A Nonconformist Among Nonconformists

by John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1228)  May I, who voted for Trump’s opponent in the Presidential election, speak against the notion Trump’s supporters were “people … scared silly by the progress we’ve been making for the non-Christians, the blacks…. [who thus] don’t know their place anymore”?  I hear that often.  In an objection we on the Left are quick to raise in our defense, it’s dismissive.  It waves away any possibility that Trump’s supporters have any creditable basis for their opinions – which unsurprisingly those folk maintain we lack.  I think we on the Left have long been smug, self-righteous, arrogant about our opinions.  That isn’t good argument.  It isn’t good politics.  It isn’t neighborly.  It violates our own principles.  Trump cried Aren’t you tired of all those left-wing people’s telling you what to think?  Had we been better preachers, teachers, reachers, that would have been laughed down.  A well-known man in November 1963 was wrong, I believe, to say “The chickens are coming home to roost”, but perhaps that’s a lesson for us now.

177 thoughts on “A Nonconformist Among Nonconformists

  1. Sorry for the delay folks. The cold is passing, FBOFW.

    @Standback

    And it’s easy to think “Oh, they don’t see what they’re doing,” and “Oh, Our Side should be better then (sic) this.”

    Words to live by. Occasional failings aside, it is where I try to start from at every reasonable opportunity. Although the opportunities are rare here, I do try to talk conservative folks down off the rhetorical ledge of dismissing left of center positions out of hand from time to time.

    @Greg Hullender

    Millions cheered Trump for his promise to kick all those PC people in the teeth. Many of them people who actually believe in our core principles.

    Indeed.

    IIRC, there was a comment involving the fictional Delores Umbridge of Harry Potter fame relating to some thoughts about her representing folks that won’t support government subsidies because they aren’t getting comparable support. Ironically, the same character is routinely used as the personification of SJW-ness by folks in the libertarian and conservative camps.

    @Cora

    Besides, attacks on gender studies departments, safe spaces and trigger warnings on university campuses are attacks against universities and therefore a symptom of the anti-intellectualism of some on the right.

    Curiously, there are those that view those same elements as being anti-intellectual attacks on higher education.

    Why are these issues so important? Because the next generation of leaders will come from those institutions. It is important that they have been given an education based on fact. It is important that they support concepts like free speech and due process.

    I look at universities that cancel exams and hand out coloring books in response to a contentious election and find that they are ill-equipped to develop anyone into a potential future leader.

    ————-

    Back to the OP, part of the process requires the acknowledgment that Hillary Clinton was a dumpster fire of a candidate who ran a poor campaign.

    And then stop.

    Another round “of but Trump was worse” won’t help. While I know some enthusiastic Trump supporters, I know far more that felt like they were picking the ubiquitous “lesser of two evils”. In their decision matrix, her significant flaws coupled with her evermore left leaning policies were enough to tip the scales towards Trump.

    Acknowledging Mrs. Clinton’s varied and deep flaws will help.

    Reverse the Democrat trend of marching towards the extreme left (while admittedly the GOP is walking to the extreme right at a slower pace). Run an experienced and competent candidate with a more mainstream platform and the chances are better that they will win.

    FWIW, the candidate I voted for lost as well.

    Regards and happy new year,
    Dann

  2. “Reverse the Democrat trend of marching towards the extreme left (while admittedly the GOP is walking to the extreme right at a slower pace).”

    US republicans may call the Democrats “extreme left” (which says a lot about them), but in the rest of the world, the Democrats are classic right wingers. There is absolutely nothing extreme about them.

  3. @Dann – Reverse the Democrat trend of marching towards the extreme left (while admittedly the GOP is walking to the extreme right at a slower pace).

    Those numbers, once I checked with Pew, don’t mean what you seem to think they mean. As of the most recent poll, 60% of Democrats and those leaning Democratic have consistently liberal or mostly liberal political values, up from 49%, with consistently liberal views up from 13% to 27%.

    Republicans and those leaning Republican have gone from 31% in 2004 to 53% and those with consistently conservative poll answers has gone from 6% to 22%.

    That makes for a pretty graphic that seems to suggest Democrats are getting leftier at a faster rate, but the actual numbers don’t support that. Besides, I’m guessing the values question “Homosexuality should be accepted by society,” is a big part of the gain (there are only 14 questions).

    And: part of the process requires the acknowledgment that Hillary Clinton was a dumpster fire of a candidate who ran a poor campaign.

    No, I don’t think I will. I remain convinced that she was actually a pretty decent candidate with a pretty decent platform, hobbled by years of specific targeting by the GOP and Fox News, little of it credible but all of it sufficiently smoky, and our apparently widespread notion that women can’t be both capable and averagely flawed. Between that and the weirdness that is the Electoral College, it wasn’t enough to get 2.something million more votes than her GOP opponent.

  4. Bonnie McDaniel: I see this over and over and over again. Maybe it’s not every conservative, but if you keep talking to them and asking questions, sooner or later this sort of selfish “Why should I pay for anybody else’s anything ever” attitude usually comes out.

    I see it too — most often with the people who are vehemently anti-choice. They will loudly declare just how important all those “murdered babies” are to them, but the moment I then say, “So, you are fully behind the government, and your taxes, providing family planning education in public schools, and providing food, shelter, and healthcare for all those children, right?”, they revert to “NO! Those people need to not have sex if they’re not willing to face the consequences!”

    In other words, their anti-abortion stance is not really about protecting and nurturing the life of every precious child, but is intended to punish women for having sex. 🙄

  5. @Dann

    Why are these issues so important? Because the next generation of leaders will come from those institutions. It is important that they have been given an education based on fact. It is important that they support concepts like free speech and due process.

