August 12th, 2017

Leaving the left: Keri Smith, changer

Several readers have suggested that I read this essay by a thoughtful former SJW who has just about had it with what she sees on the left:

I’ve been undergoing a pretty significant change in the way I interpret the world and how to ‘be’ in it…

I see increasing numbers of so-called liberals cheering censorship and defending violence as a response to speech. I see seemingly reasonable people wishing death on others and laughing at escalating suicide and addiction rates of the white working class. I see liberal think pieces written in opposition to expressing empathy or civility in interactions with those with whom we disagree. I see 63 million Trump voters written off as “nazis” who are okay to target with physical violence. I see concepts like equality and justice being used as a mask for resentful, murderous rage.

The most pernicious aspect of this evolution of the left, is how it seems to be changing people, and how rapidly since the election. I have been dwelling on this Nietzsche quote for almost six months now, “He who fights with monsters, should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” How easy is it for ordinary humans to commit atrocious acts? History teaches us it’s pretty damn easy when you are blinded to your own hypocrisy. When you believe you are morally superior, when you have dehumanized those you disagree with, you can justify almost anything. In a particularly vocal part of the left, justification for dehumanizing and committing violence against those on the right has already begun.

I’d like to (belatedly) welcome the author, Keri Smith, to the ranks of political changers. How far she ends up going in the political sense—all the way to the right, part of the way to the right, smack in the middle, or still slightly to the left—is up to her. But I salute her in her journey. I was never as far to the left as she seems to have been, but I recognize the process of suddenly noticing political things one never saw before. It’s a frightening and even shocking and yet exciting and stimulating journey, and I wish her well.

Smith is surprised at what she sees in people on the left, and considers it to be a change since the 2016 election. I would note, however, that it’s only more readily apparent since the election, because what she’s describing is not only something inherent on the left but something basic to humanity. Nietzsche’s words are cautionary for the right, too, in our efforts to fight the forces arrayed against us on the left.

54 Responses to “Leaving the left: Keri Smith, changer”

  1. physicsguy Says:

    I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that most on the left lack a certain element in their moral set. Their supposed empathy is overshadowed by their self-righteousness and sense of overall superiority. At that point, hate and violence become justified in their minds.

    It’s a classic case of Jekyll and Hyde. I know many of these folk in the academy. On a daily basis one would never guess the underlying Hyde nature. They can be friendly, humorous, kind, and generally likable. But once you show them you have a different view of the world, ie conservative, it’s as if they suddenly drank the Hyde potion. The fangs come out, the eyes turn red, and the hate and violence ramps up.

    It has to be either a biological flaw, or some unresolved childhood issue, but it’s truly bizarre in my view.

  2. n.n Says:

    Individual dignity and intrinsic value are useful moral principles or axioms.

    The world’s resources are finitely available and accessible within a limited frame of reference.

    Human life evolves from conception.

    Moral, natural, and personal imperatives. Go forth and reconcile.

    … and don’t conflate logical domains, but rather recognize their intersection.

  3. n.n Says:

    And for the sexually confused or chauvinistic: men and women are equal and complementary. Also, gender refers to masculine and feminine physical and mental characteristics (e.g. orientation) normally distributed with respect to a binary sex.

    Now, then.

    What should be normalized? Does it have a redeeming value to society or humanity?

    What can be tolerated? Can it be reconciled with moral, natural, and personal imperatives?

    What should be rejected? Is it a progressive (i.e. monotonic) or liberal (i.e. divergent) condition?

    That said, the semantics are rational, logical, and proper but they can be gamed.

  4. AesopFan Says:

    Kudos to Keri, and hopes that she will be able to deal with all the hate mail she will now receive in increased quantities.

    I especially liked this part of her post:
    “I believe I finally understand that quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It is not enough to speak about a belief in equality, justice, liberty, tolerance and love if by your actions you are illustrating the opposite by dehumanizing people, calling for their murder, justifying physical violence against them. Your actions speak louder than words.
    What example are we each setting with how we act in the world? …I believe taking on the task of honestly assessing and trying to improve my character, and speaking up for principles of equality, justice, free speech, liberty, peace and love in a WAY that supports those principles rather than increasing resentment, hatred, and murderous rage, is the way to change the world. If that makes me a moron, a naive peacenik, a privileged bigot -a heretic- in your ideology, so be it.”

    Sounds a lot like “do unto others as ye would have others do unto you” —

    physicsguy Says:
    August 12th, 2017 at 3:00 pm
    I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that most on the left lack a certain element in their moral set. Their supposed empathy is overshadowed by their self-righteousness and sense of overall superiority. At that point, hate and violence become justified in their minds.


    It has to be either a biological flaw, or some unresolved childhood issue, but it’s truly bizarre in my view.”

    How about demonic possession? 😉

    The keyword is “supposed” – their version of empathy is rather restricted, and the only feelings they consider to be valid are their own.

    Check out Scott Peck’s book on evil “People of the Lie” — in which the key indicator of bad people is their masquerading as righteous. I don’t agree with everything Peck writes, but this struck me as very perceptive when I read it some years ago.

    How many of these qualities do we see now on the Militant Left and the SJW brigades?

    “According to Peck an evil person:[9][10]
    Is consistently self-deceiving, with the intent of avoiding guilt and maintaining a self-image of perfection
    Deceives others as a consequence of their own self-deception
    Projects his or her evils and sins onto very specific targets (scapegoats) while being apparently normal with everyone else (“their insensitivity toward him was selective” (Peck, 1983/1988, p 105[10]))
    Commonly hates with the pretense of love, for the purposes of self-deception as much as deception of others
    Abuses political (emotional) power (“the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion” (Peck, 1978/1992, p298[9]))
    Maintains a high level of respectability, and lies incessantly in order to do so
    Is consistent in his or her sins. Evil persons are characterized not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency (of destructiveness)
    Is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim (scapegoat)
    Has a covert intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury
    Most evil people realize the evil deep within themselves but are unable to tolerate the pain of introspection, or admit to themselves that they are evil. Thus, they constantly run away from their evil by putting themselves in a position of moral superiority and putting the focus of evil on others.”

