Why We’re Polarized Part 4: The Last one, about Party Differences

by Gina Schouten on June 15, 2022

In the penultimate chapter of Why We’re Polarized, Ezra Klein argues that while the forces of polarization act on both major U.S. political parties, the Democratic party has managed to weather them whereas the Republican party has largely succumbed. That is, Republicans stand out for their growing violation of and downright hostility toward established norms. He multiplies examples to make the case at pp 228-9.

What accounts for the difference? Klein’s answer is that the forces of ideological sorting have made the Democratic party more internally diverse and the Republican party more internally homogenous: “Republicans are overwhelmingly dependent on white voters. Democrats are a coalition of liberal whites, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians. Republicans are overwhelmingly dependent on Christians. Democrats are a coalition of liberal and nonwhite Christians, Jews, Muslims, New Agers, atheists, Buddhists, and so on. On the fixed versus fluid psychological dimensions…Republicans are overwhelmingly the party of fixed voters. But…Democrats are psychologically sorted only among white voters,” while psychological orientation aligns less with party affiliation among voters of color (230-1).

The upshot is that “Democrats need to go broad in order to win over their party and…they need to reach into right-leaning territory to win power. Republicans can afford to go deep” (231). And that means that Republicans can appeal to voters through appeals to group identity, whereas Democrats must use party platform and policy goals to unify a diverse collection of interest groups.

This underpins a plausible explanation for the asymmetry in the extent of partisanship in media sources: “Because the mainstream media and academia actually aren’t that liberal, because they mostly do put truth-seeking ahead of partisanship, there isn’t that much demand for alternatives. The audience that is sufficiently alienated by mainstream outlets to present a business opportunity is uniformly conservative, and creating a differentiated enough product to appeal to them means creating a product that chooses to cater to conservative identity, rather than a product that routinely confronts it” (239). The consequence is that Democrats rely on a wider variety of news sources that are more beholden to objective facts, and that a greater share of right-leaning news sources positively fuel polarization.

Meanwhile, the electoral system itself differentially affects the ways in which the two parties are polarized: “Our political system is built around geographic units, all of which privilege sparse, rural areas over dense, urban ones. This is most glaringly true in the Senate, where Vermont wields the same power as New York. But it is also true in the House, due to the way that districts are drawn, and in the White House, due to the electoral college, and thus it is also true in the Supreme Court…And power, of course, begets power. Republicans use their majorities to pass partisan gerrymandering plans, pro-corporate campaign finance laws, strict voter ID requirements, and anti-union legislation, and Supreme Court decisions further weaken Democrats’ electoral performance” (241).

How does this restrain polarization on the Democratic side and exacerbate it for Republicans? To win electoral victory, Democrats need to appeal to voters to the right of center. They can and have moved to the left in various ways, but they can’t survive if they abandon outreach to the middle, and indeed to the right-of-middle. Meanwhile, “freed from the need to appeal to the median voter, Republicans have hewed to a more conservative and confrontational path than the country would prefer. They have learned to win power by winning land, rather than by winning hearts and minds” (243).

This description of Republican polarization brings to mind the leaked draft of the Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the right to abortion established by Roe vs. Wade. The opinion would move the legal landscape around abortion well to the right of what the median voter supports; this seems clear despite difficulty interpreting polling data on abortion. Klein’s analysis helps us to understand why this might be less of a threat to Republican electoral prospects than it could easily seem to be.

I think Klein’s analysis also suggests that the liberalizing Democratic position on abortion has been—and will continue to be—more of a threat when it comes to Democratic electoral politics. Some might argue that the liberalizing has been more perceived than real. Maybe it’s been more about rhetoric than platform, for example in the shift away from the “safe, legal, and rare” framing of the party’s position, which casts abortion as something to be regretted even as it’s legally protected, toward a framing of abortion on which ethical misgivings about abortion are tantamount to misogyny. But the electoral consequences are predictable nonetheless: There are parts of the middle and the right-of-middle that Democrats need that they won’t get because of their stance on abortion.

Here again a distinction might be useful. Democrats can and should insist that legal protections and genuine access are two different things. But we can understand access along two different dimensions. The first is material. Here I believe the liberalizing of the Democratic position is called for by principled commitments that Democrats must continue to hold. If access to abortion is an important issue of gender equality, then we should tolerate no class- or race-based obstacles to access. So, for example, Democrats can and should move left by opposing the Hyde Amendment. But the second dimension concerns ease of access to abortion as the pregnancy progresses. This is where I often worry that the rhetoric and the policy endorsements of representatives alienate the center in ways that they can avoid, consistent with their principled commitments to social equality and material fairness. A tiny portion of abortions occur late in pregnancy—it would be even tinier if material access were secured at earlier stages—and these are rare in the absence of extenuating circumstances. Why not be open to states restricting abortions late in pregnancy, then, while insisting on access in extenuating circumstances? Would this not be one way to meet the challenges that have made the Democratic party more resistant than the Republican party to the forces of polarization?

