The fallacy of civility, or why it’s OK to be rude to racists and Nazis

There has been much discussion lately about whether or not the left should try to maintain some level of civility in these difficult times.  I can’t speak for everyone, but in my own mind, I don’t think there is any point to trying to be civil to a bunch of people who themselves stopped being civil long ago.  The editorial board of the Washington Post does not agree, and they are apparently clutching their pearls so tightly that they have cut off circulation to their brain.

“We nonetheless would argue that Ms. Huckabee, and Ms. Nielsen and Mr. Miller, too, should be allowed to eat dinner in peace. Those who are insisting that we are in a special moment justifying incivility should think for a moment how many Americans might find their own special moment. How hard is it to imagine, for example, people who strongly believe that abortion is murder deciding that judges or other officials who protect abortion rights should not be able to live peaceably with their families?”

I would laugh, except this level of stupidity in one of the supposed flagship newspapers of our era actually makes me want to sob uncontrollably.  Um… news flash, geniuses: those people have not been left in peace for, let’s see, several decades.  In fact, they have been bombed and shot and stabbed and otherwise terrorized in every meaning of that word.  John Salvi killed two people and wounded five right here in the Boston area back in 1994.

It’s like with Trump supporters.  When have they ever been civil, honestly?  They relish being offensive.  It’s one of the things they LOVE about Trump.

Trump-2016-Fuck-your-feelings-720x480

In case you can’t read it, that woman’s shirt says “Fuck your feelings”.  Because civility.

There are times when you can have a reasoned discussion with people who disagree with you.  But we are talking about white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers here.  Oh, sure, maybe there are some Trump supporters who say they aren’t racist.  Maybe, but racism is definitely present in spades among Trumpers, and they are more than willing to put up with a lot of open racism in their ranks, not to mention all the racist garbage spewing from Trump himself and the White House.  And that makes them complicit, or indifferent to evil at best.

Clearly, not all journalists agree with the WaPo editors.  Charlie Pierce had some choice things to say, as did Michelle Goldberg.  She gets it.

But unless and until that happens, millions and millions of Americans watch helplessly as the president cages children, dehumanizes immigrants, spurns other democracies, guts health care protections, uses his office to enrich himself and turns public life into a deranged phantasmagoria with his incontinent flood of lies. The civility police might point out that many conservatives hated Obama just as much, but that only demonstrates the limits of content-neutral analysis. The right’s revulsion against a black president targeted by birther conspiracy theories is not the same as the left’s revulsion against a racist president who spread birther conspiracy theories.

Yes, exactly.  This is NOT a case of “both sides do it.” The right’s criticism that Hillary Clinton and other Democrats are secretly running a pedophile sex ring out of a pizza place IS NOT the same as the belief that Democrats have about President Trump using his office to enrich his family and himself, or that the Russians helped Trump get elected.  So trying to pretend that “both sides do it” is a big reason why we are in this awful place to begin with.  As screwed up as they are, the Democrats don’t hold a candle to the vicious insanity of the Republican party these days.  It’s like trying to point out that both sides are bad because one was caught jaywalking and shoplifting and the other has a basement full of human skins.  Um, no, one is WAY worse than the other, and anyone with more than a handful of brain cells to rub together should be able to see that.  I saw the writing on the wall years ago.  It’s why I left the GOP more than 20 years ago and haven’t looked back.  It’s only gotten worse since then.

So no, I am not going to be civil to these people, not as long as they continue to disregard the essential humanity of immigrants, and gays, and Muslims, and Jews, and everyone else they hate.  I will treat them with the contempt they richly deserve.  It’s far better than the treatment we can expect from them, at any rate.  A lot of them want a second Civil War, or at least a chance to use those guns they have been hoarding.  All we want is equality and justice.

