In Bed with the Reds

by Henry on June 17, 2005

I’ve been reading “Red State”:http://www.redstate.org over the last few days, which I’ve been told is the smarter, more thoughtful side of Republicanism. So far, I’ve been deeply unimpressed, especially when it comes to their coverage of Guantanamo. In the last couple of days, we’ve had Erick’s “modest proposal”:http://www.redstate.org/story/2005/6/15/211325/756 that everyone in the camp should be killed (but no, he’s joking; what he really means is that they should all be locked up in perpetuity as enemies of America). We’ve had Mark Kilmer’s “argument”:http://www.redstate.org/story/2005/6/16/205423/099 that Senator Durbin’s statement on Guantanamo is just another example of Democrats’ hatred for Bush and Republicans. We’ve had Krempasky’s “Chris Muir gets it”:http://www.redstate.org/story/2005/6/17/121922/392, copying one of the most egregiously offensive cartoons I’ve seen in a long while (news for Krempasky and Muir: being “chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor” so that you urinate and defecate on yourself is not a choice between orange-glazed chicken and rice pilaff). And that’s not to mention Paul J. Cella’s “doozy”:http://www.redstate.org/story/2005/6/14/205620/932 on why we shouldn’t be letting Muslims come to the US (apparently, Muslims just don’t know how to be Americans).

It’d be easy to use this as a cheap way to accuse everyone on the right side of the blogosphere of being apologists for the inhumane treatment of prisoners, religious hatred etc. It’d also be unfair (it’s clear from the comments sections that a number of right-wingers are pretty disturbed at these posts too). But I can’t understand why, say, Sebastian Holsclaw (who’s nobody’s torture apologist) is happy to be associated as a co-blogger with this particular bunch of yahoos. If the last couple of days are anything to go by, there’s not much real difference between Red State and the hatemongers at LGF.

Update: Is “Pejman Yousefzadeh”:http://www.redstate.org/story/2005/6/18/163230/514 offering some veiled advice to his co-bloggers?

bq. Want to deny lunacy a forum? Great. The best thing to do is to grow up, act responsibly, make your honestly held and believed arguments with as much passion and fervor as you believe appropriate to the occasion and understand that if you step over the bounds of decency, the shadows will come out to embrace you while the rest of society watches in justified revulsion.

{ 48 comments }

1

Kevin Donoghue 06.17.05 at 1:12 pm

But I can’t understand why, say, Sebastian Holsclaw (who’s nobody’s torture apologist) is happy to be associated as a co-blogger with this particular bunch of yahoos.

Surely if he wants to argue the case against torture these are just the sort of yahoos he should talk to? So, he does.

2

Billings 06.17.05 at 1:19 pm

One swipe of your brush would cover the side of a barn, Hank.

3

Barry 06.17.05 at 1:30 pm

If the brush fits…

4

markus 06.17.05 at 1:39 pm

I have heard similar good things about Redstate and been similarly disappointed. Quite obviously there are some bad apples among the bunch, both post-wise and contributer-wise.
I continue to hope that their better side will eventually shine through again.

On that note, I’d also ask you to avoid conflating conservatives who show their disagreement with the post above with “right-wingers” and the IMHO unnecessary comparison of Redstate to LGF. If you actually need a reason for the latter request, how about the fact that on Redstate people spoke out against the posts you mentioned. This kind of overblown rhetoric is IMO not helping anyone, much less your case.

5

Henry 06.17.05 at 1:50 pm

Is the term “right winger” pejorative? I’m not in the least bit upset when someone calls me a “left winger.”

I’m happy to acknowledge that the comment section in Red State is nothing like the comment section in LGF. But posts telling us about the “greater wisdom” of the argument that Muslims just don’t know how to be Americans don’t belong in decent company – what’s the difference between the position that Cella is advocating and the LGF view of the world? Slightly more indirect?

6

Anderson 06.17.05 at 1:51 pm

The LGF comparison is indeed entirely warranted, Markus.

