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Open Thread 89.75

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

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860 Responses to Open Thread 89.75

  1. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    I’m in an argument about whether entropy is a part of the Fall with a couple of Christians.

    I believe entropy is part of the nature of matter, but I haven’t been able to argue that convincingly. I’ve tried, and been told it was deep, which I take to mean I was totally and depressingly not comprehended. The people I’m talking with don’t seem to have a background in science.

    Any good explanations of entropy for people who aren’t into science?

    Any sources for Catholic theology and/vs. science?

    • Well... says:

      What value do you see in that discussion?

      Or I guess another way I might approach it is, why not go to the source material first? Seems like the Christians you’re arguing with should be making a defense based on a linguistic analysis of the relevant parts of the Bible. (I’m assuming by “the Fall” you mean when Eve ate from the tree of knowledge?)

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I want people to have an accurate understanding of entropy.

        You’re right about what’s being meant by the Fall.

        • Well... says:

          If your goal is to impart an accurate understanding of entropy, decouple it from the other thing they are strongly attached to. If this is a discussion you’re having with strangers on the internet, you probably can’t do this, since the conflation of the two topics is probably the sole reason you are interacting.

    • skef says:

      You’re in a tough position that might be worth giving up on.

      The relevant physical laws and properties are largely symmetric with respect to time. So, speaking very roughly, if one could take a system with increasing entropy and reverse “everything” (point the material particles and photons in the opposite directions) it would evolve as if you had reversed time, and therefore to have decreasing entropy.

      Quantum uncertainty complicates this picture, but not necessarily in a way that is useful. Black holes also complicate anything having to do with physical laws, including the potential for “reversing”, and have a complex theoretical relationship with entropy.

      So in theory, even a non-interventionist God could set up initial conditions such that entropy would decrease, and at least in that narrow sense entropy is not “part of the nature of matter.” Arguing beyond this basic picture (which is certainly done) gets one into the weeds pretty quickly.

    • Jaskologist says:

      Back before their priest set them straight, physicists liked the Steady State theory wherein matter was being continuously created, mostly because this allowed us to escape entropy and the universe to be infinitely old.

      I’m not sure entirely what you mean by entropy being “part pf the nature of matter,” but that feels like a middle ground.

    • Deiseach says:

      Oh that’s a good question! Completely off the top of my head, I think the standard traditional (as in “way back during the SCIENTIST-BURNING DARK AGE MILLENNIUM”) view was that since death was the result of sin, then the accompanying corruption, aging, etc. was also introduced as part of the Fall, and that an unfallen world would not be the same (see Tolkien’s Valinor, though he also complicates things by having Death be not a curse or punishment, but the Gift of Iluvatar).

      I would have to go chase up some Augustine and Aquinas to check the standard view, but “is entropy a natural part of the universe as created, or only came in with the Fall?” is a really good question (also, don’t forget: the first Fall was the Fall of the Rebel Angels, so going the Tolkien route again, the corruption of matter started with Melkor/Lucifer). As against that, there is the teaching that the world/universe will have a definite end (entire Book of Revelation, various Old Testament prophecies).

      Mostly I think the theological consideration has been of the spiritual effect of the Fall of our First Parents and not so much the effect on the physical universe:

      The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”*. Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”, for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.

      *From the Epistle of St Paul to the Romans:

      20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

      It’s one you could have a fun time arguing without needing to end in stalemate yelling at each other “Well, the Bible is just fairytales!/Science is just wrong!” 🙂

  2. For anyone in the South Bay, we’re having another meetup this coming Saturday.

  3. Tibor says:

    Why are all historical dramas lately full of cheap sex scenes? Is it the Game of Thrones influence? I have nothing against sex scenes in particular, but they should only be in the show if they somehow propagate the story or tell you something about the characters. But that is rarely the case, instead you have a lot of “random boobage” and of course the “obligatory” lesbian sex scenes between almost every two good looking female characters. Such scenes often make no sense from the perspective of the story and all they achieve is making the characters less believable and the story less immersive.

    I don’t know if the 15year old boy demographics is that important for the producers (I don’t see any other reason they would do this), but unfortunately it seems like it has now become an HBO standard.

    Are there any examples of high production value recent TV shows that do not fit this pattern?

    • Anonymous says:

      Why are all historical dramas lately full of cheap sex scenes?

      It sells and they can get away with it. I, for one, would welcome the recriminalization of pornography.

      • Tibor says:

        Well I would not. I have nothing against pornography. I just don’t like pornography being mixed together with a story if it does not develop the story or the characters in any way (and often actually makes them less believable). Particularly when it is done in every goddamn episode of a TV show.

        But I find it hard to believe that people other than teenage boys really enjoy this drama/porn combination.

        • Anonymous says:

          “I’m a simple man, I see tits, I click ‘like’.”

          You’re not the target demographic. Joe Q. Public is, and Joe likes tits and lesbian sex, because it maximizes the amount of women involved.

          • Tibor says:

            Actual porn maximizes the number of naked and usually fairly to very attractive women and it is readily available online for free. Why mix that with drama?

            It’s just hard for me to believe that anyone other than teenage boys requires plot-irrelevant tits in TV dramas. Or do adult men actually imagine themselves to be the swashbuckling heroes who kill the dragon (or the pirates or whatever…although pirates are currently the good guys on TV) and then go fuck three wenches at the same time and then they go watch the main heroine have sex with another woman who she never interacts with otherwise and who is irrelevant to the story?

            I’d also be interested in how women (other radical feminists who are offended by naked women on TV no matter the context, especially if those women are attractive) react to this. After all, about a half of the viewership is presumably female. A lot of these scenes have to be even more eye-rolling to women.

          • Anonymous says:

            Actual porn maximizes the number of naked and usually fairly to very attractive women and it is readily available online for free. Why mix that with drama?

            Same reason why one drinks tea with sugar, rather than shovel sugar directly into the orifice. A plot makes the porn more interesting, especially to a jaded viewer. (Television is also free-ish. Since plebs, at least over here, seldom pay the TV tax.)

            Also, a movie with porn elements is, to the pleb mind, better than a movie without porn elements. And you can pretend it’s not really porn, and watch it openly with the rest of the family. I don’t think social mores have degenerated enough for openly watching porn while your housemates are in evidence to be acceptable.

          • Tibor says:

            @Anonymous: Why would you want to watch porn with other people around? It is fairly boring to, umm, just passively watch it.

            Also, you can get porn with something like a story (other than “Hello, I’m Hans, the plumber” “Hello Hans, I just took a steamy shower”).

            Anyway, I guess they would not be doing it if there were no demand for it. On the other hand, 10 years ago this was far less common and I don’t think the mores have changed so much in that short time, it would have been as acceptable back then as it is now. So perhaps it is a fad that will go away again once people get tired of it.

          • Well... says:

            Same reason why one drinks tea with sugar, rather than shovel sugar directly into the orifice. A plot makes the porn more interesting, especially to a jaded viewer.

            No, it’s because porn is what you look at in the bathroom with the blower on when your wife’s gone to bed, but historical dramas are something you can watch in plain view of everyone. Convenience!

          • Don P. says:

            I’d say it’s because the shows you’re talking about are on channels referred to (in the US) as “premium cable”, which cost the user a monthly fee, and the nudity reminds the viewer that they’re getting something they could never get on “basic cable”, the category below that.

          • Tibor says:

            Don P.: Why can’t you get nudity on basic cable?

          • Well... says:

            @Tibor: probably because he lives in the US, which is a little more prudish than Europe. (I’ve got no problem with this arrangement BTW.) In basic cable they will not show nudity, except maybe part of someone’s butt crack very briefly.

            Interestingly, I’ve seen some stations make an exception for late-night viewings of movies considered “very important” (e.g. Schindler’s List) though they always stuck big warnings at the end of each commercial break.

          • Tibor says:

            @Well: I haven’t watched TV (I watch all series or films on my computer and I don’t even own a TV set) for a couple of years but on the Czech TV stations a show that contained excessive graphic violence would come with a warning (something like that it might not be suitable for children and the youth) and same when it had explicit sex scenes. They would also usually only show them after 10pm. At least via satellite or the regular antenna broadcast, we’ve never had cable. I am not sure if this is still the case.

            I remember that when I was a kid (90s) the cinemas would list some films as inappropriate for the youth so that if you were under 15, you had to come with your parents to see them. But this disappeared in the early 00s, roughly around the time I actually got 15 🙂

          • Aapje says:

            @Tibor

            It’s just hard for me to believe that anyone other than teenage boys requires plot-irrelevant tits in TV dramas.

            And it is hard for me to believe that anyone can enjoy Fifty Shades of Grey, especially since it depicts rape. Yet it had record sales.

            Or do adult men actually imagine themselves to be the swashbuckling heroes who kill the dragon (or the pirates or whatever…although pirates are currently the good guys on TV) and then go fuck three wenches at the same time and then they go watch the main heroine have sex with another woman who she never interacts with otherwise and who is irrelevant to the story?

            Rationally…no.

            Emotionally…hmmm…probably.

            Just like I don’t expect women to want or enjoy actual rape, but surveys show that very many women have rape fantasies.

            Humans have primitive needs which are often neglected in civilized society. It’s not surprising that they feed this part of their humanity through fantasy. It seems much more healthy than becoming a hooligan or terrorist.

    • Protagoras says:

      Insofar as people who are bothered by something seem to disproportionally be the ones to talk about it, I feel the need to try to reduce the inevitable bias by mentioning that this sort of thing almost never bothers me (it’s possible for it to be sufficiently egregious and incompetent to get to me, but if so that’s because of the egregiousness and incompetence, not because I have any problem with this otherwise). Indeed, I think for me it sometimes succeeds in what is perhaps the intended goal of distracting me from some of the other flaws in a TV show.

      • Tibor says:

        Probably the most ridiculous scene of this kind was the GoT scene in one of the latest episodes where the Iron Islands people are on a ship with the Dorn women (who are completely ridiculous characters on their own) and just out of the blue the sister of the guy who got castrated (I am quite bad with names) starts kissing one of them (there is no backstory to this or anything and the two women have more or less just met). Thankfully an enemy fleet launches a surprise attack and cuts the eye-rolling spectacle short.

        • johansenindustries says:

          I don’t watch GoT – although I’m familiar with it – but that seems like a good method to convey a surprise. You’re expecting a scene for titilation but – BANG – everyone’s dead.

          • Tibor says:

            The problem is that scenes like this actually make me wish that everyone is killed. One of the two women was captured and then tortured to death by the queen (since she had poisoned her daughter a season two before), so at least something good came out of it 😛 That character was an archetype of a badly done fantasy warrioress with “sexy armour” with zero protective value, weird exotic weapons (used badly but there are no characters that use their weapons well on GoT anyway) and “let’s fuck everyone I see” attitude, so I was happy that they got rid of her.

          • John Schilling says:

            That character was an archetype of a badly done fantasy warrioress […] so I was happy that they got rid of her.

            I’m fairly certain that was deliberate, and it wouldn’t have been at all the same if she had just been an inept but enthusiastic wannabe warrior princess. Making you happy meant making her reprehensible, and “narcissistic slut who gets good people killed with her games” was a fine way to go about doing that. But,

            (used badly but there are no characters that use their weapons well on GoT anyway)

            At least one professional disagrees with you on that one, and I’m with him. Some characters, including Tyene and her sisters, are conspicuous in their martial ineptitude, while others are just quietly competent.

          • Tibor says:

            @John: Tyene is one of those Dorn women? Anyway, I don’t remember any really competent fighters. Extreme telegraphing and spins are common in Hollywood/HBO but GoT does it even worse. I would not say that the characters in vikings are fighting well either. It is hard to find any fighting scenes on TV where characters do although sometimes it is fairly ok. I guess some of the choices from the article are indeed on the OK side, but GoT in general is indeed below even the low TV fight scene average.

            The pitched battles in GoT are complete rubbish, but that is again the case of pretty much all TV. I don’t remember any film/series where the armies fight in formations, except for the opening scene in Rome (the HBO series) which was actually quite nice and even the gear was realistic (I’m not completely sure about whistles being used but why not, that would be nitpicking).

          • johan_larson says:

            I don’t think we are really fit to judge the realism of pre-gunpowder fighting. We are generations removed from people actually training and fighting for their lives with sword and spear and shield, and the records we have of those days are pretty crappy. The descendants of the armed martial techniques those warriors trained in and used are sports and art-forms, and we should expect that change in focus to have lowered the actual effectiveness of the techniques taught. We could be very wrong about what actually effective swordsmanship looks like.

          • and the records we have of those days are pretty crappy.

            There are surviving texts from times when those really were military weapons. One of my SCA friends has been looking into German pole arm texts for years and claims that they have very useful information on how to use the weapons.

            It may be relevant that, prior to that, he was already competing at high levels in SCA combat using a halberd, which is very uncommon.

          • Nornagest says:

            We are generations removed from people actually training and fighting for their lives with sword and spear and shield

            Technically true, but “generations” here means one or two generations, not centuries’ worth. There were melee engagements between classically trained martial artists as late as WWII — ammunition was scarce and logistics spotty in the more far-flung theaters of the Sino-Japanese War and later the Pacific War, and swords don’t run out of ammo. I’ve actually talked to people who participated in them, though mine’s probably the last generation to have that opportunity (and honestly I can’t say I got much out of it — the people I talked to were all in their nineties, and their stories tended to be a little garbled).

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Nornagest: That’s fascinating. Elaborate?

            Also, let’s not forget that we have manuals on the use of swords, shields and polearms from circa 1620, contemporary with the first newspapers.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            @ Tibor

            It’s been a while since I’ve seen Sin City, but at least the women fought in an organized fashion, unlike the men who I think only did one-on-one.

            From one angle, the men were characterized, from another angle, the women had better sense.

          • johan_larson says:

            Yes, I’m aware of the existence of manuals like that. But we also have books written about contemporary forms like judo, which I have had an opportunity to compare with live instruction in that art. And the books are a very poor copies indeed of the knowledge transmitted by actual instruction. I’l stick with my claim that our knowledge of pre-gunpowder weapons use is “pretty crappy”.

            Also, we can get some hint of how far our sport forms of armed martial arts might differ from the original lethal use of the corresponding weapons by looking at how far our sport forms of unarmed combat differ from something like the real thing. Think, for example how far western sport wrestling is from UFC fighting. Now, to be sure, what the UFC athletes are doing isn’t quite actual fighting. There are still rules, and some actions are prohibited. But they have a lot more freedom than wrestlers, so they are closer to what actual unarmed combat looks like. And the difference between sport wrestling and UFC fighting is dramatic, which suggests that the difference between sport fencing and actual sword fighting would be correspondingly dramatic.

          • Tibor says:

            @johan_larson: Judo is really a sport rather than a martial art designed for real-world application (that’s why it’s ju-do and not a (ju)ju-tsu). But martial arts, with or without weapons, which are designed for use in actual fighting tend to be fairly similar. Humans today are more or less the same as humans in the middle ages and humans all over the world have the same biomechanics as well. If you take a halberd or a sword or a bow there are only so many things that you can do with it which make sense. If you have a manual on top of that (and Victorian manuals are really explicit, they describe the use step by step, unlike the medieval treatises which are a bit more vague) you can reconstruct the martial art with quite a high degree of confidence.

            More importantly, some principles apply always. Spinning, i.e. showing your back to the opponent while he is pointing a sharp piece of metal at you is an incredibly stupid idea. Making huge swings that your opponent can see 2 seconds before you make them is also not very efficient (but used in films so that the actors can easily respond to the moves of the other actor in their choreography). Not to mention that all Hollywood swords seem to be made of lead, since they swing them as if they had 5-10 kilos, particularly if those are medieval swords.

            So yes, people like those from the SCA or HEMA might get some things wrong in their reconstructions but overall it is likely more or less correct and most of the Hollywood fighting is simply wrong, since fighting like that would get you killed 100% of the time against anyone who’s actually practiced with the weapon (or who at least has enough common sense not to spin around).

            The spins probably come from the popularity of eastern unarmed martial arts where you sometimes spin to deliver a stronger kick. You can do that in an unarmed fight but weapons change the situation completely. Telegraphing comes from the need to train actors quickly to do the choreography. And “dual-wielding” probably comes from DnD (unless those are two short weapons or a short weapon like a dagger paired with a longer weapon like a sword…two long weapons get in the way of each other).

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I concede that a good 1620s combat manual would differ as much from the real thing as a good freestyle wrestling manual from UFC. However, I think fencing is a red herring. Fencing is obviously a sport, the foil being a gentleman’s dress sword rather than a battlefield weapon. Western martial arts manuals address no-rules self-defense with the battlefield weapons (besides matchlocks) of the time, with tripping, haft chokes, wrestling holds with a dagger, etc.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Tibor: Ah, D&D. I think the reason for “dual-wielding” there is that the Armor Class system that made the war game more elegant led to a shield making you only 5% less likely to take a full-damage hit. When that’s all a shield does, players are going to put another weapon in that hand and argue with the DM that if one weapon = one attack/turn, two logically = two.

          • CatCube says:

            @Tibor

            A lot of this is simply because the “wrong” way is visually impressive to people who don’t know any better, and the correct way is only interesting to people who are deeply familiar with actual swordfighting.

            It’s not a flaw limited to swordfighting, either. X-Men 3 came out right after I had finished officer training. One of the first scenes has a bunch of soldiers advancing on a hilltop to capture some mutants, and they have a squad on all three sides to completely surround them. Which is totally wrong. You use an L-shaped cordon in that situation, with the heaviest weapons on the outside corners–totally surrounding an enemy in close quarters means that if you miss when shooting at the enemy your shots stand a good chance of fratricide. This was obvious to me as somebody who was still new to the Army, but if they had done it the “real” way, people who don’t know this will wonder why they left two sides open. In that situation, it’s bad writing to leave 95% of your audience confused to satisfy the 5% who are familiar with the real-world situation.

            Another example, nearer and dearer to my structural engineer heart, is the complete lack of understanding of the structural mechanics of a building. My stock example of this is in Cloverfield, where they show a pair of skyscrapers with one pushed over so that it leans on one across the street. The most recent example in a movie I saw was in the new Justice League, where Superman is carrying an entire apartment building out of danger.

            Both of these are obviously totally impossible with even the slightest knowledge of how buildings carry loads. The skyscraper in Cloverfield cannot be pushed that far over without the P-Δ effect causing the entire building to collapse straight down when it’s not too much more than maybe 15′ (~5m) out of vertical.

            As for the apartment building in Justice League, if you have a footing settle a few inches (cm) differently than the others, you will start seeing severe architectural distress (diagonal cracks from doors and windows, and sticking doors), and more than that can result in actual structural distress. Buildings with anything over a fairly small footprint simply cannot carry the large vertical loads imposed on them too far horizontally with the way they’re normally constructed. So if you tried to pick up a building from the middle, Superman-style, you’ll just bend the whole building upward until it breaks in half, and it’ll never even leave the ground.

            I think there’s an argument to be made that these depictions can cause real harm by feeding 9/11 conspiracy theories (because peoples’ visual of a building collapse is informed by fiction rather than real life). But in each of these situations they did it anyway–if they even knew it was wrong–because it was a cool visual. They’re not making movies to appeal to structural engineers, because you’d go broke doing that. So they show it “wrong” to make it accessible to a wide audience.

          • Nornagest says:

            That’s fascinating. Elaborate?

            I study a sword style that descends from Nakamura Taizaburo, who worked as a sword instructor for the IJA in Northern China during the Sino-Japanese War. (It’s not Nakamura-ryū, though — my teacher’s teacher was Toshishiro Obata, who left to start his own school before Nakamura-ryū was formally incorporated.) Nakamura died a couple years before I started training, but I’ve spoken to some of his students. Most didn’t have much to say on the subject — very few people of that generation are left now, and most of those that are, aren’t willing to talk about their experiences. But I have heard a bit from the horse’s mouth, and considerably more secondhand from people of my teacher’s generation.

            On the other side of that war, I also ran into a fellow in the Philippines a few years ago who’d fought as a guerilla against the Japanese when he was about fourteen, and grew up to become a prominent eskrima instructor. He was kind enough to tell me some of his stories, too.

          • Nornagest says:

            Fencing is obviously a sport, the foil being a gentleman’s dress sword rather than a battlefield weapon.

            It’s worse than that — the foil was always a training weapon, designed as a light, nonlethal way to practice technique. Hence the elaborate right-of-way rules. The gentlemen’s smallsword of the 18th century evolved into the Olympic epee, which is heavier and slightly longer with a larger bell guard. I don’t know where the Olympic saber comes from; I’m told it evolved from Hungarian weapons, but it must have come very far if so. It resembles the actual fighting sabers I’ve seen far less than an epee resembles a smallsword.

            The smallsword is a lethal weapon, incidentallly, but it’s optimized for infrequent, unarmored one-on-one duels, rather than for battlefield use against multiple people who might be wearing armor.

          • Nornagest says:

            Judo is really a sport rather than a martial art designed for real-world application (that’s why it’s ju-do and not a (ju)ju-tsu).

            Judo is primarily a sport, but it’s easy to read too much into the judo/jujitsu distinction. -do means “way”, roughly, and -jutsu means “technique”. The former carries linguistic connotations of being more… I don’t know if I can use the word “holistic” here without it sounding like hippie bullshit, but that might be the best way of putting it. More well-rounded, more concerned with developing character. Kano sensei was very much into that angle, and that’s one reason he used the word. You can’t necessarily draw the same conclusions if you see the suffixes used for other styles, though.

            Also, after the war, many Japanese arts rebranded as -do styles for political reasons without substantially changing their curricula.

          • Tibor says:

            @CatCube: I like to use this as an example of an amazing looking fight which uses realistic techniques. Obviously, there still is a bit of artistic license, but much less than in Hollywood and it looks so much better. You actually get the feeling they are trying to kill each other, plus some of the techniques (with that slow motion to highlight them) actually look brilliant and would be something entirely new to the average viewer (kind of like Bruce Lee revolutionized kung-fu movies).

            Of course, your average actor won’t be able to pull this off or only after way too much training. But with some good editing (or by having the characters wear helmets during the fight…although I sort of understand that the filmmakers don’t like the main characters to wear helmets because those actors are expensive and they want to show their faces as much as possible) you could use proficient doubles.

          • Nornagest says:

            Can confirm that’s way better swordplay than anything I’ve seen out of Hollywood.

          • CatCube says:

            @Tibor

            I’ll take your word for it that it’s better, but to be honest if I didn’t compare it with, say Game of Thrones one after the other, I don’t know that I’d notice the difference.

            I can talk somebody’s ear off about poor small-unit tactics or room-clearing in movies, but I don’t know enough swordplay for the badness to jump out at me. It’s just not one of my bugbears. I can understand how it could be somebody elses–like my previous comment shows, I’ve got my own–but I’ve just never invested the time in sword combat for it to become so.

          • but I’ve just never invested the time in sword combat for it to become so.

            I’ve invested quite a lot of time in it and also know a little about the historical sources, although not a lot. I haven’t seen Game of Thrones, although I did look at a few webbed fight scenes from it, supposedly some of the better ones. Judging by those I agree with Tibor.

            Part of it is speed. Part of it is a sword fight turning into grappling, which period ones apparently did (SCA doesn’t). I thought the “fall down but don’t lose” action was overdone, but still not entirely unbelievable.

          • Tibor says:

            @CatCube: I don’t have all that much experience with historical fencing apart from reading about it and watching videos. I became interested in the topic while doing my PhD in Germany and the closest HEMA (historical european martial arts) club was 80 km away, not worth going there and back every week. Now, I’m back home and there is a HEMA club in my home town but I will have to wait till February for the beginners course to start again from the beginning. But even if you don’t have even that, the fight scene from Adorea (the video I linked to) looks a lot more lively. You feel like they really want to kill each other and they are fast. Most Hollywood fights are really slow and mostly consist of them swinging into the air in between the two combatants (aiming at the opponent’s sword, not at the opponent…there are very few fights in the movies where they use weapons other than the sword…which, if it is in a battle is kind of like using mostly pistols in a WW2 movie, but ok, swords are cool). The worst thing are the spins. And you’re right, most people are probably not bothered. But people watched kung-fu movies before Bruce Lee and weren’t bothered by it. Lee and then Jackie Chan raised the standard a lot. On the other hand, western cinema is still pretty bad in this respect, most fighting is done with camera tricks so that you don’t see that none of the actors can actually fight (they use extremely many cuts and never actually show the fists landing). But while my only practical experience with martial arts is a year or so of judo when I was 9 and then about 2 years of freestyle wrestling (like Greco-Roman but you can also attack legs) when I was about 14-16, I find East Asian unarmed fight scenes much more enjoyable than their western counterparts (Jackie Chan in particular). Of course, they are often far from realistic but you can see that the people actually have some training and the director does not have to resort to cheap tricks to disguise the fact that they know nothing about fighting.

            @David: What are the SCA rules? Are there any restrictions on what part of the body you are allowed to hit? What I like about HEMA is that there are none (of course that means you need safety gear if you’re sparring with actual, albeit blunt, weapons). Grappling is also fine there. My understanding is such that grappling was particularly common in armoured fighting. Unless you have a war hammer or even better a polearm, you just cannot do anything against a 14-15th century plate armour. What you can do is bring your opponent down and then stab him where there are openings in the armour (the visor, which you can lift when you’r holding him on his back, the armpits, the groin). The openings have to be there since otherwise you would not be able to move in the armour (specialized jousting armour is an exception but that is essentially sport equipment which would be completely unusable in a battle due to its weight and severe restriction of mobility and vision).

  4. johan_larson says:

    You have the opportunity to bring to our time one historical person who is now dead. It can be anyone at all, from any stated time in his or her life. Don’t worry about breaking history; this person lived and died as in our timeline; you’re getting as perfect a copy as physics allows.

    So, who do you want?

    (Let me suggest we skip the bus to Shitstorm, OK, by not naming really major religious figures. So Jesus and Mohammed are out, but feel free to name Paul or Abu Bakr.)

    Personally, I find this a difficult question, because I don’t think having a historical person available for direct consultation is going to make much of a difference. We already know rather a lot about the major figures of history, because their words and deeds have been amply recorded.

    • Well... says:

      I’d bring back Prince or Chris Cornell, since seeing Prince and Soundgarden in concert were both things I intended to do but did not get the chance. (Or if I can only pick one of them but then also get a one-off where I can manipulate living people, bring back Prince and have one of the Winan sisters–or similarly equipped black female gospel singer–take over lead vocal duties for Soundgarden. Or maybe Cornell’s older brother who also sings marvelously. Or Doug Pinnick from King’s X.)

      But to answer more in the spirit of the question, I’d love to bring back my dear Robert E. Lee.

    • Protagoras says:

      Plato is a somewhat boring answer for a philosopher to give, but I have some inclination to give it anyway. He was so insightful, and he seemed to be partly inspired by the geometric innovations of his time; I wonder how he would react to modern logic and mathematics, what that would inspire in him.

      I guess the original Protagoras would have been an even more obvious choice for me, but he’s really just one of the vast horde of people we don’t actually know much about because our records on ancient times are so spotty. If I could get access to lots of people, my list would include a lot of those (including Protagoras, certainly), but if I only get one person, I’m not going to take a chance on someone who I don’t know enough about to know if they actually would be worth the effort. So the author of Protagoras before Protagoras.

    • johansenindustries says:

      I looked for a time limit, and didn’t find one so I’d pick Jane Austen. Greatest author of all time. Her novels are the greatest social insight of all time. I know that I could use those insights for the current wicked world.

      Part of me wants to pick von Neumann, but that’s rather a big cop-out on ‘historical’. I just think he’s really smart, and he’s proven the ability to put those smarts to use in the modern hyper-specified, hyper-empircal etc. world.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Non-culture war:

      John von Neumann. Someone considered a genius by other geniuses has to be good to have around.

      Culture war:

      Adolf Hitler, just to give people a sense of perspective. Mike Godwin can take him on the lecture circuit to demonstrate.

      • Anonymous says:

        Adolf Hitler, just to give people a sense of perspective. Mike Godwin can take him on the lecture circuit to demonstrate.

        Er ist Wieder da! 😉

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Since you can’t have the actual Hitler, I recommend Look Who’s Back, in which Hitler appears in contemporary Germany, and is immediately picked up by the media as a brilliant comic Hitler impersonator.

        I’ve read the book, but I haven’t seen the movie.

        It’s told from Hitler’s point of view, and it’s fascinating to watch him try to achieve his goals while figuring out the modern world. It’s funny and disquieting.

        • Anonymous says:

          I saw the film. It’s brilliant.

          (Nevermind minor mischaracterizations of Hitler – like portraying him to be a little on the “slob” side, while IRL he was a gigantic neat freak.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Nebuchadnezzar I’s sage, one Šaggil-kīnam-ubbib. I would ask what the flip happened in the region between 1200 BC and 1150 BC.

    • Tibor says:

      I think there are two ways you might want to use it. One is to find someone from a historical period you want to learn more about. Someone who could help you with these would be great.

      Another one is to bring someone really smart who can come up with more really smart things. Someone mentioned John von Neumann. Niels Abel would also probably be a good choice, given how much he managed to do in maths before the age of 26 when he died. Their usefulness depends a lot on what age they will be when you bring them back. And do they keep all knowledge of the entirety of their historical life or just whatever happened before they reached the age when you copy them in the present? A 60year old Newton would probably not be very helpful today, he’d have so much catching up to do he probably would not come with any significant new discoveries.

      Well, depending on your tastes I guess a third possibility is to bring back Marilyn Monroe to … ok I’ll stop here 🙂

      All in all, the best thing would be to bring someone like Marilyn Monroe from the ancient Mesopotamia.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Bach. I’d like to know about actual performance practice from his time, and I’d especially like to see what he’d do with a music synthesizer.

      On the other hand, there’s Jeremy Bentham. I just read this, by Rikk Hill. Quoted at length because I realize not everyone is willing to have a facebook account.

      I’d like to talk a little bit about moral philosopher Jeremy Bentham, and why he has a weird level of celebrity status among people who think like I do.

      Jeremy Bentham lived in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, in what we think of as the mid-late Georgian era. That’s important. This is the period in which Jane Austen wrote all her novels. The global policy issue of the era was motivating the abolition of the international slave trade. 3% of the population of England and Wales had the right to vote. Over this period, the Industrial and Agricultural revolutions in Britain mean that instead of 45% of the labour force working in agriculture, a mere 22% of the labour force was required for feeding the nation. At the time, using just under a quarter of your working population to produce enough food was seen as nothing short of a miracle. Today, this number is less than 1%.

      He lived in a very different time, is what I’m saying. I can’t stress this enough. It’s desperately important to remember this when thinking about Jeremy Bentham, because his intellectual output is principally characterised by being (a) utterly batshit, and (b) shockingly, eerily, uncannily ahead of its time.

      Let’s deal with the batshit stuff first. Jeremy Bentham was a wildly eccentric dude, perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that I used to walk past his corpse every day. It sits in a glass case in University College London. He instructed that after his death, his body should be dissected for medical science, and afterwards, his taxidermied corpse should be put on display. He called this an “auto-icon”; why build a statue to someone when you can just exhibit their body? If you’re around Fitzrovia on a weekday, you can pop in and see it.

      He thought the social mores and taboos of his time were arbitrary or unhelpful or outright wrong, and the social mores and taboos around death and the dead were just one example of this. In later life, he became fixated on the role of bodies after death, and suggested decorating public spaces with mummified corpses instead of trees. He also shared his bed with the pig he kept as a house pet, pioneered a form of jogging (which he called “ante-prandial circumgyration”), and maintained largely-unsolicited correspondence with different heads of state from all over the world on the subjects of legal and constitutional reform.

      Some of this is to be expected. If you reject the norms of your time and try to re-derive the social order from first principles, you might end up spooning a pig and writing to the President of the United States about codifying the common law. What you might *also* end up doing is independently inventing much of 21st Century Western liberalism, which is what Bentham also did.

      There is a sense in which Jeremy Bentham literally invented a lot of the concepts we take for granted as the founder of utilitarianism and a prolific Enlightenment thinker, but there is another sense in which, almost as a side-effect, he came to a variety of conclusions about the social order which wouldn’t gain widespread traction until decades or even centuries after his death. Universal suffrage, sexual equality, decriminalisation of homosexuality, abolition of the death penalty, animal welfare, no-fault divorce… the list of stuff which he essentially inferred from first principles yet ran strongly counter to the prevailing cultural norms is striking.

      He was notoriously bad at getting his work published, and almost all of what he wrote had to be collated and published posthumously by friends and proteges. A lot of editorial work went into making these works acceptable to the public, to the point where his defence of homosexuality didn’t come to light until 1931, over a century after he wrote it.

      Many of the ideas he advocated have been part of the society we all grew up in for so long that we don’t even recognise them as active choices of how our society is organised, but others are weirdly specific contemporary progressive ideas. For example, he very specifically drew attention to sexual promiscuity of women as being judged disproportionately harshly compared to that of men. He claimed there were other norms, such as sexual fidelity, that undercut any harms that might result from sexual promiscuity, and shaming women on the basis of their sexual appetite just harmed everybody. This is a point that contemporary feminists are still having to make two centuries later. With a few small tweaks, a lot of what he wrote on sexuality could have come straight out of a contemporary discussion on sex-positivity. A reminder: he was writing this at about the same time Jane Austen was writing Mansfield Park.
      I am going somewhere with this. I’m not just yammering on about how cool I think Jeremy Bentham is. So here we go. Here we get to the point of this little rant.

      Treating everything you know about the world as suspect and trying to reason about it from as small a set of assumptions as possible is, to my mind, one of the fundamental tools of analytical thought. Not everyone agrees with me on this. There is a particularly annoying strand of post-cultural-turn thought which rears its head whenever I try this in public. “What’s that?” it’ll say, “you’re trying to infer objectively-grounded facts about the universe? Well you *can’t*, you naive silly sausage, because whether you like it or not, you’re in a *culture*, and that culture permeates your entire conception of reality, and you can’t ever really know anything, so there!” Then it sits there, like a cat that’s inordinately smug about what it’s just dropped in the litter box.

      I’m not *entirely* unsympathetic to this idea. We are a product of the culture we’re raised in. It would be silly to think that if I grew up 12th Century Saxony or early Imperial China that I would have the same moral and political sensibilities that I do now. I would probably believe what most other people in those times and places believed. Given that, maybe it is unreasonable to think that I can somehow discard the biases of my own culture.

      But then I look at Jeremy Bentham, who, at a time when the morality of chattel-slavery was still a hotly-debated topic, was saying that It’s Okay to Be Gay and we shouldn’t slut-shame. Throw in a Belle and Sebastian album and an animated gif of a puppy fighting it’s own reflection, and he could be on Tumblr.
      Jeremy Bentham’s method is my method. My justification for progressive liberalism comes from starting at the same premises he started at and playing them forward. It’s phenomenally easier for me to do that than it was for Jeremy Bentham, because we’ve had 200 years of progress and I’m surrounded by other people who have the same set of object-level beliefs as I do. Those people are happy to support this method when it’s advocating LGBT+ rights and sex-positivity, but if it delivers anything from left-field, that’s when the knives come out.

      Here is a radical proposition: Jeremy Bentham wasn’t just ahead of his time — he was ahead of *our* time. This was definitely true as recently as 1967 when homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK. Maybe in another hundred years we’ll all be taking our pigs for an ante-prandial circumgyration along a row of mummified corpses. Taking a less facetious tack, over half of his writings have never been published. Who knows what he wrote which we would find bizarre today but which our great-grandchildren wouldn’t bat an eyelid at.

      More generally, maybe you can’t have the visionary foresight without the eccentricity. Even among progressive people, who pay a lot of lip-service to celebrating diversity, there is a surprising amount of hostility to weird nerds re-deriving the social order from first principles. When we’re judging people for doing this, maybe we should remember Jeremy Bentham. Perhaps this method has more value than meets the eye.

      Bentham Transcription Project, to improve the odds of seeing the other half of what Bentham wrote.

    • Well... says:

      Another good one: I’d bring back Christopher Evan Welch so his character Peter Gregory could come back to Silicon Valley. Suzanne Cryer does an amazing job playing essentially a female version of Peter Gregory, so I’d like to see their characters interact.

    • On the subject of bringing back geniuses, while I can see a good case for Von Neumann, Galton is another strong candidate. He didn’t just play a major role in inventing statistics and popularizing evolution. He also wondered whether Darwin was right in speculating that inheritance worked via blood and figured out how, with 19th century technology, to test the conjecture. He asked whether talent was inherited equally through the male and female line, figured out how to test the question empirically, got the wrong answer due to a bias in his data, realized there was a bias in his data, redid his calculations, and got the right answer.

    • Aapje says:

      I can’t believe no one asked for Leonardo da Vinci. He was obviously greatly held back by the limited manufacturing techniques of the time and it would be great to have him as a ‘maker’ today.

  5. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2017/11/27/success-effort/

    Discussion of biases which cause people to give worse advice than they otherwise might– for example, not wanting to be blamed for failure resulting from the advice, and therefore recommending too little risk. This might apply more to advice in person than to advice given to the public– a lot of public advice seems to be recommending too much risk, but then someone who just says follow your bliss is less likely to be blamed than someone who recommends to you personally that you start a business which turns out to fail.

    There are biases which can cause people to either under represent or over represent the amount of effort involved in a project.

    Anyway, I’ve noticed that I recommend a lot of efficient movement systems, I tend to not mention how much I’ve spent on classes and therapy sessions.

  6. johan_larson says:

    Here’s a link to a personal-experience article by a guy who was a hippie in San Francisco back in the 60’s.

    http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-2546-true-story-i-was-hippie-in-san-francisco-in-sixties.html

    TL/DR: The stereotypes aren’t wrong, exactly, but there is more to the story than they convey.

  7. Anatoly says:

    Do you think programmers ought to know how transistors work?

    • Anonymous says:

      Which programmers? Verilog programmers/ASIC designers should. Java programmers don’t need to.

    • Timothy says:

      I’d say they ought to have seen it modelled as a three-terminal device and applied to building logic and memory; knowing the semiconductor stuff about the BJT or the FET seems like getting into diminishing returns.

    • fortaleza84 says:

      There are really two questions here: First, is having an understanding of how transistors work helpful to a programmer; second, is the kind of person who knows how a transistor works likely to be a better programmer than one who doesn’t.

      • Anatoly says:

        So are your answers “no” and “yes”? (in the second question you’d probably want to condition on the person already being a programmer)

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      I’m an electrical engineer who specialized in computer architecture but mostly just codes for work these days.

      I think my ability to grok computers and programming raised a level when I took the first digital logic and microprocessor applications classes in college. But transistors? I don’t really think so. I think it would be enough to do as toastengineer says. A programmer would be wise to understand how to use digital logic gates (AND/NAND, OR/NOR, XOR/NXOR, NOT) to make a full adder, a latch/buffer, and maybe a simple microprogrammed state machine for control. Then they would understand the basics of what the processor they’re programming is doing, and drive home the fact that there’s no magic going on, it’s just a whole bunch of simple switches.

      Then as an aside you could show them how to make the simple gates out of MOSFETs to get the gist of how one makes the little switches and gates out of physical components. It’s probably enough to just read the Wikipedia page on CMOS logic.

  8. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Here’s the article I mentioned above about controversial claims that the Ancestral Puebloan/Anasazi culture practiced human sacrifice and ate the victims.
    Basically, the Navajo claim to know as much about Chaco Canyon and related archaeological sites as Puebloan speakers, while the scientific consensus is that Athabascan-speaking proto-Navajo and Apache didn’t reach the area until Chaco had been abandoned for centuries. Puebloan-speakers use scientific consensus to support their claim to be the only ones present from the time Chaco was built until after it was abandoned, and don’t like Navajo and pro-Navajo white archaeologists poking around and suggesting the kivas were used for anything unethical.

  9. buttjuice says:

    Any history pro around here that can clear a thing out for me ?
    I saw an argument on a imageboard recently regarding Transylvania between a Hungarian and a Romanian.
    Whatever the Romanian said I could verify with wikipedia but whatever the Hungarian said I could not.
    His whole argument is that there were no Romaians in Transylvania pre Hungarian occupation and they migrated there after during the years of Maria Theresa filling the gaps made bu turks in Hungarian population eventually achiving majority in that region ? I could not get any concrete information out of him and I can’t find any source for what he is saying.
    Can someone point me in te right direction ?

    • quaelegit says:

      Hungarians have a reputation for being …tribalistic? (in the SSC sense) over Transylvania. (For example, when I was in Budapest this June, the Transylvanian flag was flying prominently on the front of the parliament building, while the EU flag was hidden off to side.) That combined with his caginess would lead me to dismiss his argument. Though to be fair I don’t know the reputations of Romanians on this subject.

      But if you want to be more charitable and less lazy than me, the subreddit r/AskHistorians might be a good place to ask for details and resources of migration patterns/historical demographics in Transylvania and how this plays into the modern debate. They don’t allow discussion of recent (>20 years old) events, but almost all of this debate is much older than that.

    • Viliam says:

      I believe the information is false, and it’s just historical revisionism. Some Hungarians are still sad about the territories lost in 1920, and “all population there was Hungarian” is a meme that provides greater justification for still wanting those territories back, one hundred years later.

      The official story (supported by Wikipedia) is that those territories were lost where the majority of the population there was not ethnically Hungarian; so after WW1 they were given to existing or new national states according to the majority population. I can easily imagine that the evaluation was not completely fair (Hungary just lost the war, and was judged by its enemies). On the other hand, if we speak about historical populations, it seems fair to also mention forced hungarization during the previous decades (if 100 years ago is relevant, why not 200 years?); i.e. we are talking about territories where after decades of assimilation, the majority of population still remained non-Hungarian.