  5. ed in texas Says:

    PC in all it’s variants can best be defined as “the difference between what you see and what you are told you are seeing”.
    Bear in mind that the Nazis, to use the most hated example, did not exist as a group to promote evil. They believed that what they were doing was for the greater good. The problem was the lie that it all balanced on.

  6. n.n Says:

    The American “right”, “center”, really, can be characterized the philosophy and principles that they represent, “the content of their character”, which are expressed in the American charter: The Declaration of Independence and the American organization: The Constitution. Note that neither document discriminates by race or sex: “color of skin”. Neither document recognizes a right to abort life deemed inconvenient, unwanted, or otherwise unworthy. The former recognizes unalienable rights, God-given rights, and the latter is written for two parties: the People and our Posterity.

  7. John F. MacMichael Says:

    One sentence in the quotation above that caught my attention:

    “When you believe you are morally superior, when you have dehumanized those you disagree with, you can justify almost anything.”

    I disagree with this just slightly. The word “…almost…” should be dropped. I have studied history for a good few years now and one thing that it has taught me is that any horror that the mind of man can conceive has, at some time, been inflicted on some people by others enthusiastically and on as large a scale as the perpetrators could manage.

  8. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    When I think of a changer on the left, I am reminded of a picture I saw long ago. It was a very large crowd of kneeling, praying Iranian Muslims with their foreheads in sync touching the ground in an outdoor plaza. At that moment, ONE solitary boy had raised his head and was looking around.

    “Smith is surprised at what she sees in people on the left, and considers it to be a change since the 2016 election.”

    Clearly, she’s forgotten the left’s “Bush Hitler” meme and it’s virulent hate-filled demonization of Dick Chaney and the neocons.

    Our memories can be quite selective, when we don’t want to face certain truths.

    “Nietzsche’s words are cautionary for the right, too, in our efforts to fight the forces arrayed against us on the left.”

    Yes, though there is a fundamental factor to be considered when comparing the susceptibility of the right to the susceptibility of the left to Nietzsche’s cautionary words.

    Just as Christianity’s basic tenets are opposed to extreme violence, whereas Islam’s basic tenets support extreme violence… so too with the right and left.

    The right holds to the founder’s principles which hold inviolate the individual’s liberty to believe as they will and to freely express those beliefs. Whereas the left holds to Marxism’s denial of individual liberty and free speech. Nothing on the left adheres to classical liberalism’s principled; “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

  9. Tim Turner Says:

    I think Robin Koerner deals with this well in his book (If You Can Keep It), which I’ve recommended here before, about political paradigms.

    I’ve seen a few comments leaning toward the “liberals are inherently inferior” point of view here. Or “liberals lack something we don’t”. As a libertarian, I assure you that these things exist on the right too, but just as liberals selectively filter them out, so does everybody.

    Don’t conservatives bash dissenters who stand out, like RINOs? And I’ve heard some of my conservative friends gloating over the coming “Second Revolutionary”. It is easy to dismiss these as outliers and rare examples, which is what the average Lefty does.

    In our own political movement, we filter out the crazy people, and assume that everyone else thinks like we do. In the opposing political movement, we focus on the worst examples and assume that everyone in that movement thinks like them.

    We look on the other side as corrupt, instead of misinformed, and use that as justification to escalate hatred an animosity. Because clearly there is something wrong with them. Every injury they commit against us is a sin, and every injury we commit against them is justice.

    We must always examine ourselves and make sure we live up to our consciences.

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Tim,

    I agree that we should all attempt to live up to the highest moral standards.

    I disagree with your rhetorical question, “Don’t conservatives bash dissenters who stand out, like RINOs?” We bash RINOs because of their deceit. Their behavior after they are elected betrays what they claimed to stand for before they were elected and then, when running for reelection they compound the deceit by twisting what they did or failed to do to cover up that betrayal.

    “In the opposing political movement, we focus on the worst examples and assume that everyone in that movement thinks like them.”

    No, we focus on the utter lack of criticism on the left for the worst examples. We focus upon the left’s deceit, lies and hypocrisy that liberals ignore.

    When the norm on one side is to dismiss principled, factual, rational disagreement and label that disagreement as motivated by racism, sexism, homophobia, fascism and other forms of evil, so as not to have to confront contrary facts and reasoned disagreement… then we can safely assume that everyone in that movement either thinks exactly like that or condones it.

    Clearly, there is something wrong with people whose position rests first upon denial of reality.

    As to disagree with Maggie Thatcher’s aphorism; “The facts of life are conservative” is to reject foundational aspects of both human nature and the external reality within which we all exist.

    And no, they’re not insane, they’re ‘UNsane”.

    The Google employee just fired is a perfect example of this. Reportedly, most Google employees disagree with his being fired. But there have been NO mass protests of his firing. Whereas, had Google stood up for his right to criticize, there would have been a firestorm.

  11. Ann Says:

    Keri Smith had a leg-up in the change direction that probably hasn’t been available to most SJWs:

    My dad was Army, so I grew up shooting. In the south everybody shoots. In LA I went to a couple of firearms classes and met some shooters out here and my friend, Paula, opened up a Girl’s Gun Club a few years ago so I went and got my NRA handgun instructor license to help her out once a month. It’s all women, all female instructors. If you’re a woman and you want to learn how to shoot this is the best place to do it. I’ve taken all types of people with all types of skills levels there.

