Dream On

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Today a group of neo-fascists are holding a poke-you-in-the-eye DC rally to take advantage of the anniversary.

So here's a link to the MLK Glenn Beck Flow Chart and to celebratethedream.org.

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38 Responses to Dream On

  1. Chuck says:

    I guess that’s the price we pay for “Freedom to peaceably assemble” etc…
    It’s probably near the worse case scenario of Thomas Jefferson’s dream, also.

  2. Interesting how a mosque at ground zero is celebrated by the left, but a conservative rally at a public location on a particular day is “offensive.” No hypocrisy there, right law professor?

  3. michael says:

    Personally, I don’t see the why a cultural center with a mosque a couple of blocks from the world trade center, in a tawdry neighborhood with stuff like strip clubs, ought to bother anyone with two brain cells to rub together, especially as the people behind the project had and have nothing to do with the attack on New York. Note that last point: the people behind the project had and have nothing to do with the attack on New York. Got that? Or perhaps as a Jew you *like* the concept of collective guilt based on religious affiliation? Worked out well for our ancestors, didn’t it? Who is the hypocrite here? Which is why Jews, as much or more than anyone, should object to those who are attempting to intimidate the proponents of this project.

    I also don’t see why anyone would find it hard to understand why it’s ugly to have a bunch of fascists and Goebbels-like propagandists, along with the very people — or intellectual descendants of the very people — who opposed Dr. King when he was alive (and have since fought everything he stood for), trying to take advantage of his legacy. And in this case the ugliness is part of their point. Which is why we should point out how ugly it is. Not to stop it, but to shame those who take part, and make clear they speak for only a few.

    (And, in case it needs saying, the First Amendment protects all good people and all bad people, and all the rest of us in between.)

  4. “Worked out well for our ancestors, didn’t it?”

    What did not work out well for our ancestors was to espouse politically correct viewpoints so as to fit in nicely within elite “intellectual” circles (such as liberal law school faculty cocktail parties). What did not work well for our ancestors was worshiping the golden calf of secular liberalism, where right and wrong is determined by the whim of the ruling elites of the day.

    Let me know when your CAIR friends allow for a synagogue or church to be built in Saudi Arabia. Let me know when the so-called “moderate” Muslims will remove the El-Aqsa mosque on the site of the old Temple of Jerusalem. Let me know when CAIR sends envoys (like Jimmy Carter) to Iran to halt nuclear development.

    When those things happen, then perhaps building a mosque at Ground Zero will not seem so inappropriate. I don’t care about the strip clubs in the area because it wasn’t fanatical strippers who killed thousands on 9/11 in the name of pole dancing. It was radical Muslims who perpetrated those acts, and who continue murder on a daily basis throughout the world, all in the name of their religion.

    History remembers the Jews who appeased Hitler. History will remember the Jews who appeased Islamofascists. Even if the motives behind the Muslims building the mosque are benign, their insensitivity to their fellow Americans speaks volumes about what lies in their heart of hearts. Seems to me more Muslims ought to think like high-profile Muslim Rima Fakih:
    “I totally agree with President Obama with the statement on Constitutional rights of freedom of religion,” Fakih tells the show. “I also agree that it shouldn’t be so close to the World Trade Center. We should be more concerned with the tragedy than religion.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/20/rima-fakih-muslim-miss-us_n_689463.html

    “the people behind the project had and have nothing to do with the attack on New York”

    And Glenn Beck did not assassinate MLK. What’s your point?

    Glenn Beck, however, does support Israel (as does Palin “you betcha!”):
    http://www.spike.com/video/glenn-beck-does/2811983

    Can you say the same about those opposing the Beck rally? Jesse “Chaime Town” Jackson? Al Sharpton? Farrakahn? Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s spiritual mentor?

  5. michael says:

    I am speaking for myself, not various people I’ve never met nor organizations I have never belonged to or had anything to do with.

    Blaming US-based people for the acts of their foreign co-religionists (or indeed, for any of their co-religionists) is dumb intellectually and dumb politically. It weakens us, and strengthens our enemies.

    Only someone who is guilty of the worst sins of lumping (or someone cowering in the face of the great terrorist threat) could suggest that the ordinary application of First Amendment rights to our co-citizens is “appeasement” of some shadowy foreign danger. The indisputable fact that many (most?) countries, including basically all of the Arab world, are run by regimes of varying degrees of tyranny and illiberalism is no argument for copying them. Rather it is an occasion for concern and pity.

    Nor is the fact that I spend the most energy worrying about this nation’s governance — the place where I live, about which I am best informed, and in which I am a citizen — either require me to have and state views about other places, nor give anyone license to put words in my mouth when I fail to do so.

    As regards the rallyists, my point is simple: they are led by people who are liars about their pasts and about our present and future, and these leaders are acting in bad faith and in bad taste. I’m calling them out on it. I haven’t lifted a finger to attempt to prevent them from expressing their views, and I have no plans to do so in any way other than to subject them to the ridicule and opprobrium they so richly deserve.

    There is not, and there should not be, a connection between my support (or anyone’s support) for all US citizens’ rights to practice their religion, and some people’s views on Israel. I support the right of all to religious freedom equally. I support it abroad as well but, as I said above, you start where you are.

  6. Each of your comments is more hypocritical and internally contradictory than the next.

    “I support it abroad as well but, as I said above, you start where you are.”

    And ignore world events and realities? How can you, a so-called intellectual, with a straight face ignore the global interconnectedness of world events, and more importantly global jihad? Events and actors outside of the US prompted 9/11. The Obama regime blames much of global terrorism on Israel’s existence and policies. You can’t seriously expect your readers to believe your feigned naïveté. Especially when the left is so keen on usurping US constitutional law with foreign precedent, for a leftist law professor to claim himself a “localist” is simply absurd. Funny how the left blamed Bush for failing to “connect the dots” that lead to 9/11, but now you refuse to connect dots between global jihad and the message a mosque at ground zero sends to freedom’s enemies.

    You are also intellectually dishonest in your characterization of the right’s arguments against the mosque. I am aware of no commentator on the right who has challenged the constitutional right of the mosque to be built there. The methods employed against the mosque have been exactly those you employ against your own (imaginary) enemies like Beck: “subject them to the ridicule and opprobrium they so richly deserve.” I see you have no rebuttal to Rima Fakih, which speaks volumes. The mosque is in bad taste, and enlightened Muslims agree.

    Your comments are just the same old, tired circular logic of the left: one set of rules for the “intellectual” elites, another set of rules for everyone else.