      (To get an idea about the effectiveness of assimilation, notice how minorities other than Roma are almost non-existent in current Hungary. EDIT: Actually, now I see how this could work as an argument for either side. It is exactly the same result you would see if all not-completely-Hungarian territories were lost.)

      What probably confuses people a lot is a “mathematical paradox” that by losing territories where Hungarian ethnicity was in the minority, Hungary lost a majority of their ethnic population. Good luck explaining this to a person with average math skills!

      Disclosure of conflict of interest: comment author is Slovak, i.e. one of the bad guys

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sweet! Duolingo has a Mandarin course in beta!

  11. bean says:

    Mine Warfare part 2 is reposted at Naval Gazing. I’ve done a bit more research into magnetic mine mechanisms since I wrote it, so the explanation of the different types should be better.

  12. Well... says:

    Can someone steelman or genuinely defend the following statement, please:

    “Internet access should be treated as a basic human right”

    • beleester says:

      I’m not sure that we should call it a right yet, and the answer probably depends a lot on how you define “right,” but I can definitely see a case for “internet access is an important thing that the government should guarantee to its citizens.”

      A number of systems we use in our daily life, governmental and otherwise, assume that you have internet access and you will access them over the internet. You need the internet to do business, to apply for jobs… in some places you can even vote online. It seems likely that this trend is going to continue – online services will expand, and in-person or phone access will shrink or disappear to save money. Therefore, our society has a duty to ensure even its poorest citizens can get online.

      Basically, even if it’s not required for survival, like food and water, it’s increasingly required to participate in a first-world economy. I can imagine the internet becoming as important as the electric grid in the near future.

      Additionally, if you believe education is a universal human right, then guaranteeing a person’s ability to connect to the largest source of information on the planet is an extremely good way to implement that right.

    • Iain says:

      “Internet access is table stakes for modern society; we should ensure people do not fall below that social floor.”

      • Odovacer says:

        Wait, are people on the table, or the floor? Or in the basement since they could “fall below that social floor.”

    • lvlln says:

      So I’m kinda on the fence on this, but I’m definitely sympathetic to that statement. Here’s my thinking:

      I desire a world in which the luck of birth has zero influence on someone’s life outcomes. On this issue, the matter of luck of the wealth of the family and the community to which one is born is in play, because your access to the internet depends heavily on how rich your parents are and on where you are raised.

      I believe that the internet offers incredible advantages to people when it comes to improving life outcomes, such as finding jobs, finding friends/mates/acquaintances, access to a wide variety of shopping choices, dumb entertainment, or education.

      As such, people having different levels of internet access due to their luck of birth seems likely to lead to people having different life outcomes due to their luck of birth. So to get a little closer to a world in which luck of birth doesn’t affect life outcomes, guaranteeing internet access as a human right to everyone would be a decent step.

      Now, this argument proves too much, because the same argument could be applied to anything that offers different life outcomes, though I’d say that it proves exactly what needs to be proved.

      A more common argument I’ve seen, which I’m also sympathetic to, is that the internet has become so dominant as a form of communication that without it, one can’t reasonably be said to have a right to free speech – free speech isn’t completely worthless without a means by which to transmit it, but it does lose much of what makes it meaningful. If we lived in a world where speaking was the dominant form of communication and some sizable portion of the population had, by luck of birth, loudspeakers at all times that could increase the range of their voices 10-fold, I think it’d be reasonable to argue that the other portion of the population that lacks loudspeakers don’t have the right to free speech to the same level that the one with the loudspeakers have. Especially if they’re living in a society where the majority have loudspeakers and are using them at full volume every time they speak. In such a society, I think it’d make sense to guarantee loudspeakers to everyone as a basic human right.

      I think this conflicts with intuitions I think many people have that basic human rights shouldn’t also compel others to do things – I’ve seen that kind of argument on the issue of socialized health care, for instance. I think it’s incredibly important that people who have this intuition are listened to, but I don’t share that intuition and feel comfortable declaring things basic human rights based on what I believe should happen in an idealized world. If the “basic human right” part is a sticking point, perhaps a steelman of that statement ought to be “we should strive to create a world in which every human has internet access.” But perhaps that’d be de-fanging the statement too much, and the “basic human right” part is the core that you’re actually concerned with.

      • If the “basic human right” part is a sticking point, perhaps a steelman of that statement ought to be “we should strive to create a world in which every human has internet access.”

        One argument against the “basic human right” version is that a polity which accepts the idea of positive rights, that people are entitled to certain outcomes hence entitled to make other people provide them, is likely to work less well than a polity which enforces only negative rights, hence will end up further from the set of outcomes you want.

      • @IVIIN. (By the way, how the heck do you spell your name — which of those letters are capital I’s and which are small l’s?)

        Wow, this is a great post. I pretty much totally disagree with your position (or I did before I read your post), but I may need to change my mind a bit. Well the idea of the Internet being a “right” is definitely nonsense IMO, but whether society should give everyone access to the Internet as a welfare thing perhaps makes some sense. Although I do have a couple of arguments against it.

        1) Yes, people do have unequal starts in life, with some growing up in poor, uneducated families, and some in rich ones with many connections. On the other hand, people also have great disparities in natural talents — intelligence, social skills, general health. I suspect the latter issues are more important than the former. This comes under the rule that life isn’t fair. Yes, it is a good thing for society to try to mitigate these disparities (and for those against too much government oversight, it is a good thing for individuals to try to mitigate this through charity). But is the Internet really that big a factor in these disparities? Maybe.

        2) In my city, public libraries have free Internet, so the poor definitely have access to the Internet. Also, is the Internet really that expensive that the poor can’t afford it? Can’t you get Internet for like $20 per month? OF course you need a computer too, but can’t you get a decent one for at least going on the Internet for $1000? I think this is not too much? And in fact, it seems to me that the poor all seem to have smart phones. I do think that welfare assistance should be based on actual expenses of life, and probably getting the Internet should be part of that.

        • Anonymous says:

          It’s all lowercase. Those are Ls. You can find out by copying the nickname and pasting into something that uses fixed width fonts.

        • quanta413 says:

          can’t you get a decent one for at least going on the Internet for $1000?

          Maybe you just added an extra 0 on accident, but just in case I’ll give some examples. Wal-Mart sells windows laptops for ~$200 This gets you pretty much everything you’d need for your own internet access, typing up documents, etc. besides the actual internet connection. If you’re not attached to having a keyboard, you can get a smartphone there for a little under 50 bucks, although unless you’re just going to bum off wifi, I don’t think you can get a plan with data for less than ~$45 a month though. But that also nets you phone service which you probably need.

          If you can get access to newegg, you can get refurbished chromebooks for under 100 if WalMart laptops cost too much. But that requires more knowledge to be aware of.

          I don’t think poor people in U.S. cities are lacking internet options that almost all of them can afford. Rural areas may be a different kettle of fish though. You may get stuck with no cheap choice but a really bad cellphone data network or dial-up. This wouldn’t be as terrible if it wasn’t for the horrifying amount of page bloat that make a lot of websites impossible to use.

          • CatCube says:

            My parents are in the “dial-up, cell data, or satellite” bucket. And the cell data one is so sketchy that you can’t always reliably check e-mail. You get one bar at best, and often no signal*. They just got Hughes, I think, and I’ll see how that works out when I get home in a few weeks.

            (* This also leads me to a cell phone rant: if somebody tells you that they’re going somewhere without cell service, don’t call their fucking cellphone over and over to try to contact them. Call the Goddamn landline they gave you. Our little electronic leashes don’t work everywhere, and you shouldn’t expect them to. This is one place where I think @Well… has the right of it with overreliance on cell and smart phones.

            Why, yes, I did have somebody trying to get a hold of me for a couple of days while I was on vacation for a time-critical work item without reading my Out of Office message giving them the number to reach me. Why do you ask?)

        • lvlln says:

          Anonymous is correct in that my name is all lowercase.

          1) Yes, people do have unequal starts in life, with some growing up in poor, uneducated families, and some in rich ones with many connections. On the other hand, people also have great disparities in natural talents — intelligence, social skills, general health. I suspect the latter issues are more important than the former. This comes under the rule that life isn’t fair. Yes, it is a good thing for society to try to mitigate these disparities (and for those against too much government oversight, it is a good thing for individuals to try to mitigate this through charity). But is the Internet really that big a factor in these disparities? Maybe.

          Yeah, this is where the argument “proves too much.” Even in the left, there’s a general sort of grumbling concession that people should be rewarded for making use of their hard work and talents.

          That’s never sat right with me. It seems to me that I didn’t have any choice in what I’m talented in or my inclination to work hard. I can afford to have fast internet anywhere primarily because of my income from my job. I landed on my job for a variety of reasons including luck of social connections, but also including the luck of my intelligence and the luck of my inclination to study hard. It seems unjust to me that someone who can’t get a similarly paying job should have less internet access than I do, just because they were unlucky enough to be less intelligent or less inclined to work hard (or just didn’t have lucky social connections like I did).

          That said, it seems to me that empirical evidence pretty convincingly shows that following a “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” principle to organize society is 100% of the time a path to the creation of a hell on Earth with massive amounts of senseless death and even more suffering. Which is why I’m glad people like David Friedman are around to tell me that I might be closer to that path than I might realize.

          So to your question “Is the Internet really that big a factor in these disparities?” I have to answer, I think so, but I’m certainly open to the argument that it’s a small enough factor such that the downsides from “correcting” (as I see it) that factor outweighs the gains. Especially if there are downsides that I’m not sufficiently weighing and paying attention to.

          This is why I’m not fully on-board with the idea of internet access being a basic human right the same way that I consider, say, freedom of conscious to be.

          2) In my city, public libraries have free Internet, so the poor definitely have access to the Internet. Also, is the Internet really that expensive that the poor can’t afford it? Can’t you get Internet for like $20 per month? OF course you need a computer too, but can’t you get a decent one for at least going on the Internet for $1000? I think this is not too much? And in fact, it seems to me that the poor all seem to have smart phones. I do think that welfare assistance should be based on actual expenses of life, and probably getting the Internet should be part of that.

          Well, I do think public libraries and other public infrastructure (e.g. public transportation to allow poor people to get to those public libraries) is a means by which to help to correct this injustice. I do think, though, that internet access of the kind that I have – dozens of Mbps unlimited at home and similar speed but less consistent and limited anywhere via my smartphone – is meaningfully different from internet access from going to a public library. I get to enjoy using the internet from the privacy of my own home using my own equipment that I control or almost anywhere I go on my smartphone, and I get to do it at any time I want. Use cases open up with such freedom and flexibility.

          I guess ideally, when it comes to internet access, I’d like a world in which everyone has gigabit at home with the necessary equipment to take advantage of that, as well as a smartphone with LTE. I also think it’d be very easy to accidentally create mountains and mountains of skulls while trying (and utterly failing) to create that ideal world.

          • It seems to me that I didn’t have any choice in what I’m talented in or my inclination to work hard. …

            This line of argument often leads people to conclude that everyone should get equal outcomes. It seems to me more reasonable, if you accept it, to conclude that nobody deserves anything. You aren’t responsible for being smart, or hard working, or honest. The worst person in the world isn’t responsible for all of his faults. He doesn’t deserve to be punished, you don’t deserve to be rewarded. He also doesn’t deserve to not be punished. You don’t deserve to get more than he does, you don’t deserve to get the same amount as he does either.

            The alternative conclusion, which I find more persuasive, is that desert is predicated on the actual person as he is, not the imaginary disembodied soul waiting to become that person.

          • lvlln says:

            This line of argument often leads people to conclude that everyone should get equal outcomes. It seems to me more reasonable, if you accept it, to conclude that nobody deserves anything. You aren’t responsible for being smart, or hard working, or honest. The worst person in the world isn’t responsible for all of his faults. He doesn’t deserve to be punished, you don’t deserve to be rewarded. He also doesn’t deserve to not be punished. You don’t deserve to get more than he does, you don’t deserve to get the same amount as he does either.

            I don’t think that’s more reasonable, though. I think it’s more reasonable to conclude that everybody deserves everything. Because all else being equal, nobody getting anything seems to be worse than everybody getting everything (that’s is one gigantic mammoth-sized “all else being equal,” though).

            The alternative conclusion, which I find more persuasive, is that desert is predicated on the actual person as he is, not the imaginary disembodied soul waiting to become that person.

            I do think that there’s a strong case to be made that in order to create a prosperous society, that’s the basic idea to follow. Heck, even before looking at any empirical evidence, intuitively, it makes sense that a society which rewards people who are intelligent and hardworking is likely to be one where more intelligent people work harder compared to a society which doesn’t, and it makes sense that a society with more intelligent people working harder would be more prosperous than one with fewer.

            But this definitely conflicts with my sense of fairness, justice, and empathy. When I see a beggar starving in the streets or a murderer on death row, I can’t help but feel that it’s horribly unfair that they’re there while I’m here, even though there’s absolutely nothing I did other than be lucky which allowed me to avoid such a fate. Even while recognizing that the systems in place that caused those people to suffer the way they did is probably alleviating far more suffering elsewhere.

            That’s why I’m a proponent both for flattening life outcomes and for listening with as receptive a mind as possible to people who say that societal changes one believes would be beneficial is actually likely to cause unintended negative outcomes. I don’t think I always do this well, but I like to think I try.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It seems to me that I didn’t have any choice in what I’m talented in or my inclination to work hard.

            Inclination, perhaps. But my inclination is to NOT work hard. If I do so anyway, why should the fruits of that be taken away to provide for others who are similarly inclined but followed their inclinations?

          • Because all else being equal, nobody getting anything seems to be worse than everybody getting everything

            I’m not talking about what is better or worse, I’m talking about what people deserve. Once you separate the person from all characteristics that might be relevant to desert, what is the basis for saying that he deserves anything, let alone everything?

            What does a dog deserve? It’s not due to any virtue of yours that you aren’t a dog..

          • lvlln says:

            Inclination, perhaps. But my inclination is to NOT work hard. If I do so anyway, why should the fruits of that be taken away to provide for others who are similarly inclined but followed their inclinations?

            I mean, that’s my inclination as well. However, the fact that I did work hard – or at least hard enough to do the things that landed me in this job – indicates that I had other features that were able to override my default inclination not to work hard. Low time preference or low sensitivity to the boredom or pain from doing the work required to get me the training and qualifications to get my job, for instance. The same applies to anyone else like me who is naturally lazy but managed to work hard anyway – the very fact that they worked hard anyway is evidence that they were lucky enough to have characteristics that could override their natural inclination to be lazy. Other lazy people might not be so lucky and thus just not work hard, which could condemn them to a life of suffering. All because they were unlucky.

            I’m not talking about what is better or worse, I’m talking about what people deserve. Once you separate the person from all characteristics that might be relevant to desert, what is the basis for saying that he deserves anything, let alone everything?

            What does a dog deserve? It’s not due to any virtue of yours that you aren’t a dog..

            The basis is that they’re conscious beings, and I consider conscious beings suffering to be bad (in fact, I’d say the concept of something being “bad” is intrinsically tied to whatever extent it causes suffering in conscious beings). I think a conscious being suffers when it doesn’t get what it wants. My concept of desert follows from that.

            I think a dog deserves everything it wants, to whatever extent that it is conscious.

          • The basis is that they’re conscious beings, and I consider conscious beings suffering to be bad (in fact, I’d say the concept of something being “bad” is intrinsically tied to whatever extent it causes suffering in conscious beings). I think a conscious being suffers when it doesn’t get what it wants. My concept of desert follows from that.

            I think you are misusing the word “deserve.”

            Suppose I am a thoroughly wicked but very talented person, and there is a way of forcing me to use my talents in a fashion that does a great deal of good for other people. It is good that I be kept alive, even at considerable cost to others. But I don’t deserve to be kept alive.

            Do you disagree?

            It seems to me that once you take seriously the determinist line of argument you are following, “desert” no longer makes any sense since nobody is responsible for anything he does, hence nobody can deserve to be either punished or rewarded for anything he does.

          • lvlln says:

            I think you are misusing the word “deserve.”

            Suppose I am a thoroughly wicked but very talented person, and there is a way of forcing me to use my talents in a fashion that does a great deal of good for other people. It is good that I be kept alive, even at considerable cost to others. But I don’t deserve to be kept alive.

            Do you disagree?

            I disagree. You deserve to be kept alive. And whether or not you deserve to be kept alive is not contingent upon any of the other details you provided, such as the fact that you are a thoroughly wicked person or that you are talented or that there is a method of forcing you to use your talents to help people. It’s only contingent upon the fact that you are conscious and are currently alive (and I’m assuming you desire to continue to be alive – if you desire to die, I think you don’t deserve the punishment of being kept alive).

            It seems to me that once you take seriously the determinist line of argument you are following, “desert” no longer makes any sense since nobody is responsible for anything he does, hence nobody can deserve to be either punished or rewarded for anything he does.

            Yes, this seems correct, and this is what I’m struggling with. Because as far as I can see, there’s no principled way to object to racism, homophobia, and other similar bigotries without invoking the idea that people don’t deserve differential outcomes based on their luck of birth. Yet that idea, along with everything we know about physics, necessarily leads to the conclusion that “desert” is a meaningless term.

            Which leads me towards thinking that perhaps society would be better if the concept of desert were removed completely. We punish murderers not because a murderer “deserves” to be punished, but rather because having a system that punishes murderers promotes general well-being and sense of safety among the population. Likewise, we reward intelligent and hardworking people with money and status not because being intelligent and hardworking makes one deserving of money and status, but because having a system that rewards intelligent and hardworking people leads to good work being done that makes the lives of people better.

            Which perhaps might provide a guide for redefining “desert” to make it make sense. At the same time, I see the concept of “desert” as being very pernicious and causing a lot of suffering in this world. I’d prefer it that when we punish murderers, we do it with compassion such that their level of suffering is as little as is required while still creating enough of an incentive to change people’s behaviors within society such that the occurrence of murder is minimized. But I observe people desiring to cause lots of suffering to murderers on the basis that they “deserve” it, with little thought to the effect it has on the incentive structures of society and the ultimate effects to the murder rates. I can see this easily causing murderers to undergo unnecessary suffering, and a murderer is generally no less conscious than anyone else, and his unnecessary suffering is no less worth preventing than that of anyone else.

            And I also see this kind of thing playing out in smaller scales all over the place, such as antipathy for lazy people who “deserve” to be poor or fat/awkward people who “deserve” to be alone. Perhaps they “deserve” those things in the sense that the systems in place which cause them to suffer in those ways is overall beneficial to society, but the mindset that they “deserve” those things seem to lead to others causing more suffering to those people than is actually necessary for promoting societal well-being.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      It’s not internet access per se that’s a basic human right, but the ability to meaningfully take part in society. In the modern west, a whole host of things, from job applications to filling in government forms to socialising, are largely or wholly done online, and anybody who doesn’t have access to the internet will therefore be severely hampered in doing these things. Hence, internet access is necessary to meaningfully participate in modern society, and should be considered as a human right in a kind of derivative sense.

      • baconbacon says:

        The last two jobs I worked I walked in and asked if they were hiring, was interviewed in person and offered the job in person. I even did the work in person. I didn’t realize I wasn’t meaningfully interacting with society.

        The internet makes my life better, but this vein of “you have to do this to be a part of society” is bullshit, you could have said the same thing about having cable years ago. “everyone talks about TV event X, how can you not have cable? You won’t be able to talk about X without it!”, you probably had people arguing for microwave ovens 60 years ago, “supermarkets have so much frozen food in them, you can’t really afford to eat if you don’t get one!”.

        • MrApophenia says:

          That is unusual for many modern workplaces. If you walked into my workplace and asked if we were hiring, the security desk would shrug and tell you to check our website, and they wouldn’t let you in the door.

          I don’t work at some prestigious firm or anything, either.

          I have gotten jobs without the internet – but not since 2004.

        • Deiseach says:

          Guy at my workplace is looking for a full-time job, was asking if anyone knew anyone in [major local employer] and who he should address his CV to, since he was going to bung one in.

          My brother works there, so I said I’d ask him (I reckoned he’d at least know the name of a guy in the HR Department which would be better than simply addressing the CV to ‘Whoever opens this envelope’).

          My brother said that (a) actually they’re not hiring right now (even for the Christmas rush) and (b) don’t bother sending in a paper CV, that will just be ignored. Apply via the website as that’s where jobs are advertised and that’s where HR will respond. Plus you’ll also have a better chance of getting a job working there by applying to [major outsourcing firm] instead since [major local employer] outsources so much to them, from catering to maintenance to you name it, and he gave me a couple names to pass on for application purposes.

          So walking in the door and asking “any chance of the start?” is not going to get you hired there, at least.

    • Urstoff says:

      I’d need a steelman of the concept of rights, first.

    • John Schilling says:

      “Internet access should be treated as a basic human right”

      Is literacy a basic human right? If so, when and where did that happen?

      I think internet access is as basic to humans in early 21st century developed nations as literacy was in the early 20th; “right” is fuzzy when it comes to positive rights that require specific effort on someone else’s behalf, but whatever measures you’d have endorsed to make sure that young adults ca 1917 could at least read, roughly analogous measures are now appropriate to ensure that young adults have at least some internet access.

  13. Mark says:

    I’m a moderate kind of guy, but after watching BBC question time* last night, I feel a desperate need to secede, emigrate, seastead – anything!

    “Trump did a bad tweet” – BOOOOO! – “Ban him from the country” – *CLAP CLAP CLAP* – “I really hate Trump” *CLAP CLAP CLAP*

    Some British politicians are calling for Trump to be arrested for hate speech.
    I feel like I’m living in a joke country, a sort of vulgar, unfunny, boring joke country, and I want off. I want to live in a sensible land, where people have sensible discussion, where public figures aren’t howled down the moment they go off the carefully planned (and completely nonsensical) virtue signally script.
    A country without Alan Kurdi policy making. Where Peter Hitchens is Prime Minister.

    Any ideas? Do you think there are enough people who feel similarly that maybe, some day, we could take over the Isle of Wight or something? Any other suggestions?

    *Panel show where politicians and other worthies take questions from a studio audience.

    • Jaskologist says:

      The traditional solution for Brits unhappy with their government has been to move to America.

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      You’ve been living in a joke country for the longest time, mate. It’s why your comedians are so good.

    • Incurian says:

      Do you think there are enough people who feel similarly that maybe, some day, we could take over the Isle of Wight or something?

      That will just confirm what a big racist you are.

      • Protagoras says:

        Yeah, we can see through the undead supremacist agenda that’s being pushed here!

        • quanta413 says:

          The Wight Nationalist Worker’s Party would like to make a statement clarifying that it is not “undead supremacist” but rather “undead separationist”. It believes in the right of all magically animated beings to maintain the unique fabric of their society. We have nothing against golems, but golems don’t belong here. They shouldn’t be allowed to just enter undead territory and undercut undead laborers making an honest undeath terrorizing small villages for the local wizard. Golems who come here are stealing the human flesh from hard working undead mouths!

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      I don’t think it makes too much sense to get outraged about political theater. I’d just tune it out, same way I tune out the 24 hour news cycle.

      Remember that guy who lasted like 10 days? What was his name? Scarmucci?

    • dodrian says:

      The last time I heard something sensible said of Trump by a UK politician was Question Time a few years ago early during the US Primary when Chuka Umunna said something along the lines of “Trump? Why are we still talking about this man? If we all just stopped paying attention to him he’d go away!”

      I think the current political problems in the UK stem back to the Con/Dem alliance of 2010, which finally broke the collective hallucination of “we want our politicians to compromise and cooperate to get things done.” When the LibDems provided an example of how to broker power sharing deals and compromise to pass legislation (and I feel like the Government’s record since 2015 shows the LibDems were a significant moderating force) people realized that when they said they want compromise, what they meant was that the Other Side to compromise on all of their values so Our Side can legislate what we want.

      Thus the mess we currently have, where the only remaining sure-fire way to score political support is by bashing Donald Trump.

      (Of course 2010 coincides with the time when I was beginning to properly follow politics, so I’m probably very biased on this date!)

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I don’t think Trump was joking. I think he really hates Muslims. It’s possible that it would be a better British response to claim what he did was so ridiculous it must be a joke.

      It’s pretty clear that you and I would be happier in different micronations.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Clarification, it’s possible to hate Islam without hating Muslims. It’s okay to hate ideas, especially really bad ones like Islam.

        That said, Britain is in a state of dhimmitude.

        • Mark says:

          I think I’m the opposite – Islam seems ok – I’m a little worried about the Muslims.

          • Viliam says:

            Any religion is okay when people ignore the parts that tell them to hurt other people, and focus on the parts that tell them to become more virtuous.

          • Mark says:

            I’m certainly no expert, but it seems to me that Islam is a really practical religion that addresses issues of violence and domination without hypocrisy.

            I don’t want to go to war. Peace is fine by me.

            But I think if I was going to go to war, I’d want to ensure the submission of those I was fighting against.

            And maybe, when I say “I want peace” I’m being hypocritical, in that I want peace on my own terms, without any paying any price for it. In practical terms, Christians, where they have had a state, have had to be (essentially) Muslim.

            As I say, I’m no expert. I’m probably more interested in philosophy than religion.
            But, I think I object less to principle of violent passages within the Koran, and more to the simple fact that those passages are aimed against me and mine.

        • That said, Britain is in a state of dhimmitude.

          In pretty much the sense that the Us is in a a state of Dummytude.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      Meanwhile, the government is seriously considering plans to give returning ISIS fighters council houses in order to “re-integrate them into society”. So apparently, in the eyes of the political class, “tweeting nasty things about Muslims” = “evil, ban him”, “going abroad to murder non-Muslims” = “well, maybe they were just naïve, let’s see what we can do to help them”.

      • Mark says:

        Of course they are.

        Well, I hope whatever they do works.

        I honestly think the best way to appeal to the kind of people who want to live in the Islamic State would be to start public executions of traitors. They’d probably love that.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          By traitors, do you mean ISIS fighters or the political class?

          • Mark says:

            ISIS fighters.

            I think I’d be more comfortable with them being allowed back in the country as long as I knew they’d be killed if they were found to be plotting mass murder.
            Have them swear an oath, repent, if they break that, death penalty.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Well, the political class there is evil. The challenge for good people is how to humanely get rid of the forces of evil.
        The most humane idea I’ve ever heard proposed in political philosophy is periodic elections whereby evil people who get into power could be non-violently stripped of all power and replaced by another person of the majority’s choice.

        • Mark says:

          Problem is, if you hold some extreme fringe position like not particularly wanting to live next door to a Jihadi who is determined to kill your children (and you don’t have much money) you are out of luck.

          That’s pretty much what Britain First, the EDF, Tommy Robinson are – a protest of the ignored, insulted, and victimised working class. Of course, they are considered completely outside of acceptability, and demonised by the political classes.

          So, I’m not really too sure what can be done.
          Perhaps part of the problem is an attachment to party politics – people don’t vote for individuals, but for parties with an executive plan. Politicians aren’t elected on their individual merits, but by their association with a party brand name – which allows for tighter control of legislators, who can be driven in strange directions.

          I think maybe a more powerful non-party political upper house with a real power to prevent crazy shit going down might help.

          Other than that, it’s secession.

          On the other hand, maybe everything is working as it should and the deplorables should just shut the hell up and get with the program.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            On the other hand, maybe everything is working as it should and the deplorables should just shut the hell up and get with the program.

            Yes, as Pope Francis would tell us, legislators shouldn’t pay any attention to the safety of pre-existing citizens when drafting immigration policy. If a few of you plebs get beheaded by your diverse new neighbours, that’s a sacrifice your betters are willing (for you) to make (on their behalf).

          • Deiseach says:

            That’s pretty much what Britain First, the EDF, Tommy Robinson are – a protest of the ignored, insulted, and victimised working class.

            I have to agree that this is not adequately addressed, since a lot of the enthusiasm about immigration is from the London-based types whose experience is “Saudi princelings buying expensive property as investment, my firm sells this to them and I make cracking commission off those sales, so I’m all for free movement and open borders” and “I’ve hired this wonderful Polish builder/plumber/electrician to do my loft conversion”, while the disgruntled are “I can’t afford to live anywhere in London as all the property prices are jacked up by foreign investors buying property they never even live in” and “They’re hiring cheap Polish labour and I can’t get the job instead”.

            Saying that opposition from the second group is purely and solely based on racism is not tackling the question and leaves them open to “well okay, if you’re calling me a racist, and the only people taking my concerns seriously are this party you call racists as well, then sign me up to vote for the racists!”

  14. johan_larson says:

    The US government sometimes needs to train diplomatic personnel to speak a language from scratch. How long this takes varies quite a bit, depending on the language:
    http://www.openculture.com/2017/11/a-map-showing-how-much-time-it-takes-to-learn-foreign-languages-from-easiest-to-hardest.html

    Basically, English is a Germanic language with a lot of Romance influence, so we have an easy time learning the languages of western Europe, where those two language groups are found. Spanish is Romance, so it’s easy. Dutch is Germanic, so it’s easy too. The farther away you get from those language groups, the more foreign the languages, and the longer it takes.

    But there are some complications. For some reason we English speakers struggle with Icelandic and German, two Germanic languages that you’d think would be easy for us.

    • Well... says:

      Either there are no countries/regions where it takes ~36 weeks (but not ~30 or ~44) to learn their language, or it takes ~36 weeks to learn some kind of micro language spoken only on the borders between Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

      [Edit] Like most humans, I don’t read signage. It says right there in the legend/”blurb” there are no Category III languages in Europe.

    • Creutzer says:

      For some reason we English speakers struggle with Icelandic and German, two Germanic languages that you’d think would be easy for us.

      Those are the two living Germanic languages with the most complicated morphology. I imagine that makes things a bit harder for speakers of a language with a whole of four inflectional suffixes.

  15. LewisT says:

    With Bitcoin hovering near or above $10,000 the past few days, and with this being picked up and commented on by major news sources, I’m curious if any of you folks who own Bitcoins sold them this week, or if you’re planning to soon. Has the recent spike caused any of you to lose faith in Bitcoin? If not, any inkling where you think it might peak?

    (This is just idle curiosity on my part; I’m not looking for investing advice. Looking at Bitcoin’s meteoric rise over the past year (and particularly over the past several weeks), it sure looks to me like it’s going to have one hell of a bust.)

    • Wrong Species says:

      I know nothing about the inner mechanisms of bitcoin but it has been called a bubble literally every year since 2011.

      2011

      2012

      2013

      2014

      2015

      2016

      2017

    • Matt M says:

      Known antivirus magnate and psychopath John McAfee is calling for it to hit $1 million by 2020 (and promising to eat his own dick if it doesn’t)

      • meh says:

        If he though it was going from 10k to 1 million in 3 years, why would he tell anyone?

        Isn’t this just an attempt to make an I told you so prediction?

        • Matt M says:

          If he bought in for $100 (and isn’t planning on buying any more), why wouldn’t he try to convince everyone it’s on a rocket-ship to the moon and they need to buy buy buy now?

          • Protagoras says:

            Yes, exactly; if he owns bitcoins, he wants everybody to believe bitcoins will go up, so that it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    • IrishDude says:

      When Bitcoin hit $5,000 I sold to get out my original investment. Whatever is does from here on out is pure gains for me, it’s my only speculative investment with the vast majority of my investments in diversified index funds, there’s still a lot of upside potential, and I’m financially okay with Bitcoin going to 0 if things don’t work out. I don’t plan on selling anymore Bitcoin for dollars, though I do plan on using Bitcoin to purchase things directly as time goes on. There’s a Matrix Bitcoin meme:
      Neo: What are you trying to tell me, that I can trade my Bitcoin for millions someday?
      Morpheus: No Neo, I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready…you won’t have to.

      As to where Bitcoin might go…it could go to zero if a competing cryptocurrency performs all its functions better or a new attack vector is found that compromises its security. Or, if it becomes a better store of value than gold, with widespread adoption by institutions and the masses, and takes over gold’s market cap of ~$7 trillion, then one BTC would be worth ~$350,000. If it becomes a replacement in part or whole for any fiat currencies too, it’s value would be higher than that.

      • Deiseach says:

        I’m watching all this as an interested outsider (it’s fascinating to see a gold rush take off right under my nose, as it were) and there seem to be two ways to invest in Bitcoin:

        (1) The prudent way
        (2) The ‘you are going to ruin yourself’ way

        And a lot of the new investors seem to be taking the second way. I have no doubt professional investors, large institutions like banks, and people who are not brokers as a living but understand how markets work and have already invested successfully in stocks and bonds and the like will make a profit off Bitcoin. I’m equally sure the new, small investors who are sinking their life savings and borrowing as much money as they can to invest are going to lose their shirts, because they won’t be able to identify when the crest is, when the recovery from a crash is, and when the real crash comes.

        It all reminds me of a 1909 detective story, where one man ruins another by encouraging him to buy shares in a gold mining company. The value of the shares rises like a rocket (complete with first rise, then crash, then recovery to rise and keep rising again), the second guy wonders if he should perhaps sell now just before any possible crash, the first guy tells him that maybe he should as it would be safer (but in such a way that the second guy thinks ‘aha, he knows they’re going to rise even higher and he hopes to buy my stock’) and then they crash and he’s ruined (turns out the first guy was the representative of a deep-pocketed investment firm and they rigged the whole rise of the stock by secretly buying up the stock and disseminating rumours, sold when it was at its highest just before the crash, and made a comfortable profit).

        Then, quietly at first, the boom began. Fraction by fraction the shares crept steadily up in the market to a premium. One-eighth, one-fourth, one-half was reached, and still they climbed upwards.

        …Soon the magnitude of the boom began to attract general notice. The papers peculated on its progress. All sorts of wild rumours were afloat.

        The croakers at the club – the men who were sorry they hadn’t bought in at first and were afraid to buy in now – were certain the market was rigged, and prophesied a crash. Our friend Phil smiled superior as he listened to their cackle. He felt himself in the know. The folly of the outsiders amused him.

        …When the five-dollar shares stood for a day at eleven he called at the office of his brokers.

        …He busied himself with a gold pencil-case and a half sheet of notepaper. “Here are the figures you want – roughly. We have twenty thousand shares to your account. The average profit is about six dollars – perhaps a shade over. If you decide to take your profit at the current price, Mr. Armitage, you will realise, within a few hundred one way or the other, twenty-four thousand pounds nett profit.”

        Armitage gasped. The figure took his breath away. Twenty-four thousand pounds in a week! What a simple thing money-making was after all. In a month, if all went well, it would run to hundreds of thousands.

        “Shall I realise for you?” asked Mr. Samson. There was a suppressed note of personal eagerness in his voice.

        For the moment Armitage was perplexed. One word and the twenty-four thousand pounds was his. But the twenty-four thousand pounds might grow in another week to fifty thousand pounds; to one hundred thousand or two hundred thousand pounds. Some of the papers he had been reading had confidently predicted the shares would go to a hundred dollars.

        What a simple thing money-making was after all. Quite, and that’s the bait that has ruined many a person 🙂 To make it even better, guy one tells guy two from the very start that it’s all rigged, and because guy two now believes he has the real inside information, he never notices when he’s being conned:

        “Now to business,” he said briskly. “From the information I have received Amalgamated Gold wants buying. You have heard of the Amalgamated Gold Co., Ltd?”

        “I cannot say I have, unless I tell a lie”.

        “Well, you are out of everything. Amalgamated Gold is going to be the biggest boom for many a day on the Stock Exchange. A lot of American bosses have gathered together a handful of mines, good and bad, old and new, and sent them booming. The five-dollar shares were at ten a week after issue. They dropped again to five dollars in a month. I believe they are only falling back for a jump higher than the first”.

        “I see,” said Armitage knowingly; “the mines have proved better than was expected”.

        Lamman regarded him with good-humoured amusement.

        “Well, you are green! Why, the mines, or the gold in the mines if there is any, don’t matter in the least. The men that are manipulating the market – the richest and smartest in the States, I believe – are engineering another big rise, and I mean to get into that elevator on the ground floor.”

  16. Wrong Species says:

    Let’s say you have two people who have a strong opinion on some political issue and are on opposite sides(they don’t know each other). They both have a strong ideological reason for their beliefs. Eventually, they realize their bias and try to be more open minded. Eventually, they start moving away from their biases but end up closer to the other side of the spectrum. If we have a strong reason to believe they care more about the truth than proving their ideology, why wouldn’t they converge to one position?

      • Wrong Species says:

        I´m not assuming common knowledge. They don´t know each other. But I am assuming that they have access to the same information and they didn´t choose their position based on their general bias or else they wouldn´t have chosen a position that´s on the opposite side.

    • lvlln says:

      If we have a strong reason to believe they care more about the truth than proving their ideology, why wouldn’t they converge to one position?

      Perhaps even though they care more about the truth than proving their ideology, they’re not very good at truthseeking and often think that they’re seeking truth when in fact they’re trying to prove their ideology?

      • Wrong Species says:

        If they are just trying to prove their ideology, then why would they believe the opposite side of the spectrum of this issue? To put it in more concrete terms, imagine two people studying the issue of financial regulation. One of them is more libertarian and the other is more social democrat. At first, they have pretty straightforward opinions that follow clearly from their bias. But they do research and the libertarian ends up supporting more regulation and the social democrat less. They haven’t converged so much as flipped positions. Maybe they aren’t honest truth seekers but you can’t explain this in terms of supporting their ideology. So why wouldn’t they converge?

    • Jaskologist says:

      Most disputes are over values, not facts. What knowledge would change a view from “I want a world in which everyone is equal” to “I want a diverse world”?

    • Incurian says:

      Are you thinking about specific instances where this has happened? I don’t know why they wouldn’t tend to converge.

  17. melolontha says:

    Has anyone here read Jaron Lanier’s book Who Owns the Future? I found the first 30-ish pages a bit rambling and lazy, and so I flipped ahead to get a sense of whether it was worth continuing. There’s a section in Chapter 10 headlined ‘Experimentalism and Popular Perception’, in which Lanier discusses the Laffer Curve. I feel like I’m going crazy, because as far as I can tell he doesn’t just completely misunderstand the point of the Laffer Curve, but even draws it upside down. I know that well-respected authors make mistakes, but this would be getting into ‘surely I’m missing something’ territory even if I wasn’t clueless about economics (which I am). So if anyone wants to either tell me what I’m missing, or confirm that Lanier was just making it up as he went along, I’d appreciate it. The relevant section is available through Amazon’s ‘look inside’ feature: https://www.amazon.com/Who-Owns-Future-Jaron-Lanier/dp/1451654979

    • Oort says:

      You’re right, Lanier gets it completely wrong.

      • melolontha says:

        Thanks.

        Man, I keep thinking I’m sufficiently cynical, then being forced to reevaluate. I know the world of publishing is probably as messed up as every other industry, but still, how on earth did that get past Lanier, the editors, the gushing blurb-writers, and (as far as I can make out) all of the reviewers? And that’s just a section I randomly flipped to, and happened to have enough background knowledge to notice that it wasn’t just confusing/confused, but flat-out wrong. Who knows what else is hiding in the other 300 pages.

  18. johan_larson says:

    Anyone have a theory about why sharks shut down if you turn them upside down?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apparent_death#Tonic_immobility

    My thinking is that this is a glitch, sort of like those goats that faint if you scare them. It doesn’t serve any function, but it persists because the trigger (being turned over) is so rare for a free-swimming apex predator that there isn’t any real selection pressure against it.

    Until the killer whales discovered it, and started using it to hunt shark …

    • cmurdock says:

      Until the killer whales discovered it, and started using it to hunt shark …

      Do we have any reason to think killer whales only started doing this recently, and not e.g. 10 million years ago?

      • Well... says:

        Nah, killer whales read about it on Wikipedia or Quora like everyone else.

      • johan_larson says:

        I believe the behavior was discovered only recently, which suggests that killer whales only discovered this hunting method recently, or that it isn’t actually very effective compared to other killer whale hunting activities, or that it is difficult to transmit for some reason.

    • hlynkacg says:

      Does it effect egg-laying sharks as well?

  19. quaelegit says:

    @DavidFriedman: On the subject of fitting paperback books in pockets

    Sorry to revive a pretty inane point from OT89.75, but I finally went and measured some of my own books. A couple were 4″x7″ but most were 5″x8″ or 6″x8″. The smaller ones were also older scifi that were printed over a decade ago (Connie Willis’ Bellweather and William Gibson’s Idoru), so possibly standard paperback sizes have increased recently? The other possibility is that my more recent paperbacks were mostly given to me as gifts, so people bought larger/nicer editions.

    And this fall I’ve mostly been reading on my Kindle (5″x6.75″) or hardcovers from the library (big). So maybe that influenced my internal estimate of book size.

    But I don’t think even the 4″x7″ fit comfortably in my pants pockets, so unfortunately I’m back to my original conclusions that its men’s vs. women’s pockets. Oh well, at least this is the culture ware thread. WHY FASHION, WHY?! 🙁

    On a more positive note, this experiment led to the discover that my Kindle fits (just barely!) in the pocket of my favorite jacket! So that’s nice.

    • quanta413 says:

      WHY FASHION, WHY?!

      Because Fashion has a burning hatred for women and thus will not put any practical features on women’s clothing. There are rumors that this is because when Fashion was a young boy, a little girl at the playground called him a “stupidface”. At that point he took a vow of vengeance and swore to quietly sabotage women however he could.

    • Randy M says:

      If you’re a woman (okay, if you are typically wearing clothes marketed towards women) then I don’t expect you could, no. I think they assume you have a purse. I can fit paperbacks into most short pants pockets easily, and jeans with some difficulty. I don’t wear slacks much, but that’s usually easier.