  12. Ruth H Says:

    I see the Jekyll and Hyde in my life. I have a sweet, loving, caring daughter in law. A rabid liberal. When Trump was elected she all but called me a hater- on Facebook.

    She doesn’t realize it but I have caused her to temper that somewhat, to where when we discuss something online she tempers her reaction with a little bit of reason.

    In person she is reasonable and loving. I have no reason to think she doesn’t actually love me, and she has told me so. She also respects me. Just not my conservatism.

  13. Tim Turner Says:

    Geoffrey,

    To be clear, I am not proposing any such nonsense as “there’s some truth to both sides”. Clearly, there are facts, and there are things which are not facts.

    Clearly, there is something wrong with people whose position rests first upon denial of reality.

    Yes. The difficulty is that everyone sees themselves as the protagonist and the narrator of their own world. We trust our own judgement. So when someone presents facts that contradict our judgement, we make excuses “it’s only a partial telling of the facts”, “that’s a lie”, “they have an ulterior motive”, “there are facts which counter that, so I can ignore it”. Our brains filter out facts we don’t accept. And everybody’s brain does this: it’s how brains work in order to save processing power and prevent infinite recursion. Brains are pattern recognition machines that suffer cognitive dissonance when presented with a fact that doesn’t match the pattern. When we find excuses that justify our position, it’s like solving a puzzle and our brains get a dopamine hit as a reward.

    This is one of the reason’s I’m so fascinated by Neo’s story because it’s a very narrow and very rare window in which a mind is really ready to challenge it’s existing paradigm/pattern. The key to understanding truth is to understand that one must always challenge one’s premises.

    I don’t look at our liberal friends as willingly blind. Certainly some are. But most of them are operating under a mental pattern which is simply incorrect. When Neo was a democrat, her first position wasn’t to deny reality” per se. Her brain was working under certain assumptions that were never challenged, and so her brain accepted certain facts and rejected others, as all brains do.

    Only when she came to see the pattern itself as flawed did she gather facts to correct it without pre-filtering them. The reason I value her opinion is not because she’s another conservative voice spouting the same thing everyone else does, but because she questions paradigms. It is good to have one’s paradigms challenged.

    This is simply how brains work, and the cost of truth is eternal vigilance against sloppy thinking. We can never assume we are right: we must know.

    I know that I’m talking to someone (even myself) who does not have a fact-based opinion when they begin presenting slogans exclaiming the certainty of their truthfulness. Shouting makes neither facts nor lies more true.

  14. huxley Says:

    Once upon a time the choice was between Bull Connor and Martin Luther King. Liberals got that one right and they’ve dining out on the moral high ground ever since.

    But as the yin-yang symbol and the Tao Te Ching tell us, everything contains the seeds of its opposite.

    Liberals became the bigots they warned us against.

    And I have no doubt Trump and his fervent supporters would do the same in less time if they were in serious power long enough.

  15. jon baker Says:

    A related tale from a Christian SJW type: “…I read the postmodern and liberationist Christian literature and theology that called out American “empire” and deconstructed our economic systems, military involvement, and law. I felt so liberated and radical as a twenty-year-old theology student attending a private Christian college. I knew exactly who the “oppressed” and the “oppressors” were in our culture; and as a follower of Jesus, I was required to protect the former and prophetically denounce the latter.
    I now look back on that period of my life with a little bit of embarrassment over how simplistically I viewed the world….” http://www.missioalliance.org/when-the-oppressoroppressed-mentality-undermines-the-gospel/

  16. Frog Says:

    Nietzsche’s cautionary quote must be disregarded at this time. Caution wins few battles to the death. The American Revolution is a prime example.
    We are in a fight to victory or death, right here at home, in the greatest governing structure ever created in the sight of God, the US Constitution. It is no time to be cautious in seeking its salvation and preservation from the wolves of the Left.

  17. Tim Turner Says:

    Frog,

    Do you literally believe that we are in a fight to the death?

    Literally? Because literally is what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia today.

    If this country is to avoid breakdown into literal violence then the rhetoric must be restrained. It does not mean you must concede anything. Just don’t spit in another man’s face and tell him you’re literally going to kill him.

  18. Tim Turner Says:

    Oi, do people read nothing of history?

    One man insults another.
    Then the other man threatens him with death.
    Then the first, out of anger, kills the later.
    The the son of the second kills the first man.

    500 years later you’ve got a bloody war that everyone thinks the other guy started it.

    If you want to be left alone then you must demonstrate that you are willing to leave alone.

  19. Shilpa Says:

    I see the hyde and joolie in my life. I have a sweet, cherishing, mindful girl in law. A frenzied liberal. At the point when Trump was chosen she everything except called me a hater-on Facebook.
    She doesn’t understand it yet I have made her temper that to some degree, to where when we talk about something on the web she tempers her response with a smidgen of reason.
    In person she is sensible and cherishing. I have no motivation to think she doesn’t really cherish me, and she has disclosed to me so. She additionally regards me. Just not my conservatism.

  20. Cap'n Rusty Says:

    Tim Turner:

    We don’t know what happened in Charlottesville yesterday. We may discover that what happened is the same thing that has happened in other Leftist enclaves. A Conservative group gets a permit to exercise its 1st Amendment rights to publicly state its positions and principles. A far Left group organizes to violently disrupt the event. When the Leftists take action, the local police step back. Chaos results, and now, death. Then the media blames the Conservatives.

    It’s just like the colleges that cancel Conservative speakers due to “potential violence.” Oh, it’s not that the Conservatives will institute violence, it’s that the Leftists will violently disrupt the Conservative trying to speak.

