The Hate Goes To Eleven

As longtime readers know, I always prefer to read transcripts of speeches instead of listening to them. Many rhetorical tricks don't work as well in print as in voice, and you can get a better feel for the strength of the argument by reading it instead. It was tough to find one today! There are lots of articles about how bad the speech was, about how crowds were light and drifted away during the speech, about how James Clapper questioned the President's fitness to serve after hearing it, but transcripts are thin on the ground.

I finally did locate one. Normally these things are simply titled, "Transcript of [Whoever's] Remarks." This time, the transcript was titled: "President Trump Ranted For 77 Minutes in Phoenix. Here’s What He Said."

It was only by reading the transcript that I discovered, left out of all of the media coverage, that Alveda King was there. With a little more research, I discovered that she wasn't just there present, but had a speaking role in the form of providing a long opening prayer.



That's the sort of thing I'd have thought highly relevant, given the recent weeks of concern about whether or not the President supports white supremacists. I'd have expected to have seen it mentioned more prominently in coverage of the speech.

Our Secretary of Defense


Reagan made the same point, without the language that some are objecting to in Mattis' statement. I suppose it's fair enough to say that it's possible to make the point without the language; but maybe America needs to hear that kind of language from a guy like Jim Mattis more than we used to do.

Bad Day for BLM

Not guilty on almost all charges for the Bundy crew, with a few that the jury refused to decide one way or the other.

Beer Muscles

A strongman competition that looks like a good time. I understand there will be beer for drinking, too.

The Anti-Free Speech Strategy

It's all part of a grand design, writes an academic in the pages of the Washington Post:
Here’s the dilemma college presidents face in the fall: Either uphold free speech on campus and risk violent counterprotests, or ban conservative provocateurs and confirm the “freedom of speech” crisis on campuses. Either way their institution’s legitimacy is undermined.

This impossible dilemma is no accident. It has been part of a strategy, deployed first by conservatives and perfected by the alt-right.
Brilliant! How did they ensure the risk of violent counterprotests?

The whole thing urges a rethinking of "free speech absolutism." If I were the editor of the Washington Post, I would have declined to print it. Ordinarily, I would have explained, my paper was so committed to free speech that we would publish the ideas even of those hostile to the most basic American values. But in this case, the dangers associated with her point might be best illustrated by example.

The Feminization of Christianity

That is the title of a longer essay at The Art of Manliness, the essay being written by Brett & Kate McKay. There's no problem (I would think) with there being feminine forms of Christianity, as half of humanity is female and the faith is not only for men. The problem, the authors suggest, is that Christianity has become so feminine that it is no longer attractive to men -- which means that men don't go to church, and that the culture as a whole shifts away from Christianity.

They say the seeds for this transformation lay in the High Middle Ages:

[I]n the Middle Ages, female mystics, following the lead of Catholic thinkers like Bernard of Clairvaux, began developing an interpretation of the bridegroom/bride relationship as representing that which existed not only between Christ and the collective church, but Christ and the individual soul. Jesus became not only a global savior, but a personal lover, whose union with believers was described by Christian mystics with erotic imagery. Drawing on the Old Testament’s Song of Songs, but again, using it as an allegory to describe God’s relationship with an individual, rather than with his entire people (as it had traditionally been interpreted), they developed a new way for the Christian to relate to Christ – one marked by intimate longing.

For example, the German nun Margareta Ebna (1291-1351) described Jesus as piercing her “with a swift shot from His spear of love” and exulted in feeling his “wondrous powerful thrusts against my heart,” though she complained that “[s]ometimes I could not endure it when the strong thrusts came against me for they harmed my insides so that I became greatly swollen like a woman great with child.”

The idea of Christian-as-Bride-of-Christ would migrate from Catholicism to Protestantism, and be picked up even by the dour Puritans who journeyed to American shores. Mather himself declared that “Our SAVIOR does Marry Himself unto the Church in general, But He does also Marry Himself to every Individual Believer.” Mather’s fellow Puritan leader, Thomas Hooker, preached that:
“Every true believer . . . is so joined unto the Lord, that he becomes one spirit; as the adulterer and the adultresse is one flesh. . . . That which makes the love of a husband increase toward his wife is this, Hee is satisfied with her breasts at all times, and then hee comes to be ravished with her love . . . so the will chuseth Christ, and it is fully satisfied with him. . . . I say this is a total union, the whole nature of the Saviour, and the whole nature of a believer are knit together; the bond of matrimony knits these two together, . . . we feed upon Christ, and grow upon Christ, and are married to Christ.”
That which was present at the founding of the country, grew to become part and parcel of American Christianity, especially its evangelical strain, and continues to play a significant role in influencing the language and ethos of the faith today.

In Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Murrow points to examples of how the bridal imagery born in the Middle Ages continues into the modern age, citing books with titles like Falling in Love With Jesus: Abandoning Yourself to the Greatest Romance of Your Life, and authors who “vigorously encourage women to imagine Jesus as their personal lover”:
“One tells her readers to ‘develop an affair with the one and only Lover who will truly satisfy your innermost desires: Jesus Christ.’

Another offers this breathless description of God’s love: ‘This Someone entered your world and revealed to you that He is your true Husband. Then He dressed you in a wedding gown whiter than the whitest linen. You felt virginal again. And alive! He kissed you with grace and vowed never to leave you or forsake you. And you longed to go and be with Him.’”
While much of what Murrow calls “Jesus-is-my-boyfriend imagery” is directed at women, Murrow believes it has become suffused throughout the entire faith, and “migrate[d] to men as well.” “These days,” he writes, “it’s fairly common for pastors to describe a devout male as being ‘totally in love with Jesus.’ I’ve heard more than one men’s minister imploring a crowd of guys to fall deeply in love with the Savior.’”
I know quite a bit about the expressions of Christianity in the High Middle Ages, and I'd have to say that this was at that time very much an undercurrent of the faith. The roots may lay there, but that isn't how you see the faith being portrayed in either the scholarly writing of churchmen, or else the popular songs and tales of the era. It could be that they are right that this undercurrent informed a major shift in later periods, of course.

Still, in the Middle Ages, the eroticism of the faith is as likely to provide an erotic attraction for men as well as for women. As late as The Faerie Queene, the church-as-bride metaphor was being employed in a kind of dual way: Una symbolizes the church that is the bride of Christ, but Una herself weds to St. George as his reward for his dragonslaying virtue. The Grail Maiden, daughter of King Pelles, ends up seducing Lancelot (right after he too slays a dragon; Elaine only later marries him) and being the mother of Galahad (who fulfills the Grail quest through chastity, not eroticism). Lancelot is chosen by God to father Galahad on Elaine, according to the story, because he (like St. George) is a living flower of valorous knighthood. Service to God and erotic success are linked for men in these stories. Living out the noble virtues honored by the faith makes one worthy of love and beauty, which will be put by God to further service through the stability of one's marriage and the fates of one's children.

Thus, if the Bride of Christ narrative was as important for female mystics as the authors imply, that only creates parity, not a "feminization" of Christianity in the High Middle Ages. One might, of course, question whether or not eroticism is really even appropriate as a religious motivation; but whether it is or is not, it certainly was not an exclusively female (let alone 'feminizing') one. It was a regular justification for the most manly of the virtues (though note that, in The Faerie Queene, there is a female knight exercising these mostly-manly virtues; and there is at least one in the older Arthurian corpus as well).

As for their later periods, I am less well placed to provide a useful critique.

Eclipse Glasses

I rode up into the totality footprint yesterday. It was really something. I'm glad that America had a moment of something special that we could all do together, even if for most of the country it was only a partial eclipse.

In the aftermath, you may have some of these special sunglasses people bought to watch the thing. Instead of throwing them away, send them to this group that wants to stockpile them for kids in South America next year. Why not? It won't cost but a postage stamp, and you probably won't need them again.

Is the Field of Medieval Studies Adequately Diverse?

There has been a raft of articles and petitions on the topic recently.

What I don't find in any of them are statistics to back up the assertion. That's odd: there's a similar debate in philosophy, and I know that the numbers there are roughly 70/30 male/female. "Medieval Studies" as such doesn't exist in a lot of places; it's often a subset of the language studies (e.g., readings of Middle English are done in the English department; the languages of Oc and Oui in the French department, etc). Language studies are dominated by women, and have been for decades. (Link is to the graph for English studies, but the trend holds in general for language departments.) It could be that women are more inclined to study contemporary literature instead of dead versions of the language, of course; I don't have statistics on that, but it's a possibility.

