Back to previous post: The ongoing campaign to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: The Hutaree Militia bust

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

March 24, 2010

Kristallnacht, Revisited
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:10 PM * 599 comments

Today, at CNN. The story is called “House Democrats report increased threats since health care vote.”

An Alabama-based blog, called “Sipsey Street Irregulars,” says it has launched a so-called “window war” against Democrats and has kept a tally of the recent incidents of damage, including ones in New York and Kansas.

Blogger Michael B. Vanderboegh of Pinson, Alabama, said Monday that in a Friday blog, he called for people to break windows at Democratic headquarters at the city and county level. He said he didn’t call for the damages to congressional offices because, “I didn’t want to be responsible for anybody breaking a federal law.”

However, “I can understand how someone can be frustrated enough to throw a brick through a congresswoman’s window,” Vanderboegh said. He said he feels the health care bill is “unconstitutional and tyrannical.”

“My answer is violence, by getting their attention,” he said, adding, “If we can get across to the other side that they are within inches of provoking a civil war in this country, then that’s a good thing.”

Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom. I do wonder what the Homeland Security folks are doing about these guys. (Probably nothing, since they aren’t named Mohammad, don’t dress funny, and aren’t brown.)

There’s another name for what the Tea Baggers are doing. I’m waiting for a group of them to get together in a beer hall to install the Permanent Republican Majority.

Comments on Kristallnacht, Revisited:
#1 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 07:30 PM:

This is terrifying. And I'm sure the asshats recommending the violence will be Shocked! and Appalled! when their buddies/family/constituents who took their recommendation to heart are arrested.

As they should be.

They're so scared that they are losing that they are willing to shove us into turmoil and fear.

#2 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 07:34 PM:

There's also the tea party organizer who posted what he thought was the address of Rep. Tom Perriello on his blog and invited his readers to "drop by" the poor guy's house. It was in fact the address of Perriello's brother. (Not that posting the right address would have been any more ethical, mind you. Just less moronic.)

Now the FBI is investigating because someone came by the house and cut a propane line.

This was the blogger's reaction when informed of his mistake:

Troxel found the address through a directory website and said he would only replace what he currently has on the blog with an address provided by Perriello’s office.
“If they would like to provide me with the address of Tom, then I’d be more than happy to take it down,” he said. “I have no reason to believe it’s not his house.”

That is some staggering, staggering gall. Also:

Troxel, a 2005 graduate of Liberty University, added “I was a journalism major in college, so I have every reason to believe my research is accurate.”
#3 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 07:42 PM:

I’m waiting for a group of them to get together in a beer hall to install the Permanent Republican Majority.

It'll probably be a Wal*Mart parking lot, but otherwise...

#4 ::: Mikael Vejdemo Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 07:42 PM:

Wait... Does he SERIOUSLY claim that reforming health care in the US is cause enough for civil war!?

#5 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 07:44 PM:

Handy interactive map of vandalism.

One of the identifying tropes of domestic terrorists: They think the public will "rise up" once inspired by their atrocity. This is narcissistic twaddle, and highly insulting to the public.

#6 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 07:52 PM:

Troxel, a 2005 graduate of Liberty University, added “I was a journalism major in college, so I have every reason to believe my research is accurate.”

That would be stupefying even if it were a college with a good reputation.

#7 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 07:56 PM:

It's a good thing those guys are ignorant of history, or they might have thought twice about what kind of parallels might be drawn by broken glass. "Kristalnacht" was the first image that came to my mind. And I ain't talking about an evening of sipping champagne.

#8 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 07:56 PM:

Not at all surprisingly, Vanderboegh lives on Social Security disability.

#9 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 08:08 PM:

Troxel, a 2005 graduate of Liberty University, added “I was a journalism major in college, so I have every reason to believe my research is accurate.”

I suspect Fragano would have some quotes pertinent to this claim.

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 08:12 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) #9: My quotes would come from plagiarism majors.

#11 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 08:17 PM:

Stefan @ 5: I heard an interesting documentary about Brutus (available here), which made the point that that was what the conspirators thought too (about 20 minutes in). Because, you know, if you're going to repeat history, you want the one where a Republic falls, right?

#12 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 08:29 PM:

"... Permanent Republican Majority ..."
- Well they can revive the GOP's old "Committee for the Permanent Majority" PAC to handle their funding

Wesley Osam (# 2)

Libery U, eh?

Why does it not surprise me?

#13 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 08:31 PM:

I DO have a degree in Journalism from U. Kans and find his statement stupefying. He obviously can't do research very well.

Then again, I don't think they teach about questioning "established authorities" like the Bible. Or anything else.

#14 ::: Mattathias ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 08:41 PM:

Much like the South rose up in Reconstruction to keep them uppity Negroes suppressed in the late 1800's, the people are expected to rise up and ... what, exactly? Burn crosses on the lawns of the Democrats?

Can we start calling them the TeaKlan yet?

#15 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 08:45 PM:

It sounds like his "research" consisted, in its entirety, of plugging the representative's name into an online white pages directory. This trick never works.

He may not even have gotten a full name in the results--just a last name and first initial.

#16 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 08:48 PM:

Wesley Osam, #2, Troxel went to Liberty College which is fundamentalist Christian. I doubt they teach anything accurately.

#18 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 08:49 PM:

Wow. The amazing gall/stupidity:

      “I didn’t want to be responsible for anybody breaking a federal law.”

Umm -- Terroristic threats, civil rights violations, ...

Wow.

#19 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 09:06 PM:
He said he didn’t call for the damages to congressional offices because, “I didn’t want to be responsible for anybody breaking a federal law.”

But breaking local and state laws is perfectly fine? *headscratch*

However, “I can understand how someone can be frustrated enough to throw a brick through a congresswoman’s window,” Vanderboegh said.

(Emphasis mine.)

Combined with the rest of what he says, I think this is pretty illustrative of his entire mindset right here. I keep trying to find words and failing.

#20 ::: Total ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 09:06 PM:

I think we can deplore what the GOP and Teabaggers are doing without going for horribly overwrought historical comparisons. Kristallnacht in Germany saw the death of 91 Jews and the deportation of many thousands to concentration camps. That's not what's happening now, not even close.

So, yes, what's happening now is ugly and awful, but it's not comparable to Kristallnacht.

#21 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 09:21 PM:

All it's going to take is one dead body -- particularly one dead body that isn't a Congressperson -- and I think you will see the Tea Party being declared a terrorist organization.

And it couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.

#22 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 09:25 PM:

Wesley Osam @ 2: And when informed that he'd posted the address of Perriello's brother, Danville Tea Party Leader Nigel Coleman replied, "Oh well, collateral damage." Sweet.

So advocating breaking federal laws is a clear no-no, but advocating breaking other laws (for the same actions against different offices!) is okay?

#23 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 09:37 PM:

Related: Sarah Palin posts a map with Democratic representatives represented by crosshairs, along with the words "don't retreat, reload."

#24 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 09:44 PM:

I am startled that health care is what precipitates violence, but I have been a bit nervous since the rhetoric started escalating after Palin joined the presidential campaign. It's hardly new for the extreme right wing to use violence. The last left wing violence that I recall was the student violence during the 1960s. In the past 40 years it's been the right wing: bombing the Federal building in Oklahoma City, bomb at the Olympics in Atlanta, repeated bombs and other attacks at clinics, and murdering doctors and other clinic workers.

#25 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 09:57 PM:

#24: D'oh! I forgot the guy who flew his plane into the IRS building recently.

#26 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 10:10 PM:

"... Permanent Republican Majority ..."
- Well they can revive the GOP's old "Committee for the Permanent Majority" PAC to handle their funding

Wesley Osam (# 2)

Libery U, eh?

Why does it not surprise me?

#27 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 10:23 PM:

Total, you have a point, but then, look at John's point in #7. It takes a certain quality of character to decide on breaking glass as one's action, given the historical symbolism.

It is actual terrorism, but I'm not optimistic it will be labeled as such. If the last decade's anthrax mailings, church shootings, clinic bombings and threats, the murder of Dr. Tiller, and the IRS plane crasher did not get the label, why would this?

#28 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 10:46 PM:

Total @ 20:

One of the things that people like to do is put things like Nazism, McCarthyism, and so on into a little box and say that it could never happen again, or that we wouldn't fall for it. And that's true, to a point. It will never be exactly the same, but there are similar themes that we always need to watch out for. It's not exactly comparable to Kristallnacht, thankfully, but some of the attitudes on display are far more similar than I'm really comfortable with.

A majority of the people involved in this movement seem to be historically clueless, but I very much doubt that is true of many of its ringleaders. Yes, restless rioters break windows, but as a concerted effort it's far more evocative of events that should never be repeated.

Lee @ 21:

I think you're much more of an optimist than I am.

#29 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 10:58 PM:

Joel @22: "So advocating breaking federal laws is a clear no-no, but advocating breaking other laws (for the same actions against different offices!) is okay?"

Actually, this makes perfect sense if you look at it from the militia/Bircher/teabagger/Patriot point of view, where:

1. Feds = illegitimate authority, UN black helicopters, etc. (not to mention civil rights enforcers from the War of Northern Aggression)... who are always just waiting for some excuse to destroy the heroes, because despite being omnipotent and devoid of principles, they are strangely bound by their own evil magic system of "federal laws".

2. State/local authorities may be more likely to sympathize with your insanity. This part is unfortunately true, or at least that's the impression given by jerks like the various Republican state AGs who are suing to block HCR.

#30 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 11:01 PM:

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' office in Tucson was similarly vandalized. Not sure if they've yet determined whether it was a bullet or a rock that shattered the front window.

This is only the beginning. I don't think anyone realizes just how much trouble we're in. Not only are the wingnuts organizing, but they're armed.

#31 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 11:02 PM:

To be honest, individual acts of terrorism by lone nuts isn't a big concern of mine. For example, the IRS plane attack clearly isn't going to lead to a follow ons, because he was a lone nut.

On the other hand, these actions are much more dangerous, and more deserving of the label terrorism, because they need to be identified and eliminated.
As far as the association between these actions and Nazi actions, I think the perpetrators would like that impression of effectiveness, so I don't find it a problem to make the connection.

#32 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 11:15 PM:

meredith, #30: So are a lot of their potential targets. Some people don't think it's wise to advertise (1) that they have something worth stealing or (2) that they're prepared to defend themselves.

Being underestimated by one's opponent is an advantage not to be lightly cast aside.

#33 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2010, 11:57 PM:

janetl @24--The Radical Right wasn't slacking off in the 1950s and 1960s, either--besides various murders by shooting, mob action and other means, there was a bombing--or two--or three. In the long run, it guaranteed the passage of LBJ's civil rights legislation rather than preserving the remnants of the world of Jim Crow.

Television helped with that, and the internet will help now, especially if we remain mindful of Mother Jones's advice. If you're worried about whether Homeland Security and its related departments and agencies will let all this slide--get on top of your your elected officials, and demand that attention be paid to it. Go after the appropriate committee members in the House and Senate as well and your own representatives and congressmen, and do not allow state and local officials to imagine that their constituents approve of these dolts. Don't forget newspaper letter columns, and the businesses who have been providing advertising support to the Shame of Cape Girardeau's radio show, or the Easy Weeper's ranting on Faux News--or anything else on Faux News. Don't forget Old Man Murdoch either--I don't imagine he's really all that eager for bad publicity; he prefers to consider himself a respectable businessman.

It's been even longer that racism and anti-socialism first became such a winning mixture, but I guess we were bound to get back around to it again, even if China is now Communist only in name and the Soviet Union is gone with the dodo and the passenger pigeon. After all, the anarchists can't be relied on to throw bombs and murder presidents and empresses like they used to, and labor activists feel free to give endorsements to political candidates--and candidates try to get them to do so.

At least we don't have J. Edgar Hoover around to make things worse--whatever we can find to say about the FBI as currently operated, they are miles and miles away an improvement on the Bureau in the days of that old reprobate.

This will not be pleasant to endure--but it's more likely to end badly for these yahoos than otherwise. Episodes like Ruby Ridge and Waco gave federal law enforcement agencies some pause in how they dealt with right-wing extremists--but I think they're getting over that now.

This is why "May you live in interesting times" is a curse.*


*Yes, it's only part of the original curse. I imagine Vanderboegh is finding out about the other half right about now, as is Troxel.

#34 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 12:02 AM:

David, #23: she's since added mushroom clouds.

#35 ::: fidelio overlinks ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 12:03 AM:

In a moment of overexcitement, I put more than the legal limit of links into a post. Forgive me, mods, for I have linked...

#36 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 12:05 AM:

Lee, #32: But, you know, that's part of what you hominids ought to be more concerned with. There are so many firearms in the USA that a serious internal conflict would be a bloodbath.

We corvids prefer firearms to nukular arms. Can't eat it if it's radioactive.

#37 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 01:05 AM:

#34: I'm pretty sure that's satire.

#38 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 01:52 AM:

Does overselling and overstating these acts of attempted terrorism help?

By all means, find the perpetrators and throw the (Patriot-Act-enhanced) book at them. By all means, keep calling out the political leaders who aid and abet.

But perspective and cool heads are on our side; not every asshole is a Hitler or even a brownshirt. An important part of Kristallnacht is the use of state power to undertake acts of terror against a group of that state's citizens. Fortunately, our brick throwers are nowhere near state power. Let's not inflate their importance.

(Incidentally, the German Historical Museum says that more than 1300 people died during or immediately after Kristallnacht; more than half of the synagogues and prayer houses in Germany and Austria were destroyed or seriously damaged; and more than 30,000 Jewish men were taken to concentration camps.)

#39 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 02:23 AM:

Doug, they're quoting Churchill on Hitler and saying HCR is the same thing. As Hitler. Then they go around smashing windows. I think the juxtaposition of these two things bears pointing out, at least.

#40 ::: old ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 04:59 AM:

These teabagers seem like a marriage made in hell of the right wing militias of the 90's to the former followers of Lyndon LaRouche with Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, and Taitz as groomsmen and bride's maids. The neo nazis are not invited to the wedding but are welcome to the reception.

#41 ::: Total ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 05:41 AM:

One of the things that people like to do is put things like Nazism, McCarthyism, and so on into a little box and say that it could never happen again, or that we wouldn't fall for it.

One of the things that people also like to do is invoke Nazi historical analogies at the drop of a hat to score rhetorical points. As I was pointing out, breaking windows around the country, repugnant as it is, isn't even remotely comparable to the carnage of the actual Kristallnacht.

#42 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 08:04 AM:

Total, you and I seem to be reading the title in different ways. Your interpretation (and apologies for attempting to put words in your mouth) seems to be that Jim is comparing these actions straight up to those the Nazis took on Kristallnacht. Mine is that Jim believes that the perpetrators of the recent events are very aware of the imagery brought about by breaking windows to intimidate a group (in much the same way that someone who hangs a noose is aware of the imagery associated with that action). I hadn't even considered your interpretation until your comments (which is not to say that it's incorrect or unwarranted; just that I'm not shocked and offended by the comparison because I think it's happening at a different place than where you think it is).

#43 ::: Total ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 08:30 AM:

Mine is that Jim believes that the perpetrators of the recent events are very aware of the imagery brought about by breaking windows to intimidate a group (in much the same way that someone who hangs a noose is aware of the imagery associated with that action).

I don't see any evidence in the post for your interpretation, either in Jim's words, or the quote. Where do you see it (not being snarky)?

#44 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 08:41 AM:

I'm taking the Lipkin interpretation of the post, while conceding that Total is right that a more direct comparison would be wrong. Faxing a picture of a noose is not hanging a person, nor is breaking windows the same as a state- sponsored pogrom. But I think the point is that they are choosing to invoke the memory of these atrocities as a threat. I think we have to mention what they are invoking in order to properly deplore it, and then to discuss it effectively in the public sphere, like when we call/write the media, call law enforcement, or call all of our representatives in governments, should the idiots strike in our areas.

#45 ::: Jon Hendry ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 08:42 AM:

"So, yes, what's happening now is ugly and awful, but it's not comparable to Kristallnacht."

Sure it's comparable, in the sense of "first as tragedy, then as farce."

#46 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 08:49 AM:

The power of the state.

From the same CNN story:

Republican House members encouraged protesters outside and inside the House gallery, some of whom carried messages like "Vote no or else" or "If Brown won't stop it, a Browning will" -- a reference to newly elected Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown accompanied by a silhouette of a pistol.

See also:

Barrett was joined by many of his Republican colleagues who walked out onto the balcony to show their solidarity with conservative activists as the House began its preliminary proceedings on the health care bill. Reps. Tom Latham, Jason Chaffetz, and Chris Lee held up handmade signs on notebook paper that read, "kill…the…bill." House Republican offices also hung up anti-health reform signs on the windows facing the plaza where the protestors were gathered."
#47 ::: John Dallman ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 08:49 AM:

John Robb's Global Guerrillas blog has an interesting theory on all this rage. it looks plausible to this foreigner, but I'm not really qualified to judge.

#48 ::: Jon Hendry ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 08:50 AM:

It's like Kristallnacht crossed with the Beer Hall Putsch (failed revolt by a violent fringe), multiplied by an inflated sense of self-importance, divided by *immense* cowardice.

#49 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 08:53 AM:

So why is the blogger who has been inciting vandalism already arrested? That's what he did, the vandalism has happened and he's taken credit for it.

This morning the local news ran an audio clip of a caller to a Michigan Congressman screaming "I hate you, you son of a bitch, I hope you die!" for him switching to support of the HCB. Has part of our population lost its ability for rational thinking?

Even Boehner is trying to calm them down, telling them to focus their energy on elections and stop with the violence and death threats. Of course he won't admit he was culpable in whipping up this anger, will he?

#50 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 08:55 AM:

Darn it, I meant "isn't" in the first sentence of my earlier post, not "is".

#51 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 09:04 AM:

So why isn't the blogger who has been inciting vandalism already arrested?

1. Isn't named Mohammed.
2. Doesn't wear keffiyeh, ghotra, or pakol.
3. Isn't brown.

#52 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 09:42 AM:

I think the comparison is a little apter than we would like, mostly because of the apathetic response of pretty much everyone. You have GOP leaders saying "Tut tut, we understand that your violence is justified, but you really shouldn't do it" and we have everybody else (other than the DFH) saying pretty much nothing. Which was in large part the way it was (from my relatives' reports) in germany. Sure, the timing and the context are different (Germany had had national health care for 60 years by that point) but the context of corporate-funded domestic terrorism and a bunch of enablers and bystanders is not nearly as different as I would like it to be.

#53 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 10:00 AM:

Wait... Does he SERIOUSLY claim that reforming health care in the US is cause enough for civil war!?

Mikael, since, three or four years ago, the egregious Josh Trevino blogged a list of the ten worst people of the 20th century which included Clement Attlee, I should think it's quite likely.

#54 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 10:06 AM:

Tim #17: that was my thought. And that song is really hard to translate. I tried, and am not happy with the result.

Lee #21: If that would happen, it would have happened by now.

History repeating itself as a farce?

#55 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 10:22 AM:

I’m sure that if any perpetrators of this vandalism are brought up on Federal charges, the Republican leadership will be all over Fox News, shocked, appalled, and dismayed that the FBI is not just wasting its valuable time on such trivial matters, but intimidating a whole swath of the country based on their political views....

#56 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 10:53 AM:

Indeed, if anyone is arrested for these acts, we'll hear all about how Obama is sending in the brownshirts to stomp on our liberties.

#57 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:29 AM:

John@47: I think that's completely wrong. It seems to me the anger far predates the financial crisis. It's been growing and spreading since the 1980s at least. I still don't understand it at all; it seems to be based on a crazy view of reality, and a lot of magical thinking.

#58 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:38 AM:

Total @20:

I think we can deplore what the GOP and Teabaggers are doing without going for horribly overwrought
Going a bit heavy on the adjectives, aren't you? It was a simple and restrained comparison, and there are specific reasons Jim made it.
historical comparisons. Kristallnacht in Germany saw the death of 91 Jews and the deportation of many thousands to concentration camps. That's not what's happening now, not even close.
What, we're not allowed to talk about it until the body count gets high enough? Do you want to unpack the logic of that for us, or is it just your way of expressing your discomfort with the subject?

Ten Democrats in the House are known to have been threatened with violence or death for voting in favor of health care reform. Is that enough to qualify this as a morally serious discussion? How about the guy who ran for VP with Alan Keyes in 2008 calling for the death of all 219 Democrats who voted for the bill?

Besides, the guys we're talking about more than met your required body count in a single incident fifteen years ago: 168 dead (nineteen of them children), 680 injured, 324 buildings damaged or destroyed within a sixteen-block radius, and windows shattered (hey!) in another 258 buildings.

That was just one incident. It's hard to get comprehensive statistics on this subject because right-wingers raise a huge fuss if anyone points out the multiple ongoing non-tenuous connections between militias, teabaggers, birthers, clinic bombers, anti-IRS groups, secessionists, anti-immigrant groups, and the lone wolf crazies who act out their theories. Though that itself is evidence of a sort; as David Neiwert pointed out during the flap over the DHS's 2009 internal-assessment bulletin about domestic terrorism, it was telling -- in a really creepy way -- that the right-wingers kept insisting that the document had to be about them when in fact it was "...concerned almost exclusively with far-right extremists: neo-Nazis, skinheads, anti-abortion bombers, and their assorted fellow travelers."

(By the way, for those of you who remember Pitman from the GEnie SFRT: Michael D. Vanderboegh hates Mark Pitcavage.)

How about some data from the Southern Poverty Law Center? They're respectable. Here's their 2009 Hate Map. Not all of the 932 active hate groups they counted are right-wing. However, the number of right-wing extremist groups they counted rose 244% that year. They recently ran a special issue on the subject. Here's the lead article: Rage on the Right. The whole thing's pertinent, but I especially recommend Rash of Bomb Cases Tied to Radical-Right Views and They Say They Want a Revolution.

Total again, @41:

One of the things that people also like to do is invoke Nazi historical analogies at the drop of a hat
As demonstrated several times over now, we're hardly talking about the drop of a hat. You, on the other hand, have produced nothing to back up your dismissals of the subject as trivial. Also, your dismissals lack civility.
to score rhetorical points.
Like that. Do please knock that off.
As I was pointing out, breaking windows around the country, repugnant as it is, isn't even remotely comparable to the carnage of the actual Kristallnacht.
I'm glad to be able to enlighten you about the extent of the problem.

Doug @38, can you substantiate or at least explain "overselling"?

#59 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 12:16 PM:

It seems to me there is a species of Overton Window phenomenon at work here. It relies on the generally reasonable argument "Can't go comparing everything to the Nazis; this is bad but it's not the Reich," to proscribe any acknowledgment that a lot of the Right's (elected officials', pundits', and laypeople's) actions and rhetoric right here, right now, resemble some of the small steps that Germany's politicians and people took on the way to the Reich. And as the Right's actions and rhetoric become more appalling, more outrageous, more violent, the Window moves too, so the latest horror-show is also off-limits for Nazi comparisons.

How do we stop our country from following in those footsteps if it's taboo to compare our current direction to that well-known map?

#60 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 12:38 PM:

I am a Federal employee (just stopping by during lunch hour). In the 30+ years I have worked for the Federal government, I have been almost choked when I told someone I worked for SSA, came back from lunch one day to find a Federal marshal in the reception area because one of our judges had received a death threat, been evacuated from my office building due to a bomb threat, and spent 48 hours after OKC waiting to find out if the people in our office there made it out (they did, but one of their children died in daycare).

Do I feel terrorized? You bet I do -- because both Senators and Representatives have offices in the Federal building where my credit union is located...and the ghods-blasted Republicans are cheering these cretins on.

Can someone tell me if these oh-so-responsible Republicans can be arrested for inciting these nuts when someone finally does get killed?

#61 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 01:12 PM:

#58 - TNH

Most excellent, most useful, most revealing.

Love, C.

#62 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 01:13 PM:

Lori @60:
From the Patriot Act, Title VIII, definitions (since they refuse to repeal it, might as well get some use out of it):

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that— (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended— (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

From:
Patriot Act, Title VIII definitions

The activities that have been described seem to fit these definitions pretty nicely, so yes, these people could be arrested.

#63 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 01:19 PM:

@59: Yay, Nicole! Very well stated.

#64 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 02:03 PM:

Steve Halter @62, it would be an act of the greatest cosmic justice for the US PATRIOT Act to be used against these people!

#65 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 02:05 PM:

Quoth Vanderboegh: “If we can get across to the other side that they are within inches of provoking a civil war in this country, then that’s a good thing.”

I love how he automatically assumes that his side would WIN any such war. I seem to remember it not going so well this other time when someone tried it here...

#66 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 02:17 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 60--I hear you. In the 26 years I've worked for my agency, we've had evacuations because of bomb threats*, besides evacuations and/or lock-downs because of possible anthrax mailings, and I know I'm not the only one who's received threatening letters and calls at work. In fact, we have a form letter specifically for explaining to people who threaten us "So sorry, we do have to report your threat (even though you may already regret making it) to the appropriate LEOffice. Hope this isn't too inconvenient for you, kthxbye". After the OKC bombing, we found access to all the doors in our old building, as well as all the other government offices (federal, state, and local) blocked from the sreet by Large Concrete Objects so no one can drive an explosives-laden vehicle into the building. We don't have metal-detectors at our place--yet. Those, of course, are now standard at every large courthouse and many smaller ones, and I suspect the new SSA office near my current building has them as well. I do not doubt the security IRS offices have on offer is at least as comprehensive as what you'll go through to get into a federal courthouse--if not more so. Good luck finding these office if you have legitimate business, though. When I went to Atlanta for a training session, I found out there were no signs downtown directing people towards the federal office building there--and those used to be a commonplace. Buildig signage was likewise very subtle. IRS offices tend to be very low-key as well. Nowadays, it's better to be hard to locate. We're safer that way.

Try a google sometime on information about people who have ended up in a shooting spree over child-custody and child-support hearings--these are the one who have shown the way. It's harder to emulate Timothy McVeigh and Joseph Stack, although people will try--but it's not too hard to casuse trouble with a gun, or imitate Eric Rudolph and the Unabomber.

Kristallnacht was not an isolated incident--it was part of the culmination of years of politcally-directed violence in Germany dating back to at least the early 1920s, if not to the end of World War I. Kristallnacht, the establishment of Dachau (originally opened for politcal prisoners, let us not forget), the Nazi laws for racial purity and social control, the Reichstag Fire, and the Night of the Long Knives came after a decade or more of political agitation, much of it violent. It's not violating Godwin's law to say we need to sit up and pay close attention to the behavior of reactionary authoritarians, and consider in what ways our institutions may be aiding them, inadvertently or otherwise. If you're still in doubt, check out Teresa's links, and read everything Dave Neiwert and Sarah Robinson have written about this issue, plus the data provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Nicole is spot on about the Overton window adjustment we have undergone here, and it analogous to the one the Germans experienced.

*One of those was aimed at the child-support collection office, which was located in the same building as our office; another was aimed at either the state or county Human Services office--since the threat was unclear, both were evacuated, and the most recent was directed at the lottery. If the violent and irate had a better idea of where we lurked, I'm sure we'd have more bomb threats of our own.

#67 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 02:18 PM:

Summer @65:

Most of these people, I think, have no idea what real war and destruction look like. Just as their opinions appear to be formed by Fox News, their ideas about organized violence appear to be formed by action movies. (Hence, for example, the cutting of a propane line at Periello's (?) brother's house: an action which will get the perp either way less or way more destruction than they're looking for.) The very fact that they're using public communication lines to coordinate shows that.

#68 ::: D Barr ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 02:29 PM:

Scratching head; for years and years businesses have been forced to give their workers health care. We've burdened our economy with a job the government should be doing, and does in every other country where medicine is understood as something all people must have, not a choice or option. Many businesses got away with making employees accept "benefits" rather than higher salaries, and then when they were laid off or had to retire, the health care companies took off with billions of dollars. What I will be forced to write on any paperwork about paying for health care: "Our money is in the hands of the Sheraton Corporation and its health care insurance companies. You'll have to go get it from them." Note: the baby boomer generation was "supposed to be dead" when the harvest started. Do you recognize "They were supposed to be dead" for at least two other groups in history? One 19th century American, one 20th-century European? Go ahead, I bet you can guess.

#69 ::: Total ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 02:35 PM:

Going a bit heavy on the adjectives, aren't you? It was a simple and restrained comparison, and there are specific reasons Jim made it.

How about "massively overwrought"? "Enormously overwrought"? "Really quite far beyond everything overwrought"?

I don't agree that it was a simple and restrained comparison.

What, we're not allowed to talk about it until the body count gets high enough?

Yes, I think that you should probably wait to invoke the comparison until they're actually *comparable*, just as invoking Waterloo (as Jim DeMint did) was silly. The shouts of "socialism!" from the right are not helped by balancing them with cries of "Kristallnacht" from the left.

Is that enough to qualify this as a morally serious discussion?

It would work better as a morally serious discussion if it used comparable historical events, rather than reflexively invoking the Nazis. It would also be easy to have a morally serious discussion without invoking the Nazis. And, since you were discussing civility in a later part of your post, I would appreciate--in the interests of politeness--that you don't create strawman that have nothing to do with my actual statements.

ou, on the other hand, have produced nothing to back up your dismissals of the subject as trivial. Also, your dismissals lack civility.

I have noted that the actual Kristallnacht involved the death of quite a lot of people and the shipping of thousands more to concentration camps, completely unlike the current situation. That seems to me to be not "nothing." That the current situation is awful in its own way, I have no disagreement. That it is comparable to what happened in Germany in 1938, I disagree strongly.

Also, your dismissals lack civility.

I disagree, but it is, of course, your blog.

#70 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 02:45 PM:

Mattathias @14

Can we start calling them the TeaKlan yet?

How about Teabaggers Turned Terrorists, aka the TTT?
(If somebody has a better idea for the middle T...)

#71 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 02:52 PM:

At the start, the Nazis were street thugs, the hard-core unemployed, the deluded, the opportunists, and the crazies.

Failure to take them seriously allowed them to grow.

We've seen that path, though. We don't have an excuse for letting the same thing happen again.

(Will the current situation be the same? Of course not. But the claim that because the situation isn't the same in every detail that the current crop of street thugs, unemployed, deluded, opportunists, and crazies can be safely ignored is, in my opinion, neither helpful nor safe.)

#72 ::: Total ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 03:01 PM:

Will the current situation be the same? Of course not. But the claim that because the situation isn't the same in every detail that the current crop of street thugs, unemployed, deluded, opportunists, and crazies can be safely ignored is, in my opinion, neither helpful nor safe

I don't believe anyone (I certainly didn't) made that argument. But the things you do in reaction to the situation are different if the year is equivalent to 1938 than if it is to 1923.

#73 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 03:10 PM:

How common are this kind of death threats and such incidents? Does anyone know whether this is more like a 25% increase or a 250% increase (or a 2500% increase) in these threats/attacks? Not knowing that makes it hard to know how big a phenomenon we're talking about here.

I rather suspect the folks doing this stuff are more likely to be thinking back to the (successful for many years) American domestic terrorism used to keep blacks down and fight the civil rights movement, than thinking about Kristalnacht. Among other things, almost nobody really thinks of themselves as nazis, even the guys who really would put ship their enemies off to murder factories if they could.

#74 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 03:32 PM:

albatross@72: Threat levels seem to vary a fair bit over time. Last year, the book "In the President's Secret Service," by Ronald Kessler claimed that the rate of threats against Obama was 400% greater than it was against Bush. But recently Secret Service director Mark Sullivan said that the level of threats against Obama has dropped substantially since inauguration day, and is now about the same as it was for Bush at the same point in his term.

I don't know if anyone has comparison figures for Congress (or if Sullivan's statement also applies to the last few days).

#75 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 04:14 PM:

The trouble is that the patternbs are similar, even if the overall situation is very different. The way the politicians of one party manipulate fears, and encourage, without being explicit, a violent response, resembles the manipulations of the Nazis. But the environment is different. The USA isn't the Weimar Republic. Mexicans, or Muslimsm aren't Jews, and they can't "hide" in plain sight as so many Jews did in Europe.

But there's so much of the rest of the whole mess, and the whole vile process, which can be seen in modern Republican behaviour, and can be seen in the attitudes of other parties in other countries.

Using "otherness" to fuel political scare tactics was out of fashion, but the Nazis, and many of those who fought them, are dead, and the old ways are returning. And those of us who know the history are fended off with cries of "Godwin!"

We're building up to an election in the UK, and, while we do have more than two parties, the way the elections work, there's only a choice of two. And, frankly, there's not much to choose between them. The boys who played the anti-Nazi have become the racist ideologues of euro-hatred.


#76 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 05:11 PM:

Should not the advocates of the attack be persecutable as criminals under by the provisions of the RICO laws? That is, conspiracy to commit in these cases, property crimes and civil rights crimes?

#77 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 05:21 PM:

Jim #71:

I've found it interesting to see foreign news sources commenting on this. There are plenty of things they're likely to get wrong, but they're also not so easily spun by powers within the US, and I find it useful to see the commentary from a different perspective. This El Pais commentary (in Spanish) about the tea parties is interesting--it has a different flavor than what I've seen covered in US media, and is open about the (apparent to the writer) scary tendencies of this movement. By contrast, This year-old BBC piece didn't seem nearly so unnerved. (But it was a year earlier, and right wing rhetoric has gotten harder, ISTM, in the last year.)

I'm curious if any ML regulars have been to any of the tea party events. All my information about the tea partiers is from news reports, and I have no idea how much detail is being missed. They come off as somewhere between disturbing and scary from what I've seen, but who knows how accurate that is?

#78 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 05:47 PM:

The Pee Party Blaggard & Terrorist Society....

#33 fidelio

Gl*n B*ck and the rest of the Fux vitriolics are not Huntley & Brinkley or William Paley, there is no Walter Cronkite on TV today, ABC fired Ted Koppel for failing to asskiss the Schmuck's misadministration and daring to ask unpleasant questions concerning the Schmuck and his misadministration's actions; ABC, NBC, and CBS are all owned by multinational conglomerate empires which regard "news" as "infotainment" and "a profit center" rather than information distribution where the deliverer has a moral internal guideline of reporting from a relatively objective disinterested point of view....

#77 albatross
I went late to the Chelmsford MA Public Library event that Cong. Nikki Tsongas held some weeks back. There was ONE jackass Pee Party loonie with a giant screed ranting sign at the front of the library foaming at the mouth at the existene of Nikki Tsongas and supporting that lying weasel scum Brown.... The Boston Globe made it sound as though there were dozens of Pee Party activist disrupting things.... of course I argued with the person... A lot of the people who were still present and in line when I was in line, were if not supporting Tsongas' views about healthcare, opposed to the Republican revisionist inanities.... and were more I think confused than "opposed" regarding healthcare issues.

#80 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 06:51 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft writes: "Steve Halter @62, it would be an act of the greatest cosmic justice for the US PATRIOT Act to be used against these people!"

Alas, the PATRIOT Act defines domestic terrorism, but only seems to apply its special considerations and additional penalties to foreign terrorists. I'd love for somebody trained in the law to explain to me how the definition that Steve Halter quotes makes a lick of difference to the domestic terrorists, but nobody has volunteered to straighten me out yet. Sigh.

#81 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 07:01 PM:

How about Teabaggers Turned Terrorists, aka the TTT?
(If somebody has a better idea for the middle T...)

How about Terrorists nee Teabaggers? Because then it's TNT, and then it also puts the more important noun first.

#82 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 07:03 PM:

Will, I like TNT, but I think part of the point was to analogize TTT with KKK.

#83 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 07:06 PM:

j h woodyatt @ 80,

For a decent explanation of how the Patriot Act could be applied to domestic terrorists, see:

ACLU -- How the USA PATRIOT Act redefines "Domestic Terrorism"

#84 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 07:57 PM:

James Zogby (via Susie Madrak):

The idea that the minority party represents the "will of the people" (not some of the people, but "the people") is the seedling of a totalitarian mindset. In this mindset -- democracy doesn't matter, ideas are not to be discussed, and opposing views are not to respected. What matters is that they alone have truth, they alone are metaphysically connected to the "mind of the people" can interpret their will, and because they have truth and speak for the people, others represent a threat and must be silenced and stopped.

#85 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 08:01 PM:

#79 Constance
I wonder if he'll wind up pulling a David Brock or Anita Bryant etc.

#86 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 08:29 PM:

Xopher @82
"Tactical" and "Tong" have also come to mind.
Teabagging Tactical Terrorists
Teabaggers' Terror Tong
I favor the latter, but that could change.

You are right about echoing KKK. Like the older organization, they're funny until the violence starts. TNT does them far too much credit.

#87 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 08:34 PM:

Terrorbaggers?

#88 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 09:18 PM:

Jim Macdonald, #71: "At the start, the Nazis were street thugs, the hard-core unemployed, the deluded, the opportunists, and the crazies. [...] Failure to take them seriously allowed them to grow."

I don't think the Teabaggers are going anywhere--they're a marginalized group. I don't see widespread sympathy that would make the them mainstream.

I think the other reason the Teabaggers are going nowhere is that the ruling conservative coalition has rejected them. The US radical right has already been in power; that was the Bush II administration. Both the public and the ruling elite has since rejected them. A moderate conservative coalition now governs, but still maintains many of the authoritarian policies of the radicals. So who in the government now needs the radicals?

My impression is that the radical right has now suffered a crushing defeat in the Congress, and I do not think they will regain power. This is the interregnum: authoritarian but closer, domestically, to Spain in 1955 than Germany in 1938.

#89 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 09:25 PM:

The Tea-liban?

#90 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 09:26 PM:

Eric Cantor, House Minority Whip, Virginia Republican (I didn't vote for him), said that the Democrats were fanning the flames. He also said his office was shot into, but the police have determined that the bullet was shot up and just came back down there.

#91 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 09:29 PM:

Total @69:

Going a bit heavy on the adjectives, aren't you? It was a simple and restrained comparison, and there are specific reasons Jim made it.
How about "massively overwrought"? "Enormously overwrought"? "Really quite far beyond everything overwrought"?
Nope. Not unless you have well-substantiated arguments to back it up, which so far we haven't seen from you.

Notice how, before I wrote my comment, I went and did a status check on this subject, and then when I wrote about it, I discussed what I'd found, and linked to illustrative examples drawn from reliable sources? That's as opposed to merely asserting that "It's this way because I say it is, so nyah," which is all you've managed so far.

What this does is put you on the "non-reality-based" or "losing" side of the argument, until such time as you either come up with a legitimate and fact-based refutation of the opposing arguments, or you concede that your argument doesn't stand, and continue participating in the conversation unburdened by it.

I don't agree that it was a simple and restrained comparison.
Yes, yes, you've already said that. You need to move beyond that initial assertion to the part where you say "Here are the reasons I think that's true, and the facts that back up those reasons."
What, we're not allowed to talk about it until the body count gets high enough?
Yes, I think that you should probably wait to invoke the comparison until they're actually *comparable*,
You've got a tautology there -- "It isn't comparable because it isn't comparable." That's not a valid argument.
just as invoking Waterloo (as Jim DeMint did) was silly.
Senator DeMint is not a participant in this thread, the remark you refer to was made in July of last year, and he made it during a conversation on a different subject. This puts you into the running for Most Irrelevant Response of the Month, but otherwise accomplishes nothing.
The shouts of "socialism!" from the right are not helped by balancing them with cries of "Kristallnacht" from the left.
Which is another variant on "You can't say that because I assert that you can't say that."
Is that enough to qualify this as a morally serious discussion?
It would work better as a morally serious discussion if it used comparable historical events,
Yet another variant on "It's not comparable because it's not comparable." If you succeed in no other way, you may at least succeed in being encylopedic.
rather than reflexively invoking the Nazis.
You know, we've been polite to you. I have, at most, been a bit ironic about your inability to extend an argument beyond your first unsubstantiated assertion. Until now, no one's even invoked the obvious XKCD strip. And yet, here you are dismissing our arguments as "reflexive," as though we, not you, were the ones typing with brain set on "idle."

I'm truly sorry you're having difficulty with the concept that one reply is not all you'll ever have to know. However, that sympathy does not give you a license to be rude. You've been warned before. I'm kindly and tolerantly giving you a second warning. And if you're blood-and-bone stupid, you can feel free to ignore it.

It would also be easy to have a morally serious discussion without invoking the Nazis.
Your task, grasshopper, is not to assert that it would be possible to do so, but rather to demonstrate that it is necessary to do so in this case. So far, you're scoring a big fat zero.
And, since you were discussing civility in a later part of your post,
I do that a lot. There's an informative plaque about it at the point where the road to the castle branches off from the main highway.
I would appreciate--in the interests of politeness--that you don't create strawman that have nothing to do with my actual statements.
And what strawmen would those be?

Have you ever felt like people weren't reading your writing carefully enough? Did you by any chance wish out loud that someone would? I'm just asking.

You, on the other hand, have produced nothing to back up your dismissals of the subject as trivial. Also, your dismissals lack civility.
I have noted that the actual Kristallnacht involved the death of quite a lot of people
And I pointed out that the political tendency we're discussing killed 283.5% that many people in a single incident.

Yes, it's good to know a statistic; but it ceases to be sufficient when the other person has larger and hairier statistics to counter it. I apologize for explaining such basic principles to you, but you appear not to know them.

and the shipping of thousands more to concentration camps, completely unlike the current situation.
There is no other way to say this: Sir, you make yourself ridiculous. The subject cannot be discussed short of the point at which thousands of people are being shipped off to concentration camps? Until we reach it, we can't say there are valid comparisons to be made? What complete and utter twaddle.

There is no earthly reason to set the mark that high. Or rather, there's only one: you learned, years ago, that most online discussions that compare current events to the Nazi regime do so in an ignorant and overblown fashion. Ever since then, you've been scoring cheap points by saying so when it's come up. It's never occurred to you that you might run into a conversation that was making valid use of the comparison, and you don't know what to do about it.

Here's what to do: abandon your original argument. It's broken, and you can't fix it. Say "Sheesh, it really is a valid comparison. That's creepy. I had no idea." Everyone will think you simply hadn't been aware how bad things have gotten. You'll be off the hook, and you'll look reasonably sagacious while you're doing it.

Learning how to jettison a bad argument is like learning how to fold when you're playing poker: not as much fun as some other maneuvers, but essential if you're going to learn to do it well.

That seems to me to be not "nothing." That the current situation is awful in its own way, I have no disagreement. That it is comparable to what happened in Germany in 1938, I disagree strongly.
Yes. We already know you disagree.

There are a lot of comments in this thread you should re-read -- notice how everyone's praising Nicole LeBoeuf-Little? It's justified -- but the two I'd particularly point out to you are Lori Coulson @60 and Fidelio @66. Unlike you or me, they belong to the directly targeted class. They're talking about their personal experiences. Fidelio is also talking about the background of Kristallnacht, and how the situation developed where that could happen. Go and read those comments. There's a good deal you can from them.

Also, your dismissals lack civility.
Oh, look. It's a completely unsubstantiated assertion of parity.
I disagree, but it is, of course, your blog.
Yes, you disagree. Yes, it's my blog. I don't see the point of the observations, but perhaps it makes you feel better to make them; and in any event, they do no harm.

#92 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 09:29 PM:

#86 Kip
I agree with you.

#88 The
The Pee Blaggards though have the broadcast and cablecast media and commercial communications media generally etc. as promotion and advocacy booster infrastructure. Advertising and promotion can MASSIVELY distort things and cause reality changes through the perceptions created.... the more something gets repeated, the more used to it people get and the more they start internalizing it....

#93 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 09:31 PM:

The Raven, #88, Virginia's Attorney General (didn't vote for him, either) is a tea partier.