    And we don’t want anybody to get hurt, do we?

  21. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I don’t recall a “What is this country coming to?” lament after the attempted assassination of the congressmen. Certainly not from the left.
    But, anyway, if this guy did it on purpose, it’s just him, not all white people. As somebody said, it works for Muslims.
    And, for the matter of the case, according to reports he hit a vehicle which hit another vehicle. You’d think if he’d wanted to hit a crowd he could have avoided hitting a vehicle. And trying to cause a chain-reaction rear ending has too many chances of not hitting people to recommend itself as a tactic.
    And unless the vehicle he hit had, say, Obama bumper stickers, he’d have no way of knowing which side of the argument, presuming any side at all, the riders took.
    So we’ll see.

  22. Frog Says:

    Tim Turner: We are in a battle to the death, but 99% of us do not see that.
    When a peaceful group chanting “White Lives Matter” is countered with violent counter-“protests”,the WLM group is denounced by media and politicians of both sides as white nationalists, white supremacists. Alinsky would be proud.
    What did the Right do about the preceding and often disruptive, sometimes criminally so, “Black Lives Matter”? Nothing. The response of “All Lives Matter” got little traction in our increasing shift to permitting Leftist totalitarianism. “Blue Lives Matter” got little respect and attention from the Left.

    When two black females stormed the stage and took the mike away from Bernie Sanders, a Leftist candidate for the Presidency, what did he or his ‘security’ guards do ? Nothing.

    Parenthetically, my 25 year-old stepdaughter who went to Santa Clara University for a $250K bachelor’s degree, and remains in CA, unable to support herself, told me yesterday she (white) only dates Asian men, has no interest in white guys. That is the result of prolonged, costly anti-white brainwashing. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’s the hairless bodies, but she has never ever had a date with a white, and it smells like bigotry.

    If you cannot see a parallel here to Venezuela’s descent into Hell, you are not adequately assessing the situation, pretending ‘this too shall pass’. We have tolerated a flood of non-white migrants from Latin America and, indeed, Africa and the ME. The libertarian in you is way too tolerant of excesses, and one day you will wake up saying, “What happened? Where did my country and its Constitution go? I’m white but I am not evil!”

  23. DNW Says:

    The great liberal mind mystery is from my point of view, is how they get from, Evolutionary-relativism-fact/value dichotomy point A; to moral-indignation-predictated-on-categorical-imperatives point B.

    One would think, that consistent with their ontology, anthropology, and general worldview, that they would simply give up talking as if humanity were one, and that there was some species generated obligation for x population to interface with y population, or involve itself in anyway be it to help or hurt.

    But as we see, liberals, having largely dumped the very notion of rationality and reason as the arbiters of human value questions, have chose to act on – or for the satisfaction of – their subjective emotional states.

    Hence the fraudulent generation of supposedly objective moral “values” or aims such as “inclusion”, “welcome”, “identification” and so forth.

    Why those “values”; based on what universal anthropology; and inferred from what demonstrable teleology? Why, from and on none of course.

    It’s about their “feelings” … to put it in terms of that tritest yet truest criticism of modern liberals for generations now.

    They argue, or declaim, in the name of a universal mankind, the existence of which is denied by the consequences of their very own metaphysics.

    Is it any wonder that they seem insane to those on the outside?

  24. Ira Says:

    Great article on free speech by Niall Ferguson here that also describes what Keri Smith has come to realize:

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/08/07/the-biggest-threat-free-speech-the-left/QeNyES0rXB3bdWR8rjHKTI/story.html

    Here are two excerpts:

    With few exceptions, American conservatives respect the Constitution. The modern American left, by contrast, thirsts to get rid of one of the most fundamental protections that the Constitution enshrines: free speech. If you want to see where that freedom is currently under attack in the United States, accompany me to some institutions where you might expect free expression to be revered.

    And,

    Freedom is rarely killed off by people chanting “Down with Freedom!” It is killed off by people claiming that the greater good/the general will/the community/the proletariat requires “examination of the parameters” (or some such cant phrase) of individual liberty. If the criterion for censorship is that nobody’s feelings can be hurt, we are finished as a free society.

    Of course, read the whole thing.

  25. Ray Says:

    “Once upon a time the choice was between Bull Connor and Martin Luther King.”
    To point out the obvious, Bull Connor was a democrat and Martin Luther King was a republican. James Earl Ray, the person that murdered MLK was a democrat.

  26. huxley Says:

    To point out the obvious, Bull Connor was a democrat and Martin Luther King was a republican. James Earl Ray, the person that murdered MLK was a democrat.

    Ray: To point out the even more obvious, the people marching with Martin Luther King were overwhelmingly liberal.

    Back then the Democrat/Republican labels didn’t map neatly onto the civil rights movement and the national parties hadn’t shaken out to the level of polarization we see today.

    Furthermore, MLK, like most black leaders of the civil rights movement, was trained at hard left Highlander Center, whose co-founder, Donald West, was identified by the FBI as a leader in the North Carolina Communist Party.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highlander_Research_and_Education_Center

  27. DNW Says:

    I found the linked material fascinating. Some folks here might find it at least interesting.

    https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/en/heartfield-james.htm

    It’s a short read and presented by and large as “food for thought”, regarding an aspect of our descent into the hell of postmodernism that we usually don’t mention. Unless, of course, one is ranting as I sometimes do about the entailed disappearance of the coherent agent and its replacement by a shifting locus of appetite as a result of postmodern theory. This is of course a disappearance which gives the voices clamoring for satisfaction a not quite real status under their own system of interpretation.

