Now that Trump has started enacting his terrible policies, a bunch of people on Twitter are saying that my past posts on Trump “haven’t aged well” or that I must be feeling really bad about them right now.
I’ve never been the slightest bit of a Trump supporter. Since he came onto the national stage, I have called Trump “a bad president”, “randomly and bizarrely terrible”, “an emotionally incontinent reality TV show host”, and “an incompetent thin-skinned ignorant boorish fraudulent omnihypocritical demagogue”. I’ve accused him of “bizarre, divisive, ill-advised, and revolting” rhetoric, worried that his election might “lead directly to the apocalypse [or] the fall of American democracy”, and called his administration “a disaster”. I’ve urged blog readers to vote for literally anyone except him and to donate money to the ACLU to stop him. If you want to accuse me of being pro-Trump, or even lukewarm on disliking Trump, I don’t know what else to tell you.
But I still seem to be getting flak on two points.
First, in Against Dog-Whistleism, I condemned the practice of overinterpreting candidates’ statements to secretly reveal evil beliefs and policies that they support more strongly than their stated platform:
Although dog whistles do exist…politicians’ beliefs and plans are best predicted by what they say their beliefs and plans are, or possibly what beliefs and plans they’ve supported in the past, or by anything other than treating their words as a secret code and trying to use them to infer that their real beliefs and plans are diametrically opposite the beliefs and plans they keep insisting that they hold and have practiced for their entire lives.
Believers in dog whistles are saying I have egg on my face because Trump just passed a law banning immigrants from some Muslim countries. Clearly, (they say) this means we should have listened to his dog whistles all along.
But this is dead wrong. Trump openly said throughout his campaign that he planned to ban immigrants from some Muslim countries. See for example Bloomberg, June 25: Trump Says Muslim Ban Plan To Focus On ‘Terrorist’ Countries. Trump has been saying this openly for seven months. If you didn’t know Trump wanted this, it’s not because he was being cryptic about it. It was because you were too busy chasing down his “dog whistles” about how he secretly hated Jews to listen to him.
Second, people are saying that my post You Are Still Crying Wolf has been debunked, since Trump has banned immigrants from some Muslim countries, and so is obviously the KKK-loving white supremacist that I argued he wasn’t.
Look, guys. I specifically said in that post that I knew he was going to ban people from some Muslim countries, and that when he did, that would be consistent with my model:
13. Doesn’t Trump want to ban (or “extreme vet”, or whatever) Muslims entering the country?
Yes, and this is awful.
But why do he (and his supporters) want to ban/vet Muslims, and not Hindus or Kenyans, even though most Muslims are white(ish) and most Hindus and Kenyans aren’t? Trump and his supporters are concerned about terrorism, probably since the San Bernardino shooting and Pulse nightclub massacre dominated headlines this election season.
You can argue that he and his supporters are biased for caring more about terrorism than about furniture-related injuries, which kill several times more Americans than terrorists do each year. But do you see how there’s a difference between “cognitive bias that makes you unreasonably afraid” versus “white supremacy”?
I agree that this is getting into murky territory and that a better answer here would be to deconstruct the word “racism” into a lot of very heterogenous parts, one of which means exactly this sort of thing. But as I pointed out in Part 4, a lot of these accusations shy away from the word “racism” precisely because it’s an ambiguous thing with many heterogenous parts, some of which are understandable and resemble the sort of thing normal-but-flawed human beings might think. Now they say “KKK white nationalism” or “overt white supremacy”. These terms are powerful exactly because they do not permit the gradations of meaning which this subject demands.
Let me say this for the millionth time. I’m not saying Trump doesn’t have some racist attitudes and policies. I am saying that talk of “entire campaign built around white supremacy” and “the white power candidate” is deliberate and dangerous exaggeration. Lots of people (and not just whites!) are hasty to generalize from “ISIS is scary” to “I am scared of all Muslims”. This needs to be called out and fought, but it needs to be done in an understanding way, not with cries of “KKK WHITE SUPREMACY!”
Apparently saying it a million times is not enough for some people. I’m afraid there’s a mood affiliation effect going on here – that if I say Trump didn’t cause 9-11, then people can only hear “SCOTT SAYS TRUMP ISN’T THAT BAD!”. Arguments aren’t soldiers, and Trump can both not cause 9-11 and be bad for lots of other reasons.
So I stick to what I’ve said before. Trump is a bad person, a bad president, and probably a disaster for America and the world. If you want to know what Trump is going to do, you should listen to what he specifically says he is going to do, and then expect things vaguely in that direction except worse. Trump’s policies are often motivated by racism of the everyday bias-towards-being-more-scared-of-terrorists-than-the-situation-warrants sort, but he does not have an ideological belief in white supremacy or take marching orders from the KKK. If you want to fight him, I recommend you fight him, not subtweet bloggers who warned you this was going to happen and then told you not to exaggerate it because reality was going to be scary enough.
I made predictions about how the Trump administration would go, which you can find on the Predictions tab above. If you disagree with me about any of this, use your beliefs to make different predictions, record them, and see if you do better than I do. Do enough better and I’ll admit I was wrong and you were right.
But if you tell me on Twitter I’m wrong because my model of Trump could never predict the things I specifically predicted when laying out the model, I’m not going to pay very much attention to you.
I agree with Scott on most points but I felt like Point 13 was the weakest in the older post. “He’s not a racist because Muslims aren’t a race” is technically true but verges on sophistry. Would you prefer “bigot”? He’s not a racist, just a bigot.
No, my point wasn’t that Muslims aren’t a race. My point was that “racist” has a bunch of meanings, all the way from “believes that Asians are better at math than whites” to “wants to kill all the Jews”, and that Trump supports some things in the middle of that spectrum but not at the far end.
That’s fair, but you claimed that “There is no evidence that Donald Trump is more racist than any past Republican candidate (or any other 70 year old white guy, for that matter)” and banning Muslims certainly is a lot more bigoted than anything I can think of for any other post-Wallace general election candidate (at least if we exclude gay rights issues, which have moved really fast). Yes it’s not KKK-level of bigotry, but it’s a lot worse than anything I can think of from Romney/Bush/Dole etc. Yes he has a rationale, but so do unambiguous racists. The only plausible “he’s not racist” argument is your point that some Muslims are white.
Really? You think banning immigrants from a few countries that sort of look like state sponsors of terrorism if you squint is worse than invading and bombing a few countries that sort of look like state sponsors of terrorism if you squint?
I’m referring to his proposed ban on Muslim entry (which he phrased as a ban on Muslims, and remained that way on his website for months), not the actual thing he implemented after marginally saner handlers put his policy on paper. Dude seriously said a religious category should be banned from entering the United States. I can’t think of a more bigoted campaign promise post-Wallace from any nominee.
Re Iraq: I’m of the view that the invasion of Iraq was a horribly misguided act of benevolence, rather than a deliberate war on brown people/Muslims.
And I’m of the opinion that Trump’s ban is a horribly misguided act of benevolence toward future potential terrorism victims, rather than a deliberate war on brown people. I feel like either you accept that people do things for misguided reasons that nevertheless make sense to them and seem vaguely human, rather than out of raw hatred because they want to see people suffer based on their skin color, or you don’t.
Scott, I think the serious disconnect between you and a lot of your readers here is that you seem to believe that ‘racism’ refers only to ‘raw hatred’ – deliberately targeting other races because of a conscious belief that they’re intrinsically inferior and deserve bad things – while many or most people with liberal inclinations think that ‘misguided reasons that make sense to them’ can also be deeply racist. If a white family in the 1960s thought black people were fine when they kept to their own kind, but thought they were lazy and violent because of their culture and didn’t want them in their neighborhoods, were they racist? If Donald Trump is more likely to impose a ban on Muslims because he sees them as suspicious in a way he wouldn’t for Europeans with similar threat profiles, is that racist? I don’t think either of these are inhuman or motivated by fundamental hatred, but I do think they both deserve the label of ‘racism’ and the accompanying condemnation. I’m honestly curious as to whether you disagree with my choice of definitions here, or you have some other disagreement.
Pattern, I address this like a dozen times in the Wolf post. Please read that.
@IvanFyodorovich: Sorry to derail your discussion but who are these “brown people?”. I imagine some sort of potato men 🙂
But seriously, I guess you mean something like “people with darker skin than an average European but lighter than an average sub-saharan African? Frankly, I don’t see that as a very useful category. Or do you suggest that there are people who simply see a (dark skinned, some mestizos are as white as ethnic Europeans) Mexican mestizo the same way they do an Iraqi Arab (or you can replace either of them by a dark skinned Indian – I mean from India, not Amerindian) Or alternatively, would those see themselves as being a part of the same vague group? I think neither of that is true, so I think that “brown people” is a useless term. Or is “brown person” just a strange word for an Arab? If so, why not say Arab instead? I think this term is also solely used in the US, I’ve never had anything like that in Europe (in any language).
It’s rhetoric. Nobody is going to take the US census and check a box labeled “brown”. Nonetheless, there is a visible difference between people from the Middle East and so-pasty-you-can-see-their-organs internet dwellers such as myself.
“Brown” is an odd term used by certain culture warriors to denote minorities they favor who are neither Asian nor sub-Saharan African. For instance, it applies to Arab Muslims, Pashtun Muslims, Iranians, and Central and South American mestizos but not to Greeks or other Southern Europeans, and definitely not to Jews of any color.
Scott, by your criteria, I think most southern segregationist politicians wouldn’t count as bigoted. “We aren’t motivated by hatred of blacks, gosh no! We’re just worried about the education and safety of white children if we integrate. We think blacks and white benefit from the current system” . . . I think any time you decide that a racial or religious category is disproportionately likely to suck and that we should thus discriminate against them, that is bigotry in my book. Saying we should ban all Muslims from entering counts, invading a country because you think its people will appreciate being saved from a dictator and make democracy bloom doesn’t.
A major caveat, I admit, is that religions contain aspects of ideology in addition to ethnic origin. I admit too that I would be a little nervous if my neighborhood suddenly turned 90% Salafist. But if a politician cited Haredi welfare fraud and Russian gangsters as a reason to ban Jews entry and then he won the presidency, we would be flipping out right now, not arguing semantics.
Tibor, SJWs use the term “brown” as a kind of catchall for non-white (including black). I was invoking the term to explain that I didn’t agree with the SJW Iraq war=racist view. I agree, it’s a slightly silly term, for reasons Nybbler says.
EDIT: I realize nothing I’m arguing goes against Scott’s “Trump is really bad but not KKK-bad argument”. But if we’re at, “he’s pretty bigoted but not KKK bigoted”, that’s different from he’s “no more racist than any past Republican candidate”.
@IvanF: I think any time you decide that a racial or religious category is disproportionately likely to suck and that we should thus discriminate against them, that is bigotry in my book.
The problem here is that “bigotry” is a boo-word with the power to get people fired, while discriminating between religions seems rational.
I hope all the people here wailing about how it’s bigotry to criticize Islam have been pushing back against anti-Christian rhetoric just as firmly.
Scott, by your criteria, I think most southern segregationist politicians wouldn’t count as bigoted.
He’s said many times that he does consider Trump to be bigoted and/or a racist. He’s just not any more racist than, say, George W. Bush, who did things that were just as bad (or worse) for similar reasons.
And when we’re calling George W. Bush a bigot and a racist, those terms cease to have meaning.
I don’t think that’s true. He said “There is no evidence that Donald Trump is more racist than any past Republican candidate (or any other 70 year old white guy, for that matter).”
So, unless you want to argue that every single 70 year old white guy is racist (in a way that Scott Alexander would consider to be racist, and not in an unconscious structural racist way), then Scott apparently does not think Trump is racist in the slightest.
So, unless you want to argue that every single 70 year old white guy is racist (in a way that Scott Alexander would consider to be racist, and not in an unconscious structural racist way), then Scott apparently does not think Trump is racist in the slightest.
Not every 70-year-old white guy, but I do think that a great many 70 or 80-something-year-olds (male and female) are pretty racist. My grandmother makes comments about minorities that were probably acceptable in her day but which sound racist as hell by modern standards.
And, again, I guess the problem is that that term has multiple meanings. It seemed to me that in the wolf post, Scott was using the word “racist” mainly in the unconscious-structural sense rather than in the conscious sense. The point he was making was that Trump isn’t a white supremacist or someone who consciously thinks that minorities are bad; rather, Trump probably believes that he is very fair-minded about race, but holds a lot of implicit biases that frequently slip out.
It might be a bit much to say that he’s not more racist than any other Republican candidate (and, of course, bigotry is not confined to Republicans), but I think there have probably been numerous Presidents who were equally as racist.
Which is not to say that makes it okay, of course, just that Trump is not really unique in this regard.
Or, alternately, Scott was using the phrase “every other” in its usual, colloquial sense rather than meaning literally 100.00000%.
I like that this is a rationalist-leaning forum where we can do quantitative thinking. I also like that we can talk like actual human beings, rather than hybrid clones of Sheldon Cooper and Mr. Spock.
That’s indisputable, and an extraordinarily low bar to clear. So much so, that I think you didn’t put down in words what you actually meant.
Because “Trump not as racist as Jackson” isn’t much if an endorsement.
I mean, Trump is probably less racist in absolute terms than Lincoln, certainly in terms of public statements. But that doesn’t really mean very much, given the Overton Window.
Fair enough, although semi-random insertion of hyperbolic statements while criticizing statements for being hyperbolic is, what, irritating? But it certainly happens.
But do you think Scott was endorsing the view that it’s fair to describe the average 70 year old white guy as racist and/or bigoted? Because that was the view I was arguing against.
My perception is that Scott would not endorse the idea that the average 70 year old white guy is a racist, and definitely wouldn’t endorse the idea that it’s fair to say they are racist or assume they are racist.
That’s indisputable, and an extraordinarily low bar to clear. So much so, that I think you didn’t put down in words what you actually meant.
I’ll narrow that to “Presidents within my lifetime,” but given how fast the Overton window moves I guess that’s a pretty low bar as well.
I mean, Reagan opposed some civil rights legislature which is generally accepted as good and necessary by today’s standards, and which probably even Trump would support.
Glad to see it’s not just me that HBC pulls this disingenuous pretending not to understand idiomatic speech bullshit on.
Do you think Scott meant to indicate the average 70 year old white man is racist? Do you think Scott was using that phrase in support of the idea that Trump is racist?
Or is my referring to that phrase and pointing out that it almost assuredly means that Scott used it to mean that we should not say Trump is racist correct?
And interpreting idiomatic speech in a fairly literal manner is commonplace here. So much so that I never us the word never anymore. I think you guys are the ones over interpreting my loose usage of language, not the other way around
Whether or not, it’s against the US constitution.
Also, going to the other extreme leads to Muslim,. or whatever becoming a boo word, muslims being fired, etc. Maybe you are aiming for a happy medium, but you don’t sound like it.
“You think banning immigrants from a few countries that sort of look like state sponsors of terrorism if you squint is worse than invading and bombing a few countries that sort of look like state sponsors of terrorism if you squint?”
Absolutely! You’d have to be lying to yourself considerably to believe otherwise.
What was George W. Bush’s model of the Middle East?
George W. Bush saw Muslims as basically good people who had bad governments. He overthrew two bad governments and tried to put the people in charge of their countries as democracies, believing that the people in the Middle East were fundamentally good, fundamentally freedom-loving, and would embrace liberal democracy.
So yeah. Your argument is complete bullshit.
Trump banned people from Iran. Iran! What was the last terrorist attack by an Iranian in the US?
Compare to Saudi Arabia, which presently is #1 in terms of “people from there killing Americans in terror attacks” (by far, really). He didn’t ban people from there (because he has money there that he’d lose).
And he was very, very wrong. By and large, the kind of regime you have is indicative of what kind of people you have.
I absolutely believe that Scott wanted to convey that the typical 70 year old white man and/or previous Republican presidential candidates are racist and/or bigoted. I’m not sure how else one could reasonably interpret his statement. I think that’s exactly the reason he specified 70 years old and white, as well as Republican presidential candidates specifically, rather than more general categories like “American” or “presidential candidate.”
He just doesn’t think that the typical 70 year old white man is literally KKK racist/bigoted, in wanting to murder or drive out people of other races because he believes they’re inferior (I don’t know much about previous Republican presidential candidates, but at least in recent memory, I don’t recall any of that type – maybe back in the 50s or 60s? Then again, I’ve read that the Democrats were on that side back then, so maybe not?). That was his entire point in comparing Trump with a typical 70 year old white man – bigoted, but not KKK white supremacist bigoted.
Is it really? Was the changing character of Europeans responsible for changes in government over the past few hundred years? Did the character of Germans change radically in various directions between the late 19th and mid 20th centuries?
From where I’m standing, the recent radical changes were an aberration. Aberrations and exceptions and outliers do happen.
And I don’t even mean labels like monarchist/fascist/communist/democratic. I mean the actual differences, for the average member of the populace. There I see mostly very gradual, organic changes. For the average guy, there’s not much difference between the Tsarist regime, and the Stalinist one, except the second one is initially much, much worse but mellows out over time towards what is a stable arrangement given their particular people – which is mostly like the Tsarist regime again.
You make a good point, though. There actually were some pretty radical changes in Europeans during that time, like the advent of mass literacy/education and mass propaganda. So those aberrations might well just be results of changes of the underlying populaces.
If Donald Trump is more likely to impose a ban on Muslims because he sees them as suspicious in a way he wouldn’t for Europeans with similar threat profiles, is that racist? I don’t think either of these are inhuman or motivated by fundamental hatred, but I do think they both deserve the label of ‘racism’ and the accompanying condemnation.
Is it possible to believe that religion makes up an element of the threat profile of an individual without being racist / bigoted?
Trump banned people from Iran. Iran! What was the last terrorist attack by an Iranian in the US?
The government of Saudi Arabia is at least nominally friendly, and has a reason for not supporting actions that would damage that relationship. Meanwhile, Iran has been acting just short of war with the US for quite some time. Certain members of the Saudi Royal family secretly send money to terrorists; the Iranians do so openly as a matter of government policy (Hezbollah, for a start).
Well, social history tends to hold that social change is generally slow, although technology-caused change can be very fast.
What underlying change in the populace was there with mass literacy? I mean, are we talking biological or social?
I can see two big social effects:
1. The expansion of the amount of politically active wannabes. An illiterate peasant might have opinions, but he can’t formulate them very well, or propagate them to people out of earshot. The amount and influence of the landless-but-literate people with Opinions(TM) greatly grows.
2. Literacy came along with standardization of language. Languages such as “French” and “Polish” didn’t really exist before the early modern era, being instead a myriad local dialects. With the greater uniformity of how people spoke and other aids towards far-ranging communication, more people came to believe themselves to be the same tribal group.
These two explain both nationalism (not possible if people are fragmented heavily) and the modern democracy (not practical or popular with an illiterate population).
That was also my understanding.
I could be wrong, but I think what you are getting at is that Scott wouldn’t ‘Call Trump a Bigot’ because Scott doesn’t think the kind of unconscious unwoke awkward uncle racism of the average 70 year old, that he ascribes to Trump, warrants being called a Bigot.
Which is in reply to Hyzenthlay saying that Scott has called Trump a bigot.
I assume the distinction here is, using the term bigot to describe somebody, or using it as a weapon to attack somebody. So he has ‘Called Trump a Bigot’ but doesn’t think that bigot should be used as a weapon against Trump(or ever other 70 year old white man), because Trump is just another example of an unconsciously racist unwoke awkward uncle who is far from PC but doesn’t actual harbor any seething hatred for groups of people based on their race.
Now, if this idea is still square with the immigration ban, I am not sure.
If that’s what he means, his usage of “bigot” or “racist” is nonstandard. Everyone else uses it to mean “evil unperson who must be destroyed”. He’s better off inventing his own phrase for it because “rasit” and “bigot” don’t communicate what he’s trying to communicate.
many or most people with liberal inclinations think that ‘misguided reasons that make sense to them’ can also be deeply racist
And that’s where the problem arises; there is no differentiation between “racist who thinks black people are not human and lynching a black man is no worse than hanging a rabid dog” and “racist who thinks Asians are naturally all so gifted at maths”. When someone who is probably a little bit racist but mostly out of ignorance rather than active hatred gets the full “you are a terrible awful hater” treatment, then it seems as if it makes no difference – you may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, if you’re going to be accused of “profiting by structural racism” which is equally as bad as going out and shooting black people, then the word loses all meaning beyond a general term of disapprobation meaning “I think this person is not nice at all”.
I think other people in this thread have done something similar.
HBC in particular, seems to be saying that being unconsciously structurally racist is … not racist in the slightest.
The idea that somebody can be ‘racist’ of the ‘asian kids are good at math’ variety, is what I am getting at here, in terms of describing that person as racist, but at the same time holding the belief that such a person should not be attacked for said belief.
Maybe I am off though, if everyone thinks that people who believe that Asian kids are good at math, must be destroyed. Then I am just living in a bubble where nobody thinks that, and as such my reading is probably heavily biased.
Bigot, yes. “Racist” only has that connotation among a subset of the left. A large subject, yes, but most people still use “racist” to refer to a moral failing that might not be wholly unforgivable.
I would prefer not to surrender the latter term to the fanatics.
No, I described my belief that Scott is maintaining this position.
This is different than stating my own belief.
I’ve always thought of bigot as a superset of racist. “Racism” except it’s not necessarily about race. Racism is a form of bigotry, but so is, say, a certain form of Anti-Catholicism.
Do you have a word that you think means that?
In that case, though, “the people you have” change when you teach them how to read. Surely, then, the best course of action is to promote mass literacy worldwide.
In the case of Islam, it doesn’t “Contain … ethnic origin.” Islam originated in Arabia, but Arabs are a minority, a pretty small minority, of Muslims.
Christianity originated in Israel, but most Christians are not the descendants of Jews. Proselytising religions, which both Islam and Christianity are, are like that.
And if what Trump was proposing was a ban on “brown people” it would have included India, which has more of them than all of the states included in his ban combined.
I don’t think there is any evidence that Trump is bigoted at all–that’s just an attempt to squeeze him into the category of bad people that his opponents are used to squeezing their opponents into.
Trump is a demagogue and a politician. Islamic terrorism is a hot issue, so it makes sense for him to say and do things that he can claim will reduce it.
You might as well label Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders as racists because they opposed the TPP, which would have increased trade with East Asians.
Trump may well be a psychopath and is pretty clearly dishonest, but that doesn’t make him a racist.
To begin with, “bigoted” and “racist” are not the same thing. Someone who is closed minded and intellectually intolerant is bigoted, whether his bigotry is right, left, or based on some non-political ideas. Someone who reasonably but mistakenly believes (say) that some racial groups are less intelligent than others and would change his view if presented with good evidence that it was wrong isn’t a bigot. Someone who unreasonably believes that no such differences exist and would not change his view if presented with good evidence that it was wrong is.
So far as southern segregationist politicians and racism, that depends on both the politician and the definition of “racism.” If the word means, as I think it should, hostility towards or contempt for members of a race, I expect some were and some were not.
If “racism” means, as some clearly think it should, the belief that members of some race are, on average, inferior in important ways to members of another race, I expect most southern segregationist politicians were racist, but probably not all.
@HBC: “Bigotry” and “racism” are intersecting sets; neither encompasses the other. Bigotry is, roughly speaking, active hostility, against people on the basis of any immutable characteristic, and in common usage applies only when the hostility exceeds the threshold of tolerance. Racism is any prejudice or discrimination based on a single immutable characteristic (race) but without a requirement for active hostility. Someone who preferentially hires Asians to write his code, Hispanics to watch after his children, and walks to the other side of the street to avoid inner-city Black people, would be a racist but would not commonly be referred to as a bigot. Bigotry is almost by definition a mortal sin, racism can be one of the lesser ones or even none at all.
I do not think that there is a word that encompasses all the things we mean by “racism” but w/re all immutable characteristics rather than just race.
I think part of the problem is that much of the discussion treats “racist” as a binary term–you are or you are not. I don’t think, and I doubt Scott thinks, that every 70 year old white man, or even the average, is a racist in that sense.
But if you treat racism as a matter of degree and use it as many do to describe any belief that people of another race are on average different in negative ways that matter, then I expect that the average 70 year old white (or black) man (or woman) has more than zero racism. Hence saying that Trump is no more racist than … makes sense.
So why was it that when the previous administration compiled a list of countries of concern it too did not contain Saudi Arabia? Did Obama have money in Saudi Arabia that he would lose too?
@David Friedman: Here is a bit of background on Obama’s use of the list of 7 countries:
I think attacking Trump for his investments in Saudi Arabia is a red herring. The obvious answer for why Saudi Arabia was not on Obama’s list is that Saudi Arabia is “an American ally” (which is obviously not related at all to their oil production). To the extent there is a valid attack on Trump for omitting Saudi Arabia, it goes something like:
“Look. This whole idea of banning entry from entire countries to protect us from terrorism is idiotic on the face of it. But if Trump were seriously interested in making the bold moves that nobody else had the guts to do, and really did think that banning entry would help prevent terrorism, then he wouldn’t just hand us a list of the Muslim countries that are easiest to kick around. He would go after the countries that actually have a history of exporting terrorists, starting with Saudi Arabia. The fact that he hasn’t done so is evidence that his purported rationale for this ban is just a smokescreen.”
As discussed at length in a previous thread, though, I am a bit leery of arguments that claim that your ideological opponents are not applying their own principles correctly, so take the preceding paragraph with a grain of salt.
So where does one go with “factually based racism”? For example it is known that one doesn’t bring up racial based crime statistics in polite company, but the disparities are so remarkable as to be hard to deny and certainly worthy of debate.
One could debate whether poverty, unemployment, education, parenting, social pathologies unique to the black community, etc. are responsible, but you are generally deemed a racist for just bringing this subject up.
If the right brings up this kind of stuff it is blaming the victim racism, if the left brings it up it is social justice.
Trump is vilified for saying black communities are in terrible shape, and one gets the impression he would be even more vilified if he said they were in great shape. The rules of engagement are set so the only way to successfully play this game is to not play it at all.
The rules of engagement are set so the only way to successfully play this game is to not play it at all.
Well that’s how Trump won, isn’t it?
“You all think we have to play Secret Hitler, but I’m going to play soccer against Mexico and you can’t stop me!”
Not really. I’d abolish mass education, personally. Nationalism is super-bad, and democracy isn’t much better. Muslim nationalism (in the original, agglomerative sense, not the modern divisive iteration) is how you get the types of ISIS.
Google “human biodiversity” and read some blogs. JayMan’s is a good start; he comments here sometimes.
While party members aren’t candidates, it’s worth pointing out that about half the US supported Trump’s ban on any and all Muslims crossing the border in March 2016, including a third of democrats polled. His current clusterfuck of an executive action is a more moderate version of a plan that was supported by half of the US, including a third of his political opponents.
This isn’t an isolated feeling, either: there are similar results in other English-speaking countries.
When centrist is defined as having equal support from either side, or as splitting independent voters down the middle, Trump’s plan is centrist. Your definition of bigoted matches half the US, maybe more. If his plan is worse than that of the other Republicans, it is because they were actually to the left of the average polled citizen. And voters in the US skew to the right.
This scares the shit out of me. I know maybe three people who supported a ban on Muslims (in Australia), and one of them literally once said “Hitler had some good points” and offered to lend me Mein Kampf, so it’s clear that I’m living in a bubble.
I think “clusterfuck” is about the best way to describe it. Whatever sense it might have made, doing it so fast without giving the airports and entry points a chance to digest it and come up with a way of implementing it, as well as answers to “but what about if X happens/can Y still be allowed in?”, was very badly done. I’m seeing all kinds of talk about how Steve Bannon actually wrote this and that Trump is just the puppet signing the orders.
(I’m also amused to see many of the same people who thought Pence was Literal Devil now floating the balloon of suppose Trump was impeached and Pence was president instead, even the Republicans hate him because he’s hated in Indiana for messing up his own state, but he’s not as crazy as Trump so he wouldn’t be as bad as Trump but no way he could be re-elected and we could beat him).
Though we have to say this much – he said he’d do things before he was elected, and he appears to be keeping his promises!
I am very confused with this travel ban, but he didn’t ban all Muslims, he’s banned entrants from specific nations which could include Christians and other non-Muslims (even the news reports are referring to “Muslim-majority” countries when reporting on the seven particular nations). This also means Muslims from nations not on the ban list can still travel to the USA, if I am interpreting the text correctly?
And apparently he has had a phone conversation with King Salman of Saudi Arabia which went amicably (or if it didn’t, nobody is saying anything):
I find the whole affair very confusing; it seems to have been put into practice very quickly and very badly, resulting in confusion and disarray. At the same time, there seem to be hints or whispers that this is putting pressure on Saudi Arabia, which is seeking to maintain its influence in the Arab and Muslim world. Could it be one of those terrible decisions which by a bizarre fluke turn out to have an upside, e.g. the Saudis will agree to establish and support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, in return for movement on this ban?
Most Muslims are white, assuming that “white” means “not enough Afro-American or East Asian ancestry to be obvious.” Islam is a religion, not a race. And the list of countries was from less extreme immigration legislation by the previous administration–are you arguing that Obama was a racist too?
I wouldn’t say Arabs are “white”. Caucasian, sure. White, probably not. Turks might qualify under “white” since they’re substantially Greek.
I remember also being disappointed by that one.
I was expecting Scott to do the thing he says he agrees we should do – deconstruct the word “racism” into a lot of very heterogenous parts. Preferably with at least one link to probably Scott’s favorite thing to link. I was disappointed that he engaged on the object level – in a sort of strawmannish way – instead of doing that. Because I think it’s an opportunity to do a really important and necessary analysis of what people mean by “racist” when we fight over it, and Scott is one of the few people who could do that analysis with fairness and insight.
Some of the other few people who could do it are commenters here, and I was hoping someone would do it in the comments (or on their blog and link it). But of course the comments on that post were much more flammable than typical SSC comment threads, so there wasn’t really much chance for discussion in that direction.
I agree that the overall quality of this blog has raised my expectations beyond all reason and that I should cut the poor guy a break if he just wants to have at people on the object level once in a while.
I didn’t have time to do that in the middle of my already 9000-word post. I think I pretty clearly sketched out what I meant, apparently well enough that you could reconstruct my argument and even know what I would link to.
I worked on the post you wanted and planned to post it directly afterwards, but I couldn’t get it to come out right, and I also didn’t want to deal with the amount of flak I expected for posting it.
I’m excited to hear you planned it, even if it isn’t fully formed. I hope it bubbles back to the surface some time, perhaps when the spotlight has died down enough to reduce the expected disutility from flak.
It’s important – for our society “racism” is the blegg currently causing the most conflict and preventing the most cooperation – and you’re one of the few people with a reasonable chance of explicating the differing perspectives well enough to plausibly promote understanding.
As a moderate in mostly lefty circles, my personal interest is to have a starting place for getting my friends and colleagues to tone down the SJW-vocabulary-based vilifying of Republicans, the backlash to which has damned us with Trump.
The first step there is to credibly explain that Republicans aren’t necessarily entirely driven by white-supremacist style “racism.” Which requires an accurate and charitable deconstruction of what people of differing views mean when they talk about racism. I am not articulate or insightful enough to do that myself; I need your help.
Racism(“Republican” definition): Consciously treating people in meaningfully different ways due to their racial origin.
Racism(“Democratic” definition): A power system that gives majority/historically powerful groups a wide variety of advantages(collectively dubbed “privilege”) over minority/historically powerless groups, some of which are extremely subtle and not consciously realized.
(Both of these ignore some obvious minor exceptions – casting actors for a film set in the South in the 1840s, for example – and are somewhat simplified, but they’re at least close)
For overt racism like the KKK and Jim Crow laws, these are functionally identical. However, they diverge significantly in the post-civil-rights era. For example, affirmative action laws are frank and open racism under the first definition, but an effort to actively combat racism under the second. Conversely, a shopkeeper keeping a closer eye on the security camera when a black teenager is in his store than he would for a white teenager is generally considered benign and even perhaps justified under the first definition, while the second definition would consider it yet another piece of the culture of oppression against minorities.
