What If

What if the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville were actually a very, very small group of losers who couldn’t get a girl friends or proper jobs, as discussed by Kevin D. Williamson in the National Review? What if they grazed IQ’s of 90?

What if our country had almost no neo-Nazis other than those few creeps who descended on Charlottesville?

What if the commentators on CNN and FOX and social media are making this into something bigger than it is, because they are paid to create controversy. Without controversy, they don’t have a job. With controversy, they get speaking gigs, tv appearances, and book deals. What if that was true?

What if the actions of the Moron-in-Chief added fuel to the conflict, which might have gone away on its own?

What if this controversy caused people to react emotionally? And what if those emotions led to political actions that could have benefitted from deliberation among elected representatives?

What if this conflict and emotional decisions resulted in symbolic action, which took the place of larger policy reforms that could actually help people?

Just asking.

69 thoughts on “What If

  1. And what if those emotions led to political actions that could have benefitted from deliberation among elected representatives?

    How is that supposed to have happened? All of the things that required or encouraged deliberation in Congress have been undermined by Republicans there. It requires weeks of effort to even get a majority saying that the United States should pay it’s debts and this has been the case for several years.


  2. I’ve watched 6 years of ranting against an insurance program whose basic framework was taken from Republican think tanks by people who have no idea what to replace it with and that has only made them more determined to denounce it. The Nazis aren’t the core problem. The policy reforms, any policy reforms, have been blocked except where they are approved by the most conservative minority of Republican primary voters in highly gerrymandered districts and such policies can’t get a majority of even the Republican Party voters.

    I don’t know how to fix that, but insisting they still denounce Nazis seems like a useful start because it shows some morality outside of political expedience remains.


    1. And yet I’m not ready to ditch democratic institutions and processes for mobs. I’ll take broken institutions over Facebook platitudes and viral .gif’s and emotional action.


      1. I think those emotional actions are about all that’s holding up democratic norms. Democratic institutions and processes won’t last if the norms go.


      2. For me, your what ifs seem a good description of current events. Lots of preening virtue signaling going on. My own town Arlington VA did a nice job containing and ignoring George Lincoln Rockwell back in the day.


      3. More! As a centrist Dem, I cringe when I see people on the left of the party satisfying their urge to look good to their buddies and thus driving away those voters who are not sufficiently woke to understand that their role is to die and get out of the way of the new orthodoxy. If you are interested in reading a better exposition of my views than I generally manage here “The U.S. constitutional system is currently all but screaming at Democratic Party to broaden its geographic base, and threatening it with continuing powerlessness if it fails to do so. A more centrist Democratic Party of the Bill Clinton variety would peel off GOP support in the heartland, and perhaps prompt the Republicans to move away from white working class populism and try to compete in some districts closer to city centers.” take a look at https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/08/25/is-congress-unfair/


  3. I think either the “Never Trump” wing of the Republican Party decides that means really never Trump (even if it costs them a primary or the party a seat) or democracy won’t exist in America for very long regardless of what anybody else does. Because, not matter what happens in 2018 and 2020, eventually the another candidate is going to come back and try to rebuild the coalition Trump has done if it becomes clear that a majority of white people will let it happen. You can’t not have a right-wing party in a county like America and you can’t have democracy if that right wing party is unwilling to reject armed groups in military uniforms shouting anti-Semitic slogans.


  4. I highly recommend the book, _The Once and Future Liberal_, by Mark Lilla.

    He writes, Americans are a strange breed. We love to preach, and we hate being preached at. In one hemisphere of our brains the sermons of Cotton Mather run on an infinite loop; in the other we hear the echo of Mark Twain’s laughter. When the Twain side is napping the Mather side undergoes a Great Awakening. Surges of fevered fanaticism come over us, all sense of proportion is lost, and everything seems of an unbearable moral urgency. Repent, America, repent now!The country is undergoing such an Awakening at this very moment concerning race and gender, which is why the rhetoric being generated sounds evangelical rather than political. That one now hears the word woke everywhere is a giveaway that spiritual conversion, not political agreement, is the demand. Relentless speech surveillance, the protection of virgin ears, the inflation of venial sins into mortal ones, the banning of preachers of unclean ideas–all these campus identity follies have their precedents in American revivalist religion. Mr. Twain might have found it amusing but every opinion poll shows that the vast majority of Americans do not.

    Liberals have elections to contest and centrist working-class voters to win back. That is job number one. And nothing will turn voters off more surely than being hectored in this way.


    1. If the working class voters are really feeling hectored because people are counterprotesting literal Nazis, the problem isn’t the liberals.


      1. Working class voters might just maybe feel hectored by rich and advantaged people calling them ‘deplorable ‘ you think?


      2. It wouldn’t hurt if they asked what Trump was supposed to do for them and whether he did it. Because it looks to me like fueling racist division is the substitute for helping them.


    2. Cranberry,


      I was thinking today about the application of the Pareto principle to race and ethnic sensitivity. What if you can get 80% of the benefits through 20% of the effort, with the remaining 20% taking 80% of the effort?

      I think people start getting balky when it starts looking like nothing they do is ever going to be good enough and that there’s an endless treadmill of demands (which really does seem to be the case with campus language stuff).

      (I’ve learned this lesson myself with regard to housekeeping–my husband has converted me to 20% effort. There’s an older relative in our extended family who tries to get the 100%, and it just annoys and burns everybody out. 20% is good enough. In my personal housekeeping practice, it means that instead of driving everybody mercilessly to serve the house, it means that I need to learn to prioritize and choose what is most important and ask people to do what is most important and most urgent, not every passing fancy that crosses my mind.)

      I would strongly suggesting looking for the 20%, especially in areas where we are trying to get other people’s cooperation. It’s a much more livable approach.


      1. Here’s an example of the linguistic treadmill (found via the otherwise delightful Captain Awkward):


        In this case, Polynesians are miffed by the use of the abbreviation “poly” to refer to the polyamorous, as Polynesians have apparently already called dibs on “poly,” so now the polyamorous need to stop calling themselves poly.

        (In this case, I have a bright idea. How about “Poly” with a capital letter for Polynesians and lower case “poly” for the polyamorous? I strongly suspect that in oral speech, it’s pretty clear in context. I have to say I have literally never seen “poly” used to refer to Polynesians–ever.)

        For somebody without a horse in the race, it looks a lot like one-up-manship and being a control-freak.

        I would say that it’s very noticeable that there is a large proportion of autistic young men in the alt-right, manosphere, and probably many of the more extreme groups. Young autistic men are often a) struggling to understand and deal with the normal social demands of modern life b) undersocialized c) underemployed for their intelligence d) fond of geeking out over complicated systems that explain everything e) prone to spending a lot of time online f) prone to over-doing things and g) not that good at finding female companionship (and hence open to racist or Red Pill theories as to why women aren’t interested in them). See, for example, Elliot Rodger, the Santa Barbara shooter.

        Hence, this group is going to be especially hostile to being presented with an ever-growing list of new social gotchas, when they’re just barely remembering deodorant and saying “please”.

        I really don’t envy mothers of autistic teen and young adult guys, because a lot of them make wrong turns. As I’ve told Wendy, the worst thing an autistic young woman is likely to do is wind up with too many cats.

        So, just a heads up to moms of spectrummy boys–do have a look at what your kid is doing online, and make sure he hasn’t picked up any bizarre ideas or creepy online friends.

        Also, bringing it back to the main topic–Keep It Simple, Stupid, is always a good idea. Even well-intentioned people can’t follow the rules if the rules are too complicated or always changing.

        As another example of over-doing progressive rules, my husband recently got back from a visit to Berkeley for an academic conference. He sent me a photo of a Berkeley campus (?) recycling chart. It was basically the flow chart from hell with possibly 20 different nodes. Only a literally OCD person with a thing for recycling and an hour a day available for recycling had any chance of being complaint with the flow chart.

        Again, if you want people to obey rules, keep the rules limited and simple.

        One more thing, I think that some people (including some spectrummy people) are actually geeking out over progressive rules-making. I’m sure this is great fun for them, but they shouldn’t be in charge of making rules for everybody else, just like you wouldn’t make Sheldon Cooper your Dungeon Master. Sorry! I hear Pokemon and model trains are fun,too!


      2. I stopped wearing deodorant about five years ago. I don’t think anybody has noticed, possibly because I’ve been better about saying “please.”

        But, I agree that keeping the rules simple is good. Here’s a real simple rule: Don’t march with Nazis and don’t issue statements in support of Nazis.


    3. Tumblr SJWs (social justice warriors) can be extremely obnoxious, and there are leftist campus activist groups with toxic dynamics and politics. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how people who claim to be anti elitist or into helping the white working class would think this is a pressing issue for our country. It’s like complaining about the Princeton a cappella schedule, or the dining hall food at Oberlin. Not exactly a concern for people who struggling to put food on the table while battling an opioid addiction.

      No one in the mainstream is having a fit over transgendered vs. transgender. Mainstream Americans are simply being asked to 1) respect the voting rights of black people, 2) care that unarmed black people routinely get gunned down by white Americans for very trivial reasons or no reasons at all, 3) avoid using obvious racial slurs or other epithets in public places or work environments.

      If it is asking too much to expect white people to view black people as their equals, if that is so *radical* that it destroys the fabric of our country, I really don’t know what to say.

      I agree fully with MH. We’re having a racist backlash against people who were driven insane by the idea a black man was in a position of some sort of authority over them. They are driven by hatred of Obama and everything he did, the specifics of which they don’t actually care about. If other white people can’t denounce a literal white supremacist backlash, I don’t know what to say. This isn’t about preferred pronouns or accepting your niece’s polyamorous relationship with otherkin. This is about straight up accepting that black Americans have the same rights as white Americans.


      1. B.I. said:

        ” 1) respect the voting rights of black people, 2) care that unarmed black people routinely get gunned down by white Americans for very trivial reasons or no reasons at all, 3) avoid using obvious racial slurs or other epithets in public places or work environments.”

        I think you can fly the “Mission Accomplished” banner for #1 and #3. I have lived in TX for 10 years, and nobody, white, black, or Hispanic uses racial slurs or epithets in public I can literally say that over 10 years time, the one time I’ve heard “n—–” was one time a somewhat seedy middle-aged white couple pulling up at the grocery store had their car stereo booming some sort of bad language hip hop. But, other than that, nope. Local social norms are:

        Thou Shalt Be Nice


        Thou Shalt Not Offend

        Upper middle class white Baptists in our area would clearly rather die than give offense. We have occasional racially inappropriate fraternity and sorority parties (watch those themes, guys!), but adults are (99% of the time) gracious and thoughtful.

        And this is not just my anecdotal evidence or wishful thinking–there is actually a major black exodus southward right now.


        “The quiet return of African-American retirees and young professionals has the potential to reshape the South again over the next few decades, much as the exodus to northern cities reshaped it in the 20th century.

        “The reversal “began as a trickle in the 1970s, increased in the 1990s, and turned into a virtual evacuation from many northern areas in the first decade of the 2000s,” says William Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer who has laid out the reversal in painstaking detail in his new book Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America. The movement, he writes, is driven largely by younger, college-educated African Americans, as well as baby boomers like Sharpe Haywood who are nearing retirement.”

        #2 is a little trickier. Interestingly, shootings of unarmed black men dropped by half last year:

        “The number of unarmed black men shot and killed by police in the U.S. last year was less than half the total for 2015, according to one database, suggesting that due to nationwide protests, better training or other factors, what the media has called “a national crisis” could be abating.

        “Police used fatal force on 16 unarmed black men in 2016, according to a Washington Post database. That is down from the 36 unarmed black men police had killed in 2015. Police used fatal force on one unarmed black woman in 2016 and two in 2015.”


        16 unarmed black men were shot by police over all of last year.

        Meanwhile, “64 officers were killed in firearm-related incidents in 2016.”


        There were 762 homicides just in Chicago in 2016, a very large percentage of the victims being black men.

        Here’s some more analysis on how that breaks down:

        “From 2005 to 2015, the city went from 17.3 homicides per 100,000 residents to a rate of about 18.8, according to a report from the Injury Prevention and Research Center at the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.”

        “But the report held particularly troubling news for African-Americans. The rate for blacks in Chicago jumped from 36.1 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2005 to 46.5 a decade later.”


        In 2016, Chicago had more homicides than NYC and LA combined.


        You’re going to hate me saying this, but these really are fair questions based on the data:

        –Is the police really more dangerous to unarmed black men than the public is to the police?
        –Is the primary problem for black America being shot by police while unarmed (overpolicing) or could it be underpolicing instead?

        I have no doubt that people are genuinely afraid of the police (especially after several well-publicized shootings), and that there is a need for improving training, as well as keeping nervous nellies off the police force, but it really looks like unarmed-black-man-shot-by-police is the black equivalent of cute-missing-white-girl–catnip for cable news and a source of anxiety to the public, but not actually common.

        “They are driven by hatred of Obama and everything he did, the specifics of which they don’t actually care about.”

        I agree that the alt-right is not very driven by policy details. Hence, they’re a very cheap political date, as they don’t actually know what’s going on.

        “If other white people can’t denounce a literal white supremacist backlash, I don’t know what to say.”

        Except for Trump, just about every Republican with a nice office has denounced the Charlottesville neo-Nazis unambiguously. What do you want?


      2. 1)respect the voting rights of black people…

        I think you can fly the “Mission Accomplished” banner for #.

        Really? You *really* believe this? Leaving aside all the other gerrymandering/voter ID/restricting voting hours and locations for minorities in all the other places (Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, etc), Texas is ground zero for the new voting restriction Jim Crow. It’s one of the most racially gerrymandered states in the country. The state just lost a suit in which the Republican Party *admitted* that they gerrymandered illegally along racial lines.

        There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.


      3. Jay said:

        “Really? You *really* believe this? Leaving aside all the other gerrymandering/voter ID/restricting voting hours and locations for minorities in all the other places (Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, etc), Texas is ground zero for the new voting restriction Jim Crow. It’s one of the most racially gerrymandered states in the country. The state just lost a suit in which the Republican Party *admitted* that they gerrymandered illegally along racial lines.”

        Voter ID is not an onerous requirement.

        Maybe you guys need to work a little harder on getting poor people IDs? Maybe HRC should have spent a little bit of that record-breaking billion dollar campaign budget on that?


        That article says that HRC spent 2X as much money as Trump did during the 2016 cycle.

        Or, maybe, just maybe, a lot of black voters were less excited to vote for HRC than they had been to vote for Obama?


        That article says that the Obama/Romney split of black votes was 93% to 7%, whereas, the HRC/Trump split was a less enthusiastic 88%/8% split.


        That article says that HRC got 70,000 fewer votes than Obama 2012, whereas Trump got 2,000,000 more votes than Romney did in 2012.

        So, it wasn’t so much a question of HRC getting fewer votes than in the previous election cycle as of Trump getting a whole lot more.

        To me, those numbers don’t look like voter suppression.

        Really, do you expect to win every presidential election cycle? That’s not reasonable.

        Our well-established pattern (at least since Bill Clinton’s election in 1993) is that every president gets two terms and then we switch parties. I have no doubt that that pattern may eventually change, but Trump’s election does conform to that pattern. A single party getting three full terms in a row is quite unusual these days and hasn’t happened (as far as I can see) since FDR/Truman.


      4. Voter ID is not an onerous requirement.

        In theory, but in practice as has been done in North Carolina and Texas, it was very deliberately done to keep minority people from voting. For example. you could vote with a concealed carry permit but not a state employee ID, despite the latter being more secure. In North Carolina, they exempted absentee ballots from the ID requirement because that’s how old white people vote. They literally went down the list of ways of voting, identified the ones black people use more and restricted or ended them.

        See here, among other places.


      5. B.I. said:

        “Mainstream Americans are simply being asked to 1) respect the voting rights of black people, 2) care that unarmed black people routinely get gunned down by white Americans for very trivial reasons or no reasons at all, 3) avoid using obvious racial slurs or other epithets in public places or work environments.”

        I’ll take another pass at this.

        One thing that was interesting about our discussion of this is that while I read it as being a list of very modest and doable expectations (which is no doubt what B.I. intended it to be), #1 at least turned out to be much a sort of iceberg of expectations. A normal person would read that as meaning, no race-specific election laws and no turning people away from polling places based on race and think, “Check!”–which is exactly what I did–but B.I. did not mean what I thought she meant. Perhaps there’s a better way to say what she meant, other than “respect the voting rights of black people.” I can respect the voting rights of black people all day long–while at the same time believing in the importance of having ID requirements (especially in a state with something like 1.7 million illegal aliens).

        Incidentally, I have to mention that Texas is only about 12% black and holding. Meanwhile, there are nearly 3X as many Hispanics as blacks in Texas, with the number of Texas Hispanics on track to converge with and exceed the number of non-Hispanic whites in Texas in the near future. Hence, race in TX is ever less a static black-white issue.


      6. no race-specific election laws

        Are we ignoring racially targeted laws and policies if they don’t mention race on their faces? MH brought up a policy where a state employee ID doesn’t work for voting but a concealed carry permit does; here’s a story about the Indiana GOP cutting early voting hours in black areas and increasing them in white ones.

        Those aren’t ‘race specific’ in the sense that there are quotable words in the policy saying that blacks have to meet a different standard to vote, but they’re sure as anything racially targeted.


  5. Basically, I think what’s being asked is that we act around grown white men like they were toddlers who we are trying to get to sleep when they’ve missed a crucial nap. I’m willing to do that (not personally, but to support candidates who do that to win), but I’m not willing to not resent doing it.


    1. MH,

      Speaking of toddlers, have you seen this? If you haven’t, I think you’ll enjoy it.


      “White House aides can’t stop talking about President Trump like he’s a toddler”

      It’s Dan Drezner’s Twitter collection of every reputable story where a White House official describes managing Trump like a toddler–keeping him busy, giving him some downtime, keeping things positive, making sure he doesn’t get bored, keeping him supervised, etc.

      Speaking as a person with a 4-year, I have a lot of sympathy. Baby T just started 3-day pre-k and is really enjoying herself, but I suppose that’s not an option for 71-year-olds…


  6. I can’t do your What If because I just don’t believe the premise. I mean, what if on Monday, when the eclipse happens, millions of jellybeans rain down from the sky? Sure, I can speculate about how many people would be killed by 1/ falling jellybeans or 2. diabetes, but what’s the point.

    I know a lot of Trump supporters who wanted to vote for him because of Reason X, Reason Y, or Reason Z. And he has proven that he can’t and/or won’t do any of those things. So all these people are left with, in terms of reasons for voting for him, is that it makes them feel better to believe white men are superior. Just look at the Obamacare repeal mess. Almost every Trump supporter I know had something negative to say about Obamacare and how we should get rid of it. But in the end, they didn’t really want to get rid of it. They were lying to themselves. What they really wanted was to put down the major achievement of a black man. If they wanted to reform it, they could have voted for people who said they were going to reform it.

    Want to talk about what-ifs? How about, what if the people who say they hate the media don’t really hate the media. What if they hate the media that tells them things they don’t want to hear and they like the media that tells them things that they want to hear? What if some people have so much racism inside them that they can’t figure out why they feel so bad, so when they watch a news channel that tells them they feel bad because of ScaryBadImmigrantsAndMuslims and because of BlackManCreatedHealthcare that they believe it because at least that explains their bad feelings?

    (Just got back from dropping off the kid at college. While Steve Bannon was quitting/getting fired, I was carrying boxes up to a non-air-conditioned dorm room in 90-degree heat. I need alcohol to recover, but I can’t risk being more dehydrated.)


    1. What they really wanted was to put down the major achievement of a black man.

      This is my thought also.

      And I’m still baffled by the “coal” plan to save the white people in Appalachia. The only substantive plan I’ve heard is for a $15/ton subsidy on coal from Appalachia. Which is literally paying to steal jobs from Wyoming.


    2. I’m thinking of writing to my Republican senator in support of that plan. His people stopped even pretending his was taking messages on health care or the DeVos confirmation but they might care about this and it looks like a good wedge issue between the rust belt and the west, plus the budget-hawk wing vs the “for only the price of 5 cups of coffee a ton you can save a white people” wing.


    3. Wendy said:

      ” How about, what if the people who say they hate the media don’t really hate the media. What if they hate the media that tells them things they don’t want to hear and they like the media that tells them things that they want to hear?”

      I think that’s generally true, though.

      Unlike in the 1980s/1990s (which I remember well as a weird newspaper loving kid), we are at a point where there is so much available media that it’s literally impossible to consume all of it.

      So, the temptation for everybody is going to be just to consume the stuff that “tastes good” and confirms our prejudices.


  7. I know a couple of people who live in Charlottesville, and read a first-person account (which unfortunately I’ve been unable to track back down) about how terrifying it is to have heavily-armed Nazis walking around your beautiful quaint downtown area, and around your college campus. (They weren’t locals, it sounds like – they were mostly from out of state and came especially to terrorize this particular town.) I’m not sure I could be sanguine enough to say, well, there are only a few hundred of them, if it was my downtown or college campus.

    It’s possible things would have developed differently if the police had been more vigilant about keeping them separated from, well, everyone else – I read an article in the Nation that suggested this, though I don’t know how to evaluate it myself.

    As a strategy, maybe deflection would have worked. A few pictures that indicated the smallness of their numbers, some prominent speakers remarking on how insignificant the protest was… but the people on the ground (the clergy I’ve heard about) were very scared of these Nazis.


    1. But, don’t you know that heavily armed white people going on the record claiming they want to kill people who don’t look like them should be given the benefit of the doubt? It’s not like they were doing something really threatening, like wearing hooded sweatshirts.


      1. Because the one thing the police should absolutely not do, is take steps to ratchet DOWN the possibility of violence. But, hey ratcheting down violence is TOTALLY giving the benefit of the doubt, so how dare they? WTF is wrong with you? You realize the heavily armed guys are not likely to be the ones killed, right? Or do you just want martyrs?


      2. What’s that got to do with creating martyrs? What I want is to avoid calling something “free speech” when it is very clearly threat or act of violence (something that isn’t protected).


      3. When heavily armed people are attacking unarmed people, I expect the police to intervene. If they don’t, I have my suspicions about the sympathies of the police.


  8. I’m beginning to realize that the problem with asking Americans to denounce Nazism is now that people are learning about what Nazism is actually about, they don’t actually dislike it. After all, Hitler based his policies on American racial policies. He loved Manifest Destiny and Jim Crow, and used them as the model for his Reich that was to last for a thousand years. Back when Americans simply viewed WW2 as Us (the good guys) against Them (the baddies), they hated Nazis. Now when they’re learning that Nazis were into racial chauvinism and murdering or enslaving those they considered lesser than them, they’re realizing that “blood and soil,” “kinder, küche, kirche” and “America über alles” don’t sound so bad. If the alternative is to stop despising black people, they’ll take Nazism, thank you very much.


    1. BI,

      That’s a really weird view. Here’s an alternate view:

      –The left has played the racist/fascist/Nazi card on Republicans so many times that it has lost its credibility. The left has cried wolf so many times that people didn’t believe it when real wolves showed up. Here’s an article from a year ago (before the election):


      “Every election cycle, the GOP nominee is smeared as a racist by the Democrats or the press — or both.”

      “Already, editorial boards are preparing their indictments of what they believe to be Donald Trump’s incompetence, bigotry, and authoritarianism. Trump operatives will undoubtedly respond: “That’s what they always say about Republicans.” And they’ll be right.”

      The same plays get run against whoever is the Republican nominee, be he a McCain or a Romney. That’s ridiculous, and at some point it strains credibility–even when it’s finally true.

      –Another problem is that the current media environment is (from the average person’s point of view) a sort of funhouse full of distorting mirrors, where nothing is what it seems to be. It’s really, really hard (even when honestly trying) to keep up with what is real, as you have to deal with 100% manufactured news, clickbait, news stories that are false because of the media jumping the gun, news stories with misleading headlines, and then just biased or incomplete news stories. In that bewildering environment, it is somewhat tempting to just stick to whatever news outlet or news stories make one feel validated in one’s existing views and believe whatever news stories are congenial. On the left, that might mean believing that Trump somehow stole the election, or, alternately, believing that the American people that elected Obama twice and spent 8 years under his magical healing influence and enjoyed 4 years of the ACA have suddenly (for no visible reason) ungratefully morphed into Nazis, rather than the US simply sticking to its established rhythm of each party alternating 8 years in the White House.

      –Although I’ve been mostly on mommy leave from politics for several years now (Baby T just started pre-k, so here I am!) I have followed Republican politics since I was a tot. Believe it or not, until 2+ years ago, I did not have any contact with the alt-right, even though it has apparently been around longer than that. I’ve encountered it mostly through their overlap with the manosphere (where I accidentally wound up a sort of minor hate figure–long story). As I was mentioning earlier, the alt-right has a very distinct ideology from conventional conservatism.

      –Unfortunately, a lot of people on the right do not notice the difference because either a) the wolf crying factor (they can’t believe alt-right people are that bad because every milquetoast Republican eventually gets called a racist and a Nazi) or b) the enemy of my enemy must be my friend c) the war mentality of winning at all costs or d) one of the alt-right’s more effective methods has been its focus on free speech. You and I both know that is a bit disingenuous, but it is certainly the case that free speech rights are being squelched all over the place by “progressive” people.



      Every time this stuff happens, it’s like a recruiting drive for the alt-right. So, paradoxically, one of the best ways to limit the alt-right’s recruiting appeal is to allow controversial figures to speak and be unmolested–no blocking from campus, no violence, no shouting down speakers, etc.

      –This isn’t really in response to you, but I have to add that a lot of the alt-right is young guys (see, for example, the Charlottesville photos). With any luck at all, a lot of these guys are going to leave the alt-right and go on to lead normal, productive lives. This will work better if they are allowed to have normal, productive lives.


  9. James Alex Fields, the man who drove into the crowd in Charlottesville, was:

    a half orphan (his father died before he was born)
    raised by a paraplegic mother
    fascinated with Nazis since high school
    unable to make it through basic training
    sometime employed as a security guard


    reportedly had been prescribed medication for schizophrenia in high school.

    The New York Times, and NPR cited the same teacher, Derek Weimer, but did not report the alleged diagnosis of schizophrenia and medication. The Richmond Times-Dispatch spoke with Mr. Weimer, and included the psychiatric issues in their report.



    Reportedly, his views caused his roommate on a class trip such distress, that roommate chose to return from a school trip to Europe after a few days.


    1. “The driver charged with killing a woman at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville was previously accused of beating his mother and threatening her with a knife, according to police records released Monday.

      “Samantha Bloom, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, repeatedly called police about her son, James Alex Fields Jr., in 2010 and 2011, telling officers he was on medication to control his temper, transcripts from 911 calls show.”

      So, he was threatening his wheelchair-bound mother with a knife as a 13 or 14 year old. Wow.

      I suspect that his mom is very lucky to be alive today (see Adam Lanza). Also with that kind of backround, it sounds like it’s very fortunate that there was only one fatality.


  10. AmY P: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that your experiences as a well-off white lady—I’m assuming that is what you are— are not the same experience you would have as a black person.

    I’m quite positive that your fellow white Texans have never called you the N-word because—well, because you are white. I wonder if you can consider that the things that you see and hear as you go through your life are not the same things you would see and hear as a Texan black person.

    Perhaps your experience would be that of Charnesia Corley, a black woman in Harris County, Texas who was stopped for allegedly running a stop sign and not using turn signals. Two deputies then pulled off her pants and stuck their fingers inside her—for ten minutes—in a search for marijuana. She was raped by the side of the road by two police officers. And yet all charges against the officers were dropped a few weeks ago.

    This is one anecdotal example about why your anecdotal evidence about what you see and hear personally might not add to much in *knowing* what a black person experiences.

    On Voting rights: There is a lot of evidence that laws have been passed to restrict voting rights. For instance, the Brennan Center for Justice has come to the opposite conclusion as you, saying, “After the 2010 election, state lawmakers nationwide started introducing hundreds of harsh measures making it harder to vote. The new laws range from strict photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to registration restrictions. Overall, 20 states have new restrictions in effect since then — 10 states have more restrictive voter ID laws in place (and six states have strict photo ID requirements), seven have laws making it harder for citizens to register, six cut back on early voting days and hours, and three made it harder to restore voting rights for people with past criminal convictions.
    In 2016, 14 states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election. Those 14 states were: Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.


    On blacks being shot by police/others: The claim that police are not shooting *unarmed* black men as much as they used to is progress, I suppose. But the rate that blacks are are shot by police has remained the same for at least the past three years. You seem to be saying that black people are more violent then white people and that means the police *have* to shoot them???? Is that what your argument is?

    On all three of B.I. counts, claiming “Mission Accomplished” is about as truthful as it was when George W. Bush stood under that banner a couple months into the Iraq war claiming, “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”


    1. That list of states with new voting restrictions doesn’t mention North Carolina because they made the mistake of being too obviously racist for a federal court. But, it’s very clear that they wanted to prevent has as many black people from voting as possible.


    2. cy said,

      “AmY P: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that your experiences as a well-off white lady—I’m assuming that is what you are— are not the same experience you would have as a black person.”

      I’m a well-off white lady now living in an area of TX with more Baptists than people, but I’m a Northerner, I’ve lived in a lot of areas of the US (rural Western WA, Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, suburban MD and very well-heeled DC) plus a couple years living and working in Russia and I have strong extended family connections to both Poland and Germany. I’m a culture geek and I’ve gone from (at best) rural lower middle class to urban upper middle class, so I do have a lot of perspective on US regional culture, class differences, and social norms.

      I’ve never lived in a part of the US where white people say n—– without quotation marks. I’ve maybe heard the word used like that by whites maybe three times in my entire life. However, when I lived in Los Angeles back in the 90s (I rode the bus a lot and got out and about a lot as a journalism student), “n—–” was more or less the standard term for self-referral used among poor blacks.

      I’ve definitely noticed that that isn’t a thing in our area of TX–local blacks do not say “n—-,” at least not within my hearing. The word may be a whole lot more taboo in TX, or maybe just times have changed since the 90s, which was the last time I’ve heard it said.

      I suspect that there is a lot of variation from area to area within TX. In our area, the dominant tone is set by upper middle class Baptists with a strong sense of noblesse oblige and who would obviously rather die than give offense. A fellow Northerner has told me that it is often very difficult to get locals to tell you if you are doing something wrong–you have to be a lot more careful about reading social cues in our area. What it reminds me a lot of, actually, is the description I’ve seen in certain feminist writings of female socialization–except here it’s both sexes. But it’s a college town, so you get this interesting hybrid of college, Southern and Baptist cultural norms–plus some Western elements and a lot of Hispanic culture.

      I personally find it endlessly fascinating and I feel like living here has made me a better person.

      “I’m quite positive that your fellow white Texans have never called you the N-word because—well, because you are white. I wonder if you can consider that the things that you see and hear as you go through your life are not the same things you would see and hear as a Texan black person.”

      I’m mostly comparing what I’ve seen and heard as a white person in Los Angeles in the early 90s versus what I’ve seen as a white person in a medium-sized city in TX the last 10 years.

      “This is one anecdotal example about why your anecdotal evidence about what you see and hear personally might not add to much in *knowing* what a black person experiences.”

      I don’t think I said any such thing.

      “You seem to be saying that black people are more violent then white people and that means the police *have* to shoot them???? Is that what your argument is?”

      I don’t think I said that.

      What I was trying to get across is that the number of police shootings of unarmed black men is dwarfed by homicide in the US generally, and that homicide numbers generally are going to wind up having a bigger effect on quality of life than 16 fatal police shootings across the entire US.


      “Citing FBI data, Mac Donald points out that 900 more black men were murdered by offenders of all races in 2015 than in 2014, and that the overall number of black homicide victims in 2015 was around 7,000—higher than that for other demographics. (The FBI has not yet released the 2016 data.)”

      So, virtually any decrease in the homicide rate (say, through better police work in high-murder towns like Chicago and St. Louis–the reigning US murder capital) could result in hundreds fewer black men dying.


      1. What I was trying to get across is that the number of police shootings of unarmed black men is dwarfed by homicide in the US generally, and that homicide numbers generally are going to wind up having a bigger effect on quality of life than 16 fatal police shootings across the entire US.

        I think this is way oversimplified. For one thing, police killings are an indicator, not the whole problem — every policeman who unnecessarily kills a black person stands in for a whole lot of pettier maltreatment. (And there is a shitload of petty maltreatment out there. My paler-than-pale daughter is horrified by the difference in unpleasant police encounters she has walking around on her own (none, ever) and walking around with her POC boyfriend (fairly frequent).) For another thing, being afraid of criminals is terrible, but that’s what criminals are. Being (reasonably) afraid of the police means that you can’t go to them for help when you have a problem with crime. Police racism isn’t a minor problem that’s unimportant compared to the real crime problem, it’s a problem that makes crime wildly worse for crime victims, because now they’ve been abandoned by the forces that are supposed to help them.


      2. Also, if we’re comparing the police to criminals in terms of the number of innocent people they shoot, that means we’ve basically given up on the idea of the state as an actor with the right to use force legitimately.


      3. Amy P:
        ON the use of racial slurs: I’ve got to say, that when I weigh your testimony, that you, as a white lady, currently living in Texas, never hear the N-word so therefor it and other slurs are not used by your neighbors, versus the accounts of people of color who have experienced racial slurs and indignities and are now providing video evidence of the encounters—Well, all your talk of southern folk with their sense of noblesse oblige who would rather die than give offense seems quite unconvincing—and that is even with the added weight of your sense of yourself as a person with exceptional skills and abilities and the belief that you, yourself, “do have a lot of perspective on US regional culture, class differences, and social norms.” I still wonder: could you, even with all your self-proclaimed perspective, be missing something?

        When you make the claim that, “nobody, white, black, or Hispanic uses racial slurs or epithets in public,” you are, in fact, making the claim that you know, not only what black people experience, but what everyone in Texas experiences!” Of course that is impossible, and yet—that is your argument.

        So when I weigh the evidence of what I can see and hear in a video against what AmyP’s impressions are about what is happening in every corner of the country, I’m going with the reliable, factual stuff.

        ON voting rights: On another post I saw your argument about restricting voter rights had moved away from your claim it didn’t exist (“Mission Accomplished” in eliminating it) to arguing that the new hurdles, such as voter ID requirements— could be overcome easily.

        But what if I don’t want to live in a country where officials are demanding identity cards and papers to walk around or vote? What if I would rather live in a country were voting is encouraged and the principle that people of a community *should* have a say who is elected to make decisions that affect every part of their life?

        It seems those baptist texans who you claim live by the motto “Be Nice” and who would die rather than give offense, have been spending vast amounts of political energy to keep their neighbors from voting by demanding they spend time and money both which are in sadly short supply—to keep them from voting. I’d like to point out that doing that is not at all nice and is offending people’s civil rights. I find that offensive.

        ON black people being gunned down: More and more evidence documents this, especially now that more effort is being made to collect the numbers. The Washington Post reports that 16 more people have been shot dead by police as of this moment than at this time last year.

        A study from this spring found that, “Black people shot dead by police in the US were more than twice as likely as the white people killed by an officer to have been unarmed, according to a new study which suggests there is an “implicit bias” against minorities within law enforcement.
        The researchers, who studied the known fatal shootings by police in 2015,
        also found people from non-black minority ethnic groups were more likely to have been fatally shot than whites when they were not posing an immediate threat to the officers or other civilians.

        I’m still trying to figure out what you argument is about this, but your diversion to the homicide rate in Chicago is just that—it is an entirely separate subject. The homicide rate for black men is not great, and it is worthy of a discussion in it’s own right, but it does not somehow make the case that black people who are shot by police, or people like George Zimmerman, somehow not exist. Just pointing at another problem is not a solution.


      4. Shooting is the tip of the iceberg in terms of police abuse to POC. My partner has worked with 15 year olds who have been tazed. For things like loitering in a park after dark. Jay walking.


  11. What if this conflict and emotional decisions resulted in symbolic action, which took the place of larger policy reforms that could actually help people?

    I like a lot of points that have been made above. But I wanted to really disagree with the assumption underlying this question. What makes you think there’s a tradeoff between taking down monuments to white supremacy and policy reform? How would that tradeoff work? Do you really think there are people out there who are happy to support the ACA so long as they can still admire the founder of the Klan on a pedestal on their courthouse lawn? Because I don’t.

    The way the politics looks to me, is that the more appealingly successful naughty flirtation with white-supremacy/Nazism looks, the more successful Trump and his ilk are at using its appeal to block policy reform. When the alt-right is edgy and disruptive and cool, Trump wins. When the great mass of Americans who think that Nazis and people nostalgic for Jim Crow are disgusting rather than cool make themselves apparent, as they did, peacefully, in Boston over the weekend, then it’s my hope that it’ll stop being a useful technique for winning elections and blocking decent policies.


    1. I read as much of the alt right as I can stomach (and Amy P, I do read men’s rights activist sites and I think you do God’s work there, trying to turn angry men away from going down that path). I’ve noticed that they love to frame scientific racism as “edgy” and “what The Man doesn’t want you to know.” It’s presented as a cabal of “cultural Marxist globalists” who control all our institutions and whose agenda is to oppress white men and force homosexuality, feminism, and miscegenation on white culture. They’re completely undiluted antisemitic tropes that have been modified and expanded to include uppity women, people of color, Muslims, and homosexuals, plus a nod to traditional racism (the black man as violent oversexed savage).

      Anyways, the somewhat mainstream alt right blogs I occasionally look at regularly advocate for repealing the 19th amendment and banning women from access to any education or owning property, reinstituting slavery, declaring a New Crusade to take back the Middle East, deporting all people of color from the US, murdering or castrating homosexuals, and even killing all Swedish people in concentration camps (they’ve declared Swedes the ultimate race traitors). They are pretty open that they see themselves as white Christian ISIS, and they have no love of democracy, freedom, or rights for non white men.


  12. My responses have been made by a lot of people, so I’ll just echo some things. Underpolicing and racist policing aren’t really mutually exclusive, but often go hand in hand. Violence in Chicago is extremely complex, and if it were an easy nut to crack, it would have been done by now. I will say that organized crime (and now somewhat disorganized crime) is not a “black” problem or an urban problem. It exists everywhere in the world that the state is incapable of helping people. On a specific scale, the increase in violence is due in some not small part to a feud between our mayor and governor (both charming people) leading to a loss of funding for extremely cost effective community-centered anti gang violence measures.

    In terms of racism, I think you (Amy P) are right in that what I want is simple and straightforward and seems like it wouldn’t be too hard to do. The problem is is that many Americans act otherwise, regardless of what they say. Examples given–increasing early voting opportunities in white neighborhoods, decreasing them in black neighborhoods, letting less secure forms of ID more likely to be owned by white people count, etc, are all examples of easily fixable disparities (unlike gang violence!) that aren’t being fixed, because some not insignificant number of people actually do want to prevent black people from voting.

    And in terms of calling people Nazis, Jonah Goldberg actually wrote and published a book comparing Hillary Clinton to Hitler. The National Review has written endless articles comparing any Democratic politician to Nazis. Obama, Clinton, even Bernie Sanders got called a National Socialist. “Hitlery Clinton” is a common moniker on the less respectable parts of the right wing media. I have yet to see Democrats embrace or even flirt with Nazism or white supremacy. At worst, you could argue both sides cry wolf, although I have yet to see leftist media outlets equal to the National review compare mainstream Republican politicians to Nazis. If this is the case, then why is it that only the Right has decided to shrug and embrace Nazism? You’re right that to their credit, NRO and Redstate and some mainstream Republican figures have denounced the white supremacy in Charlottesville. Many more however, have resorted to “both sides do it” (which isn’t convincing when one side is Nazis and the other is, well, anti-Nazis. “Both sides did it” in WW2, yet we’re ok saying one side had the moral high ground), claiming they weren’t *really* Nazis,* or even defending them on grounds that white people have the right to be defensive(!!)

    *Again, I know actual Nazis, from Nazism 1.0. They’re mostly verrrrrrrrrrrrry quiet about the War, but if you really needle, you can get some interesting reactions. I know Nazis who “both sides” WW2. They had camps (concentration camps), we had camps (Japanese internment camps). They did violent stuff (murdered millions of civilians and waged brutal war), we did violent stuff (firebombing Dresden, saturation bombing of Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki). I think we can all acknowledge the Allies weren’t saints while still agreeing that Nazis committed moral atrocities.


      1. And you’re going to see more of that since the highest, elected Republican official in country has repeatedly said that some Nazis are good people.


      2. It makes it look like all the early episodes of Nazi-calling of Republicans were not overwrought, but prescient. I did not make those comparisons myself, but in retrospect I think the people who did make them were people who had a better understanding of what the future would bring than I did.


  13. In terms of racist comments, on the flip side I am white enough that I get racist and antisemitic comments from the other side, in that people make racist and antisemitic comments to me because they just assume I’ll agree with them. You would not believe all the racist stuff I have heard over the years that people say to me without thinking. Honestly, I am not *that* surprised that so many Americans are ok with Nazism, because over the years I’ve lost track of the creepy vaguely pro Nazi comments random Americans have made to me as sort of conversational small talk.


    1. B.I.,

      That’s weird.

      Nazis never want to befriend me with racist chit chat. (You may be cuter than me, of course, and more approachable–or you may be encountering more mentally ill people.)

      I believe the worst recent comment I can remember was a close older female relative who told my sis during the last election cycle that she didn’t want Ben Carson to be president, because we’d already had a black president and look where that got us…Of all the reasons not to want Ben Carson to be president, that really took the cake. She voted for Trump. She’s closing on 70, so I suspect her verbal filter is fritzing out.

      (On the other hand, my grandparents who are in their 90s were very keen on Ben Carson pre-Trump.)


  14. I am an absolutist on free speech.

    When you start trying to silence other people, you end up with things like this: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-21/one-statistics-professor-was-just-banned-google-here-his-story.

    Overnight, this statistics professor and former Obama official is a non-person online, courtesy of Google.

    Here’s his Twitter: https://twitter.com/salilstatistics.

    He has no access to his Gmail, his blog, all of his Google accounts, everything on Google university web pages.

    His work had just been referred to in a New York Times piece.

    It’s anyone’s guess what he said that offended someone. This is not acceptable.

    And, by the way, anyone who uses Google, or other free servies, should set up backup accounts, backup data, and start paying for services. Freeware is not reliable. If your university has contracts with Google, it is in your own self-interest to make certain you possess copies of your data.


  15. I haven’t followed all of the threads closely and I don’t know if anybody has mentioned this yet, but there’s one inevitable smash-up coming.

    Namely, Trump’s alt-right supporters are on a collision course with Trump’s

    –Jewish son-in-law
    –Jewish convert daughter
    –three Jewish grandbabies

    As Rich Lowry wrote for NR (describing Sessions’ deteriorating relationship with Trump),

    “For President Donald Trump, the world breaks down into three categories — there’s family, who are part of the charmed Trump circle by blood or marriage; there are “winners,” who have earned Trump’s regard by making lots of money (often at Goldman Sachs); and then there’s everyone else, who are adornments to be cast aside as Trump finds convenient.”


    When push comes to shove, there’s no way that Trump is choosing his alt-right admirers over his blood relatives, but who is going to break it to them?


    1. I don’t dispute that Trump’s support of the alt-right is very much secondary to Trump’s support of Trump. I don’t think that’s a a reason to stop attacking either Trump or the alt-right. Somebody should maybe point out to these people how Ernst Röhm died. Speaking of death, the skin on Bannon’s face looks like that of somebody way closer to the grave than a typical 63 year-old man.

      Also, Trump just declined to stop the war on coal if you define the government not ordering coal plants to stay open as part of the war on coal.


  16. So many great points here. I’ll try to pull out some of the best ideas for individuals posts in the next few weeks, because long comment threads can get cumbersome. But you all should keep talking here, if you like. It’s all good.

    Just a quick note about the Lilla book. I think Cranberry mentioned it here. I heard Lilla talk about it on NPR this week. I’m ordering it today.


  17. Expecting the Democratic party to accept someone who didn’t vote for Clinton against Trump as “a centrist Democrat” will destroy the Democratic Party with defections from the actual Democrats. It won’t stop Trump. It will create a world in which Trump-like candidates don’t face any significant challenge because everybody willing to stand firm against that has been undermined and left without support.


    1. Well, yeah.

      Once religious movements start to schism, the process tends to continue, and you end up with rival sects. A strategy of insisting on ever greater religious purity tends to lead to ever smaller congregations, although those left behind are the most committed.

      Religious groups grow through conversion. They also agree to things like “full communion” to build ties with other churches.


      1. It’s not a question of conversion. It’s question of association and attack. The idea that the Democrats are somehow insisting on greater and greater religious purity is the result of a couple of decades of non-stop exaggeration, falsification, and propaganda. You can’t dodge this or rebut it since you have to get somebody who isn’t very attentive to politics to process a great deal of information to handle the rebuttal. What you can do is attack back and that’s what the Democrats need to do to fit in today’s media environment.

        There needs to be enough of a push back so that an uninformed voter will hear “Republican” and think “racist” the same say that person also hears the name “Clinton” and thinks about unproven or rebutted attacks on emails or Benghazi or what ever.


      2. The has basically disarmed itself by trying to operate by the old rules of centrist politics. It seemed like a good idea at the time to me, right up until Trump won. That made it obvious that the moderate wing of the Republican party is Republican before it is moderate. In fact, that it is Republican before it is not anti-American.


    2. I think I’m doing just fine at being moderate. I don’t think that anybody who spends years attacking “liberals”, doesn’t actually attempt to attack Trump in any sustained way, and insists I move to the center is trying to accomplish anything but move the country to the right. Which is what Trump is trying to do when he isn’t trying to blow himself.

      Support people who attack Trump. Attack people who support Trump. The rest are going to have fun pretending they’re somehow better than me. I can’t stop that and don’t see the point in trying.


      1. There’s no path forward without the destruction or splitting of the Republican Party. I say that as somebody whose political views have not switched an inch from when I started commenting here and I was comfortably a moderate Republican with those same views.

        The right went fucknuts and there’s no gain in compromising with fucknuts hence no more point is worrying about the center.


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