    Some other interesting themes are touched on here, especially in light of Neo’s past review of attacks on autonomy. They were apparently “prudential” – you don’t really know what is best for you; these attacks are metaphysical – you don’t really exist as autonomous, and to try to is [in a remarkable dialectical tour de force] an expression of “FASCISM” per se.

    Though by a Marxist, and despite a couple of apparent typos, it makes for an interesting critique. The basic premise is that once the “objective” succumbs to deconstruction, so too must the polar opposite, “the subject”; and that that implies the end of a so-called humanist Marxism.

    The initial and readily apparent descent into radical subjectivity which resulted from the rejection of the objective, eventually entails the disappearance of the autonomous subject, as well

    Excerpt:

    In this reading, women’s liberation is an ‘exclusionary practice’ because it implies a Subject, women, of liberation, excluding the possibility of a non-subjectively grounded feminism. ‘What sense does it make to extend representation to Subjects who are constructed through the exclusion of those who fail to conform to unspoken normative requirements of the Subject?…The identity of the feminist subject ought not to be the foundation of feminist politics.’[36] Butler means that a movement that sees women as Subjects reproduces the basic structure of the society that it is challenging. Feminism for Butler advances a critique of the Subject per se, not simply a reformist demand for the extension of the ‘normative requirements of the Subject’ to encompass women. The implication is clear: it is not the male monopoly over the rights of the Subject that is at fault, but the very ‘ideal of autonomy’ itself. Women in adapting the mantle of Subject, conform to these unspoken, normative requirements. At this point one has to wonder whether Butler is carried away with her own dialectical skills. What began as a criticism of the monopoly over freedom exercised by men has turned, paradoxically, into a criticism of freedom as such.

  28. Ann Says:

    “A Conservative group gets a permit to exercise its 1st Amendment rights to publicly state its positions and principles.”

    Whoa there — chants of “blood and soil” now count as “conservative”?

  29. ColoComment Says:

    https://www.villagevoice.com/2008/03/11/david-mamet-why-i-am-no-longer-a-brain-dead-liberal/

    https://youtu.be/T4q0_M252lQ

    David Mamet, on his conversion to conservatism. Unfortunately, I believe that you have to have an inquiring mind, open to ideas and reconsideration of priors, before this can happen.
    I suspect that the pitchforks and torches protest/counter-protest mobs have a long way to go to reach that threshold.
    …but perhaps I misjudge them?

  30. huxley Says:

    Unfortunately, I believe that you have to have an inquiring mind, open to ideas and reconsideration of priors, before this can happen.

    ColoComment: Once upon a time such openness was an essential feature of liberalism.

    In the sixties that changed, as the hard-core anti-war and black power activists shamed liberals so hard that “liberal” became a term of abuse.

    Phil Ochs “Love Me, I’m a Liberal”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

    Even today few Americans will self-identify as liberals, preferring to call themselves Democrats, progressives, leftists or even socialists.

    On the right we call them liberals as an umbrella term, though it’s not particularly accurate in the historical context of liberalism going back to the Enlightenment.

    Sometimes I still call myself a liberal. When I changed to the right, I did so because of my liberal commitment to open-minded inquiry.

  31. John Guilfoyle Says:

    “Whoa there — chants of “blood and soil” now count as “conservative”?”

    Ann…I get your point but it is irrelevant. Who cares if they are conservative or pastafarian? It matters not.

    If a group cannot exercise their 1st A rights without being attacked by a mob while the cops are told to stand down (as the ACLU charges happened in Charlottesville) then we are far closer to what Frog rightly describes. Not a cold civil war, but the first stages of a hot one.

    This is the bitter fruit of 8 years of O blessing the violence of the left & putting the screws on the right and the faux-conservatives doing nothing at nearly every turn. And it’s not going to be pretty & it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

  32. Frog Says:

    Chants of “blood and soil” were alleged but i’ve not heard them in any actual videos, only in the “reports” by journalists. Can anyone cite the use of “Blut und Erde” in the Nazi era?
    I have actually not seen any evidence this was a demonstration by “white nationalists” either. Is the lesion in the “white” (as opposed to the black) or in the “nationalists” (as opposed to globalists, I presume).
    Far less have I seen any evidence the demonstrators were “white supremacists”. Though I will rapidly agree that Western, i.e. white, civilization was a great common worldwide good these last 500 years or so. I defy you to show a similar example anywhere else on the planet these last two millenia or so. And please don’t try to tell us the Arabs developed calculus!

  33. Ann Says:

    The “blood and soil” chanting is on video here.

  34. GRA Says:

    @ John: Remember that the standing down of the cops has been done before. It happened at DePaul with Milo Yiannopoulos. It happened at Berkeley. I believe it also happened at several Trump rallies during the election last year. The motivation for this was to make the opposition aka the right, to feel intimidated. The way the Berkeley riots were covered was that subtle glee and support by the MSM. They, in the end, supported it, even it meant destruction of public property – that’s okay, they’ll just use tax payers’ money for repairs.

    When Trump supporters were beaten during elections and after the media were mostly ignoring it, but if they did cover it they framed it in a way where the anti-Trump bullies were provoked by Trump’s meanness and inhumane stances. This at least fueled the narrative that Trump was creating racial discord; the minorities he angered had a right to react the way they did.

    Remember the mentally handicapped kid that was taken hostage and beaten by a bunch of black teenagers? It got to the media but it wasn’t nearly a national story like Charleston.

    How about the cops that were sniped at in Dallas? Yea, national news but it wasn’t nearly a second 9/11 like the way Charleston is being treated. Again, the media tried to frame it that blacks had enough of racists cops (because, ya know muh history of oppression and what not) and golly the guy was just expressing his frustrations. Tragedy nonetheless says the media.