But I think Kevin’s on point with why Grown-Up Republicans should post at RS. Preaching to the choir is fun and can even be essential to one’s health at times, but it’s poor mission work.

7

jjoats 06.17.05 at 2:10 pm

TOON OF THE DAY: Iraqi Exit Strategy

8

abb1 06.17.05 at 2:20 pm

…more thoughtful side of Republicanism, huh. That must be what they call ‘moral relativism’.

9

P ONeill 06.17.05 at 2:22 pm

It might be tempting to assume that what goes on amongst some of the players at RS & LGF is just some harmless buffoonery along the lines of those college idiots who observe Hitler’s birthday. But then one reads a story like this.

10

markus 06.17.05 at 2:29 pm

AFAIK the term “right winger” is pejorative. At any rate, I’d favour erring on the side of caution.
As to the difference between RS and LGF, it’s entirly obvious to me. Charles is holding little two minute hates with every posts, and the regulars pile on and try to outdo each other in their online machismo and jingoism. RS is not.
And that post by Cella you so deem so objectionable does not seem that bad to me. If I squint hard enough I can see where you got your take from, but it’s not my first impression. Instead IMO he makes the point that the US is in the process of importing the struggle between Chrisianity and Islam (as someone in comments points out, the US has already successfuly imported the Catholic-Portestant split within Christianity). And he’s right saying it will be difficult and a whole new challenge. It will require re-thinking all that Judeo-Christian heritage stuff.
Where he goes wrong IMO is when he highlights that freshman quote without inspecting it further and then briefly mentions a stop of immigration as one solution of the problem, without discussing that solution or considering alternatives. But he’s right in that disallowing Muslims to enter the US would solve the particular problem he spoke of. So rightly call his behaviour careless, inconsiderate etc. but don’t compare him to LGF.

11

delagar 06.17.05 at 2:33 pm

Go read the comments on the bit about Laurie Anderson getting paid by NASA to do a performance piece. Ai. First off, none of them have heard of Laurie Anderson (no shocker, I guess, when nobody in Rush’s audience had ever heard of Jane Smiley), so we get a bunch of comments about “some nobody loser” and “some dummy they hired to do part-time work,” and then it take them nearly fifty comments before anyone thinks to Google her…

12

Barry 06.17.05 at 3:28 pm

“But I think Kevin’s on point with why Grown-Up Republicans should post at RS. Preaching to the choir is fun and can even be essential to one’s health at times, but it’s poor mission work.”

Posted by Anderson

OTOH, perhaps the mission work should be concentrated on the salvageable. Center-right
people, rather than right-wingers.

13

Sebastian Holsclaw 06.17.05 at 3:36 pm

“OTOH, perhaps the mission work should be concentrated on the salvageable. Center-right
people, rather than right-wingers.”

Sure, but on a group blog one should make a careful distinction between posters and commenters and readers. On RedState the posters run a large range of rightish ideological stances but recently the larger portion are what you might call reflexively right-wing. Commenters on almost all blogs seem to be rather sharp-tongued and extremist. But readers are not necessarily of the same bent as the commenters. There are thousands of people who read a blog like RedState, and only dozens who comment. I suspect (though obviously cannot prove) that the general reader is much more moderate than the general commenter.

And can I suggest ObsidianWings, the other place I write?

14

Daniel 06.17.05 at 3:36 pm

The phrase “this kind of overblown rhetoric” has just been added to my list of indicators. To give you an idea of what I mean by this, the most recent previous additions to the list were “Russian women want to meeet YOU” and “Texas hold’em poker”.

15

Billings 06.17.05 at 3:52 pm

I think we can conclude that left wingers don’t like right wing blog sites. Next we will take up rocket science.

16

Henry 06.17.05 at 3:54 pm

Fair enough Sebastian.

Again, I should say that my (perhaps idiosyncratic) use of the term right wingers isn’t meant to be derogatory – I wonder here whether the sense that this is insulting is reading back from the fairly recent coinages “wingnut” and “winger” to “right winger.” As stated, I’m happy to be described as a leftwinger myself.