    I look at universities that cancel exams and hand out coloring books in response to a contentious election and find that they are ill-equipped to develop anyone into a potential future leader.

    Do you have any citation for the university that cancelled exams and handed our colouring books? Cause I’d be really interested about their reasoning.

    And while my experience with US universities is limited to what I read online and hear from interactions with US academics, it seems to me as if the US rightwing are the ones who are allergic to facts, at least facts that don’t support their worldview. They also seem to be as eager for “safe spaces” (and when I mean that term, I mean things like women’s spaces, etc…) as their leftwing counterparts, considering that conservatives are the ones who complain that a professor offended their political sensibilities or was biassed against them (which should be investigated) or that they could not possibly asked to read a certain book in class, because it contained sex scenes and swear words, which somehow violated their religious feelings (true story a US college professor told me, even odder because the book in question was pretty harmless IMO). Or the military veteran student who got massively insulted when a fellow non-military student told him that he didn’t match her stereotype of violent and possibly dangerous ex-soldiers at all, which I would view as the student coming to see that stereotypes don’t match reality, but which he viewed as disparaging his military service (it was in one of the many Atlantic articles about alleged problems in US colleges).

    Also, there are professors who are sexists, bigots or otherwise problematic. Not a whole lot of them, at least not in my experience, but they exist. There were protests against such professors when I was a student twenty years ago and there are protests now. Sometimes against the same professors.

    Also, I don’t see what’s so wrong about educating a future generation of leaders to be more sensitive about not needlessly insulting people different from them, including conservatives.

    And I know that the Overton window in the US is dangerously skewed to the right, but the Democratic Party or people like e.g. John Scalzi would only be considered extremely left in the US. Everywhere else, they’re moderate conservatives with someone like Bernie Sanders a mainstream Social Democrat.

  6. @Dann – the Democrats are in fact sliding to the right, just at a much slower pace than the Republicans. Right-wingers see the red-shift (heh) and assume opposite directions of motion.

    And in order for there to be “extreme leftward” slide, there would need to be an “extreme left” in America. To the extent such a group exists, they could all fit in a single Volkswagen Microbus. The extreme right in America, on the other hand, numbers in the millions.

  7. @Bill: I see we were missing an adjective. Do you have any reliable citations? Faux News et al don’t cut it….

  8. I mean I can see why people might want me to be not so extreme in my leftwingness but you see its conservatives saying things that makes me so extreme. If only they moderated their language and reached out to all us lefties feeling economically insercure we might become more moderate.*

    *[this is sarcasm]

  9. @Bill–

    I see at your links reports of individual professors cancelling classes and/or delaying an exam, plus a variety of stress reduction activities including coloring books or therapy animals, for people for whom this was, difficult as you may find this to grasp, a scary election outcome because of what Trump and his people say they want to do to this country, and because of how unstable he seems. I’ll die without the health care he’s promising to take away. We know where registration of members of a particular religion has ended before, and that within living memory still, even if not for many more years. I could go on, but you either understand or you don’t.

    And us silly liberals, we don’t react by carrying guns and have big, organized events to brag about our readiness to shoot anyone whose ideas we find alarming.

  10. Yes!!! Thank you. Camestros dont ever lose that holier than thou snark or your unearned arrogance. Post more about how everyone to your right is an ignorant, evil, retrograde, neanderthal!!! *Claps and Chortles in glee*

    Lis carey, Thank you!!! Dont ever stop looking down your nose at those who disagree with you or willfully denying reality, we need your unique combination of impenetribillty and superiority. One humble suggestion if I may; bold those italics next time!!. *howls in glee*

    Chip, oh yes you beautiful bastard. Thats the spirit!! Make sure everyone knows exactly which networks, websites, people, etc are “Fake news”. Preach it from the mountaintop, let the skies shake with the force of your scorn! *Rolls on the floor holding his sides and laughing untill he nearly passes out. *

    On Cora, On Hampus, On JJ, On John from Gr!

    I wish y’all would start a youtube channel! I wish I could get Y’all a prime time show on CNN.

    More sarcasm, more snark, more certainty and louder barks! Demonise and deplore, we want you more vocal and we want more. Scream it from the rooftops, march in the streets. Remind us we’re just racists wearing white sheets. Dont be nice, dont be polite, be more obscene! Lead us to victory again in 2018!

  11. Reverse the Democrat trend of marching towards the extreme left

    The graphic is meaningless unless one defines what is meant by “consistently liberal” and “consistently conservative”. Many of the current conservative policies espoused on the right are of a nature that would have been considered ludicrous during the 1990s.

    Run an experienced and competent candidate with a more mainstream platform and the chances are better that they will win.

    The Democrats did. In terms of policies espoused, Clinton was not substantially to left of Reagan on most issues. The problem is that the Republican party has moved so far to the right, that they don’t recognize the terrain they occupied such a very short time ago.

  12. @Cora

    Well I guess thanks to Bill for handling the linkerage. Thanks Bill!

    I guess the other question is why is is that our main stream media culture did not previously serve this widely available information to you already? It’s pretty much a given in non-leftist political circles that at some level (college wide, department wide, professor by professor) that universities have offered unusual accommodation to their left leaning students in the wake of this closely contested election.

    Here’s another poser……would those same administrators and professors have offered a similar accommodation to conservative students had Mrs. Clinton won?

    I agree with your suggestion that universities ought to teach civility towards all. The problem is that the don’t do that. Non-leftists in humanities departments routinely hide their political perspectives until after they have gotten tenure. Collegiate right-to-life organizations are routinely marginalized…at best. Heck, it has become the general consensus among comedians that universities are no longer a viable opportunity for performances because they make politically incorrect jokes.

