US Army Special Forces don’t exactly look like the light side of the equation since the US spent decades doing pretty much the same thing to destabilize countries. If you want a manual on how to make explosives and improvised weapons to fight a terrorist campaign against your government you can download the manual from the US governments own servers.

        • Tatu Ahponen says:

          >Define “Wasn’t a Big Problem”? You had a plane going down or someone shooting up an airport every few months for most the 70s.

          Was that due to Islamic terrorism? There was a lot of terrorism in the 70s, and some of it was committed by people who are Muslim, but their motivations did not had to do with jihadism but with nationalism or socialism.

          >I will certainly agree that in many cases the people they supply with training, explosives, intelligence, small arms, and logistical support are blowing up and attacking the Salafist and Sunni terrorist groups in addition to western targets, but they’re far from shy about attacking western civilian targets when it advances their ends.

          At least currently, Iran would seem to supply people who attack Salafist and Sunni terrorist group targets *far* more than those who attack western targets, so this is rather an interesting formulation.

        • herbert herberson says:

          If anyone thought that link was going to lead to evidence or even allegations that Iran is involved in the same sort of terrorism people in the non-Israeli West worry about, rest assured–it does not. Iran is involved in a dirty war with Israel and has been for a long time, which means it supports Hamas, Hizballah, and the occasional ambassador assassination. It certainly doesn’t refute hoghoghoghoghog’s post in any way.

        • Nornagest says:

          Like most Middle Eastern countries with aspirations to regional power status, Iran has both pro- and anti-terrorist interests depending on the context and the particular group of terrorists we’re talking about. Specificaly, it’s interested in propping up Hezbollah, weakening Israel, and furthering Shi’a interests in Iraq (little terrorism’s come out of the latter in the last five years, but there was plenty post-invasion). But that’s all local stuff. Its ties to Al Qaeda-style global terrorism are pretty tenuous, Great Satan rhetoric notwithstanding, and it’s one of ISIS’s main enemies in the region.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          @Murphy

          Despite what some would claim, there are actual distinctions between guerrilla warfare and terrorism. Both use unconventional tactics and in some limited cases blend with the local civilian population, but only one deliberately targets civilian targets. I will agree that during the Cold War we provided military materiel and training support to groups we should not have (though that was NOT US Army Special Forces), and that some of those groups then repurposed that military training and used it to attack civilians. However, we have never directly trained groups with the express foreknowledge and intent that they go out and attack civilian targets, tailoring our training and support to make them more effective at this goal. Quds Force has and does. It’s the difference between “here’s how to conduct an L Ambush” and “Here’s how to fire and maneuver as a small unit” on the one hand and “This is the best way to construct suicide vests, and get their wearers into high-density civilian crowds” on the other.

          @Tatu Ahponen

          Not all of it, certainly, but still a significant amount. For starters, for all that groups like PFLP draped themselves in socialist rhetoric, their underlying ideology was unambiguously religious in nature, with the rhetoric useful mostly as a way to court Soviet materiel support. For the rest, see my reply to Herbert below

          @Herbert Herberson, Nornagest

          Not just supports them, but in many cases directs their actions, including directing attacks against western targets including airliners, US Air Force personnel at Khobar Towers, and multiple American embassies. And again, they were heavily involved with not just the Shia militias in Iraq engaging in guerrilla warfare tactics but groups that were blowing up civilian targets and killing Iraqi civilians. They haven’t directed the deaths of western civilians more recently, but they absolutely have in the past, and have directed (and directly killed) American military personnel in the last ten years.

          To be clear, I’m not saying we should invade Iran tomorrow, but to present the current regime as one with which we should be fostering a positive working relationship and cooperation because of shared goals is irrational in the extreme, at least from an American perspective (and I am American). They have dedicated themselves to enmity with and hostility to the United States and have conducted themselves accordingly as much as they could without provoking a full military response. Any dealings we have with Iran need to keep that firmly in view. It doesn’t mean no agreements are possible, realpolitik is a thing, but it does mean that anything we do that gives them more leverage or legitimacy as a regional power is going to come back to bite us in the ass down the road as long as the current government system is intact.

          So let me propose an alternative:

          1) Containment and carefully targeted strikes against non-state actors. In other words, continuing the Obama administration’s CT strategy.

          2) Sucking away as many Muslims as possible to Europe, Australia, the United States, and Canada as we can safely assimilate through controlled and limited immigration.

          3) Since that means aiming for a rate of hundreds of thousands of Muslims a year for 5-10 years, it will require ramped up domestic CT capability for at least a few generations because even with controlled immigration you’ll still get hostile groups trying to use it to slip in bad actors and you’re going to get an elevated base rate of self-radicalized 2nd and 3rd generation lone wolves for a while. That we’ll see an increase in lone wolf attacks for a few decades sucks, but it’s the cost of doing business. That’s why we need a robust CT apparatus scaled to handle the increased workload.

          Side note: The suggestion for increased immigration is separate from the refugee issue, as refugees at most only partially overlap with the demographic we want to draw away.

          4) Aggressive pursuit of resource independence from the exports of the Middle East and SW Asia, and exporting that independence to as much of the world as we can to drain funding from both the state and wealthy private funders of Islamic terrorist groups. This doesn’t just mean oil, but any and all major regional exports and commercial industries.

          Economic ties are tricky because the place where McDonald’s Peace Theory breaks down in reality is that a sufficiently efficient and authoritarian government can successfully quarantine and avoid the spread of undesirable sentiments like liberal democratic reform while still reaping the economic benefits. When dealing with potentially hostile authoritarian states (religious or not) we want to make sure that when we open up and increase trade the state on the other end is in such a condition that we are hastening regime change and reform (Soviet Union), not giving them the funds needed to consolidate their control and prolong the regime (China).

          • Nornagest says:

            heavily involved with not just the Shia militias in Iraq engaging in guerrilla warfare tactics but groups that were blowing up civilian targets and killing Iraqi civilians

            Yeah, that’s why I said “terrorism” w.r.t. post-invasion Iraq. If I’d meant “guerrilla warfare”, I would have said “guerrilla warfare”.

            None of the regional powers in the Middle East have their hands clean, terrorism-wise, except maybe for Israel and that opens a can of definitional worms I don’t want to get into. Pretty much all of them have killed American civilians and servicemen one way or another. If we therefore want to throw up our hands and get out of the region, that’s a reasonable response — and one that’s a hell of a lot more feasible now that we’re a net oil exporter, too. I take it this is your stance. But if we do want to stay in the region, that’s necessarily going to mean dealing with some people that hate us. Imagining that we’re not already doing that is naive.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Nornagest
            Basically, yes. And I think that our strategic partnerships with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are bad ideas for precisely that reason, though trying to make nice with the current Iranian regime is in a class all by itself there.

            Frankly, I’m at the point where I’d actually like to see the next few major developments in the area of petroleum product substitutes (from fuel to plastics) subsidized as a national security measure and then the technology and techniques developed shared to our strategic partners for free.

          • Tatu Ahponen says:

            > For starters, for all that groups like PFLP draped themselves in socialist rhetoric, their underlying ideology was unambiguously religious in nature, with the rhetoric useful mostly as a way to court Soviet materiel support.

            Can you give examples?

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            ….Ok, I just got my first long post eaten, so I’m going to try and keep it short.

            TL;DR version. Upon calming down some, I will confess to overstating my position and making an unsupportable claim when I said that their core -ideology- is -religious-. It would be more correct to say that I believe a study of their behavior will reveal that they are not sincere in their marxist-leninist ideology (with its attendant commitment to secularism and anti-clericalism) and in fact they appear to be perfectly fine maintaining alliances and fighting for the goal of an explicitly Islamic Palestine in much the way that the religious strains of Zionisms wanted “A Jewish State, not merely a State of Jews.”

            As evidence, I offer the fact that they have spent the bulk of their existence in alliance with Hamas (Islamist) -against- Fatah (Secular Nationalist) when it came to power struggles within the Palestinian Nationalist movement, and have gone so far as to formally ally with an actual theocratic state (Iran).

            As others here have pointed out when you side with the people whose values you are supposed to oppose, against the people who have the values you say you stand for, it’s time to question whether those values are in fact sincerely held.

            I would add that I think that secular Arab Nationalism has been a dead letter pretty much since the Six Day War and definitely since the death of Nasser, and that the only thing keeping secular Arab states secular since then has been inertia, authoritarian repression, and appeasement to local Islamists. And we all know how well appeasement works out long-term.

            We may have waited until the late 70s or early 80s to start noticing that Islamism was a dynamic and driving political force in the Middle East, but I think that the results of the Iranian revolution (on the Shia side) and the explosive growth of the Muslim Brotherhood (on the Sunni side) demonstrate that we were simply slow to recognize a trend that had started decades before.

          • Tatu Ahponen says:

            You really can’t offer alliance of convenience with Hamas (established in 1987) as a proof of Islamist nature of the hijackings and terrorism in the 60s and 70s, now can you? Neither you can say that secular Arab nationalism is a dead letter and then claim PFLP should have allied with Fatah – a secular Arab nationalist group – for secularist reasons.

            I don’t know, this thesis is really reaching here.

          • rlms says:

            A pretty strong indicator that the PFLP were genuinely secular is the number of Western non-Muslims they recruited. As I noted elsewhere on this page, Carlos the Jackal became an Islamist a long time after his terrorism.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Looks like ISIS just undermined your argument.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Tatu
            I think I can if the core leadership and membership of the group maintain mostly intact from one period to the other, yes (if anything, the pattern of splits is of more staunchly leftist/marxist groups being the ones to break off, like the DFLP). I think the later actions give us information with which to re-evaluate earlier rhetoric. I suppose you could make the argument that at some point between the 70s and the 80s their beliefs evolved and changed, but since I am not aware of any cases in which they actively opposed the rise of Islamist political factions within the Palestinian Nationalist movement, I think that’s less likely than simply concluding that they weren’t particularly sincere in their secularism.

            To be clear, when I say that it’s a dead letter, I don’t mean that there are literally no secular Arab Nationalists or factions that espouse the ideology. I’m saying that the ideology lacks popular support, and that to the extent such groups continue to hold political power, they do so on the basis of either authoritarian repression (Egypt post-Nasser, Syria, Iraq) or populist pandering rather than buy-in to their platform.

            @RLMS
            Carlos The Jackal was very high profile in part because of his unusual “free-lancer”/”terrorist for hire” MO, jumping from group to group. I’m not sure how he bolsters their reputation?

            @Herbert Herberson
            By claiming responsibility for the attacks in Iran? You’re assuming that “terrorist” means “ISIS” or “Salafist”, which isn’t true. Let’s review what my actual argument is:

            I have said that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. I said that they have both directly and via client non-state terrorist organizations orchestrated attacks against both civilian and military US targets in the past. I have said that their current regime’s platform is one of long-term hostility to the west in general and to the United States in particular. And I have said that any actions we take to legitimize or reinforce the stability of the current Iranian regime, or to allow them to gain more regional influence, will result in long-term negative consequences for us because of that hostility and that track record of terrorist activity.

            I then went on to suggest that instead of attempting to foster a strategic alliance with Iran against Sunni groups like ISIS, we should combine our current CT strategy of targeted strikes to disrupt and destroy organized terrorist networks with a policy of regional containment, while drawing off as many of the western-friendly citizens of the region as we can logistically handle and assimilate to get them out of there and into better conditions.

            I fail to see how any of that is undermined by ISIS and Iran fighting each other.

            Let me use a metaphor, if it helps to make things clearer for you:

            Teaming up with Iran to fight ISIS in the name of ending Islamic Terrorism would be like the US in 1965 teaming up with the USSR or the PRC to fight North Vietnam or Cambodia in the name of ending Communism.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Teaming up with Iran to fight ISIS in the name of ending Islamic Terrorism would be like the US in 1965 teaming up with the USSR or the PRC to fight North Vietnam or Cambodia in the name of ending Communism.

            There are four ways to make the case that the U.S. should not pursue rapprochement with Iran.

            One is to suggest that our alliances with its regional enemies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, along with the degree to which it has opposed some of our regional policies, are sufficient enough to make it our enemy.

            Two is to focus on its support for Iraqi insurgents.

            Three is to focus on Iran’s formal and ritualistic denunciations of the US.

            Four is to characterize the repeated efforts of ISIS and al Qaeda to attack the U.S. in furtherance of a very particular vision of Islam that has no more affection for Shia than it does for Christians and atheists as “Islamic terrorism,” and note that Iran is both Islamic and does a form of terrorism, even though their terrorism has nothing to do with the sort of terrorism everyone is actually worried about.

            To the first, I say: fine, that’s a fair argument and although I don’t agree with it I think it presents the ultimate question accurately and clearly.

            To the second, I say: when you pick up a gun and travel to a place that never asked you to be there, sometimes people shoot at you.

            To the third, I say: that’s not a reason not to try, because it’s entirely possible that this rhetoric would be mediated if relations moderated. It’s not like the Death to American invocations haven’t previously co-existed with pro-American sentiment.

            To the fourth, I do nothing but roll my eyes in contempt. It is an utterly dishonest framing of the issue, and the fact that it is a dominant one shouldn’t prevent its promoters from feeling very ashamed.

          • rlms says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko
            He was the example that sprung to mind because I’d mentioned him recently. But my impression is that the PFLP had quite a few lower profile non-Muslim Westerners as members.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            @herbert

            Agreed on all counts. In addition, for point 1), isn’t KSA also the enemy of Israel? So we’re already existing in a contradiction.

            But seriously, we should never have kicked over Iran’s democratic govt and never should have propped up the K in KSA. Absolutely ridiculous and shameful.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Isn’t KSA also the enemy of Israel?

            I’m not in the State Department, but I’m pretty sure that keeping that enmity contained and symbolic is the full-time job of a lot of very smart people over there.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Herbert Herberson

            1) I’d like us to disengage from Saudi Arabia as an ally, personally. Israel I’m more mixed on. I’d rather see us leverage our influence there more aggressively before we disengage completely.

            2) Iran didn’t just back Shia militias conducting guerrilla warfare against US troops in Iraq. They actively supported groups conducting terrorist attacks against Iraqi civilians and purges of Sunni civilians. Add to that that they are a third party to the conflict, and framing it as “you go someplace people don’t want you, people gonna shoot” is both disingenuous and facile. I expect better from you.

            3) If it was JUST rhetoric, then I would agree with you, Herbert. However, the combination of Rhetoric AND the decades of hostile actions put a different spin on things. As for your link, Iran’s Government is not the Iranian people. It has layers of anti-democratic safeguards like the Shura Council in place specifically to ensure that its policies and ideology are not watered down by excessive popular opinion.

            As such, until such time as the Iranian people actual control their government once more and there is a possibility for reform of the entrenched anti-western and anti-American positions that government holds, the existence of Iranians who don’t hate the US and would welcome a rapprochement is entirely and utterly irrelevant to US-Iranian relations.

            They have little to no power to affect their government’s policy as it concerns us, and we can’t effectively support popular reformist movements in Iran without undermining them by leaving them open to claims that they are foreign agents of influence and robbing them of their legitimacy. The only effective way to help them is by avoiding -strengthening- the regime that prevents them from asserting their influence on the affairs of their country.

            4) I will absolutely agree with you that there are multiple and mutually hostile Islamist groups that use terrorist tactics to pursue competing visions. Of those multiple groups with their competing visions, ones like ISIS and Al-Qaeda have been dominant in the past 25 years or so.

            However, the problem of Islamic terrorism goes back longer than that, and absent addressing the underlying hostility of the Iranian regime and the Islamic terrorist groups that they back, we’ll just be trading the dominance of one group of Islamists for another.

            Hell, I’ll be honest with you: I can even see a path to rapprochement with the current Iranian regime. However, they will never go for it. An absolute precondition for partnership, open and free trade, and military support for them would require as absolute preconditions:

            a) cutting off ties with and support to Hamas.
            b) cutting off ties with and support to Hezbollah.
            c) restraining the power and activities of the IRGC and Quds Force to support Shia groups who engage in terrorist activities.
            d) A modus vivendi with Israel. This doesn’t have to be all give on Iran’s part, we can and should apply pressure to Israel too, but it needs to happen for any sort of rapprochement to be viable.

            I’m going to go on a limb and guess that your solution to d) (the underlying problem being that we can’t have one of our allies posing an active existential threat to one of our other allies) would be to cut Israel loose and tell them to pound sand. I don’t see that as a good option.

          • Brad says:

            would be to cut Israel loose and tell them to pound sand. I don’t see that as a good option.

            What does Israel bring to the table as an ally that’s so great?

            It would be one thing if we were talking about the UK or Australia. But Israel doesn’t want to play the liberal western democracy game. They keep on insisting over and over again that it’s unfair that so much attention is paid to their human rights abuses and that they should be judged like every other country in the world. But we don’t let Kazakhstan or Albania wag the U.S. foreign policy dog. Saudi Arabia can, but they bring some control over OPEC to the table. So again, what does Israel bring to the table as an ally that’s so indispensable?

          • herbert herberson says:

            Israel does bring a fair amount to the table in terms of military power and commerce. It’s also got a ton of cultural similarity, and that’s not nothing.

            But then, Iran can also offer lots of regional military power, and while their economy isn’t as dynamic, they do have the oil.

            I’d like to see us play some hardball with both of them in complementary ways. Iran doesn’t get to be friends without either abandoning their proxies or forcing them to renounce their opposition to Israel and stop attacking civilians, and Israel gets abandoned unless it either allows for full Palistinian statehood or provides full civil rights to the people under its control (or any combination of the two).

            So, all we need is a massive multilateral agreement wherein every side gives up enormous concessions and accordingly solves the Israel/Palestinian problem. Easy, peasy, right?

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Brad
            Herbert pretty much covered the realpolitik aspects, to which I’d add the philosophical moral point that They have been our staunchest ally in the region, far moreso than Saudi Arabia (the next best candidate), and that rewarding that by cutting them -entirely- loose would be wrong. I suppose I should concede that we shouldn’t just unilaterally tell Saudi Arabia to pound sand for similar reasons, but I think they have been a markedly worse ally, and they and Israel are alike in that we should be pressuring them for internal reform in order for that alliance to continue.

            @Herbert Herberson
            Well, it’s certainly achievable. How many dead bodies are you ok with, especially ours, in order to see it happen? If the answer is “none”, then this is a pointless conversation.

          • Brad says:

            @herbert herberson

            Israel does bring a fair amount to the table in terms of military power and commerce. It’s also got a ton of cultural similarity, and that’s not nothing.

            Military power is like snow to the Eskimos. I don’t think we have much need for whatever military assistance Israel can provide. The same is not true on the espionage end, where by some accounts they do have useful capabilities we don’t. But I don’t think that’s a big enough deal to make a pragmatic case for such an ironclad alliance. Ditto for commerce which is only in the low double digit billions.

            @Trofim_Lysenko

            Herbert pretty much covered the realpolitik aspects, to which I’d add the philosophical moral point that They have been our staunchest ally in the region, far moreso than Saudi Arabia (the next best candidate), and that rewarding that by cutting them -entirely- loose would be wrong.

            How exactly has that staunchest ally manifested itself concretely? Yes, they say they love us all the time, but where’s the beef?

          • Nornagest says:

            Teaming up with Iran to fight ISIS in the name of ending Islamic Terrorism would be like the US in 1965 teaming up with the USSR or the PRC to fight North Vietnam or Cambodia in the name of ending Communism.

            Terrorism is a tactic; communism is an ideology. North Vietnam was a USSR client state, with friendly relations with neighboring Combloc states and tense but stable ones with the PRC; ISIS hates and is effectively at war with everyone else in the region.

            Cambodia under the late Khmer Rouge regime was nearly enough of a pariah state to be similar, though, and it did end up getting put down by communist Vietnam. In an alternate ~1979, the US teaming up with, say, the PRC to end political repression in Cambodia would have been… unlikely, but not absurd.

          • John Schilling says:

            Military power is like snow to the Eskimos. I don’t think we have much need for whatever military assistance Israel can provide.

            If you were under the impression that the United States wielded infinite military power, then you have been misinformed. The Pentagon has long since give up on the two-war doctrine, and even one-and-a-half wars is looking pretty weak. If the United States is ever again called upon to fight a high-intensity conflict anywhere, e.g. on the Korean peninsula, the only thing stopping our adversaries (and opportunistic neutrals) everywhere else from saying “Now’s our chance; let’s grab what we can while we can!” is the ability of US allies to conduct at least a holding action with minimal US air and naval support.

            In the Middle East, the only US allies that can be trusted to even hold their own territory are Israel and Turkey, and how much do we trust Erdogan as an ally. Israel’s military capabilities are of real and substantial value to the United States, provided they come at a diplomatic cost we can afford.

            Which, admittedly, they maybe don’t. But if that’s the case, the alternatives are either grim, expensive, or desperate.

          • Brad says:

            How exactly is the IDF’s ability to hold their own territory in the case of some free for all scenario of real and substantial benefit to the United States? That sounds like a real and substantial benefit to Israel.

          • Nornagest says:

            The word for a military ally that can’t pull their own weight militarily is “liability”.

          • John Schilling says:

            How exactly is the IDF’s ability to hold their own territory in the case of some free for all scenario of real and substantial benefit to the United States? That sounds like a real and substantial benefit to Israel.

            Israel can do more than just hold its own territory; the excess is potentially of value to the US in regional conflicts. Again balanced against the diplomatic cost, which could be substantial. It can also provide secure basing for what forces the US can commit, and not having to secure their own bases frees up those US forces to take a more active role than would otherwise be possible (in this case with less diplomatic cost).

          • Brad says:

            @Nornagest

            The word for a military ally that can’t pull their own weight militarily is “liability”.

            Sure, but it circular to say that some country brings a lot to the table as an ally because they wouldn’t be a military liability. That’s a nice to have in an ally, not a reason to be close allies in the first place.

            @John Schilling

            Israel can do more than just hold its own territory; the excess is potentially of value to the US in regional conflicts. Again balanced against the diplomatic cost, which could be substantial. It can also provide secure basing for what forces the US can commit, and not having to secure their own bases frees up those US forces to take a more active role than would otherwise be possible (in this case with less diplomatic cost).

            We’ve been in plenty of conflicts in that region. Has their military ever lent a hand? Have they ever provided secure basing?

            It seems like a real stretch to call this hypothetical aid in hypothetical future conflict bringing something great to the table that can serve as pragmatic justification for a surprisingly deferential relationship.

          • Aapje says:

            I mostly agree with Brad. IMO, if Israel would help the US overtly in a war, the negative PR would be so costly to the US (as in: firing up the resistance), that the relatively minimal military benefits are not worth it.

            However, I think that Israel is very good at intelligence gathering, so they may provide a huge benefit to the US in that regard.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @John Schilling – “Israel can do more than just hold its own territory; the excess is potentially of value to the US in regional conflicts.”

            I stand ready to be corrected, but my memory is that in every conflict that we’ve gotten into in that region in my lifetime, Israel has sat on the sidelines because our other allies in the region wouldn’t work with us if they were involved.

            And again, all this begs the question of why we would ever intervene in the region again. No intervention in my lifetime has had even a remotely good outcome. What is our interest there?

          • baconbacon says:

            In the Middle East, the only US allies that can be trusted to even hold their own territory are Israel and Turkey, and how much do we trust Erdogan as an ally. Israel’s military capabilities are of real and substantial value to the United States, provided they come at a diplomatic cost we can afford.

            Why is being allies with Israel beneficial? Because of their military prowess. Why does the US need military prowess in their allies when they have such a strong military? They can’t fight more than one war at a time, therefore they need allies that can defend themselves in the case of the US being tied up.

            This is just circular. The US doesn’t need Israel to win a war against any major power, allying with them exposes the US to more 2 war scenarios, not fewer.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Well there’s always the aspect where Israel is a democracy and Democracies Should Be Friends.

          • Brad says:

            Was apartheid-era South Africa a democracy? Just how far can a country stretch things before we no longer label them that way?

            More of a quarter of the governed have no say in governance. It’s been fifty years, this isn’t a temporary situation. If Israel wants to be in the liberal western democracy club it’s going to have to give up its addiction to the status quo and pony up the price of admission.

          • herbert herberson says:

            It’s a Republic, not a Democracy!

          • Matt M says:

            If Israel wants to be in the liberal western democracy club

            And what if liberal/western and democracy are mutually exclusive?

            South Africa is a great example, actually. Is it closer to being a “liberal/western democracy” today than it was under apartheid?

            For an example that’s even more obvious, see Rhodesia.

        • bintchaos says:

          We are about to find out just how big a liability Israel is I think. Do commenters here know why US has 2 Airbases in Qatar and none in Saud? We tried having one there and it got too hot for us– began to destabilize the monarchy. The Trump/Kushner bull-in-the-china-shop ME policy could conceivably make the whole ME go boom. The underlying structure of the bargain Kushner is pursuing is to have KSA and its GCC allies safeguard Israel in return for pre-eminance in the Gulf. Thus attacking Iran and Qatar. Trumps Riyadh remarks also kicked off the IS attack on Iranian parliament and shrine. Trump is basically driving his clown car full of matches through a dynamite factory.
          The Military will support Turkey and Qatar because of Incirlik and al Uhdeid.
          Turkey Qatar alliance and a new military base— Turkey just speed-moved 5k troops to Qatar.
          Read Dr. Abbas Kadhim tweet thread here
          If the GCC citizenry cop to the underlying Kushner deal involving protecting Israel we could see a collapse– remember how fast the Eastern Bloc went down, and how fast the Arab Spring spread.
          My beloved Per Bak:

          “Because of their composite nature, complex systems can exhibit catastrophic behavior.”

          • Sandy says:

            Trumps Riyadh remarks also kicked off the IS attack on Iranian parliament and shrine.

            Really, you think ISIS is attacking Iran and Khomenei’s shrine because of Trump’s remarks? They didn’t believe Shiites were heretics and idolaters before this?

            When the Saudis demolished Shia shrines and gravesites in the Hejaz, and branded Iranians “Zoroastrians threatening the Kingdom”, was that because of Trump too?

          • bintchaos says:

            Remember what IS end game is– a global conflict between the Believers and the Infidels. That is not Sauds goal– they want to support the equilibrium system and retain power. IS wet dream is drawing in Israel. That wins the war for IS because they can delegitimize al Salool as the Defenders of the Faithful, the Guardian of the Two Holy Sites.
            Trump just threw over Obama’s game board.
            IS are the biggest chaos fans ever– they want to destroy the equilibrium system in place in MENA. The risk of the Kushner plan is of course that the general populations cop to the reality that this is all about protecting Israel. The Qatar rift makes that much more likely.

          • Matt M says:

            Really, you think ISIS is attacking Iran and Khomenei’s shrine because of Trump’s remarks?

            Clearly this guy is a big believer in the Scott Adams’ view that Trump is the best persuader known to mankind. Everything bad that happens anywhere in the world is a direct result of Trump’s divisive rhetoric.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Remember what IS end game is– a global conflict between the Believers and the Infidels.

            I could have sworn it was “Power for us (those running the circus) and sell the proles whatever propaganda will convince them to give it to us”

      • fortaleza84 says:

        Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, US invasion of Iraq, Israeli invasions of Palestine

        One of these things is not like the other.

        One of these things just doesn’t belong.

        Can you tell me which thing is not like the others, before I finish this song?

        But seriously, when exactly did “Palestine” come into existence and when did Israel invade it? What were the borders of “Palestine” at the time? What was the capital of “Palestine”? What was its currency? Did Jordan or Egypt ever occupy “Palestine” and if so, were there any “Palestinians” resisting their occupation?

        The reason it’s impossible to answer these questions is that there was never a country called “Palestine” that Israel invaded or occupied. It’s just something that was invented for political reasons in order to undermine Jewish nationalism.

        • Historical political entities

          Syria Palaestina or Roman Palestine, a Roman province (135-390 CE), a province of the Roman Empire following merger of renamed Iudaea with Roman Syria
          Palaestina Prima, a Byzantine province in the Levant from 390 to c. 636, comprising the Galilee and northern Jordan Valley
          Palaestina Secunda, a Byzantine province in the Levant from 390 to c. 636, comprising the shoreline and hills of the Southern Levant (Judea and Samaria)
          Palaestina Salutaris alias Palestina Tertia, a Byzantine province established in the 6th century, covering the Negev and Transjordan
          Jund Filastin (638 – 10th century), one of the military districts of the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphate province of Bilad al-Sham (Syria)
          Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem (1872-1917), also known as the “Sanjak of Jerusalem”, an Ottoman district commonly referred to as “Southern Syria” or “Palestine”. The district encompassed Jerusalem, Gaza, Jaffa, Hebron, Bethlehem and Beersheba.
          Mandatory Palestine (1920–1948), a geopolitical entity under British administration

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Hehe, it sounds like you would agree that Israel was around for thousands of years and “Palestine” is the true invader.

            But anyway, in what year did Israel invade “Palestine”?

          • Hehe, it sounds like you would agree that Israel was around for thousands of years and “Palestine” is the true invader.

            ??????

          • Anonymous says:

            ??????

            He seems to be saying that all of these are colonial provinces of some foreign power.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            ??????

            Not sure why you are confused, but I’ll summarize the arguments:

            hoghog: Israel invaded “Palestine,” just like the USSR invaded Afghanistan and the United States invaded Iraq.

            Me: That’s ridiculous, there never was even a country called “Palestine” that Israel invaded.

            AncientGreek: If we define the words “Palestine” and “country” flexibly, we can point to various historic political entities with the word “Palestine” in their names and conclude that Israel did in fact invade “Palestine.”