      • quaelegit says:

        >I think they assume you have a purse.

        Yeah, that’s probably it. Indeed, since becoming a Working Professional this summer I have acquired a Reasonably Nice Purse, which also fits my kindle (and has room for other things). And even before that I was a college student so just brought my backpack everywhere, even if the occasion called for something classier. So smaller pockets isn’t really that big a deal, but it would be nice to be able to store more things on your person.

        • Randy M says:

          This same discussion came about when it was suggested that smart phones replace many other things one might have to carry. Unfortunately, phones have been getting bigger and are probably well out of lady like pocket capacity.

          • quaelegit says:

            Yep, but they have been too big for a while. One nice thing is that as they continue increasing they might be too large for guy pockets, triggering a society-wide re-examination of phones and/or pockets.

            (… well, a girl can dream!)

          • sandoratthezoo says:

            This is why women need smart watches.

            They’re broadly useless for men (or, well, “people who carry their phones in their pockets”), but they’re quite good for “people who carry their phones in purses/bags/some other place where they can’t see or hear them.”

    • Odovacer says:

      I’ve seen the “why no pockets in women’s pants/dresses?” question
      pop up every so often over the years. It usually involves women decrying the lack of pockets or functional pockets. From my biased view it looks like women are crazy enthusiastic about pockets, but for some reason they’re stymied by big fashion. Maybe big fashion wants women to continue buying purses and handbags. I don’t know.

      Regardless, there are options for women who want functional pockets, mentioned in the Atlantic article I linked. Patagonia, holsters, and even bras!

      • quaelegit says:

        I haven’t read any of your linked articles, but this is topic is a perennial favorite complaint among my friends and I. The complaint in the OP was mostly rhetorical and lighthearted (I mean yeah, I’d be in favor of more and bigger pockets, but I’m getting by just fine with the status quo. Actually first can we get rid of the norm of nice pants having sewn-up pockets? This really annoys and confuses me.)

        I think articles and complaints like mine make it seem like there’s a lot more enthusiasm than there is. You notice the times when women are excited about it and complain about it or write articles, but you don’t notice the vast majority of the time that we don’t care. I’m probably more enthusiastic about pockets than most women, and I hardly ever think about it, unless something prompts me like DavidFriedman’s original mention of keeping a book in his pocket. So even among women who want bigger pockets (well generalizing from myself) there isn’t a sustained will to do much about it. And I’m not convinced all that many women want bigger pockets ever — it would impact styles and appearance, which lot’s of people DO care about, and I’ve talked to women who don’t think bigger pockets would be better than carrying a bag everywhere.

        And yes, there are niche brands that emphasize their pockets — and outdoorsy brands like Patagonia do tend to do much better on providing useful pockets! But I don’t think there’s the social pressure to change the norm for women’s clothes in general.

        • Loquat says:

          I tend to specifically look for pockets when I shop for new pants, in hopes that enough of us doing that may help encourage the market.

          Also, real pockets that are sewn shut I’m pretty sure are a compromise between us pocket-users and the purported-to-exist women who favor the appearance of pockets but don’t want any actual stuff in there messing up their silhouette. Whenever I buy pants like this, the stitches holding the pockets shut are always a separate line so you can remove them without damaging anything else.

          Now, a FAKE pocket, or a might-as-well-be-fake pocket that’s like one centimeter deep, that sort of thing I hate with the fury of a thousand suns.

          • Also, real pockets that are sewn shut I’m pretty sure are a compromise between us pocket-users and the purported-to-exist women who favor the appearance of pockets but don’t want any actual stuff in there messing up their silhouette.

            Men’s clothing sometimes comes with sewn shut pockets as well, sewn in a way that is easy to open. I don’t know what the reason is.

          • Aapje says:

            They do this so the pockets aren’t deformed by countless men as they try on the jackets.

            https://brokensecrets.com/2010/09/13/why-suit-jacket-pockets-are-sewn-shut/

          • quaelegit says:

            @Loquat

            >I tend to specifically look for pockets when I shop for new pants, in hopes that enough of us doing that may help encourage the market.

            Good for you! I sometimes try to do this as well, but I already find clothes shopping hard and stressful enough that I don’t prioritize it.

            >Whenever I buy pants like this, the stitches holding the pockets shut are always a separate line so you can remove them without damaging anything else.

            I suspected this but I know so little about sewing/clothes-making that I’ve left the stitches in — I would feel so dumb if I ruined a $60 pair of pants immediately by cutting them open! However, I’ve also definitely pulled the stiches out by accident/fidgeting and I don’t think those pants have fallen apart, so cutting them with scissors should be even less likely to cause damage (note to self: todo tonight 😛 ).

            >Now, a FAKE pocket, or a might-as-well-be-fake pocket that’s like one centimeter deep, that sort of thing I hate with the fury of a thousand suns.

            ENTIRELY AGREED.

            @Aapje

            Thanks for the link, that was interesting! Looks like there is (at least a little) debate over pockets in menswear too. I wonder how the no-pockets crowd holds their stuff — if they think things full pockets mess up the lines of a suit, I would think a backpack/satchel would mess it up even more.

      • AlphaGamma says:

        I have seen a claim that the pocketlessness of women’s clothing is part of a deliberate patriarchal conspiracy started during the French Revolution to stop women concealing weapons…

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          A left-wing patriarchal conspiracy against Charlotte Cordays?
          (Fun fact: at her trial, Corday used utilitarianism to justify killing Marat. It didn’t work.)

        • quaelegit says:

          I feel like I’ve seen this somewhere too…

          I do remember an r/AskHistorians answer that discussed the history of pockets in womens clothing, and there was definitely a change in the nature of pockets in the late 18th century, but I don’t remember the details. I’ll post it if I can find it later.

          (Also worth mentioning:the pocket used to be a separate article of clothing/accessory, more like the holster Odovacer mentions above. I don’t remember when this changed.)

          • Nornagest says:

            I do remember an r/AskHistorians answer that discussed the history of pockets in womens clothing, and there was definitely a change in the nature of pockets in the late 18th century, but I don’t remember the details.

            Not a historian, so take this with a grain of salt, but: a pocket used to be a separate pouch, worn on a belt or cord. Women in the early modern era would wear them between layers of clothes, for concealment or protection, and in this case there might be slits in the outer clothes that you could reach them through. (A “wallet”, incidentally, was a similar article.)

            I believe pockets in this sense got less common in the late 18th century as women’s fashion started moving away from multi-layered petticoats, and pockets in the modern sense started appearing sometime in the 19th.

    • Nornagest says:

      5×8 or 6×8 is trade paperback size. 4×7 is mass-market paperback size. Trades are more durable and usually more expensive. For a long time, mass-market paperbacks were standard for genre publishing, but in the last ten years or so there’s been a tendency for more “literary” authors in SF and especially fantasy to be sold in the trade format. A lot of Neil Gaiman’s recent books have been sold that way, for example.

      Doorstopper fantasy is still usually sold in mass-market format once it reaches paperback, though.

      • quaelegit says:

        Thank you for the explanation of “mass-market” vs. “trade”! I’ve seen the terms a lot but never understood what they were referring to.

        • littskad says:

          Originally, trade paperbacks essentially were just hardcover books with different covers. They used the same page-proofs. They were called trade paperbacks because they were intended to be sold through the trades, i.e., dedicated booksellers and other specialty shops.

          Mass-market books had a smaller format with cheaper paper, so couldn’t use the same paginations as trades. (In fact, most mass-market books were never published as hardcovers at all.) They were called mass-market because they were intended to be sold at supermarkets, drug stores, and the like rather than specialized shops.

          They also differed in how unsold units were handled. Unsold trades could eventually be sent back to the publisher by the bookseller for refunds. Unsold mass-market books were generally “stripped”: only the covers were returned after being torn off. The rest of the volumes, without covers, were simply “pulped”.

          The publishing industry, of course, has now changed from this.

    • The Nybbler says:

      My jeans are approximately a half inch thick, 2 pounds, and made of a mixture of blue dye and 200-grit sandpaper. They have a lot of room for my legs. My wife’s jeans are more like 2mm thick, weigh 2 ounces, and are made of a blend of gossamer and Spandex, again mixed with blue dye. They are form-fitting. Of course mine have a lot more room for books!

      (Warning: some slight overstatement may have been employed above)

    • Urstoff says:

      Just wear cargo shorts, which are acceptable for any sex and any demographic

    • meh says:

      scottevest has women’s clothing with lots of pockets (i tried posting a link to the site, but not sure it worked)

  20. Scumbarge says:

    Hey, I need some help finding a novella. Pretty sure it was mentioned in a link dump, or as a candidate for the book club, or in a comment thread (possibly about accelerando, which it reminds me a bit of).
    It was about two dueling artificial intelligences–one a hive-like mind called the demiurge, one a more individualistic and branching community, both trying to defend their areas of the galaxy against the other. Also, in the background, is another “intelligence”–a great, terrifying mass of ever-encroaching grey goo logic, which can only be temporarily contained at best.
    The plot involved some branch of one of the two intelligences being simulated inside the other and finding a “lemma”, some snippet of logic that could be brought out of the simulation and used against the grey good, which I believe was called brobdingnag.

  21. xXxanonxXx says:

    I’ve probably been beaten to the punch on this, but what if The Comet King was a firefighter? Massive spoilers for UNSONG, in case it’s not obvious.

  22. quarint says:

    Do we still think that Trump is not a racist ? Is it still crying wolf ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Islam is a race now? But I thought Islam is the cure to racism! Though I guess you have a point, if Trump opposes Islam, and Islam is the real cure to racism, then that makes Trump at the very least an opponent to anti-racism.

      • quarint says:

        Right, Trump makes the difference between “muslims” and “brown people” crystal clear. As demonstrated in the link I provided.

        • Anonymous says:

          Your link is to a reddit post, which links to a BBC article, which includes a screenshot of the tweets Trump retweeted. Where is the distinction made? Or are you being sarcastic?

      • beleester says:

        Sure as sunrise, any accusation of racism against X will be followed by a comment of “But is X really a race?” As if racism was the only way something could be evil, so if it’s not racist, it must be okay.

        Yes, we’re all sticklers for correct terminology here, but “religionist” hasn’t really caught on as a term so I’m not going to flip out over it.

        • Winter Shaker says:

          “religionist” hasn’t really caught on as a term so I’m not going to flip out over it.

          Well, to the extent that it is used at all, I am more likely to see it used as an approximate antonym of ‘atheist’, i.e. someone who follows a religion, without specify what religion.

          Would ‘(anti-)religious prejudice’ work better?

          • albatross11 says:

            It seems to me that there’s a *much* stronger case for the claim

            Trump is an anti-Muslim bigot

            than the claim

            Trump is a racist.

            And I think it’s actually pretty important to be clear about exactly what we mean when we toss around these words, since they’re commonly used in extremely fuzzy ways.

          • I don’t see support for either claim. Trump is a demagogue who believes he can get attention and political support by saying hostile things about Muslims.

          • albatross11 says:

            DavidFriedman:

            Fair enough. His rhetoric is often explicitly hostile to Muslims and hispanics, whereas I don’t think that’s true in general for blacks or gays. What he feels in his innermost heart about Muslims is unknowable.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Trump calling for the execution of the Central Park five even after there was good reason to think they weren’t guilty suggests some degree of anti-black racism. Likewise, his birtherism might be racism, or it might be political opportunism and epistomological irresponsibility. (Is this a culture wars thread or what?)

            His major animus is against Muslims and hispanics, though.

            Speaking of birtherism, I talked with a man who seemed to know a lot about birther arguments. I asked him what he thought would happen if Obama were removed from office because he didn’t met the natural born citizen requirement, and the birther had no idea.

            Presumably, the outcome would be that Biden would become president.

            This suggests to me that the birther community wasn’t thinking about their goals at all. Whether it was racism or political animus or something else, this seems very weird to me.

          • johansenindustries says:

            This suggests to me that the birther community wasn’t thinking about their goals at all. Whether it was racism or political animus or something else, this seems very weird to me.

            Have you not considered ‘Respect for the Constition’? “Who? Whom?” and similar maxims are the domain of the left, and not something that would really feature in the conscious calculations of Birtherists.

            Obama’s publisher said he was Kenyan-born. As soon as this was bought to Obama’s attention he should have said sorry and then gave the complete evidence of his being born in the US* rather than having his supporters scream ‘Racists!’.

            The issue of whether he could legitimately run is hugely important and should of had cross-party consensus that Obama should have taken all the (very easy) steps to end the doubt that Obama and his publisher of choice created.

            * Which he obviously didn’t do, as it took the current President to force Obama to finally give the full evidence.

          • Matt M says:

            Trump calling for the execution of the Central Park five even after there was good reason to think they weren’t guilty suggests some degree of anti-black racism.

            No it doesn’t. It suggests he believed they were guilty. It’s quite a leap to go from that to “He believed they were guilty solely because they were black.”

          • John Schilling says:

            Trump calling for the execution of the Central Park five even after there was good reason to think they weren’t guilty suggests some degree of anti-black racism.

            The intense desire to punish the only suspect available when the alternative is punishing no one at all, is an error orthogonal to racism. I’ve seen it happen far too often, and with suspects of all races including white guys, e.g. Richard Jewell. Or, more locally, the current mayor of my city still insists that this guy is guilty of a crime he pretty clearly didn’t commit because something something the victim deserves justice something tough on crime blah blah.

            Donald Trump is pretty clearly an anti-muslim bigot and he may be a weakly anti-black racist, but he’s also very clearly a Tough On Crime idiot.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @johansenindustries

            Have you not considered ‘Respect for the Constition’? “Who? Whom?” and similar maxims are the domain of the left, and not something that would really feature in the conscious calculations of Birtherists.

            What, right-wingers are incapable of making decisions based on who benefits and who loses out?

          • johansenindustries says:

            @dndnrsn

            The fact that I wrote ‘don’t’ and you read ‘can’t’ kind of proves my point about the left-wing mindset.

            If you want an example, then the most obvious one is ‘Iam glad slavery is abolished since slavery is an evil’ vs ‘I am glad slavery is abolished since slaveowners are evil’

          • Brad says:

            This:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_citizenship_conspiracy_theories#/media/File:BarackObamaCertificationOfLiveBirthHawaii.jpg
            released to the public on June 12, 2008 was more than sufficient for anyone that wasn’t insane or racist or both.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @Brad

            It doesn’t matter if a quarter of Americans are racist, insane or insanely racist.

            On something that affects his eligibility to be President, he should not have his publisher claim that he was born in Kenya and then use the controversy to rile his base instead of providing the proof that he so easily could.

          • Brad says:

            Since you’ve repeated the claim twice now, do you have some audio or video clip of Obama’s publisher saying he was born in Kenya? Or even better some proof that Obama “had his publisher claim” that?

            > instead of providing the proof that he so easily could.

            He did. I just linked it above.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @johansenindustries

            You stated that it’s the domain of the left. What’s your evidence the right doesn’t do it? Or, some people on the left, some people on the right, etc. You’re just flatly stating something and telling me what I believe.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @Brad

            That proof was not good enough. Perhaps you think that it should have been. Perhaps you think it is evidence of great evil amongst Americans that it wasn’t. But the fact is it wasn’t. A quarter of Americans wrre still unconvinced by the short form. It took the long-form certificate for it to go to lizardmen levels and Obama refused to release the longform certificate until he had milked the controversy dry.

            You are correct that I should not have written* ‘said’. Well done. However, I did not make the ‘said’ claim twice since I the second was a ‘claim’ claim which is perfectly legitimate to use in reference to written materials.

            Obama, to some extent, picks his publisher. He chooses what image to present to his publisher. He chooses what books to send to his publisher. When he is running for President, I think he has to take more responsibility. The obvious example is when it is said that people have their accountant (as opposed to their publisher) prepare documents that way when it is likely that they just acquiested with what the accountant said. Or perhaps ‘Why did Trump fake a Times cover” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/06/27/why-did-trump-fake-a-time-cover-look-for-a-clue-in-the-real-ones/?utm_term=.697952981e39)

            * I almost did it again there.

            (https://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthers/booklet.asp)

          • Brad says:

            Where someone was born isn’t a matter of opinion so I’m not sure why you are citing opinion polls. (Except not actually citing.)

          • johansenindustries says:

            @dndsrn

            What’s your evidence the right doesn’t do it?

            Isn’t is the done-thing in rationalist circles that you can’t prove a negative?

            I can only point out that identity politics is associated with the left. Hate laws are promoted by the left (particularly in America, in the UK it is more that opposing hate laws makes you right-wing). Protected categories are prefered by the left. Class war rhetoric (possibly the original identity politics, so I might be double-counting) used to be the left’s raison d’etra.

            The phrase ‘they’re voting against their economic interests’ is an oft-heard phrase amongst left-wing circles. And despite mostly hanging around right-wing circles I can’t think of a right-wing equivilant. The right mainly think of hurting society or everyone. The left thinks we’re all doomed, but particularly pooorer islands and that’s terrible.

            One example is Obamacare. This site: has the criticisms of Obamacare summarised as being

            Opponents argue that the Affordable Care Act will hurt small business, raise health care costs and reduce economic growth. But if you listen carefully to their arguments, you can detect the underlying fear: if millions more Americans have health insurance, they will be more “dependent” on government. In short, opponents really believe that the country will be worse off if health insurance becomes available for 25 million people who don’t have it today.

            The bit about small busness is definitely the more left-wing thinking and indeed I might say it exist to appeal to left-wing thinking, but the vast majority of those things are about everyone. Compare that to the left’s view about reforming Obamacare* which are just a list of as many sympathetic special interests as they can think of.

            (* I can’t find a similar summary on that issue. Tell me if you disagree with mine.

            However, certainly there will be people with the attitude I associate with the left in the right camp. For this open thread the obvious example would be Nazis. Who like the right’s value of toleration at the moment. Another example: Right wingers think sucker punching people is wrong. There could definitely be groups on the left that are the same way. There’s no such thing as an absolute.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @Brad

            You were the one to link to Wikipedia.

            We are not discussing where Obama was born. We are discussing whether he provided sufficient proof of where he was born, and the nature of sufficient proof has to depend on his audience. And on issues of legitimacy, when he’s running for President, that audience has to be every American.

            He ought to have made a good faith effort to remove all doubts. He didn’t. He took a half measure. We know he took a half measure because once the gains from keeping the controversy alive were gone* he finally did release the long-form birth certificate.

            *Mostly birthers getting used o their representatives not being.

          • Nornagest says:

            Do we have to re-litigate boring political arguments from ten years ago every couple of weeks on here?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @johansenindustries

            Isn’t is the done-thing in rationalist circles that you can’t prove a negative?

            OK, prove the positive. “Who-Whom” was just Lenin’s pithy way, as far as I can tell, of saying “the important question is whether they win or we do.” It’s been adopted more recently by Sailer followers, again as far as I can tell, to express their belief that people on the left categorize an action as being good or bad based on who does it.

            But one can find the right doing both things. For an example of the former sense, the current tax bill will dick over a lot of grad students, but that makes who-whom sense if you consider that grad students rarely vote Republican. For an example of the latter, I can predict with eerie accuracy whether the left-wing majority or right-wing minority on my Facebook feed will talk about a given murderous attack, based on who did the attack and whom they did it against – about 2/3 of a week after that guy plowed into counterprotesters in Charlottesville, there was an Islamist terror attack involving vehicular homicide, and the people talking about Charlottesville and the evils of vehicular homicide didn’t mention it, and the people who had been quiet about Charlottesville were suddenly up in arms about the evils of plowing a car or truck into groups of people. That is exactly “who-whom” in the sense it’s used by Sailer, etc, and I see everyone doing it, because it’s basic tribalism.

            I can only point out that identity politics is associated with the left. Hate laws are promoted by the left (particularly in America, in the UK it is more that opposing hate laws makes you right-wing). Protected categories are prefered by the left. Class war rhetoric (possibly the original identity politics, so I might be double-counting) used to be the left’s raison d’etra.

            The left, right now, is more into identity politics, or, at least, is more into openly expressing the concept. But plenty of stuff one sees in the mainstream Republican party rightwards can be seen as “identity politics for white people” (or, for certain sorts of white people). I don’t think you can call “class warfare” identity politics – it’s a material thing, isn’t it? You can’t identify as proletarian if you own a factory, and if you give a member of the proletariat a big stock portfolio, they’re not still a member of the proletariat, are they?

            The phrase ‘they’re voting against their economic interests’ is an oft-heard phrase amongst left-wing circles. And despite mostly hanging around right-wing circles I can’t think of a right-wing equivilant. The right mainly think of hurting society or everyone. The left thinks we’re all doomed, but particularly pooorer islands and that’s terrible.

            Easy equivalent. The right-wing version of “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” style “they vote against their economic interests because Republican elites snooker them with promises of culture-war stuff they won’t ever actually get” is that some democratic voter blocs are kept voting democrat by social welfare, etc, programs that are long-term harmful. I’m pretty sure Thomas Sowell talks about this, so you don’t have to go too far right! (The farther-right version is a lot more crude).

            One example is Obamacare. This site: has the criticisms of Obamacare summarised as being

            Opponents argue that the Affordable Care Act will hurt small business, raise health care costs and reduce economic growth. But if you listen carefully to their arguments, you can detect the underlying fear: if millions more Americans have health insurance, they will be more “dependent” on government. In short, opponents really believe that the country will be worse off if health insurance becomes available for 25 million people who don’t have it today.

            The bit about small busness is definitely the more left-wing thinking and indeed I might say it exist to appeal to left-wing thinking, but the vast majority of those things are about everyone. Compare that to the left’s view about reforming Obamacare* which are just a list of as many sympathetic special interests as they can think of.

            (* I can’t find a similar summary on that issue. Tell me if you disagree with mine.

            I will acknowledge that “these underprivileged groups have worse health care than the average and we need to help them” is a thing on the left, but I don’t know how it plays into either an original or a contemporary (Sailerite, really) understanding of “who-whom.”

            However, certainly there will be people with the attitude I associate with the left in the right camp. For this open thread the obvious example would be Nazis. Who like the right’s value of toleration at the moment. Another example: Right wingers think sucker punching people is wrong. There could definitely be groups on the left that are the same way. There’s no such thing as an absolute.

            Is “don’t sucker-punch people” an element of right-wing thought? Or is it simply that right now the biggest political proponents of sucker-punching (after all, most sucker punching is entirely politics-neutral; tapping a guy on the shoulder then plowing him in the jaw probably happens more due to alcohol and petty beefs than politics) are on the far left?

            And, most left-wingers think sucker-punching people is wrong. The “punching Nazis is great” crowd complain constantly that the far larger numbers of ordinary liberals, social democrats, etc don’t appreciate them enough, are too weak to embrace punching, etc etc.

          • johansenindustries says:

            The left, right now, is more into identity politics, or, at least, is more into openly expressing the concept. But plenty of stuff one sees in the mainstream Republican party rightwards can be seen as “identity politics for white people” (or, for certain sorts of white people).

            ‘Can be seen’ is not the same thing as actually is. When all you have is one lense then everything will be split between things that ‘make sense it that lense’ and incomprehensible hate and evil. Its the same thing as thinking that attempts to simplify the tax-code must be borne from animosity to universities who had benefited from the loopholes and special dispensitions being put in.

            The right absolutely opposed the Charlottesvill ramming and thought it was bad. Not focusing on it is more abut marketing than principles. Even if it were otherwise you’re reasoning would still be circular. The left being outraged by one right-winger killing one person while being more offended by hypothetical backlash than the frequest Islamist attacks is only symmetrical with the right if you assume that they are symetrical.

            Easy equivalent. The right-wing version of “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” style “they vote against their economic interests because Republican elites snooker them with promises of culture-war stuff they won’t ever actually get” is that some democratic voter blocs are kept voting democrat by social welfare, etc, programs that are long-term harmful. I’m pretty sure Thomas Sowell talks about this, so you don’t have to go too far right! (The farther-right version is a lot more crude).

            Is not the fact that there’s a pithy phrase for the left-wing eqivilany pretty good evidence that the former is the more common.

            But yes when it happens, that is both sides assuming that the other intends to vote in their own interests but are failing. However, the left’s position is “How can these people be so stupid?”, the right’s position is that “Actually in the long-run the effects of welfare are harmful to thoe communities”.

            The answer to the right are that these people are not profesional economists or that in the long-run we’re all dead. The answer to the left is that they’re not actually just concerned with their own narrow self-interest.

            The left’s position is that working-class right-wingers must be stupid. They come to this conclusion by not realising the possibility that they do not intend to vote in their own self-interest. They do not realise the possibility because abstract principles are not something they possess. The fact that the right are outraging the left with actions that the left cannot comprehend is proof that the right do.

            Nobody ever engages in wide-eye confusion for why A-Americans vote Dem.

            Is “don’t sucker-punch people” an element of right-wing thought? Or is it simply that right now the biggest political proponents of sucker-punching (after all, most sucker punching is entirely politics-neutral; tapping a guy on the shoulder then plowing him in the jaw probably happens more due to alcohol and petty beefs than politics) are on the far left?

            Its when you say things like that then it proves my point. There really are people who hold principles rather than principals. Some people do find ‘ And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?’ resonating with them. As just as its reasonable to conflate Republicans with right-wing, it is reasonable to conflate them with right-wing too.

            And, most left-wingers think sucker-punching people is wrong. The “punching Nazis is great” crowd complain constantly that the far larger numbers of ordinary liberals, social democrats, etc don’t appreciate them enough, are too weak to embrace punching, etc etc.

            Perhaps, The Guardian and the like don’t count as real left-wing. But is there an equivilant fake right-wing paper saying that its OK to engage in anti-civilisation behaviour if it makes a Nazi (or comminie or whatevr) uncomfortable?

          • dndnrsn says:

            ‘Can be seen’ is not the same thing as actually is. When all you have is one lense then everything will be split between things that ‘make sense it that lense’ and incomprehensible hate and evil. Its the same thing as thinking that attempts to simplify the tax-code must be borne from animosity to universities who had benefited from the loopholes and special dispensitions being put in.

            If a left-wing proposal to simplify the tax code included a bunch of stuff removing loopholes etc that benefit, say, fossil-fuel manufacturers – would it be fair to speculate that an urge to harm fossil fuel manufacturers is at play?

            The right absolutely opposed the Charlottesvill ramming and thought it was bad. Not focusing on it is more abut marketing than principles. Even if it were otherwise you’re reasoning would still be circular. The left being outraged by one right-winger killing one person while being more offended by hypothetical backlash than the frequest Islamist attacks is only symmetrical with the right if you assume that they are symetrical.

            First, it’s false to say everyone on the right condemned what happened in Charlottesville. It’s not especially hard to find people on/around the fringe right saying that car guy was acting in self defence, or whatever. Second, Second, it seems to me that you’re attributing a given action by someone on the right to “marketing” but on the left to “principles.”

            Is not the fact that there’s a pithy phrase for the left-wing eqivilany pretty good evidence that the former is the more common.

            So, because Lenin coined a pithy phrase, that proves this is a left-wing thing? Come on, that’s not pretty good evidence of anything.

            But yes when it happens, that is both sides assuming that the other intends to vote in their own interests but are failing. However, the left’s position is “How can these people be so stupid?”, the right’s position is that “Actually in the long-run the effects of welfare are harmful to thoe communities”.

            The answer to the right are that these people are not profesional economists or that in the long-run we’re all dead. The answer to the left is that they’re not actually just concerned with their own narrow self-interest.

            The left’s position is that working-class right-wingers must be stupid. They come to this conclusion by not realising the possibility that they do not intend to vote in their own self-interest. They do not realise the possibility because abstract principles are not something they possess. The fact that the right are outraging the left with actions that the left cannot comprehend is proof that the right do.

            You keep talking about what “the left” thinks. I was unaware that these were positions that I, someone on the left, holds. I was also unaware that I do not hold abstract principles.

            Have you read What’s the Matter with Kansas? The thesis is not that right-wingers voting against their economic interests are idiot rubes. Frank, the author of that book, which was quite the big thing in left-liberal circles ten or fifteen years ago, did not assume that stupidity was the reason. He recognized that they valued some things more than others. He did not think they were stupid, or snookered into thinking abortion more important than their own economic interests – his description of their snookering lay in the fact that Republican politicians had a habit of promising prayer in schools or an end to abortion and then delivering free market or crony-capitalist legislation.

            Nobody ever engages in wide-eye confusion for why A-Americans vote Dem.

            OK, but their explanations for why differ.

            Its when you say things like that then it proves my point. There really are people who hold principles rather than principals. Some people do find ‘ And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?’ resonating with them. As just as its reasonable to conflate Republicans with right-wing, it is reasonable to conflate them with right-wing too.

            Is there a reason to believe that people who hold “principles rather than principals” are disproportionately found on the right? Is there evidence that they do? And the “you saying this proves my point” framing is really kind of condescending.

            The major reason that the sucker-punching proponents are left-wingers, mostly fairly far left, is that the whole “punch a Nazi” thing comes out of the 80s/early 90s punk scene, where modern North American antifa mostly descend from, where there was a problem with Nazi punks, so anti-Nazi punks basically made it a policy to punch them whenever they showed up. By and large, it worked. So, you’ve got an element on the left that has had previous success with relatively more frequent low-intensity violence: it’s usually not incredibly dangerous, it’s emotionally satisfying, and for some applications, it works (you don’t see many Nazi punks around). There’s no equivalent on the right, but that doesn’t prove some difference in the essence between right and left; the difference is due to historical change. If there had been commies infesting the country music scene, and guys in cowboy hats and bandannas had started punching them to go away…

            Perhaps, The Guardian and the like don’t count as real left-wing. But is there an equivilant fake right-wing paper saying that its OK to engage in anti-civilisation behaviour if it makes a Nazi (or comminie or whatevr) uncomfortable?

            It’s not about “real left-wing”, it’s about “left-wing” including everyone from slightly-left-of-centre-centrists to tankies. You keep talking about “the left” as though it is this monolithic entity. That is pure outgroup homogeneity bias.

          • The intense desire to punish the only suspect available when the alternative is punishing no one at all, is an error orthogonal to racism.

            Possibly an implication of:

            “Something must be done.
            This is something.
            So we must do it.”

          • John Schilling says:

            “Something must be done.
            This is something.
            So we must do it.”

            Precisely. And since the incentive of the police is to stop looking for suspects once they have arrested someone they think is guilty, for everyone else “this” isn’t merely “something”, it’s the only thing available to be done.

          • johansenindustries says:

            If a left-wing proposal to simplify the tax code included a bunch of stuff removing loopholes etc that benefit, say, fossil-fuel manufacturers – would it be fair to speculate that an urge to harm fossil fuel manufacturers is at play?

            One would not have to speculate. They would be loudly boasting about punishing the evil fossic fuel companies.

            If they’re not boasting about punishing the fossil fuel companies and it just happens to hurt them, then no I do not think that it would be fair to think that they are lying about what reason they do give and are in fact motivated by hate for fossil fuel companies.

            First, it’s false to say everyone on the right condemned what happened in Charlottesville. It’s not especially hard to find people on/around the fringe right saying that car guy was acting in self defence, or whatever. Second, Second, it seems to me that you’re attributing a given action by someone on the right to “marketing” but on the left to “principles.”

            Having to kill somebndy to defend your own life is bad. Self-defence and bad aren’t opposites. ‘but on the left to “principles.”’, I’m certainly not. What somebody (left or right) is making a particular effort to publicise is obviously and innately marketing. It is when we get to beleifs that we can start talking about principals. If both sides agree that something is bad but its worse optics for one side then the fact that is is the other side publicises does not tell us about their principles.

            So, because Lenin coined a pithy phrase, that proves this is a left-wing thing? Come on, that’s not pretty good evidence of anything.

            I was refering to ‘What’s the trouble with Kansas’. But its definitely good evidence – if there was a culture and all you knew about it was that it had fourty words for snow would you think they were as likely from the Sahara desert and Alaska?

            Have you read What’s the Matter with Kansas? The thesis is not that right-wingers voting against their economic interests are idiot rubes. Frank, the author of that book, which was quite the big thing in left-liberal circles ten or fifteen years ago, did not assume that stupidity was the reason. He recognized that they valued some things more than others. He did not think they were stupid, or snookered into thinking abortion more important than their own economic interests – his description of their snookering lay in the fact that Republican politicians had a habit of promising prayer in schools or an end to abortion and then delivering free market or crony-capitalist legislation.

            Nobody ever engages in wide-eye confusion for why A-Americans vote Dem.

            OK, but their explanations for why differ.

            Yes they didn’t need a book – “quite the big thing in left-liberal circles ten or fifteen years ago” – to begin understanding why others voted against them [Yes I know, you didn’t need a book to tell you anything]. Ussain Bolt wouldn’t have had a hit racing career if many other people could run as fast as him. Thomas Frank wouldn’t have had a hit book if many other people on the left could simply look at Kansas and go ‘They probably have principles’.

            I would call Thomas Frank the exception that proves the rule. But a brief look at his Wikipedia page says that he’s a former college Republican who has also wrote a book critical of the Democrats, so he doesn’t actually appear to be of the left.

            Is there a reason to believe that people who hold “principles rather than principals” are disproportionately found on the right? Is there evidence that they do? And the “you saying this proves my point” framing is really kind of condescending.

            There are many reasons. You have been reading them. Do you accept the existance of a great number of persons with principles? Do you accept that if those people were often found on the left then one would not be able to write a hit book exploring the rise of anti-elistist conservatism in the USA? Do you accept that such a book was a hit?

            The major reason that the sucker-punching proponents are left-wingers, mostly fairly far left, is that the whole “punch a Nazi” thing comes out of the 80s/early 90s punk scene, where modern North American antifa mostly descend from, where there was a problem with Nazi punks, so anti-Nazi punks basically made it a policy to punch them whenever they showed up. By and large, it worked. So, you’ve got an element on the left that has had previous success with relatively more frequent low-intensity violence: it’s usually not incredibly dangerous, it’s emotionally satisfying, and for some applications, it works (you don’t see many Nazi punks around). There’s no equivalent on the right, but that doesn’t prove some difference in the essence between right and left; the difference is due to historical change. If there had been commies infesting the country music scene, and guys in cowboy hats and bandannas had started punching them to go away…

            But guys in comboy hats didn’t punch commies to go away. You need to explain why they don’t exist. You say that difference today is because of the differences yesterday.

            But how do you explain the differences yesterday when commies were infecting higher education or sports (or wherever) and there was still this lack of vigilante violence on the right?

            It’s not about “real left-wing”, it’s about “left-wing” including everyone from slightly-left-of-centre-centrists to tankies. You keep talking about “the left” as though it is this monolithic entity. That is pure outgroup homogeneity bias.

            I also refer to the right as a monotholic entity. Is that pure ingroup homogenity bias? Or is it just thinking that the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ do – in some areas, such as this one – cut reality at the joints?

          • Brad says:

            @johansenindustries

            We are not discussing where Obama was born. We are discussing whether he provided sufficient proof of where he was born, and the nature of sufficient proof has to depend on his audience. And on issues of legitimacy, when he’s running for President, that audience has to be every American.

            No, the audience doesn’t have to be every American. He met all the legal requirements to be listed on the ballot in every state. That’s all he needed to do. Every birther lawsuit failed.

            You and your compatriots weren’t satisfied. I acknowledge that. You claim that lack of satisfaction is sufficient reason in and of itself to give rise to an obligation on his part to do whatever it took to satisfy you. I disagree. No such obligation existed. And given that no such obligation existed, and that none of you were going to vote for him regardless, he had zero reason to cater to your inane demands.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @ Brad

            Democratic instititutions are important and fragile things. I think it every person who is fortunate enough to live in a nation with them has an obligation to not deliberately damage those institutions in order to get your opponents to poorly react to rile up your base, just because it’s convenient.

          • Anonymous says:

            FWIW, why is the location of his birth even an issue? He has citizenship via jus sanguinis anyway.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @Anonymous

            Because the Constitution demands that president be a natural born citizen, and that has generally been held to mean having been born in the United States.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/donald-trump-says-central-park-five-are-guilty-despite-dna-n661941

            @ John Schilling @ David Friedman

            Trump kept calling for their conviction *after* someone else was convicted due to DNA evidence and they got a forty-one million settlement for false conviction.

            I’m surprised this isn’t common knowledge here, and I suspect people aren’t hanging out in places where Trump is sufficiently hated.

            On the other hand, it may be that I’m unusually interested in justice system atrocities.

          • Anonymous says:

            @johansenindustries

            Because the Constitution demands that president be a natural born citizen, and that has generally been held to mean having been born in the United States.

            Is there a rule that says this, or is it just an unwritten custom?

          • johansenindustries says:

            The constitution demands that the President be a natural born citizen. It does not define the term.

          • Brad says:

            Democratic instititutions are important and fragile things. I think it every person who is fortunate enough to live in a nation with them has an obligation to not deliberately damage those institutions

            Which is one reason Trump is unfit for office. Raising spurious objections, which had already been disproven, to the constitutional eligibility for office of a duly elected President was an attack on our democracy.

            But apparently a bunch of y’all didn’t care.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @Brad

            Trump did not ‘raise’ those objections. He forced Obama to settle them.

          • Brad says:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_citizenship_conspiracy_theories#/media/File:BarackObamaCertificationOfLiveBirthHawaii.jpg

            It was long since settled. All the organs of government so held. Trump insistence in the face of hard evidence that it wasn’t was an attack on our democracy. But it seems you only pretend to care about that.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @Brad

            Proof is in the eye of the beholder. I always thought that McCain was less likely to be natural born. That certificate on the other hand may have proved it to you. It still didn’t prove it to a quarter of the country – honestly, Brad, I think you may have been the only one convinced – and since better proof would have been so easily to present he should have presented it.

            Frankly, the idea that Obama wouldn’t show his full birth certificate because it would prove his being born elsewhere is in fact the more charitable explanation than the truth of his deliberately keeping the controversy alive for political gain.

          • John Schilling says:

            Trump kept calling for their conviction *after* someone else was convicted due to DNA evidence and they got a forty-one million settlement for false conviction.

            Yes, I am aware of this. I am also aware that Rex Parris kept calling on the courts to uphold the conviction of Raymond Lee Jennings in spite of his being exonerated by DNA evidence and ultimately released with a hefty settlement, with both Parris and Jennings being white. Please don’t make me go dig up other examples.

            “[X] was once arrested for a brutal rape and/or murder, therefore [X] is Guilty, Guilty, Guilty! and must be punished most severely, don’t bother me with your ‘DNA’ and proof of innocence and other suspects who may also be guilty, we’ve got a Guilty! person here who must be punished!”, is a stupid wrong thing that people have been doing for as long as we have records, and it is a stupid wrong thing that white people have been doing to other white people for as long as we have records.

            It is a stupid wrong thing that is NOT EVIDENCE OF RACISM, even if in a particular stupid wrong case it happens to be a stupid wrong white person doing it to innocent black people. And yes, I know that Donald Trump was particularly stupid and wrong about the Central Park Five. But you are still crying wolf.

          • Brad says:

            Hawaii doesn’t issue short form birth certificates with false information. Nor does any other state. So it would have been impossible to have had a different place birth on the other birth certificate form than on that birth certificate form hr provided. I’m not sure how an impossible explanation can possibly be charitable.

            As for the 1/4 of the population, for which you still haven’t actually provided any evidence, again I don’t see any relevance. If anything it just goes to show how damaging Trump and people like him were in their attacks on American democracy.

          • skef says:

            Frankly, the idea that Obama wouldn’t show his full birth certificate because it would prove his being born elsewhere is in fact the more charitable explanation than the truth of his deliberately keeping the controversy alive for political gain.

            Well, not any more, right? Unless you’re arguing today that he was not born in Hawaii.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @skef

            Well, not any more, right? Unless you’re arguing today that he was not born in Hawaii.

            No, it is still more charitable to think that he really wanted to President and had no choice. Than to think he did it deliberately as a cheap tactic.

            Even with him having released the long-form and nothing incriminating coming from it, the charitable explanation is still that he didn’t know what was on it and was paranoid about it.

            We should not extend to Obama the charitable explanation. The charitable explanation has never been credible to me. That still doesn’t change what the charitable explanation is.

            (Most on the left, of course, would never look for for an explanation being happy to simply drink Tea Party tears. It is not unreasonable for the right to do otherwise.)

            @Brad

            As for the 1/4 of the population, for which you still haven’t actually provided any evidence, again I don’t see any relevance.

            As I said before when said that, you were the one to link to the Wkipedia article. If you disagree with the article that you linked to and the CNN and Harris Polls that the article you posted cited, then say so directly.

            If anything it just goes to show how damaging Trump and people like him were in their attacks on American democracy.

            It is absurd to blame Trump for the state of things before he intervened. Trump stepped in and resolved the issue before the 2012 election like a good statesman should. To blame Trump for the state of things before he got involved run counter to causality and is simply lunacy and demagoguery.

          • skef says:

            No, it is still more charitable to think that he really wanted to President and had no choice. Than to think he did it deliberately as a cheap tactic.

            You don’t seem to be using “charitable” with the epistemic sense that it most often has here.

            There’s nothing epistemically uncharitable in ascribing a self-interested motivation. And the circumstances required to account for doubt on Obama’s part seem absurdly unlikely. I presume his parents would have needed to forge the short form, on this theory? And given that his mother was unquestionably a U.S. citizen, they would have done this in the 1960s so that he could be a natural born citizen, in anticipation of his running for president?