Alternatively, it can be done in the History department, where women are rapidly approaching the majority but are still not quite there. Nevertheless, women don't have to be in an absolute majority for the field to be adequately diverse: if women earned 45% of doctorates in the field rather than 51%, that would simply counterbalance the language fields where women earn north of 60% of doctroates.

So I'd be a little surprised to learn that there is a significant lack of diversity on the male/female axis. What about ethnicity?

Again, philosophy is said to have a diversity problem because under 25% of degrees are earned by ethnic or racial minorities of any kind. It's about the same for English literature degrees. You might think that people are most likely to study their own language's literature than to learn a foreign language well enough to appreciate its literature in the original. But actually whites are more likely to pursue a degree in other languages, too. Partly this may be because language degrees are chiefly valuable economically to translators, so that if you want to be a translator and you aren't bilingual, you'd be the sort to seek a degree; someone who already speaks a foreign language plus English would be more likely to pursue an actual degree in some other field. Those aren't the people we're interested in, though; we want to know who studies the medieval version of the language, not the contemporary one.

History degrees are even lower: only 18% of such degrees are awarded to minorities of any kind that is measured. Of course, again, we don't have figures on medieval history particularly.

If there is a disparity, what would likely explain it? The articles suggest it is a kind of prejudice for a world that is more Christian and whiter. But there are other factors that could be at play:

1) A Medieval Studies degree is a luxury good, and a medieval language degree even moreso. Unlike philosophy degrees, the training for which has very wide application in terms of problem solving, a degree in Middle English trains you to teach Chaucer and Malory, and a few other less-well-known figures. Electing to invest in such a rarefied education may not seem like a good option to a larger percentage of people from ethnic minority groups, who may be more likely to be struggling to find a place for themselves and their families than secure enough to chase after that one job in a million teaching Chaucer.

2) People tend to be interested in history insofar as they feel connected to it. If you are of Scottish extraction, you may be more interested in Scottish history than someone who is Chinese. Medieval history is chiefly European, and thus it wouldn't be too surprising if people of European extraction were the ones most often drawn to it. But that only means "white people" in the American sense; in Europe, where I would expect Medieval History and Language to be much larger fields given the direct access to the primary sources, there would be plenty of diversity in the sense of "white people" breaking down into Germans, French, Spaniards, etc.

3) A lot of the love of the medieval period comes from literature: Tolkien, the stories of King Arthur and his noble knights, Ivanhoe. Who reads this stuff? Maybe that's a clue to who develops a love for the field. These things have been taken off the curricula of high schools, just because the literature field is seeking diversity in what they expose kids to. That means that people have to seek these things out on their own, and who does that? As above, "people tend to be interested... insofar as they feel connected to it."

My guess is that there might well be a lack of ethnic diversity in the various American fields that get roped together as Medieval Studies; there probably is perfectly adequate sexual diversity, and in Europe diversity is what I would expect to be the case unless we insist on reading all the Germans and French and so forth as simply "white." If it's a problem, I doubt it can be solved by conferences, however. You're going to have to change the economic incentives, plus get more people to read the literature that causes you to love the period. That means altering high school curricula again. Are people seeking greater diversity likely to want to make that trade? It would mean exposing a very large number of Americans to less diverse readings in high school, in the hope of attaining a larger still-very-small number of American Ph.D.s in Medieval History from non-white backgrounds. If diversity is the goal, I'm not at all sure that's a good trade.

Johnny Cash's Legacy

Rosanne Cash wrote an open letter condemning supremacism in any form. It was in reference to someone wearing a shirt with Johnny Cash's image on it, and a desire to make clear that he wasn't associated with their movement.

Billboard magazine elected to reprint a 1964 letter by Johnny Cash himself, one that was aimed at standing up for Native Americans. I assume everyone here knows the Ballad of Ira Hayes, who was one of the Marines at Iwo Jima as well as a member of the Pima people. Cash was a good guy for standing up for anyone who'd had a hard shake.