            Me: If you are going to define “Palestine” and “country” flexibly, then to be intellectually honest, you need to define “Israel” flexibly as well. As everyone knows there was an ancient kingdom of Israel which existed well before any of the entities you identified. Therefore “Palestine” is the invader not Israel.

            Hope that clears up your confusion.

            By the way, I note that you never answer my questions. In what year did Israel invade “Palestine”? At the time, roughly where were the boundaries of “Palestine”?

            It’s easy to answer these types of questions in an intellectually consistent way for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or the US invasion of Iraq. But it’s impossible for the supposed Israeli invasion of “Palestine.” Because “Palestine” is an invented entity which exists for the sole purpose of undermining Zionism. It’s definition is flexible depending on the political needs of those who oppose Israel.

            Here’s some more questions for you: Is Gaza part of “Palestine”? Jerusalem? The Golan Heights? Judea?

          • He seems to be saying that all of these are colonial provinces of some foreign power.

            Well, you can invade a province, dependency, etc, so that has no relevance.

          • John Schilling says:

            Well, you can invade a province, dependency, etc, so that has no relevance.

            And you can invade my personal space. Not all invasions are created equal, and as disruptions of the world order it is the invasions of someone else’s sovereign territory that stand out as particularly threatening in a “one of these things is not like the others” way.

            Interestingly, if you describe the Six-Day War as an Israeli invasion of Egypt and Jordan, that’s what you get. But almost nobody does that, because the actual sovereign owners of the territory don’t seem to count (and don’t much care, being glad to be rid of it).

          • Enkidum says:

            So when does the mandate of a people vaguely related to previous inhabitants of a territory expire? Apparently it takes more than 1800 years? And the people who have been living there for the past 1800 years have no say in the matter?

          • fortaleza84 says:

            He seems to be saying that all of these are colonial provinces of some foreign power.

            No, I’m saying that if you want to define the word “Palestine” flexibly and broadly, then consistency requires that “Israel” receive the same treatment.

            There existed an “Israel” well before any of the entities he referred to using the word “Palestine.” Therefore, it is “Palestine” which invaded “Israel.”

            Of course, even the word “invade” is suspect here. People don’t usually use the word “invade” to describe the acquisition of territory in a defensive war. It’s uncommon to hear people refer to the American invasions of Japan and Germany as “invasions.” That said, so far nobody has been willing to state the date on which the supposed Israeli invasion of “Palestine” began. Yet another case of strategic ambiguity which makes it difficult to argue specifics.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            It’s uncommon to hear people refer to the American invasions of Japan and Germany as “invasions.”

            I think that might have more to do with the part where a very small minority of the fighting took place within the Japanese and German homelands.

            Also, while “Palestinian” may be more analogous to “West Virginian” than “German”, it doesn’t do any favors to act like West Virginia was an entity made up out of whole cloth by people who just want to push an anti-Confederate agenda (or that it isn’t a place with people who consider it their home and identify with it as such). It *was* largely promoted for political purposes, but it’s not like there was nothing there to base it on.

          • John Schilling says:

            It’s uncommon to hear people refer to the American invasions of Japan and Germany as “invasions.”

            It is not the least bit uncommon to hear Americans refer to the thing that started exactly 73 years ago today as an invasion. The bit where American troops crossed the prewar Franco-German border doesn’t get any specific historical significance on the grounds that the Germans themselves had sort of defined that border as insignificant.

            Japan, we describe as an occupation because they surrendered first.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            So when does the mandate of a people vaguely related to previous inhabitants of a territory expire?

            In this case, it doesn’t really matter because the Jews are the oldest still-existing inhabitants of the area and are also currently in control and have had a continuous presence the entire time.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I think that might have more to do with the part where a very small minority of the fighting took place within the Japanese and German homelands.

            Perhaps, although the word seems to have acquired negative connotation.

            Also, while “Palestinian” may be more analogous to “West Virginian” than “German”, it doesn’t do any favors to act like West Virginia was an entity made up out of whole cloth by people who just want to push an anti-Confederate agenda (or that it isn’t a place with people who consider it their home and identify with it as such). It *was* largely promoted for political purposes, but it’s not like there was nothing there to base it on.

            Does anyone claim that West Virginia includes Richmond? Does anyone dispute that West Virginia includes Wheeling? What if there was a West Virginian militia which claimed that Alexandria had always been part of West Virginia but made no claim at all to Charleston?

            What if you asked supporters of West Virginia to state when West Virginia came into existence, to describe its boundaries, to identify its major cities, and they refused to do so?

            The answer is that you would reasonably conclude that “West Virginia” is a scam. A Trojan Horse for another agenda.

          • Iain says:

            In this case, it doesn’t really matter because the Jews are the oldest still-existing inhabitants of the area and are also currently in control and have had a continuous presence the entire time.

            If this is your standard, I hope you are prepared to turn America back over to the Native Americans as soon as they get sufficiently powerful foreign backing.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            If this is your standard, I hope you are prepared to turn America back over to the Native Americans as soon as they get sufficiently powerful foreign backing.

            Or get the Brexiteers to return England to the Welsh.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            If this is your standard, I hope you are prepared to turn America back over to the Native Americans as soon as they get sufficiently powerful foreign backing.

            Well, let’s suppose that the American government collapsed and a region of the upper Midwest declared itself to be an independent Native American state. Let’s further suppose that most of the white people living in the area fled to other parts of North America. Let’s further suppose that the whites in the surrounding areas attempted to crush this nascent state militarily but failed. Let’s further suppose that a couple generations have gone by and the Native American state is thriving.

            In that case, I certainly would not argue that the Native American state was somehow illegitimate; or that the descendants of the whites who fled must be returned; or that the Dakotas are “white land” which was unlawfully seized by the Native Americans.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            The answer is that you would reasonably conclude that “West Virginia” is a scam.

            Come on man. Once again I’m with you on the supporting points but your conclusion just reaches too far.

            The notion of Palestine as an entity, particularly a sovereign entity (compared to, say, WV), has far less legitimacy than its proponents would have us believe (or had, at least at the time of the partition. Things being entrenched for 70yrs makes the current situation more complicated). But it doesn’t make our side look good to rant about how it has absolutely no legitimacy whatsoever. Nuance, motherf***er, do you speak it?

          • Anonymous says:

            Tangentially, the only coherent philosophy I’ve encountered that manages to neatly solve the problems of conquest and rebellion is the Mandate of Heaven:
            1. The establishment has right to rule, as long as they don’t fuck up massively.
            2. If they fuck up massively, rebellion (or invasion) is retroactively justified by whether or not the rebels (or conquerors) win.
            3. Either the establishment reaffirms their right the rule by winning the civil war (or invasion), or the rebels (conquerors) become the new establishment, returning to step 1.

          • Randy M says:

            In that case, I certainly would not argue that the Native American state was somehow illegitimate

            I concur without reservations.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            But it doesn’t make our side look good to rant about how it has absolutely no legitimacy whatsoever

            I’m not here to make my side look good. The fact is that at the beginning, “Palestine” made no claim at all to Gaza or J & S. At the beginning, Haifa was Palestine; Tel Aviv was Palestine; Gaza City was NOT Palestine; Hebron was NOT Palestine; even Ramallah was NOT Palestine.

            At the same time, the Negev was “Palestine” even though it doesn’t appear as part of “Palestine” on historical maps.

            Suddenly in 1967 when the Jews got control of places like Ramallah, Gaza City, and Hebron, those places became “Palestine.”

            And today, if you ask anti-Israel types whether Tel Aviv is part of “Palestine”, it’s hard to get a straight answer out of them. But they do like to chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

            Basically “Palestine” consists of any land that the Palestinian Arabs happen to want.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            I’m not here to make my side look good.

            I mean, I guess that’s your prerogative. In which case I suppose now I’m just here to try and convince the left-leaning-types around here that we aren’t a bunch of frothing loons by trying to balance out what I perceive as counterproductive froth.

          • Enkidum says:

            1) The idea that the Jews in 1948 had some sort of privileged claim to the territory of Israel that the People-We-Now-Call-Palestinians did not is just ridiculous. Both had been continuously occupying the area for many centuries. Neither claim trumps the other, the fact that some people who were more closely related to the modern Jews than the modern Palestinians had a kingdom there a few millennia ago (although this is a highly dubious claim) is utterly irrelevant.

            2) Then again, there is a very real sense in which might makes right, and no one’s getting rid of Israel because (a) it’s there now, and it’s really fucking powerful and (b) there’s no way to make it not be there without a far greater injustice being done than the various appalling things that happened during the creation of the modern Israel.

            It is actually possible to hold both these thoughts in your head at the same time. But many pro-Israelis can’t concede (1), and many anti-Israelis can’t concede (2), and this is makes for some very circular and unproductive arguments.

          • Brad says:

            @Enkidum

            1) The idea that the Jews in 1948 had some sort of privileged claim to the territory of Israel that the People-We-Now-Call-Palestinians did not is just ridiculous. Both had been continuously occupying the area for many centuries. Neither claim trumps the other, the fact that some people who were more closely related to the modern Jews than the modern Palestinians had a kingdom there a few millennia ago (although this is a highly dubious claim) is utterly irrelevant.

            I agree that from within this lens, the claims of the Old Yishuv and the claims of the Palestinians are equivalent. But the Old Yishuv and their descendants’ moral claims can’t just willy nilly be assigned to people that showed up in 1930 and their descendants much less the people that showed up in 1985.

            which gets us to:

            2) Then again, there is a very real sense in which might makes right, and no one’s getting rid of Israel because (a) it’s there now, and it’s really fucking powerful and (b) there’s no way to make it not be there without a far greater injustice being done than the various appalling things that happened during the creation of the modern Israel.

            This too is a valid way of looking at things. You don’t need hundreds of years. One or two generations living in a place and no other obvious place to go creates its own moral facts on the ground.

            But what’s sauce the goose is sauce for the gander. Israel has now controlled the West Bank and Gaza for fifty years. Generations of people have been living under that government’s authority and have no other obvious place to go. That too creates moral facts on the ground. Those people are entitled to civil rights and to participate in the government that exercises so much control over their lives.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            The idea that the Jews in 1948 had some sort of privileged claim to the territory of Israel that the People-We-Now-Call-Palestinians did not is just ridiculous.

            Morally, true. Legally, part of it was granted by the UK/UN. Similar situation as splitting the Raj into India and Pakistan and the shitshow that resulted in. Decolonization is a bitch, but at least it was ostensibly legal to the world community.

            The part where Israel then grabbed a bunch of extra land is rather more dubious. In their defence they *did* get dogpiled by literally all their neighbors right away, so some exercise of “might makes right” was understandable, though that is definitely what it was.

            the fact that some people who were more closely related to the modern Jews than the modern Palestinians had a kingdom there a few millennia ago (although this is a highly dubious claim) is utterly irrelevant

            Wat? The existence of an ancient Jewish kingdom that the Romans whacked with the Diaspora Stick is highly dubious?? Please help me parse this more charitably. “Utterly irrelevant” is going too far in the opposite direction of fortaleza, but I acknowledge there’s at least part of a point in there without the weird parenthetical.

          • Enkidum says:

            Brad: Agreed, I think, although I’d add that the Israelis have the right not to be stabbed/blown up/etc on the streets, there is a legitimate problem with people stabbing/blowing them up, and the reasons for many of the Israeli actions in Palestinian territories are not unconnected to said stabbing/blowing up.

            (And then I’d add that the stabbing/blowing up is not unconnected to previous Israeli actions, and so on and so forth back to the first Homo Erectus to pick up a jawbone and bash someone’s head in. But as I was trying to do above, I think it’s important to acknowledge the legitimacy of the grievances on both sides here.)

          • Enkidum says:

            @Gobbobobble

            Sorry, that was confusing. I meant that the claim that the Ancient Israelites are more closely related to modern Jews than to modern Palestinians is dubious. I do agree that ancient Israel was a real thing.

            And agreed with pretty much everything else you said. I do tend to go to rhetorical extremes sometimes.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            @Enkidum

            Ah, I see. Thanks. I don’t know enough of the genealogy to contest that, so for now I’ll leave it at “suspicious but open to evidence”

          • fortaleza84 says:

            The idea that the Jews in 1948 had some sort of privileged claim to the territory of Israel that the People-We-Now-Call-Palestinians did not is just ridiculous.

            It depends what standard you use for determining what group has a privileged claim. I’m not sure who you are responding to, but my point in this thread has been that if you use the standard of “earliest control by still-existing group,” then the Jews win; if you use the standard of “currently in control,” then the Jews win. In order for the Arabs to have a privileged claim, you have to choose an arbitrary standard specifically tailored so that the Arabs win.

          • Aapje says:

            @fortaleza84

            I think that the Canaanites have a stronger claim.

            Anyway, this kind of argument is extremely silly since it is merely based on modern day Jews claiming to be the proper descendants of the Israelite tribes, while rejecting that the Palestinians can easily make the same claim. After all, genetic testing strongly suggests that Jews and Palestinians have a mostly shared genetic heritage and plenty of Palestinians lived in that region for so long that we don’t know if their ancestors lived there since Canaan or whether they were more recent migrants. We also don’t know if the Israelite tribes were the first to move into the area or whether they kicked anyone out and if so, who those people are. If we find them, do we hand over Israel to them???

            It’s also absurd to give much credence to the ‘Diaspora’ narrative given the fact that human history consists of a huge amount of migration, intermixing and such. We are all mutts, none of us have ancestors that only ever lived in one specific spot, etc. The idea that Jews are a “still-existing group” who map 1-to-1 to the Israelite tribes is a fantasy.

          • It depends what standard you use for determining what group has a privileged claim.

            A third possibility is something along the lines of conventional property rights. I may be mistaken, but my understanding is that, prior to the military clash, Jewish immigrants were buying the land from its (usually not Palestinian) owners.

            Once it became outright warfare that system broke down, but I think it was the Palestinians and their Arab allies who were unwilling to accept it. And it was the British who were unwilling to let Jews immigrate to Palestine.

            But I expect my not very expert impression of the history is biased in a pro-Israel direction, given the sources I am most likely to see.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I don’t see how property rights means that you necessarily get to make a state though. If I buy a bit of land in San Francisco, do I get to declare that Aapjeland and then refuse to pay taxes, obey US law, etc?

            Or if an American buys a bit of Mexican territory, does he gets to change it to US territory?

            Also, your reasoning provides equal support for Palestine, as the Palestinians also own land and want a state.

          • Matt M says:

            if you use the standard of “earliest control by still-existing group,” then the Jews win; if you use the standard of “currently in control,” then the Jews win.

            This. Very short and accurate summary of my views on this topic as well.

          • John Schilling says:

            I don’t see how property rights means that you necessarily get to make a state though. If I buy a bit of land in San Francisco, do I get to declare that Aapjeland and then refuse to pay taxes, obey US law, etc?

            If the United States Government and the United Nations both say so, then yes, you do.

            Israel’s legal and moral claim to at least half of The Land Between The Jordan And The Med rests on, A: they historically lived there as far back as we can trace ownership and B: they lived there in 1948 when we were sorting this out for what was supposed to be the last time and C: there wasn’t anywhere else they could count on living safely at the time and D: they live there now and E: they bought the place openly and honestly from its former (mostly Egyptian and Turkish) owners and F: the former sovereign (the United Kingdom) said “We don’t want to have anything to do with this place any more; let the Jews run it” and G: the United Nations, recently formed and empowered to handle just this sort of thing, said that Israel gets to be a country in its half of TLBTJATM.

            The claim for anyone but the Jews of Israel owning, living, or holding sovereignty over that half of TLBTJATM, is conspicuous by its absence. I’m counting at least half a dozen privileged claims that the Israelis have and the Palestinians don’t.

            The claim of Israel over the other half of TLBTJATM, the part that the Palestinians also have some claim to, is that A: the people who lived in and held sovereignty over that land kept attacking Israel and losing and B: wars, even more than elections, have consequences.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Anyway, this kind of argument is extremely silly since it is merely based on modern day Jews claiming to be the proper descendants of the Israelite tribes, while rejecting that the Palestinians can easily make the same claim.

            It depends on who is arguing what. My point was that there is no group with a superior moral claim to the Jews in terms of group sovereignty in and around Israel. If you want to say that the moral claim of the Jews is weak, fine, but by any reasonable standard the claim of the Palestinian Arabs is weaker.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I don’t see how property rights means that you necessarily get to make a state though. If I buy a bit of land in San Francisco, do I get to declare that Aapjeland and then refuse to pay taxes, obey US law, etc

            Let’s suppose that you and a group of people — the Aapjes — bought land in San Francisco and worked the land for many years. Let’s suppose further that the US government collapsed and stopped exercising sovereignty on the West Coast. Let’s suppose further that the government of California decided to withdraw from the Bay Area and leave it to its own devices.

            In that situation, I don’t see a huge problem with declaring an independent State of Aapjeland.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Also, your reasoning provides equal support for Palestine, as the Palestinians also own land and want a state.

            Part of the problem here is that the Palestinian Arabs don’t actually want a state. What they want is for there not to be a Jewish state.

            That’s why the Arabs rejected the British Partition Plan which would have created a Palestinian State. It’s also why there was no significant push for a Palestinian State in Gaza or J & S while those areas were occupied by Egypt and Jordan.

            Palestinian Arabs (as a group) want a state only to the extent it advances them towards their goal of putting an end to Jewish Israel. Here’s another example: When the Jewish State was established, one of the first laws said that any Jew in the world had the right to immigrate and claim citizenship.

            By contrast, the Palestinian Arab leadership has already stated that even Palestinian Arabs living in refugee camps would not get citizenship or residence in a Palestinian State.

        • rlms says:

          @fortaleza84
          An entity called Palestine has incontrovertibly existed since at least 1988. It can reasonably be argued not to be a state, but it’s certainly close to the boundary of the definition in any case. It has also incontrovertibly been invaded (in part) by Israel multiple times. If you interpret the original statement in this way (which seems reasonable), the statement that Israel has invaded Palestine is correct. I don’t necessarily agree with the implications about those invasions being a cause of terrorism.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            An entity called Palestine has incontrovertibly existed since at least 1988. It can reasonably be argued not to be a state, but it’s certainly close to the boundary of the definition in any case

            Ok, and I take it that according to you, “Palestine” consists of the green regions on the map in the article you link to?

          • rlms says:

            @fortaleza84
            The boundaries are fuzzy, and change over time (much like those of, say, Germany in the 20th century). I don’t claim that all of the green region should be referred to as Palestine, but what else would you call e.g. the Gaza strip?

            Note that I’m not making any normative claims about what Palestine *should* be (an independent nation state, controlled by Israel, whatever).

          • fortaleza84 says:

            The boundaries are fuzzy, and change over time (much like those of, say, Germany in the 20th century).

            Hehe, they change to whatever is most convenient for undermining Israel. It’s not widely known, but the original PLO charter stated that the Palestinian Arabs were NOT claiming the green areas on that map. At the time, those areas were occupied and claimed by Jordan and Egypt. There was no significant movement to “resist” these “occupations” by Jordan or Egypt. There was no significant movement to demand a Palestinian State in those areas. No significant demand to “Free Palestine” in those areas. It was not until those areas fell under Jewish influence that they became “Palestine.”

            I don’t think that Germany’s borders were informed by similar considerations.

            I don’t claim that all of the green region should be referred to as Palestine, but what else would you call e.g. the Gaza strip?

            I would call it the “Gaza Strip.”

          • rlms says:

            @fortaleza84
            Did you read the last part of my comment? I’m not making any normative claims, and normative claims are not implied by the existence of Palestine as a useful concept. For the sake of argument, let’s take a counterfactual universe where the whole of Israel + “Palestine” had a 99% Jewish population continuously from 900 BC to 2016, was ruled by our world’s state of Israel up until 2016, when the demographics of the Gaza Strip suddenly changed drastically due to a load of non-Jews materialising from nowhere and invading it, giving us the current situation. Here, any reasonable normative claim about Palestine would be along the lines of “it should be annexed by Israel as soon as possible”. That doesn’t mean that using the concept of Palestine to refer to “the areas near Israel that don’t have many Jews and are either governed by neither Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria or Lebanon or governed by Israel in a very different way to Tel Aviv” is illegitimate. Concepts can’t even be legitimate or illegitimate. They are merely useful or not; this one is useful.

          • Jiro says:

            Concepts can’t even be legitimate or illegitimate. They are merely useful or not; this one is useful.

            Useful for what purpose? The point of saying that Israel invaded or occupied Palestine is

            1) To imply that “Palestine” resembles those entities whose invasion or occupation we usually object to, and

            2) To be vague about exactly what lands are being invaded/occupied so that Arabs and their supporters can do a motte/bailey on exactly what they mean by “Palestine”.

            I have no interest in using the concept for either of those purposes.

          • rlms says:

            @Jiro
            See my example. Saying Israel invaded or occupied Palestine might not be *true*, but it is still *meaningful*. Denying Palestine exists is very silly. But playing the game where I take the corresponding attitude that Israel isn’t a meaningful concept might be fun. Taking fortaleza84’s cue, what does “Israel” consist of?

          • Jiro says:

            Something exists which people call “Palestine”. But the “something” differs depending on what claim the *same* groups are making about “Palestine” and who their intended audience is.

          • Aapje says:

            @Jiro

            The same is true about Israel.

          • Jiro says:

            No, it’s not. There aren’t a significant number of people who will say to one audience that Israel is what’s seen on the map and to another audience that it’s twice as large. In fact, there aren’t a lot of people who will say that Israel isn’t what’s on the map at all.

            Doing this for “Palestine” is routine.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Jiro – “No, it’s not. There aren’t a significant number of people who will say to one audience that Israel is what’s seen on the map and to another audience that it’s twice as large.”

            Eratz Israel, Greater Israel

          • rlms says:

            @Jiro
            Your statement contradicts itself. If make wildly varying claims about the Palestinian border, that implies wild claims about the not-Palestinian border (because a border has two sides). And unless you are talking about the Palestine-Egypt or Palestine-Jordan border, that means Israel is equally nebulously defined as Palestine.

    • Anaxagoras says:

      I think the context of that poster was actually a bit more despairing than you give it credit for. It was intended to be used after disasters and major air raids, and consequently, the situation never got to where it was needed. There was another similar thing intended for use should England actually get invaded, which was needed even less.

    • OptimalSolver says:

      Is the supply of young Muslim men willing to kill themselves to advance a cause finite?

      I guess we’re going to find out.

    • carvenvisage says:

      I think your argument needs something like an account of why islamic terror is (more) a case where there has to be a path to solving the problem, than where it’s important not to get antsy or delusional and force over-optimistic solutions.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        The reason is simple: because it’s a bunch of fanatics spectacularly murdering random citizens in the street, all proudly done in the name of an implacably hostile alien ideology (the ISIS/al-Qaeda brand of political Islam.) Insisting that nobody pay attention to or care about this is, well… I have to wonder if you’ve ever met a human being? Because they tend to care about spectacles like this and you really can’t stop that.

        The whole point I’m getting at is, people are going to be willing to be calm and carry on. For a while. But eventually, you need to pay off your side of the bargain and deal with the whole, you know, spectacular murders problem. If you put it off for long enough or, worse, act like it doesn’t need to be solved (“Furniture kills more people than terrorism, guys!”) eventually someone else will ride up on a white horse and take the problem off your hands, and you really won’t like what happens next.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          The reason is simple: because it’s a bunch of fanatics spectacularly murdering random citizens in the street, all proudly done in the name of an implacably hostile alien ideology. Insisting that nobody pay attention to or care about this is, well… I have to wonder if you’ve ever met a human being? Because they tend to care about spectacles like this and you really can’t stop that.

          Yes, exactly. People tend to care more about being deliberately harmed than they do about being harmed by an accident or illness, even if the suffering in the first case is no greater than in the second. Getting people to worry more about falling off their chairs than being blown up will only work if you can get people to stop thinking like human beings, and is likely to be about as successful as every other proposal that required people to stop thinking like human beings has been.

        • Fahundo says:

          The reason is simple: because it’s a bunch of fanatics spectacularly murdering random citizens in the street, all proudly done in the name of an implacably hostile alien ideology.

          This explains why it’s A problem but not why it’s THE problem. The world’s full of problems. Why does this one have to be solved now?

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Because spectacular murders in the street draw attention and will always draw attention, so you have no choice. The racket of exploding suicide bombers and police sirens does tend to drown out other discussions.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            If you don’t understand why the spectacular murders in the street are a top-tier problem then we have a bigger problem on our hands: our concerns are so divorced from each other that we cannot share a problem solving system. That is, those of us who consider spectacular murders in the street a top-tier problem need to find a way to isolate ourselves from those who consider spectacular murders in the street an ignorable or bottom-tier problem.

          • rlms says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            If you live in the US or are happy to consider it for a hypothetical, what do you think about spectacular murders (mass shootings) that perpetrated by non-Muslims?

            Edit: @ThirteenthLetter, yes, thanks.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I assume you meant “non-Muslims” in that post?

            In the case, the answer is that those do indeed draw a huge amount of attention, and create a political force that is hard to ignore. Just about the only thing that disrupts political support for gun rights in the USA is mass shootings.

            In fact, now that you mention it there are even interesting parallels in the response of the pro-gun side to mass shootings, and the response of the left to Islamist terrorism — too often in both situations it’s frustrated attempts to deflect and change the subject because they don’t have an answer and the question is inconvenient. If there were more, and more public, shootings, I suspect the gun rights side would be in real trouble.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @rlms says:

            If you live in the US or are happy to consider it for a hypothetical, what do you think about spectacular murders (mass shootings) that perpetrated by non-Muslims?

            1) There is no ideology behind mass shootings perpetrated by non-Muslims in the US. The common thread in these instances seem to be “on SSRI medications.”

            2) The only “solution” to mass-shootings by non-Muslims seems to be “ban guns,” which would mean I too would lose my own beloved firearms.

            3) Banning Islamic immigration would mean I would lose…Muslims? I’m not seeing the downside here.

            What exactly do you get out of Muslim immigration that justifies tolerating the spectacular murders, and the child rape gangs? I mean, I fucking love shawarma, but not that much.

            This is the disconnect I have with the left.

            Racism/sexism/homophobia/transphobia: completely intolerable and cannot ever be ignored.

            Mass murder and child rape: part and parcel of living in a modern city.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            1) There is no ideology behind mass shootings perpetrated by non-Muslims in the US. The common thread in this instances seem to be “on SSRI medications.”

            Interestingly, I noticed several cases of Sovereign Citizens on the wiki list. Not the instances of “mass” shootings, but still. (I thought someone else had posted upthread but not finding it now, so here’s a repeat)

            #NotAllAncaps

          • rlms says:

            One question is why you value guns (which are inanimate objects designed for killing) more than Muslims (who are people). Another point is that immediately stopping immigration from a group does not reduce the population of that group. You need another policy. Also, banning Muslim immigration would have reputational costs, and prevent access to high-value Muslims such as the chairman of Coca-Cola (if we take the popular-here approach of using wealth as a proxy for societal value).

            Side note: Irish priests in the archdiocese of Dublin are 100x more likely to be child abusers than British Muslims. What do you think about them?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Gobbobobble

            All right. And sov citizens are considered insane by…pretty much everyone who is not a sov citizen. /r/amibeingdetained is pretty hilarious. Start speaking up against the foolishness of not just SC terrorism, but the entire SC ideology, and absolutely no one is going to try to get your fired from your job for soverignphobia.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @rlms says:

            One question is why you value guns (which are inanimate objects designed for killing) more than Muslims (who are people).

            The former puts delicious animals on my dinner table. The latter does not. You didn’t answer the question, though, what makes Muslim immigration worth the murders and the surveillance state and the disintegration of the social fabric?

            Another point is that immediately stopping immigration from a group does not reduce the population of that group. You need another policy.

            Massive criticism and mockery, which is the same thing that turned people away from the Catholics in your example. Treat Islam the same way we treat racism, or any other societal ill.

            Also, banning Muslim immigration would have reputational costs, and prevent access to high-value Muslims such as the chairman of Coca-Cola (if we take the popular-here approach of using wealth as a proxy for societal value).

            Can we find someone else to be the chairman of Coca-Cola? I bet we can.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            absolutely no one is going to try to get your fired from your job for soverignphobia.

            Unless you’re a Spectre, anyway.

          • Nornagest says:

            One question is why you value guns (which are inanimate objects designed for killing) more than Muslims (who are people).

            Come on, dude. Literally no one has these values and you know it.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            No? How many successful EA are there out there? People value things over other people all the time.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Also, the better question is why I value the ability to own firearms more than I value the lives of people I ostensibly care about (Americans, children). “More valuable than Muslim immigration” is a low bar.

          • rlms says:

            @Nornagest
            I may have implicitly equivocated between value-for-use (guns) and intrinsic-human-value (Muslims), but my point definitely stands if you interpret me as meaning value-for-use for Muslims too. But in as much as value-for-use and intrinsic-human-value are comparable, I think I was also correct there, since Conrad Honcho appears to ascribe 0 value (both kinds) to Muslims, and >0 value-for-use to guns. I think the value-for-use and intrinsic-value are also linked to an extent (people might describe apple trees as intrinsically better than poison ivy in a pseudo-animist way), and Conrad Honcho implies >0 pseudo-animist-intrinsic-value for guns.

          • rlms says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            What do you mean about mockery and Catholicism? As far as I know, there are still quite a lot of Catholics in Ireland.