I lean more towards the first definition, because it’s the one used colloquially, but some useful ideas are embedded in the second. For example, Trump isn’t really a racist under the first definition, merely a boor. But he’s positively dripping with racism under the second. He’s not consciously biased, but he embeds so many unexamined assumptions about race into his mindset that what comes out is not exactly a role model of racial understanding, even if he consciously believes himself to be extremely fair-minded and anti-racist, and actually consciously works towards breaking down definition-1 racism on many occasions.
Affirmative action is also racism under the second definition as it is an institutionalization of minority “achievement”. Affirmative action is fundamentally the majority taking credit for any advancement of the underclass, it is a tacit statement that “they” need “our” help.
You clearly don’t understand affirmative action. Its not that they need our help, its that we should stop obstructing them. The reason we have more white students is that people prefer to associate with others as close to them as possible and thus prefer white candidates over black ones with identical qualifications. We are correcting our subconscious bias through conscious application of scientific understanding.
This is a website all about how humans are irrational. Correcting for cognitive bias regarding hiring or acceptance practices doesn’t mean that people who benefit from affirmative action need our help. We are helping OURSELVES.
There’s also a bit of “if you had many fewer advantages and you’ve only missed identical qualifications by a bit, its more impressive even if your qualifications aren’t as strong.”
>You clearly don’t understand affirmative action. Its not that they need our help, its that we should stop obstructing them. The reason we have more white students is that people prefer to associate with others as close to them as possible and thus prefer white candidates over black ones with identical qualifications. We are correcting our subconscious bias through conscious application of scientific understanding.
Except that’s the exact opposite of how human minds work. The way to get people treated equally is to REDUCE the salience of irrelevant differentiating factors like race. AA doesn’t do this, it increases them, it makes people more aware of racial groupings, not less. It worsens the problem it purports to solve, which is great for politics, but terrible for policy.
In the interests of doing this now: I’d say “racist” has several components, but one of them is “split people into groups based on demographic factors, and have an decision tree with those demographics as the top split”. I’d say Trump pretty clearly falls into this one, if not into others (e.g. “hate non-white people”).
I think that for some people, e.g. those who rely on terms like microagressions and implicit bias testing, this is the primary definition of racism*. That’s why they focus on these tests – to check if someone’s racist, you need to check their mental algorithm, not ask them what their verbalized opinions are. By that measure, Trump clearly is racist, which is why they feel so secure in exclaiming it.
I think Scott’s counterarguments to this are a) trying to check people’s hidden algorithms is a worse way of understanding them than using what they explicitly say, and b) even if it isn’t, it’s still a bad idea to rely on it.
I definitely agree with (b), and am in general ambiguous/conflicted on (a) (though it’s pretty clearly correct in this case).
*possibly because they live in environments where no one admits to openly hating non-white people, but I can think of other convincing reasons for this.
>split people into groups based on demographic factors, and have an decision tree with those demographics as the top split”. I’d say Trump pretty clearly falls into this one, if not into others (e.g. “hate non-white people”).
If that’s racist, then the only people who aren’t racists are those that try to insist on complete color-blindness, which I think limits us to Stephen Colbert.
I specified using race at the top of your decision tree, which I don’t think most people do (which is not to say it’s not a factor for most people, just not the primary one).
Most people don’t make decisions in ways which can be characterized as using the same decision tree each time. Typically which decision tree they use will depend on circumstances. If all you know about a person is their race, they will use a decision tree with race at the top. Otherwise they won’t. There’s no one size fits all decision tree.
Also, using a (nontrivial) decision tree with race at the top is logically equivalent to using another one where race isn’t at the top. It’s like getting mad at people for using subtraction but saying it’s okay for them to add negative numbers.
Another gesture in the direction of what lefties are trying to point to when they use the word “racism”:
[Non-white person commits act of terrorism]: “These people are so violent, why won’t the other members of this ethnic group denounce these acts?!
[White person commits act of terrorism]: “This man acted as a lone wolf. It’s a shame, but I think it’s really an issue of mental health.”
Another example, using gender this time:
This is also behind the notion that “there’s no such thing as racism against white people” and “women can’t be sexist against men” (though I think both are obviously false).
Basically, when a non-white person does something, it counts against their whole race, but when a white person does something it’s an act of an idiosyncratic individual.
When people call this kind of behavior out, they get called “SJW” and “politically correct”. When people return the favor by judging all whites for the actions of individuals, it’s called “reverse racism”.
But the Left does the exact opposite of that, even though the Right usually has greater backing in the specific cases. They do try and demonize all white men, all males, all gun ownership. Maybe not the entire Left, but enough to piss me off.
For example, I’m not sure what we’re talking about besides Islamic terrorism. But Islamic terrorism is very clearly a function of Islam, being the source of most world terrorism period.
I guess you could argue that the attacks on illegal immigrants aren’t really founded. But at the same time, the larger point there is that illegal immigrants aren’t even supposed to be here, and that we don’t necessarily derive benefits from them being here, so much as they do, and thus we should let them in for moral reasons, which I partially support but after a certain point…
*Salafist Sunni Islam
And western ability to distinguish those from the other kinds is pretty close to zero, aided by the taboo on profiling.
White Christian Militia Terrorism is clearly a function of whites. And Christians. And Militias.
But the question is which Of the two words are more central to the phrase “Islamic Terrorist”? And the answer there is “terrorist”.
I’m not especially interested in responding to tu quoques, here. I’m trying to help righties understand some aspects of how lefties use the term “racism”. I’m not trying to change your mind about any value-driven questions, just to help you understand the mentalities you tend to find yourselves arguing against. Mostly because I’m sick of weakman arguments.
I think it’s safe to say you’re one of the most partisan righties who comments here regularly? So either try not to make broad-brush comparisons like this, or try really hard to justify them when you do. You can also try to soften the phrasing to make it less annoying for lefties to engage with your arguments. Just dropping this sort of thing like a drippy dogsquat does nothing to improve the discourse.
You know how Moon was kind of annoying? Don’t be the righty version of Moon.
1. If you find yourself pissed off, step away from the computer. You’re not going to do yourself or “your side” any favors posting angry, and you’re less likely to try to honestly understand and engage with arguments you don’t agree with.
2. If it’s not the entire left, don’t blame the entire left. Just specify who you’re talking about. It’s not hard.
Only a tiny fraction of Muslims are terrorists, just like only a tiny fraction of white people are white collar criminals.
Once you start arguing that people need to be careful about hiring white people because of their propensity for corruption I’ll take your arguments about Muslims being inherently disposed towards terrorism more seriously.
How many people have they killed lately?
@HeelBearCub – “White Christian Militia Terrorism is clearly a function of whites. And Christians. And Militias.”
So we are endlessly reminded. This is a White Supremacist society, after all. [EDIT] – apologies if this sounds dismissive; my point is merely that it is what it is.
@wysinwygymmv – “[White person commits act of terrorism]: “This man acted as a lone wolf. It’s a shame, but I think it’s really an issue of mental health.””
McVeigh was not claimed to be a lone wolf or a mental health issue. He was and is, in fact, used as an example of the violent inclinations of the American Right. And he should be. He killed a large stack of people for specifically right-wing reasons.
There are people who go on shooting sprees out of genuine lone-wolf homicidal nihilism. There are also people who go on shooting sprees while screaming Aluha Akbar. It seems like a reasonable hypothesis that the latter might have different motivations than the former.
“Only a tiny fraction of Muslims are terrorists, just like only a tiny fraction of white people are white collar criminals.”
And significant percentages of Islam appear to support terrorism generally and even obviously horrific implementations like ISIS specifically. You can find discussion of this phenomenon in this very thread.
“Once you start arguing that people need to be careful about hiring white people because of their propensity for corruption I’ll take your arguments about Muslims being inherently disposed towards terrorism more seriously.”
Whiteness isn’t an ideology or belief system. Also, you would need to show that white employers commit more wage theft than employers of other ethnicities. If you actually could show that, it would in fact be an argument for not putting white people in control of wages.
“I’m trying to help righties understand some aspects of how lefties use the term “racism”.”
We understand how lefties use racism. We’ve been watching you for our whole lives. Some of us aren’t interested in playing along with the farce any more. Racism is when you wear the wrong hair style.
Despite the edit, you seem to have missed my point.
In the 90s, a blanket ban on on Militias, or Christian Militias or White Christian Militias would not not have been warranted. Banning Christians would definitely not have been warranted.
If you agree with this, you should ask yourself for some intellectual consistency.
“I’m not especially interested in responding to tu quoques, here. I’m trying to help righties understand some aspects of how lefties use the term “racism”. I’m not trying to change your mind about any value-driven questions, just to help you understand the mentalities you tend to find yourselves arguing against. Mostly because I’m sick of weakman arguments.”
If you’re saying that this is an incorrect usage but that’s how it’s used, sure.
Though personally I do understand it already.
“I think it’s safe to say you’re one of the most partisan righties who comments here regularly? So either try not to make broad-brush comparisons like this, or try really hard to justify them when you do.”
It’s not safe to say that at all.
Let’s expand into justification: every time a white man commits a crime, say a mass shooting huge segments of the Left will go into paroxysms and talk about how it’s really white people who are the problem, especially men, and especially the fault of gun owners. There are many examples of terrorist attacks where the attacker is initially assumed to be white and so media coverage is enormous, people on the Left fire up their Twittermobiles and start talking shit. Then when the person is revealed to be Muslim, utter silence.
Moreover, the Right is mostly relying on categories like, well, “religion”. You think that’s bullshit and we’ll get to it. But “religion” is an entirely legitimate way to categorise people.
To this day, people still complain about the Bundy “white terrorists” or whatever they are called. Who are these guys, and what did they do? Well, they took over an abandoned bird sanctuary to protest a government decision and brought their guns. This ended when a police-initiated confrontation ended with the death of one of them, and the surrender of the rest. In other words, they didn’t do any property damage and didn’t kill anyone, which didn’t stop various members of…let’s call them Left-identifying people, calling for their heads, screaming bloody murder, and trying to use their example as a club to beat other white people.
“You can also try to soften the phrasing to make it less annoying for lefties to engage with your arguments. Just dropping this sort of thing like a drippy dogsquat does nothing to improve the discourse.”
Sure. Next time I’ll expand on what I more specifically meant.
“You know how Moon was kind of annoying? Don’t be the righty version of Moon.”
Moon was annoying because all of her arguments were “You’re so brainwashed”.
“Only a tiny fraction of Muslims are terrorists, just like only a tiny fraction of white people are white collar criminals.”
And this is what I mean. If the vast majority of wage thieves were white people, and white people weren’t disproportionately pre-positioned to commit wage theft, then you might have something. If it was mostly Christian white people, and some of them when caught stealing wages cited some Christian doctrine, then you would definitely have something.
In most cases, only a tiny fraction of anyone will be anything. But Muslims still commit far more terror than all other groups, and the only other group that even comes close is an explicit self-sorting political ideology (Communism, I believe). The idea that there is no issue is ludicrous.
“Once you start arguing that people need to be careful about hiring white people because of their propensity for corruption I’ll take your arguments about Muslims being inherently disposed towards terrorism more seriously.”
That publication doesn’t even mention the word “white”, let alone racial demographics. So are white people actually endowed with a propensity for white-collar crime? Well, the first thing I found was this
Old, but go look at Table 5 and you can find that, apparently, white people committed 62% of white-collar crimes! And even today, white people are only 70% of America – you can only imagine that in the 80s they were a far larger proportion of every single state. So ignoring that “white” is a stupid way to define a group of people (I haven’t argued for the existence of “Brown Terrorism”) and ignoring that white-collar crime is only accessible to certain people…is it even true?
To HeelBearCub: Thank you for providing a perfect example of what I’m talking about.
Christian militias are responsible, within the U.S., for…how many deaths? And keep in mind that, according to Gallup polls, “75% of Americans identify with a Christian religion”. Yes, there were periods of time in which abortion clinics were terrorised by Christian militias. That was a problem with Christianity. It’s not happening now, so I don’t see a current threat from it – though I acknowledge that it could arise again in future. (And while I wouldn’t ban “militias”, I might not want to let in a bunch of Christians known for being radical, while this was going on.)
But in a sheer desperation to avoid the obvious correlation, the Left, and let’s agree that HBC is pretty Lefty, throws out these wild defenses. “The most important part is terrorist” my dude the vast majority of terrorism is committed by Muslims worldwide. Even in America, as 1% of the population they are punching WAY above their weight. Don’t try to act like this isn’t an issue. And I have a feeling that – while outside Muslim terrorists may be mostly Sunni – those born within the U.S. don’t identify as either of those, but may still commit acts of terror.
@HeelBearCub – Near as I can tell, I’m replying to a discussion about whether the “Islamic” part of “Islamic terrorism” is a significant contributor to the problem as a whole.
“In the 90s, a blanket ban on on Militias, or Christian Militias or White Christian Militias would not not have been warranted. Banning Christians would definitely not have been warranted.”
In the 90s, White Christian Militias were entirely a domestic phenomenon, not a foreign one arguably being imported. If they had been, it seems to me that arguing that we shouldn’t import such things would be an understandable position to take. In any case, actually banning Christianity (or Islam) is of course illegal, but banning militias was most definately a live political goal post-McVeigh, and extreme antipathy to white identity politics remains the norm.
If White Christian Militias were actively burning down a sizable chunk of a region, it seems to me that it would be entirely reasonable to try to keep them from immigrating here, up to and including banning immigration from countries with a high percentage of White Christian Militia activity. To my understanding, doing so is not actually against our laws. Maybe it would be a bad idea, but it’s not obvious to me why that would be true.
1. Do I really need to go googling for a few examples of both kinds of claims? They’re really not hard to find.
2. McVeigh is occasionally used as an example of the violent inclinations of the American far — a very small group of people. He’s never used as an example of the violent inclinations of whites in general, or men in general, or Americans in general, which is my real point.
I bet McVeigh was no stranger to the phrase “God bless America.” Slogans aren’t always very good indicators of motivations. One might want to pay attention to research showing that Al Qaeda and ISIS recruits tend not to be the most devout Muslims, but that they do tend to be poor but educated single men with little in the way of professional or romantic prospects.
Which sounds beyond the pale if you don’t take into account the different environments these people live in. Our media tends to highlight certain messages like: “American good! ISIS bad!” And I bet, e.g., Nigerian media tends to have a sort of different emphasis that on the whole would be more accommodating of ISIS and less so for the US government. If you assume all these people have the information and values and loyalties you have, then yes this is bad. If you take real-world conditions into account, it’s more understandable.
On the one hand, Islam is not a (unitary) ideology of belief system. And on the other, “whiteness” is being used as a proxy for particular cultures. Each lumps together about 25% of the earth’s people, so they seem approximately equivalent to me as far as generalizations go.
As for whether white employers commit more wage theft, I don’t know how to determine that directly but I do think a pretty good probabilistic argument could be made that it is extremely unlikely that the wage theft figures are predominately due to cheating minority bosses. More importantly, this is just one example among many of white people behaving poorly that aren’t considered to reflect on the character of white people in general. And that’s the point — not that white people are universally horrible, but that generalizing this way is not generally justified.
OK, so you’re saying you don’t</em< want to better understand your political opponents or engage with the best forms of their arguments? Isn't that kind of the point of this blog? Do you think there is no stronger form? You’re just here to vent spleen, not discuss political issues in good faith?
Whatever you like, guy, but you’re certainly not giving me the impression you’re so terribly much more principled than the lefties you decry.
I disagree. “huge segments of the left” is a ridiculous exaggeration, and tarring “the left” generally with something that happens in very restricted pockets of the left is the same sort of guilt by association bullshit we all disagree with. If you want to justify something like this, quantify it. What proportion of the left? Vs. what proportion of the right unfairly vilify all Muslims as “terrorists” or “potential terrorists” or however you want to put it.
It can be in isolated incidents where it makes sense to do so, but given that “Muslim” encompasses a significant proportion of the world’s population and “terrorist” doesn’t, I’m not sure you’ve justified its use in this instance.
If the hypothetical Christian cited some point of Christian doctrine to justify some moral and legal wrong this person had committed, should we take this to be an indisputable doctrinal truth about Christianity? Or should we interpret it as a self-serving rationalization and ultimately a perversion of the intent of Christian doctrine?
And on the other hand, if we suppose that:
1. Islamic terrorism has both a religious AND a political component,
2. Putting Islamic terrorism aside, terrorism tends to be the result of political ideologies,
3. Only the tiniest proportion of adherents of the Muslim religion actually engage in terroristic violence,
then it seems to me we have clear grounds to argue for a causal model in which Islamic religious beliefs have do not cause terrorism but Wahhabist political beliefs do.
I was only using wage theft as an (apparently invalid)* example of how we do not use the sins of individual white people to judge white people generally — and in fact often object strenuously when it does happen! — but feel little compunction about doing the same to other groups.
*I’m sure I could dispute the methodology of the study you cited and we could go back and forth all day, but that’s really not what I’m trying to accomplish here.
Except that, in the present context, it’s a religion not an ethnic group. I don’t think anyone is arguing that if a Muslim from Syria commits a terrorist act, Syrian Christians have some special obligation to denounce it.
And if someone commits a terrorist act and makes it plain that he is doing it because of his religion, it’s reasonable to expect co-religionists who disagree to say so.
@wysinwygymmv – How old are you? I ask because your responses are incongruous to me as someone who lived through some of the events we’re talking about.
“Do I really need to go googling for a few examples of both kinds of claims? They’re really not hard to find.”
I rather think you should. I remember the aftermath of the OKC bombing; it was used by the left as proof of the dangerous extremism of the Right right up until 9/11.
“McVeigh is occasionally used as an example of the violent inclinations of the American far [right?] — a very small group of people.”
For example, the NRA and its 5 million members, far and away the most successful right-wing political organization in America. Most prominent Republican politicians, anyone who effectively advocates or organizes for right-wing ideas. We have been repeatedly assured that the American right has grown extremist.
Admittedly, this is a very small group of people, compared to the overwhelming cultural hegemony of the left, so you may be technically correct.
“He’s never used as an example of the violent inclinations of whites in general, or men in general, or Americans in general, which is my real point.”
He has, in fact, been prominently used as examples for all of those.
“I bet McVeigh was no stranger to the phrase “God bless America.””
The appropriate phrase in McVeigh’s case would more likely be “Don’t Tread On Me”. And again, that slogan is in fact a decent encapsulation of McVeigh’s motives for carrying out the attack.
“One might want to pay attention to research showing that Al Qaeda and ISIS recruits tend not to be the most devout Muslims, but that they do tend to be poor but educated single men with little in the way of professional or romantic prospects.”
“Devout” is an interesting term. There appears to be a sizable portion of Islam that doesn’t actually care how much alcohol you drink or women you screw so long as you commit violence in its name. And again, this portion of Islam doesn’t seem all that fringe, given muslim attitudes toward it.
“Our media tends to highlight certain messages like: “American good! ISIS bad!””
ISIS puts out videos of its troops sawing prisoners heads off, burning them alive in cages, and throwing gays off high-rise rooftops as positive propaganda. That is not our media, that is how ISIS itself chooses to advertise its existence to the world!
“If you take real-world conditions into account, it’s more understandable.”
I understand perfectly that appreciable percentages of Muslim populations around the world consider appalling, wanton, vicious barbarism to be acceptable, because it comes with ancillary benefits like community organization or education for their children. That is in fact the core of my argument. They shouldn’t. Neither should you.
“On the one hand, Islam is not a (unitary) ideology of belief system.”
Indeed it is not. Unfortunately, the pro-violence strains are insufficiently fringe to ignore. On the other hand, it is a hell of a lot more of a unitary ideological belief system than “whiteness”. For one thing, “whiteness” suggests no obvious unifying course of action, compared to “obey the will of God as revealed to his Prophet” for Islam. This seems blindingly obvious to me, so I’m not sure why you would claim otherwise.
“And that’s the point — not that white people are universally horrible, but that generalizing this way is not generally justified.”
I don’t mean to be rude, but you are coming across as disingenuous here. Generalizing in this way is absolutely justified if you can point to solid statistical evidence that one group is unusually more of a problem than other groups. We cannot do this for white managers; whiteness does not seem to drive theft. We do actually seem to be able to do this with Islamic terror; Islam does seem to drive terror. Evidence for that has been given: Islamic predominance in terror attacks, tolerant attitudes among Muslims for violence in the name of Islam. If you don’t like that, either attack the evidence or show a more fitting cleavage of the relevant populations.
“OK, so you’re saying you don’t</em< want to better understand your political opponents or engage with the best forms of their arguments?"
You do not get to define things based on your personal whim. Some things are bigger than you, or me, or this blog. You are free to argue that people like me are foolish to reject use of the term "racism". I am free to point out that a hundred million other people have trampled the term to dust before you, and I no longer see any point in entertaining its use. I apologize if this is inconvenient to you, but as it happens those hundred million tramplers were pretty inconvenient for me too.
I appreciate your attempts at charity, but you do not seem to be actually engaging with the arguments presented.
I realize this is a diversion from the meta-issue being discussed, but you’ve outlined a dichotomy (one which I agree with, by the way) very clearly here, so I’m curious: given that Trump’s immigration ban specifically targets countries which have large swaths of territory under the control of Wahhabist organizations, while ignoring the majority of Muslim countries, isn’t that relatively compelling evidence against it being a “Muslim ban” and more about it trying to contain Wahhabist influence?
(I will admit that Saudi Arabia is the notable exception to this argument, but US policy has been heavily conflicted on the Saudis for many years. At the very least, Trump is not breaking any new ground by failing to crack down on them more than his predecessors.)
Doesn’t fly. Wahhabism is a relatively small minority view within Sunni Islam, and the overwhelming majority of Wahhabis are from Saudi Arabia; if you wanted to stop Wahhabis from getting into the country, freezing Saudi immigration would get you about 90% of the way there.
None of the countries on Trump’s list have substantial Wahhabi traditions; Iran isn’t even Sunni, and Iraq mostly isn’t. If you view ISIL as Wahhabi, which is debatable, you could also point to recent Wahhabi influence in Syria and Iraq, but that’s it; it also claims some territory in Libya and Yemen, but not enough to really matter.
1. I agreed that he’s used as an example of “the dangerous extremism of the Right.”
2. He’s cited in the “lone wolf” wikipedia article as an example. I would go ahead and google for more examples of “lone wolf”, except you accuse me of not engaging with your arguments in the end of your comment, and that accusation really saps my will to spend more time and energy on you.
NRA is unfairly maligned, but that has nothing to do with prejudice/bigotry/racism and everything to do with the gun control debate. I don’t really want to get into that, especially since it’s completely irrelevant. (And then you accuse me of not engaging with your argument.)
Demand examples from me but provide none of your own? Perhaps some fringe figures argued that “McVeigh’s acts show that all white people are violent” or similar. I haven’t seen anything that argument made ever. If you’re going to expect me to accept this based solely on your assertion that it is so, then you have no business demanding examples of “lone wolf” and “mental illness” from me.
That said, I have the easier job since McVeigh as an example of “lone wolf” is much more common than McVeigh as symbolic of the violence lurking in the hearts of all white people.
“Don’t Tread On Me” and “God bless America” are hardly mutually exclusive slogans. I’m willing to be just about everyone who ever joined a Tea Party protest would enthusiastically chant both. Who’s not engaging with whose arguments here?
HEYO! He kinda gets it. Or he goes out of his way not to get it. Not really sure what you’re getting at here.
OK, to clarify, yes ISIS is a bunch of very bad people. I disagree very much with what they do.
Now that it’s settled my intention is not to defend ISIS, maybe we can back to the argument that’s actually being made.
Do you have any direct evidence that people who poll as supporting ISIS are very aware of ISIS’s actions and social media campaigns? Are you actually trying to imagine what the media environment is like for someone who does not live in a western country, or are you just assuming everyone sits in front of a laptop all day like you do?
Interesting. You do seem to find it acceptable to consign Muslim populations in Syria to suffer at the hands of that wanton, vicious barbarism for the sake of ancillary benefits to you and your children such as an infinitesimal drop in the risk of getting bombed by a terrorist. I’ll guess you also find it acceptable to disappear random members of Muslim populations on thin evidence and then detain them for years, in many cases torturing them for what has amounted to more or less zero ancillary benefits at all.
If not you, then there are certainly many people with similar politics to yours who believe as much. Romney said we “ought to double Guantanamo” while running for president, if I recall correctly.
Now, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib aren’t as bad as ISIS’s actions. But let’s not pretend the US is completely free of barbarism in the cause of naked self interest.
The question is, given that both ISIS and the US government have very little concern for Muslim lives, why do so many seem to prefer the US government? Maybe because it’s obvious to most of them that ISIS actually is evil whereas the US government is more often than not just misguided.
As I’ve already argued, I believe “Islamic terrorism” has political rather than religious causes. I could say “this seems blindingly obvious to me”, but that seems condescending and kind of shitty, so I won’t do that.
Instead I’ll point out that if you have 1 billion Muslims, and ten million of them HAAATE you, maybe the best rhetorical move is not to say, “Islam is an ideology of hate and the west is opposed to Islam in all its forms,” because presumably whatever the 990 million believe is not that kind, but if you’re convincing enough, they might move in that direction.
I think it makes more sense to highlight the forms of Islam that aren’t barbaric and make it clear that people who engage in that kind of worship aren’t on our shit list. Then there’s a possibility for resolving the “problem of Islam” that falls short of genocide.
Regardless of your intentions, accusing people of bad faith argumentation is rude. You should strongly consider the notion that I’m arguing honestly based on my beliefs and values and look for actual evidence before you accuse me of being disingenuous.
Correlation is not causation. There, I argued against your claim without claiming you’re avoiding my arguments, or accusing you of being disingenuous, and without saying something is “blindingly obvious” (although in this case it really is). Not so hard, really.
Sorry, I’m pretty sure a big part of the ethic of this blog is extending charity to your opponents, meeting them halfway, and honestly trying to understand their point of view.
I feel I’ve extended this much to you. I feel I am really entertaining your arguments, even if I still disagree. And not only do you fail to return the favor (over and over again), but you explicitly reject this as something worthwhile, or something you should do, and basically tell me I should expect you to always write off my perspective because it bears a family resemblance to the views of people who were mean to you before.
OK, then, why should I care about your ideas? Why should I try to understand them? Why shouldn’t I do whatever it takes to drive your values out of public discourse?
When you complain about how unfair everyone is to your view, and then use that unfairness to justify being unfair to others, that’s called “hypocrisy”.
I disagree, I have indeed engaged with the arguments presented. If you disagree and want to convince me otherwise, I think you’re going to have to be more specific about what I’ve ignored.
This sort of blanket “well you’re just not engaging with my arguments” thing is essentially impossible to argue against, so it’s hard not to take its use as being bad faith argumentation.
PS I probably misused “Wahhabism” I’m so sorry everyone I was baaaaad!
PPS If you think the liberal position is the socially dominant position, and you have liberals actually willing to listen to your point of view, that might indicate that these are especially intellectually honest liberals who are as ready to be convinced by your arguments as anyone who doesn’t already agree with you. Doesn’t it make sense to be more rather than less polite and charitable to such people? Since they’re presumably the ones you’d most want to convince?
@wysinwygymmv – I apologize if I have come across as rude. I’m trying not to be.
…I provided evidence that “far right” is a descriptor routinely applied to the NRA, prominent Republican politicians, prominent right-wing advocates, and the entire right wing generally by a wide variety of mainstream sources. This is not a “very small group of people”, but rather everyone who isn’t Left. This is not a new phenomenon, and it was in fact much worse in the immediate aftermath of the OKC Bombing. If you really can’t bring yourself to believe this please say so, and I will try and dig up some of the mainstream writing from the 90s when I have the time. In short, the left blames McVeigh on the “far Right” and frequently claims that the “far Right” is the only Right that exists.
I don’t doubt that you can find instances of McVeigh described as a “lone wolf”. The Pulse Nightclub shooter was a “lone wolf” too. That doesn’t mean either of them weren’t motivated by a specific ideology, it simply means they didn’t receive support from a larger organized conspiracy.
““Don’t Tread On Me” and “God bless America” are hardly mutually exclusive slogans. I’m willing to be just about everyone who ever joined a Tea Party protest would enthusiastically chant both.”
I am agreeing that McVeigh was actually a right winger, motivated by things familiar to right-wing thought. What set him outside the mainstream Right was his willingness to engage in large-scale political violence, something that the mainstream Right rejects.
Likewise, Islamic lone wolves are Islamic, and appear to be motivated by things familiar to Islamic thought. What sets them apart from most Muslims is their willingness to engage in large-scale political violence. Unfortunately, Muslims are not as good about categorically rejecting political violence as the American Right Wing is, as evidenced by the approval ratings for ISIS among various Muslim populations.
“Do you have any direct evidence that people who poll as supporting ISIS are very aware of ISIS’s actions and social media campaigns?”
ISIS is probably one of the most famous political movements in the entire world at the moment, and they’re famous for exactly one thing: being the most vicious bastards currently extant. If your argument is that Muslims living in the first world, even dirt-poor ones, have heard of ISIS but don’t realize they’re the ones on the evening news sawing heads off helpless victims, I’m afraid I find that argument wildly implausible. Do you have any evidence to support it?
“HEYO! He kinda gets it. Or he goes out of his way not to get it. Not really sure what you’re getting at here.”
Muslim support of political violence is insufficiently fringe.
“You do seem to find it acceptable to consign Muslim populations in Syria to suffer at the hands of that wanton, vicious barbarism for the sake of ancillary benefits to you and your children such as an infinitesimal drop in the risk of getting bombed by a terrorist.”
Actually, I’d prefer we hadn’t destabilized the region by burning down Libya, and before that Iraq. Given that we did do that, I’d prefer that we let the Russians and Assad crush ISIS without interference. But we didn’t do that either. At the end of the day, though, this should not be our problem, and it is our problem to the exact extent that people keep bowing to absurd shaming tactics.
“I’ll guess you also find it acceptable to disappear random members of Muslim populations on thin evidence and then detain them for years, in many cases torturing them for what has amounted to more or less zero ancillary benefits at all.”
Nope. I voted Obama hoping to get an end to that sort of shit.
“Maybe because it’s obvious to most of them that ISIS actually is evil whereas the US government is more often than not just misguided.”
“Most of them” is not enough when you have 10-25% approval ratings for sawing people’s heads off live on camera. Killing people who disagree with you is one of those things that needs to be really, really fringe for society to function properly.
“As I’ve already argued, I believe “Islamic terrorism” has political rather than religious causes. I could say “this seems blindingly obvious to me”, but that seems condescending and kind of shitty, so I won’t do that.”
It’s certainly not blindingly obvious to me. It’s not even obvious that Islam encourages a distinction between the religious and political spheres; see the numerous calls by Muslim minorities for Sharia law in their host societies. I would imagine it’s rather a surprise to the fair number of Muslim radicals who explicitly state that their violence is religious as well as political.
“Instead I’ll point out that if you have 1 billion Muslims, and ten million of them HAAATE you, maybe the best rhetorical move is not to say, “Islam is an ideology of hate and the west is opposed to Islam in all its forms,” because presumably whatever the 990 million believe is not that kind, but if you’re convincing enough, they might move in that direction.”
The truth is that Islam appears to have a political violence problem. If pointing out the truth drives Muslims toward political violence, then Islam also has a problem dealing constructively with the truth. Neither of these problems would be a good reason to pretend the facts are otherwise, in the hopes of mollifying a belligerent ideology. We have a great many guns, are protected by a really lovely pair of oceans, and are quite good at bombing things if the need arises. We’ll be fine. Nor is genocide necessary; hopefully if we quit fucking around with their countries, they’ll sort the problem out themselves.
In any case, as previously noted, the Right is frequently accused of being an ideology of hate, and told that the modern world at least is opposed to it in all its forms, and further is bent on its complete eradication. We manage to cope, somehow.
“Sorry, I’m pretty sure a big part of the ethic of this blog is extending charity to your opponents, meeting them halfway, and honestly trying to understand their point of view.”
“I feel I’ve extended this much to you. I feel I am really entertaining your arguments, even if I still disagree.”
I will leave that for others to judge.
“but you explicitly reject this as something worthwhile, or something you should do, and basically tell me I should expect you to always write off my perspective because it bears a family resemblance to the views of people who were mean to you before.”