          • Brad says:

            The issue was definitively resolved in June 2008. Obama is not responsible for your faulty reasoning abilities. Maybe blame your schoolteachers. Or parents.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @skef

            I may be using the term differently from how it is usually used here. Is there a term used here for what ‘charitable’ means elsewhere(merciful or kind in judging others)?Whatever that term is I mean that. Trying to ascribe to Obama the least wicked and least demonstrative of malice possible motive.

            @ Brad

            Things are resolved when they are resolved. Not when Brad or anyone else thinks they ought to be resolved. Can’t get an is from an ought.

            It has been said that Trump wading in in 2010 was instrumental in his gaining the platform that let him win in 2016. If those people aren’t just talking out of their backside, then the situation could not have already been resolved in 2008.

          • Brad says:

            @johansenindustries

            It has been said that Trump wading in in 2010 was instrumental in his gaining the platform that let him win in 2016. If those people aren’t just talking out of their backside, then the situation could not have already been resolved in 2008.

            Why not? A perfectly reasonable explanation for that sequence of events is that Trump first gained the admiration of what would become his base by pandering to their racism.

            I don’t see any reason to give the benefit of the doubt to those that refused themselves to acknowledge reality even when there was no reasonable doubt left.

          • skef says:

            Is there a term used here for what ‘charitable’ means elsewhere(merciful or kind in judging others)?Whatever that term is I mean that. Trying to ascribe to Obama the least wicked and least demonstrative of malice possible motive.

            “Sympathetic” isn’t far off.

            I don’t think it’s hard to do a bit better. After many accusations that he was born in Kenya, Obama released a document with the legal status of a birth certificate. (That is, a document that is accepted as a birth certificate in legal situations that require one.) Then many people said they wanted to see a different document. At that point he might have quire reasonably concluded that the people in question would never be satisfied.

            “Everything would have been settled if he had released the long form at the time” is a politicized claim with dubious support.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @Brad

            Just saying ‘racism’ doesn’t constitute an argument. Can you give another example of a person managing to get political cout by entering a political dispute that was resolved two years earlier?

            @Skef

            That the issue was resolved when Obama released his long-form certificate is something you don’t deny, do you?

            So you think the most sympathetic explanation is ‘Obama thinks we*’re all disingenious liars, so just can’t be bothered to try to satisfy as we’re unsatisfiable’?

            When we’re talking about the scale that we are talling about, that doesn’t strike me as being much more sympathic than Obama is worried that he was secretly born in Kenya (regardless of the probability of the possibilities, which is unrelated to sympathy)

            *’we’ of course refering to the people anking for and wondering why Obama wouldn’t release his long-form.

          • dndnrsn says:

            If a left-wing proposal to simplify the tax code included a bunch of stuff removing loopholes etc that benefit, say, fossil-fuel manufacturers – would it be fair to speculate that an urge to harm fossil fuel manufacturers is at play?

            One would not have to speculate. They would be loudly boasting about punishing the evil fossic fuel companies.

            If they’re not boasting about punishing the fossil fuel companies and it just happens to hurt them, then no I do not think that it would be fair to think that they are lying about what reason they do give and are in fact motivated by hate for fossil fuel companies.

            So, the only way to know if people are motivated by who-whom motivations is to pay attention to what they’re saying – it’s never fair to speculate about somebody’s unspoken motivations if they give you a different explanation?

            Having to kill somebndy to defend your own life is bad. Self-defence and bad aren’t opposites. ‘but on the left to “principles.”’, I’m certainly not. What somebody (left or right) is making a particular effort to publicise is obviously and innately marketing. It is when we get to beleifs that we can start talking about principals. If both sides agree that something is bad but its worse optics for one side then the fact that is is the other side publicises does not tell us about their principles.

            I was refering to ‘What’s the trouble with Kansas’. But its definitely good evidence – if there was a culture and all you knew about it was that it had fourty words for snow would you think they were as likely from the Sahara desert and Alaska?

            You’re deriving an awful lot from Lenin saying something one time; this isn’t remotely in the same ballpark as “forty words for snow.” If you were talking about communists, hey, maybe, but I fail to see how Lenin saying something pithy one time is somehow characteristic of The Left.

            Yes they didn’t need a book – “quite the big thing in left-liberal circles ten or fifteen years ago” – to begin understanding why others voted against them [Yes I know, you didn’t need a book to tell you anything]. Ussain Bolt wouldn’t have had a hit racing career if many other people could run as fast as him. Thomas Frank wouldn’t have had a hit book if many other people on the left could simply look at Kansas and go ‘They probably have principles’.

            OK, but you’re using “left-wing people in general are bad at understanding the Republican voter base” as a standin for “left-wing people in general don’t have principles”. Those statements aren’t the same thing at all. I will admit that there is a very strong tendency on the mainstream left and the far left to be bad at understanding the Republican voter base. But that’s not the same question as to where you can find more people with principles.

            I would call Thomas Frank the exception that proves the rule. But a brief look at his Wikipedia page says that he’s a former college Republican who has also wrote a book critical of the Democrats, so he doesn’t actually appear to be of the left.

            He criticizes the Democrats from the left, as I understand it; Thomas Frank can safely say to be of the left.

            There are many reasons. You have been reading them. Do you accept the existance of a great number of persons with principles? Do you accept that if those people were often found on the left then one would not be able to write a hit book exploring the rise of anti-elistist conservatism in the USA? Do you accept that such a book was a hit?

            Again, how does having principles yourself make you good at understanding the principles of others? Every left-winger in the US could be principled; they could still fail to understand the right. And vice versa. In my experience people with strongly-held principles are the worst at understanding the other side.

            But guys in comboy hats didn’t punch commies to go away. You need to explain why they don’t exist. You say that difference today is because of the differences yesterday.

            But how do you explain the differences yesterday when commies were infecting higher education or sports (or wherever) and there was still this lack of vigilante violence on the right?

            Easy answers: because academia involves fewer fistfights than punk concerts in general, and, wait, what commies are we talking about? When did commies infect sports?

            I also refer to the right as a monotholic entity. Is that pure ingroup homogenity bias? Or is it just thinking that the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ do – in some areas, such as this one – cut reality at the joints?

            Your characterization of everyone on the left as being more into who-whom than everyone on the right because Lenin coined a phrase. What in the world is Lenin supposed to have to do with me? If Lenin had said “he who smelt it dealt it” what would that say about the left? This isn’t carving reality at the joints. The joint between Lenin and a left-liberal is narrower than the joint between a left-liberal and a mainstream conservative. At the very least, the latter two are less likely to kill each other than Lenin is to kill either.

          • johansenindustries says:

            So, the only way to know if people are motivated by who-whom motivations is to pay attention to what they’re saying – it’s never fair to speculate about somebody’s unspoken motivations if they give you a different explanation?

            ‘Never’ goes too far. As I said before there is no such thing as an absolute. But yes on the who you should assume that they are motivated by what they say they are motivated by.

            You’re deriving an awful lot from Lenin saying something one time; this isn’t remotely in the same ballpark as “forty words for snow.” If you were talking about communists, hey, maybe, but I fail to see how Lenin saying something pithy one time is somehow characteristic of The Left.

            When I said ‘Is not the fact that there’s a pithy phrase for the left-wing’ this was immediately after quoting you using the phrase ‘What’s the matter with Kansas’. When you mistook it as referring to Who? Whom? I stated “I was refering to ‘What’s the trouble with Kansas’.” You then quoted that.

            If I point out Lenin. Don’t see how he’s representitive of the Left. The Guardian. don’t see how that’s representative of the left. Punks/Antifa. Don’t see how that’s representative of the left. The popularity of a book whose shock thesis is ‘Republicans have values’. “What’s Lenin got to do with me”. You don’t like Lenin? Fine then deal with my tens of other examples. Although, frankly, if you are on the left then you almost certainly like someone who admires someone who aspired to be like Lenin.

            He criticizes the Democrats from the left, as I understand it; Thomas Frank can safely say to be of the left.

            Yeah, I read more. He was a Bernie voter.

            OK, but you’re using “left-wing people in general are bad at understanding the Republican voter base” as a standin for “left-wing people in general don’t have principles”. Those statements aren’t the same thing at all. I will admit that there is a very strong tendency on the mainstream left and the far left to be bad at understanding the Republican voter base. But that’s not the same question as to where you can find more people with principles.

            Again, how does having principles yourself make you good at understanding the principles of others? Every left-winger in the US could be principled; they could still fail to understand the right. And vice versa. In my experience people with strongly-held principles are the worst at understanding the other side.

            It is not about not understanding the principles of one’s opponents, but assuming that those principles don’t exist and that the person must be stupid. If the left were accusing the right of haviing principles, were simply getting it wrong then that would suggest the left have principles. But they don’t. If you think the right has principles but you don’t know what they are then you can try reading David Brooks. It is the insight that they’re not stupid but have principles that let’s you get a hit book.

            There’s a habit of people thinking their opponents are their opposites. That one’s opponents accepts one’s framing but just takes the opposite side. We see this when the right scream “You hate freedom!”, “You hate tradition” and the left show “You hate black people” “You hate gay people”. Which are principles. Which are principals? Is there a counter-example I’m missing?

            A person motivated by principles will naturally assume that his opponents are motivated by principles. An identitarian will assume his opponent is motivated by identitariasm. Can you name a left-wing news source that if speculating on the right’s motive are clearly dominated by assumptions of principles (perhaps equality, to give an example) rather than motivated by malice to a group or being in cahoots with another?

          • Guy in TN says:

            It’s easy to mistake someone who has principles very different from yours for not having principles at all.

            We see this when the right scream “You hate freedom!”, “You hate tradition” and the left show “You hate black people” “You hate gay people”. Which are principles. Which are principals? Is there a counter-example I’m missing?

            Are you implying that this cherry-picked rhetoric is evidence that the Left is lacking in principles? Flipping it is easy. When the Right says “you hate America” or “you hate Christianity”, and the Left says “you hate equal rights” and “you are greedy”, who is arguing from principles here?

          • Guy in TN says:

            Also, the dichotomy of “principles vs. identity politics” isn’t all that clear cut, or informative. Politicians often try to appeal to certain segments of the population because those segments share the same principles as them.

            Its like if a politician said “we are the party of Christians” instead of “we are the party of Christianity”. Is saying the former proof that they are actually insincere about their Christian beliefs, and are instead just playing “identity politics”?

            There are reasons, ethical principles, why the Left supports what on the surface appear to be an unrelated coalition of people like homosexuals, Black Americans, and immigrants. These principles are things like support equal rights, the elimination of social hierarchy, and economic utilitarianism in general.

          • skef says:

            So you think the most sympathetic explanation is ‘Obama thinks we*’re all disingenious liars, so just can’t be bothered to try to satisfy as we’re unsatisfiable’?

            Before he released the short form, people demanding that he release his birth certificate as evidence he was born in the United States. He did so. Then they weren’t satisfied. So an unhealthy mix of “disingenuous liars” and “delusional” seems about right.

            It’s not unsympathetic to him just because it’s unsympathetic to other people. And it’s not unreasonable to be unsympathetic to the people in question given that they didn’t accept that a birth certificate was a birth certificate.

          • @Skef:

            If I correctly understand this argument–I don’t actually remember the details of the controversy–Obama first released the short form document that supported his place of birth and then, some years later, the long form. The first release did not persuade all the skeptics, the second did–or at least most of them.

            If that is correct, what is your explanation for the several year delay? johansenindustries’ explanation, as I understand it, is that Obama thought he benefited politically by the fact that some people were unreasonably skeptical on the issue, presumably because they were not going to vote for him anyway and their unjustified skepticism made his opponents look bad.

            Do you agree with that explanation, and if so do you agree that it was a base motive? If not, what is your explanation? Saying that everyone should have been convinced by the short form may be true, but it isn’t an explanation.

          • skef says:

            If that is correct, what is your explanation for the several year delay? johansenindustries’ explanation, as I understand it, is that Obama thought he benefited politically by the fact that some people were unreasonably skeptical on the issue, presumably because they were not going to vote for him anyway and their unjustified skepticism made his opponents look bad.

            Do you agree with that explanation, and if so do you agree that it was a base motive? If not, what is your explanation? Saying that everyone should have been convinced by the short form may be true, but it isn’t an explanation.

            I disagree with a number of aspects of his characterization, most of which have to do with an unrealistic application of hindsight to the whole ordeal.

            First, the demands for the long form were of a different nature than the previous demands for a birth certificate. There is a constitutional rule that presidents must be natural born citizens. The demand for proof of that status was unusual, but given that his father was foreign and he had spent time when he was young in a foreign country, doubt about his origin was comprehensible. So he released his birth certificate. Demands for the long form implied fraud on his part or, at best, his parents’, in forging a short form. Meeting a demand to produce a document on the part of people accusing you of having forged a document makes for a losing battle. It was entirely reasonable for him to ignore those people at the time.

            It may have been a political miscalculation on his part, in that he may have assumed that a higher percentage of people would have seen that this implicit accusation of fraud crossed a line. But people at the time did largely understand that the people demanding the long form were not reasonable, and at least bordering on conspiracy theorists. And he did get elected.

            Second, the timing of the release of the long form is clearly tied to the strategy for the campaign for his second term. At that point, no one thought there was a live legal issue about his eligibility, and basically everyone was going to vote for or against him based on a) their assessment of his first term and b) other political commitments. One reason to take that step would be “let’s put this whole thing to bed.” Another would be to remind voters that a subset of his critics were at least borderline conspiracy theorists. There may also have been a “fuck you” element to it, directed to those who had implicitly accused him or his parents of fraud.

            The claim on the part of birthers that “we would have been satisfied by his producing the long form” is, as I said earlier, dubious. The claim that Obama “waited years to settle the issue” rests on it, because it assumes that he could have settled it at the time. I consider it an attempt on the part of a group that had wound up looking foolish in the eyes of most to look somewhat less foolish. That doesn’t imply a lie — there is no implication of a forgery, for example — they might just see themselves now as more reasonable and less motivated by politics (and the other thing) than they are.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @Guy in TN

            I think there would be a huge difference between Christianity and Christians. If there isn’t, then why don’t we see people using both rather than just using Christianity.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @johansenindustries

            A person motivated by principles will naturally assume that his opponents are motivated by principles.

            I think this is the core of the dispute. I disagree with this; I certainly don’t think it’s sure enough that you can make it a key part of your argument. In my experience, people with strong principles usually thinks their principles are the right principles, and so someone who disagrees with them clearly has something wrong with them. Even if they attribute principles to their opponents, they usually get the principles wrong, and identify their opponent as having principles, but evil ones.

            The statement “people with principles generally identify their opponent as having principles” (with the addendum that, further, they are good at identifying those principles properly) is one that needs some backing up.

        • Creutzer says:

          Yes, we’re all sticklers for correct terminology here, but “religionist” hasn’t really caught on as a term so I’m not going to flip out over it.

          Oh, but the difference should be made, because it’s nowhere near clear to me that religionism is as bad as racism.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Indeed, objection to Thugee or the old religion of the Mexica is completely understandable.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Nybbler, I’ve long thought that the framers of the US Bill of Rights owed an enormous debt to the conquistadors for converting the Mexica to Christianity. Without them, the Free Exercise clause would have been suicidal.

          • quaelegit says:

            @Le Maistre Chat —

            I’m confused. Why would non-Christian Mexica (who are thousands of miles away in the Valley of Mexico) be more of a problem for the U.S. than the other non-Christian Native Americans who were actually in U.S. claimed (or intending-to-be-claimed) territory?

            Edit: oh, are you saying that if human sacrifice was still practiced in Mexico in the 18th century it would have caused a problem for the Founding Fathers? It seems pretty easy to route around by adding “except no human sacrifice” or something. And also, still, the non-Christian religions of the Native Americans they actually had contact with didn’t seem to cause a problem with respect to the free exercise clause specifically.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @quealegit: you raise a good point. I’d say the Free exercise of human sacrifice problem didn’t come up with tribe’s north of Mexico, but I have this nagging memory that there were indeed homicidal rituals in some tribes on US-claimed soil well into g the 19th century.
            I don’t have the link handy, but when I can I’ll post an interesting article about a Navajo archaeologist controversial for claiming that the Ancestral Pueblo culture (Anasazi to him) killed and ate people and post-Columbian rituals of the region are designed to keep the dark god of that era away.

          • Nornagest says:

            I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I’d be surprised if at least one of the dozens of native North American religions didn’t do human sacrifice. Native Hawaiian religion definitely did. Not on the scale of the Mexica, but it’s well documented. The practice died out with colonization, but I don’t know how or if the legal system got involved.

            I do know that the Sun Dance of the Plains cultures was banned for a long time. No human sacrifice in that one, but it’s reputedly pretty nasty to Anglo eyes.

        • Anonymous says:

          As if racism was the only way something could be evil, so if it’s not racist, it must be okay.

          Overusing the “racism” card, especially in situations where it doesn’t apply, does make it sound as if “racism” is the only possible evil. Indeed, that racism is evil, and evil is racism. No need for nuance of any sort, or to correctly label bad things, so long as the alleged perpetrator is branded with something, right?

          Yes, we’re all sticklers for correct terminology here, but “religionist” hasn’t really caught on as a term so I’m not going to flip out over it.

          “Islamophobe” is the correct accusation here. “Bigot” and “xenophobe” are more generic but may apply. “Racist” is not.

          • LewisT says:

            Overusing the “racism” card, especially in situations where it doesn’t apply, does make it sound as if “racism” is the only possible evil.

            Even children pick up on this abuse of language. Hence why they mockingly accuse each other of being “racist against fat people.”

        • Aapje says:

          @beleester

          The defining characteristic of racism is that it is hatred of something that the other person cannot change and that does not define their behavior. Criticisms of culture* are fundamentally different because one can change their culture and culture often makes people behave in certain ways.

          If criticizing culture is racism, then criticizing ISIS culture is racism and being anti-terrorist is racism.

          Ergo, it is useful to be far more nuanced about objecting to those who criticize cultures than those who criticize races.

          * Like religion

          • albatross11 says:

            Aapje:

            That’s a defining feature of many kinds of prejudice or bigotry outside racism. There are surely people who aren’t racist by any reasonable definition, but who despise gays. It wouldn’t make any sense to call them racist.

            “Racist” in particular is thrown around so often and so sloppily in US politics that it’s really important to nail down what you mean. Personally, I think the word should be tabooed, and the speaker should replace it with a more precise statement of what they mean in most discussions.

          • Viliam says:

            Criticism of culture is the opposite of racism. It means taking the opposing position at the “nature or nurture” scale when explaining behavior. (I am not saying that reverse stupidity is intelligence; only that reverse is reverse.)

            If Islam does not explain the behavior of ISIS, then what does? It could either be some inherent inferiority of the brown people — and I guess no politically correct person wants to go explicitly there (although a few make large enough hints in that direction; I mean the whole idea that your color of skin completely determines your identity is already halfway there, you just have to be socially savvy never to bring it to the obvious conclusion) — or we have to pretend that nothing happened, or that everything is completely random and unpredictable. (And there is always the option to disregard all context and simply proclaim: “patriarchy did it”.)

            Also, it is very harmful to blame minority members for “internalized racism” if they criticize the culture they grew up in. Ayaan Hirsi Ali can’t say that she regrets being genitally mutilated, or we put her on a list of hate speakers. The message is: if you are a member of a minority, and you see any mistake made by your community, and would like to improve it… just shut up! You are allowed to blame cishet white non-Muslim males, and that’s where your freedom of speech effectively ends. And this is supposed to somehow help the minorities. Apparently, only the whites are mature enough to be able to receive criticism and use it to improve themselves. And that opinion is somehow not racist.

        • Randy M says:

          If you don’t want the conversation to be derailed, start out with accurate terminology.

    • MrApophenia says:

      The original claim in the “crying wolf” post was that Trump was no more racist – measured specifically by his friendliness to white supremacists – than other Republican Presidents or candidates.

      Given that every living Republican President before Trump and nearly every living Republican presidential candidate put out statements after Charlottesville specifically to clarify that they do not agree with Trump’s views on white supremacists, I can’t see how that claim is still defensible.

      You can still argue that Trump is not himself a white supremacist and is simply more willing than past Republicans to ingratiate himself to them – but that still marks a substantive difference from past Republican candidates and presidents.

      • johansenindustries says:

        What are Trump’s views on white supremacists?

        As I remember it, although he objected to violent self-proclaimed anti-fascists also, he did not have a single nice word to say about white supremacists in the aftermath of Charlottesville. Therefore, if they all disagreed, then surely Trump is the least racist Republican president if that is the metric being used.

        • Anonymous says:

          Trump’s just a normie.

        • MrApophenia says:

          The main point of contention was over whether there were “fine people” on both sides, with all other Republican candidates/presidents clarifying that they do not believe there were fine people on the KKK side of the rally.

          On the broader level, many people pointed out the oddness of Trump’s response to that issue being essentially the only time he has ever looked for nuance and tried to see both sides of an issue. When a Muslim kills someone, we must ban all Muslims; when a white supremacist kills someone, we must remember that many of the people waving Nazi flags did not actually kill anyone, and also some liberals were punching people!

          I mean, shit, I know a lot of people find it difficult to see anything weird about Trump’s response to Charlottesville- but think of it this way: it is basically unprecedented to have all the past presidents & candidates (not to mention Congressmen) from your own party issue statements specifically disagreeing with you on something, on any topic. That never happens.

          The leaders of the Republican Party think Trump is more racist than they’re comfortable with.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @MrApophenia

            I had a really long post that was eaten. Presumably I used a banned word – can’t think what it was.

            Bullet points:

            I don’t believe that Trump ever has changed his position based on ‘a Muslim kills someone’. It is possible that a Muslim killing someone gives him the opportunity to speak of his immigration policy, but that’s just like Charlottesville gave him the opportunity to condemn white supremacists and the violent left.

            One of trump’s earliest scandals was saying about a terrible group ‘and some I assume are good people’ condemning a group while suggesting that some of its members might be good people is perfectly Trumplike.

            Being decent and seeing the decency is what let Trump win crucial states over Clinton.

            ‘all the past presidents & candidates’ is false. That not correct. A subset did. If we look at the subset: McCain, Romney, and the Bushes are losers who suck. They didn’t vote for him. They are opposed to MAGA, there is no reason to think their criticism is anyway related to ‘Trump is more racist than they’re comfortable with’

          • Anonymous says:

            @johansenindustries

            I had a really long post that was eaten. Presumably I used a banned word – can’t think what it was.

            In this situation, you might try to “go back” in your browser, then open up the reply box again. Depending on how your browser does form data, your post might still be in there.

          • Brad says:

            ‘all the past presidents & candidates’ is false. That not correct. A subset did. If we look at the subset: McCain, Romney, and the Bushes are losers who suck.

            If two Presidents, a long time Senator, and a successful businessman and Governor are losers in your mind, you must have quite the impressive resume. Let’s see it.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @Brad

            Its not in my mind. There were big elections. Huge things. I’m surprised you missed them all. Three of them loss directly. All of them lost when their favoured candidate got toasted by Trump.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            From an article about the “fine people” comment:

            “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides,” Trump said Tuesday. “You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of — to them — a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.”

            The park — where white supremacist groups had gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — was renamed Emancipation Park in June.

            “Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?” Trump said, identifying both former presidents as slave owners. “You know what? It’s fine. You’re changing history, you’re changing culture. And you had people — and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists because they should be condemned totally — but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, and the press has treated them very unfairly.

            Emphasis mine. He was not calling the neo-nazis and the white nationalists “fine people,” he specifically condemned them. He was talking about the people who were there merely opposed to the removal of the statue, but were either not aware of or not part of the nazi/WN groups.

            There were fine people on both sides, who were probably naive or stupid. For instance, here’s the picture of the aftermath of the car attack. See the black flags, the red flags, the red and black flags? These are socialists, anarchists, communists. These are not nice people. Not fine people. But if you zoom in there’s some schlep there in a Gary Johnson t-shirt looking quite overwhelmed. That’s probably a fine person who thought he was going out to confront “hate” and did not necessarily understand that he was also marching with the sorts of people who want to use state power to enslave his libertarian ass.

            So, back to crying wolf. Trump specifically condemns the hate group people, states that when he’s speaking positively of anyone there he’s specifically not talking about the hate group people, and only the people who were there in support of not tearing down historical landmarks, and you and the media are running with “Trump thinks nazis and kkk are ‘fine people.'” Still crying wolf.

          • Matt M says:

            So, back to crying wolf. Trump specifically condemns the hate group people, states that when he’s speaking positively of anyone there he’s specifically not talking about the hate group people, and only the people who were there in support of not tearing down historical landmarks, and you and the media are running with “Trump thinks nazis and kkk are ‘fine people.’” Still crying wolf.

            Yep. When the most nuanced analysis of an event is coming from Donald Trump, that’s when you know you’re crying wolf.

            To clarify, Trump’s statement was: There were very bad people here. There were Nazis. I condemn them. There were also very bad people on the left. I condemn them as well. But there were also some fine people there, marching on both sides of this event.

            The boiler plate Congressional statement was: THIS EVENT WAS FULL OF NAZIS! NAZIS ARE BAD! NOBODY IS ALLOWED TO CLARIFY THIS IN ANY OTHER WAY OR THEY ARE SUPPORTING NAZIS!!

          • albatross11 says:

            And these quotes are one reason why it’s hard to take a lot of prestige media outrage coverage of Trump at face value. Because the excerpted quotes and the public discussion were 180 degrees out of phase with this.

            This would be bad if he were merely an average president doing some dumb things because he got dealt a bad hand and played it poorly, as with W. But it’s a lot worse with Trump, who IMO is really unsuited to be president, and whose hobby seems to be taking a fire ax to the nearest bit of Chesterton’s fence he can find. We need *accurate and honest* reporting of the stuff he does. We get *inaccurate and overblown and dishonest* reporting of the stuff he does, which has the effect of masking a lot of the worst of his actions behind a smokescreen of his enemies’ lies about him.

          • MrApophenia says:

            The notion that there was some contingent of people there who innocently showed up to protest the statue removal and were shocked to discover Nazis is wrong on its face. This was a protest arranged by white nationalists and neo-Nazis with an explicit, openly stated mission statement of trying to get the mainstream right to accept that they are all serving the same cause. That’s why it wasn’t named something about Robert E. Lee and was instead called “Unite the Right.” This wasn’t some innocent protest crashed by a bunch of racists, it was a Klan rally from the get-go.

            As opposed to the counter-protestors, who were the usual batch of types who show up to counter-protest Klan rallies, from communists to antifa to people who just feel strongly opposed to Nazis having a rally in their local park.

            The best case argument for Trump is that he honestly didn’t know that. And Trump is pretty stupid, so sure, that’s plausible. But I want you to really consider an equivalent scenario:

            An explicitly pro-ISIS group holds a rally in support of imposing sharia law in the US. A bunch of people show up waving ISIS and Al Quieda flags, the crowd chants about killing infidels, and one of them kills a counter-protestor.

            A Democratic President gets up on stage and says that, sure, ISIS and Al Quieda are bad, but there were lots of nice moderate Muslims at that rally, and they shouldn’t be judged too harshly.

            Reasonable response?

          • LewisT says:

            @MrApophenia

            An explicitly pro-ISIS group holds a rally in support of imposing sharia law in the US. A bunch of people show up waving ISIS and Al Quieda flags, the crowd chants about killing infidels, and one of them kills a counter-protestor.

            A Democratic President gets up on stage and says that, sure, ISIS and Al Quieda are bad, but there were lots of nice moderate Muslims at that rally, and they shouldn’t be judged too harshly.

            Reasonable response?

            Not a good analogy. In your hypothetical, what innocuous cause does the Democratic version of Trump think the moderate Muslims were rallying in favor of? If he thinks that they were rallying in support of imposing sharia law in the US, he absolutely shouldn’t exonerate them. Sharia law is incompatible with US law, and so it should be obvious that the entire rally is worthy of condemnation.

            In the real-life situation, the protesters were ostensibly protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, which is a perfectly legitimate cause. It is not unreasonable to assume that some of those protesting the removal of the Lee statue were non-violent, non-Nazi, non-white-supremacist protestors.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            The notion that there was some contingent of people there who innocently showed up to protest the statue removal and were shocked to discover Nazis is wrong on its face.

            I find your in-depth knowledge of the composition and ideology of the entire crowd there quite impressive. And the way you switch from “Alt-Right” to “Neo-Nazi” to “A Klan Rally” really makes the case that you’re being precise and factual in your analysis and not simply slinging terms with maximal emotional load across as wide a range of people as you can.

            As for what the exact ratio of white supremacists to neo-nazis to KKK members to Non-Racist Southern Pride types to various other flavors, I don’t know. Based on the footage I’ve seen, it seems pretty clear that the goats outnumbered the sheep by a wide margin. It’s equally clear from the footage and the reporting that it was not an all-goat event, especially during the earlier phase before the protest was moved out of its original planned location.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I don’t think your example is reasonable. You need something that’s object-level popular. The vast majority of Americans (including black Americans) are not in favor of tearing down historical monuments. If you want a source I can dig around, but the last poll I saw (shortly after Charlottesville) was something like only 25% of people in favor of tearing down monuments, with ~64% opposed and ~11% don’t know. And the survey comp was biased towards Democrats, who are more likely to be in favor of removal anyway. Lots of people are against taking down monuments but are not at all in favor of WN/NPI, White Supremacists, KKK or Nazis.

            So, consider instead a “Freedom of Religion” rally, sponsored by an Islamic group that hadn’t killed anyone yet (NPI is not ISIS or Al Qaeda tier), and then one of them goes full snackbar and blows people up. Yes, I can believe there are plenty of non-Muslim Islamapologists who would show up to such an event, in favor of religious freedom, and then be shocked, totally shocked when limbs start flying. I would fully expect a Democratic politician to then say #NotAllMuslims and talk about the fine people who were there to support religious freedom when the event tragically turned violent by one extremist who was probably only doing it because of right-wing Islamophobic rhetoric anyway so really we need to blame the Republicans.

            ETA: Also I agree with Trofim. There is what I call the left’s “One Drop Rule of Nazis:” if there’s one Nazi in any group of people then it’s all Nazis. I’ve only seen this one guy with a Nazi flag, and given that it looks like he just took the flag out of the wrapper that morning, I don’t know how serious he is about his Nazism. You’d think any self-respecting Nazi would bother to iron his flag.

          • Matt M says:

            The notion that there was some contingent of people there who innocently showed up to protest the statue removal and were shocked to discover Nazis is wrong on its face.

            The fact that you knew Nazis were going to be there and you still showed up does not make you a Nazi.

            The fact that you happen to agree with Nazis on Issue X, with Issue X being virtually anything other than “kill Jews” does not make you a Nazi.

            The fact that you march alongside Nazis in support of Issue X does not make you a Nazi.

            I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If Nazis are the only ones willing to march for causes I believe in, then I will march with Nazis. I won’t march with them when they support causes I don’t believe in. If you want to call me a Nazi because of that then so be it, but I’m not playing this game anymore.

          • MrApophenia says:

            But again, that’s precisely my point. They weren’t holding a “Respect our history” rally, they were holding a “Unite the Right” rally which really was organized by neo-Nazis, the Klan, and other white nationalists. The only thing General Lee had to do with it was what park they picked.

            And again, the original question wasnt whether Trump should be nuanced about white supremacists. The question was whether he was different from normal Republicans. There clearly is, because even you guys are attacking normal Republicans for their un-nuanced condemnation of Nazis.

            The question wasn’t whether you think Trump is right, it was whether there was a difference between Trump and other Republicans on the subject.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            But Trump “totally condemned” the nazis and white supremacists.

            What exactly is the problem?

            I’m not trying to convince you of anything. You were anti-Trump before this and anti-Trump after this.

            I:

            1) Support Trump.

            2) Do not support Nazis, KKK, Richard Spencer, or white nationalism or supremacy.

            3) Do not support removing confederate statues.

            You’re the one trying to convince me to not support Trump, by telling me he supports Nazis, KKK, Spencer, WN/WS. But when I look at Trump’s words, he “totally condemns” nazis and white supremacists. I’m in agreement with Trump here, find your argument unpersuasive, and think you must either have reading comprehension problems, or are intellectually dishonest. I cannot find any reading of Trump’s statements that bear out the assertion that he thinks nazis/kkk/WN/WS are “fine people,” unless “totally condemns” means the exact opposite of what I think it means.

          • Brad says:

            Matt M

            I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If Nazis are the only ones willing to march for causes I believe in, then I will march with Nazis. I won’t march with them when they support causes I don’t believe in. If you want to call me a Nazi because of that then so be it, but I’m not playing this game anymore.

            You’ll get fired from your cushy job for doing so and I won’t be outraged over that. Just so you are on notice and can’t pull a Damore whining about how could you have possibly known.

            @johansenindustries

            Its not in my mind. There were big elections. Huge things. I’m surprised you missed them all. Three of them loss directly. All of them lost when their favoured candidate got toasted by Trump.

            And you’ve what, never lost anything in your life? If that’s your definition of loser than everyone in the world is a loser. What a worthless point.

          • Matt M says:

            The question wasn’t whether you think Trump is right, it was whether there was a difference between Trump and other Republicans on the subject.

            Of course there’s a difference. “Other republicans” are whining sniveling do-nothings whose strategy consists of constantly apologizing to the left, and who constantly lose elections by doing so.

            Trump is different from that.

          • rlms says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko
            “It’s equally clear from the footage and the reporting that it was not an all-goat event, especially during the earlier phase before the protest was moved out of its original planned location.”
            Gavin McInnes didn’t go because he thought it was “too explicitly neo-Nazi”. What is the source of your in-depth knowledge of the composition and ideology of the entire crowd there that you disagree with him on the basis of?

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @RLMS

            What is the source of your in-depth knowledge of the composition and ideology of the entire crowd there that you disagree with him on the basis of?

            The claim Apophenia made was: “The notion that there was some contingent of people there who innocently showed up to protest the statue removal and were shocked to discover Nazis is wrong on its face.”

            If there was even ONE person there who was not an avowed white supremacist and/or neo-nazi, that claim is false. Much the same way the statement “Muslims are terrorists” is categorically false if we can show the example of even a single Muslim who is not a terrorist. I am not the one making claims of extraordinary knowledge here, RLMS.

            I am claiming that based on the video of the event I’ve watched, adn the reports I’ve read, I think there is room to conclude that there was at least one and most likely more than one person there who was not an avowed white supremacist and/or neo-nazi. Is that sufficiently clear?

          • johansenindustries says:

            @Brad

            If I lost something and then spent the rest of my days criticising the winner. Then people might think I was a bit sour and biased. We actually have a phrase for that.

          • rlms says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko
            To be pedantic, “some contingent of people” implies more than one person, and furthermore suggests an organised group. But getting to the crux of the issue: do you think it would be fair to describe the Unite The Right rally as overwhelmingly white nationalist? If so, I’m pretty sure that you agree with MrAphohenia and me about the facts, and hence should also conclude that Trump’s claim that “you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists” is incorrect (either because he has a different definition of white nationalist to us, or — more likely in my opinion — he assumed that it was a generic anti-statue-removal rally). If not, please link your examples of non-white-nationalist rally goers.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @rlms

            ‘Overwhelmingly’ doesn’t actually destroy mathematics. There were either fine people there or not. The number of non-fine people doesn’t change the actual statement.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            getting to the crux of the issue: do you think it would be fair to describe the Unite The Right rally as overwhelmingly white nationalist?

            Sure, for values of “overwhelmingly”. I think that once you discount the avowed white supremacist, neo-nazi, and/or KKK types there, as Trump did, you’re not left with his “many” but rather with a distinct minority of the participants.

            I think that attributing that “many” to him looking at the guys waving swastika signs and going “Yep, looks like a bunch of fine americans!” in his head is bullshit, and ignores that Trump is a walking embodiment of Hanlon’s Razor. It sounds like you and I are on the same page of that part at least.

            If so, I’m pretty sure that you agree with MrAphohenia and me about the facts,

            Apparently not, since MrApophenia claims that it is patently obvious that there exactly zero non-White Supremacists at the rally. My position is that it is not obvious that that is the case.

          • Brad says:

            Romney and McCain spend all their time criticizing Obama? Bush I, Clinton? Who did Bush II lose to again? Your ‘point’is totally incoherent.

            You’re like the fat guy at a bar that can’t walk a flight of steps without wheezing yelling at the TV that a professional athlete is a loser because he missed a catch.

            The people you are deriding as losers are far more accomplished than you are. If you claim we should discount their opinions because they
            are losers how much more so should we discount yours?

          • rlms says:

            @johansenindustries
            If you read my post carefully, you will see that Trump claimed there were “many” non-white-nationalists at the rally, which contradicts my statement that it was overwhelmingly white nationalist. It’s true that his statement about “fine people” was not qualified in such a way, but the obvious interpretation is that the two groups are the same (otherwise he’s saying there were many non-white-nationalists, but only some of them were fine). However, that’s beside the point. I’d be deeply worried if Trump claimed that there were fine people in ISIS, even though that’s certainly true. Wouldn’t you?

          • johansenindustries says:

            @rlms

            I disagree with you that there are fine people as part of ISIS. I think if you’re taking sufficient steps to be part of ISIS, then you’re not fine.

            I also disagree with what you’re implying that anyone who is not a white nationalist is fine. It is perfectly sensible to refer to only a subset of non-white nationalists as being fine.

            There can still be many non-white nationalists at a rally and it being “overwhelmingly”* white nationalist. For example, it is true that Texas voted overwhelmingly for Trump, but there are still many Hillary voters in Texas, no?

            However, imagine if a young muslim goes to a Musim United march organised by a hardline pro-sharia group. Do I want the President to condem that young man? No. I want him to condemn the group and offer the hand of deradicalisation to the young man.

            * This might seem as if it is just being pedantic, but I think it really gets to the thinking: What did they overwhelm?

          • Matt M says:

            You’re agonizing over the question of how many “good people” would show up at a rally that has been advertised as white nationalist.

            I could counter by asking how many “good people” show up to a counter-protest that has been explicitly advertised as “stop these white nationalists from exercising their lawful, constitutionally protected right to assemble because we disagree with them”

            If you are part of the group that caused the police to unconstitutionally break up a lawfully permitted rally due to fears of escalating violence, I’m not sure how much moral high ground you get to claim here.

          • John Schilling says:

            So, consider instead a “Freedom of Religion” rally, sponsored by an Islamic group that hadn’t killed anyone yet (NPI is not ISIS or Al Qaeda tier),

            As an analogy to actual, swastika-wearing Nazis? That fails on account of actual Nazis have killed lots of people. Millions of them, in a horrific manner and with no justification.

            Not so much American Nazis specifically, but the only reason anyone ever becomes any kind of post-1945 Nazi in any country at all is because they think that Hitler fellow had some fine ideas and that we could use some of that kind of thinking around here. Seriously, I don’t think ideology or group anywhere has undergone the sort of evaporative cooling than has Nazism. Aside from Hitler and the Holocaust, there is nothing the Nazis have to offer that other groups can’t provide at less social cost, and is there any group anywhere whose social membership costs are as high as the Literal Nazis?

            People wearing actual swastikas and other Nazi iconography are signalling allegiance to Adolf Hitler and everything he stand for. People standing next to people wearing actual swastikas, are the moral equivalent of Benito Mussolini or pre-1941 Josef Stalin, signalling that they believe their ends are so righteous as to justify any means. The best that can be said about any of them is that they are a puny evil, but they are still evil. This applies only to literal swastika-wearing and/or sieg-heiling Nazis, not to everyone against whom “Nazi!” has been screamed, but it does apply to the actual Nazis and any analogies need to match that.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @John Schilling

            ‘The only reason anyone ever becomes any kind of post-1945 Muslim in any country at all is because they think that Mohammed fellow had some fine ideas and that we could use some of that kind of thinking around here.’ is a statement of fact and Mohammed went to war to kill a great deal of people. He’s not Hitler, but the fact that he’s not the icon of evil just limits the reasons to be a Muslim.

            There are however numerous reasons why one might go out cosplaying as a Nazi at a protest: 1. To be edgy 2. As a laugh 3. To offend people 4. To try to push the Overton window 5. To demonstrate American freedoms; probably more that I can’t think of.

            For example, Prince Harry went out in a Nazi uniform – not at a political event, but he’s a Prince everything is essentially political – would you call him an evil racist who wants to murder all the jews?

          • rlms says:

            @johansenindustries
            “I disagree with you that there are fine people as part of ISIS. I think if you’re taking sufficient steps to be part of ISIS, then you’re not fine.”
            I disagree with you that there are fine people at a rally that invites David Duke to speak. If you’re taking sufficient steps to listen to David Duke, then you’re not fine.

            “I also disagree with what you’re implying that anyone who is not a white nationalist is fine. It is perfectly sensible to refer to only a subset of non-white nationalists as being fine.”
            Who were the non-fine non-white-nationalists Trump was referring to in that speech?

            “For example, it is true that Texas voted overwhelmingly for Trump”
            Um, no? I’d hardly call 52% (to Clinton’s 43%) an overwhelming victory.

          • johansenindustries says:

            Going to a rally where Duke speaks is not the same thing as going to a rally to hear David Duke speak. When Celeste and Daphne performed at Glastonbury had all the Glastonbury goers gone to hear Celeste and Daphne?

            (If you’re suggesting that there’s some moale equivalancy between listening to David Duke speak and mass-murder, warmaking and sex slaves then I would disagree with you heavily there as well. Though I suppose you think listening to Duke is worse since you think that ISIS and not the rallygoers are full of very fine people. I was mainly referring to the effort and willingness to enter a warzone, though.)

            The non-fine non-white nationalists would be the non-white nationalists who aren’t fine. I’m unsure what it is that you find difficult about that concept. Perhaps they were just looking for a fight? Or they cheat on their wives. Who knows?