    As far as the Overton window…I don’t know that I have the requisite level of humor and snark to do this justice. Consider me your friendly Overton window repair technician. Keeping Bernie Sanders on the left fringe of the Overton window….where he belongs.

    Regards,
    Dann

  13. If one googles “coloring books therapy” one will find a number of sources (some general, some more medically oriented) that talk about coloring as a therapy/ mindfulness/ wellness/ meditation activity for adults.

    One of the articles mentioned that coloring was one among a number of stress-relieving activities scheduled at dorms: residence life staff schedule a lot of activities for their students. Why that should be seen as so odd is beyond me, and implying that faculty cancelled exams and gave out coloring books instead which is what the syntax in this sentence implies is a bit dishonest:

    I look at universities that cancel exams and hand out coloring books in response to a contentious election….

    The structure implies it was university (administrations) as some sort of policy as opposed to individual faculty, and that the “cancelling exams” and “handing out coloring books” was done by the same agent (administrator or faculty instead of residence hall staff).

    I know it’s just casual writing and probably not an intentional deception, but the implication is certainly there.

    I occasionally mutter a bit about the amount of staff, funding, and range of activities provided in residence halls these days — for example, my university administration for years has asked that faculty and staff show up to help students move into dorms on the first day of the fall semester–I’m afraid I get a bit snarky about that, and use my age, tenure status, and ongoing chronic back condition to duck out of it, but it’s one of those things that’s apparently done these days. And in this case, if students were upset or frightened, I can only applaud those residence staff (many of whom are students themselves, working on campus) for their actions.

    And as Lis Carey notes, a lot of people were, and are, legitimately afraid of what the outcomes of the election will be, and that’s not even counting those who were harassed in person, or via racist/ misogynistic/ homophobic grafitti in the days following the election.

    It’s not unusual for individual faculty to delay exams (hell, I don’t give exams myself, but everyone I know who does has make-up options for students who miss a scheduled exam) when there are major events (say, in the wake of 9/11, or in individual courses, when a student is killed in an accident, or murdered–which can happen).

    I teach primarily online, but several of my colleagues reported students calling in afraid to come to their classes after being harassed. We have a significant percentage of African American, Hispanic/Latino/a/x / Chicano/a/x and international students at my university. A number of the international students are from Muslim countries (primarily in Business and Computer science graduate programs) and reported feeling scared not on campus so much but when they were off campus (in a small town in rural Texas).

    Mocking people who are afraid of what we now see is clearly starting to happen (on the state AND national level) (Obama never came for anybody’s guns, and Jade Helm was not, despite the gubnatorial drama, a secret attempt to take over Texas) is about what I’d expect from the Trump supporters who are exemplifying the “sore winner syndrome.”

    Sore Winner Syndrome: Why Are Donald Trump’s Supporters Still So Angry

    It’s not enough for them to win. Those who opposed Trump must stop opposing him. We must agree that Muslims should be banned from entering the country, agree we should torture and kill suspected terrorists and their families, agree immigrants should be rounded up and deported, agree there should be guns in schools, agree women should be punished for having abortions and agree to all the rest of it. Until we stop resisting completely and declare that we are “avowedly with them,” they will continue to believe that “all their troubles proceed from us.”

    That is not going to happen. Trump’s forces may have won the election but they have not won the hearts and minds of the American people who didn’t vote for him. And they won’t. This administration will be met with fierce resistance from millions of people, from the moment Trump takes office until the day he leaves. There will be no appeasing him, and no easing of his followers’ guilt for what many of them know in their hearts to be ugly and cruel impulses in consenting to this white nationalist program. It’s all on them.

  14. I vaguely recall AE Van Vogt writing about this. It was during his batshit insane period, although as I can’t find it in any of the books on my shelf it may be a false memory.

    He was talking about power and betrayal in organizations. He said the way to get more power was to betray those under you to benefit those above, and that to have more power meant that one could betray more people. The person with the ultimate power was the person who could betray everyone.

    This is certainly a notion that will appeal to those for whom cooperation hasn’t delivered the expected benefits. There will most always be a quick return for betrayal, even at the price of reduced future returns.

    This has been the consistent Trump method. Betray your subcontractors by stiffing them on the price. Betray your investors by paying yourself a ruinous salary, and let the business take the debt into bankruptcy. Betray your bankers by going bankrupt. When US banks won’t do business with you, go to Bundesbank. When they won’t give you enough, Russians. After every betrayal, move up to a larger sphere where you can betray more people.

    I think a lot of his support comes from people who think ‘cooperating hasn’t made me filthy rich. I’ll try betraying my county. Couldn’t hurt’

    Does anyone recollect the Van Vogt book?

  15. Dann:

    “Here’s another poser……would those same administrators and professors have offered a similar accommodation to conservative students had Mrs. Clinton won?”

    I can’t see that Clinton has bragged about grabbing people by their genitals and how she has forced herself on people without their consent.

    When a racist sexual abuser is elected to the office, to mourn and feel depression is the least you should do.

    And I do think that one professor at one university creating a anti-stress area with coloring books is not that newsworthy. It seems more like the conservative echo chamber is into hysterics over this.

  16. Dann on January 3, 2017 at 6:39 pm said:

    Here’s another poser……would those same administrators and professors have offered a similar accommodation to conservative students had Mrs. Clinton won?

    That pre-supposes that Clinton is the left equivalent of Trump – a supposition that lacks evidence.