He also sang songs about the Civil War, including a version of the one Raven posted in the comments the other day.

It's a pretty good example of what "Heritage, not Hate" looks like when it's true.

A Memorial's Story

Posted without comment.
Dulce et decorum est

"Let me tell you a story. Once, there were two brothers, Milton and Calvin. Milton was eighteen and Calvin was sixteen, and they lived with their parents on a small farm in red clay country, a few acres of bottomland. War came. Important men in fine clothes made fancy speeches, and of course they were right because they had university degrees and they were important and anyway war was a grand adventure, so Milton joined up. He joined the Guilford Greys and he had a fine uniform and a great hat. Calvin wanted to come too. He begged and pleaded and threatened to run away until it was decided that Calvin would come with Milton, and Milton would keep him safe. And so the boys went to war.

"It wasn't fun and it wasn't shiny. It wasn't glorious and it wasn't neat. It was horrible and dark and scary and the brothers stuck together, and Milton took care of Calvin. And then there was a terrible losing battle called The Wilderness, a running awful messy battle in deep forest with enemies and friends strung out all over the place, and Calvin was shot. The enemy was moving in, and Calvin was shot, and figures with bayonets were moving through the powdersmoke, and they were retreating. The lieutenant ordered Milton to retreat but he wouldn't. His brother was wounded on the field, and he wouldn't leave him. And so he stayed with his brother's unconscious body, and put his hands in the air when they saw him.

"Milton and Calvin were captured, and they were taken to a POW camp at a place called Elmira. 12,100 men were sent to Elmira, and 2,970 of them died there in the next twelve months, 24.5%, a rate comparable with Andersonville and British held by the Japanese in World War II. (For comparison, the death rate of Germans held by Americans in World War II was 0.15%.) Calvin was one of the ones who died. He was buried in a mass grave in a long burial trench at Woodlawn Cemetery.

"Milton was one of the ones who lived. When the war ended, some of the POWs were given train tickets home. Not Milton. He started walking. He walked eight hundred miles. He got home. He explained to his mother and father that he had failed. Calvin wasn't safe. He was rotting in a trench. He died when he was eighteen years old. Milton hadn't taken care of him.

"But Milton lived. He was now his family's breadwinner. He got a job on the railroad as a brakeman. He moved into town. Eventually he married and built a little house with four rooms right near the railroad track. He had two sons, Calvin and Luther. And he told them the story, he told them about Calvin. His sons did ok. Calvin became a fireman, and eventually fire chief. Luther became a master plumber and pipefitter, and he installed lots of new flush commodes in houses in town.

"My father remembered as a child when his grandfather Luther contributed to build the Confederate Memorial in Woodlawn Cemetery. It's a bronze stele of a young man in uniform mounted on granite with an inscription that reads "In memory of the confederate soldiers of the war between the states who died in Elmira Prison and lie buried here." It stands over the old mass grave amid rows of white crosses, one for each of the 2,970 men. Milton was dead by the time it was erected, in 1937, but Luther contributed in honor of the uncle he'd never known. Calvin left no works of art, no good work, not even fine installed toilets or trains that reached the station safely. He left no children, no genes to pass down the ages. He left nothing but a brother's love.

"Now the Nazis have claimed our story, have claimed our statues, and protesters march with banners and shout to tear down these memorials, these horrific symbols of evil people which were raised in hate to intimidate and frighten. They've taken our story, and we will lose the statues too. We will lose Calvin, and all the young men like him. We can't even tell the story for fear of being reviled. I can't post this out of friendslock for fear of destroying my life. If I do, I'll be called a Nazi and a racist and an evil person who should be killed. They've taken our story.

"Maybe, when enough time has passed, when these Nazis too are gone, we can tell it again. Or maybe it will be lost forever, like so many stories have been. Or maybe someone who isn't American can tell it, someone who is free from this particular constellation of issues. But right now all I can do is grieve -- for what the Nazis have taken from us, and from my friends who are posting that only evil people would defend these memorials. These memorials don't belong to them. They belong to Milton and Calvin. Maybe one day, if I live long enough, I can say that."