17

Henry 06.17.05 at 3:56 pm

markus – I just don’t buy your interpretation here. I don’t think that the post can be read as anything but an endorsement of the idea that Muslims don’t know how to be American, and shouldn’t be allowed immigrate to the US. It softpedals this a little – but the underlying message isn’t in the least ambiguous.

18

Uncle Kvetch 06.17.05 at 4:11 pm

Well, given that Powerline is now enthusiastically endorsing a line of “I Gitmo” t-shirts and other merchandise, maybe RS has spotted an opening in the “not-quite-completely-batshit” category of right-wing thought.

19

Uncle Kvetch 06.17.05 at 4:11 pm

Strike that strikeout.

20

Uncle Kvetch 06.17.05 at 4:13 pm

P.U. I screwed that one up royally.

Ahem. Take 2.

Well, given that Powerline is now enthusiastically endorsing a line of “I [heart] Gitmo” t-shirts and other merchandise, maybe RS has spotted an opening in the “not-quite-completely-batshit” category of rightwing thought.

21

abb1 06.17.05 at 4:21 pm

Hey, why was my comment deleted? Can’t you take a mild joke?

22

markus 06.17.05 at 4:27 pm

@henry: Well, I did read the post that way, so it apparently can be done. Can you accept that?
Otherwise, please provide an argument why the two lines that to you make out to be the core of the post are in fact the gist of his post, because I do not see it that way. (Apoligies if you’ve already done so, please me point out where.)

Or could somebody else please weigh in with their interpretation of the Cella post?

23

fifi 06.17.05 at 5:00 pm

I’m tired of reading about politics in that banana republic. More philosophy articles. Please.

24

am 06.17.05 at 6:50 pm

Sigh. Would it be against the first amendment to prevent polemicists from cherrypicking?

This “tearing his hair out” guy is a thus-far unsubstantiated allegation. It could be untrue or exaggerated.

If it is true then his treatment was contrary to orders. The appropriate response is to ensure that the offenders are prosecuted and that processes are in place to prevent a repeat.

It is *not* appropriate to assume that the event happened, and, for propaganda purposes, to assume without substantiation that it in some ways typifies US behaviour.

This is all just common sense and ordinary decency. All quite beyond Henry.

25

Doctor Memory 06.17.05 at 7:49 pm

I strongly suspect that RedState’s reputation as a “thoughtful” conservative blog is largely based on hazy memories of the 2001-2003 era, when the fact that “Tacitus” could write in complete, properly punctuated sentences was still surprising enough to people that they hadn’t yet noticed that he was a complete blowhard.

Ah, memories. Etc.

26

mikez 06.17.05 at 7:50 pm

Sigh. Would it be against the eighth amendment to chain silly commenters in the fetal position for 48 hours?

First the infinite regress of who’s watching the watchers argument. Using this, everything that has ever happened in human history is unsubstantiated rumor.

Then, circular reasoning of the few bad apples theory. Americans couldn’t possibly do something like that, so if they did, it conflict with orders publicized post facto, which only coincidently looks like PR spin.

Finally, the combination of the two, somehow becomes the “common sense and ordinary decency” which, of course, the humble commenter is the arbiter of.

27

Karl 06.18.05 at 12:06 am

Sigh. Would it be against the eighth amendment to chain a detainee in the fetal position for 48 hours? Probably not.

28

Jon H 06.18.05 at 1:39 am

Sebastian writes: ” I suspect (though obviously cannot prove) that the general reader is much more moderate than the general commenter.”

Perhaps, but I’d think one reason for the site’s existence is to coax the moderate readers toward being increasingly less moderate, and approaching the position of the more extreme positions of most contributors.

I mean, presumably, the contributors are hoping their posts will garner adherents to their views. The site was created specifically as an activist political organ, was it not?

29

Jon H 06.18.05 at 1:41 am

I consider Red State to be The Thing That Ate Tacitus’ Brain.

