October 31st, 2006

Non-talking New York Blues

The New York Times has tackled a subject near and dear to my heart.

In this article that appeared Sunday, October 29, called “The Elephant in the Room,” Anne E. Kornblut faces the fact that politics has become the untouchable third rail of conversation at the dinner parties and the book clubs and the mothers’ play groups that form the glue of our social interactions these days. Even families aren’t immune to the cold chill that descends when the topic comes up (tell me about it!).

Judith of Kesher Talk has a masterful and heartfelt post on the subject. She’s been there–oh, how she’s been there!

The Times article, which is well worth reading in its entirety, is a curious document indeed. It describes behavior–the social shunning of those who disagree, mainly on the part of liberal Democrats–that is neither liberal nor democratic. It’s not even civil. And yet I can only assume that much of the Times’s readership is in basic sympathy with that behavior.

I’ve never had the experience of being in a group of Republicans as the lone liberal Democrat, even back when I was a liberal Democrat (I still consider myself a liberal–of the classic variety–but not a Democrat). Maybe it’s because liberal Democrats (and conservative Republicans?) tend to hang out with their own kind, not by design necessarily but by confluence of interests and activities. Perhaps conservative Republicans are just as nasty to their liberal friends and family members; I really wouldn’t know (although if one of the commenters to Judith’s thread is to be believed, in Utah the Republicans are quite nice to the liberals in their midst).

But I do know that conversos, neo-neocons such as I, reprobate traitors to their political roots, are probably exposed to this sort of intolerance for differing opinion most often, for the simple reason that we still tend to socialize with liberals. After all, we didn’t make a bunch of neo-friends to go with our neo-neocon status, nor did we get adopted by a neo-family. The fallout and the flak has been difficult, although most of the time, by now, we do the “agree to disagree” thing and it works out okay.

I know people whose marriages have suffered greatly from differences of opinion that previously were something to joke about. Now–as the article points out–viewpoints have hardened and the other side has been demonized to the point where the Other has become the Enemy.

It’s a reflection of what’s happened in Congress, as well. As districts have become more rigidly fixed along polarized lines, and members of Congress have become more extreme on both sides, collegiality has gone out the window.

But let’s look at that Times article more closely. It features a liberal woman of thirty-seven named Sheri Langham, whose parents are Republicans. It never used to be much of a problem for Sheri before, but now she says, politics “became such a moral litmus test” that she stopped speaking to her 65-year-old mother for a month.

Sheri again, on her mother: she became the face of the enemy.

To her credit, Ms. Langham came out of her funk and started talking with her evil Republican mother once again, only this time they’ve agreed not to discuss politics. But Ms. Langham puts her finger on the source of much of the hatred on the Democrat side: Bush supporters have become “the enemy.”

American politics have always been contentious. I grew up with fierce political disagreements among family members, and arguments whenever the group got together, which was often (the sides in question were liberal, left, and far-left, by the way). But if people stopped speaking over politics, it was the rare exception. Now it seems, if not the rule, certainly a fairly commonplace phenomenon.

And even in the Times article, it seems to be the liberals doing most of the outright shunning.

The article reports, however, that many people in both parties are choosing to be among friends who agree with them rather than deal with the contention of differing views. As Judith mentions in her post, political discussions among the liberals with whom she hangs out (or used to hang out) seem to have evolved (or devolved?) into support groups:

In other words, they brought up politics, but they are the only ones who get to play. If you join in, you are the one who soured the conversation by bringing up politics. Because they weren’t trying to start a political discussion, they just wanted to commiserate with friends. You party pooper.

Yes. And the shock of learning that someone who somehow looks liberal (whatever that might mean; I don’t wear Birkenstocks) and sounds intelligent and even likes the arts and isn’t into Nascar racing might actually disagree on political issues is so profound it sometimes can’t be processed properly.

I recall being at a party where a political discussion was being held–actually, it was more of a political support group, until I made the mild comment that I agreed with Bush on that particular issue (I don’t recall any more what it was).

The woman closest to me asked, “What did you say?” I repeated my response. She asked again; this happened three times. She wasn’t being sarcastic. And she wasn’t hard of hearing. She simply was having trouble assimilating the information; it did not compute that someone like me could agree with someone like him.

I’m reminded of the famous remark attributed to film critic Pauline Kael, to the effect that she could hardly believe Nixon had won in ’72 because no one she knew had voted for him. And since I so love to do research, I looked up the remark and discovered this slight correction; it turns out Ms. Kael was misquoted. She actually seems to have refused to comment on Nixon’s election when questioned by a reporter, and gave as her reason the fact that she didn’t even know anyone who voted for him.

That seems to me to be a sort of comment, as well. But it’s not the same comment as “How could he have been elected? No one I know voted for him!” which strikes a note of arrogance and insularity astounding even in a woman who probably moved in rarified circles.

Her actual comment, however, is just as good for the purposes of this essay; I have no trouble whatsoever in believing that Kael had no friends who voted for Nixon.