    The shooting of Congressmen playing baseball in D.C.? The media tried real hard to make it a stalemate for both sides.

    So now we’re at Charleston. Two opposing groups. Cops were ordered to stand down. The probability of someone getting injured or killed is very likely. It happened. In the eyes of the media this is a relief – they needed some major ammo. The guy who drove his car into the anti-protestors was white. Excellent. The woman who died was white. Eh, preferred a black person but we’ll take it, says the media.

    The narratives of the left are ready to be set in motion. They want their narratives to be set in motion. They just need to find a potential crisis, let the crisis develop and once that narrative becomes a reality they just need to find their actors. And boom. A living narrative come alive.

  35. Sean Says:

    Tim,

    Literally? Because literally is what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia today.

    If this country is to avoid breakdown into literal violence then the rhetoric must be restrained. It does not mean you must concede anything. Just don’t spit in another man’s face and tell him you’re literally going to kill him.

    Your side is the one dehumanizing others by calling them Nazis and white supremacists, then justifying violence against them. Why are you talking to us about this when it’s your side committing all the violence? Go talk to them.

  36. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Calling one’s political opponents “nazis” or “fascists”, among other things, minimizes the Holocaust.
    Those who minimize the Holocaust are morally inferior to that which flows out of the barn when the cattle have the bloody flux.
    “left” isn’t just a matter of political views. It’s a matter of self-importance due to one’s positions. One is superior by virtue of the “correct” positions. Since the individual’s self image is based on having the correct positions, contradicting the positions are not merely a discussion but an attack on a pillar of the leftist’s personality and must be counter attacked by any means necessary.

  37. J.J. Says:

    There are several parts to the issue of changing one’s mind.

    There are two kinds of knowledge. The first is scientific/mathematic knowledge. The facts are rigorously arrived at through theory, experimentation, proof, and further proof through duplication. Even then, the facts or truths are open to being disproved by new information, experimentation, and replication. By and large, unless theories with insufficient proof are advanced as truths (Such as CAGW), these facts are well known and widely accepted until new proofs arise.

    Then there are the social sciences. Under this category comes any subject that applies to the relationships between humans. Government, politics, economics, law, marketing, management, military ops, religion, and more. We have history and past cultures as a general guide as to what works and what doesn’t, but there are no hard facts and proofs as in science and math. Therefore, people are often in possession of differing “facts.” Often the “facts” as observed by one person are different than those observed by another. These differences have led to much violence and misery throughout history.

    The study of history, politics, law, management, and more points us toward those relationships that have worked well. Our Founders tried to construct a government that built on what they saw as the successes of the past and a government that took into account the weaknesses and foibles of humans. Men such as Thomas Sowell have tried to further educate people about the social sciences and what seems to work best. Unfortunately, many people have never been exposed to conservative ideas or tried to sit down and ask themselves why they believe what they do.

    Then there is the matter of open/closed mindedness. Open/closed mindedness is one of the major traits of personality. Some researchers, such as Steven Pinker, believe it’s a genetic trait and doesn’t change that much over a person’s life. If that’s true, then the schooling of a person with a closed mind is likely to shape their beliefs for their whole life. Close minded people steeped in progressive politics as young people will not recognize new information as being something to take notice of. Only those with open mindedness as their inherent nature are likely to take note of new information and see differences between what they believed and what is actually happening. They are the only ones who are likely to be changers. That’s one reason why it seems so hard to “reason” with a progressive. They are not likely to change unless they are inherently open minded.

    I believe Marx and the Communists have believed/sensed this and it is a major reason they have worked so hard to take over academia. Does that mean all hope is lost? That we are inevitably headed for a hot civil war? I don’t know. I do know I’m not going to foment one by my actions. Stay calm , be nice, be polite, but be ready for the worst.

    Well, that’s my two cents worth. And probably not worth two cents. 🙂

  38. huxley Says:

    Then there is the matter of open/closed mindedness. Open/closed mindedness is one of the major traits of personality. Some researchers, such as Steven Pinker, believe it’s a genetic trait and doesn’t change that much over a person’s life. If that’s true, then the schooling of a person with a closed mind is likely to shape their beliefs for their whole life.

    J.J.: I enjoyed your two cents. I wonder how the sixties generation turned out so rebellious.

    Granted not every boomer turned on, tuned in and dropped out, or however that might be formulated, but quite a lot of us did in spite off a steady diet of Mom, Apple Pie and 4th of July in our formative years.

    I thought it was the natural idealism and rebelliousness of youth. I figured today’s kids would reject whatever their teachers were feeding them. But they haven’t.

    So I’m puzzled by today’s generation who seem more comparable to Mao’s Red Guard than any other American generation I can think of.

  39. huxley Says:

    The character Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird” is my touchstone for the Good Liberal. Even better as portrayed by Gregory Peck in the film.

    Atticus was strong, open-minded, moral and generous.

    That’s not who we are fighting today.

  40. DNW Says:

    “Granted not every boomer turned on, tuned in and dropped out, or however that might be formulated, but quite a lot of us did in spite off a steady diet of Mom, Apple Pie and 4th of July in our formative years.”

    Do you now understand your own motivations and actions at that time?

  41. DNW Says:

    @ Huxley,

    If you do understand your own motivations at the time, and if you can explain them in terms of your then assumed moral anthropology ( I assume you were a college or grad student at the time) ; the, it is quite possible that I have been pointlessly hectoring Neo to rummage her childhood memory banks for clues as to what her leftist/progressive/Marxist relatives really thought; when I can have a first hand account from you. LOL

    What was your thought out position at that time. What were the predicates of your justification?

  42. huxley Says:

    DNW: It’s hard to answer in a screenful of a text.