30

Henry 06.18.05 at 8:37 am

Paul Cella highlights …

bq. But here again we confront the very uncomfortable, very unwelcome, but very real dilemma that Islam presents to a Christian country that has always cherished religious pluralism. …Whether we like it or not (and most of us do not), its emergence in America will cast us inevitably back into a quarrel between civilizations that is older than virtually anything else on earth. … A freshman at the school exhibits more wisdom than most Western commentators: “Muslims try to be American, but we don’t know how. The cultures are so different.” The question we must face is whether we want to let this quarrel become an ever-larger part of our own character and destiny as a nation. If we continue to insouciantly let the world come to America, America will soon become the world; and for 1,400 years a conspicuous feature of the world has been the confrontation between Islam and Christendom.

Cella is quite clearly making three points here.
(1) He believes that Islam is dangerous.
(2)He agrees with the proposition that “Muslims don’t know how to be Americans.”
(3)He believes that if we continue to let Muslims come to America, we are importing the war into our home territory (for further specifics, see Cella below)

More from Cella in the comments section …

bq. Yes, but we do not have to let this grand experiment run its course here. How about we “wait and see” what Islam does to Europe? How about we “wait and see” what Islamic Democracy does to Iraq? In no way are we obligated to allow Islam to thrive here in America. There are perfectly legal and legitimate ways to make known that we are still evaluating it. And there are perfectly legal and legitimate ways of making known — if it comes to this — that it is unwelcome.

bq. I will not yield to the notion that discrimination in our immigration policy means, perforce, bigotry or xenophobia or nativism or whatever other term of rhetorical violence is current. I will not. We should discriminate in our immigration policy in a way analogous to how any decent man will discriminate in who he opens the doors of his home to. Nor will I yield to the notion that our immigration policies must be submitted to the exacting standards of Liberal dogma to be defensible. A sovereign nation is in no way obliged to open its doors to anyone. That is that. It need not explain why person X is “a unique threat”; it need only demonstrate that person X is not a citizen.

bq. You write as if September 11 never happened. “These arguments” have been made about every group of immigrants, eh? Most of us would be rather puzzled to find that sober men once worried of Popish Italian plots to incinerate office workers; of Chinese conspiracies to demolish national monuments; of the danger that the ancient feud between Hinduism and Christianity might spill over onto these shores. It is precisely what differentiates my arguments here from the older arguments against immigration that you will not confront. (1) The unique and uncomfortable history of war between Islam and Christendom. (2) The unprecedented threat posed by the resumption of this war here in America.

Frankly Markus, I can’t see how anyone who reads this with any care can come to any conclusion other than the one that I did. He’s not in the least ambiguous.

31

Uncle Kvetch 06.18.05 at 10:33 am

I will not yield to the notion that discrimination in our immigration policy means, perforce, bigotry or xenophobia or nativism or whatever other term of rhetorical violence is current. I will not.

Ooooh…I do so love it when they puff out their chests and get all butch and manly about their willingness to endure other people’s suffering.

32

Sebastian Holsclaw 06.18.05 at 11:35 am

“Perhaps, but I’d think one reason for the site’s existence is to coax the moderate readers toward being increasingly less moderate, and approaching the position of the more extreme positions of most contributors.”

I’m not sure if that is the purpose of the site. But even if that is theoretically the purpose of the site, that doesn’t mean that I have to use the site that way. If they were censoring my output, that would be one thing. But they aren’t, so when I write I get to write what I want.

33

rilkefan 06.18.05 at 12:09 pm

SH, wish you were writing more at ObWi.

34

Mark Kilmer 06.18.05 at 4:00 pm

You did not read my post, Henry. I did not write that Durbin’s diatribe was “just another example of Democrats’ hatred for Bush and Republicans.” Not even close. My argument was a little more complex that that.