Actually, I’ll amend that: I have no trouble whatsoever believing that Kael had no friends whom she knew had voted for Nixon, who talked about it openly in the liberal circles of literary New York. But perhaps–just perhaps–she knew someone who was a Nixon supporter, and who was in the closet about it.

We don’t know what we don’t know–although we may think we know–and if people don’t speak up, we continue not to know. And, believe me, if I were voting for Nixon in the liberal New York of 1972, I’d probably keep my mouth shut about it, too (but yes, indeed, I was one of the 38% of the country who voted for McGovern).

[NOTE: Part II of the Lurçat trial planned for tomorrow.]

54 Responses to “Non-talking New York Blues”

  1. franco Says:

    Your characterization of Democrats as a support group is right on and it is getting positively cult-like. Almost all my friends are liberals. I have long hair I am a musician. I have had the same experiences. These people think everybody agrees with them and if you don’t, they are stunned. I am a classic liberal and I believe the Republican Party is now more liberal than the Dems. They have to believe in their fanstasy world, so other opinions are threatening to them.
    Republicans live in the neo-liberal (Stalinist) world and are not threatened by hearing contrary opinions.

  2. Mitch Miller Says:

    Dear Neo:

    I first noticed that it became impossible to have a rational conversation about politics with my liberal friends when W was elected (there’s no one so indignant as the thief who is caught), but I only figured out the reason recently: people of differing political views live in (that old sci-fi chestnut) parallel universes. Although the universes might come together for a cup of coffee or dinner, as they get farther out from small, intimate and local settings, they diverge more and more. Everything is different in the two universes – history is different, facts are different, even words have different meanings.

    For example, the word “lie.” In the (let’s call it the) “red” universe, to lie means to say something that you know not to be true, such as “I did not have sex with that woman.” In the “blue” universe, to lie means to say something which you have every reason to believe is true – because, say, the Director of Central Intelligence pounded his fist on the table and said it was a slam dunk – but which turns out to be not true.

    Facts are different in the two universes. For example, in the red universe, the fellow who leaked Valerie Plame’s name to Robert Novak was not a Bush Administration official, but a career State Department officer, who thought he was only gossiping about the well-known-about-Washington “ex-model in the CIA married to the ambassador.” In the blue universe, the leak was made by Dick Cheney and Karl Rove in their dastardly plot to attack the credibility of a fine, upstanding, completely honest and objective ambassador.

    History is very different in the two universes. In fact, as far as I’ve been able to determine, history goes only back about two weeks in the blue universe. That’s why denizens of the blue universe can talk about the situation in Iraq as a military disaster or fiasco in complete ignorance of the Korean War, the Battle of the Bulge, Tarawa, the Kasserine Pass, Gallipoli, the Battle of the Little Big Horn, etc., etc., etc. None of those military disasters happened in the blue universe, so they have nothing to compare Iraq with.

    It doesn’t matter how many times, or how carefully, a red universe person lays out the facts, since those are not the facts in his or her universe, the blue universe person simply cannot perceive or assimilate them. So he or she thinks the red universe person must be a lying scum. The red universe person can’t believe the blue is so ignorant, he or she must be a complete numbskull. So naturally they start screaming at each other.

    That’s why it’s actually better not to talk politics – there’s really nothing you can do about the gulf between the universes. Unless you can invent some form of interdimensional travel.

    Mitch Miller

  3. stumbley Says:

    “Unless you can invent some form of interdimensional travel. ”


    It’s called an *objective* press and *objective* education. Unfortunately, like the dodo, those two formerly colorful and useful species have become extinct.

  4. Steven Says:

    Indeed, the abysmal state of education, particularly about our history, exacerbates the problem, as many people have absolutely no understanding of how current events compare to what has happened in the past. I fully expect to hear about how next week’s gains by the Democrats will constitute an unprecedented, massive rebuke of Bush and the Republicans. Just keep the following figures in mind next week: In 1938, the 6th year of FDR’s presidency, the Democrats lost 72 seats in the House. In 1958, in Ike’s 6th year, the Democrats picked up 49 seats (obviously due to the nation’s anger over how Ike lied about Sputnik and then mismanaged the International Geophysical Year). In 1966, the Democrats lost 48 seats. In 1974, it was the Republicans’ turn to lose 48 seats.

    So I can’t wait to hear about how the Democrats’ gains next week are proof of how Bush is the most unpopular president ever and how Karl Rove’s political skills are completely gone.

  5. Mitch Says:

    Maybe part of the problem is that liberalism has become part of one’s identity, rather than one’s opinions. I hear plenty of disagreements among my conservative/libertarian friends, but they rarely decompose into name-calling and vituperation. You are much more likely to hear efforts to convince the other than to insult him. Disagreeing with a liberal is taken as disapproving of who they are, rather than disagreeing with what they say. When you do this, they act as though they have been insulted and often respond with more insults.