  7. Vic says:

    OK, maybe I’m just ill-informed, as I don’t pay any real attention to GB, but I just don’tunderstand where you are coming from.

    How is he a fascist? You may not like his views, but fascist? You do know what a fascist IS right?

    And how is he and his followers (who are basically right wing, less government advocates) somehow associated with MLK’s assasination? And how, exactly is being a conservative (short of also being a KKK member ala Robert Byrd or something) ALSO being against everything that MLK stood for?

    You have once again utterly astounded me that you could possibly even be a lawyer with the analytical skills you display somethimes. Have you actually been admitted to the bar anywhere? I know some of your associates have not (apparently not a requirement for law profs).

  8. michael says:

    If you want to see why I think these guys are American Fascists, see the work of David Neiwert (e.g. 1, 2, 3) and the various collections of their eliminationist rhetoric (or their birtherism, or calling Obama a racist or … oh never mind) at sites like Media Matters. I don’t have the time or energy (or interest) to try to create an original collection for you. There’s a big difference between an ordinary conservative and these guys. Or so I hope. (I admit that if Sarah Palin is an ordinary conservative, I might be wrong.)

    As regards the latest round of personal insults, I am a member of the bar of New York State and of the District of Columbia. Bar membership is not a requirement for a law professor, nor do I think it should be (nor is bar passage a great indicator of reasoning, as opposed to memorizing, skills), although a law school would in my opinion be well advised to have the large majority of its faculty be qualified lawyers somewhere. As far as I know, all the US-trained members of the UM faculty who have US JD’s are in fact admitted somewhere, but I suppose there could be exceptions. I know that Susan Haack, an acclaimed philosopher, neither has a law degree nor a bar license. Some of our foreign-trained lawyers are not members of a US bar, but that’s not what we expect from them either.

    Note: Since I am now weary of being insulted, I will probably respond less in this thread.

  9. Chris says:

    Jewish Marksman, how do you think your argument about Saudi Arabia’s refusal to allow churches or synagogues to be built supports you? Their refusal is one of the big reasons we should not be fighting against the construction of the community center/department store with mosque multiple blocks from ground zero. Allowing such religious facilities to be built is what differentiates this country from a country like Saudi. It’s why people flock here, it’s why people used to view the US favorably. Reverting to bigotry and refusing to accomodate an entire religion until one of the most oppressive regimes in the world opens itself up would make us no different than Saudi itself.

    By the way, you are aware that there is an Islamic place of worship closer to ground zero that has been in operation for years and still is, right?

  10. Chris-
    At the outset, is there any point in arguing with you? Sounds to me like in your mind, you think someone opposed to the mosque at Ground Zero is, ergo facto, opposed to all mosques, all Muslims, and a bigot. If that is so, then what does it say about michael, who arbitrarily opposes the right of a group of Americans to gather at a particular place on a particular day? He must be a fascist who opposes free speech, correct?

    Chris, what is sad about your statement is that it implies Americans need to prove something to the Saudis or the Muslim world generally. We do not. I know your beloved Obama convinced you that you should be ashamed and apologize to the Muslim world, but it really isn’t so. Personally, I could care less of what the Saudis think of us, and I’m not sure why you would. If you feel so ashamed of America, move to Canada. If you want to convert to Islam to show the Saudis how tolerant you are, go right ahead, why stop at welcoming a mosque at Ground Zero?

    The elephant in the room: “I totally agree with President Obama with the statement on Constitutional rights of freedom of religion,” Fakih tells the show. “I also agree that it shouldn’t be so close to the World Trade Center. We should be more concerned with the tragedy than religion.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/20/rima-fakih-muslim-miss-us_n_689463.html
    Truly “moderate” Muslims recognize the mosque is in poor taste, and neither michael nor you nor any liberals have the intellectual honesty to confront that truth. As they say, if you want to anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal tell him the truth.

    The truth is the mosque is in bad taste, and those who disagree and then simultaneously bash Glen Beck’s assembly are nothing but hypocrites.

  11. Chris says:

    First, what about the mosque that is closer to ground zero and is operating right now? You launched into another personal attack instead of addessing the question.

    Second, why do you feel it necessary to attack Michael in replying to me? It seems to me that if you are going to attack him, then you should attack his positions as he presents them, not his positions as you imagine they are. He’s not opposing the right of anyone to gather at a place. In fact, he explicitly says so: “[W]e should point out how ugly it is. Not to stop it, but to shame those who take part, and make clear they speak for only a few.”

    Third there is no need to prove anything, only the aspiration for the country to re-aqcuire whatever standing it used to have on the world stage. Not allowing Park51 to be built punishes moderate (that is, the vast majority of) Muslims. It doesn’t punish terrorists. You are allowing an entire religion to be defined by an extreme minority that has corrupted that religion. What if Christianity was defined by the Dutch Reformed Church that supported apartheid? Or Jim Jones’ People’s Temple? The Constitution stands in the way of opposition to the mosque, but the opponents are looking for an emotional shortcut, an end-run around the document for which they profess so much love.

    Fourth, the “if you don’t like it then you can get out” argument is without weight. When neo-cons were running things, that was a popular refrain. When the neo-cons lost power, they responded by threatening secession (and violence). I mean really, secession. It’s apparent that First Amendment rights aren’t of much concern to them. If in the majority, they would kick out those who disagree. If in the minority, they would go off and form their own country. It seems to be a dangerous, high stakes version of a child taking his ball and going home.

    Fifth, you are clinging to a line from a random supermodel as though it matters. First off, she was born in Lebanon, but attended Catholic schools her entire life. It’s difficult to imagine that many in the Islamic world would consider a person with that upbringing to be the spokesperson for the religion. Secondly, I suspect the reason you view her as a moderate Muslim is because of her comment. But, it’s not too surprising that someone who grew up in Christian schools has those views, is it? Isn’t it intellectually lazy (and convenient) to make her your spokesperson by virtue of her birth into a certain religion without actually reviewing her background to see whether she adhered to that religion or chose a different path? Finally, in today’s toxic political climate, it might be fairly difficult for her to keep her Miss USA title if she took a stance that was too pro-Islam. Imagine the outrage that would be directed at her, the venom spit from the right, until she was forced to give up her position.

    There’s a great movie called “The American President” that contains an excellent articulation of what this country aspires to be: “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil.” We should never oppose something based on a feeling, if that feeling intrudes on Constitutionally protected activity. The anti-mosque position is grounded in emotion and feeling because it has to be, it can’t be based in law or constitutional principle.