#94 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 10:06 PM:

Germany in 1938 was a year away from starting WWII. By the time you're deporting thousands to concentration camps, I think the words "Too late" just about cover it.

#95 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 10:32 PM:

Teresa, much as I enjoyed your dissection of Total's last post, your dismissals lack civility was yours, quoted by hir, not an assertion of parity on hir part.

Jim, perhaps Total meant that it's utterly implausible or impossible for things to get to the concentration-camp stage, because That Can't Happen Here? If so, I'd like to see him substantiate that. In a country where Ann Coulter can make a living, it's hard to see anything that would stop such a progression.

#96 ::: Sean McCrohan ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 10:34 PM:

#49 John L: Because the legal test for 'Incitement of Violence' is VERY tight. Though I'm not a lawyer, my layman's reading of the precedents is that simply posting addresses fails to pass the Brandenberg test for incitement, and also doesn't qualify as a 'True Threat' (as there aren't enough specific examples of deadly violence associate with the act to make it inherently terrifying, the way a burning cross in your yard is).

#62 Steve: I believe that the act of cutting the gas pipe might qualify as domestic terrorism under that act. The blog post itself probably still doesn't, as an act already has to be a crime in and of itself in order to fall within that definition. It's a nice idea, but I don't think it would fly.

#97 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 10:45 PM:

Tangentially, Coulter has been on a brief speaking tour in Canada. A scheduled appearance at the University of Ottawa was cancelled due to safety concerns, when crowds showed up to protest. The university provost previously wrote Coulter to recommend that she familiarize herself with Canadian law regarding hate speech; she says that she will be filing a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission alleging that that letter was itself hate speech unless the provost sent similar letters to all other speakers. As one radio commenter today noted, that itself demonstrates that she needs to learn the relevant law.

There's a serious lack of connection with reality going there.

#98 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 10:45 PM:

Unfortunately, under the Bushies, the Patriot Act was used to cover almost anything. In this particular case, the people breaking glass and cutting pipes can be pretty easily applied the label of terrorist. Jim @51 has pointed out the main characteristics that seem to be commonly applied to actually label someone a terrorist vs a criminal.

It would actually be very nice if the right asserted that there were limits to the Patriot Act. It would be really great if they demanded its repeal as it was turned against them.

#99 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 10:46 PM:

Interestingly enough, I got an anti-Obama/anti-Hillary call from the NRA tonight.

Why Hillary? Beats me, except she must still be the Big Bad for some part of the population.

I think that 1933 Germany (Hitler becomes chancellor) would still be too late. The time to nip Nazism is way earlier than that.

#100 ::: Sean McCrohan ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 10:52 PM:

Steve - I'm all about slapping the people who committed the actual violence with the label. At least by what you quoted above, it fits: it's a criminal act, committed to influence a government official through fear or coercion, committed within the territory of the United States. Three for three. As you say, if nothing else it might get the Act re-evaluated.

#101 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 10:56 PM:

Xopher, I stand corrected.

#102 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 10:57 PM:

Since I always believe in applying the principle of charity in communication, I will say I'm getting a valid point from Total's posts, which is: Don't Freak Out.

But not freaking out while closing eyes and plugging ears isn't the way. The trick is to turn and face reality while also not freaking out.

#103 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:01 PM:

To be clear, I'm not attributing any eye-closing to Total, either. Just thinking aloud, there.

#104 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:01 PM:

Jim Macdonald, #99, "I think that 1933 Germany (Hitler becomes chancellor) would still be too late."

I think we're already past that point; the analog was the Bush II presidency. There already has been plenty of violence, but in Iraq.

Paula, #92: "The [expletive deleted] though have the broadcast and cablecast media and commercial communications media [...]" But they've had them for years. I think the public has had it with them--that's why Obama is President, rather than McCain.

Marilee, #93: "Virginia's Attorney General (didn't vote for him, either) is a tea partier." Unh-hunh. A lot of Southern elected officials are crazy. But it's not clear to me how that can become a national movement. There also isn't an obvious target like the Jews in Nazi Germany. I think the approximate analog of the Jews in this case were the Iraqis.

#105 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:05 PM:

Thing is, nobody's freaking out. Don't need Total to tell us not to do it.

#106 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:05 PM:

Sean, 96: (as there aren't enough specific examples of deadly violence associate with the act to make it inherently terrifying, the way a burning cross in your yard is).

I'm sure there are a number of former abortion providers who would be very interested to hear that.

#107 ::: Sean McCrohan ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:11 PM:

TexAnne, #106: Actually, there's a specific case on that one (the name of which I've forgotten since I read it this morning). A group that put up 'wanted posters' of abortion providers, with addresses, WAS found to have made a 'True Threat'...but ONLY because the format of their posters matched that of other posters used by a different group which had led to several murders. From the ruling, it appeared that the court didn't consider the addresses by themselves to be enough to qualify - only the addresses in combination with the particular way they were presented. I don't think that later element is present in these incidents, so I /suspect/ that a court would consider the blog posts to be protected speech. (IANAL, etc etc).

#108 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:12 PM:

103
'Brown people', meaning anyone who isn't obviously of European ancestry: Latinos and Asians both qualify. Wearing a turban puts you on the list, too (because they don't know and aren't interested in the differences between Sikhs and Muslims).

(This is also what makes Malkin so funny: she shouldn't qualify as a Real American, in the views of the groups who are most likely to listen to her.)

#109 ::: Sean McCrohan ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:14 PM:

Found it: http://www.tomwbell.com/NetLaw/Ch04/PPvACLA3.html

#110 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:21 PM:

Steve Halter @ 83, yes, it would appear that I missed the expansion of the civil forfeiture power. Thank you for that.

#111 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:21 PM:

Steve Halter @ 83, yes, it would appear that I missed the expansion of the civil forfeiture power. Thank you for setting me straight.

#112 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:21 PM:

Steve Halter @ 83, yes, it would appear that I missed the expansion of the civil forfeiture power. Thank you for setting me straight.

#113 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:27 PM:

I do not understand why I posted three times when I thought I was previewing. Probably some stupid user error on my part. My apologies.

While I'm posting a fourth time, please let me add that I think the reason the Teabaggers have so far not yet been on the receiving end of these powers much is that there are still too damned many people in positions of authority in higher levels of federal law enforcement who believe that It's Can't Be Terrorism When A White Guy Does It.

Maybe that's not what's really going on, but it sure looks like it to my demoralized eyes.

#114 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2010, 11:51 PM:

Steve Heller @98: It would actually be very nice if the right asserted that there were limits to the Patriot Act. It would be really great if they demanded its repeal as it was turned against them.

Of course the right thinks there are limits to the PATRIOT Act! It's limited to being used against Bad People, not Good Patriotic Americans like them! (cf. terrorists, freedom-fighters)

fidelio @33 is spot-on, and I want to repeat it, because it's all about what we can do to work towards fixing this:

Television helped with that, and the internet will help now, especially if we remain mindful of Mother Jones's advice. If you're worried about whether Homeland Security and its related departments and agencies will let all this slide--get on top of your your elected officials, and demand that attention be paid to it. Go after the appropriate committee members in the House and Senate as well and your own representatives and congressmen, and do not allow state and local officials to imagine that their constituents approve of these dolts. Don't forget newspaper letter columns, and the businesses who have been providing advertising support to the Shame of Cape Girardeau's radio show, or the Easy Weeper's ranting on Faux News--or anything else on Faux News. Don't forget Old Man Murdoch either--I don't imagine he's really all that eager for bad publicity; he prefers to consider himself a respectable businessman.

(Note that these are all ways of "fighting back" against the Republicans that don't involve violence, and shouldn't involve threats of same! That's the difference between us and them. Well, that and a commitment to trying to understand reality as it really is, and not as we wish it to be. How well we succeed at that varies and is hard to judge by oneself, but we're closer to reality than the Tea Party whackos.)

The silver lining to the election of Scott Brown is that I now have a convenient Republican who nominally represents me whose ear I can bend about dragging his party back towards the middle. Whether he'll listen or not, I don't know, but it can hardly hurt.

-> doing that

#115 ::: mea ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 01:20 AM:

I was relieved when I saw the headline at Making Light -- aha, people who get it.

#68 D Barr – When I was in college I wrote an essay processing what it had been like to learn about the Shoah while at the same time learning I was Jewish (Guess what club you belong to – and people want you dead!) and my creative writing teacher quietly pointed out that the Nazis had a lot of examples to consider, including the genocides aimed at Native Americans. The look on my face must have been comical. I had previously made the connection between the Nazis and the lack of world reaction to the Armenian genocide but hadn't made any connections back to my own country’s behavior before. Despite having read about California's history. While taking a creative writing class from Paula Gunn Allan, a fantastic writer who is Native American. Duh.

Yes, the Nazi analogies get pulled out a lot, but partly that is because it is a non-controversial starting place. It is so much easier to say "See, look!" about THAT genocide then to point out all the other examples that could be used instead but which some folks are still trying to minimize.

I want these thugs who cut gas lines and sent threats thrown in jail. They are bullies from the days of Jim Crow who can't stand that a Morman Senator, Jewish woman Speaker of the House and Black President are working together to lead our country in a new direction.

I gotta admit, the fact that we have a trifecta of leaders that drive the fundie bullies crazy does make me smile and almost get warm and fuzzy about Harry Reid.

#116 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 01:33 AM:

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the IRS gets an average of 918 threats a year made against its employees.

I've had enough of being told not to take this stuff seriously.

I'm going to refer everyone to the most prominent writer and researcher on this subject, journalist David Neiwert. Be grateful to the man. He keeps track of stuff you couldn't stand to read.

Here's the core document: the appendix to Neiwert's ten-part series on Eliminationism in America. Read it.

The ten-part series itself.

An article, Eliminationism on parade.

David Neiwert's book, which you can read online: The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right.

An interview with him by Buzzflash at the time of the book's publication.

And here he is just yesterday in Crooks and Liars:

Beck goes nuts over HCR, concludes evil progressives are trying to provoke an armed revolution

(begins with video clip)

Glenn Beck long ago went around the bend and over the cliff rhetorically. Indeed, he has gone around several bends in the past year. So it was no big surprise that his big defeat with the passage of health-care reform sent him at warp speed round yet another.

This time, it seems he went around the penultimate bend: At the end of two days' worth of ranting, he evidently concluded that the Obama administration and the cadre of evil "progressives" in government are intentionally taking up immigration reform in the wake of the health-care vote because they hope to provoke an armed insurrection.

That's not quite justifying armed revolution, but it sure is nuzzling right up next to it by giving it an excuse.

This conclusion was one he built up over two days, beginning Monday with the usual deprecations about the motives of the people who supported health-care reform:

"You always thought the bad guys always lost in the end."

"All of the pressure and the bribes went to the dirty congressmen on the left, on the Democrats."

"They [Democrats] have finally been toppled, forced to submit."

"They sold their souls for this vote."

"Well, what they've become is ruthless, amoral, ends-justify-the-means, Saul Alinskyites who will do anything, including eat their own to get what they want."

Oh, and lest anyone forget: Michael Moore is fat.
"Because the average Democrat is not the California hippie Marxist Socialist Communist Progressive, sticking flowers in the barrel, sitting around smokin' dope all day during college and talkin' about how they can destroy the evil American empire."

"America changed for me this weekend. I don't see it anymore as this television set used to show me. I mean, I never thought I would see the kind of corruption, the backroom deals, the bribes, the out and out ... scumminess ... that got us to this health-care vote."

Beck again compared it to Pearl Harbor -- and then added the St. Valentine's Day Massacre "when the Mob came in and cleaned things up"), Chamberlain meeting with Hitler, and tossed in Jimmy Carter's election (huh?) and the burning of the Hindenburg (which he said is a picture of Medicare and Medicaid). He finished:
It will be remembered as a black spot in our nation's history, it will be. It will be -- ah well, depending on who wins the war. Because those are the people that will write the history books.
What's that? War? What war would that be? We're not sure at first, but he drops a few hints later, after disparaging his opposition as Marxists, professors, dupes, and leeches:
I got news for you, gang: The game is on. We're going to win. They might win a few battles. We'll win the war. Because we'll never give in. Never.
This part you can believe. Because that's been obvious since the day Barack Obama was elected -- Beck and his fellow conservatives would never concede the results of the election, would never respect the outcome politically, and would never stop fighting by whatever means necessary to stop any progressive agenda.
He concludes at the end of the piece:
Beck's clearly implying that the administration is deliberately trying to anger the Tea Partiers so much that they take up arms and start a "revolution."

In other words, if violence breaks out, it'll be because the Obama administration deliberately provoked it.


***
I doubt Total's been keeping track of right-wingers' shifting views of liberals over the past twenty years. I have. After years of tolerating violent, hateful rhetoric, we now have crazed weirdos out there who literally believe that they're going to be forced to take up arms in violent struggle against ... the kind of people who read Making Light, including all our centrists, libertarians, apoliticals, Mercian sympathizers, and Unitarian Universalists. Why? Self-defense!

#117 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 01:36 AM:

Jim Macdonald @ 99--in 1923, Hitler and his party were a bunch of clowns who couldn't even organize and adequate putsch--any by 1933 Hitler was Chancellor, despite the National Socialist party having failed to get an electoral majority. I wonder how many people kept saying it could never happen, a bunch of losers like that get into power, and how many people were prepared to put up with anything if it meant someone strog would be in charge

Of course, if we are offending too many senstive souls like Total by mentioning the Nazis, perhaps we could think about how Pinochet came to power. Of course, he had help from his Big Cool Friends Up North who couldn't stomach the thought of a Marxist winning a legitimate election anywhere in Latin America.

Teresa @91--civil servants (I don't call myself a bureaucrat, because I don't get to make any of the rules--I just carry them out and am expected to be polite while I do it) who control someone's access to money via a benefits program, or who might take it away, via things like collecting child support payments or through taxes, have always been unloved. The guy who wrote me the letter offering to drop by our office with his .32 pistol (it worked to get his dental work taken care of--surely it would end any of the problems he had with us!) dated back to the late 1980s. The OKC bombings were a shock to us all--all those bomb threats over the years, all those evacuations with no bomb ever found--we never thought there would be a real one. I've learned over the years to be very vague about what office and work in and what I do in social encounters, though. Never had anyone try to strangle me, like Lori--and I'd like to keep it that way!

Government offices that make an effort to be open and accessible to the public are vulnerable, and those of us who work in them know it. Some are far more vulnerable than many others, because the Social Security Administration prides itself on accessibility to the public at a local level--whether the public is ready to play nice or not. The local welfare office is the same, as are the folks in the unemployment office and the post office. Courts that handle child custody and child support cases have continually targeted over the past several years--and the metal detectors are of limited use, becuse the angry and unhinged have taken to shooting people in the parking lot. The IRS is aware of its image, and is pretty careful about controlling its access, and who can blame them? When I started in 1983, though, anyone could walk into our office from the street. Then we reached the point where we had badges which we had to show to security guards--or sign in if we didn't have a badge. We upgraded from that when we moved into our new building. Part of that is keeping our records secure, as well as our people--but no one in government work at the time of the OKC bombings will forget the incident.

I hava strong sense that as our general risk from violent crime has declined in the US over the past couple of decades, our risks from extremists have increased. The most recent round (never give in to the urge to think it's all isolated incidents--that the racists and the anti-choicers and the gay bashers and the mysogynists and the Dominionists and the anti-taxers and the rest don't all hook up somewhere) is more obvious--it's as if the people who have skulked around spreading outlandish theories and fetishizing purity of blood, male dominance, and a very peculiar variety of Christianity, or at most committed suicide by cop now have a cheering section with pretenses to respectability--and someone to handle the hard of work of planning for them.

Kevin Riggle @114--I am just repeating what's been said in many places. By the way, remember to point out that Republicans who don't toe the line well enough are being targeted for abuse nowadays as well--Dede Scozzafava's name is a warning to Republicans who get too moderate, and Olympia Snowe was targeted for obnoxious mailings by the folks at Rd Stt. So Brown has a reason to speak out--if they don't go after him now, they surely will later on--and he should be reminded.

#118 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 01:44 AM:

A couple of things:

That CNN article Jim linked to is headlined "House Democrats report increased threats since health care vote". I wonder how many threats Democrats in the House and Senate have been getting over the past decade or so, and how it compares to how many Republicans get.

Also, a friend of mine linked to a Washington Post story that provides a few more details about Mike Vanderboegh, the guy running the blog calling for people to break Democrats' windows. He's been a member of militia groups (both secretly and openly), called for window-breaking in 2006 to protest giving illegal immigrants the same rights as US citizens, considers himself a "Christian libertarian", lives off government disability checks of $1300/month, and has private health insurance through his wife.

#119 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 03:02 AM:

For the middle (or ideally the first) T - Tinpot.

#120 ::: Michael Bloom ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 07:03 AM:

mea @115: ISTM that the most prominent difference between the Holocaust and previous genocides is that the Jews were the first urban professional class to be targeted. But I might be naive about the social stature of the Armenians.

The Pinochet analogy points up a different aspect of the problem. The Allende administration was undermined by a concerted effort on the part of the moneyed elite to tank the economy, effectively by "going Galt." The banking crisis has accomplished some of this, inadvertently or otherwise.

#121 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 07:05 AM:

One of the most fascinating and disturbing things I've read lately is Life and Death in the Third Reich, by Peter Fritzsche. He examines diaries, letters, and other personal documents by people in many different parts (physical and social) of Germany throughout the lifetime of the Reich, looking at how they dealt with the Nazis, Nazi claims, and each others' responses to the same things.

What most fascinated and depressed me was his focus on the battle against empathy, and the ways Germans found to teach themselves not to care about those outside the Nazi bounds of acceptability. It's this that has strongest echoes for me in the present - I couldn't follow the health care reform debate without finding parallels again and again. (And at that, it seems to me that the major reason American conservatism isn't full-bore fascist is that its leaders are less interested in the mass' well-being than Nazi leaders were. If American conservatives could bring themselves to be interested in real community-building and tending the needs of their rank and file at the expense of those marginalized, we'd be there.)

I really can't recommend this book too highly for its study of what it's like to be living in the midst of tyranny, including wishing to make oneself fit in. Fritzsche isn't out to make points about modern America, but the facts do it for him.

#122 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 08:08 AM:

@120. But I might be naive about the social stature of the Armenians.

Well, there was always Calouste Gulbenkian, but I imagine he would be pretty atypical anywhere. I believe the Armenians in the late Ottoman Empire included a substantial merchant class, while the majority were still peasants. Maybe more like the Jews in Russia than in Germany.

#123 ::: Total ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 08:15 AM:

Yes, it's good to know a statistic; but it ceases to be sufficient when the other person has larger and hairier statistics to counter it. I apologize for explaining such basic principles to you, but you appear not to know them.

Ah. I see that in the first part of your large response, I am taken to task for not having a well-substantiated argument, and then in a later part of your large response, the actual substantiation of my argument is hand-waved away with a remark about "larger and hairier" statistics. So, tell me: how many people died in this modern-day equivalent to Kristallnacht in a way that makes it comparable to the 1938 German version (in which at least 91 died). How many Americans were deported to concentration camps in this modern-day equivalent to Kristallna cht that makes it comparable to the 1938 German version (in which at least 30,000 were so sent)? How big was the "atonement fee" imposed on Democrats in this modern-day equivalent to Kristallnacht that makes it comparable to the 1938 version (which was levied at $1 billion Reichsmarks [$400 million])?

And what strawmen would those be?

That I was saying this issue didn't qualify as a morally serious discussion. I never said that; I did say (and would repeat) that one can have a morally serious argument about this (and a better one) without invoking historical events that don't compare.

The subject cannot be discussed short of the point at which thousands of people are being shipped off to concentration camps?

I also didn't say that. You have been responding partly to arguments that I have actually been making and partly to arguments that I haven't been making.

I've had enough of being told not to take this stuff seriously.

Nowhere did I say that this shouldn't be taken seriously; I did say that it's not comparable to Kristallnacht.

Excerpts from the rest of your post
This puts you into the running for Most Irrelevant Response of the Month, but otherwise accomplishes nothing ....grasshopper....
....Have you ever felt like people weren't reading your writing carefully enough? Did you by any chance wish out loud that someone would? I'm just asking...Or rather, there's only one: you learned, years ago, that most online discussions that compare current events to the Nazi regime do so in an ignorant and overblown fashion. Ever since then, you've been scoring cheap points by saying so when it's come up. It's never occurred to you that you might run into a conversation that was making valid use of the comparison, and you don't know what to do about it.

I see that you don't particularly honor your own request for civility.

Xopher said:
perhaps Total meant that it's utterly implausible or impossible for things to get to the concentration-camp stage, because That Can't Happen Here?

I'm making a very simple point: what happened over the last week is awful and worthy of morally serious discussion, but it's not comparable to what happened in Germany in 1938. It was not an governmentally organized pogrom against a specific group that resulted in the death of a great number of people, the deportations of thousands to concentration camps, the infliction of economic damage in the billions on the community, and the imposition of a hefty fine on the victims themselves.

Could something like Kristallnacht happen in the United States? Sure. Has it happened? I don't think so.

#124 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 08:30 AM:

I think 9/11 was the historical analog of the Reichstag fire and the US's Kristallnacht was in Iraq.

P J Evans, #108: "Brown people." Good point. I hadn't thought of the Bush II administration's immigration enforcement atrocities in this connection. Those at least seem to have stopped under Obama. As to Malkin, IIRC, Nazi Germany declared the Japanese honorary Aryans. I suspect the diversity of the USA made it less plausible to create and attack an internal scapegoat. The nearest the Bush II administration could come was undocumented Mexicans, and the presence of large numbers of Mexican-American citizens probably spiked that assault. (I am also, bizarrely, reminded that Aryan and Iranian are the same word in different orthography.)

fidelio, #117: Bush II has already been President. We are still fighting the war he started.

Bruce Baugh, #121: on the Nazi regime, "the battle against empathy." Right. We argue over the legitimacy of torture and the horrors perpetrated against undocumented aliens. The Teabaggers threaten officials. Notice, though, that even some Republicans are publicly repulsed by the Teabaggers.

It still seems to me this is part of an authoritarian interregnum, not the beginning of an authoritarian ascendance, or the authoritarians beginning their atrocities.

#125 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 08:45 AM:

Total,

The problem with your argument is that you seem to be comparing a climax--Kristallnacht itself--with the process which led to it. The campaign against Jews in Germany, with many similar elements of inflammatory rhetoric to those being pointed out as existing in the US politics of today. It started long before Hitler took power in Germany. I think you can criticise some of the responses--the way the message is presented--but you're ignoring the message itself.

It's been said before, and better than I can:

"Here is nothing new nor aught unproven," say the Trumpets
"Many feet have worn it and the road is old indeed,

The Nazis, and WW2, are before my time, but I'm old enough to have met those who were there, and to have heard their stories, and seen the haunted look in their eyes.

Oh, yes, I think I can say that I know the breed.

#126 ::: John Dallman ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 08:51 AM:

DDB@57: As far as I can tell, there's always been a strand of US opinion that didn't really distinguish between the US federal government and the previous colonial government. They were government, so they were ipso facto evil. For most of US history, this has been a very fringe opinion. Now, it has a load more followers and a great deal of publicity. That change is what Robb seems to put down to the financial crisis.

#127 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 08:58 AM:

Dave Bell, #125, "The problem with your argument is that you seem to be comparing a climax--Kristallnacht itself--with the process which led to it."

Dave, isn't that what Jim did, when he titled this post?

#128 ::: Total ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 09:00 AM:

The problem with your argument is that you seem to be comparing a climax--Kristallnacht itself--with the process which led to it. The campaign against Jews in Germany, with many similar elements of inflammatory rhetoric to those being pointed out as existing in the US politics of today. It started long before Hitler took power in Germany. I think you can criticise some of the responses--the way the message is presented--but you're ignoring the message itself.

Jim Macdonald didn't compare the current situation to the start of the campaign in Germany that led to Kristallnacht, he compared it to Kristallnacht itself. If he'd compared it to the beginning (1919-1923) period and invoked the Freikorps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freikorps#Post-World_War_I ), I think the fit would have been much closer.

#129 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 09:27 AM:

Total, #128: you don't see the militia movement of the 1990s as analogous to the Freikorps, then?

Reference: Militia Watchdog archive: http://www.adl.org/mwd/default.asp

#130 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 09:46 AM:

Total, when you asked for evidence of deaths comparable to those of Kristallnacht Teresa's example was the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. She has said so more than once here. I realize that it's not what James Macdonald said, but it's the example Teresa used when you asked for evidence of victims of right-wing violence.

Trust me, more than 91 people died in that incident. Since I don't know how old you are, I can't tell whether I should expect that incident to have stuck in your mind or not--if you're not much more than 30, an event that took place 15 years ago might not have registered all that strongly.

Although McVeigh and Nicholls appear to have acted without much help from others, rather than as part of a large group, and although theirs was a single attack rather than a series of coordinated assaults on targets with common qualities, this was an attack by right-wing extremists who were continually encouraged to take violent action by a lot of propagandists.

You noted
I'm making a very simple point: what happened over the last week is awful and worthy of morally serious discussion, but it's not comparable to what happened in Germany in 1938. It was not an governmentally organized pogrom against a specific group that resulted in the death of a great number of people, the deportations of thousands to concentration camps, the infliction of economic damage in the billions on the community, and the imposition of a hefty fine on the victims themselves.

You want validation? OK, you're right--the threats and attacks (the latter mostly symbolic so far, and isn't that a relief; we have yet to have our Preston Brooks attacks Charles Sumner on the Senate floor moment) against the Democratic members of the US House of Representatives after the Health Care Reform bill vote. So here--have some validation--we have some with nuts, some with candy sprinkles, and some with maple icing. Which would you like? Take a napkin; they're all a little sticky, and it would be a shame to get anything on those pearls you're clutching.

That does not mean that the reactionary right in the US is not capable of acting with extreme violence--they have done so within the last 20 years, on a large scale, in terms of the dead and injured at Oklahoma City. In addition, in all the attacks on abortion providers, they have continually acted so on a smaller scale. Now, there are plenty of people, including people who have posted on this thread right here who have serious, principled objections to abortion. The difference between people who have serious, principled objections to abortion and right-wing thugs is that the former don't feel it's necessary to kill providers, bombs their homes and places of business, and attack the other people working in clinics that provide abortions. (Google Eric Rudolph, for starters, and go from there.)

If you really do mean the issue of right-wing extremist violence is worthy of discussion, please make an effort to do so, instead of bickering about whether Macdonald whould have made this post using the equivalent of compact fluourescents rather than LEDs. If you have not read any of the things by Dave Neiwert Teresa links to in #116, please do so. Also, go back a read what Bruce Baugh said at #121, and think about that very slowly and carefully.

It's true that the US in 2010 isn't Germany in the 1930s, or Italy in the 1920s and 1930s, or Chile under Pinochet, or Argentina in the era of the Dirty War and the desaparecidos. It's not Franco's Spain, or Mississippi and Alabama in the 1960s, or any one of a number of other extreme right-wing states. That's beside the point; no one place or time is identical to another and everyone here knows that. But, as those writings of Dave Neiwert's that Teresa and others have kept bringing up demonstrate, there are too many comparisons to ignore, and if you want to take a useful part in this discussion, rather than fretting over whether Macdonald is writing with too much exaggeration (which can only make us think you're either a concern troll, or have never read anything on a right-wing blog, or even a column by Ann Coulter or Jonah Goldberg) you need to direct your attention to that point. Much more arguing about whether the water in the pot is unpleasantly hot, rather than being actually, you know, scalding, and you are likely to find that people here have confused you with a pinata and are making XKCD jokes--if they haven't already.

#131 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 09:52 AM:

Also, Billmon has a new piece up over at Kos. It talks about the difference between mere lies and disinformation. You should all read this.

#132 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 09:52 AM:

David @119
Using one of the Ts for an adjectival putdown deprives the initialism of the chance for greater accuracy. At the moment, I'm leaning toward Terror Tactic Teabaggers. All three of the words contribute to the description.

Terrified Teabagging Terrorists comes close as well, considering how their chief value seems to be fear, but still doesn't ring the bell for me.

#133 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 10:24 AM:

Why ARE we still debating whether there's a difference in base threat rates between democratic and republican congresscritters? This is a basic obvious question that anybody following the news must have asked; the news media should have answered it long ago.

#134 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 10:26 AM:

I had a teabagger patient of mine tell me the left is afraid of Sarah P*lin because she's so beautiful and so SMART. Nearly swallowed my teeth. I'll give her cute and well preserved (mutton masquerading as lamb), but smart, not so much.

The guy invited me (scary liberal) to a teaparty. No, they have no real grasp on reality.

#135 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 10:31 AM:

On the other hand, a fair number of my Republican patients are calling themselves independents to disassociate themselves from the radical wrong.

#136 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 10:43 AM:

fidelio @117: The choking incident and the death threat to the judge both occurred when I worked for the Social Security Administration's Office of Hearings and Appeals, not long after Reagan turfed a bunch of disabled folk off of SSI.

I was at a party, and when asked what I did for a living, I made the mistake of saying I worked for SSA, and another party-goer grabbed my throat with both hands, saying "You're the reason I'm not getting benefits..." Several of the other fen pulled him off and he kept saying, "I was just joking!" Trust me, it didn't feel like a joke, and scared the hell out of me.

The death threat on the judge happened a few weeks later, and that's when I went looking for a position with a section of the Department that has a much lower profile. I was not, and am not willing to die for my job.

The agents in our investigative arm were deputized by the county sheriff after OKC so they are legally able to bear arms in the execution of their duties. Just as well, since some of the people they've been investigating are packing, too.

#137 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 10:47 AM:

Raven@124: It still seems to me this is part of an authoritarian interregnum, not the beginning of an authoritarian ascendance, or the authoritarians beginning their atrocities. I'll believe we've seen the end of the beginning when any high-ranking official is tried and convicted for torture, or any other war crime. It's not just the absolutely insane devotion to empire building or the zealous support of the wreckers and looters at home, it's the way the governing establishment has enshrined lawless brutality as a norm that really gets to me.

I fear I agree with John Emerson when he says that no social justice gain can be counted on too heavily against a background of perpetual war, explicit hostility to fundamental human rights, and perpetual subservience to plutocrats. Everything can be taken away whenever the warmakers and looters deem it desirable.

Nor do I see much hope of undoing it anytime soon. The Republicans have some strategists who've really, really grasped Gramsci's point about hegemony, that when you've got the right grasp on key points of power, the masses genuinely don't matter. They and their Democratic buddies have a compliant court (and a Justice Department riddled with their lackeys, which isn't getting purged at all), and a completely subservient media establishment, and some other support that makes it really easy to disregard huge opposing majorities. This can be undone, but it's long and hard, and they're good at adapting to sabotage stuff they recognize as threats, and given something like a quarter of the country glad to be their useful monsters...I'm not feeling very cheery about it these days.

(The insistence that we must just patiently understand the monsters' fears and not insist that they stop being monstrous also annoys and discourages me. Understanding is important. Not letting evil flourish is, too.)

#138 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 10:50 AM:

TNH @116 --

Of course they're not going to give up; giving up means admitted that their world view is wrong.

The whole "forced to revolt" thing makes sense given their axioms. (One of which is that their culture represents the good guys.)

Either they are going to win or they are going to be suppressed by force, because defeat happens in the mind and they're the end product of a hundred and fifty years of memetic evolution to go from "we lost" through "we didn't lose" to "we can't lose", a change perhaps not consciously intended to produce but certainly able to produce the present circumstances where defeat, that thing that happens in the mind, becomes conceptually impossible.

Disdainful of facts? Oh, certainly; facts are independent of any one person's head, after all, and this particular outlook ... isn't.

Disdainful of the law? Of course; the law is only legitimate when it agrees with them.

But don't go all rationalist and conclude that this is purely cynical rhetoric for purposes of fleecing the rubes; while that element (Limbaugh, say) is certainly present, it's far from the only thing present and most of the people involved sincerely believe.

#139 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 11:19 AM:

Teresa, #116: Once again, I want to point out (not to you, because I know you're aware of it, but to Total, who clearly isn't) the abusive-relationship trope of "I'm only hitting you because you MADE me do it" that runs thru the arguments of Beck & Co. The idea that there might be a choice that doesn't involve violence... well, I won't say it doesn't occur to them, but I don't think it's sexy enough.

Total, #123: You don't seem to be getting Teresa's point -- because if you did, you wouldn't just keep offering the same response in different words, as though that might somehow make it more valid. The sum total of your argument appears to be, "It isn't comparable because I say it isn't," and the rest is all handwaving.

Okay, I'll ask you directly: how many deaths will it take before you will admit that American politics are closely mirroring the path of 1930s Germany? And why do you think that pointing out the parallels before we hit that magic tip-over point is such a terrible thing to do? Isn't it better to say, "Hey, that piece of ground you're heading for looks an awful lot like the swamp where you got stuck last month; maybe you should Not Go There this time" than to point out all the ways that this swamp is completely different from that one, so sure, go right ahead?

#140 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 11:36 AM:

I think Total is right about one thing: the level of violence we've seen in America since the passage of HCR is not on a par with the level of violence in Germany on and following Kristallnacht.

That's not the point of the post, of course, but I think that's the legitimate core of Total's argument.

One point that's been raised, but that I want to emphasize, is that the leaders of the Tea Party movement were consciously and deliberately invoking Kristallnacht by calling for "liberal" Congresspeople's windows to be broken. Even that is not 100% certain (because we can't read their minds), but it easily passes the duck test.

#141 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 11:46 AM:

#134 Throw

My reactions to S*r*h P*l*n are there she is physically and emotionally repellant, repulsive, and ugly. I consider her looks highly unattractive, her hairstyle revolting, the looks on her face repulsive, her fashion sense revolting... for me she is a throughly repellant package on axis after axis after axis--and her attitudes also elicit revulsion.

#142 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 11:49 AM:

They are bullies from the days of Jim Crow who can't stand that a Morman Senator, Jewish woman Speaker of the House and Black President are working together to lead our country in a new direction.

mea@115: Nancy Pelosi is Roman Catholic; otherwise, agreed.

#143 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 11:54 AM:

Lori @136--that does not surprise me; the institution of large-scale reviews in the 1980s upset a lot of people. I had friends who worked in local SSA offices back then who caught a lot of anger as a result. I can completely understand why you decided a quieter spot was in order.

I rarely give people many details about what I do when asked in social situations. Everyone has an opinion, and you never know whether they'll be able to express it politely until it's too late.

#144 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 11:55 AM:

#131 fidelio

Except, Clinton did not lie, he did not have penis-in-vagina sex with Monica Lewinsky. When that is the definition of sex, a blowjob is a blowjob, no sex.... what the supermarkets called "Chilean sea bass" is not sea bass, it's Patagonian toothfish (and it's overfished...). Billmon should have used something that was incontrovertible a lie from a Republican, such as Nixon saying there were no US troops in Cambodia.... The troops who were in Cambodia who heard that were flabbergasted.

#145 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 12:17 PM:

And, not satisfied with going after elected officials or civil servants, they've started in on the general public:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/3/26/851090/-TN-Man-Rams-Car-Carrying-Child-Due-to-Obama-Bumpersticker

Terrific...

#146 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 12:18 PM:

Paula, it was argued by more than one person, and I think fairly, that Clinton was splitting hairs at that point. However, if that choice of examples bothers you so much, please feel free to comment to that effect on Billmon's post, as it's his example.

#147 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 12:30 PM:

#124 The

The Ideologikal Purity Corps is in the process of excommunicating David Frum... what happens now, does the -not- even as progressive as Richard M. Nixon NPR now pick him up? ....

#123 Total

Sophistry, sophistry argue away
Make bogus statements spread out on a tray
Disinformation and sidelining too
All of those tactics I see here from you!
Sophistry, sophistry let's lit'ral be
But what you're writing fails to impress me

#117 fidelio

LOTS of people regarded Mr Shicklegruber and his associates as dismissable whackoes out in the margin as unworthy of attention and unmeriting of debunking....

As for Br*wn -- my hide is not available for use to protect that lying hypocrite job-offshoring weasel smarmy bimbo (nude male Cosmo boys don't represent -me-. I did not and will not vote for or support that oath-breaking lying scum torture-advocating weasel. He want's "enhanced interrogation? Apply it to HIM! Get a dominatrix with a Cosmo subcription to whip him a waterboard him and make Mr McCain watch the video and don't stop until he and McCain both promise with the penalty for breaking the promise of retiring from politics and forfeiting all federal pension and benefits, to spearhead legislation no only reinforcing no torture, but prosecuting those responsible for the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere at the top--as opposed to the scapegoating of badly trained and misled enlisted troops who got the blame for the POLICIES and generals and their civilian masters directing the application of abusive treatment to prisoners and detainees.... )

#148 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 12:46 PM:

Paula@147: "Legislation...prosecuting those responsible" I think comes under the heading of "bills of attainder", and would probably be a bad thing to bring back.

Fideleo@146: Yes, certainly he was splitting hairs. He was, after all, under oath and being cross-examined in court. And he's a lawyer himself. If he managed to out-maneuver the opposing lawyer, more power to him! (If I felt he had forced himself on Monica, that'd be a serious moral failing and a crime, but from everything I've read, it seems pretty clear that the aggression was the other way around. If that's true, then there isn't an "abuse of power" aspect to the situation, which takes it down to a personal peccadillo by my standards, a matter between him and his wife. In any case, in a court room, one is entitled to play by court room rules, and he did, and he won that round.)

#149 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 12:51 PM:

Could something like Kristallnacht happen in the United States? Sure. Has it happened? I don't think so.

It has happened here, and often. For example:

The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, aka the Burning of Little Africa, aka Greenwood.

The Rosewood Massacre in Flordia, 1923.

The New York City Race Riot of 1863.

The number of lynchings throughout the later 19th and 20th century, which did not stop post WWII either, though they decreased.

The bombings and burnings of black churches and schools throughout the south, which still take place, btw.

Wiki has a entire site devoted to "Mssacres in the U.S." -- massacres not limited to Indian populations.

Violence and Murder That Has Historical Significance -- It's not limited to the personal and to white people.

Love, C.

#150 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 12:56 PM:

Also, the INS ICE houses disappear people, including U.S. citizens all the time. They also threaten to do so if you get on their wrong side.

I have personal witness to this from people I know. But no, I'm not going to itemize their experiences here. Or give out their names.

Love, C.

#151 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 12:56 PM:

Bruce Baugh, #137: "I'll believe we've seen the end of the beginning when any high-ranking official is tried and convicted for torture, or any other war crime."

Not for another 10 years at least, if things go on as they have been. Although...the Obama administration might surprise us. They did stop the immigration raids. They are not in love with violence like the Bush II administration.

Also remember, please, the violence is being perpetrated by a faction of the party out of power and that party has just suffered an enormous defeat--that's what has triggered this outburst. There is some hope in that.

It is still "the economy, stupid," though. The government cannot talk the unemployment and poverty away. It is also "the environment, stupid," though that is much less predictable.

#152 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 01:12 PM:

David #133:

That's my question, too. The MSM has little interest (and not much apparent ability) to even put this stuff in any kind of meaningful context, as with telling us how much of a change this is over the normal threat environment for congressmen, whether this sort of thing happens often for big historic bills, etc.

It's possible that this is a very big deal, a further development of the tea partiers along rather scary lines, potentially on the road to becoming the thuggish shock-troops of some future power-grabbing Republican president. It's also possible that this is a tiny blip, barely noticeable statistically, which is being played up by the Democrats for political advantage. To know which is a better description of reality, we need to know something about how big a change this is, what the background is like.

Paula's anecdote about the tea party protesters she saw at a speech, compared to the media portrayal of same, is part of why this is an important question to ask. I don't feel like I have a good handle on even what the median tea partier believes. The presence of a half a dozen a--holes screaming racial slurs in a crowd of several thousand is not all that informative, and yet, that's what MSM coverage can be relied upon to report, time and again.

The last decade, we've been remarkably poorly served by our news sources. They weren't doing all that great a job before then, but it seems to me that they've become ever more susceptible to spin and ass-kissing of the powerful, ever more ideologically captured by well-funded interests and their think-tanks, and at the same time more susceptible to various kinds of pressure. And this is biting us on the ass in this story, IMO.

#153 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 01:19 PM:

Albatross, #133: these people aren't shock troops--there aren't enough of them and they are not well organized. However, mercenaries who have fought in Bush II's wars could well become those shock troops. The Freikorps is relevant here.

#154 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 01:40 PM:

fidelio #131:

That was a really nice piece you linked to. The whole competing body of (incorrect or distorted) facts is visible in a lot of other areas, like the whole weird parallel world of creationists or us-vs-the-jihadis/clash-of-cultures types.

#155 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 01:57 PM:

On comparability -- any two things can be compared. Sometimes, the comparison is that there is no (relevant) similarity.

On usefulness of a comparison -- that, of course, is up to the individual doing the comparing and the use to which s/he wishes to put it.

The usefulness of Jim's metaphor of Kristallnacht can be debated (and seems to be what Total is attempting to debate without ever getting around to saying so). But how close a metaphor runs to the reality it's attempting to reflect is not the point of the metaphor, nor its primary use. IMO, the primary use intended for this metaphor (recognized as metaphor by its author, a professional writer of no small stature) is to encourage people to look at what's happening from the right as domestic terrorism which has a serious chance of hurting many people, including many of my friends. And encouraging people not to let it stand unchallenged.

So, Total -- you think the metaphor's overblown. Perhaps it is. Look at all the discussion it's generating here, though. It's certainly being effective as a starter of conversation. And it's getting (some) people to think in ways they hadn't. I'd say that makes it a useful metaphor. In a situation that's already polarized, sometimes pointing to the polarization inflames it. Sometimes it allows the extent of the polarization to become more visible. And I think the extent of the polarization is still very muddy in a great many minds.

#156 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 02:23 PM:

I think that when the Baggers called for people to break congressmen's windows, that they expected hundreds of broken windows all across the country. After all, they're the majority, and they're the courageous ones. When the number of broken windows turned out to be under a dozen, no one was more surprised than they were.

The people were supposed to rise up, right?

#157 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 02:28 PM:

Tom, a matter of terminology. I don't think Jim intended a metaphor; I don't think most of us saying "the Tea Bag Party is thoroughly Nazi in its aims and motives" are being metaphorical. This is a comparison and identification: this is the same set of evils, in the garb suitable for America in the early 21st century, but not anything new, not anything similar, not anything analogous, but the same thing. This is fascist behavior in the service of a fascist ideology - not yet fully developed into exactly the sort of tyranny that ruled Germany, or Italy, or Spain, or wherever, but closely related and expanding as it goes.

#158 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 02:31 PM:

Since Jim is here, he can say what he meant, Bruce. I'll ask -- metaphor, or not? Personally, I can't see that it's not, on some level, a metaphor rather than an assertion of identity.

#159 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 02:37 PM:

The core intellectual argument Total is making: "...but it's not comparable to what happened in Germany..."

I disagree. It is comparable, and the comparison is important to consider and discuss in these times.

I don't know if Total recognizes that nobody here is asserting that the comparison reduces to equivalence, but he/she writes as if the distinction is unimportant.

That's setting off my bullshit alarms.

What do you say to that, Total? Are you trying to bullshit us? Or is it just a reflex?

#160 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 02:38 PM:

Jim Macdonald, #153: "I think that when the Baggers called for people to break congressmen's windows, that they expected hundreds of broken windows all across the country. After all, they're the majority, and they're the courageous ones. When the number of broken windows turned out to be under a dozen, no one was more surprised than they were."

I think so, too. They're a rump faction of a rump party. But the people who are continuing the Bush II admin. torture agenda, who resist bringing the perpetrators of war crimes to justice, who have dealt women's rights the biggest blow in decades, who have failed to restrain the abuses of the banking system: they are the ruling party, and they have no effective opposition.