Your perspective is that “racism” is a useful term in these discussions, my perspective is that it is not useful. We could discuss why we hold these perspectives, or possibly agree to proceed using one understanding or the other on a provisional basis, but you seem to be complaining that I stand by my perspective rather than abandoning it at the first challenge. I don’t expect you to adopt my views; I am simply trying to explain what they are. Communication is impossible if we can’t understand each other.
“OK, then, why should I care about your ideas? Why should I try to understand them? Why shouldn’t I do whatever it takes to drive your values out of public discourse?”
Because the left has tried that recently, and it turns out to be a losing strategy.
“When you complain about how unfair everyone is to your view, and then use that unfairness to justify being unfair to others, that’s called “hypocrisy”.”
If I were complaining or demanding that they stop, it would be hypocrisy. Instead, I am simply noting how the game works. You can call something racist, but that term no longer has any useful meaning. Everything is racist, and therefore nothing is. The term is used up.
“I disagree, I have indeed engaged with the arguments presented. If you disagree and want to convince me otherwise, I think you’re going to have to be more specific about what I’ve ignored.”
best I can do for a brief summary. I’d welcome comment from other commenters; obviously I’m biased.
Trump decision tree starts with American citizens/Not American Citizens, I hope this is obvious by now. He is much closer to a nationalist / patriot than he is a racist using this definition.
Because I think it’s an opportunity to do a really important and necessary analysis of what people mean by “racist” when we fight over it
Oh, that’s what drives me up the wall. The (mainly white*) people who are all sweet reasonableness about “now when we say ‘racist’ we don’t mean that in a bad way, we don’t mean you hate non-white people, we mean you as a white person are the beneficiary, in so many ways you are not aware of, of centuries of structural racism and white supremacy, and that the cultural waters we all swim in means you aren’t aware of this deeply-embedded racism in society and in yourself”.
And then they turn around when talking amongst themselves and “racist” means “hater, bigot, redneck, should all die in a fire, anyone who does not 110% think all White Western Civilisation is nothing but colonialism, appropriation, theft and violence, people not Woke like what we are”.
*Black etc people? I can understand rage and anger. Though there is a sub-class of the Professionally Aggrieved who write long articles dragging the racist culture they have to struggle to survive in, and at the end you get the usual couple of lines of potted bio where they’re a graduate of a hoity-toity university writing for nice middle-class periodicals on cultural and social activism topics and it’s been three generations since anyone in their family did anything not in the professions.
Another brick in the motte…
IMHO, the problem with expanding racism to include this is that it catches everyone, which may be fair but lowers the value of accusing Trump as racist.
I commented on this downthread, but if Trump limiting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries on the grounds that those countries present a particularly high terror risk is racist, then Obama limiting the visa waiver program to those countries for the same reason is also racist, albiet less harmful, right?
I mean this seriously, not just as a distraction or as tu quoque – if what we mean is that “Trump is somewhat more racist against Muslims than Obama,” or “Trump is about as racist as Obama, but more harmful,” then Scott’s original articles look about right to me.
Trump banning the same nations as Obama is racist, but it wasn’t racist when Obama did it, because “racism = prejudice + power”:
But Obama was president, isn’t that power? Nope, that’s an individual case of a non-white person being successful, but it doesn’t translate to the same for all non-white people (however, all white people have privilege via their whiteness, no matter if they personally are in poor or bad circumstances):
You need to be up on these points or people will think you’re not woke! 🙂
There’s a charitable interpretation of this phenomenon, as I tried to explain elsewhere, but I don’t really expect you to acknowledge it.
Don’t worry – we’ll do something about Irish commenters next!
Deiseach, that reminds me to ask – I enjoy your posts, so don’t stop, but are you unusually interested in US politics or is this level of engagement common in Europe?
As someone who’s spent a fair amount of time debating Holocaust deniers on the Internet, I’m pretty deeply disturbed by their recent doubling down on their Holocaust statement. “Lots of people died, but the schools/media/ZOG only care about the Jews” is, to me, a very recognizable opening gambit.
You seem to know more about anti-Semitism than I do, so I will take that into account.
It still kind of seems to me like those times Obama makes a speech against terrorism, but the Republicans say that since he didn’t use the specific words “radical Islam” he must secretly support it.
It’s as if Obama gave a speech about terrorism but never mentioned Islam at all, and then when asked about it at a press conference just said “Lots of people are terrorists.”
I gotta side with the Lefties on this one. The things you take pains to avoid speaking about are signals, and whom you’re signalling to is important information.
I oppose attacking true claims simply on the basis that they correlate with false claims. Attack claims on their own merits, rather than saying they’re the sorts of claims that people who make non-meritorious claims would make.
I live in the real world where I don’t have an infinite amount of time to argue claims, and where furthermore, certain claims are so correlated with bad faith that it isn’t worth continuing to argue with such people.
Which I find interesting, because I’ve used that one in a few conversations, and I’m the furthest thing from a Holocaust denier around. The Jewish deaths are better-remembered than the non-Jewish deaths, despite their overall scales being broadly similar. It’s an interesting point, and me being the pedant I am, I try to mention it whenever anyone talks about the Holocaust killing 6 million, because the actual number was much higher. I specifically say it to make Hitler look worse, so it’s odd that it’s correlated with Holocaust denial.
Eh, it’s obviously true, but only in the sense that “Jews are overrepresented in the media” is obviously true, and I would be suspicious of people who used that one too much.
There’s definitely a problem where polite society has decided that certain true statements have unfortunate implications and so anyone who says them is racist, and then uneducated people innocently say them and are tarred as racist. But Trump’s team (and especially Bannon) are educated enough to avoid this kind of thing if they wanted to, which makes me take Bosch more seriously when he says there’s a deliberate policy decision not to care.
Funnily enough, I’ve used it as a talking point against Holocaust deniers, along with Russian POWs, the Holodomor, the Armenian genocide + Turkey’s denial, Dresden, Rwanda, My Lai, the Khmer Rouge + Chomsky’s denial, Stalinist purges + the left’s denial, etc., as a proof of how often and how easily bad shit happens to a lot of innocent people.
When I read the quote, I thought “oh good, they’re pre-empting the deniers”. But Bosch is right, it could be the opening move to something else. How could we tell the difference?
You can’t tell the difference because very few people are so dumb (not even holocaust deniers) that they can’t adapt their arguments at all. Some holocaust deniers have tried to claim that it is entirely or almost entirely a nefarious jewish conspiracy, but that didn’t fly (as in it doesn’t get many converts) and so a different argument had to be crafted around some facts. Bold and bigoted statements didn’t work so they imitated more a more intellectual style.
The trouble is that there is basically an iron law in discussions that all minority opinions require nuance, as you are saying something against the majority opinion. If you audience is like minded than you can skip the nuance and go right to the meat of the discussion, for a totally benign example if two economists are talking then they can discuss “inferior goods”* freely without any fear of being misunderstood. If you talk to a non economist they will use the traditional definition of “inferior” in their head, so you either have to start out by explaining what an inferior good is or come up with a synonym.
*For those interested an inferior good is one where consumption decreases when income rises.
Do you mean the frequently-repeated number of 6M Jewish victims and 5M non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust? I recently read that 5M figure was basically plucked out of thin air in the 1970s, and the actual number of non-Jews who were deliberately murdered was smaller (though the number who died in the war was much larger).
Unfortunately google is mainly giving me Holocaust-denial sites when I try to find this article…
Here is a thing which will help you understand the problem:
I am POlish. We have no idea how many Poles died during the war. COmmunists after 1945 decided that 6 millions is a nice number, and one of the Polish communist personally added 28 thousands at the end, as he decided taht round number would be less believeable than “Exact” one. No one was counting deaths, as communist were affraid that it would provoke the questions about Poles who died under Soviet occupation or perished in Gulags.
Now, after much effort, modern Polish historians decided that the best estimate is about 2.7 millions ethnic Poles, plus about 3 millions of Jews, plus other Polish citizens. Borders were moved. People escaped to the west. Other were deported to the east. The last population count was years before the war, and demographs can only estimate that in 1939, Poland has 34 millions, while after war, population count showed 24 millions.
So we do not know and we will never know. In the west during the executions the names of the victims were written down, and after the war historians were collecting them. Here we know that “at this day, approximately 40 people were captured at random from the streets and shot by Germans” or “a group of boys was shot for playing football by Germans because they thought it was conspiracy meeting”.
And the further into in the east situation was even worse.
Moreover, which were victims of the holocaust? Non-Jewish Poles who perished in Auschwitz, sure (about 100-150 thousands of them). Those shot in intelligenzaktions? Sure. But what about villages razed to the ground during anti-partisan action? What abut, say, 100 nameless Poles captured from the street and shot in retaliation for assasination of Kutschera? Were they Holocaust victims? What about those Polish foerced labourers who were shot, or starved to death?
And that for Poles only. What about Belorussians, Ukrainians, Russians?
So how you can know the number?
All we have are estimations, and we know those were millions.
The record of concentration, death, and labor camps isn’t complete.
I think forced labor deaths are typically counted in Holocaust numbers. I don’t know enough about WWII and surrounding events in Poland to talk about the rest.
Nancy, yes, but Holocaust historians are trying to get to the truth since 1945 or so. In Poland a serious effort start some 20 years ago.
The takeaway for me is, the Holocaust Memorial acknowledgment was written so as not to offend Holocaust deniers. No mention of numbers who died, in fact no mention that anyone died (he used the word victims), no mention of Jews, no mention of gas chambers, concentration camps, Final Solution, systematic killings versus collateral deaths. Basically all of the things the Holocaust deniers claim never happened are left out.
As a devil’s advocate – being general also tends to mean being “inclusive.”
If you mention Jews specifically, you may offend the Roma. Mention both specifically and you may offend the gays. Mention all three specifically, and you may offend the mentally disabled, and so on and so forth. Same thing with every other point you’re listing. Mention deaths and you’re implying people didn’t suffer in other ways. Mention gas chambers and you offend the people who were killed by exposure being worked to death in the cold…
My first thought when I heard about the controversy around the statement was to wonder “but how does it compare to other holocaust remembrance statements?”
So I am definitely sympathetic to the argument that you are making.
When I googled “obama holocaust remembrance speech” the first link that comes up, which seems like a pretty easy way to handle at least some of what you are talking about.
“Today, on Yom HaShoah, we solemnly remember the six million Jews and the millions of others murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.”
“righteous individuals who risked their lives to save Jews and other victims from Nazi persecution”
But it doesn’t specifically mention concentration camps, gas chambers, the Final Solution, or systematic killings. Probably because it is, as you say, the totality of all of the horrors that matters.
Just another point on how open they (The trump coalition) are about this.
“I have called … ‘an incompetent thin-skinned ignorant boorish fraudulent omnihypocritical demagogue’”.
I think you have to retract one word of that. On the evidence of the election, he is a competent demagogue.
Incompetent full stop, not incompetent at being a demagogue. He’s not fraudulent at being a demagogue either.
If he’s found to be sincere about something, would you switch to “polyhypocritical”?
No need to wait. He’s already stated that he would like to be able to more easily sue people critical of him for libel and that the laws of libel should change to support him (and similarly situated people) in this, and I have total confidence that that’s what he really believes.
nah, polyhypocritical is someone who claims to be polyamorous but secretly has an exclusive partner who’s the only person he’s interested in.
If you haven’t seen it already, this article on the executive order is amazingly good: https://www.lawfareblog.com/malevolence-tempered-incompetence-trumps-horrifying-executive-order-refugees-and-visas.
That seems like a very good rundown of the issues raised by the order.
The major issue that is difficult to get your head around is that incompetence in these matters often looks the same as hyper competence.
Issue an order that has enough holes in it to be shot down. Interpretation A: What a bozo, he looks silly for taking an action sure to fail. Interpretation B: First its highly popular with his base, secondly if it gets shot down by the courts or congress then any attack that occurs is now on their heads. Imagine a world where the ACLU challenge holds up and then someone pulls off an attack within 6 months, he is going to grab a huge amount of support for being the guy who was trying to protect us, while those liberals were trying to give terrorists rights.
Seriously the situation looks don’t lose/win, he has little political capital with a 40% approval rating, and got elected largely thanks to the demographic breakdowns within the electoral system. Bold statements on issues they care about look good even if the have little actual effect, on the other hand if a attack happens he looks prescient, caring and even daring in his attempts to make us look safe.
Is it possible that 10 entire days in the White House is inadequate to make a final judgment on competence?
Yes, it’s possible, but 10 entire days in the White House is probably enough to make a pretty good initial guess on competence given the evidence already provided by the Trump administration.
Did you happen to see the roll out of the ACA, including the website?
Did I express any support whatsoever for Obama ever? Is this supposed to do anything except express naked partisanship?
But while I’m at it, I work at an enterprise software company so I have some idea of the challenges involved in something like this. Let me compare to another situation I run into a lot:
I take a commuter train, and sometimes there might be a problem where they shut down the engine and then can’t restart it. And there’s often people on the train who complain about the incompetence of the employees when this happens. And I can’t help but think to myself: “are you a diesel mechanic? Do you know how to restart the engine? Do you have any solutions or are you just finding especially nasty ways of complaining?”
The point is that every administration looks mighty incompetent at some point and the ACA was much bigger potatoes and high profile than a few days of an inept immigration ban. We don’t have enough data points to identify a trend yet with Trump.
Obviously they should have gradually rolled out the ACA website state by state so it didn’t explode. The other not so obvious point is that this roll out disaster is inconsequential to the big picture. It got fixed and what matters is the underlying policy, not the initial incompetent implementation.
In my view, there’s enough for some provisional guesses. I can always change my mind later if he turns out not to be a disaster.
I don’t think Obama’s detractors waited until the ACA rollout to start with the “death panel”, “secret muslim”, “antichrist”, “COMMUNISM!” stuff, so I feel pretty justified if provisionally assuming Trump will be bad news and planning accordingly.
PS I was actually pretty critical of Obama, so you might be barking up the wrong tree.
He got himself elected which is only incompetent if you think he never seriously intended to get the job in the first place. “Oops, I won the election! How in the heck did that happen after I did all I could to lose?”
It does make Hillary’s campaign seem even worse – she couldn’t even beat an omnishambles?
Granted, having got the job he may not be able to actually do it, which would be incompetence but there’s a lot of that kind of incompetence floating around in this world.
Are dogwhistles mostly just a case of projection by those on the left?
I look at examples like candidate Obama and his opposition to gay marriage. It caused little or no outrage _because no one actually believed it_.
Or, take for example, the outrage long-expressed by Democrats when linked to socialism. It was derided as a ridiculous charge from at least the 1930s through the 2000’s (aughts?). I guess the outrage expired with the widespread support of Sen. Sanders’s candidacy on the American left.
No one worries of impending theocracy when Nancy Pelosi claims to be doing “the Lord’s work” or that Republican’s “dishonor God”. Why? Because her supporters know it is simply rhetoric to hammer opponents.
[I’m no Trump supporter. I actively opposed his nomination and did not vote for him. I’m also not a believer. Or even a Belieber.]
We need to distinguish between “dog whistling” and “lying”.
i think we have to distinguish between
“things you have to say, in order to get those other people on board”
“things you really believe”
sadly, a lot of people think that your proclamations on Trump fall into the first category. Personally…my thoughts on your entire attitude on Trump are contradicted sharply by a couple of serious data points.
Luckily, I think he’ll be great and I’m happy that he has begun to set forth his promises – though he needs a lot of work on the implementation. Still, in future he won’t be using executive orders, which means he’ll be passing bills, which means Congress will by necessity have a say in the matter, so I’m not too pessimistic about that.
Which data points are those?
Also “gaslighting”, another sloppy synonym to lying.
“Dogwhistle” actually means to say things that sound one way to regular people, but differently to members of a certain group. Like if you use a phrase from the Bible or Star Trek, followers of those realms will hear a different message.
I believe these things do happen, but far less than people bring up the accusation.
“Gaslighting” means “lying in such a way as to imply that your memory is questionable“. It is a type of lying, but it does not refer to all lying.
There is some question as to whether it requires making you believe your memory is bad or making someone else believe your memory is bad, but that’s just normal linguistic drift.
It seems to be drifting into “implying that your memory is questionable”, full stop. Which is a problem, since almost everyone’s memory is kinda terrible and conflicts between different people’s accounts come up all the time with or without deliberate lying involved.
I don’t think it’s projection in the usual sense, I think it’s a complete misunderstanding of their opponents. If you accept as given that the right is all a bunch of racists as soon as you scratch the surface, any random statement that can be taken the wrong way fits in perfectly to your theory, and any statement that doesn’t sound racist at all is clearly just a cover story.
I think this is a better explanation than projection.
I think Trump (or one of his advisors) has come up with a new form of dogwhistle, one only your opponents can hear. “America First”, for instance. To his supporters it means that he’s going to consider America’s interest firsts. To his opponents it means “I’m a Nazi, whattya going to do about it”. Perhaps it’s a trollwhistle.
Ooh. I like it.
People believed it. Obama was criticized for this on the left. He got elected anyway because his opponent was also against gay marriage.
Given how long “socialism” has been the right’s equivalent of “fascism”, this seems reasonable to me. If you’re using the word “socialism” purely descriptively, then some Dem/left policies are vaguely socialist. But even Sanders doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to nationalize the means of production and pass control of it to worker councils, so the pejorative use of the term “socialist” that is so prevalent on the right is the real problem here, in my opinion.
> But even Sanders doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to nationalize the means of production and pass control of it to worker councils,
Old school socialists want to nationalize the commanding heights of the economy, steal, coal, transportation, etc. Modern socialists want to nationalize education, health, finance. The impulse hasn’t changed, they just have an a different set of targets in mind.
This sort of comment is why I have already written you off as not worth engaging with.
Which part of my assertion is wrong? That only school socialists didn’t want those things? Or that modern socialists don’t? Because both of those prospects seem entirely inarguable to me. the view of what makes for the commanding heights has changed, not the desire to seize them.
It seems to me that a transition from, everything should be nationalized, to, these particular programs should be nationalized, would reflect a significant change both in motivation and impulse.
One is much more, grand theory of government/humanity, and the other is much more, pragmatic self interest/charity, I want healthcare and education for myself/the poor.
Is it your position that ‘Old School Socialists’ just wanted to nationalize a couple of major industries and leave everything else alone? My education is poor, but my knee jerk reaction here is that the focus on steel coal and transportation reflects more about the time they lived in rather than the limited scope of their ambitions.
Where as the modern socialists just seem to have really obviously limited ambitions, at least the more main stream ones like Sanders.
>It seems to me that a transition from, everything should be nationalized, to, these particular programs should be nationalized, would reflect a significant change both in motivation and impulse.
But it was never everything should be nationalized, at least outside the USSR. It was “the commanding heights”. And it still is.
>My education is poor, but my knee jerk reaction here is that the focus on steel coal and transportation reflects more about the time they lived in rather than the limited scope of their ambitions.
I agree completely. And the same is true of their intellectual, and oft times physical, heirs today.
The Communist Manifesto called for (partial quotes here):
1. Abolition of all property in land…
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State…
5. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
When you’re abolishing property in land, and giving the state control of all credit, communications and transport, you’re not leaving that much out. Wanna build a house? If the state controls credit, either you build a house the state wants or you have to finance it out of your own personal savings. And where are you going to get the land to build it on? Same goes for opening a restaurant or extending your workshop. And if the state controls comms and transport, how do you get your supplies?
Honestly, I think many leftists started to wonder if socialism wasn’t something awesome if so many conservatives kept misapplying it to mean “any government service I don’t like”.
There’s an element of “FINE! ALRIGHT! I’M A SOCIALIST! NOW WHAT?” as well. (The right wing counterpart of this is probably the less sincere elements of the alt-right). The left overused “racist”, as the right is keen to (correctly) tell us, but they should acknowledge that the right overused “socialist”. Both terms became so all encompassing that they ended up conveniently capturing anyone even slightly to the right or left of your position.
Of course, there’s probably no way out of this. Politics is a cut-throat war of memes. Maybe “Andrew Card” was right.
Bernie Sanders describes _himself_ as a socialist. Calling him one is merely descriptive.
When we non-socialist types want to unfairly denigrate Sanders over his economic policies, we call him a Commie.
Ooh, but in fact, you paid enough attention to them to write a blog post responding to their criticism, which all things considered is a lot more attention than you pay to most people…
paid attention to pattern of people accusing him of something easily disprovable, not individual accusations or the people who made them.
It’s also phrased in the future tense. He’s going to pay less attention now that he’s laid out why they’re wrong.
Honestly your comment is retarded.
I agree with your point, Scott. But, how far does he have to go before these arguments become ridiculous. To take the obvious prototypical extreme example, Hitler did not literally have all negative characteristics, but obviously we shouldn’t be going out of our way to point out the positive attributes of Hitler.
With Trump, things just seem so incredibly murky now. I don’t want to just start attributing all negative attributes to him, and in some cases I even want to give him the benefit of the doubt. (E.g., I don’t think he’s antisemitic, though I’m biased because I’m a Jew who hears people cry wolf about antisemitism very frequently.) But, I also don’t want to be the guy that’s saying “Sure, he’s discriminated against prospective black tenants and called Mexican immigrants rapists and proposed a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States and chosen as one of his primary advisors a blatant white supremacist who recently compared himself favorably to Darth Vader and Satan (as well as Dick Cheney), BUT he’s actually not that anti-LGBTQ!” At some point, there’s no room for nuance.
I suspect that things will seem much less murky in hindsight…
If people are ascribing negative characteristics to Hitler he did not have, we should, as a matter of accuracy, speak up and correct them. That’s what separates real history from propaganda.
Also, if people believe Hitler had literally all negative characteristics, it makes them less likely to spot other would-be Hitlers.
I agree that “going out of your way to point positive characteristics of Hitler” would be bad in certain forums where people only remember very simple “fit in a soundbite” concepts and conveying complex ideas is hard. However, people who read SSC should, if nothing else, be able to understand complex ideas and be willing to read through long posts.
On the subject of positive characteristics of Hitler …
C.S. Lewis somewhere comments that even the Devil cannot be wholly evil, since if he were he would be unable to any damage–intelligence, after all, is a virtue. Indeed, I think Lewis says that existence is a virtue, so a Devil entirely lacking virtues would not even exist (by memory so possibly mistaken).
I think the basic point is correct. The people who do damage are ones who mix virtues and vices, with the virtues making it possible for the vices to do damage. Hitler, for example, was a very skilled orator, which is a virtue–and that skill was a large part of what made him able to gain power and do great damage.
You have to distinguish between virtues and strengths.
It goes without saying that someone who is determined and capable is more dangerous. What’s less obvious is that someone with genuine redeeming qualities who sees themselves as a good person might be more dangerous.
Your example and C.S. Lewis’s seem to take this latter important point and reduce it to the trivial former point.
This seems very related to Scott’s idea of weak men (https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/05/12/weak-men-are-superweapons/). Tone and context are very important here. Sometimes a statement like “Hitler was actually fairly kind to *insert some minority that Hitler was kind to, if one exists*” is just a simple correction of facts. Other times, such statements are essentially playing the role of the weak man-style argument. They’re entirely uncontroversial statements on their face, but they intentionally rub people the wrong way and stand in for much uglier views (in this case, Holocaust denial).
And, this is not a minor issue in the case of Trump. Trump and Bannon and the alt right are all about weak men. They’re pushing policies that harm all immigrants while saying emphatically that they’re only against illegal immigrants. The (more civilized faction of the) alt right responds to the Black Lives Matter movement by saying “all lives matter”, implicitly attacking the weak man argument that only black lives matter, which nobody was making. They denounce protests by comparing peaceful protesters to violent anarchists.
To again pick an obviously extreme example, if Trump were currently committing genocide against, say, Muslims, I think it would be clearly inappropriate for Scott to post something about how Trump probably doesn’t support the KKK. Trump is not currently committing genocide, nor does it seem likely that he will, but he’s certainly doing some objectively disgusting things. So, I’m asking Scott (quite honestly, without meaning to imply that he’s done anything wrong) where he thinks the limit is.
“They’re pushing policies that harm all immigrants while saying emphatically that they’re only against illegal immigrants.”
“The (more civilized faction of the) alt right responds to the Black Lives Matter movement by saying “all lives matter”,”
You must admit that any movement that was called “White Lives Matter” would receive serious blowback, yes? People don’t like that kind of racially coded rhetoric. And while you’ve correctly identified some alt-right rhetoric, you missed that this originated from outside of the alt-right via pretty much random people on Twitter, so it seems kind of weird to cite that as a purposeful weakman designed to defend something, when the people originally using it weren’t necessarily being ideological in that way at all.
Anyhow, the reason that I don’t like this form of rhetoric is that it creates movements insulated from correction; because anyone who defends (the evil outgroup) are themselves secretly (the evil outgroup), you can say anything about (the evil outgroup) and not have it be corrected, which leads to (the evil outgroup) being ever more evil, and just generally misinformation being propagated. I really think that the modern social justice movement suffers from it and it’s one of the things that bothers me the most.
Still, I can’t deny that what you’re talking about exists. Maybe the best example I recall is a book based on the D&D-associated Forgotten Realms, where a book called the Cyrinishad brainwashes people into thinking that the god Cyric is the greatest and their leader, and also into believing true details of his biography. The thief god basically ends up reading it and offering up these sorts of defenses, not wanting to admit, I guess, that he had become brainwashed for fear of his allies turning on him. Very creepy. Anyhow, just an anecdote, but that was a really great example if anyone wants to go dig it up. With that said. I’d still rather the possibility for correction exist, because the opposite rather frightens me.
Out of interest, why do you think it would be inappropriate? (There are time and place considerations, of course, at a memorial service for victims would be inappropriate. But I don’t see how the time alone would make it inappropriate.)
They are currently detaining many legal immigrants in airports around the country; they’ve deported some of them; and they’ve instructed other countries to prevent them from boarding flights.
Sometimes very emotional people who are watching the world burn around them don’t get the facts exactly right. If the Holocaust is just beginning and someone is freaking out because Hitler’s killed “millions” of Jews, you don’t tell them “Well, actually it’s only been a few hundred thousand so far!”
And, this isn’t only because it’s insensitive. It’s because you don’t want to start making pro and con lists about these things. “Sure, he’s committing genocide, but it could be worse genocide, and the economy is doing great!” At some point, all that really matters is stopping horrible things from happening, and the nuance of exactly how horrible these things are or whether there’s some silver lining behind the mushroom clouds
(To be clear, I’m making the examples more and more extreme because my original question is “Where should the line be drawn?” and you guys seem to be questioning whether the line exists at all. So, I’m trying to choose examples where we’ve unambiguously crossed the line, apparently not successfully…)
I recognize that such arguments are dangerous because they’re probably more often used to do terrible things than to avoid terrible things. E.g., Trump’s inauguration speech basically said “the US is in a complete state of disrepair, so I will take extreme actions to fix it.” But, if I had been alive during the Holocaust (and not in a concentration camp….), I hope I wouldn’t have been making pro and con lists.
I’m afraid my intuition is the opposite. Of course if the Holocaust is just starting and someone is freaking out about them killing millions of Jews, but it’s only a few hundred thousand right now, the true facts are important and normally you’d correct them. If only a few hundred thousand are already dead, you now have the potential opportunity to save millions more. Surely in that situation anyone remotely sensible would say “so far it’s a few hundred thousand, we still have a chance”.
Also I’m not getting the accusations of insensitivity. If hundreds of thousands of people are already dead, and millions more lives are at risk, isn’t that rather more important than the feelings of someone who said something wrong and doesn’t like being corrected?
Of course there are times and places, eg memorial services. But in public discourse, accuracy is always important.
How does saying: “Stop freaking out, it’s only a few hundred thousand so far?” help to stop the holocaust? I really don’t understand the argument you’re making.
Like “hey, the fuehrer is killing millions of people, let’s stop him!” gets momentum going in the direction of stopping the fuehrer, but “hold on, let’s check our facts before we start marching in the streets!” seems like it would slow that momentum.
Being factually correct doesn’t inevitably result in your tactics being more effective. In fact, it seems like it’s mostly the opposite in politics.
If you say “millions” when you know “hundreds of thousands” is more correct, you are basically using words as a bludgeon to get action instead of carriers of information; you’re not respecting my decision loop but assuming the right to manipulate my inputs in order to compel certain outputs. Before we even consider the matter at hand, you’ve already decided that you know better than I do what the right thing to do is, and that you have the right to make that thing happen by any means necessary. Then don’t be surprised when I consider you hostile and discount your claims – exactly because I want that tactic to be ineffective. Lying to get results is not a “sword of good” – it’s not a weapon that systematically works for good causes but not for bad causes, the same way that niceness works for cooperation or not telling lies works for the truth; it’s a weapon that works for whatever causes can make people feel emotional or become ruthless, which does not generally correlate with moral correctness.
Before using any weapon, visualize it being turned around and used against you; visualize a society where every person can use that weapon, and then ask; “is this a good society? Is this society better for having this weapon used? Or would it be improved if we all agreed to not use it?” And if you agree with the second, then act accordingly.
And besides, “When your cause is morally righteous any action is licensed” is really not a mode of behavior you want to associate yourself with.
1. That’s a meta level question. Yes, I understand the argument perfectly, but on the object level it was a question of which tactic is more effective for stopping the mass murder. Fact-checking is not as effective at stopping mass murder as organizing around slogans like “millions already killed”.
2. I think you’re even begging the question on the meta level. To me, the distinction between “hundreds of thousands systematically murdered” and “millions systematically murdered” is simply not as important as the fact that someone is systematically murdering hundreds of thousands of people. I’d say the emphasis should be on stopping the murder, then we can go back and correct the count afterwards.
This might distress you because makes it clear you can’t systematize your OODA loop. Tough — that’s life. Sometimes you need to make decisions without all the information you’d like to have. Sometimes you need to subtly misinform to get the most important bits of information across. You need to use individual judgment sometimes. You can’t bureaucratize and automate everything.
Given the choice between “emphasizing the distinction between hundreds of thousands murdered and millions murdered” and “stopping the murder”, I honestly think society would be better with the murders stopped than with the distinction being made. This is true even though I completely understand your argument.
In the interest of getting support for your movement, you make it untrustworthy. I don’t think that’s something you want to do. Certainly it’s not something that will get you my support, because instead of being able to trust you about the severity of the issue, I’ll have to do my own information gathering, talk to other people. (Because if you are willing to exaggerate the number by x10, then surely so is the person who told you the original number.) Some of those people may be your enemies. Some of your enemies may not make the same mistake, they may lie more convincingly or simply take true information out of context, and then they’ll be more convincing than you. Lying is not a Sword of Good. You’re still imagining that your faction is the only person who can do that, because you don’t imagine yourself as “filled with a feeling of moral righteousness,” you just perceive your cause as the objectively morally righteous one. If you imagined yourself as feeling moral righteousness, you could imagine your enemies also feeling moral righteousness, and then that they would feel licensed to do things just as underhanded, but better.
You have to understand. To me, it’s not about “well hundreds of thousands of people are dying, so it’s okay that I’m being lied to.” I don’t have objective access to reality. To me it’s “well this person thinks their cause is righteous so they claim millions are dying.” In a world where people felt licensed to do that, everybody would claim that, and then I would have absolutely no idea how many people are dying, and I’d probably have to go by my existing biases, which would tell me that it can’t happen again, it can’t really be that bad, and hundreds of thousands more would die. My trust that you are telling the truth is the only remedy to that.
Trust is fragile. But trust is also powerful, and I worry you give away that trust too easily because you don’t realize its strength. I don’t know. Maybe the real message of Trump is “trust and truth are worth pennies, use every weapon because your enemy sure will, every cause for themselves.” But personally, that’s not how I want my garden to look.
(PS: before you say “killing is evil is a moral absolute that everyone can agree with,” consider abortion and vegetarianism. Would you trust PETA if they said that chicken causes cancer?)
Fun fact, which you can check on if you wish: Adding “…by Jews”, or Moslems, Commies, Blacks, whatnot, turns your nice slogan into an effective tool for causing mass murder. And it doesn’t have to be true, if you’re allowing for the millions killed to not be true.
Your opponent in this battle is a demagogue who prefers alternative facts to actual true facts. You propose to defeat him with demagoguery based on alternative facts? OK, mmmaybe, but I think that should be more of a last resort than the first tool you reach for.