            Is is true that there are counties that voted overwhelmingly for Trump? Would you say that in all the counties that voted overwhelmingly for Trump that there aren’t many Clinton voters in it.

          • Matt M says:

            If you’re suggesting that there’s some moale equivalancy between listening to David Duke speak

            I listened to David Duke speak.

            Or, I should say, I spent a lot of the day looking for livestreams of Charlottesville, and most of them went down at various times. One of the last remaining ones was with someone watching David Duke. By the time he spoke, the rally had already been forcibly dispersed by the police throughout the city. His “speech” was delivered on no stage, with a small crowd of people (maybe 20 or so) huddled around him, in what appeared to be the parking lot of some small park or something. I came in midway so I cannot speak to the content of the whole speech, but I saw about 10 minutes or so, and it was pretty boring standard right-wing stuff. No different from what you’d hear on Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or whatever. Nothing about a race war or a new holocaust. Then he told everyone he heard Antifa was coming, and urged them to get in their cars and leave the city, at which point the 20 or so people seemed to disperse and go their separate ways.

          • You’ll get fired from your cushy job for doing so and I won’t be outraged over that.

            Would you have the same reaction to someone who marched in a demonstration along with Communists?

          • If you read my post carefully, you will see that Trump claimed there were “many” non-white-nationalists at the rally, which contradicts my statement that it was overwhelmingly white nationalist.

            I disagree with you about the meaning of words. If there are a thousand people in a group, a hundred of whom are X’s, the statement “there are many X’s in the group is true. So is the statement “the group was overwhelmingly non-X’s.”

            “Many” does not mean “a majority.”

            Would you dis agree with the statement “there are many American transsexuals”? “Many women are victims of rape”?

          • You’re agonizing over the question of how many “good people” would show up at a rally that has been advertised as white nationalist.

            Was it? The slogan someone else quoted was “Unite the right.” The word “nationalist” does not appear in that. Quite a large fraction of the population identifies as right, just as quite a large fraction identifies as left.

            Where was it advertised as white nationalist, such that only white nationalists would want to come?

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            ““Many” does not mean “a majority.””
            Not necessarily, but look at the context. Trump said there were “some very bad people in that group” but “many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists”. That suggests a minority of bad apples (it is not contradictory to describe a minority as “many” and a majority as “some”, but it would be odd). This interpretation is supported firstly by the fact that he was trying to imply an equivalence between the two sides, and secondly by the fact that it would’ve been an accurate description for most anti-statue-removal rallies (but not this one).

            “Where was it advertised as white nationalist, such that only white nationalists would want to come?”
            Look at the rally’s twitter. The most recent retweet is from “Identity Evropa”, a bit further down is a tweet pointing out that the Mayor of Charlottesville is Jewish. The founder of the Proud Boys declined to speak at it, because he didn’t want to be associated with “explicit neo-Nazis”. The rally organiser wrote a few articles for VDare, such as this one, which is pretty clearly white nationalist.

            There were some non-white-nationalist right-wing groups physically present at the rally: various militias came to protect the first amendment rights of the protestors. But they all seemed to take pains to distance themselves from the rally (for instance by referring to the organiser as a “piece of excrement”).

          • skef says:

            Where was it advertised as white nationalist, such that only white nationalists would want to come?

            “We” discussed this in OT82, but many of those links are down. The language on the Unite the Right’s Facebook event page was:

            This is an event which seeks to unify the right-wing against a totalitarian Communist crackdown, to speak out against displacement level immigration policies in the United States and Europe and to affirm the right of southerners and white people to organize for their interests just like any other group is able to do, free of persecution,

            The page is now down, but that language is documented here.

            I take it that whether a non-white-nationalist would want to come to an event described this way (and with the associated media that rlms links to) would depend on the non-white-nationalist in question. Gavin McInnes pulled out of the event beforehand because of the ethno-nationalist focus.

          • I asked:

            “Where was it advertised as white nationalist, such that only white nationalists would want to come?”

            And got the response:

            Look at the rally’s twitter.

            Unless I’m missing something, the first tweet at that link is from the day after the event, so notrelevant to how the event was advertised before it happened.

            skef cites a facebook page for the event, which includes:

            and to affirm the right of southerners and white people to organize for their interests just like any other group is able to do, free of persecution,

            I agree with that–don’t you? It wouldn’t be a reason to come to the demonstration–but neither is it a reason to avoid it, if one agrees with other things it is for.

          • skef says:

            I agree with that–don’t you? It wouldn’t be a reason to come to the demonstration–but neither is it a reason to avoid it, if one agrees with other things it is for.

            Epistemic charity is an aid to understanding, not a suicide pact. Abandoning knowledge of connotation and social implications just makes one obtuse.

          • @skef:

            We are discussing the claim that it was “a rally that has been advertised as white nationalist.”

            Nothing so far offered supports that claim. What you now seem to be claiming is that it was a rally which someone who was paying attention could have deduced was being organized by white nationalists, which is a much weaker claim.

            And even that isn’t true–Neo-confederates are not the same thing as white nationalists.

          • skef says:

            Unless I’m missing something, the first tweet at that link is from the day after the event, so notrelevant to how the event was advertised before it happened.

            You’re missing something. This, for example.

          • skef says:

            What you now seem to be claiming is that it was a rally which someone who was paying attention could have deduced was being organized by white nationalists, which is a much weaker claim.

            Only if people are generally as dumb as you seem to think they are.

          • albatross11 says:

            The irony of this discussion is that there is zero probability that Trump actually went through any of the thought process we’re going through, trying to untangle whether or not any non-white-Supremacists were at the Charlottesville rally.

          • quanta413 says:

            Only if people are generally as dumb as you seem to think they are.

            What David Friedman is saying only requires a few dumb people or people not paying attention out of many people. Although a lot of people would have run across media reports about the Neo-Nazis and Neo-Confederates, the main thing preventing hapless saps from showing up to Nazi protests on accident is probably the fact that most people have no interest in going to protests of any variety.

          • Matt M says:

            Let’s also keep in mind that the whole reason McInnes and the Proud Boys made a big public show of “officially disavowing” the rally is because it was ambiguously marketed such that a lot of well-meaning right-wing people might show up, being unaware that there were white nationalists present, and end up with their photos posted on the Internet and being fired from their jobs for being a Nazi.

            So I guess you can say “Well since McInnes disavowed everyone should have known better” but that doesn’t work unless you follow Proud Boy Twitter accounts. But the fact that they felt the need to go through that exercise at all shows that there was ambiguity and that they themselves believed a lot of people wouldn’t understand the “true nature of the rally” or whatever.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @John Schilling

            As an analogy to actual, swastika-wearing Nazis? That fails on account of actual Nazis have killed lots of people. Millions of them, in a horrific manner and with no justification.

            No, I was pointing out that Spencer’s NPI group was not actual swastika wearing Nazis. I was surprised they allowed someone with a swastika flag, or KKK garb at the rally. My impression of NPI had been that they were trying to disassociate pro-white advocacy from anti-other advocacy, and create something like every other ethnic group has (NAACP, AIPAC, National La Raza Council, CAIR, etc).

            That was my impression before Charlottesville, though. Now I can’t extend them that charity.

          • Skef writes:

            You’re missing something. This, for example.

            1. I don’t think that was at the link which RLMS offered as supporting his claim.

            2. Are you assuming the axe things in that image are supposed to be fasces? Are you further assuming that most people reading the tweet will recognize them as such?

            I wouldn’t be surprised if the first assumption was correct. Or if people who self-identified as fascists recognized them. But I would be very surprised if the average American did, or even knew what the fasces was and what its connection to fascism was.

            What we are arguing about is not whether the event would attract fascists but whether it would attract only fascists (and white nationalists and KKK people).

          • John Schilling says:

            @johansenindustries:

            ‘The only reason anyone ever becomes any kind of post-1945 Muslim in any country at all is because they think that Mohammed fellow had some fine ideas and that we could use some of that kind of thinking around here.’ is a statement of fact

            That is a false statement. Many people become Muslims because they want the benefits of theistic religion generally. There are many similar theistic religions to chose from, and in most places no great social penalty for choosing Islam over one of the others. By comparison, there are many hard-right and/or white-nationalist groups that don’t call themselves Nazis,but there is a hefty extra dose of stigma for taking up the swastika.

            For that matter, many people become Muslims because their parents, teachers, etc, expect them to, and it’s easier to go along than make a fuss. There are many communities where almost everyone is a Muslim and social penalties would apply for not being a Muslim. Are there any majority-literal-Nazi communities in the US, or anywhere else in the world?

            and Mohammed went to war to kill a great deal of people.

            This at least is true, but it isn’t uniquely true. Lots of people waged wars in the name of lots of religions, and Mohammed did lots of notable things other than waging war in the name of his religion.

            Hitler, is famous for trying to exterminate the Jews and conquer a bunch of lebensraum for the Aryan Übermenschen. Those are pretty much uniquely Hitlerian evils, and they are pretty much the only things Hitler is famous for. Anyone signing up for Team Hitler specifically, is signing up to support those things.

            You’re missing the importance of evaporative cooling here. Islam, and for that matter communism and social justice and even Trumpism, offers many different things to many different people. Support for any of these movements, is not support for any specific thing. And that was true of Nazism in, say, 1931. Then stuff happened.

            As a result of that stuff, Nazism is considered uniquely despicable for its insistence on uniquely despicable things, which may have been unfair in 1946 and maybe even in 1956 but by now has imposed sufficient costs as to drive to alternative right-wing movements anyone who doesn’t specifically insist on the uniquely despicable things that only the Nazis have to offer.

            That is absolutely not the case for Islam in general, and it would be a bit of a stretch even for ISIS.

          • John Schilling says:

            No, I was pointing out that Spencer’s NPI group was not actual swastika wearing Nazis.

            Right. They were the sort of people I was referring to when I said, “People standing next to people wearing actual swastikas, are the moral equivalent of Benito Mussolini or pre-1941 Josef Stalin, signaling that they believe their ends are so righteous as to justify any means.”

            And even if you don’t see any moral problems with it, how can you not understand that it is an absolute losing strategy to have people wearing swastikas at your political rallies without evidence of your disapproval being at least as obvious to the camera as are the swastikas?

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            Why are you charitably assuming that Unite The Right twitter significantly changed its political position right immediately after the rally, but not that I intended multiple tweets from it to be evidence*? Regardless, there’s a tweet from August 12th that describes the rally-goers as the “alt-right” (which does not imply that it was white nationalist, but does show it wasn’t intended to unite e.g. neoconservatives and right-libertarians). That tweet also uses triple parentheses to indicate a belief in the Jewishness of American intelligence agencies.

            You don’t seem to object to my statement that the rally’s organiser (Jason Kessler) is a white nationalist. Given that, and the fact that both sympathetic neutral parties who were present (the militias) and a sympathetic person who was invited to speak (Gavin McInnes) deemed it accurate to describe the rally as “white supremacist” and “explicitly neo-Nazi” without qualification, I think the onus is very much on you to give evidence of

            *although question of what evidence I intended to provide is irrelevant if you care about the truth rather than point scoring

          • johansenindustries says:

            @ John Schilling

            Would you agree that Christopher Waltz probably does not want to kill all the Jews? And that he went out in public in Nazi uniform.

            Now, obviously I am not saying that these protesters went to the rally with Nazi memorabilia so as to make a film. But would you agree that the statement: ‘people wear Nazi uniforms for a variety of reasons, possibly including to express their support for the Holocaust and conquering Europe for Deutschland’?

            And if you are open for multiple reasons, is it not more reasonable that they went out in the uniform of ultimate evil in order to offend or even intimidate, rather than to demonstrate their support for the Holocaust or invading Europe?

          • @DavidFriedman
            Why are you charitably assuming that Unite The Right twitter significantly changed its political position right immediately after the rally, but not that I intended multiple tweets from it to be evidence*?

            You made a claim about how the event was advertised. In support of that claim you provided a link to a page that contained no information on that subject, since the first tweet it showed was from after the event.

            The question isn’t whether it was possible for some people to figure out that the event was being organized by white nationalists, it’s whether it was impossible for anyone interested in the event not to realize that.

          • John Schilling says:

            Would you agree that Christopher Waltz probably does not want to kill all the Jews? And that he went out in public in Nazi uniform.

            Really? Your defense is going to be that I didn’t explicitly exclude movie actors, historical recreationists, etc, from the class of “actual swastika-wearing Nazis”? Because most people don’t have any trouble recognizing that Waltz et al aren’t Nazis of any kind, but the sort of people who show up at political rallies wearing swastikas really are.

          • skef says:

            In support of that claim you provided a link to a page that contained no information on that subject, since the first tweet it showed was from after the event.

            Twitter user pages have unbounded scrolling. As you scroll down, earlier tweets are displayed. If you thought that only the messages prior to the event were relevant, it’s not rlms’s fault that you didn’t scroll down to look at them.

          • johansenindustries says:

            Really? Your defense is going to be that I didn’t explicitly exclude movie actors, historical recreationists, etc, from the class of “actual swastika-wearing Nazis”? Because most people don’t have any trouble recognizing that Waltz et al aren’t Nazis of any kind, but the sort of people who show up at political rallies wearing swastikas really are.

            There are numerous reasons to wear a Nai uniform. There are numerous reasons to wear a Nazi uniform at a political rally. Once you’ve accepted that there are numerous reason to wear a Nazi ‘uniform’ at a political event then ‘they have Nazi iconography they must support the invasion of Poland’ because simply an error of logic.

            When the left went to protests carrying Nazi symbols – swatsikas and the like – to protest TRump – did you consider that evidence that they were firm supporters of the holocaust. Or did it seem obvious to you that they (being your in-group) had other reasons for the Swatsikas rather than support for the 3rd Reich?

            Perhaps, including the offending of their outgroup?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Twitter user pages have unbounded scrolling. As you scroll down, earlier tweets are displayed. If you thought that only the messages prior to the event were relevant, it’s not rlms’s fault that you didn’t scroll down to look at them.

            A citation to a haystack is not a valid reference to the needle contained therein.

          • Brad says:

            Perhaps, including the offending of their outgroup?

            Mission accomplished. Just turns out their outgroup was bigger than they thought.

          • Brad says:

            David Friedman

            Would you have the same reaction to someone who marched in a demonstration along with Communists?

            I wasn’t outraged when the middle finger to the President lady got fired, so someone marching next to people with hammer and sickle getting fired certainly wouldn’t outrage me.

            But to get to what I gather is the underlying question, I don’t have the same visceral reaction to communist symbolism as I do to Nazi symbolism even if the handbook of 20th century democides says I ought to.

          • Matt M says:

            But to get to what I gather is the underlying question, I don’t have the same visceral reaction to communist symbolism as I do to Nazi symbolism even if the handbook of 20th century democides says I ought to.

            Why do you suppose this is?

          • hyperboloid says:

            @Matt M
            I’m can’t answer for Brad, but I think there are very good reasons to have different reactions to Communists and Nazis.

            For one thing Communism covered a much greater spectrum than Nazism. While we should think of Pol Pot, and Stalin in the same terms as Hitler; we should most certainly not put Ho Chi Minh, Castro, Vo Nguyen Giap, Tito, Che Guevara, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev into the same category of world historical evil. And that’s without getting into the various democratically minded Communist parties of Europe, or India who seem to have done little beyond peaceably contest elections, and occasionally engage in hypocritical apologetics for Soviet crimes.

            The French Communist party helped to form much of the the backbone of the resistance, while the French hard right was collaborating with a regime that was shipping French citizens to gas chambers. There really were some very decent people in the French, and Italian Communist, in fact more then decent, brave, even heroic. Of course one can probably say the same thing about the wehrmacht, and even if it’s true it doesn’t change the fact that Marxism-Leninism is a terrible system of government, and that it’s advocates deluded themselves about the nature of the Soviet regime for decades.

            If you wanted to equate Fascism writ large with Communism, that would be a different thing; but I get the impressions that some on the hard right have a great deal of admiration for people like Franco, and Pinochet, and would recoil at comparing them to a bunch of godless reds.

            The other thing is that I agree with (what were, at least theoretically) the terminal goals of Communism, Indeed I would think most people do. And I don’t just mean people on the left. In principle the goal of Communist parties was to create a classes, stateless, post scarcity society, free of all forms of coercion and alienation, and based on principles of voluntary mutual cooperation.

            Notice the similarity of this vision to David Friedman’s ideas about a stateless utopia. Notice also the number of ex communists who were prominent in the American conservative movement. Either Whittaker Chambers, James Burnham, Irving Kristol, and et al. fundamentally changed their basic moral values when they repudiated the radical left, or more likely there view of the facts changed; and they came to think that sadly Marx’s vision was impossible, and that any attempt to put it into practice was doomed to end in catastrophe.

            It actually seems to me, that the spirit of (pre-alt right) American conservatism was closer to Marx, than to say Julius Eovla, or Richard Spencer. How many ex Nazis ever served on the board of the National Review?

            The dictatorship of the protectorate was just supposed to be a phase that would end with the withering away of the state. No honest person ever joined a Communist party thinking they were going to create a permanent tyranny. The thing is that no political movement ever failed more totally at achieving it’s stated aims than Marxism, and no system of government was ever more different from how it’s propagandists represented it than Communism.

            The Nazis on the other hand did exactly what they said they were going to do. To quote Hitler’s own words from mien Kampf blaming the Jews for Germany’s defeat in world war one:

            If at the beginning of the War and during the War twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the people had been held under poison gas, as happened to hundreds of thousands of our very best German workers in the field, the sacrifice of millions at the front would not have been in vain. On the contrary: twelve thousand scoundrels eliminated in time might have saved the lives of a million real Germans, valuable for the future.

            Communism failed, Nazism on the other hand worked exactly as designed, right up until it’s enemies destroyed it. Accordingly we view Communist sympathizers as fools, and would be accolades of Hitler as monsters.

            If I believed the things that Communists said, I would become a communist. On the other hand if I believed every word the Nazis said about the Jews, I might become a very enthusiastic Zionist, in the hope that my Hebrew neighbors might be relocated somewhere away from me, but I would not become a child murderer. The difference between me and a Nazi is not just one of factual opinion, but of the deepest moral principles.

            Perhaps some people are flying the hammer and sickle because they really like gulags, but that is not the impression I get at all from talking to western Marxists, who seem very intent on convincing me that what Stalin did was not “true” Communism.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            The Nazis on the other hand did exactly what they said they were going to do.

            Plenty of prominent Marxists, including Marx himself, were quite open about the fact that their classless society would require the “liquidation” of “counter-revolutionary” elements, so murderous Marxist regimes were doing exactly what they said they were going to do, too. Nor does the fact that they planned to stop at some vague point in the future make much difference: after all, I’m sure even the Nazis would have stopped committing genocide, once they’d exterminated all the “inferior races”.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @Hyper

            In principle the goal of Communist parties was to create a classes, stateless, post scarcity society, free of all forms of coercion and alienation, and based on principles of voluntary mutual cooperation

            What methods do communists use to create a post-scarcity society in revolutions? Sure, everybody wants a post-scarcity society but surely you can only count it amongst communist’s goals if they are trying to make strides towards it.

            Leaving that aside, as somebody who strongly disagrees with the idea of a classless society then we can descrive Nazisms as ‘In principle the goal of National Socialist parties was to create a Jewless, free of all forms of coercion and alienation, and based on principles of voluntary mutual cooperation and shared values’

            To my mind the defining principle of both ideologies is that once you get rid of the wreckers, then everyone else can live in harmony.

            I don’t see any real difference between murderous envy of perceived power and wealth belonging to the well-bred and murderous envy of perceived power and wealth belonging to Jewish people. Surely the difference can’t be that Hitler wrote it down first, whereas Communists just implement it?

            Of course, only the ‘twelve or fifteen thousand’ figure you quote Hitler as saying is the equivilant of Lenin’s borgeousie purge. The Holocaust is a couple of magnitudes higher than that.

          • Brad says:

            @Matt M
            A personal connection to the victims of the one but not the other.

          • powerfuller says:

            In principle the goal of National Socialist parties was to create a Jewless, free of all forms of coercion and alienation, and based on principles of voluntary mutual cooperation and shared values’… once you get rid of the wreckers, then everyone else can live in harmony

            Yeah, the demotic/egalitarian nature of Nazism that parallels Communism is often ignored. The Nazis wanted to create a society where everybody was equal as well — all pure and Germanic and working toward the Furher. If the Nazis succeeded in killing everybody else, what (in theory) would be left would be an egalitarian mass of totally equal (i.e. homogenous) people. The only difference is that the Communists tried to implement their equality by killing or removing anybody above the common folk, whereas the Nazis tried to kill anybody below or outside the common folk. Would you rather Procrustesus stretch your limbs or chop them off?

            Also, I think the difference (for Americans at least) is simply geographical distance — Communism’s horror were further away. C.F. Nazi imagery in Thailand.

          • quanta413 says:

            @hyperboloid

            If the Nazis hadn’t been annihilated by the end of WWII, we probably would have seen “moderate” and less murderous Nazi parties in other parts of the world too. The only places communists didn’t fuck up were because they lacked the power or faced off against stronger opposition. We don’t worry about French communists now for the same reason Richard Spencer doesn’t really matter. Lack of a plausible route to power, not because their ideas or ideals are vaguely morally acceptable.

            And saying communism failed but Nazism succeeded is bizarre. The Nazis failed by ’45. Communism still isn’t dead, and you are still apologizing for their monstrous ideas and horrifying bodycount by selectively leaving out all the evidence that they fully intended to liquidate kulaks/enemies of the state/bourgeoisie. That wasn’t some sort of accidental side effect of high minded ideals, it was the point.

          • Viliam says:

            The main difference between Nazis and Communists is that Communists had more time and space, and that the Communists were not defeated dramatically. As a consequence of that:

            – Communists had multiple leaders, so now we can say: “These ones were quite evil, but compared with them, those other guys who didn’t literally murder millions of people seem like saints.”

            – When we talk about Nazis, we debate descriptions from outside; what actually happened. Concentration camps, etc. When we talk about Communists, almost always someone introduces their “inside view” and insists that we instead talk about how some of their ideals were noble.

            No, let me put it more plainly… When we debate Nazism, Nazis are not invited; they are merely described. But when we debate Communism, some Communist or a sympathizer usually invites themselves, and puts themselves into a position of an expert who knows “what Communism was truly about”, unlike the other guys who are just repeating American propaganda. Being a Nazi sympathizer gets you disqualified and called a horrible person; not being, at least slightly, a Communism sympathizer achieves a similar effect.

            – Communists had the opportunity to raise whole generations of people, isolated from non-Communist opinions and news. Just because the regime officially ended, it’s not like these people are going to update about everything overnight. For people in the Nazi regime, I guess it was “this is what it is like during the war”, but for many people in Communist regime, it was all they have ever experienced, and even allowed to hear about.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I think Nazism was, in a sense, actually a worse idea than Communism.

            Nazism glorified one smallish sub-group of the human race, and had compulsive military expansionism built into it. This meant it burned out relatively quickly.

          • dndnrsn says:

            National socialism’s economy, and subsequently war economy, was based on using conquest to pay for more conquest. (I’m thinking of doing an effortpost series on this) – but that isn’t necessarily why it burned itself out; its problem was just as much that German industry couldn’t compete with the industrial capacity of the USSR and the US put together. However, if it wasn’t destined to burn itself out, it was destined to do horrible things – the German plan for the east revolved around a predicted ~30 million Soviet civilian deaths due to starvation, for example.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            It wasn’t just that Nazi Germany had a pyramid scheme of using the next conquest to pay for the current conquest, the narrow racism presumably made it harder for them to get and keep allies.

          • dndnrsn says:

            They didn’t have a great deal of trouble in finding allies, did they? They had several Eastern European countries on their side, and the Italians. Not great allies (the Italians being in the war might have caused more problems for the Germans than it solved, for example), but still. Their problem in keeping allies had to do with losing the war – something that happened at least twice was “German ally sees the writing on the wall, tries to quit the war, German forces seize power to keep them in the war, then deport all that country’s Jews.”

          • @hyperboloid:

            Than you for your detailed answer to the question.

            One minor quibble. Pinochet was a military dictator. I don’t think he was a fascist–at least, his economic policies were not. Franco is a better example.

          • Anonymous says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Franco wasn’t Fascist. He was a Catholic Monarchist Reactionary. If you want a real Fascist, look at the Man Himself – Mussolini.

          • Viliam says:

            Nazism glorified one smallish sub-group of the human race, and had compulsive military expansionism built into it. This meant it burned out relatively quickly.

            Communism took for granted that ethnic Russians are superior humans. But it didn’t plan for exterminating other ethnic groups. They were supposed to live forever in harmony under the superior Russian leadership.

            The emphasis on being “international” simply meant that you (a non-Russian) are supposed to forget about your own nation/country, and only think about what is good for the Soviet Union. Not that Russians are expected to do the same for you!

            Fascism and Naziism could be approximated as “let’s do something similar to Communism, but putting our nation/country at the first place”.

        • Brad says:

          > What are Trump’s views on white supremacists?

          Although I don’t use that idiotic platform it’s my understanding that retweeting implies endorsement.

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            It doesn’t. Not unless you’re very desperate to target someone with guilt by association. Twitter is chaotic. People frequently retweet accounts they’re unfamiliar with. To say Trump has now endorses white supremacists is like insisting someone endorses the political platform of the National Socialist Party because they overheard a member tell an offensive joke at a party and laughed at it.

          • Urstoff says:

            Tweeting is voluntary, overhearing something at a party is not. Although the most likely explanation in this case is that the videos confirmed Trump’s prejudices, and he too impulsive to spend time looking into who exactly made the original tweet.

          • Matt M says:

            Why does “who made the tweet” matter.

            Shouldn’t the objection be more related to “does the tweet accurately represent what it implies”?

            It strikes me as interesting that there’s so much obsession over who he re-tweets, rather than what he re-tweets.

            As if re-tweeting the KKK saying “Good morning, world!” is somehow a greater moral affront than re-tweeting Beyonce saying “Let’s round up all the Muslims” or something…

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            I was thinking of the laugh being roughly analogous to the tweet, not the overhearing. I agree he’s too impulsive to have likely looked in to the account, which is why this hasn’t changed my opinion of the man. The only thing it shows clearly is that he believes Muslims pose a threat, and you don’t need to be detective to have figured that out already.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            There are many reasons one retweets things. Sometimes it’s an endorsement of the statement, but not necessarily. To think it’s an endorsement of the original tweeter is silly, given that you only need to tap a few times and it’s done and at no point does this involve the bio of the original tweeter showing up on your screen. You don’t even have to be as impulsive as Trump to retweet something from an asshole.

            Nearly always retweeting is done because you want the thing to have more exposure. Sometimes this is done because you think the thing is dumb and wants mocking, but from context we can tell this is not what Trump was doing.

          • Randy M says:

            Nearly always retweeting is done because you want the thing to have more exposure.

            That may explain the outrage. The SJW way of solving bad actors is to de-platform them. If you give exposure without explicit condemnation, you are working against de-platforming, which makes you part of the problem, and hence guilty of the same sort of sin.

            my understanding that retweeting implies endorsement.

            I don’t know twitter enough to know if it has idiosyncratic norms. I would personally have a broader variety of reasons of retweeting than endorsement of everything the originator has said or done, down to “this particular tweet is interesting in some way, even if I’m not convinced by it.” Like when I post articles to Facebook even if I don’t agree with the conclusions but there’s some interesting annecdotes or whale puns in there somewhere.

            In reality I don’t link things much, because I don’t care for the drama potential, and I use social media to be social, not to change the world.

          • Iain says:

            Setting aside questions of whether retweets should be considered endorsement in the general case: the original source of the videos seems pretty confident that Trump’s retweet in particular was an endorsement. If she were wrong, it would be very easy for Trump to clarify. Instead, he tweeted back at Theresa May about how she should ignore him and “focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom”. (The connection between a video of a Dutch kid and Radical Islamic Terrorism in the UK is left as an exercise for the viewer. If you don’t see it, well, I guess that lack of vision is why Trump is president and you’re not.)

            Can we just take a step back and realize how insane this all is? The President of the United States of America impulsively retweeted a set of videos designed to make people afraid of Muslims. His defenders are reduced to claiming that, well, he probably didn’t know that the original source is an anti-Muslim loonie who has been arrested for harassing women wearing hijabs while out shopping. If he were your senile great-uncle, that would be a reasonable excuse. Don’t you expect better from the leader of your country?

            It must be so exhausting to feel compelled to defend this twit.

          • Matt M says:

            Don’t you expect better from the leader of your country?

            No.

            People wanted representative democracy. They got it. Good and hard.

          • quanta413 says:

            Don’t you expect better from the leader of your country?

            Ideally, yes. In the actual world as is, no. Seeing as it’s already acceptable and respectable to engage in all sorts of warfare directly causing the death of hundreds of thousands to millions and lie in order to get to the point where you can do that for reasons I find highly questionable at best and arguably evil at worst (Polk, Wilson, Johnson, Bush II), I don’t feel like anything is meaningfully more broken when a President is rude, uncouth, crazy, and religionist/racist/whatever. And really, lots of Presidents have been the last thing; some were just more polite or circumspect about it. Especially when current President is one of the most disliked Presidents in the last couple decades. I would prefer a different President, but the bar for him accidentally doing better than I consider several past Presidents to have done is so low it’s embarrassing.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            It must be so exhausting to feel compelled to defend this twit.

            Not really, because I don’t have to apologize for Trump. I agree with him.

            On the other hand, his opponents who feel compelled to devote gallons of ink and days of broadcast time every time he takes 10 seconds to retweet something while sitting on the john, that’s got to be exhausting.

            Oh, and constantly having to apologize for the atrocities of Muslims, who adhere to a supremacist religion that wants everyone who isn’t them either dead, forcibly converted, or subjugated. That’s got to be pretty exhausting too.

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            His defenders are reduced to claiming that, well, he probably didn’t know that the original source is an anti-Muslim loonie who has been arrested for harassing women wearing hijabs while out shopping.

            This is exactly backwards. The defenders shouldn’t have to be demonstrating Trump didn’t know about the original source. Trump’s detractors should have to demonstrate that he did. Then and only then would it become an issue even worth discussing.

          • Iain says:

            @xXxanonxXx

            You miss my point. Even granting Trump the complete benefit of the doubt regarding the source, he still impulsively retweeted a handful of poorly sourced videos designed to portray Muslims in a negative light, without spending any time at all to research their veracity.

            You might accept that from an elderly relative. It would generally be met with skepticism in the comment section of this blog. It is crazy that people are willing to defend this as reasonable behaviour from the President of the United States.

            @Conrad Honcho:

            Have you, uh — have you ever actually met any Muslims? Because I have to say that if Islam requires all non-Muslims to be enslaved, subjugated, or killed, the Muslims I know are doing a piss-poor job of it. Should I complain to the local imam?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Iain

            Did you know that there are nazis walking around who aren’t gassing Jews right now?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Iain: actually, yes. It’s kind of his job to make nominal Muslims better Muslims. Every religion has scads of members who don’t practice the hard teachings.
            (Of course the doctrine of armed jihad becomes less hard if you’re a man who can’t get a mate and the mujahideen leader is following the doctrine about slave girls.)

          • Iain says:

            @Conrad Honcho:

            The Daily Stormer is, as I understand it, fairly prominent among American Nazis. According to its founder, “the official policy of his site was: ‘Jews should be exterminated.'”

            CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is a prominent representative of American Muslims. Here are their core principles: you will notice a surprising lack of subjugation. Instead, there’s a bunch of hippy nonsense about dialogue between faith communities. Terrifying!

            If you think that Islam demands the subjugation of non-Muslims, and the vast majority of American Muslims disagree with you, consider the possibility that maybe they know more than you.

            @Le Maistre Chat:

            You are being the anti-Muslim version of this guy. Don’t be the anti-Muslim version of that guy.

          • xXxanonxXx says:

            @Iain

            You seemed to have two points. One, that Trump supporters were desperately trying to argue that maybe Trump didn’t know the source of the tweet. This is exactly backwards. It should be seen as an act of desperation by Trump detractors to bring the connection up at all. Two, you’re saying Trump did not investigate the videos for veracity, and spread them for the express purpose of sending the message Muslims are a danger to our society. I agree. I just don’t see how this is news. Trump has been spreading dubious stories since before the election. He’s said that Muslims needed to be subject to extreme vetting before they could come to America. It’s not like you need to go rummaging around in the man’s trash for incriminating documents to discover what his real positions are. He’s not subtle.

            For what it’s worth, I agree with him that Islam is a problem. I just wish someone else could address it. And, yeah, the Commander in Chief behaving like a pundit on twitter does make me cringe.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Iain

            CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is a prominent representative of American Muslims. Here are their core principles: you will notice a surprising lack of subjugation. Instead, there’s a bunch of hippy nonsense about dialogue between faith communities. Terrifying!

            Two (obvious) possibilities:
            1. The organization is aligned with an interpretation of Islam where that makes sense. Islam doesn’t have as much formal splitting as Christianity does, so you’ll have several mutually contradictory sects saying they’re plain old Sunni, whereas Christians tend to mark their sect as special and distinct somehow (like “Adjective” Catholics).
            2. The Islamic holy text supports lying to infidels in matters of religious import. Since American Muslims are in no place to throw their weight around in the bailey, for want of sufficient numbers, they wisely resort to motte-only public relations. You’ll probably find that in Muslim-majority countries, Islam is less “hippy” and more “mujahideen”.

            If you think that Islam demands the subjugation of non-Muslims, and the vast majority of American Muslims disagree with you, consider the possibility that maybe they know more than you.

            I suppose you might not view Jizya as subjugation.

            @Le Maistre Chat:

            You are being the anti-Muslim version of this guy. Don’t be the anti-Muslim version of that guy.

            But, unlike the guy you link (who commits a logical error in the second paragraph), LMC isn’t wrong. Islam has been practically harvesting the efforts and hopes of unmarried young men for conquest since it existed. Legal polygyny and exhortation to violence against infidels is just going to do that.

          • beleester says:

            @Anonymous:

            1. The organization is aligned with an interpretation of Islam where that makes sense. Islam doesn’t have as much formal splitting as Christianity does, so you’ll have several mutually contradictory sects saying they’re plain old Sunni, whereas Christians tend to mark their sect as special and distinct somehow (like “Adjective” Catholics).

            In this case, you should not be asserting that “Muslims”, unqualified, are in favor of subjugating infidels.

            2. The Islamic holy text supports lying to infidels in matters of religious import.

            This is an impossible argument. Regardless of anything Muslims do, you can assert that it’s merely a deception tactic until they’re in a position to start subjugating the infidels again. If this is your premise, there is no way for you to be convinced that Muslims are not planning to subjugate you.

            (Jews used to get a similar smear, along the lines of “They can’t be trusted, because they have a religious holiday where they declare all their oaths and promises null and void.” Take any assertions of the form “This is what [outgroup]’s holy book says, so you know that they cannot be trusted regardless of how nice they act” with an entire mountain of salt.)

          • Jaskologist says:

            I agree that taking a passage out of a holy book is probably not a good way to understand how a large religion is practiced.

            So look at the actual practice: in how many countries where Muslims have the political power are the non-Muslims treated well?

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Regardless of anything Muslims do, you can assert that it’s merely a deception tactic until they’re in a position to start subjugating the infidels again.

            But isn’t that exactly what people say about “peaceful” white nationalists..? (obviously substituting “minorities” for “infidels”)

          • Anonymous says:

            In this case, you should not be asserting that “Muslims”, unqualified, are in favor of subjugating infidels.

            The very amorphousness of Islam, particularly Sunni Islam (Shia is nowadays pretty much a one-country affair), is why I’m resorting to blanket statements. If Mr Westernized Moderate Muslim and Mr Orthodox Fundamentalist Muslim and Mr Self-Appointed Jihad Preacher are all claiming to be part of the very same body of believers, and not even have the decency to formally schism and rebrand, I’m not going to do it for them.

            This is an impossible argument. Regardless of anything Muslims do, you can assert that it’s merely a deception tactic until they’re in a position to start subjugating the infidels again. If this is your premise, there is no way for you to be convinced that Muslims are not planning to subjugate you.

            Maybe they should have thought about that before subscribing to said holy book.

            In addition, whether they want to subjugate infidels or not is a simple question of looking at what they do when they can do it. History looks a lot like “Muslims subjugate infidels when they can, and lie about it when they can’t”.

            My general argument is this: A good Muslim should want to subjugate infidels. A Muslim who doesn’t want to subjugate infidels in the name of Allah is not a good Muslim.

          • I suppose you might not view Jizya as subjugation.

            Quoting from your link, which looks to me like a pretty good account of the subject:

            Sources comparing taxes levied on Muslims and jizya differ as to their relative burden depending on time, place, specific taxes under consideration, and other factors.

            … while Abdul Rahman Doi viewed it as a counterpart of the zakat tax paid by Muslims.[40] According to Khaled Abou El Fadl, moderate Muslims reject the dhimma system, which encompasses jizya, as inappropriate for the age of nation-states and democracies.[37]

            You could probably make a clearer case out of differences in legal status–who can be a witness against whom, what the diya is for killing someone.

    • dodrian says:

      This, I think, is a turning point. Before I agreed with Scott that on balance the media’s coverage of Trump was doing more harm than anything Trump was actually saying. While I still don’t think the question “Is he racist?” is the right one, retweeting false videos where the original intent was to incite hatred is completely unacceptable.

      Unfortunately I also think that a considerable swath of the media has constantly been making so much out of his actions that turned out to be inconsequential that they have no power left to call him out on genuinely harmful ones. Those that already hate him will continue to hate him, and Trump’s tacit supporters having seen all the smoke before but never fire will continue to ignore what the media says about him.

      • Chalid says:

        He has used falsehoods to incite hatred against Muslims before and it’s been basically forgotten.

      • Jaskologist says:

        Sorting through reddit comments is painful, but if I’m reading it right, he retweeted 3 videos purporting to be of Muslims behaving badly. One of them was not in fact of a “Muslim migrant”. (I assume since BBC is denying the “migrant” part only, he’s actually the child of Muslim migrants, but let’s cross the entire video out to be safe.)

        If he had just retweeted the other two factually correct videos, would that have been acceptable?

        (Do correct my facts if I’m off somewhere. There’s a lot of fog of war here, and if all 3 videos were fake my hypothetical is kind of beside the point.)

        • Matt M says:

          I think this is the conversation we need to have.

          It strikes me as non-obvious that simply posting, without commentary, a video of Muslims committing crimes is somehow “Islamophobic.” And even less obvious that someone re-tweeting (which is, by definition, posting without commentary) said video is therefore also Islamophobic.

          Furthermore, I find it somewhat revealing to see the American media (who are oh so concerned with Trump’s egregious assaults on the first amendment), enthusiastically parrot the talking points and support of tyrannical British laws which do not respect free speech. Headlines typically go something like: “Trump re-tweeted postings from Britain First, a racist right-wing hate group who have been arrested for inciting racial hatred.” So basically, we know these people are bad because the British government has arrested them for hate speech.

          Nevermind that the US rejects hate speech as a thing worth being arrested for, and that such charges would be instantly laughed out of court in any country that even pretended to protect a right to free speech.

          I have to wonder how they might react if Trump retweeted, say, the Dalai Llama. “Trump re-tweets racist propaganda from an individual that is currently an outlaw from justice in China, where he is wanted for disturbing societal peace and inciting religious hatred.”

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @Jaskologist:
          First, the claim is more than “here are some Muslims behaving badly”. There is an implicit claim of causality.

          Second, from this ABC article we can see that the videos lack a commitment to truthfulness.

          We don’t actually know the religion of the boy arrested in The Netherlands, as it was not released by the police.

          you can see that the most incendiary video is badly in need of context, as it is from the Egyptian unrest in 2013. The motivation for that unrest wasn’t religious, but rather different Egyptian factions struggling for political control of the government.

          This is just plain old shit-stirring. It’s easily identifiable. I understand things like confirmation bias and backlash effect are extremely strong. But really.

          • Incurian says:

            The motivation for that unrest wasn’t religious, but rather different Egyptian factions struggling for political control of the government.

            Which factions were those?

          • Incurian says:

            Reasons for demanding Morsi’s resignation included accusations of increasing authoritarianism and his pushing through an Islamist agenda disregarding the predominantly secular opposition or the rule of law.[25][26][27] The uprising concluded seven months of protests that started when the Morsi government issued a highly controversial draft constitution that gave him sweeping unlimited powers over the state’s judicial system.[28][29] The demonstrations, which had started peacefully, turned violent when the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood were stormed in Mokattam in Cairo and when 5 members of the organization were killed amid clashes.

            Nope, no religious motivations here.

          • johansenindustries says:

            What part of that article suggests that the videos lack a commitment to truthiness. The fact that the duth boy was born there is now well know – although this time yesterday, it was all ‘not a muslim’ everywhere; that’s changed.

            But what’s untrue about the others?

            Do you not feel bad when you say ‘The motivation for that unrest wasn’t religious, but rather different Egyptian factions struggling for political control of the government.’ when one of those factions – arguably the most major – and the faction that murdered the boywas a self-proclaimed Brotherhood. A brotherhood of what, do you recall?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            When the military and their backers, who were Muslim, attacked people, who were also Muslim (and this was not sectarian fighting either) what was the true relevance of their religion?

            This is standard power play bullshit. Highly likely to happen during and in the wake of the downfall of any authoritarian government.

          • Randy M says:

            When the military and their backers, who were Muslim, attacked people, who were also Muslim (and this was not sectarian fighting either) what was the true relevance of their religion?