Let us fight the current war rather than the last.

#161 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 02:43 PM:

Well, it's certainly blatantly, obviously true that America is not currently beset by the National Socialist Workers Party. But that's an extremely narrow and useless way to read any of these kinds of questions. The issue is: Given a national movement dedicated to national purity conceived in terms of race and culture, hostility to pluralism, interested in stripping its enemies of representation, public life, and basic safety, given to a vision of national greatness defined in terms of force abroad and corporate power at home, with some factions that have a long history of violence, using both official channels of power and private "entrepreneurial" acts of terror to suppress their enemies and reward their own, relying on a myth of a pure pre-contamination national past and broadly hostile to inclusive change, is it stretching anything to call it fascist even though it lacks anything like (for instance) the Kraft durch Freude and Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro initiatives?

Obviously I think not. But I think this is about whether "this is part of that immediate family", not "is this is any interesting sense reminiscent or evocative of that, while being basically something else".

#162 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 02:52 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @148:

What makes you think that prosecuting the higher-ups responsible for Abu Ghraib would involve bills of attainder? At the very least the prosecutors who went after Milošević and Pinochet would disagree with you. There are defenses to the various obvious charges, but the crimes -- in particular knowing presentation of false information to congress and capital conspiracy to commit torture -- are prima facie quite clear. Or, on the internation level, initiation of an aggressive war, wilfull failure to protect the occupied population, unlawful treatment of prisoners...

#163 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 02:56 PM:

paul@162: You have misread my comment. I did not say that it would require a bill of attainder to prosecute them; I said that Paula's "legislation to prosecute them" would constitute a bill of attainder. See the difference? I'm objecting specifically to her call for "legislation to prosecute them".

#164 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 02:58 PM:

Bruce@161: That's a very clear, concise, summary of the reasons one should be worrying right now. Thank you!

#165 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 02:59 PM:

Could I just point out that until you have a military establishment that views its relationship with the constitutional regime as one of mere convenience, and a civil service, judiciary and upper social echelons that feel much the same, you don't have the situation of Weimar Germany, let alone Germany after 5 years of Nazi rule. Some people need to remember that there is more to history than 'Now' and 'Hitler'.

I'm quite happy to agree that there are many people in the USA who would qualify as 'fascists' by a series of definitions. But, really, so what? Watch, warn, condemn; if criminal acts occur, demand prosecution; require the constitutional authorities to defend the constitution, as they have all sworn to do. Any further than that, and either you're scaremongering about a structurally implausible concept of wingnut coup d'etat, or you're talking about violating the First Amendment yourself, and where's the good in that?

#166 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 03:16 PM:

Alex, are you aware of the ongoing study of dominionist influence, gang recruitment, and other problems in the American military? And the scope of mercenary use, and the worldviews of the people running organizations like Blackwater/Xe? The average officer or soldier is, I'd guess, as basically decent and sane as, say, Jim or Terry here. But we have far too many leaders who are loyal to their vision of a nation defined in terms of faith and blood, too many followers who agree, and more who don't but who are being systematically lied to about who's responsible for persistent problems in supply, treatment of injuries, and the like.

We aren't, I think, ever going to have quite the kind of military culture that Germany had after World War I. But then we haven't lost a world war like they did. We do have too many features in common, I think.

#167 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 03:22 PM:

This is an honest question, one to which I have no real answer, I realize:

Does fascism require a primary role for the military in establishing power?

My gut impulse is to say no, but it's true that the military has been important in each fascist accession so far, and maybe I'm missing something. I'm open to insights.

#168 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 03:43 PM:

Sorry for the string of posts that could have been combined but I've been thinking slowly (and taking City of Heroes breaks for the sake of my well-being)...

One of the genuine differences between 20th century fascist movements and this one is organizational intensity, and there's room for debate about how much this matters.

My feeling is that fascists tend to be good at the technological cutting edge - as were the early Soviets, and there was something of a cultural arms race there for a while. So when new tools let a structure be more distributed without losing its ideological underpinnings or utility, sure, they'll go for it.

The other thing is that I think it's sensible not to underestimate how much behind-the-scenes organization there may be. Here I'd point at Our Hostess' work on astroturfing as a starting point. Lots of stuff can be handled behind the scenes, and a lot is.

So I don't think that the modern flavor actually is as different as it looks, and I don't think the actual differences matter all that much to the taxonomy. But I don't feel super-secure in these assessments and am willing to revise, given a good reason.

#169 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 03:49 PM:

Constance @149, very good point. I wish I could remember where I recently read a piece about the increasingly bizarre rhetoric of the right and episodes of actual violence, which almost offhandedly said "White people keep talking about these as though they're all unrelated incidents, but we know better."

Moving on, David Neiwert's blog is called Orcinus, an unnecessary fact I mention only to baffle a certain style of reading. I think that's sufficient. Anyway, yon identifiable participant is manifesting as a fairly canonical concern troll. A digression on the tribe in general: a characteristic oddity not universal among them, but far commoner than it is in the overall population, is the ability to make an argument, but not develop, modify, or extend it. I've come to suspect that it's a genuine blind spot. David Bilek would be a recent example. They don't understand what you're getting at when you try to coax them into developing rather than restating their initial position. It may be a failure of empathy on my part to find this the most interesting thing about them.

#170 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 04:05 PM:

Fascists came to power in Europe, almost without exception, because tired, weak, traditional ruling elites gave them power - literally handed over the reins of state, uncoerced - out of fear of a Communist alternative. Today, that Communist alternative only exists inside the heads of the fascists themselves. There's less likelihood of these dimwits actually taking over the political system than there was of Southern segregationists, for example, successfully defying federal Civil Rights legislation.

The careers of Hitler and Mussolini prove that a bozo can rise to power, but only inside a fundamentally broken system. Thousands, yea even unto tens of thousands of sad, delusional, hypocritical borderline psychotics do not add up to a broken system - at least, not one any more broken than it's been for as long as anyone can remember.

The political culture of the USA has always been an ugly mess; no age has lacked either institutions or movements that displayed the worst of racial prejudice, many ages have treated much of the population even worse [hard though it is to believe] than they are now treated. Paranoia about 'gummint' goes back to Patrick Henry. People stuck it out, and still stick it out, but let's face it, you're never going to be Sweden, are you?

#171 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 04:20 PM:

Interesting questions, Bruce. They make me wish Mark Pitcavage were part of this conversation. They also make me grateful that we have a racially diverse military.

All I can offer you are questions in return:

Was Stalinism a variety of fascism?

Is it possible to go over to fascism without the tacit consent of the military?

#172 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 04:24 PM:

Teresa: I'm genuinely not sure what to think of Stalinism. I have a feeling that there's room for a political philosophy map in which it and fascism are considered two faces of the same basic structure. Then again, I know for sure I don't know enough about the status of Marxism-Leninism internal debates to figure out where ideology drove things and happened to end up with parallel results. If someone here has actual clues about that, I hope they'll speak up.

My feeling - and this really is just a feeling - is that fascism can't happen without military acquiescence, but that this doesn't require active collaboration on the part of more than a small fraction of officers and soldiers. But here again, I dunno - among other things I don't really know any military culture up close, so others will have more useful insights.

#173 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 04:27 PM:

Teresa: I'm genuinely not sure what to think of Stalinism. I have a feeling that there's room for a political philosophy map in which it and fascism are considered two faces of the same basic structure. Then again, I know for sure I don't know enough about the status of Marxism-Leninism internal debates to figure out where ideology drove things and happened to end up with parallel results. If someone here has actual clues about that, I hope they'll speak up.

My feeling - and this really is just a feeling - is that fascism can't happen without military acquiescence, but that this doesn't require active collaboration on the part of more than a small fraction of officers and soldiers. But here again, I dunno - among other things I don't really know any military culture up close, so others will have more useful insights.

#174 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 04:31 PM:

alex, #170: "Fascists came to power in Europe, almost without exception, because tired, weak, traditional ruling elites gave them power - literally handed over the reins of state, uncoerced - out of fear of a Communist alternative."

As David Frum said, "We thought Fox News was working for us, but we turn out to be working for Fox news."

"There's less likelihood of these dimwits actually taking over the political system than there was of Southern segregationists, for example, successfully defying federal Civil Rights legislation."

What else was the Southern Strategy? And it worked. It helped bring us Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II. The teabaggers are the crazy extremists of their rump faction.

My objection, here, is in some ways the opposite of yours. I say they did take over. I say that, while the current administration is not the radicals, they are continuing many of the radicals policies, and these that merit attention now.

#175 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 04:32 PM:

I'm probably very late to the party here, but I just encountered for the first time a neologism that I found fascinating: "hatriots". It's a lovely portmanteau word, packing a world of nuances into 3 syllables.

#176 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 04:35 PM:

In regards to Bruce's question in re the military either being compliant, or complicit, in a rise to fascism in the US, I think is important here to note that the "All-volunteer" aspect of our current armed forces (bypassing, for the moment the actual "back door draft" that "Stop-Loss" engenders) makes for a self-selected would-be elite attitude.

By the fact of their enlistments, I would not be surprised that a certain proportion are already perceiving themselves as "better" or "more patriotic" than their civilian breathren.

Couple this with the enlistment waivers that have been issued to allow enlistment of the skinheads, gangbangers, religiously intolerant and outright dominionists and you have a mixture that would not find it at all onerous to view their oath of service to uphold and defend the Constitution as an actual aoth to uphold and defend the rule of those who would run the country "for its own good." (remember G.W.'s comment about how a dictatortship wouldn't be all that bad if *he* were the dictator?)


As for anger against federal employees, I worry about at least one relative who is a member of I.C.E. (He used to be in the INS before that got merged in the Great Alphabet Melting Put).

I have another relative who is a Congresscritter, and I wonder if he (and his family) are as well protected as they could be, or as cautious as they should be.

So, yeah, I've certainly got a dog in this fight.

#177 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 04:38 PM:

Bruce Baugh, passim:

"Does fascism require a primary role for the military in establishing power?"

Historically, I think that paramilitaries are more important that the military, though the military must eventually be coopted.

"I have a feeling that there's room for a political philosophy map in which it and fascism are considered two faces of the same basic structure."

Maybe a radial map, in which the center is moderate governance, and the edge is violent authoritarianism?

#178 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 04:42 PM:

And Alex, with the current makeup of the SCOTUS, and the factor of elected judges in many local and mid-level-heirarchy state courts, and a upper social/economic strata that has the laws written to their benefit, that these bodies *do* feel that their relationship to the Constitutional structure of the country is one of convenience, that is, it is "convenient" for them.

ANd yes, Bob, I *am* feeling cynical today. How did you ever know?

#179 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 04:46 PM:

Raven: Sounds very Buckminster Fuller, in a good way. Someone reading this get to work on that, please. :)

#180 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 05:13 PM:

Lee @ 175: "hatriots" is indeed a lovely portmanteau, though my initial reaction was that it evokes Bartholomew Cubbins and/or Jägerkin bad plans.

#181 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 05:31 PM:

Bruce Baugh #167: Fascism is a mobilizing ideology. It mobilizes a section of the lower middle class as its leadership, with an ideology of classless national identity and destiny, and a section of the down-and-out-of-sight permanently unemployed urban underclass as its shock troops, promising them the reward of permanent status within the state once it comes to power. The corporate state of Alfredo Rocco that was the ideological centre of Italian fascism came along later, and was a means of wedding the petty bourgeois nationalism of Mussolini, which was mostly a lot of mystical nonsense deriving the nation from the state (of all things), with some right-wing Catholic social thought.

#182 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 05:37 PM:

The Raven #177: In the classic study of political parties by Maurice Duverger, originally published back in 1951, the fascist party is distinguished by being based on a "miltia". He notes that Communist parties tried to respond by creating militias of their own, but theirs were not as elaborate nor are successful.

#183 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 05:46 PM:

#97 ::: Joel Polowin
Tangentially, Coulter has been on a brief speaking tour in Canada. A scheduled appearance at the University of Ottawa was cancelled due to safety concerns, when crowds showed up to protest. The university provost previously wrote Coulter to recommend that she familiarize herself with Canadian law regarding hate speech; she says that she will be filing a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission alleging that that letter was itself hate speech unless the provost sent similar letters to all other speakers.

Meh. Canada has laws about hate speech, he wrote her a polite letter reminding her that it's not the same as the US, and she says that the letter itself is hate speech? This chick's just a nutbar.

Oh, and the University didn't cancel the event. Her own team cancelled it due to security concerns. The police did say that there should be a venue change, since the booked venue had 400 seats, and about 1500 people showed up. She likes to put about that it's the University who 'stifled' her, though.

Oh, and my favourite? From CBC News:
"Coulter has said all terrorists are Muslims and has suggested all Muslims be barred from airlines and use flying carpets.

When the student said she didn't have a flying carpet, Coulter told her to "take a camel.""

And she's wondering why people think it's prudent to warn her about Canada's hate-speech laws. Twat.

#184 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 05:47 PM:

Fragano Ledgister: Fascinating. Thank you for clues rendered. Makes sense (and immediately suggests ways Stalinism isn't a fascism but something that overlaps in other areas).

#185 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 07:16 PM:

Teabagger apologizes for throwing money at man with Parkinson's.

Of particular note, I think, is the following:
The video of the confrontation went viral on the Internet, with many who watched it harshly condemning Reichert and the other protesters who mocked Letcher. The Dispatch reported that Reichert has become fearful for his family after threatening comments surfaced online. "I've been looking at the web sites," he said. "People are hunting for me."

So he found out how it feels to be on the receiving end of what his compatriots have been dishing out, and he didn't like it. Fair enough, and his repentance does sound genuine. But do we have to become them in order to stop them? That bothers me.

#186 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 07:20 PM:

Lee @139: Okay, I'll ask you directly: how many deaths will it take before you will admit that American politics are closely mirroring the path of 1930s Germany?

How certain are you that we're mirroring 1930s Germany? Might we not be mirroring Spain or Romania in the 1930s instead? Or Italy in the 1920s? Perhaps Chile in the 1970s, or the USSR in the 1980s? The US in the 1850s? England in the 1630s? Greece in the -430s?

Maybe we're our own thing. Maybe a hundred years from now, bloggers will be having arguments over whether disturbing political developments in their own times are just like America in the early 2000s.

I actually think we don't know what's really going on. But I am in favor of history being more than just the study of Nazi Germany.

#187 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 07:37 PM:

I find myself in fairly substantial disagreement with at least one, and possibly more of our hosts. Since they are our hosts, they're entitled to ask me to take my disagreement elsewhere, and if they do, I will. I hope they won't.

I'm bothered by the way Total is being treated. He's said things like this: 'What's going on now is more like Germany in 1923 than Germany in 1938'. That doesn't sound to me like someone saying 'All comparisons between contemporary politics and the Nazis are overblown.' It sounds like someone suggesting that one comparison involving the Nazis is better than another comparison with the Nazis. And saying 'It's like Gernmany in 1923' doesn't seem like someone saying 'Relax, we shouldn't be worried.' After all, lots of people think that 1923 led to 1938.Someone who makes a comparison to 1923 might well think that 1923 was an important step on the way to 1923.

So why is 1923 a better comparison than 1938? Because in 1923 the violence wasn't done with state sanction in the way it was in 1938, it was done by the marginal and excluded.

Why does this distinction matter? Because the right response to 1938 might not be the right response to 1923. The right response to 1938 might be flight or armed retaliation; with 1923 other otpions - for example ridicule; trying to make it hard for politicians in the mainstream to collaborate on with those doing the domestic terrorism an d so on. One thing we know about 1923 is that complacency wasn't a good response. Why think someone who draws a comparison to 1923 thinks that it is.

#188 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 07:40 PM:

Shorter praisegod barebones: as an ex-lurker of more-or-less recent vintage, I feel a strong inclination to support Total in email...

#189 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 07:50 PM:

I also find Avram's views intriguing, and am very glad I subscribe to his newsletter.

(and please don't take the typos in 187 as signs of a post that hasn't been thought through. It's almost 2 am here, and my keyboard isn't great)

#190 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 07:58 PM:

Albatross @ #152, a Quinnipiac poll of TeaPartiers tried to identify characteristics of the "typical" member of the crowd.

#191 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 08:51 PM:

I agree with praisegod barebones, #187--if I thought Jim was saying what Total thinks he's saying, I'd be arguing, too.

I assumed Jim was making a comparison to that right-wing blogger's fantasies rather than to anything that has actually happened over the course of the health care freakout. Not "this is what's happening," but "think, for a moment, about what kind of historical references this guy's imagery unwittingly calls up."

(Unlike Xopher, I don't think this guy was "consciously and deliberately" invoking the parallel. I doubt he's aware enough to make the connection. Remember, this is a man who sees absolutely no contradiction at all between an anti-government stance and acceptance of a monthly disability check.)

#192 ::: Mattathias ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 09:10 PM:

Thank you pb @187 for putting succinctly what I was tempted to put verbosely. You've saved me a great many footnotes.

#193 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 09:18 PM:

@Lee #185

"So he found out how it feels to be on the receiving end of what his compatriots have been dishing out, and he didn't like it. Fair enough, and his repentance does sound genuine. But do we have to become them in order to stop them?"

You know, distasteful as it sounds, we might.

A fair number of peeps I know who embrace the right, don't empathize with others. It has to affect them directly for them to comprehend the impact of events.

I remember when Kennedy was fighting to get COBRA legislation passed. One Republican was fighting him tooth and nail. The Republican's son had leukemia, I believe. Kennedy pointed out that if the Republican Senator didn't get re-elected, he would be unable to insure his son and continue chemo. He would need COBRA. The Republican finally switched gears and actively supported COBRA, but only because he might have needed it for his family.

A lot of my patients didn't get what I was saying about HCR, for instance, until it might have impacted them. One lady works for an insurance giant. She has a transplant. I told her she was one layoff away from losing her transplant. If she gets laid off and can't find another giant company to work for, she would be un-insurable under the current system.

Her company is planning a layoff (to outsource provider relations to the Philippines*) and she can't find a job in the company yet. She used to scream and yell a la Glenn Beck (she is, course, a mega fan of his) about hating HCR. Ten days ago, she asked if I thought HCR would pass. I told I didn't think so.* She finally realized that without HCR, she would lose her transplant in 18 months when her COBRA runs out. The rejection meds are prohibitively expensive without insurance. She finally understood what I have been saying to her all along.

I think some folks on the right have to feel their own pain to appreciate the pain of others.

However, I would never stoop to their level, I trust.


*Be still my heart. I can't wait to try to get an odd procedure or test approved with the new offshore team. I could have been a librarian.

**This POTUS is not someone to underestimate. He is amazing.


#194 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 09:50 PM:

As far as Nazi parallels with the current teabaggers, my (Nazi-born) father commented the other day that he found the teabaggers worse than Nazis, because at least Nazis wanted to take care of their own, while the teabaggers are purely destructive. The comparison not being about the scale of the wrong they do, but of the kind of organization they are, of course.

His comment reminded me of something that is often overlooked when I see Americans discussing fascism. In focusing on the eliminationism of fascism, there is a tendency to overlook the aggressive inclusionism towards members of the favored groups. There were clubs and children's camps and rallies and all sorts of fun and exciting things. The experience of Nazism, for a German who was not very politically/socially minded, would be to see the fun activities, but not notice the toxic political aspects.

The teabaggers really don't offer much of that sort of attractive activity. Which may be a saving grace, that keeps them marginalized. They can attract political radicals, but not nonpolitical people looking for something amusing to do.

#195 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 09:54 PM:

There's one big difference between the Kristallnacht and what's going on... Today's events will never inspire a musical number - nothing like "Springtime for Hitler and Germany" anyway.

#196 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 09:56 PM:

193
They're short on empathy, and they can't easily learn it.

#197 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 10:12 PM:

"Today's events will never inspire a musical number - nothing like "Springtime for Hitler and Germany" anyway."

In this group, that almost sounds like a challenge...

#198 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 10:19 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @ 197... No way. Once was enough for this year.

#199 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 10:31 PM:

Throwmearope, #193: The other thing I'm wondering is whether, now that he's made that apology (which I believe was a real one -- he acknowledged fault and mentioned atonement), are the teabaggers going to turn on him? Will he and his family still be receiving death threats, only now they'll include language like "coward" and "traitor" and "caving to the liberals"? It would certainly be in character with the way they've gone after moderate Republican candidates and office-holders.

#200 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 10:36 PM:

Ursula L @194, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it's an ethos.

#201 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 11:17 PM:

Kip W @ 132: 'Tin Teapot Terrorists' suggests itself to me, although it's root may be too antiquated for the current debate.

#202 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2010, 11:55 PM:

#196 P J

Some years ago the lecture circuit had a twosome doing lectures--one of them a Shoah survivor the other someone who'd been a Nazi maybe a Hitler Youth. The latter said that all the empathy had been stripped from him with the conditioning he received.... Apparently he got by with an artificial conscience rather than an internal one that rules made by other people who did have empathy, were what he used as moral guide and compass--because the internal governor and intrinsic values of people who have a conscience had been essentially cut out of him.

#194 Ursula
The Pee Braggarts do have socially attractive activities though. Their public media circus lures are merely the extreme media attention getters.... their group-building activities include strategizing, making their signs, planning their activities, dinners, going to church, reinforcing one another's group membership and being mutually supportive....

# 187
Many of the non-Democrat major party members of Congress were egging on the Pee Party exremists/terrorists to act up and act out socially impolite and disrespection activities. They might not have directly urged and advocated physical attacks on offices and homes but they weren't saying the equivalent of "Clean for Gene" and/or "protest -peacefully- and respectfully and politely." The asshole Congresscreep who yelled "Babykiller!" at Rep. Stupak is a particuarly cogent example of verbal assault and disrespect in action in Congress...

#173 Bruce
A common thread between Stalinism and fascism is totalitarianism--both involve totalitarian takeover intent. For that matter, most theocraticism is also totalitarian....

#203 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 12:36 AM:

#168 Bruce
I agree with you. Stalin, Lenin, and Trotsky devote themselves to their cause. The Pee Braggarts have co-opted a lot of people who are unhappy with the status quo and and very proud of being -engaged- and feeling their are -contributing- and Making a Difference. The fact that they don't necessarily comprehend the underlying conspiracy values is a different issue entirely....

E.g.

Someone on a mailing list I'm on who reported having worked at Tea Party Booth at a craft fair, soliciting signature for a ballot petition to requirer voter ID labeling the state being in the "Dark Ages" for lacking it and complaining that dead people and their dogs vote in elections there.

I responded with,

Photo IDs can be not all that hard to fake, just ask bar owners in college localities....
There's been a lot worse problem with people being denied voting due to reasons that include but are not limited to having the same name as a felon
and the records being mixed up, than there has been with fraudulent voters by deceased, noncitizens, or non-humans.... there were the incidents years ago in some foo-fra at the World Science Fiction Convention regarding teddy
bears with memberships and issues about whether a teddy bear, or an SF club, or other non-human-person should have or be able to have a) a membership in the convention, and b) voting privileges for the Hugo Awards and for the
Site Selection for the next Worldcon site to be selected. I think there is still language in the World Science Fiction Society convention settign
definition regarding personhood for memberships with voting privileges....

(I supposed I could go look it up, but I don't want to a the moment....

Where I vote I've never been asked for ID, only for my address and name, and the little old ladies with the sets of books listing people in town by address, go to the street address and put a line through my name when I pick up the ballot they give me going into where the voting booths are , and the little old ladies at a table exiting the booth area and for address and name
from a second set of books, and line that name out when going towards the box to deposit the ballot in.

[adding for Making Light -- and some some of my friends are joing the ranks of the getting older women who are election volunteers....]

Hmm, that's something that most SF doesn't go into, the mechanics of voting. I remember e.g. that in Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold, Cordelia was thinking that she had never voted for "Steady Freddy" who was the elected head of Beta--but there are no details about the voting process.

(I'm one of those people who mislays things -- my driver's license, my car keys--there are reason I sometimes carry three sets of keys, so that if I mislay TWO of them...., passport, car registration, and as for passwords.... it might be, thinking about it, the thing I hate most about "modern" user interface, how much extraneous crap must/should an "end user" be demanded to remember.... password after password after password, so people write them down or come up with ones that are little problem to guesss--and that defeats the entire idea of "security by password." ... the passwords in Seeker's Mask at Restormir, where all the servants were suffering the effects of Lord Caineron's overindulgences, including "I don't care" (I
think that was one of them). A voter registration ID card would be one more rarely used and forgotten about thing that I'd had to deal with and get annoyed at.... I'm trying to remember which book(s) one or more character
has something they wake up and clobber, such as alarm clocks being destroyed.. or maybe that's conflating the Beepo alarm clock a friend has,
where one reaches out and bashes the Beepo on the head to shut off its loud, obnoxious alarm call of "Beep-O! Beep-O! Beep-O!...." )

....
(Massachusetts has a sneaky maneuver it's using on registered voters these days--register and every three or four years or so it's your turn in the jury duty pool barrel. Don't show up at the courthouse in the notification to show up at, and according to state law and articles about the situation, you will eventually get a summons demanding to know why, don't respond to that, and law enforcement will start getting nasty and put in a criminal complaint... I don't think that too many dogs or dead people show up to explain why they've been failing to show up in person with ID proof, for jury duty!)

#165 alex

Consider that Maj Gen Boykin who was an intolerant proselytizing religious bigot, got promoted to Lt General instead of being cashiered, under the misadministration of 2001-2008. Generals who raised any question about misadministration endeavors (including trying to inform the misadministration that the resources the misadministration were planning to use in Afghanistan and Iraq were insufficient to properly invade and administer for rebuilding those countries into regions of stability rather than "failed nations" full of murderous warlord and terrorist attacks and scared beleagured civilians--particularly brutalized and sequestered and blocked from education and public participation women) got cashiered. The people promoted general officer and to additional stars were vetted by the Republican political officers for compliance with the rightwing bigotry agenda I VERY strongly suspect....

#204 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 03:26 AM:

Albatross: re tea-party types. I've not been to any events, but I am pretty sure I had one offer me the secret handshake


#205 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 04:10 AM:

fidelio: He may have been splitting hairs; in a social context, but (and it's important to the subsequent flap), his answer was legally correct. Since the point of the question was (if we assume good faith on the part of the deposer) to substantiate a pattern of specific behavior, and the legalistic terms in play (jointly agreed to) were the functional definitions, and those definitions were both all he had to worry about and critically important to the outcome, I don't think it can be called lying.

DDB: He wasn't in court, he was being deposed. In fact the question was out of bounds (as the judge later decided). He didn't "out-maneuver" the opposing lawyer. He merely worked inside the bounds jointly agreed to. If he'd really wanted to out maneuver them (since I don't believe the suit was really an attempt to gain redress, but rather an attempt to distract and sabotage his administration. Perhaps not by her, but certainly by the lawyers who took it on), he would have allowed it to default.

#206 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 08:53 AM:

Lee @185:
So he found out how it feels to be on the receiving end of what his compatriots have been dishing out, and he didn't like it. Fair enough, and his repentance does sound genuine. But do we have to become them in order to stop them? That bothers me.

This is assuming, arguendo, that the threatening comments he's found are the equivalent of what's been being dished out by his compatriots.

The Republican leadership has certainly been playing the Clinton did it too we're being threatened too card to play down criticism of their supporters' behavior.

#207 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 10:49 AM:

In the same-consonant-labeling game (KKK etc.), years ago Spiro Agnew's speechwriter William Safire came up with one originally aimed at the Democrats but which now seems to epitomize Republican behavior, espec. in Congress: "Nattering nabobs of negativity."

As for the element of fear, it exists on both sides in one way or another. One of my husband's friends (perfectly civil in most respects) believes all the nonsense about Obama being an enemy alien, and occasionally sends anti-Obama jokes to our family email address. One day, when the latest jokes made me grouchy, I sent him an appropriate Mark Morford column: "Black Commie Nazi...". The guy wrote back later, saying "That proves my point." (!!) So I told him I was just as paranoid about his lot taking us back to the Stone Age, and then we agreed to disagree and leave politics out of it. Since he was around in the Sixties, I still privately wonder if "it was the drugs."

#208 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 11:38 AM:

I'd say fascism is the wrong parallel for the US today. Classical fascism was probably strongly connected to the specific stage of the industrial age at which it happened. (I once read a comment by someone who claimed that he wouldn't expect modern governments to recreate 1920s-1940s style fascism anymore than he'd expect them to make a big deal out of building really a lot of giant steel mills, and that sounded convincing to me.)

Additionally, the United States don't really have as much of a tradition of a centralised authoritarian state as the countries in which fascism took over power without foreign conquest. Yes, in many ways the US federal government was and is fairly authoritarian; but the main political tradition of the USA is apparently that of a federation of local tyrannies. (At least that would explain why both very authoritarian attitudes about the relations between cops and the public, and hostile attitudes towards the federal government, are so common in the USA.) For most of the American extreme right, their ideal world would be one where every white man who is like them would be his own dictator on his own property; most of the European extreme right would prefer one dictator to rule them all.

Aside from that, these days, even in many fairly authoritarian systems, the main trend is apparently more like what some have called "managed democracy"- systems that allow a fair amount of dissent and opposition, but crack down on them from time to time and make sure that they don't get anywhere near taking power.

But my own worst-case scenario for the USA in the near future is very scary, too: I'm thinking of something like The Troubles, in a place with a 300-times bigger population. Sure, it's not a direct parallel, but imagine that, say, the teabaggers start to actually kill or assault more and more people, and eventually, other people start to retaliate against them, until things like that happen all the time and most people know someone who has either been attacked or taken part in attacks or both.

Then you'd have kind of low-level civil war with two groups hostile to each other, with many members of each group organising among each other to attack leaders or ordinary members of the other group, with splits within each group that might occasionally get violent themselves, and perhaps some occasional uneasy alliances across the main divide between individual splinter groups.

Of course it's not guaranteed that non-teabaggers would retaliate, but a one-side low-level civil war would be horrible, too.

(Very big qualifier: I've been to the USA once, when I was six years old, and even I didn't pay much attention to politics back then. And I've never been to that place where they can't agree on how to call everything. What I've just written is based on books, movies, TV and the internet. Mostly the internet.)

#209 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 12:45 PM:

Praisegod Barebones, those are good points. So are Avram's. So are Jim's.

We have a soft spot for additional historical comparisons.

#210 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 12:46 PM:

Raphael @208, it's not as if the US doesn't have ugly history of its own along those lines. People upthread brought up the KKK, for instance, and Constance @149 listed a bunch of race riots. And there's Bleeding Kansas, and the Ludlow Massacre, and all sorts of ugliness.

Which gets back to the problem with the Nazi analogies. They seem to be making a case for American exceptionalism -- as if surrendering to our baser natures makes us like those foreign guys over there, when actually we're perfectly capable of being evil sonsabitches all on our own. The KKK predates Hitler by decades, and for all I know, liberal Germans in the 1920s looked at the Beer Hall Putsch and muttered about how much Germany was coming to look like the American South.

We don't look like Adolph Hitler; that hurensohn looks like us.

#211 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 01:19 PM:

Paula Lieberman #203: Even Bruce Schneier has declared that passwords are pretty much dead as a serious (standalone) security measure.

#212 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 01:26 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 202: #194 Ursula
The Pee Braggarts do have socially attractive activities though. Their public media circus lures are merely the extreme media attention getters.... their group-building activities include strategizing, making their signs, planning their activities, dinners, going to church, reinforcing one another's group membership and being mutually supportive....

Those are socially attractive activities for people already interested in the movement, and people who are interested in politics and political activities.

My point is about organizations and activities for people who don't care much about politics, where the superficial and primary purpose is nonpolitical, but which encourage complacency and cooperation. Things like how girls in the BDM were able to go on camping vacations, or ordinary housewives could find support in the Frauenschaft, and feel that they were appreciated for their housewifely status. Also various sports organizations, etc.

Things that nonpolitically minded people could join, and not feel that they were being political, but which drew them into the movement in a way that made Nazism seem like mostly a good idea, with perhaps a few excesses that could be lived with.

My thought is to watch for teabagger/neocon takeover or alternatives for the scouts, little league, vintage car clubs, the Rotary, the Lions etc.

#213 ::: Anticorium ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 01:35 PM:

Cheryl @183:

"Coulter has said all terrorists are Muslims"

She said that and still thought to come to Canada?

Pierre Laporte is turning in his grave. For some people, so is Marcel Lemay.

#214 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 02:01 PM:

Back in 2008, via the Kennedy Assassination thread, I was watching the Cronkite news coverage of that day.

Cronkite referenced the "National Indignation Party" as being one ultra-rightwing group that the Dallas police had been worried about. I looked them up and found a short 1961 article in Time Magazine about the U.S. ultra-right. I recommend reading it.

The Democratic candidates are treasonous, Buckley at the National Review is condemned for being too restrained (in attacking the enemy), there are statements of 'You're either for us or against us,' people not agreeing with them are accused of "being uninformed about [the enemy]."

'With a keen eye peeled for "modern traitors" in government, the movement holds evangelistic-like meetings at which members have heard the [recent] Administrations condemned as "treasonous."'

'Simply denouncing the policies of the far right is not likely to temper its fanaticism, for it thrives on martyrdom—and is only too happy to add its critics to its list of subversives.'

'The wrath of the rightists is sometimes turned toward their idols at the first hint of clay feet. '

'known liberals in Phoenix are harassed by anonymous telephone calls.'

'Appealing to the American penchant for action, they urge citizens to fight this subversion by keeping a close eye on their fellow citizens, scrutinizing voting records, writing letters and generally raising a hue and cry across the land.'

#215 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 02:13 PM:

Avram @210 People upthread brought up the KKK, for instance, and Constance @149 listed a bunch of race riots. And there's Bleeding Kansas, and the Ludlow Massacre, and all sorts of ugliness.

Yes, that's what I meant by "federation of local tyrannies".

#216 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 02:17 PM:

Ursula L - your post made me think of a certain style of Christian church, and the attendant youth organizations. They look like political organizations to those of us outside of them, given those churches' stance on gay rights and women's roles and Obama as the prophecied Antichrist (I'm only partly hyperbolizing; read Slacktivist for more about these churches), but to their members they are a *refuge* from the political world...

I'm not putting this very well, because I have to pack up my computer and move. But does this sound like what you're thinking of?

#217 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 02:26 PM:

That Quinnipiac University Poll that attempted to identify the characteristics of the 'typical' t-baggger put almost at the top that there were more women than men, which kinda contradicts the 'angry white men' descriptor, at least to a degree. Most of the voices I hear on the radio representing t-party positions, issueing threats etc. are white men's voices, and they are the ones in the videos and in the newspaper stories.

Anyway that puts paid to the idea that women are generally more rational and filled with common sense, I am sorry to say.

BTW -- the fellow who apologized for his vile treatment of the Parkinson's victim -- the people that guy is afraid of are the t-baggers. They're the ones sending him death threats because he felt remorse and apologized pubicly. First his community and members of his family told him what an awful thing he'd done, and he figured out he was being shunned by everyone, so it kind of got to him. Then he apologized and the t-baggers went batshyte.

At least that's what I've read. Is it true? Because the sources weren't all that reliable in general terms.

Love, C.

#218 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 02:29 PM:

Speaking of domestic terrorism, however, here we have a most contemporary case, right out of Louisiana.

Did a White Sheriff and District Attorney Orchestrate a Race-Based Coup in a Northern Louisiana Town By Jordan Flaherty

Love, C.

#219 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 03:22 PM:

212
I think they have part of the Boy Scout organization going that way, thanks to the Boy Scouts' emphasis on religious belief being necessary to join, and a lot of troops being sponsored by churches. Also watch out for the groups that do sales parties or sell-from-home marketing (Amway is one of the more conspicuous).

There are people who are keeping an eye on this: check http://www.talk2action.org/
Several of them also post at Daily Kos.

#220 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 03:36 PM:

As I said above, the crazy stuff has happened before in the USA - and by 'has happened' one should understand a constant procession of unpleasantness, from actual slaveowners to Know-Nothings to Indian-fighters to Aliens Acts to Jim Crow to Michigan Militias, et caetera ad infinitum et ad nauseam, especially the latter.

The Teabaggers, despite being all over both the net and the MSM, really are a weak brew compared to some of the haters the USA has nurtured over the years - and let's face it, down there in the South, the plain old hate hasn't really ever gone away, has it?

Meanwhile, you're still here, you still have a First Amendment, and if you're lucky, soon you'll have universal healthcare, well almost. Think about the progress, not the yelling. The yelling will never stop, or at least not in your lifetimes - how many people still wave Confederate flags, 150 years on? Too dam' many, but still the progress comes.

#221 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 05:34 PM:

OTOH, to think the t-party and other extremists have no effect -- they are the ones who forced Frum out of his think tank. The tank's conservative leadership didn't want him out, but the extremists leaned on the donors, and the donors said Frum had to go.

There's more than too, but Frum says it's all murky and even he doesn't know all that went on around pushing him out.

IOW, they run the republican party.

Love, C.

#222 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 05:57 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @ 216:

Ursula L - your post made me think of a certain style of Christian church, and the attendant youth organizations. They look like political organizations to those of us outside of them, given those churches' stance on gay rights and women's roles and Obama as the prophecied Antichrist (I'm only partly hyperbolizing; read Slacktivist for more about these churches), but to their members they are a *refuge* from the political world...

I'm not putting this very well, because I have to pack up my computer and move. But does this sound like what you're thinking of?

I'm quite familiar with those groups via Slactivist, I read and comment there fairly regularly. That's similar to what I'm thinking of, but these churches lack the aggressive inclusiveness (as does the US far right, in general) that drew in so many people to apolitical participation.

Part of the problem, for the far-right, is that the US is too diverse, and the members of the out-groups too numerous to pull off the Nazi's tricks. From what I remember, the pre-WWII Jewish population in Germany was something around 3% of the total, and the other directly targeted groups were also fairly small. The vast majority of Germans had the potential to be included in the Nazi system.

By contrast, the US is getting to the point where the "white" population that is acceptable to the teabaggers is getting close to only 50% and continuing to drop as a proportion of the whole.

And while the Nazis were anti-religious, it was possible for someone to be both active in their church and an active Nazi, with relatively little mental gymnastics.

Church-based groups, of course, require membership in that particular church, so they can't be broadly inclusive in the same way as a secular group might be. Particularly in the US, where there are so many different churches, and no established church to work through. It self-limits the size and reach of these groups.

While the churches may seem a refuge from the political world for their members, that isn't quite the flavor of appeal that the Nazi groups had. Something that was just fun, and that fed the political message with a spoon of sugar.

#223 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 06:06 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @ 216:

Ursula L - your post made me think of a certain style of Christian church, and the attendant youth organizations. They look like political organizations to those of us outside of them, given those churches' stance on gay rights and women's roles and Obama as the prophecied Antichrist (I'm only partly hyperbolizing; read Slacktivist for more about these churches), but to their members they are a *refuge* from the political world...

I'm not putting this very well, because I have to pack up my computer and move. But does this sound like what you're thinking of?

I'm quite familiar with those groups via Slactivist, I read and comment there fairly regularly. That's similar to what I'm thinking of, but these churches lack the aggressive inclusiveness (as does the US far right, in general) that drew in so many people to apolitical participation.

Part of the problem, for the far-right, is that the US is too diverse, and the members of the out-groups too numerous to pull off the Nazi's tricks. From what I remember, the pre-WWII Jewish population in Germany was something around 3% of the total, and the other directly targeted groups were also fairly small. The vast majority of Germans had the potential to be included in the Nazi system.

By contrast, the US is getting to the point where the "white" population that is acceptable to the teabaggers is getting close to only 50% and continuing to drop as a proportion of the whole.

And while the Nazis were anti-religious, it was possible for someone to be both active in their church and an active Nazi, with relatively little mental gymnastics.

Church-based groups, of course, require membership in that particular church, so they can't be broadly inclusive in the same way as a secular group might be. Particularly in the US, where there are so many different churches, and no established church to work through. It self-limits the size and reach of these groups.

While the churches may seem a refuge from the political world for their members, that isn't quite the flavor of appeal that the Nazi groups had. Something that was just fun, and that fed the political message with a spoon of sugar.

#224 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 06:54 PM:

Avram @210, I agree with your general point while arguing that calling for an orgy of window-breaking -- so very specific and evocative -- is clueless enough to warrant the remarks. Going on to discuss similarities with other periods, including our long domestic history of similar behavior, seems to me a logical development of the discussion.

What I objected to was Total flatly asserting that the comparison can't be legitimate; also, that it can't be legitimate because 91 people were killed on Kristallnacht.

Ursula L @194, when I was growing up, my siblings and I played with the family of kids across the street. Their mother had grown up in Germany, and she told us all kinds of stories, including being a member of the Hitler Youth, and being a girl in Berlin when the Russians came. She was very straightforward about why she joined the Hitler Youth: it was fun, and everyone was doing it.

Someone once went around and talked to Midwesterners whose families had been caught up in the Drake Inheritance Scam, which had run for years. Many of them said what they regretted most was the loss of the get-togethers of families that expected to get a share of the massive inheritance. They'd had picnics. Their kids had played together. Everyone had had a real nice time. Then the swindle collapsed, and they didn't have gatherings any more. They really missed it.

(One of the many reasons I don't believe the standard Satanic Ritual Abuse narratives is that no one remembers any amiable human contact, funny accidents, or stories about the time the quarterly sacrifice didn't happen because everybody ate spoiled potato salad during the pre-ceremony set-up and potluck.)

Faren @207, I'm at least as irritated about assertions of false parity as I am about being told not to take things so seriously. It's like being told that some women beat their husbands: the stats are hardly equal, and anyway it's not the point.

#225 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 07:31 PM:

My wife came across a site that compared the teabaggers and their antics to the loonies and nasties who rally under the banner of Randall Flagg in The Stand. Not sure who their Trashcan Man is though.

#226 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 07:55 PM:

But for the fact that the teabaggers operate largely within the Republican Party, I'd have classified them as a Poujadist movement. I am not surprised to find that I am not alone in that.

#227 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 08:12 PM:

Teresa, that's pretty much it. I don't really see the teabaggers and such doing anything where people will look back and think of things as just fun, or where pretty much anyone is welcome and wanted.

There is activism, but there doesn't seem to be a social structure to draw in enough people for them to establish social and political control.

#228 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 08:14 PM:

Populist movements don't last and don't win elections, but they can sure mess things up for the traditional parties.

I don't have a good deal of respect for the Tea Party movement, particularly because of how it was swiftly co-opted. But a similar movement gave us Perot in 92, and that gave the election to Clinton. A different kind of populism gave us Bush in 2000.

Anger isn't easy to maintain, but fear is. All you have to do is play up uncertainty.

#229 ::: becca ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 08:23 PM:

I wonder whether part of the charm of the Tea Party movement isn't that this is the first time some of these people have ever felt important, felt that they're finally a part of a political process, being able to actually influence events rather than being a passive victim of events. It certainly seems so from some of the interviews I've read.

#230 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 08:28 PM:

Ursula @222/223: I'm quite familiar with those groups via Slactivist, I read and comment there fairly regularly.

Oh! Of course you do; I've seen you there. *smacksself* Sorry.

No, now that you say more, I can't think of any equivalently inclusive "fun to do" organization.

Now, the hard-right churches that we're thinking of find fellow travelers in other religious communities: some Catholic parishes, some of the predominately Black churchers who are incensed to have the gay rights movement compared to the civil rights movement :which commonality the hard-right churches trade on via sharing a name for their religion... but again, even that far-flung but porous net of support isn't what you're talking about.


Teresa @224: What I objected to was Total flatly asserting that the comparison can't be legitimate; also, that it can't be legitimate because 91 people were killed on Kristallnacht.

