August 14th, 2017

The same rules for each side?

Alan Dershowitz believes that even partisans must apply the same rules to each side:

Now that it is President Trump who is being targeted, my partisan Democratic friends are vociferously rejecting these neutral civil liberties arguments, because they do not now serve their partisan political interests. Nor do they seem embarrassed by their apparent hypocrisy and double standards. Hypocrisy is a small price to pay for partisan political victories.

For me, the primary test for whether an argument is principled or partisan is “the shoe on the other foot” test…

The time has come for all Americans who believe in enduring principles of morality and justice to insist on consistency. Ralph Waldo Emerson was wrong when he demeaned “foolish consistency” as “the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

Consistency of principles is neither foolish nor small-minded. It is the essence of any moral system. Principled consistency may be difficult to achieve, especially in our current hyper-partisan atmosphere.

That last sentence is the understatement of the year, perhaps of the century. I agree with the point Dershowitz is making, and I try to live by it. But I’m not naive enough to think many people will follow his call.

26 Responses to “The same rules for each side?”

  1. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Dersh’s point presumes those other folks can be restrained by appeals to honor and fairness.
    Does he have a reservation at a nursing home yet?

  2. NeoConScum Says:

    Alan is reminiscent of Liberals of a bygone time. Ya’know, pre-political correctness thought police.?

  3. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Dersh is suggesting the other folks can be restrained by appeals to honor and fairness.
    Has he got a reservation at a nursing home yet?

  4. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Okay, okay.
    I don’t think Dershowitz is going to get anywhere suggesting to Alinskyites that they live up to their own rules.

  5. groundhog Says:

    Depending on what Emerson meant, doing the same thing and expecting to get different results is foolish consistency.

    What did Emerson mean?

  6. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Another liberal demonstrates his useful idiocy.

    It takes willful blindness, economic ignorance and rejection of basic aspects of reality to remain on the left.

  7. kevino Says:

    Not a fan of Dershowitz mostof the time, but he’s right.

    If you can lay down your principles to gain a political advantage, then you don’t really have principles.

  8. Kae Arby Says:

    While Dershowitz’ words are appealing and resonate, I believe that he’s missing the big picture here; that there are larger forces at work here.

    The thing to understand is that the United States is now governed as a third world “democracy” where the only thing that matters is power; who has it and who doesn’t and making sure that the correct people have all of the power making sure that the wrong people never have any power.

    KRB

  9. Llwddythlw Says:

    I like Dershowitz for his stance on Israel, although I’m waiting for him to leave the Dems (something that a friend of his tells me he’ll never do). As I recall, he said that if Keith Ellison had been elected DNC chairman he would resign his membership. What a relief it must have been that that super-moderate mensch of a politician Tom Perez was elected instead.

  10. John E. Anderson Says:

    Mr. Drshowitz has been often cited in recent months as he seems to become a go to guy for common sense commentary from the left. Is he the last reasonable voice on the left? It sure seems like it to me. He said he could never leave the Democratic Party perhaps he should consult with David Mamet. He had a similar awakening and finally decided the Democrats no longer represent his values. Whose values do Democrats represent and who would embrace the values of tyranny and the destruction of freedom?

  11. Matt_SE Says:

    I have a consistent philosophy: turnabout is fair play.
    Or put another way, tit-for-tat reprisal is the most consistent way to achieve optimal results in game theory. Everybody needs to live by the same rules. If they change the rules, they should be subjected to them immediately.

  12. J.J. Says:

    IMO, there would have been no violence at Charlottesville if the contra white supremacists (mainly Antifa & BLM,) had stayed home or just peacefully protested. Both sides were equally to blame. They both came expecting a fight, and when you do that you usually find one. The police were too confident that things would be peaceful and were not ready. It took them time to regain their footing and get control. I doubt any police forces will be caught off guard in the future.

    IMO, the best way to treat the neo-Nazis is to ignore them. They are trying speak their piece and to gain converts. When people ignore and shun them, they get no traction. Unfortunately, I’m afraid this battle will bring more young hot bloods to their cause. With the MSM piling on it further alienates any young men who feel discriminated against because they are white. I see what is going on as stirring the pot. Condemn both sides equally. No violence, period! Then maybe we can all just get along.