Accountable to the Public

A law enforcement group called "Major County Sheriffs of America" wants you to learn from last weekend that militias shouldn't be trusted to keep the peace.
“Any group that considers themselves a public safety group other than law enforcement is of concern because that is not their job. It’s the law enforcement’s job,” said Sandra Hutchens, president of Major County Sheriffs of America, told Defense One. The group is an association of elected sheriffs “representing counties or parishes with 500,000 population or more.”

One reason the presence of heavily armed men patrolling during “alt-right” events adds a new level of danger is because no one is entirely sure why they are even there or to whom they are accountable, including the militia members themselves. Law enforcement officers, on the other hand, are “accountable to the public always; that’s a very important point in this,” said Hutchens, who also is the sheriff-coroner for Orange County, Calif. “If we’re not doing it appropriately, then we’re accountable to the people and the government.”
There are a few things to say about that argument.

First of all, the police didn't in fact do their job. How accountable do we expect that they are going to be for not doing so? The mayor and governor appear to have ordered them not to do it. Possibly the mayor and governor might be turned out at the next election, maybe, but the police? There is I think no possibility whatsoever that they will be held accountable. Nobody's going to lose his job, nobody's going to jail for nonfeasance, nobody's going to get a pay cut. They obeyed orders, and that will be enough.

Secondly, the lack of accountability for law enforcement officers is not unique to situations in which not doing their jobs appropriately is ordered. It also happens when they make mistakes, get scared, and sometimes even when they do wrong on purpose. If a militia member shoots somebody, I guarantee you they'll face the full array of legal accountability. Even if they were completely justified in the shooting -- in a situation of self defense or defense of an innocent, against an immediate danger of death or grievous bodily harm -- they'll be arrested and subject to investigation. Most likely they will be charged, and the justification of their action tested in court before a judge and a jury of their peers. If they were not justified in any way, they will be convicted and go to jail. They are personally, immediately accountable to the public through criminal law in a way that law enforcement officers regularly prove not to be.

Thirdly, unlike law enforcement officers, they will be personally accountable to the public via civil law. They can be personally sued in civil court for any harm caused by the shooting. This will include both documented harm and also more subjective categories like 'pain and suffering,' 'estimated lost wages,' etc.

Lots of law enforcement officers do a good job of keeping the peace in their community. It may very well be that it would be better for everyone if the police stopped conflict between protest groups instead of having us rely on militias. However, when the police fail to do so appropriately they are certainly not more accountable to the public than private citizens who belong to militias. Police are much, much less so.

Pershing Is Worth Studying, But...

...the lesson you'll learn from him is uncertain.

It is not in fact the case that Pershing ended Islamic terrorism in the Philippines for 35 years. The story to which the President is alluding is almost certainly false.

(UPDATE: I stand corrected. According to Pershing's autobiography of the period, which was unpublished until the University of Kentucky Press put it out in 2015, he did in fact bury Moros with dead pigs:



So that's news to me -- when I studied the period, that was understood to be a falsehood.)

Pershing did have a fairly successful stint as military governor. He instituted a number of changes (including not 'shooting people with pigs blood,' but actually donating land for the construction of mosques) that helped bring people closer to the government. He did succeed in transitioning to a civilian government, although it still needed armed guards everywhere.

Partially this was because he decided to disarm the Moros, which led to a series of pretty punishing battles. Nor was he successful: I've been to these places, and the Moro's aren't disarmed yet.

What actually ended the Moro rebellions against Americans in the Philippines was the loss of the islands to the Japanese, though. Then the Moros fought the Japanese instead. Since the end of WWII, there have been regular resurgences of violence. Pretty much anybody who decides they're going to go down there and run the place ends up fighting the Moros. There have been successful counterinsurgencies, but they don't last because ultimately the Moros just don't want to be ruled by anyone else.

So maybe the lesson is, "Certain people should probably be left alone." I'd like it if that was the lesson government officials took from this, but I doubt that it will be.

UPDATE: A good longer piece from 2012 on Pershing in Mindanao, from Small Wars Journal.

A Story of American Unity

Those of you who are fans of old cowboy movies will of course know the closing scene from Rio Grande, in which General Philip Sheridan orders the band to play 'Dixie' in tribute to one of the ladies whose home he had burned during his Shenandoah Campaign. It's a romanticized Hollywood sequence; I have no idea if anything like it ever happened.