There is a mindset amongst the Democrats, the genesis of which I put with Carville and Begala, where the Democrat masses have been trained to want to hear such over-the-top dimwittery. IT’s not a case of “the public gets what the public wants”; rather, we’re looking at “the public wants what the public gets.”

And this seems to apply not simply to the President and, by extension, elected Republicans; you expect it of, and replicate it for, such institutions as RedState.org.

I wish I were wrong.

35

luci phyrr 06.18.05 at 4:35 pm

they hadn’t yet noticed that he [Tacitus] was a complete blowhard

A rude, unbearable pompous, blowhard, that is…

36

Anarch 06.18.05 at 6:24 pm

Henry: Frankly Markus, I can’t see how anyone who reads this with any care can come to any conclusion other than the one that I did. He’s not in the least ambiguous.

Anyone know whether Cella ever answered the question of whether he thought atheists should be permitted in public office?

Although, hell, the fact that I can write that in absolute seriousness tells you pretty much everything you need to know…

rilkefan: SH, wish you were writing more at ObWi.

Agreed. You too, rilkefan.

37

John Emerson 06.18.05 at 7:27 pm

Yeah, over-the-top rhetoric came into American politics with Carville. It’s a damn shame. Before then everyone was civil. And the Republicans still are, of course, the poor helpless dears.

My experience with Cella was when I read a rather mindless anti-Soros bit of his. I pointed out that Soros, a refugee from Hitler and Stalin, a self-made billionaire, and a man who spent tens or hundreds of millions bringing down the Evil Empire, is not really a guy to dismiss just because he’s anti-Bush.

Cella had said that Soros was morally bankrupt, and when I asked why, he responded that it was because he followed John Stuart Mill (rather than Aquinas).

One of the Red State people got pretty huffy because there was a little hint in my communications that Cella might be anti-Semitic. So it was a relief to everyone to know that the problem was really the odious and detestable Mill.

38

Billings 06.19.05 at 8:39 am

To question the motives of Soros, the egomaniacal billionaire and “citizen of the world” who wants to reshape the world to fit some mental map of his own, is now anti-Semitism?
Hmm.

39

abb1 06.19.05 at 10:00 am

Are you implying that he has hidden motives then, ’cause if not – why should they be ‘questioned’?

40

A Scott Crawford 06.19.05 at 3:24 pm

Without claiming any particular direct knowledge one way or another regarding the conditions at Gitmo… It strikes me that the actual documents are available on-line and the authors and sources are checkable (if one cared enough to put in the hours).

The Red Cross report from nov. 2004 doesn’t impress me as particularly serious in its attributions. There aren’t random people walking in and out of a US military detention facility in Cuba (“pssst, wanna buy a cigar”). As all the IRC conversations and contacts were certainly recorded, transcribed and annotated in exhaustive detail (the military bureaucracy loves generating paper if nothing else), there’s no clear reason not to attribute sources that the military (and CIA) are able to confirm or discredit.

By playing coy with sources for this level of accusation, even if undertaken with the best intent, they’ve made it easy for the US military to ignore or dispute the charges and hard for others to verify their claims. It’s a fact that there have been abuses in US military detention facilities. It’s also a fact that there have been a tedius number of demonstrably false and bizzare accusations from detainees and supposedly independent observers. The wise default position is probably skepticism on all sides.

I think it’s reasonable to give more weight to attributions and testimonials that are checkable. And therefore would hope that the Red Cross is willing and able to provide sources or additional information that addresses the difference between their original charges and the findings of the military’s investigators. Even giving the IRC guys some slack as non-journalists, they should know better than to be other than literal in leveling a courts martial type accusation (which means all the video and transcipts and logs would be made public).

41

engels 06.19.05 at 5:46 pm

billings – Being a “citizen of the world” or even a “billionaire” are not the damning indictments you appear to think they are. The rest of your comment is just name calling.

42

PersonFromPorlock 06.19.05 at 7:46 pm

But I can’t understand why, say, Sebastian Holsclaw (who’s nobody’s torture apologist) is happy to be associated as a co-blogger with this particular bunch of yahoos.