            I get what you mean, but the implication of this is that it’s silly to imagine Muslims fighting over doctrinal matters.

          • Iain says:

            @Randy M:

            European history involves quite a lot of fighting between Protestants and Catholics — some of it, such as the Troubles in Ireland, quite recent. How much information would you say that this fighting gives us about the character of Catholics and Protestants?

          • Matt M says:

            I feel like it’s probably possible to tweet a video of a Catholic committing a crime without everyone immediately jumping down your ass about what a Catholophobe you are.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Up Next: Trump retweets a bunch of Thomas Nast cartoons.

          • Randy M says:

            @Ian, HBC: Pointing out that both sides share the same religion does not provide much evidence as to whether religion was a motivating factor. I wasn’t saying HBC was wrong, just that his evidence was insufficient.

            But–him saying that it wasn’t sectarian (which I missed, despite quoting, whoops–darn relevant paratheticals) does specifically admit the possibility, so it seems my post added little.

            European history involves quite a lot of fighting between Protestants and Catholics

            Yup, a lot of which seems to have been fought for tribal reasons, and led for political reasons.

            Which seems like a good argument for not condemning Muslisms as specifically evil, and also for not allowing immigration by more disparate cultures than we already have for historical reasons.

          • Iain says:

            @Matt M:

            Sure. But if you tweeted multiple videos of Catholics committing crimes in foreign countries (except one of those videos wasn’t actually a Catholic after all), and you had a history of doing things like this, and you had been elected as the president of the United States on a platform of keeping Catholics out of the country, then maybe the Catholics would start getting a little antsy.

            You know. Hypothetically.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I think the muslims beating people and destroying things of value to people of other faiths is both more hateful and likely to incite hatred than sharing videos of them doing it.

        This is the values disconnect we have. I care about the things in the video, not the sharing of the video.

        Upthread I shared a picture of the aftermath of the Charlottesville car attack. Are you mad at me for doing so because that might incite hatred against neo-nazis?

        • albatross11 says:

          I see your point, but this is one of the places where I think Trump does a lot of harm.

          When you’re a powerful and influential person, you ought to be especially careful not to incite violence or hatred. Partly, that’s because lots of people look to you for guidance about how they should act. But also, that’s because lots of people actually are taking orders from you or your government–perhaps at several removes, but still, you’re the guy at the top. “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest” is a lot more dangerous thing to say when you’re the big boss than when you’re some random property developer in NYC.

        • dodrian says:

          (This is also sort of replying to Jackologist/Matt M above)

          Perhaps I’m being particularly sensitive to these videos because until recently I lived in Britain, and it’s that he retweeted Britain First, who have a history of sharing inflammatory content (even if it was probably Ann Coulter he was retweeting, not them directly, according to the BBC). It’s also that at least one of these videos is misleading – I’d similarly be upset if you were sharing pictures claiming they were antifa rioting if in fact they had nothing to do with antifa, even (especially?) if there were genuine incidents where antifa did just that.

          With this instance it’s also context – I can’t see any reason why Trump would share even legitimate videos. It’s not in response to a specific event or even policy proposal. It seems to be just to antagonize his opponents and excite his supporters, and while I didn’t mind when he did that with the CNN wrestling video (well, OK, I don’t think a President should ever do that, but it’s normal for Trump, ultimately inconsequential, and the way the media tried to link a bad, obvious joke to threats to free press was just ridiculous), in this context I think it has real potential to encourage hatred or harm of a specific people group in a way that none of his actions or tweets before have.

          • Matt M says:

            With this instance it’s also context – I can’t see any reason why Trump would share even legitimate videos. It’s not in response to a specific event or even policy proposal. It seems to be just to antagonize his opponents and excite his supporters

            This is how 99% of Twitter users use Twitter.

            The problem here is that people keep expecting Trump to behave like an intellectual statesman, rather than like a regular Twitter user. The media is shocked and appalled that he uses Twitter in the exact same way as everyone else does. He looks at it on his phone when he’s bored, occasionally RTs things he sees that he likes, composes hastily written screeds to bash his political opponents, etc.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I feel like this rounds to “you may not criticize Islam.”

          • Iain says:

            People expect Trump to behave like he’s President. Is that unreasonable?

          • dodrian says:

            Just because it’s how other people use Twitter, does that make it OK?

            I’ve long accepted that this will be a Presidency of 3am tweets, belittling political opponents, rants about whose is bigger, and even calling out foreign allies. It’s not what I’d want in a President, but it is what we have.

            But I’m responding to the original post’s question: are people still crying wolf? Up until now I would’ve defended Trump and the assertion that the frequent portrayal of Trump as an (in this case) anti-Muslim bigot, the constant parroting of the idea that he’s encouraging hate, and the scrutinizing of every tweeted character for whistles or what-have-yous is doing more to encourage hate than anything Trump himself has done.

            Trump may or may not be more racist than your average 70 year old white man, and I don’t care, but this time I think he’s crossed a line to where he’s actually encouraging hate. This is where I think the media have a legitimate reason to call him out, though as I mentioned above, they’ve cried wolf too much and lost their credibility in the matter.

          • rlms says:

            @Jaskologist
            He’s *allowed* to do whatever he wants — he’s the president! But if he retweets random videos of cardiologists falsifying test results (and furthermore some of those videos turn out to not actually depict cardiologists), that’s strong evidence that he has an irrational fear and hatred of cardiologists.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Is fear of Islam (or Muslims) more or less rational than fear of Nazism (or Nazis)?

          • rlms says:

            Vastly less rational. How many Nazis would you say there are in the US? Give an estimate, then calculate deaths/person for each group from here.

          • quanta413 says:

            Vastly less rational?

            I dunno, are we talking actual honest to god Nazis because I’ve traveled back in time to 1940? Because obviously actual Nazis are scarier.

            However, modern neo-Nazis are mostly wannabe punks with no real power or the occasional murderous thug/criminal who the FBI (or police) comes down on like a ton of bricks (although they are useful bogeymen and make for good press headlines). The second type may be dangerous if you run into them in a dark alley but vastly outnumbered by other types of murderous thugs/criminals of a less ideological bent.

            There’s no real point in being afraid of modern neo-Nazis in America or in being afraid of crazy Islamic terrorists. It is hypothetically possible that one may end up in a dark alley with a Neo-Nazi or be an unfortunate soul going about their business when some ISIS inspired nut goes on a rampage, but both options are super unlikely and not easily preventable. Better to be afraid of crashing your car.

            If it wasn’t for the media’s constant obsession with these sort of extremely low probability dramatic events, I’d don’t think either issue would be on people’s radar much at this point.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’m not interested in deaths/person but in political power.

            The vast majority of Nazis are peaceful. Never gassed a Jew. They just support a political system that allows for the gassing of Jews once they obtain state power.

            The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful. Never slaughtered an infidel. They just support a religious and political system that allows for the slaughtering of infidels once they obtain power.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I dunno, are we talking actual honest to god Nazis because I’ve traveled back in time to 1940? Because obviously actual Nazis are scarier.

            I don’t know. Shouldn’t you compare 1940s Nazis to ISIS, or other Islamic governments?

          • quanta413 says:

            I don’t know. Shouldn’t you compare 1940s Nazis to ISIS, or other Islamic governments?

            I still say 1940’s Nazis are considerably more dangerous than ISIS. Competence counts so to speak. Even though ISIS isn’t a pack of idiots, I don’t think it’s measuring up to the Nazis of the time who cultivated allies and were able to steamroll a well developed continent for a little while.

          • johansenindustries says:

            If there are sufficienty few Nazis that the ratio is in favour of Muslims* then there are sufficiently few Nazis that to be scared of Nazis is silly. It’d be like being of the zombie of Charles Manson – obviously if its right there then that’s a horse of a different colour but meh.

            * Worth mentioning that there’s quite an oppressive branch – the TSA – founded to pretty to try to prevent Islamic terrorists as well as having to ‘fight them over there’ and Islamic terrorism is still the far larger number just this decade.

          • Randy M says:

            If we’re going to use historic Nazis, why not use the Ottomans at the gates of Constantinople for the Muslims? Or Muhammad’s followers riding towards Mecca?

          • quanta413 says:

            If we’re going to use historic Nazis, why not use the Ottomans at the gates of Constantinople for the Muslims? Or Muhammad’s followers riding towards Mecca?

            Hmmmm… that’s tough. It’s not clear how to adjust for population and the massive gaps in time. But I definitely wouldn’t want to be anywhere in the vicinity of either of these groups if I wasn’t their ally, and they both had competence in spades and were very successful (much more successful in the long run than the Nazis). I’m willing to call them “roughly as terrifying or maybe even more terrifying than Nazis” to their outgroups.

          • albatross11 says:

            Matt M:

            That seems about right to me. You or I can spout off on the internet about something without thinking it through much or knowing what we’re talking about, and little is the worse for it. The president is in a fundamentally different situation–his words have weight and impact that very few other people can match.

          • albatross11 says:

            Conrad:

            So, how many countries ruled by Muslims are currently about the job of slaughtering infidels? If you count ISIS as a country, that’s one. The rest of them don’t seem to be too keen on human rights (including but not limited to religious freedom), and some of them are pretty nasty places for anyone who’s not the right brand of Muslim (Saudi Arabia), but perhaps I’ve missed the news stories about the mass executions of infidels going on in Muslim countries.

          • albatross11 says:

            quanta:

            Yeah, Nazis in 1940 were in control of the most powerful country in Europe with a really badass military, lots of industry, and science/technology at the forefront of human achievement. It’s been several centuries since anything like that was the case for any Muslim country.

          • Matt M says:

            You or I can spout off on the internet about something without thinking it through much or knowing what we’re talking about, and little is the worse for it. The president is in a fundamentally different situation–his words have weight and impact that very few other people can match.

            Okay.

            But Trump never agreed to do that, never promised to do that, and never gave the slightest indication that he was even the least bit inclined to do that. And people voted for him – not in spite of that sort of behavior – but because of it.

            You can disagree with it if you want. You can even denounce it. But seeing the media continually reach for their fainting couch because they are just shocked and appalled that Trump’s Twitter etiquette isn’t becoming of a very serious politician has grown pretty damn tiresome.

          • Civilis says:

            So, how many countries ruled by Muslims are currently about the job of slaughtering infidels?

            It’s not just a matter of deaths, but quality of life. It’s also hard to compare, because we’ve got one example of Naziism, and the numbers for what it was like to be a regular German during that time period are skewed by the war. For that reason, I’m not going to try to use ISIS’s Caliphate, Syria, or the Sudan or Ethiopia for examples of Islamic governance.

            Serious question: is the government of Iran or Pakistan today more or less oppressive than Mussolini’s Italy pre-World War II or Franco’s Spain post Spanish Civil War? Given that the big lefty protest umbrella is called AntiFA, I think they’re comparable states to use.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @Conrad honcho
            I find it interesting that islamaphobes always seem to agree with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that the only Muslims who really count are the subjects of his pathetic caliphate.

            The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful. Never slaughtered an infidel. They just support a religious and political system that allows for the slaughtering of infidels once they obtain power

            Tell that to the soldiers of the Iraqi golden division. Because these brave, and ruthless men, have been fighting shoulder to shoulder with Christians, and Yazidiz, against an army of ruthless genocidal terrorists. What exactly have you done to save anyone form the horrors of the so called Islamic sate?

            It is true that there are many in the Muslim world who no doubt have sympathy for the hateful, and fanatical doctrine of the Jihadis, but they are overwhelmingly outnumbered. I am not telling platitudes about peaceable Muslims, because the people of Egypt did not respond to the abomination that left more than three hundred worshipers dead in a mosque in the north Sinai on Sunday by taking the path of peace, instead they have gone to war. As the Kurds, and the Iraqi’s, and the Afghans, have gone to war, to save their civilization form those who would destroy it.

            Every time Trump insults Islam, he insults them, and undermines there struggle. It is a disgrace to hear the commander in chief of the US armed forces talk about our allies like that.

            I am on the side of those who are, as we speak, risking their lives to fight men who would come here and kill us in our sleep if they could. Who’s side are you on?

            @Civilis

            Serious question: is the government of Iran or Pakistan today more or less oppressive than Mussolini’s Italy pre-World War II or Franco’s Spain post Spanish Civil War

            Much less, in both cases. Pakistan, though it has is has it’s problems is a multi party parliamentary democracy. Iran while deeply repressive in many ways, is no absolute dictatorship, and has mixed system of government akin to European constitutional monarchies of the nineteenth century.

            Also, Ethiopia? They’re brown (or black as may be the case) so they must be Muslim? In case you don’t know, that country is, and always has been overwhelmingly Christian.

          • Civilis says:

            Also, Ethiopia? They’re brown (or black as may be the case) so they must be Muslim? In case you don’t know, that country is, and always has been overwhelmingly Christian.

            Mea culpa. I meant Somalia. Shows what I get for typing while frustrated. I will note that this is the second time that someone on the left has fallen back on talking about the right’s supposed hatred of ‘brown people’. Isn’t that canard a little outdated?

            Much less, in both cases. Pakistan, though it has is has it’s problems is a multi party parliamentary democracy. Iran while deeply repressive in many ways, is no absolute dictatorship, and has mixed system of government akin to European constitutional monarchies of the nineteenth century.

            It’s not the state of the top level of government that solely defines repression. Pakistan just had a senior government minister forced out because the oath of office was changed slightly in how it referenced the prophet. Significant parts of the country are in the hands of tribal authorities. Murders of those accused of blasphemy seem to go unsolved. Likewise, the Republican Guard’s calling a lot of the shots in Iran, and I wouldn’t want to be in one of their prisons either.

            It’s hard to compare two societies of different technological eras. Certainly, Franco and Mussolini didn’t have the Internet to deal with in keeping their control of government, and it was a lot easier to make inconvenient dissidents disappear. Still, that countries are willing to torture and disappear the inconvenient in the modern age with all the modern problems that entails tells you something about them.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            So, how many countries ruled by Muslims are currently about the job of slaughtering infidels?

            If the death penalty for apostasy counts, quite a few.

          • that’s strong evidence that he has an irrational fear and hatred of cardiologists.

            In the case of Trump, or someone else in his position, it’s weak evidence of that. The obvious alternative explanation is that he thinks a lot of voters have such a fear and appealing to it will help him get or keep their support.

          • I’m not going to try to use ISIS’s Caliphate, Syria, or the Sudan or Ethiopia for examples of Islamic governance.

            Ethiopia is majority Christian.

          • @hyperboloid:

            You seem to assume that the idea of spreading Islam by force is something special to ISIL. It isn’t. It’s been orthodox Islamic doctrine for well over a thousand years, with the practice varying with circumstance.

            Do you think the conversion of al Islam from one city in Arabia to all of what had been the Persian empire and about half of what had been the Byzantine empire over a period of a century or so was done mostly by missionaries?

            Conventional doctrine views the world as divided between the lands of peace, ruled by Muslims, and the lands of war, not ruled by Muslims, with an intermediate status for non-Muslim lands with which Muslims currently have treaty agreements. Muslim rule doesn’t imply forced conversion, but it does imply a different, and in most respects somewhat inferior, legal status for the tolerated non-Muslims, details varying by school of law.

          • Also, Ethiopia? They’re brown (or black as may be the case) so they must be Muslim? In case you don’t know, that country is, and always has been overwhelmingly Christian.

            It’s an ancient Christian civilization, but “overwhelmingly” is an overstatement–about a third of the population is Muslim.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I am on the side of those who are, as we speak, risking their lives to fight men who would come here and kill us in our sleep if they could. Who’s side are you on?

            The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Also consider a nasty little joke dating back to Iran/Contra: “The Ayatollah Khomeni would like to thank President Reagan on behalf of the Iranian moderates.”

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Who’s side are you on?

            I’m on the side against Islam. I think it’s the mother lode of all bad ideas, and is basically “Nazism but because Allah instead of volk.” Islam divides people into believers and infidels, and infidels are subhuman and you can do whatever you want to them just like Nazis divides people into Aryans and subhumans. Rape, enslave, murder, no problem. I am opposed to that sort of thing both on general principle and because history has shown us it leads to boundless human misery.

            Yes, I’m aware #NotAllMuslims, but only because individuals behave differently when they’re a minority group instead of a majority group, and an individual’s adherence to any given ideology tends to wax and wane through life and is dependent upon circumstance.

          • Iain says:

            @Conrad Honcho:

            Seriously — you need to go out and meet some actual flesh-and-blood Muslims. You are talking like a crazy person.

            Here is the Pew survey on Muslim attitudes around the world. Key excerpt:

            The survey also asked Muslims whether people of other faiths in their country are very free, somewhat free, not too free or not at all free to practice their religion; a follow-up question asked Muslims whether they consider this “a good thing” or “a bad thing.” In 31 of the 38 countries where the question was asked, majorities of Muslims say people of other faiths can practice their religion very freely. (The question was not asked in Afghanistan.) And of those who share this assessment, overwhelming majorities consider it a good thing. This includes median percentages of more than nine-in-ten in South Asia (97%), Southern and Eastern Europe (95%), sub-Saharan Africa (94%), Southeast Asia (93%) and Central Asia (92%). In the Middle East-North Africa region, nearly as many (85%) share this view.

            And this is largely looking at Muslims outside of developed countries — the numbers in the US are even less damning. (They don’t ask all the same questions, but here’s Pew’s survey of Muslims in America.)

          • Islam divides people into believers and infidels, and infidels are subhuman and you can do whatever you want to them

            Rape, enslave, murder, no problem.

            That is not and has never been orthodox Muslim doctrine. A Muslim killing or raping a non-Muslim has committed a crime under Islamic law. Whether the penalty is the same as for the same crime against a Muslim depends on the particular school of law.

            Not a crime in the context of warfare, but we don’t consider soldiers who kill enemy soldiers to be murderers either.

            In traditional Islamic societies both non-Muslims and Muslims could be slaves. Part of the penalty for killing someone was the obligation to free a believing slave (or fast for two months).

            What’s your view of Judaism? Rabbinic law, as described by Maimonides, permits the rape of captive non-Jewish women in the context of warfare. He reads a variety of restrictions into the text, but concedes (unhappily) the basic point.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Those 31/38 Muslim countries sure do sound lovely and accepting. So I guess it would be perfectly safe to go to them and start preaching the Gospel, maybe hand out some Bibles?

          • albatross11 says:

            Conrad:

            You said

            The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful. Never slaughtered an infidel. They just support a religious and political system that allows for the slaughtering of infidels once they obtain power.

            This is a factual claim, and it doesn’t seem to be consistent with history, in which a number of Islamic regimes have had substantial long-term populations of Christians and Jews, who broadly did reasonably okay. (They were second-class citizens, but they weren’t being slaughtered.) It also doesn’t seem to be consistent with modern practice, where there are a lot of countries in which Muslims are the majority and are in power in the government, but which do not actually go around slaughtering non-Muslims.

            There are substantial Christian populations in many Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Syria, Indonesia, Egypt, and many other Muslim countries. There are Islamic terrorist groups who target Christians, but governments that have been run by Muslims for centuries have long-term Christian populations that have survived, un-slaughtered, for all that time.

          • Anonymous says:

            @albatross11 @Conrad Honcho

            Yeah, “slaughtered” is far too strong. Islam’s conquests and rule before modern day isn’t the age of nationalism yet, but tribalism has been substantially phased out as well. Conquered populations are loot and cash cows, not strictly enemies to be put down ASAP.

            According to dr Clark in The Son Also Rises, the dhimmi populations of the Middle East became highly elite as a consequence of jizya-avoidance by the lower income dhimmis. The rich could afford to pay the tax and carry on, but the poor often couldn’t, so they rationally became Muslim.

          • Viliam says:

            A Muslim killing or raping a non-Muslim has committed a crime under Islamic law. … Not a crime in the context of warfare, but we don’t consider soldiers who kill enemy soldiers to be murderers either.

            Rabbinic law, as described by Maimonides, permits the rape of captive non-Jewish women in the context of warfare.

            So, is your point that Islam today is not worse than Judaism millenia ago? I could easily agree with that, but exactly what relevance it has to things happening today?

          • So, is your point that Islam today is not worse than Judaism millenia ago?

            More precisely, my point was that Islamic law of war is not much worse than Jewish law of war. Maimonides was only about one millennium ago, and is still regarded as an authority on the subject–I don’t know if later scholars rejected that particular conclusion, have no reason to think they did.

            The main difference is that a larger fraction of Muslims than of Jews take their religious law seriously, perhaps in part because Islam is a younger religion. Also, of course, that Judaism was never an expansionary religion in the sense in which Islam was.

            My other point was that what Conrad wrote and I quoted was false.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Fine, I correct “slaughter” to “slaughter or subjugate.” Islam is still very bad, and I don’t want it anywhere near me.

            And I still think Muslim states today are like what would probably have happened if Nazi Germany had either won or avoided WWII. After the initial slaughtering and purging, they would have “benevolently” kept some subjugated populations around, secure that they would have no political power and fewer legal rights.

    • S_J says:

      When a politician who currently lives in New York refers to large parts of the American populace as “a basket of deplorables” whose goals are incompatible with a good society, is that politician reacting to (A) the skin color of those voters, (B) the culture of those voters, or (C) the religion of those voters?

      When a different politician who used to live in New York uses that kind of video to make a point about foreigners who goals are incompatible with a good society, is that politician reacting to (A) the skin color, (B) the culture, or (C) the religion of those people?

      • albatross11 says:

        And once again, if you read the whole statement, it sounds a hell of a lot less outrageous.

        Why, it’s almost as though the people reporting and discussing these things are more interested in getting you mad than in informing you.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          If I read that statement, it looks even worse. Or rather, it looks as much worse than the out-of-context interpretation as it did the last few times I read it. It reads as her literally saying that if you support Trump – for any reason at all, including not supporting her – you’re 50% likely to be “deplorable”. And if you’re not, then you’re just misguided and frustrated. Huddled in your basement, clinging to your guns and religion, perhaps. There’s zero chance you might actually be smart, informed, or have a legitimate gripe; you just need the guiding hand of Hillary. The idea that you might possess your own agency is laughable – your friends who are voting for Clinton need to help you out of your obvious delusion. Friends don’t let friends vote for Trump!

          Let’s be clear: stereotyping is wrong. Unless it’s Hillary stereotyping half of all Trump supporters.

          Why, it’s almost as though the people reporting and discussing these things are more interested in getting you mad than in informing you.

          Judging from your tone here, I think you’re doing exactly what you’re accusing your opponents of doing.

    • Anon. says:

      Suddenly a different ox was being gored…

      • Urstoff says:

        Although the “Is Trump a racist question” is fairly unimportant; rather, he’s a poor, emotional, credulous thinker whose need to protect his ego seems to dominate all other considerations. From his actions, however, it seems hard to deny that he’s at least somewhat bigoted.

        • I have no idea if he is credulous. You surely don’t assume that in order to say something he has to believe it?

          Trump is a demagogue, and a reasonably competent one. Some of what he does may be explainable by intellectual defects of one sort or another, but the first guess should usually be that he is doing it because he thinks it will achieve his political purposes.

          • Urstoff says:

            Why should that be the first guess? Reports of his personality paint him as impulsive, rather than calculated. His constant live tweeting of Fox & Friends also suggests impulsiveness (and credulousness) rather than foresight and consideration.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            His constant live tweeting of Fox & Friends also suggests impulsiveness (and credulousness) rather than foresight and consideration.

            That’s exactly what I’d expect someone who wanted to loudly pander to fans of Fox & Friends would do

          • dndnrsn says:

            It’s all a game of Neopythagorean Bocce!

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Oh please, it doesn’t have to be some sort of expanding brain meme. All it requires is for Trump to stay in campaign mode (the one thing he’s demonstrably good* at) once he’s got the job instead of settling in to actually govern.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Gobbobobble

            He wouldn’t be wrong to keep doing what he does, either. He’s got a campaign in 3 years to win! Then it’s smooth sailing and he can just relax.

          • Urstoff asks:

            Why should that be the first guess?

            Because the alternative assumption led almost everyone, myself included, to predict first that Trump would lose the competition for the nomination and then that he would lose the election.

          • Urstoff says:

            Because the alternative assumption led almost everyone, myself included, to predict first that Trump would lose the competition for the nomination and then that he would lose the election.

            The inference is the problem here, not the assumption.

          • One Name May Hide Another says:

            Why should that be the first guess?

            Because Trump understands the media very well and has had a consistent pattern for decades of using them to his advantage by doing precisely the sort of outrageous things that you believe he does out of impulsiveness.

            He isn’t making a secret out of what he’s doing either:

            “The media are always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better. It’s in the nature of the job, and I understand that. The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you. I’ve always done things a little differently, I don’t mind controversy, and my deals tend to be somewhat ambitious. Also, I achieved a lot when I was very young, and I chose to live in a certain style. The result is that the press has always wanted to write about me. I’m not saying that they necessarily like me. Sometimes they write positively, and sometimes they write negatively. But from a pure business point of view, the benefits of being written about have far outweighed the drawbacks. It’s really quite simple. If I take a full-page ad in the New York Times to publicize a project, it might cost $40,000, and in any case, people tend to be skeptical about advertising. But if the New York Times writes even a moderately positive one-column story about one of my deals, it doesn’t cost me anything, and it’s worth a lot more than $40,000. The funny thing is that even a critical story, which may be hurtful personally, can be very valuable to your business.” (From “Art of the Deal”.)

            Now that Trump is in politics, just replace “valuable to your business” with “valuable for his political goals.”

            Trump isn’t impulsive. He doesn’t gamble, doesn’t drink alcohol. He’s calculating and relatively risk-averse.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I think this is an issue in which Moloch has eaten the press. The only way to beat Trump is to ignore Trump, but because of the clickbait/outrage porn state of the media, they cannot. Anyone who doesn’t write “DID YOU SEE WHAT TRUMP JUST DID??!?!” loses eyeballs to the outlets that do.

            As a Trump supporter who hates the press, I can’t say I’m too upset about this. When your enemy has a crippling coordination problem, this is not a bad thing.

      • hyperboloid says:

        Is Trump a racist question” is fairly unimportant

        This.

        As I have said before, it doesn’t matter whether Trump himself is a racist; Amon Goethe was not an anti-Semite, he was just an opportunistic predator given unlimited license for his impulses by the prerogatives of the final solution. It is wrong to say that trump is a racist; not because he does not hold most blacks, Hispanics, and foreigners in contempt, but but because by saying so one presumes that he cares about white people. The one consistent thread in everything Trump says, and does is that he divides the world into two groups, the winners and the losers; he admires power and privilege, and disdains weakness.

        This is Trump in 1990 speaking on the Tiananmen square massacre:

        I was very unimpressed… Russia is out of control and the leadership knows it. That’s my problem with Gorbachev. Not a firm enough hand… When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak… as being spit on by the rest of the world

        Gorbachev is bad because in his weakness he did not slaughter protesting Soviet citizens, and Deng Xiaoping is good because he pilled Chinese bodies in the streets. And his affection for the Chinese regime did not end there. After spending a lot of time on the campaign trail accusing China of “raping” the United States on trade, Trump pivoted to effusive praise of Xi Jinping once inf office.

        He’s a powerful man, I happen to think he’s a very good person. . . . People say we have the best relationship of any President—President, because he’s called President also. Now, some people might call him the king of China. But he’s called President

        Nothing more needs to be said of his perverse affection for Vladimir Putin, but what’s remarkable is that he even had good things to say about Kim Jong Un:

        “At a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie

        Compare his admiration for dictators with his disdain for his own supporters.

        I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.

        Trump regards his own voters they way he regarded the would be students
        of Trump university, as helpless rubes who diverse to be taken advantage of.
        Race has never been the deciding factor for Trump, in his mind there are two kinds of people predators, and prey. If you want to see the real policy implications of this, look no further than the Tax bill now before congress. After running on a economically populist platform of preserving entitlements, he is instead supporting a tax cut that republican congressman themselves say is designed to force cuts to Medicaid, and social security.

        The white working class needs to get it through their heads, Trump is just not that into them.

        • Yakimi says:

          Gorbachev is bad because in his weakness he did not slaughter protesting Soviet citizens, and Deng Xiaoping is good because he pilled Chinese bodies in the streets.

          A comparison of Russia in the nineties with China in the nineties suggests that Trump’s instincts were actually remarkably prescient.

          • hyperboloid says:

            A comparison between China, and every other post Communist state in Europe would seem to say otherwise.

            Gorbachev was overthrown in a coup by KGB hardliners, so we don’t know what would have happened long term if his plans were allowed to play out. Nevertheless looking at the Baltic states, or the Czech republic, or even Serbia, it would seem to me that he had the right basic idea.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      He may be racist, but this is no evidence for that truth claim.
      What horrible thing is he accused of doing? Retweeting videos of three Muslims committing crimes previously tweeted by evil British political activist Jayda Fransen. The media is spinning it as “videos PURPORTEDLY show Muslims committing crimes”, as if they were faked. What’s the evidence for fakery? That the Muslim who attacked a man on crutches in the Netherlands was born there, and so not a Muslim migrant. Cute, but most of us who oppose Islam are more sophisticated than that. It’s well known that the second-generation Muslims can be much more dangerous than the parents, many of whom are very moderate and immigrated for higher paying jobs.
      Furthermore, a lot of the evil the evil Jayda Fransen is accused of doesn’t actually seem evil. Britain First conducts “Christian patrols” of neighborhoods taken over by Muslims? Oh, the horror! She’s been arrested multiple times for breaking hate speech laws? Unjust laws were made to be broken.
      The one very problematic thing Googling her turned up is threatening political opponents with execution by hanging if Britain First takes over. That’s indistinguishable from Nazi or Communist Party talk.

      • Martin says:

        That the Muslim who attacked a man on crutches in the Netherlands was born there, and so not a Muslim migrant.

        Not a migrant, not a muslim.

        • Mark says:

          I have to admit that my first impulse was to wonder how “not a migrant” might be language abuse.

          But, yeah, fair enough.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            What he said.
            There are so many assaults by Muslims in the Netherlands that I’m surprised she tweeted a fraud.
            Then again, according to Britain First’s Wikipedia article, they’re a BNP splinter, so she may actually be a Neo-Nazi in the non-slur-by-Orwellian-government sense.

      • Mark says:

        A Britain First supporter assassinated an MP a couple of years ago.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          OK, I found that story in their Wikipedia entry. Britain First denied knowing him, with Jayda Fransen’s predecessor as leader saying “Anyone who assassinates an MP should be strung up from the nearest lamp post. That’s our sense of justice.”
          So it’s ambiguous whether they incited that specific violence, but their sense of justice is the same toxic stew shared by literally Hitler and the antifas who lynched Mussolini at a gas station.

    • Civilis says:

      What Trump is doing is playing the political game to win, and the responses in this thread (and the things that are conspicuous by their absence) show exactly why he’s succeeding as well as he is.

      Trump shows pictures of Muslims doing bad things, and people aren’t asking themselves ‘why?’. It’s not to stir up ‘hate’, because the people to whom this message is addressed already have a bad image of Muslims. They know groups like ISIS are doing worse in the name of Islam. Trump’s message is an acknowledgement that these people exist and their concerns are recognized. If you’re worried about Islamic terrorism, Trump is the one person you know is willing to call it out.

      It’s a lesson for another reason. We have in this thread people that can’t or won’t distinguish between actual Nazis, neo-Nazis, white supremicists, white nationalists, neo-confederates, Christian identity types, the Alt Right, and the red tribe in general. There may be some overlap, but there’s a difference. The people calling out Trump are just as vulnerable to group identification as Trump is. If the left is going to play identity politics, then Trump’s going to use the environment it creates it to his advantage.

      And that brings us to what’s conspicuous by its absence. Trump’s retweeting a couple of thinly sourced anecdotes where Muslims did something bad is “stirring up hate”. Meanwhile, we get stories like this: “Air Force Academy hoax doesn’t change overall picture on hate crimes” (http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/09/opinions/hoax-hate-crime-and-racism-opinion-ghitis/index.html). This isn’t an assault. If it had been real, it would be nothing more than a single asshole. The media repeated it and similar stories like the “it’s ok to be white” poster ‘atrocity’ over and over without any discussion about how the hoaxers or the people repeating the stories are racist or bigoted for “stirring up hate”. The Texas State University can publish an article telling me my DNA is an abomination (my DNA, not my culture, so something I can’t change) and it doesn’t get any handwringing about racism from the people calling Trump out.

      I’ve read enough here that my rational thought process can comprehend what’s going on as a matter of the difference between outgroups and fargroups, but that’s increasingly meaningless as the red and blue tribes pull further apart. I don’t like that increasing division, but it’s something beyond my meager paygrade to fix. As it becomes increasingly obvious that the blue tribe is hostile to me, the more I get pushed into the red tribe, and I’m sure I’m not alone. And I (and millions of other people) are likely to vote for a poor leader that at least acknowledges my existence than a terrible leader that is willing to throw us to the sharks.

      • rlms says:

        “We have in this thread people that can’t or won’t distinguish between actual Nazis, neo-Nazis, white supremicists, white nationalists, neo-confederates, Christian identity types, the Alt Right, and the red tribe in general.”
        Most of them seem to be red tribers, judging by the number of people who think Trump was right to say that the Unite The Right rally (organised by a man who was rejected by the Proud Boys for being too racist, and who described the victim of the terrorist attack that occurred at the rally as “a fat, disgusting Communist”) contained “very fine people”.

        • Gobbobobble says:

          Ugh, what a bunch of outgroupies.

        • Civilis says:

          Thank you for illustrating my point.

          I’m not willing to blindly smear everyone that attended, say, the Women’s March on Washington, based on the people that organized the march and the prominent speakers that were there, though by your logic I should do so.

          Can someone explain the difference between what results from publishing the following and who is responsible for those results:
          1) Piss Christ (a crucifix submerged in urine)
          2) a Qur’an that’s been accidentally urinated on
          3) video of Muslims throwing someone off a building
          4) video of American troops abusing Muslim prisoners.

          • Civilis says:

            “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides,” Trump said Tuesday.

            For that matter, I’m not willing to give Trump any grief for thinking that groups like the Workers World Party or the Revolutionary Communist Party or Antifa might have some very fine people, as unlikely as it may be.

          • rlms says:

            I don’t think anyone who spoke at the women’s march was as objectionable as David Duke, but that’s besides the point. The issue is not that there were some bad people, it’s that (as you could easily predict from reading about the organiser) there were essentially no good people. This is not an inherent fact about anti-statue-removal rallies! I’m sure that the majority of people mentioned here are perfectly fine. But the Unite The Right rally was white nationalist from the beginning. I’m not slurring the fine generic red tribers who protested in Helena and elsewhere by saying this, it’s people who are defending the protestors in Charlottesville by ignoring the difference between the two rallies who are doing that.

            I think the fine people on the other side he was referring to were probably the hundreds of clergymen rather than antifa, but I could be wrong.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            On the other hand, I’m much more sympathetic to taking down a Confederate monument in frigging Montana. As north as north gets and was a non-state with like 7 citizens and a chicken during the war and its leadup. Somehow I doubt the war affected them too much.

          • albatross11 says:

            rlms:

            How would we figure out if there were any substantial number of good people at that rally? It’s not at all clear to me.

          • Civilis says:

            I don’t think anyone who spoke at the women’s march was as objectionable as David Duke, but that’s besides the point.

            David Duke is an asshole, but he never kidnapped and tortured a gay man to death.

            Ultimately, I don’t think many people involved with these rallies know who’s sponsoring it on their side. People want to protest, and some want to get in fights with the other side. In most cases, I think the people organizing the protests want to keep themselves anonymous. It was a game on the right to spot just how many anti-war rallies were organized by the Workers World Party (under the guise of ANSWER, aka Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). The WWP distinguished itself by splitting off from the other far left groups because it supported the Soviet invasion of Hungary. I didn’t go blaming the people in those rallies for not knowing who’s sponsoring them.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Speaking of “who’s who in a group” – did anybody think that the videos of this rally, compared to say the videos of street scuffling in Berkeley (not the first time with people cracking Milo fans on the head, but the second one, with alt-right umbrella groups showing up seeking , featured a more black and red from the right, and less black and red from the left? I may be misremembering things, but I remember a lot more Pepe at Berkeley, and a “costume” over “uniform” feel. Whereas, in those videos, the left is far more likely to be in red, black, and masks – to have a more standard attire. So, right now it’s the anarcho-communists who are best at dressing up together. What we’re discussing seemed a lot more “neo-Nazi and white nationalist guys who showed up intending to colour-coordinate” on the right and a lot more “ordinary people who hate Nazis, as one does, including random middle aged people you don’t see among more extreme folk usually” on the left.

            I think part of the reason is that in the latter case, a lot of alt-light personalities who like to show up at “goad the leftists into a fight” event. They, presumably, know that if they hang out with enough undeniable Nazis, their brand becomes Nazi, and their brand depends on a lot of supporters be able to plausibly deny being a racist or whatever. Which people hanging out in the middle of a group of undeniable Nazis are less able to do.

            A lot more of the left-wingers meanwhile were church people and ordinary liberal folks, compared to Berkeley. They’re clearly able to recognize Nazis too.

            Additionally, we’re arguing over whether one non-Nazi in a group of people openly wearing swastikas is not Nazified, rather than the previous question of whether one Nazi Nazifies everyone else. In Berkeley, how many actual swastikas were there, vs. more obscure and thus plausibly deniable hipster Nazi symbols (dark sun or whatever? Are there hipster Nazis using the wolfsangel?) was also less. So, clearly, there was a higher % of Nazis at Charlottesville than at previous “show up and rumble with some commies” events.

            Additionally, would it be fair to say that most of the groups rallying were either neo-Nazi (who, rather than argue about their ideology, will just point out that people who wear swastikas in that fashion want to be thought of as Nazis) or white nationalists (“they haven’t managed to commit vast atrocities yet due to a lack of power” isn’t a huge defence to be honest)?

          • quanta413 says:

            “they haven’t managed to commit vast atrocities yet due to a lack of power” isn’t a huge defence to be honest

            It’s not a defence of the moral precepts of Neo-Nazis. However, it is excellent reason to not worry about them. It’s kind of like the same reason I’m not deeply worried about homicidal crack dealers from X city. I think people that bring either topic up very much outside of very specific contexts are unlikely to be doing much besides playing games.

            A more extreme example of this principle is how I didn’t care about Charles Manson after he had been in prison for decades. Neo-nazis aren’t as totally shut-out mind you, but at this point I’m convinced that if the Neo-nazis get anywhere it’s going to be partly the fault of the idiot media who constantly brings attention to them.

            And I distinguish Neo-nazis from 1950s style segregationists, because the second group gaining power is somewhat more likely (but I still think very unlikely) but not nearly as bad as Nazis (after all, a lot of the people who fought the Nazis were pro-segregation). And for all their moral failures, segregationists still have a way lower body count. They’re like problematic Hindu caste system levels of evil instead of Genghis Khan levels of evil.

          • albatross11 says:

            quanta:

            Yeah, that’s how it looks to me, too. There was a time when the Nazis were a genuinely scary power in the world. Thank God, that time has passed, and these days, the people who call themselves Nazis are a bunch of losers who will never get anywhere near any power.

            Something similar applies to Communism as an ideology, even though there are still some countries which are officially Communist. (Most importantly, China.) There was a time when it looked plausible that the world would end up under Communist domination; these days, that’s hard to see happening, albeit not so implausible as the world ending up under Nazi domination.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @quanta413

            I’m not speaking on the question of “how high to we rank this threat” but on the moral question. Someone who would do evil but lacks the power isn’t good, or even neutral; they’re evil, but powerless.

          • quanta413 says:

            @dndnsrn

            Sure. Morally their ideas are evil, but lots of ideas are. Morally evil ideas are a dime a dozen. Morally evil actions (that are actually committed or sufficiently likely to be committed) are what should be of interest in almost all cases.

          • John Schilling says:

            Yeah, that’s how it looks to me, too. There was a time when the Nazis were a genuinely scary power in the world.

            “That time” being 1923?

            Thank God, that time has passed, and these days, the people who call themselves Nazis are a bunch of losers who will never get anywhere near any power.

            “These days” could just as well be 1927.

            I’m fairly confident that people who call themselves Nazis will never again get anywhere near any real power. But that’s because of the intense opposition that will be incited by their appearance in any political context, and so not a justification for slacking off when it comes time to oppose Nazis.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Most of them seem to be red tribers

          I don’t think so. Spencer/NPI seem to be their own thing. I know you want to group them in with the red tribe or conservatives, but we don’t share an ideology with these people. We would never even know who Spencer is if it weren’t for left-wing media shoving cameras in his face. You never see “friend of the show Richard Spencer” as a guest on Hannity, and Ann Coulter never cites “the scholarly research of Dr. David Duke.”

          Why would they? What political ideas does Spencer have that conservatives and Republicans share? He’s against the RAISE act (merit-based immigration) and would prefer whites rule over a class of non-white immigrant slaves, he’s for universal healthcare, and is pro-homosexual, calling homosexuality part of “white identity.” If I were to engage Spencer and convert him from a pro-white racist to an anti-white racist, he would still be a rainbow flag waving, pro immigration, free healthcare cheerleader. That is, a Democrat.

          These people are not my ingroup. I would call them an outgroup because I disagree with all their ideas, but since they’re powerless and politically irrelevant I see them as a fargroup.

          • rlms says:

            I meant most of the people in this thread who can’t distinguish between those groups are red tribe. I agree that the modern part of the alt-right are not red tribe either in the sense of Republican or in the original cultural sense.