But here's a true story about Sherman, whose burning campaign through Georgia is even more famous than Sheridan's.
On 19 February, a funeral service was held at his home, followed by a military procession. General Joseph E. Johnston, the Confederate officer who had commanded the resistance to Sherman's troops in Georgia and the Carolinas, served as a pallbearer in New York City. It was a bitterly cold day and a friend of Johnston, fearing that the general might become ill, asked him to put on his hat. Johnston famously replied: "If I were in [Sherman's] place, and he were standing in mine, he would not put on his hat." Johnston did catch a serious cold and died one month later of pneumonia.
Of course, like other figures, we have to remember the bad with the good. Sheridan went on to command an equally brutal series of wars against various Native American tribe-nations. Those campaigns were conducted under Sherman's higher authority, and with his blessing -- as well they might have been, since Sheridan's total warfare approach was based on Sherman's model.

I guess there are probably statues to them, too. For now.

UPDATE: A similar story of seeking unity from the funeral of Robert E. Lee.

Principles for Getting Things Right

Amid the controversy over who was to blame, whether it was 'one side' or 'both sides' (or if, indeed, there were more than two sides!), I thought it would be useful to say what we should be for rather than just what we ought to be against.

1) Upholding the Constitution

2) Opposing Racism

3) Opposing Violence Against Innocents

4) Defending a Public Space for all Americans

The scorecard on this list for C'ville:

White Nationalists / KKK / Nazis: Wrong on points 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Antifa / Communists: Wrong on points 1 and 4. (Communists also have a bad history on 3, but we're just talking about this weekend.)

Nonviolent Peaceful Counterprotesters: Not in violation of any points, but ineffective on 4.

Government/Police: Complete abdication of duty on 3 and 4 at all levels until it was too late. Democratic mayor/governor opposed 1st Amendment on allowing the rally to happen at all; Republican President seems weak on 2 at times, though at other times he says appropriate things. If our government is taken as a whole, it failed on all four principles.

III% Militias: The only ones who did the right thing at every level, opposed radicals committed to destroying the Constitution or effecting racism, stopped attacks in real time while the police stood aside, and did so without resorting to significant force.

That ought to be a significant finding. It's not just 'both sides' of the protesters who did at least some things wrong, it's both sides of the government, too. The only good citizens were the nonviolent protesters and the III%ers.

The Real Right

Well said.
These hypothetical fine people on the “Unite the Right” side [posited by Trump] still would not be conservatives, or even American patriots, because they’ve given up on America. They, like the left, reject the existence of an American people and equality of all before the law, and instead embrace identity politics and the ideology of government-enforced multiculturalism....

The Charlottesville crowd agrees with the left that there is no American people, only multiple, distinct peoples inhabiting the same space, whose interaction must be refereed by the state. In other words, they’re multiculturalists who merely want whites to grab their share of the spoils....

The proper response to this is not Romney’s and Rubio’s desperate pleas to be eaten last, but a forthright assertion that race and ethnicity have no place in American law. No quotas or set-asides. No Census Bureau tabulation of race or ethnicity. No ethnic or religious preferences in immigration law. We need a high wall of separation between ethnicity and state.

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

Tonight in my email, a letter from Democracy for America urging me to sign a petition to impeach the President over today's press conference.

Really. Here's the petition, if any of you want to sign it.

I'm trying to decide if they think his press conference constitutes a high crime, or a misdemeanor. High crime, I'm thinking.

UPDATE: MoveOn has added their call, in a fundraising email, to impeach the President over yesterday's press conference. "Begin the impeachment process. For months now, we've been demanding that Congress begin the process to remove Donald Trump from office. Yesterday's behavior was yet another example of just how unfit he is for the office of the presidency. And how urgently impeachment is needed."

The Roads are Built on Faerie Rings

An Irish MP has a theory for why the infrastructure is crumbling.

It's a possibility. The folk in Iceland have had some success by figuring out how to work around the elves.

That's the Spirit

Caesar Civitella, who killed more than a dozen Nazis in World War II and helped capture more than 3,800, has a message for the neo-Nazis who staged a deadly rally in Virginia over the weekend.