  12. Lee Atwater says:

    There is a lot to be said for less government regulation and less taxes. Small businesses are choked to death every day with the transactional costs of complying with government regulations, and our tax dollars are squandered on all manner of government programs: wars, corn subsidies, wall street bailouts, etc. Neither party, Democrats or Republicans will ever stop the endless expansion of government. Most people understand this, but have no organized way to express these thoughts. The “tea party” is a somewhat organized movement to fight for these issues. Consequently, established politicians on both sides of the aisle hate the tea party, and do everything they can to vilify it. Including accusations of racism, nazism, incest and whatever else they can come up with.

    The “tea party” is not one official organization, like the Democratic or Republican party, where access to their official events is tightly restricted with guest lists and armed guards. At best the tea party is like a religion where a member can be a member of a sect or a church, but nobody can prove they are a member of the whole. Consequently, nobody can be excluded from participating, especially when most tea party events are outside and anyone who shows up with a sign is identified as part of the group. If a guy in a leprechaun outfit held a sign saying “Irish hate XXX race,” at a St. Patrick’s day parade you would not brand Irish Americans as racists, similarly there is no reason to blame people who self identify as tea party supporters as neo-fascist racists because some guy held up a sign saying “X.”

    Furthermore, I believe you are seriously underestimating the dirty tricks politicians are capable of. I personally have outed an NRA hatchetman that was undermining other second amendment organizations from the inside. I would not be surprised in the slightest if the most egregious actions by supposed tea partiers were really hatchetmen from one party or the other.

  13. Vic says:

    Michael,

    Sorry you are feeling insulted, but I just can’t figure you out. You say you are a lawyer, and yet your proffer of evidence, when you bother, continues to be non-lawyerly. Far be it from me to tell you how to run your blog, but you appear to be incorporating the lawyer aspects of your life into it purposely. Since you do, it should be expected that some who read it might actually critique your analysis. That’s what lawyers DO for a living. You know that. Stop quitting every time someone tries to call you on your blanket statements based on no evidence whatsoever.

    Even if I agree that GB is extremist (which I do), he is not a fascist by any actual definition of that word (other than the rhetorical flourish of calling anyone who is an extremist, regardless of their views, a fascist – which we should both agree is an incorrect use of the word). GB’s views, while extreme, are also on the OTHER extreme from fascism. You should know this if you got your money’s worth out of Yale. Maybe you are just using the common method of calling anyone who disagrees with you a fascist, in which case lots of us here are fascists, lots of people you meet every day are fascists, and you should just say that’s what you mean, instead of painting yourself further into the corner.

    What you did instead (apparently to prove GB is a fascist) was to point me to the work of David Neiwert, which also doesn’t prove GB is a fascist. It may provide strong evidence that he’s an extremist, and it certainly shows he’s conservative, as opposed to liberal. It may also show that what GB says and does, can be interpreted by OTHERS (including Mr. Neiwart) to imply other things about GB – including in your case, that he’s a fascist. But surely, as a lawyer, you noticed that Mr. Neiwart’s site doesn’t lay out any sort of case that GB is a fascist! It merely repeats some things that GB said or did, and interprets them. That’s no different than what you do. Evidence would be something that has some tendency to prove or disprove a fact. The fact would be that GB is a fascist. Showing that he’s an extremist right-winger who disapproves of various Government policies is not evidence that tends to prove or disprove the fact of his also being a fascist. History in fact shows that real fascism tends to originate on the left, and while incorporating some right-wing nationalist views (largely what differentiates it from socialism), also has critical economic aspects that are about as far from GB’s known views as any can be.

    Questioning where Obama was born is not fascistic – it may be silly, but it’s not being a fascist. Neither is calling him a racist, or even BEING a racist if that were true. And as you likely think that calling Obama a Muslim is somehow rotted in fascism, I should also point out that you are incorrect there as well. Being inflammatory is not being a fascist. Being a member, follower, icon, or even leader of a group that contains a wide spectrum of people, some of whom are as inflammatory as can be, does not, alas, make you a fascist. Believing in the tenets of fascism is what makes you a fascist. (You are no doubt bothered when people call Obama a socialist, why not apply the same standard to GB?)

    Hence, I mention the idea that not all law professors are members of a bar (despite what you think there is a prominent professor at UM who is also not a member of any bar). Why do I think that’s important? Well generally, I think it is because law School is a trade school, not a think tank meant to produce well-rounded individuals and a few future academics. It’s primary purpose it to teach people how to be lawyers – that those skills are useful otherwise is great, but it’s not the purpose of law school. While I agree that passing a bar doesn’t mean one is a good lawyer, or even a competent one, it does demonstrate some level of commitment to law that is more than just getting a degree, which is hard, but not rocket science for most A students – especially those that get good enough grades to be professors. (For me, law school, was a lot of work, but it was never that hard.) Passing a bar AND practicing the profession for some amount of time is critical to understanding what lawyers actually do, how they actually work, and more importantly, what constitutes and doesn’t constitute evidence. (Or in the case of transactional lawyers, perhaps what constitutes correct/useful information and data.) A law professor who has not passed a bar, and/or who has never actually practiced in any way (beyond watching OTHER people practice, by being a clerk or something), is not fully equipped to teach others how to be a lawyer, because he or she is not equipped to BE a lawyer (not because of bar membership, but because of experiential knowledge).

    So when you, a law professor, who makes a big deal out of BEING a law professor, on his blog, also just starts making statements and can’t properly show how they are true at all, and not just based on some emotional response or dislike for another, I think about that. I don’t know you and I have no idea how you are with your students, but I can’t imagine you let your students, whom you are training to be lawyers, get by with that sort of reasoning. A tortfeaser is liable because we have a whole developed structure to determine liability that MUST be worked through because the other side is also working through it against you, not because it is good and just that evil people pay for their torts. Law is not about right and wrong, or even about justice, it’s about process – a process that if set up right leads to the right result most of the time. Many professors know that, some do not. When I read your spouting of blanket statements without providing real evidence of what you claim, and then when you do provide “evidence” finding that it is just someone ELSE spouting off in blanket statements, I start to wonder.

    I offer it not to insult you as you claim, but as professional criticism. If you ever found yourself in court, you would be trounced by the other side if you operated like you have here. Luckily, you are a professor, not a practicing lawyer. Again, far be it from me to tell you how to run your blog, but I know that if I were a law professor I’d want my blog to look like a law professor’s blog. And if I just wanted a place to vent, I’d do that less openly.

    Be a lawyer. Set an example for your students, who no doubt are aware of this blog. That, or you owe them all A’s!