  13. TommyJay Says:

    I like AD very much, for the same reason I like Neo. He has a serious base of knowledge that he uses as his starting point for his arguments. As opposed to some joker with an opinion, or worse, an Obama or Clinton who’s arguments are often little more than self-serving excuses and rationalizations.

    “Foolish consistency” is a phrase that combines a pejorative with a positive and strikes me as something intended to mislead. No, no; I exercise a wise consistency as evaluated by me. Ha!

    Because I’m not THAT well read I wondered like Mr. groundhog, what did Emerson mean? And I found this bit from Wikipedia on self-reliance. Oops, I violated my own complaint about Wikipedia, except this is more about philosophy and less about politics.

    So Emerson had faith in the individual’s “natural or aboriginal self” much like Rousseau did. No need to bother with studying other great philosophers, civilizations, or religions because one could just look inward towards one’s own soul to find all answers. (Assuming one’s soul hasn’t been corrupted by unnatural influences.) Consistency is a bug, not a human virtue. How liberating!

  14. blert Says:

    J.J. Says:
    August 14th, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    https://heartiste.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/pax-dickinson-virginia-state-police-had-explicit-orders-to-drive-unite-the-right-into-the-antifa-so-wed-be-assaulted/

    Pax Dickinson was at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. He presents solid evidence that the VA State Police had explicit orders to drive the UTR protestors into antifa to be assaulted,

    https://kek.gg/i/6C6t5p.jpeg

    The entire affair has been videoed from drones and by the National Guard.

    The original MSM narrative is falling apart.

  15. blert Says:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-14/report-%E2%80%98unite-right%E2%80%99-organizer-jason-kessler-was-occupy-movement-obama-supporter-8-m

    Report: ‘Unite the Right’ Organizer Jason Kessler Was Obama Supporter Involved With Occupy Movement

    Until 2016 Kessler was a LEFTIST activist.

    It would appear that Kessler is an Agent Provocateur.

  16. AesopFan Says:

    groundhog Says:
    August 14th, 2017 at 3:41 pm
    Depending on what Emerson meant, doing the same thing and expecting to get different results is foolish consistency.

    What did Emerson mean?

    TommyJay Says:
    August 14th, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    “Foolish consistency” is a phrase that combines a pejorative with a positive and strikes me as something intended to mislead. No, no; I exercise a wise consistency as evaluated by me. Ha!…

    So Emerson had faith in the individual’s “natural or aboriginal self” much like Rousseau did. No need to bother with studying other great philosophers, civilizations, or religions because one could just look inward towards one’s own soul to find all answers. (Assuming one’s soul hasn’t been corrupted by unnatural influences.) Consistency is a bug, not a human virtue. How liberating!
    * * *
    As pointed out, the keyword is “foolish” – and Emerson evidently thought any conformity was foolish. (not an Emerson scholar; depending on Wiki here)

    Conformity to what, though? it’s not clear — tradition? current conventional wisdom? church dogma? — anything Emerson didn’t agree with, probably — he would be solidly Left on that subject — see the second bolded statement.

    Consistency in itself is not foolish; unthinking conformity is foolish. Reasoned conformity to proven “good principles” is not foolish.

    I really don’t see how Dershowitz stays with the Democrats; perhaps only by a foolish consistency with his past, thinking that today’s party is somehow not a captive of the Far Left.

  17. huxley Says:

    I like Dershowitz’s overall take but he missed the point that Emerson’s disagreement was with foolish consistencies not consistencies of principle.

    I don’t believe everything is a race to the bottom and that it is therefore sheer naivete to aspire to higher things.

    Thank god current Trump supporters weren’t around to advise the early Christians to stop being chumps and to start crucifying Romans.

  18. AesopFan Says:

    Just musing here, for the mental exercise:

    blert Says:
    August 14th, 2017 at 10:18 pm
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-14/report-%E2%80%98unite-right%E2%80%99-organizer-jason-kessler-was-occupy-movement-obama-supporter-8-m

    Report: ‘Unite the Right’ Organizer Jason Kessler Was Obama Supporter Involved With Occupy Movement

    Until 2016 Kessler was a LEFTIST activist.

    It would appear that Kessler is an Agent Provocateur.
    * * *

    Even if not true, and I would take all such reports with a salt-shaker, this is an example of how conspiracy theories get created.