In fact, that only ever happened in your imagination. We are talking about a hypothetical scenario.
I am arguing that in some hypothetical scenarios, it might make more sense to protest the mass murder rather than fact-check the people calling for protest of mass murder. Perhaps there are other scenarios where it is the other way around.
You’re arguing that there are no scenarios whatsoever where it makes more sense to protest the mass murder rather than fact-check the exact number of murdered people?
That’s only an issue if it’s intended to be a long-term movement, which is probably not the case for a movement protesting mass murder by the head of government. If it’s not successful in the short-term, it’s probably just a bunch of dead people within a few weeks.
I bet this would actually depends on how far down the murder list you were. If you were anywhere near the top, you might not be concerned about the exact number who were already murdered. In this hypothetical, timing and urgency are playing important roles.
This is what blows my mind about talking with people online. Nothing in this blockquote reflects anything I’ve said or argued.
1. I never claimed lying was a “sword of good”. (I’m anti-absolutism, not pro-lying.)
2. I never imagined or said that only “my faction” was capable of lying. Simply not part of the hypothetical.
No, but presumably you have an imagination, and you can imagine both hearing “millions of people are being killed” along with all the outward signs of hundreds of thousands of being killed, and also the consistency of the claims “hundreds of thousands have been killed” and “millions are being killed” when timing is taken into account (e.g. hundreds of thousands killed become millions killed if the killing keeps going without anyone stopping it).
If you can use your imagination to put yourself in such a scenario in your mind’s eye, then you might see why I am arguing against absolutism on fact-checking this sort of thing. There are limits to the extent to which this sort of reflexive urge to be right (as opposed to being effective) is the moral course of action.
Again, not arguing it’s always good to lie, and nothing I’ve written could plausibly be read that way. Unless you’re prepared to argue that it’s never good to lie, I’m not sure what you’re disagreeing with me about.
These are more unjustified (and false) inferences about the content of my mind.
I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed both of your posts here.
The second to the last paragraph of the essay, is I think, mostly an answer to your question, just without making up hypothetical situations.
One of the reasons people were reluctant to believe the truth about what Hitler was doing was the memory of greatly exaggerated claims of atrocities by the Germans during WWI.
So in fact the approach you are arguing for, applied earlier, had precisely the opposite of the effect you are claiming.
Except that the timing is an important part of the hypothetical, so this is just another example of fighting the hypothetical.
Unless you’re arguing that: “exaggerating is always the bad move”, there’s not much to disagree about. If you are, I’ll refer you to the usual suite of thought experiments about hiding Jews in your attic, etc.
I’m curious if people advancing this line of thought would be willing to also extend it to Trump’s invocation of “millions” of illegal immigrants voting in our elections. After all, he’s identifying a real problem that is a direct threat to our democracy (persons who are legally barred from voting casting votes, which is directly cancelling out the votes of legitimate citizens). Sure, why quibble about the scope, whether it’s only a few thousand or a few hundred thousand or a few million?
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
I, for one, would like to know at least approximately how many illegal immigrants vote in US elections, and am equally annoyed by Trump the Trump camp insisting the number is many millions and his opponents insisting that the number is zero or negligible. Neither group is helping.
@wysinwygymmv, you appear to be assuming some scenario where massacres can be stopped in moments by dashing out to go marching in the streets.
But as far as I can tell, marching in the streets is at best a long-term tactic. It didn’t stop the Iraq War, it took years to end the Vietnam War, it took years or even decades of suffragers protesting to win women the vote, or bring about the end to legal segregation in the southern USA. Even the collapse of Communism in places like the Czech Republic took months of protests.
Taking a few minutes to be correct on facts before you go marching in the streets is not going to destroy momentum. What a successful protest movement needs is persistence.
That, and I’ve taken a number of first aid courses, and all of them have advised, when you stumble on a disaster situation (eg bad car crash), to take time to stocktake and not just dash in and start doing CPR.
After all, he’s identifying a real problem that is a direct threat to our democracy (persons who are legally barred from voting casting votes, which is directly cancelling out the votes of legitimate citizens).
The problem is that this is a lie. False claims do not become true claims just because they make you feel good about your tribe.
@TheWorst: I’m sorry, are you going on record as saying that there are exactly zero illegal votes being cast by prohibited voters in our system at all?
Because otherwise, what Trump is doing is exactly “a lie” as much as what I was challenging: taking a small number and inflating it into a huge (excuse me, “yuuuuuuge!”) number in order to exaggerate the impact and severity of the threat and gin up political support. NoahSD and others were saying that this sort of politically-motivated deliberate exaggeration is acceptable (at least, for causes they favor) because the moral urgency of the threat is all that matters and should drown out any considerations of accuracy.
I am suggesting that the moral cause of preserving our electoral integrity (hey, remember that? People sure were upset about Russians compromising it!) is a serious issue, because every illegal vote is denying the voting rights of a real voter by cancelling them out. (I hear there are people who are very upset when people’s voting rights are denied, too. I wish I could remember who those people were…) So does that justify Trump exaggerating the threat, or would we prefer to perhaps insist that accuracy has a place even when discussing pressing moral problems?
Or is the real rule, “it’s only bad when the other side does it”?
Every chance you get, you guys waste hundreds of millions of dollars on “investigations” desperately trying to find instances of voter fraud. It turns out to be a myth.
So far they found four, and three of them were people illegally attempting to vote for Mitt Romney twice. After a certain point, there’s an obligation to admit that your beliefs have caused you to make false predictions.
But that would mean admitting that your endless lies about voter fraud only existed to create a pretext for stripping voting rights away from black people, so I can see why none of you will ever do it. It also means none of you are worth having a conversation with, either, which is why I often don’t do more than fulfill the obligation to point out when you’re publicly lying.
If you don’t like it when people point out when you’re lying – and you clearly don’t – then rather than complaining about it (which doesn’t work), you could instead reduce the amount of public lying you engage in. It would be very easy, and would greatly reduce the frequency with which you get caught lying.
That’s not it. The slogan ‘black lives matter’ directly accuses people of not valuing black lives at all.
If I were to shout at you that ‘black people are humans too’, there would be nothing implicit about the accusation that you fail to consider black people part of the human race.
Black lives is the same thing, addressed to everybody, except with a more far more extreme accusation- even a slave owner thinks black lives matter, even if its only to their bottom line. This is a 1984 level piece of propaganda. Everyone knows black lives matter.
Anyway, this went over about as well as you could expect, which is a big part of why we now have trump. These elections really are for liberals to lose. If dominating and abusing people for fun wasn’t a liberal cause de jour, trump never would have gotten near the whitehouse.
There’s also the issue of how if this accusation were ever correct, it would be incredibly stupid to go around chanting it in the streets as if you were protected members of society considered to have value (and actually not just normal value but expecting a huge special tolerance for your behaviour). If it was true, it would literally be suicide. Can you imagine a “jew lives matter” in wartime Nazi Germany?
I found this interesting when I met an acquaintance from Hong Kong. She read some of Mao’s books and she said he was very smart. She hates the PRC and the “Chinese” (she is of course “chinese” herself, although from Hong Kong) to the point that the first thing she told me in HK was “look around, half of these people are Chinese tourists”. She said the word Chinese in a way that left no room for interpretation of her feelings towards them. But despite all that, she was able to appreciate something about Mao. Yes, he was the biggest mass murderer in the world (although, technically, if did the exact same things he did, but lived in Belgium instead, he wouldn’t be…but anyway), but that does not mean he was perhaps not good at something positive and I think that people are smart enough to realize that a bad guy is a bad guy even though he did something good as well – also, that way, the bad guys get more realistic. Stalin was probably also a very smart guy (Hitler probably wasn’t, although he was quite obviously extremely charismatic…also rather lucky).
On a slight tangent – what puzzles me is that Napoleon is not seen by most people as on par with Mussolini at least, if not close to Hitler. He definitely used nationalism, was sort of proto-fascist and waged one of the most destructive wars in Europe.
Re: your tangent –
I suspect that’s more a matter of Mussolini being forgotten than anything else, though post-WWI Francophilia also probably plays a role. I don’t think the Hitler comparison is apt, since Napoleon was not genocidal.
Napoleon was genocidal in Haiti.
And if Napoleon happened to come to power in 1920, people might judge them more similarly. But people tend to view historical figures in context – sure Napoleon used nationalism instead of divine right, but (to us new-worlders at least) that doesn’t seem all that much less legitimate. In contrast, Mussolini got all friendly with Hitler and has to compete with liberal democracies.
Additionally, the further into the past you go, the easier it is to look on war and violence and either characterize it as just/necessary, or discount it as the kind of thing everyone did. And to be fair to the man, he didn’t start (all of) the wars.
Also, Napoleon’s other achievement, apart from two decades of bloody war, imperialist expansionism, and tyranny, is his administrative reforms. In particular the Code Civil is still the basis of the law at least in France and Belgium. A huge part of current administrative organization in France comes from Napoleon (and what doesn’t most likely comes from the First Republic, which has its own sets of problems re:legacy). It’s definitely a legacy you can hardly ignore.
In French overseas territories, Napoleon’s image is significantly worse as he’s primarily remembered as the guy who brought slavery back (or stopped trying to abolish it, because the abolition proclaimed during the Revolution had been severely resisted)
I think it’s worthwhile to list the positive attributes of Hilter.
Partly because they’re so pathetic relative to his sins (Holocaust, his role in starting the biggest war in history including all the European, Middle Eastern and North African deaths of soldiers and civilians, about 10℅ of Germans died from the war as distinct from the Holocaust, and he destroyed the German economy, provoked powerful enemies then left the German people defenseless, on the other hand he was nice to his secretaries. Bit of an unbalanced scale there. )
And partly because just portraying him as terrible I fear risks blinding us to future Hitlers, who might also be nice to their secretaries.
I agree. My example’s not great because of that.
a blatant white supremacist who recently compared himself favorably to Darth Vader and Satan
Back when Benedict XVI was elected pope, there was a meme going round comparing him to Emperor Palpatine (and Benedict was my pope, so this made me grumpy). So if someone is reclaiming slurs (isn’t that the term for it nowadays?) by getting their comparisons in first before the inevitable “Dark Lord/Demonspawn” analogies can be made, I’m not going to be upset. Doesn’t mean I’m in favour of white supremacists but it does mean the sting is taken out of any “and he is literal devil” if he’s got there before you.
I hailed Satan and Belphagor several times a couple days ago. I’m not even sure what Belphagor is in charge of, I just like how the name rolls off the tongue.
When you’ve been called a villain long enough, you stop caring and just play along.
I agree with “Against Dog-Whistlism” – Trump’s been pretty clear about what he’s going to do since Day 1.
However, I think that this post constitutes a strawman of the various arguments made against “You’re Still Crying Wolf.” Several other observations that you could consider include:
1) You predicted that Trump would appoint a diverse cabinet, when he has in fact appointed the least diverse cabinet since the 80’s.
2) You imply (apologies if you meant something different and I’m misinterpreting) that Trump is “anti-undocumented immigrant” but not “anti-immigrant.” Trump’s executive order tears apart families of legal immigrants, so I would contend that the distinction you drew has been proven false. Being anti-immigrant is racist, even if Trump uses “immigrant” as a proxy for “potential terrorist” and not as a proxy for “Muslim.”
3) Trump nominated Jeff Sessions to be his Attorney General. Corey Booker broke hundreds of years of congressional tradition to testify against Sessions because he sincerely believes that Sessions will not enforce Civil Rights protections for African Americans. Trump disagrees with Booker or agrees with him and doesn’t mind. Jeff Sessions is not mentioned once in your post.
4) The bar you set for “bigotry” is way too high. You bet that Trump will not endorse the KKK or start a Muslim registry, and then suggest that your readers’ options are to disagree with those predictions or “stop fearmongering.” It seems like there’s a whole lot of awful racist policies that could be enacted that stop short of a Muslim registry. Like, say, preventing 11 year old Muslim children from seeing their American citizen parents.
In my view, the most charitable interpretation of your post would hinge on your contention that “racism” could be separated into “a lot of very heterogenous parts.” I think that I’d agree with you if you said something like, “Trump is a racist, but he is not a supporter of the KKK.” I think that this might actually be a sentence you believe in – but, in my view, that message got lost in between your exhortations to “stop fearmongering.”
I really think that you can do a better job making the case against “You Are Still Crying Wolf” that includes a lot of the points that are lacking in this post. Would be very interested in reading it when you do.
Your argument seems to be that I’m making life too easy for myself since all I am saying is that Trump is bad but maybe not super-ridiculously-unbelievably-straw-man bad. But in a world where everyone is asserting that Trump is super-ridiculously-unbelievably-straw-man bad, that’s an important argument that needs to be made.
Also, people keep saying my post was dishonest since I didn’t address whatever their pet reason to worry about Trump’s racism was. I took the fifteen arguments I heard most often and included them. I’m sorry I didn’t get to the ones you wanted, but I’m never going to make everyone happy.
My guess is that Trump locking out existing legal immigrants was carelessness / not realizing this would be a big deal, rather than a principle of wanting to expel legal immigrants (after all, this only affects the tiny percent of legal immigrants who were outside the country at the time, and he should have predicted it would be overturned). I might also believe something like he’s trying to look like as much of a jerk as possible to force some kind of confrontation for some reason.
If he doesn’t change it and tries to expel legal immigrants in other ways, I’ll admit I was wrong.
The evidence seems to point otherwise:
Could be Trump doesn’t care one way or the other about legal immigrants, but Bannon doesn’t like them and Trump just went with it. Does anyone know what Bannon’s opinions on legal immigration are?
Does it really matter?
Trump put Bannon in his position of power, and he is ultimately responsible for the statements that come out of his White House.
Of course it matters, it impacts how successful things like, say, pressuring Trump to get rid of Bannon are likely to be.
It matters for whether or not Trump is personally racist. If I accidentally run over a black person, that doesn’t make me a racist; racism requires deliberate targeting.
In the old debate of Malice vs. Ineptitude/Negligence, Trump has certainly given us plenty of reasons to believe the latter.
LBJ, by all accounts, was pretty racist, at least at times he acted like it. He still signed the Civil Rights Act and surrounded himself with a cabinet that worked to pass it.
I only care a small amount how personally racist Trump is. Knowing whether he is personally racist is only one piece of information about how he is likely to govern. I care much more that he ran as a mercurial, vindictive, nativist, populist demagogue who promotes poorly thought out policy notions as if they are simple solutions to complex problems.
And he is governing in a way that is completely in line with how he ran.
It matters whether it’s a case of “how do we know all the green card holders are legit and that there aren’t any sleeper agents amongst them, the previous screening was too lax, let’s do it on a case-by-case basis to be extra sure” or if it’s a case of “I don’t care if they’re legal or not, let’s get rid of them all”.
I’m seeing news stories that, as of late Sunday, the Trump administration reversed itself on green card holders, held that the restriction does not apply to them.
I’m not sure that anything has actually changed.
The command to DHS from the White House on Friday was that green card holders would be admitted on a “case by case” basis.
On Sunday we saw statements from administration that appear to walk that back:
but then you see that he also said:
So, it does not seem to me that we actually know what will happen going forward.
And then we also have had no clarification that I know of on extant long term visa, such as work and travel visas.
Do you think this article saying that Priebus and DHS now say all green card holders may enter the country overrides the evidence you posted?
From my original pullquote:
They are spinning, but it simply means that green card holders would still have no right to re-enter. Each time you travel, you run the significant risk that you won’t be allowed back in.
Without getting into HBC’s point about whether this constitutes a full return of rights to green card holders, trying to take away rights and then walking it back is very different than never trying it. The administration either did that, or published a terribly written and ambiguous EO. Since the latter explanation can be used as cover for the former, I think it behooves us not to grant it as exculpatory.
For the record, though, what I’m most concerned about right now is the possibility that CBP is defying court orders regarding access to lawyers for detainees.
Seconding HBC and Rob K. Trump’s administration wrote an executive order that kept green card holders out. When DHS officials did not interpret it that way, Trump’s administration took deliberate steps to make it clear that they wanted to keep green card holders out. The fact that they are changing their tune by the minimum possible amount after being smacked down by multiple court decisions does not mean much at all.
Additional relevant evidence: Giuliani was bragging on Fox News on Saturday that he helped write the executive order after Trump came to him saying he “wanted a ‘Muslim ban’ and requested he assemble a commission to show him ‘the right way to do it legally.'” It’s hard to claim that the interest was national security when the implementation has very little to do with national security and advisers are openly conceding that Trump wanted a legal pretext to ban Muslims.
@HBC: From Scott’s linked article:
It seems disingenuous to call this a “case by case basis”, any more than saying that all non-citizen travelers entering the country are admitted on a “case by case basis” based on the results of security screenings. The default presumption is that green card holders are permitted in, but those from the seven prohibited countries will be given more intensive scrutiny than average travelers. This strikes me as completely fair and something we should have been doing anyway given our relationship with the nations in question. Outrage over this strikes me as feigned, to say the least.
The quote you pasted:
comes from an interview with Kellyanne Conway on Fox News Sunday. You missed the preface to it:
She isn’t talking about future green card holder entry, she’s speaking about the people with valid visas (green card holders and not) currently being detained in airports because they were traveling at the time the order was issued.
Again, this strikes me as an eminently reasonable approach.
The executive order was clearly ambiguous and poorly drafted, and has obviously caused a great deal of confusion in the last two days of implementation. But the approach being taken right now seems to be both humane and sensible.
Given that all of the allegations that “they wanted to ban green card holders” but “caved to pressure” are coming from anonymous sources and contradict the public statements of the Administration principals, and given the frothing outrage and wild allegations being thrown around by the opposition at the moment, I just don’t put a lot of faith in the anonymous rumor mill. I’ll be curious to hear whether or not this line stays constant in a few weeks when things settle down and we’re no longer in the Two Minutes Hate phase.
See this article. It’s juicy. And it’s also in line with what my highest hopes for a Trump administration are (…because I’m a legal nerd above most politics anymore). I want to get the Supreme Court case on the Take Care Clause that we were supposed to get last year (and then lost due to having 8 justices). I think it’s a little more likely to happen on Trump’s ACA EO rather than this one, but in the long term, that might be the most fundamentally important thing to come out of this first week of his administration.
@Controls Freak: That’s a great link, thanks. And yes, the irony is delicious, as is always the case when the balance of power changes and the two parties immediately swap talking-points cards with one another.
I tend to agree that (like the DACA order) this is reaching the right result [Edit: to be clear, exempting green card holders, not the immigration suspension, which I think is dumb theater] for all the wrong reasons. I’m hoping that the White House issues formal clarification so that it doesn’t hang in this limbo.
That’s really well put.
“My guess is that Trump locking out existing legal immigrants was carelessness rather than a principle of wanting to expel legal immigrants”
It seems like Bannon actually explicitly overruled DHS’s initial interpretation—going from an order that did not apply to green-card holders to one that did. I don’t think they they meant for this order to expel many legal immigrants because it only applied to the relatively random subset of legal immigrants who happened to not be in the country at the time. But, it seems clear that they were happy to keep that random subset out for some reason. (Because they think it will appease their base somehow? Because they actually think that this random subset poses a threat? Spite?! Who knows…)
DHSs initial interpretation of the order is ridiculous; there was no language even hinting at excepting permanent residents from the ban. I suspect Trump (or Bannon) saw it as bucking his authority.
I agree with that, from what I read, and I encourage anyone else who hasn’t already to read the actual order in full. The amount of people who seem to take rhetoric entirely at face value is disheartening.
So you think it’s silly to think that the executive order wasn’t meant to apply to green card holders?
I think it is silly to think that the executive order as written does not apply to green card holders. The text is clear on that point.
Who Trump _meant_ it to apply to is unknowable (by me, anyway). I’d like to think he just didn’t think about green card holders when writing it, but maybe he’s a little bit crueler than I would think.
But then why would the White House countermand DHS, rather than simply issuing clarification?
My point has nothing to do with that. The point is simply that the White House explicitly weighed in on whether it wanted the order to apply to permanent residents. This contradicts Scott’s “guess… that Trump locking out existing legal immigrants was carelessness / not realizing this would be a big deal.”
Like I said, I think they saw the DHS bureaucracy as trying to buck the President’s authority, so (in Trump’s mind) they had to be slapped down, regardless of whether their actions were what Trump would have done had he thought about it. Trump has now (through his DHS appointee) backed off.
So your opinion is that they wrote an executive order that obviously applied to permanent residents of the US without ever even considering whether they wanted it to apply to permanent residents?
I think that might be the worst interpretation, in terms of at least competence, possible.
Yes. And yes, it says nothing good about their competence. They need someone detail-oriented to catch these things before they go out. Or better, don’t do sweeping executive orders like this, but that’s probably too much to ask.
I think they’re trying to inflict protest fatigue.
At this point, my guess is that the order was deliberately designed to cause lots of outrage. That purpose having been accomplished, the administration could then reverse itself on green card holders, reducing both negative effects and legal problems.
The usual phrase is “never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity,” but my guess at this point is that things like this are neither malice nor stupidity but tactics.
My current guess on his tactics is that they are designed to do two things:
1. Keep his opponents believing he is stupid.
2. Make the substantial minority of the population that is passionately opposed to him even more passionately opposed to him, in order that their opposition will appear less persuasive to everyone else.
It worked for the nomination and the election, and he may believe it will keep working.
Of course, he is also trying to do things that much of the population, ideally a majority, will approve of, such as taking prompt action that will be perceived by rationally ignorant voters as against Islamic terrorism.
Consider the relevance of Scott’s Toxoplasma argument. The fact that he did it in a way that lots of people were (reasonably) outraged about creates controversy that amplifies the effect.
I’m not sure your phrasing lets you remove malice entirely.
If the order was intended to fail and be walked back by the courts, then it *wasn’t* intended to improve national security. It was intended to improve Trump’s standing.
Can one morally justify the “irreparable harm” (to use the legal phrase) done to a few thousand people for Trump’s gain?
Or is that old-fashioned evil?
I said nothing at all about moral justification.
If someone beats you up because he doesn’t like you, that is malice. If he knocks you down in the process of stealing your stuff, that being the easiest way to do so, it is still wicked but it isn’t malice.
Trump made things unpleasant for a bunch of innocent people not because he dislikes those particular people but because he believed doing so would help him accomplish his political objectives. Tactics not malice.
I get the impression in some of these threads that people think all negative terms are equivalent, that “bigot” and “racist” are just different terms for the same thing. In fact, their meaning is entirely different. You can be bigoted about things that have nothing to do with race and someone could be a racist but not bigoted about it, willing to change his views when confronted with good evidence that they are wrong.
Similarly, “malice” and “evil” are not the same thing.
Fair enough. I’m a bit torn, since “malice aforethought” merely means one performed one’s actions intentionally, not that one even disliked the victim. Google actually says “intention or desire to do evil,” which actually does make successful malice a form of evil (intentional evil is of course only one kind of evil).
But your meaning of malice which implies active hatred is probably more common. So, point taken.
Thanks for clarifying your belief that deporting legal immigrants was carelessness rather than intentional. That’s what I was getting at – there are actual strong arguments against your post, and this is a response to one of them. We will learn whether your belief is correct or not in the coming days.
If Trump fails to reverse course, which of your priors will you update?
He has already reverse course on permanent residents: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/trump-muslim-ban-green-card-holders/
Increase prior “Trump doesn’t fully think through the entirely predictable results of his actions”, decrease prior “Trump is even more evil than he promises to be.”
(That’s still pretty evil, mind you)
And why, exactly, should we pay attention to Cory Booker’s views on the topic?
It’s worth noting that the “Jeff Sessions is a racist” charges came entirely from the testimony of one man, Thomas Figures, a Democrat from Alabama who worked with Sessions for five years prior to his appointment (and failed confirmation) for a federal judicial post. Figures claimed that Sessions had referred to him as “boy” and used racial epithets. (Other coworkers, including African-Americans, testified at the time that they had never heard him use racial slurs; Figures was the only one to make the allegations.) Remember also that in 1986, Democrats controlled Congress, so we’re not talking about the President’s own party being swayed by persuasive evidence that their nominee was a racist; we’re talking about the opposition party looking for anything it can hang around his neck.
Left generally unexamined by people repeating this meme is that Figures is not a terribly credible witness. He falsely claimed that Sessions had ordered him to cease a federal investigation into the lynching of of Michael Donald by KKK members. (Sessions had, as The Atlantic recounts, instead handed the case over to state prosecutors after determining that the state could bring much harsher charges than the federal government could due to the laws at issue.) He also claimed, according to sworn testimony given by a former colleague, that Dan Rather was sending him secret signals in his nightly news broadcasts.
I haven’t seen any evidence brought out for Sessions being a racist other than Figures’ 30 year old testimony; if supporters of the charge would like to present some, I’d be very interested in reviewing it. But otherwise, it’s hard for me to credit this as anything other than a partisan slander campaign.
Well, the other piece of circumstantial evidence usually cited is his decision prosecute in the “Black Belt” case.
The “Black Belt” case was brought to Sessions by black plaintiffs who were alleging the voter fraud. It doesn’t really follow that Sessions was a racist who was trying to suppress the votes of one black group to help another black group, does it? Political meddling, perhaps, but this strikes me as yet one more incidence of “racism” being used to mean “anything that negatively affects Democrats”. (As Glenn Reynolds is fond of saying, “do you want more Trump? Because this is how you get more Trump.”)
Incidentally, Albert Turner Jr, the son of two of the defendants in that case, endorsed Sessions for the Attorney General spot.
I’d encourage those curious about Session’s record to check out the NYT and/or WaPo articles on the case (the one HBC links above is also good, although a bit less focused on the specifics of the Black Belt case).
To summarize how it appears to me: Sessions intervened in specific counties where black voting majorities were threatening to defeat the current elected slate governing the counties. (The ruling coalition, as Cypren notes, was running a multiracial slate in an attempt to secure black votes; it was also backed by the White Citizens Council). He did so with a degree of law enforcement effort and a willingness to push prosecutorial discretion that seems out of concert with the weak evidence, and treated witnesses in a potentially intimidating fashion (busing elderly black voters long distances for extended interrogations; not something they would have taken lightly given the history of voter suppression in the area).
I won’t presume to speak to Session’s motivations. The justice department is charged with defending voting rights. Sessions’ actions the last time he wielded this type of authority on a smaller scale tell me it’s inappropriate to trust him with the AG’s power.
Scott for supreme leader of the US. (Necessary and Kind).
Well, I mean, that part is easy. The hard part is what happens when he dies.
We’ve already determined he is an AI, so no worries.
No normal human can both be a MD/Psychiatric resident and also the most prolific and accomplished rationality/politics blogger. So he’s clearly an AI.
Should we assume that he’s also Roger Federer, or are there several of them running around out there?
I am so proud of having started this meme.
Not one one of your 24 predictions is a prediction that Trump will do anything bad and/or that anything bad will happen because Trump in office.
Your predictions certainly don’t look like you think Trump is “an incompetent thin-skinned ignorant boorish fraudulent omnihypocritical demagogue”.
This is the issue I keep bringing up. Most of your passion and intellect is devoted to defending Trump against charges against him, or, even, arguing for how great Trump will be for the FDA and saying things like “And I’m not sure it’s possible to raise my opinion of Thiel at this point without me doing something awkward like starting a cult.”
Peter Thiel backed Trump. Do you really start a cult for someone who had a hand in raising someone to the presidency you think will be disastrous?
At this point, I have hard time thinking you are being intellectually rigorous around this issue.
You are wrong about my predictions; for example, I say that I predict he will decrease GDP growth, decrease employment, earn a low approval rating, lift sanctions on Russia, et cetera. There are some predictions along the lines of “99% chance no internment camps”, but that means 1% chance of internment camps, and I’m not sure you could argue for it being much higher.
I’ve previously said Thiel is endorsing Trump as a Machiavellian way to get power which he intends to use for good, knowing that nobody votes based on his endorsement anyway. Since that 100% worked, I don’t think there’s much room to criticize him here unless you’re generally against Machiavellian plans.
I don’t think there’s any reasonable way to conclude what you’ve concluded, especially given your misrepresentation of my predictions and your ignoring eg this post. I think your criticism of my FDA post is precisely the “arguments are soldiers” attitude that I’m criticizing.
And I worry that the attitude you’re displaying here is one reason it’s hard for people to have a frank discussion these days, because even the slightest deviation from someone else’s position one time will lead to reputation-destroying accusations of being on “the other team”
Predicting a lower GDP growth doesn’t say much about Trump’s actions (and would reflect on Obama and the last Congress far more than Trump, anyway).
Unemployment is (roughly) at full employment. Predicting that it will be nominally higher doesn’t say very much.
Predicting that Trump will be unpopular doesn’t say very much about whether his actions are good or bad. You seem to think some very good actions are actually not very popular.
You haven’t predicted anything you think Trump will actually do that you think is bad, have you? Except, perhaps, the partial lifting of sanctions against Russia, but if that occurs because Trump gets Russian actors to leave the Ukraine, that might actually be a good thing.
Look, I only read what you write at SSC. If you are far more critical in other venues I am not seeing it. Yes, I know what you wrote about endorsing anyone other than Trump.
Machiavelli doesn’t strike me as someone who was in favor of niceness and community?
Look, I get that you want people to be able to discuss anything and don’t want to be hindered in that, but we aren’t discussing things at this point. Thiel helped bring Trump to power for whatever reason. That should do something to lower your estimation of his worthiness of cult status, is all I am saying.
The Mexican border wall is bad too (though not “economic disaster” bad).
The thing is though, other than that, there isn’t much specific that can be predicted. We expect Trump to make a number of impulsive and uninformed decisions, but who knows which ones they’ll be? If you ask about one specific possible bad scenario, e.g. Trump sends over a million people to internment camps, we’d have to assign it a very low probability (which then looks like a defense of Trump, since there’s no visceral difference between 1% and 0.001%).
I’m fairly confident Trump will do something bad related to global warming, but that’s not a prediction I can falsify objectively by checking a predetermined number. Scott tried to cover “Trump will do something bad related to the economy” using GDP growth and unemployment, but as you’ve shown, even that can be criticized.
[I am aware that this is a digression; I don’t mean this as an attack against your main point.] Machiavelli very much was in favour of niceness, community, and civilisation, as embodied by Renaissance Florence. He spent his life trying to protect it from sacking by various brutes. The Prince is partly an utilitarian/realpolitik approach to that defense, partly a record of the strategies he had seen the brutes use successfully, and people argue to this day about how much was meant as advice or satire.
Why is it bad, and what makes it worse than the hundreds of miles of barriers that are already present? There seems to be a stolen base here.
The Wall is more pointless than bad, although there is a line from a movie, might be The Jack Bull, about a fence making a nasty line.
But, it’s not like we don’t already have fairly vigorous border enforcement on the southern border.
What does that even mean? If people are coming across the border and we don’t want them to, why exactly shouldn’t we build a fence? Because the Mexican government will get upset? Well, did they get upset enough at the hundreds of miles of fence that already exist and have done so for decades to do anything about it? No? Well then.
Anyway, if we’re going to be freaking out about things that the U. S. Government does which are merely pointless as opposed to actively bad, well, we’re going to be here a long time. The government has wasted far more money on far less useful things and, indeed, far more explicitly destructive to the nation things, than the wall could ever cost in Steve Bannon’s wildest imagination.
If you are building a wall, not because it is effective, but because it is merely symbolic of how much you don’t want the people on the other side on your side, than it actively undermines the supposed reason to build it.
If you really want a secure border, make sure you have a good relationship with the Mexican government. Don’t build a giant line of middle-fingers as if that is going to keep people out.
Again, does that apply to the portions that already exist? Should we tear those down?
What level of a good relationship with the Mexican government will be required to stop it from publishing Spanish-language brochures on how to safely sneak across the border, and from transporting Central American illegal immigrants northwards to the U. S. border? And why didn’t we have that good relationship at any time in the past eight years?
Even if there are other things you can do that are more effective?
The fences that already exist are there because people with detailed knowledge of the local situation decided that it was worthwhile to put a fence in a particular location. Trump doesn’t have special knowledge of the Mexico-US border. He hasn’t come out and said “such and such an official has told me that we really need a fence in this particular area, and I am going to make sure that it gets funded”. Trump promised to build a wall because it feels like a big tough middle finger to Mexicans, and some people found that very appealing.