  14. Last time I checked, “fascism” had a definition, which was probably better met by a President firing the board of directors of an ostensibly private company, than by anything the Beck crowd advocates.

  15. michael says:

    I suppose whether the people attracted to the Beck/Hannity message are fascists in the sense of being corporatist is genuinely debatable, although so many of their policies are taken from business’s playbook that I’m not sure it makes all that much difference in the end. But to the extent they are not corporatist, they may not be textbook fascists in the Italian/German sense of the term, which take to be the most substantive point in Vic’s screed above. I do think they pretty much fit the rest of the profile, which is why I think that calling them neo-fascists is more than fair. Why?

    * Believe in strong charismatic leadership/authoritarianism rather than pluralism and rule of law. Check.
    * Believe that nation has a religious/nationalistic identity and that those who do not fit their conception of it are at best second class citizens (here, not “real Americans”). Check.
    * Are willing to call for violence to achieve their ends in extra-legal ways. Check.
    * Believe that the nation must be willing to wage foreign wars in order to stay strong. Check.
    * Have a racial component to their message and organizing strategy. At least a partial check, maybe more.
    * Are social and economic collectivists. Check on the social; the economic question is much more chaotic as summed up by the woman who famously said that Obama was going to socialize her Medicare and she wouldn’t stand for that. It’s also notable that many of their policies are deregulatory in a way that would benefit business interests economically. But that is not classic corporatism either.

    None of these observations involve or require legal analysis, by the way, and I don’t claim that my being a law professor, a member of two bars, a parent, a taxpayer, a Floridian, or any of the other things I might legitimately claim to be gives me special insight into them. That’s your meshugenah, not mine. These observations should stand or fall on their own merits, not some claimed or imagined authority of their author. (In general, I believe that the merits or demerits of a speaker are not, in the end, a measure of the merits of his cause; they provide only a useful shortcut as one decides what to believe in the absence of better information.) I think, however, that the accuracy of these claims above should be fairly evident to a fair-minded observer. Will each of them apply to every leader of the current call-it-what-you-wish movement? I’d be surprised if it did. But as broad generalizations, I think they’re pretty good.

    And every time I see Hannity, and most of the time I see Beck, I see Goebbels. If we can’t call that a form of fascism, what should we call it?

  16. rah says:

    “… Check.
    … Check.
    … check…
    … Check…”

    Looks like you’ve described the modern nation-state?

    From the looks of the above, one might even call you a “Crypto-Anarchist”. Or at least a “transnational progressive”, being a law prof and all…

    Cheers,
    RAH
    They turn the power off down here when the wind gets to 40mph. Whee.

  17. “I am aware of no commentator on the right who has challenged the constitutional right of the mosque to be built there.”

    No, but there are plenty of commentators on the right who believe that Islam is not entitled to the protection of the First Amendment, including a Lt. Governor and a General:

    http://www.aljazeerah.info/News/2010/July/26%20N/Tennessee%20Lt.%20Gov.%20Ron%20Ramsey%20claims%20First%20Amendment%20Religious%20Rights%20May%20Not%20Apply%20to%20Muslims.htm

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/7/12/883433/-General-Boykin-Says-Practice-Of-Islam-Not-Protected-Under-First-Amendment.-Pastor-Skip-Agrees.

    I dare say that people who believe it is fine to deny the First Amendment to Islam as whole would have no problem prohibiting Muslims from building a mosque near the WTC.

  18. Vic says:

    Michael,

    I see where you are coming from, but I just don’t see the evidence for what you claim (now that you’ve actually made some claims).

    * Believe in strong charismatic leadership/authoritarianism rather than pluralism and rule of law. Check.

    What? I honestly don’t ever recall anyone – and certainly not any Tea Party types calling for charismatic leadership (Cult of Personality) and an end to the rule of law as we know it. In fact, the entire point is NOT to have people who claim leadership simply by virtue of being celebrities of some sort, or by virtue of having not been voted OUT of office for a couple of terms or more. The Tea Party types are about as anti Cult of Personality as you can get. The fact that some radio/TV personalities try to glom onto the Tea Partiers for whatever purpose isn’t relevant to the argument. That’s just what famous people DO – that’s why they are famous! If anything, I’d be inclined to accuse GB of using the Tea Party for his personal gain…but the TP will do what it does whether he’s around or not.

    And they (both the TP and GB) also argue that the “problem” with America that they hope to fix is deviations from the law made by lawmakers/judges in order to satisfy personal agendas. They want the law followed. We may or may not agree to their point on this, but it really is hard to make the argument that a grassroots organization like the Tea Party wants a suspension of the rule of law and isn’t pluralistic.

    Besides, they have no power to do ANYTHING until someone gets elected that will do it.

    Unlike the people who ARE in power, who seem to successively get caught giving out our money to relatives and favored friends every week (another Congresswoman is now in trouble for giving away scholarship money to her grandkids because “they are not her immediate family”). They pass major legislation in the middle of the night and on weekends, without ever reading the bills, without divulging its contents until after the vote, and in a purely partisan way. There are numerous YouTubes of them saying that the laws don’t apply to them anyway and that they will do what THEY deem is right, regardless of what the polls say, etc. Demanding that execs of privately held businesses be answerable to THEM not for actual crimes or mistreatment of employees, but because they aren’t doing what Congress or the President deems to be proper overall. Even Paul Wellstone couldn’t stand up to these people.

    Nothing Fascistic about THAT, is there! (And I accuse both sides of the aisle of this – look at McCain, Mr. Campaign Finance Reform spending >$25M in a primary!)

    * Believe that nation has a religious/nationalistic identity and that those who do not fit their conception of it are at best second class citizens (here, not “real Americans”). Check.

    Well, like it or not our nation was founded by various Christian sects, and our laws evolved in that mileau and based upon the laws of other Christian countries. So that is true. However, what makes our nation almost unique in the world is that our laws are not religiously-based in the sense of providing a litmus test. England, well after we pulled away, still required certain people to be Anglicans, or at least keep secret that they were Catholic (or otherwise), requiring an oath to that effect. Were we perfect at that point? No, but lets get some perspective already.