    However, there is some curious corroboration of the conspiracy angle here:
    http://hotair.com/archives/2017/08/14/charlottesville-white-identity-politics/

    John Sexton quotes from another blog called Splinter; it’s important to read the linked piece, because it is 100% sympathetic to the Left, which makes this quoted excerpt very intriguing:
    “The group then kicked out press and people of color from the park—even those who identified with the alt-right (“We have nothing against them, but this is a white identity rally,” one leader said). They closed the entrance with a barricade. A coordinated group of armed militiamen with semi-automatic weapons formed a line in front of the park’s entrance, helping block anyone who tried to get through.”

    Were there any POC in the Unite-right ranks?
    Does it matter?
    Who are these militiamen? They are mentioned in one of the reports of the police standing down as trying to protect people, although not in this HA piece.

    As the HA author points out, though, a lot of the rhetoric given atSplinter (can it be verified?) sounds very much like the Leftist groups we’ve gotten familiar with.
    (I don’t know anything about the rhetoric of the known White Supremacists, so can’t make a real comparison).

    A Zerohedge commenter says:
    milo_hoffman Aug 14, 2017 9:29 PM
    More evidence of Soros conspiracy this is in addition to the fact that EVERY SINGLE nazi/racist flag was clearly brand new right out of the box with all the creases still in them, and so many of the protesters were carrying the exact same tiki-torches which have been supplied to antifa protestors.

    The whole thing was staged.
    * * *
    Is any of this true? It’s not impossible that many of the Unite-Righters were “new” and thus so would be their flags.

    But this kind of churning is how conspiracy theories get legs.

  19. AesopFan Says:

    From the other Charlottesville post, but I think it ties in here very well.

    Geoffrey Britain Says:
    August 14th, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    This article by Daniel Greenfield provides context, while pulling no punches;
    “ONE EASY WAY DEMOCRATS CAN STOP NEO-NAZIS”
    “Charlottesville is what happens when the Left empowers extremists.”

    Greenfield says this, which sounds a lot like Dershowitz’s contention about consistent principles.

    “But racism is a two-way street. So is violence. Extremists feed into each other.

    You can’t legitimize one form of racism without legitimizing all of them. The media may advance this hypocritical position. Obama used the shameful “reverse racism” euphemism that distinguishes between black and white racism. But propaganda and spin don’t change the physics of human nature.

    Either all racism is bad. Or all racism is acceptable.

    Charlottesville is what happens when you normalize racism and street violence. Every normalization of extremism equally normalizes the extremism of the opposite side.

    They’re a set of evil twins and when you unleash one, you unleash the other. Their real enemies aren’t each other, but everyone in the middle. The bourgeois normies who don’t want to replace society with their totalitarian nightmare.

    Street violence raises the bar so that only the violent will participate in protests. If you “no platform” campus speakers, then the only speakers you get will be those willing to face bomb threats, arson, and physical assaults. If you fire people for their views, political activism becomes the province of anonymous trolls and unemployed street thugs. Extremism limits political discourse to extremists.

    When you spend enough time accusing everyone who doesn’t share your politics or even your race of racism, you make the term meaningless.

    That’s what the left did over eight years of Obama. By the time the election rolled around, Hillary was defining all Trump voters as racists and sexists.

    When you spend enough time crying wolf, eventually a real wolf appears. A real wolf showed up in Charlottesville.

    The left spent eight years dismantling any meaningful definition of racism for political reasons. The practical effect of their actions was to eliminate social sanctions for actual racists.

    And the real racists were happy to take advantage of the new climate.

    The Bill of Rights is an uncomfortable compromise. It says that we have to put up with people we don’t like. The Democrats, under the influence of the left, are rejecting that idea. But that goes both ways too.

    You can have a liberal society or an illiberal one. But you can’t have a society that is selectively liberal when it comes to your bigotry, but illiberal of the bigotry of others, that believes you have the right to say anything you please without consequences, but that no one else does, that you can punch, but not be punched. That’s a totalitarian state. And the only way to realize it is through violence.”

    Or as Mark Steyn is wont to say,
    “If the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain issues, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable ones.”

  20. Sean Says:

    This is where Rene Girard comes in once again. The side that hews to “if the shoe were on the other foot” will lose if the other side doesn’t play that way. Liberals haven’t played that way in decades, if ever.

    When Side A sees that Side B doesn’t play that way, then Side A will imitate Side B. Side B will use Side A’s behavior to justify their own prior and any subsequent actions. Then Side A will do the same ad infinitum.