    How did this come about? Here are a couple of hypotheses:
    1.) Money. Politics has become so driven by money that the fund-raising mindset has invaded political discussion. You can’t raise money if you tell your audience that the other guy is pretty good, but mistaken on this or that point, and our guy would do a somewhat better job based on his training and experience. The other guy has to be the devil incarnate, and the fate of our civilization must rest on the outcome of the next election, or the donors (or chumps) won’t write large checks. They have to gin up emotions, not start discussions. (If you think only Democrats do this, look what Republicans are saying about Pelosi & Conyers, and Kennedy & Byrd, if the Democrats take one or both houses of congress.)
    2.) Ideas. The left has run out of them, but not out of passion. If you can’t marshall a coherent argument citing the facts supporting your case, you quickly get into sarcasm and abuse, if that’s all you have left.

    How many of the people claiming that the 2000 election was given to Bush by the Supreme Court have read the decisions by that court and the one in Florida? Go ahead, read them; they’re short. The Democrats rarely even get the sequence of events right and can almost never summarize the arguments before the court, but many believe with all their hearts that “we wuz robbed.” They really are too emotionally invested in their narrative to look at the factual basis for it. In fact, they believe it so fervently that they can hardly be induced to examine another version of reality.

    It’s kind of sad. I don’t think Bush is a savior or even a great president, and he has made some gaudy blunders, but he was the better of the two realistic choices on offer both times. I can say that to someone who voted for him, but not to someone who didn’t.

  6. Red Says:

    Liberals see the world as they wish it to be, hence the diffculties of acceptig the realties on the ground. Conservative, on the other hand, view the world as is and although sometimes painful to recognize but they have the courage to accept ‘what is, what it is.

  7. Webutante Says:

    This post is both poignant and painful to read as I have certainly felt the sting of indignation at my defection from my ultra-liberal years back to even more conservative roots. (I have grown more conservative than you from hard-earned, painful experience.)

    For years I kept my mouth shut and listened politely as liberals let it rip at parties, on hiking trips and everything in between. Then after years of silence, I could bear it no longer and started tip-toeing back into the fray. That, too, is why I have started a new blog. So I can spout off to anyone who wants to listen. And in the event, there is no one there, then I still feel better just putting it down on virtual paper.

  8. armchair pessimist Says:

    Remember that they’re used to owing the discourse; for decades all you could hear in the media was their song. They’re not the massahs anymore, and are resentful. That’s human nature.
    Confession time: In college I had a brief tryst with Stalinism; it didn’t last but I did pick up a little of Josef Vissarionovich’s gift for dark invective, which has been a good friend when it has fallen my lot to be the elephant in the room.

  9. Yehudit Says:

    Thanks for the link, Neo.

    “The woman closest to me asked, “What did you say?” I repeated my response. She asked again; this happened three times. She wasn’t being sarcastic. And she wasn’t hard of hearing. She simply was having trouble assimilating the information; it did not compute that someone like me could agree with someone like him.”

    I was hanging out with 2 people I did not know very well, and one of them made a negative remark about the Iraq war. This was in 2003, I think. I mildly replied that it wasn’t going that badly. The other person just stared at me. I stared at him, he stared at me. Since this was relatively early in the surge of polarization, i had no clue why he was staring at me. I just thought it was weird. Later I realized that he was so taken aback by my remark he was struck dumb.

  10. Yehudit Says:

    PS And all I said was, “It’s not going that badly.”

    Incendiary, right?

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    So, so very true, neo.

    We don’t know what we don’t know–although we may think we know–and if people don’t speak up, we continue not to know. And, believe me,

    Funny as well, the way you styled it.

  12. Cappy Says:

    Many thanks to you, neo-neocon for reading the NYT. I gave up on it years ago. I already know their trope. Their selection of important news holds no interest for me.

    Been there and had that done to me re: liberal friends. I still see a few old friends. Of course I’m not dumping relatives. But life is a lot better without the liberal blubberfest of late.

  13. jgr Says:

    “American politics have always been contentious.”

    And so they should be. But not over basics. Consensus may not necessarily be the goal but a common understanding is. As you point out, that understanding is being shredded.

    One of BW’s commenters noted that 24/7 propaganda by the MSM will corrupt most thinking. It has created, as one commenter said well (and you imply), an illusionary universe.

    The Islamic bad men aren’t real. The deaths of the soldiers are hyped, but their reason for fighting is trashed, because it’s wrong. The innocent deaths matter only as politics, whether in Iraq or Israel. They are not real people whom we are dying to protect. And, of course, a courageous leader who stands against the illusion offers a target.

    Perhaps, as for me, I have awakened from the drugged lies of post- Vietnam. And seen what damage they have done to all of us. Look at my country! ….And so many resent knowing just how wrong.. wrong.. they have been. That may be Bush’s biggest fault. He makes Americans face a truth they can’t.
    Themselves and their legacy.

    For your liberal friends: Q: what do you do if your whole life and career has been based on lies?

    A: You fight like hell to keep from admitting that.

    No holds barred.

  14. class-factotum Says:

    someone who…sounds intelligent and even likes the arts and isn’t into Nascar racing might actually disagree on political issues

    I have more than once been told, “But you’re intelligent! How can you be a conservative?”