          • hyperboloid says:

            Spencer and convert him from a pro-white racist to an anti-white racist, he would still be a rainbow flag waving, pro immigration,

            Richard Spencer is pro immigration? Even if you qualified that with the provision that the immigrants would be slaves, I don’t think that’s true. Hasn’t he repeatedly said that he is a separatist who wants to create a white ethnostate?

            The main thing he holds in common with mainstream republicans is his fanatical support for Donald Trump. I don’t know about you, but if Nazis got it in there heads that I was one of them, I would make it very clear that I was not.

            The fact that Trump won’t just have his sister soldier moment, and say that the alt right are scum, and that his brand of nationalism has nothing to do with them is very strange.

            He either thinks he needs their support, or he agrees with some of the things they are saying.

          • Matt M says:

            The main thing he holds in common with mainstream republicans is his fanatical support for Donald Trump…The fact that Trump won’t just have his sister soldier moment, and say that the alt right are scum

            So, just to be clear, we have a widely diverse political coalition held together loosely solely by the commonality of supporting Donald Trump…

            and you’re mystified as to why Trump won’t denounce this group? Really? You can’t understand why Trump won’t denounce a group of people whose main defining characteristic is “People who like Trump?”

          • johansenindustries says:

            @hyperboloid

            Trump said “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

            That is far greater criticism than Clinton gave about Souljah, and its still not good enough for you. Criminals and thugs are pretty equal to ‘scum’ (if he called them criminal scum would you complain about not calling thugs?) And that’s still not good enough for you.

            Would anything be genuinely good enough for you? Or is the thing he ought to do to prove that he’s not a secret white supremacist always going to be something that he hasn’t specifically done?

          • Civilis says:

            I want to point something out about Hyperboloid’s comment. His first paragraph refers to “a seperatist that wants to create a white ethnostate”. His second paragraph refers directly to Nazis. And his third paragraph refers to the Alt-Right as a whole. In fact, we have a quote above where Trump explicitly condemned the white nationalists and the Nazis. Just as not every far leftist is a communist or terrorist, not everyone on the right fringe known as the Alt-Right is close to being a Nazi.

            He either thinks he needs their support, or he agrees with some of the things they are saying.

            Would you say that this is just as applicable to why the left won’t condemn groups like black nationalists (Louis Farrakhan), Palestinian nationalists (Linda Sarsour), Puerto Rican nationalists, or former leftist terrorists (Bill Ayres)?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Civilis

            I think it is a likely true thing to say that a higher % of people calling themselves “alt-right” are serious Nazis or WNs than before Charlottesville. Those events basically led to them being able to claim the brand name, so to speak. It’s not even a “not only are they racists, they use the internet too” thing – people who existed as Nazis or WNs before imageboards were a thing are calling themselves and getting called “alt right” primarily now.

          • Civilis says:

            I think it is a likely true thing to say that a higher % of people calling themselves “alt-right” are serious Nazis or WNs than before Charlottesville. Those events basically led to them being able to claim the brand name, so to speak. It’s not even a “not only are they racists, they use the internet too” thing – people who existed as Nazis or WNs before imageboards were a thing are calling themselves and getting called “alt right” primarily now.

            I agree that there are more WNs and Nazis, but there are two reasons we have this problem: first, that people keep using Alt-Right and White Nationalist interchangably (as well as using White Nationalist and Nazi interchangably). Second, that the left can’t reign in either black nationalism or explicit anti-white racism/cultural bigotry. The Unite the Right protest was a symptom, not the cause.

            If you don’t like the Alt-Right, it makes sense to smear them with the White Nationalist label, and it makes sense to smear the White Nationalists as Nazis, because some people will believe you. This tactic is weakening the more it’s over used, and instead you’re ending up with more people falling into actual White Nationalism. (I still don’t think there’s enough actual Nazis or even self-identified neo-Nazis to fit in a high-school cafeteria. My recollection of the photos of the Unite the Right rally is that there was one idiot with an actual Nazi flag.)

            I hate the White Nationalists, because they are idiots and what they believe is destructively stupid. If it comes down to choosing a group, I’m taking the one Thomas Sowell (or Clarence Thomas, or Ben Carson, or Nikki Haley, or Condolezza Rice, or Ben Shapiro) is in over the one Richard Spencer is in any day. But I can at least understand where the Richard Spencers of the world are coming from, because the same people are using the same tactics against both groups, and at this point our options are hang together or hang separately, because the exact same social rules being used against both groups. If the left had only no-platformed the actual neo-Nazis, they would have won, but they’ve no platformed just about everyone on the right. We’re smart enough to see the disconnect between ‘the Nazis are explicitly evil, so we should prevent them from speaking’ and ‘everyone on the right is a Nazi’.

            I like reading SSC, and I don’t like getting in internet arguments, but that ‘something is wrong on the internet’ compulsion kicks in because in order for things to get better the left needs to see feedback from the right, and people here are rational enough that some of them might listen. I want that gap to narrow because sometimes the blue tribe has a point, but the means you use to try to persuade us has the opposite effect.

            We’re not going to believe you sincerely care about who leads right-wing protests when from our perspective we see no signs that you’ve done the same diligence policing who leads left wing protests.

            We’re not going to accept that it’s a good thing to police the speech of even self-identified Nazis because they were mass murdering assholes when you have sizable numbers openly flying the colors and symbols of groups on the left that mass murdered their political opponents on the right (which would include a large number of us).

            Unfortunately, most on the right are not going to accept that group identity politics is bad for groups on the right when we see it encouraged and celebrated for groups on the left, and there’s a case to be made that defect-defect is the right response to the group identity game.

            Unfortunately, most on the right are not going to accept that it’s politically stupid to smear an entire group for the actions of a few when we see the left doing it to the Alt-Right, gun owners, Whites, and males.

            In each case, by complaining about something that the right considers you to be doing as well, all you’ve managed to persuade them is that you are insincere. They think you complain because it gives you a political advantage. That’s why people on the right turn to political figures that are either vocal in brushing aside the complaints or are willing to use the same tactics.

            Personally, I’m willing to believe that most on the left are sincere in their complaints, but the fact that you can’t see what you’re doing from the right’s perspective is just as bad a problem.

          • Matt M says:

            If you don’t like the Alt-Right, it makes sense to smear them with the White Nationalist label, and it makes sense to smear the White Nationalists as Nazis, because some people will believe you.

            And the train doesn’t stop there. This type of logic goes all the way down. Republicans are basically Trump supporters and Trump supporters are basically alt-right and alt-right are basically white nationalists and white nationalists are basically Nazis.

            Therefore, Republicans are Nazis.

            Different people stop the train in different places, but there are plenty who take it all the way through.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I agree that there are more WNs and Nazis, but there are two reasons we have this problem: first, that people keep using Alt-Right and White Nationalist interchangably (as well as using White Nationalist and Nazi interchangably). Second, that the left can’t reign in either black nationalism or explicit anti-white racism/cultural bigotry. The Unite the Right protest was a symptom, not the cause.

            1. Come on, white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, whatever, these are not new things. For some alt-right groups, the more internet-based ones, I can see “this is a reaction to some university activist excess of whatever” as plausible, but for groups that are inheritors of a racist tradition going back to when Jim Crow was brought in? Unless you’re going to count Reconstruction as some kind of awful provocation, that’s not a reaction, and it’s certainly not a reaction to anything recent.
            2. What prominent black nationalists are there right now? What territory do they claim for a future black ethno-state?
            3. This isn’t just “the media called them alt-right and now everyone thinks alt-right is synonymous with neo-Nazi/WN/whatever.” The groups doing the UTR thing worked hard to call themselves alt-right. They were claiming a newish label with less stigma attached, and they have successfully claimed it, but they did so by attaching a whole bunch of stigma to it.

            If you don’t like the Alt-Right, it makes sense to smear them with the White Nationalist label, and it makes sense to smear the White Nationalists as Nazis, because some people will believe you. This tactic is weakening the more it’s over used, and instead you’re ending up with more people falling into actual White Nationalism. (I still don’t think there’s enough actual Nazis or even self-identified neo-Nazis to fit in a high-school cafeteria. My recollection of the photos of the Unite the Right rally is that there was one idiot with an actual Nazi flag.)

            As noted above, the neo-Nazis, etc, worked to call themselves alt-right too. As for the number of neo-Nazis, there were plenty of swastikas and linked symbols on display in Charlottesville. Maybe there was only one actual WWII era Nazi flag, but I feel confident in calling someone with a red-white-and-blue colour palette flag with a swastika or an odal rune or whatever on it someone with a Nazi flag.

            I would estimate that there are tens of thousands (most likely estimate) or low hundreds of thousands (high estimate) of people you could call neo-Nazis, WNs, or white supremacists (I do not use the sociology-type “Justin Trudeau is perpetuating white supremacy” definition of the last one, as it’s a ludicrous definition and a transparent attempt to play with language) in the US today. So, maybe you went to a school with a really big cafeteria.

            I hate the White Nationalists, because they are idiots and what they believe is destructively stupid. If it comes down to choosing a group, I’m taking the one Thomas Sowell (or Clarence Thomas, or Ben Carson, or Nikki Haley, or Condolezza Rice, or Ben Shapiro) is in over the one Richard Spencer is in any day. But I can at least understand where the Richard Spencers of the world are coming from, because the same people are using the same tactics against both groups, and at this point our options are hang together or hang separately, because the exact same social rules being used against both groups. If the left had only no-platformed the actual neo-Nazis, they would have won, but they’ve no platformed just about everyone on the right. We’re smart enough to see the disconnect between ‘the Nazis are explicitly evil, so we should prevent them from speaking’ and ‘everyone on the right is a Nazi’.

            So, I think that the tactics of some people on the left have been counterproductive for starters, as “no platform” just doesn’t work well in the age of the internet. But it’s simply false to create an equivalence here. The racist far right has been responsible for more violent deaths in America than the far left, at least in the last 10 or 20 years. When the far left gets violent, some dude gets cracked in the head with a bike lock; when the racist far right gets violent, someone walks into a black church with a gun. Additionally, the “no platforming” is hardly uniform. Random Edgy Republicanoid – Milo, for example, who is an asshole provocateur, but holds few (open, at least) views outside the Republican pale – will get no platformed at Berkeley, but somehow the Republican party has not been forced underground or into foreign exile.

            I like reading SSC, and I don’t like getting in internet arguments, but that ‘something is wrong on the internet’ compulsion kicks in because in order for things to get better the left needs to see feedback from the right, and people here are rational enough that some of them might listen. I want that gap to narrow because sometimes the blue tribe has a point, but the means you use to try to persuade us has the opposite effect.

            We’re not going to believe you sincerely care about who leads right-wing protests when from our perspective we see no signs that you’ve done the same diligence policing who leads left wing protests.

            We’re not going to accept that it’s a good thing to police the speech of even self-identified Nazis because they were mass murdering assholes when you have sizable numbers openly flying the colors and symbols of groups on the left that mass murdered their political opponents on the right (which would include a large number of us).

            Unfortunately, most on the right are not going to accept that group identity politics is bad for groups on the right when we see it encouraged and celebrated for groups on the left, and there’s a case to be made that defect-defect is the right response to the group identity game.

            Unfortunately, most on the right are not going to accept that it’s politically stupid to smear an entire group for the actions of a few when we see the left doing it to the Alt-Right, gun owners, Whites, and males.

            In each case, by complaining about something that the right considers you to be doing as well, all you’ve managed to persuade them is that you are insincere. They think you complain because it gives you a political advantage. That’s why people on the right turn to political figures that are either vocal in brushing aside the complaints or are willing to use the same tactics.

            Personally, I’m willing to believe that most on the left are sincere in their complaints, but the fact that you can’t see what you’re doing from the right’s perspective is just as bad a problem.

            Who’s this “you”? I suppose I should have filled in my Hillary/Soros 2020 Antifa Inc. membership form this year, so I could vote on who is allowed to attend protests? I should have set a reminder on my phone, but the deadline is past.

            What’s this “left”? Are you aware that the standard-issue leftist – the anarcho-communist types who wave hammer-and-sickle flags because they are either unaware that commies betray anarchists every single time or are suffering from some sort of equivalent to battered spouse syndrome hate liberals? I’m a liberal. They view us as weak, incapable of fighting the fascists (instead of the Soviets, who fought fascism by splitting Poland with them, and only entered the war when attacked, instead of those weak liberals in Britain and France etc), tantamount to fascists ourselves (see old-timey communist denunciations of social democracy as “social fascism”). “Liberals get the bullet too.” The women’s march, for example, was derided because it did not feature burning cop cars.

            Do I think it’s shitty that communist regimes that were responsible for some really nasty shit are treated like, at worst, quaint (“aww, look at those college commies, they’ll snap out of it when they get a job”). Yeah. I think that’s shitty. It’s a big blind spot on the part of many people.

            I’m here. This is not some leftist space. Already most of the people here are considered vaguely tainted by far left-wingers. “How do you know so much about the books of the heretics? Looks like you hang out with heretics, too. Sounds like what a heretic would do.” Coming here and outgroup-homogeneity-bias’ing all over the place isn’t going to accomplish much.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @dndsrn

            I’m at a loss for why hhite supremacists wanting to co-opt the term alt-right means that the legacy media ought to have rushed to help.

            ‘The racist far right has been responsible for more violent deaths in America than the far left, at least in the last 10 or 20 years.’ that seems to be based on calling Paddock just regular left – or that the lifelong Democrat coincidentally attacked a group who every other lifelong Democrats could not contain their glee and wait till the bodies were cold which obviously isn’t credible.

            However, the person you were responding to did not refer to the ‘far-left’, thus the fact that Paddock and exploiting Paddock’s behaviour are just run of the millleftism and not far-left is sophistry.

            Also, ‘referring to the Dylan Roof attack and acting as if the left don’t do things like that is disgusting – there is the famous ‘revenge’ attack by the Somalian. Yes, nobody died in that attack, but the fact that the left can’t aim seems besides the point. The left still made the attempt.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @johansenindustries

            The media fucked up. They want to sell papers (or clicks or whatever). “LOOK AT THESE NAZIS HOLY SHIT” gets eyeballs. Then they fuck it up on account of journalists being lazy and rarely expert in the subject matter they are dealing with. They’re also weakened terribly by the fact that they want to bring Richard Spencer on the talk show so they can say “LOOK AT THIS NAZI HOLY SHIT TUNE IN AT 9” but decades of no-platforming working (like I said, doesn’t work so well these days) means they’re completely unequipped to deal with him when he shows up (and, it should be pretty easy to deal with him, so even more of a fuckup on their part).

            I had thought Paddock was being categorized as “mass shooter, NOS” – I don’t think most mass shooters of the “guy got himself an AR-15” variety are doing what they do out of political or religious motivation. If someone who happens to be a registered Democrat or Republican doesn’t leave a manifesto about how they’re going full massacre for the cause of the centre-right or centre-left or centre, I’m going to assume they have another motive. When Roof clearly identifies why he shot some black people, different story.

            And, what “revenge” attack by a Somali are you talking about?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            What prominent black nationalists are there right now? What territory do they claim for a future black ethno-state?

            The only reason there are “prominent WN leaders” is because the left-and-left-leaning media promote them for criticism. There are no glowing profiles of Richard Spencer and his “bold, fresh ideas!” in National Review, or on Fox News, or from Ann Coulter or Pat Buchanan or the Federalist or Front Page Mag or Breitbart. No one is listening to them or promoting them in a positive manner. I saw a clip of Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida and there were a whopping two rows of people there supporting him, and they looked like they came with him. The only reason these people are “prominent” is because CNN and the Atlantic and Vox and all the rest of these people interview them and give them a platform for the purpose of smearing their actual political opponents with them.

            Should Fox News could find some tankie at a leftist conference and run story after story about how all the Democrats are really in league with this prominent Stalinist and demand every Democrat denounce him 15 times a day or else prove what all know, that Democrats are all just itching to march us all off to the gulags?

            When the far left gets violent, some dude gets cracked in the head with a bike lock; when the racist far right gets violent, someone walks into a black church with a gun.

            Dallas sniper, Republican baseball practice, Rand Paul’s broken ribs

          • johansenindustries says:

            And, what “revenge” attack by a Somali are you talking about?

            Sorry my error. He’s from Sudan and there was a death, but this is the one I was referring to https://www.cbsnews.com/news/tennessee-church-suspect-may-have-sought-revenge-for-dylann-roof-case/

            I had thought Paddock was being categorized as “mass shooter, NOS”

            The media wouldn’t have categorised him as that if he were a life-long Republican targeting a soul concert.

            I’m going to assume they have another motive.

            What motive do you think he had for targeting a country music concert?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            First, yeah, the media is fucking up. I’ve said that before. But there’s not some kind of stream of black nationalism that people are reacting to. The “hairdye NKVD” campus activist left types people here worry so much about (and, I will admit, they are obnoxious; but their danger is mostly in the reaction to them) aren’t really leftists (their challenges to the capitalist system are limited to vague muttering about how capitalism somehow created racism, because reasons, and the occasional “man I had to work to pay rent, capitalism sucks, eh”, and they seem more interested in distributing inequality equally than eliminating it) and I don’t think there’s really much black nationalism among them – their demands tend to be of the “more black CEOs, more black lawyers, ten mil for the black student’s centre” than the “we want 13% of the US land area for an ethnostate NOW” variety.

            Second,

            -maybe this is a copout (ha) but some attacks that would get coded as right don’t, due to blind spots in the US media. A white man who shot black cops over immediate grievances (not a previous racist far-right worldview) would get coded as right. (EDIT: this bit is worthy of further discussion – is racism right or left or neutral? Etc) Did the Dallas shooter have any far-left manifestos or anything lying around?
            -OK, granted. Still, the right has better marksmanship, it would appear. The right still has a higher body count (both body counts are fairly small, by standards of body counts).
            -was Paul’s neighbour beating him up something political? I thought they had some kind of neighbour beef.

            EDIT:

            @johansenindustries

            See my comment above re the Dallas shooter for the Sudanese guy.

            Maybe it’s shitty that a Republican shooting up a soul concert would get coded as right, but a Democrat shooting up a country concert wouldn’t get coded as left, but that’s the media’s problem, not reality’s, nor mine – I’m not the media. I figured he chose the country concert for being a good target.

            EDIT AGAIN: I thought of an example. If the prosecution version of the Zimmermann trial was correct – if Zimmermann did, in fact, profile a black kid and initiate a conflict in which he shot the kid – that would be a racist murder, but I would not categorize Zimmermann as a right-wing killer.

          • Matt M says:

            Should Fox News could find some tankie at a leftist conference and run story after story about how all the Democrats are really in league with this prominent Stalinist and demand every Democrat denounce him 15 times a day or else prove what all know, that Democrats are all just itching to march us all off to the gulags?

            I used to listen to Glenn Beck pretty regularly like 3-5 years ago and this was like 1/3 of his show. Finding some really incriminating clip from some Black Panther meeting, playing it 50 times, and demanding all Democrats apologize for it.

            This kind of crap happens on both sides. Both sides have more than their share of radical racists who would not hesitate to kill people if given power, and both sides have their own dishonest media who shines a spotlight on these people way out of proportion with their power and tries to draw a straight line between them and mainstream politicians they don’t like.

          • Civilis says:

            This isn’t just “the media called them alt-right and now everyone thinks alt-right is synonymous with neo-Nazi/WN/whatever.” The groups doing the UTR thing worked hard to call themselves alt-right. They were claiming a newish label with less stigma attached, and they have successfully claimed it, but they did so by attaching a whole bunch of stigma to it.

            They’ve always been a part of the right fringe; they worked to take leadership of it by being the most visible part of it, which they accomplished by hitting the jackpot of being one of the few groups willing to stand up to the violence of the far left, and being given a prominent spotlight by the left that wanted to make them the visible face of the right. The violet antifa leftist protesters have been around for quite a while. If they didn’t exist, there would be no way for the violent rightwing protesters to make a name for themselves by fighting back (at least as far as America goes; I know the European dynamic is different). Since the end of Jim Crow, the Klan and the other right groups have done nothing more than march around like idiots, accomplishing nothing but getting laughed at by everyone.

            As noted above, the neo-Nazis, etc, worked to call themselves alt-right too. As for the number of neo-Nazis, there were plenty of swastikas and linked symbols on display in Charlottesville. Maybe there was only one actual WWII era Nazi flag, but I feel confident in calling someone with a red-white-and-blue colour palette flag with a swastika or an odal rune or whatever on it someone with a Nazi flag.

            Sincere question: Where are you getting your images of the rally from? Looking over most of the pictures from openly leftist media outlets like Buzzfeed or even the Google images archive, and it looks like the neo-Confederates were far and away the biggest part of the rally. If you’d called this a neo-Confederate or even a Klan rally (though, again, there’s an important difference), I don’t think I’d be arguing with you.

            I would estimate that there are tens of thousands (most likely estimate) or low hundreds of thousands (high estimate) of people you could call neo-Nazis, WNs, or white supremacists (I do not use the sociology-type “Justin Trudeau is perpetuating white supremacy” definition of the last one, as it’s a ludicrous definition and a transparent attempt to play with language) in the US today. So, maybe you went to a school with a really big cafeteria.

            Again, “Nazis are bad and need to be deplatformed because they have a history of advocating genocide” doesn’t mix with equating Nazis and the broad group “people you could call neo-Nazis, WNs, or white supremacists”. There’s a reason Godwin’s law exists, because Nazi is the ultimate emotional trump card, and for very good reason.

            But it’s simply false to create an equivalence here. The racist far right has been responsible for more violent deaths in America than the far left, at least in the last 10 or 20 years. When the far left gets violent, some dude gets cracked in the head with a bike lock; when the racist far right gets violent, someone walks into a black church with a gun.

            We’ve tried rehashing the statistics over and over again, and I won’t go into how accurate the direct numbers are. However, remember this discussion thread started because Trump retweeted a picture purportedly of Muslims throwing someone off a building. Rightly or wrongly, the right’s placing the responsibility for the deaths of people like Kate Steinle and the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting on the left, because that’s what the left seems to be fighting for. And that’s because it’s what Trump built the appeal of his campaign around, opposition to illegal immigration and reduction in Moslem refugees.

            Random Edgy Republicanoid – Milo, for example, who is an asshole provocateur, but holds few (open, at least) views outside the Republican pale – will get no platformed at Berkeley, but somehow the Republican party has not been forced underground or into foreign exile.

            The thing is, we see middle of the road Republicans and centrists being de-platformed. Anyone outside the establishment is fair game. Charles Murray is a Democrat, for crying out loud, and he still got violently deplatformed. Trump gets votes because he seems to stand up for the people the Republican establishment wont (much less anyone prominent on the left). For that matter, every Republican candidate since Bush has been called a Nazi by mainstream leftists; is anyone surprised when we complain about the word no longer having any meaning? Admittedly, this is the place where we on the right should have been policing ourselves. While I don’t think anyone sincerely thinks third-wave feminists are equivalent to Nazis, the ‘femenazi’ epithet, though catchy, set a bad precedent.

            What’s this “left”? Are you aware that the standard-issue leftist – the anarcho-communist types who wave hammer-and-sickle flags because they are either unaware that commies betray anarchists every single time or are suffering from some sort of equivalent to battered spouse syndrome hate liberals? I’m a liberal. They view us as weak, incapable of fighting the fascists (instead of the Soviets, who fought fascism by splitting Poland with them, and only entered the war when attacked, instead of those weak liberals in Britain and France etc), tantamount to fascists ourselves (see old-timey communist denunciations of social democracy as “social fascism”). “Liberals get the bullet too.” The women’s march, for example, was derided because it did not feature burning cop cars.

            If you feel justified conflating the various groups on the right, the various groups on the right are entitled to feel justified conflating the Tankies, the Socialists, the Social Democrats, the Progressives and the rest of the left. The fact that the supposedly-mainstream Women’s March on Washington had a convicted murderer, a vocal antisemite, and an advocate for blowing up the White House as speakers does not speak well for the left.

            I apologize for being frustrated, but people keep illustrating my problem, and it’s pushing more emotion into my replies. I don’t mean every person on the left has every problem I’m associating with the broad “the left” and “you”, but it would really help if people would not demonstrate exactly what I’m complaining about at the same time they’re seeming to deny it exists.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Civilis

            They’ve always been a part of the right fringe; they worked to take leadership of it by being the most visible part of it, which they accomplished by hitting the jackpot of being one of the few groups willing to stand up to the violence of the far left, and being given a prominent spotlight by the left that wanted to make them the visible face of the right. The violet antifa leftist protesters have been around for quite a while. If they didn’t exist, there would be no way for the violent rightwing protesters to make a name for themselves by fighting back (at least as far as America goes; I know the European dynamic is different). Since the end of Jim Crow, the Klan and the other right groups have done nothing more than march around like idiots, accomplishing nothing but getting laughed at by everyone.

            But the crew at Charlottesville wasn’t the alt-right-ish street brawlers who showed up at Berkeley. Heimbach is not Based Stickman or that Patriot Prayer guy.

            Sincere question: Where are you getting your images of the rally from? Looking over most of the pictures from openly leftist media outlets like Buzzfeed or even the Google images archive, and it looks like the neo-Confederates were far and away the biggest part of the rally. If you’d called this a neo-Confederate or even a Klan rally (though, again, there’s an important difference), I don’t think I’d be arguing with you.

            I was watching videos, checking pictures, at the time. I wasn’t keeping count, but I saw a lot of flags and imagery that was either Nazi or closer to Nazi than normal for the “not a Nazi, check out this cool geometrical symbol, wink wink” crowd. A lot less green.

            There were three primary groups: Neo-Nazis (who are either National Socialists or people who looked at the popular imagination view of the Nazis and decided they liked it), white nationalists (who want a white ethnostate that has been created through ethnic cleansing), and white supremacists (who want a system that is multiracial but where everyone who isn’t white is kept down via official and nonofficial means). Neo-Confederates and the KKK are in the third group. These groups generally get along pretty well. Are these fair definitions, for our purposes?

            Again, “Nazis are bad and need to be deplatformed because they have a history of advocating genocide” doesn’t mix with equating Nazis and the broad group “people you could call neo-Nazis, WNs, or white supremacists”. There’s a reason Godwin’s law exists, because Nazi is the ultimate emotional trump card, and for very good reason.

            I would argue that white nationalists are very bad, because you could not create a feasible white ethno-state in the US (or Canada) without major ethnic cleansing that would probably result in a significant (seven or eight figures) death count. I would argue that white supremacists are very bad, because their entire thing is violently subjugating people. All three of these groups are bad. If no-platforming 1. still worked like it used to and 2. could be limited to those groups, I would support it against those groups.

            We’ve tried rehashing the statistics over and over again, and I won’t go into how accurate the direct numbers are. However, remember this discussion thread started because Trump retweeted a picture purportedly of Muslims throwing someone off a building. Rightly or wrongly, the right’s placing the responsibility for the deaths of people like Kate Steinle and the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting on the left, because that’s what the left seems to be fighting for. And that’s because it’s what Trump built the appeal of his campaign around, opposition to illegal immigration and reduction in Moslem refugees.

            The left has an unfortunate habit of not wanting to let the right score points, which leads to things like downplaying the degree to which radical Sunni militant violence is an issue (which is awful for Muslims, because most victims of said violence worldwide are Muslim). But that doesn’t excuse people on the right getting too cozy with people who historically are worse than radical Sunni militants, or would be if they got the chance.

            The thing is, we see middle of the road Republicans and centrists being de-platformed. Anyone outside the establishment is fair game. Charles Murray is a Democrat, for crying out loud, and he still got violently deplatformed. Trump gets votes because he seems to stand up for the people the Republican establishment wont (much less anyone prominent on the left). For that matter, every Republican candidate since Bush has been called a Nazi by mainstream leftists; is anyone surprised when we complain about the word no longer having any meaning? Admittedly, this is the place where we on the right should have been policing ourselves. While I don’t think anyone sincerely thinks third-wave feminists are equivalent to Nazis, the ‘femenazi’ epithet, though catchy, set a bad precedent.

            Everybody calls everybody else a Nazi. I thought it was bad when Murray was deplatformed and the professor who was supposed to debate against him got put in the hospital. A lot of liberals agreed with me – the NYT had multiple articles defending Murray and condemning those who attack him. If you read liberal sources, and pay attention to what antifa types are saying, you see a pattern: when antifa, or just student left activists in general, beat up or whatever people who are within a few SDs of a Nazi, the liberal press lauds that. When it happens to someone who isn’t within a few SDs, like with Murray, they condemn it. The antifa types respond to the former by saying “yes, we are great”, and respond to the latter by being indignantly puzzled as to why these fucking dumb liberals don’t get it.

            If you feel justified conflating the various groups on the right, the various groups on the right are entitled to feel justified conflating the Tankies, the Socialists, the Social Democrats, the Progressives and the rest of the left. The fact that the supposedly-mainstream Women’s March on Washington had a convicted murderer, a vocal antisemite, and an advocate for blowing up the White House as speakers does not speak well for the left.

            I apologize for being frustrated, but people keep illustrating my problem, and it’s pushing more emotion into my replies. I don’t mean every person on the left has every problem I’m associating with the broad “the left” and “you”, but it would really help if people would not demonstrate exactly what I’m complaining about at the same time they’re seeming to deny it exists.

            But, I’m not conflating different groups on the right. Republican uncomfortable with Trump isn’t big-time Trump supporter isn’t alt-right of the “loves Pepes; should have read Mother Night” variety isn’t alt right of the neo-Nazi/WN/white supremacist variety. It’s shitty that people do that. I find it obnoxious when they do that, but I won’t make/keep any friends from pointing out that the word “Nazi” actually means something when people post dumb shit on Facebook.

            Similarly, the Women’s March was very liberal. There were some dicey people involved, for certain. And some people who say dumb things (“blow up the white house” is almost certainly in the same frame as “your mother’s going to kill you when she gets home”). I would argue that mainstream, liberal left-wingers have a somewhat worse problem (like, 10 or 20% worse) of not wanting to punch left than mainstream, sorta-conservative right-wingers have of not wanting to punch right. I would also argue that the two groups, when they don’t punch to their respective sides, do so for different reasons: a liberal who doesn’t condemn someone dicey does so because they don’t want to give points to Fox News; a conservative who doesn’t does so because the deplorables like Trump, and while Trump is a major liability, he also gave the Republicans a victory they weren’t expecting.

            But, the UTR march in Charlottesville included very few people I would categorize as “good people.” That’s my point – that anyone whose brand depended on being able to plausibly deny being a bad person, like McInnes or Cernovich or whoever – stayed away, because they could spot the Nazi and Nazi-adjacent people.

          • Civilis says:

            dndnrsn, I want to apologize, because based on your most recent post, some of our disagreement is based on different definitions.

            I am using ‘nationalist’ (as in white nationalist and black nationalist) in what is likely on reflection to be a non-standard manner; I’m using it to refer to groups based on advancing the political interests of an ethnic group (a “nation”). The Nation of Islam is, for this definition, an example of a black nationalist group (and one of the reasons I use ‘nation’ as the descriptive term). Black Lives Matter and La Raza would be nationalist groups under this definition. I think most of the neo-Confederates are Southern white nationalists. I reserve the Supremacist label for those thinking that their group deserves to be the ones in power, either as a separate state or by legally dominating an existing one. Thinking blacks are stupider than whites is the hallmark of a white nationalist idiot, thinking blacks are too stupid to be allowed to vote is a white supremacist idiot. Though one doesn’t have to be racist to notice that if the law discriminates against the group you are in, it makes sense to band together with the people of your group that oppose that discrimination, even if some are racists (and this equally applies to all racial, cultural and religious groups; the same logic that drives blacks towards the nation of Islam drives whites towards the white nationalists).

            I think the number of supremacists or separatists of any stripe is a lot lower than the number you think, but I don’t know how you would test that, given the stong impetus from all sides to fudge the number and the lizardman factor. Yes, I agree if the separatists had their way, it would turn into a bloodbath regardless of their intentions, but based on that logic, I think the workers seizing the means of production would also necessarily result in a bloodbath. What’s important is that both sides need to believe that the rules are evenly applied. If the rule is ‘no openly advocating genocide’, we can kick the Nazis out and they can’t complain. If the rule is ‘no advocating fringe politico-economic systems that require a bloodbath to work’, then if the left gets to kick the White Separatists out of the acceptable discourse window, they can’t complain when the right kicks the Anarchocommunists out of the window. On the other hand, if the left can run around with Soviet flags and not get called on it while the right can’t run around with Confederate flags, then many on the right, even those that think both the Soviets and the Confederates were assholes, are going to get irritated enough to change the rules.

            Most of the stressors here from the right are that the right perceives the rules to be biased in the left’s favor. Trump shows Muslims doing bad things and the left says its wrong to stir up hate against Muslims, while the left repeats the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ fallacy over and over, riots ensue. There may be perfectly valid reasoning behind this sort of thing. But Muslims are a Democratic and leftist constituency group, and police (or at least the law and order values) tend to be Republican interests, and when it happens over and over again the disparate treatment gets noticed… and the people that notice follow the political leaders that acknowledge that they notice as well.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Dammit, I had a response that must have included a banned word. Crap. I know what it was, I think. I’ll just give a condensed version.

            1. I don’t think you can call just any pressure/advocacy group nationalist. The Canadian branch of the international Sikh-diaspora organization, which advocates on behalf of Sikhs worldwide, is not made up of Sikh nationalists in a Canadian context (for all I know, there may be members who want a Sikh nation in Southeast Asia, but none of them are asking for part of Canada). Sikhs who want a state to be carved out in Southeast Asia would be nationalists. There’s gray areas – the Quebecois nationalists have mostly given up on separatism, but they still seek to maintain Quebec as a distinct society, with Quebecois control over Quebec.

            I don’t know if La Raza are nationalists; I can’t recall their platform or whatever. Nation of Islam includes separatist, nationalist elements. I don’t think BLM could be called nationalist, and I think it’s tricky to talk about BLM as one thing – there are groups calling themselves BLM who range from eminently reasonable anti-police-violence campaigners, to groups making really wild demands, to groups consisting of student-activist types who appear mostly to focus on getting more turf in intra-activist left infighting. There are probably some black nationalists in there.

            Meanwhile, I don’t think that someone holding the more racist variety of Horrible Banned Discourse views makes someone a white nationalist. I think that term should be saved for people who want a white ethno-state, by and large. There’s gray areas, again.

            2. Sure, there’s double standards. It’s bogus that a lot of people in my bubble came to the conclusion that the Pulse nightclub shooting was the fault of Republicans somehow. I don’t like that the reaction to literal Stalinists (low-estimate death count: 10 million) get a “haha university kids amirite” reaction. Etc. But the solution on the right to this should not be “stop punching right” because that’s a terrible solution. The centre-right responding to the left by cozying up to the far right is a horrible response; it’s happened before and the results weren’t pretty.

          • albatross11 says:

            It seems to me that inability to even agree on a definition of what people go into the bin of bad guys (white nationalists, white supremacists, etc.) suggests that it’s probably impossible to agree on how many of them there are.

          • Several points on a long comment thread:

            1. The claim that there were a lot of Nazi symbols on display at Charlottesville. I googled for pictures of the event, and found a page with lots of them. Going through the first many pictures, I found only one such item, a flag with a Swastika on it. I saw lots and lots of Confederate flags.

            2. johansenindustries writes:

            that seems to be based on calling Paddock just regular left – or that the lifelong Democrat coincidentally attacked a group who every other lifelong Democrats could not contain their glee and wait till the bodies were cold which obviously isn’t credible.

            As best I can tell from a little googling, there is no evidence that Paddock was a Democrat, lifelong or otherwise. Do you have any?

            What motive do you think he had for targeting a country music concert?

            The obvious motive is that it was a very large crowd somewhere he could shoot at from a convenient vantage point.

            3. On the nonexistence of black nationalism. Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam (as distinct from the faction led by Elijah Mohammed’s son) explicitly supports separatism, although Farrakhan has downplayed that part of their position of recent years. The Wiki article estimates a membership of 20,000-50,000. My guess is that that is well above the total number of self-identified neo-Nazis in the U.S., although not necessarily above the number of white nationalists broadly defined.

          • rlms says:

            About half of the Confederate flags I can see in those images are being waved by obvious KKK members.

          • johansenindustries says:

            @David

            Are Country concerts know for their unusually large crowds?

            It was early speculation. Looking at it again – which is of course more dificult han it should since the MSM wouldn’t have reported it if it weren’t – it seem to bare out.

    • Mark says:

      I don’t know.

      There has been a case recently in the North of England where a woman had her head bashed in against a stone wall by three Pakistanis who shouted “Gori [slur meaning white] Slag” “White Slag” as they beat her.

      The police did nothing for about a month, fobbed her off, told her that it couldn’t possibly be a racist incident, and only got their bums in gear when she posted her injuries on facebook and started trending.

      Compare to punishment and reaction when someone makes a rude tweet about Islam.

      So, here’s the thing. The danger, the real danger, is (1) that the police and authorities will do anything to downplay and ignore heinous racially motivated crimes committed by minorities against white people (2) that the police won’t enforce the law unless you can get your case trending on fucking twitter.

      So, I can’t feel too upset about videos of Muslim crime getting twitter coverage. That’s the only thing the authorities seem to pay attention to these days.

      On the other hand, he’s retweeting misleading videos from a group who had a supporter assassinate an MP a short time ago… so… that’s bad.

      Also, I think it’s less a problem with Islam, as a problem with a lack of law enforcement. They need to start executing jihadi plotters and enforcing hate speech laws against Muslim preachers. And locking up criminal scum of every race and creed.

      • johansenindustries says:

        As every peice of UK media has written after wheeling out Brendan Cox: Cox’s killer had no links with the group Britain First. He just shouted the pretty low-hanging fruit phrase.

    • BBA says:

      My view is that Trump is no more racist than the baseline white American man – who is pretty damn racist.

      Less inhibited, though. He’s just saying what we’re all thinking.

      • johan_larson says:

        There is good reason to believe the typical American is not particularly racist. This link has some stats:

        http://ijr.com/2014/04/133024-10-charts-show-racist-america-really/

        • Matt M says:

          He didn’t say the typical American, he said the typical white man. Who are uniquely evil, as we all know.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’d bet the typical black man is probably more racist, if you measure it based on the common definition. The typical Asian man MUCH more racist, but smart enough to lie about it.

            However, in modern academic language, if you don’t say “a lot” to the question “How Much Discrimination Is There Against African-Americans”, you’re guilty of some degree of “symbolic racism”. This is the sort of racism which backs the studies about “racism” explaining the Trump vote better than anything else.

          • Matt M says:

            I’d bet the typical black man is probably more racist, if you measure it based on the common definition. The typical Asian man MUCH more racist, but smart enough to lie about it.

            So would I, but it doesn’t matter. Polite society overwhelmingly believes the opposite, and are not willing to listen to any alternative opinions on this manner. A lot of them even explicitly define racism in such a way as to preclude anyone other than whites from possibly engaging in it.

          • Protagoras says:

            Hmmm? I thought I was a member of polite society, and in my experience asians are certainly more racist on average than whites. I don’t think most people I know would regard that as controversial.

          • Matt M says:

            I think they would. I think some 20-40% of polite society believes it is literally impossible for non-white races to be racist.

        • Deiseach says:

          Polite society overwhelmingly believes the opposite, and are not willing to listen to any alternative opinions on this manner.

          That is because polite society has re-defined racism as structural racism, where only those in a position of power can be racist, so if you are white in a majority white society you have benefited and are continuing to benefit from the social racism in your country, therefore you are racist even if you’ve never said a mean word about POC. On the other hand, a POC can say “kill all YT” and that’s not racist, because they are not in a position of power because they are a minority in a majority white society. You see?

          Of course, the ordinary definition of racism is “a guy who says lynch all black people” and that still gets used as well, except only if it’s a white person saying this about non-white people. So racism in the commonly understood sense also exists but only as applied to white people. Non-white people saying it about white people is still not racism.

          That’s the motte and bailey I dislike in this entire discourse; they claim that what is meant by racism is “Structural racism only; we are not claiming you hate non-white people or want to kill them when we say you are a racist living in a racist society, Geoffrey”, but they still are quite happy to let the emotional affect of “racist means horrible evil person who hates non-white people and wants to kill them” be the first meaning that leaps to mind for other people who know nothing about Geoffrey when they say “Geoffrey is a racist”.

      • quanta413 says:

        My view is that Trump is no more racist than the baseline white American man – who is pretty damn racist.

        Pretty damn racist as compared to who and what? The platonic ideal? Sure. As compared to people of other races? I’m not really seeing it. Talking to some people from other countries, it was really eye opening what sort of things they would say openly that I’d estimate a minority (but sizeable minority) of people from my hometown would probably even think and much fewer would say (and by left wing standards my hometown would be a stereotypically more-racist-than-normal place).

      • albatross11 says:

        This highlights the basic problem with tossing around the word racist–the definition could be anything from original-sin type racism which everyone (or at least every white person) has by definition because of living in a racist society, all the way up to actual Nazis longing to murder all the nonwhites and Jews they can get their hands on.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        who is pretty damn racist

        White people are the least racist people in history. No one else invites other races into their nations and gives them political equality with them. They’re the only people who even recoil at being called racist by their own race because they see it as a bad thing they don’t want to be guilty of. When a Chinese guy goes off on a rant about how inferior Japanese people or Africans are to Chinese people, no other Chinese person says “hey man, that’s racist, you shouldn’t say that.” No one bothers, because they agree. Massive racism is just baseline, and it’s that way all over the world.