            I am willing to concede that having had a ban on Muslim immigration in the indefinite past would have probably reduced Islamist terrorism in Western countries significantly. It would also have had significant and unknowable effects on the future of the world in general, for instance Pakistan probably wouldn’t have been founded by the same guy if he hadn’t become a lawyer in London. If we just look at the counterfactual world where everything is the same but there are no Muslims in the West, I’m sure some people would prefer it. I don’t think it would be obviously better based on economic arguments. I’m sure someone else will come along soon to argue with your statement that the previous CEO of Coca-Cola (and by implication all CEOs) are easily replaceable with no economic loss, but how much someone values a lack of Islamist terrorism is subjective and can be arbitrarily high.

            However, unless you have a time machine, that isn’t an option. The question is what things can be done now. Relentlessly mocking Islam requires cultural support. As a godless heathen, I would like a society where everyone relentless mocks *all* religions, but I don’t expect it to happen any time soon. Mass deportations will cause at best more terrorism than you started with (from non-Muslims with some knowledge of German history around 1940) and at worst cause a civil war. I’m not seeing any other good options.

          • Nornagest says:

            People value things over other people all the time.

            In the revealed-preference sense that they’d rather keep eight thousand dollars of their own money (or whatever the right number is) than give it to someone who we expect to use it to save one life on average. Not in the explicit sense where they’ll come up to you at a party and start talking about how much more they like money than live African kids.

            I wouldn’t have been quite so irritated if we were talking about revealed preferences, but in context it’s fairly clear that we weren’t.

          • birdboy2000 says:

            I don’t particularly care for shawarma, but I do value things like “freedom of religion” and “not punishing innocent people for the actions of others based on some kind of demographic affinity.” I’m horrified by the rise of Salafi-jihadism, but I have no interest in the kind of solution a religious ban represents.

          • Fahundo says:

            Wait, honest question here, if the spectacle of the murders is the main problem, then does that mean in some alternate universe where Islamists murder people quietly and privately, but the exact same number of people die, it becomes a regular murder-is-bad problem and ceases to be a national emergency type of problem?

          • Gobbobobble says:

            @Fahundo

            I for one would say yes. The spectacle (or, less dramatically, the publicity) is what makes it terrorism. The gross number of people killed is not terribly significant on a national level.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Irish priests in the archdiocese of Dublin are 100x more likely to be child abusers than British Muslims.

            Citation needed. Preferably a citation that accounts for the dogged refusal of the British police to investigate child abuse claims against Muslims.

          • What exactly do you get out of Muslim immigration that justifies tolerating the spectacular murders, and the child rape gangs? I mean, I fucking love shawarma, but not that much.

            Let me see,,,there are a lot of south asians in the UK, a lot of Surinamese in Holland, a lot of Algerians in France, a lot of Congolese in Belgian…if only there were some premise that explained all those facts….

          • 2) The only “solution” to mass-shootings by non-Muslims seems to be “ban guns,” which would mean I too would lose my own beloved firearms.

            3) Banning Islamic immigration would mean I would lose…Muslims? I’m not seeing the downside here.

            Whereas i hate guns and like (most of) my Muslim neighbours. It’s generally not a good idea, in political debate , to put forward a proposal that is fine-tuned to the speaker’s preferences.

          • Aapje says:

            @TheAncientGeekAKA1Z

            Let me see,,,there are a lot of south asians in the UK, a lot of Surinamese in Holland, a lot of Algerians in France, a lot of Congolese in Belgian…if only there were some premise that explained all those facts…

            You are not answering the question he asked.

          • rlms says:

            @The original Mr. X
            According to the Murphy report, 11 priests were convicted of or confessed to child abuse (there were complaints about a lot more, but I’m not counting them). There were about 1350 priests in the Archdiocese from 1940 to 2004. The report covers only the period from 1975 to 2004, but I’m still using the figure of 1350 priests, and also 1450 other members of religious orders. That gives a rate of 0.39%. If you add up the number of perpetrators (including those who were only complicit in abuse and weren’t proved to have taken part themselves, and also those not from Muslim backgrounds) in the 9 relevant pages here and divide by the number of British Muslims, you get approximately 0.0037%. If you have some evidence for the existence of 100 undetected rape gang cases for every known one I would like to see it (and so would the police).

          • The original Mr. X says:

            According to the Murphy report, 11 priests were convicted of or confessed to child abuse (there were complaints about a lot more, but I’m not counting them). There were about 1350 priests in the Archdiocese from 1940 to 2004. The report covers only the period from 1975 to 2004, but I’m still using the figure of 1350 priests, and also 1450 other members of religious orders. That gives a rate of 0.39%. If you add up the number of perpetrators (including those who were only complicit in abuse and weren’t proved to have taken part themselves, and also those not from Muslim backgrounds) in the 9 relevant pages here and divide by the number of British Muslims, you get approximately 0.0037%. If you have some evidence for the existence of 100 undetected rape gang cases for every known one I would like to see it (and so would the police).

            You’re not comparing like with like here — number of child abusers vs. number of people who were in organised child abuse gangs. Since not every abuser is part of an organised gang, the number of people in such gangs is going to be lower than the overall number of abusers.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Also, I highly doubt that that Wikipedia page contains an exhaustive list of every known child abuse gang out there, so I don’t think that just adding up the number of people involved in the cases mentioned is going to give you an accurate picture of how many people are involved in child abuse gangs.

          • rlms says:

            @The original Mr. X
            Yes, there are certainly lone Muslim abusers. But there are also certainly lone Catholic priests who abuse in ways unconnected to their priesthood. I don’t think there is any evidence that the former are proportionally more common than the latter. Panics over Muslim immigration are based on rape gangs, not lone abusers.

            I doubt the Murphy report caught all the abusing priests. Again, if you have any evidence that Muslim rape gangs are underreported two orders of magnitude more than rapist priests, that is quite extraordinary and you should give it to the police.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ rlms:

            Since you aren’t even bothering to back up your original statement that “Irish priests in the archdiocese of Dublin are 100x more likely to be child abusers than British Muslims,” should I take it that you wish to retract it?

            But there are also certainly lone Catholic priests who abuse in ways unconnected to their priesthood.

            So? Unless they somehow manage to keep their priestly status a secret, they’d still get counted in the “number of priests who have abused children” statistics.

            Again, if you have any evidence that Muslim rape gangs are underreported two orders of magnitude more than rapist priests, that is quite extraordinary and you should give it to the police.

            Now you’re just being silly. That Wikipedia article clearly isn’t an exhaustive list of all child abuse gangs (if it was, we’d have to suppose that there have only ever been two incidents of organised child sexual abuse in the whole continent of Africa, which really would be extraordinary), and continuing to act as if it is just smacks of disingenuousness.

          • rlms says:

            @The original Mr. X
            I think you are clutching at straws here. Wikipedia (and in general Western media) are obviously going to write about sexual abuse in Africa less frequently than in the UK, for the same reasons they are more likely to report any phenomenon (a bridge collapse, mass shooting, piece of food that look like Jesus etc.) if it occurs in the West.

            “they’d still get counted in the “number of priests who have abused children” statistics.”
            No they won’t. The Murphy report investigates institutional handling of child sexual abuse. If a priest abuses family members or neighbours out of the context of their priesthood, they won’t be included. You might argue that priests are disproportionately likely to behave in that way. I don’t think that is borne out by the evidence regarding their general attitude to child sexual abuse.

            That said, I think you do have a valid point, even if you aren’t arguing it very well. Both clerical and rape gang abuse form a small proportion of all abuse. So my figure of 100x is likely an overestimate. However, if you run the numbers of sexual abusers (based on sexual offender numbers, proportion of sexual offences against minors, and sexual offences by ethnicity) you will see it is not much of an overestimate: abuse by Irish priests is so much higher than the the baseline of abuse that there is still at least one order of magnitude difference. And “Sexual abuse by Irish priests is 100x more common than sexual abuse by British Muslim rape gangs”, and “sexual abuse by Irish priests is 10x more common than by British Muslims” are still surprising and relevant statements.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I think you are clutching at straws here. Wikipedia (and in general Western media) are obviously going to write about sexual abuse in Africa less frequently than in the UK, for the same reasons they are more likely to report any phenomenon (a bridge collapse, mass shooting, piece of food that look like Jesus etc.) if it occurs in the West.

            You don’t need to show that the article is more likely to include sex abuse cases in the UK; you need to show that it includes every sex abuse case, which you haven’t even bothered doing.

            Basically, you’ve been taking a subset (cases linked to in that article) of a subset (cases which official police denialism hasn’t managed to bury) of a subset (organised child abuse gangs) of child abuse cases, and then claiming that it’s “quite extraordinary” to suggest that this subset of a subset of a subset might only be a small fraction of the total cases. No, the extraordinary claim is that you can get a good idea of the total number of British Muslim child abusers just by counting names in a couple of Wikipedia articles.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Incidentally, the number of child sex abuse cases in the UK for 2013, the most recent year I could find information on, was approximately 23,000. With a total British population of around 65 million, this works out at roughly 0.35% of British people being child abusers. So, either your figure of 0.0037% for British Muslims is correct, and British Muslims are one hundred times less likely to be abusers than British non-Muslims, or your figure is too low. At the moment the latter is looking by far the more likely explanation.

          • rlms says:

            I’m obviously not claiming it includes every sexual abuse case; I’m perfectly able to read that the title of the page is “list of sexual abuses *perpetrated by groups*”. But I am indeed claiming that that page lists almost all known cases of Muslim sexual abuse gangs in the UK, and that the proportion of those cases of that phenomenon that are known about is greater than or equal to the proportion for general sexual abuse cases. If you have any evidence to the contrary, please share it (with me and the police). The onus is on you (much like it would be on me if I claimed that actually the known cases of clerical sexual abuse are only a small fraction of the whole), unless you are taking the position that statistics about any kind of sexual abuse are unknowable.

            I said in my previous comment that comparing these cases to cases of clerical abuse won’t necessarily give accurate ratios of sexual abuse in general*. For instance, if rape gangs were responsible for a rate of 0.0001 sexual abuses/number of people, clerical abuse was at a rate of 0.01, but the general rate for sexual abuse was roughly 1 then the 100x figure would be highly misleading. But as I said previously, that isn’t the case. The situation is closer to 0.0001, 0.01, 0.0001.

            *The literal interpretation of my original comment and my defence of it suggest that is what I was talking about, although I think the context suggests I meant only rape gangs rather than all rape by Muslims. I accept blame for any confusion caused, but reiterate that the statement with the 100x figure is true if we are only considering rape gangs, and that the general statement with a ~10x figure is true even if we are considering all rape.

            Edit:
            In response to your latest comment, the average abuser likely abuses each victim more than once, and certainly has more than one victim. But you still aren’t understanding the claim I’m making. By my estimate the number of Muslim abusers is about 3 times greater than the number of Muslims in rape gangs (going off the number of registered sexual offenders). I’m saying that my 100x figure is still pertinent if we are comparing clerical abuse and rape gangs (because panics about Muslim immigration are based on rape gangs, not Muslims abusing family members), and there is still a significant difference even if we include all abusers (see my second paragraph).

          • The original Mr. X says:

            But I am indeed claiming that that page lists almost all known cases of Muslim sexual abuse gangs in the UK, and that the proportion of those cases of that phenomenon that are known about is greater than or equal to the proportion for general sexual abuse cases. If you have any evidence to the contrary, please share it (with me and the police).

            Yes, I do have evidence to the contrary: the fact that a common feature of these cases was long-standing official obstruction of any attempts to investigate or stop the abuse, because admitting that brown-coloured people were committing crimes would be racist. Where the authorities are colluding to prevent anybody talking or doing something about a crime, of course that crime’s less likely to come to light that a comparable crime where the authorities have no such desire to cover it up. As for telling the police, they already know: they’re the ones doing the cover-ups.

            I said in my previous comment that comparing these cases to cases of clerical abuse won’t necessarily give accurate ratios of sexual abuse in general*. For instance, if rape gangs were responsible for a rate of 0.0001 sexual abuses/number of people, clerical abuse was at a rate of 0.01, but the general rate for sexual abuse was roughly 1 then the 100x figure would be highly misleading. But as I said previously, that isn’t the case. The situation is closer to 0.0001, 0.01, 0.0001.

            You’re just plucking numbers out of your backside now. You’ve given no reason whatsoever to think that these are the real numbers.

            *The literal interpretation of my original comment and my defence of it suggest that is what I was talking about, although I think the context suggests I meant only rape gangs rather than all rape by Muslims.

            If that’s what you meant, your original point was a very bad one. “Irish priests in the archdiocese of Dublin are 100x more likely to be child abusers than British Muslims [are to join organised child abuse gangs]. What do you think about them?” Well, since I, in common with the entire rest of the world, don’t think child abuse ceases to be a problem just because the perpetrator isn’t part of an organised gang, I think the relevant metric in judging whether priests or Muslims are more likely to abuse people is the total amount of abuse, not the amount of abuse that takes places specifically in organised gangs. I also think that you’re pulling a fast one here, by comparing oranges with apples: if the relevant metric really is child abuse gangs, then you should be measuring just those priests who were part of organised gangs.

            . I accept blame for any confusion caused, but reiterate that the statement with the 100x figure is true if we are only considering rape gangs, and that the general statement with a ~10x figure is true even if we are considering all rape.

            Again, you’re just pulling numbers out of your backside here. You’ve offered no evidence whatsoever for the ~10x figure except for some vague intuition you have about what feels right.

            In response to your latest comment, the average abuser likely abuses each victim more than once, and certainly has more than one victim.

            For the percentage of Muslim abusers to be equivalent to the percentage of non-Muslim abusers, we’d have to suppose that each non-Muslim abuser had approximately 100 victims. That seems like quite an extraordinary number, and I’d like some evidence for it.

          • rlms says:

            @The original Mr. X

            “Yes, I do have evidence to the contrary: the fact that a common feature of these cases was long-standing official obstruction of any attempts to investigate or stop the abuse, because admitting that brown-coloured people were committing crimes would be racist.”
            And the Catholic church welcomed investigation of its priests and threw anyone vaguely suspicious to the police? It cuts both ways.

            “You’ve given no reason whatsoever to think that these are the real numbers.”
            Obviously those are not actual values, given that I didn’t specify the units. It would be ridiculous to interpret them in that way. But the ratios are similar, and (unlike you) I have actually tried to calculate them. Previously, I said there were 11/2800 rapist priests, and ~100/2.8 million Muslim rape gang members. There are ~50,000 registered sex offenders in the UK, and ~9% of sex offences are against minors. So there are ~4400 child abusers (I think this includes e.g. flashers and consensual sex between people aged 18 and 14). Convicted sex offenders are ~9% Asian and ~80% white, assume for the sake of argument that all the Asians are all Muslim. Then this gives 9%*4400 = ~400 Muslim sex offenders. The rate of white sex offenders gives an expected ~2 out of 2800 priests, but we’ll assume for the sake of argument that those are already included in our figure of 11. So the ratio is (11/2800)/(400/2.8 million) = 28 times as many abusing priests as Muslims.

            “Well, since I, in common with the entire rest of the world, don’t think child abuse ceases to be a problem just because the perpetrator isn’t part of an organised gang, I think the relevant metric in judging whether priests or Muslims are more likely to abuse people is the total amount of abuse, not the amount of abuse that takes places specifically in organised gangs. I also think that you’re pulling a fast one here, by comparing oranges with apples: if the relevant metric really is child abuse gangs, then you should be measuring just those priests who were part of organised gangs.”
            Obviously any reasonable person views unorganised child abuse as a problem. But people often worry specifically about phenomena: rape gangs, clerical abuse, celebrity molesters, abuse in care homes etc. The average person opposed to Muslim immigration on the basis of fear of child abusers is not worried about Muslims abusing their own family members. I think it’s reasonable to compare the phenomena of clerical abuse and rape gangs. Comparing gang membership makes as much sense as saying “0% of Muslims are Catholic priests who rape their altar boys, therefore they are infinitely less bad that priests”.

            “For the percentage of Muslim abusers to be equivalent to the percentage of non-Muslim abusers, we’d have to suppose that each non-Muslim abuser had approximately 100 victims. That seems like quite an extraordinary number, and I’d like some evidence for it.”
            As I said before, I’m not saying Muslim rape gangs are the totality of Muslim abuse. I claim that there are ~400 Muslim child abusers, not 100. In any case, your maths is wrong. Assuming 23000 victims implies 23000 rapists hence a rate of 23000/65 million, that gets you a rate of 0.035%. That is explained by the average abuser having more 2 victims (given that it is impossible to have less than 1, this seems likely), and abusing them 5 times.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            And the Catholic church welcomed investigation of its priests and threw anyone vaguely suspicious to the police? It cuts both ways.

            Maybe you haven’t noticed, but there have been big efforts in recent years, in both Britain and Ireland, to bring cases of historical clerical abuse to light, whereas in the case of Islamic sexual abuse there have been big efforts to bury the problem. So yes, I do think the percentage of known clerical abuse cases is much higher than that of known Islamic abuse cases.

            Obviously any reasonable person views unorganised child abuse as a problem. But people often worry specifically about phenomena: rape gangs, clerical abuse, celebrity molesters, abuse in care homes etc. The average person opposed to Muslim immigration on the basis of fear of child abusers is not worried about Muslims abusing their own family members.

            “Rape gangs” and “abuse of family members” don’t exhaust the possible types of abuse. In particular, you’re excluding the possibility of individual abuse of non-family members, or of a few people colluding at a level which doesn’t rise to organised gang status.

            Also, you’re acting as the people actually making up the gang are the only ones involved in abuse. The accounts of the Rotherham case suggest that victims were passed around to people who weren’t part of the formal gang, and who therefore wouldn’t appear in a list of gang members.

            Assuming 23000 victims implies 23000 rapists hence a rate of 23000/65 million, that gets you a rate of 0.035%.

            Given that, according to the ONS, 7% of people report having been sexually assaulted during childhood, a rate of 0.035% for child abusers seems too low, even accounting for cases of minor-on-minor abuse.

          • rlms says:

            @The original Mr. X
            “there have been big efforts in recent years, in both Britain and Ireland, to bring cases of historical clerical abuse to light, whereas in the case of Islamic sexual abuse there have been big efforts to bury the problem.”

            You’re just making completely baseless claims now. There are opposing forces in both cases. I personally think that there is more of a charitable attitude towards priests than Muslim men (no-one wants to deport the former), but either way any convincing claim that the balance of forces is different needs backing up.

            ““Rape gangs” and “abuse of family members” don’t exhaust the possible types of abuse. In particular, you’re excluding the possibility of individual abuse of non-family members, or of a few people colluding at a level which doesn’t rise to organised gang status.”

            Yes, but that applies to both cases.

            “Also, you’re acting as the people actually making up the gang are the only ones involved in abuse. The accounts of the Rotherham case suggest that victims were passed around to people who weren’t part of the formal gang, and who therefore wouldn’t appear in a list of gang members.”

            I am comparing people known to be abusers in both cases. If we’re positing other people being involved, then there were far more than 11 Irish Catholic priests accused of abuse and not exonerated.

            “Given that, according to the ONS, 7% of people report having been sexually assaulted during childhood, a rate of 0.035% for child abusers seems too low, even accounting for cases of minor-on-minor abuse.”

            The 0.035% figure is yours! Well, technically it’s not, you said 0.35% but I’m assuming you just missed a factor of 10. If you didn’t, let me know. But let’s say for the sake of argument that 7% is the closer figure, putting the rate of child abusers on the order of 1% rather than 0.01%. That does indeed greatly change the ratio of clerical to Muslim abusers, as it is now (big base rate + similarly sized clerical abuse rate)/(big base rate + tiny gang abuse rate), or (big base rate/big base rate) if we are including the specific kinds of abuse in the base rate. Either way it is approximately 1.

            But the fact still remains that “Irish clerical abuse is 100x more common than Muslim rape gang abuse”. Is that not still remarkable, and highly relevant to people who worry about rape gangs as phenomena? Additionally, we now have Muslim rape gang abuse being a tiny proportion of the whole. This implies that if you care about general levels of abuse rather than specific phenomena, you should ignore it completely.

  6. metacelsus says:

    I’m moving to Cambridge, MA today, and will be there for the next 10 weeks to do research at Harvard. Does anyone want to suggest things I should do while I’m in the area?

    • J says:

      The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company puts on world-class free performances in Boston Commons. Looks like they’re doing Romeo & Juliet this year. Walden Pond is gorgeous. MIT has a hands-on science museum that’s pretty good.

      • Matt M says:

        The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company puts on world-class free performances in Boston Commons.

        As a tourist who tried to attend this, it’s worth noting that if you want a decent viewing position, you best get there a couple hours early and bring a blanket or whatever else you’ll need. It’s basically an open field that fills up fast.

    • andhishorse says:

      Look up the Cambridge Less Wrong group (they have a Facebook page; Less Wrong Cambridge is the UK one), and there may be some SSC meetups organized by some of the same people (there was one a month ago but I missed it; it was only the second in the series and I don’t know if it’s continuing).

      Visit the Museum of Science! It’s cool and medium-low hands-on.

      If you think you might enjoy nerdy burlesque shows (a la “Dr. Horrible ‘s Strip-Along Blog”), check out the Oberon near Harvard Square.

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      Eat at Hi-Fi Pizza; it’s in Central Square, next to the Middle East.

      Stroll along the Esplanade and Memorial Drive on a Sunday (no cars).

      Go to the North End and get a cannoli. Be sure to pick an old-fashioned bakery with a linoleum floor, like Bova’s or Parziale’s. Mike’s Pastry is also good.

      • moyix says:

        I’m sad to say Hi-Fi pizza is gone, replaced by Clover (a cancer which is eating Cambridge) 🙁

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      The Gardner Museum is very charming. It was a personal project, and a fine demonstration of what you can do if all you’ve got is good taste and a lot of money.

      The New England Aquarium.

      Joie de Vivre— a gift/toy shop, and it looks like they still let people try out a wild variety of kaleidoscopes.

    • moyix says:

      The Isabella Stuart Gardner museum is lovely, if you enjoy Renaissance art in a beautiful setting (the museum is basically a Venetia palace tucked away in the middle of Boston). It pairs well with this nice article about Bernard Berenson, who was Gardner’s art procurer: http://demazia.org/features/bernard-berenson-revisited

      Outdoorsy things: Mt Auburn Cemetery is a great place to walk around and to go birdwatching, and has a really good view of the skyline if you make it up to the tower. The Charles river makes for fun kayaking this time of year; there is a place to rent kayaks near Kendall Square.

      • Chalid says:

        Another great outdoor thing is to rent a bike and just go up the Charles. (Downriver isn’t terrible but it’s less nice.)

        Also the Arnold Arboretum is lovely.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Is the Gardner mostly Renaissance art? I thought it had a bunch of periods and was strong on impressionism.

        • onyomi says:

          Yes, the Gardner is a rare museum where you will see an amphora tucked under a Dutch master in a room interior decorated for them both. Definitely my favorite museum in Boston. Also, free admission if you happen to be named Isabella.

  7. manwhoisthursday says:

    I’ve been formulating my thoughts on why exactly we should be concerned with terrorism, in response to pieces like this. Throwing my own tentative ideas out there for some feedback, so criticize away.

    ——-

    In the grand scheme of things, Islamic terrorism is more of a nuisance rather than an immediate threat to the West’s existence. But that’s not actually saying much: in actual fact, we do take nuisances pretty seriously, because they are a threat to the norms by which a community functions.

    Terrorism is best viewed as a kind of extremely provocative insult. We might think of Islam as that guy in your community who is always starting shit. We would never tell someone to just put up with being pinched in the butt or smacked in the face every day at work, just because being pinched or smacked isn’t actually going to kill them. Violations of this sort will eventually get out of hand and provoke an extreme reaction. Analogously, we can see that Islamic terrorism has provoked some pretty overblown responses from our governments, such as the Iraq War and various other Middle Eastern adventures.

    Those who say that Islamic terrorism is just a fact of life now are asking people to continually put up with gross insults, and I can’t see how that’s going to end well.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      You are fighting a straw man. The most radical “don’t worry so much about terrorism” position is that we should handle it through normal law enforcement, not that we should ignore it. Admittedly, that does pretty much mean you ignore lone-wolf suicide attackers.

      • manwhoisthursday says:

        The problem is that normal law enforcement doesn’t seem to be stopping the terrorists from achieving one of their aims: provocatively insulting the countries they are operating in.

        • Murphy says:

          If your greatest concern in being insulted then you might want to re-order your priorities.

          In your comparison it would be more accurate to describe Islam as “that 50 people in your community who look kinda the same, amongst them there’s that asshole who is always starting shit, of course there’s that christian guy who’s always starting shit as well but he’s nothing to do with me but all those 50 Islamic people share responsibility for their asshole”

          Always remember to divide by the billion when making estimates of average-assholiness . Islam is a huge religion.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Sorry, but we don’t actually allow people to go around provoking people. We don’t allow people to pinch or smack someone else at work, even though that is not an immediate threat to their existence.

            And human nature is such that continual provocation simply will result in an escalation to violence. It’s not a matter of what my own priorities are.

            —–

            And your implication that Christian terrorism is just as much of a problem is empirically false.

          • VivaLaPanda says:

            @manwhoisthursday

            I don’t think the implication was that Christian terrorism was as much of a problem, it was that terrorists make up a tiny proportion of all Muslims.

            Not to be too LessWrongy but… From a Bayesian sense, the question is if we have a random person, there is some probability they are a terrorist. If we discover they are Muslim, how does the posterior probability change.

            The probability of a random person in the US is approx 1.8×10^-6 (Terrorist convictions / US Population). 6% of terrorist attacks between 2002-2005 were by Muslims according to this document. That may have gone up, so let’s be real generous and say 15%. .9% of the US is Muslim according to Pew.

            That gives us a posterior probability of 0.00003, or about 16.6 times more likely (Math).

            So ultimately, it seems like the answer is: Muslims are still really unlikely to be terrorists even being generous, but they are significantly more likely than a person taken at random.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            I don’t think the implication was that Christian terrorism was as much of a problem, it was that terrorists make up a tiny proportion of all Muslims.

            but not as small a proportion as “christian terrorists” make up of christians

            or any other demographic group ever at all, in the past 20 years or so

          • Nornagest says:

            South Americans, maybe? Or Communists, though that’s diluted quite a bit by China. FARC, NLA, and Shining Path were all active in South America pretty recently, and we could add the New People’s Army (Philippines) under “communists”.

        • Tatu Ahponen says:

          It stops a great deal of potential terrorist attacks. You just understandably hear more about the ones it doesn’t stop than the ones it does.

          • albatross11 says:

            Do we have a good idea how many actual terrorist attacks are stopped by law enforcement? The datapoints/anecdotes I vaguely remember:

            a. I don’t think the TSA (US airport security) has ever knowingly stopped a terrorist attack on a plane. They’ve caught people trying to bring weapons or (at least once) explosives on planes, but never attempted terrorist attacks. However, they may have dissuaded terrorist attacks on planes by their presence–it’s not clear how we’d even measure that. And they may have made the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber use less-effective techniques that caused their attacks to fail.

            b. In the aftermath of the Snowden leaks, there were initially claims that massive surveillance had stopped many terrorist attacks in the US. Later when an official panel with the appropriate clearances investigated this, they couldn’t point to any cases where they’d definitively stopped attacks. (But they may have held back some information to protect their methods, and maybe they’ve had an important supporting role in stopping some attacks we haven’t heard about.)

            c. In the US there have been several high-profile FBI arrests of alleged terrorist plotters. Some seem like they were serious attempts, but a large fraction look like an FBI informant getting together a bunch of hapless losers and providing the money, plans, and pretend bombs for a plot. It’s not very clear to me how many of these arrests made anyone safer. (On the other hand, maybe without this level of entrapment/infiltration going on, terrorist groups would be able to organize and recruit more effectively in the US.)

          • rlms says:

            @albatross11
            I remember reading a figure of 18 in the last few years in the UK somewhere.

          • Controls Freak says:

            In the aftermath of the Snowden leaks, there were initially claims that massive surveillance had stopped many terrorist attacks in the US. Later when an official panel with the appropriate clearances investigated this, they couldn’t point to any cases where they’d definitively stopped attacks.

            The reporting I recall was that a particular member of a WH panel didn’t think Section 215 had accomplished much. 215 was the one legitimately controversial program revealed by Snowden (amist a massive number of unquestionably legal and uncontroversial programs), which collected domestic telephony metadata in bulk (constraints were provided on the query side).

            That program of bulk collection was ended by USAFA two years ago, but it is difficult to tell just how influential such reporting was in that decision. Congress tweaked it slightly, moving the querying constraints over to the collection side… so they must have thought that there was some non-zero benefit to a program in that vein (and the privacy advocates dutifully fell in line to decry the shift as being meaningful, even though it embraced pretty much exactly what they were asking for).

            I don’t really have much to say on this score, because most of the reporting uses strange metrics. I’ve seen things like, “Was the primary source for thwarting a major attack,” which has more loopholes than you can drive a truck through (215 simply isn’t going to be “the primary source” for approximately anything – that’s just not what it was for; clearly, whether or not a ‘major’ attack was thwarted is also problematic).

            The linked article used the phrases “stopped an imminent attack”, “achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature”, and “no instance in which NSA could say with confidence that the outcome [of a terror investigation] would have been any different without the program”. These are quite critical comments, but they still leave open a host of ways that such a program could have been useful (after all, calculating how situations would turn out differently given a small change at the lead-generation stage is an incredibly difficult problem to have “confidence” on).