    I have considered what, in theory, an equivalently traumatic candidate as Trump would be like for conservatives based upon what conservatives have told me over the years that they valued most highly. I assume a candidate who stood for the opposite of these values would be the most traumatic. So perhaps:
    1. somebody who was ignorant of the constitution and routinely threatened basic freedoms outlined in the Bill of Rights.
    2. somebody who habitually flouted (small-c) conservative sexual morality.
    3. somebody from the Eat Coast city elites who had never really lived or worked in a southern state.
    4. somebody who was deeply personally corrupt.
    5. somebody with a routine disdain for the rule of law.
    6. somebody who was overlty sympathetic to America’s traditional enemies.
    7. somebody who disliked the idea of free-trade and who was sympathetic to government economic intervention.
    8. somebody who was inconstant in their position, duplicitous, boastful and just generally lacking in what the historical personal virtues of America’s protestant traditions.

    Wow! Just imagine how traumatised conservatives would be if somebody like THAT had got elected president…

  17. Dann–

    Right to life organizations tend to be unwelcome in lots of places you probably think they should be welcome, because they verbally and sometimes physically harass and threaten women who are attempting to get health care. There’s also the awkward fact of the murders of doctors, nurses, secretaries, and other staff that “right to life” organizations rarely manage to outright, unambiguously condemn, and in many ways actively encourage.

    So when they come asking for courtesy and respect, I say, you first. You show me you’re really not like your buddies who thought Eric Rudolph and John Salvi were heroes–to name just two.

  18. Thanks for the links, Bill, and thanks for the explanations, Robin.

    Cancelling exams pretty much never happens in Germany – at least, I cannot recall an example. If the professor falls ill, someone else usually sits in and the professors often don’t do the exam supervision anyway, that’s the job of aides and adjuncts. Besides, there is always a second exam date for those students who either have to retake the exam or missed the first one due to illness or serious issues. Of course, the students have to provide a note from their doctor that they really were ill, but in cases of serious mental anguish, they should be able to get one. Besides, most professors aren’t jerks and if a student missed the exam not for a medical reason, but because of a family issue (I’ve had students missing exams because of deaths in the family), they’re usually willing to accomodate them.

    Colouring books as a stress relief measure do make sense. I also understand why international students, LGBT students, etc… would feel stressed by the US election. Though Dann’s statement made it sound as if the professors cancelled the exams and handed out colouring books instead, which is obviously not what happened. Now in Germany, students usually don’t live on campus. Universities have halls of residence, but these are mainly for foreign exchange students (they get priority) and some out of town students, but most students either live at home, if they study in their hometown, or in rented rooms, shared apartments, etc…, if they study in a different city. Though when I taught at the University of Vechta, which is in a town of 35000, I noticed that a lot more students than usual were living in halls of residence, because private acommodation was scarcer there. The halls of residence are usually administered by the Studentenwerk, i.e. same organisation that also runs the cafeterias. At the University of Vechta, some halls of residence were also run by the Catholic church, but then Vechta is something of a special case. At any rate, professors and teachers usually have nothing to do with student housing and what goes on there. If students are feeling stressed for whatever reason (grades, politics, etc…), professors and teachers will usually try to help and send students to the campus counselling service, the women’s representative, LGBT groups, advocacy groups of international students, etc… if necessary. Coincidentally, at the university I attended, the main causes of stress were not the professors, but those parts of the administration that dealt directly with students, because several of them were extremely difficult to deal with.

    @Dann
    These days, I rarely bother with “OMG, student special snowflakes ruin higher education” articles (for a while, The Atlantic seemed to publish one every other day), because they’re all the same and not really applicable to the German university system anyway, so I might well have missed the colouring books and cancelled exams thing.

    Regarding the Overton window, sorry, but US politics are seriously skewed towards the far right compared to pretty much every other western country. Even leaving issues such as gun control and nuclear power aside, US politics looks like mainstream conservatives arguing with the far right. The US are the odd ones out here, since the US has very little in the way of a true leftwing.

    BTW, Bernie Sanders was usually referred to as “a self-declared Socialist” in the German media, since nothing about him seemed particularly Socialist compared to the Left Party.

  19. @Mars Ultor

    I was going to say, overwrought purple prose, bad use of punctuation, poorly executed ideas, and 0 out of 5 stars, but your “comment,” such as it is, seems not to have shown up, or at least not yet.

    Oh well. If it ever does, y’all know what I think. (yawn)

    (By the way, here’s his ID number for those who want to block: f229209e18731237f1528119e2ea679d )

  20. Bonnie, that’s proof-positive, I think, that the password encoding on Parental Protection Software is woefully inadequate. Somebody is going to be put in the corner for a time out, if their mommy bothers to check her browser cache. 😀

  21. Oh bonnie. I wish I could give you an international platform. That I had the power to make your voice internationally known. Because more than anyone else at Glyers770 yours would guarantee a trumpite shall forever sit upon the throne.

    I wish you were a friend of anderson cooper, and had a show like Samantha Bee. Because just one of you in the intetnational spotlight, would ensure the future was owned by assholes like me.

  22. @Cora — You are welcome. The links were offered solely in response to your request, without comment on those who offered the coloring books or the deferred exams, or those who took advantage of them.

  23. @Aaron “In terms of policies espoused, Clinton was not substantially to left of Reagan on most issues.” Can you be more specific? Because it doesn’t look that way to me.

    1980 Republican platform

    2016 Democratic platform

    I’m hard pressed to find any significant area in which Clinton was not to the left of Reagan.