    I have gotten tired of defending my positions in gatherings of liberals and now usually keep my mouth shut. It seems that many “tolerant and open-minded” liberals are open to anything but other opinions.

  15. Gourney Detoure Says:

    Mitch Miller – Are you saying Democrats don’t know their history? Should the Battle of the Bulge be used as an object lesson on Iraq?
    Hmm interesting, can you expand on this?

    Also how else are the Republican’s left of the Democrats?

    If you change one or two words in a lefty post, it could just as easily be a righty post. I think that you are suffering fomr the malady you espouse.

    Red – yes the Bush administration, Wolfy Perl the whole conservative admin saw the Iraq war objectively, and still do so today….

    jgr – What part of Vietnam are you in denial about?

    For your conservative friends: Q: what do you do if your whole life and career has been based on lies?

    A: You fight like hell to keep from admitting that.

    How do you all respond to O’Reilly and Limbaugh and hANNITY? Are they objective?

    jpr – can you extrapolate on “That may be Bush’s biggest fault. He makes Americans face a truth they can’t. Themselves and their legacy.”
    Its a nice statement but what do you actually mean by it?

    Do you all subscribe to the notion that the public must be acquiesced to in order for a greater good to be accomplished?

  16. jgr Says:

    GD: I deny ALL the media part of Vietnam. ALL OF IT.

    The Net has shown me the unceasing lies about Iraq of my inferiors who control the MSM. Now I question the truth of the Media ANYWHERE. That has just begun.

    Some of us NO LONGER hold Vietnam as a mistake. It never was.

    As my 60′s friends would say, we were LIED to.

    That may unsettle you. I hope.

    It’s the least I can do for the hundreds of thousands of my comrades who suffered from that abandonment.

    Bush represents the good country that is our heritage. And the goodness we have tried to give the world.

    Now the Left hates that.

    They don’t want to see the truth of a good America. Although ALL of their American FOREBEARS worked, fought, and lived for that good country.. but they are different.

    I ask: how. –Who made the LEFT a judge of my country and my President. You are not my ruler, nor do you rule this country.
    We did not defeat Communism to embrace you.
    I reject the Left and its hate.

    Perhaps if I asked one of the drug crazed demonstrators of the 60′s about his reasons for protesting, they might match the thinking of today’s Democrats.

    It comes down to this, GD. The Left depends upon those who are stupid and fearful to fill its ranks. Americans will not be.

  17. neo-neocon Says:

    Gourney: I’ve got four posts on Vietnam in the “A mind is a difficult thing to change” series. The links to them are on the right sidebar. The posts contain links to other articles about Vietnam that describe the alternative to the basic liberal/left view that the media has presented all these years. For example, there’s this.

  18. askmom Says:

    I voted for McGovern too, Neo, don’t feel alone. It’s just more evidence that indeed we CAN get smarter as we get older.

    My Seattle liberal family is a constant source of amusement to me. Also, a chance to work on my patience. Some of these deluded ones are my children, and I console myself that when I was young, I was perhaps even more foolish than they are. That’s why I don’t pick fights or shun people over political issues. Family and friends are forever, and in time, people can and do change.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Like you, I intended to vote for McGovern, registered, then abandoned him when he dropped his vice-presidential running mate because it was revealed that he had had shock treatments.

    My reward was a week of jury duty in Manhattan–which registering triggered.

  20. goesh Says:

    Excellant post and commentary, as usual. I was a hippy and radical leftist in my time too.

  21. Sergey Says:

    This hate is a sign of agony of secular humanism, it impotence to grasp reality of historic development. When a person face difficulty to reconcile his beliefs with actual course of events, he became irritated, neurotic and seeks refuge in a company of people with the same problems (support group). But it is a rather strange support group: normal group therapy begins with admitting that problem exists, as Anonymous Alcoholics declare: I am alcoholic. This particular group flocks together not to admit problem, but to fiercely deny its existence. This makes them even more aggressive and inadequate. The very existence of people with other views is experienced as insult. This is a common feature of modern leftists and islamists – they are offended by mere existence of those who do not conform to their agenda.

  22. Gourney Detoure Says:

    There’s a link here


    This show has interesting interviews, it is Australian, I am travelling. Tonite there was a interesting interview with Martin Amis about Islamicism. I found that I agreed with him on just about everything (about Bush too).

    The interview hasn’t come up as transcript yet, but I think everyone here will be very interested in it. Keep checking til the interview comes up, Nov 1, it should be there soon. I watched it live tonite.

    Sergey – once again you could insert the word rightist where you have leftist…so whats the point in those statements.

    Another article you all may be interested in is this one at the Guardian in UK


    It is ridiculous This muslim woman saying religion is oppressed by secularism….jeezuz. I think you’ll find it. I agree with Harry Lauder’s comments in the comments, but then I would.

    jgr – I cannot know your experience, but I feel your pain coming off the page in your words. I do not agree with your views on Bush. But I do agree in your assertion of an American ‘destiny’.