            Anyway, even that reporting remarked on the effectiveness of other surveillance programs, specifically the ones authorized by Section 702. From the same linked article:

            The comparison between 702 overseas interceptions and 215 bulk metadata collection was “night and day,” said Stone. “With 702, the record is very impressive. It’s no doubt the nation is safer and spared potential attacks because of 702. There was nothing like that for 215. We asked the question and they [the NSA] gave us the data. They were very straight about it.”

            Of course, since Section 702 expires at the end of this year, all of the interested parties are gearing up for the reauthorization battle… so prior reporting about 215 not having a proven record are going to get rounded off to, “NSA surveillance is ineffective,” at least for the anti-702 folks.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      These kinds of analyses are never useful. Utilitarianism has no concept of moral desert which hamstrings any attempt to translate the intuitive logic of self-defense into a utilitarian framework.

      Think back to when you were in school. When the teachers punished the good kids who fought back just as harshly as the bullies then they were rewarding bullying. The good kids had something to lose from getting caught fighting. The bullies could care less: they didn’t want to be in class anyway, so a suspension was just doing them a favor. So when the good kids stopped fighting the bullies started hitting them that much harder.

      We should all remember this clearly by now. Bullies prey on weakness but they’re cowards at heart. If you sock them one when the teacher isn’t looking they’ll generally back down and look for easier prey.

      The problem with terrorism isn’t that it might provoke the victims to fight back and hurt the terrorists. The problem is that the victims are being prevented from fighting back effectively which just enables further attacks.

      • rlms says:

        What do you propose be done to fight back against terrorism? How can we identify the bullies?

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          Raymond Westerling seems to have worked out the basics.

          Register all new immigrants from regions linked to terrorism, and infiltrate local communities so as to identify likely terrorists. Then surround neighborhoods harboring terrorists and publicly execute the suspects, with the remainder swearing on the Koran to renounce terrorism.

          It doesn’t have the best optics but it provably works.

          • Zodiac says:

            I know this isn’t the point of this discussion but having our (Germany) agencies “infiltrate” radical organisations has led to the infiltrators becoming the bosses of the organisations and funneling more ressources their way. It’s mind boggling.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            @Zodiac,

            Actually that does seem pretty relevant. And yes, very mind boggling.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            The wins security at the expense of destroying rule of law. This was fine for the Dutch, since they were destroying rule of law outside the Netherlands. But you are suggesting that this method be used in the Netherlands. In that case, it is an absurd price to pay.

          • publiusvarinius says:

            The given word or sworn oath of a Muslim is worthless by design – at least in matters of faith. This has a long tradition: Sunni scholars unanimously agree that ones who are forced to say words of disbelief are not subject to any blame before Allah or any Islamic court, and that one is most definitely not bound by such words.

            Seemingly, the inventors of the religion took efforts to render such strategies nonviable against Muslims.

            That said, surrounding neighborhoods harboring terrorists and publicly executing suspects may have an effect in itself. It sounds horrifying, and something like this done in the UK would probably make for the saddest chapter in Western history.

          • Matt M says:

            It sounds horrifying, and something like this done in the UK would probably make for the saddest chapter in Western history.

            Sadder than “can’t send your 8 year old to a concert without worrying someone will blow her brains out?”

            The choice here isn’t whether people suffer. It’s who suffers, and how much.

          • rlms says:

            @publiusvarinius
            I don’t think lying to police about being a terrorist is unique to Muslims.

            @Matt M
            Do you take the same something-anything-must-be-done attitude towards school shootings?

          • skef says:

            @Matt M
            Do you take the same something-anything-must-be-done attitude towards school shootings?

            No, rlms, remember that actual degree of danger isn’t the issue (e.g. bathtubs and such are irrelevant). It’s not what’s dangerous, it’s what people worry about. That’s the key relevant form of suffering.

          • Matt M says:

            I’m fine with the idea that “something should be done” about school shootings. I just disagree with what the conventional “something” is.

            And that’s sort of my point.

            The left’s position isn’t that “nothing should be done” about Islamic terrorism (even if they sometimes phrase it in ways that sound similar to this). No, they want something done. It’s just that the “something” is something they would have wanted anyway – which is, “enact more leftist policies across the board.”

            If you don’t believe me, spend a few minutes and google “[insert random leftist position here] AND terrorism” and see what you get. Aside from the standard stuff we already know about (poverty, islamophobia, etc.), you occasionally get really great ones like this…

          • INH5 says:

            No, rlms, remember that actual degree of danger isn’t the issue (e.g. bathtubs and such are irrelevant). It’s not what’s dangerous, it’s what people worry about. That’s the key relevant form of suffering.

            Are you trying to argue that people don’t worry about (non-ideological) mass shootings? Because I, at least, can personally attest to feeling a bit scared whenever I went to see a movie in the months following the 2012 Aurora shooting. I occasionally still do.

          • skef says:

            I would say that worry over mass shootings tends to be shorter lived and extend over a shorter distance than worry over terrorist acts, and thus has a lower political impact.

          • Matt M says:

            I’ll also add that we see this dynamic play out with the NRA following every school shooting. They’re PR savvy enough to NOT respond with statements like “School shootings are totally exaggerated by a bunch crazy lefties who are bigoted against guns. Technically speaking, your child is more likely to drown in a backyard swimming pool than be shot at school, but I don’t see you idiots whining about THAT!” Their position is not “This is just part of life and we just have to accept it. No, they come up with plans such as “allow teachers to conceal carry” or “have more armed security guards in schools” or whatever.

            And you can disagree with those plans if you want. You can even mock them, or suggest that they will make the problem even worse. And it’s not unreasonable to think critically for a minute and say (as many people do), “Gee, it seems that the NRA’s ‘solution’ to school shootings is more liberal gun rights… but the entire purpose of their organization is to encourage more liberal gun rights, which they would have been doing even if there was no school shooting, so I doubt whether they genuinely care about this problem or not.”

            And that is why I doubt whether or not leftists genuinely care about terrorism. Because their solutions to it are things like “curb the free speech of my political opponents” and “provide taxpayer funds for the purposes of importing and sustaining the lives of people who are likely to vote for my party” and things like that. Things they already would have wanted anyway.

          • tlwest says:

            Matt M:

            Sadder than “can’t send your 8 year old to a concert without worrying someone will blow her brains out?”

            Yes, without question.

            Fear of criminals is obviously bad for me and my child.

            Becoming criminal in order to make several million people clearly understand that we consider them “the enemy” – catastrophically worse.

          • “Gee, it seems that the NRA’s ‘solution’ to school shootings is more liberal gun rights… but the entire purpose of their organization is to encourage more liberal gun rights, which they would have been doing even if there was no school shooting, so I doubt whether they genuinely care about this problem or not.”

            Very much the same can be said about the movement to suppress climate change, as demonstrated by a cartoon popular with members of that movement.

          • publiusvarinius says:

            @rlms:

            > I don’t think lying to police about being a terrorist is unique to Muslims.

            That’s not the point. There are religions where swearing an oath on the holy book is explicitly meaningful. There are other religions where swearing an oath on the holy book is explicitly meaningless. Islam belongs to the latter category.

          • I’m fine with the idea that “something should be done” about school shootings. I just disagree with what the conventional “something” is.

            And that’s sort of my point.

            The left’s position isn’t that “nothing should be done” about Islamic terrorism (even if they sometimes phrase it in ways that sound similar to this). No, they want something done. It’s just that the “something” is something they would have wanted anyway – which is, “enact more leftist policies across the board.”

            Whereas the right want to respond to school shootings by arming terachers. Are you quite sure there is no equivalence?

          • Murphy says:

            I’m going to be perfectly honest, I’m not muslim but if the police in the state where I’m living started rounding up members of my ethnic group and executing anyone suspected of being involved in terrorism publicly I would start making plans for how to nerve gas the national parliament. If it enjoyed broad public support from the population I wouldn’t even be that discerning and would just aim for fractions of the general population who support murder-on-the-street-without-trial.

            Because at that point a civil war as been declared against me and I’m facing an existential threat.

            Whoever thinks that your plan is a good idea is stupid beyond words. They’ve turned off their brains and given in entirely to the Toxoplasma. It’s not a coherent approach intended to achieve any kind of goal, it’s rage, rage, rage, rage fucking idiotic rage.

            http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/17/the-toxoplasma-of-rage/

            The idea is so bad that you should literally feel nothing but shame for thinking that it’s a good idea.

            Your approach “provably” worked so well at protecting Dutch control that within 3 years the country had declared independence. Such fucking victory. Wow.

          • publiusvarinius says:

            @Murphy:

            Whoever thinks that your plan is a good idea is stupid beyond words.

            I disagree. If your priors show that the only reasonable outcomes are

            1. A prolonged terrorist campaign ending with the victory of your perceived enemies.
            2. A short time of extreme oppression of religious minorities, potentially resulting in a civil war, but in any case ending with the victory of your perceived allies.

            then it seems perfectly rational (and highly illegal, for good reason) to advocate for the latter.

            Whoever thinks that your plan is a good idea is stupid beyond words. They’ve turned off their brains and given in entirely to the Toxoplasma. […] it’s rage, rage, rage, rage fucking idiotic rage. […] Such fucking victory. Wow.

            Whereas you have considered Nabil’s point charitably and calmly explained your POV on the matter.

          • Fahundo says:

            ending with the victory of your perceived enemies.

            What makes you think that? Has a war ever been won by people who were less dangerous than furniture?

          • Murphy says:

            @publiusvarinius

            Fully justified contempt and disdain is not the same thing as rage.

            I gave it as much consideration as it deserved. Did anyone else even read the source he cited? It’s a damning condemnation for the tactic. it’s great if you want to feel great about yourself for about 6 months. Awful and stupid if your outlook is any longer than that. As in the example where the dutch were kicked out a few years later.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            @Murphy,

            It’s interesting what people see as their sacred values.

            British schoolgirls are raped by the thousands or killed by the hundreds by jihadis, and to you that’s nothing to get worked up over. That’s a secular value, something to be traded for a decreased rate of auto accidents.

            A idea of a jihadi being shot, on the other hand, works you up into a such rage that you’d consider killing your countrymen more-or-less at random. That’s a sacred value, with any trade off being unthinkable.

            So what does it say about someone that the lives of our nations’ little girls aren’t sacred but those of our sworn enemies are? Personally I’d be ashamed to admit that.

          • publiusvarinius says:

            @Fahundo: I don’t know, since I’m summarizing the position of someone else. In the hypothetical where Nabil’s idea is acted upon, this is clearly a non-issue. And yes, I am fairly sure that civil wars are usually/eventually decided by other qualities than pre-war viciousness.

          • Matt M says:

            Whereas the right want to respond to school shootings by arming terachers. Are you quite sure there is no equivalence?

            What? Of course there’s equivalence. I’m saying there IS equivalence here.

            I’d LOVE it if general society and mass media looked at leftist “solutions” to terrorism (and, as David Friedman correctly points out, global warming) with the same level of skepticism and incredulity as they look at the NRA’s solutions to school shootings!

          • Murphy says:

            @Nabil ad Dajjal

            You didn’t read my post did you. Or at least you half read it then decided it was too much work to think.

            I said if my own people started rounding up members of my own group and murdering them in the street then I’d fight back because at that point it’s a civil war with the end game being genocide against me and I would be perfectly happy to target supporters of that policy and not just the military.

            The idea of some random people being dragged into the street and murdered without trial (it’s not even an execution, it’s simple murder) to “send a message” pisses me off. Whether it’s jews, muslims or Christians that people want to drag into the street and murder without trial.

            Because it means that people have started listening to literal nazis and implementing their policy suggestions in my country.

            Thousands of girls? What the ever living fuck does that even have to do with anything related to terrorism? It’s like you’ve smooshed together everything you consider evil in the world and then attributed it to an entire ethnic group in your desire to get in some genocide before lunch. Some pedophiles were active somewhere, apparently in your head they’re indistinguishable to you from anyone else from the same religion.

            This isn’t SSC’s normal somewhat-right-wing-and-can-intelligently-justify-their positions stuff. SSC apparently now has literal nazis who advocate dragging people into the street and murdering them without trial to “send a message”. Fuck.

          • Matt M says:

            Very much the same can be said about the movement to suppress climate change, as demonstrated by a cartoon popular with members of that movement.

            David,

            I still remain amazed that this sort of thing hasn’t gained more traction on the right. It is the primary reason why I am an extreme skeptic on global warming.

            There seems to he a HUGE overlap between the following three groups:

            1. People who favored increasing the size and power of the state long before global warming was ever a thing
            2. People who are greatly concerned that global warming is about to destroy civilization as we know it
            3. People who believe the only feasible solutions to global warming involve increasing the size and power of the state

            Now I can’t prove there is any sort of hoax or conspiracy going on here. But if there WAS a hoax or conspiracy along the veins of “let’s manufacture a fake catastrophe that we can use to make the populace more willing to increase the size and power of the state,” well, I feel like this is pretty much EXACTLY what it would look like…

          • Deiseach says:

            This has a long tradition: Sunni scholars unanimously agree that ones who are forced to say words of disbelief are not subject to any blame before Allah or any Islamic court, and that one is most definitely not bound by such words.

            Not just Muslims, Christian scholars would say the same. Nabil’s suggestion is basically coercing people to swear an oath under threat of death (“execute all the suspects” – and if you don’t swear this oath, then you’re a suspect).

            Same principle as a guy putting a gun to your head and saying he’ll pull the trigger unless you convert to Islam. Most people might say the Shahada but afterwards, when the guy has been arrested and they’ve been rescued, how many of them are going to say “Well, I’m a Muslim now! I formally converted!”

            As to “provably works”, internment without trial ended up radicalising a lot of young Northern Irish men (and their families) and if they weren’t sympathetic to/involved with the IRA before, they certainly were afterwards.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Now I can’t prove there is any sort of hoax or conspiracy going on here. But if there WAS a hoax or conspiracy along the veins of “let’s manufacture a fake catastrophe that we can use to make the populace more willing to increase the size and power of the state,” well, I feel like this is pretty much EXACTLY what it would look like…

            That’s one way to look at it.

            Another way could be: the tendencies with capitalism and the pro-corporate that the left has always critiqued, namely the foisting of externalities onto the vulnerable and the inability to move towards any goal that can’t be captured into a profit, are now leading to one of the world’s biggest and most festering problems, validating that perspective and method of critique. The fact that the tools to solve the problem come from the left is a natural consequence of the fact that the problem is of a type that the left has been ruminating on for more than a century.

          • Enkidum says:

            “British schoolgirls are raped by the thousands or killed by the hundreds by jihadis”

            Citation needed.

          • @Matt

            It’s kind of …within expectation…that your attitude to GW is 100% conspiracy theory and 0% science

            Aaaaand the further equivalence is with “the right have always wanted cishet white male domonance, terrorism is giving the perfect excuse to pick on minorities like they always wanted to.”

            The point I am trying and failing to make is that this sort of thing can’t be a good argument when used by one side, and bad when used by the other.

          • Anatoly says:

            @DavidFriedman,

            >Very much the same can be said about the movement to suppress climate change, as demonstrated by a cartoon popular with members of that movement.

            A friend of mine is really worried about the fact that her child is slow to develop speech. The doctors say there aren’t strong symptoms of autism, and although the delay is considerable, it’s too early to worry too much. Despite this, she’s started taking the child to a speech therapist, has moved to higher quality daycare, and has enlisted her husband and extended family to help as much as possible with lots of recommended activities and games, reading to the child, etc.

            When confronted with the possibility that her child’s speech delay may just be a harmless variation within the norm that would have corrected itself naturally within a year or two, she says that even if that’s the case, surely all those activities are good for the child anyhow, and the child appears to enjoy them.

            I guess it’s possible to argue that perhaps she’s just really interested in giving the child the best care possible, having lots of reading time, etc. – and the worry about the possibly catastrophic outcome is more like a way to achieve those real goals.

            But such an interpretation would be both bizarrely uncharitable and, not coincidentally, incorrect.

            It’s quite evident that she’s genuinely moved by an acute fear that her child may never speak, which increases her zeal to read a lot and play a lot with her child (though it already existed before the worries) to an immense degree.

          • CarlosRamirez says:

            @Enkidum

            He probably meant Rotherham:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotherham_child_sexual_exploitation_scandal

            Those guys weren’t jihadis per se, but they were muslim.

          • Nornagest says:

            And that is why I doubt whether or not leftists genuinely care about terrorism. Because their solutions to it are things like “curb the free speech of my political opponents” and “provide taxpayer funds for the purposes of importing and sustaining the lives of people who are likely to vote for my party” and things like that. Things they already would have wanted anyway.

            Too cynical. The Left is sincere in its distaste for colonialism, imperialism, etc., and I think it’s also sincere in attributing terrorism to those forces. And if you believe that, it follows more or less immediately that the way to minimize terrorism is to minimize the usual suspects.

            This is probably wrong, but more because it leans too much on its oppression model (and denies agency to the people it models as oppressed) than because it’s using the issue as cover for political gain.

          • Betty Cook says:

            @ Anatoly

            It’s a side issue to the point you are making, but I’d suggest you point your friend at Thomas Sowell’s books Late Talking Children and The Einstein Syndrome. Evidently his son was late talking, was not autistic, and back then there wasn’t much research on it and it was very worrying–he started looking into it and found a pattern of kids who talk quite late, have math/science/engineering and often music in their (genetic) family background, and I don’t remember what all else, it having been some years since I read the books. But your friend might find the information helpful.

          • Anatoly says:

            @Betty Cook:

            Thanks, that looks very relevant, actually! Forwarded your recommendation.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Whereas the right want to respond to school shootings by arming teachers. Are you quite sure there is no equivalence?

            The right* doesn’t want to arm teachers. The right wants to allow teachers to arm themselves.

            *Actually not the right, but rather the group that argues for armed teachers.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            But [arguing that my friend wanted better child care all along and that speech delay concerns are just a convenient excuse] would be both bizarrely uncharitable and, not coincidentally, incorrect.

            I agree with this. But one of the big reasons it would be uncharitable is because it’s understood that your friend is spending her own resources to address her own concerns.

            Analogously, if people who wanted to enact various liberal policies to address climate concerns gathered resources only from themselves and their friends, there might be grumbling, but otherwise vanishingly little resistance.

            Also analogously, if your friend sought to wrangle local tax money to pay for her child’s needs, we could expect speculation that she’s using speech delay to justify the better care that she really wanted. (It’s not a perfect analogy – I’d expect people probably still wouldn’t care unless she were either well-connected or was arguing for this level of care for every kid in the area.)

          • Matt M says:

            I agree with this. But one of the big reasons it would be uncharitable is because it’s understood that your friend is spending her own resources to address her own concerns.

            And, perhaps more significantly, the friend understands that these resources have a cost. The extra care and therapy will cost money. It will be a hassle for her to drive the child around to these things. Sacrifices will have to be made.

            One of my biggest issues with the “so what if we make the world a better place for nothing?” argument is that it completely ignores the idea that there are any tradeoffs whatsoever. Curbing emissions is assumed to be 100% benefit and zero cost.

            Of course no serious scientist actually thinks this. The IPCC itself doesn’t even claim it.

            There are very real costs to implementing the left’s chosen remedies for climate change, and I refuse to engage in serious debate with anyone who refuses to admit such.

          • Zodiac says:

            There are very real costs to implementing the left’s chosen remedies for climate change, and I refuse to engage in serious debate with anyone who refuses to admit such.

            Isn’t this a little bit too strawmany?
            I doubt a significant part of the left (or anyone for that matter) thinks there are no costs. It’s just that when you assume that the alternative is a dessert planet with no life on it these costs don’t seem so significant. Which brings us into the discussion on the science behind climate change and whether or not this assumption is justified or not.

          • Aapje says:

            @Paul Brinkley & Matt M

            The issue is that you can’t realistically address the issue by only some people doing something. Furthermore, under capitalism, people are pressured into certain behavior where personal utility has a tendency to win out over communal utility, especially when you have defectors.

            Also, I think that many proponents do see downsides, although I think that some of the people here are way too pessimistic with regards to the costs.

          • I didn’t notice you admit there are costs to doing nothing.

          • Matt M says:

            I doubt a significant part of the left (or anyone for that matter) thinks there are no costs.

            I’m not addressing all climate change worry generally, I’m addressing the very specific logic of things like “What if we make the world a better place for nothing?”

            Which fails to concede that…

            a) Some people might not agree that giving more power to the state is making the world better

            AND

            b) Curbing carbon emissions is not “for nothing.” It has a real cost.

          • Matt M says:

            I didn’t notice you admit there are costs to doing nothing.

            No, this specific form of argument is that EVEN IF climate change is completely and totally fake, curbing carbon emissions is STILL a good thing because it improves the world and has zero costs.

            But if climate change is completely and totally fake then there ARE no costs to doing nothing.

            This is why this kind of thing spreads so easily as a popular meme. You have to really dissect it to figure out how dumb it is.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I think that “for nothing” is meant to refer to the purpose, not the cost. I.e., they’re saying that, even if AGW doesn’t exist (and hence efforts to stop it are “for nothing” in the sense of being in vain or without purpose), the sort of measures they’re advocating would still make the world better off overall, not that the sort of measures they’re advocating have no trade-offs of costs associated.

          • Randy M says:

            That may be, but the response of the rationalist is “shut up and multiply” here, no? Removing the biggest pay-off changes the equation. Maybe it’s still net positive, but that should be demonstrated.

          • Matt M says:

            Mr. X,

            … which is exactly why it’s worth being suspicious of someone who simultaneously says

            “science demands we do X” as well as “but even if the science is wrong, X is still a great thing to do”

            If X is so great, argue for it on its own merits and stop trying to confuse the issue with a bunch of temperature graphs. That is the dishonesty of which I complain. We have a bunch of people who, in any and every circumstance would favor increasing the size and power of the state, but who then quickly hide behind “well we HAVE to increase the size and power of the state to deal with this imminent catastrophe” and also, incredulously, “even if the catastrophe doesn’t happen we’re still better off for having a bigger state”

            So put the damn catastrophe aside and explain why a bigger state is better than a smaller one. Is that too much for me to ask?

          • … which is exactly why it’s worth being suspicious of someone who simultaneously says

            “science demands we do X” as well as “but even if the science is wrong, X is still a great thing to do”

            You are doing a great job of attacking claims no-one makes in this forum.

          • rlms says:

            @Matt M
            “explain why a bigger state is better than a smaller one”
            If you look at a list of countries sorted by tax burden, being higher than the US is a fairly strong predictor for being a nice place to live, and being below the US is an almost perfect predictor for being a worse place to live (pretty unarguably completely perfect if you discount Southeast Asian city states, really small countries, and places with lots of oil).

          • Anatoly says:

            @Paul Brinkley and @Matt M,

            >Also analogously, if your friend sought to wrangle local tax money to pay for her child’s needs, we could expect speculation that she’s using speech delay to justify the better care that she really wanted.

            We could expect such speculation, but it’d be false, and it’s really easy to tell that it’s false just by interacting with the child and the mother.

            This isn’t a universal claim. E.g. there are some parents (it’s really controversial how many, but not controversial that this happens sometimes) that go out of their away to obtain an ADHD diagnosis for their kid in order to obtain academic concessions or special treatment, and they either know the diagnosis is not really warranted, or ought to know but effectively brainwashed themselves into believing otherwise.

            But in this case, it’s real easy to tell, the child is almost 4 and not talking, the mother is frantic, there’re all the signs that she’s highly motivated by the fear of the child never learning to talk, and no credible signs that it’s all a ruse to get better care. I’m OK with saying that the desire to get public funds must come with extra scrutiny. But neither such desire on its own, nor her conviction that the better care is beneficial to the child anyway, even taking costs into account (she may well be willing to pay the costs in case the public support is withheld) are nearly credible enough to support in this case the interpretation that it’s all just a ruse to get better care.

            I think it’s helpful to sharply distinguish the truth status of the claim “people who are pro climate activism are using climate as an excuse to get their real goals” from its use a rhetorical weapon. Similarly, if you’re someone who thinks my friend’s child is just fine and there’s no need to waste people’s tax money on extra care, it helps to distinguish the truth claim of “the mother is just using the speech delay as a ruse to get better care” from its use as a rhetorical weapon.

            I think any reasonable person familiar with the people involved will see that the truth status is “false”. I also think it’s helpful to use that for your instrumental purposes. If you know the mother is sincere, it makes sense to try to assuage her fears with evidence (this is especially helpful in a counterfactual universe where the child *is* probably fine – say, the child is actually 1.5 years old and the mother is alarmed beyond all reasonable bounds because her other children already talked complete sentences at that age). If you know the mother is faking her concern, then that’d be a waste of time, but trying to prove this to others would not be. On the other hand, suppose your position is “I don’t care if the mother is sincere or not, and I’m not even going to meet with her to try and decide; I’ll just use the suspicion she’s not to argue at a council meeting that she shouldn’t get the support”. Instrumentally this may work, but it this position outs you as a partisan support-denier. I don’t think you can have that position *and* plausibly claim that you’d like to give support to children who really need it.

            Similarly, if you pay attention to what pro-climate-activism people are saying, you won’t miss the overwhelming, in my opinion, evidence that they do in fact sincerely fear climate change, and are hugely motivated by that – whether they’re right in those fears or not. Not *all* of them are sincere in this way, to be sure – there must be some activists who are really after regulations etc. and are just along for the ride, since climate change is so publicly visible an issue. But if the majority of them were such, the way they discuss the issue including at their own activist forums, they way their emotions highlight their order of priorities etc. would have been vastly different from what in fact it is. You may say “I don’t care if they’re sincere or not, I’ll just use the suspicion that they are to get *my* political benefits”, but that outs you etc. – see the paragraph above. I think you ought to want to know whether pro-climate-activists are in fact using climate as a ruse or not; I think general experience of people and poltiics and discussions should cause you to prefer a charitable prior; I think that actual experience of talking to/observing pro-climate-change activists will overwhelmingly support that prior further, and I think concluding that they’re insincere because “it’s good anyway” is unfounded epistemologically, and not that good for you instrumentally either.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            @Anatoly: There’s no need to justify your friend’s case to us, since it’s an obviously private matter. I would expect pure sympathy here. But it does illustrate part of the problem I’m talking about.

            You presented the evidence and claimed it’s easy to tell that your friend’s genuine motivation is what she says. Suppose it takes five minutes. So in the counterfactual world where she was demanding resources from everyone to fix it, we could get everyone in town to watch a five-minute video about it on GoFundMe and ask for a $5 or $10 donation, and if enough people saw it, she’d probably be funded in short order.

            But most people won’t see that five-minute video – including the people for whom that video would make the difference between donating and walking by. There’s a cost to even reviewing the evidence.

            Now suppose the issue is not just whether to set aside money for her alone, but for everyone who claims they need this special care for their children, and now there are fifty applicants. Anyone unwilling to watch one five-minute video is even less likely to watch fifty of them.

            So the city council gets clever and simply sets aside the money out of tax revenue – and now no one has to produce a five-minute video at all; you just fill out a form. And now there are a thousand applicants. Most people will run across this expense as a news report about a million or so dollars set aside for high-quality care of late talkers and no one-on-one video with a real example, let alone a thousand of them.

            Similarly, if you pay attention to what pro-climate-activism people are saying, you won’t miss the overwhelming, in my opinion, evidence that they do in fact sincerely fear climate change, and are hugely motivated by that – whether they’re right in those fears or not.

            I’ll happily concede that there exist people who are genuinely worried about climate change. All I’m saying is that they do not include the people who think enough of that cartoon to share it as an argument, and that that appears to be a lot of people, given how often I’ve seen it shared.

            The other differences from your friend’s case exacerbate the effect. The fact that the solution requires resources from people who don’t share that concern, and does not require that every single person who expresses concern proves they actually have it, makes a critical difference in how many people we could expect to see expressing concern. We can no longer assume a charitable prior, precisely because of this.

            I’ll admit that making this case might not be instrumentally useful against most people. However, if they’re thinking about the problem rationally, I think there’s a much higher chance that it will work. The rest are presumably attached to various policies for emotional reasons and were unlikely to be reachable anyway.

          • Aapje says:

            @Paul Brinkley

            I’ll happily concede that there exist people who are genuinely worried about climate change. All I’m saying is that they do not include the people who think enough of that cartoon to share it as an argument, and that that appears to be a lot of people, given how often I’ve seen it shared.

            That is not a logical conclusion.

            The point of the cartoon is not that the claim for climate change is bogus, but that the people who share the cartoon either:
            1. Are aware that the certainty for climate change is not 100%, but very high & that other people are less risk averse
            2. Think that the opponents are scientifically illiterate.
            3. Think that the opponents feel that the effort/costs are wasted if climate change is not real

            Or a combination of these.

            The cartoon argues that we should make these changes anyway. For example, we know that cars that run on fossil fuel expel various compounds that harm human health. Replacing those cars with electric cars will provide real benefits.

            Or: we have seen a rather incredible progress in semiconductors for the last decades. We’ve seen similar rapid progress in solar semiconductors/panels, now that we’ve gotten serious about it. So it’s quite likely that electricity production with solar will become far cheaper than producing it with fossil fuels, which could produce many benefits.