    General statements: Republican platform generally wants to reduce federal power, influence, regulation. Where federal funding to state and local govts is required, it should be redirected to block grants, where money is without strings.
    Democratic platform inserts government into more and more areas of life, and deeper and deeper into those where it already exists. Many policies focussed on group identity (Native American, racial minorities, LGBT, etc). Many new policies and regulations advocated.

    Abortion –
    R1980 pro-life
    D2016 pro-choice

    Arts funding
    R1980 supports private funding of arts
    D2016 supports federal funding of arts

    Death Penalty –
    R1980 supports
    D2016 opposes

    Defense Spending —
    R1980 supports immediate growth
    D2016 advocates a “smart” budget

    Education
    R1980 close Dept of Education
    D2016 numerous new federal controls and policies on education

    Election funding
    R1980 supports repeal of campaign funding regulations
    D2016 supports overturn of Citizens United and Buckley v Valeo (wants increased regulation of election funding), supports some level of public funding

    Energy Policy
    R1980 Opposes restrictions on drilling on Outer Continental Shelf
    D2016 Opposes drilling on Atlantic Coast

    R1980 market driven, regulations at state level
    D2016 central control from federal level

    Gay Rights –
    R1980 not mentioned
    D2016 aggressively supports

    Gun Control
    R1980 repeal certain provisions of Gun Control Act of 1968
    D2016 strongly in favor of

    Immigration Policy
    R1980 more restrictive
    D2016 more open

    Labor
    R1980 for “right to work” laws
    D2016 against “right to work” laws

    Nuclear Weapons
    R1980 wants to develop MX, B1 and other nuclear programs
    D2016 wants to reduce American nuclear arsenal

    Taxes
    R1980 supports across-the-board reduction in personal income tax rates
    D2016 supports rate increases at higher income levels

    R1980 reduce estate taxes
    D2016 “restore fair taxation on multimillion dollar estates” (that is, raise estate taxes)

    Voting
    R1980 Opposes registration by postcard
    D2016 Supports voting by mail

    In some areas (digital life/internet, terrorism, Russia), it is difficult to compare on a L/R spectrum because the world has changed so much.

  24. Ohhh Aaron. You sweet summer child. I just wish all of America could see your special blend of obtuse confidence. But its the extra pinch of obliviousness that truly makes you a hero of the cause.

    So to you all of you who are unwitting tools of the MAGA empire I saulte you. My only regret is that the rest of America isnt aware of you.

    And I truly and honestly mean that. 😉

  25. Bill said: The links were offered solely in response to your request, without comment on those who offered the coloring books or the deferred exams, or those who took advantage of them.

    This isn’t addressed to Bill, but his comment is prompting mine. I actually need help with language, to describe what happened here with the cancelled exams and coloring books. Dann mentioned them as proof of something significant, Cora asked for citations, Bill provided a couple of links, mostly from less than reliable sources, that mentioned a few outliers who cancelled exams and noted that coloring books were handed out by RAs or their equivalent. How did such tiny things related only in being grouped into “some responses to the election” morph into a story where Dann feels confident saying this?:

    I look at universities that cancel exams and hand out coloring books in response to a contentious election and find that they are ill-equipped to develop anyone into a potential future leader.

    Do we call this disinformation? Spin? Fake news? Right wing bias?

    Whatever it is, it’s what Fox News has been peddling for years and it has been really effective.

  26. @Cora: I’ve seen this described as a weak-man argument.

    It’s like a straw man – constructing your own target, and particularly one that’s easy to tear down – except, you don’t construct it yourself; you’re arguing against something that really does exist. But, you chose something that’s really easy to argue against or ridicule – again, a target that’s easy to tear down. The sleight of hand here is the same as with a straw man — you’re implicitly arguing that the weak man you’ve chosen is representative of the side you’re arguing against. And, if the other side accepts your framing, and doesn’t argue “Wait, that isn’t representative of my opinion,” then the alternative is accepting that you’ve been placed on the same “side.” From now on, for the purpose of opinions and arguments, you’re basically responsible for defending anything they do, because you’ve accepted them as being representative of you.

    (The link goes into this in more depth, and very clearly. Fair warning: it’s Scott Alexander, and some of the examples he uses focus on feminist discussion on the web.)

    That’s what you’ve got here — one particular incident that seems colorful and vivid, being interpreted as representative of the entire movement, and deeply significant.

    Yes, it’s extremely effective. It ties into our tribal, with-us-or-against-us nature. And, let’s be clear — I don’t think it’s in any way intentionally deceptive; I think people just generalize and lump various people and factions and instances together because they aren’t familiar with the nuances, and they’re stereotyping — usually by whatever they’ve encountered that’s most vivid. And then it’s very easy for both sides to fall into an us-vs.-them dynamic without even realizing it.

    And it’s not just Fox News. To take an easy example, I don’t think Donald Trump was representative of the Republican Party 18 months ago, but he sure as hell is now. :-/

  27. Can you be more specific? Because it doesn’t look that way to me.

    The party platform is not coterminous with the policies proposed by a President in their campaign, and in the case of Reagan, not even remotely close to what policies he implemented once in office. For example, Reagan’s actual policy proposal concerning immigration during the 1980 campaign was for a “North American Accord” in which people and trade could move freely across the Canadian and Mexican borders. His actual policy later implemented offered amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants and liberalized the visa process by adding a new category of worker visa.

  28. I’m really kind of tired of watching Trumpsters suggest that people are over-reacting to a normal occurrence.

    Sure, having your candidate lose is normal; we’ve all experienced it many times. Even having your candidate lose the electoral college while winning the popular vote is something that Democrats–never Republicans–have experienced and lived through–though the “winner” presided over a recession, a jobless “recovery,” two wars–one over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist and ties to Al Quaeda that didn’t exist either–and a second recession so bad we didn’t call it a depression basically because we were afraid of what that would do to the country’s morale.