    Since I cannot do anything other than inflame you with my thought I will not subject you to it.
    However I would say that many many many all Democrats share your vision of America. If they critisize it it is because they want it to live up to this standard this moral standard.
    That’s what was SO dissapointing about the way this war was instigated.

    PPL just don’t like the way the current admin has gone about it – the wrong way from go to woah. Everythings been done bassackwards.

    Bush 41 in the first gulf war did it the right way, the statesman like way. I admire the way he did it. I have nothng but contempt for Bush jr. I feel he is an opportunist and a fraud, and as Richard Armitage said, not capable of filling the suit of a president.

    Also if Bush jr was a Democrat president having done the things he’s done, he would not see out the remainder of his term one way or another – if you know what I mean. To defend your ideals is one thing, to defend this admin’s expedient use of them is quite another.

    Neoneo I read the link and will go through your other links, interestng piece on Vietnam but not something that can be seriously and glibbly made statements of here, except for one…While the final peace talks were happening the congress (dems) refused Sth Vietnam cash and President Ford was playing golf, no one bothered to ask him…

    It just sounds like Vietnam was over as an important agenda piece. The soldiers then and now should not have been betrayed though. Iraq is and is not Vietnam. The problem with Iraq is the lies and the chameleon agenda of the Republicans, endless war is not a vote grabber. Nor is it the medias fault. They were right behnd it at the start. The blame lies with the lies and the executuon which has once again betrayed the troops.

    Nor is open

  23. Gourney Detoure Says:

    Half my page got cut off – but I said something along the lines of Iraq is another head we have given the hydra when we didnt need to…I think if we’d concentrated on Afgnistan the region would be better off and so would we.

    I agree with most on Islam, the ‘clash of civilizations’ is more a clash of the 21st century with the 17th. We all fear them because so many are essentially so backward.

    If Martin Amis is right though, we are in for the human conflict equivalent of global warming.

  24. Gourney Detoure Says:

    ‘Tony Jones speaks to UK author’
    strange title but anyway it’s Martin Amis-’An author from the United Kingdom who has written an essay on Islamic extremism and its links to Western sexual morals speaks to Tony Jones.’


  25. Sergey Says:

    Yes, I found this pretty girl, Soumaya Ghannoushi, is quite right and acute in her observation that modern secularism morphed into some kind of religion, and, what is most troubling, very intolerant one. I have read a lot of Richard Dawkins in preparing my Ph.D thesis on genetics of speciation; this ultra-Darwinist is a good example of world-view that parade itself as “scientific” and only possible, but in reality is blatant negation of basic tenets of positivism. Religion can be quite tolerant when it understands itself as such; but if it pretends to be “science”, it becames arrogant and non-tolerant. Classic British liberals were Christians, their tolerance stemmed from their positivism, they understood difference between faith and knowlege. Modern neo-liberals can not make this distinction, and this is why they are so aggressive.

  26. Sergey Says:

    I do not agree with everything she wrote in her well-written article, but its conclusion resonates strongly with my own observations:

    “With the retreat of Christianity and shrinking of the ecclesiastical institution in Western Europe, the threat to tolerance and coexistence no longer comes from religion. What we should be dreading today is the tyranny of an arrogant secularism which hides its exclusionist and intolerant face behind the sublime mask of reason, enlightenment and progress.”

  27. Gray Says:

    This battle is being fought by, and in, the Baby Boomer generation.

    Gourney DeTour (clever name BTW), you’re some kind of middle-aged leftist–come of age in the glorious 60′s. Get over it.

    I was born in ’68. My whole life I watched the way you guys supported the Soviet Union.

    The left/right schism is nonexistant in Gen-X. The lefties really are wild-eyed muslim supporters, whackademics and a small minority. The Gen-X lefties really do want to see America destroyed–they are hopelessly wounded ‘cuz mommy and daddy split to ‘find themselves’ during the great boomer social experiment.

    The “conservo” Gen-Xers simply go to work, have kids and don’t hate their country….

  28. mikeski Says:

    International Geophysical Year

    I love that song!

  29. Mitch Miller Says:


    Yes, I’m saying the Democrats do not know history, particularly military history.

    Battle of the Bulge — 81,000 US casualties (19,000 KIA) in 4 weeks, fighting over 2700 sq. miles.
    Result – no change in tactical situation. Cause – Allied commanders’ failure to anticpate German ability to mount attack, or notice signs of impending attack.

    War in Irag – 14,000 US casulties (2300 KIA) in 3 1/2 years. Result — success achieved in 14 of 18 provinces (roughly the size of California). Cause (of what? success or lack thereof?) – Allied commanders’ allowing themselves to be dragged into symmetric war with insurgents instead of using tried-and-true counterinsurgency tactics proved effective by Alexander the Great, the Romans, and Genghis Khan.

    Now, see the difference?

  30. unknown blogger Says:

    “Success achieved in 14 of 18 provinces”

    Success acheived! That sounds so nice!

    But before we all start singing along with Mitch, let’s look at the facts.