    Hey, this is the world Alinsky made, we just live in it.

  21. Sean Says:

    John,

    He said he could never leave the Democratic Party perhaps he should consult with David Mamet.

    Have you read Mamet’s ‘Secret Knowledge’? Awesome book.

  22. Tuvea Says:

    It seems the democrats continue to move further Left. I suppose the idea is that Hillary lost, and the d’s issues on the state and local levels, is that their voters haven’t been motivated enough to actually … um … vote.

    Democrat party theorists point to opinion poll after opinion poll that shows their party’s solutions favored over those from the Republican Party.

    The problem with that theory is the opinion polls are done on a National level and thus have to be weighted by population numbers exaggerated on the east and west coasts. And while most Americans do live in those areas, alas for the d’s, most political jurisdictions are NOT in those areas.

    Big Data and Analytics have their place. But they are guides only and, obviously, do not contain, in and of themselves, the answers.

    Thus, as the democrats move further Left because their analysts tell them to do so, more and more moderate centrist voters will either not bother voting are mark their ballots for some other party.

    As a Republican I can only hope the d’s continue their self-destruction as their policies are toxic to my country.

  23. Big Maq Says:

    “I have a consistent philosophy: turnabout is fair play.
    Or put another way, tit-for-tat reprisal is the most consistent way to achieve optimal results in game theory.”
    – Matt SE

    I do too, in the right circumstances…

    BUT, that theoretical model was in context of a specific question / problem, a series of interactions with the same choices with the same two actors.
    .

    This model starts to break down rather quickly when circumstances about the dynamics veer from the original, such as when the “other” is a large group (with “members” not necessarily identifying with the group they may be attributed), with multiple choices, with non specific interactions that are not directly identifiable with an individual, etc., etc..

    Instead, each being seemingly (to themselves) “randomly” picked out, for something they feel no “ownership” of, believes themselves a victim.

    This dynamic plays out all over the place, and is perhaps why there seems to be a race towards who can claim the most victimhood to justify or divert attention from whatever action on “their side”.

    Let’s face it, there are many reasons for each of us to feel the victim for something or other. There are many who made (and still are making) a career out of stoking those victimhood fires. Not sure we are helping ourselves to let them succeed.
    .

    Ultimately, since we are discussing the consequence of partisan politics in a democracy, rather than looking to convince a population (a large body of whom do NOT identify solidly with EITHER side) to vote or support one side, resorting to tit for tat, blue vs red team arguments (that Dershowitz is pointing to as hypocritical when it fails the “shoe on the other foot” test), seems more likely to lose one credibility and trust – one of the pillars to being persuasive.

  24. DNW Says:


    The same rules for each side?

    Alan Dershowitz believes that even partisans must apply the same rules to each side: …”

    What Dershowitz is referring to is, ultimately, the principle of reciprocity, and was used by Lon Fuller to describe the most basic element of a natural law theory of law.

    The concept however only makes sense if each side is taken to be a fundamentally like-kind in reality; all being members of an objectively defined category, wherein definitionally shared common attributes and ultimate ends, exist across the board.

    But, as we all know, postmodernism is at war with “essentialist” categories and ontologies. They explicitly deny the existences of objective natural kinds; and especially as capable of generating prescriptive ethics.

    Therefore, if one takes the progressive’s metaphysics seriously, there can be no objective category to refer to, unless one simply wishes to pretend and announce that there is as some kind of act of will.

    There is no “we” there.

  25. Big Maq Says:

    Could have essentially just said that since there is no agreement on basic facts, there is no need to worry about hypocrisy or “reciprocity”.

    Problem is, there is a difference between “the left” and their hard core adherents vs the majority of people who don’t completely follow one side or another.

    The latter cannot all be treated as if they belong on the left, and don’t care about the hypocrisy.

    This is the problem with translating ideas and behaviors from the worst of a group and acting like it applies to all the individuals.

    It is as much a mistake as applying the median city price to a specific house.

    In a democracy, this matters.

  26. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Leftist zombies can only be terminated, but not even that will stop Lucifer’s Own.

    Convincing them to defect might be possible.. if you were an angel or a divine saint like Jean De Arc.

    But convincing them now, would be at least as hard as convincing Ymar to switch sides.

    Good luck with that one.

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