            So:
            1. the cartoon weakens the case that the lack of complete certainty for climate change makes the cost not worth it, as there are major benefits beyond potentially preventing severe climate change
            2. The cartoon circumvents the people who disbelieve the science by giving them a ‘your life will be better’ narrative
            3. The cartoon circumvents the fear of making big sacrifices for nothing, by arguing that there is always a benefit

            Again, none of this reasoning behind the cartoon requires that the people disbelieve in climate change. It merely requires that they think their opponents don’t judge the evidence the same. It’s rather ridiculous that they are then attacked for not succumbing to the typical mind fallacy, by assuming that their opponents have the same terminal values and/or way of reasoning.

            Anyway, it’s pretty clear to me that many people here are mindkilled on the topic, where they just can’t do anything but assume bad faith. Matt M can no longer even read English as a result.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Aapje

            For example, we know that cars that run on fossil fuel expel various compounds that harm human health. Replacing those cars with electric cars will provide real benefits.

            Can you quantify the harm on human health of the compounds expelled by fossil fuel cars? Does it increase the risks of disease/negative health by 10%, 1%, 0.000001%? The smaller the harm, the smaller the benefit of switching to electric cars re: reducing the expelled compounds.

            How do electric cars compare to fossil fuel cars on other metrics like price, reliability, crash safety, comfort, etc.? If electric cars make good sense for consumers across the range of metrics, you don’t have to ask/force them to switch, they’ll switch of their own volition.

          • Aapje says:

            @IrishDude

            Can you quantify the harm on human health of the compounds expelled by fossil fuel cars?

            The quantity of the harm is really inconsequential to my argument, since I was arguing that there are benefits at all. Any benefits make the world a better place, which validates the cartoon in the way I explained. So I don’t want to derail the thread by getting into a debate on whether the benefits are significant enough for your liking (which is subjective and thus not very interesting).

            How do electric cars compare to fossil fuel cars on other metrics like price, reliability, crash safety, comfort, etc.?

            Reliability ought to be higher, as the bit that is different (the electric engine) is known to be more reliable than combustion engines. Of course, manufacturers can greatly differ in their production quality and if you are currently buying a Tesla, it may be less reliable than an Asian or German car, because: Tesla is American and Tesla is a young car manufacturer who are also rapidly expanding.

            Crash safety ought to be higher, as the engine block is a major piece of heavy metal that is usually between the driver and the thing the car hits. Removing this tends to make a car safer. Tesla supposedly has designed the battery pack to fail safely. This seems to have worked in the accidents that happened so far, although we have a lack of data whether they are less likely to get on fire than fossil fuel cars.

            Comfort should be a bit higher than a fossil fuel car with equivalent attention paid to comfort, as electric engines are less noisy and create less vibration.

            Currently, the price is high, although running costs are low.

            If electric cars make good sense for consumers across the range of metrics, you don’t have to ask/force them to switch, they’ll switch of their own volition.

            I think that I’ve already argued in the past that you have a broken mental model of capitalism because you look at it statically.

            Mass production makes products cheaper & better. Gradual development makes products cheaper & better. Network effects exist. Etc. A new product could become greatly superior to an existing product over time, yet it could make no rational sense for investors to invest the new product, when they won’t be allowed/able to get a monopoly; and/or make no sense for the customers to buy the product now. So superior outcomes in the long term can be achieved by smart market interventions (which may mean short term inferior outcomes).

            This fantasy by many libertarians that the free market will let the best technology win through mere market forces is more faith than fact & decreasingly true as existing technology is often already quite good, so to pass that threshold takes a lot of time and innovation.

          • Iain says:

            @Irish Dude:

            Can you quantify the harm on human health of the compounds expelled by fossil fuel cars?

            You absolutely can. See, for example, here.

            Smog used to be a much larger problem in American cities than it is today. In large part, that’s due to the imposition of emissions standards. That’s a particularly hard problem for the market to solve on its own; any one person driving a slightly more efficient car is just going to pay more without making a measurable difference in air quality. It’s a paradigmatic example of the tragedy of the commons.

            How do electric cars compare to fossil fuel cars on other metrics like price, reliability, crash safety, comfort, etc.? If electric cars make good sense for consumers across the range of metrics, you don’t have to ask/force them to switch, they’ll switch of their own volition.

            Tesla seems to be doing pretty well for itself. To the extent that it has problems, my understanding is that they mostly appear to be on the supply side; it is difficult to ramp up production quickly enough to meet demand.

            It’s also worth noting that there’s a network effect involved. One of the advantages of driving a non-electric car is that there are gas stations everywhere, but electric charging stations are less frequent. Charging stations are less frequent, of course, because there are fewer electric cars on the road. Again, this is a case where targeted subsidies can help the market transition faster than it would on its own.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Aapje

            The quantity of the harm is really inconsequential to my argument, since I was arguing that there are benefits at all. Any benefits make the world a better place, which validates the cartoon in the way I explained.

            I thought you were arguing a deeper point, that there are net benefits to buying electric cars. Lots of things have benefits that ought not be done, since the costs exceed the benefits.

            That’s why I asked about the other points. On reliability, how long will a battery last before performance degrades significantly compared to combustion engines? How well do batteries work in a variety of climates compared to combustion engines?

            Tesla seems to do relatively well on comfort and safety, but really the price is the sticking point. The model 3 will start at $35,000, while a reliable, safe, comfortable fossil fuel car can be bought for, say $15,000-$20,000. This is a huge cost difference to most of the non-rich populace, where the difference in price could be used to save for health care costs, retirement, schooling for kids, living in a higher quality home, etc. This price difference really changes the calculus of the net benefits of buying electric over fossil fuel cars.

            So superior outcomes in the long term can be achieved by smart market interventions (which may mean short term inferior outcomes).

            What you call “smart market interventions”, I call the use of force by the political class. That you think politicians wise and benevolent enough (and with the proper incentives) to intervene in markets to produce net benefits when sophisticated and wealthy investors with strong incentives to please consumers, both short and long term, won’t, seems to be one of the bigger differences between our world views.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Iain

            Smog used to be a much larger problem in American cities than it is today. In large part, that’s due to the imposition of emissions standards. That’s a particularly hard problem for the market to solve on its own; any one person driving a slightly more efficient car is just going to pay more without making a measurable difference in air quality. It’s a paradigmatic example of the tragedy of the commons.

            It’s true that these tragedy of the commons are difficult for markets to solve. But not impossible. One solution is to internalize the externalities by having private cities, where the owners of the cities are strongly incentivized to provide pleasant environments to attract residents, and can enforce environmental standards on buildings and transportation to create clean and healthy environments.

            ETA: Responding to “You absolutely can. See, for example, here.” I’m interested in the harms of fossil fuel cars that would be alleviated by switching to electric cars today. Modern cars have reduced emissions a lot over the years through use of things like catalytic converters, so those studies on the effects of fossil fuel cars from the 1980s aren’t helpful for determining the health benefits today of switching to electric cars. Plus, I scanned over the bullet points and while there’s discussion on the effect of air pollution on health, I didn’t see any studies that disentangled the environmental effects of cars from other sources.

          • baconbacon says:

            Currently, the price is high, although running costs are low.

            Why are the prices high? Oh, because electric cars need to be lightweight, which means expensive alloys which are produced in not so environmentally friendly ways.

            A new product could become greatly superior to an existing product over time, yet it could make no rational sense for investors to invest the new product, when they won’t be allowed/able to get a monopoly;

            Superior isn’t objective, it is subjective. This mode of thinking virtually always fails for government tinkerers because they try to come up with some definition of superior which inevitably leads to them ignoring major costs for the sake of political calculation.

            and/or make no sense for the customers to buy the product now.

            Just weird. How could a product make sense over time but also not make sense for a consumer to buy the product now?

          • Iain says:

            It’s true that these tragedy of the commons are difficult for markets to solve. But not impossible. One solution is to internalize the externalities by having private cities, where the owners of the cities are strongly incentivized to provide pleasant environments to attract residents, and can enforce environmental standards on buildings and transportation to create clean and healthy environments.

            Three points.

            First: once you take all of the thorny corners of the problem into account — for starters, the possibility for one city to be downwind of another — the difference between private entities enforcing environmental standards and public entities imposing environmental standards seems rather slim. The owners of private cities may well be incentivized to provide pleasant environments, but so too are the residents / voters of traditional cities/states/countries. At the end of the day, you’ve still got a group of people in charge making regulations about environmental standards and imposing them on a geographical area.

            Second: Private cities do not seem, to me, to be the sort of solution you come up with out of an organic pragmatism. They seem like the sort of thing that you come up with when you have an ideological preference for markets and decide to try using them everywhere. As I said above, I do not see a compelling reason to believe that private cities will be massively more efficient than public cities. I can also think of a number of potential problems with them (starting with the dubious incentive of weighting the interests of citizens based on the resources they have available to pay for service). Absent an ideological commitment to markets in all things, I don’t understand the appeal.

            Third, and I think most importantly: any real-world use of private cities to internalize externalities would have to be carefully designed to make sure that the appropriate externalities are captured. What rules are private cities permitted to impose? What actions can they take? Even if careful mechanism design can create a market-based framework for handling a given externality, you’ve still only pushed the problem back one level: somebody still needs to sit down and carefully design the framework. “Sophisticated and wealthy investors with strong incentives to please consumers” may rule the sandbox, but somebody still needs to define the parameters of the sandbox.

            Consider healthcare. Obamacare is a clunky behemoth. In large part, that’s because it is intended to create a framework within which the market incentives of insurance companies are aligned with social utility. Compared to the healthcare policies of other developed nations, Obamacare is unusually market-oriented. That doesn’t actually make it more efficient, because healthcare turns out to be a domain in which markets are a less powerful tool.

            If you don’t see Obamacare as a triumph for markets, I don’t think you should vest your hopes in private cities, either.

            ETA:

            I’m interested in the harms of fossil fuel cars that would be alleviated by switching to electric cars today. Modern cars have reduced emissions a lot over the years through use of things like catalytic converters, so those studies on the effects of fossil fuel cars from the 1980s aren’t helpful for determining the health benefits today of switching to electric cars.

            The widespread use of catalytic converters is largely due to top-down regulations imposing emissions standards. It’s a bit self-defeating to claim that we don’t need top-down decision-making now because of the effectiveness of our earlier top-down decision making.

          • Aapje says:

            @IrishDude

            Tesla seems to do relatively well on comfort and safety, but really the price is the sticking point. The model 3 will start at $35,000, while a reliable, safe, comfortable fossil fuel car can be bought for, say $15,000-$20,000.

            That is a large difference for purely transportation focused consumers, but not so big a difference for new technology this early into the life cycle. Keep in mind that this is already half the price of the model S and that some people think that the difference between the two is so small that the latter is a hard sell. So in just one generation we see the price pretty much cut in half. Yet you completely ignore this evolution, validating my point that you look at the situation as if it is static.

            Also keep in mind that the Tesla cars have many luxury features that a basic fossil fuel car will lack, like the autodriving stuff, the status among large segments of the population of driving zero emissions, the very good acceleration, etc. And especially with the autodriving, Tesla is not working to build a good self-driven fossil fuel car replacement at minimal cost, they are working on building a robotized taxi, which for a large number of people, is a far superior product.

            Also note that the the market for 100% electric is sparse. It is far from a mature market where manufacturers push each other to the limit, like currently exists for fossil fuel cars. Again, that you ignore this shows that you have a static thought pattern. You clearly don’t see various technologies evolving through time, where the significant factor is the quality of competing product at somewhat similar levels of investment in technology.

            For me, that is the ‘deep’ analysis, not a simplistic look at what a young technology offers now compared to very mature existing technology.

            The president of IBM once said: “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” It was a sensible prediction for the computers of the time. It was also a very faulty comment because he had a static mental model and didn’t look at what the technology would/could become, but what it was.

            What you call “smart market interventions”, I call the use of force by the political class.

            And yet when responding to Iain you smuggle in a city state model where you have the same kind of regulations, which is the exact same thing, but at a slightly lower level.

            You know what happens when every city state develops their own rules? Businesses start to cry about the 10 million different regulations and the regulatory pressure that creates (as well as having to get their car tested by the agency of each city state) and the total level of bureaucracy is immense as each city has to reinvent the wheel.

            Anyway, when we are haggling over the optimal size of the polity, there is really no fundamental argument left. You have accepted my model, but you want it to work better than the current US government (which performs fairly poorly compared to many other Western countries, so I can’t blame you) or other Western countries. Well, so do I. But I choose ‘gradual improvements to the best we have’ over ‘Utopian dreams.’

          • IrishDude says:

            @Iain

            First: once you take all of the thorny corners of the problem into account — for starters, the possibility for one city to be downwind of another —

            That’s a thorny problem for private entities and governments. Cities/states/nations in proximity need to coordinate with each other regardless of whether they’re run by private entities or state agents. And just as different governments cooperate (see international environmental agreements between Canada and the U.S.), so too can different private cities cooperate.

            the difference between private entities enforcing environmental standards and public entities imposing environmental standards seems rather slim.

            Capitalist trucks versus communist trucks. Both are trucks, but the incentives involved should lead you to prefer trucks produced by capitalists.

            The owners of private cities may well be incentivized to provide pleasant environments, but so too are the residents / voters of traditional cities/states/countries.

            Voting produces poor incentives to be informed, or even to vote, given the extraordinarily low probability that any one person’s vote will make a difference. See Myth of the Rational Voter:Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies for an in depth discussion.

            At the end of the day, you’ve still got a group of people in charge making regulations about environmental standards and imposing them on a geographical area.

            North Korea and the U.S. are both at the end of the day a group of people making regulations about environmental standards and imposing them on a geographical area. However, given the different structures of the systems and the incentives involved, you should expect better results from one of those groups of people.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @IrishDude:
            Why are you bringing communism in? The question at hand seems to be whether capitalism does better at solving commons problems if it’s regulated, not whether capitalism should be abolished.

            In some sense the market and regulation should be seen as in necessary and good tension, resulting in a more functional and robust overall system.

          • IrishDude says:

            @Aapje

            That is a large difference [$35,000 for a car versus $15-20,000] for purely transportation focused consumers, but not so big a difference for new technology this early into the life cycle.

            It’s a large difference for the non-rich, which is most of the world.

            Yet you completely ignore this evolution, validating my point that you look at the situation as if it is static.

            I thought your claim “For example, we know that cars that run on fossil fuel expel various compounds that harm human health. Replacing those cars with electric cars will provide real benefits.” was a statement you thought applied today. If the claim is instead “At some point in the future, electric cars will provide net benefits over fossil fuel cars and therefore it would be smart to switch to electric cars at that point.” then I don’t necessarily disagree. The future brings lots of technological changes that make old models obsolete through creative destruction.

            What you call “smart market interventions”, I call the use of force by the political class.

            And yet when responding to Iain you smuggle in a city state model where you have the same kind of regulations, which is the exact same thing, but at a slightly lower level.

            I think there’s a big difference between me deciding what rules apply in the house I own, and my neighbors deciding what rules apply in my house. I don’t have a problem with rules, just with rules imposed in certain arrangements, like through political authority.

          • IrishDude says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Why are you bringing communism in?

            I was responding to Iain’s point that “the difference between private entities enforcing environmental standards and public entities imposing environmental standards seems rather slim.” The essay I linked to, which I highly recommend reading, walks through how HOAs and governments seem like the same thing but due to the different incentives involved you should expect HOAs to be more responsive to consumers. Private and public entities making rules have different incentives, and so even if they seem similar on the surface, the difference in standards you can expect them to impose are not ‘rather slim’.

            EDIT: Also, though the linked essay is somewhat dismissive of the moral difference between public and private entities, I think it’s an important distinction as well. I’m not opposed to rules, I’m opposed to people with political authority imposing rules.

          • Matt M says:

            I always love the “government = HOA” comparison.

            As if reducing the size/scale/scope of every government in the world to that of the typical HOA is something libertarians would object to and progressives would be cool with…

            “A government is just like an HOA only five factors of magnitude larger”

            As if that five factors of magnitude is of no particular consequence….

          • Aapje says:

            @IrishDude

            I thought your claim “For example, we know that cars that run on fossil fuel expel various compounds that harm human health. Replacing those cars with electric cars will provide real benefits.” was a statement you thought applied today. If the claim is instead “At some point in the future, electric cars will provide net benefits over fossil fuel cars and therefore it would be smart to switch to electric cars at that point.”

            These aren’t conflicting beliefs, so I don’t understand why you present these as opposing claims.

            It’s perfectly possible for a technology to:
            – Have substantial upsides today
            – Have substantial downsides that currently dwarf the upsides for part of the market (from 0-100% of the market)
            – Most likely going to see substantial improvements of the upsides and reduction of the downsides in the future, if investments are made in research
            – Require some level of non-free market help to get over the bump beyond which market processes cause self-sustaining market growth & creative destruction through competition

            My point is not that this is necessarily true for any specific technology like electric cars. For specific examples, there is always a subjective component where you can disagree based on your predictions of the future. However, the general argument is valid, IMO.

            The future brings lots of technological changes that make old models obsolete through creative destruction.

            This is not magic though. A lot of the technological change of the past came about due to government intervention. My claim is that is that it’s plausible that this is going to be more and more true, as the established technology is already quite good.

            I think there’s a big difference between me deciding what rules apply in the house I own, and my neighbors deciding what rules apply in my house. I don’t have a problem with rules, just with rules imposed in certain arrangements, like through political authority.

            You own the city just as much as the state. Perhaps your point is that you can move cities, but you can also move to a different US state or to a different country. So AFAIK, you are presenting something as a strict dichotomy, while in reality, it is not so.

          • baconbacon says:

            That is a large difference for purely transportation focused consumers, but not so big a difference for new technology this early into the life cycle. Keep in mind that this is already half the price of the model S and that some people think that the difference between the two is so small that the latter is a hard sell. So in just one generation we see the price pretty much cut in half.

            Tesla has a ton of things going for it, but this is a bogus representation. First the Model 3 hasn’t even hit the market yet. Saying the price is cut in half is meaningless until Tesla starts profiting at that price, and considering they were losing money on the S at 2-4x the price without ZEV credits, this is very optimistic.

            Secondly the model 3, while being absolutely critical for success, is still a mile away from the bulk of the US market. The best selling lines in the US in 2016 were

            1. Ford F line
            2. Silverado
            3. Ram
            4. Camry
            5. Civic
            6. Corrolla
            7. CRV
            8. Rav4
            9. Accord
            10. Rogue

            The 3 series is only really competing with the Camry and Accord on this list. All of the trucks and SUVs on the list are probably 5-10 years away from worrying about an electric vehicle usurping them and the smaller sedans are still probably 2-3.

            The network effects that people mention being against Tesla vehicles are actually in their favor as they are free riding off a road system built on gas taxes. A car that averages 30 mpg and lasts for 150,000 miles will pay ~$1,000 more in federal gas taxes. If/As EVs become popular some of that taxation is going to have to shift to their sales costs.

          • Aapje says:

            @baconbacon

            1. I was mainly talking about the market situation. It doesn’t matter for the market penetration if the price is low because a loss is made or the manufacturing has become much cheaper. Although you are right that it may not reflect technological process if they make a bigger loss on the model 3.
            2. I was not arguing that Tesla would take over the market tomorrow and in fact, that they are far off from being a major player just bolsters my point that replacing mature technology is often very hard and takes a long time.
            3. You are incorrect that the network effects are in their favor. Access to the roads is something that both cars with combustion engines and electric cars benefit from equally. The lack of taxes on electric cars is a subsidy* that keeps the price down, not something that makes the product function better or the manufacturing cheaper, which is what network effects do. The greater number of gas stations and garages are network effects where the cars with combustion engines have a big advantage, as of yet.

            * I never argued that Tesla was not already profiting from subsidies.

          • baconbacon says:

            It doesn’t matter for the market penetration if the price is low because a loss is made or the manufacturing has become much cheaper.

            Market penetration won’t be sustained if prices are low due to losses. If the Model 3 is a major loser (and maybe even a minor loser) for Tesla it will either get pulled or the price will be increased (or the government will subsidize them heavily).

            You are incorrect that the network effects are in their favor. Access to the roads is something that both cars with combustion engines and electric cars benefit from equally. The lack of taxes on electric cars is a subsidy*

            Six of one half dozen of the other. The ‘same’ network effects, only cheaper is in EVs favor. Likewise a great many people have access to electricity where they park their cars the majority of the time. The lack of chargers (and specifically super chargers) is only a problem because EVs lack the range of traditional cars, and virtually every driver wants a car capable of 300+ miles per fill up. Only a handful of vehicles exist on the roads that don’t have this capacity.

          • Aapje says:

            If you can outresearch your losses, you can make it work. That’s the game console model. The first model sells at a loss, you improve production processes until you are no longer making a loss.

            Also, if they manage to get a fully/sufficiently robotized car out first, lots of people will be willing to pay a premium for this. Tesla/Musk may simply want loads of Tesla’s out there to collect data/have a test platform for Tesla 2.0: the singularity.

          • baconbacon says:

            If you can outresearch your losses, you can make it work. That’s the game console model. The first model sells at a loss, you improve production processes until you are no longer making a loss.

            This isn’t at all the game console model. The big name consoles are owned by major companies (Microsoft/Sony) and either are/were side projects and not the major drivers of revenue. Additionally the Model 3 is between the 3rd and nth generation of EV (depending on how you look at it), not the first generation market toe dipping. The Leaf and the Volt are more like the game console model if we take this analogy, not the Model 3.

            Also, if they manage to get a fully/sufficiently robotized car out first, lots of people will be willing to pay a premium for this. Tesla/Musk may simply want loads of Tesla’s out there to collect data/have a test platform for Tesla 2.0: the singularity.

            Self driving vehicles are the most beneficial to those that drive the most. Taxi services, long distance trucking, people who go on 8-12 hour drives to visit family. These are the areas where automated cars are worth a premium.

            Currently Tesla has been hyping how much FUN it is to drive, then you move on with your day. 0-60 faster than an X! Better handling than Y! Now jump right in and have the robot enjoy pushing down on the acelerometer isn’t exactly a broad based pitch. Unless EVs are specifically easier to turn into autonomous vehicles they are way behind the 8 ball here (unless they are able to modify their tech to be installed in conventional cars or are able to squeeze 300+ miles out of their batteries).

          • Aapje says:

            @baconbacon

            Plenty of people have 1-2 hour commutes, which, assuming 8 hours of sleepy times, is 1/16th-1/8th of people’s waking hours. Hardly insignificant.

        • James Miller says:

          Every person living in the country has to buy $10 million of terrorism insurance payable to the government in the event they become a terrorist. Insurance companies set rates based on risk so it costs little for most people. If you can't afford to buy insurance you have to leave the country or live in a "special place". Yes this would be unconstitutional but it would also greatly reduce terrorism.

          • Zodiac says:

            Can’t wait to pay 300$ a month if I want to use encryption.

            No, but seriously, do we actually have enough data concerning the risk factors that we could make accurate assessments?

          • James Miller says:

            Zodiac,

            Good point about the encryption. Part of the value of insurance is that it creates incentives to gather new data and to improve risk assessments.

          • Murphy says:

            Right, so if one of my family members gets shot execution style in the back of the head by a police officer my premiums go up through the roof.

            If I get attacked on the street by the local version of the KKK who happen to share a lot of the same members with the local police force then my premiums go up through the roof.

            If I get generally treated like crap by horrible poeple my premiums go up through the roof.

            Sounds like a way of legitimizing lynch mobs running people out of town.

            “well, he was making his anti-terrorism insurance payments but then we formed a lynch mob, we checked with Mike from the insurance company and he said that since the formation of the mob the premiums were going to go too high to be affordable so we were in the clear for running him out of town”

            It wouldn’t just be unconstitutional, it would also be unconscionable and genuinely evil.

            Why not just pull a north-korea if you’re going to stop pretending to not be evil. If you become a terrorist the government finds the 10 people who you love/loved most in the world and tortures them to death publicly over the course of several months.

            Won’t it be fun to find out how the definition of terrorist changes over time.

          • Not seeing that. Someone who is at high risk for Being a Terrorist would have to huge premiums, and might conclude that, since they have payed the price, they might as well commit the crime.

            This will also incentivise people to hide information of interest to the security forces to lower their premium.

            And given that the high risk group can;t afford high premiums, they will end up in the Special Place, so this is internment by the back door…only less effective, for the reasons given.

            Why not just pull a north-korea if you’re going to stop pretending to not be evil.

            In libertarian belief there are a bunch of things that aer evil when done by the state, but perfectly fine when done by the market.

          • Murphy says:

            But this isn’t done by the market, it would be something mandated by the state and merely facilitated by the market.

          • Yes it’s lightly disguised and less effective state power.

      • nathanhouk23gmailcom says:

        This is false. The Nazis had to deal with terrorism while occupying Eastern Europe. They would indiscriminately and publicly kill people in towns where terrorist attacks occurred. It did not stop the terrorism. You simply cannot be brutal enough to stop it.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          Can you provide a link to that effect?

          You simply cannot be brutal enough to stop it.

          I would be more convinced of that conclusion if we had ever at any point attempted to stop terrorism through brutality. It’s conceivable that reprisals along the lines of Ted Cruz’s promise to find out whether sand can glow in the dark would work.

          That said, my preferred solution would be involve much less loss of innocent life. The Westerling Method seems to have worked for the Dutch in Sulawesi.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            The Westerling Method seems to have worked for the Dutch in Sulawesi.

            Bear in mind, the Dutch were physically present in Sulawesi. If you try to do this by remote control you just get Obama’s drone policy, so you are arguing for the status quo.

            EDIT: Ah I see you were referring to doing this on Western soil. I’m leaving my comment anyway, since how to deal with Islamists abroad is also important.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            Contrary to popular belief, Americans and British are in fact physically present within the US and UK respectively.

          • John Schilling says:

            If you try to do this by remote control you just get Obama’s drone policy, so you are arguing for the status quo.

            And there were very few Islamic terror attacks against the United States during the Obama administration, while here we are talking about Yet Another Terrorist Attack against a nation that hasn’t been drone-striking the crap out of every reasonably terrorist-like target it can find in half a dozen Islamic nations.

            I was called upon recently here to say what I thought were the most egregious failures of the Obama administration, so it’s only fair to say that this is one of the things he got absolutely right. Wouldn’t have expected it a priori, and the Nobel Peace Prize was clearly premature, but as an effective and relatively bloodless non-tyrannical anti-terror strategy the combination of drone warfare with ordinary police and intelligence work has a lot going for it.

            Well, that and not having a domestic population of two million unassimilated Islamic subjects.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Agreed on John’s position. I was extremely skeptical of the Obama Administration’s CT policy when it was initially rolled out, but I think it’s been an outstanding success overall. I still disagree with their conventional military and diplomatic strategies for Iraq and Afghanistan, but the heavy use of USSOCOM and the Intel Community along with international cooperation and heavy use of drones payed great dividends.

            The only real downside has been been that it’s VERY hard to sustain this sort of operational tempo for the forces we’ve been using to make the targetting possible.

            And before someone says that I’m horrible for not listing collateral damage as a downside, I’ll simply point out that there is no equally effective tactics that wouldn’t produce far MORE collateral damage.

          • Murphy says:

            Has nobody else actually read that wiki? The Westerling Method was “so successful” that within 3 years the country had declared independence. The only wonder is that the dutch government managed to force an agreement as a condition to that to not prosecute them for war crimes.

            And this is being held up as a “success”?

            Successfully pissing off the public in the country so much that within a few years they declared independence to get rid of you.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            It was successful at its goal. The rebellion ended and peace was restored.

            The fact that the civilian government then failed to capitalize on that victory doesn’t negate it. The same as the Tet Offensive in Vietnam or the Surge in Iraq; a government determined to lose a war will always find some way to surrender to a beaten enemy.

            It’s an stale bit of rhetoric. Our military victories are war crimes, while our enemies’ crimes are noble resistance.

          • Murphy says:

            Not only do you apparently classify utter failures as success, you can apparently also classify utter defeat as victory.

            Openly murdering civilians without trial is fairly textbook warcrimes.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Openly murdering civilians without trial is fairly textbook warcrimes.

            Well, duh, that’s why you’re supposed to blow yourself up when you do it. That way any possible repercussions are immoral.

        • Wrong Species says:

          I think the Mongolians would disagree with you.

        • Anonymous says:

          You simply cannot be brutal enough to stop it.

          Rather: Westerners are insufficiently ballsy to be brutal enough to stop it.

          Still, brutality is not required. A simple edict of expulsion would work.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Are you seriously suggesting that the Germans and Japanese in WWII weren’t brutal enough?

          • Anonymous says:

            Wrong question.

            The only question is whether a policy eliminates enemies faster than it creates new ones. In the case of the Axis powers, they were evidently producing too many enemies for them to handle – especially in a war of annihilation against the rest of the world. Consider a hypothetical scenario in which Peggy Sue and friends win the war. Do you think that they would be incapable of permanently suppressing domestic terrorism through brutality? I saw some documents related to Generalplan Ost, where the Nazis were considering “reducing” some conquered populations (including mine) by up to and including 100%. Dead people seldom commit terrorist attacks.

          • James Miller says:

            “Make a desert and call it peace” did work for the Romans.

          • dndnrsn says:

            There’s a bit of a difference between seeking to suppress rebellion/resistance, and intentionally starving ~30 million (as I believe GPO was supposed to).

          • Rob K says:

            @James Miller

            cute line, but you’re quoting a polemic anti-Roman speech Tacitus put in the mouth of a tribal chieftain, not describing Rome’s standard occupation strategy, which tended to involve Romanizing the local elites and getting them invested in the smooth operation of the empire.

          • James Miller says:

            @Rob K

            That was the goal, and it worked in part because of what elites feared would happen if they rebelled. See, for example, Hadrian’s treatment of the Jews.