Trump promised to build a wall because it feels like a big tough middle finger to Mexicans, and some people found that very appealing.
1. I don’t think many people want to offend Mexicans just to offend them. They just don’t want them around, at least not in large numbers.
2. Many of the same sort of people saying the Mexican wall will do nothing said that Israel’s walls would do nothing, and it turns out they did something. Also many of those people DO want Mexicans around in large numbers. Hence it’s tough to trust what they say about the Mexican wall.
Mexico will do what is in Mexico’s interest, or at least the Mexican government’s interest, regardless of our “relationship.” If they feel it is in their interest for some reason to help Mexican, central American, and South American nationals to move north in violation of long standing USA law, they will do so. It seems that they do in fact feel this way.
I think the main reasons anyone is against the wall is because they don’t like Trump, or want open borders/demographic change and are willing to take it any way they can get it. Obviously we should have legal immigration rather than illegal immigration, and obviously a wall will reduce illegal immigration. I’m not even sure what the argument is that the wall will not reduce illegal immigration. Usually people just handwave. There are walls all over the world, where did walls not work? Hungary’s walls totally dammed the massive flow of refugees. Israel’s walls totally stopped the desperate Palestinian suicide bombers as well as the refugees coming from the South. Where is the example of a wall that didn’t work?
Possibly true, but the question is not what is true about Thiel but what Scott believes about Thiel, and Scott wrote, in the comment HBC is replying to:
Thus making it clear that Scott does not believe Thiel helped bring Trump to power.
Holy shit. Machiavellian is a term of art. It doesn’t mean Machiavelli -ian. Etymology is confusing like that. I mean, you’ve used the English language before, right?
It’s also incredibly obvious just from context what Scott meant.
Do you really think I don’t know that Scott wasn’t referring to literal Machiavelli? Really?
In other words, Scott was saying (roughly) that Thiel was doing something that was scummy, but it was OK because it probably didn’t matter anyway and the ends justify the means.
Have you used the English language before?
Long-time lurker; just wanted to toss in my appreciation for your thoughtful comments, especially on this piece. It takes a lot of strength to keep the intellectual charity waterline reasonably high around a topic like this. I would not stay anywhere near as calm as you are. Thanks for being an inspiration. 🙂
(@HeelBearCub: To clarify (as is very much necessary given the above intensity), I have no strong opinions about your comment at all. This is honestly a catch-all comment on a collection of Scott’s comments so far. Small criticisms can be really harmful in sum, but are not in themselves a problem and may in fact be virtuous, and I would like to sincerely encourage you to express concerns you have. My point here is honestly just to express my admiration for Scott’s overall mental fortitude – it’s not meant to pile on you.)
+1 to this
Right. I would say that not being a Trump supporter and simultaneously asserting in public that Trump likely isn’t the spawn of Satan is the toughest position to take out there on the Interwebs.
Yes, do count me as generally against Machiavellian plans.
I don’t think HBC accused you of being “on the other team”. This all seems like legitimate difference of opinion to me.
“Not being intellectually rigorous” is not the same as “being on the other team”.
I think this post is right on.
Could someone provide a link to Scott predicting that Trump will lower GDP, lift sanctions on Russia, etc?
You can either check the place where I specifically mentioned it was and linked it in the post, or https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/01/06/predictions-for-2017/
Thanks! I’ve read a lot of SSC, but it’s hard to keep track of every post : ).
I would note that predicting that the GDP or employment will be lower at the end of 2017 vs. 2016 isn’t the same as predicting that it will be lower when Trump leaves office. Additionally, I’m not sure that “Trump will earn low approval ratings” or “Trump will lift sanctions on Russia” are examples of “Trump doing bad things.” Obama had quite low approval ratings for much of his presidency while executing a non-bad job. And sanctions in general are pretty shitty.
I said 2017 because it was a Predictions For 2017 thread.
I’m trying to find objective indicators so I can grade myself later, so I can’t just say “Trump will be a bad President”. Approval rating seems like the best formalization of “bad President” I can think of on short notice, though of course it has the problems you mention.
In other words, the political influence of the rationalist/futurist-sphere has increased by an order of magnitude relative to what it was under any previous President.
I mean before the most we had was a bunch of eccentrics riding around the country in a coffin-shaped bus, whereas now there is actually someone seriously interested in and involved with things like life extension and AI safety with direct access to the President.
How, exactly, is this not a resounding success?
If you think that president will be disastrous?
How exactly is setting sail on a boat you believe to be unseaworthy a good plan?
I mean, if you think the president will do a poor job on what they implement, why would you want them to be the first to implement your preferred policies?
It seems overly convenient to think that having no influence over a bad president is inherently better than having some influence over a bad president. My initial guess would definitely go the other way.
For a concrete example, look at the FDA pick situation. If Thiel is indeed behind that, and it works as planned, that could very well justify Thiel’s support by itself. I see no evidence that FDA reform will somehow go horribly astray just because Trump is the president.
What’s your assessment of how much Thiel’s support helped Trump versus how much Thiel’s influence could make a Trump presidency better?
I’d say he helped Trump get elected by an infinitesimal amount and has the potential to make some relatively small but absolutely large improvements. Seems like a fair trade off if you’re into those sorts of trade offs.
I mean, that’s if you buy the Machiavelli theory. Personally I think Thiel just thinks Trump would be a better President than Clinton.
Thiel couldn’t have gotten jack by backing Hillary who already had way more institutional supporters and money even if she had won, and whatever Thiel did wasn’t going to seriously affect who won the election either way. Thiel got some power and influence for at the cost of a chunk of some of his own reputation and little else. We’ll see where that goes. I happen to agree with PeterBorah that it’s better to have some influence over a bad president than to have no influence.
If I was Thiel, what I’d be trying now would be to pull on things in a manner mostly perpendicular to the big left/right fights while I have the chance. Thiel probably won’t have meaningful influence on the flashy political things, but he may have some space to take a whack at stuff that the media finds boring while it’s busy hacking away at the Trump administration.
What’s with transhumanists who run for government having such ridiculous names? In Australia we had one called Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow.
< Increases calibration level of 'aliens are already living among us'
I just want to say that I appreciate the frequency of of the short posts lately. Keep them coming!
I used to agree with you on that subject, but I don’t anymore, and I am a bit surprised that you didn’t change your opinion. (EDIT: I saw your commentary above, it seems the reason we don’t agree will be resolved very soon when WH makes it clear whether banning legal residents from re-entry was intended. I’ll leave the post for reference, but it probably won’t convince you of anything you’re not already convinced of.).
If Trump had “just” stopped accepting any new non-Christian refugees and stopped issuing visas and green cards to countries with Muslim majorities, I would still agree with “You Are Still Crying Wolf”. That would be an awful policy, but the kind of awful you seemed to be clearly anticipating in that post and that is, all things considered, quite less awful than actual fascism.
However, in this situation even people with current green cards, or valid visas, or EU/Canada passports (because they have double nationality) were turned away at the border or prevented from boarding. People with lives, homes, spouses, children, etc… in the US are banned from coming home. While Trump didn’t actually deport anyone legally in the US, this is functionally equivalent to deporting people who left the country with no idea that out of the blue they’d be locked outside. This is a level of horrible quite above what you predicted. I would place “forced deportation” right below “internment camps” in terms of evil, and you were absolutely confident (okay, 99%) that this wouldn’t happen. One week into Trump’s presidency, something comparable in horribleness, if not in scale, happens. This ought to make you severely reconsider that prediction.
By the way, Trump explicitly mentioned using Japanese internment camps as precedent on the campaign trail. This is no “dog whistles”, it’s all there in the manual, as much as the Muslim ban.
I agree this is much worse than I would have predicted, though not in a direction that makes me believe in dog whistles or the KKK more.
I guess my confusion is that Trump seems to be shooting himself in the foot here. Banning the tiny fraction of Iranians etc who are out on vacation when the order takes place does nothing for him; the number of Iranians etc currently outside the US is a rounding error.
All it does is make the law much more likely to enrage people, much easier to challenge, and much less likely to survive.
I am split between “he is incompetent and didn’t realize this would be a big deal / thought that the promise to let people back in on a case-by-case basis was some kind of fair compromise that would make everyone happy” and “he is trying to outrage people on purpose for some strategic reason”.
>I agree this is much worse than I would have predicted, though not in a direction that makes me believe in dog whistles or the KKK more.
Thanks for writing the whole post, it was good and useful to do so. What might help a bit is if you made clearer what *would* make you believe in dog whistles; this would also clarify in what sense you’re meaning terms like racism.
A possible counterargument to “listen to what the candidate says” is the degree to which Trump lies and contradicts himself. There are many things that he could do or try to do that he once said he would. Then one could look at what he’s actually done, and see if he’s chosen the racist-er selection among his promise. I’ve not done this exercise rigorously (and I won’t listen to anyone who just feels the answer is obvious – the point of rigour is to be rigorous), but it’s an argument that could be developed.
Oh yeah the thing about dog whistles is still on point, I’m not criticizing that. It doesn’t make the literal KKK more likely, but as others have pointed out that’s a very low bar to clear and if he starts deporting legal residents on basis of religion/nationality rather than race the difference is really academic.
Assuming this is not sheer incompetence (which gets less likely the more time passes, thus why I tend to no longer believe it), another possibility (less likely than the “deliberately making people mad” you mentioned) is trying to get precedent to suddenly cancel visas and green cards from foreigners currently in the US (and then deport them).
I’ll note that the idea (not put forward by you, just something that people might be inclined to think) that he might be doing this in order to walk back to “just” stopping new visas and green cards from being issued (thus making it look more acceptable by comparison) would be unlike anything Trump done so far, or hinted he might do. People were already expected that when he nominated Tillerson and it didn’t happen.
I think it’s strategic. Trump is approaching this like a negotiation. His ‘opening bid’ includes some provisions that he intends to bargain away.
I suspect that Trump knows that his final-policy will need to have a bunch of nuance and compromise.
However, he doesn’t really gain anything by including that compromise and nuance from the start.
It’s much better for him to slap down some unilateral, black-and-white proposal.
His opening bid will generate outrage. But people were maximally-outraged anyway. So, that’s not a cost.
The democrats will respond by attacking the proposal in the places where it’s weakest (read: most needs nuance)
In this case, that attack seems to be, “Trump’s bill shouldn’t impact green-card holders!”
On a logical level, that’s fair. But it’s rhetorically problematic; by attacking a single feature, the democrats will implicitly accept the rest of the bill.
Figure that the democrats win that point. The headline will be something like “Democrats Defeat Trump’s Immigration Bill!”
Once that happens, I expect to see Democratic enthusiasm fall off.
The politicians / groups who’re interested in getting a PR victory over Trump have ‘won’. Their incentive is to move onto the next issue.
The news media have already declared victory. They’ll show a triumphant family reunion and move on.
This means that Trump enters the “real” fight* with a mild PR loss, but only facing the people who are deeply concerned about fair immigration policies.
*That is: the fight over the nuanced, compromise-including policy that he could have written from the start.
I think you are misreading the situation.
This was done incompetently enough that ACLU et al. have an enormous amount of ammo to fight (compared to a better executed, sneakier proposal).
There is already the situation at Dulles where the border patrol is disobeying a judge, refusing to see a senator face to face, etc. This seems pretty bad, as they are in contempt and technically the judge could have sent forces in.
This is not a mastermind at work.
My posteriors on impeachment have gone up a bit (I still don’t think it’s super likely), just on the strength of general incompetence I am seeing, which would make an impeachable fuckup entirely possible. All it would then take is for the GOP controlled Congress to have had enough of bad press, and judge Pence to be a better deal than Trump.
Realistically, they also have to be reasonably confident that doing it doesn’t get them defeated in their next primary. In the current environment, I suspect that makes it a pretty high bar.
Yes, this is true. An impeachment would be very traumatic and look bad for the GOP. Which is why things would have to get bad enough, and pushback/bad press severe enough, that they would do the math and realize it was still the best of bad options open to them.
This is why I don’t think impeachment is super likely, still. But it’s definitely a “live hypothesis” for me, at this point.
I agree that Trump instinctively does that, but I think in this case there is a significant amount of “amateur hour” happening — see any legal analysis of the order (many came out on Sunday).
Something I wish had occurred to me earlier is simply that having a President who likes pissing people off is a bad idea.
Is it? Enraged democrats are much, much better than complacent democrats.
A rage-inducing opponent is far less frightening than an agreeable one.
Trump might call for an unjust war. But Bush talked the democrats into voting for one.
Looking at recent history, it seems a political strength if you can make your opponents lose their goddamn minds.
So much this. Even though I should be used to it, it’s driving me batty here how much things seem to be determined purely by how polite a politician is while the NSA monitors every American citizen, drone strikes distant foreigners into oblivion, engages in poor economic policy, etc. I mean, I think process is important, but when the process is being done correctly for bad results anyways…
The numbers 9 and 11 would like to have a word with you.
If you aren’t at least mid 30s in age, I think you don’t understand how angry the country was, and how much they wanted blood. Unless you are mid 40s, you probably don’t realize at a visceral level how much Hussein was the perfect target for this. It was really easy to believe that this cartoonish puffed up Arab dictator really did intend to set off a nuke in NYC as revenge for what HW Bush did.
I mean, hell, Saddam did actually launch SCUD missiles into Israel in 1991.
Largely Democrats voted for Iraq because the bulk of the country wanted it, even though the most active on the left were against it. It was near impossible to have a reasonable conversation about anything to do with 9/11. Just look up “freedom fries” if you want to know how truly petty it was.
I still think having a president who likes pissing people off is a bad thing.
It’s possible that a president who’s good at using angering people as a strategy would be useful, but someone with an emotional habit of angering people is accumulating people who want revenge.
Bush is the one who used 9/11 as a reason to invade Iraq. It was a horrible idea, but you were right that people were pissed.
People tend to ascribe the Iraq war entirely to Bush, perhaps buying into the psychobabble that it was somehow all him trying to fulfill his daddy issues of finishing the war daddy couldn’t.
They’re forgetting that there was enormous pressure, not just from the American public (who wanted to see “someone” pay for 9/11; it didn’t really matter who, so long as they were vaguely Muslim-ish) but also from the military and intelligence community, for whom the half-measure of the 1991 Gulf War was an open sore, and who sincerely believed (with fairly good reason, at least from the perspective of the time) that Hussein was biding his time to build chemical and nuclear weapons so that he would become unassailable.
I worked in the intelligence community back in those days (I left government service in 2000, was briefly recalled to duty after 9/11, and then left again), and I can tell you that it was taken as gospel truth at Langley that Hussein had low-level WMD capabilities and was rapidly building up to high-level ones. If anyone had questioned it (I never heard anyone do so), they would have been seen as nuts. There was lots of disagreement about how far along his programs were, but absolutely none that they were active and a priority for his regime.
Of course, in retrospect, we now know that part of our intel was false, fed by Ahmed Chalabi and other defectors who wanted to push the US into war with Iraq, and part of it was false because the regime was lying to its own military about the state of its WMD programs. Interrogations after the war indicated that many of Iraq’s own generals believed they had nuclear weapons; they just all thought some other division was the one that had them.
Hindsight is 20/20. That doesn’t mean that going into Iraq based on the premise of WMD was a bad thing based on what we knew in 2003. I’ll fault Bush for a lot of things — most specifically for being naive and not having a good plan for occupation and stabilization after the initial assault was done — but he wasn’t acting on a whim or making up lies to trick people into a war. He had good reasons to do what he did; the entire military and intelligence community were just caught in a groupthink trap of our own creation and fed him bad information.
And on the political side, there is no Iraq War without Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Wolfowitz (especially him)
I remember this (perhaps unfairly) as entirely manufactured — the endless progression of talking heads on Sunday morning television shows pushing on the Overton window until a politician who *didn’t* have a plan to deal with the “problem” of Saddam Hussein was considered irresponsible and treated with a sort of quiet scorn.
I don’t think the pressure to “hit something” was manufactured. But I do think the target was. The fact was that there were significant portions of the US government (myself included!) that believed Hussein was an imminent threat to global stability because he was probably going to acquire a nuke within the next decade, and (given the precedent of him launching SCUDs at Israeli civilian targets in 1991) had a high probability of actually using it if he felt his grip on power was slipping.
I think the massively increased public awareness of Muslim countries as a threat to the homefront in the wake of the incident was definitely leveraged to convince the public that this guy out in the desert on the other side of the world needed to be dealt with before he got the capability to hit us over here. The Bush Administration never directly claimed that Saddam had any involvement in 9/11, but they definitely leveraged his history of past contacts with Al Qaeda to build the case that he was part of the same bad crowd and needed to be dealt with accordingly. In the minds of the public, this tied a strong link between Iraq and 9/11 and led to support for a war that probably couldn’t have happened had it been sold simply as, “we think this guy might have a mostly-working nuke already, or maybe within the next decade, and we want to stop it before it happens.”
Of course, in engaging in a long and bloody war for what turned out to be a fake threat in Iraq, we had no stomach as a nation to deal with the very real threat in North Korea, and now we do have a mad self-absorbed dictator with a nuclear weapon who’s using it to hold tens of millions of people’s lives hostage to demand the international community keep his regime propped up.
Hindsight is a bitch.
You say we should take his proposals seriously. Which I agree with.
Given that, I don’t know why this is worse than you would have predicted. It’s right in line with everything he proposed on the subject of Muslims and immigration and doing things in an unpredictable manner during the campaign.
It’s worse than I would have predicted in that it also affects green card holders returning from abroad. Now that that provision seems to be gone, it’s about as bad as I expected.
It seems relevant that the green card provision is gone because of massive public outrage and court orders, not because the Trump administration decided it would be a bad idea.
If you are arguing that Trump will not be so bad because the courts and the public will hold him to account, then sure, the retraction of the green card policy is a good sign. If you are arguing that people have been exaggerating the bad goals of the Trump administration, then the fact that their goals have been checked in this one case should not affect your evaluation of Trump’s intentions.
As for his bad goals/intentions, I think Scott doesn’t hold either of the positions you describe, but rather something based on this,
from the comment above.
Incompetent is my current read, especially if the indicators that he didn’t even run it by OLC turn out to be true.
On the one hand, I have a hard time believing he could be THAT dumb (I’ve never bought “Trump Is a Secret PR/Bargaining/Marketing Genius” thing, but I didn’t think he was this careless). “Did You Clear This With Legal?” is sort of a huge deal in the corporate world. Then again we see very senior CEOs and business-people do things that make their in-house counsel reach for the liquor cabinet and start popping tums like candy all the time.
Yes, but that requires the sort of legal staff the corporate world takes for granted, and that Trump took for granted would come fully staffed with the nice shiny White House he had just won.
He’s still behind the curve on staffing “legal”, and to the extent there are career civil servants filling out the lower ranks, what’s their motive for keeping Trump from making a fool of himself? If they can, which they probably can’t.
I mean, the OLC didn’t disappear.
They just didn’t run it by them.
I’m guessing incompetence, but that’s what you are going to get when business guys with no government experience take over, rookie mistakes.
It doesn’t help that he has a bunch of opponents who are rabid dogs circling him constantly while his has bacon strapped to his butt.
I know Hanlon’s Razor and all, but there are so many aspects of the roll-out that were flubbed hard, that I can’t help but think it was designed to be deliberately inflammatory. And Bannon’s insistence on the green card interpretation with DHS? And a Friday afternoon signing!
To me it smells like Bannon wanted as big of a reaction and as many protests as possible. Reading the Days of Rage review you linked to makes me wonder if Bannon wants extreme liberal protesting, because the more violent it gets, the more his interests are served, especially given that a ban on Muslims entering the country is not necessarily unpopular. Also now all of the major liberal players that have been appearing at the protests will have their faces plastered all over Breitbart/Fox News after every attack in the name of Islam between now and Nov. 2020.
By setting it up to be reversed/stayed by noisy liberal backlash (and moderate establishment republican backlash), Bannon’s guaranteed Trump a great deal of blue collar support after any major terrorist attack, and sewn up the election in 2020 if, heaven forbid, a militant from one of those seven countries commits a major attack in the US.
Isn’t it traditionally the case that events taking place late on Friday get the least media attention so that’s when you do things where you want to minimize the media impact?
Does that still work in an age of social media and 24/7 news?
Perhaps Trump’s incompetence and Bannon’s malevolence? Trump seems quite easy to bait and manipulate. If this theory is right, I expect more of that to come.
Doing it just before the weekend didn’t work in Trump’s favor in terms of provoking violent protests. Weekend protests get the white professional class out protesting and they keep things clean. Today they are all back at work.
In my latest post on the subject, I make a conjecture as to what Bannon’s strategy might be, if we assume that it wasn’t just incompetence. As I explain, if that’s really what he was thinking, it doesn’t strike me as being obviously a bad calculation.
These aren’t even close.
I think the US should take in more refugees, but whatever rules we have, we have to be able to enforce them.
You know the reason Trump gets such traction with his supporters? It’s because the people who want less immigration see literally no other path. If we let anyone into this country, ever, for any reason, you will attack not letting them stay as “right below internment camps in terms of evil.” Okay, better not let them into the country in the first place, then!
If people don’t want to live with refugees or immigrants, I don’t see anything we could say that would make them accept them without changing their minds about the whole “I don’t want to live with foreigners” thing. Therefore, I don’t really think insisting that commitment to honor promises made and to guarantee safety of legal residents is causing any problem.
There are a lot of options available between “no one comes in at all” and “once they set foot on American soil they are citizens forever.”
There’s also a difference between “no one comes in at all” and “they can come in if they are vetted, hard-working, law abiding and want to assimilate”, which is a deliberately uncharitable reading of the position of most of the right. “Once they set foot on American soil they are citizens forever” right now applies even if they break the law once here (Sanctuary Cities policy).
I can understand to some degree wanting to get illegal immigrants that have committed minor crimes to be able to talk to the law about major crimes committed by others without needing to fear the police, the ostensible purpose of the Sanctuary City designation. However, fearing that people that broke the law to come here and continue to break the law to work here might not be willing to abide by other laws does not seem unreasonable, especially when we have examples to back it up.
Interesting. I did not find that remotely uncharitable; to the contrary I found it essentially unobjectionable. I suppose I might balk if you replaced “if” with “only if”, but I’m not positive about even that.
Is there anyone, left or right, who advocates the acceptance of immigrants who do not want to work and obey the law?
Edit: apply the appropriate nuance so that we’re not talking about breaking the law specifically by entering the country illegally. That’s orthogonal to concerns about Trumps executive order, I think.
I think Civilis meant that conflating the two was uncharitable?
I did not word that as well as I could. The right’s position seems to have been reduced for the purposes of debate to ‘the right hates immigrants’, when most of the right (but not all) is fine with at least some immigration that meets the guidelines specified. Many libertarians on the right seem fine with open immigration, and I’m sure there are people in between libertarians and the more hardline conservatives (and its those people I was being uncharitable about) but what I described should apply to almost everyone on the right.
“Is there anyone, left or right, who advocates the acceptance of immigrants who do not want to work and obey the law?”
Work? I suspect most all of them work. Work legally? A different story. I can accept your contention for the point of the debate that I have to set aside the legal work requirements like I have to set aside the illegal entry or overstay visa requirements. Even then, we’re at the point where the mayor of New York City has decided that drunk driving and grand larceny aren’t worth deporting people. I think it fair to characterize that as ‘accepting people that won’t obey the law’.
Several of my coworkers are legal immigrants. The amount of hoops that they had to jump through to stay here and become naturalized has led each to be very upset with those that are willing to apply different standards to those that knowingly jumped the line and now want the same benefits as those who waited patiently within the system.
Personally, I’d rather handle illegal immigration at the employer level than worry about a border wall, but then again, I live far from the border. I want a system that handles refugees, but not opens the floodgates for everyone that wants to come to the US, and that means both prioritizing who gets in and weeding out those that shouldn’t get in.
Why? It seems crueler to let someone in but prevent them from supporting themselves than simply restrict entry. Also less effective. The point of pushing enforcement onto employers seems to be to allow in a critical mass to make removal untenable, then agitate for amnesty.
Why? It seems crueler to let someone in but prevent them from supporting themselves than simply restrict entry. Also less effective. The point of pushing enforcement onto employers seems to be to allow in a critical mass to make removal untenable, then agitate for amnesty.
From what people have said, that’s the method Canada uses, and they’re basically the go-to for examples of ‘humanitarian government’ these days. The advantage of employer-based enforcement is that it reduces the amount of people that immigrate here illegally in the first place, and supposedly causes those here (especially those here for easy money, not humanitarian reasons) to self-deport.
Forced deportation, as opposed to…non-forced deportation?
“Deportation” has a specific legal definition and although “getting locked out by your own country by a sudden change of policy” might well be a bad thing, I’m not sure that it qualifies.
There has been talk of encouraging “self-deportation” by making continuing to maintain illegal presence in the US annoying enough that illegal immigrants get fed up and leave. That’s probably the contrast.
I agree that not allowing people in is not the same as deporting them.
Not allowing people in even though they were already living there and were outside the country on holiday or something. That’s an important part.
It’s not a good thing! But words have meanings, and just because something is bad does not mean that all words that refer to bad things refer to it.
My point was that the difference between that and deportation is semantic at best. My post was clear that he didn’t actually deport anyone, just that this was equivalent.
I guess I can see that.
You are correct, my phrasing was redundant. I guess I thought of “forced emigration” and “deportation” and merged the two.
I have done this.
I predict that Trump Derangement Syndrome will crest soon, and thus only assigned a 40% chance that his approval rating being lower than 50% at the end of 2017. (This should at least happen if the Trump/Putin comparisons that his critics love to harp on about have any validity).
Then I predict that the wild ride will get even wilder.
Peter Thiel will funnel billions of government $$$ to Aubrey de Grey who will make Trump immortal, the heretics and xenos scum who do not believe in The Donald will be purged, and the ascendant God Emperor of Mankind will rule the world from a yuge golden throne for the next 40,000 years.
What’s your confidence on Trump becoming Immortal? I’ll pay you 5 dollars every year for the rest of my life (~50 years) or until Trump dies, if you give me 250 dollars right now.
Those were alternative predictions.
Don’t forget the time value of money. That’s the equivalent of a perpetuity with a 2% rate, when even a 30-year is currently yielding just over 3%. If you change that to $10/year, then a 48-year payout period will return an internal rate of return equal to the current US 30-year Treasury. That will yield parity with traditional long-term investments around the 50-year mark, give or take, and be superior thereafter.
If he was 100% certain that Trump was immortal and that you would honor the commitment, that would still not be a good offer due to the time value of money and the added uncertainty…
Well, better start looking for Horus.
I bet you three dollars that the imperium won’t fall shortly after 40k.
-Conditional on trump being god emperor of mankind in the year 40k, I predict he will be god emperor in 41k as well.
We can do this over (space) paypal/bitcoin etc, or maybe just on an honor system.
Your confidence in Hive Fleet Leviathan is that low?
God-Emperor Trump has not exactly demonstrated an ability to listen to science-based warnings of imminent disaster. Which means I’ll bet $200 worth of Bitcoin on news of Tyranid invasion being dismissed as socialist propaganda to justify government regulation.
The bugs are also notoriously resilient to Twitter-based attacks, and have no fear of being sued. Or of anything else.
I’m a lot more interested in seeing the reaction to Trump’s doings (present and future) among people who supported him.
Last September, former Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann (identified as a Trump advisor) said that 2016 would be the last U.S. election. That’s something I honestly fear Trump will bring about, but she meant that it would happen if Clinton won.
Michele is an extremely intelligent woman, widely underestimated; my instinct is that she was ironically reflecting back apocalyptic fears on the left. But maybe her prediction was sincere. And perhaps, if future elections are indeed canceled, she will just say, “Well, we already knew Hillary would have done the same.”
This is not a new sort of claim to make; people were saying that Bush wasn’t going to leave peacefully either. It’s an obvious enough sort of badge of dictatorship that it’s not something I worry about until people start talking about it positively from their own side instead of accusing the other side of it. (There was a little bit of joking from liberals about how wouldn’t it be nice if Obama stayed in office, but they were pretty clearly not serious about it.)
There’s a letter to the editor in the Washington Post this morning demanding Obama be placed back in office due to the irregularities in Trump’s election.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Rosie O’Donnell was willing to put Sen. McCain in as temporary president under her proposed martial law to stop Trump getting inaugurated.
Bills like this to change the way states allocate electoral votes crop up occasionally. If widely adopted, these would effectively end competitive presidential elections. (Thankfully it was killed, for now.)
(These actually seriously worry me – state legislatures can be pretty insane and it only takes one to start the ball rolling on this and break our democracy.)
Aren’t there a couple of states that already do this?
Nebraska and Maine, but both CDs generally vote the same way in those states, and it’s really only one electoral vote at stake.
I think any kind of gaming the electoral system is pretty dangerous when things are this polarized. If Virginia Republicans did this, it wouldn’t be surprising to get retaliation and counter-retaliation, with one side (as currently configured, the Democrats) ending up with no real voice in the presidency.
In 2003 I published an article advocating that Massachusetts (where I live) “abandon her winner-take-all Electoral College allocation” and take an approach similar to what Nebraska or Maine does.
This isn’t true. It would mean Republicans would start running moderates, just like the Democrats do, but that’s by no means the same thing. It should be obvious to everyone that parties adapt their platforms to stay relevant (see: every few decades since American history began), and the full-wingnut-retard strategy is only one possible strategy. They’d adopt a new one if they had to.
See /r/AskTrumpSupporters. If you want a pro-Trump venue that isn’t full of retards and dipshits, that’s the place to be.
Reactions range from “I no longer support Trump” to “I still support Trump but this was a mistake and I hope he reconsiders” to “this is bad but not as bad as some are making it sound, see [list of past presidents who have done similar things]”.
I haven’t yet run into anyone who thinks it’s a good idea and can intellectually defend it.
I’ll take that challenge, if just for the fun of it.
Put aside the temporary refugee ban. It is, after all, temporary, and Obama was able to do a longer one (though from fewer countries) without becoming Hitler, so obviously not a huge deal.
Let’s put aside the green card snafu as well. A bad move, but already rolled back.
The important part of the EO is this:
For at least as long as Syria has been generating refugees, we have had a de facto policy of accepting only Muslim refugees, and leaving out to dry those populations which are the most persecuted and at risk. Of the 10,801 Syrian refugees we let in, 56 were Christians (that’s not a percent, that’s an absolute number). Syria is 10% Christian, or at least was before that population was targeted for eradication. This has even been noted in court opinions (page 7), and to my knowledge the Obama administration never offered any sort of explanation, but I hope HBC corrects me if I’m wrong.
Reversing that policy will get us back to the original rules governing the refugee process and lead to more Effective Refugeeism. We can get back to helping the populations most in need of help.
Since “HITLER!” was called long ago, here’s your Hitler comparison. You want to know what you would have done if you were alive during the Holocaust? Just look at what you did when Christian communities were being wiped out in the Middle East (article is from 2012, to give you an idea of the timeline here). Have you been silent for the past 5 years? You would have been silent 80 years ago. And if somebody had proposed letting more Jews in, you would have called it a #GermanBan, protested, and said that’s not who we are.
That single paragraph I quoted could save thousands. For the price of very badly inconveniencing 375 people? I wish we could have avoided that, but I’d still call that a bargain.
I’m not sure if I should be flattered or not?
Flattered, certainly. If he’s wrong I’d like to know, and you’re the most likely one to point it out.
Flattered. You seemed most likely to know if I was wrong and to say so. That is valuable.
Well, thank you.
The other option was insufferable thinks-he-knows-it-all.
I don’t know the answer, but I am doubtful that the Obama administration had a specific policy against taking in Christian refugees. Maybe I will spend some time googling.
So, at first blush, the distribution of Christians in Syria seems like it needs to be considered.
Other than Aleppo, haven’t all of these been firmly in government hands for quite a while?
We aren’t grabbing refugees directly out of Aleppo, so if you are Christian and flee Aleppo, which way do you go? Into government territory, or into the territory that may be held by Muslim extremists who would be quite hostile to you?