"I would tell them that we have no use for Hitler-type philosophy in the U.S. and that they can either stop being a Nazi or people will give them bodily injury," said Civitella, 93, of St. Petersburg.

Radicalizing Immigration

If you look at America's most strongly conservative states, they tend to be places with high diversity -- Texas borders Mexico, the Deep South has larger black populations than elsewhere, and so forth. If you look at the eras of large-scale immigration, you tend to find violence. Immigration plus assimilation works out well for America in the long run, but in the short run it tends to provoke upset and tends to drive conservative reactions.

The obvious exception is California, where a large surge in immigration has been coupled with a complete end to conservative politics. Republicans are simply not to be found in the state government or its Federal delegations. The alliance between minorities in the state's big cities and an elite of tech companies in Silicon Valley has settled all questions in the liberal direction. Republicans and conservatives still exist in the state, but they are voiceless and powerless in democratic government.

That's the model that the 'emerging Democratic majority' has been aiming at all these years. The problem is that it works to the degree that it does in California because the immigration surge happened quickly (Reagan was governor a generation ago) and the tech jobs keep a large part of the white population convinced not to pursue their own version of identity politics. It's easy to buy the argument from white privilege when you are, in fact, privileged. It's not as easy to sell that argument in Alabama or West Virginia -- or Michigan.

For the last eight years the Federal government acted as if it believed that this 'emerging Democratic majority' should be helped along. They banned states from enforcing Federal immigration laws to prevent them from being more vigorously enforced, while also winking at 'sanctuary cities' that refused to enforce Federal immigration laws at all. Whatever their intentions, it looked like they were trying to shift the population's demographics a little more quickly than the law allowed.

People on the left may be waking up to the fact that it may not be possible to get to a nation that looks like California. These policies may be making more parts of the country look like Texas or Mississippi.

For now, they're still looking at this as a strictly moral issue: prejudice is bad, so these people acting out of prejudice are bad people, and we want to be on the side of the good (meaning non-prejudice: these are of course white people writing at Vox, who are thinking about the issue from their own perspective, not about how identity politics actively encourages racial prejudice from minorities). I agree that there should be no racial prejudice, and that we should -- as a moral concern -- strive against it in our hearts. But there is also an environmental psychology issue. Raising the discomfort level people feel makes them more conservative, because conservatives are characterized by being sensitive to threats in their environment. If you increase the perceived number of threats, you are going to make more people functionally conservative.

That's true even of people who share the moral concern about prejudice. Even if people are striving against prejudice in their heart, if you disrupt their community economically or culturally in a way that feels threatening, you're going to find more total prejudice. A good person who is trying hard may be able to suppress prejudice in themselves 50% of the time, say; maybe it's 70%, or 90%. Whatever the figure is, if you increase the number of times a day that their environment provokes an opportunity for prejudice, you're going to increase the total amount of prejudice even if they continue to suppress it in their hearts at the same rate.

If you wanted to put the brakes on this, oddly enough, you'd do what Trump claims to be doing: you'd slow legal immigration, clamp down on illegal immigration, and work on improving the economy so that people felt less personally threatened by the immigration that there is. That would be the sensible policy for lowering the temperature so that we can assimilate the large wave of immigration we've had recently with the minimum of racism, prejudice, or violence.

But that's not the conversation we're having. Mark Lilla's getting close, though.
It works for them. It doesn't work for us. It's that simple. It's killing us. The task isn't to deliver a moral judgment on whether appealing to identity is a good or bad thing. We're talking about trying to seize power in this country....

The other thing is that Fox News and conservative radio have managed to take characteristics that we have, exaggerate them, and turn us into a kind of specter. This specter, for people who don't come from our classes, don't share our education, don't share all of our values, is something that leaves them with the impression that we have contempt for them, and they have developed contempt for us. We're unable just to make people feel culturally comfortable....

So yes, we have to emphasize certain things and not emphasize other things. We compromise. We try to remain silent on things that will be too contentious. It's not about being morally pure. It is about seizing power so you can help the people you care about. That's all that matters right now.
I would feel better about his theorizing if he were less interested in 'seizing power' as the end of his politics, and more interested in avoiding the violence and division that is coming out of this method. But maybe that's just a way of trying to be rhetorically persuasive to people who are committed to identity politics. In any case, I would rather that they listened to him for a bad reason than ignored him for a good one. The way out of this mess lies in the direction he's pointing, whatever their reasons for taking that path.