You know what really raised my blood temperature? Accept ad argumentum that no, the U.S. has not seen an adequate death toll to allow the Totals of the world to legitimize the Nazi comparison. We'd like to keep it that way, KTHXBAI! The whole point of making the comparison is to be aware enough to head off the march toward fascism before new deaths occur! How HEARTLESS do you have to be to REQUIRE deaths before you take violent rhetoric + winkwinknudgenudge support from elected officials + big-name pundits egging it on + frequent police abuses SERIOUSLY?!

@!%#@$#@%#$^Y$@^$#%^#%!!!!!!!!INFINITY!!!!


ibid. (One of the many reasons I don't believe the standard Satanic Ritual Abuse narratives is that no one remembers any amiable human contact, funny accidents, or stories about the time the quarterly sacrifice didn't happen because everybody ate spoiled potato salad during the pre-ceremony set-up and potluck.)

This is genius, and also coming to a slush pile near you Very Soon Now. Well, near somebody.

(And thank you, and others, for the kind words up-thread.)

#231 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 08:32 PM:

TNH @224, is window-breaking that specific a symbol? This casts the climax of Do the Right Thing in a whole new light.

Total seemed to me to be making a sensible point: That Kristallnacht was a lot more than broken windows. The windows were the least of it.

#232 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 08:56 PM:

Steve C @ 208... A different kind of populism gave us Bush in 2000

That and the rigging of election results in the State of W's bro.

#233 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 09:26 PM:

The obvious elements of libertarianism and anti-government in the tea baggers' movement would seem to rule out traditional European fascism organized around centralized authoritarianism. McCain/Palin aside, probably if the tea baggers lose focus on single issues (health care, hating Obama), the tea baggers will fragment the way the more anarchic leftist groups did in the 1960s-70s and the way American religious groups always have.

You probably know the Reformed Baptist Church of God joke. (Please point it out if this isn't the original source.)

But having hundreds of different mini-fascist movements isn't that much better than having one national fascist dictatorship. They can do a lot of local damage. The Republican state Powers That Be can tolerate them, then when the groups commit crimes, deny and wash their hands of them.

#234 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 10:00 PM:

Teresa @224 said ... stories about the time the quarterly sacrifice didn't happen because everybody ate spoiled potato salad during the pre-ceremony set-up and potluck.

That's why sensible Pagans refrigerate our potato salad, and have the feast AFTER the ritual.
/snark

I'm afraid that in this day and age, those sort of social interactions are less common, and interactions online are more common - and less visible.

One good thing - I just saw that "24" has been canceled. One bad influence gone.

#235 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 10:02 PM:

Nicole @230: The whole point of making the comparison is to be aware enough to head off the march toward fascism before new deaths occur!

Seriously? In this day and age, if I want to warn people about some political threat, I think the last thing I want to do is invoke the Nazis. Because holy crap, is that card overplayed! Orwell wrote as early as 1944 that the word "fascism" had become meaningless. Today, we have feminazis, smoke Nazis, salt Nazis, trans-fat Nazis, and even the Soup Nazi. This sort of accusation is more likely to make people roll their eyes (or buy soup) than actually take heed of your warning.

I don't want to come across as some kind of fascism Nazi, but maybe we need some new vocabulary.

#236 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 10:20 PM:

234
I wonder: what's going to be filming across the street from me now, or will they'll be moving out completely?

(The production-company offices are across the street, literally, from where I live.)

#237 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 10:26 PM:

We have "condom nazis," too, Avram. I see your point. What would you suggest we do to make the threat clear? Not enough people saw it in time in Germany. Without using that example, how can we give a warning people WILL hear?

You'll note, also, that most of those "-nazis" were in the rhetoric of the right. A turd in the punch bowl, I believe it's called.

#238 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 10:33 PM:

Maybe the teabaggers can be persuaded to throw shoes in their protests (as a sort of Republican tradition). They'd be oblivious to the irony, and the shoes could be collected and DNA samples obtained for future prosecutions under the USA PATRIOT Act.

"Hey, ma, were'd my football shoes run off to?"

(there's a knock at the door)

#239 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 11:34 PM:

Frank Rich, at the NY Times:"How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht."

#240 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2010, 11:51 PM:

I had to stop reading this thread after about five posts, because it was making my stomach hurt. Mac coaxed me to take another look, and I had to quit, again. Total isn't the most graceful writers, but Total is speaking truth.

Kristallnacht is a lot more than broken windows. A lot more. For one thing, it had the full support of the government, and while only 91 people were killed, that night saw thousands (around 30K) of Jews and "undesirables" rounded up and put on cattle cars. Kristallnacht was the first large-scale influx into the camps. Moreover, it had not only been planned in advance, with full government support, it had the support of the local Catholic officials.

Goebbels personally orchestrated Kristallnacht. It was not a spontaneous outrage over Ernst vom Rath's assassination; it had been planned, and coordinated. The excuse was simply seized to put the plan in action.

So it's upsetting to see it used in hyperbole, however well-meaning it is.

And then there's the thing that we get to choose our political parties, so that also troubles me as a basis of comparison.

So here's some stuff about Kristallnacht.

http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/kristallnacht/frame.htm

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/kristalltoc.html

http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/site/pp.asp?c=gvKVLcMVIuG&b=394679

#241 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 12:30 AM:

Housewife's Hint re: Satanic Ritual Abuse Potlucks and other social gatherings

Always make French Potato Salad for potlucks, picnics, and any event where refrigeration is uncertain. It doesn't contain eggs. Show your creativity and vary the herbs - your husband will be so proud!

#242 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 01:35 AM:

praisegod barebones @ 187: "So why is 1923 a better comparison than 1938? Because in 1923 the violence wasn't done with state sanction in the way it was in 1938, it was done by the marginal and excluded."

That is I think the most important difference between Kristallnacht and the current situation, in my opinion. The fact that the current things are targeted against, not led by, the party in power changes things a great deal.

Raphael @ 208: "I'd say fascism is the wrong parallel for the US today. Classical fascism was probably strongly connected to the specific stage of the industrial age at which it happened."

I think one of the biggest problems with comparing current events to fascism is that different people use the term at a very different levels of resolution. In poli sci contexts, applying the term "fascism" to anything outside of Europe in a very narrow time window is laughable, because they are using a very specific, detailed definition. On the internet, on the other hand, fascism is usually quite broadly defined, used as a stand in for all kinds of totalitarianism. (At best--sometimes the definition in play is more like "things I don't like.")

Using an excessively broad definition often ends up degrading the comparison to the point of uselessness, but I don't think that demanding constant use of a precise, exacting definition of fascism is particularly productive either. Broad-strokes comparisons have their place, especially in casual conversation.

I guess what I'm saying is that inexact usage of fascist comparison is a common fail state, but oversensitivity to that fail state has also become a fail state of its own.

#243 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 01:55 AM:

More from Frank Rich's NYT column in tomorrow's paper:

The Tea Party movement is virtually all white. The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded.
Rich isn't the first to say it. It's been pretty obvious that the "I want my country back" crowd doesn't mean "from the Democrats," but rather from that black guy who's living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

#244 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 01:55 AM:

#229 becca

Yes, they are feeling involved and empowered and effectual and noticed.

As for the percentage of women... it was women whose efforts really effected the and spread the adoption of Christianity to get the momentum to become a mass movement in the Roman Empire, which with the momentum growing then suppressed women as having authority in most of Christianity, beyond certain tipping points--even as the religion headed towards state religion status.

That's a pattern that's been around lot in history, movements which depend and rely and grow based on the devotion and drive of less-empowered segments of society and marginalized people, who as part of a movement get the feeling and reward of making a difference/changing the world/getting attention and the satisfaction of feeling worthwhile. Realities of the previously privileged types/class nonetheless taking over and those who did most of the work who'd been marginalized being shoved out and marginalized again, also keep happening...

#245 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 06:09 AM:

BBC news this morning reported grenade attacks against buildings associated with the Administration.
Leaders of the red shirt movement denied responsibility.

Oh, wait...  that was Thailand.

#246 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 06:10 AM:

heresiarch @ 242: "In poli sci contexts, applying the term "fascism" to anything outside of Europe in a very narrow time window is laughable, because they are using a very specific, detailed definition."

Not everyone in academia is laughing.

#247 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 07:26 AM:

Hmm.

The best analysis of where the rage is coming from that I've seen so far is in this New York Times op-ed by Frank Rich. If you'll excuse me for quoting:


"To find a prototype for the overheated reaction to the health care bill, you have to look a year before Medicare, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both laws passed by similar majorities in Congress; the Civil Rights Act received even more votes in the Senate (73) than Medicare (70). But it was only the civil rights bill that made some Americans run off the rails. That’s because it was the one that signaled an inexorable and immutable change in the very identity of America, not just its governance ...

"Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress. The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority. The Tea Party movement is virtually all white. The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded."

So what we have is: privileged caste who define their privilige in terms of ethnic identity -- white rural Americans (although mentioning this is taboo in the current American domestic political discourse -- if you're a bigot, the only acceptable way to express your views is from behind the specious shield of claiming to be "colour-blind"). These people are seeing their grip on power slipping away. They identify America as being their country, where people like them set the rules. But that whitebread nation (in denial of other's rights) only exists in their rose-tinted and imagination-infected memories, and the fact that they're governed by a black President with a female Speaker in charge of the house of representatives is rubbing their nose in it, forcing them to confront their own loss of privilege. And the poor/crazy male end of their subculture get violent in response to the perception of loss of status -- they literally believe Obama and Pelosi are stealing their mojo.

Boil it down to one word, and you get "racism".

The good news is, in another generation it'll all be over bar the shouting. The Tea Party represent a dwindling minority.

The bad news is, bumpy ride ahead. Because in a country of 300 million souls, even a 1% minority (of whom only 1% are radicalized to violence) can raise hell.

#248 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 08:36 AM:

Lisa Spangenberg, #240: thank you for spelling out and clarifying what I have been vaguely thinking and hinting at.

Charlie Stross, #247: no, not only racism, though that is present. The Teabaggers feel marginalized and powerless and they are right to feel so. Unfortunately, that seems to be many USers these days--the Teabaggers are just some of the ones expressing those feelings violently. The majority of USers are well to the left of the Democratic Party these days. See. (I've gotten very tired of croaking that out.) In the end, that sense of marginalization cuts across the political spectrum: the only groups with substantive political power seem to be religious leaders and the very wealthy.

#250 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 12:08 PM:

Teresa (#224): "assertions of false parity"?

What I *meant* was that the "NNN" phrase perfectly describes those current Repubs, while it was a ridiculous slur on the Dems of Agnew's day. As for saying I'm as paranoid as the semi-nutcase I mentioned, I think my own fears of Doom may be slightly exaggerated (maybe), while his are completely loony, but since I've met the guy and talked Sixties Rock with him quite civilly, I didn't want to start some pointless, endless argument there. That's all there was to it.

Parity? No way!

#251 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 01:02 PM:

As Roland Barth stated, "Stupidity is the most powerful force in the world because there is no answer to it."

When a state is so frayed, on its way to civil war, language itself can no longer be a tool because it has been so twisted and so debased. This is a deliberate strategy that has been used since Reagan began changing the meaning of words and re-naming. By now its nearly irrecoverable, i.e. there can be no discourse. Thus there's war.

Their strategies and tactics have been more entrenched every decade since reagan's first bout of administration, and they have worked.

They've now worked so well, that as pointed out by the writer of the article3 #246 ::: j h woodyatt linked to, in the minds of the tbaggers&co, 'fascism' means people who stand up to their bullying. As Glenn Beck so infamously declared, the reason the senators were attacked last weekend on Capitol Hill, is because they provoked the crowd by walking through it. I.e., they get attacked for existing.

Love, C.

#252 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 01:24 PM:

Boombastic bullhorn bimbo Beck....

Apparently there are advertisers making it very clear to Fux that that the advertisers regard Beck as toxic and their ad budget specifically excludes at least Beck shows, and perhaps even Fux.

Follow the money trail.... boycott Fux and the corporations which provide income to Fux.

I have a distinct aversion to donating to or selling shovels or otherwise accommodating the existence of persons and corporations whose main employment of the shovels include burying me with them, when they are not gravediggers by profession, and if not for them I'd be in little danger of extirpation.

There are beings whose demises I shall definitely not mourn. Beck and his buddies are high on that list.

#253 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 02:15 PM:

@Alex #249

Okay, mildly humorous, but I do not consider Making Light a "particularly depressing website." I lurve Making Light!!!!

(Excuse me a moment while I choke back my inner rabid fangirl.)

Ahem. I think that the Guardian guy is a bit of tool for minimizing what the baggers are doing. Poor Betsy Markey is getting death threats. The poor dear is a Democratic Congresscritter (I lurve that word too!!! Must keep choking back----) who has the misfortune to be elected from one of the redder-necked parts of Colorado. She voted initially against HCR, then voted for it.

So it's okay for her to receive death threats? Where is that written? Most of the people who live in her district are heavily armed. Convictions for alcohol related offenses do not preclude the right to carry a concealed weapon in my lovely state. So the Northern CO rednecks can be drunk and still be packing concealed weapons. Should she disregard these death threats?

I know a lot of rednecks, am in fact descended from a long line of 'em. I even met a real Nazi once. He used to bring Himmler his morning tea. (Maybe it was coffee, I forget.) He picked me as his family doc because of my Scots-Irish last name. Figured I probably wasn't Jewish.

But even my redneck father thinks the baggers are going too far. Not Nazis, no, but not model citizenry for an allegedly civilized nation.

#254 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 02:49 PM:

Lisa Spangenberg writes: "...isn't the most graceful writers, but [s/he] is speaking truth."

...which is pretty typical of concern trolls and other practitioners of tactical syntax.

The thing about bullshit is that it very rarely requires outright lying. Even a moderately competent bullshit artist can derail perfectly functional discourse with a few well-chosen irrelevances.

And now, look— the teabaggers are getting away with coordinated attacks of property vandalism and personal endangerment because calling them out for how their tactics are reminiscent of the behavior of certain authoritarian political movements in the first half of the 20th century makes people feel too queasy to talk openly about the problem the teabaggers and their corporate alliances pose.

Once our visitor, who I shall not name again, appeared and made sure the discussion here couldn't get very far with analyzing the comparison [note: not an equivalence] that our dear moderator made in the original posting, s/he disappeared and didn't return.

Our host, TNH, classified I think correctly that our visitor is a bullshit artist. As usual, she pinned the tail in three, while some of the rest of us were still wavering. Meanwhile, it's not hard to imagine that the urge to throw bricks through the windows of shopfront offices of the enemies of the real people of the nation remains unabated and held by an ever widening fraction of people.

So yeah, truth. It's a start. Too bad there was never any attempt to follow through.

#255 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 02:51 PM:

teresa @ 209

I posted 187 just before starting on a fairly arduous day's travel, so I've only just caught up with the thread. Thanks for your response.

I do agree with you that there's something wrong with trying to shut down conversations of the sort Jim was starting, and to the extent that there was some of that going on in Total's contributions, I understand your response to him/her. (and not just understand; understand and to that extent agree with)

But I also think Jim's original post could have been read in a number of different ways. Here are some - all of which have been entertained on the thread:

1) We're now in a situation directly analogous to 1938 (Total, me at some points, Lisa Spangenberg, probably some others)

2) The window breaking was done with the deliberate intent of evoking memories of Kristallnacht. (Xopher, agreeing; Avram, disagreeing)

3) The window-breaking does evoke thoughts of 1938
(Lots of people, agreeing with the gist)

4) The window-breaking should evoke thoughts of 1938, not because the situations are directly analogous, but because window-breaking as a politcla protest has this kind of symbolic freight. (Lots of people, again, including FWIW me.)

Jim's not come and said which of these he meant to suggest, and given that he makes his living with words, and that one or two posters have asked him direct questions about it, I'm entertaining the possibility that he meant his words to be ambigous between 2-4. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But to the extent that that's what he was trying to do, it seemed harsh to come down so hard on someone who took him to be saying 1.

But of course, it's not my house.

(And I feel incredibly lucky that I'm able to visit)

Paula @ 202. That's true and important. One reason why its important nis because it means that these clowns are not totally marginal - I'm prepared to admit that I overstated the case there a bit. Another is because it means that there are poeople who are influential who mighbt be prepared to collude with this sort of thing.

BUT - and I think this is an important but - it also strikes me as significant that the politicains who are colluding are in opposition, not in power. So to be clear: one election away from 1938 - with due deference to Avram's point that this comparison may not be the best one for all purposes - is way too close. But its further than no distance at all.

#256 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 03:09 PM:

(IMO): I think there are some misunderstandings here. I'm pretty sure Jim titled this post as he did not in order to score rhetorical points, but due to concern about where the Tea Baggers are going, and where they want to go (see his posts @71, 94 and particularly @156). The hatred being spewed by some of these people is appalling. That a political figure like S*r*h P*l*n can put up a map showing rifle targets and mushroom clouds on Democratic areas of the USA and not have her own side (never mind her opponents) castigating her for the imagery left me floundering for words. And as Teresa has pointed out, we've already seen a fair number of deaths due to right-wing extremism in the USA.

However, at the same time, for many people, as indicated by Lisa Spangenberg @ 240, Kristallnacht is a symbol of so much more than some broken windows that the present actions seem minor in comparison.

And yet... while the rhetoric and present actions may not have government support, they do have support from some people in positions of political power. Many religious institutions are, if not supporting, then not loudly denouncing either. At what point is it acceptable to start saying "this is where things might be heading", or at least, "this is where people might be trying to lead the situation"? Remembering the old phrase about the consequences of not learning from history.

#257 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 03:27 PM:

Teresa @ 209: That link was hilarious, but may have been mislunk.

#258 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 03:35 PM:

Throwmearope #253: Congresscritter

I think perhaps that Molly Ivins (of blessed memory) popularized that word best.

#259 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 03:41 PM:

JH Woodyatt @254: And now, look— the teabaggers are getting away with coordinated attacks of property vandalism and personal endangerment because calling them out for how their tactics are reminiscent of the behavior of certain authoritarian political movements in the first half of the 20th century makes people feel too queasy to talk openly about the problem the teabaggers and their corporate alliances pose.

Wait, what? Are you saying that the vandals have been identified, but that the authorities are refraining from pressing charges because bloggers are reluctant to call people Nazis?

I haven't seen charges brought against Mike Vanderboegh, but it's also far from clear that Vanderboegh's actually as important as he claims he is. If the authorities do bring charges, I don't think "acting like a Nazi" is going to be one of them.

Meanwhile, the FBI and DHS are raiding a Christian militia group in Michigan.

#260 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 04:04 PM:

JH Woodyatt @254

And now, look— the teabaggers are getting away with coordinated attacks of property vandalism and personal endangerment because calling them out for how their tactics are reminiscent of the behavior of certain authoritarian political movements in the first half of the 20th century makes people feel too queasy to talk openly about the problem the teabaggers and their corporate alliances pose.

Oh for heaven's sake, they are not. I'm going to mildly object to your implication that the only way to discuss this specific issue is framed within any single and specific metaphor.

I'm not seeing anyone here reluctant to talk about how excessive and batsh*t crazy recent extreme right-wing behavior and rhetoric seems. And I suspect we're all on the same page as to most of the specifics of that discussion. I'm certainly not seeing anyone saying "Well it's nowhere near as bad as the Nazis so we shouldn't talk about it, or do anything about it until it's lots worse."

What I do seem to be hearing is that there are people here for whom invoking the Shoah as a means of discussing the current Tea Party rhetoric actually creates an impediment to that discussion, rather than serving as a useful metaphor. That rather than heightening the awareness of the present ideological dangers in American right-wing politics, such a metaphor serves to both cloud the current discussion and, most unfortunately, insult and minimize the horror of the event-recast-as-metaphor. You're certainly under no obligation to agree or to feel the same way.

But telling people who generally agree with you and might well be extremely thoughtful and useful participants in the conversation, but for whom the metaphor itself sets up such strong resistance, simply asserting that they're just wrong, or they're suckers for a concern troll, or that they're concern-trolling themselves, that the metaphor simply shouldn't create that resistance -- that rather, the metaphor should work for them on the same level it works for you or me or anyone else -- seems perhaps less than helpful.

#261 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Alex @ 220: down there in the South, the plain old hate hasn't really ever gone away, has it?

I hope that one of the effect of reading widely in the kinds of material Teresa linked to, especially Dave Neiwert, would be to free you from the stereotype that the racism problem in the U.S. is the special property of one region.

#262 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 08:33 PM:

261
Some of the worst places in the country for racism are outside the south - Boston and Chicago come immediately to mind, but they certainly aren't the only ones. I've heard some remarks in LA that are just as bad as anything I heard in Texas.

#263 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 10:37 PM:

Avram asks: "Are you saying that the vandals have been identified, but that the authorities are refraining from pressing charges because bloggers are reluctant to call people Nazis?"

I don't think so, but then I'm not very smart. I'm sure it's possible that someone much smarter than me might come along and explain how that's exactly what I said in so many words. (Not being sarcastic! I'm really not very smart!)

I thought I was merely noting that the vandals are coordinating their attacks and they're not getting caught. They're also using a messaging tactic that— how shall I say this?— smells awfully funny, and they're getting away with that, too, because some things are just not appropriate topics of discourse in polite company.

MacAllister also delivers shocking news: "...there are people here for whom invoking the Shoah as a means of discussing the current Tea Party rhetoric actually creates an impediment to that discussion..."

My concern in this matter remains the same as it has always been.

We have a small, but growing, outrightly fascist movement in America, and it's being provided cover for its insurgent activity by a large proto-fascist popular uprising that enjoys the financial, media and political support of the major right-wing political party and its ruling mandarins. Those people are openly directing eliminationist rhetoric at people like me and threatening violent civil war with the aim of purging us from society. I'm getting really tired of being told that I can't talk about how this is comparable to the run-up to previous infamous genocides without trivializing the atrocities of the past and softening the images of the monsters who committed them.

Violence accompanying talk of my elimination is not a trivial matter to me, and I'm sorry if I seem overly sensitive to the implication that it should be.

#264 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 11:47 PM:

JH Woodyatt @263, what you said was that they were "getting away with coordinated attacks [...] because calling them out for how their tactics are reminiscent" etc. The word "because" implies that the situation described in the second part of the sentence is causing the situation described in the first part. You did it again in your follow-up comment: "they're getting away with that, too, because some things are just not appropriate topics of discourse in polite company."

Breaking this down point by point:

I don't know for certain that any one is getting away with anything -- it's likely that investigations are ongoing even as I write this. I'm pretty sure that when a member of Congress is threatened, the FBI doesn't just shrug and go "yeah, whatevs."

If any of the vandals do get away with it, it'll most likely be because finding an anonymous brick-thrower is difficult.

I also really suspect that the FBI's process for deciding what cases to devote effort to is not influenced by the use or non-use of Nazi metaphors on Making Light. Their success in their investigation methods is likewise not influenced by whether Jim and I agree on the Nazi thing.

#265 ::: romsfuulynn ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2010, 11:49 PM:

Regarding the broken windows, I give you John Murray, a Universalist minister.

This argument is solid and weighty, but it is neither rational nor convincing.

link to The Life of Rev. John Murray

#266 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 12:37 AM:

Romsfuulynn, any chance you could learn how to make links instead of just pasting long URLs into the comment field? I converted that one for you, but I don't intend to make a habit of doing that.

#267 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 12:46 AM:

jh woodyatt @263:

MacAllister also delivers shocking news:
[...]
I'm sorry if I seem overly sensitive to the implication that it should be

Can you rein in your linguistic markers, please? They wouldn't lead to a useful discussion in any thread; in this one they're positively inflammatory.

#268 ::: strawhat ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 01:41 AM:

I'm currently appalled by winger rhetoric flowing from some members of my family circle. How does a sane person even *answer* that stuff? To see my gentle, soft-spoken niece post "This healthcare bill better not pass!" on her facebook page -- well, I'm perfectly gobsmacked. And let's not even start on her sharper-tongued mother's dicta.

They're as ignorant as a newborn babe about civics, history, and political sausage-making. The niece was genuinely surprised at the thought that the health insurance companies might be hard at work behind the scenes of this debate.

And in that state of natural ignorance and lack of practice in critical thinking, they're easily swayed and influenced by appeals to fear and hate and bigotry. Very easily.

That's what the teabaggers & friends are counting on, a vast poorly educated crowd that's easily distracted by shiny things and swayed by appeals to base emotion.

We have to figure out some of our own shiny things and appeals to emotion. Yes, propaganda. Where's our set of Norman Rockwell Four Freedoms paintings, huh? Barack Obama can't do all the persuading by himself, ya know.

#269 ::: strawhat ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 01:51 AM:

-- And a point on the social activities that the Nazis had for people who weren't politically engaged -- that won't fly here, at least not on any kind of scale. Not any more.

Most people are (1) too darn busy with work and school and homework and housework and commuting and the necessities, and (2) once they're done with all that, they don't have time or energy for much else. That's the point of _Bowling Alone,_ which was a big deal in the circles I work in a few years back.

All sorts of civic/service/social associations that used to be so important in people's (and communities'!) lives are dwindling and aging in membership -- because nobody has time or energy for that kind of thing anymore.

So new societies of Bagger Youth and BagLadies wouldn't take over the landscape. They'd be a media sensation, though, wouldn't they?

#270 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 02:26 AM:

Massachusetts enacted anti-bullying legislation last week against bullying of children. It's something that was long past due--perniciously being victimized as a target of assault and battery, verbal assault, texting (which I was sparing)and and do drive minors (and adults for that matter) to suicide.... the old meme involved sayings and airy dismissals and tolerant indulgence of the likes of "Boys will be boys," and "Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me" and all that sort of even more ego-destroying and emotionally-destructive-dogpile-effect-abuse on bullying targets/victims.

The Pee Party Braggarts and their instigators and inciters and cohorts, are overage vicious abusive bullies.... who have friends and supporters in Congress, other legislative bodies, and I wouldn't be surprise if Scalia, Alito, Roberts, and Thomas are financial supporters. Scalia and Alito and Thomas and Roberts I regard as InJustices, the first two make Torquemade look tolerant and impartial and forgiving and multiculturally supportive, the second two are marginally less fanatical and narrowminded and closeminded. Kennedy is merely a rightwinger antisupportive of natural persons versus corporations.... I forget which recent news item had Scalia and Alito behaving publically obnoxiously and disrespectfully.... something abotu them showing themselves to be obnoxious disrespectful assholes at the State of the Union Message --and were there other Injustices also being obnoxious assholes at it, too, or was the breach of decorum on the part of Injustice limite to Scalia and Alito?

#260 MacAllister
The Pee Party is calling for and engaging in jihad and holy war, in words which are transcoded from those terms, but which boiled down to essentials equate to holy war/jihd. The Pee Party denies any allowable other opinons exist or should exist. The Pee Party rejects rapproachement, rejects even the appearance of respect to opponents/those who do not agree with Pee Party values and methods and goals, and considers civility to non-Pee Partiers, unallowable.

#259 Avram
Beck etc. haven't been arrested under e.g. provision of RICO for conspiracy promoting committig battery and assault....

#255 praisegod

The courts abound with the likes of Scalia, Alito, and Roberts.... they have the maority on the Supreme Court, for example, and there are all those burrowed in neocon apparatchiks from 2001-2009. Clinton's intended appointments both to the court system and into civil service got blocked by neocons and his endeavors derailed by the millions of dollars of nitpicking the hostile hypocritical Congressional Republican majority engaged in--Gingrich was far from the only witch hunter in Congress hamstringing Clinton on claims of malfeasance which if turned on Gingrich, would have shown Gingrich to have been unquestionably ommitting adultery.

2001-2006 saw a steamroller of neocon appoints, n 2007-2008 saw subterfuges and appointments during recesses --for that matter, there were appointments during recesses before than which even Republican congresscritters objected to --and movement of neocon/religious extremist political appartchiks from political appointee positions into permanent civil service positions--and the dismantling of the career civil servants who failed the extremist religious/political litmus tests. The Equal Opportunity office was gutted of funds and support for investigating complaints and enforcing federal laws about equal opportunity, and the people who had worked there, driven out. Federal functions were outsourced to politically connected neocon-owned and operated corporations, and even offshored for data entry, when data collection still occurred (data collection stopped regarding the status of women in the workforce.... without the data, there was no longer a way to prove systematic corporate discrimation in class action suits claiming underpayment and underpromotion of women.....)... the executives in charge of contractor source selection, were partisan sorts, awarding contracts to their buddies, and oversight for the Mine Safety Agency went to a mining industry corporate lobbyist who declined to enforce rules that he wasn't able to remove; a campaign worker with no background in emergency civil work and whose previous position had been running an Arabian Horse assoiation so incompetently the organization went bankrupt and he left there with him suing the organiztion an the organization suing him, got appointed to executive FEMA rank, with the infamous, "Heckuva of a job, Brownie!" comment remembered as federal extreme mismanagement regarding Katrina... ETC.

The results were wholesale elimination of politically impartial civil servants, replaced by partisan politically and religiously agenda-driven appartchiks, contractors as above, and cavitation of former capabilities and federal oversight and protections for natural person citizens and resident aliens and institutions dedicated to "all [persons] created equal" an equal opportunity and treatment under the law.

The status now is that those burrowed in partisan types are still there, pushing their agenda, and the voids are even worse--appointments in limbo with that POS Sessions and his ilk making the ontinental divide look a minor frostheave on a highway by comparison, for purposes for forward motion....

#271 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 05:37 AM:

@261 - yes, indeedy, but the South is a particular problem [not to say a peculiar one...] and is where almost all the populations thsat skew majority-republican actually live, according to repeated polls. An un-gerrymandered House of Representatives would appear on the map as if Gettysburg had gone the other way...

One can't have the whole thing both ways, y'know. Either the Teabaggers are a small minority getting in the way of what most people want, or they're a significant demographic that's going to have to be reckoned with for ever. Which do people think it is? Until you can answer that question you don't even know what the 'USA' you're concerned about is....

#272 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 07:58 AM:

Avram, #264: I don't know for certain that any one is getting away with anything -- it's likely that investigations are ongoing even as I write this.

Case in point: Seven arrested in FBI raids linked to Christian militia group.

At least seven people, including some from Michigan, have been arrested in raids by a FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana as part of an investigation into an Adrian-based Christian militia group, a person familiar with the matter said.

You can argue that law enforcement could be paying more attention to right-wing groups. But Avram's right--they're not being ignored.

#273 ::: Dan R. ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 09:54 AM:

I recently listened to a CBC radio podcast (link only valid for a month or so) that discussed (among other things) the neural basis of moral certainty. The conclusion I drew is that we are necessarily in a post-enlightenment world. The problem is that knowing you are right results from a combination of reasoned conclusions and a positive emotional attachment to your reasoning process. Note that there is no need for the reasoning process to be rigorous/correct. For some (many? most?) people, the emotional high from being right can be positively addictive – that righteous feeling, I presume – leading to many of the behaviours being discussed in this thread.

I’m reminded of the Douglas Adams quote: "We can't win against obsession. They care, we don't. They win".

I don’t think the answer is to out-obsess. It’s to short circuit the neural process, but I’m buggered if I know how.

#274 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:22 AM:

[ strawhat @268 said: I'm currently appalled by winger rhetoric flowing from some members of my family circle. How does a sane person even *answer* that stuff? To see my gentle, soft-spoken niece post "This healthcare bill better not pass!" on her facebook page -- well, I'm perfectly gobsmacked. And let's not even start on her sharper-tongued mother's dicta. ]

One of my cousins has just joined (and sent me invitations for) two FB groups that both becroggle and worry me. I'm going to quote their userinfo blocks to demonstrate why, and then talk about it below.

Patriot Sons and Daughters of America We are the blue collar men and women of America, who are sick and tired of being disempowered by the State. We call for change, REAL CHANGE. We are Liberals, we are Conservatives, we are Independents and we are all American.

It's time we the people start settling our differences with cooler heads and find common ground again. To set aside our selfish agendas and find solutions that truly meet in the middle.

Here we will raise issues that we want change and we will sign these petitions that are drawn. The purpose of this group is to acknowledge that to obtain true change, we MUST be willing to offer sacrifice.

Example: Anti-gun v. Pro Gun. If we are allowed to carry, you still have the option to not carry. If we are not allowed to carry, you impose your will on others. Is this the true definition of democracy? To be as free as your fellow man will allow? That sounds like Communism to me. But, this is just an example.

This group will join forces with other groups of truly patriotic intent. We will fight for the right to defend ourselves. We will fight to lower taxes. We will fight to investigate internal corruption and together we will win.

Land of the weak. Home of the slaves.

In other words, as Terry Karney noted above, it's full of hatriot dog-whistling. It starts out reading like it might be something I could consider supporting, and then it goes so far off the rails of how I know society to really work that it sounds like a five-year-old's reasoning. I'd have to drop back three levels of assumptions and preconceptions before I could even START arguing with it. :-/

WE WANT A REVOLUTION We live in the land of hypocrisy, Our government is gridlocked, but taking more control every day. Sending young men off to wars that go against everything our nation was founded on. it's total imperialism. (the creation and maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural and territorial relationship, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." Imperialism has been described as a primarily western concept that employs "expansionist – mercantilist and latterly communist – systems. Imperialism is considered the control by one state of other territories. Through political or military means) They want control of the massive oil fields, and abundant opium fields. They get more and more, while we pay MORE for gas and diesel, and face a drug epidemic of heroin, morphine, and other opiate users, It's the biggest form of organized crime in the world, and WE support it, out of EVERY paycheck, and every time we elect another crook to office

Aside from their shaky grasp of punctuation and sentence structure, this one almost scares me more, because I could rewrite it with relatively few changes to be something I would agree that the far-right is ALREADY doing. Only it claims the 'far' left (aka Obama, etc) is who is trying to do this.

The summation of the views of people being sucked into joining groups like this seems to be, "I'm upset. I'm getting stepped on. I don't like it. Clearly this is a conspiracy. Those nice men who look like me on TV (Fox, coverage of teapartiers, etc) say they're mad about all the same things, and they seem to know what they're doing. We should do what they're doing! Clearly, all my problems are being CAUSED BY (insert here). This is wrong! Why do they think they have a right to do this, in OUR country?!?"

The left needs an effective way of engaging and defusing that viewpoint, or you'll get more and more rank-and-file people who are at the edge of their cope being emotionally rooked into buying a whole chain of falsehoods.

#275 ::: rgh ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:37 AM:

Following #209 & #249, perhaps the difference between Tea-baggers and Nazis is the former's lack of self-doubt.

#276 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 12:01 PM:

Dan #273:

I think it's interesting to ask which collective actions/movements are driven more by numbers, and which more by determination/obsessiveness. For example, in an election, you might think of peoples' concern for some issue or issues in terms of three levels--maybe I don't care enough to vote, or I care enough to vote but no more, or I care enough to vote and also volunteer for a party or candidate. People who are obsessive beyond the level of volunteering don't actually change much--they volunteer, and maybe they call talk radio shows to rant about the coming socialism or whatever, but they just don't change much--their votes don't count any more than anyone else's just because they care more, and beyond some level of donation of time and money, they can only affect the vote totals so much.

Contrast this with terrorism or assassination. Many perfectly sane and decent people oppose brtn or animal research or whatever, and hardly any of them are willing to do much more than vote or maybe go on an occasional protest march. If the majority of voters end up opposing those things, they'll probably sooner or later be made illegal, through the normal workings of democracy, but obsessiveness has little effect. But if one person in a hundred thousand among those people is obsessive enough to be willing to plant bombs or shoot people, then those obsessive people can have a huge and horrible effect. A few hundred people willing to bomb brtn clinics or labs where animals are used can practically shut down brtn or animal research in a country, even where the majority approves of both things.

The interesting question, to me, is whether changes in society (the whole bowling alone phenomenon, the internet, media amplification of the horrible stuff obsessive people do sometimes, narrowcasting to the obsessives on cable news and talk radio and such, etc.) is making it more common or easier for someone to become obsessed along these lines--to decide they are ready to stop merely posting enraged screeds about animal rights and start firebombing researchers' houses. Or easier for these obsessives to find each other and work together to make bigger bombs or spread more terror.

#277 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 12:31 PM:

albatross@275: I think that's a good analysis. One additional point -- it's not clear to me whether being willing to "call talk shows to rant" helps the cause politically. It may help keep or attract the obsessives, but actually repel ordinary voters.

#278 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 12:36 PM:

“Patriot Sons and Daughters of America” via Elliott Mason #274 (thanks) : If we are allowed to carry, you still have the option to not carry. If we are not allowed to carry, you impose your will on others. Is this the true definition of democracy? To be as free as your fellow man will allow? That sounds like Communism to me.

Choose any crime or misdemeanor and substitute for ‘carry’.

If we are allowed to run red lights, you still have the option to not run red lights.  If we are not allowed to run red lights, you impose your will on others.

If we are allowed to sell cocaine, you still have the option to not sell cocaine.  If we are not allowed to sell cocaine, you impose your will on others.

Is he really saying, any law that prohibits anything is communism?

#279 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 12:50 PM:

Sorry to chime in while only having read selected bits, but I thought I should say something.

Reading the argument between TNH and "Total", I wonder if they're arguing from different ground-assumptions?

For many people, on all sides, but particularly Jews of all stripes, the Holocaust is sui generis, and by association, the entire leadup to it.

Whether because their family died in it, or survived it, the Holocaust was unique. For far too many Jews, it is all, or most, of their self-definition. Among the politically-minded, Never Again. Among the non-religious, even though we might not be practicing much Judaism, we know we would have died. Among the religious, we must make up our losses in their memory, both quantitative and qualitative. We must rebuild American Orthdoxy in the image of an idealized shtetl Europe minus the daily government and local oppression (kinda like the SCA). The entire international Daily Page Talmud study program, started in 1928 in Poland, was rededicated after the War in memory of the Six Million. And that's tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews, giving up an hour a day of sleep or work time to study a page of Talmud, the whole series over 7.5 years.

For such people, any comparison with the Holocaust short of actual genocide, such as Serbia/Croatia, is odious. Even such comparisons are often rejected by those who believe the Holocaust is unique, and who have based their identity on that concept.

Hilter was a madman, but a madman with a plan, which he wrote out and which nobody believed he would do. And he organized a party, and eventually a government, and convinced three entire countries (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Poland), to go along with it. But it was planned out from the very beginning.

I don't see an organizing plan, or a singular leader behind the Tea Party stuff. This is just the same wingnut crap that brought us Oklahoma City and Klan lynchings. We've had domestic terrorism for decades if not centuries (the nativist parties of the 1840s-1850s incited mob violence against German and Irish immigrants, mostly Catholic, whose Papism threatened true Democracy. People died, churches burned.) Rush Limbaugh and/or Glenn Beck may be encouraging this nonsense, but they're not interested in Rethuglican hegemony as much as keeping up the heat, which increases their ratings.

So posters like Total are driven to oppose this "odious comparison," which is related to the old corollary of Godwin's Law, that the first one to invoke the Nzis loses the argument.

And certainly, Jim's characterization of the hints to violence against Democratic members of Congress, as a Kristallnacht, is simply excessive. If we're anywhere in that scale, we're back in the early 1920s, when the Nzis were just getting started, as the body of his post says.

But the instigators such as Limbore and Bech have learned the lesson of Mein Kampf - do everything by the book. Their hints are totally within First Amendment speech.

#280 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 12:52 PM:

albatross: Well, much depends on just how capable the person in question is! Someone with an array of talents can certainly have a disproportionate impact.... Nutcases have the usual range of intelligence, but they're likely to be handicapped in things like reality-testing and trust (both ways). On the other hand, they sometimes have enhanced charisma, not to mention perseverance.

The media is surely stoking a lot of fires, but that's a matter of degree rather than kind. And the issue with the Internet is mostly that bureaucracies are intrinsically conservative, so the Government is likely to be a step behind the times. Once the LEOs do catch up with the technology... well, the 'Net certainly makes it easier for the nuts to find each other, but that works just as well for LEO finding them.

#281 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 01:43 PM:

David #279:

Yeah. And yet, some of the comments here creep me the f--k out, with their apparent desire to see people on the other side of a political divide be subjected to legal harassment. I'll note Janet's #64, and Paula's #76. Perhaps this is just something I'm overly sensitive about. But it's hard to imagine a more ominous turn for politics in the US to take, right now, than a crackdown on right-wing pundits justified by threats of domestic terrorism. Yes, it would be justice for some of them. But when the authorities can shut down Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh for offending the powerful, they can damned well shut down Glenn Greenwald or Radley Balko, or any of us.

#282 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 01:51 PM:

albatross@280: yes, offending the powerful shouldn't be criminal. However, actually threatening people, even if they are powerful, is.

I believe, however, that Henry II would be acquitted on the "rhetorical question" defense, so Beck and Limbaugh probably aren't in any actual danger either. And changing the laws so they were would probably have bad consequences.

#283 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 02:05 PM:

Jon Baker #278: So posters like Total are driven to oppose this "odious comparison," which is related to the old corollary of Godwin's Law, that the first one to invoke the Nzis loses the argument.

A couple of Making Light threads have, in the past, earned Bentsen's Defense immunity to Godwin's Law. I think it's time I extended that immunity to blanket all of the Fluorosphere, on a permanent basis. It is well earned.

#284 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 02:06 PM:

John, #277: Better yet, substitute controversial subjects where he and his followers are likely to be on the side of government intervention...

If we are allowed to show porn on TV, you still have the option not to watch. If we are not allowed to show porn on TV, you impose your will on others.

If we are allowed to have brtns, you still have the option not to have one. If we are not allowed to have brtns, you impose your will on others.

If we are allowed to teach evolution, you still have the option of sending your child to a private school. If we are not allowed to teach evolution, you impose your will on others.

Does he really want to go there? Somehow I doubt it.

#285 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 02:16 PM:

278

"I don't see an organizing plan, or a singular leader behind the Tea Party stuff."

So the Cheneys, sp, Dick Armey and the faux people don't qualify as leadership and strategy makers for the tparty? After all cheney's been strategizing all kinds of things for a very long time, including the invasin of Iraq, and getting his way. He's a t-bagger.

Along with militias, which have received enormous tax dollar monies under his reign in D.C., the neocon - thug federal appointments judicial and other poisitions -- the faux news and radio talk show talking points memo ditto heads -- and now the tparty thang, the encouragement of english-only, the evangelical rapturists, creationist, anti-rational, anti-science, anti-documented history stances found in the Texas Board of Education approach to textbooks, all part of the same mosaic. And it is not accidental. It's strategic.

As for the uniqueness of the Jewish Holocaust -- which included millions of Others as well -- what about the planned and concerted genocide of the first populations of the New World continents? That's just one historic example, of course. (Which is pretty much left out of the Texas Board of Education edited textbooks too.)

Love, C.

#286 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 02:23 PM:

The charges in the Hutaree militia case have been laid, according to Talking Points Memo.

If the charges are valid, that was terrorism planned. I just went through the four NYT articles on the arrest, and the word "terrorism" is not once used. I just made a quick sweep of Google, and while the keyword does bring up something, it doesn't seem to be used in any articles. Oh, and here is David Dayen (FDL), with results of a more thorough check--nope, word not used.

I guess terrorists are brown, or something.

Croak!

#287 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 02:30 PM:

John #277:

However much the wording was overly fiery, though, there's some truth underlying it, which makes it effective. A great many of us are finding that which way we vote has remarkably little impact. Leaving aside the issues on which the parties provide a united front[1], lots of us voted for Obama on the idea that the war criminals from the last decade would face justice, and that scary domestic surveillance and claims of vast executive powers in the war on terror would be stopped. This didn't work our all that well. Probably a lot of people thought they were voting for health care reform that was focused on getting rid of private insurance companies, instead of focused on keeping those companies in business even to the point of forcing people to buy coverage from them. Previously, at least some people voted for Republicans on the promise of smaller government, fiscal responsibility, harsher enforcement of immigration laws[2], an end to affirmative action programs, etc. None of that happened, and there was honestly almost no interest, within the united Republican government we had for six years, in pursuing any of that agenda.

It's not the least bit unreasonable to feel like, at a national level, the big political parties are unresponsive to your beliefs, or like they'll betray their promises to voters far more easily than they will to someone really important, like health insurance lobbyists or military contractors. I strongly suspect that this drives a lot of political anger that comes out in various movements. I also suspect that Fox News and other media outlets are, in various ways, channeling this outrage (largely by how they report on it) in ways that redirect it toward acceptable-to-the-powerful kinds of protest. That's why I'd like more objective information about the Tea Partiers. I don't really trust Fox News to tell me the truth about that outrage or its popular manifestation. Nor do I especially trust CNN or MSNBC, nor for that matter David Frum, on any of this.

[1] Who are you going to vote for to stop our endless ongoing wars and occupations, to cut our pointlessly bloated military budgets, to stop bailouts of big financial companies, or to end the disastrous war on drugs? The two big parties, following the consensus of powerful people in the US, have made it clear that our input on these matters is simply not welcome. Perhaps this has an impact.

[2] Almost certainly a bad policy, but one which a lot of folks on the right have wanted for a long time. Guess what happens when social conservatives collide with business interests.

#288 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 02:31 PM:

Constance@284: "what about the planned and concerted genocide of the first populations of the New World continents?"

That's simple: there was none. Most of the native population was wiped out by disease before we made contact with them, as a result of the Spanish contacts further south.

#289 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 02:43 PM:

Constance #284: After all cheney's been strategizing all kinds of things for a very long time, including the invasin of Iraq, and getting his way. He's a t-bagger. Along with militias, which have received enormous tax dollar monies* under his reign in D.C

*

#290 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 02:51 PM:

DDB, I don't think it's that certain.

A lot more die-off happened in the 1500s and 1600s than we used to think, a great deal of it because of disease -- we know this because we now know that the pre-1492 population of both continents was a lot larger than we used to think.

On the other hand, you can fill books with blunt statements made by New World military and political leaders of European descent, clarly setting forth their intentions to reduce various native populations; that is to say, kill lots of people. That being the case, it's hardly unreasonable to talk about "planned genocides." Americans planned and executed genocides. Truckloads of generals were very plainspoken about what they were up to.

#291 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 02:58 PM:

David 287: Two words: Buffalo Bill.

#292 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 02:58 PM:

David @287: True, as far as I know. Most of the Western Hemisphere's indigenous population died of plagues that far outstripped areas of European physical presence. Furthermore, that would have happened no matter what the Europeans intended.

Which is not to say there aren't plenty of surviving statements of genocidal intent. It's just that by the time their authors made them, most of the indigenous population was gone and (largely) forgotten.

#293 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 03:00 PM:

Okay, we did not plan that.

#294 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 03:04 PM:

The Raven @285, it looks like (from what my non-lawyer self can tell by browsing through Cornell Law School's US Code site) "terrorism" is mostly something that happens outside of the United States. While the definitions of terrorism include a section on "domestic terrorism", which can "occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States", the section listing criminal penalties only seems to apply to stuff happening "outside the United States".

(There might be more relevant stuff further down the list, but I have to get ready for Seder.)

#295 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 03:10 PM:

Dan R. @273:

For some (many? most?) people, the emotional high from being right can be positively addictive – that righteous feeling, I presume – leading to many of the behaviours being discussed in this thread. . . . I don’t think the answer is to out-obsess. It’s to short circuit the neural process, but I’m buggered if I know how.

I've been thinking about this, and it seems to me there's a difference between "I believe I'm right, but I respect differences of opinion" and "i'M RIGHT AND EVERYONE HAS TO AGREE WITH ME OMG!!!111!"

Maybe "being right" is not the problem. Maybe "dissent is not allowed" is the problem.

#296 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 03:25 PM:

#280 albatross
There is a huge difference between someone shooting off their mouth once or twice, and pernicious hatemongering. Fux employees and guests habitually, perniciously promulgate hatemongering and language and attitudes with demonstrated civil rights abuses crimes consequences--but Fux and and its employees and guests and patron show almost zero remores, almost zero contrition, and almost zero actions of ceasing and desisting the hatemongering and spread of the hatemongering and consequent abuse of hatemonger targets.

Translation--Fux is an active and deliberate instigator of criminal violence, and de facto is part of conspiracy promoting and facilitating property crimes (vandalism and worse) and assault and battery.

THAT was the point my post #76, not arrest and search and seizure and suppression on the basis of isolated hotheaded antisocial remarks.

#297 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 03:35 PM:

#281 David
Henry II said that in a passing comment, he did not say each and every day how much he despised Becket and how much he wanted Becket no longer around. There is a huge difference there. He did not set up a archery target with Becket painted or paint bullseyes on paintings of Becket. He did not call for protests against the cathedral Becket was prelate at and chanting calling for Becket's removal. Etc.

#298 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 03:49 PM:

tnh@292: I was amused, still.

And I do know/admit/agree/acknowledge that there was some intent and some action to realize that intent on the hands of the colonists. Still less coordinated than many things, which is what "planned" connotes to me (planning one atrocity is bad, but planning a collection of them is more than linearly worse, by my standards).

The whole thing was terribly complicated. The apparent emptiness and disarray was partly due to the huge die-off, so it gave a rather inaccurate impression of the cultural capabilities of the natives.

Paula@296: yes, there's certainly a difference between one off-hand remark in relative private, and repeated publication of remarks. If I had to guess, I'd say Henry would have shown frustration more than once. But still.

#299 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 03:58 PM:

Xopher@291: be more specific; Google does not turn up anything supporting what I understand you to be implying. In fact multiple sites describe him as a campaigner for the rights of women and Indians, and even as an earlier conservationist, favoring hunting seasons and limiting wasteful harvest of buffalo (hide-hunting, in particular).

#300 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 04:12 PM:

Jon Baker@279: The Tea Party as such is pretty chaotic, yes. But the avowed effort to reverse the New Deal (and the Square Deal, and a bunch else) is not. From the abortive coup effort against Roosevelt to the rise of Nixon and his allies as anti-Communist crusaders to the Goldwater campaign, they laid their foundation for an attack on the government's ability to provide for the common good and for the public's belief that it should. They've been building on it ever since.

There are factional histories and stuff, but they exist with an overall framework, of de-legitimizing government as a positive force in social life except when protecting the interests of the wealthiests. It helps to view the Tea Party as one office in a large and thriving business.

#301 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 05:22 PM:

Constance@285: I wasn't saying that I believed the Holocaust to be unique. I see it rather as the logical development of antisemitism and other hatreds given the mechanical, chemical and communication tools of the early 20th Century. The Destruction of European Jewry was just one of several major destructions of Jewry throughout history. The scale and the efficiency mark it out for special treatment.

But the Romans in 67 and then even more in 135 wiped out most of the Jewish population (i.e. THE population) of the Land of Israel; after the latter event, renaming the land "Palestine" after the long-dead Philistines to deny the Jews' long history on the Land. The Assyrians in 722 BCE wiped out the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Cossacks in 1648-49 killed half the population of Jews in Ukraine/Volhynia/Podolia.

My point was that many people, including a fair subset of Jews, see the Holocaust as unique, sui generis, and don't want to "cheapen" it by comparison to less-extreme events.

Further, that there has long been a strain of domestic terrorism, to use contemporary terminology, in this country. As Bruce Baugh @ 300 notes, the Tea Parties are also just the latest manifestation of a long-standing sentiment. I'd like to think that, a) forewarned by history, both in Europe and America, and b) with the same modern tools available to us as to them, we could continue to fight that extremist attitude, as sensible patriots have done throughout our history.


#302 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 05:53 PM:

Bruce Baugh #300: It helps to view the Tea Party as one office in a large and thriving business.

"In my Republican Party's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." -- Rush-Beck Coulter.

#303 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Well, they were quick to arrest someone making threats against Cantor:
Man accused of making threats against Cantor

Sounds fairly blatant, but some of the other threats that have been cited also seem blatant.

#304 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 06:27 PM:

Xopher, #291: Two more words: smallpox blankets.

Bruce, #300: Yes, exactly. And that's one more place where the comparison to Germany fails in the specific but is reasonable if you look at the whole picture. No, there's no ONE madman with a plan -- instead, there are a large number of businessmen (or perhaps "robber barons" would be a better description) who view the destabilization of America, and its eventual takeover for their own purposes, as just one more business plan.

I really like your "one department in a large and thriving business" description for the teabaggers, because that's exactly what they are. One tool, working with a whole bunch of other tools toward the same end. And that end is not what they think it is, either -- but by the time they find that out, it'll be much too late.

#305 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 06:41 PM:

In #283, Earl Cooley III writes:

A couple of Making Light threads have, in the past, earned Bentsen's Defense immunity to Godwin's Law.

This FAQ credits Earl as the originator of Bentsen's Defense, paraphrasing Senator Lloyd Bentsen's famous line about President Kennedy:

For some, there is another way around Godwin's Law: "Not this time. I know Mike Godwin. Mike Godwin is a friend of mine.
Senator, you're no Mike Godwin."

So Earl, as the main authority on this, I'd like a ruling from you.

In the old days, both Mike Godwin and I corresponded regularly on Usenet forums. He was a law student with interesting insights into science fiction. He was also very good at explaining legal matters to those of us who weren't lawyers, especially legal matters impinging on the world of computers.

Noting these qualities, I invited him to participate on panels at the 1991 Worldcon in Chicago. That con was the one and only time we have met.

Between the time I invited him and the time of Chicon V, as it happens, he invented Godwin's Law.

Since that time he has gone on to greater things, earning even more of my admiration, but if we have exchanged any further correspondence, I don't recall it.

So here's my question: Do I count as a friend of Mike Godwin for the purposes of Cooley's, I mean Bentsen's, Defense?

Our acquaintance is slight, but we were on friendly terms. And I certainly would enjoy getting to know him better, but Fate has not brought us together again.

#306 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 06:42 PM:

Lee@304: A quick look around the web, which of course may not be up-to-date, and which can have bad information outnumbering good information, shows one case where using blankets to spread smallpox was discussed, with no evidence it was carried out (and reason to believe such evidence would exist), and another case where two blankets and one handkerchief actually were handed over. This pretty much matches my memory of this debate -- the idea provably occurred to people, there's very little evidence of it ever being implemented. Do you have reason to believe the reality is much worse than that?

#307 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 06:51 PM:

#301 Jon
Jews were not the only targets of the Nazis. While most of the victims were Jews or of Jewish descent, overwhelmingly, other systematically victimized groups included the Rom, Jehovah's witnesses, and homosexuals.

Regarding pogroms, there were also the massacres of Jews during the Crusades--the Jews of York, the massacres in the Rhineland, etc., which were part of Tea Party-like fanned intolerance which grew into mass murder....

Regarding the world today....

http://www.hsje.org/growing_up_under_pharaoh.htm
"GROWING UP UNDER PHARAOH
"By: Dr. Maurice M. Mizrahi

"....I was born in Egypt.... A few days later was Yom Kippur, and already I was learning to beat my breast in repentance. "For the sin that we have committed by dwelling permanently in the Land of Egypt".

"So I was born in Cairo in 1949 and lived there until I was 18. Then I came to the United States as a refugee...

"My native language is French. I was educated in French, then in Italian, then in both French and Arabic, then in English....
" My children's native language is English. I wonder what *their* children's native language will be? ...relatives ... scattered all over the world: Israel, the US, Australia, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and I am probably forgetting some. Such is the lot of the Jew...."

#308 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 07:35 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 247: "The good news is, in another generation it'll all be over bar the shouting. The Tea Party represent a dwindling minority."

I don't think so--their insanity-inducing bigotry may shift from health care to some new proxy, but conservatives have been complaining about the widening definition of who matters since the beginning of industrialization. Miscegenation fades away and is replaced by gay marriage, and gay marriage will someday be replaced by something new (polyamory? animal-human marriage?), but the "Oh my God my country is slipping away from me!" crowd will always be with us. Just look at the resurgence of the BNP among 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants.

Ob-Web comic

albatross @ 276: "The interesting question, to me, is whether changes in society (the whole bowling alone phenomenon, the internet, media amplification of the horrible stuff obsessive people do sometimes, narrowcasting to the obsessives on cable news and talk radio and such, etc.) is making it more common or easier for someone to become obsessed along these lines."

I worry about this too. Having to deal with a range of views every day is uncomfortable, but good practice for democratic citizenry. That the internet lets people find the one community in the whole world as interested as they are in [x] is really great when it comes to model airplanes, but rather scary when it comes to violent extremism. New social media can make the echo chamber a whole lot more echo-ey.

(Are you thinking of actual incidents of animal research bombings, or were you just providing a left-wing example?)

#309 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 08:03 PM:

If disease did the whole job why did we have what is called here the French and Indian War (for which Washington fired the first shots)? Why did we need to kill off the western buffalo herds in order to weaken the western and southwestern tribes, in order to control them and keep them from attacking the transcontinental railroad building crews? Why did General Custer die in Wyoming? Why did we need the Trail of Tears?

Love, C.

#310 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 08:07 PM:

Additionally, why is it necessary to put first peoples of the Amazon into 'protective custody,' i.e. concentration camps, run by 'missionaries,' so that their habitat and lands can continue to be plundered?

Love, c.

#311 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 08:48 PM:

Bruce Baugh @ #300, you forgot Reagan. His "Government is not the solution. Government is the problem" resonated with everyone who has ever been stuck in a line at the DMV, much less had a more serious argument about which forms are required to get some service from a government agency.

#312 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 09:15 PM:

Elliott @ 274: What were the dog-whistles you noticed in those Facebook groups? Whetever it was, must have gone right over my head, except maybe the names of the groups.

#313 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:06 PM:

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey #305: So here's my question: Do I count as a friend of Mike Godwin for the purposes of Cooley's, I mean Bentsen's, Defense?

My ruling is that I do not have the authority to anoint you as eligible to make Bentsen's Defense rulings. I have, in the past, been extremely sparing in the number of rulings I've made, so as not to dilute their impact. You could, perhaps, hang out your shingle as a Godwin's Law interpretation consultant; if you do so, I strongly urge you to keep such consultations pro bono, as a First Amendment warrior's duty.

#314 ::: Charlie Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:35 PM:

For a counterpoint to Jon Baker, passim, there's this account from Avedon Carol:

When I was a kid, my many Jewish elders had a short-hand phrase they'd use to explain their objections whenever some suggested legislation (censorship, for example) or discrimination against blacks or gays left them gasping in horror: "The Nazis did that." (Or sometimes just: "The Nazis....") These were people who remembered how it took place, with not too much disruption of everyday life, at first, and most people going unmolested and therefore not making much of it. Nothing to see here, just a few commies and Jews and a couple of queers, not any of us Normal people.... These were, you understand, people who would have been crushed if their son turned out to be gay or their daughter married "a Negro", but by god they knew better than to give an inch on these things. They didn't have to like pornography to know it shouldn't be illegal - they knew what censorship was about. They understood, with crystal clarity, that there are no good excuses for dismissing people's civil liberties.

FWIW, as someone of Jewish descent with multiple Holocaust survivors among my close relatives (not obvious from my pseudonym, even less obvious from the name on my tax returns, but true nonetheless), that's a lot closer to my personal way of thinking than the tendency reported (accurately, I think), by Jon. If the goal is "never again", we have to be able to act when it looks like things might be tending that way. It's a lot harder to do that if we're not allowed to say so...

#315 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:35 PM:

Linkmeister: I didn't forget Reagan. I chose to emphasize the foundations laid before he became the vehicle of choice for a preexisting campaign. He's important, but this wretched thing didn't start with him.

#316 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:54 AM:

Indeed, heresiarch@308, "polyamory? human-animal marriage?" might be equally likely as the next steps after legalizing gay marriage, because they're just so similar like that.

[/sarcasm]

#317 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 07:17 AM:

#314 Charlie
That was well-said.

#316 Nicole
Zoophilism occurs in various shapeshifter PNR and fantasy novels....

But since the Schmuck was/is a paraliterate who relies on other people to read things for him, he never noticed to demand censorship upon such things, I suppose.

#318 ::: rgh ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 07:22 AM:

I'm afraid my link at #275 didn't make it out of moderation:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpZ8EkK3eWY

#319 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 08:56 AM:

rgh #318: Your link was broken. The usual cause for that is forgetting to put in the quote marks. The software deletes the link entirely, and we can't recover it.

Your last post, with the broken link, is at #275.

Everyone: Please check your links in preview before you hit post. Broken links will be greyed out.

#320 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 10:09 AM:

Constance@309: Not all the additional deaths (those above the previous historical rate) in the Native American population after colonization were due to disease, no. But it was a lot over 50%; some sources claim 90%.

Somebody who massacres say 50 people -- is a 50x murderer, any way you look at it. But in terms of "genocide" -- most of the damage was done before English colonists even came to America. "We" didn't annihilate the Native Americans, unless you count unplanned and unintended and in fact unknown side-effects of ordinary actions (things Europeans did to each other all the time).

The cultural level we encountered, and the low population density, which contributed to viewing them as "savages", were largely due to the 90% die-off a while ago. Also this must have had profound psychological/cultural effects.

I believe driving herds of buffalo over cliffs was a trick we learned from the natives, too. They didn't have anything like the "green" eco-aware culture some people try to present them as today. Similarly, I believe we've now held the Dakotas for longer than the tribes we took them away from had when we took them. Doesn't make it "right", but helps to put things in perspective I find.

#321 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 10:47 AM:

I think you'll find that many of the things the US Govt did to the Indian populations after 1776 would come quite comfortably under the current operational definition of 'genocide', rendering questions about what might have happened even earlier rather moot.

Holocaust memorial museum

Wikipedia

#322 ::: Dr. Psycho ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 10:54 AM:

I don't see any point in trying to claim that what we did to the Native Americans was genocide.

Never mind the smallpox blankets -- what about driving them off their land, exterminating their prey animals, destroying their crops, burning their orchards, &c.?

Look, we did it, it was genocide, get over it. not like it's the only thing we ever did wrong.

#323 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:06 AM:

And when I was in the 4th grade we were taught that when Columbus arrived in the New World there were only 600,000 Indians on both continents and the Caribbean.

Why is saying that genocide wasn't committed on these peoples is necessary to you?

Love, C.

#324 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:20 AM:

Constance@323: It seems to me to distort the story of what happened. I'm happy to own up to the crimes perpetrated against natives by colonists, though. Hmmm; "happy" isn't exactly right, obviously. "Willing" sounds too grudging.

To understand it in context, you have to understand how European territorial issues were handled at the time, and how the Native Americans handled territorial issues between themselves, too. The distinction between "unacceptable behavior by today's standards" and "unusual behavior by the standards of the time" needs to be kept clear.

#325 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:39 AM:

DDB: Genocide is a crime of intent(if you ask me). Things done by the US Gov't (and the westward moving settlers) smack of intent. Killing bison to control Native Americans *was* done. Generals did say the only good indians they ever saw were dead.

Killing non-combatatns and wiping out entire peoples was policy.

That's genocide. That the conditions which made that easy weren't intended has nothing to do with the subsequent efforts.

Bruce Baugh: A lot of the present problems with the president can be laid at the feet of Jackson, and the congress which didn't impeach him for breaking the law ("Mr Marshall has made his ruling, now let him enforce it.")

Nicole: One of the more amazing things I've read recently was a defense of the outlawing of gay marriage because its, essentially, non-procreative nature would encourage the treatment of marriage as a merely civil undertaking, and so remove peoples' opposition to other relatinships with that (non-procreative) aspect, such as polygamy.

My mind boggled. Not so much that someone could make that argument, but that he was (though no longer) a professor of philosophy.

#326 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:43 AM:

Charlie Dodgson @314, what you posted has been my experience as well, as a secular Jewish person whose family avoided personal tragedy in the Holocaust by having had enough of the Czar in 1888, and thus being here already when the events of the Third Reich unfolded.

#327 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:06 PM:

Constance@323

I'd say that genocide was part of what was done to the Native Americans. However, most of the population decline was not due to genocide.

I'm actually rather curious where your teachers got the 600,000 figure for all of the Americas. The lowest estimate I'm aware of from any serious scholar was 8.4 million with just under 1 million north of the Rio Grande. And the "traditional" estimates used to run in the 12-15 million range for the Americas and about 1 million north of the Rio Grande.

#328 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:52 PM:

Terry: I'll gladly agree that a lot of this is the fault of what Congress let Jackson get away with.

#329 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:54 PM:

heresiarch #308:

Orac at Respectful Insolence had a long writeup of a lot of these attacks awhile back. I don't know their internal rhetoric, but it seems to me that the animal rights bombers and the pro-life terrorists (*cough*) have some similarity of approach. As far as I know, they don't imagine their attacks will trigger some kind of revolution. Instead, I think they're trying to retaliate for what they believe is some horrible evil being done by their targets, and maybe also trying to make the actions they oppose more expensive/risky and so less common[1].

[1] That strikes me as in many ways a more disturbing kind of strategy, because it can work, whereas I don't think there's any kind of terrorist attack here that could unite the majority (or any significant minority) within the US with the terrorists.

#330 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:21 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @ 316: ""polyamory? human-animal marriage?" might be equally likely as the next steps after legalizing gay marriage, because they're just so similar like that."

The human-animal marriage thing was a riff on the comic I linked to, but yes, I do think that the marriage of consenting adults who happen to have the same genitals is a lot like the marriage of consenting adults (of whatever genital combination) in groups of three or more.

David Dyer-Bennet @ 320: "Somebody who massacres say 50 people -- is a 50x murderer, any way you look at it. But in terms of "genocide" -- most of the damage was done before English colonists even came to America. "We" didn't annihilate the Native Americans, unless you count unplanned and unintended and in fact unknown side-effects of ordinary actions (things Europeans did to each other all the time)."

So if a disease kills off 95% percent of a minority group before someone systematically rounds up, kills, or imprisons the remaining five percent it doesn't count as genocide?

albatross @ 329: Wow, I hadn't heard about any of that. Definitely reminiscent of the anti-abortion movement.

#331 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:37 PM:

heresiarch@330: I don't go that far, no. But this "systematically etc. the rest" doesn't match my understanding of history; I see a bunch of more discreet events, and a large amount of interbreeding and assimilation along with the displacement and killing. And I see more indifference, perhaps depraved indifference, than I see intent to kill.

#332 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:58 PM:

Bruce Baugh @300, Earl Cooley III @302
Back when folks would praise Reagan's management style, I'd say he didn't have one. What he had was a franchising style, where he'd simply lease out parts of the business to subcontractors who would meet certain goals and get to keep any spoils they realized from it. Hence, there was the James Watt Nature Fire Sale, and the Ollie North Basement, and so on. What did Reagan not know about, and when did he last care enough to ask?

Lee @304, David Dyer-Bennet @306
Smallpox blankets are regarded by many as an urban legend. (if the nine-line URL for that doesn't work, it's the first PDF link "Did the U.S. Army Distribute Smallpox Blankets to Indians..." in a Google search for SMALLPOX BLANKETS URBAN LEGEND.) On the other hand, we have Lord Amherst, who may have put the scheme into action. So I'm damned if I know. The ancestors of our side were usually pretty much assholes when it came to the native population, that's for sure.

#333 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 04:09 PM:

heresiarch @308
I once predicted -- somewhere around 1980 -- that we'd eventually have a 'Moral Consensus' group in which gays and straights would band together against the -real- perverts. We shall see.

David Dyer-Bennet @324
If the adjectives don't fit, you must acquit. I mean, you can just leave out adjectives and write a simpler sentence. It's an option.

#334 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 04:33 PM:

DD-B @331 --

Leaving aside everything between De Soto's pigs and 1865, you're really willing to argue that the US did not elect to using the victorious Union Army and a lot of former Confederate cavalrymen to "open the West for settlement", or that this did not involve genocidal policies?

I think either would be really difficult to do.

The other thing is the thought experiment; if the Angel of the Lord had appeared to De Soto and told him that the pigs would slay millions of the natives in this new land, leading to the general collapse of the city-building cultures able to present organized resistance to the King of Spain, would he have refrained from taking them?

#335 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 04:57 PM:

Graydon@334: I'm reasonably confident that De Soto would have elected to take his pigs anyway, given how he and his men behaved in general. On the other hand, I don't feel any guilt at all about his taking a completely ordinary action whose consequences he had no reasonable chance of knowing about, either. There's plenty of other stuff to judge him a monster over, of course.

As late as 1865, I'm really not sure; I don't know that period as well as earlier. My general impression is that while some people expressed genocidal opinions, the policies were closer to indifference.

#336 ::: Alan Kellogg ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 09:41 PM:

You can tell a lot about people by their reaction to the misdeeds of their enemies. You can tell even more by their reaction to the misdeeds of their friends.

#337 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:02 PM:

Adding a lighter note to the conversation:

Teabonics

#338 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:25 PM:

My thought du jour on genocide:

Precisely because we have seen very calculated, focused attempts at genocide, it's easy sometimes to lose track of the other possibilities. Genocide isn't always the scheming deliberate "I wish you and you and you dead" kind of thing; genocide as a moral and legal charge also arises out of wanton disregard for the lives of a whole class of people.

Genocide extends to efforts aimed at making sure a whole class of people can never interfere with the activities of the classes you care about, and you don't much care how that non-interference happens. Infrastructure destruction and the refusal to interfere with one class' widespread habit of destroying another's shelter or means of livelihood are tools of genocide even though they don't require the conscious calculation of a Final Solution.

Something I learned about just recently: people arrested for the crime of homosexuality in Nazi Germany weren't eligible to sue for reparations, because the Nazi anti-gay law remained in force in Germany until 1994. Repeat offenders did not have their time in concentration camps counted as time served. Allied forces required many gay prisoners to serve out their full sentences, while other camp victims were released and returned to civil society. Some gay-rights activists see this as an Allied perpetuation of the Holocaust, and it's hard for me to see how they're wrong.

#339 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:37 PM:

338
Deciding that some group is somehow less human, less worthy of consideration, and thus can be written off if something happens ... that's close to genocide.

('Treating people like things' is another way to put it.)

#340 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:13 AM:

PJ: It's certainly right in the neighborhood, and seems likely to lead to genocide unless something happens to derail it, yes.

#341 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:07 AM:

Here, let's bring in the UN.

According to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, genocide is:

any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The US government certainly ordered and carried out (a) and (c)* and there's sufficient documentary evidence of genuine intent to get rid of the "Indian problem".

Genocide isn't tied to technology or numbers. It doesn't matter if the people being eliminated is less culturally vibrant or numerous than it was before a plague swept through it.

When you decide these people are in our way/harming us/just damned inconvenient; gotta do something about that, and then you do, or try, you've crossed the line.

-----
* and (e)? I know Canada did

#342 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:17 AM:

341
I have to say that not everyone felt that way about 'Indians', just a lot of them (and probably most of those never met any 'Indians' in their lifetimes).

#343 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:50 AM:

Bruce Baugh @338: Allied forces required many gay prisoners to serve out their full sentences, while other camp victims were released and returned to civil society.

Motherfuckers!

#344 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:45 AM:

@338 - I'd really like a cite for that information. Thanks.

#345 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 08:39 AM:

P J Evans @342, none of the definitions of genocide that I'm aware of require everyone to take part.

#346 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 09:05 AM:

Alex: Certainly. Should have included citations in the first place.

Wikipedia on "persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust", which naturally comes with all the usual reservations about Wikipedia.

Much more reliably, the US Holocaust museum on Nazi persecution of homosexuals.

As the Allies swept through Europe to victory over the Nazi regime in early 1945, hundreds of thousands of concentration camp prisoners were liberated. The Allied Military Government of Germany repealed countless laws and decrees. Left unchanged, however, was the 1935 Nazi revision of Paragraph 175. Under the Allied occupation, some homosexuals were forced to serve out their terms of imprisonment regardless of time served in the concentration camps. The Nazi version of Paragraph 175 remained on the books of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) until the law was revised in 1969 to decriminalize homosexual relations between men over the age of 21.

The continued legal and social prohibitions against homosexuality in Germany hindered acknowledgement that homosexuals were victims of Nazi persecution. In June 1956, West Germany's Federal Reparation Law for Victims of National Socialism declared that internment in a concentration camp for homosexuality did not qualify an individual to receive compensation. Homosexuals murdered by the Nazis received their first public commemoration in a May 8, 1985, speech by West German President Richard von Weizsäcker—the fortieth anniversary of the war's end. Four years after re–unification in 1990, Germany abolished Paragraph 175. In May 2002, the German parliament completed legislation to pardon all homosexuals convicted under Paragraph 175 during the Nazi era.


#347 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 09:21 AM:

abi @341--

(e) in the US? Of course! It was seen as the kinder way, by those who started places like Carlisle. My sister-in-law taught at Haskell, in Lawrence, Kansas in the late 1960s, when it was starting the transition from being a boarding secondary school to becoming a junior college. It's a four-year college now, with a very different agenda from the one it was started with in 1884. You could see the changes starting when my sister-in-law was there--at least on the part of the students and their families and tribal groups. The administration took a lot longer to catch on to what was coming.

From the little I know, there were similar efforts at forced assimilation in Australia.

One thing to keep in mind--the government may have one idea as to appropriate policy, while the people in a specific area had something else in mind; given issues of distance and the difficulties these could cause in communication and enforcement, the government was often left to mop up rather than otherwise. Policies can change from government to government, as well. Ulysses Grant thought it was a smart move to put a Seneca in charge of Indian Affairs, which is not something many other presidents would have imagined, let alone dared to try.

#348 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 10:52 AM:

#327 Michael

It was in our textbook. Where I came from, 4th grade was when history began to be taught, and the 4th grade was American history.

Even in the 4th grade I thought that number was unlikely. It just didn't make sense to me.

Since those days the numbers of first populations in the hemisphere have regularly been revised higher and higher.

Just like the the history of tool use, etc. for homo saps keeps getting revised further and further back.

Love, C.

#349 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:08 AM:

Bruce@346: hadn't heard that particular bit of disgusting history before. Thanks, I guess.

(No, thanks really; I should know.)

#350 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:13 AM:

Bruce@338: it's precisely that expansion of the concept of genocide that I've been resisting. If you expand it that far, it will lose much of its moral authority.

It's true, though, that people dead through local indifference are just as dead as those dead through central policy.

#351 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:20 AM:

David: I only learned about it myself this calendar year.

Which is, actually, a good example of why it's difficult to judge when comparisons are in order. What you know affects how you judge - or at least it should. :) But there are always things we don't know, and some of them turn out to be really important and relevant.

Which is why "What leads you to that?" is so much better a question, when dealing with someone you have reason to suspect is a clueful, moral person but is saying something that seems out of bounds, than "You must cease this!" or "What's wrong with you?"

#352 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:22 AM:

David, about broad and narrow readings of genocide: I think that the broad reading is crucially necessary in establishing the general principle that regimes have an affirmative responsibility for the survival and well-being of groups the rulers and/or dominant subculture and/or majority don't like.

#353 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:27 AM:

Abi@341: By that definition, killing one person because of their ethnic background is genocide. That's absurd, and using that as the definition will cause the term to lose its force. Can't they find a way to say "these are all very bad things to do" without defacing the trump word?

#354 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:42 AM:

DDB @353:
By that definition, killing one person because of their ethnic background is genocide.

I suppose you can twist the plain reading of intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group into one person being a "part" of the group. But it's a twist of a plain reading.

The plain reading is that it's the intent that matters: genocide is action against a group, with intent to destroy. The reason for "in part" is so that you don't have to seek to destroy every single member of [insert group] in the world to be committing genocide.

What would your definition be?

#355 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:50 AM:

To me, "genocide" should be reserved for existential-level threats.

That's how I've always understood the term, and it's certainly what the roots lead to (I do understand that etymology is not destiny).

The word is only 10 years older than me, and was certainly coined to refer to such a situation. I'm pretty sure that was the intended meaning.

#356 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:00 PM:

David, I confess, there are times you just mystify me. I hope this doesn't sound insulting. It happened on the militia thread, where you seemed not to get the idea that the fact that you and your colleagues are presumably not seriously plotting how to kill cops and kill more people at their funerals makes a real difference in your standing under the law. And it's happening here. I'm at a loss to know how to explain my position - or the UN's - at all.

I hope someone else can fill the gap.

#357 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:05 PM:

Bruce@356: in the case of plotting -- "plotting" can be inferred from somebody overhearing one intemperate remark. Or misunderstanding a gaming discussion :-). Despite being a white male property owner, I do NOT feel safe when the law depends on what's inside my head. I see how people get railroaded by the law when it wants.

#358 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:18 PM:

I see another problem with the argument that "most Native Americans died of disease, so if we happened to kill a few of the ones left over it's not genocide."

It implies to me that we couldn't even live with reduced numbers of natives. We couldn't say "Well, there's only a few of them left, so they won't take up much space. We can coexist." We had to reduce their numbers even further.

If they hadn't all died of disease, would we have let them live? I doubt it. They were in the way.

Also, the list abi provided from the UN? We've got a, c, d and e - google "native american forced sterilization" for examples of d. That's 4 out of 5, and I'm sure b has happened too.

(I don't really believe that most of them died accidentally, of disease, BTW. It's too convenient.)

#359 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:21 PM:

DDB @355:
To me, "genocide" should be reserved for existential-level threats.

So by your definition the Holocaust was not a genocide, because there were still Jews elsewhere in the world?

#360 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:23 PM:

LDR: I see, not just a few problems, but total absurdity with the strawman you erect.

#361 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:33 PM:

Abi@359: Given that I've just alluded to what the word was coined to refer to, that's kind of a stretch, to think I might mean that.

First of all, the Nazi program did call for total extermination; they just didn't achieve it.

Second of all, they were systematically working through a large geographic area; multiple countries, a big chunk of an entire continent, and eliminating the Jews in the area they controlled.

It seems to fit well enough to me.

#362 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:35 PM:

DD-B: Oh well. There's obviously no argument in the world that could convince you that Native Americans were the victims of genocide. So I'm not worried.

We'll just have to, as they say, agree to disagree. Because we sure do.

#363 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:02 PM:

The Trail of Tears was certainly intended as a genocidal move on the government's part. They intended to wipe out the Cherokees. As you say of the coining case, they just didn't succeed.

Even if you don't believe that, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 was clearly a classic case (perhaps THE classic case*) of ethnic cleansing.
___
*Though I think the Highland Clearances might give it a run for its money.

#364 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:07 PM:

David, I'm sure you don't intend your opinions to sound morally repellent. I'm still trying to figure out what's doing that.

#365 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:21 PM:

Arguing that killing a single member of a particular group then, could be labeled genocide is the same kind of argument made by those who are antagonistic to same sex marriage -- if that happens, then people will marry their dogs.

Foo.

The argument against 'others' receiving prize***** of labeling what happened to them as genocide is continual and political and financial. The Turks, for instance, are determined that genocide not be the word used for what took place to that group of people known as Armenians in 1915 by the Ottoman regime.

If a group wins the genocide prize*****, down the line they can reasonably ask for legislated inclusion in the political processes that formerly excluded them, and ask for financial reparation -- weregild, my people called it. So the fear is that if somebody else gets this crown too, my crown is worth less.

Again, foo.

Love, C.

__________________


***** I presume ML's members do understand that the use of 'prize' in this context by me is ironic in the extreme.

#366 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:29 PM:

TNH @ 364 --

I think DD-B is working on a logic that equates "genocide" with "what the Nazis did".

I think that's woefully mistaken; the practice (and, if memory serves, the word) have a long history prior to the 20th century. But if the implicative parse is "genocide = Nazi", there's a great deal of additional emotional resistance to allowing the word in context of a polity to which one belongs or feels affection.

The historical facts that the US federal government, once it had a standing army and the freedom to use it after 1865, and the several states at many times, enacted very conscious and deliberate policies to exterminate native populations within their claimed territories don't make much of a dent in the "my polity is not the Nazis" response unless that response is very consciously addressed.

#367 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:29 PM:

fidelio @347: From the little I know, there were similar efforts at forced assimilation in Australia.

See: the Stolen Generations. The movie Rabbit Proof Fence is a particularly well-done dramatization. (Kenneth Branagh's portrayal of "compassionate good intentions" is especially chilling.)

#368 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:35 PM:

Arguing about the definitions of important words is always hard. And especially earlier on, people may not have realized that's what was going on; in which case I would have seemed to be denying the bad behavior of the USA towards the Indians, which is a fraught topic for lots of people.

American (and earlier colonial) behavior towards the Native Americans was frequently horrid. In fact, I considered it a useful example to discuss genocide with regard to precisely because even as I understood the term, it was close to qualifying. It clearly does qualify by the UN definition.

Just recently I've run into two situations here where legalistic use of language interacts (in my perception) badly with ordinary discussion (the other one being 'crime of violence' in the Hutaree thread). Prosecutors use legal language to accomplish their goals, as does any other competent lawyer in court.

Genocide is a tremendously powerful word in common usage. If you look at the UN definition precisely, it does seem to say that deliberately killing one person because they are of an ethnic group you don't like constitutes genocide. Legal language needs to be precise, and that UN definition is legal language. Beyond suggesting it's an absurd outcome, nobody has yet explained how the definition as written doesn't mean that, though.

I think the use will broaden towards that definition as time passes and prosecutors push the boundaries of interpretation (always with the good intention of convicting people they think did horrid things). And when that has happened, the word will have lost most of its power.

I guess, if most people understand the word in line with the UN definition, I should probably use it that way myself. I can still argue the formal UN definition is badly phrased and is too broad.

"Crime of violence" seems to mean something different legally than it does in ordinary speech. The difference between planning to commit a massacre, and actually doing so, is profound. This is especially true when we have a group and some leaders. Even if the followers participate in training, it's by no means clear that they would actually participate in the massacre. And if they don't, then they haven't actually participated in a crime of violence in common terms, and they do not by my standards deserve the enhanced penalties associated with participating in such crimes. (And of course there are edge cases where people are going to disagree on what culpability exists where; if they know about the plan and keep quiet, and show up on the day, and hang around but don't do anything direct -- for me that's still pretty culpable; but much less so than somebody who actively herded people into a dead-end alley and shot them all.)

#369 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:39 PM:

Graydon@366: I may have been mislead by the web, then; but I checked and found the word coined in 1944 specifically to describe the Nazi extermination scheme. The clearest article I found was here but many dictionary definitions also called it out as having been invented to describe the Nazi actions.

#370 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:54 PM:

LDR@358: When they died of disease before white men ever visited them (within dozens or hundreds of miles), as many historians think happened, it's hard to consider it anything else but accidental.

This fact is morally irrelevant to how we treated the ones we did meet, of course.

However, it's probably very relevant in understanding the Indians as they looked to the white colonists. Being devastated by a series of plagues causes immense cultural effects. Nothing really excuses bad actions, but trying to understand is still important; you shouldn't just write off people as monsters who are incomprehensibly evil, whether they're enemies or ancestors.

One obvious thing that probably had consequences is that the continent looked relatively empty to the colonists, and the Indian's ideas of traditional boundaries and territories may well have been out of line with their actual population.

#371 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:57 PM:

DDB @368:

Can you explain precisely where and how you are interpreting the UN regulation? Specifically which words mean what to get to your conclusion? I can see two possible ways to wrench it there, but I was trained in the arts of contract law from the age of four; I know there is no law without loophole.

It looks to me like you're twisting the definition to find an edge case you can disagree with, and thus discount the whole thing. And yet you object when I don't even need to twist your proposed definition to exclude the Holocaust.

I can see your point about cheapening the word, but there is also a strong point to be made about recognizing the genuine magnitude of evil done in the past.

#372 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 02:10 PM:

DDB @370:
you shouldn't just write off people as monsters who are incomprehensibly evil, whether they're enemies or ancestors.

You assume that genocide is incomprehensibly evil. I wish I agreed.

I think that the impulse to isolate, blame and murder a distinct group of people is comprehensibly evil, if it's approached in stages. I think it's something we can squirm and worm our way over to, as a society. I think we need to be watchful lest we do so.

But then, I live in Europe; we walk on the same streets as people who went from treating their Jewish neighbors as friends to handing them over to be murdered. I live and work with their descendants. I'm sure I've met people who experienced that very turn in their hearts, though I don't know which ones. And I don't want to know.

I wish evil were that rare. I wish that people did not do monstrous things. But calling them by their true name does not mean we can ignore their motivations; quite the opposite. It means we have to understand them more clearly.

#373 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 02:11 PM:

Abi, I didn't start my study of contract law quite so early, but I've spent quite a lot of time paying close attention; although more on the criminal side, plus intellectual property.

The phrase "destroy in whole or in part" doesn't set any clear lower limit. Any part is explicitly included. One person is a part.

I don't even think this is accidental; I think they wanted not to be challenged on whether a mere 1000 people was enough to constitute a genocide.

I believe they intend to leave to prosecutor's discretion what actually gets prosecuted, figuring that absurd low cases will lose and no prosecutor wants to lose, especially in a high-profile case.

I see limits creeping as prosecutors use the strongest laws they think they can convict based on to prosecute people. The legal mind-set, as I understand it, works that way; you look at the words of all the laws that might apply, and the precedent, and figure out what will work best for what you're trying to do.

I vehemently oppose the kind of legal environment where everybody is technically guilty of multiple offenses, but is mostly not prosecuted for any of them (their apparent safety depending entirely on police and prosecutorial discretion). That makes anybody the chew-toy of any policeman or prosecutor who wants -- just for fun, or if they believe you know something, or if they've confused a gaming discussion for an actual plan to raid a farm. I want it to be possible for reasonable people with a wide range of interests to conduct their lives in the safety of knowing that they have NOT in fact done anything against the law, without unduly cramping their range of expression.

#374 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 02:14 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @370:

When they died of disease before white men ever visited them . . .

But how do we know that? We weren't there. It's my understanding that they kept no written records: no census, no death certificates, etc. So we have no way of knowing.

I was taught, like everyone else, that many Indians died of European diseases. The theory that these diseases spread far beyond actual white settlements is new to me, although I'm no expert.

It's a case of history being written by the victors. Of course we would say that it's not our fault.

Anyway, you can't convince me any more than I can convince you. I just plain don't believe it. Maybe I've been reading too much Sherman Alexie.

#375 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 02:17 PM:

LDR@374: The strongest evidence for that is abandoned settlements and grave sites, as I understand it (dating to the right period).

I know you're trying to back the conversation down, but I can't resist a direct question that I know the answer to.

#376 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 02:30 PM:

DD-B: okay. Cite some sources, please.

(I have to say, it doesn't invalidate my other point: no matter how many of them died "accidentally," how did we treat the ones who were left over?)

#377 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 02:38 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @ 331: "But this "systematically etc. the rest" doesn't match my understanding of history; I see a bunch of more discreet events, and a large amount of interbreeding and assimilation along with the displacement and killing."

I think the point at which the government deploys its military against a group in order to displace or destroy them, it certainly counts as systematic and organized. Cavalry regiments do not deploy themselves.

@ 370: "However, it's probably very relevant in understanding the Indians as they looked to the white colonists."

I'm sorry, but you're basing your anti-genocide argument on optics? That the colonists didn't notice that they were settling on land that belonged to someone else? I think that when you're fighting a war it's hard not to notice that the ownership of an area is in dispute--and that does not even mention all of the treaties that were signed recognizing the sovereignty of this tribe over this area, which were then ignored when it became convenient.

I think it's a little strange that you've been passionately arguing against laws which hinge on the question of intent, and yet your defense here is that the US didn't massacre all the Indians on purpose--just in little fits and bursts.

#378 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 02:51 PM:

David, #368: You appear to be arguing that a thing can't happen until there's a word to define it, and that once that word has been invented, anything that happened prior to said invention, no matter how similar, cannot possibly qualify. I disagree, and will point to the somewhat-less-fraught example of "stalking". The reason the word had to be invented was that people were doing it, and there was no way to describe the behavior precisely enough to pin it down.

The fact that "genocide" was first coined to apply to a particularly egregious example of the behavior (and one about which the prevailing opinion wasn't that it was a Good Thing) doesn't invalidate examples of genocidal behavior that predate the official word.

It would also appear, from the latter part of your comment, that I was right about what I thought you were saying in the Hutaree thread. If being an active participant in the planning of an atrocity isn't enough to warrant charges, then you are saying that nothing should be done until the atrocity has occurred.

abi, #372: "The impulse to isolate, blame, and murder a distinct group of people" is all too comprehensible to me. If I had the ability to personally kill every teabagger in America, I am not sure I could refrain from doing so. Even though I know, intellectually, that this makes me no better than they are. The difference, if it makes any difference, is that I'm not going to try to organize a group of like-minded individuals to actually go out and do it.

#379 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 02:55 PM:

LDR@376: We are not in disagreement about treatment of those "left over", as I have posted explicitly before. Not even, since I gave up on arguing the definition, with the use of the word 'genocide' there (I'm still arguing that the formal and common definition is in fact too broad for various reasons).

I remember a discussion of this in Guns, Germs, and Steel. The Wikipedia article on Genocides in History gives an overview and points to some references.

I'm not currently finding a direct online reference that addresses how the estimates for populations and for deaths were made, which is where the detail I remember would be.

#380 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:01 PM:

DD-B @379: I didn't notice that you're now agreeing it was genocide. But you are. All right.

I haven't read Guns, Germs, and Steel. There are too damn many books in the world.

#381 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:01 PM:

LDR @374, it may not be precisely true -- or at least, not demonstrably so, for the reasons you list -- that many Indians died of introduced diseases before first contact, it is certainly true that many did so between first contact with individual explorers and contact with whites in greater numbers -- there's a lot of discussion of this in 1491, describing situations where the first European explorers describe seeing settlements every few miles along a particular river, and the areas being almost completely depopulated when Europeans arrived in larger numbers some time later. Trade spread disease, as it always does, and the originators of the disease don't have to be involved in every leg of the trade networks for that to be the case.

#382 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:13 PM:

374 LDR

[ "I was taught, like everyone else, that many Indians died of European diseases. The theory that these diseases spread far beyond actual white settlements is new to me, although I'm no expert." ]

This theory achieved popular dissemination via 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (2006) by Charles Mann.

Many of the ideas Mann promulgates in this work have been received with skeptism or attacked or both, from many points of view, also while many others of his ideas are part of accepted current scholarship.

More work, as They Say, remains to be done.

Love, c.

#383 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:16 PM:

378 Lee

["If being an active participant in the planning of an atrocity isn't enough to warrant charges, then you are saying that nothing should be done until the atrocity has occurred." ]

In fact, this is much the bind that police and courts insist they are in vis a vis women being stalked by men who have made it clear they are going to kill them. So the women get killed.

Love, C.

#384 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:17 PM:

lorax @381: is it possible that the inhabitants had just moved elsewhere? I believe Native Americans were often migratory, some tribes at least.

Constance @382: yeah, that's the thing about history.

#385 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:33 PM:

LDR @384 --

No. (Where would they *go*? What would they eat? You don't move out of a high-productivity river valley and get enough food elsewhere. Not to mention careful study of the abandoned settlements and oral traditions.)

No one now alive has seen a greenfield epidemic, but we have historical records; entire cities died when measles first arrived in Asia Minor, for instance.

You can identify some diseases from skeletal remains; tuberculosis is one of them. You can find some virus particles in grave soil. (Hel's Teeth, they pulled live bubonic plague out of some very carefully opened graves in England this decade). The case that a greenfield influenza epidemic did for the Mississippi Mount-Builder culture is about as good as anything can be.

#386 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:39 PM:

384 LDR

O, be assured, the First Population died from diseases in their untold thousands, and very quickly. It was counted on. If they didn't die fast enough, then it was time to exercise Other Means, and exercise these other means was certainly accomplished also, with a high mission success metric.

And yet, somehow, those pesky first populations managed to hang on, and breed themselves right back into existence. And then have casinos, thereby outraging with righteous anger Donald Trump, the mafia and other organized criminal groups, and all those who own Las Vegas, the steamship casinos, etc.

Isn't history weird?

Love, C.

#387 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:42 PM:

Constance@386: I think of the casinos as fitting revenge for alcohol.

Some sources I encountered while looking for stuff for LDR earlier today suggest that there may be more Native Americans in North America now than when Columbus landed.

#388 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:42 PM:

Words are more rigidly defined than emotions, and genocide swims in a profoundly deep emotional pool. If you can convince one side that "yes, it is" rather than "no, it isn't", what does that get you?

#389 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:44 PM:

Constance@348

The thing is, as far as I can gather, the estimates of the ~1492 population of the Americas have never been anywhere near as low as 600,000, so I'm wondering where the textbook would have gotten that figure.

Even for the population north of the Rio Grande, the estimates generally ran higher than 600,000.

(In #327 above I mentioned an estimate of 8.4 million for the Americas. The associated estimate for north of the Rio Grande was 900,000.)

#390 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:44 PM:

I'm beginning to feel like we're piling on David. I don't think he intends any horribly evil outcome.

Actually I agree with him that the UN definition needs tightening up. It needs some term like 'a significant portion' instead of 'part'. Or it could say "significantly reduce the population" of the targeted group. Then you could argue about the definition of 'significant', but no one would argue that an individual counts (unless s/he's one of twenty remaining Schlorbians or whatever).

I think there's a good reason not to give a precise percentage in the definition; as Teresa has pointed out about moderation, firm rules let people game the system, and your rules and human pernicious creativity are in a perpetual arms race. This is particularly horrendous with regard to genocide; make it 15% and the bastards will set out to kill 14.9%.

I also think the UN definition needs to include forced relocation, which is a way of eliminating a particular population from a specific area (i.e. ethnic cleansing). I think that needs to be moderated with the notion of intent to cause death or depraved indifference to life, but I'm not sure exactly how; I still want slaughtering a whole village to be considered worse than just chasing them away. At a minimum relocators should be entirely responsible for the basic needs of the relocatees during and after the relocation (I mean to avoid the charge of attempting genocide; I think forced relocation should still be a crime).

#391 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:45 PM:

Steve@388: If you can convince people that the word applies to lesser and lesser offenses, eventually you will dry up the emotional pool. In the meantime, you will probably be able to pass punitive laws based on the deep emotional pool that legally apply to the precisely defined word, thus inflicting out-of-proportion punishment on some people at will. Prosecutors love discretion!

Generally the steps are small, so each one doesn't really make much difference.

#392 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:58 PM:

Graydon @385:

Where would they *go*? What would they eat? You don't move out of a high-productivity river valley and get enough food elsewhere.

I said "migratory." They go from one place to another. Then they go back, like birds.

For example, if I lived in a fertile river valley, I might think about temporarily relocating when flood season came around. Or I might hang out at the beach in summer, and move inland in winter. You know the sort of thing.

I was just speculating.

#393 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 04:23 PM:

LDR or just a slow, circular pattern of grazing, for herding peoples.

I was taught in school that native peoples lived in Michigan, but only in the winter. In the summer it was considered uninhabitable due to the insect life, which is another reason people might migrate.

#394 ::: GC80 ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 04:38 PM:

If the definition of "genocide" is broadened, won't we need a new word for the narrow definition?

#395 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 04:42 PM:

Xopher @393: I learned about a similar pattern in New England, where I grew up. When mosquito season comes around, you do start to wonder if those "primitive peoples" knew a thing or two.

More on the topic of disease migration: I remember now that the horse escaped from Spanish conquistadores and reached the Southwest/American Plains several generations before European humans got there. It was welcomed as some kind of miraculous animal, supposedly. That would be ironic if disease followed it, or came with it.

#396 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 04:49 PM:

LDR: According to Lame Deer (cited here):

We had no word for the strange animal we got from the white man--the horse. So we called it sunka waken, "holy dog." For bringing us the horse we could almost forgive you for bringing us whiskey. Horses make a landscape look more beautiful.

#397 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 04:56 PM:

Xopher - yes, that. There's also a cute story in American Indian Myths and Legends (Pantheon) about somebody (a Cheyenne?) traveling far to the south to get one of those special dogs.

#398 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 05:09 PM:

abi #372:

Amen.

Watching what's happened in the US w.r.t. torturing our enemies has made it all too clear to me how this process happens, or at least one way it can happen. That happened to a country that was and is the richest and most powerful one on the globe, a couple decades after a historic and breathtaking victory over its great rival, after about 3000 people were killed. Compare this with the conditions in Europe that set up the Holocaust (devastating war, humiliating and painful terms for peace, economic meltdown, massive social instability), and it's not at all hard to see how it happened.

And, of course, you don't have to look too far back in US history to find sane, decent, polite, nice people who were willing to support having black families driven out of town, or having black people get beaten up or killed to keep them out of the town or properly deferential to whites or whatever. Good Christian folks, educated people, socially minded, generous, morally upright--all the markers for decent people. And they were just fine with having the black family's house burned down, or having the mouthy black kid strung up, as long as they didn't personally have to do it with their own hands.

This is a built in, known failure mode of the human moral sense. Being willing to turn in Jews when everyone else is doing it isn't the unusual case. The unusual case is being the guy who *won't* turn them in when everyone else is. And like other bugs in our mental toolkit, denying their existence or asserting our immunity to them is dangerous as hell.

#399 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 05:15 PM:

Indians, genocide, pretty much yes.

First we make the big distinction, which is that most of them were killed off by plague. We are now talking about the surviving populations.

Why was it genocide? They got killed because they were Indians. They were killed actively and intentionally by people who were comfortable with the idea of all of them dying if it should come to that, and government, law enforcement, and other social mechanisms didn't do nearly enough to stop it. In some cases, government and law enforcement were what was doing it.

Not all actions taken against the Indians were genocidal in intent, but plenty of them were. How do we know that? In some cases, because they said so. The line about how the only good Indian is a dead Indian wasn't Philip Sheridan's. It was said right there in the United States House of Representatives by Rep. James M. Cavanaugh (D-MN):

"I like an Indian better dead than living. I have never in my life seen a good Indian - and I have seen thousands - except when I have seen a dead Indian."

As Gore Vidal said in a discussion of American treatment of Filipinos during the Spanish-American War, if that doesn't qualify as genocide, it'll do until the real thing comes along.

Not all of the Indians were killed, of course. That isn't proof of benign intent. It's just another demonstration of the fact that it's nearly impossible to kill off that many people unless you have the resources to turn it into an industrial process, and it's hard even if you do. Look at the Khmer Rouge. They only managed to kill off 20% of their population, and they really worked at it.

Anyway, I don't see why there's all this fussing with definitions. Genocidal treatment of the Indians is part of our national heritage, just like our long tolerance for slavery and our endless commercial opportunism. It's not as though the same things aren't still going on in places like Guatemala, Paraguay, and Amazonian Brazil.

And it's not as though we're the only country that's touchy about admitting it. The word "genocide" was invented to describe the kind of thing that happened to the Armenians, but referring to the Armenian genocide in the Republic of Turkey* can still land you in jail. The Japanese periodically mumble a few admissions about Nanking, then go back to trying to sweep it under the carpet. You wouldn't think the Germans had any squeamishness left when it comes to genocide, but they're still holding out on the Hereros. The Czechs' answer to any questions about the Romani appears to be either "We've finally stopped doing that -- this time for sure!" or "One of these days we need to do something about that." And so forth. Hutus, Tutsis. Genocide is a thing that happens.

It would be nice if the genocide of the American Indians were uniquely awful, because it would mean a lot of other horrible events never occurred. Too late. They did. Part of the ongoing process of civilizing the world is getting it to stop happening. We're working on that.

_________________________
*Some of the preferred explanations: The deaths weren't orchestrated by the government, just everything that led to them. It can't have been genocide because the word didn't exist yet. The government was right to kill the Armenians on account of the threat posed by their Russian sympathies. And besides, a lot of ethnic Turks died too during the Great War, so there.

#400 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 05:24 PM:

David @369, you have been misled by the web, or at least the parts of it you've been using as sources. The concept of genocide in international law goes back to a presentation made by Raphael Lemkin in 1933, and was intended to describe the sort of things that happened to the Ottoman Armenians.

See my previous comment. Requiring that genocide meet the standards of the Shoah clarifies no issues, and deprives us of a useful and widely understood word.

#401 ::: Anonymous for now ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 05:43 PM:

ddb #391: This is exactly what's happened (in the USA, but spreading from here) with both drug abuse (sales-> possession-> testing positive-> failing to report) and pedophilia (rape-> statutory rape-> fondling-> nudity-> photography-> non photographic images-> thought). So far, the last step or two in each case is still being stalled by Constitutional protections, but they're still being pushed by those with an interest in prosecutions.

With respect to genocide, the "even one person" issue led to "hate crimes", whose ambiguity can be used to undermine the whole goal of protecting minorities.

#402 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 05:44 PM:

T@400: The link you give specifically dates the coinage of the word to 1943 and first publication to 1944:

Raphael Lemkin (June 24, 1900 – August 28, 1959) was a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent. Before World War II, Lemkin studied the Armenian Genocide in depth and campaigned in the League of Nations to ban what he called "barbarity" and "vandalism". He is best known for his work against genocide, a word he coined in 1943 from the root words genos (Greek for family, tribe or race) and -cide (Latin for killing).[1] He first used the word in print in Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation - Analysis of Government - Proposals for Redress (1944).

Lemkin is the man credited in the source I cited, which also gives the date 1944.

Our sources agree, it seems to me; but they agree on 1944 and reference to the Nazi actions.

#403 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 07:01 PM:

ddb, #391: And so we're back around to asking why you are so bound and determined to prove that the term does not apply to what was done to the Native American tribes. From the vigor of your arguments, you clearly do consider this a "lesser offense", but your stated reasons for doing so are on shaky ground at best.

#404 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 07:05 PM:

When it comes to genocides, I am always gripped by the curious case of the Herero and Namaqua which was the pioneering genocide of the twentieth century, and the opening act for one carried out by the government of the same country a little later in the century. I am fascinated by the fact that the successor governments have managed to avoid acknowledging what happened in Namibia as a genocide.

#405 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 07:14 PM:

I can, in some ways, see some of what I think some of what DDB's point is.

DDB, am I right in thinking intent matters, to you? Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

#406 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 07:18 PM:

Here's an unpleasant thought: was the term "genocide" coined to describe what the Nazis did, not because it was the first occurrence, but because it was the first time that crime had ever been prosecuted?

#407 ::: soru ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 07:27 PM:

Look at the Khmer Rouge. They only managed to kill off 20% of their population, and they really worked at it.

Which bring up one of the problems with the UN definition: the list of groups you are not allowed to massacre are 'national, ethnical, racial or religious'. The notable exclusion is political or economic groups, e.g. social classes. It seems to have actually been the case that Stalin drafted that bit, to make sure there was no legal objection to the liquidation of the Kulaks.

The Khmer Rouge were, as it happens, also genocidal, in that they tried to wipe out ethno-religious groups like the Chams. But if you read the law literally, then things like killing all schoolteachers is allowed.

That's why I prefer the term democide, read as covering any serious attempt to forcibly alter demographics.

#408 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 07:27 PM:

ddb @ 402: That's, at best, an interesting historical side note. The term "gravity" wasn't used until the 1640s, but I think it's clear that the phenomenon rather predates that designation.

On another note, I think that a paucity of data points might be hindering our (my) understanding of your position. How do you feel about the use of the term genocide in relation to Rwanda, or Darfur? What about the Armenian situation Teresa mentions? Alternately, what are the characteristics that you feel are definitive for genocide?

#409 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 07:37 PM:

I first saw Herero mentioned in Gravity's Rainbow, so I thought Thomas Pynchon had made them up.

#410 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 07:43 PM:

#390 Xopher
Half the population of Israel consists of Jewish refugees who fled Islamic countries less than a century ago and their descendants. They're among the hardest hardliners in that country, many resenting what they see as the hypocrisy of the rest of the world ignoring their existence and forbidding them from moving to Jerusalem, which Israel in the wake of multiple war controls access to, when the rest of the world failed to provide any security and support and protection and rights for their families in the Islamic countries they had in some cases been present in for thousands of years before emigrating to Israel due to denial of any privilege or right to citizenship, and due to harassment, violent persecution, livelihood deprival, ghettoization, possessions confiscation, and even denial of permission to emigrate, from the likes of Yemen, Morroco, Libya, Eygypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Eithipia, Tunisia, the west bank of the Jordan, Jordan, etc.

There are no Jews allowed in Mecca and Medina, Jews were driven out with murderous prejudice from Cairo, Alexandria, Beirut, Tyre, Tripoli, Basra, Baghdad, Tunis, Tehran, Damascus, Sana, Bethelehem, Amman, East Jerusalem, etc. Those driven out and their descendants, don't appreciated being told, "You can't move to East Jerusalem because there are non-Jews who object to Jews living in East Jerusalem" when they were driven out with no recompense as indigent refugees from the cities and towns and village they families had been living going back in some cases thousands of years.

#411 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 07:55 PM:

I think there is a distinction of intent between the US government's actions against the Indians and the Nazi government's actions against the Jews, though both were horrible (and both may qualify to be called "genocide").

Specifically, the main goals of the US actions appear to have been conquest and assimilation, with killing often seen as acceptable means to those ends where "necessary", but, in terms of overall government policy, not usually an end in itself. For some individuals it *was* an end in itself, as seen by the quotes from Rep. Cavanaugh and others upthread. But Rep. Cavanaugh did not speak for the US government as a whole.

In the case of the Nazis, the killing *was* specifically the end intended, and this was the clear intent of Hitler and his underlings. It wasn't enough to take away the Jews' land, or assimilate them, or transport them elsewhere: the goal was extermination.

So, in the US, Indians that gave up their land claims, adopted "white" clothes and customs, converted to Christianity, and moved into town would generally be left alone by the government (though not necessarily their neighbors) in most cases, as I understand it. (I'm not a historian, and there may well have been exceptions to this; but if this generally was *not* true, I'd appreciate hearing more from people who know more about this.)

But this sort of blending in was not enough for the Jews who lived under the Nazis. It wasn't enough for them to be conquered and assimilated; they eventually had to be rounded up and killed regardless.

None of this is meant to excuse or minimize what happened in the US; but I wonder if this distinction is one of the things that DDB is trying to get at.

#412 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 08:01 PM:

Paula Lieberman #410: I'm certain that such arguments bear considerable weight with the survivors of Kibya, Deir Yasin, Sabra and Shatila, and other such events.

#413 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 08:03 PM:

#382 Constance
In this part of the USA, it's only a matter of a few decades for the entirety of an abandoned house except the foundation to disappear. The vegetation aggressively takes over. After a few centuries, there's little left to indicate there was a population.

In other parts of the USA, satellite imaging showed ancient civil works such as pre-Columbia irrigation canals in the southwest, that had gone unknown and unrecognized and unconsidered until analysts happened to notice the features when looking though remote sensing data--they hadn't had any clue the civil works existed, until they were looking at the images and noticed features too regular and rectilinear and extensive to be natural.

#415 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 08:50 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 410: I am as unimpressed by the "they did it first!" defense as I ever was.

#416 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 09:05 PM:

#412 Fragano
The atrocities at Shatilla were committed by Lebanese nationals. A lot of Israelis were very much against the invasion of Lebanon and occupation. Most wanted the rocket attacks and terrorists bombings stopped, which was what incited the occupation.

Personally, I lost my sympathy for people who were on their third generation in displaced persons camps and not attacking the people who refused to allow them immigrant status and citizenship, instead of continuing to play shock troops cannon fodder against a country they'd been gone from for decades, back in the 1990s.

Are the Armenians whose families got driven out of Turkey in camps bordering Turkey bombing Turkey? Etc. ....

#417 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 09:54 PM:

Are the Armenians whose families got driven out of Turkey in camps bordering Turkey bombing Turkey?

At least one Armenian (immigrant?) attacked the Turkish consulate in Los Angeles.

I usually describe this as 'your grandpa killed my dad, so now I have to kill you'.

#418 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 09:56 PM:

David, I was initially working from a different source that didn't distinguish (1.) Lemkin's 1933 presentation at the Madrid conference of the League of Nations on the idea that what he then called a "crime of barbarity" -- at the time, he was talking about the Ottoman Empire's treatment of Armenians and Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christians -- was or should be an offense against international law, and (2.) the first use of the word itself. He kept pushing for The Crime Latterly Known as Genocide to be formally prohibited under international law, and was the prime mover and shaper behind what eventually became the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

If you needed a word for "that thing that happened to the Armenians and Assyrian Christians during the Great War, to the Jews and Gypsies and homosexuals during WWII in areas controlled by the Nazis and their allies, and to the Rwandan Tutsis in 1994," there's a real good chance that the word you'd wind up with is genocide.

Nobody with any sense looks at the killing of one person and says "genocide." If some guy has an insane aversion to (say) people who speak Boontling, and he talks about them like vermin, blames them for all his troubles, comes up with nasty words to call them, and eventually proposes to kill them, we don't call those genocidal impulses; we say he's crazy. If he does kill one or more of them, we call it homicide.

Can someone refer to one-off instances prejudice, threats of violence, and assault or murder as genocide? Sure they can. People can say a lot of things. It doesn't give the usage currency. And if some scholar out there is using the word for one-offs, put me down as being neither impressed nor concerned. My expertise is in the language as she is spoke.

Single instances of prejudice can't be the basis for prohibitions on hate speech, because if there aren't enough instances to establish widely-recognized patterns, speech acts can neither function as nor be identified as hate speech. That is: hate speech only works as hate speech if people already knows what the words mean.

#419 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:00 PM:

Paula @410, was there some reason you decided to use Xopher's comment @390 as a launch-pad for a stored rant on the settlement of East Jerusalem, a divisive topic which had not previously been under discussion in this already tense thread?

#420 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:16 PM:

Lee@403: From my point of view, the question is becoming, why are you so bound and determined to defeat straw-men, rather than engaging with me in discussion?

Please read my @368 (and later messages).

#421 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:19 PM:

Paula 410: Now that Avram mentions it, I'd like to see that connection made explicitly too. It seems like kind of a non-sequitur to me.

#422 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:26 PM:

FWIW, the first OED cite for the word "Genocide" is Lemkin in 1944. He was working with the idea as far back as 1933 and he does seem to have been concerned with the Nazis. (Lots of Lemkin's writings at preventgenocide.org.) The concept, of course, is much older: "Carthago delenda est," for instance. I am puzzled as to why there is so much dispute over the word. In the end, it is all about making food for corvids. Or not.

Croak!

#423 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:36 PM:

T@418: I am not at all comfortable counting on sense, intelligent reading, and good will in the interpretation of law. I've watched drug term creep, I've watched domestic abuse creep, I've watched child pornography creep; people are VERY good at pushing interpretation along, not particularly limited by any of those things.

John@411: That's part of it; the intent doesn't look to have been elimination, it seems to have been profit (taking the land). The elimination was because some people felt that way, because they weren't very good at relocation, and due to depraved indifference. Furthermore, we weren't very good at it. 4,000 out of 17,000 (Trail of Tears) is horrid, but in terms of actual attempts to wipe out, strangely ineffective.

heresiarch@408: I don't get your point here. You're attaching some weight I'm not seeing to something somewhere, but I don't get what yet.

Remember, I'm currently working with the UN definition. Those all qualify, as I understand it.

I've said quite a lot about problems I see with that definition already, not sure what I have to add at this point.

Kate@405, yes, intent matters to me.

Roughly, this is the history of the word genocide as I understand it: First, it labeled a serious attempt to wipe out an ethnic group. Over time, a lot of other stuff got attached, including attempts to destroy the culture rather than the actual people, attempts to change where they lived, and attempts to remove them from one particular area. I see this as devaluing the work, trying to cash in on its strong emotional freight. All those things are bad things, or at least the ways of doing them that have been tried are bad things; but some of them are spectacularly worse than others. Nevertheless, they're now officially under one flag, and that seems to be the definition that people here all pretty much agree on, and so be it. Just, please, remember this when the topic is discussed!

I seem to be out of time, sorry if I've missed anything important. Don't count on my getting back to it either, with Minicon this weekend.

#424 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:55 PM:

TNH@400 and others:

Lemkin's 1943 definition:

[G]enocide signif[ies] a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.

So it's a WW2-era term created to be an English term for what was regarded as a unique occurrence, the Holocaust. Note that he did not coin and use this term for the Armenians, until after the Final Solution was underway.

Note: it needs to be "systematic and deliberate," as Wikipedia defines it, to be a "coordinated plan of ... actions." So Bruce's "casual indifference" isn't included.

ddb@355, abi@359:

As for "existential-level threats" not applying to the Holocaust: just because there were Jews elsewhere, doesn't make it not an existential-level threat. An entire thousand-year culture of European Jewry, the center of Jewish learning since the Renaissance, with thousands of teachers, hundreds of thousands of students, and the millions of Jewish society who made the Torah culture possible - wiped out. Only a very few of the major figures escaped, and even fewer of their serious students.

Most Jews outside of Eastern Europe had already moved to the non-Orthodox, less- or anti-traditional denominations by WW2. They had consciously left that culture. The Torah culture of Eastern Europe, while already challenged by creeping Reform and Communism, was destroyed between 1939-1945.

IOW, Jews aren't interchangeable on an existential level - we have our subgroups and subcultures as much as any other religion or nationality.

Paula: Re the Eastern Communities refugees.

One way that is perceived is as half of a population exchange. Not that the 1923 Greek-Turkish population exchange was such as shining moment in international relations, but it does provide a precedent.

So too here: the Middle Eastern Muslim countries kicked the Jews out in the early 1950s, and they went to Israel, which offered a refuge. So, many feel that Israel should complete the population exchange, and expel the Arabs from the Territories, which were just dumped on them by Jordan and Egypt in the 1970s and 80s. (Egypt gave up claim to Gaza, Jordan gave up claim to the West Bank). After all, what's sauce for the Jews should be sauce for the Muslims.

But of course, while the world refuses to call Turkey to account for its genocides against the Armenians and Assyrians, or call the Muslim lands to account for their expulsions of Jews, you better believe they would reject and possibly invade Israel should Israel dare to try such a plan.

By the way, the Turkish government pays off many major universities, endowing Near-Eastern Studies departments on condition that none of the scholars at those universities, including my beloved Princeton, say anything about the Armenian Genocide?

Fragano@412:

The nature of Deir Yassin as "masscre" or "battle" is still an open question. The accusation of "massacre" was originally made by an intelligence officer interested in suppressing Menachem Begin's party, so he accused them of masscring the villagers. What is not an open question is the Arab policy of genocidal war against the Jews starting in 1948, 1936, 1929, 1921, 1920 at least. So call it "they did it first" or call it "they set the terms, they got what they asked for, just not in the way they wanted", it was the way war was conducted. They wanted to sweep us into the sea, we took a stand.

TNH@418:

Connection? Because far too many people call all or part of Israel's relations with the Pal-Arabs "genocide." Whereas, the genocidal practices, population transfers and ethnic massacres, were used by the Muslims themselves against the Jews long before the State of Israel, as well as after its establishment. It's hard to call an ongoing mutual conflict a "genocide".

#425 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 12:25 AM:

Jon 424: They wanted to sweep us into the sea, we took a stand.

Us? We? Are you an Israeli?

If so, that tells me something about the background to your statements. I won't dismiss them on those grounds, but I should know that I'm getting a specifically Israeli point of view.

If not, you're misidentifying the State of Israel with the People Israel: that is, the modern country IS NOT the Jewish People, much as many Israelis and their supporters like to confuse the two. The so-called "frontline" Arab states were never going to sweep the Jews of New York (who outnumber those in Israel IIRC) into the sea. Israel's action in "taking a stand," legitimate as it may have been, didn't make the Jews in Brooklyn any safer: it was a NATIONAL security action, not an action taken on behalf of the Jewish People.

I bring this up because that misidentification is so often used in these parts to squelch any criticism of Israel: if you say you think Net & Yahoo* is a warmongering POS, you get accused of antiSemitism, as if Net & Yahoo were King David or something. Well, it's bullshit and I'm sick of it. Israel is a country and should be held accountable for its actions like any other country. Same goes for Saudi Arabia, Mecca or no Mecca.

If you ARE an Israeli you can disregard the last two paragraphs, which do not apply to you.
____
*Yes, I know. I'm being deliberately disrespectful of that warmongering POS.

#426 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:00 AM:

I don't really have a dog in this hunt, I guess. David (Dyer Bennett), that makes sense, in terms of where your feeling on the origin and intent of the term came from.

I actually agree that the UN definition should have a few more DSM type "if 4 or more of these categorizations apply, then this is genocide," sorts of things. But from what someone upthread said, Stalin was busily trying to find weasel ways out of that definition, so it's no wonder it's not fully workable.

For me, even using Lemkin's definition of genociude (that is, " [G]enocide signif[ies] a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves"), the slow but steady war against the Indians of the time counts. Particularly in the late 1800s (and the Trail of Tears, earlier). There was a LOT of deliberate destruction of the ties, culture, and cohesion of those groups, in addition to just plain ol' killin', of which there was a gracious plenty. No, there wasn't gassing people in gas chambers, but it's kind of like apples and oranges, at that point.

But am I right that some of what you're concerned about is guilt attached to modern-day US citizens about this, or am I reading some of your earlier statements wrong? (Could well be that I'm oversensitive to the suggestion.)

#427 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:05 AM:

Xopher@425:

Have you ever been to Israel? As a Jew? If you had, you might have realized that all Israel is one family. I was on a bus in 2002, a city bus in Tel Aviv, the "secular" city. The driver turned up his radio when the announcer read out a list of people who had died the night before, enroute to a bas-mitzva in one of the most Orthodox areas of J'lem. Everyone on the bus was affected, some openly sobbed, or put their heads down. All Israel is one family, descended from Grandfather Israel. We are a nationality, not a religion. We have a political state at present, but not all of us live there, just as not all ethnic Chinese live in China.

You don't need to lecture me on Am Yisrael vs. Medinat Yisrael. But know that the Arabs are not opposed to Medinat Yisrael, they are opposed to the Jews. They massacred us in the Galilee (half a dozen villages with people killed, or the whole village driven out) in 1920, they massacred us in Jerusalem in August 1928 (133 dead over several days), they massacred us in Hebron in 1929 (67 dead, the rest driven out of city which had had a continuous Jewish presence since antiquity).

My sister has lived in Israel since 1975, her husband & children did their IDF service, her in-laws were there since before the founding of the State. My wife's grandfather was living in the Galilee in 1920, and came to the US the next year.

And where do you get the idea that there are more Jews in New York than in Israel? There are about 1 million Jews in New York, if that, and less than 2 million in the Metropolitan Area all told. There are 5.5 million Jews in Israel. And 1.5 million Arab citizens.

As for outsiders accusing Jews/Israelis of being warmongers or whatever, it is well-known:

"At home, me against my brother. In the house, me and my brother against our cousins. In the village, me, my brother, my cousins against our neighbors. Outside, me, my brother, my cousins and our neighbors against the whole world."

One has to have certain "insider" credentials to have one's accusations against others taken seriously. They don't generally care about American Jews' accusations, why should they care about American non-Jews'?

So no, you don't appear to have the standing to talk about Bibi as being a "warmongering point-of-sale."

And yes, they wanted to sweep us into the sea, we took a stand. And there was no US backing Israel up. They remain as committed today to our destruction as they were in 1920 or 1948, but they have begun to realize, like Hilter after the Beer-Hall Putsch (which is where this thread started, after all), that politics and diplomacy are the tools by which to accomplish it.

#428 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:06 AM:

Jon Baker @424: But of course, while the world refuses to call Turkey to account for its genocides against the Armenians and Assyrians, or call the Muslim lands to account for their expulsions of Jews, you better believe they would reject and possibly invade Israel should Israel dare to try such a plan.

Of course, one of those nations refusing to acknowledge the Turkish genocide of Armenians is Israel itself.

Xopher @425, many Diaspora Jews identify with Israel. If this is news to you, then, man, I don't know what to say.

Also, "Net & Yahoo"? Really?

#429 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:11 AM:

ddb, #420: I have been reading you, in close detail. I am engaging with what you say. If I am not engaging with what you mean, perhaps it would be more useful to clarify your communication rather than accuse me of raising strawmen. Your grudging acknowledgment that other people do seem to understand "genocide" as covering what was done to the Native Americans was immediately followed by curmudgeonly grumbling about how that understanding stretched the word all out of definition, and a "killing one person now counts as genocide" strawman of your own.

and @423: Well, that does clarify your position a great deal. I still think you're straining at gnats, and that much of what you see as "definition creep" (particularly in the areas of domestic abuse) is better defined as "loss of privilege" -- but that's going to start an entirely different argument if we get going on it, and I'll drop it here if you will.

#430 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:14 AM:

Jon Baker, #424: "So it's a WW2-era term created to be an English term for what was regarded as a unique occurrence, the Holocaust. Note that he did not coin and use this term for the Armenians, until after the Final Solution was underway."

Lemkin developed the concept in 1933 and named it genocide sometime before 1944. By 1947, he wrote:

Genocide is now established as a crime under international law on a plane with piracy although no treaties were signed to this effect. The usefulness of a future international treaty on genocide lies in facilitating the prevention and punishment of the crime and apprehension of criminals. According to the second paragraph of the resolution, member states are to enact suitable legislation. No great difficulties are involved in this field since genocide is a composite crime and consists of acts which are themselves punishable by most existing legislation. The main task will be to redraft provisions into criminal law formulae based upon the specific criminal intent to [p. 151] destroy entire human groups. Such redrafted Provisions will have to be adjusted to the principle that the offenders are punishable in a given country even if the crime is committed abroad. This last principle is the symbol and practical application of the higher doctrine of moral and legal solidarity in protecting the basic values of our civilization.

However little you like it, the concept was intended as a concept of law, to be applied equally to all states and people. ***

For the rest, I say that "He did it too" are the words of a child seeking to avoid responsibility. Claims of national unity ring hollow when they are the defense of atrocity.

Croak!

Cite: Raphael Lemkin, "Genocide as a Crime under International Law" American Journal of International Law (1947) Volume 41(1):145-151.

#431 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:18 AM:

Avram: Israel has to maintain good diplomatic relations with Turkey, so they say what they have to. E.g., during drought years, they buy water from Turkey. Israel also sells arms to Turkey, and is planning to build a pipeline to buy oil, gas, water and power from Turkey. They have a free-trade agreement.

#432 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:25 AM:

OK, Jon, so you ARE doing exactly what I called "bullshit" before. Good to know. And since you dismiss my opinion of Bibi, I will dismiss your opinions as well. Guess what, I don't need "standing" to have an opinion. Tell me why I'm wrong, or don't, but if it's just because I'm not a Jew that I don't have "standing," then you really can go straight to hell. Jews aren't uniquely privileged to have opinions about the behavior of Israel, any more than people of Irish extraction have special rights to opinions about the Republic of Ireland.

It's a country. It may be special to you, but that's all it is to the rest of the world -- except to the people for whom it's a must-be-destroyed. Guess what, I'm not one of those just because I think Netanyahu (see, I can spell his name) is leading it down an evil path.

Avram, no, I'm not surprised. I just think it's bullshit. I don't say "we" when talking about Ireland or Germany or Bohemia-that-was. I don't even say "we" when talking about the gay community, except in special circumstances. And as for "Net & Yahoo" -- like it? Just thought of that one. It's late, though, so that might not be as clever as it seemed at the time.

#433 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:53 AM:

Xopher @432, dial it down, please, for stern-looking values of "please".

Jon Baker @427: But know that the Arabs are not opposed to Medinat Yisrael, they are opposed to the Jews. They massacred us in the Galilee (half a dozen villages with people killed, or the whole village driven out) in 1920 [...]

The period you refer to comes right after 1917's Balfour Declaration, when the British announced that they liked the idea of a specifically Jewish state in Palestine. It's specifically the likelihood of Medinat Yisroel, and the possibility of becoming a minority in their own land, that led to the formation of the Palestinian national identity around this time.

And let me make explicit here that I am not offering this point as an excuse for Arab behavior, but only to refute the point of yours that I quoted above. Americans have a tendency to recast the political conflicts of Arabs, Muslims -- generally everyone in the Middle East except Jews -- as religious conflicts, or inexplicable insanity. And while these conflicts do involve religion (because religion informs culture), they aren't solely religious.

#434 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:55 AM:

Raven:

>For the rest, I say that "He did it too" are the words of a child seeking to avoid responsibility. Claims of national unity ring hollow when they are the defense of atrocity.

You can say it all you like. And if it comforts you to believe that the "civilized world" wouldn't engage in such behavior, you can continue to live in your bubble, and ignore all the subthreads about US genocides against the Native Americans, the Filipinos before WWI, etc. But the West does not understand the Arabs, or the Middle Eastern mindset, which treats diplomacy as weakness. They do not read Clausewitz as we do.

One must play with the cards one is dealt.

And Xopher: I never said you weren't entitled to an opinion, just that you shouldn't expect Jews to care about it. You, like me, are just a guy. Not a person in a position of power.

And if you call something I regard as a fact, a grundnorm if you will, a shared idea among millions of traditional Jews, "BS", well, that tells me I really don't care what you think at all.

#435 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:00 AM:

Graydon @385: What is a "greenfield epidemic"? I'm picking up various Google matches about historical epidemics of various diseases in a town (or multiple towns?) named Greenfield, but so far nothing that indicates the sort of sweeping mortality rate implied by context, or even nec'ly the disease involved (smallpox? diphtheria? dysentery?).

#436 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:03 AM:

Avram:

I used to work with a Jordanian. He explained to me how his side views the conflict: any land that was once Muslim, must always remain Muslim. They regard us as temporary interlopers, much as the Crusaders were in the 12th century. They know they'll drive us out eventually.

I took a course on Islam in college. I never learned much about Muslim law & practice, but we sure learned about early Muslim history, the Hijra, Kufa & Basra, the Aws and the Khasraj, battles of conversion, succession controversies over who was the second Imam that led to the Sunni/Shi'i split, attempts to convert the Jews, etc. For the Muslims, particularly the Arabs, religion, politics and nationalism are inextricably linked

So to reduce the origin of the conflict to a political reaction to the Balfour Declaration, simplifies too much, I think. Both the Arabs and the Jews were simultaneously trying to get rid of the British, while getting rid of each other. So it's not so much that religion informs culture (a Western view), as that politics and war inform, and seem to be much of the basis for, religion.

#437 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:08 AM:

Julie: I was reading it as "disease that has never before been encountered by that population, so there is no built-in immunity to it." I'm sure others have better definitions, but that made the references make sense to me.

#438 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:13 AM:

And if you call something I regard as a fact, a grundnorm if you will, a shared idea among millions of traditional Jews, "BS", well, that tells me I really don't care what you think at all.

If you believe that the State of Israel == The Jewish People, then I don't much care what you think, either—I can only hope you get appropriate treatment for your bizarre delusion.

#439 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:22 AM:

To clarify: there's a nation, a country, called Israel. They could as well have named it Fred, but they named it Israel to cause confusion with the people Israel who are descended from the guy who was given that name way back when. "Hear, O Israel" isn't a broadcast to the tiny little country where the Jews are from; it's an apostrophic announcement to all Jews everywhere.

Fred is not all Jews everywhere. Saying "Fred sucks" is not anti-Semitic.

#440 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:25 AM:

I'm unclear what 'standing' Jon Baker feels he has has to have an opinion on what happened in Turkey during the first world war.

Jon: is this something you're prepared to be explicit about? I'm sure that you feel that most of us here should be prepared to take your opinions on this issuse seriously. Could you tell us why?

#441 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:37 AM:

Jon Baker @434: But the West does not understand the Arabs, or the Middle Eastern mindset, which treats diplomacy as weakness.

Yeah, y'know, I hear this a whole lot from people who argue that the Arabs just don't listen unless you brutalize them first. Generally, I hear it from bloodthirsty racist war-hawks arguing that we need to go brutalize some Arabs. Or Persians, or whoever it is the war-hawks are angry at that month.

But I spent a while this afternoon in an argument about diplomatic relations between Israel and other nations, like the US and UK, and guess what? Israelis don't seem to take diplomacy seriously either. So, should the western nations treat Israel the way we treat the other nations of the Middle East?

@436: I used to work with a Jordanian. He explained to me how his side views the conflict: any land that was once Muslim, must always remain Muslim.

I've heard Jews say something very similar about Israel -- that it was given to the Jewish people by their deity, and must remain theirs.

Anyway, the point I was making about the Balfour Declaration was this: Arab animosity towards Jewish settlers began right around the time it started to look like the settlers would be taking over. Arabs were willing to put up with a Jewish minority -- they got along pretty well, I've read -- but not with a Jewish majority.

Jews feel the same way about Israel, don't they? They're OK with an Arab minority, but afraid of the what could happen if they become a minority again. I've heard people make exactly that argument against the possibility of a single combined Israel-Palestine with a Palestinian Law of Return.

#442 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:52 AM:

Xopher, you're out of line. Since ct #425, you've been kvetching about accusations of antisemitism that nobody in this thread has made.

Jon identifies with Israel, so he used the word "we" when talking about Israeli history. I often use the word "we" when talking about early American history, even though my ancestors were all in Europe at the time. Jo Walton has used the word "we" when talking about the ancient Romans. People are funny that way.

(Jews especially are funny that way. Last night I took part in a ritual observance during which failure to identify with the historical Jewish people is described as wickedness; I'm sure Jon took part in a similar ritual.)

Thing is, Jon's use of "we" is not a logical support for his argument in ct #424. Your calling him out for it doesn't address the point that he's making in that paragraph about Deir Yassin. If he'd said "They Arabs wanted to sweep the Jews into the sea, the Jews took a stand", it'd be the same point.

You've got some kind of bug up your butt about this thing, and there's nothing in the thread justifying this particular procto-entomological manifestation.

#443 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:53 AM:

Has anyone figured out where the tipping point is between a mere massacre and a full genocide in terms of percentage of the target group annihilated? It seems like there are a bunch of medium to large body count situations around the world that essentially just need better quality advocacy to get them noticed (and prosecuted, that's the hard part) as genocides in progress.

#444 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:49 AM:

Avram, I don't really see how. I dialed it down when you asked me to. The Israel == Jews thing is the basis for the accusations of anti-Semitism I've experienced when I criticize the egregious behavior of Israel in one instance or another. The accusations aren't appearing here, true; my experience of getting them is what makes me jump on that assumption. Perhaps I'm hypersensitive on that issue.

I wasn't addressing his argument at all. I didn't intend to; I don't know enough about that history to make a meaningful contribution. I was addressing his use of 'we' to mean Israel. At first I just wanted to know whether he was an Israeli or not, but it quickly snowballed when he, to my amazement, defended the identification between the state and the Jews as a whole.

As for your ritual, it also has you talk about your ancestors being captive in Egypt, which probably didn't occur in history,* but is an important religion story. I'm not talking about people's religion stories, and may the gods stand between me and doing so. If "that country is our homeland" is a religion story, fine; that doesn't justify expecting people of other religions to treat the country Israel as a sacred entity (distinct from its covering many sacred places, which is another thing entirely) whose actions may not be questioned.

If you told me my opinion of Judaism wasn't relevant because I'm not a Jew, I would accept that (mod a few nitpicks about the importance of external reputation), because Judaism is a religion, and the opinions of outsiders don't matter as much, if at all. But what Jon was saying that I can't reasonably expect any Jew to care about my opinion on Israel because I'm not a Jew. That's insulting, not so much to me as to the other Jews he's tarring with his own flavor of narrowmindedness. He's also factually wrong: I've had quite a number of lively discussions with Jews about Israel, with more disagreement and much less rancor than in this conversation.
____
*The only people writing history at that time were the Egyptians, and a whole captive people making large quantities of bricks for generations would have shown up, and doesn't. The humiliating defeat of Pharaoh (probably Ramses II) probably wouldn't have, supposing he survived: he would have had it removed, if the historians had dared to write about it in the first place. But decades and decades of accounting for all that brick production, pass papers (which every single person in Egypt had to have), transfers of property and movement and supply...no, that couldn't all have been removed. And it just isn't there.

#445 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 04:25 AM:

OK, the Israel thing? Take it outside and settle it with baseball bats, because that's the only way you will. Or come back tomorrow when this thread hits 800 posts and everyone's BP is 20 points higher.

#446 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:14 AM:

Xopher @ 444: Context is important. It isn't that we (Jews) believe that the State of Israel and the Jewish people are the same thing, but they are inter-related. In the context of a long history of anti-semitism in Europe, and a people/religion* who are survivors of the Shoah**, together with the problems refugees from Nazi Germany had finding countries willing to take them, the existence of the State of Israel is extremely important to Jews worldwide, so Jon saying "They wanted to sweep us into the sea, we took a stand." is natural phraseology.***

Yes, we get defensive about Israel. That doesn't mean we agree with every decision Israeli politicians make. I groan when I hear what some Israeli politicians are saying. I think they're making stupid decisions, wrong decisions.

Do you have the right to criticise Israel? Of course you do. Is being critical of Israel, or of e.g. Netanyahu anti-semitic? Not necessarily. But anti-Israel rhetoric is used sometimes as a front for anti-semitism, so Jews get touchy about it: like you get touchy about being accused of anti-sematism for being critical about Israel. However, your sneering about the fact that Jews in the Diaspora have a special feeling about the State of Israel is not helpful.

*Being Jewish is both a religion and a people.

** And no, I don't believe that having being victims of the Shoah gives Jews or the State of Israel dispensation to oppress others. Rather I think it should lead us to greatter compassion towards other oppressed people.

***And why is it more insane that someone whose great-grandparents once lived in Eire refering to themselves as "Irish-American", for example?

#447 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:40 AM:

I do not see why this thread should host an "Israel vs. the world" thrash. We're not there yet, but I'm starting to see road signs for it, and it doesn't fill me with joy.

I'm just sayin'.

#448 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:46 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 414: Right, which is why I noted that the goal in the US was *both* conquest and assimilation. The Cherokee had assimilated to a large extent, but they still controlled their own land as a nation. That wasn't enough-- the US government insisted on conquering them too, and moving them off so they could take their land.

It's also clear that the US didn't mind if a lot of Cherokees died in the process. But in the Trail of Tears, killing them was an acceptable means but not the purpose of the operation. If one wants to make an analogy to WW2, it was more like the Bataan Death March (which involved the transfer to a new prison camp, with lots of deaths along the way) than like the trains to Sobibor, Treblinka, et al (which involved the transfer to extermination facilities). Mind you, *both* of these were the subject of high profile war crimes trials after the Allies won.

I think part of the problem we're seeing here is that some folks have the impression that genocide was *defined* as "what Hitler did", and then fret that any wider use is somehow watering the term down (or claiming that anyone else perpetrating genocide is morally indistinguishable from Hitler).

But from what I've seen online about the history of the word, it looks like genocide was used from the start to mean the destruction of a national group "as an entity", as Lemkin wrote in the site mentioned upthread. While this generally includes some degree of killing members of the group (as happened in the US as well as in Nazi Europe), it's still a broader concept than the destruction of a national group *by means of killing everyone in the group*. Hitler attempted the latter as well as the former (at least for anyone in territories he controlled), as did some other perpetrators of genocide. But the former is still sufficient to qualify as genocide, as the term seems to have been used historically.

#449 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 07:23 AM:

Paula Lieberman #416: Kibya? Deir Yasin?

As to whether or not Palestinian refugees have your sympathies: they, as much as Israeli Jews are entitled to their homeland. Injustice is not healed by passing it on to others.

#450 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 07:34 AM:

Jon Baker #424: The issue with Deir Yassin (and with Kibya and other attacks on civilian populations) is that civilians were inidiscriminately killed with the intent of causing them to flee their homes, leave their land, and cease to exist as a community.

#451 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 07:43 AM:

tnh, #447: croak!

BTW, someone has apparently made an attempt to change my password at Google. This has not been done previously in the year and a half I've used the account.

#452 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:24 AM:

TNH #447: No problem.

#453 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:16 AM:

Earl Cooley III @443:

Has anyone figured out where the tipping point is between a mere massacre and a full genocide in terms of percentage of the target group annihilated?

No, but I think you're on the right track in suggesting that a genocide is made up of several (more-or-less distinct) massacres.

Once one group of people has decided it would be a good idea to massacre another group, do they ever stop with just one massacre? Or do they keep going until they've either achieved genocide, or someone stops them?

#454 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 11:21 AM:

Julie @435: For "greenfield" read "virgin field epidemic." This is what happens to a population that encounters a disease to which it has no immunity.

Symptoms are much more intense, onset can be faster, and mortality almost a sure thing for those contracting the disease.

Historical examples: The Black Death of the Middle Ages (bubonic/pneumonic plague), the "sweating sickness" in England in the 1500's (hantavirus?), Measles in the native population of Mexico(1600s) and of Hawai'i (1800s), and the 1918 version of Influenza...

#455 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 11:32 AM:

Avram: "procto-entomological manifestation" Oooh, wonderful! That goes into my little black book next to "pararectal ideation", for future use as needed.

#456 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 11:42 AM:

Kate@426: I may myself be oversensitive to the thought of guilt for American actions against the Indians. However, philosophically that's an inappropriate thing to bring to the table in a discussion of those actions (it has nothing real to do with how the actions should be evaluated), so if I am, I gotta just lump it.

#457 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 11:48 AM:

dcb 446: I don't have any problem with any of that. About Irish-American: if your grandparents lived in Israel you can call yourself Israeli-American. That would be the parallel.

I'm not going to talk about Israel in this thread any more. I've just realized, belatedly, that I've been poking at some sensitivities that I don't fully understand, and I'd rather drop it than keep trying to be right.

#458 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 11:54 AM:

Raven: Have you checked your machine for key-loggers? I had something like that at the office once, someone changed my password at Ebay twice, before I was able to remove it, and ordered appliances which I was NOT going to pay for. At this point, I've changed it so many times I don't remember what it is, and can only use that account from my home machine which has a cookie for it. What will happen when I get a new machine? Probably have to open a new account.

Fragano: The issue at Deir Yassin is that it was the first time during the war that the Jews actually made an offensive sortie. The accusation of massacre was made by political enemies of the units that invaded, and accepted by the Arabs who wanted to inflame their people, and by the provisional government, which was of the same party as the accuser. That party held power for 30 years, until Begin became prime minister).

Note, the same ruthless Leftist party ordered Yitzchak Rabin to destroy a ship carrying arms for the Jewish State in 1948 (the Altalena), and kill all Jews aboard, because that ship was sponsored and staffed by the rightist party. The two are of a piece, the Altalena and the accusations about Deir Yassin.

The Arabs claim 254 casualties at Deir Yasin, the Israelis and the UN say 115-117, 90% of whom were unarmed civilians in their homes. The civilians were told to leave before the engagement began, although the sound truck broke down before entering the town, but survivors of the event say they did hear the announcements in the town, and did not leave. The Arabs opened fire first. These are facts. The question remains - were they civilians offering resistance, or were they killed indiscriminately. But they were not lined up in front of a trench and mowed down by a machine gunner. That would have been unambiguous.

It falls into the moral ambiguities, and impossibility of real knowledge, of war. Anti-civilian operations (terrorism) have been a part of warfare for centuries, down to Hiroshima and beyond. See, e.g. this talk by Caleb Carr. Who is so pure as to be able to cast the first stone, to take another religion's metaphor?

And yes, Xopher, a Jew can talk about Israel's failures of policy, such as the Altalena; or the current Biden/Netanyahu flap1, without being called an antisemite. So can anyone, I'd think, as long as it's only policies or specific governments that are at issue.

But a non-Jew who criticizes Israel (and I'm saying Israel, qua "Fred sucks", not just the policies of this or that government) is going to be presumed an antisemite, and need to prove otherwise.

E.g., "Serbia sucks", might be the opinion of someone who hates Serbians. Whereas, "The Tadic government sucks," that's a political position that respects the Serbians' right to national self-determination. So expressing a problem with Net & Yahoo, that's a policy discussion. Once it moves into "Fred sucks" where "Fred==Israel"2, that encroaches on "the speaker hates the country and its inhabitants and supporters."

To expand on DCB's point, what most people don't get, is that Israel is an old-fashioned nation-state, with a tribal religion. It's about the last such that still has influence in the modern (christian/muslim/buddhist/hindu) world. Most of the others were forcibly converted or exterminated by one or the other. Even the Armenians, another nation-in-exile, became Christian.

So for us, religion, national identity, and our Homeland, are inextricably intertwined. That is, the only true home of the People of Israel, is the Land of Israel (most of which is now in what is called the West Bank); historically we rarely controlled the coastal plains) and the only religion for them is the Torah. There happens to be a secular political entity called the State of Israel today, that supports these concepts in a modern world. They are, while separate concepts, totally linked. As the saying goes, "God, the Torah and Israel [the nation as well as the land] are one."

Even the Chasidim who vehemently oppose the existence of the State of Israel, because it is not governed by Jewish law under the leadership of the Messiah and his successors, live there in large numbers because it is a religious mandate/value to live in the Holy Land. We're not out to convert everybody, we just want to live in peace on our land. And the existence of the State of Israel is a clear support to that ability.

You want to deny our founding myths because archeologists have found few hints that it happened, fine. Maybe they're looking in the wrong places, maybe they aren't allowed to look by Arab governments who have a vested interest in disproving Israel's religious claims. The Serbians don't need the Bible to authenticate their claim to their homeland, nor do the Armenians, but some people think they can delegitimize Israel's claim to its ancestral homeland because of archaeology vs. the Bible. But OK, whatever. I can equally say homosexual behavior is abhorred by God, if done by Jews or non-Jews, and we can sit here and delegitimize each other all day. I don't think it will help either of our BP, but whatever floats your boat.

___
1 By the way, Ramat Shlomo is an existing neighborhood in north-central Jerusalem surrounded by empty hillside; it's not what the media makes it sound like, creating a new settlement and/or displacing Arabs in East Jerusalem. The new development will displace, I think, some squirrels on the north side of the hill. (But are they Arab squirrels or Jewish squirrels?)

2 I've met Fred Israel, he dated my mother sporadically for a couple of years. He's a nice guy, and adored our late Uncle Joe, his mentor.

#460 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 12:53 PM:

A nation, a people is a cluster of many things, including the cluster of elements we call culture. Language seems to be the basis. Destruction of the language and the culture are fundamental to conquest by outside forces, as a deliberate drive to genocide3. Bartolemé de las Casas was one of the first Europeans to write and protest this during the Spanish invasion and conquest of South America, immediately post the invasion of Columbus (as it is now preferred to call it in some circles, rather than 'discovery').

About three weeks ago at CUNY I attended one of the occasions on which the brilliant Dr. Joseph Roach provides a break down, a deconstruction, of exactly how this takes place, and how a people can resist and return, post being officially disappeared. Again, how do you do this when your language has disappeared along with the disappearance of your entire tribe - people?

The title of this lecture is "The Return of the Last of the Pequots: Disappearance as Heritage." The axle that turns his argument is the Pequot Casino complex in Connecticut, and how this tribe, that was officially, finally exterminated in the 17th century, returned. You cannot have a casino without a land -- for First Peoples, this is now a reservation, i.e. settlement or homeland as they are called in South Africa.

This work of Joe's delineates in concrete and specific legal terms what is and what is not a people, a land, a culture, and thus absolutely appropros to this current ML discussion.


The lecture can be found here; I might even recommend downloading the ipod version, for this is not easy material to read, and hearing him present is slightly easier to grapple with, the first time around. I highly recommend it, as well as all of Joe's other works. They are brilliant. He, by the way, is the pioneer founder of what is now known as Performance Studies.

Love, c.

#461 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:12 PM:

To bring this full circle, parts of the ideology of militarized radical Christianity like the Hutaree derive from what they call "The Old Testament." It is one of the sources of ideas of conquest, place, and homeland in world culture.

Kraw-k-k-k...

#462 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:48 PM:

The Raven @461

I was going to use this line from Constance @460 to bring it full circle:

Again, how do you do this when your language has disappeared along with the disappearance of your entire tribe - people?

Because one of the indisputably cool things about the foundation of Israel was the revival of Hebrew as a living language.

#463 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:53 PM:

Yes, that's indisputably cool. Only language to "rise from the dead" as far as I know.

It's a pity that Pequot was utterly lost. I think it was never written, which made it pretty much unrecoverable once no one spoke it any more.

#464 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:57 PM:

ddb @ 423: "You're attaching some weight I'm not seeing to something somewhere, but I don't get what yet. "

My point is that even if the term genocide was coined to refer to the Holocaust, it could nonetheless have application beyond that singular instance. Some instances might have occurred before the term was coined; therefore it doesn't matter when the term originated when deciding whether the treatment of the Indians fits under it. That's the power of a good definition: it can identify underlying similarities where we wouldn't otherwise notice.

My feeling is that, pace John Mark Ockerbloom, the definition of genocide you're working with is "genocide is what the Nazis did." I also feel that that's a bit unfair, and I'd like to hear from you how you'd prefer to define genocide. Then, I think, we could compare the two definitions in a more reasoned way.

(On a more general note: the genocide of Indians is only partial if you group all the tribes together--there are many individual tribes that are now completely extinct. Many more are down to few enough members that extinction is only a matter of time.)

#465 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:05 PM:

heresiarch@464: Ah. Well, that's so obvious, and so many times already said, that I didn't realize that was your meaning. Sorry.

On the other hand, the argument that the word genocide must cover the Armenian situation because it was invented for that situation appears to me to be not supported by the history of the word.

#466 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:14 PM:

The neo-Pequots have a language now. Joe describes how it came to be.

Haiti struggled for decades to have its language recognized officially as a *language*, while the gate-keepers for all the benefits of neo-colonialism, insisted Haiti's Kreyole remain on the lists of 'creoles.' They succeeded recently in enrolling Kreyole in the official lists of the world's languages.

Also, this:

[ "A Canadian graduate student at Duke University, Julia Gaffield, has unearthed from the British National Archives the first known, government-issued version of Haiti’s founding document. The eight-page pamphlet, now visible online, gives scholars new insights into a period with few primary sources. But for Haitian intellectuals, the discovery has taken on even broader significance.

That the document would be found in February, just weeks after the earthquake that killed so many; that its authenticity would be confirmed in time for the donor conference that could define Haiti’s future — some see providence at work." ]

Love, C.

#467 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:24 PM:

DDB @423:

I am not at all comfortable counting on sense, intelligent reading, and good will in the interpretation of law. I've watched drug term creep, I've watched domestic abuse creep, I've watched child pornography creep; people are VERY good at pushing interpretation along, not particularly limited by any of those things.
Look, are the guys you've been hanging out with plotting to overthrow the government? Are they making plausible and realistic plans to commit acts of violence, and/or stockpiling seriously oversized weapons and ordnance? If not, stop worrying. Gun guys who like to talk big but not do anything about it are as widespread as red-winged blackbirds and commoner than bluejays, and law enforcement already knows about them. I'll grant that if they were prosecuted using the same latitude of interpretation used for suspected Muslim terrorists under the Bush administration, a lot of them could be wearing orange jumpsuits by this time tomorrow, but that is just not going to happen. Besides being largely harmless, they're straight, white, and native-born, they mostly don't have serious criminal records, and they can always plead that they meant well but were stupid. Who'd want to prosecute that? Who's even interested in seeing it prosecuted?

If through some bizarre happenstance it turned out you'd been keeping company with the dangerous sort, "I thought those guys just liked to talk big" would cover it. As I was just remarking yesterday in the Hutaree thread, waxing oratorical about the iniquities of the government is a traditional American pastime.

And hey, have a good time at Minicon. Tell people I said hello and wish I were there.

#468 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:29 PM:

DDB touched on the matter of guilt and responsibility, and I'd like to come back to that a moment.

One of the hardest lessons for me as an adult has been how little foundation there is for any of the versions of basic goodness that prevail in my stratum of American society (white, educated, home to many managers and many entrepreneurs and freelancers - in a word, bourgeois). All of the political ideologies common in this set of communities - liberal, conservative, libertarian, etc. - share the idea that there is a core of the community which, rightly understood, has nothing fundamentally wrong with it, and that social justice begins with building on that pure foundation.

But you know what? It's not true. There isn't any scrap of basically pure legacy anywhere in American society. There are some really good ideas, haphazardly implemented, but every single section of American life and practice builds on a foundation that includes theft, murder, pillage, systematic discrimination, unchecked and officially endorsed abuse, and other evils, right up to genocide. There's no innocent heritage to recover, scrape off, and use as a starting point. Anything that could be called fundamentally good and untainted begins ex nihilo, in explicit contradiction to what has come before.

Take the case of someone I know not just disapproved of genocide but joined in war against its practitioners: my dad. Dad never backed a Jim Crow law in his life, nor thought the Native Americans savages fit only for conversion or death, and raised us to believe that equal consideration for equal merit was crucial, and also so basically smart that anyone opposing it had to be making themselves that bit stupid. But I have the life I do now partly because, well-anchored studies show, guys like Dad have always gotten better terms on deals of all kinds than equally talented guys who aren't white - better mortgages, better job offers, better promotion rates, and so on. So a hard-working talented black or Indian guy my own age and general situation has an uphill struggle all his life that I do not, not because I am an evil-doer but because this is shot through the fabric of life.

Genocide leaves a legacy like that, too. People who would not commit genocide themselves, who would in fact oppose it given the chance, end up benefiting from an allocation of resources - including human labor and creativity - that is what it is because of the actions of those who did choose to wipe out whole communities, and of those who didn't care whether they wiped out anyone else.

This is really just the principle of contigency that people have talked about in the study of evolution since, well, forever, but that folks like Stephen Jay Gould worked to popularize. We're not morally responsible for life in an ecosystem with the legacy of extinction and survival we have, but it matters that we live because others perished or survived not just because of merit, but because of luck. The difference in human history, of course, is that human beings do have agency, and even when we're not conspirators in great crimes ourselves, it's really important to recognize that we do not inherit innocence or a clean slate, to see what's actually on the slate as we get it, and act so as to pass it on better than we got it. This is sometimes described as wallowing in guilt, but I don't think it is any more than facing up to any other body of ignorance, whether it's the grammar of any language other than our first, or the structure of a logical proof, or the composition of the spaces between stars...or how much our lives turn out to be based on genocide's rewards.


#469 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:41 PM:

What Bruce said.

#470 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:43 PM:

ddb @ 465: "On the other hand, the argument that the word genocide must cover the Armenian situation because it was invented for that situation appears to me to be not supported by the history of the word."

I agree; however I'm still interested to hear what you think would be a better definition of genocide.

#471 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:55 PM:

Bruce, that's brilliant.

#472 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:01 PM:

Yeah, what Bruce said.

#473 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:02 PM:

(Sound of co-bloggers conspiring.)

#474 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:20 PM:

Thanks, Heresiarch and Teresa. That's the major thing I learned researching for a pulp-era gaming project I had to abandon - basically, why I couldn't be entertaining about the subject. But I can shoot for informative.

#475 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:31 PM:

TNH@467: So, basically, I should rely on my straight white privilege male to protect me? While working to extend the same protections to others?

Doesn't feel safe enough to me. The gun-nut community I interact with isn't limited to the straight, white, or male, and I do probably pick up some attitudes from them.

One friend (who you have met) has .50 caliber firearms, plus a number of black-powder cannons including the bowling ball mortar. So "not stockpiling heavy weapons" is not something that's exactly true (those black powder cannon aren't much use as actual weapons, but one of them is a converted 81mm mortar, which would look great in court).

And if they thought I knew something, they might very well try to work up whatever charges they thought they could to produce leverage. Since I don't in fact have anything to do with any nasty plots, I have nothing to trade them to save my ass if they go that route.

#476 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:43 PM:

I dunno, I think trebuchets are more cool than cannon; you can't fling a flaming grand piano with a cannon, after all.

#477 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:51 PM:

abi at 341 According to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, genocide is:

any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Earl at 443: One peculiarity of the UN definition of genocide that abi cited at 341 is that clauses d) and e)- seem to entail that you could have a case of genocide without any killing.

This isn't a straw-man position: someone who has explicitly drawn this conclusion is the Australian philosopher Rai Gait, in his book 'A Common Humanity'. (The basic thought behind it is that if genocide is about destroying a culture, you can do so without actually killing anyone; although mass killing is one very obvious way of destroying a culture)

I think it's reasonable for someone to have qualms about a definition of genocide that has that consequence. Having them needn't mean that one thinks that d) and e) are OK.

For what its worth, I don't share the qualms in question: I'm not convinced by Gaita's view but I'm prepared to consider the possibility that genocide and mass murder should be regarde as conceptually distinct crimes. (And of course, most genocides do involve mass murder) But I certainly understand people who think that something's gone badly wrong at this point.


#478 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:51 PM:

Bruce, #468: Well put.

One metaphor I like to use, at least in SFnal circles, is launch-to-orbit. The amount of energy required to get to orbit around a body of any significant size is heavily dependent on how high up your starting point is. So if you define "being wealthy" as achieving a lunar orbit, my white middle-class starting point might be geosynchronous, give or take a couple of thousand miles for other factors such as gender and family connections. Middle-class blacks and browns would start significantly lower, maybe at weather-satellite altitude. Lower-class whites, aircraft levels. Lower-class black or brown, stuck on the surface. The difference in the magnitude of energy input (aka "effort") required from members of each group to reach the same endpoint gets really obvious.

#479 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:58 PM:

Praisegod: Yeah, I can see room for reasonable disagreement. I come down on the side that if we're talking about efforts to make a whole community cease to exist, then non-murderous efforts really should be included right alongside the murderous ones. But I'm also open to the idea that they're something else, as long as there's a good label for it and we remain aware that we're talking about the effort to make a whole community cease to exist.

#480 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 04:02 PM:

477
(d) and (e) are about actions that are intended to kill societies and cultures by preventing them from being passed on to future generations. Which does qualify as some form of genocide, to me, although I can see them being very-much-argued clauses. (And that gets into the missionaries and the boarding schools that were intended to separate children from their parents' cultures.)

#481 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 04:04 PM:

I'm somewhat ambivalent on the linguistic argument. While I don't necessarily believe that "if there's no word for a concept, the concept doesn't exist", I do think that the adoption of a new word for an existing concept indicates some new wrinkle in it.

For instance, the Sanhedrin. Clearly it's a Greek loan-word, but just as clearly, there was a "great court" probably since the time of Moses, when Jethro explained the concept of higher and lower courts to him, and continuously from the time of Ezra (500 BCE), and his "Men of the Great Assembly" which may have been 120 people, rather than the 72 that the Torah requires, down to 180 CE more or less. So perhaps the adoption of the term Sanhedrin indicated a return to the Biblical-sized high court, or adoption of Greek academic methods (the Talmud owes a lot in its forms to Socratic reasoning).

So too here, while Lemkin wrote about the "crime of barbarity" in 1933, he was not moved to create a new word for it until after the Holocaust. Which implies that there is something qualitatively different about it, against the other premeditated mass murders that he wrote of.

Bruce:

Very nice, but I'm left waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's a confession of white male Christian privilege from one whose family has benefited from it.

It does seem to be "wallowing" to some extent. AISI, yes, we all come from nature which is red in tooth and claw. While intelligence gives us the ability to choose better paths, we can't escape our animal natures.

The question is, what does one do about it? Concentrate on the "mea culpa", or ask "what's next?" What do we do about it? Regret and confession are only the first two phases of repentance. The final stage comes when one acts upon what one has learned. Maimonides said it, Aquinas said it - the confession, while important, is not the goal. Changing behavior, changing society for the better, that is the goal.

#482 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 04:08 PM:

Earl Cooley III @476: Heeheeheehee!!!

"George, if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times: light the piano after we've loaded it into the damn trebuchet! Sheesh!"

#483 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 04:11 PM:

Jon: What does one do about it? Listen to charges of injustice. Investigate them. Act on them. Iterate. That's all the subject of other threads. My point here is simply that genocide needs not to be something we figure must always be done by others, and always be open to the possibility that the worst has happened and is happening where we are - we have to find out, and then deal with what we find, and this goes on for the duration of the human race.

#484 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 04:21 PM:

Jon Baker @481 --

"Escaping your animal nature" is like escaping your carbon atoms.

It's impossible to think accurately or clearly about this stuff will continuing to use the tropes, axioms, and assumptions of a counter-factual, whether the created world, divine right of kings, or fallen-man flavors.

Making things better involves predicting the future; it's not a practical goal.

Not making things worse, now, that's entirely doable, and enough not making things worse starts to look oddly like making things better.

#485 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 04:35 PM:

Jon Baker @481:
Very nice, but I'm left waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's a confession of white male Christian privilege from one whose family has benefited from it.

If I could get one tenth of the unconsciously privileged white males (Christian or no) whom I meet and work with in a year to read and understand Bruce's comment, to grasp the nature of privilege and the fact that it's not their fault but still something they can do something about? I'd be dancing in the streets.

Yes, there are further steps. But awareness is where we start, and Bruce has done a beautiful job of explaining it. Which is why it's now on the front page. It could very well have ended up there three times over if we hadn't been coordinating at the back end.

#486 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 04:44 PM:

TNH @467: Besides being largely harmless, they're straight, white, and native-born, they mostly don't have serious criminal records, and they can always plead that they meant well but were stupid. Who'd want to prosecute that? Who's even interested in seeing it prosecuted?

Jesus, Teresa, try telling that to Keith Lynch.

Also, "straight, white, and native-born" might work fine for you, me, Patrick, and DDB, but what about the people it won't work for? The Seas of David guys were prosecuted (and five out of seven convicted) for basically talking tough and being stupid. I'm not comfortable with relying on institutional racism for safety.

(Damn, I see DDB beat me to much the same point in #475.)

#487 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:12 PM:

Earl @ 443, John @ 448, praisegod @ 477:

It may be useful to think of genocide as, essentially, an attempt by Group A to remove a Group B, who are perceived by members of A as being an obstacle to any of A's critical objectives. [1] This removal of a perceived obstacle can (and usually does) involve a lot of killing, with various degrees of coordination between various Group A subgroups, and with varying degrees of government sanction or involvement, but the actual means of removal is of secondary importance at most.

To destroy one group, so they no longer present a perceived obstacle to another, can certainly be done by physically killing a sufficiently large fraction of its membership. However, destroying Group B's culture -- typically by breaking up cultural units, down to and including the family level, and homogenizing B's surviving members into a much larger surrounding Group A -- can also be highly effective, within only two or three generations. [2]

Hence, I suggest it is possible to have what is in effect cultural genocide of a group -- effectively destroyed, as a people -- accomplished with few or even no fatalaties. Conversely, even the physical destruction of a very high percentage of a group's membership need not automatically destroy the essential elements of its culture, or even its political integrity -- see: Armenia, Israel, Kurdistan, et al.

[1] Obstacle to which specific Group A objective(s) doesn't really matter. Could be A's physical expansion, continued cultural solidarity, economic status, political integrity -- you name it, someone can find a rationale.
[2] Ferex, most the various "Indian school" systems in North America, especially in the first half of the 20th century; 1930s German policies governing the adoption of children into suitably "Aryan" families; U.S. and Australian policies intended to turn their respective native populations into small farmers among much larger populations of white settlers, with a complete break from any former nomadic modes of life.

#488 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:15 PM:

Bruuuuuuce. *waves lighter*

DDB: ...philosophically that's an inappropriate thing to bring to the table in a discussion of those actions...

I don't think so at all.

For one thing, unrecognized defensiveness can get in the way of proper analysis.

I also think that /recognized/ defensiveness can make for even more interesting analysis.

(Or, I guess, "What Graydon said.")

I'm a great-great-niece (...I think that's enough great's) of a guy who was stationed on the Plains in the late 1800s, in the cavalry. He didn't, I'm told, talk about it, afterwards.

So Bruce's overall point is sort of relevant to my life.

Leroy -- Yes.

#489 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:18 PM:

I must say: the audacity of Jon "The Arabs massacred the Jews a bunch of times therefore Israelis are justified when they return the favor" Baker taking Bruce Baugh to task for insufficient moral courage is stomach-churning.

#490 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 12:59 AM:

Heresiarch:

"Turn the other cheek" is some other religion.

But that doesn't negate the command to "be like God, as He is merciful, you should be merciful, etc."

We are supposed to rise above our circumstances. But sometimes survival necessitates morally difficult actions.

Someone who has trouble seeing that one person or culture can contain norms that potentially conflict seems rather narrow to me. Even within the Three Laws of Robotics, let alone the 613 Mitzvot (Commands), there are conflicts.

#491 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 03:07 AM:

Jon

A while back - at 440 - I asked you a direct question. It's a question which I think you could have answered, if you had an answer to it, without disrespecting our hosts comments about what they thought was and was not an appropriate contribution to this thread.

That you've chosen to ignore it, while making increasingly inflammatory comments to everybody else here, suggests to me while you're very happy to make pronouncements about who has the right to speak on topics which are close to your heart, you're quite happy to exempt yourself from those rules when you've got something you want to say.

That may explain why everyone else here has gone off to talk about something else in another room. I'm strongly inclined to go and join them.

(Mods - if you feel this post is inappropriate in tone or content, please feel free to relieve it of some or all of its vowels. And, if necessary, its consonants as well.)

#492 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 03:08 AM:

Jon

A while back - at 440 - I asked you a direct question. It's a question which I think you could have answered, if you had an answer to it, without disrespecting our hosts comments about what they thought was and was not an appropriate contribution to this thread.

That you've chosen to ignore it, while making increasingly inflammatory comments to everybody else here, suggests to me while you're very happy to make pronouncements about who has the right to speak on topics which are close to your heart, you're quite happy to exempt yourself from those rules when you've got something you want to say.

That may explain why everyone else here has gone off to talk about something else in another room. I'm strongly inclined to go and join them.

(Mods - if you feel this post is inappropriate in tone or content, please feel free to relieve it of some or all of its vowels. And, if necessary, its consonants as well.)

#493 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 04:04 AM:

Jon Baker @ 490: You think I am accusing you of hypocrisy? Oh, no; I am accusing you of moral cowardice. That you dress your terror in the clothes of worldly cynicism pales to insignificance beside that failure.

Were I concerned simply with your hypocrisy, I would focus on the ease with which you pivot from denying the legitimacy of describing Israel's actions as genocide to calling identical actions on the Arab side "genocidal practices." Were exposing your hypocrisy my aim, I would note the horror with which you treat the other side's religious arguments while tenderly cherishing your own religious rationalizations.

But I don't care overly much about your hypocrisy, because the position you are advocating under the cover of saying others are advocating it is pure tribalism, a war of if not all against all then at least most against the rest, a struggle which admits no possibility of peaceful resolution, a struggle which can only end in genocide. Mere hypocrisy, in the face of that, cannot long hold my attention.

#494 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 05:28 AM:

David Dyer-Bennet:

I understand what you're saying, and I think there's considerable value to it.

Nevertheless, let's look at some historical events:
1. The Shoah
2. The fates of Native American societies in what became the United States, and specifically, their fates at the hands of the society of that United States*
3. The Rwandan massacres of 1994

I think we can agree that there's a common thread to all three events that is not common to, say, the Black Death, or the sack of Magdeburg, or the Birmingham 6. They're all three of them one certain thing. Let's call that "genocide," just for the sake of argument.

Let's also stipulate that under the UN definition, there are some things that you and I would not recognize as belonging in that same category that could be legally classified as genocide. Let's not talk about those right now.

You and Kate have talked about intent, but that wasn't the first thing that I noticed about your initial posts.

Some of those events (particularly where you identified them as real genocides) were highly centralized and orchestrated. This is true of the Holocaust, and there are other examples (the Armenian Genocide probably counts, as do some Khmer Rouge actions, and plenty of Stalinist ones). Some were highly decentralized in both structure and time, and were more grass-roots in implementation**. The US government did not produce and follow a plan of Native American extermination. Some were in the middle (The Rwandan genocide does seem to have been centrally instigated but not centrally orchestrated).

Now, obviously a completely decentralized massacre, where every murderer is totally independent and there are no leaders, produces no need for a legal definition of genocide. It is simpler and more useful to simply prosecute for murder in each case. But say there's a man who rabble-roused up the killing of, say, 50 Tutsis but may not have killed anyone by his own hand. Clearly he's not guilty on an Eichmann or Himmler scale, but I think he is guilty of something more than just conspiracy to murder.

I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on centralization in genocides.

*I'm talking here about people who identified their actions with the United States, either because the US told them to kill those people, or because the US told them this land belonged to them and so that gave them the right to kill, or because they had to kill for the good of the US. I think it's important to point out that even killings, resettlements, etc that were not explicitly carried out by lawful action of the US government were carried out under the umbrella of the society of the US.

**I think (but don't know) that a lot of that sort of genocide isn't grass-roots in conception. Someone at the top says "Let's kill a lot of those subhuman Other Tribe people" and they get on the radio or the printing press or whatever and put out the word. But they don't send the army to do it, they don't order you in particular to go to this place and do this job. You decide to join up, and your group makes a plan for how to do it. Note that I don't mean the prejudice isn't widely-spread, just that the impetus for a particular massacre or genocide is often a central spark but a decentralized fire.

#495 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 07:06 AM:

heresiarch @439, you're certainly braver than I am; I wasn't going to go there because I wasn't sure how hard I'd be smacked for saying it.

#496 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 07:08 AM:

correction @493, not 439.

#497 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 07:55 AM:

small correction on #477

the author's name is "rai gaita" not "gait".

(nowadays one would probably find this out on first googling, but maybe the correction will help someone save a few nanojiffies.)

#498 ::: Michael Bloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 08:13 AM:

Hmm, I begin to perceive a slippery slope when leaving murder out of the definition of genocide.

At various points in history, the laws of the UK forbade the Irish from speaking or teaching their native Gaelic, or performing their music. Genocide? Probably. See also the Bretons.

Now in France, there are regulations forbidding female Muslim students from wearing the chador in class. Genocide? In the extremely narrow sense of enforcing a cultural homogeneity, yeah, but otherwise, no. (Does the regulation also apply to, frex, male Sikh students?)

On the other hand, pace Chip Delany, edge cases are not interesting. On the other other hand, if the ultimate issue is authoritarian enforcement of cultural privilege at the point of a gun, it's probably still worth dissecting.

#499 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 08:36 AM:

Kid bitzer 497: You're right. And also, I can't type.

#500 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 09:32 AM:

Michael Bloom @498 --

Remember that if there is no way to break cultural continuity with the past (and, I would argue, no way to do this as a matter of public policy) there can be no sustained progress.

Jon Baker @490 --

You're in a logically inconsistent position. If you cite morals -- commands of an Abrahamic god! -- material present survival is not a concern; eternal life and conformance to the commandments of the maker and creator of all things is a concern, but your present embodied existence is a temporary blip in your potentially eternal existence. If you cite survival necessity as an over-riding reason to do something, you're asserting a materialistic world view that admits of no moral reasoning[1], only varying degrees of survival necessity.

You can be consistent in arguing either of these positions, but not both. (Arguing both leads to nasty places, where materialistic fear is addressed by insisting that God wants you to do something dreadful and horrible to somebody else.)

It is impossible to talk sensibly about survival necessity without understanding co-operation and communication's role in this very much Darwinian universe; "nature red in tooth and claw" is a great phrase but woefully inadequate for understanding.

One particular serious failing of the conflated line of reasoning is to treat things as a question of what is most true; this is completely unhelpful, because "true" is a statement about the inside of people's heads. Things can be true while having no relation to facts (facts are what can be determined with a known degree of reliability in a way independent of any particular person's mind) and there's no way, from inside your (you-all your) head to tell what's actually a fact and what's merely presently true.

So trying to decide which thing is most true is no help; that's an argument over making people change their minds is a rather fundamental way. It gets nowhere good, as a general rule, because it's not possible to say that to a ground ape in a way that isn't a demand for submission. (Many clever cultural tricks for making the submission acceptable to the submitter notwithstanding.)

Israel is the (vital, necessary) Jewish homeland, essential to the security of the ethnicity of the last major tribal religion and target of persecution since pre-Christian Rome; quite factual.

Israel is an American colony in the Middle East, and supports colonial and post-colonial resource control ambitions in American foreign policy. *Also* quite factual.

Israeli government forces have committed clear and unambiguous war crimes and acts of terrorism against the Palestinian population. Quite factual.

Various Palestinian groups with governmental or quasi-governmental status have committed clear and unambiguous war crimes and acts of terrorism against the Israeli population. Quite factual.

That list of dreadful symmetries readily gets longer; I do hope you're getting the point that arguing what is most true is not helpful because it requires people to make emotional determinations of what is permitted to qualify as a fact, and this will not and can not improve matters.

An approach of reducing (or, ideally, entirely avoiding) harm[2] has the potential to be much more productive than this awful, worthless brangle over whose truth gets to define what are facts.

[1] You can, if you insist, attempt to derive moral rules suitable to this world view, but it's basically silly and much more work than the benefit accruing. It's much easier to declare "act to minimize harm" and be done. It saves the whole civil-law-is-supreme tangle, too.

[2] The avoid-harm response to fears of being demographically swamped isn't "let's make sure they don't have an economy (and can be crushed at will/displaced/starved)", it's "how fast can we get them, their economy, and the status of women in their culture through the demographic transition?" since, hey, you just helped at least half their population be much less harmed *and* you can stop panicking about demographic doom.

#501 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 11:19 AM:

Destruction of culture as a means or even as consciously determined genocide?

It has been done to Poland, more than once. Poland as a state was literally disappeared from existence and from history by the fiat of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the Prussians, the czarist Romanovs and the Swedes, who also divided the land among themselves and ate it all up.

Polish as a language was abolished in all these regions in every public and institutional venue from schools to churches. It was a crime to be heard speaking Polish or writing or reading it. The books were destroyed -- and there were very many books for Poland in the Renaissance, among the wealthy elite at least -- was perhaps the most book loving of populations, and kept the printers of Venice very rich.

There were forced conversions from the Roman church to protestant churches or Orthodox -- thereby driving people to hang determinedly on to their Catholicism underground, as one venue of identity. The Poles have a long and distinguished heritage for courage and bravery, assaulted as they had been throughout their history on all sides, including invasions by Mongols, Tatars and Turks.

Polish cultural costumes and customs and music and dance were abolished. This included mass confiscation and conflagation of traditional musical instruments. As with their deserved reputation as the best horse people, Poles are also noted for their musical and dancing skills and invention.

The very word Poland was removed from all documents and was never to be spoken.

Many segments of the population were removed from their traditional lands and re-settled elsewhere to work on the vast agricultural settlements owned by the czar's family and their favorites, the Hapsbourgs, Prussians and Swedes, ditto.

The U.S. military has done the same thing with the Haitians for instance. Certainly with first people's cultures.

Then there's just good old rape as part of the tactics deployed, for creating half-breed children often leads to the shaming, shunning and ostracization of the women who bear them, as well as their progeny by the rest of the group(s), further weakening community and cultural bonds.

Love, C.

#502 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 11:44 AM:

What part of our Genial Host's "ahem" didn't people understand?

But, having been directly challenged, I respond:

Graydon:

I don't choose to argue with a moral judgment of my religion by the standards of another, competing religion. We'll never be in the same universe of discourse. So arguing is pointless.

I suppose, in short, it's that Judaism is all about works. Faith is almost incidental. A good thing, but not the central issue. And you can only do mitzvot when alive, while some of them require a community. So individual and communal survival are prerequisites to a good Jewish life and afterlife.

As to your opinions masquerading as "facts":

"Israel is the Jewish homeland" - this is a fact? I know it to be true, because I believe in God's Torah, but ask Arabs. They'll tell you it's false.

"Israel is an American colony"? Only 2.5% of Israeli immigrants came from the US. That the US and Israel are strategic partners is not colonialism, it's mutual dependence.

"War crimes" and "acts of terrorism" - they happened, or may have, but very few, and not as the center of the country's existence. As opposed to the Pal-Arab governments. E.g., the Hamas covenant.

Israel is decidedly NOT a religious state. It may support various religious enterprises (of all stripes), but it is not run on religious principles. So judging it from a religious standpoint is pointless as well. Of course it will come up short.

BTW, the US' role in "genocidal" situations? Wait until the mass killing is over, then march in and wipe up the mess. WW2 Germany, Rwanda, Bosnia - in all cases the US waited until the genocide had succeeded, then went in to mop up. Not a great moral record here either.

barebones:

As for Turkey, I somehow trust Armenians, several of whom I know personally, and scholars not paid by the Turkish government, over lackeys of the Turkish government. You're free to trust Arabs over lackeys of the Israeli government, I'm sure - but how many of them do you actually know? Or are you just depending on the media?

Further, as has been pointed out repeatedly in this thread, the idea of genocide was conceived regarding the Armenian "thing", and then the word was coined for the Holocaust, linking the two.

IOW, sources both from the victims side and from the outside, agree on the nature of the "thing", while the perpetrators of the "thing" describe it differently (but don't deny that there were massive deaths and expulsion).

No, I don't have any great personal connection to the events in question. If you feel that means I can't offer an opinion, well, so be it. I haven't argued that outsiders can't offer an opinion, I have only said, repeatedly, that such an opinion may not be worth much. So too here - ignore my opinion. Whatever.

Heresiarch:

"can only end in genocide". Possibly. In which case, the question becomes, whose genocide? Is Arab blood redder than Jewish blood?

Which is why I support the two-state solution. It's the worst solution there is, except for all the others, which lead to genocide of one side or the other.

#503 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 12:50 PM:

Devin, #494: I think (but don't know) that a lot of that sort of genocide isn't grass-roots in conception. Someone at the top says "Let's kill a lot of those subhuman Other Tribe people" and they get on the radio or the printing press or whatever and put out the word. But they don't send the army to do it, they don't order you in particular to go to this place and do this job. You decide to join up, and your group makes a plan for how to do it.

Which brings us right back around to the original topic of this post. What we're seeing right now is a campaign against the currently elected government and anyone who is perceived to agree with it being conducted in exactly that manner. It doesn't qualify as genocide because the target group is selected by ideology rather than ethnicity, but the process is the same.

#504 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 01:42 PM:

Lori @454: For "greenfield" read "virgin field epidemic." This is what happens to a population that encounters a disease to which it has no immunity.

Aha, thanks. Graydon's original context did supply the general meaning as described by EClaire@ 437, but I couldn't figure out whether the phrase was strictly metaphorical vs. eponymous for a Dr. Greenfield or a Greenfield locality.

#505 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 01:49 PM:

Earl Cooley III @ 495: It seemed as if it needed to be said, even if it ended with disemvowelment. I'm glad that it didn't, though.

Graydon @ 500: "It is impossible to talk sensibly about survival necessity without understanding co-operation and communication's role in this very much Darwinian universe; "nature red in tooth and claw" is a great phrase but woefully inadequate for understanding."

"Nature red in tooth and claw" is, I think, single-cell morality. Its logic is absolutely impeccable but terribly basic--life moved onto more complicated survival strategies several billion years ago.

Jon Baker @ 502: "Possibly. In which case, the question becomes, whose genocide? Is Arab blood redder than Jewish blood?"

I've been worrying that perhaps I misjudged you, that perhaps I was missing some subtlety of your argument. I feared I might return to find that my accusations had been demolished, leaving me feeling wretched for making such a serious accusation in error. Thank you for alleviating that worry.

The fact that you can even pose such a question as "Is Arab blood redder than Jewish blood?" assures me that I have you dead to rights. The answer, by the way, is no one's blood is any redder than another's, y rcst fck.

#506 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 01:54 PM:

Jon Baker #502: What part of our Genial Host's "ahem" didn't people understand?

I understand that it did not provide you blanket immunity from criticism. Certainly, we must be more careful and precise in what is said on this topic.

#507 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:10 PM:

Jon Baker @ 502.

Thanks, that's very illuminating. But it's not an answer to the question I asked you.

#508 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:12 PM:

Jon Baker @502, thing is, for some people, after your comments in the ahem part of this thread, when there's a disscussion of the issues tackled by Bruce Baugh's long comment, you're being offensive simply by taking part while being you. That's why some people found your response to him- or the very fact that you were responding to him- so galling that they felt they had to say something.

#509 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:24 PM:

You know, I am very strongly opposed to banning any topic, particularly the topic of the behavior and treatment of something so large and powerful as an entire nation. I think it's wildly unhealthy that this cannot be discussed, because it's very rare indeed that these sorts of thrashes are throwing dust over good and honorable deeds.

I think there are far too many people in that region who are trying to be primitive nations in a modern world. I think they're on both sides of any wall you care to name there. I think that some people elsewhere in the world share that anachronistic conflation, even though they don't live in the cross-hairs of its consequences. Coming, as I do, from an ancestry and subculture which has had a similarly old-fashioned attitude (in this case, the late 1600's), I am all too familiar with the moral compromises we wink at on the side of our friends and cry out to Heaven for relief from when our enemies make them.

I do not know the answer to this, but I also doubt sincerely that we'll find it in this discussion. I've disemvoweled the personal invective, and I would suggest, at this point, that the conversation cease.

SO NOW HEAR THIS

All ye who have a geas that you must answer each comment addressed to you, abandon at preview. All ye who feel that points remain unmade, speak them aloud to your screen. If you are in any doubt whether your comment is going to be a good idea, don't post it.

If I have to come back to this discussion and remove (more) vowels, name names, or kick butts, I will be most displeased.

#510 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:30 PM:

/Rereads abi at 485. Attempts to think about it for five minutes. Realises brain is not properly engaged.

Looks around for brain. Finds it under a pile of coats, next to one or two others.

Engages brain. Thinks about it for five minutes. Small lightbulb appears over head.

Fetches coat. Leaves quietly, while whistling a few bars from 'Mary Wollstonecraft the Musical', pausing only to wave at Leroy, Devin, Michael, Lee, Constance, Graydon and Kid whom he hopes to see around these parts some time soon to carry on the conversation./

#511 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:39 PM:

I apologize. I trolled this conversation. I said something that I knew would end the conversation, because I had decided I was done with trying to communicate. This was very selfish of me, and I am sorry.

#512 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 03:01 PM:

heresiarch @511:

I confess that I was surprised. You usually have a better grasp of the deeper implications of your own Rule than that. But everyone loses their temper from time to time.

(My current theory of the value of Heresiarch's Rule is that by the end of one of these thrashes, most readers are shaking their heads, and much of their approbation will land on the last speaker. What you want is for them to say, "Man, what an sshl" about the other guy.)

#513 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 03:02 PM:

heresiarch, this conversation was over before you posted that. It's been in galvanic thrash mode for a while now.

#514 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 04:21 PM:

Xopher @ #463, it could be argued that Hawaiian came awfully close to death before a renaissance beginning in (roughly) the 1970s.

#517 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 05:19 PM:

Jon Baker @516:

Some consciousness of how much you, too, have screwed up on this thread would be a wise and useful thing to display at this point.

Just, as they say, sayin'.

#518 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 05:40 PM:

abi @ 512: "I confess that I was surprised. You usually have a better grasp of the deeper implications of your own Rule than that."

I missed that aspect, didn't I? I'm glad you pointed it out.

Xopher @ 513: Well, arguably. On the other hand: Bruce Baugh @ 468, which I submit is worth a fair bit of galvanic thrash. Either way, though, it's not my call to make.

#519 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 06:38 PM:

Abi @ 517

I'd like to take that discussion offline, but I can't find your email. Pls contact me at thanbo at gmail dot you-know-what.

#520 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 07:29 PM:

Jon, if your original remarks were good enough to make in public, your repentance is too.

#521 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 08:09 PM:

Since Abi has come in with a flaming sword, I've deleted various comments I'd drafted.

Instead I'll just say this: Jon Baker, if your intention was to cause your hearers, against their own inclinations, to feel irritated with Israel and those who defend her, you've put on a brilliant performance. If not, not.

I'm not offering that as a personal opinion. I'm telling you that that's an effect such thrashes produce in a surprising number of onlookers. This is hardly the first time I've seen it happen, and you're far from being the only person I've seen do it in online arguments. If you want to hear more about that, I'm willing to discuss it, but you'll have to ask, and you'll have to spend some time listening as well as talking.

As for wanting Abi to take it offline: it's two in the morning in Amsterdam. Abi has a busy, stressful life, and you've been taxing her patience for days. Taking stuff offline is a personal gift of time and energy. How much of Abi's do you think you have coming?

It's absolutely her choice either way. I'm just pointing out the sticker price of your request.

#522 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 08:52 PM:

I haven't been participating in this conversation. But I've been following it. And I have to say, I am really struggling to figure out a way to read Jon Baker's #516 as something other than a piece of astonishing and completely gratuitous nastiness.

Is Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, making, as Jon Baker says, an "inapposite comparison" when he suggests that the present attacks on the Catholic hierarchy have some resemblance to the historic persecution of the Jews? You bet he is. It's a thoroughly disgusting thing to say, and all too typical of the blinkered cluelessness that's been on display from Vatican insiders since these revelations began.

However, two facts present themselves for assessment. First, Jon Baker is clearly in a big hurry to take any and all criticism of Israel as personally as possible. Second, four of Making Light's five front-page bloggers are Catholics of one sort or another.

Given Jon Baker's own rules for when it is and isn't appropriate to take flash-fried umbrage at any criticism of groups to which one belongs, it's hard to view his #516 as anything other than a contrivance posted in the hope that he can get some other people to behave as badly has he has. That is: as deliberate flamebait.

It's tempting to get into a long digression, with links, explaining that in fact every one of the Catholics he's trying to bait here has a record of criticising the hierarchy over this stuff. But it's actually irrelevant. The real point is that this guy isn't arguing in good faith. This is a deliberate attempt to make the conversation stupider so he can look better. I have forgiveness for people like that--but, alas, no time whatsoever.

#523 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 03:35 AM:

Jon @519:

I think matters that have impacted the community as a whole, and the sub-community as represented on this thread, deserve to be discussed on this thread. This isn't about me, pace points made by both Teresa and Patrick. This is about the community and a conversation, and the various people who made various errors of judgement and turned a delicate subject into a thrash need to own that (if they care to own it) in the place where those errors happened. I'm just the border collie.

Also, frankly, given the way you have discussed this in front of an audience, I'd rather you didn't pursue this privately. I've seen you behave much better in other contexts, but this topic has clearly got its hooks deep into your emotional life, and it's pulling you in directions that do not serve you well. I've had people take it private in this state of mind, and it has never ended well.

In other words, what you have to say, say here. But not about Israel. Not only have we stopped that discussion for a reason, but, as Teresa has said, you've already probably had the opposite effect that you intended. The wisest thing you could do on that topic now is to hope that people don't see, or forget, your deportment here.

#524 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 04:17 AM:

PNH @522:

I think you may overestimate Jon's familiarity with us. (You weren't wildly clear on what I am before we discussed it in person, remember, nor I you.) Give him credit instead for looking for a way to continue the somewhat-more-relevant subthread of "things we do and do not compare with the Nazis".

But although I think that Fr Cantalamessa (and the entire hierarchy) deserve every whack of the clue-by-four that we can possibly summon up, this is probably not a good thread for it.

#525 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 08:43 AM:

#453 ::: LDR:

Once one group of people has decided it would be a good idea to massacre another group, do they ever stop with just one massacre? Or do they keep going until they've either achieved genocide, or someone stops them?

A number of the massacres cited upthread (against African Americans and against Jews in Russia, for example) showed no signs of leading to attempts to wipe out the whole group.

I think massacres are something close to normal human entropy while full eliminationist genocide (whether of people or a culture) takes an unusual amount of mental focus.

#500 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 09:32 AM:

Remember that if there is no way to break cultural continuity with the past (and, I would argue, no way to do this as a matter of public policy) there can be no sustained progress.

It's certainly the case that people need to break a certain amount of cultural continuity with the past to change, and some of those changes are progress. However, very little of that is public policy.

There was progress (admittedly slow) before there were governments let alone public policy.

Do you think it's worthwhile to forbid customs which are not obviously harmful in themselves?

You're in a logically inconsistent position. If you cite morals -- commands of an Abrahamic god! -- material present survival is not a concern; eternal life and conformance to the commandments of the maker and creator of all things is a concern, but your present embodied existence is a temporary blip in your potentially eternal existence. If you cite survival necessity as an over-riding reason to do something, you're asserting a materialistic world view that admits of no moral reasoning[1], only varying degrees of survival necessity.

Judaism is not Christianity without Jesus. There are only three rules (those against murder, idolatry, and sexual immorality) which one is obligated to die rather than break. As might be expected, reading the article tells me that the rules are more complicated and more sweeping than I thought, and I'm sure people who are much more knowledgeable than myself are arguing out how they apply to Israeli policy.

#501 ::: Constance:

Thanks for the overview of Polish history-- I had no idea. If you don't mind, how did the Poles maintain cultural continuity?

******

I recommend Outwitting History, which is about a project to save Yiddish books. It's about how a little thing can take over a person's life, both cultural preservation and cultural destruction (including from within the culture), and just the amount and variety of stuff involved in a culture (this should have been obvious to me, but the book makes it pretty vivid), and it's a better overview of Ashkenazi Jews for the past century or so than I had before I read it.

*****

In re vague vs. precise law: My impression is that vague law is more convenient for those in charge, and precise law (within reason, which is a vague standard) is safer for those subject to the law. People really need to know what they're permitted to do, and "you should know better than to come close to breaking the intent of the law" has serious problems, especially if the stakes are higher than being allowed to comment on a blog.

*****

Could the War on Drugs be considered genocide? I've heard it called such, and I'm not sure it should be, but I'm also not sure it shouldn't. Taking that many people out of a community so far as doing productive work and being parents causes a lot of damage.

#526 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 09:49 AM:

525 Nancy Lebovitz

I'm not sure we're supposed to be posting in this topic thread any longer, as Abi says in another topic thread this one is shut down. She can delete this then -- well, of course, she can! I'm not about to suggest that I could give permission one way or another about anything at ML.

Short response then, to how did the Polish people preserve their culture in the face of this disappearance of them as fact from Europe by the Great Powers of the time.

The usual ways:

Going underground, and their Roman Church faith nurtured by extremely courageous priests and nuns. Their food and folk customs, particularly at Christmas and Easter -- because the Great Powers were all Christians, and Christmas and Easter are celebrated by everyone.

Exile and cunning: the wealthy magistrate families formed exile, activist groups in the great cities of Europe, providing launches for other Polish refugees into the world, and lobbying the courts of Europe to help them throw off the yokes of the Great Powers. This is why there were so many young Polish aristos fighting in the American Revolution -- they felt a sympathy, and they had to do something -- they were aristos and aristos were military, particularly they were cavalry.

As well as the acquisitive impulse to take Poland by the Great Powers was that these Powers were also outraged at the form of the Polish state, which was not a monarchy but a Commonwealth. They saw it as a threat to their own absolutism to have this voting, democratic (ONLY FOR THE -- yes, corrupt -- wealthy elite, who by having their vote bought by whoever paid the most from a European or Russian court voted their interests, not Poland's) ruling elite in their midst.

Then came Napoleon, who, for the Poles, unlike the rest of Europe, was seen as a blessed opportunity, not a terror.

I believe this saga of Polish disappearance and rebirth had inspirational effect on GGK's Tigana.

Love, c.

#527 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 09:51 AM:

525 Nancy Lebovitz

I'm not sure we're supposed to be posting in this topic thread any longer, as Abi says in another topic thread this one is shut down. She can delete this then -- well, of course, she can! I'm not about to suggest that I could give permission one way or another about anything at ML.

Short response then, to how did the Polish people preserve their culture in the face of this disappearance of them as fact from Europe by the Great Powers of the time.

The usual ways:

Going underground, and their Roman Church faith nurtured by extremely courageous priests and nuns. Their food and folk customs, particularly at Christmas and Easter -- because the Great Powers were all Christians, and Christmas and Easter are celebrated by everyone.

Exile and cunning: the wealthy magistrate families formed exile, activist groups in the great cities of Europe, providing launches for other Polish refugees into the world, and lobbying the courts of Europe to help them throw off the yokes of the Great Powers. This is why there were so many young Polish aristos fighting in the American Revolution -- they felt a sympathy, and they had to do something -- they were aristos and aristos were military, particularly they were cavalry.

As well as the acquisitive impulse to take Poland by the Great Powers was that these Powers were also outraged at the form of the Polish state, which was not a monarchy but a Commonwealth. They saw it as a threat to their own absolutism to have this voting, democratic (ONLY FOR THE -- yes, corrupt -- wealthy elite, who by having their vote bought by whoever paid the most from a European or Russian court voted their interests, not Poland's) ruling elite in their midst.

Then came Napoleon, who, for the Poles, unlike the rest of Europe, was seen as a blessed opportunity, not a terror.

I believe this saga of Polish disappearance and rebirth had inspirational effect on GGK's Tigana.

Love, c.

#528 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 09:53 AM:

Constance, Nancy:

I cut off the Israel sub-thread with prejudice and for good reason. But the Polish history is more than fine; it's fascinating.

#529 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 10:06 AM:

side note re: 522, 524.

as a semi-regular of medium- long standing, i'll confess that i myself had not known that any, much less a preponderance, of the front- pagers self-id as r.c.

my powers of cluelessness are impressive, i admit, but not unparalleled. so i think 524 is probably the right answer as against 522's concerns about intent to offend.

#530 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 10:24 AM:

The War on Hippies isn't real genocide, but it certainly feels like an attempt to never let up the pressure on those who laughed at Reagan. Perhaps the drug war will finally end when the last human being who gives a shit about the Great Prevaricator is in the grave. For this reason (and others), I grit my teeth on seeing these GE spots about what a swell guy the Gipper was.

#531 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 10:27 AM:

ps: Reagan worship is also why Texas is trying to squeeze Jefferson out. They want to make room on Mt. Rushmore.

#532 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 10:41 AM:

#530 ::: Kip W:

I've wondered how much could be explained by the Powers That Be looking at the hippies and deciding that no one was going to feel as though they had enough slack to behave like that again.

#533 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 10:49 AM:

kid bitzer #529: had not known that any, much less a preponderance, of the front- pagers self-id as r.c.

I figured that out when I had my head handed to me the last time I said something fairly extreme and ignorant about the nature of Evil. I'm not going there again (at least not until I can bring to bear a much higher standard of research on the topic). heh.

#534 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 10:49 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #525: Poland in the sixteenth century was a great power, dominating eastern Europe. The Poles had the misfortune to have a form of government that made the aristocracy far too powerful at a time when neighbouring states were consolidating. As a result, in the late eighteenth century, it was possible for Poland's neighbours to gobble it up, right at the moment when its middle class and lesser nobility were developing a national consciousness, reinforced by the great engine of eighteenth century European nationalism the French Revolution as spread throughout Europe by the armies of Napoleon.

It's not an accident that the Polish national anthem is a mazurka, the words of which celebrate a Polish general who with his men fought alongside the French revolutionary army (under the command of a certain General Bonaparte) in Italy against the Austrians (one of the powers which had just dismembered Poland).

#535 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 10:57 AM:

By reading underground comix in the 1970's, I learned that the War on Drugs was Nixon's fight to keep dirty hippies from lacing granola with heroin. It helps one to gain historical perspective by remaining open to alternative sources of wisdom and insight.

#536 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 11:08 AM:

The War on Drugs certainly has a deeply embedded eliminationist streak with its big emphasis on punishing drugs favored by the wrong sorts of people, and with zealous confinement in hideous circumstances pursued very knowingly by people who have the clues and could choose to do otherwise. (The question of how much people who've been systematically lied to by a whole bunch of apparently distinct authorities is a tricky one; I'm inclined to put a lot more blame on deceivers than the deceived, but that becomes a whole thread of its own. Another time.)

#537 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 11:28 AM:

The reason I brought up Poland is that it is a splendidly sad example of what it means to disappear a people, and how often it happens.

Poland has been disappeared more than once.

That none of us know this history of Poland is a direct consequence of the organization of disappearing it by those responsible, for their own benefit.

At this point, if you can't read Polish yourself, it's rather hard to recover it. Russia and Poland have been antagonists since the beginning (at one point in medieval times Polish cavalary made it to Russia's holy city -- I'm not sure if we could call it Russia's capital yet, at that time). So there was more to the Soviet takeover of Poland post WWII than 'mere' ideology. But, again, Polish solidarity and culture persisted and prevailed.

As in China, it might be maoism now, but it's still very like Confucianism in style and organization.

It's very hard to break a culture without destroying the younger generation of a people.

In honor of Poland, and Easter, here's a virtual basket of pisanki eggs!

Love, C.

#538 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 11:38 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #525: Could the War on Drugs be considered genocide? I've heard it called such, and I'm not sure it should be, but I'm also not sure it shouldn't. Taking that many people out of a community so far as doing productive work and being parents causes a lot of damage.

I tend to think that it's not a genocide in itself, if only because the demographic targets shift somewhat with the political winds. Certainly, it's only one of several tactics used to arrest, attack, and otherwise abuse minorities. (See also "vagrancy", "redlining", "driving while black", "sundown towns", ''et pluribus alia''.

That said, it's certainly part of the overall pattern of oppressing and disempowering blacks and Hispanics (and secondarily, "libertines" from other groups as per your #532). It also fits into a more general pattern of "witch hunts" as self-perpetuating programs.

The basic pattern for a witch-hunt is: (1) reduced standards of evidence, (2) forcing victims to name others to be attacked, and (3) confiscation of property, which is used to fund the witch-hunt. Usually, there's also (4) stigmatization of not only the victims, but their defenders.

#539 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 11:57 AM:

#534 Fragano
Poland as a society/geography with hereditary aristocracy and royalty employed Jews as resident alien tax collectors and merchants. When Polish nationalism resurged, Jews, as resident aliens and appartchiks of the privileged class which allowed Jews as "other" to reside in Poland, got identified and attacked as a target class, targeted as scapegoat and negative-emotion-dump target for real, imagined, and created [see "Tea Party rallies"] resentment and grudges in resurgent Polish national culture and myth.

It's bullying gone to macroscopic and society-wide murderous, mob levels--and similar movements applied to the Khymer Rouge, who attacked anyone seen as an intellectual, Shia-Sunni clashes, Yugoslavia post-Tito, lynchings in the USA in the wake of that movie stirring things up, the bloody elimination of the Communist Party in Indonesia, Sinhalese versus Tamil in Sri Lankha, Bengali versus Bangladesh in Bangladesh and surroundings late in the 20th century, Protestant versus Catholic and Catholic versus Protestant in England consequential to Henry VIII's inability to father a living male heir with his first wife, European colonial culture versus various First People(again, there were First People who sided with the Europeans against other tribes of First People....), European colonial culture and its descendant cultures versus culture and races of slaves and their descendants; WASP versus Irish Catholics and Italian Catholics, etc.


#540 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 01:18 PM:

Paula -- did not have an hereditary monarchy.

Which is one of the reasons it was such a weak state, as a state

Love, C.

#541 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 01:45 PM:

Kid Bitzer, please don't feel clueless. Most of the time ML isn't a clue-rich environment on that subject.

I formally converted in 2000 after spending a couple of decades thinking about stuff. You can find my credo as of 2004 here.

One other thing. I made religious jokes and came up with weird theological speculations before I converted, I kept doing it afterward, and I'd hate for anyone to feel they have to restrain that impulse just because they've found out that four out of five of us are deists.

#542 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 02:05 PM:

Emphasizing what TNH @541 said: this blog is catholic rather than Catholic, no matter what the persuasions of the front page team are. Much of the saints-and-God-stuff we host here is the product not of our membership in any church but of our fascination with related matters such as medieval history, human ethics, and the glorious extent of human weirdness. Nor do we expect anyone commenting here to toe some doctrinal line: irreverence, disbelief, doubt, and disagreement are explicitly welcome.

In fact, Patrick and Teresa were pretty vague on my religious affiliation until quite recently. They certainly did not know when they invited me onto the front page. (And I don't know if Jim and Avram knew before reading this thread. Hi, guys!)

#543 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 03:36 PM:

Thank you, Teresa, for the link back to your 2004 post.

That, and Fred Clark's post today, helps me get some perspective back after a rather rough few weeks lately, in which it's seemed like every level of the hierarchy (from Rome down to my neighborhood) has been more concerned with clutching onto its own privilege than listening to the concerns of the people they serve. (I suspect yesterday's fasting energy-drop, and a few other things going on in my life, probably didn't help my mood much either.)

Easter's coming. I wish you and all others who celebrate it an unexpectedly joyful holiday. (And wish we could all celebrate it together in person; but am grateful for the online community in any case.)

#544 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 04:29 PM:

@541--

thanks, t. there are other issues on which my own cluelessness is a perpetual vexation, but i wasn't feeling especially inadequate on this score. you guys don't make an issue of your affiliations; i don't foreground mine either.

i had wanted to follow up with a joke about you guys being more unbalanced than the supreme court, but couldn't figure out how to phrase it in non-hackles-raising ways. worse, i couldn't figure out how to make it *funny*. (that's worse than a crime: that's a groaner!)

and thanks also abi @542. i agree: if you like the whole tapestry of human weirdness, you'll love religion.

"know then thyself; presume not god to scan: the proper study of mankind is man."

i think he got that all backwards; if you want to know mankind, you've got to spend a lot of times studying humanity's gods.

but then, i've never believed in pope's infallibility.

#545 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 05:00 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @543:
it's seemed like every level of the hierarchy (from Rome down to my neighborhood) has been more concerned with clutching onto its own privilege than listening to the concerns of the people they serve.

I know. It's been awful. I came within a hair's breadth of walking out of one service a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, I've been church-shopping anyway (for good reason; it's a long story), and it has been a useful litmus test for where to settle.

Slactivist is probably the best perspective I've managed to gain in a good while.

I hope Easter is transformative.

#546 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 05:14 PM:

JMO at 543: same thing happened to me last week; after the barrage of news from Germany and the wretched story about the deaf children, I could not face Palm Sunday, especially because I could not bear the thought of reciting the Passion (Crucify him! Crucify him!)and then coming back on Friday to do it all over again. My depression and I took a long walk in the weather and hoped God would forgive us both for the me-shaped absence in my customary pew...

But tonight is my favorite liturgy of all the year! I love the Easter Vigil service, moving from darkness and grief to music and the light. Happy Easter, everyone.

And Teresa, thank you for that link to your 2004 post. I read it, and the comments, with great interest. I missed it at the time, since I came to Making Light in 2005.

#547 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 05:23 PM:

Paula Lieberman #534: You'll find that German aristocrats and courts also employed Jews in that role (that was the function of the 'court Jew" in seventeenth and eighteenth century central Europe). In the Ottoman lands, Phanariot Greeks played a very similar role.

#548 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 05:25 PM:

I just read kid bitzer's #544 to Teresa as she woke up from a nap.

It caused to to temporarily re-collapse into complete paralysis. She says I'm to tell kid: "Three points!"

#549 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 05:26 PM:

Hmm. Exceedingly belated clarification, in re: my snark at 316 and the comments following it.

It was the comparison of human-animal marriage to polyamory that had me miffed, not the comparison of polyamory to same-sex marriage. The latter comparison seems natural to me--let consenting adults define their relationships in both number and gender--but the former is ugly, illogical, and gets made by politicians who don't wish me or my loved ones well, so it brought me to a jarring halt to see the comparison made here. Glad it was just a riff, but I'm sure you'll understand if I say it scraped some raw nerves.

(note to self: do not leave fast-moving threads for 4 days, that never turns out well.)

#550 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 06:07 PM:

We've been happier with our churchgoing the last couple of months than we've been in years. We've started going to St. Boniface in downtown Brooklyn, which is overseen/ministered to by a foundation of the Oratorians of St. Philip Neri: great preaching, great music, lively and cheerful parish. They're a Dorothy Day-ish combination of progressive social justice and traditional worship.

Of course, that means the last month or so has been rough: no easy excuses, no sweeping things under the rug. The priests are openly distressed by the sheer awfulness of the latest revelations, and by the church's weaselly response to them. Their overall attitude seems to be that the church hierarchy is in no position to be expecting automatic forgiveness, and won't be until it humbles itself and acknowledges its own wrongdoing. It's a huge relief to be hearing that from the pulpit.

Meanwhile, Easter vigil! I know roughly what ought to happen, but St. Boniface keeps surprising me. Yesterday at Good Friday services, three of the priests sang the entirety of the Passion from the Gospel of John. Tonight's the central observance of the liturgical year, and they've got three hours to work with. Things, as they say, could get interesting.

John Mark Ockerbloom, I wish you and Abi could be there. Thank you for pointing me to Fred Clark's latest entry, which I'm printing out right now to re-read on the subway.

#551 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 06:59 PM:

Teresa is a better Catholic than I am, but every so often I'm reminded that she's not a native speaker of the language. As I just now remarked to her, calling the congregation at St. Boniface a "Dorothy Day-ish combination of progressive social justice and traditional worship" is liable to conjure up an impression of a group that's a lot more roughhewn and political than this crowd. Not unreasonably, her response was "So explain on the thread." Okay, I will.

Regarding Dorothy Day, who I certainly admire a great deal, nobody is really "Dorothy Day-ish"; she was sui generis. We know that at least some of the Oratorian priests at St. Boniface admire Day and the Catholic Worker movement, because we saw one of them give a very interesting and sympathetic talk on the subject, and another one, in a different conversation, asked me if I'd ever been to the original Worker house, which is still in operation on the Lower East Side. I haven't, and he said I should, it's a really interesting operation. But although the people at St. Boniface do an impressive amount of practical low-key charitable work, it's basically a "normal" parish, not a hotbed of social-justice-oriented Direct Action.

If there's anything abnormal about the St. Boniface, it probably has to more do with its relationship to the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. In essence, it's a parish with priests who have a kind of "tenure"--who can't be transferred somewhere else every few years, and who have made a personal commitment (not a religious vow, just a personal commitment) to stay with the local Oratory and the parish. From our brief acquaintanceship with the place, this "tenure" would seem to have had nothing but good effects.

#552 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 07:07 PM:

(Also, IJWTS that I think it's amusing that Teresa discovers Fred Clark's piece about Holy Saturday because John Mark Ockerbloom links to it in a comment thread--when, I'm guessing, JMO got to it because I put it up as a sidelight seven hours ago! You'd almost think Teresa doesn't spend 24 hours a day noticing every sparrow that falls on Making Light...)

#553 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 07:17 PM:

Patrick also tells me I'm forever messing up the linguistic nuances of the Left. I expect I am. These are countries in which I'll always be an immigrant.

#554 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 08:05 PM:

@548--

thanks, tnh, for your kind words, and thanks, pnh, for your kindness in relaying them. you guys are too nice.

#555 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 08:08 PM:

Teresa: I think being a bit of an outsider sometimes lets you see things more clearly, and often helps you start interesting conversations. I say that both as an adult convert to Catholicism, and as an ideological outlier in most groups where I spend time and discuss politics.

#556 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 08:54 PM:

Patrick @ 551: I wouldn't characterize the church I attend as Dorothy Day-ish either; but she's one of the icons.

#557 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 11:09 PM:

That Fred Clark piece is wonderful even to me the atheistic humanist, and so it is with a heavy heart that I warn you: don't read the comments.

#558 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 11:20 PM:

To the Moderators:

In other words, what you have to say, say here. But not about Israel. Not only have we stopped that discussion for a reason, but, as Teresa has said, you've already probably had the opposite effect that you intended. The wisest thing you could do on that topic now is to hope that people don't see, or forget, your deportment here.

This thread has been on my mind all day over Shabbos, when I could not use the computer. I have been working on this post for hours.

You want my repentance to be in public? All right, but you may not agree with all of it, because I don't feel terribly repentant about everything. And I cannot ignore Israel, because people's reactions to it are the crux of the matter.

I certainly admit that "he did it first" is childish. But what is there to say? That the state which perpetrated these acts, admits that it had a moral lapse, but life goes on and we try to do better. All countries have had such moral lapses at times.

I further note that my mild paranoia has begun to return - the tendency to read dark intentions into the words of others. My wife, Debbie, has noticed it as well, and I've called my old therapist to see if we can restart. So yes, I do tend to overreact, and I will try to control myself better.

That said:

I only entered this subthread to defend a co-religionist. And I was surprised by the reaction. To watch ordinarily moderate and amusing posters and gentle poets, one by one, throw nasty accusations against me and mine, point out the most negative aspects of our recent history, and then proceed to ignore any rebuttal, even the rebuttal offered by Avram the moderator, is shocking. I reacted to the attacks on my religion and homeland. I'm sorry for any hurt I might have caused.

Patrick's post at 522 is exactly on point. I posted that link not for nastiness, God forbid. At this point, gratuitous nastiness would be suicidally stupid. I didn't know that any of the posters, let alone four of them, were Catholic, and might thus be expected to take it as an attack. It was not meant to be one.

I agree with abi@524: - that we don't know enough about each other, as I haven't been a very frequent poster, although I lurk a lot.

Apparently, strong reactions in the face of perceived attacks on one's religion and its practitioners are not my problem alone: Thoughtful people will take affront when they think their religion is attacked. I certainly didn't mean to flame anyone, but now that it has been pointed out to me that it caused offense, I'm sorry for that, as well.

#559 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 12:10 AM:

Jon, do please credit yourself with some agency.

#560 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 12:14 AM:

>Credit yourself with some agency.

Excuse me? I don't understand.

#561 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 12:18 AM:

TNH @ 553: That sort of politically linguistic nuance may be somewhat more common on the Left, but is not limited thereto. Same for the types of factionalism usually associated with hypersensitivity to such nuances. (It may take a bit of digging, but it's not all that difficult to find some people on the Right who make Bob Avakian's crew look inclusive and compromise-oriented, by comparison.)

#562 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 12:23 AM:

I probably should not have tried to speak for Paula as to her puzzling introduction of Israel. It seems everything else flowed from there. However, I'd note that 412 and 415 attacked Paula for Israel, and I was responding to them, as well as the nomenclature subthread.

I didn't start the subthread, but I certainly bear some guilt for continuing to escalate it.

I shouldn't let people push my buttons.

Is that what you meant?

#563 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 12:24 AM:

D Potter, #556: I've seen that icon of Dorothy Day on the web; I didn't know it was hanging in your church. Is that the original?

As you're probably aware (for one thing, I believe Teresa has linked to it before), there's a Robert Lentz icon of Dorothy Day as well.

I really should write about her on Making Light one of these days. She was more punk rock than punk rock.

#564 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 12:43 AM:

Heresiarch, #557: To the best of my knowledge, Fred Clark doesn't actually follow his own comment section. That said, there are a few pretty smart comments in there -- one from our own Lizzy L, for instance.

#565 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 01:19 AM:

Jon Baker, #558: I think Abi is right, I was wrong to conclude that you were baiting a bunch of people based on their shared context, because you're unlikely to have known that context. My bad, and I apologize

"Apparently, strong reactions in the face of perceived attacks on one's religion and its practitioners are not my problem alone." Yes, well, my point wasn't that you were surely opportunistically taking the chance to take a shot at people like us; my point was that by the rules you have promulgated we would be entitled to a whole lot of victim karma over this.

Anyway, enough of this crap from either of us.

#566 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 02:52 AM:

Patrick @ 563: According to this, it is.

Wow.

Please do write about her when you get the chance (or the urge).

#567 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 04:46 AM:

Jon Baker @560:

Credit yourself with some agency.
Excuse me? I don't understand.
Normally well-behaved people inexplicably and causelessly became hostile to you and your arguments. Meanwhile, you made no decisions, initiated no actions, and in general did nothing that affected or influenced others. All you've done in this discussion is react to the gratuitous provocation and hostility of others.

I'll grant that technically, it's possible for that to happen ...

#568 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 08:08 AM:

TNH@567: I asked Debbie what it meant, and she said the same thing. I will repeat post 562.

I probably should not have tried to speak for Paula as to her puzzling introduction of Israel. It seems everything else flowed from there.

I didn't start the subthread, but I certainly bear some guilt for continuing to escalate it.

I shouldn't let people push my buttons.

Beyond that, I'm sorry, I really don't see that I bear responsibility for other posters ignoring moderator requests, only for my own ignoring of a moderator request.

#569 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 08:29 AM:

Patrick and Teresa: I'm very heartened to hear that you've found a good church community with the Oratorians. The Oratory in Pittsburgh is probably the church community that I've felt most at home in spiritually, and it has a lot in common with your description of St. Boniface in Brooklyn. So it sounds like they may well have a good thing going generally, not just in one particular community.

I still try to keep in touch with the priests in Pittsburgh, particularly the priest who presided at our wedding.

Perhaps we'll stop by St. Boniface sometime if we're going by New York at an opportune time. For that matter, Googling around a bit, I've only just now noticed there's an Oratory here in Philadelphia. It's a nontrivial distance from where we live, but I'm inclined to pay them a visit when I get the chance.

Happy Easter!

#570 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 12:08 PM:

Avram is Catholic?

#571 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 12:27 PM:

Right after I made that lame joke, my computer seized up completely, likely to remind me not to make lame jokes on Easter Sunday, right after high holy days.

My apologies.

#572 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 12:32 PM:

Dorothy Day was great in The Man Who Knew Too Much.

#573 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 02:12 PM:

PNH @ 564: "That said, there are a few pretty smart comments in there -- one from our own Lizzy L, for instance."

Yes, there are definitely some worthy comments being spoken--but I was appalled that it took less than a dozen comments for people to turn a beautiful statement about hope and despair and living in an imperfect world into a religious versus humanist strawman-o-rama.

#574 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 02:17 PM:

heresiarch @573:
I was appalled that it took less than a dozen comments for people to turn a beautiful statement about hope and despair and living in an imperfect world into a religious versus humanist strawman-o-rama.

I don't know, I thought that kind of proved Clark's point about the imperfections of the world.

It's not just that the meek aren't exactly inheriting the earth and that power seems to be winning. It's also that, even in the middle of noticing how tough it can be, we still fall to squabbling about how, and why, and whose fault it is.

#575 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 02:47 PM:

573, 574
There were a lot fewer of that kind of comment than I expected, given what I've seen other places when religion - of any flavor - comes up.

#576 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 02:49 PM:

Throwmearope @571: on Easter Sunday, right after high holy days

Do Christians call the lead-up to Easter "high holy days"? Because I'm used to hearing that phrase used to refer to Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur, which generally fall in September or October. Right now it's Passover.

#577 ::: pedantka ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 03:03 PM:

I think I've heard a comparison made between Easter/Christmas and the High Holy Days--the two days a year that many adherents darken the church or synagogue door. No idea if that's what Throwmearope meant, though.

(As an aside, it occurred to me in the midst of deleting a comment that was best left unposted that this place has been feeding my hope that 'sanity' and 'religious discourse' can exist side by side for nearly a decade now. So... thanks.)

#578 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 06:24 PM:

abi @ 574: "I don't know, I thought that kind of proved Clark's point about the imperfections of the world."

That's a much better way of thinking about it.

#579 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 09:46 PM:

abi #545:

At our comfortably middle-class, somewhat liberal parish, the last couple homilies have directly or indirectly referenced the scandal. The Easter homily (in the overflow chapel; I don't know what the main homily contained) was entirely about it. I have a suspicion that this is one of those things that, when it first seems like it applies to your church (as opposed to those poor guys far across the ocean in the US), is very hard to talk about or even think clearly about. (Part of why the abuse was gotten away with for so long is that it's hard to talk about or think clearly about, right? In some sense, it's easier to get away with the unthinkable than with crimes that *don't* send you flying across the moral event horizon at Mach 2.) I think our parish's priests are doing better with this scandal because they've had time to think and talk about the previous US sex scandals, and to hear parishioners' feelings about them, for a decade or so.

But the Vatican's responses, so far, have been awful. Perhaps because they're still living, mentally, in a world where this sort of thing can't be talked about openly, and where the faithful will simply accept that what the church has done is for the good of the faithful and the whole world. They should have learned the lessons from the last decade of history of the American church.

#580 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 04:00 AM:

albatross @579:

I appreciate a perspective that allows me not to cherish anger at the priest whose sermon (on the woman caught in adultery) cited the rate of sexual abuse by family members in Germany. Thank you; I needed that.

One of the priests at my current place puts his sermons online (Google translate is a little floppy here, but you can get the drift). He's clearly willing to touch on the matter, and to admit that the Church is screwing up. I don't know whether he's at the forefront or the other place is behindhand. I don't have context.

I wonder, looking around the pews, whether Mass was always attended only by the elderly. Maybe I'm just going to the wrong service, but maybe everybody's just gone. Context again.

Still looking.

#581 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 06:25 PM:

On the Polish subthread:

Does anyone here know the name of the time travel novel/series where a man gets sent back to 1600s (?) Poland, and using his scientific knowledge makes Poland a world power and not broken up? He switched them to a base 12 mathematical system.

#582 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 07:46 PM:

Nancy @ 581: That would be Leo Frankowski's Cross-Time Engineer series.

#583 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 09:34 PM:

abi at 580: my parish priest has said nothing about the abuse scandal. He's a genuinely devout man, and I think he simply has no idea what to say, and is afraid of what might happen if he did speak of it. Many feel that way, I think. This year I contributed nothing to the "Bishop's Appeal," a diocesan assessment which we are told goes to good works, but I can't bring myself to write the check, nor will I contribute to "Peter's Pence," which traditionally goes to Rome.

There are a lot of over sixties (like me) in our pews, but there's a substantial block of younger people and even some teens. We have a Youth Group. It doesn't have many members but it has some. Our St Vincent de Paul group is solid; so is the Block Rosary. We're about to initiate a program of Small Christian Communities: small groups of people (no more than 8, usually) meeting together once a week to pray, read the Scriptures, and support each other. We have 3 choirs, including a Youth Choir.

Mary Gordon over at Huffington Post wrote this. It says some of what I want to say, but not all.

#584 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 10:27 PM:

Thank you, Leroy F. Berven! I had been wondering about that for several years now!

#585 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 01:29 AM:

Abi at 523
various people who made various errors of judgement

It may be too trivial to mention, as well as being very belated, but it's been making me want to avoid posting in other threads on other topics; so I'd just like to say that although it's not obvious from the time stamp, my 510 was cross-posted with Abi's 509.

I won't say it wasn't meant to be offensive - it was, and I'm sorry for that. But it wasn't meant to be - as it must have seemed - a piece of deliberate thumbing my nose at the moderators after the whistle had been blown. That's something I'm sorry about too.

#586 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 02:49 AM:

praisegod barebones @585:
It may be too trivial to mention, as well as being very belated, but it's been making me want to avoid posting in other threads on other topics

Then it's not too trivial to mention, or to do whatever public or private apologizing is necessary to make you feel right with the community again.

I confess that your slings and arrows were aimed at me, I didn't catch them. My reaction was more of bafflement than anything else, but I was also trying to untangle a different, and more explosive, mess.

If you need to talk about this, feel free; I for one am listening. If you need forgiveness from me, you have it. If you need an explicit invitation to rejoin the conversation, here's one with gold edges.

#587 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 03:13 AM:

How odd, praisegod -- I read your post at 510 as doing exactly what abi requested in 509, and it being a reasonable response of someone letting go of responding. Precisely the opposite of nose-thumbing. I mention so you will know that at least one person saw it as supportive of the moderation. My mileage clearly varied from yours.

#588 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 05:11 AM:

@585--

i agree with tom's 587--i thought your note had a salutary calming and cooling effect, with nothing that offended or inflamed.

(and i was touched that you mentioned me).

so i'd assume all is well between you and the world unless anyone pops up to contest that claim.

#589 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 09:02 AM:

praisegod, I also took that as a graceful withdrawal from the conversation. This particular cell of the community brain finds no evil.

#590 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 11:02 AM:

#581 Nancy, # 582 Leroy
Frankowski's misogyny is arrant, offensive, intrusive, and such that I anti-recommend his books....

#591 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 01:12 PM:

praisegod barebones #585: Yeah, what they said above -- that was a perfectly good stand-down.

#592 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 03:47 PM:

I wish I had made such a graceful exit, rather than the flounce (as Debbie characterized it) I posted earlier.

#593 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 05:22 PM:

praisegod, count one more vote for "graceful withdrawal". If you were really intending to be offensive with that post, you failed utterly. :-)

#594 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 08:28 PM:

Paula @590,

I see the first was published in 1988, and that's probably around when I read it. I was too young and inexperienced to notice misogyny. Thanks for the warning.

The base 12 system is the primary reason I even remember the book.

#595 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 09:03 PM:

I'll second Paula's warning. The first book has the Important Future Guys being served by naked serving wenches. The third has a young woman being raped (and her scream bringing applause from the priest and other locals listening outside the door) and, as a result, falling in love with her attacker. That last made me give up on the series.

#596 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 11:55 PM:

Getting back to the original topic -- Michelle Bachmann, an elected representative, has called for an armed and dangerous response to cap-and-trade energy policy. Oh, I guess that kind of rhetoric: IOKIYAR.

#597 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 07:55 AM:

Tom, kid, Xopher, David, Jon, Lee (I hope that's all): Thanks. Especially Jon. Well, especially everyone.

Abi: No, nothing aimed at you. But I did wonder, the day after, whether what I posted would read rather differently, and not as well, in the light of your post, as it was intended.

Obviously, I could see at the time that you were busy putting out bigger fires, and that you have a life away from ML. But...well, moderators have feelings too; and sometimes things that you have to let go because there are other fires to put out can rankle. (Or so I'd imagine) So I wanted to say something. Anyway, it's clear now that it was a mistake to worry about it.

I won't say who I was trying to offend. If it's gone unnoticed, so much the better. If it was noticed...well, water under the bridge, I guess.

'Invitation with gold edges': any invitation to participate in this community is not just gold-edged, but gold all the way through.

By a strange co-incidence - at least, I assume it's coincidence of sorts - the day after this conversation finished, I got asked to review a monograph on Genocide for an academic journal. I feel a little bit more confident about doing so, after this thread than I might otherwise have done. Not so much for content as for the experience of seeing that is possible to talk, and disagree intelligently about the topic. (Does anyone know the approved APA citation style for a comment thread on Making Light, though, just in case...?)

#598 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 08:07 AM:

You can find the APA style for citing on-line material here.

Making Light (March 24, 2010). Kristallnacht, Revisited. Retrieved April 8, 2010, from http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/012277.html#012277.

#599 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 10:13 PM:

Jon @592
They say it's never too late. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I don't think your gesture would be one of them. Have some canapes!

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="http://www.url.com">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.















(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.