    The objection that many people have to Islam is not based on it being a non-Christian religian (otherwise why don’t we see prominant protests to OTHER non-Christian religions. I can’t recall the last time I saw anyone protesting the Hindus). The problem that many have with Islam is NOT the nice Muslim couple next door, but the fact that no other religion in the modern day is still barbaric under its own law – barbaric in a way that offends any modern nation. In Saudi Arabia right now they are looking for a doctor willing to sever a man’s spinal cord, thus paralysing him, because he did the same to another in a fight. This says nothing about the rampant slavery in the Muslim world and the treatment of women as worse than dogs. When’s the last time those rascists in the Red States stoned a woman for being raped? When’s the last time ANYBODY in America called for the killing of a woman for dishonoring her family or not practicing the true religion? Only a small handful of American Muslims have called for that here.

    Before war in the Muslim world became a product of a Republican President, and therefore defacto wrong, I remember the constant Internet petitions and ever corner protests about how Islam was mistreating people. How many anti-Taliban petitions did YOU sign when they implemented their “reforms” in Afganistan? – I know I signed a few. Now all of a sudden, criticism – legitimate criticism – of Islam can ONLY be a product of fascism and/or racism. It can’t be for any other reason.

    Now we can choose to put our head in the sand and say as long as the nice Muslim couple next door is so nice, then what they do in Saudi Arabia is none of our business, OR we can say it is wrong to treat people like that in our modern world and EITHER you continue at your own peril and without our help, OR you get along with us and we all live happily. Part of getting along with us, as it is for every OTHER American religion, is that places of worship are not segregated, are not spewing actual hate, and are not funding those who want to destroy us. The leader of this NY Mosque has already demonstrated that he’s not interested in playing nice like everyone else, so why should we cower to his religious freedom and more than anyone else’s? Is it REALLY fascist now to say that it’s wrong to say what this Imam has said? Would it be fascist to say that Shariah law is absolutely incompatable with American law (and it absolutely is)? Is saying that Shariah Law is incompatable with American Law treating Muslims as second class citizens? Have we allowed other religions with abhorant practices to flourish in America? Do you live within 500 miles, or even 5000 miles of an authorized clitorectomy center? When’s the last time the Miami Herald reported the the wife of a man who died was placed alive into the crematorium with his body? Is there a big festival of human sacrificial rites down in Miami that we haven’t heard about? Does anyone even slay a bull every month or two on your block? Does the Coral Gables fire department have its hands full every new moon putting out the fires of flaming virgins?

    Probably not. Because we expect folks that live here to abide by our laws, even respecting their religious practices if they cross the line. Nobody objects to this because that’s just how the modern world works. The objection to Islam by MOST people is to its abhorant practices – not to it as a non-Colonial-Period religion in the general sense. Most people object to Islam, as it is practiced in the homelands of the vast majority of its adherants, because of its barbarity – not because nobody named Muhammed signed the Declaration of Independance. It’s not fascism to object to barbarity.

    * Are willing to call for violence to achieve their ends in extra-legal ways. Check.
    * Believe that the nation must be willing to wage foreign wars in order to stay strong. Check.

    I’m not sure where you are going with these.

    The later has been the policy of every nation on Earth, including ours, for the entire human history (with the occassional black out period when some Asian coutries shut themselves off from the West). The question of whether engaging in a particular war is right or wrong is an entirely different issue. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in authority on the left who would say that war is never justified. So it’s hardly a sign of fascism.

    As for the first point – when did anyone advocate violence? I assume you mean GB saying something like “we need to get our guns and take over the government by force!” Nobody to my knowledge has said that. I think if it WAS said, we’d all know about it because it would be playing as an endless loop on MSNBC. The only thing I’ve ever heard from any of these people is calls to vote them out of office – which last time I checked, was legal.

    I would even go so far as to say rebellion against our Government is an inherent principle on which our country (not its Government, which was formed separately) was founded. All people have the inherent right to oppose a Government which would take away their fundamental rights. That’s why we’re all here! I’m not sure what your objection to that is…

    * Have a racial component to their message and organizing strategy. At least a partial check, maybe more.

    Huh? When did GB, or anyone else ever say that only people of a certain race need apply? There are people of all colors in the GOP, Libertarian and Tea Parties. If you’re going to say it’s Immigration related, then you are just plain wrong. If a poor white European country (let’s say Russia) bordered us on the south and millions of Russians crossed our borders illegally, I’m pretty much 100% certain that they same objections would be voiced. Calling something racist does not make it so. being a member of a group that happens to be dispropotionately affected by a general Government policy is also not being discriminated against, as you know from your Con Law. And it’s certainly true that the laws ARE on the Federal books – they just aren’t being enforced for political reasons – and neither GB, nor any other TV/Radio personality (well, maybe Scarborough had a hand), nor the Tea Party wrote these laws. They are just calling for them to be enforced, which is not unreasonable for any law. Congress is certainly welcome to change the law if it is somehow wrong. Until then, it is the law, enforce it, let’s move on.

    * Are social and economic collectivists. Check on the social; the economic question is much more chaotic as summed up by the woman who famously said that Obama was going to socialize her Medicare and she wouldn’t stand for that. It’s also notable that many of their policies are deregulatory in a way that would benefit business interests economically. But that is not classic corporatism either.

    This one I just don’t get. It’s not even internally consistent. I can assure you that NOBODY that you would ever also call a right-wingnut is also calling for the collectivisation of anything. NOBODY. If the word socialism ever crosses their lips it’s when they accuse someone on the Left (rightly or wrongly) of advocating it. I think that 100-150 million dead, and countless lives in misery, over the last 100 or so years of the Left’s dreams of socializing and collectivising is enough for now. I assure you that NOBODY on the right in America wants to socialize anything – and if they do, they are not on the Right and likely not a right-wingnut, and certainly no member of the Tea Party.

    So you’ve utterly failed to make your case – even in the common sense. We can both agree that GB is a blowhard and neither of us agree wholeheartedly with what he says…But is a fascist? That’s simply laughable.

    My advice to you, for what it’s worth, is that if you SERIOUSLY think this way, you better wake up because this November’s election will shock you. You’re going to think you’ve woken up in Berlin in 1940, if you think these are the fascists! Seriously, you’re just going to give yourself another heart attack. There are a lot of nice, well-meaning Americans who simply want the Federal Government to stop thinking it’s the cure to every ill. That’s not fascism – it the resugence of what was one of the most serious debates from our founding. Obviously, the true need for centralized Government has changed a bit since 1789, but it is still a valid question to wonder whether the Federal Government should be so intrusive, or whether it’s not intrusive enough. These valid questions should be examined by smart people, not simply called racism, fascism, socialism, Leftsim, or Rightism and dismissed on that basis.

    let the Blowhards be blowhards. It’s obvious enough to all of us when it crosses the line into being harmful, and even the right-wingnuts will step in if GB starts actually being fascist.