          • Aapje says:

            @Rob K

            My newspaper recently had a story about how, during the time when Caesar expanded the Roman empire to the low countries (South of the Netherlands + Belgium), a lot of farms were razed and people stopped paying with gold coins.

            Although the dating of these events can only be done roughly and thus cannot be attributed with certainty to Caesar, it is quite telling that Caesar was in severe debt when he left Rome and while abroad, he became very, very rich.

          • We could not predict the consequences of the Iraq war correctly….why would we be able to predict the consequences of mass expulsion?

        • Civilis says:

          This is false. The Nazis had to deal with terrorism while occupying Eastern Europe. They would indiscriminately and publicly kill people in towns where terrorist attacks occurred. It did not stop the terrorism. You simply cannot be brutal enough to stop it.

          Two potentially apocryphal stories are relevant here. There’s a story (possibly of the Dazexiang uprising in China) where two military officers were prevented from getting their unit to its post on time. “What’s the penalty for being late?” “Death.” “What’s the penalty for treason?” “Death.” “I have news for you: we’re late.” With the Nazis, the threat of death was always an option, regardless of what you did. Better to risk death fighting them.

          The second story concerns terrorism more recently. As the story goes, in 1985, as a response to Soviet-backed forces in Lebanon, members of a radical Hezbollah faction kidnapped Soviet diplomats. In response, Soviet envoys met with a Lebanese Shiite religious leader and threatened not just him, but his Iranian backers. They also kidnapped the relative of a top Hezbollah leader and killed him, then sent that leader a stern warning with names of some of his other relatives. The surviving kidnapped diplomats were shortly thereafter dropped off back at the Soviet embassy. (Most complete version of the story I’ve seen is at https://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/how-to-deal-with-hostage-takers-soviet-lessons/).

          There’s not much we can do to stop true Lone Wolf terrorism or even just people going crazy. A car is a potentially lethal object; as long as we trust people with them, the potential for mass casualty incidents exists. What we can do is look at the state sponsors of terrorism. There’s a reason Arafat and bin Laden never strapped on suicide vests, and a reason governments like Iran pay groups like Hezbollah to act as proxy armies for them. As long as the people providing the money are personally immune from the risks of going to war, there’s no downside for them to encouraging terrorism.

          • rlms says:

            I don’t think many SSC readers are idealistic enough to want to solve the problem of proxy wars in general. Speaking for myself (but I expect many would agree with me), Iran and Saudi Arabia can fund guerrilla groups (I think that’s a more accurate description if we’re talking about things like the Syrian civil war) to fight proxy wars as much as they want, if they can work out how to do it without causing terrorism in the West.

          • Protagoras says:

            I’m very suspicious of this story. A Christian Science Monitor article on the event credits the Soviet Union having more allies in the area for the release of the diplomats. That version of events would explain why these were not only the last but also the first Soviet diplomats kidnapped; the Soviets hadn’t been targeted during the previous three years of the kidnapping campaign (no idea why they were targeted in this case; possibly somebody screwed up).

        • dndnrsn says:

          Yes. German occupation policies in WWII generally included shooting x number of locals for every German/collaborator killed/wounded. x varied depending on where they were. This did not prevent resistance and partisan movements from existing.

          I’m pretty sure historical evidence suggests that some variant of stick-and-carrot is the most workable way to fight this sort of thing.

    • bintchaos says:

      It won’t end well.
      You guys are getting this wrong. In a globalized connected world islamic terrorism is best viewed as a response to brown muslim people being remote-control massacred on a daily basis for their shared faith.

      I know this blog is filled with admiration for the products of the jewish diaspora– what will we get from the islamic diaspora? Instead of hyper-intelligent nuclear physicists perhaps new strains of super-terrorists?
      Super-warriors?
      And, right on cue.

      • brown muslim people being remote-control massacred on a daily basis for their shared faith.

        If the reason to remote control massacre people was their Muslim faith, wouldn’t the targeting be considerably more random?

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          “If the reason to remote control massacre people was their Muslim faith, wouldn’t the targeting be considerably more random?”

          I think the thought can be salvaged by taking it as meaning that little care is taken about which brown-skinned Muslims get killed rather than meaning that any random brown-skinned Muslims are being attacked.

          • Fahundo says:

            I thought the point bintchaos was making was that someone out there believes they are being attacked for shared faith and responds based on that belief.

          • bintchaos says:

            Sunni muslims get killed.

          • Sunni muslims get killed

            Not nearly as many as were killed by Shia Muslims during the Iran/Iraq war (and, of course, Shia by Sunni). Wars, unfortunately, kill people.

          • Civilis says:

            Sunni muslims get killed.

            I can sympathize, because Islamic reaction is in may ways similar to the American Jacksonian school of foreign policy. We’re foreigners, and it doesn’t matter what came before, we hurt Sunnis and there must be a response. In a conflict between a fellow Muslim and a non-Muslim, you want to side with the Muslim, in a conflict between a Sunni and a Shia, you want to side with the Sunni (if you’re Sunni), and in a conflict between a Sunni kinsman and a non-Sunni kinsman, you want to side with the kinsman. The problem is you won’t stop to examine whether that way of thinking is sustainable.

            9/11 isn’t viewed by the West, especially the American Jacksonians, as a legitimate response for dead Iraqi Sunnis, it’s viewed as a treacherous response to the US going in to support and help the Sunni-majority Kuwaitis. What we’re hearing is ‘It doesn’t matter that in balance you helped more Sunnis than you hurt, since you hurt Sunnis, we’re justified in going after you.’

      • hlynkacg says:

        I get the impression that you haven’t actually spoken to many Islamic insurgents. This isn’t about revenge, this is about Baraka. They don’t fight because they expect to win, they fight because it’s good for thier soul.

        • bintchaos says:

          In humans some part is always about revenge…the neuro-receptors for revenge are co-located in the same small area of the neocortex as for opiates and sex.
          And yes, the mujahideen are pretty much guaranteed a place in jannah if Allah accepts their shahada.
          Again, salvation by works. Because of the exemplar of the Sahaba and the Tabi’un atrocity is permitted.
          A muj i used to speak to often told me the Companions feared riyya (pride, arrogance) every day, that it would deny them entrance to jannah.
          The muj fight with the expectation they will live again in jannah.
          https://twitter.com/ye_wenjie3/status/871568331685462016

          • John Colanduoni says:

            So, some part of terrorism is also about opiates? Or with humans some part always about opiates?

            Instructions unclear, war on drugs ramped up.

          • bintchaos says:

            No, the point is revenge is addictive and pleasurable.
            Like opiate use and sex.

          • hlynkacg says:

            …and that’s precisely why calling terrorism “a response to brown muslim people being massacred via remote-control” is horse-shit.

            Like I said, for the rank and file this isn’t about revenge, it’s about Baraka. Even without drone strikes, the drive to seek salvation through works would remain.

      • The left often call for less warfare in the ME. I’m disappointed that the right wingers here have not addressed that point, preferring lurid conspiracy theories.

        • bintchaos says:

          Truedat.
          What I see in all these discussions is a total lack of reality processing and zero understanding of demographic shift. The Arab Spring was caused by global connectivity and the Internet. The internet accelerates socio-entropic decay of the existing equilibrium systems. Insurgents and revolutionaries are suddenly able to convert and recruit globally.
          And note: Islam is the fastest growing religion.
          My hypothesis is one reason is that Islam is more competitive on the internet (especially with youth demographics) than christianity, which is sort of an uncool antique religion– not exciting. I met many IS sympathizers in gaming and anime online communities.
          Also, large percentage of youth in the population correlates with revolutions and insurgencies. The growth plates for youth population bulge (for the nxt 40 years) are centered in ME, North Africa, and Sub-saharan Africa, places where there are majority sunni muslim populations.
          It is possible that we will see migration of 100s of millions out of Africa moving north. Civil wars, climate change famine, economic migration, etc. The conservative position on this seems to be build anti-immigration barriers and “make the sand glow”– I assume that is a bombing metaphor.
          The problem is US hostage-to-fortune Israel. A tiny pocket of 8.8 million Israeli jews in a sea of 100s of millions of sunni and shia muslims that are intransigently hostile to Israel. Soon to experience migration pressure from Africans moving north. US tries to force ME allies into partnership with Israel under the table, but if the populations get wind of this scheme they will topple their governments.
          At a minimum youth population of 1 billion in Africa means a depthless recruiting pool for islamic insurgencies.
          So this problem is only going to get worse. And no one is talking about it.
          US strat has always been to arm the minority to oppress the dangerous majority.
          I dont think that is viable under the kind of migration tsunami we are going to see over the next 40 years.

          • Rowan says:

            “Make the sand glow” is a reference to nuclear bombing specifically, as much hyperbole as it is a metaphor – “we’ll drop so many nukes in the region that the sand is radioactive enough to glow”. See also “glass” as a verb in SF.

        • Matt M says:

          And yet, when their poster boy had eight years in office (including a couple with total party control of Congress), he did very little to decrease the amount of war in the ME.

          • herbert herberson says:

            And that betrayal was a significant contributor to a leftist insurgency revolting against the establishment center-left liberal who was widely and mostly-correctly seen as being the biggest war booster within that administration.

            (Granted, Bernie himself was mostly focused on domestic policy and is relatively moderate on foreign policy, but the vast majority of the leftward critiques of HRC I saw, and all the ones I made, included mentions of Libya and/or Honduras)

            I’m not British, but it looks like something similar is happening over there, too.

          • bintchaos says:

            Obama had a stealthy strategy for disengaging the US from the ME without abandoning Israel. It was deliberately kept from the US public and media. But those darned hyper-intelligent jews figured it out!

            America’s settled policy of standing by while half a million Syrians have been killed, millions have become refugees, and large swaths of their country have been reduced to rubble is not a simple “mistake,” as critics like Nicholas D. Kristof and Roger Cohen have lately claimed. Nor is it the product of any deeper-seated American impotence or of Vladimir Putin’s more recent aggressions. Rather, it is a byproduct of America’s overriding desire to clinch a nuclear deal with Iran, which was meant to allow America to permanently remove itself from a war footing with that country and to shed its old allies and entanglements in the Middle East, which might also draw us into war. By allowing Iran and its allies to kill Syrians with impunity, America could demonstrate the corresponding firmness of its resolve to let Iran protect what President Barack Obama called its “equities” in Syria, which are every bit as important to Iran as pallets of cash.

            This is probably the only way disengagement could happen before the demographic shift timer starts going off.
            HRC would have continued it…unsure about Trump.

            From what I have observed in this community, Trump is the perfect avatar of the GOP– he leads with his gut. In any situation he prefers his gut feeling to either established policy or expert advice. That is fascinating– conservative SSC commenters (even while highly educated) prefer their gut solutions– bombs and drones, law enforcement, borderline fascism, military might– its inconceivable that superpower US could fail to crush these insignificant “losers”. The objective of terrorism is to convince citizens
            that their government cannot protect them.
            The sans-culottes were terrorists you know.
            Robespierre–
            La terreur n’est autre chose que la justice prompte, sévère, inflexible; elle est donc une émanation de la vertu ; elle est moins un principe particulier, qu’une conséquence du principe général de la démocratie, appliqué aux plus pressants besoins de la patrie.
            –Sur les principes de morale politique

            (Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country’s most urgent needs.)

      • fortaleza84 says:

        islamic terrorism is best viewed as a response to brown muslim people being remote-control massacred on a daily basis for their shared faith.

        Then why is there so much Muslim on Christian terrorism in places like Egypt? What did Egyptian Christians do to provoke such treatment?

        I think that at some point, we need to stop blaming the victims.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          Then why is there so much Muslim on Christian terrorism in places like Egypt?

          For that matter, why is there so little Christian-on-Muslim terrorism in places like Egypt? Egypt’s Copts are currently being “massacred on a daily basis for their faith”, so why haven’t any Copts blown themselves up in a concert hall?

          • Aapje says:

            Terrorism is poking the bear. You don’t poke the bear when he will just eat you & people will just shrug and and say: it was his own fault for poking that bear.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I agree , but this also points to “be the bear” being a viable counter-terrorism tactic.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I agree , but this also points to “be the bear” as a viable counter-terrorism tactic.

            To be the bear, you have to be both tough enough to pull it off and utterly indifferent to reaction of the international community (and your own people, though that’s less of a problem immediately following an attack) of doing so. Which means that the Russians, naturally, get to be the bear.

          • Anonymous says:

            Which means that the Russians, naturally, get to be the bear.

            There certainly is something admirable in determining victory solely in terms of all the enemies being dead.

          • Brad says:

            And if there aren’t enough terrorist attacks to provide opportunities to prove how bear like they are, well they just blow up their own apartment buildings. Because that’s how real bears roll. Truly Putin’s Russia is an example we should strive to emulate.

          • Aapje says:

            @hlynkacg

            The West is already the bear, as pretty much every terrorist who attacks in the West is caught or killed. The real issue is that too many people are not shrugging, but call these terrorists heroes. It’s this status and backing that results in new people willing to poke the bear.

        • bintchaos says:

          What did Egyptian Christians do to provoke such treatment?

          What the jihadists SAY is that it is revenge for a young woman called Kamilia who reverted to Islam (probably fell in love with a young sunni guy) that was presumeably tortured to death for apostasy by the Coptic church.

          Fady Youssef, the coalition’s coordinator, told Daily News Egypt that “ISIS threatening to behead the kidnapped Egyptians is a result of the Salafis inciting against Christians in Egypt”.
          He referred to two cases, which have seen wide protests staged by Salafis and radical Islamists calling for freedom of two women allegedly “kidnapped” by the Church. These include Kamilia Shehata, a wife of a Coptic preacher who allegedly converted to Islam but was “hidden” afterwards by the Coptic Church. He also referred to Wafaa Constantine, also a Christian who allegedly converted to Islam, and was then taken to a solitary residence in one of the church’s monasteries.

          A variant of this also happens more frequently in India where intermarriage between Hindu maidens and young muslim men is a cultural taboo. One of the biggest Bollywood box-office draws is a muslim man.

          • Loquat says:

            Where do you get that Kamilia Shehata was tortured to death? The article you link just mentions allegations of kidnapping and forced conversion. Googling her, and the other woman Wafaa Constantine, brings up allegations that both women were unhappy with their Christian priest husbands due to spousal abuse, and pressured by their communities not to divorce because Divorce Is Bad, but I can’t find any serious suggestion that either was tortured and/or killed.

          • bintchaos says:

            My sources would say, “that is an infidel publication full of lies.”
            IS also renamed Ba’shiqa City to Duaa in honor of a girl they claimed was killed by yezidis for converting to Islam.
            Reversion is something pretty core to Islam.
            I explained that muslims reject doctrine of Original Sin…muslims believe all children are born innocent, and that means essentially born muslim because Islam is the “religion of the natural state”. But children are supposed to be raised in their parents religion until the age of consent (unless of course they parents are pagans). So muslims call converts to Islam reverts, meaning they have returned to the religion of their natural state.
            I do not know the veracity of either story, but the critical part is the mujahideen BELIEVE it to be true.
            No one ever said anything to me about the other copt woman.
            So I dont know what is believed about her, only that IS soldiers believe that Khamilia became a revert and was torture/raped to death.

          • Loquat says:

            Soooo… Copt couple’s domestic drama gets seized upon and used as the basis for a fictional account of evil Christians torturing an innocent woman who just wants to follow the one true faith? I’m not doubting that IS fighters genuinely believe it, just as Christians in Trent in 1475 genuinely believed a Christian child named Simon had been ritually murdered by Jews to use his blood in their religious rites – but as with the blood libel, it seems highly unlikely that the majority faith was all sunshine and rainbows about the minority before this juicy story “proving” the minority evil came along.

          • bintchaos says:

            Yeah i guess…
            But unlike the whole blood libel thing, this is about women and the honor of women and protecting women. A thing that really fires up jihadis is any reference to the jailed sunni women that were raped and impregnated by Iraqi Shia during the invasion and occupation of Iraq (OIF) with tacit complicity of the US…and other horrible things…
            One of the first things ISIS did after Mosul was to break those women (and their rape babies) out of prison. A lot of stuff like that happened and you wont see it in US media…Wikileaks put some of it out in the Iraq document drop i guess. But USG just classifies the bejesus out of it and we will never see it, like the other 20k pics from Abu Graihb– judged too inflammatory to ever be seen. But we did it and the people that were there know all about it and their memories are long.
            We are looking at generational jihad that never ends.
            Because we are stupid I guess.

          • bintchaos says:

            Sorry I meant the other 2k Abu Ghraib pics.
            Caught an extra 0 from somewhere.

          • Loquat says:

            Is protecting/avenging women that much bigger of a deal than protecting/avenging children? I feel like “the evil outgroup loves to ritually murder ingroup children” is about equal in strength to “the evil outgroup loves to rape and torment ingroup women” but I don’t know any Islamists – perhaps they feel differently?

            Incidentally, I find it fascinating that IS fighters would get so fired up over defending the honor of Sunni Muslim women from outsiders bent on rape, when they themselves are happy to make sex slaves of Yazidi women and girls. Projection, maybe?

          • bintchaos says:

            Sex is always a bigger deal than killing children — children are dying everyday in Iraq, Syria, Africa, no big deal…on the last SSC open thread some guy was worried that pro-immigration white women were importing young muslim studs but wouldn’t date him. White southerners feared black males were after their women. Asian american males are angry that successful white guys are taking all their women (Virginia Tech shooter may have had some of that issue). Look at how upset SSC commenters are about muslims gang-raping their women.
            Now let me explain IS reasoning about yezidi slaves: In the Quran, paganism is the great sin. So enslaving a yezidi (pagan) woman and taking her into your household gives her a chance at earning salvation. She was going to burn in hellfire forever anyways, at least this way she has a chance. Plus the Sahaba had slaves, Muhammed had slaves, everyone had slaves back then. If you are a salafi you emulate the Sahaba faithfully. But slave has a whole other connotation in Islam– muslims are supposed to be the slaves of Allah– Ibn Taymiyya has a book on it– Al-‘Ubudiyyah (Being a True Slave of Allah). And then there is Bilal ibn Rabah— a black slave that became one of the most trusted of the Sahaba and the first muezzin.
            There also was economics and pragmatism involved in IS decision– IS didn’t maintain large scale prisons, preferring instant punishment in the public square– or …well…mass execution of military captives…so how to take care of all these captured yezidis? Distributing them among the households of the mumineen (believers) was the agreed upon solution.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            What the jihadists SAY is that it is revenge for a young woman called Kamilia

            That’s not an answer to my question, I am not asking what the claimed justification is; I am asking what the Egyptian Christians actually did to provoke terrorism against them.

            islamic terrorism is best viewed as a response to brown muslim people being remote-control massacred on a daily basis for their shared faith.

            Seems to me that’s just as much a rationalization as this story about this Kamilia person.

          • bintchaos says:

            That is exactly the claimed justification that IS used when beheading the 21 Copts in the video.
            Burning coptic churches is something egyptian muslims have pretty much always done in living memory.

          • John Schilling says:

            That is exactly the claimed justification that IS used when beheading the 21 Copts in the video.

            That is the claimed justification, yes. What the rest of us are asking is, what is the actual justifcation. Why, given that the claims aren’t true, are people making them? What did the Copts do, that make the local Muslims want to A: make up lies about them and then B: use those lies to justify murdering them?

            The specific details of the lies that one group makes up to justify murdering another, are usually uninteresting.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      A few thoughts while reading that article:

      1) It’s attacking a strawman to compare a conflict with Islam with Nazi Germany or the USSR. No one is expecting ISIS or Iranian tanks to start rolling through the streets of Paris. The failure mode for Islamic immigration is the Lebanese civil war, not WWII.

      2) It’s disingenuous to point to the low percentage of Muslims compared to the population of all of Europe. No one is worried about Poland, which accepts no Muslim immigrants, getting Jihad’d. By pure coincidence, Poland has no Islamic terror.

      3) It’s disingenuous to point out the Muslim percentage of Germany without noting the aging population. For instance, somewhere between 12% – 25% of French youth are muslims. Western Europe has low native birthrates, high immigrant birthrates, and is continuously taking in more immigrants. Poland will stay Polish and Catholic. France will not stay French.

      4) Even without a civil war, the importation of people who do not share the fundamental values of the host nation and are at significantly elevated risk of murdering people in the street destroys the high-trust society that made western nations prosperous and nice places to live. Surveillance state, threat of terror, threat of losing my job for complaining about terror in the wrong way. I cannot trust that my government will stop groups of men from raping my daughters for fear of being called “racist.” What do we get in exchange for this? Shawarma shops? I love me some shawarma. Not sure if it’s worth it.

      5) The end of self-determination. We didn’t get to vote on this. It was sprung on us by our leaders combined with massive propaganda campaigns. If this forced experiment in multiculturalism fails, the only way to fix it is by committing crimes against humanity, which tend to be “frowned upon.”

      If the sort of society we used to have in the western world (high trust, government not spying on you, low threat of spectacular street murders, high emphasis placed on thwarting the raping of school children) is gone or soon to be gone, how is that not an existential crisis? Yes, the state of France, of Germany, of Great Britain may still exist, the landmass may still exist, some of the people may still exist, but the worthwhile features of life in the West are gone. It’s not irrational to be slightly concerned by that.

  8. (A satire comment shamelessly ripped off from Popehat (https://www.popehat.com/2015/11/18/the-current-refugee-crisis/. This comment is meant to be read as a tongue-in-cheek joke. I’m currently reading a few WWII books on the Nazi bombings, and thinking back and forth between London today, and the London my grandparents lived in during the blitz.)

    “Did you hear? A German bomber took out a pub in Burough market. There are reports of up to 11 killed. Something has to be done.”
    “Yes, it’s a tragedy. Our community has to join together and strengthen after this attack.”
    “Perhaps more than that, don’t you think? If an enemy aircraft bombs our country we should react with vigilance!”
    “Look, I understand why you feel that way. But we need to understand this within a rich and level-headed context: Yes, a German bomber destroyed our pub, there is no denying this. However, this only happens once or twice a year, it’s extremely rare. You have a higher chance of dying in a car accident than from a German bomb. Statistically, we are safer than ever.”
    “Well, sure, I suppose that’s true. Still, I know I might die in a car accident at any time, but being attacked feels different.”
    “That’s a normal cognitive bias, but it’s not rationally grounded. I feel less safe when I fly in airplanes, but I know that they are perfectly safe.”
    “I don’t think you’re being reasonable. Germany is a sovereign nation, they attacked us. Is that not war?”
    “Again, I understand it seems this way, but you need to understand this from Germany’s political system. Currently the neo-Fascists control only 3% of Parliament. Now, some of their members are in cahoots with the German airforce. Not many, but some. Every once in a while, they orchestrate a revenge bombing against the greater German establishment’s wishes. Now, this is unforgivable, but if you recall the mass fire-bombing and rape the German women and children suffered 15 years ago at the end of the war, you can certainly empathize with their frustration.”
    “So we sit back and just take this?”
    “Do you suggest we bomb Germany again? This is only 3% of their parliament, the vast, overwhelming, majority of Germans do not support these actions. That is no basis for a justified war. In fact, it’s not even clear these bombings represent the German sovereignty. And need I remind you that you’re more likely to die from a car accident? I even read somewhere you’re more likely to choke to death on your food: We are safer than ever before. In fact, It’s even suggested that these attacks are less common than right-wing attacks committed by Native Brits.”
    “But surely you can at least admit that these bombers are in contact with some German immigrants. We have proof that some of them are tipping off the neo-Fascist party coordinates to bomb.”
    “Yes, surely some of them are, but that’s the tiny minority. Most come from families who are aligned with the Christian Democrats. In fact, some of them moved here even before WWII. We benefit vastly from their culture.”
    “Do we really?”
    “Certainly we do. The Volkswagen is an incredibly safe car. In fact, I bet if we did the cost benefit analysis, we would find that access to the Volkswagen saves more lives than the rogue German bombers kill. Again, these cognitive biases are hard to shake. But it’s better than having useless and hateful reactions. We have to deal with very low risks of being bombed, it’s part of the risk we take living in this world. There are no simple solutions.”

    • rlms says:

      Why yes, Germans living in the allied powers did face unwarranted discrimination and prejudice during the world wars, as natives blamed them for the actions of the German government they had no connection with, much like Muslims in the same countries do today. Very insightful!

      • I’ve never been able to come up with any sort of self-consistent idea of what rules would have justified burning millions of civilians alive, vast amounts of whom were anti-Nazi and/or even Jewish themselves, but would make it clearly wrong to jail Germans living in Britain for fear they were colluding with the German government.

        The generally accepted story of WWII though is one where this vast collective punishment against the Germans was completely necessary. If you gotta burn a few hundred thousand women and children alive to win the war, you do it. I’m not even saying that was wrong, it’s just interesting to me how our ideas of collective punishment change over time.

        I’m not saying one doesn’t exist, I’m not a WWII historian, but the actions of the allies (Churchill specifically) during WWII didn’t really consider anything except optimizing the probability of winning.

        • James Miller says:

          Similar to how it’s acceptable for the U.S. to use drone strikes to killer terrorists knowing that some innocents will die, but if Trump decided to close Gitmo by killing all of the prisoners there he would probably end up being convinced of murder.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            Nah, the salient difference in that example is that people who are already in prison are not a threat.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think establishing the precedent that we execute prisoners when they become politically inconvenient to us would have pretty substantial costs, and establishing the precedent that the president could ignore existing laws in ordering people killed would have still greater costs. To avoid those costs, I favor having the president know that doing those things will likely end up with him impeached, removed from office, and sitting in a prison cell somewhere.

        • hlynkacg says:

          …but the actions of the allies (Churchill specifically) during WWII didn’t really consider anything except optimizing the probability of winning.

          That there is the argument. Classical thinkers and through them the modern right have traditionally approached physical violence/war in terms of existential conflict. They explicitly reject the “politics by other means” theory of warfare in favor of “Don’t fight unless must. But if you must, fight with absolute commitment” and “If an injury must to be done to a man, ensure that it is so severe that his vengeance need not be feared”. If burning Dresden (or Atlanta) will end the war one day sooner, that is what must be done.

        • Atlas says:

          I’ve never been able to come up with any sort of self-consistent idea of what rules would have justified burning millions of civilians alive, vast amounts of whom were anti-Nazi and/or even Jewish themselves, but would make it clearly wrong to jail Germans living in Britain for fear they were colluding with the German government.

          The generally accepted story of WWII though is one where this vast collective punishment against the Germans was completely necessary. If you gotta burn a few hundred thousand women and children alive to win the war, you do it. I’m not even saying that was wrong, it’s just interesting to me how our ideas of collective punishment change over time.

          I don’t think this is necessarily the “accepted story”. The very widely read American popular historian Howard Zinn, who was himself a bomber pilot during the war, was very critical of the Allied bombing campaign. British philosopher and prominent public intellectual A.C. Grayling wrote a pretty good book, Among the Dead Cities, critiquing the morality and efficacy of Allied, particularly British, bombing tactics. In the US, the parallel debate over the morality of the use of atomic weapons on Japanese civilian populations is, in my impression at least, fairly lively. And I think that in general, the kind of people who find summarily detaining civilians en masse without charges objectionable are also likely to find indiscriminate bombing of urban areas objectionable. So overall I think that people are more consistent than you’re suggesting.

          • Jiro says:

            In the US, the parallel debate over the morality of the use of atomic weapons on Japanese civilian populations is, in my impression at least, fairly lively.

            That’s a special case because for several reasons, the left wanted to minimize the threat of the USSR, and that led to the left’s opposition to nuclear weapons. It doesn’t apply to bombing Germans (or really, to bombing Japanese without nuclear weapons).

    • J says:

      That’s more propaganda than satire. Depicts their straw man as not wanting to do anything at all about the bombing (as opposed to a more realistic position of “we’re already doing a lot, and citizens freaking out and targeting ordinary Muslims isn’t going to help”), while conflating terrorism with a Nazi organized bombing campaign.

      • Noted, if I write it up again outside of SSC I’ll take your feedback into account (sincerely). As I mentioned in a comment above, I’m mostly interested in the way we view when collective punishment is or isn’t okay with respect to nations vs. non-nation actors. Obviously I have a view, which is that it’s not necessarily that different. I also don’t think they are doing much at all. May wants to restrict or regulate internet to stop this, I’d restrict immigration.

        • J says:

          That comment is much more interesting to me than the long allegorical story: you’re making specific philosophical and policy positions. I too find it deeply troubling that politicians want to use terrorism as a reason to seize control of the internet.

        • albatross11 says:

          One important difference between collective punishment for amorphous groups vs countries–countries have decisionmaking mechanisms, so in some sense you can think of interactions with another country as being a game (in the game theory sense) played between two countries, so threats can work. Whatever the morality of threatening to nuke Russia if they nuke us (mostly killing innocent people all around), at least that threat probably works–Putin doesn’t want his country nuked, and he has a lot of power to prevent his country’s military from nuking the US.

          Amorphous groups like “all Muslims living in the UK” don’t have a decisionmaking mechanism that can respond to your threats of collective punishment. So if you say “any Muslim terrorist attack in the UK will lead to twice as many Muslims being executed as there are non-Muslim victims,” your threat probably isn’t all that effective–the outlier committed/crazy terrorists say “Good, the worse the better” and go drive a van into a crowd of people, and then you execute a bunch of random people who had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. There, you’re playing a game with several million people, all with different goals and payoff functions. So the deterrence strategy won’t work as well.