    But still, normal. Not auspicious, but normal.

    A president-elect who brags about sexually assaulting women, encourages his followers to commit violence against people who disagree with them politically, lacks any experience whatsoever in governing, desperately seeks attention, and can’t focus long enough to complete his own sentences–that isn’t normal.

    A president-elect who openly campaigned on a platform of banning and registering people for their religion, building a wall around the country, and mocking disabled people–that isn’t normal.

    A president-elect who wonders why we can’t use nuclear weapons, or publicly asks a hostile foreign power to hack American computers, or hopefully hints to his followers that some gun nut might assassinate his opponent for him, or threatens to throw his political opponent in jail if he wins–that isn’t normal.

    Of course LGBT people are worried; the vice-president-elect is so hostile to them he thinks parents should be allowed to try to shock the gay out of their children. And supposedly “gay marriage is settled law”–Roe v Wade has been settled law for a whole lot longer and they’re promising to overturn *that.* (And where are you even going to find potential Supreme Court Justices who would vote against women but in favor of gay marriage?) Of course women who don’t hate themselves are worried; see above: “brags about committing sexual assault” and “overturn Roe v Wade.” Of course trans people are worried–the party of bathroom bills has just won the White House and both the House and the Senate. Of course minorities are worried; the party of the confederate flag just won, and hate crimes have doubled week-on-week over the level before the election, which was still notably higher than the level the previous year.

    And the problem is, it’s not just random bad luck; the roll of the dice. The president-elect lost the popular vote but he still won a really big minority. The Republicans in the House won their majority by gerrymandering but they needed a pretty big minority to do it. The nature of the candidate and his campaign made this a referendum on the voters themselves. Trump voters revealed their hearts, and their hearts are…not something fit to parade in public. And the losers have good reason to be afraid with that many people who were inspired to vote for racism and sexism and homo and trans phobia (or who at least didn’t mind those things enough to turn away.)

    And the Trump voters know it too. This is the only election I’ve ever seen where the winners were hurt, and demanded that the losers COMFORT them and assure them we believe they are good people. I believed people when they told me white fragility was a thing, but now I have a glimpse of a personal understanding. Damn is it annoying. Others are just plan sadists, of course; we’ve seen plenty of them here. I won’t argue against them; that would be a weak man argument.

    So yeah–this election was not normal. Being appalled and depressed is not some sort of weakness. And that’s typical abuser tactics, isn’t it–to do something horrible, and then tell their victim that being hurt and frightened and angry just shows there is something wrong with the victim.

    When you see someone sneering at us for feeling bad, remember that.

  29. @Cora: the professors often don’t do the exam supervision anyway, that’s the job of aides and adjuncts Also true of large (-ly attended) courses in the US, in my limited experience; professors might proctor exams in courses small enough not to have adjuncts. (There was someone widely known as “Mr. Goodpeople”, because he was only seen at large-course exams, announcing “X minutes left, good people.”)
    Residence varies widely. Boston schools are continually pressured to build more dormitories because students are found to (a) cram apartments, paying more than an appropriate/legal number of adults can and so driving moderate-income people further from the city (and occasionally dying because there aren’t enough exits for that number of people), and (b) behave badly in such housing, causing a nuisance to the neighbors. Note that that is in a city; many large colleges were founded where land was available, and have to provide housing because they’re larger than nearby towns.

    @Bill: note that Reagan was also notoriously right-wing before his election. To take the comparison further, note that the EPA was founded by Nixon.

  30. @Cheryl S.

    I believe it’s a kind of confirmation bias filtering the perceived significance of information.

    If your viewpoint is higher education centers are liberal dominated institutions infantalizing our children then this looks like damning evidence. Since it confirms things you already believed or suspected you don’t dig deeper into it.

    Outside that viewpoint it looks like much ado about isolated instances that weren’t necessarily that out of bounds anyways.

    Both sides do it. I think conservatives are more prone to it though. Many feel they are besieged against a liberal majority. This further shuts down the desire to consider other viewpoints.

    Media like Fox by adopting an explicit political stance are more prone to feeding it because they are applying the filter right off the bat that matches the filter of their voters. These then bounce back off each other, viewer to media and back and forth, leading to an amplifying echo chamber.

  31. @Camestros

    Well, I’d quibble on a couple of those points. And I’d need to do a ton of unpacking to lay out the case, which probably is not a productive use of my time here.

    But I’d say that conservatives would say that just such a person was almost elected President. And had she been elected, conservatives would never have received the sort of comforting consideration that is currently being extended to our friends on the left.

    @Hampus

    Mrs. Clinton certainly has done her fair share of blaming the victims of her husband’s sexual harassment/assault. That isn’t the same thing is performing those actions, but it isn’t far removed. Or at least not far enough, IMHO.

    @Lis

    I’m moderately pro-choice. So I’m not sure my “buddies” include anyone in the person of hay that you are fabricating. However, there are a wide array of non-leftist college-based organizations not limited to “right to life” that are rarely offered administrative treatment that is on par with that received by comparable leftist organizations. These folks have been working to counter that trend for quite some time.

    @Cora

    I’m perfectly willing to enter the fantastic land of “agree to disagree” with regards to Overton window definitions. Having watched various European countries experiment with larger arrays of social programs and tight economic controls and then inevitably/predictably come back towards a more free market approach, I have no desire to see the U.S. go further down that road. We’ve gone too far down that road already.

    As far as stress goes, I agree that colouring books can be a fine way relieve stress. I quilt to achieve the same objective.