Oh, that’s just because the Right is actually as diverse as the Left pretends to be.

43

Billings 06.19.05 at 9:59 pm

Motives don’t have to be hidden for it to be fair to question them. All great fortunes are founded on a crime, someone observed. (All right, he was French — but still). One can only speculate about Soros’. I suppose his currency speculation can be defended as maintaining capitalism’s rigor, but I’ve never heard that he produced anything worthwhile. His fund is registered in Curaçao a Caribbean tax haven repeatedly cited as one of the world’s most important centers for laundering Latin American drug trade money. By operating from Curaçao, Soros not only avoids paying taxes but also hides the identity and nature of his investors and what he does with their money. His philanthropy? Guilt.

Perhaps someone can enlighten me. A citizen of the world has no allegiance to any country and believes this somehow to be praiseworthy.

44

abb1 06.20.05 at 2:21 am

I too believe that being a citizen of the world with no allegiance to any particular government (or race, or ethnicity, or any other carass) is praiseworthy. And it doesn’t prevent you from being a good citizen of your community, in fact, it’s a prerequisite of being a good citizen.

What’s your problem? I understand that this philosophy is different from yours, but otherwise?

45

Dave F 06.20.05 at 4:45 am

The one thing that I find petty and objectionable about Crooked Timber is some of its founders’ apparent need to have a go at other people’s blogs in self-righteous terms. Even the commenters are objected to, as if it is somehow criminal to allow free speech.
Where does this end, Henry? Why do you guys keep sniping at Instapundit, for example? We get that you don’t like his views or his tone. Others find him useful for links to items one might otherwise not have found. It’s irrelevant whether one agrees with the views expressed or not. The point is to at least try not to stay in one’s little ghetto of mutally supportive minds.

Crooked Timber has no claim to be moral arbiter of the blogosphere. It’s a knockdown free-for-all. For God’s sake focus on more influential and targets.

46

abb1 06.20.05 at 5:23 am

Also, Billings, if you find it objectionable that someone ‘wants to reshape the world to fit some mental map of his own’, then what would be a good motive to become active in politics, in your opinion?

47

engels 06.20.05 at 7:29 am

abb1, you mean “granfalloon”.

48

McDuff 06.20.05 at 8:25 pm

A citizen of the world has no allegiance to any country and believes this somehow to be praiseworthy.

Damn straight. This particular “citizen of the world” feels no particular reason that I should link arms with any of the football hooligans in my country just because we were born on the same lump of dirt. When I have friends all over the world, why should I align myself morally with those I disagree with, oppose, and don’t even know personally? Why should my connection to Joe Bloggs down the street who votes for the BNP be considered more compelling than my connection to Joe Sixpack in Alabama who voted for the GOP but at least talked to me about it over a beer, just because some bigwigs who died before I was born decided to draw an arbitrary line in the sand and say “you guys on this side are going to fight the guys on the other side, now get to!”

I have an allegiance to democracy, liberalism, freedom and basic human motherfucking decency. If you have this, be you in Germany or England or the USA or Nigeria, then you have more in common with me than the guy next door who does not. So why should my own alliances not reflect that? Why should I blindly swear to pin my destiny to rock rather than to an ideal? Because of some thousand year-old fatally flawed system that doesn’t work but that we haven’t got rid of yet? Because nobody has worked out that you can run a state government as an administrative body and not have to force everyone to be tied to the land with laws and pledges of allegiance?

Frankly, I love England, but I don’t see why any pissant government has the right to tell me I can’t love America just as much. So, yeah, citizen of the world. Citizen of it all. Free to love it all and hate it all, to stand in the bar and say how crap it is or to stand on the podium and say how wonderful it is. You can admire me, bite me, or just get on with your own life and have a drink. But if you’re listening to the beaurocrats and the generals when they tell you it’s the law you’ve got to do this and that because you were born here, not because you decided to like some kind of grown up with a mind of your own, your intellectual high horse is mud. So climb down off it.

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