I’m not saying this is the answer, just that it points at a pretty good possible explanation for the stats you site.
This is a case where I’m reasonably sure that if they’d said something I would have heard, but I certainly haven’t combed through all Obama administration statements, so it’s possible I’ve missed one.
the critique I’ve seen, which looks to have some validity to me, is that the main refugee camps are dangerous places for religious minorities because there are Islamist extremists there. As a result, Christians and others aren’t able to get to the place where you start the standard refugee application process.
The proposed solution I saw was to set up another refugee application process for people for whom it wasn’t safe to go to the camps, which seems like a good idea, assuming the above is an accurate description of the situation.
This Politifact article seems like a good resource on the question.
High-level summary: Christians face a below-average level of persecution in Syria, because they tend to be Assad supporters. Many Christians move to Lebanon instead of seeking refugee status with the UN. Only 1.5% of Syrians who have registered with the UNHCR are Christian. (Edit: as Rob K points out, this could have something to do with Christians feeling unsafe in refugee camps. But that’s clearly not because of anything Obama did.) If there were an anti-Christian bias in refugee policy, you would expect it to show up in other countries as well, but (for example) Iraqi Christians are over-represented in refugee admissions by a factor of 58.
Rob K has the correct reason why our current policy excludes Syrian Christians. The thing to keep in mind is that this is not an excuse. These problems are well-known (as in, I, a layman, knew them), have been for quite a while, and no action has been taken to work around or deal with them.
(And that’s without getting into the implications of “the camps we’re taking refugees from are dangerous places for non-Muslims.”)
Seriously, this is not the kind of argument I’d expect in support of a more generous refugee admittance. But I’m sure our government is wonderfully competent at tracking down all known background risk factors of 15 year old men from war torn nations.
Yeah that kind of jumped out at me too.
We are taking refugees from camps where intolerance is so strong that it is dangerous to be non-muslim? Doesn’t exactly sound like an “embrace our values” type of crowd.
If you’re willing to accept a Newsweek article that quotes Fox News as a source:
And from a 2015 story on Syrian refugees, this interesting fact:
That’s not just Christian refugees, that’s all refugees.
FWIW, this was linked by someone I follow on Twitter:
I’m not personally convinced by it. (I sent money to the ACLU for the first time this weekend because, while I’ve had substantial differences with them in the past, they seem to be taking point on this.) It minimizes what look to be major disruptions for green card holders and CBP officials ignoring a court order. But it is an intellectual rather than emotional defense of the EO and its implementation.
Bachmann seems to be saying that this was the last chance for someone like Bachmann to ever win, not the last election overall. It’s the old “Democrats like immigration in order to commit massive voter fraud” thesis.
Well, frankly, “Democrats like immigration because those immigrants vote for them” isn’t entirely untrue.
Not entirely, but it’s often phrased in extremely hyperbolic ways, and some of the surrounding arguments are untrue.
Also, Republicans totally shoot themselves in the foot here. There’s no law of nature that minorities are Democrats, and a serious outreach effort would do them a world of good. They identified that themselves after the 2012 election, but the Trump Train ran right over that plan before it could be implemented.
They tried outreach to Hispanics as early as Bush 43. It didn’t work.
There’s no law of nature that whites are Republicans either. Losing, say, 1% of white support to gain 2% of hispanic support is a losing proposition, electorally. Obviously you don’t want to pointlessly antagonize hispanics for no reason, but hey, Trump posted a picture of himself eating a taco bowl on twitter on Cinco de Mayo, he’s obviously willing to go for the cheap and easy pandering.
It’s not clear that the Republican establishment’s plan after the 2012 election was a good one. As you note, it was unable to get sufficient support from the base to win a primary. The hypothesis would have be that it would be able to pull enough support from outside the base to make up for the lost base support. It’s not clear that it would.
Nybbler: It worked fairly well, so far as I can tell. GW Bush did much better with Hispanics than anyone for at least a decade before or since – other than Reagan’s 1984 landslide, nobody else was particularly close, and even then 2004 was better than 1984. The Democrats still won with them, but not by nearly so huge a huge margin – only +18% in 2004, compared to +51% in 1996. http://latinousa.org/2015/10/29/the-latino-vote-in-presidential-races/ (For comparison, 2016 was 66%/29%, or +37% to Hillary)
Sun: Agreed. I don’t like it, but you’re correct.
>There’s no law of nature that minorities are Democrats, and a serious outreach effort would do them a world of good.
A, immigrants have been voting consistently democrat for like 150 years. B, the republicans will never be able to out offer the democrats who are offering immigrants membership in their racial grievance machine.
I assume you mean the Democratic Party? I’m not buying. Do you have anything you can site?
Republicans used to solidly get the votes of Cuban Americans, Vietnamese Americans, and Arab Americans pre-2000, and were in the mid 40s ish with Hispanics and Asian Americans generally, with significantly more support for Bush in 200 and 2004, which helped him clinch victory both times
Even back when the Democrats were conservative, and the Republicans were liberal? (Right now the Democrats are socialist, and the Republicans are conservative. Wacky things happened mid-20th-century.)
I asked here, people seem pretty ok with it, so far. I deliberately didn’t seriously argue, I just wanted to hear it in their own words.
It is possible that the contingent here is quite a bit “edgier” than an average Trump supporter, however.
I’m a Trump supporter, and my issue with it is that it doesn’t go far enough. Ideally all Muslim immigration will soon be banned. The alt-right trusts Trump enough to give him some time to do so before lobbying for it more vocally – either the present half-measure is a misguided attempt at compromise or it’s part of a deeper strategy.
Likely we’ll be talking about something else in a few days, as Trump will not be idle this coming week. Or if not, it will be a fine opportunity for the Trump administration to do some even more controversial things while the MSM is distracted.
As a reluctant Trump supporter, I’m going to go with ‘I think they messed up; what they intended was poorly thought out, what they got was far worse’. However, I think what they intended is about as morally bad as Obama’s repealing the Cuban ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy in the closing days of his administration.
With regards to ‘last elections’, the reason many of us on the right thought that about Clinton and the Democrats was the use of government power by Democrats to hamper groups on the right (such as the use of the IRS). Immigration bans can be overturned. Political obstacles can’t be reliably overturned, as they make it harder to get elected. Something like that from Trump, even directed against the Democrats, would be a definite red flag, but I haven’t seen that. If poorly implemented, Trump’s proposed changes to libel laws and his review of voting records could reach that level (just as the Obama DoJ Civil Rights division was used that way against Republicans). If he seriously botched those this badly, I don’t know if I would give him the benefit of the doubt.
Just out of curiosity, can you put into words what you think they intended?
Essentially, no new visas issued to anyone with a passport from those 7 countries for the given time period, but accommodations made for people already in transit and special cases, with the idea that the freeze can be used to get the core of an enhanced vetting procedure. I would be willing to bet a lot that the timeframe given is hopelessly optimistic for putting something like that in place. I’m not happy with a blanket immigration ban, especially one this poorly executed, but I’m not happy with sending Cubans back to slavery.
The pro-Trump right (and I keep getting pushed in that direction, in part by my contrary nature) has been described as taking Trump ‘seriously, but not literally’, and this is a good example as any. “Banning Muslim immigration” is a massive virtue signal; it’s a marker he intends to do something, rather than throw a tepid policy trial balloon, he’s starting with a policy more serious than what he ultimately intends to do, to force out all the opposing arguments. The centrists end up thinking ‘it’s not as bad as what he originally proposed, it must therefore be reasonable’ while the far right thinks ‘at least he did something concrete’.
It’s really hard for me to believe that this is what they intended.
Leaving aside green cards, everyone already on any other valid visa (like a work or student visa) can’t travel either (and I don’t believe that has been rescinded, if the green card thing has actually even been rescinded). For example.
I think they really intended that everyone not a citizen who comes into the country (from the target countries) can only enter at the discretion of the border agent, no matter what their visa says and it should be presumed that they should be denied entry.
That is the language that has been consistently used a few times (case-by-case basis).
And I think this is what they want long term. That’s some part of what “extreme vetting” means to them.
Let’s postulate two theories.
a) Trump should be taken seriously, not literally. He never intended this policy to survive, and he is just using it to anchor expectations. Later on, he will introduce his real policy.
b) Trump should be taken seriously and literally. He was seriously proposing this policy. If it fails, as it currently seems that it will, he will try a lesser version later.
How do you distinguish between those two theories? To me, the latter seems more intuitively plausible. For one thing, unless everything we think we know about Trump is an elaborate fiction, Trump hates losing, or being perceived as weak. Doesn’t backing down on this issue look weak? The idea that there is a secret hidden Trump who doesn’t really care about public perception and is only interested in sneaking through policy wins seems like wishful thinking to me.
There are too many amateur Trump psychologists running around for me to take any of them seriously.
Since he seems to live in his own universe of facts, he can just claim that whatever outcome he ends up with is the one he was arguing for all along. And the media will tear their hair out.
If Trump lives in his own universe of facts, then he’s probably not a devious mastermind.
How many people will remember the details in a month? The collective memory will be something like “Trump tried to force major blocks on immigration and the Left/ACLU fought him on it”. In politics winning isn’t getting policy X implemented or not, it is having the policy you want talked about on the table.
Backing down on this issue was inevitable, unless Trump is willing to go to war with the Judiciary in the first week of his presidency. Which appears not to be the case.
If we postulate Trump as a competent planner, then he must have known that his choices were to back down and look weak or go to war with the Judiciary and maybe lose. For a guy who doesn’t like to look weak and hadn’t yet stacked the Supremes 5/4 in his favor, that doesn’t seem like a plausible master plan.
So, whether or not we model Trump as “literal” or “serious”, I think rule one is to model him as “thoughtlessly impulsive”.
Skimming through those links, it’s pretty clear Bachmann wasn’t talking about Clinton cancelling elections, but rather manipulating the demographics (via immigration and fast-tracked citizenship) so that the Democrats were ascendant in perpetuity. That’s not all that different from the kinds of things Democrats themselves were crowing when they thought they had the election in the bag.
Reading two of the stories you link to, I think it’s pretty clear that what she was saying was not that there would be no more elections but that in future elections the Republicans would have no chance of winning, due to demographic changes. “This is the last election” was a hyperbolic way of saying it.
I don’t know. I agree that nothing you said in your posts has been proved significantly wrong.
But, at the same time, like. The most impactful thing you have written about Trump – and probably the most impactful thing you will ever write about Trump – certainly got taken up and read as a strident and uncomplicated defense of Trump and of the idea that SJWs were talking nonsense by criticizing him. I know those aren’t the explicit things that you were saying. But I also think it was entirely predictable that it was going to be read that way. And, if you’ll forgive me saying so, it seems a little butter-won’t-melt-in-your-mouth to tell people to focus on arguing against Trump instead of arguing against you, when you’re saying things that are being widely regarded as arguments in favor of Trump.
I agree that your models of Trump have certainly not been proven wrong (although I reserve my judgment with regards to the Trump administration and Steve Bannon as I did when you wrote the original article). But, I mean, it’s a little frustrating in the current political context and the context in which your article was actually read and received. It bothers me emotionally and I’m genuinely not sure whether that’s fair or not and I wasn’t going to bring it up because it seemed like it was probably irrational but you went and wrote a post on it so here we are.
He wrote multiple pieces coming out strongly against Trump. I don’t know what else you want him to do, other than stifle any thought that can’t be used as ammunition against the Other Side.
I genuinely don’t know the answer. It’s a consequence of the general poisoning of the discourse well. I understand and respect the idea that the best response to that is to be as intellectually rigorous and clear and open as possible. At the same time, the well has been poisoned. That has real effects. I don’t know how far you can go pretending that it hasn’t been.
I don’t know the answer, and I’m not saying that I do. And also – you certainly didn’t say this – and I don’t think anyone did say this – but I want to be clear that I’m not trying to demand an apology, nor do I think one is necessarily warranted, or anything like that. Just trying to talk through it.
What an intellectually honest person does is just keep calling them like he sees them, as Scott always has. I’m pretty confident he’s not capable of turning into the kind of partisan who worries about the appearance of heresy, but — and this is addressed to Scott, I suppose — I think he’d be happier if he didn’t write posts like this one.
That people misinterpret him in the service of some partisan agenda is hardly a surprise. It happens to every public intellectual who’s worth anything. Fuck ’em.
I also would have preferred that 300,000 people including Ann Coulter didn’t read my previous Trump post, but, as you say, here we are.
Do you have any regrets about it?
(this question is not trying to prove anything, I just want to know what you feel about it)
Man, don’t apologise to any of these people.
At the end of the day, the criticism of Trump is completely unhinged, and that’s not fucking helpful. Even as a basic strategy, the media’s torpedoed its own credibility, and they haven’t stopped Trump by starting scandals that turn out to be non-scandals (Trump photoshopped his own hands! He asked his own employees for photos! The entire State Department resigned!). So what’s the plan – keep it up for four years straight? Because if not, then continuing it currently is absolutely the wrong move.
Meanwhile, after about a day of this Priebus has come out and said that green card holders will face a little extra security but be allowed in. And even if he didn’t, a judge and the ACLU seem to have defanged the parts of this bill that people are complaining about. So yes, this is still absolutely crying wolf. Mostly it says bad things about Trump and how his administration will function, but we kind of knew about that already.
In other words, look, if you don’t want criticism, don’t do things worthy of criticism. If you don’t want your arguments against someone to be refuted, guard against refutation. For too long has the left decided that they can just lazily paint someone as bad, and they don’t need any arguments because anyone who disagrees can just be lazily painted bad as well. That’s failed. If people can’t adjust to that paradigm, then Trump will take advantage and win another 4 years.
Not that I mind that personally, hehe. But seriously, I would rather if the Left stole back from him the good parts of his policy, and left the bad parts in the dust. We’ll see if that can happen. Not optimistic but *shrugs*
The criticism has been unhinged, but that doesn’t mean he’s done a good thing. The decision to piss off a quarter of the global population will have an impact on immigration of the beneficial kind, where America steals the talent from the rest of the world using O/E/EB visas.
I mean, one of my mates has a moderately successful startup and is from Malaysia. You think he’s going to go to the US now, if there’s even the tiniest chance that Trump will do something stupid like lock him out of the country? No, if he wants to open another office or expand the company somewhere else, he’s going to fuck off to China, Chile, or Amsterdam now. It’s going to take years for the legitimately useful Muslims to get over this.
This is about anyone who has or wants a green card as well as about Muslims.
If your friend wants the advantages of the U.S. market and he stands to make a lot more money coming here, then yes – I expect he would come just the same as before. Maybe he’s the rare principled exception who will leave a bunch of money on the table due to his feelings of offense on behalf of others (bearing in mind that, Malaysia not being listed, he’s not affected). You know him, I don’t. But I doubt this would seriously impact the allure of the U.S., at least in the short-to-mid-term. It seems odd to object to a policy based on managing overwhelming demand to come to the U.S., on the basis that it might reduce demand to come to the U.S.
@hls2003 I don’t know eh’s friend, but I’d expect the primary concern would be insecurity, not principled solidarity with those affected by this particular measure. The chance of travel disruption or being outright prevented from returning to the US has to be rated higher now generally, particularly for someone from a majority-Muslim country.
@LHN I suppose there’s a slightly higher chance of insecurity, simply because we have literally seen people stopped at the airport (IMO the absolute worst part of the XO). But unless Malaysia suddenly becomes a basket case in the midst of a civil war, likely to export terrorism, I think that any added personal risk would be very low. I mean, even the Saudis aren’t on the list.
And you still have the incongruity of warning about reduced demand for U.S. entry, at a time when extremely high demand for U.S. entry is exactly the perceived problem. I’m just not sure it’s an effective argument strategy. I get it, you want the talented people, especially from stable countries, but my point is that the talented people will probably still come if your policy is “welcome the talented people from stable countries and be a good market where they can make the most money.” YMMV.
The concern is more for marginal cases, where visa applicants and immigrants who have multiple good choices of destination, and are good enough to get into the US on merit rather than through the ridiculous lottery, will be pushed away from the US and towards other countries. In my friend’s case, though I don’t know his financials, expanding into Europe or mainland China is apparently only a little worse than expanding into the US, and the added Trump risk factor tips the balance. Thus you’ll see a slight decline in immigrant/visa recipient quality, because the spots of the most talented who no longer want to come will be taken by the less talented.
Notably, Trump’s policies seem to be intended to raise the quality and maybe lower the number of immigrants, not to lower the number of applicants. The wall is intended to stop random unskilled workers from entering, and the EO is intended to lower the likelihood of terrorists entering. Maybe the side effects haven’t been thought through enough.
In terms of what I want, I’m Australian. If the US sees its immigrant quality fall then we’d expect to see a corresponding tiny rise, and we have about 7,000 free spots on the E-3 visa if we want to work in the US, so none of this is a problem for me on a personal level. What worries me is that we might try to do the same thing, at much greater cost to ourselves.
There was before Trump. The immigration system is a mess and sometimes people are denied entry arbitrarily and capriciously even though their paperwork is in order. So if “even the tiniest chance” is an issue, he shouldn’t have been considering setting up shop in the US in any case.
@The Nybbler: point taken. That was a stupid rhetorical slip-up on my part. Thanks for pointing it out.
I meant something closer to “humans are naturally risk-averse, and a small chance of a very negative experience factors much more heavily in our decisions than a high chance of a slightly positive experience, even if the expected monetary value of each sums to zero. In addition, we give extra weight to problems we hear about more often. Thus, a small chance of a negative experience, if highly publicised, can have a deterrent effect far beyond the expected risk. I believe this deterrent effect will negatively impact Muslim immigration to the US from the best-educated and wealthiest section of the global Muslim population, and my friend is an example of this.”
Something wrote after Trump was elected was the most impactful thing he wrote about Trump?
I didn’t say the impact had to do with Trump being elected. It seemed the most impactful to me in terms of the number of people who had read and shared it – that’s what I was thinking in terms of.
Probably also in terms of attracting readership. That’s how I washed up on these shores.
Of course, that’s pure anecdote.
What happened us that
1) Scott correctly rebutted the reasons that most people had for being anti-Trump.
2) Scott had his own reasons for being anti-Trump, but these reasons were rather odd and not a lot of other people cared about them.
That’s going to be seen as support of Trump, because for most people 1) is relevant to Trump and 2) isn’t. It could just as well have been “all the reasons you have for opposing Trump are wrong, but I think Trump is a Martian and so you shouldn’t vote for him”. Nobody else thinks it’s worth listening to claims that anyone is a Martian, so they just care about the first part.
I mostly disagree with (1) (although I have nowhere near the time and energy to attempt a full rebuttal at the moment), but I agree with (2) inasmuch as it alludes to his pre-election post endorsing everyone except Trump. My main criticism of that post was that his objections to Trump all seemed to sound sort of cerebral and abstract (e.g. Trump is higher-variance and therefore worse) compared to what most would consider to be much more concrete and pressing objections. I basically agreed with the points made in that post, and hey, he does write for a LW-type audience. But I was disappointed and a little worried at the time that none of Trump’s more blatantly atrocious qualities seemed to be mentioned in a blog entry likely to reach a huge swath of potential voters outside of the LW-sphere. I mean, Scott just now quoted some of the scathing things he’s written about Trump, but I don’t think I was aware of any of them (except “bad president”) at the time of reading the non-endorsement post. I did not know, for instance, that Scott considered Trump’s proposed Muslim ban to be “awful”. In the end, most of these stronger and more emotional criticisms showed up in “You Are Still Crying Wolf”, where they were overshadowed by the very controversial anti-anti-Trump points being made there. So we wound up with a situation where Scott is better known as a defender than as a dissenter of Trump.
But I imagine it must be hard to figure out where to work every aspect of one’s attitude into essays which come out sporadically at different times, and I do appreciate Scott clarified things somewhat with the current post.
I was alluding to that article, but something else to consider: If the defense is that Scott actually had other reasons for opposing Trump, but he didn’t say them because he was tailoring his argument to what he believed LWers would respond to–that’s deceit. Claiming that you believe something for X reasons when you really believe it for Y reasons is not honest. Yes, you might think your audience would respond better, but there’s nothing to keep you from admitting “this isn’t mainly why I oppose Trump, but…”
Otherwise, pretending that your argument is X when it really isn’t is an attempt to become immune to counterargument, where you can try to convince someone else, but they can’t convince you, since even if they conclusively disprove what you said, you don’t actually care about it.
(But then that isn’t the only dishonesty. Remember the post where Scott admitted that he didn’t rebut certain anti-Trump claims until after the election because otherwise that might have led someone to vote for Trump?)
From “SSC ENDORSES CLINTON, JOHNSON, OR STEIN”:
“I think Donald Trump would be a bad president. Partly this is because of his policies, insofar as he has them. I’m not going to talk much about these because I don’t think I can change anyone’s mind here… So here are some reasons why I would be afraid to have Trump as president even if I agreed with him about the issues.”
Doesn’t seem dishonest to me?
Scott may have literally added a disclaimer, but he said in a way which deemphasized it and generally made it not seem like something he wanted his audience to pay attention to. It’s like when Listerine was forced by the courts to correct false advertising about preventing colds. They added “will not help prevent colds or sore throats or lessen their severity” to their ads–spoken in a subclause, faster than the rest of the sentence, and with no stress on the words.
Well, we can talk about whether or not it’s disingenuous in some sense of the term, but the ethical rightness or wrongness of it is another question. I don’t think Scott was deceptive in an ethically wrong way. I do wish he’d taken more advantage of his excellent writing skills and massive audience to convey more of what he (evidently) found repugnant about Trump before the election, although I can understand that this is easier said than carried out.
How was it de-emphasized or made to not seem like something to which he wanted his audience to pay attention? It certainly stuck out in my mind. In this medium, the words go at the speed you read them. Alternate hypothesis: SCC was not dishonest, but for whatever idiosyncratic reason you did not notice or focus on the “this isn’t mainly why I oppose Trump, but” when reading it the first time and so forgot about it; subsequently claimed it wasn’t there; was mistaken?
“He’s an unhinged lunatic and God knows what exactly he’ll do but it’s almost certain not to be good” doesn’t seem that odd to me. It’s certainly not as “cerebral and abstract” as other people in this subthread are making it out to be.
To read Scott as pro-Trump, you’ve got to ignore an awful lot of very clear and explicit statements he’s made, several of which are in the same articles people cite in support of the claim. Notwithstanding your argument here, it can’t reasonably be done just by misunderstanding one or two ambiguous phrases.
(Much like, to be surprised by the Muslim ban – I mean the general thrust of it, not just the shoddy implementation – you have to ignore a lot of very clear and explicit statements from Trump – it can’t be done just by failing to notice an alleged dog whistle here or there.)
Where does the “unhinged lunatic” quote come from? It’s certainly not from his non-endorsement post, or from anything he wrote before the election as far as I know (sorry, it’s my bedtime and I’m exceptionally tired and therefore lazy and grumpy at the moment).
The only path to avoiding accusations of partisanship in a highly-charged political environment is to silence yourself completely, declare your neutrality and refuse to comment. And even then, there will be those who say that by refusing to come to their aid in defense (or attack) on the other side you are giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
The next option up is to continue to comment, but to arbitrarily shape your commentary so as to artificially cultivate a 50/50 ratio of positive and negative comments about both sides in the issue. This is not a very good approach since partisans will start by disputing that your coverage is REALLY 50-50, that your positives for A and your negatives for B are shaded more strongly and more heartfelt and therefore you’re really a pro-A partisan, etc. Laying that aside, you open the door wide to what I think is generally called the golden mean fallacy, argument to moderation, etc etc. If you don’t naturally believe that the truth really is perfectly in the middle, then by shaping your commentary to reflect a “neutral” balance you are not serving that truth. And as far as I understand Scott and most of the community around here, serving/seeking the truth is more important.
So the final option is to try as best you can to focus on maximizing for truth value. State your personal opinion or position, but don’t fight for it so hard that you’re willing to avoid truths that work against you, or push false, misleading, or questionable evidence that supports you.
I think that is what Scott is trying to do, big picture and long term.
And from the perspective of someone who sees it as a fight or a struggle where the most meaningful terms are “victory” and “defeat”, not “accurate/true” and “inaccurate/false”, that behaviour on Scott’s part constitutes either a statement of solidarity with the enemy (if he is not considered part of the tribe/ingroup), or as sedition (if he is). Sabotaging the War Effort. Bad For Morale. Etc. I think the only response to this is to decide which is more important to you, and act accordingly. Actually, I think that by waiting until –after- the election to post “You Are Still Crying Wolf”, Scott actually WAS engaging in a little bit of this sort of strategic use/avoidance of truths. But hey, we’re all human, we’re not perfect, and as he’s said over and over and over, he’s NOT a Trump supporter. And that still wasn’t enough to avoid the criticism.
Just a quick meta-comment. If, on Day 9 of the Trump administration, you already have to post a lengthy explanation of why none of the awful and borderline-racist things he’s done so far have risen to the level of causing you to reconsider your belief that we’re “crying wolf” about how terrible he is…. that probably doesn’t bode well for the long-term strength of your hypothesis?
Please learn to read.
Nothing he’s done has been “borderline-racist”. I get it that you think judging Muslims is racist, or whatever, but it’s not. And what other borderline racist things has he even done? Start building a wall? Undermine Obamacare? I’m geniunely asking this.
How is it not border-line racist? What empirical evidence backs such a strong policy? It seems entirely motivated by unjustified negative sentiment towards muslims.
If you went on holiday and were *even temporarily* not allowed back into your country on the basis of your ethnicity how would you feel?
“Unjustified” as in
Islam is not currently fueling terrorism
And yes, that aspect of it was dumb, but not “borderline racist”.
Muslims are not a race.
I mean, it’s not like Muslims don’t account for the majority of the terrorism in the world with the Communists being a distant second. Not at all! It’s just prejudice and bigotry.
* Salafist Sunni Muslims
funny how poorly tailored to that reality Trump’s policies are
Salafist Sunni Muslims are still Muslims, and we can’t tell them apart from non-Salafist Sunni Muslims. At best, we can sort of tell who is Shia, who is Sunni. Any finer than that, good luck. You might as well try to determine who is a genuine refugee and who is a saboteur sent by ISIS.
What about Arabic Coptic Christians? What about Zoroastrians? What about Kurds?
What about Israelis (many if not most look distinctly middle eastern)? What about people like me who just look kinda vaguely Mediterranean?
These are all also people who we can’t tell apart from Salafist Sunni Muslims (because we do not yet know how to read minds).
Precisely. Admitting *any* of them is highly risky. A very limited admission, for those vetted as closely as the refugees at the Vatican Palace, might be permissible. Mass importation is completely out of bounds of reasonability.
The new emphasis might make clear to you at least part of why I disagree with you on this. I’m planning to go overseas in a few months and I’d prefer to be able to come back home afterwards.
my employers and many of our investors are Israeli, and they might have some reservations about this idea as well.
Thank the people who permitted the invasion of Europe, then. The invaded folks are starting to get riled up, and I don’t blame them. Stop the flood, repatriate everyone who came in the last ten years at least, then maybe in a while it will be safe to look swarthy in Eastern Europe a generation later.
Of course, this isn’t likely to happen, and you probably have no influence to make it happen.
Without endorsing your premise, because it’s resting on the false assumption that the status quo is some kind of Wild West where we don’t know who anyone is but shove them through the turnstiles anyway–at the very very least, you could start by including the birthplace and continuing promoter of Salafism and excluding the country which is overwhelming Shia.
This is almost precisely what’s happening in Europe, except it’s not so much “we don’t know” as “the people in charge are willfully ignorant of”. Otherwise, why would they issue rules such as believing everyone who looks under 40 when he says he’s a teenager?
Good thing for me that we’re not talking about Europe, then!
Okay, but it’s a ridiculously common meme on the left that America’s refugee policy needs to be more like Europe. That we “aren’t doing enough” where “doing enough” is measured solely by raw number of refugees admitted with no sort of qualifier related to vetting/screening/etc.
That’s not germane to what we’re talking about here. You can’t justify the incoherent sloppiness of the ban by appealing to hypothetical leftist policies that have not and aren’t going to be implemented.
If America’s policy is way stricter, and I don’t have a reason to say otherwise, this is even more damning – “we have all these measures, and they mysteriously don’t work!”. You’ve had multiple Islamic terrorist attacks, even after 9/11. And some of those were homegrown, too!
You know what Japan does to counter this problem? They let in next to zero Muslims in, and they spy continuously on all resident and visiting Muslims who manage to jump all the hoops anyway. This is the sort of response I would expect, if someone were actually willing to do anything useful about the problem. Not whatever America is doing – it is simply ineffective.
Indeed. And thanks to their foresight, Japan gets to enjoy traditional home-grown terrorism instead.
…instead of both, you mean?
Now this is just unfair.
The problem with meta-arguments is they abstract away from the actual model of the world being presented, and instead rely on meta-correlations.
I don’t want to be rude and put words in your mouth, but it’s worth considering that an abstraction of what you wrote could sound as follows: “If you must defend your model based on accusations and updated information it seems likely that your original model is wrong, since having to defend yourself is correlated with being wrong.”
What bodes for Scott’s long term hypothesis is the explicit arguments he has made.
I think you missed the key part, which is the time frame. Trump’s term is 1460 days. Within 9 days, Trump has done enough to warrant a lengthy defense post. Seems like, given that his term is only 0.6% done, he’ll do a lot more to warrant lengthy defense posts over the next 4 years?
Or, to put it another way… let’s posit that this caused a 1% decrease in Scott’s confidence in his earlier “Trump is no more racist than other US presidents” post. Given that we have 99.4% of the term left, if Trump keeps up this pattern, Scott’s confidence in his pre-election posts will be gone well before the end of his term. Alternately, if the past 9 days didn’t cause a reduction in Scott’s confidence in his posts, that suggests that Scott has an intellectual rigidity on this topic that seems antithetical to the philosophy of SSC.
Right now it seems like Trump is moving to swiftly fulfill his campaign promises. It’s less clear what he’ll do after that – if nothing else, the pace will probably slow down.
I mean, you’re not totally wrong, but trying to establish a long term trend line from a few data points close to each other in time is contra-indicated.
The real issue isn’t 9 days into his presidency, it’s that it correlates so well with the 18 months before that.
– You’re asserting/predicting that requiring a ‘lengthy defense post’ is, itself, evidence that his predictions are somehow invalidated or less likely to be true. This may or may not be true.
– You’re asserting/predicting that defending an argument within the first 9 days, means he will have to continue to defend his arguments in the coming (1460-9) days, and there is some probabilistic chance each time his defense will fail.
– You’re asserting/predicting that it’s natural that a 1% decrease in confidence is more likely to be a clear trend, rather than (say) a random walk.
He laid out his predictions though, so I guess we will see. His predictions weren’t rosy, and they didn’t say everything will be fine.
This assumes that attacks on Trump from the community Scott is part of are all rational, calm, grounded and based on Trump’s actual actions instead of wild speculation and exaggeration about his effects and motives.
I would say that what requires defense at the moment is the essentialism that has completely swept the Democratic Party: either you are wholly with us and think no heretical thoughts, or you are the enemy who must be destroyed at all costs. There is no room for self-criticism or self-doubt, only total war.
If present trends continue, my two-year-old cousin will be fifty feet tall by the time she’s 40.
Someone should tell Trump, she sounds like a useful tool for giant warfare in the war against ISIS.
What the cartoon general said. Scott’s explicitly stated position was that Trump was average-white-republican-level racist, and therefore all the people who were accusing Trump of being Extra-Super-Duper-KKK-Level-Racist were crying wolf.
If, now, the best you can muster is a (correct) claim that Trump’s actions are “borderline racist”, then you are sort of proving his point. Why, a few more weeks of this sort of thing, and Trump may actually reveal himself to be just as racist as Scott said he was from the start.
“I’m building a wall to keep out Mexicans,” said Tom, a borderline-racist.
Never mind, I’ll keep trying.
Made me laugh when I got it.
Straight from the desk of MR BREXIT!
Not a super great response. No apologies to any of the jetsetters whose flights he disrupted. And he doesn’t talk about the green card thing, which is what people are most upset about.
But he (or whoever runs his social media accounts) is still trying to project an image of “compassionate conservatism” and solidarity. If this is the Fourth Reich, it still doesn’t look like it.
Right now, I’m still thinking this is a purity spiral gone wrong.
I don’t think that most Americans (or any group of ordinary people) are as cerebral and detailed in their thinking as is reflected in the comments of this blog post. Most people are going to react to this issue based upon their innate biases and past experience, and this means that many of them will be deeply offended if they are called “racist” to their face. When this happens, you drive them into Trump’s camp, and that is counterproductive to your goal of rallying them to your cause.
Scott is right. No matter how righteous you may be in your analysis, if you push away potential allies, you are being irrationally self-defeating.
Eh, not really. Calling people “racists” is one of the strongest methods leftists have for identifying and bonding with one another. So it’s worth doing even if they turn off some people in the process.
I think cutting off Muslim immigration is a good idea.
However, the object level issue of President Trump and this executive order is disturbing. That he’s staking his scant political capital on a ban involving just 7 countries that doesn’t include Wahabi Saudi Arabia or Deobandi Pakistan is baffling. I could see trying to shift the Overton Window by floating a ban on immigration from all overwhelmingly Muslim states so you have the most to negotiate away in compromise, but that the ban is simultaneously so narrow and had provisions like “green card holders can’t return from vacation” is evidence that he’s in over his head.
Same. If anything I’d be in favour of a stricter policy overall, but it seems this was handled in a clunky way that has generated high backlash relative to the benefit. Perhaps it was a result of trying to rush a “win” out the door via executive order. At least they seem to have fixed the green card issue which was the main problem with it.
It’s already working – some of the outrage on my facebook feed is people saying “it doesn’t include Saudi Arabia because Trump has business there!”.
Ok, we’ll compromise and add KSA and Pakistan.
Update: Perhaps one reason Saudi Arabia was not included is that Trump is dealing with their King in relation to Middle-Eastern “safe zones” for refugees: https://twitter.com/SteveKopack/status/825831310883168260
The list of countries comes from a list made during the Obama administration.
Why do you think it is a good idea if you do not mind me asking?
Well, I don’t have handy every source I’ve ever used to do belief updating about Islam, but consider that of the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence, only the Hanafi allowed unbelievers other than Christians, Jews and Sabeans dhimmi status instead of genocide.
Also consider that sharia allows a man to take four wives and a marriage can be consummated when the girl is as young as nine because the Perfect Man did it.
So at a bare minimum, we need Muslims trying to take up residence in the US to denounce sharia.
At a minimum, we need them to not practice nonconsensual Sharia. Everything beyond that is gravy. Loyalty oaths where people denounce their former beliefs, are a grey area for new citizens and not at all appropriate for noncitizen residents.
How do you feel about Judaism? Traditional Rabbinic law permitted a man an unlimited number of wives, although Maimonides does say that the sages say a man shouldn’t have more than four because he can’t adequately satisfy more than that.
There was no minimum age for marriage, so far as I can see, although parents had control over their daughter’s marriage up to twelve and a half (and some signs of puberty).
I’m not sure if there was any minimum age for marriage with parental consent in Christian Europe prior to modern centuries either. From a quick Google, Gratian “acknowledged consent to be meaningful if the children were older than 7.”
From the same Wiki page:
“The American colonies followed the English tradition, and the law was more of a guide. For example, Mary Hathaway (Virginia, 1689) was only 9 when she was married to William Williams. Sir Edward Coke (England, 17th century) “made it clear that the marriage of girls under 12 was normal, and the age at which a girl who was a wife was eligible for a dower from her husband’s estate was 9 even though her husband be only four years old.””
Yes, and if there were considerable numbers of Jews and Christians who believed that divine law gave them the right to marry multiple nine-year-olds simultaneously, this information might be pertinent.
How do you feel about Judaism? Traditional Rabbinic law permitted a man an unlimited number of wives, although Maimonides does say that the sages say a man shouldn’t have more than four because he can’t adequately satisfy more than that.
I wouldn’t have a great opinion of it if this was a live issue, but just Googling the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia and knowing that Israel gave control of marriage to Orthodox rabbis and yet bans polygamy makes this look like a red herring.
However, unlike Islam, medieval/modern Judaism isn’t a proselytizing religion. If both Jews and Mormons still practiced polygamy, I’d have more qualms with the latter.
“The American colonies followed the English tradition, and the law was more of a guide. For example, Mary Hathaway (Virginia, 1689) was only 9 when she was married to William Williams. Sir Edward Coke (England, 17th century) “made it clear that the marriage of girls under 12 was normal, and the age at which a girl who was a wife was eligible for a dower from her husband’s estate was 9 even though her husband be only four years old.””
That’s man-made customary law and not God’s law.
The influence of Mohammed’s sexual behavior can only be compared to that of Jesus Christ, not to secular English jurisprudence.
In lands ruled by Muslims.
The two cases I know of where Muslims ruled areas with substantial populations not of the Peoples of the Book you mention were Persia (Zoroastrian) and India (Hindu), and in neither case was the result genocide–I believe that in both cases the rulers decided that the local religion qualified as “of the book” even though not on the usual list.
I have seen the claim that the restriction only applied in Arabia, but I don’t know if that is correct or which schools, if any, held it.
Read about the Muslim conquest of India (100 million killed), the Islamic Caliphate genocide against the Armenians (1 million killed), the Islamic Pakistani “Republican” genocide in what is now Bangladesh (3 million killed), etc. The Koran commands believers to kill the disbelievers, and that tends to happen over and over again, whether by state action or individual terror attacks. (http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/)
You believe this number why? What effort did you make to check it?
The Muslims conquered part of India. Checking my convenient Penguin Atlas of World Population History, the population of all of the subcontinent during that period was about a hundred million and gradually growing.
If I understand correctly, in both cases didn’t the government generally treat them as people of the book anyways with a little legal work?
@DavidFriedman you ask excellent questions, and you identified the most difficult number to check. The more recent genocides are widely and readily documented, but the Muslim conquest of India spanned 400 years with less regular documentation. The estimates I see most often reference K.S. Lal’s Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India, which said 60-80 million. I’ve never seen a lower estimate anywhere, though I’ve seen 100 million, which may be rounding the same number to one significant figure. Respectfully, your atlas might tell you how many were alive at any given time, but not necessarily how many births and deaths occurred, nor what people were dying of during that 400 year period. I checked again to see if I could find anything contradicting Lal’s numbers, and again did not find anything smaller.
@Chilam Balam, Islam tends to weigh like a gravitational force on countries with Islamic governments. Some rulers find it more comfortable to collect jizya than to kill the disbelievers, e.g. in India the lands that would have been more difficult to conquer and rule could sometimes be more profitably taxed. BTW, even being a dhimmi “of the book” subject to jizya is nothing like equality: Sharia reinforces dhimmi inferiority with many restrictions in addition to having to bow down and pay the jizya with willing submission, on pain of death. From time to time, Indian Muslim rulers who had been collecting jizya would become persuaded to do their Islamic duty and kill the disbelievers instead of merely taxing them. Hence the recurring genocides, across centuries. We might see a similar pattern in Turkey. After the Ottoman Caliphate genocide against the Armenians, Ataturk tried to establish a secular government, which seems already to be falling away after less than one century, as rural Muslims re-elect Erdegun and he consolidates more power. The Koran and hadiths say what they say, and what goes up from there tends to come back down to there.
Correct. My point was that if the whole population of the subcontinent was about a hundred million and generally rising not falling throughout the period, I thought it very unlikely that the conquest of part of it could have killed a hundred million.
Lal’s estimate for the population of India at the beginning of the conquest is about twice the estimate in my source, published a few years after his, from which I conclude that the actual numbers are very uncertain.
On the other hand, dhimmi do not have to pay the Koranic tax which Muslims owe.
There were restrictions on non-muslims, but there were also restrictions on Jews in places ruled by Christians. In Spain, Jews and Muslims were simply expelled. The only place I can think of where Muslim territory was conquered by Christians and the Muslims allowed to remain was Outremer, and killing or expelling all the inhabitants would have been difficult, especially since the territory was contested and eventually reconquered.
Was there anywhere else where Muslims were permitted to live for an extended period of time under Christian rule?
All the European colonial empires. ETA: And Sicily. ETA ETA: Also the Byzantine Empire and Russia.
Sicily and North Africa under the Normans. Which probably contributes to your Outremer example, via the Sicilian Norman crusaders who actually spoke Arabic and could negotiate the surrender of local cities without having to storm them and kill everyone. Well, sometimes.
Later, huge chunks of the British and French colonial empires.
It’s also worth pointing out that, at least during the Middle Ages, there was far more formerly Christian land in Muslim hands than there was formerly Muslim land in Christian hands. This means, of course, that there aren’t going to be a huge number of examples of Muslims living peacefully under Christian rule, for the simple reason that there weren’t many Muslims living under Christian rule, period.
The context of this is an argument by Curious that Islam is a particularly murderous ideology. At least, that’s how I take it–Curious is welcome to correct me if I am mistaken.
Suppose we accept Lal’s figures for both population and mortality. They imply a mortality of 200,000/year in a population of 200,000,000, or a tenth of percent per year.
That’s a lot of bodies, if true. But the usual estimate for the Thirty Years War in Europe is that it killed about half the population of Germany, so a mortality rate of more than one percent a year. World War I killed about 17 million people over four years in a European population of about 400 million so about one percent a year. The American Civil War killed about 600,000 people out of a population of about 25 million over four years, so about .6%/year.
Putting it as a single number for summed casualties of four hundred years makes it sound huge, but even if we accept the source Curious uses, it wasn’t an unusually high death rate as wars go.
On another part of the same argument:
Describing the Ottoman Empire as “the Islamic Caliphate” is a bit misleading, even if the Sultan did claim to be the Caliph.
One of several responses:
I should have been clearer. My original argument was that the difference between contemporary Islamic and contemporary Christian societies was due not to a difference between the religions but to the fact that the Christian societies have modernized in a way in which the Islamic societies have not. So I was thinking of pre-modern examples of both, but didn’t say so. The colonial empires had large Muslim populations ruled by Christian overlords, but that was pretty much all in the past few centuries.
As I mentioned in another thread on this, the last Muslim settlement in Italy was eliminated well before the expulsion of Muslims from Spain.
I don’t know about the Byzantine and Russian examples. In between the loss of control by the Golden Horde and Russian expansion across central Asia in the 19th century, were there substantial Muslim populations under Russian rule?
Consider the relative tolerance of the two societies as reflected in current populations of areas they ruled. Greece was Christian territory conquered by the Ottomans and was still Christian when the Ottomans left. What is now Yugoslavia is still largely Christian. Egypt and Lebanon were ruled by Muslims for over a thousand years and still have substantial Christian minorities. Northern India was ruled by Muslims for centuries and is still majority Hindu–I think even if you include Pakistan, although I’m not certain.
Spain, Sicily and southern Italy ended up with essentially no Muslims. Where is there a territory that was ruled by Christians for a substantial time prior to the past couple of centuries and ended up with a significant Muslim population? Recent immigrants don’t count.
The examples of large Muslim populations conquered by Christian rulers prior to 1800 which I am familiar with are Spain, Sicily and Southern Italy. It’s true that the Norman conquerors of Sicily and Southern Italy were relatively tolerant for a while, but that didn’t last–as far as I know, no Muslim populations remained as of a few centuries later.
Consider that when the Jews were expelled from Spain, it was into Muslim territories in North Africa, the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire.
The two cases I know of where Muslims ruled areas with substantial populations not of the Peoples of the Book you mention were Persia (Zoroastrian) and India (Hindu), and in neither case was the result genocide–I believe that in both cases the rulers decided that the local religion qualified as “of the book” even though not on the usual list.
The sultans of India all adopted the Hanafi school of sharia because the abstract principles of Islam had to be modified by contact with reality, I dare say. I won’t vouch against the Islamic rulers killing 60+ million Hindus over the entire medieval period (100 million seems right out), but in general they did have dhimmi status.
The point I’m trying to make is that “God’s law is fine with either second-class citizenship for Hindus in their own homeland or genocide” is so far outside Western civilization’s Overton window that it’s imprudent to let in more Muslims except those who arrive as assimilated/ready for apostasy as Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
@ David Friedman:
If Christian societies have developed in one direction and Islamic societies in another, the most obvious cause for this is the difference in religion.
ETA: Plus, frankly, this entire line of argument strikes me as something of a red herring. We’re talking about admitting immigrants in 2017, not in 1017. The attitudes of people a thousand years ago isn’t really relevant to which groups of immigrants we should admit today.
@The original Mr. X:
I think Friedman is trying to counteract arguments about the intrinsic nature of the Islamic religion. He’s not making a full case for, say, admitting Muslim refugees into the US in 2017. He is only trying to disprove one argument against admitting them.
@The original Mr. X
If a time gate to Europe circa the year 1617 opened – right before the Thirty Years’ War, after all – there would be arguments against letting refugees from 17th century Europe in, but none of those arguments could rationally be based on “their religion is inherently bad and there is no way it can be reconciled with our way of life!”
Islam has its issues right now, and it really has to work through them. Sunni radicalism is a dangerous thing, and the efforts of some people (mostly non-Muslims) to pretend it doesn’t really exist, while often well-intentioned, are not helping anybody (least of all Muslims, given that most casualties of Sunni radicalism are … Muslims). However, there have been times in the past where the Muslim world was a beacon of sanity and tolerance compared to Christian Europe. Did the core of either religion change? No.
The Muslim kids I went to university with were by and large the same as everybody else – a lot of kids for whom their religion was a cosmetic thing, or a couple of celebratory festivals a year, but not something worth altering one’s behaviour much over (I remember a friend giving up alcohol for Ramadan) let alone killing for. I also know observant, faithful Muslims who are decent, tolerant, peaceful people, just as I know observant, faithful people of various religions who are decent, tolerant, peaceful people.
A bit over a decade ago I was having lunch with a Muslim coworker and we were talking about radicalization and terrorism (this was back when the Iraq War was still in full swing, so these topics were pretty commonplace). His parents were first-generation Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants, but he was US-born and non-observant. His general observation, he said, was that when growing up, he saw most of his peer group at the mosque he attended becoming more Americanized and less observant as they became teenagers, until by the time most went to college, they were essentially secular. But a small minority became extremely observant in a trend he ascribed to cultural rebellion. It was their way of “acting out” against the fairly common feelings of teenage uncertainty of purpose and alienation from society by adopting an identity that put their religion first and foremost in their lives. Presumably, some small subset of those then go on to become vulnerable to radicalization via Internet propaganda.
“Self-radicalized” terrorists are sometimes compared to school rampage shooters, and I think there’s probably quite a lot of the same factors working in both cases. The main difference is that there aren’t large, well-funded and organized groups producing Internet propaganda to encourage alienated white teenagers to shoot up the nearest school and promising them that they’re serving a meaningful higher purpose by doing so.
I’m not sure there’s a good solution to this problem. Censoring the internet doesn’t work and is inimical to our values. Killing the jihadist propagandists just makes them martyrs, and there are enough of them that we can’t get them all anyway. Quarantining Muslims is both unfair to the vast majority of non-radicalized people and a false panacea; Adam Gadahn and others have demonstrated that radical propaganda doesn’t necessarily need a shared culture to spread, just sufficient anger and alienation.
There are no easy answers.
Yes, you can quibble large, well-organized, etc. but the in the the age of the internet, you don’t need to be large or well funded to easily reach your target audience with an effective message.
@ HBC, dndnrsn:
Again, the question of whether x is some inherent and immutable part of Islam is less important than the question of whether x is a part of Islam as practised in 2017.
I’m still sceptical, given the Muslim belief that it was their duty to wage war against the infidels and subjugate them to Muslim rule. (Christianity, on the other hand, was mostly spread through proselytism.) If a 19th-century imperialist believed that the Anglo-Saxon race was the best race of all and that it had a duty to subjugate and rule over all other races, would you really consider him sane and tolerant, just because he didn’t also advocate killing them?
Actually, more religious Muslims are not any more likely to support or commit terrorism in that less religious Muslims.
But even without looking at the statistics, you don’t have to read many biographies of terrorists to find that plenty of them fall into the former category, from Omar Mateen to Salah Abdeslam to the British jihadist who bought “Islam for Dummies” before leaving for Syria.
If you ignore pretty much all of Latin America, about half of Africa, huge parts of Europe…
I assumed we were still talking about the middle ages, in which case Latin America and Africa wouldn’t apply. (Although, given that most of the expansion of Christianity in Africa happened after the colonial empires left the place, Africa wouldn’t really apply anyway.) As for “huge parts of Europe”, the only places I can think of where Christianity was imposed by military force are parts of northern Germany (where Charlemagne made the Saxons accept baptism after he conquered them) and the Baltic. As for the rest, the Germanic tribes invading the Roman Empire were converted through a combination of proselytism and cultural influence (Christianity was the Roman religion, the Germans wanted to be more like Romans, therefore they became Christians); the Anglo-Saxons were converted by missionaries sent from Rome; Ireland was converted by missionaries from mainland Britain; the Slavs were converted by Cyril and Methodius and their pupils; the Russians due to the cultural influence of Byzantium; the Vikings were converted by missionaries. In other words, Christianity didn’t spread in this era by conquering other countries and installing a Christian ruling class; indeed, often enough, the pagans had the military upper hand over their Christian neighbours.
@The original Mr. X
If by “x” you mean radicalism, then it is a part of the Islam practiced by some Muslims, not the Islam practiced by all Muslims. It is fundamentally unjust to condemn a group for actions committed by a minority, especially when the majority is frequently victims of that minority.
There were large periods of time where Jews were better off under Muslim than Christian rule. I think that a noticeable lack of pogroms counts as “sane and tolerant.”
I would not consider him sane and tolerant, but if (as a hypothetical) his view was the minority view among Anglo-Saxons, and he was largely killing other Anglo-Saxons in an attempt to achieve his vision, I would not hold his views against those other Anglo-Saxons. So, not a good analogy.
Pretty much any religion is awful by today’s standards if you do it by the book, because most religions date to times when life was much, much harsher than it is in most parts of the world today. Most religious people thus find all sorts of excuses and workarounds to not do it by the book. Others just ignore the awful stuff altogether.
I’m not condemning anybody of anything, simply suggesting that this is something we should take into account when determining our immigration policies.
There were pogroms, it’s just that they tend to be less well known in the west because Islamic history in general is less well known. The 1066 pogrom in Grenada, for example, is much less famous than the Rhineland pogroms of the First Crusade, although it killed more people.
In this case the analogue would be Muhammad, who taught his followers to spread Islam throughout the world by subjugating non-Muslims to their rule. No doubt lots of Muslims nowadays don’t believe in this, but “It’s OK, most Muslims don’t listen to Islamic teaching on this matter” doesn’t strike me as a particularly good defence of Islam.
@The original Mr. X:
Well, yes, ideally one wants to avoid importing violent radicals of any stripe. By and large, Canada and the US have done a very good job of this, and of avoiding radicalization of people once they’re here, of the second and subsequent generations, etc. US and, I would imagine, Canadian Muslims are among the world’s least radicalized, if not the least radicalized. A better job can be done, but it’s pretty obvious what has gone wrong in cases and places where it has.
You can’t trust historical death estimates. Small pogroms were very common in medieval Europe.
Would you extend this to thinking that “Most Jews don’t follow the Hebrew Bible closely” or “Most Christians don’t follow the Bible closely” are not particularly good defences of Judaism or Christianity? Would you condemn a left-wing, pro-gay church because of the stuff that’s in the actual scripture they purport to follow? Would you condemn a Reform Jew on the basis of the treatment of women in some ultra-Orthodox communities?
When Christianity started it didn’t have an army. Once it had an army, it went around conquering people and trying to force conversions with some frequency. Take a look at Charlemagne’s campaigns. Or the Spanish in South America.
The British Empire wasn’t mostly trying to force conversion, but it was conquering very large areas and putting them under its rule because it thought its rule superior–like the Muslim imperialists. That is the point of Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden,” which, despite its title, is not about race.
To bring it up to modern times, a large part of the motive for the U.S. invasion of Iraq was the idea that they would be better off under our form of government. That’s a secular version of the same idea.
Of course, Jesus didn’t command his followers to go around conquering, whereas Muhammad did. Plus, I don’t really think that two examples over the course of 2,000 years (or three, since you forgot the Baltics) counts as “some frequency”, especially when compared to both the number of countries which were converted without being conquered and the number of countries conquered during the Muslim conquests.
Yes, and nowadays we don’t generally think of the British Empire as a force for tolerance.
Spain during the reconquista. Sicily was Muslim ruled, conquered by Christians, ended up with no Muslims on it–I don’t know if forced conversions were involved.
Some of them were. There was extensive warfare between Christian and Pagan factions and the Christian, eventually, won.
There don’t appear to have been forced conversions during the Norman era, 11th-12th century. When the last Norman Queen married a Holy Roman Emperor (Fredrick the mumbleth, IIRC) and shortly thereafter died, the HRE decided to deport the Muslims; the ones not sailing off to Arab lands of their own accord being forcibly resettled in a landlocked corner of mainland Italy. I gather the latter was a sort of 13th-century equivalent of South Africa’s apartheid-era black “homelands”, and did not long outlast the 13th century.
Hmm, cultural descendants of Vikings ruling over a multiethnic society with full religious tolerance, until a German ruler shows up and decides to round up all the non-Christians? Didn’t we just hear that story one thread over? Now I have to look up how the Jews fared in Sicily…
Those were already majority-Christian, so I don’t think the (re?)conquest of those lands counts as spreading Christianity.
Sicily was not majority-Christian when the Normans conquered it, though it had a substantial Christian minority living in isolated enclaves. The Normans returned the favor. In neither case does forcible conversion seem to have been involved; the island’s overlords used force as needed to establish and maintain themselves as overlords, then built a culture where it was socially and economically advantageous to convert to said overlords’ religion but if you were happy being a peasant or tradesman you could be a Catholic, Orthodox, Sunni, Shiite, or Jewish peasant or tradesman as you saw fit.
The Pope wasn’t happy with that many non-Catholics that close to Rome, encouraged the (Catholic) Normans to do something about it, and found that the Normans weren’t all that happy taking orders from the Pope now that they had their very own kingdom and were quite happy with content non-rebellious peasants to rule and merchants to tax. Then the Pope encouraged the Holy Roman Empire to do something about it, and since the Holy Roman Emperor kind of depended on Papal approval for all three elements of that dubious title…
Birthday party logic? More guests, less cake.
The ban list doesn’t include any states that the US has economic ties with. It’s the same reason as why Iraq and Afghanistan got crushed, rather than Saudi Arabia, from where the majority of the 9/11 perpetrators hailed from.
I do agree with you in general. Attempting to decrease the amount of Muslims in your country is pretty much the only way to safeguard against Islamic terrorism.
I think one worry about Trump is while he doesn’t take marching orders from the KKK, Bannon is in his good graces, and is likely very influential.
I need to read up on Bannon more carefully, but what I have seen is not incredibly encouraging.
Trump on his own is narcissistic and reactionary (by which I mean he reacts to things in front of him, rather than operates on a longer term timeline, I don’t mean a member of Moldbug et al’s merry gang of edgy youths). The issue is: who is playing him in his court. Apparently, there are multiple factions, but many of them are incredibly dangerous.
I wrote a longer comment here but apparently tripped one of the invisible word ban filters, so it got eaten.
In short: I agree with you, Trump is a typical celebrity clown and his courtiers are the important ones to watch.
Don’t discount Bannon as a racist, like the Left has typically portrayed him. He’s a person who has essentially made his life’s mission a holy war on the Cathedral and everything it represents; he’ll take any potential allies in that fight, which is why he has a reputation for goose-stepping around racism and such on Breitbart even if he doesn’t explicitly endorse it. (Much in the way that many Democratic-aligned groups will goose-step around the horrors of Communism because they want the support of the Workers World Party and similar groups who share a common enemy in Republicans.)
We’ve never had someone like this in a position of such power before, and it’s going to be very interesting to see what he does with it. I’m not overly sympathetic to either the Cathedral or the reactionary forces Bannon represents, so I’m not sure I have a dog in the fight.
I don’t discount Bannon, I think he’s an incredibly dangerous person. I am watching him, and reading up on him carefully.
In some ways, President Trump reminds me of President Reagan if he had no experience as Governor. Former movie/”reality TV” actor, protest candidate of conservatives who were fed up with being called deplorable.
(“You’re going to get Reagan in 1980, wise guy!” — Archie Bunker, 1976)
If Trump is more of an existenial threat to the world than Reagan, we have only ourselves to blame for not having a cursus honorum to test potential presidents with increasing levels of authority.
If not, maybe we should calm down and act like the wrong Party can win an election without it making them the Nazi Party.
Reagan was already a political mover, even before the governorship though. He was a mover from inside the party, rather than outside. I also think Reagan was far more pragmatic about his own abilities. Not exactly epistemic humility, but something similar.
I mean, hell, he was an actor. He liked to have his lines memorized. He wasn’t winging policy proposals on the fly.
He was out of the Goldwater wing though, so in that sense I can see where you are coming from.
@HBC: Reagan was already a political mover, even before the governorship though. He was a mover from inside the party, rather than outside.
OK, I didn’t know that. Blame youth.
I guess the question is, IF Donald Trump is uniquely bad and dangerous for the responsibilities of a US President, what sort of non-partisan vetting is rational? What common factors made Truman, Eisenhower, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, 2 Bushes, Obama and even Mr. Cuban Missile Crisis qualified to handle nukes? The cursus honorum already got struck down downthread.
Traditionally, Americans have relied on parties to vet candidates this way. Anyone too beyond the pale was generally not allowed, and even if they got into office, the party was their source of intellectual and bureaucratic help, so they were necessarily toned down.
That does not seem to be working.
We’ve spent the last 40+ years successively abolishing all the controls party leaders have over their parties. We took away their super delegates, their ability to raise money, their control over the nomination processes. You can’t make people powerless then act surprised when they don’t exercise any power.
Clinton’s victory over Sanders would suggest a strong counterexample, no? I agree that the Republicans have abolished these things, but I think the Democrats still pick candidates based on the wishes of the party elite rather than the voting base.
I’d say that clinton’s victory was personal, not structural. It reflected her personal influence within the party, her stature with the public, and weak opponents, not the power of the party to select her over all rivals. If the party had such power, it almost certainly would have exercised it in her favor in 2008 over that of a freshman senator. But as endearing as Bernie Sanders’ angry grandpa impression was, he was no first black president.
Clinton was more popular than Sanders with the Democratic base. It seems counter-intuitive, because most of us spend all of our time on the internet, but older Democrats and black Democrats preferred Clinton by a significant margin.
Your broader point, though, is not wrong. The Democratic party infrastructure remains a lot more robust than the GOP.
Up until this election cycle, the conventional wisdom was “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line.” I think “they lost the mandate of Heaven” is the best way to describe what happened to Republican party leaders. It’s not that their tools for holding onto power were chipped away at, it’s that they convinced enough of their people that they no longer were willing to use those tools on their behalf.
The Clintons are about as good as it gets when it comes to amassing and ruthlessly exercising power in the Game of Democratic Thrones. And they could barely keep an avowed socialist from taking the Party’s top position, at the expense of damaging their own party to the point of not being able to win an election against Donald Trump.
As counterexamples go, this one is pretty weak.
A cursus honorum is… bad, in ways that seem unintuitive to someone that values experience. You know what’s worse than letting any idiot with enough votes in office? Making that idiot go through years of bureaucratic submission to make sure they do absolutely nothing to change internal corruption.
The only thing worse than a despot is a smart despot that can use the power offered to them to bolster the state – and that’s exactly what that kind of program would breed. So we would get a line of non-controversial candidates that seem to be inoffensive or even good, each of whom does their best to expand Presidential power beyond the bounds it should go.
Say we pass an amendment limiting presidential candidates to former state governors or cabinet level officials. I fail to see how that causes the problem you indicate.
I agree with Scott on all this. In fact, it’s clear any critics are missing the overall point: Trump doesn’t have an overarching goal here except to burnish the image he has of himself as President. Currently, Trump thinks that rapid, blundering action is the right way to be a Great President. When this proves catastrophically wrong, we can expect Trump to be legitimately shocked, wilt, blame and then lie low until Plan B of how to be a Great President forms.
If we think you’re wrong, not in that Trump is literally Hitler, but in that he’s actually doing a good job as president, do we win a prize?
Yes. Your prize is having a President of the US who’s actually doing a good job.
You can argue that he and his supporters are biased for caring more about terrorism than about furniture-related injuries, which kill several times more Americans than terrorists do each year.
This would be a stupid argument. The president can’t do much to fight furniture-related injuries. He can do something to lower the incidence of terrorist attacks though. For example, he can stop letting in people from countries where ISIS is popular.
Another obvious point: furniture accident deaths will never spike to 100,000 or 1,000,000 in a single year. It could happen with terrorism. Someone might steal a nuclear device, someone might sabotage a nuclear plant, someone might make a dirty bomb. The possibility is there.
Additional obvious point: furniture isn’t actively plotting to kill you.
Really, what a dumb argument. I can’t believe that after more than fifteen years we’re still having it.
All of those are more likely to be done by a terrorist organization with resources, not a free lance. It’s hard to see how we could prevent such an organization from getting a few people into the U.S., possibly with stolen Canadian or British passports.
Really? David, you might consider this: Al Qaeda had the resources. ISIS had the resources. Dirty bombs aren’t that hard to do.
Yet none of them have made it in.
Now that could be because the terrorist organizations have no desire to inflict mass casualties on the US.
Or, it could be because, in fact, we have been effectively preventing them from launching such attacks.
Which strikes you as more likely?
Yeah, that is a really bad argument.
“Your odds of being killed by Jeffery Dahmer are less than the odds of being killed by lightning therefore you when Jeffery Dahmer applies to be your roommate you should exercise no more caution than you do about lightning strikes”.
You’re confusing absolute and conditional probability.
No, I’m pointing out that the original argument is making that exact mistake.
it isn’t though.
But the point is that all you know about the potential roommate is that they’re a white guy, and you’re refusing them entry on the grounds that they might be Jeffrey Dahmer.
Perhaps a better way of looking at it might be “what level of increased likelihood of terrorism might justify discriminatory travel/entry restrictions”. Rather than comparing it to the fatality rate of lawnmowers or whatever.
In which countries is ISIS popular? Serious question, as I was under the impression that they were massively unpopular literally everywhere.
This poll doesn’t include Syria or Iraq, probably because polling is difficult there:
14% in Nigeria (20% among Muslims there), 11% in Malaysia, 11% in Senegal, 9% in Pakistan, 8% in Turkey. The percentages aren’t huge, but surely much higher than in the US. And the absolute numbers are in the tens of millions.
I think calling ISIS “popular” in any of those countries is a stretch. It’s as likely as not that this is a lizard man constant type effect – people who apparently have never heard of ISIS outstrip those with positive opinions in all countries.
Obviously we’ll never be able to test this but I would expect Syria and Iraq to have some of the very strongest feelings against ISIS, given that they are almost entirely composed of people that ISIS is actively trying to kill or subjugate and people actually living under ISIS rule.
EDIT: Apparently there was a ICM poll of France that found ISIS had a 16% approval there, which outstrips any of the countries you mentioned. So perhaps Trump should be banning the French instead of the Iranians.
the obvious difference there is that France is our ally and has a lot to contribute
also, was it 16% among Muslims, or 16% period?
16% approval in France implies a majority of Muslims in that country. In the 18 to 24 age group the approval is 27%. By the way, stereotypically the Euro country with the most radical Muslims isn’t even France. It’s Belgium.
It’s very easy to explain why ISIS is much more popular among Muslims in France than among Muslims in MENA nations. A Muslim in Algeria primarily differs from his countrymen by social class, wealth, region, etc. A Muslim in France primarily differs from other French citizens through being Muslim.
Differences from neighbors do a lot to create people’s self-perception. And most people want to be proud of who they are, want to express solidarity with their team.
And what’s the loudest way to do that for a Muslim in a Western country? What’s the loudest, most in-your-face symbol of Islam in today’s world? For Sunnis it’s the black flag of ISIS.
This would also explain why 20% of Nigerian Muslims approve of ISIS. In Nigeria being Muslim isn’t boringly universal and self-evident. It’s not “do fish notice they’re in water?” territory. No, in Nigeria it defines you as a member of a team, a group in society.