    My positions then weren’t particularly thought-out. It was more my impression that all the cool people — my father, uncle, friends, the Beatles, Aldous Huxley, Bertrand Russell, J.D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut (I read a lot even as a kid) — were on one side and the uncool — George Wallace, Nixon, just about all my parochial school teachers — were on the other.

    Which sounds juvenile, but hey! I was.

    Issues like civil rights, nuclear weapons, poverty and war were important to me and it seemed conservatives consistently got those concerns wrong or slow. If conservatives were doing any open-minded thinking I sure couldn’t tell. Most straight adults seemed confused, harried and unhappy — not the role models I wanted.

    Then there was feeling part of a movement which was intoxicating.

    I think much of the flag-waving, all-American stuff boomeranged for people like me because we believed it fervently when we were seven years-old but later we saw the gaps between American ideals and American reality and took it too hard.

  43. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I think much of the flag-waving, all-American stuff boomeranged for people like me because we believed it fervently when we were seven years-old but later we saw the gaps between American ideals and American reality and took it too hard.

    Yeah, that’s the easiest argument. Pretend that somebody said America is perfect and find a shortfall from perfection and….see, America isn’t perfect after all, you patriot redneck, it’s awful.

  44. huxley Says:

    And that’s pretty easy snark.

    I don’t remember anyone saying America was perfect, but I sure heard a lot of cloying American exceptionalism. That was not my imagination.

    It remains a fact America doesn’t live up to that, at least not entirely.

    I’m older now and have a broader historical context in which I see America has its faults and America is an exceptional country.

  45. Richard Aubrey Says:

    huxley.
    It’s not that anybody said America was perfect. It’s that the Zinnites pretended somebody did, or that a bunch of redneck, undereducated, overindoctrinated numbskulls said so and thought so.
    it was delicious to be able to show how stupid they were by pointing out that, for example, Washington owned slaves.
    Lots of people bought that and brought it to the sophomore bull sessions, or the junior history classes as if it were God’s honest truth and deeper than the Marianas Trench.

  46. huxley Says:

    RA: I don’t think you’re reading my comments carefully.

  47. J.J. Says:

    Huxley: “Granted not every boomer turned on, tuned in and dropped out, or however that might be formulated, but quite a lot of us did in spite off a steady diet of Mom, Apple Pie and 4th of July in our formative years.”

    I graduated college in 1954. Spent the next 13 years as a Navy pilot. My last assignment was recruiting Naval Aviation Candidates from northern California colleges. It was as if I had been asleep for 12 years and awakened in a new, strange country. Having “Better Red Than Dead” or “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh” chanted in my face by fellow citizens was like being doused with a bucket of ice water. How did my country change so quickly? The civics and American history lessons were apparently being drowned out by the counter culture. Who cared about patriotism when you could feel smarter than your parents and be cool. Rejection of the values that allowed the U.S. to win WWII were proceeding at an astounding pace. The few students that would talk with me quoted their Profs as sources for their knowledge that the Viet Cong were “agrarian reformers,” that the U.S. was after Vietnam’s oil, that Ho Chi Minh was a great democratic reformer, etc. Maybe you didn’t have any such profs, but most California schools were loaded with them. Additionally, drugs and sex seemed to be an irresistible draw to bring people into the anti-American movement.

    Many young people jumped into the movement with glee. Maybe you were one of them. Those who were inherently open minded eventually moved out. Like Neo, like Vanderleun, like Bookworm, like Michael Medved, and many more.

  48. Tim Turner Says:

    Your side is the one dehumanizing others by calling them Nazis

    lol! Sean, do you think I’m a democrat?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not offended or angry because I know (more or less) what you see.

    You assumed I was a mindless Democrat because I positioned myself as not “one of the flock” and challenged the “All Democrats are Evil, all Republicans are Saints” posts above.

    This is the kind of us-versus-them thinking that I’m pointing out. You are assuming because I’m critiquing certain behaviors on “your side” (our side?) – which both sides are exhibiting right now, that I’m negative or hostile. Far be it.

    My point is that “us” and “them” are not homogeneous binary sides. That hostile words polarize and drive reasonable people to unreasonable positions.

    You’ve accused me of supporting violence, when in fact my literal words are denouncing and challenging violence. Because you assumed that my critique of strategy was a denouncement of principle.

    As an open-minded conservative, what would be your response if you went to a liberal blog and were treated like that? Wouldn’t you naturally assume that all liberals are angry and unwelcoming people? Assuming that I were an open-minded liberal and was coming here to, say, get the other side of the story – what would be my natural response to such an attack?

  49. Sean Says:

    lol! Sean, do you think I’m a democrat?

    Uh, yeah? Or did I miss something? Because you seem to be including yourself when you talk about Dems here.

    You assumed I was a mindless Democrat because I positioned myself as not “one of the flock” and challenged the “All Democrats are Evil, all Republicans are Saints” posts above.
    This is the kind of us-versus-them thinking that I’m pointing out. You are assuming because I’m critiquing certain behaviors on “your side” (our side?) – which both sides are exhibiting right now, that I’m negative or hostile. Far be it.

    Well, no. What I said was that your side, the Left, is the one demonizing us in order to justify committing violence against us. We haven’t been doing that to them, though that’s starting to change.

    My point is that “us” and “them” are not homogeneous binary sides. That hostile words polarize and drive reasonable people to unreasonable positions.

    Sure, and “us” and “them” eventually become rigid and then fracture.

    You’ve accused me of supporting violence, when in fact my literal words are denouncing and challenging violence. Because you assumed that my critique of strategy was a denouncement of principle.

    No, I said you need to be giving your spiel to the other side, not us.