        Monkeys came down out of trees, and the group from the one tree started hating and murdering the groups from the other trees, and it’s been like that for 200,000 years, and it’s pretty much only modern white people who’ve decided “hey, this is a bad thing, we shouldn’t do that!” No one else has.

        • Anonymous says:

          This.

        • White people are the least racist people in history. No one else invites other races into their nations and gives them political equality with them.

          I don’t know if your definition of white people includes Arab Muslims, but Islam gave the same legal/political rights to all Muslims, independent of race. There was certainly prejudice against various groups–but that’s true in America at present. The legal distinctions were by religion (and gender), not race.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Arabs often did count as white. The racist trope “black tribe worships a white woman” was made by H. Rider Haggard in “She”, where the white goddess is an immortal Arab.
            Also, Anglos had no idea that Christian Palestinian and Lebanese immigrants were “of color” until Edward Said and Casey Kasem started complaining about depictions of Arab Muslims.

        • rlms says:

          You should read more if you think modern Western conceptions of race were historically universal.

      • BBA says:

        Well, this has gone about how I expected.

        • Jaskologist says:

          “And all I did was accuse a racial group of collectively bearing the worst possible sin!”

        • Randy M says:

          Nevertheless, he persisted.

        • quanta413 says:

          @BBA

          Can you give a coherent reply to anyone’s response? Seriously, if you’re going take a short and vacuous swipe at people, what sort of response do you think you should get? You got some decent responses despite your rudeness and lack of elaboration or evidence. Any response to those?

      • Anonymous says:

        the baseline white American man (…) is pretty damn racist.

        Time to update your beliefs. Baseline *primates* are pretty damn racist.

    • outis says:

      One problem is that the media systematically chooses not to report anti-narrative incidents (e.g., in this case, crimes committed by Muslims in Europe, but it could be other things too). If you want to share an article about this sort of thing, you aren’t going to find it on the Times; it’s going to be on some random right-wing newsblog, or at best a tabloid. And if you do cite that kind of source, people are going to call it fake at best, or call you a dirty right-winger at worst. But it’s not fake, most of the time: if you look into it you’ll find primary sources, but they’re in German or in Danish, or you’ll find a police blotter, or maybe a mention in some respectable newspaper which confirms the basic facts, but written in a way that makes it completely unsuitable for sharing.

      So we either grant the media the power to decide which facts can be talked about and which cannot, or we hold our noses and accept that for some topics people are going to have to cite unpleasant sources.

      • albatross11 says:

        Actual crimes are usually reported in mainstream news, though sometimes details are withheld. (For example, in the US, many media sources will not report the race of the suspect in a crime story, because the suspect is black too often and they worry that they’re perpetuating stereotypes.)

        When we get events reported only on websites we’ve never heard of, associated with some ideologically motivated group, it’s hard to know whether to believe them. Ideologues are often willing to lie or exaggerate to get attention for their cause, and a website I’ve never heard of has little to lose in terms of reputation.

        By contrast, one check on prestige media outlets’ desire to shade the truth in some of its stories is that they care about their reputation. Being embarrassed in public when it turns out your story was made-up (Rolling Stone and their UVa gangrape story) or when it turns out you were played by your sources (NYT and Iraq’s alleged WMDs) is embarrassing and loses you some of your influence.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Just an observation – it’s funny that the defences here of Trump tend either to “he’s just trying to get racists to support him, not a racist himself, just incredibly sleazy” or “he’s not a racist, just dumb with no attention span.”

      • Actually the most pertinent defense is that the tweets were of Muslims and so had nothing to do with racism. The other discussions were that yes Trump has many defects, but he has certainly not demonstrated racism. Can we all agree that calling Trump a racist IS a continuation of crying wolf?

        Someone can start a new thread about Trump being an Islamophobe or Trump is a sleazeball, or Trump has no self control. I suspect those posts would engender mostly agreement. An important part of crying wolf is the tendency of political activists to accuse the opposition of some terrible things, and when it is denied to claim, “but they are guilty of this other thing, so it comes to the same thing.” Accuracy in accusations is important. Calling Trump a racist is simply an epithet having nothing to do with reality.

  23. Apropos of a recent exchange, what are ways in which university education could be produced at a much lower cost? What keeps it from happening?

    • Anonymous says:

      Apropos of a recent exchange, what are ways in which university education could be produced at a much lower cost?

      The internets.

      Bankruptcy for education loans.

      What keeps it from happening?

      Aggregate inertia and influence of the banking sector.

    • mustacheion says:

      I think that lectures waste a ton of man-hours. Lectures are probably a pretty good way of learning some subjects, like maybe history, but they are a pretty mediocre way of learning others, like my field, physics. Even so, I do think lectures are a useful component of a university education in almost any subject, but it doesn’t make sense to have so many people give such similar lectures many different times to different groups of students. And many professors are really good at certain aspects of teaching, and very poor at giving lectures, or visa versa.

      So my proposal is that we produce (film) the ultimate lecture for each subject once, update it every few years, and spread that one lecture everywhere. Assemble a team of the best academics from the specific subject the lecture is on. Hook them up with a team of people who understand how to package information to make it easy to learn, actors / public speakers to actually present the information, and graphic artists to create diagrams and other visual media. Go ahead and spend a couple million dollars to produce a single hour long lecture. Distribute it on the internet for anybody who wants to watch it. Students enrolled in a physical class can be assigned to watch this lecture on their own time, possibly more than once to be sure they absorb the information, and can then meet in small groups (either physically or via telecom) with other students and a TA / group discussion leader to ask questions and solve problems together, or whatever other activities go well with the specific subject. You still need to pay the TA, but from my experience (four years as a grad student TA) that kind of work is much easier than preparing and delivering a lecture.

      In a nutshell, the advantage of this approach is that you are trading a large one-time cost for a huge amount of distributed future value. A single lecture for a subject, produced only one time, could satisfy a major component of the educational needs of every single student in the entire world fluent in the language the lecture was produced in. And for the smaller incremental cost of translating the lecture, satisfy the needs of almost every student in the world.

      Minor Drawbacks:
      – Some subjects are contentious – not everybody would agree on what things are appropriate to teach / how to frame things. But there are lots of subjects that are not (math, physics, computer science) so we could start on those subjects first.
      – Some parts of the lectures would become out of date as new discoveries are made and as fields shift. But I think that the majority of what is taught in many subjects, especially at an undergraduate level, doesn’t change all that frequently. I would say that 90% of what I learned in getting a MA in physics had been known for fifty years.
      – How do you choose which organization gets to produce the ultimate lecture, and how can we trust they
      do a good job. I suppose that the libertarian answer to this one is to encourage the major educational institutions to compete to create the best ultimate lecture, though this will drive up total cost of setting up the system, since multiple organizations are producing redundant products.

      Major drawback:
      – It’s difficult to imagine how to recuperate the cost of producing these ultimate lectures. I can’t really think of a good business model that doesn’t either restrict access to only the wealthy or suffer from free riding.

      But I would say that the biggest reason why the system I am describing won’t work: it may not be able to satisfy the signalling aspect of a university education. A good education can empower a person to be able to make valuable contributions to society, but a good education by itself isn’t quite enough – you also need to be able to convince others that you have the potential to make a positive contribution in the first place to get them to work with you. The most obvious example of this is getting a job – you need to get hired before you can use your education to make the world a better place. Ultimate lectures by themselves can’t certify that students actually learn anything and actually gain useful skills.

      Though I will comment that something needs to arise to fulfill the signaling aspect of university education, because it has been my experience that the universities are starting to completely fail to accomplish this goal, yet our society and economy are rather based around the ability of a university education as a certification that a person is not a looser. A generation or two ago, a university education was a very difficult thing to acquire, and if you as a person were able to actually acquire a degree, that by itself was a sufficient indication that you are not a looser and can be a good candidate to hire for a job. But because a university education was essentially a guaranteed ticket to a prosperous middle class life society moved in the direction to overproduce degrees. Now days, universities produce so many more degrees than there are jobs that need that degree, and degrees are so easy to get (since we demand they be accessible to everybody) that their value has massively gone down. A university degree is now seen as a necessary but not sufficient certification that a person is not a looser – a massive downgrade from the days when they were seen as a sufficient certification. I believe that the falling value of university education is going to become a major political / societal issue in the coming years as so many students these days have taken on massive amounts of debt to acquire a degree that will fail to deliver them any value.

      Can you tell that I am bitter about being having been unemployed for the past two years? 😛 I received an absolutely fantastic education and have excellent analytic thinking and problem solving skills, but I can’t actually convince anybody else that I have these things. As a teenager I was obsessed with phoniness and actively shunned the kinds of personal-brand-building activities that you put on your resume because I bought into the belief that my academic success alone could prove my personal worth. But now that I am in the real world and see how necessary it is to be able to market yourself to employers, I feel extremely frustrated at my earlier self’s idealization of university education.
      Sorry if this feels off topic, but actually I do think that this is a really important aspect of education to consider – one that my younger self did not consider and is now paying for.

      • beleester says:

        I had a course in college that used Udacity lectures for a large chunk of its instruction, so the idea has merit.

        I don’t know if Udacity is profitable yet, though.

      • Deiseach says:

        So my proposal is that we produce (film) the ultimate lecture for each subject once, update it every few years, and spread that one lecture everywhere.

        Um – The Open University? Much late night viewing on the BBC was “OU lectures filmed in the 70s and boy you can tell by the fashion”

        • Matt M says:

          Even Khan Academy is basically this.

          • albatross11 says:

            One sideline, though, is that different approaches to explaining/understanding an idea work for different people. I think it’s really valuable to be able to find some completely different source of instruction (lectures, slides, notes, textbook, whatever), when the one you’re paying for isn’t working for you. That’s one really nice feature of iTunes I/OCW/Khan Academy–if your linear algebra teacher isn’t explaining things well, maybe the MIT linear algebra lectures or the Khan Academy linear algebra lectures would do a better job.

          • Viliam says:

            different approaches to explaining/understanding an idea work for different people

            True. Unfortunately, the existing school system offers no improvement in this dimension; each students only gets one version of the lesson.

            It would be nice to have multiple lessons on the same topic online. Perhaps cross-linked “if you feel you didn’t understand the lesson, try this version”. (Possibly with some social network aspect, where you could see the videos recommended by people like you.)

      • Brad says:

        Why doesn’t anyone use the Feynman lectures on physics? Has introduction to mechanics and introduction to E&M changed that much since then?

      • So my proposal is that we produce (film) the ultimate lecture for each subject once, update it every few years, and spread that one lecture everywhere.

        Why isn’t the best book superior to the best lecture? You are not limited to books written by people now alive for you to record and the student can read the book at his own pace and times of his convenience.

        One possible answer is that there is something about the live interaction, student in the same room as lecturer, that works for many students better than reading a book. But you are not giving that, since your lecture is recorded, not live.

        • nimim.k.m. says:

          Why isn’t the best book superior to the best lecture?

          I contend that for some people in some circumstances books can be superior to lectures. Even without any training in “speed reading” skills, students generally can read faster than lecturer can talk; one can return to previous paragraphs or stop reading to think about a difficult point (asking the lecturer to go about the previous point 5 times or stop talking would be a social faux pas).

          This is pure speculation, but the same reasons might explain why sometimes a very good lecture works very well for some people on some particular topic: the lecturer is forced to present the material at read-at-aloud speed or slower (because writing equations or sketching figures at the chalkboard slows everything down). This gives the student time to think about what they hear.

          However, personally I believe tutorials (maybe order of 15 persons of quite similar level of background knowledge) with an atmosphere that encourages to you interact with the teacher and other students (and you can plausibly interact with them) is the ideal form for organized learning. This does not scale very well, so it isn’t what people think about when they hear the word “lecture” (I close my eyes and see lecture hall with ~150 students for freshman calculus) and that’s why people would think that recorded lectures would be a comparable experience (“any questions or comments?” it would be awfully inconvenient if all 150 students started sharing their questions or comments, so it’s quite rare to have any true discussion.)

          • Protagoras says:

            Colleges seem to be moving toward less and less of the 150 person lecture halls and more and more small classes, so if criticisms of lectures are based on the former, they are trying to fix a problem that is already being successfully fixed.

          • quanta413 says:

            @Protagoras

            Are you speaking of liberal arts colleges or big universities or both?

            I’ve only been a student at large R1s, and neither of them has been moving away from the enormous lecture format. If anything, they’re doubling down on it. For example, when I started university, iClickers were not very prevalent and thus attending large lectures was effectively optional. This was very useful to me as I once took two classes that had the same slot. It also meant that if the lecturer was god awful, I could avoid wasting time and just read the book then take the tests. You might ask why I’d take the class then, but these were required classes and couldn’t be avoided.

            Now, iClickers seem to be required for a lot more of the classes I know about, and answering the questions is sometimes a significant fraction of the grade. Or they’re used to take attendance, and if you don’t activate your iClicker for too many lectures you’re automatically failed (Seen this policy on a syllabus, but never actually seen it enforced, not sure if it’s more than a threat).

            Granted, iClickers have good uses in theory, but my experience with them has been pretty meh. Often, professors give credit just for clicking to respond at all, so there’s not even much incentive to both getting answers right.

          • The Nybbler says:

            WTF? The whole point of boring lectures is to skip them. That’s why it’s college and not high school.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Surely there’s some way to cheat the iClicker. If there isn’t, I’m very disappointed in the students’ lack of initiative.

          • Nick says:

            At my university attendance was very often required (or a significant portion of your grade, say 20% was attendance and participation, or there were even quizzes once to twice a week). We had small classes, though, so it was pretty easy for a professor to tell when a student was or was not there, and to my knowledge we never used iClickers or anything like them, just regular old roll call or something.

            I have mixed feelings about it. I didn’t really mind attending class, even if the lecture was kind of boring, and I think I still derived value from it. In my experience, most students got value from it, even if they thought they didn’t or that their time could have been better spent. But for the top students, it’s sometimes the opposite, where they’d be better served by skipping but can’t. And all that aside, these various measures to encourage attendance—roll call, participation grades, having a bunch of short quizzes—may just waste class time and the professor’s own time in addition to the students’ time. I think I’d prefer to see a much stronger presumption toward attending class, but with few or no penalties should someone not; improving the quality of lectures is, of course, one way to encourage that.

          • quanta413 says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            The only simple way to cheat an iClicker is give it to someone else to click for you. This is generally heavily penalized if you get caught (because it’s cheating even if you have them enter answers randomly), and also requires you have a friend who does go to lecture.

          • Viliam says:

            requires you have a friend who does go to lecture.

            Seems like a business opportunity for nerds.

          • Montfort says:

            The iClicker equivalent used at my college accepted input via a web interface, so if you monitored it during the lecture, you could input random answers (the questions were not displayed), and hope the professor wasn’t asking questions like “Are you physically present in the room: A – no, B – no, C – no, D – yes.”

        • albatross11 says:

          Personally, I find that I benefit from having two or three more-or-less independent ways of seeing something explained. If I don’t seem to be getting much out of the lecture, maybe the book will help. Or an alternative set of lectures online. Or a website someone put up explaining the idea. Or….

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’ve seen a recommendation to read math textbooks from different decades. Types of explanation go in and out of fashion.

    • johan_larson says:

      What keeps it from happening? Ultimately, because judging the value of a university education is hard or impossible, so we rely on secondary measures of quality, including exclusivity, reputation, and prestige. These tend to be the characteristics of luxury goods, where people tend not to negotiate down. People brag about being able to afford a Patek Philippe or a Porsche, not about the screaming good deal they got on one. And producers of luxury goods tend not to offer such deals, because doing so tarnishes the brand.

      Trying to judge the value of the actual education delivered would probably require separating the actual work of educating from the judging of results. This would mean some authority would set standards for what someone who has passed the 101 level of political science should know and administered tests to verify that they do. And that someone really shouldn’t be whoever is delivering the education.

      I would expect existing institutions to fight a proposal to do this tooth and nail. Suddenly Fancy Pants College would have to justify charging $5000 for a course that prepares you for an exam that you can also prepare for with a $500 course at Home Town Community College or even a $150 self-guided course you ordered from Amazon. And a 95 would be a 95, no matter which way you got it.

      Incidentally, I took a stab at estimating what it actually costs to deliver a college education by traditional means, and the figure I came up with was $30,000, not including books and room and board and whatnot.

      • LewisT says:

        People brag about being able to afford a Patek Philippe or a Porsche, not about the screaming good deal they got on one.

        Not in the Midwest, they don’t. I can’t think of the last time I heard anyone boast about how expensive his new (vehicle, house, anything) is, except in the context of bragging about the massive discount he was able to get on it. Even the multimillionaires I know do this. To do otherwise would be gauche.

        On the other hand, people do brag when their kids are accepted to or receive a major scholarship from a prestigious university. That’s considered acceptable.

      • Matt M says:

        I would expect existing institutions to fight a proposal to do this tooth and nail. Suddenly Fancy Pants College would have to justify charging $5000 for a course that prepares you for an exam that you can also prepare for with a $500 course at Home Town Community College or even a $150 self-guided course you ordered from Amazon. And a 95 would be a 95, no matter which way you got it.

        When I was in the military, I was trying to earn my bachelors degree with as little out of pocket expense as possible. Tuition assistance covered something like 15 credits a year, with a maximum allowance of cost per credit hour that would eliminate any elite schools. I took online courses to hit the 15 credits a year, but at that rate, it would take about 8 years to earn a degree.

        I supplemented the rest with CLEP tests, basically subject-level tests you can take, provided by the college board, to prove mastery in a certain subject. The test fee is something like $90. Colleges aren’t required to accept these tests for credits, but most of the lower prestige ones will (snooty schools of course will not). My preparation for these tests usually consisted of watching Youtube videos of lectures of say, Psychology 101 for the Psychology test. Occasionally I would go on Amazon and buy a previous version of a commonly used textbook for that subject. Out of date versions (and by out of date, I mean 2-3 years old) can usually be had for $10 or so. I passed every test I took, usually by a wide margin.

      • Viliam says:

        “Teaching + evaluating” creates a horrible conflict of interests.

        In my experience, already at high school — students constantly tried to make me teach less, because then they would have an excuse at the exams that I didn’t teach that, so they would be required to learn less. Also, some parents come (and sometimes bring their lawyers) to threaten the school if they kids get less than perfect grades. And it’s kinda depressing to teach people who visibly try to make you teach as little as possible.

        In instead, the role of the “teacher” would be to teach; and the role of some “examiner” (preferably working outside the school, i.e. not a subordinate of the same director) would be to make exams, I think the situation would change. Suddenly the teacher would become an ally… against the “bad” examiner. At least the students would not object against being told more about the subject.

        Also, it would make possible to evaluate teachers. (Of course you would still have to control for the quality of students.) In current system, teachers who teach little and give everyone free A’s are the most popular. If you expect more, and give worse grades, everyone is angry at you. However, saying openly “well, my colleagues simply don’t teach all the required stuff, and then give free A’s to anyone” is not going to make you friends at the workplace. (And the colleagues could say: “well, that’s just your opinion, man; you obviously need some excuse for your crappy teaching, reflected by the bad grades of your students”.) Instead, if both me and my colleagues would have students examined by the same independent examiner, there would be some feedback at least for the most obvious cases. (Yes, many things could go wrong, Goodhart’s law, etc. Still think it’s better than the random system we have now.)

        • Matt M says:

          Suddenly the teacher would become an ally… against the “bad” examiner. At least the students would not object against being told more about the subject.

          Hmm, I feel like the same problem emerges though. So what happens if the teacher, for whatever reason, doesn’t end up covering all the material the examiner plans to examine (splitting these roles into two fully independent people with no accountability to each other seems to drastically increase the likelihood this will happen).

          The students then complain, I didn’t deserve this bad grade. My teacher never covered this! And they have a point. The examiner, by the nature of his job, I assume, has to say “Not my problem, take it up with your teacher.” The teacher will have his various excuses from “I didn’t have time, I didn’t have resource, the examiner sucks and asked bad questions, etc.” How does the conflict get mediated exactly?

          • Gobbobobble says:

            The examiner, by the nature of his job, I assume, has to say “Not my problem, take it up with your teacher.”

            If I remember correctly, this is exactly what happens with AP Tests. Just because your teacher did a poor job doesn’t mean you deserve to get the same grade as someone who actually knows the material. It’s not your fault, but utterly accurate to anyone using the grade as a measure of knowledge. It’s also not your fault if you only grow to 5’2″ but it doesn’t fly to tell the NBA you’d have been 6’5″ if your genes had “covered” height properly.

          • Viliam says:

            In current situation, if the teacher does not teach something that is required, it is easy to cover up (just don’t ask it at the exam). In the proposed situation, it would be easy to find out. I think that not hiding errors is an improvement.

            the examiner sucks and asked bad questions

            This part is easy. The questions and answers should be recorded. So afterwards people can look at the records and say whether the question did or did not belong to the defined scope.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Overruling of Griggs v. Duke Power and other laws and rulings which make it difficult for employers to test potential employees rather than rely on a credential.

      This isn’t really a “way” but a change in incentives. Probably the best you can do from the outside; organizations are good at distributing waste/fat and making it all look essential so there’s no one place you can target.

      • Technically Griggs vs Duke Power was basically repealed in the ’80’s. But then Congress codified Griggs with the Civil Rights Act of 1991. So it is this law you really want to be repealed.

        I agree that this law has had some very bad results and should be repealed. But it is only a partial response to the original posting. For one thing, it is has been pointed out many times on SSC that using a college degree as a proxy for a good hire is common in Europe as well as in the US. The European usage is obviously not a result of the Civil Rights Act. Repealing that law is only part of the solution.

    • hyperboloid says:

      There a several on line programs that offer reasonable bachelors, and masters degrees at a low cost. Excluding those in the very controversial for profit sector, the two that come to mind are Southern New Hampshire University, a traditional brick and mortar college in new england that branched out into on line education in a big way, and Western Governors University, which was founded in 1997 by the governors of five western states to offer professional education to students in low population areas who might not otherwise be able attend a traditional college.

      Both are focused heavily on non traditional students, working adults who need to complete a degree to open opportunities in the workplace. WGU uses a competency based education model that relies heavily on testing rather then course time to earn credits. Whereas SNHU’s programs are more like the on line education that is available from most state universities.

      In a world in which increasingly a bachelors degree takes on the role once filled by a high school diploma, I think what WGU is doing has a lot of advantages. It would be a great thing if state universities could offer a catalog of low overhead on line degrees, with a strong focus on testing competency in specific skills that are important to employers. This is of course not a comprehensive liberal education, but that’s not what a lot of people need.

    • JulieK says:

      “Apropos of a recent exchange, what are ways in which university education could be produced at a much lower cost? What keeps it from happening?”

      Most people want 3 things from university – actual knowledge and skills, a prestigious credential, and the experience of spending 4 years on a nice campus with other people their age. If your alternative only has the first, you might not get many takers.

      • Wrong Species says:

        It does if you can convince employers to hire you after getting one for a tiny fraction of the cost.

        • JulieK says:

          That’s what I meant by “prestigious credential.” Will employers think your degree is as good as one from a famous university?

          • Wrong Species says:

            Most people don’t go to Harvard though. If it can replace your state university, that will do a lot on its own.

          • Matt M says:

            Your state university, in most cases, is already not outrageously expensive though.

            The problem isn’t Harvard OR state universities. The problem is all of the private liberal arts schools who charge almost as much as Harvard while delivering a degree that’s almost indistinguishable from that of a state university.

          • Wrong Species says:

            In-state tuition(not including room and board) sets you back thousands of dollar per year. With room and board that’s probably over ten thousand.

          • Nornagest says:

            In state tuition(not including room and board) sets you back thousands of dollar per year. With room and board that’s probably over ten thousand.

            That’s lowballing it. I just looked up in-state tuition for the University of California, one of the larger state systems; it’s $12,630 annually. (Out-of-state students pay more than three times that.) Room and board varies by school and by the type of housing you get, but at UC San Diego, for example, it seems to be somewhere in the neighborhood of another $10,000 for three quarters.

            California is expensive, but e.g. Illinois State looks to be comparable.

    • John Schilling says:

      Apropos of a recent exchange, what are ways in which university education could be produced at a much lower cost? What keeps it from happening?

      TL,DR: we probably can’t produce university education at much lower cost without politically unpalatable austerity programs, but we can maybe take the price down a few notches by hacking away at some of the bureaucracy, building new universities, and/or sending fewer students to university in the first place.

      OK, skipping over the bit where everyone is a technophilic autodidact and so MOOCs can do everything but the signaling, boo signaling, what is it that makes up the real educational value of a university education that isn’t a readily MOOCable lecture?

      1. Ability to interact personally with teachers at every level from TA to Esteemed Professor, who can provide more nuanced feedback than a multiple-choice test and offer specific help when needed.

      2. Ability to interact personally with many other like-minded students, for collaborative study, networking, and fun motivation.

      3. Availability of laboratory facilities and the like, for fields of study where these are relevant

      4. University-organized internships, exchange programs, and the like

      5. A period of several years when the student has a socially and economically accepted excuse for doing no productive work and can hang out alone in the library and/or in the coffee shop with their friends without being told to get a job.

      How to make these cheaper:

      #1 should be right up your alley, and I assume the “cut professors’ salaries by 50%” solution is not the one you were looking for. What does it take to get lots of professorial-level talent to hang out in one place on the cheap? I’m thinking this is something traditional universities are already pretty good at.

      #2 gets us into circular logic territory, because anything that makes university education cheaper, makes it cheaper to have lots of good students hanging around supporting everyone else’s education. If we address the other points, this one comes along for the ride. But, anything that gives the best students the “opportunity” to avoid going to university, makes it harder / more expensive for universities to provide a good education to everyone else. So MOOCs may be part of the problem as well as part of the solution

      #3 calls for us to think hard about whether universities really need some of the fancy and expensive laboratory facilities they insist on. But I don’t think there are big gains to be had here, because A: those laboratory facilities are also part of the compensation package for the professors, most of whom are unwilling to wholly abandon research in the name of education, and B: most of them are paid for from a separate revenue stream than tuition

      #4 is probably not a big cost driver except insofar as the university’s prestige makes it easier to set up these deals and prestige can be expensive.

      #5 gets cheaper if we can convince the students to accept a lower standard of living. A traditional university gets most of the achievable economies of scale by housing the students in dorms and feeding them in cafeterias. Modern universities are often criticized for providing what look like frivolous luxuries, and to some extent that is true and represents a potential savings. But see #2, we want to convince the really good students who don’t have to go to university, to do so anyway for the benefit of all the rest. Plus we are now educating the grandchildren of the baby boomers: grandparents like to see their grandchildren indulged, and they vote.

      So nothing obvious comes to mind in terms of greatly reducing the direct cost of university education. Which leaves three alternate approaches that may be promising:

      #6, reduce administrative overhead. This is I believe substantial at most universities. Some of it is due to legitimate regulatory or lawsuit-avoidance requirements, which could be addressed by government action. Or more precisely by a credible promise of government inaction. The rest is just the Iron Law applied to university bureaucracy, and that’s tough but not perhaps hopeless.

      #7, increase supply. No matter how low the direct costs of university education, if the number of slots is smaller than the number of dedicated applicants, the price is going to skyrocket. And yet it is relatively uncommon for new universities to be created, at least in developed nations. Unfortunately “new university nobody has heard of” is now firmly linked with “crappy for-profit university that rubber-stamps credentials without really teaching anything”, so we’re going to need a way to boostrap “this is so a Real University!” prestige. Maybe convince famous rich people, particularly the ones who are famous for being smart (e.g. Gates, Bezos) to go the Thomas Jefferson / Leland Stanford route and endow universities? Would mean cutting into their bednet-distribution charitable efforts, though. Added bonus, new universities created ex nihilo will come with less entrenched bureacracy.

      #8, reduce demand. Provide alternatives – with real economic opportunities at the end – for people who aren’t well-matched for university education, stop insisting that university education is the One True Path to the American Dream, stop accepting students who aren’t going to graduate in four years, and stop subsidizing education except in narrowly-targeted cases.

    • James Miller says:

      Make 3-year undergrad degrees standard, like they have in England. Government accreditation bodies would currently stop a college from switching from a 4 to a 3 year BA degree.

  24. Yosarian2 says:

    Some interesting research, relates to some of the topics Scott has discussed in the past. Apparently there is a significant amount of genetic overlap between intelligence and longevity; a lot of the same genes seem to improve both.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171128123356.htm

  25. Lillian says:

    As i have long suspected, there is little evidence that the media has a significant effect on body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.

    http://www.christopherjferguson.com/Who%20Is%20the%20Fairest.pdf

    “From the literature reviewed to this point we conclude several points:
    1. Genetic effects on both eating disorders and body dissatisfaction are clearly the strongest effects, accounting for approximately 40% to 80% of the variance (Bulik, Sullivan, & Kendler, 1998; Keski-Rahkonen et al., 2005; Klump et al., 2001; Spanos, Burt, & Klump, 2010; Wade, Wilkinson, & Ben-Tovim, 2003) in such outcomes.
    2. Among social factors, peer influences, both active and passive, exert the most powerful influence on body dissatisfaction.
    3. Media effects on body dissatisfaction remain generally small and inconsistent, particularly when other factors, such as peer influence, are controlled.”

    People on Twitter were suggesting that the media influences peer opinion, but i contend that it’s peer opinion that influences the media. Think about it, the media operates in a free market, whatever they publish must appeal to their consumers. If publications aimed at women use very thin models, it must be because that’s what sells. Indeed efforts to move towards using more average and plus sized models have largely stalled, because their appeal turned out to be more limited. This shows that it is not the media that dictates public tastes, but rather public tastes that constrain the media.

    • quaelegit says:

      > Indeed efforts to move towards using more average and plus sized models have largely stalled,

      Is this the case? I feel like I’ve started seeing (and continue to see) a lot more plus size models in ads in recent years.

      • Lillian says:

        That’s why i said that they stalled, not that they reversed themselves. The efforts succeeded in the sense of having plus size models at all, but the stated goal was actually to have the entire industry revise its standards to be more realistic. In that sense it failed, as thin models continue to dominate the market and plus size models don’t appear to be making further gains.

        That said, they’re still fighting it out. Last year Fashion Week got thinner, but this year a bunch of big brands announced they would not use unhealthily thin models. This is something of a cop-out, given that heroin-chic was a short-lived fad, and healthy thin is still in, but in in the long term there may yet be more progress. As things stand now though, i expect plus size modelling will continue to be a niche market.

    • jchrieture says:

      TLDR: Bring back the Marlboro Cowboy … the man who taught the world “what sells” (to borrow a phrase from the OP).

      THE POINT: Like tobacco-smoking, starvation-dieting induces compulsive behavioral disorders in susceptible individuals … most prevalently in adolescent females.

      Hmmm … tobacco/cancer denial … pesticide toxicity denial … climate-change denial … vaccine-safety denial … and now anorexia denial (?) … whence this denial-clustering? And how should scientists/rationalists respond?

      At the risk of being excessively confrontational (even by “Open Thread” norms), ideology-driven science-shutdowns are a bad idea … because in the long run, science-shutdowns make rational discussion of tough social issues entirely infeasible.

      • Montfort says:

        I was going to give you the benefit of the doubt for the Quakers comment (even on reflection it’s quite readable, good work!), but you’re still banned, John.

        • Nornagest says:

          Yeah, I wasn’t sure it was Sidles until the last sentence of the Quaker comment (that style of condescending quasi-humor is unmistakable), but this is much more obvious. It even has the topic-comment structure he originally got banned for.

          • Scott has banned him, so he’s persona non grata here. Okay.

            But apart from that, what’s so bad about John Sidles? I don’t remember much of him, and I certainly had no idea that the indicated posts were his.

          • quanta413 says:

            @Larry

            I’m not sure exactly what it is but judging by the few posts he’s made post ban…

            …I think it’s that his writing style is a sort of unique form of incoherent and terrible. Personally, I’m not hugely bothered by it and usually just skip over it. And occasionally he contributes something. But my vague memory is his posts tended to be worse pre-ban (like longer and more obnoxious).

          • Nornagest says:

            But apart from that, what’s so bad about John Sidles?

            His posts really are incoherent and terrible, and condescending, and full of obnoxious stylistic tics, and you’d need a bulldozer to make room for his ego, but that’s not what really pissed me off about him.

            At the end of the day there is only one prerequisite for intelligent discussion, and that is being willing and able to understand and engage with other people’s points. All our other norms — don’t shitpost, don’t insult people, try to use a legible style — are nice to have, but you can have a conversation without them. It probably won’t be a pleasant conversation, but it can be a productive one.

            Sidles doesn’t do that. If you’re dumb enough to substantively respond to one of his posts, he’ll pick apart your response until he finds something that he can use as a prompt to repeat one of his twenty or so talking points, and then he’ll do that. If you’re arguing for something he doesn’t like, he’ll take a few swipes at you in the process; if you’re arguing for something he does, he’ll agree with you in a way that makes you wish he didn’t.

          • jchrieture says:

            His posts really are incoherent and terrible, and condescending, and full of obnoxious stylistic tics, and you’d need a bulldozer to make room for his ego …

            Similar criticisms are commonly extended to the broader (Post)Modern Enlightenment — there being no shortage of commentators who do so.

            It follows that persons who admire the (Post)Modern Enlightenment, have reason to assess such critiques as sincere compliments.

            On behalf of the SSC’s pomo-enlightened readers, thank you for this insight.

          • Nornagest says:

            Once again, please go away.

          • hlynkacg says:

            If you’re dumb enough to substantively respond to one of his posts, he’ll pick apart your response until he finds something that he can use as a prompt to repeat one of his twenty or so talking points, and then he’ll do that.

            Right, if you don’t give him such an opening he’ll just dig through your post history for excuses to dismiss you as too stupid and/or emotionally repressed to comprehend his clearly superior and enlightened prose.

            That sort of thing in conjunction with the issues raised by Nornagest above are what got him banned in the first place.

    • skef says:

      People on Twitter were suggesting that the media influences peer opinion, but i contend that it’s peer opinion that influences the media. Think about it, the media operates in a free market, whatever they publish must appeal to their consumers. If publications aimed at women use very thin models, it must be because that’s what sells.

      Peer opinion about X can influence the media in a way that influences peer opinion about Y.

      The clearest way this has happened in the last 50 years or so has to do with standards of male attractiveness. As women’s discretionary income increased, so did the efforts to find effective ways of marketing to women. Sex sells, so those efforts included better nailing down and following through on what women (intrinsically or contingently) find attractive. A side result is that general portrayals of men in advertising and fiction conform much more to those standards than they did in the 60s and 70s. And a side result of that is that men today have a much more acute sense of where they fall in the attractiveness spectrum than they used to, with the understanding mediated in part by their male peers.

      • I haven’t noticed any of this (last paragraph). Could you explain what you mean that portrayals of men are conform more to what women find sexy? What characteristics are you talking about? I don’t feel I know any better than I did 50 years ago where I so fall.

        I do think that women in general are more likely than previously to be interested in men based more on their general appearance than before. Although women are still much more likely than men to be more attracted based on power instead of appearance. And I don’t think this has anything to do with the media. It is the general culture that has changed.

    • Aapje says:

      @Lillian

      There is also little evidence that sexual preferences of men drive body dissatisfaction, as studies find that men prefer more voluptuous partners than what women see as the ideal.

      • Randy M says:

        I feel like there is a motte and bailey by the activists on this matter based around non-specific words like thin and curvy.

      • Jaskologist says:

        That just means that men sexually prefer women who see the ideal body type as less voluptuous than men see it.

        • Aapje says:

          How does that work??? Do you think that men prefer women with eating disorders and/or body dissatisfaction?

          • Protagoras says:

            I was assuming it was a joke, but you never know around here.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Unfortunately for you, women select for men who make kidding-not-kidding jokes.

            (It’s not their fault, though. They only do that because men sexually prefer women who sexually prefer men who make kidding-not-kidding jokes.)

      • Lillian says:

        Yes the article discusses that. It seems body dissatisfaction is mainly driven by intra-female competition, so the pressure is to conform to female rather than male ideals of feminine beauty. It’s interesting that these ideals don’t quite match up though, sice you’d think it would be advantageous for both men and women to be aware of their opposite’s preferences, that they might better attract them. Likely the difference is that they’re optimizing for different problems. The male ideal female is meant to push men into seeking out healthy fertile mates, but the female ideal female is meant to push women into appearing healthy and fertile. It could be that in the latter case aiming at a point just past the target leads to more hits.

        • Aapje says:

          Or it could be a classic virtue spiral, where direction pushing is seen as virtuous, rather than target hitting, so people don’t stop when the target is hit.

          Competition for the favors of the best specimens in a group also doesn’t necessarily result in optimal outcomes for those whose favor is being fought over.

          Let’s say that having some qualities, like wealth or higher class or higher education, makes it far easier to be thin. Furthermore, let’s assume that it’s far easier to (dress up to) fake being wealthy, higher class or better educated, than it is to fake being thin*. Then wealthy and/or higher class and/or better educated women have a strong incentive to make being thin strongly correlated with these other qualities, so men will use that to decide which women to approach/favor, rather than use more easily fooled indicators.

          This mechanism works especially well because men prefer thinner than average women, although it starts working less well when women get substantially more thin than what men prefer. But you’d still expect women who compete like this to err on the side of wanting to be too thin, which is exactly what we see.

          Of course, you can make a similar argument about male competition. Do men favor showing off wealth more ostentatiously than women prefer? That is what one would expect if the same mechanism happens for male competition over women.

          * Note that this is far easier in online-dating, where old or ‘strategic‘ pictures can obscure body weight.

          • baconbacon says:

            Treating men or women as groups of monolithic traits causes all kinds of problems.

            Say men had a range of preferences, and women somehow were all very similar in appearance and behavior. Each woman would get roughly the same amount of attention, although some would be unlucky and be stuck with a cluster of men who didn’t like the average. The first woman to display a different trait would likely grab more attention than the average woman as she is going to be outnumbered by the number of guys who would prefer her new trait to the average (even if it isn’t their ideal). This extra attention will lead to copying by other previously unsuccessful women.

            This is (to a limited extent) what you see in US schools in general. Up until the early stages of puberty there is relatively little in the way of distinctive physical traits when compared to what is about to come. Then they enter high school, freshman year for a lot of girls means they are now (fairly suddenly) being compared physically to their peers who are developing earlier, and also to the sophomores through seniors at the school who are way more advanced on average. They quickly associate physical appearances, and physical changes, with increased attention. Since they can’t will themselves to larger breasts and shapelier butts particularly well, many are stuck feeling as if their only option is dieting. This change, even if preferred by only a few, is likely to increase the attention they get, or course if multiple girls follow this strategy some will get less attention than others, and might well feel pressured to try even more extreme forms of dieting to out compete.

            These effects can be compounded very easily. Say boys develop sexually a little later than girls, then girls entering high school will often be competing for a smaller effective pool. This basic split can be used to explain a lot of issues that arise. The boys that mature quickly end up with out sized attention from the girls, girls end up in competition with each other, and then the boys that mature later are functionally playing the game with both boys and girls who are more experienced and thus have explored and developed further into the social rules that need to be obeyed. At some point, rather than learning and catching up, they just get shut out of the game entirely for long stretches.*

            I think this also addresses the peer effects for girls that are being found, but would need to read more to be able to be confident in that at all.

            * I like this explanation for why poorly socialized guys often end up with poor hygiene. They end up so far removed that the basic actions of clean(ish, this is high school after all) clothes, showers and teeth brushing do nothing to improve their standing, and gain little or no positive reinforcement for effort they do put in.

          • Lillian says:

            It rather feels like the three of us are poking at the edges of the same truth rather than really disagreeing here. All our statements appear to be compatible as part of a larger thesis about a complex system. This seems like a good sign.

  26. rlms says:

    Very interesting life story I found by browsing Wikipedia’s list of child prodigies. Synopsis:
    “Hildegart Rodríguez Carballeira was an activist for socialism and sexual revolution, born and raised by her mother as a model for the woman of the future. She was conceived in Ferrol by Aurora Rodríguez Carballeira and an undisclosed biological father chosen by her mother with eugenic intentions. She spoke 6 languages when eight years old, finished law school as a teenager, and was a leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and afterward of the Federal Party.

    Hildegart was one of the most active people in the Spanish movement for sex reformation. She was connected to the European vanguard, corresponding with Havelock Ellis, whom she translated, and Margaret Sanger. She had correspondence with many other European personalities, accompanying Herbert George Wells in his visit to Madrid, but rejecting his offer to go to London as his secretary.

    At the age of 17, her mother shot and killed her, giving the explanation “the sculptor, after discovering a minimal imperfection in his work, destroys it.”.”

    • Lillian says:

      Good god, the woman succeeded in making a bona fide child prodigy who studied law, taught philosophy, and became widely known and highly regarded activist, all while still a teenager. Yet that still wasn’t enough. If such a daughter could not satisfy Aurora Rodríguez, then no thing and no one could have any hope of ever doing so. No wonder they locked her up in the loony bin.

      • sandoratthezoo says:

        Apropos of the story about the Hungarian chess prodigy girls from a couple of months back: I feel like people underestimate the population of people in the early 20th Century who were trying educational experiments on their children.

    • At the age of 17, her mother shot and killed her

      This evokes a dark memory from around ten years ago.

      I was invited to speak at an academic honors convocation. Several undergraduate students received awards for doing outstanding work. One of the awardees sat at our table, and I was quite impressed with her.

      The very next night, she was shot and killed by her own mother.

      The mother had lost her job, suffered a mental breakdown, and feared that she and her daughter would soon become homeless. So she killed her daughter to prevent that from happening.

    • Matt M says:

      Geeze man, I was not prepared for that rather abrupt dark ending!

  27. Odovacer says: