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Civil rights

OK, now back to some old business.

Megan McArdle, you’ll recall, replied to this old post from April 13 later the very same day. Like so:

Michael Berube’s response to my writing about the lack of conservatives in the cultural elite is, perhaps unsurprisingly, just a tad overwrought, and not very responsive.  Frankly, I sort of wondered if he didn’t outsource it to an undergraduate.  He makes some decidedly unhilarious jokes—conservatives!  country clubs! take my wife—please!—and then proceeds to berate me for not mentioning Jim Crow.

Yes, obviously, Jim Crow was an important means of maintaining segregation.  And yet, in the three quarters of the country where it didn’t exist, we still didn’t have a lot of blacks getting hired into positions of responsibility by white institutions.  How could that be?  It’s almost as if there was some other force . . . maybe we could call it “discrimination” . . . that was keeping people out of whole areas of employment.

Get me the New York Times! The world needs to know about this!

Yep, that’s one finely-wrought response there, coming from someone who kicked things off by likening the position of conservatives in academe to that of African-Americans in the 1950s seeking jobs as bank managers.  But I have to admit that the bit about whether I outsourced my post to an undergraduate stings, and stings badly.  I have been called out by one of the finest prose stylists on the Internets. Who else could have written

Obviously there’s been an enormous amount of ink shed about why this is, but my experience of talking to people who might have liked to go to grad school or work in Hollywood, but went and did something else instead, is that it is simply hogwash when liberals earnestly assure me that the disparity exists mostly because conservatives are different, and maybe dumber.

... all by herself without any help or outsourcing?  I guess that’s why Megan McArdle writes for the Atlantic and I don’t.  It’s a meritocracy out there, and like all libertarians, McArdle has only herself to thank for her success.

So what do readers think about her argument?  Here’s Mitchell Freedman, commenting on my blog:

I just responded to McArdle at the Atlantic.  She wants us to think Jim Crow is a solely southern phenomenon and of course that is horribly ignorant.

What I should have also added is that she then talks about structural discrimination as if that is something outside of Jim Crow, when it is part of Jim Crow.  Weird, really.

And then here’s Buzz, commenting at Crooked Timber:

Well, McArdle gets the best of this in her cogent response to this nonsense. The whole Jim Crow angle is obviously wrong because, as McArdle points out, even without the force of Jim Crow laws in most of the country, blacks still weren’t being hired for certain positions.

And so it is with conservatives in academe: even without the force of law, there is very real institutional and departmental bias against hiring people with certain points of view.

I feel sorry for your students, Bérubé, for having such an blinkered fool for a professor.

Hmmm, looks like opinions differ.  Surely both sides have their strengths and weaknesses.  We’ll have to call it a tie!

Which is fine by me, because I have no real interest in arguing with Megan McArdle.  It’s not terribly productive or illuminating.  More important, after reading that slacktivist post on the Procter and Gamble hoax, I don’t think it’s simply a matter of ignorance about Jim Crow or racism.  (I was serious when I said that discussion has changed my sense of how the world works.) It’s not even something specific to McArdle herself; there are just too many conservatives and libertarians out there complaining that they face structural discrimination in the “cultural elite” comparable to that of institutionalized racism in the pre-civil rights era.  You can try to tell them that this is absurd, but I’m getting the feeling that it’s a little like telling the evangelicals that Procter and Gamble doesn’t really donate a portion of its profits to the Church of Satan.

And Moloch knows, it’s not as if I haven’t tried!  Why, only a few years ago I wrote a whole entire book called What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts? Here’s a relevant passage:

It turns out that there’s something more serious and insidious going on here, and that—once again—race is an issue even though African-American scholars make up only five percent of all college professors nationwide (and half of those scholars teach at historically black institutions).  For much of the conservative complaint about “underrepresentation” is drawn disingenuously from the legal discourse of affirmative action; in the American Enterprise issue that announced the findings of the Horowitz/ Zinsmeister study, attorney Kenneth Lee, a member of the far-right Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, made the case in so many words.  “The simple logic underlying much of contemporary civil-rights law,” said Lee, “applies equally to conservative Republicans, who appear to face clear practices of discrimination in American academia that are statistically even starker than previous blackballings by race.” Even starker than previous blackballings by race: according to Lee, conservative scholars have it worse than did African-Americans under segregation and Jim Crow.  (This would mean, I imagine, that on some campuses there are fewer than zero conservatives.) It is a fantastic and deeply offensive claim in and of itself, but it becomes all the more offensive if you go back and look at the history of conservatives’ opposition to affirmative action programs in American higher education.

Better still, you might look at the history of conservatives’ opposition to desegregation across the board.  That would be instructive.

In November 2005, not long after I finished writing the book, National Association of Scholars president Stephen Balch appeared in Pittsburgh to testify in Pennsylvania’s very own Horowitz-inspired investigation of liberal bias in our public colleges and universities. The state legislature, Balch argued, “should expect to see the problem of intellectual pluralism addressed with the same vigor that the state’s universities are already addressing what they take to be the problem of a lack of ethnic and gender diversity.” So there should be an affirmative action program for conservatives—who, by the way, oppose affirmative action programs.  As Balch himself said in his very next sentence, “I’m opposed to according any preference to ethnicity or gender in academic hiring or admissions.” Yes, we got that part, thanks.

And that reminds me, in turn, of my old pal Dinesh D’Souza.

Fifteen years ago, I was asked by the journal Transition to review Dinesh D’Souza’s The End of Racism.  You might remember that book for such pull quotes as “The American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well” and “Activists recommend federal jobs programs and recruitment into the private sector. Yet it seems unrealistic, bordering on the surreal, to imagine underclass blacks with their gold chains, limping walk, obscene language, and arsenal of weapons doing nine-to-five jobs at Procter and Gamble or the State Department.” (And now I wonder: why did he single out Procter and Gamble? Could it be ... Satan?) But you might not remember that the book’s concluding chapter called for the repeal of the Civil Rights Act.  Here was my take at the time:

D’Souza’s rationale for repeal is clear:  “America will never liberate itself from the shackles of the past until the government gets out of the race business.” Now that racist discrimination against African Americans is largely a thing of the past—as D’Souza points out, “all the evidence shows that young people today are strongly committed to the principle of equality of rights”—government action can only produce a justifiable white backlash.  Drawing his inspiration from legal scholar Richard Epstein, D’Souza does not worry about freeing the private sector from antidiscrimination laws; for in a truly free market, racial discrimination would not exist at all, since “discrimination is only catastrophic when virtually everyone colludes to enforce it.” D’Souza’s case in point is major league baseball, about which he poses a truly novel thought experiment:  “Consider what would happen,” he writes, “if every baseball team in America refused to hire blacks.” Lest we are unable to imagine (or remember) such a state of affairs, D’Souza guides us step by step:

Blacks would suffer most, because they would be denied the opportunity to play professional baseball.  And fans would suffer, because the quality of games would be diminished.  But what if only a few teams—say the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers—refused to hire blacks?  African Americans as a group would suffer hardly at all, because the best black players would offer their services to other teams.  The Yankees and the Dodgers would suffer a great deal, because they would be deprived of the chance to hire talented black players.  Eventually competitive pressure would force the Yankees and Dodgers either to hire blacks, or to suffer losses in games and revenue.

There’s something disingenuous about D’Souza’s plans for integration, since D’Souza had argued earlier, citing Joel Williamson, that Jim Crow laws were “designed to preserve and encourage” black self-esteem.  But let’s assume, for the nonce, that D’Souza is serious here, and let’s assume also that franchises like the Celtics or the Red Sox of the 1980s could not win games without a sizable contingent of black ballplayers.  How precisely is this argument supposed to work in American society at large?  Are we supposed to believe that bankers and realtors don’t discriminate against black clients for fear that their rivals down the street will snap up all those hard-hitting, base-stealing young Negroes?  Or is it that when black motorists are tired of being pulled over in California they will simply take their business to the more hospitable clime of Arizona?

Ah, 1995.  A few outlying conservatives and libertarians were saying the Civil Rights Act was unnecessary because racism simply doesn’t make economic sense, and there was much wingnuttery in Arizona.  It was a different time, you understand.

So, you see, I’ve grown accustomed to hearing this kind of thing from a certain wing of the intellectual right.  Having tried their best to keep the Negroes out of universities (and sometimes the women too, as in the case of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton), and having opposed federal antidiscrimination laws, some of these good people are now terribly, terribly concerned about the possibility that they are being barred from the ranks of the cultural elite.  Well, they say the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice, so I’m sure they will overcome someday. 

Posted by on 05/24 at 09:00 AM
  1. Well, they say the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice, so I’m sure they will overcome someday.

    Samuel Alito is the Thurgood Marshall of the post-racial era.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  11:22 AM
  2. If only he could gain access to the cultural elite!

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  11:30 AM
  3. “Consider what would happen,” he writes, “if every baseball team in America refused to hire blacks.”

    That’s the problem with thought experiments. They force us to think about things that could never happen in real life.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  11:46 AM
  4. I’m afraid his association with CAP will confine him to the margin.

    “I have a dream that my three nearly grown children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the soundness of their thinking, but by the balancing content of their ideology.”

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  11:50 AM
  5. Speaking of Dinesh D’Souza, I’d be curious to see a review from you of that author’s more recent output, e.g. this or this.  Come on, you know you want to.

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  05/24  at  11:53 AM
  6. Oh, and I think “blinkered” was absolutely uncalled for, Mr Buzz. If anything, “unblinkered” would more appropriate for an insult.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  11:54 AM
  7. Even if the right-wing higher ed/cultural elite victimization theme were valid, wouldn’t the proper libertarian or conservative ideological response be to tell the wingers to create their own universities? I mean whining about the unfairness of it all doesn’t seem to square with the every man for himself, individual responsibility credo.

    If you’ll permit me a related Friedman moment, I recently got a ride to the airport from a graduate of Oral Roberts University who had majored in how to be a church musical leader. It got me to thinking that there are probably more than a few majors and courses at these right-wing U’s that an unscrupulous and attention seeking liberal could lampoon. And, just a hunch, but I’m guessing free-thinking liberals might not be treated too well at ORU. Perhaps He-Who can investigate the issue if he circles back to to the left.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  12:52 PM
  8. ...nine-to-five jobs at Procter and Gamble

    P & G! Ay ay ay.  Taking on D’souza or McArdle seems about equivalent to fencing with blind people, Doc.  Anyway, McMardles has an excuse for her semi-coherent pseudo-intellectual scrawls--she’s WASP, and female.

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/24  at  01:23 PM
  9. (And now I wonder: why did he single out Procter and Gamble? Could it be ... Satan?)

    Indeed, I suspect that Fred “slacktivist” Clark would have no difficulty discerning Satan’s handiwork in D’Souza’s writings.  (As an atheist, I think DD’S is merely an overrated sanctimonious twit who lacks the self-awareness God gave a turnip.*)

    But why waste all this time on McArdle, D’Souza, and the rest of the Respectable Intellectual Right?  Just because they publish books, receive acres of newsprint to expound their ideas, are frequent go-to guys for televised news media, and are making a good living at providing a Serious Thinker’s veneer to vile reactionary anti-Enlightenment horseshit?  They’re not worth the effort of having one of your undergraduates write blog posts mocking their arguments.  Why not focus on the truly important things, like building bonfires out of conservative academic job applications, or planning the next mandatory public grade-school rainbow party?

    Even if the right-wing higher ed/cultural elite victimization theme were valid, wouldn’t the proper libertarian or conservative ideological response be to tell the wingers to create their own universities?

    The problem comes when they do so, and thus provide superficial cover for populating the Justice Department with Regent University theocrats, because hey, they have “law degrees.”

    *No, this isn’t inconsistent with atheism, as like all atheists, heathens, and mainstream denominations, I secretly realize that fundamentalist Christianity is true, but wickedly reject it anyway.**

    **And no, I don’t know where my recent obsession with root vegetables came from.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  01:26 PM
  10. D’Souza’s rabid right-wing views shouldn’t be mistaken for the political views of US catholics, excepting perhaps the Roody Guiliani faction. (is that a synecdoche in lit-speak? “"D’Souza’s not a synecdoche for the papacy"").

    Many neo-atheists (especially RealPolitik-er’s) forget the popes and American bishops denounced US involvement in the Iraqi war. The previous pope JP II called for war crimes prosecution. On the plus side, D’Souza did allegedly hump Ann Coulter for a while.

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/24  at  01:52 PM
  11. See, if more conservatives were hired at universities (outside the many really big departments hiring loads of conservatives) we wouldn’t need C.P. to tell us that polar bears can swim. It’s a black eye for academia that no academic ever pointed out that simple, yet crucial, fact.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  01:52 PM
  12. That’s the problem with thought experiments. They force us to think about things that could never happen in real life.

    And are therefore a total waste of time.

    wouldn’t the proper libertarian or conservative ideological response be to tell the wingers to create their own universities?

    Oh, but they have!  Aside from ORU and Bob Jones and Hillsdale and Regent, take a look at Yorktown University, whose board of trustees is acceptably whitemaleconservative and whose curriculum is firmly grounded in Conservapedia.  But as I said in What’s Liberal, for some reason conservative elites tend not to send their kids to those places:

    They may talk a good game about liberal indoctrination here and leftist domination there, but when it comes time to send their own kids to college, do you imagine for a moment that they’re looking over the brochures for Olivet Nazarene University, or even the famously conservative Hillsdale College, which accepts no federal money of any kind?

    [discussion of Yorktown U.]

    ... Strangely, this appeal seems not to appeal to the conservative elites who actually run the country; for some reason they prefer to send their children to the Ivy League, to Duke, to Berkeley, just as young Ben Shapiro, author of Brainwashed (an account of his undergraduate years at UCLA), managed to resist the brainwashing programs of UCLA and then decided to attend Harvard Law School rather than Pepperdine, where he would have had the benefit of studying with Professor Kenneth Starr.

    Young Ben ... I wonder whatever happened to him.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  02:05 PM
  13. Actually, D’Souza’s squeeze was Laura Ingraham.  FWIW.

    And polar bears can swim?  Who knew?

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  02:08 PM
  14. Eight of fifteen pictured Yorktown University trustees choose to wear glasses, seven choose not. It is not possible to be more vision balanced and representative.

    Not counting the sightless, er ... vision-free, of course.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  02:58 PM
  15. Not counting the sightless, er ... vision-free, of course.

    Of course not, because the Yorktown University trustees are kings among men.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  03:31 PM
  16. And polar bears can swim?  Who knew?

    Before postmodernism, poststructuralism, and multiculturalism wrecked the university, *everyone* knew that polar bears could swim.

    Harder questions please.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  03:32 PM
  17. PoMo suits the children of elites, whether they be demopublican or republocrat, regardless of the faux-marxist gloss (and anyone who thinks anti-unionist and corporate-shill Al GoreCo PC and hip simply never spent a few nanoseconds reading his biography). Po’ kids don’t study Frederic Jameson or Rorty at El Camino CC, or Fresno State--that’s for League Ivy or UCs, Stunford. They’re studying Nursing or Engineering, or education-racket related.

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/24  at  03:40 PM
  18. Al Gore is not hip?  Who knew?

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  04:03 PM
  19. I am not a father myself, but I am still aware via stand-up routines that the interminable progression of “BUT WHY?” questions never ends well.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  04:05 PM
  20. Al Gore is not hip?

    Yes, a shocker. As is the evidence showing that polar bears are not endangered, regardless of what AG’s hip (and hip-ly lucrative) AGW movie suggested a few moons ago.  Even Canuckians (and the EU) don’t agree with the US eco-crats attempting to get endangered species protection for the PBs. So at least in regard to the status of polar bears Miss Pag’s hit pretty close to the mark.

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/24  at  04:48 PM
  21. I was serious when I said that discussion has changed my sense of how the world works.

    One does have to be pragmatic about the applicability of pragmatism.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  05:10 PM
  22. Does anyone know which UCLA Shapiro went to, btw? Because it sure as hell can’t be the one I’m teaching at. There’s definitely no shortage of conservatives in this place, and the number of faculty willing to put their head above the parapet on vaguely left-wing causes is very small (much smaller than the number of faculty willing to stand up for the powerful anyway). It is however true that “only” about 56% of tenure track faculty here are white males.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  05:40 PM
  23. Al Gore is not hip?  Who knew?

    Kit Seelye and Ceci Connolly.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  06:07 PM
  24. Well, Gore and AGW’s probably hip at the country club Pops Stormcow golfs at.  Frat-boy DINOs are way into the eco thing now--photovoltaics on those fairway carts, gents!

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/24  at  07:18 PM
  25. where he would have had the benefit of studying with Professor Kenneth Starr.

    Who in just one week will begin spreading his surfeit of intellectual and ethical capital to the entire campus of Baylor University.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  07:28 PM
  26. Speaking of Megan McArdle’s writing, over on Language Log, we’ve been having an equally good time trying to untangle this sentence from a recent post of hers:

    Oddly enough, the New York Times health blog has an entry on performance reviews, which suggests that they’re probably a bad idea.

    MJ (waving to Michael)

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  07:52 PM
  27. Imagine the Widow Douglass making Huck Finn write a college entrance essay, and the result would in all probability be identical to that second block quote from McArdle.

    Posted by Lance  on  05/24  at  09:19 PM
  28. This is all the Rangers’ fault.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  09:38 PM
  29. **And no, I don’t know where my recent obsession with root vegetables came from.

    This is tuber planting season, that is all.  On that other matter, i am still unclear how MM thinks that racial prejudice only happened in the south and was a southern thing.  If polar bears can swim, then Jim Crow could rise above the basement ceiling?  Growing up in LA in the 50s i am fairly certain that the term token could have easily been applied to the handful of blacks and hispanics allowed to enter any or all of the law enforcement services.  I guess they just wanted to be bank managers only.

    Posted by  on  05/24  at  11:39 PM
  30. Speaking of civil rights, here’s a YouTube clip of an American citizen in Arizona who was arrested for being without birth certificaqte. His wife had to provide his birth certificate in order to prove that he was born in the USA, at which point he was released:


    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  05/25  at  02:45 AM
  31. Ezra, at first I thought: “He is making fun of liberal hypocrisy, which is by no means unique, but whatever: making fun of Al Gore is a time-honored tradition.” Then you start to say some weird things about AGW, and seem a tad angry about it.  Should I continue to read your posts ironically, or ought I to start worrying about you?

    Posted by  on  05/25  at  07:53 AM
  32. Tom, I think I can explain.  See, Mr. Hound—if that is his real name—started appearing five years ago on various academic blogs and (The Valve, Unfogged, etc.) to tell everyone they were stupid pomo liberals who didn’t know anything about science.  Now he shows up, distinctive prose style and all, to defend Alex “AGW is a myth because I talked to some guy on a cruise ship” Cockburn.  Oh, and to tell us that we’re stupid pomo liberals who don’t know anything about science. 

    Life is a rich pageant, is what I’m saying.

    And yes, it is all the Rangers’ fault.  Oddly, the last time these teams went to the finals (Philly in ‘97, the Hawks in ‘92), they were swept.  The last time the Hawks won a game in the finals would be 1973.  The next time will be Saturday.

    Posted by  on  05/25  at  10:32 AM
  33. As per usual Berube overgeneralizes --even granting some warming in some areas (tho’ some recent studies show a cooling trend over last decade), the man-made CO2 to warming claims have not been conclusively established, nor have the lag/lead details or water vapor mechanisms been worked out--skepticism, i.e. waiting until all the facts are in, that’s sort of normal science, even Popperian. GoreCo’s stance on AGW is as much ideology (and hardly “leftist") as hard science--that’s one of the Counterpuncher’s points (and they have well-documented Gore’s centrist policies, from like his early days as fundamentalist, anti-abortion, and anti-union,etc).

    McIntyre, while probably not a liberal, and maybe even a red-meat eater or smoker, has pointed out some interesting things about the IPCC and Mann’s work (and possible bias...the old kick down a few more million for… additional research). Yet he also objects to the Steven Milloy-like rabid denialists.


    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/25  at  11:28 AM
  34. Which is to say, “ I don’t really know” (and many experts are still undecided) does not equal denial--but if the official Mann/IPCC lines wrong (or exaggerated), what about the millions gone to fix a pseudo-problem?? According to Doc Hansen’s prognostications from 10 years ago, it’s supposed to be like 130 degrees outside now, and waves lapping the porches of malibu condos. Whatev.

    Either way, Alex C. rocks, and Al Gore doesn’t (really, I wager even a McArdle supports GoreTech), and squeaking of Rock, like where’s that dread post on the remastered Exile on Main Street, Sir B.

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/25  at  12:15 PM
  35. Michael, would it be terribly OT and wrong of me to make some extremely temperate remarks about your new thing posted at that magazine I hate?

    Posted by  on  05/25  at  02:27 PM
  36. Life is a rich pageant, is what I’m saying.

    I thought it was a cabaret, my friend, I thought it was a cabaret.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  05/25  at  02:34 PM
  37. Not at all, Christian!  And I’ve read most of Alan Johnson’s posts now—still not seeing how any of them are beyond the pale.  I say this because every once in a while, someone points out that New Republic writers, regardless of their politics, have to share space with Marty Peretz, whose “Spine” blog truly is a racist cesspool.  Johnson, in the words of the immortal Samuel L. Jackson, isn’t in the same ballpark, the same league, or even the same fuckin’ sport.  For example.

    Bill, “life is a cabaret” is an objectively collaborationist sentiment.

    Posted by  on  05/25  at  02:39 PM
  38. Ah, the Ad Hip-hop-ius.  When in doubt, allude to hip actors...or gangsters.  Then literary people (whether Rortyians, or darwin-bots ala Benzon) aren’t too hip on Truth--logical, scientific, historical or otherwise, are they.  Maybe anyone who doubts Gore/IPCC/Mann should be considered a right-wing racist, Sir Berube--a typical CT corporate-socialist communicative strategy. Or at least not invited to the par-tay.

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/25  at  03:22 PM
  39. So just a couple points then. First, I still don’t get why you think we should praise the US for putting criminals on civilian trials. I’m not going out of my way to praise a mobster for driving under the speed limit either, despite the fact that he’s doing the right thing in that instance. I fail to see how this makes it impossible for me to point out that he should, indeed, not speed.

    Secondly, just because you list some possibilities doesn’t make the list exhaustive. For example this list:

    In the debate over how to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, I see three options:

    (1) Denounce the civilian trials praised by Wright, on the Liz Cheney Rationale that they allowed 9/11 to happen;

    (2) Agree with Wright that civilian trials for suspected terrorists are the right way to proceed, and that they would shore up the credibility and integrity of the American system of justice;

    (3) Insist that the American system of justice never had credibility or integrity in the first place.

    is missing

    (4) Agree that a civilian trial is preferable but won’t really shore up the credibility and integrity of the US justice system. They just happen to be the best we can expect from class justice. No more, no less.

    As for Johnson, it’s mystifying to me how you can miss the way he essentializes Islam. (And no I’m not claiming he does so in every single piece he’s writing - most are just McArdle-type nonsense.) And yes, I find it inconceivable how anyone claiming to be liberal can write for TNR.

    Posted by  on  05/25  at  03:36 PM
  40. The next time will be Saturday.

    The next time they win.... Then you are suggesting the Hawks successfully contrive to steal the Stanley Cup?? Or is this just one win, after which they slug it out for who gets to lose?

    Posted by  on  05/25  at  06:02 PM
  41. What do you mean steal??

    Posted by  on  05/25  at  06:29 PM
  42. What do you mean steal??

    It is quite clear to me that the Flyers have made a pact with P&G to be an 8th seeded team that sweeps into and wins the Stanley Cup.  Thus the only way for the Hawks to be successful is for them to sneak up and purloin the trophy.  And since no Canadian team can now be considered, even though polar bears swim, there can only be deep trouble brewin.

    Posted by  on  05/25  at  11:50 PM
  43. Yeah that makes sense - I forgot about P&G, probably some black magic on their part.

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  12:43 AM
  44. And yes, I find it inconceivable how anyone claiming to be liberal can write for TNR.

    Really?  Because especially since 2007, I’ve found it progressively easier to believe that people claiming to be liberal can do all sorts of things.

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  08:48 AM
  45. Christian-- as to the first point.  Granting arguendo the US/mobster analogy (which holds up pretty well for its conduct of foreign affairs), I don’t buy the analogy between refraining from torture and driving under the speed limit.  Not only does this trivialize torture (unwittingly), but it does not to go the heart of what makes the mobster a mobster.  So, then, I would indeed praise a mobster who, when repeatedly attacked by terrorists, resorts to the criminal justice system instead of ordering a hit.

    Second point:  OK, I’ll agree to the (4) amendment as an option, though with the caveat that your remark about “class justice” seems more appropriate w/r/t the Haymarket martyrs than w/r/t to al-Qaeda and radical Islam.

    Last point:  generally, I don’t see the problem with liberals writing for magazines that publish people to their right.  Ta-Nehisi Coates is not tainted by association with McArdle (or Jeffrey Goldberg!), nor is John Judis delegitimated by Leon Weiseltier.  That said, Peretz’s writing really should be shunned (or at least critiqued) by anyone remotely interested in serious debate. My sense is that the people at TNR who are horrified by Uncle Marty are assiduously ignoring him so as to try to keep him confined to the Spine. And it matters that he’s just not any contributor, but, rather, a longtime owner and still nominally editor-in-chief.  But I’m still flummoxed by your response to Johnson—I figure this must be a Lenin’s Tomb v. Harry’s Place kind of thing, because, imho, if you’re looking for Dissent contributors who essentialize Islam and sometimes write brittle, incendiary, out-of-control stuff, then you should be looking at Paul Berman instead.

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  09:49 AM
  46. Fair enough on the first point - I suggest we won’t be able to agree since you are what I would call a “reformist”, I’m not. While a mobster may eventually turn into an “honest” citizen realizing he’s going to be able to steal much more that way, capitalist society won’t change into socialist democracy step-by-step. (Which does not mean small steps shouldn’t be taken where possible, just to make that clear.)

    My comment about class justice is not meant to suggest OBL is a comrade - obviously not. It is just what the justice system in any class society is. It would be class justice even if the guy in the dock was Bill Gates, or for that matter, Dick Cheney on trial for torture. Would I like to see Cheney tried? Yes of course. Would I think it’d make the justice system in a capitalist society more legitimate? Not at all.

    Finally, maybe you’re onto something (unwittingly perhaps) regarding my reaction to Johnson. I am not sure you are aware of the extent to which islamophobia is the dominant form of racism in Europe at this point, and the way institutions like Johnson’s former magazine, and the arguments they make, give liberal cover to it.

    And the merger of Dissent with this crew (or takeover or offering a lifeline, which is what I suspect it was) signals to me an embrace of their politics (I suspect but may be wrong because Walzer likes their strident defence of Zionism and their McCarthyite attacks on its critics). This is what set me off (more than usual as I’ve never liked Dissent), not that Johnson is writing on some blog there. Anyway, you’ve made your position clear so I won’t bring the issue up again.

    (Also on an unrelated note how can someone take aim at Zizek and miss so spectacularly - I mean his revolutionary romanticism is not exactly a small target...)

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  11:53 AM
  47. ...his revolutionary romanticism is not exactly a small target...

    You mean Zizek’s Hegelian roots?  What’s the alternative--Fidelisme, or maybe muslims?  Better somewhat entertaining hegelian romantics than maoist or muslim or technocratic non-romantics. Zizekian Praxis is not perfect, but SZ seems to irritate the sort of US leftist-hipstercrat or PoMo who’d replace Wagner or Melville with hiphop and Toni Morrison.  whoop

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/26  at  12:42 PM
  48. but SZ seems to irritate the sort of US leftist-hipstercrat or PoMo who’d replace Wagner or Melville with hiphop and Toni Morrison.

    Really?  He irritates both of them?

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  01:02 PM
  49. I’m deeply hurt, Ezra, that you’d lump me in with “leftist-hipstercrats” and PoMo’s. But since I seem to recall you share my opposition to NATO intervention in Yugoslavia, you might look into Zizek’s interventions into the politics of his home country Slovenia. His love affair with the political act manifests itself in a decidedly ugly fashion there.

    (I think Zizek has written interesting stuff, and I also believe there’s value in his very public refusal to embrace the kind of “first, do no harm” leftism we’re suffering from - for better or worse he’s one of the few Marxists whose views are even perceived in the mainstream. Be that as it may, though, his politics are fundamentally flawed. And are you seriously denying he makes a big target? He’d be delighted to agree that he does, I’m sure.)

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  01:18 PM
  50. "the sort of”, Doc mds. As in an instancing (which could be established).  The point being he’s sort of old fashioned red, as in VI Lenin, not Johnny Lennon.  Hey where’s that Carl Sagan medley you promised?

    c-h--I’m not sure I agree with your label of Zizek’s programme as romantic. Mischievous perhaps, not PC, obscure to some degree (that mo’ from that trickster Lacan than Hegel), but romantic?  That’s like John Reed stuff, iddnit.  Hey ! Another idear. Warren Beatty fest at B-rube.com

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/26  at  01:26 PM
  51. (Do-do-do-DO-do)
    They laughed at Columbus BAM
    They laughed at Fulton BAM
    They laughed at the Wright brothers BAM
    But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
    (Do.  DOOO-do.  Do. DOOOO-do.)

    I call it “Sagan Medley for Climate ‘Skeptics’ and Their Doo Doo.”

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  01:44 PM
  52. Yawn. Have you even bothered to read even Crichton’s critique? Or MIT professor Lindzen’s writings?  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703939404574567423917025400.html . Non-PC warning (why it’s in the WSJ, so good chance from nazis). There are leftist skeptics as well (such as Rancourt--.http://climateguy.blogspot.com/ )

    Much of the AGW hysteria was most likely cooked up by demopublicans (recall Gore and Lieberdem’s pro-war stance in 2000 as well, not to say ties to big oil) as a deception-tactic:  tell the sheeples that polar bears are suffering (also not supported by evidence--), glaciers are melting faster, and harbors in chic tourista destinations (like seattle or copenhagen) are rising, and ...they hopefully won’t worry about war, peak oil, economic crisis, G-man sachs, etc.

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/26  at  02:01 PM
  53. Well, I for one am glad that we’ve finally put all this silliness about civil rights (yawn city) to one side so we can get down to discussing Ezra Hound’s throbbing hard-on o’hate for Al Gore. Because that’s what really matters.

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  02:20 PM
  54. Not’s what it’s about, ese. But I’m not surprised to see B-rube’s regs defend corporate mediocrity, while not bothering at all with the problems of the IPCC report (which Lindzen addresses in detail).

    And for that matter, civil rights--what could be more booj-wah than that.

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/26  at  02:38 PM
  55. and note the ugly ad hominems from “Uncle Kvetch”. Fairly typical. The throbbing hard-on’s was probably Kvetch’s for Gore-Lieberdem, as pro-war as was BushCo. Or maybe the attack on G-sachs (which also has ties to Gore, as does BP) offended you and the rest of the frat boys at the office?  yeah. 

    (and btw, Kvetch--a friendly invitation to mano a mano in Ellay anytime yr visiting, legal proper, Marquess of Queensbury. Ring of your choice)

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/26  at  02:47 PM
  56. Okay, okay, kvetch duly noted.  Uncle!

    In my defense, all this about Margaret Thatcher---er, sorry, Al Gore making up AGW goes to show why conservative academics apparently need affirmative action programs: “I can make up whatever horseshit I want, and call it fact” wouldn’t actually go over well with most hiring committees I’m acquainted with.  (Unless they were interviewing Frances Arnold.) And having invented their own alternate reality, they then turn around and accuse others of being “pomo” and/or “relativists.” Yes, even the Popper fanfolk who correctly note that falsifiability doesn’t mean that someone can simply stand up and declare “nuh-UH!” See the common thread in modern reactionary thinking?  Anyway, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. 

    Besides, U.K., the civil rights thing is already played out, thanks to Kentucky, proud Confederate state in Conservative Timeline #487.  Dr. Paul has already noted that he’s not really a libertarian, and that he wouldn’t actually resegregate Kentucky’s lunch counters at gunpoint anyway.  Sure, plenty of his right-libertarian boosters are still making excuses for a statement that he himself has kinda sorta walked back, but that’s just because they’re the dominant, stupid kind of right-libertarian.  So it’s time to move on, especially so we can all denounce Jack Conway if he dares bring it up ever again.  We have to look forward, not back.  And by forward, I mean “no further than the November election,” for we must draw no conclusions about what kind of senator Dr. Paul the Younger would be once in office, lest McMegan and her ilk get the vapors.  Can’t have the “cultural elite” dictate the narrative, after all.  Especially if they’re cultural elitist scientists who don’t treat the Wall Street Journal opinion section as if it were a peer-reviewed journal.  Oh, whoops, my bad.  Please don’t hit me with Dave Maier’s fireplace poker, Uncle Kvetch.

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  03:36 PM
  57. a friendly invitation to mano a mano in Ellay anytime yr visiting, legal proper, Marquess of Queensbury. Ring of your choice

    Hmmm...it’s been a long time since I read the personal ads on a regular basis, so I’m not entirely up on the latest code. But if you’re suggesting what I think you’re suggesting, then what the hell, I’m game...but I need to see a picture first.

    captcha: “involved” ... hey, let’s not rush things, Ezra, can’t we just start with dinner and a movie?

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  03:38 PM
  58. Hmmm.  Is it time to send Mr. Hound back to Unfogged yet?

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  03:46 PM
  59. Mr. Hound isn’t along, Michael—we seem to be witnessing a sudden florescence of these oddly belligerent, semi-coherent commenters on various blogs lately. What could be the cause?

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  04:13 PM
  60. s/b “Mr. Hound isn’t alone”

    captcha: “working”—what my fingers ain’t

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  04:15 PM
  61. MB brought up the AGW issue, so a response, substantiated with links. Anyway I was sort of agreeing re McArdle (but yr people regs want to suggest otherwise) . In Popperian terms, it doesn’t seem the AGW hypothesis (specifically the man-made CO2 to warming claim) has been conclusively established--there’s some warming, but they’re entirely not sure what causes it.  So falsifiability would apply only once it’s accepted as accurate. 

    unfogged’s not my type of place--they’re hardly different than the Feinsteincrats of CT-- DiFi’s, on crack!  It’s just a friendly wager re the mano a mano with Kvetch, gent-like. I’m not the one defending centrist democrats, McArdle, or libertarians--or is anything remotely Zizekian verboten here along with Counterpunchers, MB.

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/26  at  04:32 PM
  62. EH=Michael Crichton=Capricorn One=OJ Simpson---check.

    The fog must be lifting, because that was easy.

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  05:01 PM
  63. Christian way back @ 46: 

    Fair enough on the first point - I suggest we won’t be able to agree since you are what I would call a “reformist”, I’m not. While a mobster may eventually turn into an “honest” citizen realizing he’s going to be able to steal much more that way, capitalist society won’t change into socialist democracy step-by-step. (Which does not mean small steps shouldn’t be taken where possible, just to make that clear.)

    OK, but that was my point in that followup post:  namely, that the difference between the democratic (or, if you prefer, as you do, “reformist") left and the radical left will break down pretty much on those lines.  As for class justice, well.  Clearly, by that standard no capitalist system of justice will suffice.  And yet so far, noncapitalist systems of justice have been even worse.  We’re still waiting, are we not, for the world to figure out just how to be socialist and democratic at the same time.  I am not being glib—I await that day too.

    Copyedited Uncle Kvetch @ 59:

    Mr. Hound isn’t alone, Michael—we seem to be witnessing a sudden florescence of these oddly belligerent, semi-coherent commenters on various blogs lately. What could be the cause?

    Spring is in the air, Uncle K.  Ah, the bloom of life!  And yes, when yon Hound gets to inviting total comment-thread strangers to throw down with him Greco-Roman style in Ellay with the Duke of Kingsborough, it’s probably time for him to move along.

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  08:41 PM
  64. Berube’s usual PC bark, and his usual defense of centrists--in this case one making uncalled for nasty insults. And MB’s yet to make an substantial point re AGW, even to the point of acknowledging say a Lindzon.

    You may write for “Dissent”, but you don’t allow it (same for yr odd defense of Rorty). And yr probably upset at someone making a non-PC comment on Feinstein, about as democratic as Dick Cheney

    (and it’s not greco-anything, but like gloves, ring, etc.  Fairly typical sportsman challenge--but apparently offends blogdom’s official Liberal).

    Posted by Ezra Hound  on  05/26  at  08:51 PM
  65. Really?  I don’t allow dissent?  That’s genuinely funny, E. Hound, seeing how much of my bandwidth I’ve allowed you to take up.  (And seeing how I welcome Rich’s and Christian’s and pretty much any coherent person’s dissents any old time.) Why don’t you trot out ye olde “if this is how you treat unhinged blog commenters, then one can only clutch one’s pearls at how you must treat your students.” That one always works!

    And yes, I acknowledge that your challenge of fisticuffsmanship was very manly.

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  09:38 PM
  66. Shouldn’t that be “your challenge of fisticuffspersonship was very personly”?  What kind of pomo cultural studies professor are you?  If this is how you treat gender labels when responding to an unhinged blog commenter, then one can only clutch one’s pearls at how you must treat your students ... to lunch.

    See, EH?  It’s also possible for incoherent people to avail themselves of the Professor’s bandwidth, as long as they don’t too strongly emulate what Jacques Lacan famously referred to as a “poopyhead.”

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  09:55 PM
  67. Michael, no capitalist systems of justice won’t “suffice”, and neither are capitalist democracies democratic. Yet, there are obviously degrees. You are sounding like a weird mirror of the ultra-left in your insistence that these matters are either (condemn!) - or (praise!).

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  10:01 PM
  68. Also I challenge mds to fisticuffs for his smears against Lacan.

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  10:03 PM
  69. Ooh, somethingphysics vs. mathematics, persono a persono.  As the challenged party, I get choice of accessories.  For me, brass knuckles; for you, a nonconstructive existence theorem for brass knuckles.  Soon you will learn just how inadequate F=ma is for describing the high-velocity punishment dished out by my fists Hendrick and Albert.

    ...Hang on, how was it disrespectful to suggest that Lacan accurately diagnosed the psychological dysfunction of poopyheadery?  You say “Discourse of the Master,” I say “being a poopyhead.” Let’s call the whole thing off.

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  11:14 PM
  70. Ew… you said poopyhead.  Does that come with an asshat? 

    Since captcha is South as in South Park.

    Posted by  on  05/26  at  11:30 PM
  71. Methinks the Hound’s been marking his territory over at New Savanna under the nom do parfume of “J”:


    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  05/27  at  12:02 AM
  72. You are sounding like a weird mirror of the ultra-left in your insistence that these matters are either (condemn!) - or (praise!).

    Not really, since I’ve been arguing for acknowledging degrees of better or worser from the start; I was the one arguing that US torture policy represents a radical break, and not just the same old same old.

    Posted by  on  05/27  at  07:25 AM
  73. "Degrees of better or worse” vs. “radical break”. Discuss.

    Posted by  on  05/27  at  10:36 AM
  74. Radical break makes things worser, when they were better before—sometimes more betterer (civilian trials for terror suspects), sometimes less (Cointelpro).

    Posted by  on  05/27  at  10:43 AM
  75. So maybe our difference on this is purely semantic? For me “radical break” means “qualitatively different”. I don’t think the changing debate on civil liberties in the US and permanent war and torture abroad represents such a qualitative shift, but it surely signals a worrying shift in the balance of forces in the struggle against imperialism and domestic repression.

    In any event you seemed to assert that since I (and others) believe that capitalist justice can never be anything but class justice we should then not be allowed to notice or point out that within class justice there are more or less oppressive, etc. implementations.

    Posted by  on  05/27  at  11:02 AM
  76. Actually, I suspect that you’re allowed to notice and point out those things, Professor h.

    And yes, it seems that you two are getting lost in semantics, which was my initial source of confusion too.  When I read “radical break,” what first comes to mind is a step function.  Contrast that with a continuously varying function which fluctuates about a mean labeled as “same old same old.” However, I could see “radical break” referring to a more dramatic swing than usual, without an actual discontinuity.  Whereupon proud open admission of indefinite detention and torture, supported by politicians and much of the public, when such things were (usually) previously kept behind the curtain, could be considered a “radical break.” One that we haven’t dramatically swung back from yet.  ‘Cause we can consider officially weakening Miranda, and conduct extrajudicial assassinations of US citizens abroad, and turn Bagram into Guantanamo East, but trying previous detainees in civilian court in NYC isn’t yet a done deal.

    Posted by  on  05/27  at  02:00 PM
  77. Since we’re down to semantics ...

    hsssst! now that Ezra Hound is gone we can go back to toeing the AIPAC.com line.  Remember, everyone who disagrees with us is anti-Semantic.

    Let us now praise Dianne Feinstein.

    Posted by  on  05/27  at  06:16 PM
  78. This just in: TNR provides evidence of <a href=http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/k_lo_will_not_rest_until_the_scourge_of_feminine_joy_is_wiped_out_completel/">serious wingnuttery thinking.</a>

    Posted by  on  05/27  at  07:22 PM
  79. Damn, missed that first quotation mark, by just a little bit. 
    Guess we will have to deal (captcha) with it. 

    From my perspective, the radical break came when the US stopped punishing the perpetrators of constitutional treachery.  Up until Bush/Cheney we investigated, indicted, forced resignations, punished, and chastised those in power who treated the US Constitution as a piece of toilet paper.  W’s father was revealed publicly to be an unindicted co-conspirator in Iran-Contra in the final Walsh Report.  Clinton was tried for impeachment for lying about sex.  Yet not one whit of process has been instigated against Bush/Cheney.  The DOJ smothers a report that would have gotten Bybee impeached and Yoo fired.  The Senate Judiciary Committee refused to publish their version of a report on wiretapping and torture.  Obama is actually helping to protect Bush/Cheney.  That is a radical break.

    Posted by  on  05/27  at  07:29 PM
  80. hsssst! now that Ezra Hound is gone

    Well, sorta.  The e-mail missive I just received from JG (if that is his real name) told me to go back to “izrael,” and noted that my teaching days are through.  I’m to pass that on to berube and the gang, so perhaps that means all our teaching days are through.  Personally, I’m relieved, since I’m not even a teacher.  Any professors here, though, rejoice.  School’s out forever.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to pack my luggage for my return trip to izrael, or izzy for short.

    Posted by  on  05/27  at  08:28 PM
  81. Well, I was emailed by the same source to warn me not to “phuck” with them or their friends. As a “mediocre liberal” it’ll be easy for me to follow that advice.

    Posted by  on  05/27  at  08:41 PM
  82. reminds me of “iz you iz or iz you aint my baby.”

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  05/27  at  08:50 PM
  83. Apparently JG is not his real name—or so JG once said to me in a bizarre phone call.  But “J” is definitely a real name.  And remember, he’s independently wealthy, so he gets to stay home on the internets all day and make fun of all you trust-fund liberals.

    Posted by  on  05/27  at  09:40 PM
  84. Being blessedly retired, i suppose the worst that can happen to me is for my pension to dry up.  Oh wait, i did get an email to warn me of that a couple of weeks ago from the State of California.  Seems like i am still good for three more years, though christian may have a problem later.

    As for EJHG:

    berube’s a rat
    conservative, or at least centrist. and censor (my comments/points are all substantiated/verified)
    phuck the punk.
    And I suspect he’s like a mobster, or connected to some mafia types

    Posted by  on  05/27  at  10:46 PM
  85. Would it be pomo to point out that “Ezra Hound” is only one letter away from one of the most notorious pro-Hitler American traitors in history? Or would it just be another Godwin violation?

    Posted by  on  05/28  at  12:06 AM
  86. Speaking on behalf of the frat boys here on the golf course, although this year it is going to be Myrtle Beach again, next year in Caesarea!

    Posted by  on  05/28  at  09:23 AM
  87. Yup that golf course resides on the ruins of yet another Palestinian village. Whose residents, I suppose relocated in 1948 (that’s the Washington Post’s description of the Nakba).

    Posted by  on  05/28  at  10:15 AM
  88. You know, I wonder why people stopped calling EJHG “the Troll of Sorrow.” Because his greatest hits are a lot easier to find that way.

    Posted by  on  05/28  at  11:29 AM





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