      • Mark says:

        “Citizens freaking out and targeting ordinary Muslims isn’t going to help”

        Absolutely.
        But, isn’t the “more realistic position” itself a straw-man? Or rather, a shit-man?

        I mean, I’ve not heard anyone suggest that revenge be taken on Muslims willy-nilly. I’ve only heard people suggest that Muslims must obey the law, be forced to obey the law, and that since we have a potential sectarian problem with Muslims, their increase should be controlled.

        Does a straw-man of a straw-man equal a good argument?

        • Fahundo says:

          I’ve only heard people suggest that Muslims must obey the law, be forced to obey the law

          Are Muslims exempt from the law currently?

          • Mark says:

            No, but Rochdale.

            They also seem to have more difficulty obeying it.

          • Sandy says:

            Well, in certain localities Muslims and the law have a “don’t ask don’t tell” arrangement going on.

          • rlms says:

            @Sandy
            The guy who eventually prosecuted that case (after the CPS had failed to due to a fear of appearing racist) was a Muslim. There certainly was a systematic problem of police and social services not doing anything for fear of appearing racist (which obviously has nothing to do with Islam). You can certainly argue that there was a systematic problem of South Asian men (especially, but not exclusively Pakistanis) forming rape gangs disproportionately often (although of course the rapists are still a tiny fraction of their population, much smaller than the proportion of Irish priests who were charged with sexual abuse). I don’t think you have any evidence that Muslims disproportionately ignored rape gangs, and if you do I’d like to see it.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            (although of course the rapists are still a tiny fraction of their population, much smaller than the proportion of Irish priests who were charged with sexual abuse)

            “All right… we’ll give some land to the Muslims! But we don’t want the Irish!”

          • rlms says:

            That is indeed a logical position.

        • rlms says:

          “I mean, I’ve not heard anyone suggest that revenge be taken on Muslims willy-nilly.”
          Have you read the SSC comments lately? There’s someone a few comments up claiming that we should try being more brutal than the Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe (I’m only being slightly uncharitable here).

          • Mark says:

            Yeah, maybe.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ChjfFx_zLU

            Inaction will only facilitate the creation of an angry and disgruntled population who will end up cleaning out this Islamic problem. The UK government would then have a massive extremist problem, which they have given birth to themselves, because of their lack of courage, their lack of political will, and their lack of bollocks to do what is necessary.

            Best speech I’ve seen in a while.

            I think they should execute anybody found guilty of being an accessory to terrorism, and stop terrorists coming in. Seems like a reasonable compromise.

        • Murphy says:

          You’ve not? The guy laying hardboard in my hallway a few days back was talking casually about how we needed to “slaughter them all, all of them” in reference to muslims living in the UK. Bonus later in the day “Mr Trump has the right idea”

          It’s a disturbingly popular position. Some people genuinely believe that random Muslims are acceptable targets for revenge.

          • Mark says:

            Oh dear… that’s a bit of a worry.

          • Garrett says:

            One of the key elements of the Geneva conventions is that people involved in the armed conflict (soldiers, etc.), needed to be visually identifiable with some sort of uniform. This was primarily a protection mechanism for the civilian population. It was understood that if all combatants were wearing uniforms then the civilian population was not a threat and could be disregarded. The flip-side is that fighting out of uniform (subject to a few trivial exceptions) either was a war-crime, or it deprived the civilian population of those protections. So it was to the benefit of the civilian population to ensure that the military wore uniforms.

            With terrorists, especially suicide attackers, we lack the war-crime approach. We cannot easily identify these people in advance and try/punish them. I’ve yet to have come across a standard uniform for western infiltrating suicide attackers which is distinct from civilian attire.

            So instead we face the “whole population” problem. Unlike the Westphalian model of geographically-localized state-warfare, we’re dealing with cross-border ethnic/cultural/religious/ideological warfare of a sorts. So many of the “enemy civilians” will in-fact be neighbors.

            It’s not nice. I doubt it’s ethical. And I don’t know if it would be effective. But it does follow from extrapolating the existing standards for the rules of armed conflict.

          • Anonymous says:

            It’s a disturbingly popular position. Some people genuinely believe that random Muslims are acceptable targets for revenge.

            Welcome to the intersection of diversity and proximity.

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            Being maximally charitable to the guy, this sounds like chest-thumping rhetoric concerning what the government response should be. Even if I disagree vehemently with him, it’s not at all the same as condoning vigilante justice against random Muslim citizens. The populations he’s suggesting we bomb aren’t random after all. The solution actually would work. It’s just that some of us consider “genocide of truly staggering scope and scale” to be an unacceptably high cost for fixing the problem.

          • Murphy says:

            @xXxanonxXx

            if any nation on earth set out to genocide a billion people do you honestly think that that would be the end of their troubles even if they succeeded? At that point it’s in the interest of literally every other country to nuke them out of existence before they turn their genocidal cross-hairs on them.

            @Garrett

            That’s a remarkably motivated and “inventive” reading. By that logic if a nutjob American shoots up a school in Europe I’m then justified in topping any random American tourist I see. because the American nutjob wasn’t in uniform.

            If you can derive and accept that from the rules of armed conflict then you can derive and accept pretty much anything no matter how ridiculous, unreasonable, downright evil or absurd.

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            @Murphy

            No, I don’t believe it would be in the interest of literally every country to nuke the coalition that just carried out history’s most terrible genocide. They’re militarily formidable, for one, and completely willing to engage in crimes against humanity to protect their citizenry. That’s just an aside though, as it’s an evil and ridiculous idea that will never really be on the table. My point was that I take this…

            Citizens freaking out and targeting ordinary Muslims isn’t going to help

            …to mean things like vigilantism, random citizen-on-citizen violence. Whereas the man laying hardboard sounds as if he’s getting at something more the like state stripping all Muslim’s of citizenship and engaging in total war against the religion. I’m less concerned with people talking about the latter than the former, because the former might actually happen.

        • Zodiac says:

          I know a bunch of people that say we should carpet bomb all muslim countries to the ground with no regard for civilian lives. Does that count?

    • Atlas says:

      I realize that you aren’t literally comparing Islamic terrorism to the Blitz, but I feel that making cosmetic analogies without noting relevant substantive differences can run into non-central fallacy/worst-argument-in-the-world territory, so:

      “Did you hear? A German bomber took out a pub in Burough market. There are reports of up to 11 killed. Something has to be done.”
      “Yes, it’s a tragedy. Our community has to join together and strengthen after this attack.”
      “Perhaps more than that, don’t you think? If an enemy aircraft bombs our country we should react with vigilance!”
      “Look, I understand why you feel that way. But we need to understand this within a rich and level-headed context: Yes, a German bomber destroyed our pub, there is no denying this. However, this only happens once or twice a year, it’s extremely rare. You have a higher chance of dying in a car accident than from a German bomb. Statistically, we are safer than ever.”

      According to Wiki, around 40,000 British civilians died during the actual Blitz, which lasted about 8 months. Whereas, according to data noted in a Daily Mail article I found via a cursory Google search (would like to link but comments with too many links seem to get flagged as spam), 1934 was the year with the highest number ever of British road fatalities, at around 7,300. So Britons would have been quite rational, during the actual Blitz, to regard German bombs as a much greater threat than auto accidents. (Whereas regarding Islamic terrorism today, which seems to cause 100 fatalities a year at most, as a considerably greater threat than auto accidents, which in 2012 caused around 1,700 fatalities in the UK, is puzzling.)

      I hasten to note that there are obviously many other reasons why one might oppose immigration, and Islamic immigration in particular, and that if one places a sufficiently low value on the putative benefits of immigration, harsh restriction to prevent even a small number of fatalities may be rational.

      “I don’t think you’re being reasonable. Germany is a sovereign nation, they attacked us. Is that not war?”
      “Again, I understand it seems this way, but you need to understand this from Germany’s political system. Currently the neo-Fascists control only 3% of Parliament. Now, some of their members are in cahoots with the German airforce. Not many, but some. Every once in a while, they orchestrate a revenge bombing against the greater German establishment’s wishes. Now, this is unforgivable, but if you recall the mass fire-bombing and rape the German women and children suffered 15 years ago at the end of the war, you can certainly empathize with their frustration.”

      This analogy falls flat for me for a few reasons. One, it just seems really implausibly far-fetched for a fringe group to be able to use the weaponry of a modern, rational state to carry out an attack on another state without the consent of high ranking political and military figures. In real life, if a state condones an Islamic terrorist attack against Western civilians, like the Taliban in Afghanistan in regards to 9/11, it can expect to be attacked in retaliation with relatively little dissent from Western liberals. If the state is so weak that it can’t stamp out Islamic radicals within its own (nominal) borders, as in Somalia, Syria or Pakistan, it’s hardly uncommon for the US in particular to attack the terrorist groups.

      Two, I also think that the distinction between civilian populations and the government/military of a nation is a valid and important distinction both in World War 2 and in today’s War on [Sunni Islamic] Terror[ist groups]. Instead of just randomly murdering Germans and Japanese left and right, I think the appropriate goal of the Allies in World War 2 would have been to destroy the military and political apparatuses of the Axis states. I think this is true despite the fact that no doubt many German and Japanese civilians supported and/or enabled the crimes committed by their governments. Likewise, I think it’s reasonable today to define the enemy as specific Islamic militant groups and their members/material backers, even though there are some (I believe Pew polling shows a fairly small minority of) Muslim civilians who support them.

      I agree fully that the idea that Muslim terrorist attacks are as likely as (implicitly white) right wing terrorist attacks is absurd and risible, even in absolute but particularly in per capita terms, given that in most Western countries ethnic Europeans are like 6-30x the Muslim population. (Surely Muslim terrorist attacks are hate crimes against Westerners, and cause many more fatalities than domestic Western hate crimes against Muslims, but nonetheless the narrative seems to be that Muslims have more to fear from Western Islamophobia than Westerners do from Muslim Europhobia.)

      “But surely you can at least admit that these bombers are in contact with some German immigrants. We have proof that some of them are tipping off the neo-Fascist party coordinates to bomb.”
      “Yes, surely some of them are, but that’s the tiny minority. Most come from families who are aligned with the Christian Democrats. In fact, some of them moved here even before WWII. We benefit vastly from their culture.”
      “Do we really?”
      “Certainly we do. The Volkswagen is an incredibly safe car. In fact, I bet if we did the cost benefit analysis, we would find that access to the Volkswagen saves more lives than the rogue German bombers kill. Again, these cognitive biases are hard to shake. But it’s better than having useless and hateful reactions. We have to deal with very low risks of being bombed, it’s part of the risk we take living in this world. There are no simple solutions.”

      I somewhat agree, somewhat disagree with this. On the one hand, I think that collective punishment is generally morally and practically questionable at best and that the risk of dying in a terrorist attack is indeed very low. On the other hand, I share your frustration that liberals/leftists stubbornly refuse to see any connection between Islamic terrorism and Islamic immigration, fail to admit that sharply restricting Muslim immigration, as eastern European countries like Poland and Hungary do, is in fact a very simple solution to Islamic terrorism, and that liberals/leftists treat living with the threat of Islamic terrorism as an unchangeable fact of nature, like the fall of rain or changing of the seasons, when in reality it’s the result of specific decisions about national identity that countries like the UK make differently than countries like Japan.

      • Thanks for the reply, I think that’s a fair point. In the future when I wanna try writing something silly like this I should try to go more along the Popehat style, where they did it scifi, so it was clearly an abstraction.

        Whereas I think mine died halfway between nonsensical abstraction and actual historical facts.

  9. biblicalsausage says:

    Turn in your Bibles to the book of Numbers, chapter 12.

    We find our hero, Moses, where we left him last, as the leader of a bunch of people wandering in the desert around 1450 BCE. His siblings, Aaron and Miriam, are upset that he married a Kushite woman, and they start challenging his position of leadership. They too, they say, talk to God, and should be on some kind of even level with Moses.

    God gets mad about this, and insists that Moses is the rightful holder of leadership over the wandering Israelites. He strikes Miriam with tzaarath, a skin disease (possibly fictional) which creates a severe state of ritual impurity.

    The whole deal is resolved in the end, with Miriam being sent away from the Israelites for seven days of ritually impurity, after which she is accepted back into the group.

    There is a possible racial angle to this story. Kushites are, in the Bible, a people who live near Egypt, and are noted for their skin tone — they’re either black in the conventional sense of the word, or at least noticeably darker than the Israelites. Meanwhile, tzaarath is a disease which turns skin white.

    So Miriam complains about a woman with dark skins and is turned into a unhealthy white-skinned woman herself. I don’t know if this is meeting modern racial concerns into an ancient text that does not actually address them, but it seems a bit too much to be a coincidence.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Nah, it really is addressing racism approximately as we understand it. Kushites are depicted in New Kingdom art as frizzy-haired black people, while Berbers and Semites were depicted as lily-white and the Egyptians themselves as an ambiguous bronze or, for women, yellow.

      • JulieK says:

        Cf. Song of Songs 1:5, “I am black, but comely.”

        • rh says:

          The original Hebrew is “שחורה אני ונאוה”, so “I am black AND comely”. The “but” is an artifact of the translation.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            On the other hand, Hebrew does use a vav sometimes when setting up two contrasting ideas, where in English we would have “but.” Certainly verse 6 would seem to indicate that her “black”ness (which she explains as a sun-tan due to being forced into outdoor work) is something the female protagonist is self-conscious about.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            The woman in Song of Songs is dark from working outdoors, and whether that kind of dark skin being low status has any relation to racism is unknown.
            The consensus belief of historians is that racism developed from the conquest of the Americas. It’s not PC but can be documented that the Muslim slave trade led to similar stereotypes of Africans earlier. But I don’t think there’s evidence for bigotry against blacks in the Iron Age or Roman times, outside of a couple of strange references like Numbers 12.

          • Aapje says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            AFAIK, there were two competing ideas: one was that working the land was low status and that it did give you dark skin. So light skin became a signal of high status.

            The other was that dark skinned people were animalistic. AFAIK, this was heavily influenced by assuming that cultural habits were innate differences.

    • JulieK says:

      As you probably know, according to Jewish tradition, Miriam criticized her brother not for marrying this woman, but for separating from her (in order to fulfill his unique prophetic responsibilities).

      • biblicalsausage says:

        I did not know that, but I looked it up and Rashi says so, so that’s good enough for me. My Jewish tradition knowledge is extremely uneven, and mostly consists of reading the Bible with Rashi, sort of at random when the mood strikes. I used to read the Bible by itself, but that’s gotten dull. But Rashi’s never dull.

        Now, Rashi doesn’t make Miriam the racist here, but he still manages to bring up the race angle in an unexpected way:

        האשה הכשית: על שם נויה נקראת כושית כאדם הקורא את בנו נאה כושי, כדי שלא תשלוט בו עין רעה:

        “The Kushite woman: on account of her beauty she was called a Kushite, just like a man might call his handsome son “Kushite” [using a negative nickname] to ward off the evil eye.”

        That’s cold.

  10. angularangel says:

    Anybody mind if I drop another link to the forum I’ve been working on? It’s intended to allow large number of people to talk about complicated ideas and reach meaningful conclusions. You can see it in practice over on the right edge of the link. It’s still very much in alpha, but I think the basic idea comes through. Anyway, Registrations are open for anybody who thinks the idea is interesting and wants to see how it works. And I’d love to hear any thought you might have, even if you don’t want to use the thing right now. (Indeed, especially if you can tell me why you don’t want to use the thing right now.)

    • Link doesn’t work for me.

      • angularangel says:

        Weird. What kind of an error do you get? Does this one work?

      • FollowTheQuest says:

        If you’re getting a blank page, did you disable NoScript or any add-on that might be interfering?

        I can zoom in and out with the slider on the left or the scroll wheel, but I can’t click any nodes. I hadn’t zoomed in close enough. Neato.

    • Reasoner says:

      I’m really glad to see people like you tackling the online discussion problem.

      Currently, when I use my trackpad’s scroll capability (I’m on a MacBook Pro), I’m either hopelessly scrolled in or hopelessly scrolled out. With some difficulty I’m able to scroll the trackpad just a teensy bit to reach a happy middle. Then while reading I tried using the trackpad to move around the discussion canvas and ended up losing the happy middle I was at.

      I think the big challenge for forums of this type (Cafe Chesscourt, Omnilibrium, etc.) is the chicken-and-egg problem: in order to get users, you need content, and in order to get content, you need users. But, I think just one really prolific user who writes a lot of posts that people want to read (e.g. Scott) to overcome this problem. Therefore, I recommend emailing all of your favorite bloggers and telling them that you want to build a blog/discussion platform for them. Hopefully by teaming up with someone who can provide content, you are able to create the marriage of content & technology needed to make progress on the online discussion problem.

      • angularangel says:

        Ah, thank you! And yeah, I’ve been thinking about overcoming that particular catch 22 myself. I’m not sure I really want to go about begging people for content – at least, not anymore so than I’m already doing. Though if Scott found himself wanting to hold a large discussion of something complicated sometime, I would certainly be happy to host it. Right now my plans are to either provide such content myself, or maybe to federate with the Ostatus network, I.E. GNU Social and Mastodon.

        My current focus is on making the thing worth using, though. I’ve been doing a bunch of work on the thing lately, especially regarding mobile events – I might have fixed your problem? I’ll try and hunt down a laptop with a touchpad and see. :/

  11. Well... says:

    Question for anyone with knowledge of IT and its recruiting apparatus: How much of a pay raise (in %) can a contract-to-hire employee expect to get once he is hired?

    Assume the field is IT, the location is in the lower Midwest, the hiring organization is big and has fairly deep pockets, and that the employee’s current hourly rate is between $35 and $40.

    • J says:

      Seems weird to look at it in terms of a percentage increase. Ultimately the question is what you could make elsewhere, which you’d find out by getting competing offers, or estimate by trying to quantify the locally prevailing wage. If they’re paying you $35-40 now, and that’s more than you could make elsewhere, why expect an increase at all?

      • Well... says:

        If they’re paying you $35-40 now, and that’s more than you could make elsewhere, why expect an increase at all?

        Because they’re no longer having to pay a cut to the recruiting agency.

        • J says:

          Oh, I see. Fees can vary widely across agencies. If the agency is paying you $40/hr then they may well be making $80/hr, although in that case they’re also bearing costs like the payroll tax, benefits and HR overhead, so the hiring company’s costs would go up if they paid you $80/hr.

          • Well... says:

            Yes, that’s why I’m asking the question. I know that just because the recruiting agency is making 15% of the contractor’s rate doesn’t mean the contractor would get that 15% if he was hired on. But he should get some of it. How much could he expect?

          • tumteetum says:

            i havent worked in the us, but from my experience of contracting in the uk and oz, becoming a permanent employee has always meant being payed less than a contractor.
            their argument is that because you’re now a permie you have stability, a career path, training programmes etc you get paid more for being a contractor because you have to cover the times when you dont have a contract, have to pay for your own training etc

    • Worley says:

      It’s hard to say. The recruiting company no longer gets its cut, but on the other hand, the worker starts getting benefits. It seems like the general rule still holds: What are you worth on the market?

  12. Well... says:

    I have an idea for a website: it’s a wiki-style site that catalogues industry jargon (the jargon used by people who work in a given industry), in as many industries as possibe. It’d be a wiki site so that it can keep up when jargon changes or new jargon is introduced. Each term would have a simple-language translation/explanation.

    A site like that would be useful for…

    – people who want to sound informed when they make customer service calls
    – fiction writers
    – new hires in a given industry
    -others…

    Is there anything already like this?

    • J says:

      I recall in the early days of Wikipedia, someone edited my alma mater’s page to mention some euphemism for a variety of sexual practice they claimed was common there. I had never heard of it and so I deleted it, and they reinstated it, asserting without proof that it was totally a thing. The problem with jargon is that it’s hard to distinguish “legit” jargon from things that only a few people say. Wikipedia deals with this by having some standard of notability and proof, and jargon that passes this threshold can go on wikipedia if it survives the process. At the other end is urban dictionary, which accumulates all manner of bullshit. So I guess I’d want to know how your site would differentiate itself from those and deal with the issues they face.

    • cassander says:

      Isn’t that just the urban dictionary?

      • Well... says:

        No, for at least 3 reasons I can think of off the top of my head, and probably more…

        – UD isn’t dedicated to industry jargon.
        – UD isn’t searchable by industry.
        – UD isn’t QCed to the level of, say, Wikipedia.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      The first thing that came to mind is military jargon – this is probably the sweet spot for size of the speaking body, and therefore utility, and amount of pointed jargon that actually means something and isn’t simply free association. Military.com has a section on jargon, but it’s rather small. There are several other hits on “list of military jargon”.

      If you’re really serious about this, I would suggest starting with about 20 such lists and collating them. The result might not be high quality, but that’s not the point; the point is to reveal most of the problems you might expect to run into. Starter problems OTTOMH:
      * provenance (where’d this term come from – includes both who actually submitted it, and its etymology)
      * breadth (esoteric term or general)
      * recognition (can I just use this term, or will I typically have to explain it?)
      * formality (do I use this in a speech? when troubleshooting a problem? in a latrine?)
      * connotation
      * ambiguity (multiple context-dependent meanings)

      Another resource worth looking at is The Jargon File. Accompanying the lexicon is an array of supplements describing the culture that produced them.

      • Well... says:

        All that stuff would be worth documenting.

        Remember, the point of such a site would be that it’s handy to someone who needs to use that jargon in some practical way. If I’m placing a customer service call about my internet service, I might want to use some telecom jargon for the concepts I know I’ll be talking about. If I’m writing a novel that has characters who are astronauts, I want them to talk shop realistically to each other. If I just got a job on a construction site and the other guys keep using this one acronym I’ve never heard, I want a way to go find out what it means without revealing my ignorance to anyone.

  13. sty_silver says:

    Are there any ways to reduce the amount of time needed to fall asleep? I think it takes me about 30 min on average, which feels like a waste of time. I’ve already tried

    – going to bed at the same time every day (still doing that)
    – rituals (as in stuff like ‘count from 1 to 60 twice’. Gave up on those, I always feel the need to let my mind wander)
    – listening to white noise (still doing that, too).

    The heat is a definite problem. I’ve done better during winter. But I don’t know what to do about it.

    • Zodiac says:

      Have you tried simply going to bed later or is that not an option? Some people have just very persistent inner clocks that are very difficult to retrain.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        https://www.amazon.com/Frogg-Toggs-Original-Chilly-Cooling/dp/B06XQBRD29

        The best thing I know of for staying cool. It’s a 33″ x 13″ flat slow-release sponge. If it doesn’t do enough by itself, aim a fan at it.

      • sty_silver says:

        I used to have a really inconsistent rymth and always had difficulties keeping bedtime from sliding farther and farther forward, and an even harder time pulling it backwards again. Now that I managed to adopt a stable rythm I’m quite hesitant to mess with it – also it’s 11 PM which makes it so I can stand up at 6 AM which I often have to.

        So no, I haven’t tried. I don’t think it’s feasible in my case.

    • James Miller says:

      Eliminate exposure to blue light a few hours before you attempt to fall asleep. You can buy blue blocker glasses.

      • sty_silver says:

        Interesting, I was on the verge of buying them once when I tried polyphasic sleep, then it dropped off my mind. I wasn’t sure how credible the idea is. Might try it this time.

      • beleester says:

        You can also try using F.Lux for your computer, which changes the color temperature of your display with the day/night cycle, so that it appears reddish when it’s bedtime. I can vouch for this – I found myself nearly falling asleep at my desktop a few times after I started using it.

    • carvenvisage says:

      Tiring yourself out with exercise. Can be difficult if you’re at a level of fitness where tiring yourself out causes you a high level of pain/discomfort that then impairs your sleeping, though in that case arguably getting out of it should be a high priority if at all possible.

    • The Red Foliot says:

      Thirty minutes doesn’t sound so bad. It’s about where I’m at now after great diligence in my sleep routine. In the past, it could take me an hour or more to fall asleep. Some things you could add to your list are:
      1. Counting how many hours you’ve been awake, and only going to sleep after 16~ hours have elapsed.
      2. Not stimulating your brain too much before bedtime. No video games or heated internet discussions–just relaxing activities like books or midnight walks.
      3. Not eating close to your bedtime, especially not high energy foods.
      4. Not drinking coffee later in the day. Preferably, it should probably be taken as early as convenient, if at all.
      5. Melatonin pills. I’ve tried these things and not found any great effect, but allegedly they shorten the time it takes to fall asleep by a small amount.
      6. Eliminating stressors. This is related to #2, but worth specifying, as causes of anxiety can be especially deleterious. Basically, anything that causes you anxiety should be avoided before bed, as anxiety hormones do more than just stimulate your brain, they also directly inhibit it from shutting off.
      7. Advanced super rituals. I agree that it’s usually preferable to let the mind wander, but sometimes the mind is uppity and only wants to wander places that cause it stimulation. For these occasions, I focus my attention on my feet in a kind of pseudo-zen-Buddhist manner, just paying attention to the subtleties of their sensation. At the same time, I will try to focus what’s left of my brain function on images of deer and the weird shapes that play in the darkness of my eyelids. I think counting sheep is really bad for modern people as we don’t see much sheep, but we do sometimes see deer. I alternate between my feet and the images as best I’m able, in a sort of teeterboard manner, with one method substituting for the other when the other can no longer be sustained. I have tried also controlling my breathing, but this gets my heart rate up for some reason; it does not harm my ability to sleep, but nevertheless, it is unpleasant. This approach, the whole of it, is just my backup approach for sleeping. I do not use it all the time, but it usually works on the occasions I need it for.

      • stoodfarback says:

        A quick note RE melatonin: I found the tablets to have no detectable effect on me, but the liquid sublingual (hold under tongue for a minute or so) to be noticeable with even a few drops.

    • OldMugwump says:

      What I’ve always done is read a book, in bed, until I find myself nodding off. Then put the book away – I’m immediately asleep.

      That doesn’t reduce the time needed to fall asleep, but it does eliminate the waste of time.

      • My equivalent is to do low stress mental work, such as plotting out part of a novel, while trying to fall asleep. That has the advantage over reading that I can do it with my eyes closed and so gradually drift off.

      • sty_silver says:

        I haven’t read in bed for years, but I remember that it worked similar to what you’re describing. This sounds like a pretty obvious solution that I hadn’t thought off. I think I’ll try it.

      • IrishDude says:

        I second this. I turn all lights in the room off, then read a kindle with backlighting on a low setting. Once I read the same sentence multiple times because I’m not processing it, I put the kindle down and go to sleep pretty quickly.

        I also recommend putting white noise on, either from a fan or a machine like this.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Auto-hypnosis?

    • HeelBearCub says:

      My trick for falling to sleep is the following:

      I can remember every shot of the golf round I played the first time I broke 80. I play each shot in my mind. Remembering the hole, what club I hit, the ball flight, and where the ball ended up. Then I play the next shot.

      Usually I’m asleep by hole 3 or 4, sometime 6 or 7.

      Obviously this won’t be exactly replicable for anyone else, but I think the idea is solid. It’s a pre-programmed series of steps, repeated the same way each time, but it’s not boring (like counting).

      I have a theory that “counting sheep” only applies to shepherds who are simply remembering each sheep in their flock.

      • sty_silver says:

        It’s not that I don’t believe rituals work, it’s that I can’t do them. I’ve tried, and after a few nights I got frustrated because I wanted to think about stuff. I concluded that going against desires can’t be a good idea and gave up.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          I think the trick is to find something just engaging enough that you don’t get frustrated and want to do something else, but not so engaging that it keeps you awake.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are there any ways to reduce the amount of time needed to fall asleep?

      I watch Star Trek episodes.

    • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

      The Dilbert guy mentioned in a book that easily digestible carbohydrates make him drowsy, so much so that he can block the effect of too much caffeine with a bowl of rice.
      Dunno what it’s worth; people have different genetics and intestinal microbiomes.
      If you try that, keep in mind that adding other stuff (e.g. fats) may influence digestion speed. Probably needs some experimenting.

      EDIT: I noted a similar effect for me, with up to 2 hrs between eating and sleepiness.

    • MuncleUscles says:

      I like to listen to audiobooks/podcasts while falling asleep – it seems to keep the verbal parts of my brain occupied so that I don’t keep myself awake with my own thoughts. I’ve gotten really good at noticing when I’m starting to pass out, pausing the playback and falling asleep pretty much immediately afterwards. I think it still takes about half an hour, but at least I’m making progress on my reading list.

      Also, Melatonin

    • gin-and-whiskey says:

      I just have a few stacks of about 50 “falling asleep” books which I read over and over again in somewhat dim light (incandescent works best). They are good enough not to be boring, and super-familiar enough not to require a ton of mental energy. It works for me and it’s easy to try.**

      That said if you have an active day, 30 minutes is really not so bad. The best you can probably do is to move some of that to “presleep” like I did, where you’re reading for 15-20 minutes and then it only takes 5 to fall asleep.

      **My top three go-to categories, depending on my mood, are math (Mathematical Games, Econometrics, Godel Escher Bach, etc); cartoons (Complete New Yorker or The Complete Far Side); and nautical fiction (Patrick O’Brian, Horatio Hornblower, Kydd, Ramage, etc.)

    • CatCube says:

      Make the room dark. By this, I mean to eliminate light beyond the red end of the spectrum. That is, don’t have clocks with non-red displays, and get rid of or tape over all of those eye-raping blue LEDs that designers like to scatter over every piece of electronics these days.