    As an open-minded conservative, what would be your response if you went to a liberal blog and were treated like that? Wouldn’t you naturally assume that all liberals are angry and unwelcoming people?

    Yes and that would just confirm what I already knew about them. I’ve hung out on liberal blogs, been the token conservative, etc. Plenty of my friends and family are liberal.

    Assuming that I were an open-minded liberal and was coming here to, say, get the other side of the story – what would be my natural response to such an attack?

    It’s funny. ‘Somebody’ came here a while back, being the friendly liberal guy, open-minded and chipper. Within a couple of days, he was trying to neo to ban me for being a Nazi. Iow, the scenario you came up with has already been tried here, and we see how it turns out.

  50. Tim Turner Says:

    Suit yourself.

  51. Tim Turner Says:

    That should be read with a heavy dose of sarcasm and irony.

  52. DNW Says:

    J.J. Says:
    August 14th, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Huxley: “Granted not every boomer turned on, tuned in and dropped out, or however that might be formulated, but quite a lot of us did in spite off a steady diet of Mom, Apple Pie and 4th of July in our formative years.”

    I graduated college in 1954. Spent the next 13 years as a Navy pilot. My last assignment was recruiting Naval Aviation Candidates from northern California colleges. It was as if I had been asleep for 12 years and awakened in a new, strange country. Having “Better Red Than Dead” or “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh” chanted in my face by fellow citizens was like being doused with a bucket of ice water. How did my country change so quickly? …”

    I’ve been trying to think of how the process which you describe came about, and it may take someone older than Huxley or I, or a bit younger than you, to do so convincingly.

    To some extent I think it was part of that “ruthless criticism of everything” tactic meeting the ideal conditions of a boring and somewhat dysfunctional prosperity.

    How was it that what was objectively speaking nonetheless one of civilization’s high points became the object of such general suspicion and scorn?

    In part, some of the more Joan Baez-ian Ticky-Tack criticisms may have been justified. AM radio played a relentless string of corruptly formulated top 40 hits. The choice of “wingtip or penny loafers?” was taken as a serious social statement. Wiki refreshes a 4 year old’s memory by reminding us that the television line-up was 7 or 8 Warner Brothers back lot set cowboy shows recycling each others scripts, and how many ever Surfside-Sixy Hawaiian Eye detective shows.

    Take something semi-worthwhile, fetishize it, and then flog both it and the society at large to death with it.

    Everyone, other than guffawing prematurely pot-bellied morons sexually fixated on their 57 Chevy’s, was sick of the ritual culture. Everybody wanted not to breathe Pittsburgh’s air. It was not a big step to convincing young would-be sophisticates that Capitalism was itself responsibility for the relentless commodification of everything, everyone, and every idea.

    The beauty of a leafy suburb could become a deadly boring sterility in the noonday sun for a housewife at loose ends.

    Kurt Vonnegut’s cynical nihilism looked like genius.

    I’m pretty sure that the relative explosion in the popularity of country music among certain elements of the population was just one of the avenues which some selected to temporarily escape from the ‘machine’, as it was described at the time.

    A world of suburban brick ranch houses, growing families, and jobs for the taking, looks pretty good from down in the social justice neurosis hell-hole into which solidarity pimping sensitives and mentally ill political activists have dragged us. But while the material goods were in fact good, there was lots wrong with the common currency of the mass culture of the time.

    Jack L Warner and Lyndon Johnson on the one hand, or Obama and commissar Lena Dunham on the other.

    There has to be another life-way alternative. And there obviously is. But maybe not in a ‘that’s how we care for each other’ asylum that includes them in, or takes them seriously as political and moral peers.

  53. Jamie Says:

    Pace Sean – Tim Turner, I saw what you were talking about. The evergreen problem with adopting Alinsky tactics is that they change you. If we conservatives, classical liberals, Republicans, libertarians, neocons, or however each of us styles ourselves stop thinking about why we believe what we believe, and just shout bumper stickers at our opponents, then we lose something of ourselves.

    We are what we are because we believe our way works the best for the most people – because we observe the fruits of “progressive” policies and see that they have victims more often than they have beneficiaries – but also, and more fundamentally, because we start from a position of respect for the individual and believe that all else should flow from that respect. When we succumb to the tactics of identity group grievance because they’re more satisfying, because the other side “deserves it,” or even because those tactics seem to be working for the other side… it’s risky. That’s all. We might choose to do it anyway but we shouldn’t do it with our eyes closed.

  54. J.J. Says:

    DNW, a thoughtful comment.

    Yes, 50s culture was not hip. I spent most of my time while in college studying, working odd jobs, being on the ski team, and chasing girls. We had a couple of leftist agitators on campus. One, Mary Frances Berry, went on to a long career of SJW activities and is still a darling of the left. I was too busy to pay much attention. I remember it as a delightful time.

    When I applied for Navy OCS in 1954, the recruiters asked me who Ho Chi Minh was. I didn’t have a clue. In fact I knew little about the USSR, China, and Communism except that they were trying to take over the world. I learned a lot about those issues in 13 years on active duty in the Navy. But my life in the Navy was insulated from what was happening in civilian culture. Once again I was pretty busy. We were in the heat of the Cold War, then Vietnam. Amazing how that works. If you stay busy at productive activities you aren’t dependent on cultural zeitgeists to have a satisfying life.

    The cultural changes that occurred so swiftly seem to me to be the result of avant-garde books, art, and music which was opposed to the conformity and uptight attitudes about sex of the times. Those things drowned out the traditional values that I grew up with. Music on the radio and records, Playboy magazine, books by Allan Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, Elvis Presley’s gyrations, the Beatles, and much more swept through the culture of the young. I was aware of it, but barely, because I was too busy doing other things.

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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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