~Geoff

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Brexit gets uglier and uglier

Well, now that the consequences of the UK voting to leave the EU have had some time to sink in, it is both fascinating and disturbing to see just what a lot of people thought they were voting for.  Much has been made of the reports that a lot of people in the UK were googling terms like “what is the EU?” the day after the vote.  I am not sure whether or not that data is accurate, and apparently there are other people who feel the same way.  Still, it does seem that a significant number of people in the UK are acting as if the “stay” or “leave” question was not based on the UK leaving the EU, but on whether or not non-white and/or non-British people should “stay” in the UK or “leave”.  And in the minds of many of these people, that answer is pretty clear.

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Brexit, or when people vote to harm themselves

Frankly, I am just stunned that the voters of the United Kingdom decided to leave the EU.  Obviously I am not British, and I can’t pretend I understand all of the issues going on there that might motivate people to vote that way.  But I do know that many of the consequences predicted were not good. And I also know that many of the people who voted to leave are in the parts of the UK that depend on the EU the most, like Cornwall.  The government of Cornwall is now insisting that the UK government make up for the 60 million pounds a year of EU funding that will be lost by Brexit.  To quote from Cornwall directly:

Prior to the referendum we were reassured by the ‘leave’ campaign that a decision to leave the EU would not affect the EU funding which has already been allocated to Cornwall and that Cornwall would not be worse off in terms of the investment we receive. We are seeking urgent confirmation from Ministers that this is the case.

Suddenly Cornwall is like some teenage kid who seriously pisses off his parents, and then suddenly doesn’t understand why they aren’t going to pay his college tuition anymore. You guys really didn’t think this through, did you?  And you believed everything that the Leave Campaign told you?

Oh, dear.

You know, that would be comical if it wasn’t so damn tragic, because there are going to be real consequences now, which will affect a lot of people’s lives.

Continue reading “Brexit, or when people vote to harm themselves”

That horrific crime in Orlando and two heroes

Kelly and I have both been shocked, horrified, and angry over what happened in Orlando.  Truly, it is stunning to me that such a thing could happen, and even more stunning that we as a society could keep allowing these events to happen over and over and over again.

Kelly vented a lot of anger in her earlier post, and there’s nothing more I can say about how we feel about this.  But I want to be a little specific about some of the intellectually dishonest arguments being made by people around the country trying to explain all this away.  I also want to talk about two people who were there, and who did everything they could to save people’s lives, and still couldn’t save everyone.  They are still heroes, even if they themselves probably don’t feel that way, and probably wouldn’t use that word.

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Dear Benioff and Weiss… WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?!?

OK guys, I get it.  George just hasn’t been able to crank out the books fast enough, and now the TV show has caught up to the books, more or less.  So now you no longer have all that juicy source material to work from, you just have whatever tidbits GRRM has given you about where the story is going.  That’s fine.

But guys?  I’m worried.  Frankly, you are starting to scare me a little bit.  Not having Book Six or Book Seven to work from does not mean that you should suddenly become nihilists.  It’s not a race to see who can kill more characters.  Moving the story forward does not mean taking a large metaphorical dump on the hopes and dreams of the fans, ok?

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Donald Trump is more of a symptom than the cause of our political mess

I don’t like to talk about politics too much on our blog, because frankly I need more positivity in my life, and these days it is really difficult to find anything whatsoever in politics that gives me cause for optimism.  Still, I am a historian, and I can’t help but think that we are currently experiencing one of those watershed Presidential elections, like the election of 1860 or the election of 1932 or the election of 1968, in which those of us who experience it will talk about in terms of what things were like before, and what they were like after.

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GoT, ASOIAF, and the two paths to the end

Well, one of the things that happens when you don’t do a lot of blog posting is that you fall WAY behind on your GoT/ASOIAF commentaries.  My bad.  Our friend and fellow GRRM fan Patrick is way ahead of me on all things Season Six, and frankly he has helped motivate me a bit (thanks man!).

So, now that life seems to be getting a bit more under control, it’s time for me to start catching up on all that.  After all, Season Six starts six weeks from this Sunday.  And there is all sorts of stuff to talk about.

Continue reading “GoT, ASOIAF, and the two paths to the end”