    The phenomenon of professors and other college officials canceling/delaying exams and offering organized “stress relief” was widespread enough to make it a reasonable anchor for the larger observation, IMHO.

    @Stoic Cynic

    Exempting other media such as the NYT, WaPo, NBC, etc from consideration as offering a biased perspective also represents a bit of confirmation bias.

    Regards to all,
    Dann

  32. @Dann–

    I’m moderately pro-choice. So I’m not sure my “buddies” include anyone in the person of hay that you are fabricating. However, there are a wide array of non-leftist college-based organizations not limited to “right to life” that are rarely offered administrative treatment that is on par with that received by comparable leftist organizations. These folks have been working to counter that trend for quite some time.

    Emphasis added.

    “Fabricating”, Dann? You claim I’m lying about the behavior of “pro-life” groups outside clinics and their at minimum tolerance (and sometimes more) of violence against doctors and their clinics.

    Where the lie, Dann, where’s the lie. And don’t give me any shit about “fabricating” in this context not meaning lying.

    ETA: Also, I’d love to know what you mean by “moderately pro-choice”, because often it means “just” banning the late-term abortions that are easiest to make sound really icky, and which are the least likely of all abortions to be in any sense voluntary.

  33. @Lis

    You are conflating the behavior of non-collegiate anti-abortion groups with that of collegiate affiliated anti-abortion groups.

    And yes, late term abortions not only sound icky, they are icky. And the least likely procedures to be performed.

    Regards,
    Dann

  34. However, there are a wide array of non-leftist college-based organizations not limited to “right to life” that are rarely offered administrative treatment that is on par with that received by comparable leftist organizations.

    Citation needed. Conservatives love to claim victimhood, but in most cases, their stories of oppression just don’t stand up to any kind of scrutiny. I note that most of the examples of “discrimination” cited by FIRE are viewpoint neutral policies implemented in a manner that Christian organizations don’t like. I reject categorically the notion that this is “discrimination” against those groups, so you’ll have to come up with some actual examples on your own.

  35. @Lis:

    And don’t give me any shit about “fabricating” in this context not meaning lying.

    Can I do it then? Because I’m on the left side of the spectrum here, and my read of the use of “fabricating” is that it meant building. Dann was being flowery in saying that you were making a very nice straw man there to attack. I’m not saying that I agree with his assessment, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say he was calling you a liar.

    Unless you believe that he used that word deliberately because of the potential double meaning, so he could call you a liar with plausible deniability. I would still disagree with that interpretation, mind.

  36. @Dann–

    And yes, late term abortions not only sound icky, they are icky. And the least likely procedures to be performed.

    Late-term abortions are tragic, because they are the final outcome of a wanted pregnancy that has gone horribly wrong. No one decides at eight months that she suddenly doesn’t want a baby after all. These are babies that are already dead or can’t survive outside the womb (e.g., anencephalic babies), and the medical goal is least harm to the already-grieving mother.

    Trying to ban those abortions is just malevolent cruelty.

    Plus, as you note, they’re already a vanishingly tiny percentage of abortions performed, because nobody has one voluntarily. It’s a “no choices that aren’t worse” course, and no one who wants to ban them is either pro-choice or pro-life in any but our currently utterly debased political usage of “pro-life.”

  37. @Dawn–

    Unless you believe that he used that word deliberately because of the potential double meaning, so he could call you a liar with plausible deniability. I would still disagree with that interpretation, mind.

    Perhaps. You may be right. But that word “fabricating” leapt out at me, embedded as it is in this “discussion” where everything left of the currently popular right wing cartoon of Ronald Reagan is painted as weak, factually wrong, or active lying.

  38. John From GR: We call it agitprop; yet another Russian tool American right-wingers have adapted (and adopted).

    It was adopted by name by Chicago labor organizers and Berkeley college students in the Sixties. Americans have been hearing about it for a long time. And yes, they ported it over from the Soviet playbook.

  39. John from GR – We call it agitprop; yet another Russian tool American right-wingers have adapted (and adopted).

    As delightful as it is to imagine the GOP explaining their healthcare plan with interpretive dance, that’s not the explanation I’m looking for. At its inception, that was the Russian communists trying to explain complex things in a simple format that could be easily delivered. This…is something else.

    @Standback, @Stoic Cynic, I think confirmation bias and weak man arguments (not a term I remember hearing before, but I like it) are definitely at play here. So is attentional bias (our perceptions are informed by our preoccupations). What I’m looking for, though, is either a name or a kind of unified field theory that covers what Dann did upthread and that Fox News has built their brand around (string together some number of things that are only broadly related and offer them as proof for a sweeping condemnation).

    It also has to take into account the impact on our faith in institutions as well as the running battle of false equivalencies (again with Dann, who is my token conservative in this discussion: Exempting other media such as the NYT, WaPo, NBC, etc from consideration as offering a biased perspective also represents a bit of confirmation bias, as if the New York Times and the Washington Post, both of which clearly mark off their opinions and editorials from their news, are the equivalent of Fox News, which does not).

    I know why Fox News does it – it sells. The more outraged and embattled feeling its viewership, the more they watch, and that drives ad revenue. But what is the what, why and how of the people who buy the old fish and then are deeply invested in selling it as truth? And what do we call it?

  40. “I’m perfectly willing to enter the fantastic land of “agree to disagree” with regards to Overton window definitions. Having watched various European countries experiment with larger arrays of social programs and tight economic controls and then inevitably/predictably come back towards a more free market approach, I have no desire to see the U.S. go further down that road.”

    Honestly, this comment is why Europeans shake their heads towards americans when they show their lack of knowledge and education about the world.