    BTW, I appreciate that you took the time to actually respond. I at least see where you are coming from now. I think you are misinterpreting things significantly, but at least you’ve finally said what you think. We both absolutely agree that there are problems in the country that will only be solved if smart people with convictions start talking about solutions. I really hope that every smart person with convictions doesn’t get so caught up with the convictions part that they fail to appreciate and understand the convictions of others. And I REALLY hope that every smart person with convictions doesn’t assume his reasons are so right and so obvious that they don’t need to be aired in the sunshine.

  19. Vic says:

    Let me just add that I had the honor of speaking at length with Bruce Winick on a few occassions. While there is no question that our politics as such are on opposite ends of the spectrum, we both share a lot of ideas about treatment of the poor, fair jurisprudence, and how things should be corrected. These things we shared would normally be lumped into a pile and called our politics and it would be assumed by some that if I voted for Bush, and Bruce voted for Gore, that we must have incompatable views. But in fact that’s not true at all. Smart people with very opposite political views can agree in huge areas that many just assume are political questions which are co-opted or excluded by one’s political figureheads.

    Bruce’s finest quality (beyond just being a nice man) was that he would address your views as a concept, not as political ideology. You could walk away from a conversation with him feeling as if you actually talked about ideas which both of you could still respect and appreciate, even if they were not agreed.

    I am saddened by Bruce’s passing because he was a good and smart man who didn’t find political demons in every adverse viewpoint, and was able to find the political angels in yours, even in disagreement.

    THAT’S political discourse.

  20. michael says:

    I have work to do today, so I’ll just start with the two that might have been least obvious.

    1) Of course leaders don’t explicitly “call for” charismatic leadership/authoritarian leadership. They just behave that way and support those who behave that way while giving lip service to the rule of law. This was true of the Bush-Chaney administration (authoritarian, certs, charismatic for some). It also seems to characterize the leadership style of Palin, and the politicians whom the most prominent right-wing pundits seem to support. Example: complaining that Obama isn’t publicly “angry” enough about BP. That’s not a policy issue and it wasn’t framed as such — that’s an appeal to a model leadership style, and an attempt to feminize the President since they believe that loses him support.

    2) Racism: I see a distinct racial element in the new round of nativism (e.g. the Arizona papers please law, so happily endorsed by may candidates around the country, including Rick Scott) and in the anti-Islamic fear-mongering over Park 51 and other issues (not all Muslims are persons of color, but that’s a detail that is glossed over). Just look at the ads in the primaries (example described here).

  21. Shocked says:

    “Seriously, you’re just going to give yourself another heart attack.”

    Holy hell. You want someone to take you seriously when you spout disrespectful garbage like that? What a beacon of understanding and compassion you are.

  22. phil says:

    Michael, As near I as I can see, you’re scoring on logic and facts, but political discourse seems to have shifted to a complete replication of “Calvinball”. The right-wings rank & file has always seemed willing to abdicate political power to those who promise (whether sincere or not) to keep their taxes down. Even racism and similar bigotry seem to sell better when seasoned with the threat of personal economic cost.

    My biggest problem with Beck is his glaring inconsistency, yet his followers don’t even blink. His stated views of ‘last week’ are frequently opposite of what he stated most emphatically ‘last year’. He just has to say ‘Restoring Honor’ and let FOX viewers picture their own personal demons … whether those are uppity blacks, fertile Hispanics and/or ‘the gays’.

    Vic – I believe there as SOME ‘concepts’ that too distasteful to be respected. And if both sides can’t agreed on what to respect, discourse is just wasted breath.

  23. Vic says:

    Well Shocked, I think you might be overreacting a bit. It was a joke – perhaps in bad taste, but it was not “disrespectful” in any sense, nor was it literal. Apologies to Michael if he took it that way, but I doubt he did.

    My point is that if one mischaracterizes the nature of the Tea Party types, one is destined to be surprised by November because it is not based on current political thinking and can’t be analized under the current rubric of the choice being the Right having all the power, or the Left having all the power. If one thinks that Tea Party issues are based on bigotry or fascism, one is liable to miss the boat entirely and shut down arguments on the nature of Government that SHOULD be aired. Indeed these very arguments WERE a part of this country’s founding, and the preceeded the creation of our form of Government, necessarily informing it.

    Phil – I agree that with some topics there is no middle ground. For example, burying someone in the ground up to their chest and then tossing small stones at them until they die is barbaric. I don’t care if it’s for raping a four year old, it’s barbaric. It’s especially barbaric when it’s punishment for the “crime” of being a 16 year-old girl who was raped. It’s even MORE barbaric when the punishment is carried out by the girl’s uncle to protect “family honor.” I agree that there is no justification that could EVER make me think that’s an OK thing to do, nor would I ever throw up my hands and say it’s not my business if it happens in another country. Nor would I reach a middle ground with anyone who advocates slavery and still actively engages in slave trading. (historically, one of the major reasons there is a U.S. Navy was to protect American shipping from the barbary slave trade. Ironicly. ) And it’s unlikely that I would be moved to listen to another’s grievance if he brought it to my attention (no matter how grave my affront) by sawing another innocent person’s head off slowly for the cameras. Especially when it is claimed for the glory and honor of God.

    All of which are real issues in Islam today. Even the most fundamental sects of other religions do not practice such barbarity on such a wide scale, often endorsed by local governments, usually to the exclusion of other viewpoints, and increasingly in modern Western countries.

    A debate about the nature of taxation, the nature of governmental involvment in private life, the question of the limits of government, the very purpose of government itself is an entirely different caste. One must be careful not to confuse that which we SHOULD not agree upon, with that upon which we naturally disagree.

    But when both sides in this just paint themselves into their respective corners and claim the other side is just being racist, fascist, or whatever… In the end both sides are just being dumb.

    Look, all of us have the responsibility to live our own lives, to think our own thoughts and to have our own beliefs. If we abdicate that personal responsibility to a TV personality or a politician just because they have a D or R next to their name, that’s a personal problem, and an individual would do better to correct that. It’s not Beck’s fault if you stop thinking.

    I also wonder whether the attitudes attributed to the Right come from the Right, or are how the Left characterizes the Right and thus, come from the Left. For example, Michael wrote: “Example: complaining that Obama isn’t publicly “angry” enough about BP. That’s not a policy issue and it wasn’t framed as such — that’s an appeal to a model leadership style, and an attempt to feminize the President since they believe that loses him support.”

    I was openly pissed off around here that more was not being done by our Government in the early days of the oil spill. You may remember that if you were reading around here at the time.