    The GAO reported in April 2006 that only 3 Iraqi provinces (in — surprise!— the Kurdish region) could be considered “stable.” Another 8 were deemed “moderate.”

    6 were called “serious” and one, Al-Anbar, was listed as critical, and apparently, according to the Marines, anyway, beyond repair.

    So that’s exactly half the provinces in serious or critical condition.

    You may proceed now with the history lesson.

  31. Tatterdemalian Says:

    The difference between science and religion is that science always works within well-defined statistical bounds. Religion only works if $diety wills it. Every religion would like to lay claim to science’s success rate, because all people recognize that something that always works is most likely to be true. But even if the religious did, somehow, stumble upon something that always worked the way they wanted it to (and it *does* happen… like the old saying goes, “even a blind squirrel finds a few nuts”), it doesn’t change the fact that their discovery is not from $diety, but rather caused by laws of physics that they may not fully understand, and if they refuse to allow further examination of their discovery because $diety is not to be questioned, then they certainly never will understand it.

  32. jgr Says:

    The difference between science and religion is that science always works within well-defined statistical bounds.”

    tat, I suspect there are just a FEW other differences beyond the one you list!!. And just because man’s mind has found one way in (physical) science to manipulate the Creation, doesn’t mean that science by any means understands THAT with which it toys.

    As one of my favorite New England poets (John Hay) once wrote, behind Nature is something greater that toys with us. We are scarcely our own masters.

    “Every religion would like to lay claim to science’s success rate”

    Why? (not sure what a “success rate” means in religious terms)

    Science will NOT tell me:
    how to live, why I live, who I am, what my Maker is, why He loves me, how to care for my fellows, or what the meaning of living is.

    Physical science’s boons are vastly overrated. INdeed, many of our problems stem from our 20c. pseudo- sciences and a consequent reliance too much on ourselves.
    Science’s accomplishments must be seen as a mixed bag for the 20c.

    A new secular religion arises, Tat. CAll it “greenworld,” or gaia, if you will. Environmentalism begin to sweep through secular ranks, as those who have lived close to science, realize that they have done a great deal of harm to physical reality. (Listen to Al Gore, if you can stomach it.) Yes, you are right to fear irrationality, religious or otherwise, for men are always culpable.

    “rather caused by laws of physics that they may not fully understand”

    Point made. Most materialistic scientists are indeed ignorant about the Universe. One can always cut them off by asking them to explain the Universe. –In understandable terms..
    Surely their theorizing begin with First Causes. doesn’t it?

    But, in this you are right: pseudo- science and secularism are a toxic mix; the desolation of Marxism forms a stark reminder. And now the West turns to a new hysteria in the Gaia movement.

  33. Mitch Miller Says:

    Dear Unknown,

    I love CPAs. I have the greatest respect for CPAs – after all, I am one myself. CPAs are capable of finding all sorts of nefarious hanky-panky. (Not to say that they don’t occasionally miss it – but that’s another story.) I’d love to see a division of auditors loosed on Iraq to find out what happened to all the money.

    But to think that a squad of analysts, information technology specialists, financial auditors, economists, attorneys, and communications analysts[1], led by our nation’s chief CPA[2], is more competent to tell us about the military situation in Iraq than the military leadership, strains even my boundless confidence in the profession and its pinnacle, the General Accounting Office.

    Your pal in accountancy,


    [1] Career Paths at the GAO, http://www.gao.gov/jobs/careerpath.html

    [2] Biography of David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, http://www.gao.gov/cghome/dwbiog.html

  34. Anonymous Says:

    I did not say science can explain everything; Alan Turing already proved it can not. However, the schism between science and religion is caused primarily by jealousy on the part of the religious. Imagine if we found exactly the right prayer to make manna fall from the sky, and it worked as reliably as turning on a light bulb. Or maybe being able to summon demons, develop telekinetic powers, or build a successful Marxist economy, depending on your religion. There would be no need to discuss which religion is “right,” because God (or the gods) would have spoken and settled the debate.

    Every religion deals in the realm of fantasy, and nearly all have something they would desperately like to prove is real. Only cold hard science can craft explanations that are reliable enough that people will regularly entrust their lives to it, without even thinking about it.

    Have you wondered, often, if your car would leap up on its own and crush you for failing to propitate it? If so, you really need to stop watching “Christine” and check your meds.

  35. Bigman Says:

    An interesting interview with the creators of South Park.

    The obviously leftie young lads who produce this were asked about reaction to the show.

    They said with suprise that they had NEVER had any grief from Conservatives. But when they spoofed the Left they were attacked quite passionately by friends and others.

    One said he was shocked at this strange turn of events. He surmised that the Right never expected to be liked on that show anyway.

    I think perhaps the Right is used to be being attacked, and as Ann Coulter says.. the Left is completely flumuxed when faced with criticism.

    We’ve all faced Socialist Outrage.. when a Liberal is engaged in a discussion but is unable to persuade, and starts shrieking hysterically.

    One family member simply insists all unexplained events are part of a global conspiracy.