Now try to figure out what all of this means for Muslim immigration to the US.
Why has this worked out so much more violently for Muslim identity than for Chinese, Mexican, Christian Nigerian, etc. identities in the West?
I’m sure that US-led invasions of Middle Eastern countries contributed to the severity of the conflict. It shouldn’t excuse blowing up innocent people, but in some minds it obviously did. And France, which I mentioned above, has troops in multiple Middle Eastern countries right now.
But even before all of these recent wars Islam was a strong ideology. Meaning that its adherents’ committment to it was very high.
At the very most, 10% of France’s population is Muslim. So it not only implied a majority of Muslim approval, but also that a substantial portion of French non-Muslims approve of ISIS.
The only non-absurd interpretation of this statistic is that this was the Lizardman factor at work. Most likely, a substantial portion of respondents heard “Islamic State of Iraq…” and thought that the pollster was referring to the legitimate government of Iraq.
(1) 21% of Syrians think Islamic State has a positive influence.
I wrote about that here: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/syrians-say-isis-is-american/
Typically around 10%, rising to a majority in Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor provinces – though the figures there are undoubtedly considerably exaggerated, since it’s hardly advisable to express your lack of approval for IS when under their occupation.
Conversely, though, in rebel and government held areas it is advisable to refrain from expressing your support for IS, so overall it probably cancels out.
(2) 6% in Iraq, 10% in Egypt, 13% among Syrian refugees, 9% in Jordan, 10% in Saudi Arabia, 13% in Tunisia, 24% (!) in Palestine.
Of course a minimally intelligent person would refrain from expressing his support for IS living in Iraq or Egypt or as a Syrian refugee, so I suspect the true figure is closer to 20%-25%.
Terrorist deaths per year is a much more volatile variable than furniture deaths per year. There were many years, not that long ago, with zero terrorist deaths. In 2001 we had more than 3,000. I think 30,000 is possible, even 300,000 is imaginable. And the government can affect these numbers. It can invade more or fewer Muslim countries, it can admit more or fewer people from countries where ISIS is popular. I’m for fewer in both cases.
The ability of the government to affect furniture death numbers seems to be much smaller than that to me. If furniture is inspected for quality before or after being imported here from China, the standards could be tightened up. But the range is never going to X to 3,000X no matter what you do.
The furniture deaths comment is a joke/reference to things Scott has written about before, if you are interested you can find more information here.
People interested in this argument should click the link in the article, which leads to a post where Scott discusses some of the problems with the argument. Scott wasn’t saying it was a good argument, he was saying it was a better argument than calling Trump a white supremacist.
That might work for spontaneous terrorist attacks. I don’t think it would do much good against the equivalent of 9/11, a carefully planned terrorist attack by an organization with resources. The U.S. admits over seventy million tourists a year. A stolen passport costs a few thousand dollars.
Yes, that’s why you do things like have spies, and capture and interrogate terrorists, and use all sorts of NSA monitoring techniques. So you can keep track of the well funded terrorists and stop them when they try to attack the US.
You might have noticed that ISIS, a group with hundreds of millions of dollars, has been limited to “coaching” terrorists in the US.
The article I sent you had nothing to do with the Muslim ban. “Are you sure you read the post?”
People sure seem to be mad about this. I bet they would be really mad if Trump withdrew all US protection, then sat around and did nothing while 400,000 Muslims killed each other in Syria, which then caused a huge refugee crisis and the creation of an overt terrorist state that happily decapitated anyone who disagreed with their ideology on YouTube.
Then again maybe what they really care about is a temporary ban on immigration from certain hot spots in the world.
For a group of people who spent the better part of two years after Obama was elected blaming everything that went wrong in the world on the mess left by the “previous administration” the rules of engagement appear to have changed. I’d like to think this is the peak of Trump derangement, but I’m guessing that is very wishful thinking.
one thing I’d point out here is that there are certainly segments of the left that have been pretty critical of Obama for not letting in more refugees. I think the left has also been fairly critical of aspects of Obama’s foreign policy – in a bunch of different ways that aren’t necessarily aligned with your point or with each other, admittedly, but there’s been criticism there. And I think these protests have been driven more by the lefterly parts of the Democratic party than by the parts that Obama or Clinton really represented.
Perhaps it is the case that the emphasis has been more pronounced on foreign policy compared to where it was under Obama. I don’t think there’s necessarily insincerity, though.
They are very sincere, no doubt about it. There just seems to be a lot of confirmation bias in how one evaluates the actions of a president. The roll out of this ban was definitely a clustertf*** and the criticism is valid, but a little overwrought.
I trust my guy to do the right thing, and always assume the other guy has malicious intent is pretty common in politics. At least they didn’t start demanding action in Syria on Jan 20th, ha ha.
OK, this just hit me when I was responding to another post. To SJWs and a fair number of other liberals, there is no difference between “borderline racist”, “as racist as any other 70 year old white guy”, and “white supremacist KKK racist”. There can’t be, because the point of the word “racist” in those circles is to end all discussion, which we can’t do if we then have to discuss what sort of racist someone is. Racist is Racist, and thus Pure Evil, full stop.
So when Scott or anyone else says, “Trump isn’t
an extreme KKK-levelracist like you all are accusing him to be”, and then “Trump has revealed himself to be borderlineracist”, by the time it gets past their filters they hear a hypocrite caught contradicting himself.
Is there any way to get past that sort of filtering when the point we are trying to make depends on the degree or kind of racism at hand?
Racist, Hitler, demagogue, xenophobe, Islamaphobe, sexist, Stalin, Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, bigot, white supremacist…..sorry I fell asleep.
When’s the last time you heard a Trump supporter respond as saying they are offended when hearing these? They just don’t care anymore.
I don’t think anybody even hears these labels anymore. The more the definitions are expanded to widen the net, the less impact they have. I haven’t a clue what somebody means when they say racist, and for the most part the speaker is using the term intentionally to broad brush a (r)acist as a (R)acist to invalidate an opponent’s argument without engaging it. Most users of this term do not want to refine this term because it will invariably weaken the impact, at least in their view.
For all the virtual ink spilled on Muslim bans and what is the most vile thing Trump can be called, nobody talks about why a Muslim ban would even be necessary or what “extreme vetting” even means and how much is appropriate. The obsession with labeling can’t get any worse, it just can’t.
Someone described it as being similar to antibiotic resistance. By throwing accusations of racism everywhere at the slightest hint of something they don’t like, the left got impressive results for a time but ended up breeding an antibiotic-resistant superbug who is now the President. Their strategy for dealing with him appears to be to pour on even more antibiotics, so we’ll see how that works out for them.
It’s not just people on the left who hear things this way. Remember: Ann Coulter shared the original piece as a defense of Trump.
And, you know, obviously I don’t think that the generalizations that you’re making here are correct, either. But the discourse is definitely bad.
The original piece was a defense of Trump. But it was a defense against a very specific line of attack.
The single largest problem in America today — and the one that is slowly, inexorably dragging us on a path towards another civil war — is that many (maybe even most) people view politics as all-or-nothing. You must either defend your side’s every action to the death, or burn the enemy to the ground, salt the earth and make off with their women. There’s no middle ground where you can say, “I oppose the enemy and what he stands for, yet I still think this line of attack is dishonorable and unwise.” People simply take it as a blanket defense of the enemy and disregard everything else you say.
I’m interested by the way this comment uses “SJW” as a category. So it is fairly obvious that “racist” is not used in this way by many people who use the word (for instance, there are entire academic journals about racism–not the end of discussion, but the start). But we don’t have to worry about that because we are talking about SJWs only. Who are SJWs? The people who use racism this way. Such a person obviously can’t be sensibly talked to; they use words as weapons and virtue signals, so trying to converse with them rationally is a waste of time. Thank heavens we have a category descriptor we can apply to a group of people we disagree with about racism so that we can avoid fruitless discussion with them.
never mind the fact that a lot of “social justice warriors” would heartily resent being miscategorized as liberals
A response to “You’re Still Crying Wolf”. The data contradict a few of Scott’s major points:
I take him up on the bet near the end.
The link isn’t working.
Note, not an endorsement of the post. Haven’t read it.
Yeah, this piece was pretty bad.
“Amid the bullshitting and half-formed sentences, his only cogent thoughts about black communities apparently involve racist generalizations.”
that links to an NYT article which has this quote
“Mr. Williams, 61, a retired postal employee who is African-American, acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s remarks described a reality for some black people.”
Frankly, dude, Trump responds to the rhetoric the Left puts out and then people are shocked, shocked I say! You complain about Trump “othering” black people and Latinos, but as a millennial who has ingested the basic culture of where I live, they already are other in a significant way. It’s just that no one minds because that way is also respectful, which I think is dumb but there it is.
the remainder of this seems to be complaining that Trump’s supporters are more racist than average, and that many white supremacists and such were thrilled that he won. A few points; firstly, the promise to deport people mostly of a different race isn’t necessarily racist, if those immigrants are illegal, and it’s something that’s been bi-partisan for a while. But people with racial resentments would love it. To the white supremacists…thanks in part to people like you, Trump got called racist a lot, and then got elected. This is a big victory for white supremacists, but not of their making.
I debated for a bit whether or not to respond to such a rambling, poorly-written, and mostly irrelevant comment. But it won’t take that long, so here it is.
First, congrats, you’ve identified *one* line in *one* of my linked articles addressing a potential objection (a hallmark of good journalism), and which does not detract from the article’s main point.
In contrast, I addressed each of Scott’s major and minor points head-on, and presented data that flatly contradict many of them. (Scott begins a central paragraph if his powerful conclusion with “Stop calling Trump supporters racist.” Well, sorry, they are.)
Get back to me when you have relevant, substantive criticism.
[Also: “they already are other in a significant way”? Wow, care to elaborate?]
@John Palowitch: I would be inclined to take you up on that bet so long as the 7th condition is restricted only to the UN Security Council nuclear powers. North Korea makes nuclear threats on a regular basis as a matter of state propaganda and no one actually believes they’re credible; while US nuclear doctrine is normally to treat the threat of a nuclear attack as an actual attack, we clearly have disregarded that in NK’s case for many years. The only bet condition I would accept for any matters regarding North Korea would be an actual nuclear launch, since their both their public statements and diplomatic posturing are so notoriously aggressive and unreliable.
Interesting. An acquaintance of mine made a similar point that my 7th condition would have to be much better-defined than I originally laid out.
That said, I am interested in making this bet only with someone who has a blog or website with a lot of followers, like Scott. One reason for this is accountability. Another (related) reason is for promoting the issues (related because if the bet is public and it is obvious that both sides will be held accountable, this fosters a more rigorous approach to making predictions like these).
If you do, feel free to contact me via the link I put in the post.
Thanks, John. No, I don’t run a website or a blog; as I’ve mentioned elsewhere in the comments here, I’m a slightly right-leaning centrist working in a left-wing monoculture where being known to have heterodox political views would probably significantly hamper or end my career. As a result, while I enjoy debating and engaging in a low-profile forum like these comment threads, I definitely do not want attention that might lead to someone connecting me with my professional identity.
I do think your bet is quite interesting and I’ll watch your blog to see if you can find someone willing to take you up on it, and what the final agreed-upon conditions will be.
You are much more sanguine than Yonaton Zunger. You and he are both very intelligent and perceptive observers. I imagine you have similar underlying values. I wonder what you think of his much more fearful perspective.
In case someone is interested, I wrote more on Trump’s executive order, after my last post on the subject. I explain what I think Bannon was trying to do and point out a very important part of the order, about the completion of the Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System, which has been completely ignored so far.
Nobody wants to talk about why we need more vetting, specifically the San Bernadino women shooter had social media posts extolling the virtues of violent jihad and wanted to join before she emigrated. They don’t like to use the word temporary, and they like to claim it is specifically for Muslims (although that appears to be the net effect). All heat, no light.
There is a component to this that people on the right tend to look at the response and ask “why do they love terrorists so much?”. The optics are one side wants a total ban and the other wants open borders, but the reality is both sides are much closer on this subject than they want to admit. Reasonable but strict vetting from jihadist countries.
It is impossible for a white working class voter in the Midwest to look at this and not be convinced the city slickers care much more about Muslim refugees than people in middle America. Syria before Michigan. I’m still waiting for big protests to break out because someone in flyover country is being mistreated. Instead they are vilified because of cultural differences, meanwhile the cultural differences of the people the protesters want to support and protect are much more antithetical to American culture.
“The optics are one side wants a total ban and the other wants open borders, but the reality is both sides are much closer on this subject than they want to admit. Reasonable but strict vetting from jihadist countries.”
The sane people who actually run the country are closer, but the angry voices on the extremes really do mean what they say. And Trump — when you ignore what he says and look only at what he actually ends up doing in the end — is one of the sane people. He wants to cap the number of refugees admitted to 50,000, which is a shockingly low figure … until you realize it was 70-80,000 under Obama. Just as lefty partisans didn’t register the drone bombings when Obama did them, they didn’t register the immigration restrictions when Obama did them, and so they see Trump as wildly out of control.
But whereas most GOP politicians are terrified of being called “racist” etc. Trump doesn’t care, and leverages the outraged left to make himself popular among the outraged right.
If Trump had announced a reduction in total refugees and some changes to how vetting was done, including announcing that they would be reprocessing existing visas (but not immediately invalidating them), you would have had some pushback, but absolutely nothing like what we have now.
Right. There are some theories out there that this is intentionally antagonizing the left for political gain. Not sure I buy this (I don’t), but Trump can certainly make the left go crazy on demand. The NYT was going all caps with CHAOS AND CRISIS with what amounts to be a couple of days of ineptness that affects a few hundred people. The NYT et. al. need to understand that they either normalize Trump or normalize their own hysteria.
When you lose the Southern Baptists I think you can probably safely assume that this isn’t exactly laser targetted at the left.
@HBC: Note that the article by Russell Moore (head of the political wing of the Southern Baptists) linked from your link is from 2015 and applies to Trump’s initial comments during the campaign about a temporary halt to all Muslim immigration. Moore has published a more recent letter regarding the executive order from Friday that is considerably more moderate and calls for clarification of the order and emphasizes that the promised improved vetting needs to come quickly so that the halt to refugee admission is as brief as possible.
Yes, I know the initial quote was from earlier, but the immediate reaction of Moore on Saturday was to oppose the policy. And the rejection of the policy by evangelical leaders generally was widespread.
Note that in the letter you link Moore believes the policy may already endanger foreign baptist missionaries.
I just wrote another poston the shocking hypocrisy we see about Trump’s executive order.
Scott Adams wrote that identity is the most powerful form of persuasion. I think he’s right because I’ve seen identitarian “liberals” (not really liberal) embrace thoughtlessly Islam, which is profoundly illiberal.
Chapter 8 of the Koran says to strike terror into the disbelievers, who are “the worst beasts” according to Allah. Yet, identitarian “liberals” insist on importing it, even at the cost of bombing and invading countries where Muslims live in order to import refugees here. Evidence and reason seem to have no effect when trying to persuade people who insist they are being liberal with their bombing campaigns, e.g. Francois Hollande and Barack Obama bombing Libya and Syria, and importing to NATO refugees who believe that many or most NATO citizens must be killed.
Money seems also a motivating factor, as Upton Sinclair said: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” Petrodollars have captured “elite” think tanks and universities, so people who identify as “smart” don’t listen to anyone who points out they’re obviously wrong. Vox reported last year on the Petrodollar capture of “elite” opinion on behalf of spreading Islam: http://www.vox.com/2016/3/21/11275354/saudi-arabia-gulf-washington
Islam is very similar to the KKK and Nazis in every way except one: most KKKlansmen and Nazis are white, but most Muslims aren’t, so frankly it’s racist to tolerate Islam while condeming the otherwise very similar KKK and Nazis. Worldwide, in countries with Muslim majorities, most Muslims demand Islamic law, aka Sharia (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/22/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/), because Islam commands believers to impose Sharia. Even in countries where Muslims are only a minority, many advocate Sharia. Sharia is bigotry. Opposing bigotry is the opposite of bigotry. Yet, some on the left (who identify as “liberal” but aren’t) claim that opposing Islamic bigotry is bigotry. That’s illogical and factually incorrect, but their emotional attachment to a “liberal” identity seems to overwhelm their faculty of reason when assessing whether something is actually liberal or bigotry, and their self-identification as “smart” prevents them from seeing their own error.
Half the country supported banning Muslim immigration, and ending the war in Syria would actually be a more liberal policy than the Democrats campaigned on, yet identitarian “liberals” have been fooled into supporting “Hillary’s War” and importing Islam. Ironically, President Trump is in this context more liberal than the identitarian “liberals” protesting him, because he is likely to end the war in Syria and slow or stop the spread of Sharia. Ending war and ending Sharia would both be genuinely liberal victories, ironically more likely to come from President Trump than from the identitarian “liberals” protesting him.
moving on to the next exhibit, we see a stirring example of the Gish Gallop
lol – calling something bs doesn’t make it so. I cited evidence and used logic, and you replied with the equivalent of name-calling. Thus, you illustrate Scott Adams’ point: in your mind, your emotional identity trumps evidence and reason.
You treated Islam as monolithic. That’s a bad sign.
Perhaps you should quote instead of summarizing, and rely on evidence rather than signs and omens. I quoted what the central doctrine of Islam says, e.g. chapter 8 of the Koran, and cited surveys from around the world about what most Muslims believe. It’s a bit like saying smoking is bad for human health: you could object that treats smoking as “monolithic,” and cite examples where doxctors recommended smoking and examples where some few smokers lived a very long time. That isn’t much of an objection though, because smoking is bad for human health, and the fraction of smokers who didn’t suffer from smoking are not an argument in favor of smoking.
“You treated Islam as monolithic.”
So has the left for the last 15 years.
Obama et al have refused honestly deal with the fact that there are pacific and militant wings of Islam, and instead insisting that the people that embrace violence, want to spread sharia, etc. aren’t “true Muslims,” “have nothing to do with Islam” and so on, even as anyone could see that’s nonsense. When you know someone is lying in part, assuming they are lying in all is a normal heuristic.
curious, shmohawk1; trying to treat the left as monolithic is also a bad sign.
Trying to make Obama an example of the left is downright false and indicative of a serious problem with reasoning. By his actions as president, he is barely centrist in an american context.
So, I can only offer you a tu quoque with the “if lying in part, suspect lying in all” heuristic.
Paragraphs, my friend. Put in some line breaks and it is dramatically more likely someone will read your whole post.
Thanks – edited 🙂
People embrace human beings. People fleeing from war, persecution or who just want to improve the lives of their families by migrating to the United States or other countries.
The funny thing is that only jihadists and some people on the “far-right” of politics embrace the interpretation of Islam that you put forward. Everyone else – the vast majority of Muslims who abhor terrorism, for instance – does not.
The counter to this from some on the far-right is that those Muslims aren’t following “true Islam” because they’re not committing terrorist attacks. Yet, as Scott Alexander has written elsewhere, debates about what “true Islam” is are completely nonsensical. We should be interested in combating terrorism, not having theological debates.
What matters are consequences, and it’s far better that non-Muslims and the hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims out there unite against terrorism than if people like yourself portray this whole thing as a war between “the West and Islam”. The reason it annoys Muslims when people say that “Islam is evil” is because Muslims genuinely can’t see how it is, and that’s a good thing.
So, please, stop with these wholly counter-productive comments.
You seem to have illustrated the comment about needing paragraph breaks, because you failed obviously to read the parts about what most Muslims believe. Go back and read again now that there are paragraph breaks.
Your reply illustrates the censorship that identitarian “liberals” resort to when proven wrong: “stop with these wholly counter-productive comments.” Silencing me would not accomplish anything. You would still be wrong. Surveys around the world have shown broad support for Sharia among Muslims, including for example more than 80% in Egypt and Pakistan. (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/22/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/) You ignore that, and try to silence me, because your emotionally powerful identity as “smart” enables you to prefer factual ignorance.
As Marcus Aurelius wrote, in a conversation between a wise man and a fool, the wise man learns more, because he listens, which is how he he became wise. The fool does not listen, which is why he remains a fool.
I say, please tell us more about your views on Sharia. In particular, you wrote it’s “a good thing” that Muslims can’t see Islamic Sharia is evil bigotry. Please, tell us why you believe that. Do you have low expectations of Muslims, because most Muslims aren’t white? Is that why you would condemn them to the evil bigotry of Sharia? Winston Churchill called Islam madness, and a “retrograde force.” Do you believe the madness of Islam to be congenital, and incurable?
Your comment also illustrated identitarian “liberal” virtue-signaling. If you are not ignorant, then you must surely be aware that the Obama administration deported record numbers of Christians from south of the border, while paying to bomb countries with Muslim majorities and then paying again to import displaced Muslims here. The administration said that bombing Libya did not constitute “hostilities.” (Those must have been really friendly “smart” bombs, donated “liberally” to the needy people of Libya. “Coming soon to a theatre near you, Hillary’s War: Let them eat bombs!”) And then, the same administration reportedly shipped some of Gadafi’s arsenal very “liberally” to Sunni militias in Syria, including reportedly al-Qaida. (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line) Explaining how it is “liberal” to persecute people and make them refugees, so you can feel good about embracing them, is going to require some impressive mental gymnastics on your part. You’ll need to make extra effort to explain how it’s “liberal” to displace and import Muslims (many of whom support Sharia) while simultaneously deporting record numbers of Christians (who oppose Sharia) and do actually “just want to improve the lives of their families”. I look forward to reading your attempts.
I think that’s a pretty uncharitable interpretation of what Vidur said. I would prefer it if people in these threads didn’t have to spend ages explaining what they really meant when it was perfectly clear to any fair minded observer.
I quoted directly. How was I not fair minded?
For example, I’d be curious to know how you would “charitably” interpret his assertion that “only jihadists and some people on the “far-right” of politics embrace the interpretation of Islam that you put forward…stop with these wholly counter-productive comments.” The meaning seemed fairly clear, and clearly proved wrong by the links that I provided.
BTW, in reply to your earlier questions, 20% of Syrians called ISIL a positive influence. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/09/15/one-in-five-syrians-say-islamic-state-is-a-good-thing-poll-says/) ISIL being Sunni, those would surely be Sunni Muslims, as are at least 97% of the refugees imported by NATO. Meanwhile, non-Sunni Syrians are sheltering with the Assad government, lest they be killed by the Sunni migrants (http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/16/europe/italy-migrants-christians-thrown-overboard/index.html).
You had a choice of interpretations, and you chose an uncharitable one.
Now, no one who disagrees with you will want to talk to you because they know you’re not going to engage in any kind of give-and-take.
If you want to understand the arguments against your position, don’t put words in your opponents’ mouths. Don’t interpret them in the least reasonable possible way.
Basically, read your Marcus Aurelius quote, but imagine just for a second the possibility that you may be the fool and you’ll be on the right track.
Thanks @wysinwygymmv, I will continue to work at quoting more and interpreting less. I do think the particular comment at hand, politely calling me a jihadist or “right-wing”, and politely asking me to shut up, lacked any charitable interpretation. Calling my comment “wholly counter-productive” was likewise uncharitable, at best. Still, tone matters, politeness counts, and quoting works better than intepreting. Also, as I’m new to commenting here, I do bear perhaps the newby’s burden of making extra effort to prove worth talking to.
Of course most Muslims support Sharia–Sharia is, by definition, God’s law. You might as well ask how many Americans support justice.
The question is what the content is of the legal system they support. Can you point to anything in the doctrines of any of the four schools of Sunni law that endorses killing random civilians in places ruled by non-Muslims? I don’t know of any such.
You can’t deduce Muslim law by quoting selected bits from the Koran. The Koran mentions wine drinking three times, and the first two imply that it is permitted.
Do those surveys indicate support for personally following Sharia, or support for seeing it imposed on other people via civil law & penalties?
@DavidFriedman, Pew surveyed support for terrorism also, finding substantial support, though less than for Sharia (http://www.pewglobal.org/2006/05/23/where-terrorism-finds-support-in-the-muslim-world/). Terrorism is an acute, potentially disastrous risk of Islam, while Sharia is ultimately a larger and worse consequence of Islam.
@Randy M, the answer to your question is both, although the numbers do vary. Consider the case of Asiaa Bibi, a Christian women currently on death row for allegedly committing blasphemy. She faces death threats, Governor Taseer was assassinated for saying she should not be executed, a Christian minority representative was also assassinated for the same reason, and a terror bombing campaign killed many more people at courthouses that had applied secular law to one of the assassins. Generally speaking, and subject to some few exceptions, the higher the % of Muslims in a country, the more likely the Muslims in that country are to support Sharia. Islam is a package deal, and the process of Islamization is like bringing a camel’s nose into the tent: as you get more believers in Sharia, you tend to get more policies consistent with Sharia, until it achieves critical mass and then there’s no escaping it.
Well, it makes sense to argue that no religion is a monolith and it’s teachings are no invariant over time. So it makes no sense to claim that all who believe in Islam must be like this or that.
But then again, we have this. Relatively recently a treatment of homosexual people in our refugee centers was a topic of discussion in the media here. Mainly, that they are abused (and occasionally raped, if that makes any sense) by the fellow residents, and in general fear for their lives, first in their day-to-day life in a refugee center, but especially so if the people back at home hear because that’s apparently even more terrible, so that they often don’t dare to tell about it to authorities. And it took months for the authorities to find out.
State tv interviewed the whoever suffices for a religious representative of the mainstream organized Muslim community here. His reply was shortly: there is no problem, gay Muslims simply do not exist. End quote. And instead of outrage, that was simply the end of that line of discussion.
And it could be argued that actually, that is just part of the original culture mixed up with Islam, and there really could be form of Islam that could be relatively okay with homosexuality (or that you can even find a historical evidence that some Islamic culture was okay with a form of homosexuality recognizable from classical antiquity).
But frankly, that is quite academic discussion. There exists a significant contingent of people who call themselves Muslims, who don’t care much about which part of their conception of Islam is Islam and which part is local culture, because for them it’s all Islam, and they are totally not okay with homosexuals or apostasy or blasphemy or various other things we have learned to consider fundamental rights in the West. And the evidence points out that that contingent are not in danger of becoming insignificant in near future. Being a practicing homosexual or an atheist blogger is quite dangerous hobby in certain parts of world. I’m not exactly keen about the idea that refugee centers located in my country and operated by the government in the middle of Europe are one of those places.
curious, there are (unfortunately) many Muslims who subscribe to a violent and exclusionist interpretation of the Koran, but you should not forget the many Muslims who hold much more nuanced views. When you claim that “true Islam” is violent, you are abandoning all the non-violent, non-bigoted strains of Islam and effectively leaving “moderates” hung out to dry.
I am obviously dismayed at the numbers of Muslims from certain countries who think that their religious laws should be binding as civil laws, but is that opinion really surprising? Hasn’t the legitimacy of laws throughout most of history depended (at least in part) in them not clashing with basic religious/cultural/philosophical precepts? Why would you expect that to be different in the Muslim world, or hold Muslims to a higher standard than the Pilgrim communities in Massachussets, the Fundamentalist communities who expect creationism to be given equal time in the classroom, or the people who would criminally prosecute vendors who do not cater gay weddings ?
I do not think non-Muslims should present any of the strains as “the true Islam”: the struggle for the soul of Islam must be fought by Muslims, within their faith communities. We should, however, not embolden the most reactionary currents, nor give them any reason to show themselves as defenders of a beleaguered world view.
As for who is being “hung out to dry,” I would refer you to Jaskologist’s comment from
January 30, 2017 at 11:03 am.
I will interpret your comment charitably, but if I may say, the accusatory tone seemed consistent with the misguided “virtue signaling” promoted by Petrodollar-driven think tanks and media (see vox article linked above). I do not accuse you of intending to sound self-righteous, but your comment seemed to claim a morally superior plateau that I do not yield to anyone who advocates the spread of Sharia or Islam (which is a “retrograde force” that commands believers to impose Sharia wherever they can).
In fact, the moderates from Muslim backgrounds are made worse off by importing believers. Consider the “honor killing” cases where people have been battered and in some cases murdered by their own parents for not following Islam. Islam says to kill apostates, blasphemers, disbelievers (including atheists, who are terrorists according to Saudi law), gay couples, and a long list of other people who have committed no crime in American law. By importing people who believe in Islam, you are jeopardizing the life safety of innocent people whom Islam commands believers to kill.
Statistics in Britain show a disturbing pattern. Younger Muslims are reportedly less tolerant of people who don’t follow Sharia than older “Muslims” are. That reflects two changes. Many of the older ones left Muslim countries to get away from Islam, without technically renouncing it, which might get them killed for apostasy. (These might be the people you call “moderate”, because they keep peace with their families by pretending to believe in a religion that they don’t really believe. Alternatively, read about taqiyyeh, which encourages Muslims to lie about what they believe in order to serve Islam.) Many of the younger Muslims are economic migrants and/or children of polygamous families (which the British dole subsidizes). Surveys report younger Muslims are more likely to want Sharia, including making British law look more like Sharia.
You can have Enlightenment liberty, or you can have Sharia, but you cannot have both. I believe the Enlightenment brought huge benefits to humanity and I do not yield any moral high ground to those who would spread Sharia, or Islam, which commands believers to impose Sharia wherever they can. Churchill rightly called Islam madness and a retrograde force. At best, you might compare it to opium addiction: you might cite some nice opium addicts who are successful, e.g. Bella Lugosi, but that doesn’t make spreading opium addiction morally superior. If some people like opium, I have no objection to them consuming it, but I do not agree with a policy combination of waging war across the Islamic world and then importing the consequently displaced Muslims here. It’s bad already they suffer from Sharia in their own countries, and if you want to help the “moderates” then you should advocate better human rights standards among our “allies” rather than importing believers here. The only beneficiaries from the policy combination of invade&import are those who wanted to spread Islam and thus Sharia, which all Enlightenment beneficiaries should oppose.
Taqiyya is supposed to be limited to protection against serious threats. It’s primarily a Shia doctrine, developed in response to Sunni persecution.
Do you have a source for your “to serve Islam” version? If not, I suggest that it may be another case of your absorbing factual misstatements from heavily biased sources.
The analogous Christian doctrine is “Mental Reservation.”
“In strict mental reservation, the speaker mentally adds some qualification to the words which they utter, and the words together with the mental qualification make a true assertion in accordance with fact.”
@DavidFriedman, you keep citing Wikipedia as if it were an unbiased source, even though Wikipedia is (a) expressly “not a reliable source” and (b) Wikipedia suffers from widely reported biases of its own. Also, you keep reverting to Medina and twice you have suggested that informed disagreement with Islam and Sharia results instead from “biased” sources.
On Taqiyya, and Islam generally, you might do better with WikiIslam. (https://wikiislam.net/wiki/Taqiyya). You may find it better informed and less biased than Wikipedia.
BTW, I found where I had first read about Hijra, and it did not mention Christians; my point was that non-Muslims had made a mistake allowing Islam, and today the KSA government persecutes non-Muslims there in the name of Islam, even excluding non-Muslims entirely from the center of what had been a non-Muslim city. You seem to focus on whether the non-Muslims of Medina included Christians or not, but it makes no difference which non-Muslims made that mistake 1400 years ago: Christians including Angela Merkel the Pope are making the same mistake now, importing large numbers of Sunni Muslims into NATO countries.
As you have acknowledged, Islam commands Sharia. Please tell me, in what “Islamic Republics” do people have freedom of religion (including apostasy) and freedom of speech (including blasphemy)? (And please keep in mind the vigilante “Sharia patrols” that kill with impunity in technically secular Bangladesh, where 3 million non-Muslims were murdered in the latest Islamic genocide.) In what “Islamic Republics” can same-sex couples get married legally, or even live openly without fear of prosecution? I lose patience eventually with people who insist on importing a doctrine that says to kill us, and expecting everyone to respect the hateful fraud of a dead charlatan as if it were fact. I do favor the Enlightenment over Sharia, and if you want to call that bias, then say so, but please consider the fact that Enlightenment civilizations protect libertarians whom Sharia would kill for blasphemy.
Which is essentially the same thing the Wikipedia article said.
The people who invited Mohammed to Medina were pagans who invited him because they wer