    But I did not even for a MOMENT think that Obama’s lack of response was somehow feminine and I am frankly aghast that anyone WOULD think that some kind of response would be feminine and would on that basis be seen as being bad. That that thought even enters someone’s head is an example of sexist thinking to my mind. I have a lot of conservative friends and NOT ONE of them ever voiced any sort of idea about the oil spill, nor could I imagine they ever would. That kind of thinking only comes from one who pressumes there is a greater or lesser gender but that only a backwards dolt clings to that destinction. To the rest of us, Obama’s response was neither masculine nor feminine, neither black nor white, neither Christian nor Muslim…it was just slow and seemingly laxidasical. Under a slight variation of Michael’s logic, criticism of Obama’s response to the spill could be virulently racist as well (“because everyone on the Right knows how lazy black people are…”). But such logic is based upon the beliefs of the analyst, rather than the criticiser. I’ve never hear ANYONE attribute the response to anything but a perceived lack of leadership, with the exception of those on the Left who then paint the criticism as being racist (I don’t think so) or even sexist (utterly comical).

    But to worry about Beck, or anybody else, having some sort of mind control over individuals and being able to convince them of the truth of every fact is simply elitism. It presumes that all people are too stupid to make up their own minds and decide things for themselves. An alternative to that is to presume that most people DO think for themselves and follow various leaders because they agree, to some extent, but not necessarily completely, with these leaders.

    Maybe, just maybe, Beck was able to draw the crowd he did over the weekend in D.C. not because all of these people are stupid bigots who want to send everyone of color “back” to some other country and put us all under Christian Law (whatever that might be). Maybe he drew this crowd because a lot of people, capable of thinking for themselves without your help, chose to attend to see someone who they feel is significant in some way.

    That Beck is inconsistent is neither here nor there, when your ACTUAL concern is is the huge deficit, the monsterously huge spending by the Federal Government, the arrogant Congress, the poor economy, and a President who at least seems to be carrying on with the parties and vacations, regardless. Beck acts as an umbrella. The Tea Party acts as an umbrella. They don’t represent people who 100% agree on all points, they represent people who have a range of grievences and are prefectly capable of thinking for themselves about them.

  24. michael says:

    And check out Hullabaloo on Palingenesis.

  25. Somebody wanted a definition of fascism. Try this from Umberto Eco:

    http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html

  26. Blaming US-based people for the acts of their foreign co-religionists (is dumb intellectually and dumb politically.

  27. Vic says:

    It’s not that I don’t agree with you that Beck incorporates a big nationalism componant into his ideas, but he doesn’t take that extra and NECESSARY step into fascism. Fascism, be deffinition, involves heavy Government controls on business and the economy. At its heart, it is socialism that is only intended to be national (think Nazi). If differs from say Communism in that there is no intent to become involved in a worldwide movement (like the Soviets) and slight differences in the nature of the Government control.

    Being nationalistic alone can be zenophobic, it can be isolationist, it can be patriotic, it can be jingoistic, it can be a lot of things, but it CANNOT be fascistic without more.

    People who think that socialism is not a bad thing have downplayed that necessary element so most people can manage to get through college without ever understanding or aknowledging the socialist elements. There was a huge Liberal embrace of the Soviet Union, at least before the war, by the Progressives, and the way history has been taught since then has been an attempt to ignore this complicity with the Soviets, separate the Nazis from them (because everyone agrees THEY were bad), and purify socialism so that it is untainted by both. That allows academics and modern Government leaders to espouse socialism without being implicated in the obvious crimes of the fascists and communists. But historically, fascism requires some form of socialism and heavy governmental control, not just nationalism, which is really more of a tendency than anything else.

    Beck and his followers are about as anti-socialist as one can be – and therefore anti-fascist. If he is clear on NOTHING ELSE, he is clear on that. If the Tea Party is clear on nothing else, it is clear on that.

    Assuming that words actually have meaning, of course.

  28. michael says:

    Does fascism require Italian-style corporatism to be fascism? Did the Germans really have it? And even if they did, isn’t the definition/description provided in the Umberto Eco article cited above, good enough?

    Suppose we agree that Back or whoever isn’t a fascist in the sense that rather than requiring labor unions and other social groups to have a say in industrial policy, they are quite happy to have a so-called free-market regime in which (grosso modo) laws protecting and subsidizing industry stay in place, but laws protecting consumers and workers are eliminated. From my point of view that doesn’t exonerate them — if anything it may make them worse if it comes with most of the rest of the fascist package.

    To reiterate: it’s not very interesting or convincing to keep banging on about how modern neo-fascists are not classic corporatists. No one is arguing very hard about that. The question is whether that matters in the least, and I don’t think it does.

  29. Keith says:

    As I understand it, fascism is inimical to socialism in the sense that it eliminates social considerations from economic policy. I thought fascism was about nationalistic fervor devouring social concerns (a la 1984) in favor of the “collective,” which, in this context, means the nation as a whole (think of rhetoric like, “it’s time to reclaim America”) rather than the social groups within it.

    I’d go on, but I’m short on time at the moment.

    Vic, your diatribes would be much more convincing in this forum if they were backed by legitimate sources. I’m not discounting the the value of some of your comments, just their veracity.

  30. Ph.D. says:

    While certain types of socialism may superficially appear to be similar to fascism, the two ideologies clash violently on many issues. The role of the state, for example: Socialism considers the state to be merely a “tool of the people,” sometimes calling it a “necessary evil,” which exists to serve the interests of the people and to protect the common good (in addition, certain forms of libertarian socialism reject the state altogether). Meanwhile, fascism holds the state to be an end in of itself, which the people should obey and serve (rather than the other way around).

    Fascism rejects the central tenets of Marxism which are class struggle and the need to replace capitalism with a society run by the working class in which the workers own the means of production.

    A fascist government is usually characterized as “extreme right-wing,” and a socialist government as “left-wing”. Others such as Hannah Arendt and Friedrich Hayek argue that the differences between fascism and totalitarian forms of socialism are more superficial than actual, since those self-proclaimed “socialist” governments did not live up to their claims of serving the people and respecting democratic principles. Many socialists and communists also reject those totalitarian governments, seeing them as fascism with a socialist mask.

    Vic, I’m not sure how you can say that fascism requires socialism, or what that even means. Oh, and the word you’re looking for is “xenophobic,” with an X not a Z.