Conscience and Policing

Recently we were talking about how the Supreme Court-endorsed standard for military servicemembers defying an order was that the order should be so unlawful as to 'shock the conscience.' What about the police?

We're seeing reports out of Virginia that the police didn't intervene in street combat because they had been instructed not to do so absent orders. There is a lot of speculation about the motive behind that order; I'll leave that for now. The governor says he felt the orders were justified. My question is, how can this order not shock the conscience enough to justify violating it?

The National Guard was on hand too, and also did not intervene. But the National Guard is typically not used as the first line of defense in these cases, and may well have received a 'standby' order as an indication that the police had it under control. In fact, the police apparently weren't even trying to control the situation.

Last night, in North Carolina, the Sheriff decided that the best response to protesters destroying a monument was to film it but not interfere. "Collectively, we decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority," he explained. Leaving all other issues aside, how is 'public safety' coherent with people pulling down a giant bronze statue onto their heads? Nobody had hard hats or proper equipment. Even if you feel like they were completely justified in destroying this statute without lawful authority, their manner of doing so put lots of people at risk of injury. The police chose not to stop them. This is taking the side of public safety?

It may well be that the police have chosen sides in this drama; if so, likely they aren't all on the same side. Alternatively, they may have decided to absent themselves from the drama as it is safer for them to arrest single individuals later than to try to make arrests from a mob.

Donald Trump says he's going to bring law and order to bear on all this. So far, there's little sign of it. Absent that, you can't blame people for deciding they're going to have to protect themselves and their interests independently. Is that what leaders in government think that they want? Do police?

UPDATE: In related news, the Washington Post published this article by an associate professor calling for "direct action" -- which he specifies can look liked "armed self defense" -- as the only workable response to white nationalists. Maybe the professor is right; maybe nothing but vigilante justice will suppress a group like the Klan.

But the Klan are vigilantes too. That's really their whole thing: nightriding, lynching, fiery crosses in the dark. If you endorse vigilantism here, you have to figure it's going to go both ways.

UPDATE: Three Percenters reportedly did "more to break up altercations than the police." Which, good for them: they were acting as good citizens, which is what the movement is all about.
Yingling called both sides protesting in Charlottesville “jackasses” and said his group was there only to guard the First Amendment, which protects the right to free speech. He said that the response to his call to attend the rally was small, because other members feared being associated with white supremacists.

Another militia whose members were reportedly present in Charlottesville as well, the “Three Percenters,” issued a “stand down” order in response to the protests, and denounced any members that chose to attend a neo-Nazi or white supremacy demonstrations, The Trace reported....

Local law enforcement came under fire for its lackluster response to the violence. According to reporters from ProPublica, militia members from New York state played a more active role in breaking up altercations than the police.
So it's certainly possible to do this well, and I find the conduct of the militias to be praiseworthy. Still, my guess is that not every vigilante is going to be so well behaved, or so interested in protecting civic norms. The Klan certainly won't be. But maybe the III% response is the only valid one, as the government apparently intends to play no useful role.

UPDATE: ACLU accuses VA governor of intentionally provoking violence by police stand-down so he could void the permits that a Federal court forced him to issue on 1A grounds.

"Lions Ate Him"

Richard Fernandez:
The asymmetry in the strategic goals of Red and Blue derives from the importance of the state to each. For progressives, survival means retaining ascendance over the state. For the Red or Populist side, the goal is merely to keep the state from being ascendant over them. This asymmetry is the great weakness of the Progressives. If they don't win they lose. For Rebels, if they don't lose they win.... A progressive movement that has routinely regarded the pacification of Vietnam, Iraq or Cuba uneconomical must surely realize the suppression of half of America is infeasible. The raised tone and heightened warnings of cultural elites inspires little confidence. They are reminiscent of lion-tamers shouting to keep the beasts under control. It's strategic asymmetry at work. For progressives, the show means controlling the lions. For the lions all they have to do to end the performance is walk out of the ring. They don't even have to bite the tamers.
I'm all for that. Which is the way out of the ring?