    • Jon S says:

      I’m surprised that there aren’t more replies mentioning melatonin. Isn’t the readership fairly interested in nootropics in general? I was under the impression that melatonin was also one of the more commonly recommended nootropics after caffeine.

      • gudamor says:

        This is another vote in favor of melatonin. Especially helpful to get through Jet Lag

    • liskantope says:

      I think 30 minutes is pretty close to average. Does anyone here regularly fall asleep in a much shorter time? Mine has varied over the years but seems a bit shorter than 30 minutes now, I think mainly because I’m tiring myself out a bit more during the day and eating dinner relatively close to bedtime.

      In any case, the most sensible-sounding concrete advice that I’m always hearing is to stay away from electronics (lit screens) right before bedtime. I still can’t seem to discipline myself to follow such a rule, though. Charging my phone right next to my bed might have something to do with this.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      The technique that I use when I’m stuck thinking about something instead of sleeping is to break up the narrative by doing a free association with the random spots and flashes and shapes that appear when my eyes are closed. So if I find myself thinking about some argument I had with people on the internet, instead I just look at the shapes and match them to something. “Banana…hill…rocket ship…circle…” and that seems to do the trick.

    • rahien.din says:

      Agree with all the above. And, with your idea that heat is a problem. The bedroom should be cool/dark/quiet. A trick I used when visiting my Alabama kin in the summer was to wear a light cotton undershirt to bed, which always cooled me off nicely.

      When we look at people who have prolonged sleep latency, the issue is that their brain is executing a habit/plan that includes that period of latency. It is not that you are trying to fall asleep quicker and failing. Your brain is trying to stay awake for 30 minutes before falling asleep, and it is succeeding.

      This can be retrained or influenced. In addition to any or all of the above suggestions (especially melatonin) I suggest the following : don’t even enter your bedroom until you are at the point of sleep. Instead, stay in some other part of the house and do quiet, unexciting things that expose you to little light and little sound. Also, firm admonitions that should be followed if this degree of sleep latency truly bothers you this much : 1. your bedroom is only for sleep or sex, and 2. if there is a TV or other type of screen in your room – even if it is off – then get it out. Period. No concessions permitted. Full stop. The end.

      …but how much does it really bother you?

      I’ll give you the same advice I give everybody about everything : if you have a medical problem that causes you X amount of trouble, and you institute a plan that takes away the medical problem but causes you X amount of other trouble (such as no longer being able to watch TV in bed) then you still have the medical problem in a different form. So, in many instances, it is a bad idea to rearrange your entire life to get rid of a medical problem.

      Or, a la Thoreau, the price of cure is how much life you exchange for it. If you get your sleep latency down to 15 minutes, then you’ve harvested 15 minutes. Would the benefit be waking up 15 minutes earlier? The extra 15 minutes of rest? Or the mere satisfaction of using 15 minutes on inactive sleep rather than inactive wakefulness? You may have to do exchange a fair amount of life for not much marginal benefit…

  14. As some of you may know, women are vastly underrepresented in philosophy, which a lot of people in the field claim is because of sexism. I wrote a detailed post in which I argue that, despite what I call the “official narrative”, there is scant evidence that women face pervasive discrimination in philosophy and, on the contrary, there is a lot of evidence that they get some kind of preferential treatment. Perhaps more importantly, I argue that even if sexism really were pervasive in the field, it still wouldn’t explain why women are underrepresented in philosophy. That’s because what most people don’t realize is that a good explanation should not only explain why women are underrepresented in philosophy, but also why they are not in many other fields. I argue that, in view of these facts, the best explanation for the underrepresentation of women in philosophy is that, for whatever reason, they are less likely to be interested in philosophy than men. I show that, unlike the official narrative, not only does this hypothesis explain the data, but it’s independently supported by the evidence. I argue that, while there are often reasons to be concerned by the fact that women have different occupational preferences than men, this is probably not the case here. I conclude by arguing that, if philosophers really want to change the preferences of women toward philosophy, they probably can only do that by radically changing what counts as philosophy, which I think is not desirable. If they refuse to do that, the only way departments of philosophy could substantially increase the proportion of women in philosophy is by engaging in some kind of affirmative action, whose result would probably be the opposite of what they were trying to achieve. As you may remember, Scott had already discussed that issue a few years ago, when he criticized Leslie et al.’s study. I mention his criticism when I argue that we probably shouldn’t be concerned about the fact that women are less interested in philosophy than men.

    • manwhoisthursday says:

      You might want to check out this article from UofT philosophy prof Joseph Heath:
      http://induecourse.ca/adversarialism-in-philosophy-a-defence/

      Women are weirdly not deterred from entering certain professions, like law or surgery, where there are, in fact, a lot of sexist jerks.

      —–

      He also has a similar paywalled article in the Chronicle, but I don’t have access and haven’t read it:
      http://www.chronicle.com/article/You-re-Wrong-The-Case/239985

      • Thanks for the link. I already knew about Heath’s blog, but I had missed this post, which I find absolutely excellent. I briefly mention the hypothesis that the adversarial culture of philosophy is responsible for the underrepresentation in my post.

      • OptimalSolver says:

        My completely baseless speculation is that it all comes down to the social status of the men in a particular field, plus how people-oriented it is. That’s why we see no female deluge into computer science. Rock-bottom social status male geeks plus a focus on non-living systems = female wasteland.

        Are male philosophers high status? Maybe in 390 BC.

        I also see that stubbornly using “her” and “she” as default pronouns, no matter how distracting in context, has not raised male philosophers’ stock with women.

        Edit: I’m also guessing that women with philosophical interests, especially big-concept philosophy and metaphysics, are very likely to be on the spectrum and be more male typical in interests and behavior.

      • BBA says:

        Women are weirdly not deterred from entering certain professions, like law or surgery, where there are, in fact, a lot of sexist jerks.

        But those also pay extremely well, at the high end anyway. Philosophy doesn’t. Lesson: enough money makes anything tolerable.

        • Matt M says:

          So Philosophy is the male equivalent of gender studies? Something you major in if you want to hang out among your own kind, and don’t care about never making any money?

          • Nornagest says:

            Philosophy majors actually make pretty good money. They just don’t do it in philosophy.

            This is probably because it attracts smart people, though, not because of the content.

        • Jiro says:

          Engineering pays well, too.

          With the result that lots of women go into engineering in developing countries, where they pretty much have to take jobs for the money. But not in the West, where the woman is a lot more likely than the man to take a job that pays less but is more enjoyable.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Right, wake me from a drunken stupor and I could name like 50 high paying careers that women don’t seem as interested in, often with much lower jerk ratio.

    • SchwarzeKatze says:

      Unless we’re talking about “analytical philosophy” which recognizes that the empirical methods of science are the only way to gain useful knowledge, I don’t see why women (or anyone for that matter) should care how represented they are in philosophy any more than they should care about how represented they are in stamp collecting or astrology.

      • rlms says:

        As opposed to dirty “continentalal philosophy”, which is comprised only of Cultural Marxists and other such fools?

        • SchwarzeKatze says:

          There is no such thing as “cultural marxism”. It’s just a smear word used by people who have never read Marx and who think anything that deviates from north american cultural values is “comminism”. What I think you are referring to is “postmodernism” which has been hilariously shown to be nonsense designed to impress fools (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair). Marx was pretty much on board with the empirical methods of science being the only basis for knowledge. Historical materialism and atheism are fundamental things in Marx’s thought that are quite alien to the crowds usually refered to as “cultural marxists”. Saying that immigration is the reserve army of capitalism or criticizing aspects of jewish culture or the declaration of human rights like Marx did would be part of the seven deadly sins of these crowds. Many right wing fools endlessly quote Nietzsche and other continental philosophers to support their claims.

          • Stationary Feast says:

            There is no such thing as “cultural marxism”. It’s just a smear word used by people who have never read Marx and who think anything that deviates from north american cultural values is “comminism”.

            It’s frequently used to refer to people who seem to think of most, if not all, interpersonal interaction as oppressor/oppressed interaction, usually with the proviso that white people, and especially straight white men, can never be oppressed.

            There are other ways of viewing the world, and people who use “cultural marxism” as a term generally see things other ways.

          • SchwarzeKatze says:

            And what exactly has that got to do with Marx or even marxism? Cultural liberalism would be a better term to describe this and marxism as well as serious anarchism rejects the philosophical assumptions and rhetoric of liberalism that it considers as a bourgeois ideology.

          • Stationary Feast says:

            And what exactly has that got to do with Marx or even marxism?

            кто кого?

          • vV_Vv says:

            There is no such thing as “cultural marxism”. It’s just a smear word used by people who have never read Marx and who think anything that deviates from north american cultural values is “comminism”.

            And yet all these continental “philosophers” always manage to include some anti-capitalist rethoric in their inane screeds. I wonder where did they get the idea?

            Anyway, modern Social Justice ideology is very clearly a derivative of Marxism. Not only the people who developed it were openly Marxists, but it shares with Marxism the same belief structure and (lack of) epistemology: both are collectivist ideologies that focus on the struggle between the “oppressed” and their “oppressor”. Both ideologies are fundamentally cultish, dogmatic, anti-enlightenment (they reject freedom of speech, freedom of association, equality before the law, due process, meritocracy, democracy), totalitarian (they want to police your thoughts) and they are prone to violence.

            The difference is that in Marxism the oppressor-oppressed axis was based almost exclusively on wealth, or more precisely on the ownership of the means of production, while Social Justice, while paying some lip service to wealth distinctions, fundamentally recognizes as the oppressor anyone physically and culturally identifiable as a central example of a successful Westerner (white, male*, straight, Christian), and recognizes as the oppressed anybody who diverges from the stereotype (non-white, woman, gay/trans/attack helicopter, Musim/Wiccan/Atheist+, etc.).

            (* not because Westerns women don’t exist, of course, but because, for historical reasons, the stereotype of a successful Westerner is male)

          • SchwarzeKatze says:

            @vV_Vv
            >Both ideologies are fundamentally cultish, dogmatic, >anti-enlightenment (they reject free speech, equality >before the law, due process, meritocracy, democracy) >and they are prone to violence.

            (Classical) anarchism is anti-enlightenment, anti-meritocracy and in some cases resorts to violence. But it advocates (absolute) free speech, equality before the law, due process and (real as opposed to elected oligarchy) democracy. So using your logic, is it derived from marxism too then? Oh wait, it can’t because it precedes it historically.

            It’s also news to me that capitalists do not resort to violence as well to silence their opponent as the historical record is replete with capitalists resorting to violence from gunning down workers gone on strike to invading countries to impose free trade.

            Also I haven’t heard of anyone in the social justice crowd or even the larger left that rejects property which is a core idea that socialists agree about whether they are of the marxist or the anarchist variety. Anyone who doesn’t reject property is effectively a capitalist as property is the one single thing that makes capitalism possible.

            Furthermore I don’t see how one can call people who are routinely criticized for being special snowflakes collectivists as opposed to individualists.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            vV_Vv: I don’t think you get oppression points for being wiccan. It’s probably counted as white people faffing around because they have slack in their lives even (I’m not sure) though it might not be cultural appropriation.

            By the way, is there a pronounciation for your handle? I just think of it as wings.

            SchwarzeKatze: SJWs seem to be alright with smashing capitalism, but I don’t think they especially want to end property.

            I have no idea where this puts them on the Marxist/not Marxist spectrum. I’d have said they are at least strongly influenced by Marxism.

          • onyomi says:

            This has come up before, but apparently enough people think “cultural Marxist” is a dirty swear word that one should either specify “Frankfurt School” or use the broader “Marxist cultural theorist.” The latter definitely exist and are overrepresented on the continent, but I don’t think all continental philosophers are Marxists, nor all Marxists continental philosophers. If one means the people who think everyone is oppressed in unique and exciting ways, “Intersectionality” and Critical Race Theory tend to be the operative terms.

            Re. the Sokal Affair, from what I’ve read, the article wasn’t peer reviewed. A non-peer reviewed article is basically not an academic article, so it can’t really be an indictment of academics’ own vetting process (not that I think peer review works great or doubt the contention that something with a snappy title or a politically congenial conclusion will receive the benefit of the doubt in a way other work might not, just that the Sokal Affair seems a bad example for proving it. A better example, in my mind, is Arming America, though it doesn’t prove anything about postmodernism per se).

          • SchwarzeKatze says:

            You can’t technically prevent anyone from engaging in capitalism if property isn’t outlawed. But they wouldn’t know that because they’ve never read Proudhon and/or Marx either and have the same understanding of the words capitalism and property as most proponents of capitalism do. To be strongly influenced by marxism you’d have to have at least read Marx and know what he was actually talking about which clearly isn’t the case. Actually the ideology from which SJ derives from is referred to by some actual marxists as liberal-libertarian which they consider as a cultural outgrowth of capitalism.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            onyomi, thanks. I didn’t realize Arming America had been debunked.

            As for Sokol, I feel he didn’t give his hoax a fair test. He revealed it too soon.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Yeah, I never got how “cultural Marxism” is a dirty right wing swear word but “Marxist cultural theory” and such are somehow perfectly fine.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @SchwarzeKatze

            (Classical) anarchism is anti-enlightenment, anti-meritocracy and in some cases resorts to violence. But it advocates (absolute) free speech, equality before the law, due process and (real as opposed to elected oligarchy) democracy.

            Democracy, in the usual meaning of rule of the majority, is incompatible with pure anarchism. And so it is having laws and courts to enforce them. Of course there are hundreds of variants of anarchism that compromise on certain points, but this fundamental tension still exist.

            So using your logic, is it derived from marxism too then? Oh wait, it can’t because it precedes it historically.

            Most contemporary versions of anarchism (anarcho-socialism, anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism) have certainly been heavily influenced by Marxism, and anarchism is now virtually universally considered a far-left ideology. The only exception is anarcho-capitalism.

            It’s also news to me that capitalists do not resort to violence as well to silence their opponent as the historical record is replete with capitalists resorting to violence from gunning down workers gone on strike to invading countries to impose free trade.

            Humans are violent apes, throughout history every group with any kind of power has practiced violence. This said, Marxism advocates for violence at a theoretical level in a way that capitalism never did, and going by their body counts, Marxists have killed far more people than capitalists did, both in absolute number and as a fraction of their populations.

            Also I haven’t heard of anyone in the social justice crowd or even the larger left that rejects property which is a core idea that socialists agree about whether they are of the marxist or the anarchist variety. Anyone who doesn’t reject property is effectively a capitalist as property is the one single thing that makes capitalism possible.

            Marxism and socialism don’t necessarily condemn property defined as having personal possessions. They condemn the private ownership of the means of productions, the capital. This is an important distinction: in Soviet Union, for instance, some people could accumulate significant amounts of wealth, but they were never “capitalists” as they did not own things like factories, farms, shops, etc.

            Anyway, Social Justice is indeed more capital-friendly, which makes it more palatable to the Silicon Valley and Wall Street elites that bankroll it. As I said, it has largely retargeted its oppressor-oppressed axis from economic differences to physical and cultural differences.

            Furthermore I don’t see how one can call people who are routinely criticized for being special snowflakes collectivists as opposed to individualists.

            They are very conformist in their anti-conformity, of course. Your typical SJW will claim some racial minority status if they can, even based on flimsy grounds (like saying that you are Native American because you are 1/8 Cherokee, even if you look white), or if they can’t, they will claim some made up gender identity and sexual orientation (e.g. demisexual gendervoid), plus some self-diagnosed mental illness (typically PTSD, since it’s easy to fake and can be used to police other people’s behavior). Add some pink/blue hair, an ugly tattoo or two, “problem glasses”, a hipster beard for males, and here it is your standard-issue special snowflake.

            Of course, as soon they are confronted with actual diversity, primarily diversity of thought that they can’t categorize in their pre-made boxes, they go nuts.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            I don’t think you get oppression points for being wiccan. It’s probably counted as white people faffing around because they have slack in their lives even (I’m not sure) though it might not be cultural appropriation.

            Well, at least you don’t get the oppressor points for being a Christian. But yes, if you really want to win the Oppression Olympics, you’ll have to join the Religion of Peace.

            By the way, is there a pronounciation for your handle? I just think of it as wings.

            I’ve never said it aloud, but in my mind it sounds like Vee Vee. Wings sounds cool though 🙂

            @onyomi

            Re. the Sokal Affair, from what I’ve read, the article wasn’t peer reviewed. A non-peer reviewed article is basically not an academic article, so it can’t really be an indictment of academics’ own vetting process

            It was published in a respectable journal in the field of Sociology. The fact that this journal did not practice peer-review and was nevertheless considered respectable speaks volumes about the level of intellectual rigor of the field.

            @manwhoisthursday

            Yeah, I never got how “cultural Marxism” is a dirty right wing swear word but “Marxist cultural theory” and such are somehow perfectly fine.

            It must be like “colored people” vs. “people of color”.

          • Chalid says:

            published in a respectable journal in the field of Sociology

            I’m not sure about the respectability level but it was definitely not a sociology journal.

            Sociology is actually pretty quantitative and I don’t know why it’s often the catchall epithet for bad social science on SSC. Just because it has “socio” in the name?

          • SchwarzeKatze says:

            @vV_Vv

            >Democracy, in the usual meaning of rule of the majority, is incompatible >with pure anarchism. And so it is having laws and courts to enforce them. >Of course there are hundreds of variants of anarchism that compromise >on certain points, but this fundamental tension still exist.

            Classical anarchists don’t have a liberal understanding of the word anarchy which is the absence of rules, they understand it as the absence of hierarchy (which is the correct etymology of the word) which requires rules whether these rules are written or not. Democracy, like it existed in ancient athens, is a practical example of how to implement anarchy as it is understood by classical anarchists.

            >Most contemporary versions of anarchism (anarcho-socialism, >anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism) have certainly been >heavily influenced by Marxism, and anarchism is now virtually >universally considered a far-left ideology. The only exception is anarcho-capitalism.

            Neither marxists nor classical anarchists consider themselves to be anywhere on the left and have criticized the left abundantly. The reason why I always use the term “classical anarchism”, is because today’s self-described anarchists aren’t anarchists in the classical sense, they have the liberal understanding of the word anarchy which is at odds with classical anarchists. Most of them are thus indeed on the far left and have never read any of the classical anarchists. No classical anarchist was ever influenced by marxism and furthermore they all reject communism and Marx explicitly. What most people believe is worthless.

            >Humans are violent apes, throughout history every group with any >kind of power has practiced violence. This said, Marxism advocates for >violence at a theoretical level in a way that capitalism never did, and >going by their body counts, Marxists have killed far more people than >capitalists did, both in absolute number and as a fraction of their >populations.

            While it’s true that Marx and marxists did advocate for armed revolution,
            what you forget to take into account is all the deaths caused by poverty which continue to this day. When this is taken into account, then capitalists dwarf every other group that ever existed as killers.

            >Marxism and socialism don’t necessarily condemn property defined as >having personal possessions.

            Of course not, because this isn’t what property means.

            >They condemn the private ownership of the means of productions, the >capital. This is an important distinction: in Soviet Union, for instance, >some people could accumulate significant amounts of wealth, but they >were never “capitalists” as they did not own things like factories, >farms, shops, etc.

            Only marxists focus on the private ownership of the means of production because marxism is an ideology which explains everything with economics. This is what Marx’s writings are: an attempt at explaining history exclusively with economics. National Socialism on the other hand was an attempt to explain everything with race. And that is actually a very good reason why “cultural marxism” makes no sense at all. SJ does not explain the world with economics at all but through their own concepts of “patriarchy” and “oppression”. And that is certainly no threat to capitalists.

          • IrishDude says:

            While it’s true that Marx and marxists did advocate for armed revolution, what you forget to take into account is all the deaths caused by poverty which continue to this day. When this is taken into account, then capitalists dwarf every other group that ever existed as killers.

            Can you expound on your take that poverty is caused by capitalism? Almost everyone in the world for all of history were in a state of material poverty. It’s only historically recently, within the last two centuries, that vast amounts of wealth have been created and large numbers of people have come out of poverty. The richest countries around the world are generally the ones with the greatest respect for private property and free trade, which I consider the basis of capitalism.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Democracy, like it existed in ancient athens, is a practical example of how to implement anarchy as it is understood by classical anarchists.

            TIL that Ancient Athens had no hierarchies. /s

            Neither marxists nor classical anarchists consider themselves to be anywhere on the left and have criticized the left abundantly.

            Sounds like a No True Leftist fallacy.

            Anyway, we are arguing semantics here, whether you consider Marxism and anarchism left-wing or not, it is still a fact that Social Justice is derived from Marxism.

            While it’s true that Marx and marxists did advocate for armed revolution,
            what you forget to take into account is all the deaths caused by poverty which continue to this day.

            Oh, you mean all the people who died in the Holodomor? Or those who died in the Great Chinese Famine? Or those who are currently enjoying Nicolás Maduro’s special weight loss program in Venezuela? Or those who practice cannibalism in North Korea?

            Damn capitalists!

            And that is actually a very good reason why “cultural marxism” makes no sense at all. SJ does not explain the world with economics at all but through their own concepts of “patriarchy” and “oppression”. And that is certainly no threat to capitalists.

            Indeed, SJWs are Marxists who retargeted their sights from economic class struggle to race/gender/sexual orientation/religion/etc. struggle. But other than this retargeting, they are totally Marxist.

          • Brad says:

            @vV_Vv

            Anyway, we are arguing semantics here, whether you consider Marxism and anarchism left-wing or not, it is still a fact that Social Justice is derived from Marxism.

            Someone should let the Jesuits know.

            Indeed, SJWs are Marxists who retargeted their sights from economic class struggle to race/gender/sexual orientation/religion/etc.

            They were Marxists in middle school and then changed targets in high school?

            You wouldn’t happen to have any kind of evidence for these pronouncements, would you?

          • Nornagest says:

            Someone should let the Jesuits know.

            The phrase “social justice” comes out of Catholicism, but most of the theory behind it comes out of social science academia. We could reasonably disagree on how central Marx is to that, but it is a fact that Marxian ideas had and still have a great deal of influence there.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            [Sokol hoax]

            “It was published in a respectable journal in the field of Sociology. The fact that this journal did not practice peer-review and was nevertheless considered respectable speaks volumes about the level of intellectual rigor of the field.”

            Still, by revealing the hoax when the piece was published, we didn’t have a chance to see what a lot of people in sociology thought of it.

          • SchwarzeKatze says:

            An incomplete list of the death toll of capitalism:

            300,000 US Bombing of Yugoslavia
            500,000 US Bombing Iraq Water Supply ‘91
            1,000,000 US sanctions on Iraq
            500,000 Iraq (Desert Storm)
            1,200,000 US Backed Suharto
            1,500,000 Irish Potato Famine
            7,000,000 Famine of 1932-33
            30,000,000 Famine in British India
            5,000,000 US Intervention in the Congo
            1,000,000 Indonesian Anti-Communist Purge
            100,000 Industrial Revolution USA
            3,000,000 US-Philippine War
            300,000 Guatemala
            650,000 Invasion of the Philippines
            1,200,000 Invasion of Afghanistan
            1,300,000 Invasion of Iraq
            6,000,000 US intervention in Latin America and brutal US-backed military dictatorships
            10,000,000 Vietnam War, including Cambodia and Laos
            10,000,000 Korean War
            20,000,000 British Occupation of India
            12,000,000 Great Depression (America alone)
            120,000,000 Capitalist Policy in India 1947 – 1990
            30,000 US Backed murder of Tamils
            100,000 Spanish-American War
            20,000 Massacre of the Paris Commune
            1,500,000 First Indochina 1946-1954
            1,000,000 Colonization of the Belgian Congo
            80,000 French Madagascar
            95,000,000 Native American Genocide
            100,000 US Made Famine Bangladesh

          • Nornagest says:

            I’m not even going to touch most of that whole Gish gallop, but just to take “Native American Genocide” as an example, I love it that it’s (a) the high estimate (b) of a death toll caused primarily by unintentionally spread* disease and its downstream effects, (c) primarily under pre-capitalist modes of economic organization.

            But you do you. This is cute, I don’t see real live tankies very often.

            * You’re going to say “smallpox blankets”. I’ve heard of them too.
            There is exactly one documented suggestion of using them, late in the colonization of the Americas, and we don’t know if it actually happened or if it worked if it did.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            I also love the part where the quasi-Capitalist South Koreans are getting the blame for being invaded by the Communist North Koreans.

          • John Schilling says:

            And the way the Evil Capitalists of the Korean War killed ten million people, at a time when the population of North Korea was only nine million. Even adding the half-million or so South Korean and Allied dead, that’s not going to work.

          • dndnrsn says:

            And of course there was that time that 1/10 of the American population in 1930 starved to death during the Depression, which is definitely a thing that happened.

            Plus, here I was, not even knowing that the USSR’s famine in 1932-33 was the fault of capitalism.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            This is what Marx’s writings are: an attempt at explaining history exclusively with economics. National Socialism on the other hand was an attempt to explain everything with race. And that is actually a very good reason why “cultural marxism” makes no sense at all. SJ does not explain the world with economics at all but through their own concepts of “patriarchy” and “oppression”. And that is certainly no threat to capitalists.

            Yes, Marx’s writing were about class struggle between economic oppressors and economic victims. “Cultural Marxists” explain the world through cultural oppressors and cultural victims. That’s why the word “cultural” is used to modify “Marxism” because it’s still class struggle, just the classes are defined by race/gender/etc instead of ownership of capital.

            Another appropriate term would be “postmodernism.”

            Yes, “Cultural Marxism” is a snarl word because no one calls themselves a Cultural Marxist. An awful lot of actual Marxists decry American “imperialism” during the Iraq war, even though this obviously means they have no idea what they’re talking about, since no one calls themselves an “imperialist,” America is not an empire, and did not annex/colonize Iraq.

            Perhaps the confusion is based on whether you think the oppressor/oppressed dynamic is more central to Marxist theory than economics. If you’re sympathetic to Marxism (or Cultural Marxism), then obviously the only thing important to Marx’s writings is economic in nature, since one takes it as a given that the world is made of oppressors and the oppressed. Therefore the only thing Marx was ever saying that wasn’t blatantly obvious was about economics. If you’re a paleoconservative, you’re looking at the world on a civilization/barbarism axis, and if you’re a libertarian human interactions are based on liberty or coercion. This makes your central disagreement with Marxism (or Cultural Marxism) the validity of the oppressor/oppressed worldview, and the economics stuff is secondary.

          • birdboy2000 says:

            Thank you for reminding me that famines under communism are the product of the evil communist government destroying all the food or something, while famines under capitalism (or, in many cases, simply the poor starving – which isn’t a problem, they should’ve bought money) are a natural problem which has nothing to do with the country’s economic system, and if anything capitalism, no matter how wholeheartedly embraced by the government in question, should be credited for not making it worse.

            I am sure the one in nine people hungry today, long after the fall of the USSR and the Dengist counter-revolution in China, really appreciate it.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Thank you for reminding me that famines under communism are the product of the evil communist government destroying all the food or something,

            The Ukrainian famine pretty much was:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor

          • SchwarzeKatze says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            Marx’s writings are an in detail description of how capitalism came to be and works, Das Kapital
            is an economics book and while class struggle is an important part of the explanation, it’s not the central
            theme of Marx’s writings. What Marx attempted to do is a scientific explanation of how capitalism works. It’s not some kind of political manifesto. You just need to read the titles of the chapters of Das Kapital to understand this. The Communist Manifesto, is a declaration of war against capitalism but it doesn’t really describe some elaborate strategy against capitalism or some plan for an alternative kind of society. This is because Marx thought that capitalism was an expected stage of civilization and that it would “collapse under the weight of it’s own contradictions” (automation might actually make his prediction come true). Marxism-leninism/bolshevism is what came up with a strategy against and a replacement for capitalism based on Marx’s description of capitalism.

            SJ is not derived from Marx’s description of what capitalism is and neither derived from marxism-leninism. Worse it’s ways of viewing the world are in contradiction with Marx’s description of capitalism. For instance Marx called immigration “the reserve army of capitalism”. Immigration for a genuine marxist is a bad thing. Communist parties before the collapse of the USSR when they still were satellite parties of the russian communist party, all opposed immigration on anti-capitalist grounds. In constrat SJ will do anything to promote immigration, open borders etc. That is a liberal “social democrat” thing. Marx says that capitalists support immigration to undermine the native working class. For marxists, SJ are tools of capitalism. The word “leftist” was coined by Lenin as a snarl word for “social democrats”, i.e. people who think capitalism just needs to be regulated/reformed a bit but is fundamentally a good thing.

            Cultural marxism is not a snarl word because no one calls themselves that, it’s a snarl word because of the popular manichean view of the world in U.S. culture which lumps into the same “communist” bag any society or group that has or promotes policies that oppose capitalism regardless of what replacement they propose or just want to regulate capitalism in a way that conflicts with the interests of U.S. corporations. Like calling Venezuela “communist” or “socialist” when property (i.e. interest, wage labor, rent, speculation) is clearly not outlawed there but simply more regulated and in ways not beneficial to U.S. capitalists.

            The USA is an empire, just like russia, china or any other large hierarchical society is. The US is the world’s biggest bully. It did annex Iraq by putting in charge a government that has enacted policies that are to the benefit of U.S. capitalists. It has been doing this for decades everywhere in the world just like the roman empire bullied all it’s neighbors so they would pay tribute and to get more slaves. No fundamental difference. This is documented, anyone can go read Wikileaks and see this for themselves.

          • Mark says:

            I’m not too sure about that list – I’ve never heard of the 300,000 people dying in the US bombing of Yugoslavia – but, I think the general