  31. Vic says:

    While Eco’s article is facinating of itself (I’m a huge fan of his) it really doesn’t define much – and admits that it lacks deffinition. All Eco was doing was laying out some of the symptoms and maybe precursers (however you want to look at it) of what he calls fascism. As they are (by his own admission) often contradictory, and any one of them, rather than a combination, may be present in fascism, the deffinition becomes ultimately useless because it defines nothing.

    Essentially, all it is is a list of things that tend to maybe be present when there’s fascism. Gee, that’s helpful. If you read it with an open mind, you can generally find items on the list that apply to ANY political system. Are all political systems fascist? (don’t laugh, I know people that would argue the affirmative!)

    And nationalism is certainly not confined to the Right wing. (If you think that, you never met a hardcore Soviet citizen) However, I think what often happens is that things like nationalism get re-defined or characterized according to one’s viewpoint at the time and of the person. What might be patriotic in one context to one person, can be jingoistic to another in another. If a Dem says “that’s what America is all about” (maybe referring to having universal healthcare or something), it’s not REALLY all that different from a Tea Partier saying “that’s not what America is all about” (referring to the federal Government interferring with the salaries of executives in private businesses for political reasons). It’s all just context. When you don’t agree it’s fascism, when you do it just how things should be.

    My point is that if we are going to use words, then those words should have some understandable meaning. Fascism can apply literally to a lot of things, and figuratively to a few more…but Beck?

    The problem with Beck’s argument isn’t it’s fascist elements, if we decide to call them that, but his religious deffinition of patriotism. (especially ironic since he’s also going on and on about Liberation Theology these days) He has, of late, decided that since this country was founded by men who were religious (in an age when most people were, so surprise surprise) that religion MUST be the basis of patriotism that is based on the philosophy of the founding fathers. Now you could argue that that puts him right into the Eco deffinition, but the Eco deffinition encompasses so much that LOTS of things which are decidedly non-fascist meet one or two elements. People who embrace both Buddism and a raw diet are fascists if THAT’S all it takes! (But if one were to take those two elements in Beck to show he’s a fascist, what does that say about those who embrace the founding fathers patriotism part, but not the religion? Can there be non-fascists in a fascist movement? Or do we simply define some OTHER kind of fascism for them? That’s the problem with loose deffinitions.)

    No, I think Beck is just a guy who is capitalizing on what fame he has to get whatever message he has out to people. Partly from ego, partly from patriotism, partly from anti-liberalism, partly because it pays well, etc. I don’t think it’s any more complex than that. I think different people connect with at least some of what he says, but I don’t think all half million (or whatever) that went to his rally agree with everything.

    It’s when you get too caught up attributing deeper motives to people that you create bigger issues when they ultimately and inevitably falter. Look at Clinton. He was a great President as politicians go, but he had a fatal flaw – he was a womanizer. He did it a bunch of times in his life, everyone knew about it, but lots of people chose to ignore it. So eventually it blows up in his face, like we all knew it would, and suddenly everyone is scrambling around trying to explain what doesn’t need to be explained. In attributing deeper meaning to Clinton as President, his humanity was ignored. Then when it all blew up, because he always was just a man, it created an unnecessary firestorm. But Clinton was just a guy, just like Beck is just a guy. Don’t turn him into a mythic character with mythic powers or you are buying into that same old celebrity BS that so much of America suffers from. I bet more people can name the judges on American Idol (I can’t, BTW) and who won each season, than can name their Congressperson and Senators. That’s what people do – they create myths and attribute what they want onto famous people.

    More importantly, Beck’s not the head of any movement, but he’s symbolic of a deeper movement among people who want to find a third way in Government. That third way has formed around nobody at this point, and by deffinition won’t. We’ve already seen it happening in some of the early elections that have been anti-incumbant and both anti-D and anti-R. It’s not Beck’s Brownshirts that are the issue at all, and if you keep worrying about him, you are going to be surprised.

    And for those of you who feel compelled to point out my spelling errors – thanks, but it’s just a symptom of typing fast and not bothering to re-read. I do know how to spell xenophobic, just not when my hands move faster than my brains… Thank you though.

    And honestly, I’m not sure how my arguments (which are just philosophic viewpoints most of the time) need to be backed by “legitimate sources.” Ummm, I don’t know…maybe look up fascism in an encyclopedia or something? The legitimate source for most of what I say is me.

  32. Just me says:

    Hosestly, who gives a damn whether Beck is a “fascist.” A [stinker] by any other name would smell as [sour] (he is a douche bag no matter what we label him).

  33. Ha says:

    Hands, feet, molasses – I think almost anything moves faster than Vic’s brain.

    “The legitimate source for most of what I say is me.” Has anyone ever seen a more blatant display of pseudo-intellectual self-love?

  34. michael says:

    Commentators, especially those engaged in heated debate, are kindly asked to review the comments policy.

  35. Vic says:

    What can possibly be wrong with saying that my beliefs are my own and come from my own thought.

    Has the Cult of the Talking Heads really taken that much hold? I guess that would explain why everyone is so concerned with what Beck has to say about anything.

  36. Keith says:

    Vic, I think he referred to the comments policy in your defense.

  37. Amber says:

    Before war in the Muslim world became a product of a Republican President, and therefore defacto wrong, I remember the constant Internet petitions and ever corner protests about how Islam was mistreating people. How many anti-Taliban petitions did YOU sign when they implemented their “reforms” in Afganistan? – I know I signed a few. Now all of a sudden, criticism – legitimate criticism – of Islam can ONLY be a product of fascism and/or racism. It can’t be for any other reason.

  38. michael says:

    I am a citizen and resident of the USA. I believe that I therefore have the greatest moral duties here, where I live and vote. It is a big world; in fact it is a big country. While once a while I might get involved in a petition drive about something foreign — especially if it involves academic freedom, a subject where I may know something and might conceivably be seen to speak to foreign power with some relevance — mostly I concentrate on political issues where I am.

    So — surprise! — yes, criticism of people here who act in a way that undermines the religious freedom on which this country is based might just have some motive other than love for the Taliban.

    I am continually amazed at how many people seem think that a US citizen concerned about our Constitution and his neighbors might somehow be disabled from pointing out that the local vigilantes have taken a position that used to belong to people in white sheets just because far away some really horrible people are also taking the same intolerant position in their country — which isn’t subject to our Constitution — or that actively opposing one is meaningless unless one has actively opposed the other.

    Yes, in a perfect world we would oppose bigotry and injustice everywhere equally. But in a world of day jobs and limited resources, we often (but not inevitably) start where we are.

    By all means work to oppose the Taliban with my blessing. And maybe bring some of that pluralistic spirit home too?

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