    We don’t have many enlightening conversations…

  36. Bigman Says:

    I am a cognitive psychologist and have come to the conclusion that many Liberals suffer from what we call Emotional Reasoning.

    I.e. I feel it therefore it must be true.

    I assume this is why so many musicians and artists are on the Left, and why they can create beautiful art, and lunatic conspiracy theories.

    Conservatives are not arty, they deal in horrible, ugly, cold hard facts. Conservatives are often soldiers, farmers, firemen and cops.

    When I hear a Liberal talk, what I often hear is ‘I don’t like this, make it stop’. They seem to have a rather immature attitude. A child ‘Sees the world feelingly’ (as King Lear said), and is incapable of cold analysis.

    Perhaps others have experience this also..

  37. Gourney Detoure Says:

    Now Im really offended!!!!!!!

    HOW OLD DO YOU THINK I AM!!!!!!!!GRAY!!!!!!

    Not telling anyway but not that for Christs sake!!!

    Sergey Do you agree with that woman, are you Christian? A Christian biologist? Archeologist? A Whatist?
    Youve said some very unChristian things in the past, not tolerable at all (unless Im mistaking you with someone else), well things that havent been said since the Crusades anyway…by Christians I mean.

    I take your point Mitch Miller, but a)Times have changed
    b)Soldiers nowdays have human rights
    c)Alexander wasn’t fighting knumnuts with RPGs and roadside bombs detonated three kilometers away by a towel head with his head deeply up his ass
    d)Technology a real problem in this age of war? A few fquits with boxcutters can bring down a tall building.
    e)Faulty strategy and tactics, micromanaging by ‘Gen’ Rumsfeld who is too old and too flawed for the post.
    f)If you have a military LET THEM FIGHT WARS THEIR OWN WAY!!!!!Grrrr Either them or the GAO!!!! ;)

    Bigman maybe you are right and my own life reflects your data. Bigman not all leftists are nutso, are the ones you’re talking about at uni?

    I dont think we need any religion outside the simple social customs aspect, birth, marriage, death, the rest it has no business in.

    Tatterdemailian what you wrote to me in another blog I cut out and kept.

    Sergey ‘faith and knowledge’ is not a belief of choice, it is as a fact if you dont believe in God. They may see God as a weakness, a denial. How do you reconcile God and science in your own practice? (if you do)

    Anon, I prescribe to Feyerabend who wrote that society must be defended from science! Like common sense is not so common, science is not that scientific!

  38. Sergey Says:

    Anon, you seem confuse religion with magic. It is strange for me see this childish talk on “science versus religion” after this problem – problem of demarcation – was resolved once and for very long time by Carl Popper in his famous “Objective Knowlege”. The vast realms of moral and ethics, the most important ones for the destiny of civilization, lie entirely out of domain of any science and completely in domain of religion. If you ignore this monumentual result of 20 century philosophy or simply never heard of it, you have no right to participate in any intelligent discussion on this topic.

  39. Sergey Says:

    Gourney, I never declared myself to be Christian, but I do belive God and have proper respect to Christian moral as a bedrock of Western civilization, and, consequently, of human freedom. I do not understand what Christian biology is; for me it is oxymoron, as no field of science can be Christian or non-Christian; science is universal and need not any religious foundation.
    By education I am mathematician, have practical knowlege in experimental biology (cytology, immunology and genetics), work as science editor and translator with a number of publishers and have post-graduate studies in ecology and theoretical biology.

  40. Gourney Detoure Says:


    What is the answer then for ‘multicultural societies?’ Are you interested in this question?

    Do you think the Muslim girl in the Guardian wants Christian morals to play a bgger role in Western Society? Because if there is no secularism there is a number of religions, I always think what about Xmass…In some Western countries like Canada and Australia we cannot have Xmass decorations again because it offends muslims or it sends wrong messages of a dominant religion.
    In one kindergarten they could not have xmass because one student was muslim and her parents found it offensive.

    IN other words how do you see western societies coping with these religions if these societies are not secular…

    I feel we must secularize otherwise we are being dominant religion ad they are marginalized… Did you read martin amis?

    I didnt mean Christian Biologist I ment a Christian who is a biologist.

    I am going out now but will hopefully see your post after the day.

  41. unknown blogger Says:

    Mitch, I think I can name that tune in one note!

    It’s an old favorite called “Attack the Messenger.”

    But ok, since we can’t listen to CPA’s, please do us a favor and post a quote of a US military leader (excluding Donald Rumsfeld) telling us recently that we have “acheived success in 14 of 18 Iraqi provinces,” along with the criteria they used to determine that success.

    The only source I can find for that is (former) Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in the Rose Garden (how appropriate!) back in 2004.

    Also, let’s not pretend all the provinces are equal to start with. The Kurdish and Shiite provinces were basically “gimmies.” It’s the Sunni ones that really count.

  42. Sergey Says:

    “What is the answer then for ‘multicultural societies?’ Are you interested in this question?”