    You can’t talk about Europe as a whole, you have to talk about individual countries. Free trade is just one part of the equation, how the wellfare states work is much more important.

    Do take a look at Scandinavia. Compare any statistic with US. Then say again that you hate how good our societies are and that you would think it better if we destroyed our healthcare and started murdering each others with firearms.

  41. @Aaron For example, Reagan’s actual policy proposal concerning immigration during the 1980 campaign was for a “North American Accord” in which people and trade could move freely across the Canadian and Mexican borders. His actual policy later implemented offered amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants and liberalized the visa process by adding a new category of worker visa.

    I think this was still somewhat to the right of Clinton’s proposals, in which she seemed to be advocating for citizenship for anyone who wanted it (at least, she doesn’t mention any limitations). Reagan’s amnesty would have granted only a legal resident status, and that to only a subset of illegal aliens. She wanted to continued DACA and DAPA — Reagan never advocated selectively ignoring existing immigration law as a matter of policy. Reagan would not have granted federal social benefits, but Clinton wanted to allow everyone to participate in the ACA.

    I still think that it is obvious that overall, 2016 Clinton is to the left of 1980 Reagan.

    @Chip @Bill: note that Reagan was also notoriously right-wing before his election. To take the comparison further, note that the EPA was founded by Nixon.

    Not sure what this has to do with my attempted rebuttal of the assertion that Clinton was not leftward of Reagan.

  42. @Cheryl S

    …string together some number of things that are only broadly related and offer them as proof for a sweeping condemnation

    My apologies for the earlier tongue-in-cheek response. Perhaps the “Gish Gallop” comes closer to explaining this rhetorical technique:

    The Gish Gallop is the fallacious debate tactic of drowning your opponent in a flood of individually-weak arguments in order to prevent rebuttal of the whole argument collection without great effort. [It] is a belt-fed version of the on the spot fallacy, as it’s unreasonable for anyone to have a well-composed answer immediately available to every argument present in the Gallop.

  43. @Bill–

    What Aaron said was:

    @Aaron “In terms of policies espoused, Clinton was not substantially to left of Reagan on most issues.” Can you be more specific? Because it doesn’t look that way to me.

    You wind up arguing that

    I think this was still somewhat to the right of Clinton’s proposals

    Yep.

    Over thirty years later, in a national and world setting that has changed somewhat from what Reagan faced. This is not a dramatic shift, however much you’d like it to be. Who on God’s green Earth thinks that policies should not move at all in three decades of significant technological, environmental, and cultural change?

    And no, you can’t stop cultural change simply by passing a law or making the right statements from the bully pulpit. Or on Twitter. Living societies aren’t carved in granite; they change. Only the dead are unchanging.

    I’m not ready to kill America yet.

    Oh, and @Dann–

    You are conflating the behavior of non-collegiate anti-abortion groups with that of collegiate affiliated anti-abortion groups.

    I meant to respond to this before, and didn’t.

    Yes. Yes, I am. They use the names, the terms, the symbolism, the rhetoric. You will be known by the company you keep. They choose to associate themselves, in name and argument, with some very scary, dangerous people without attempting to separate themselves from that movement in any way. If they don’t like the reaction they get, maybe they should give that some thought–especially as young college women are a target age group for needing health care without having lots of funds to spend on it, meaning they are very likely to to Planned Parenthood, where they are likely to encounter some very scary and threatening displays and actions while trying to get to the door.

  44. @Cheryl:

    What I’m looking for, though, is either a name or a kind of unified field theory that covers what Dann did upthread and that Fox News has built their brand around (string together some number of things that are only broadly related and offer them as proof for a sweeping condemnation).

    Well, my unified theory basically boils down to “outrage cycles,” and I talked about that upthread 🙂

    And, I don’t know if you read the link itself, but it’s titled “Weak Men Are Superweapons” — because it’s precisely about how a society gradually accumulates a whole bunch of weak-man arguments, and bundles them all into a stereotype of other groups as being dangerous, a threat to be defended against or attacked outright.

    Because it’s important to remember: Dann’s statement doesn’t come in a vacuum. Coloring books for university students aren’t the basis for a condemnation, ex nihilo.

    Rather, the condemnation, the negative stereotype, is pre-existing and fundamental. No one post would sum up all the many, many stories, experiences, and other building blocks that have built that stereotype up. This one incident is Dann’s example of yet another incident that demonstrates the stereotype he’s already very sure of. The fact that it’s “yet another incident” is exactly what makes it feel so representative of his experience and view — just like in this very conversation, people are giving Twitter threads and online interactions as “yet another case” of clashing with dumb, dumb Trump supporters.

    So it’s not “University professors give coloring books to students, therefore the left are immature, incapable, and condescending.” It’s “I know the left to be immature, incapable, and condescending. Now, I can’t prove that, because that impression is the sum of a lifetime of incidents which, to me, have confirmed my assessment. But here’s some recent, indisputable incidents which I think are in line with that assessment, and therefore support it.”

    Which is exactly why Fox News only works if you’ve already bought into Fox News (and why plenty of left-wing media only works if you’ve already bought into left-wing thought). Because it’s working on prior assumptions, on previously ingrained templates.

    In other words: it’s not a trick. It’s a sincere person, who is working off of axioms that are pretty much diametrically opposite from yours. This doesn’t make you wrong, or imply that your positions are equivalent. It does mean that the two of you have a huge gulf between your interpretations of what those incidents signify, first and foremost because your working off very, very different views of reality.

    As for figuring out how to talk to people who view reality very, very differently… well. As I said. I’m still hoping Captain Picard’s gonna show up in the nick of time 🙁

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