    Yes, I am interested very much, because Russia have similar problems with uncontrolled migration, including Muslim, and certainly will have even worse with Russian population decline and demographical advantage of migrants.
    In brief, “Enoch Powell was right”. Multicultural idea is dangerous utopia, which can totally disrupt societal cohesion. Any society needs common norms and some common values for normal functioning; when this “least common denominator” is not comprehensive enough, it fails. That is why I often refer to Western civilization as Judeo-Christian: this is not a negation of real differences between Judaism and Christianity, but indication of the fact that these traditions have common set of norms, that is Ten Commandments, and this set is comprehensive enough to result in relatively peaceful coexistence.
    Of course, some cultures mix better than other pairs or sets of cultures. For example, violent anti-Semitism was almost nonexistent in Protestant countries, but was rampant in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox countries (France, Spain, Poland, Ukraine and Russia).
    Islam is notorious for its inability to peacefully coexist with almost any other system of beliefs: it really, literally shed rivers of blood in India, Persia, Northern Africa and Europe. So it was enormous blunder to invite large mass of Muslim immigrants to any European country. May be, to prevent worse disasters it will became inevitable to perform massive ethnic cleanses in Europe, like it was done in Spain by Phillip and Isabella.

  43. Anonymous Says:

    Read the following
    and see for yourself who was right.

  44. Sergey Says:

    Previous post was mine.

  45. jgr Says:

    thanks for E. Powell link. I’ll keep it for reference. More and more I suspicion that the ephitet ‘racism’ is a PM/Marxist political term. It is concept which is antithetical to the liberal Western tradition as we in America have followed it.

    As for multi culturalism, here is a favorite dismantling of its claims. The essay is a defense of Columbus, who is the center of attack for those who would revise and destablise American, and Western Hemisphere, history.


  46. unknown blogger Says:

    I cannot believe I just read with my own eyes the following statement:

    “[Racism] is a concept which is antithetical to the liberal Western tradition as we in America have followed it.”

    What on Earth are you people taking?

  47. Gourney Detoure Says:

    Sergey this wont affect you but what do you think of Turkey wanting to get into Europe?

    And America wants it to get in there too.

    Also I dont thnk you can equate Musilm conquest period Muslims with todays Muslims, but ofcourse I do not like their religion at all, but I try and fight this. Martin Amis says he thinks Sunnis and Shiites will have a war and then a reformation ….in about 100years…
    Mygod. Also I agree I think immigration should be strictly limited…the short term social incohesion is damaging.
    I dont think Muslims in such numbers were invited were they? to Europe?
    I cant see ethnic cleansing though. The world has changed too much and there would have to be somethign very stupendus for that to occur…like the rise of more Nazis. Which is not probable…but then again, if ethnic tensions rise too high…

    I actually believe in deportations of extremsits to where they hav come from or where they aspire to be. PPl born in that country should be imprisoned once they ahve commited crime.
    Using Cyprus as an example, a policy of deporting troublemakers would not ahve divided the island.

    simplicities we vainly try and predict the future….using the past…which is actually my vocation…

  48. Gourney Detoure Says:

    I must admit Im not an Enoch Powell fan.

    The fear is that if the west secularizes, which it has done, and it ‘invites’ say muslims who effectively dont secularise, but are supposed to…
    And then we have Saudi Arabia in Europe? Russia?

    I really cant see that happening.

  49. Sergey Says:

    Turkey has performed massive ethnic cleansing in its eastern Kurdish provinces during last decade. Hundreds of villages were destroyed to the ground, population flee to mountains or to northern Iraq. Total number or refugees was several hundred thousand. The fact of Armenian genocide in 1915 is still denied in Turkey officially, even mention it in press is a crime by the law, and journalists were imprisoned for this “crime”. If Europe wants such a country became its member, it means even further decline of European standards in human rights. EU every day became more and more totalitarian. People in Germany are imprisoned for home-schooling, according to law established by Nazi in 1938 and still effective. So, good-by, Europe, with Turkey or without. It is not anymore land of free people.

  50. Sergey Says:

    “Also I dont think you can equate Musilm conquest period Muslims with todays Muslims”

    The most striking feature of Islam is its inability and unwillingness to change, to accomodate itself to modernity in any way. Instead, it wants to change any modern country, to accomodate it to its 7-8 century norms. That is the main problem with Muslim immigration in Europe: they do not assimilate, as are supposed to do, instead they colonize Europe, seeing in it their ultimate goal.

  51. Ariel Says:


    I read Soumaya Ghannoushi’s article (lovely, intelligent woman) and it was definately a crock. She certainly confused the religious nature of some of the 20th Century movements. However, in the comments I found a problem, too many believed that Secularism can not, by definition, be dogmatic or have dogma. That is a foolish and dangerous notion.

    Sergey 6:00 AM
    They certainly seem to have that tendency.

  52. Loki Says:

    Magritte wasn’t a racist

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  54. Best tech blog Says:

    Best tech blog…

    [...]neo-neocon » Blog Archive » Non-talking New York Blues[...]…

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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