{ 130 comments… read them below or add one }

1

TM 06.15.22 at 11:08 am

“But the second dimension concerns ease of access to abortion as the pregnancy progresses.”

Do you read the news at all? Are you aware that many fascist controlled states have already moved to banning all abortions at any stage of the pregnancy and that even access to contraception is now in serious jeopardy?

Stop accepting the right wing propaganda frame. They don’t care about any of the nuances you would like to make. They want to control women’s bodies, nothing less is acceptable to them.

2

TM 06.15.22 at 11:20 am

3

TM 06.15.22 at 11:38 am

Allow me one more remark. “the forces of polarization”, what is this supposed to be? This terminology is used by political analysts to sound more scientific, as if we were observing a physical system acting under forces like gravity, centrifugal forces and so on. (The metaphor of magnets used earlier goes in that direction.) I suggest this is not a useful framework for talking about politics. The radicalization of the US right wing is not a deterministic process brought about by anonymous forces of nature. There are actors and interests, there is hate and racism and mysogyny and lies and propaganda. Not “forces”.

4

Gina Schouten 06.15.22 at 2:12 pm

Hi TM. I don’t really understand why you think what you’ve written contradicts what I’ve written. You deny that those on the right care about the distinction I made. Cool. I don’t argue otherwise. My suggestion, instead, is that those on the left or in the middle who want to be able to make things better should care about the distinction.

5

J, not that one 06.15.22 at 4:30 pm

In support of TM @ 3, I have begun to notice usages like “polarization is causing differential health outcomes between states with different political parties controlling policy,” when what is meant is “states where Republicans control the government have worse health outcomes that can be traced to differences between Republicans and Democrats’ policies.” Polarization is not a person who has chosen to make Republicans have worse health outcomes or simply the fact that the parties are different. I have know way of knowing whether the misuse of the word reflects a common belief about why certain people have certain beliefs about policy (which might explain why Klein refers to “partisanship” and “truth” and so on the way he does), or whether it’s the verbal equivalent of clickbait (which I think is the more plausible and less paranoid possibility). Either way, the suggestion is that Democrats are at fault for Republican states’ poor health outcomes, exactly because Democrats care enough to enact policies that lead to better health outcomes, and this makes Republicans feel bad and they react by polarizing. (Ironically, anyone pointing this out “looks polarizing” and the choice to sweep the details under the rug appears to be a choice not to “be polarizing”.)

6

Phil 06.15.22 at 4:41 pm

“Democrats need to go broad … Republicans can afford to go deep”

It’s a catchy formulation, but what does this actually mean? The two parts seems bizarrely mismatched – perhaps the Republicans don’t need to “go wide” demographically in the sense that they aren’t a coalition of interest groups, but surely they do need to reach out in order to mobilise local majorities. The “deep” image implies that there are untapped reserves of resentful White conservatives out there just waiting for the call. To the extent that this is a real phenomenon – i.e. that it’s a way of talking about mobilising non-voters – it also seems to assume that there isn’t anything equivalent that the Democrats can call on, which comes perilously close to endorsing Republican rhetoric about the “real” America.

7

Phil 06.15.22 at 4:47 pm

The other thought that came to mind reading this post was that it doesn’t actually describe “polarisation”, or any other system-level effects; it describes the damage that can be done to a political system by the deliberate and cynical mobilisation of an audience previously cultivated through hate propaganda. So good luck dealing with that – and wish us luck with it in the UK, too.

8

Tim Sommers 06.15.22 at 5:04 pm

I have so much respect for your work, including “Liberalism Neutrality, and the Gendered Division of Labor”, that I hesitate to be too critical – especially in a context where one can’t really write enough to fully justify their position. Nonetheless, I don’t think polarization is a helpful way of framing these issues. Just notice that you end up where centrist Democratic pundits and pollster have ended up for 30+ years. Democrats (1) Should tact to the right to win elections, and, (2) A compromise on abortion will solve the problem. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems obvious these strategies are not working. Speaking as someone who has spend years as a voluteer escort at abortion clinics, (2) There is no compromise on abortion because (a) anti-abortion people don’t care more about early vs late or any other fine distinctions you want to bring to bear. It’s not even clear they care about abortion as opposed to controlling women. (b) There’s no compromise which will stop the movement to end all abortion, and (c) I would have thought we learned from the abject failure of “safe, legal, and rare” that it is disastrously counter productive for pro-choice advocates to qualify their support for women’s rights with something like “rare”. This just feeds into the right wing narrative that abortion is morally problematic. If it’s not, then why should it be “rare”? A better approach is women coming forward to say, I had an abortion and I’m glad and I’m a good person. (1) We keep being told that wild Republicans win by appealing to their base, the Democrats win by appealing to Republicans. Klein says, because polarization. But people have other stories with the same moral. They are wrong. You don’t win by appealing to the others sides voters. You have to appeal to your base – to the left, not the right. In my own unscientific surveys of working class conservative leaning voters (my whole family, basically), I don’t find people complaining about how left the Democrats are. They complain about how they don’t take a side more openly and vigorously. Appealing to the base works, in part, because it increases your base. You lead your voters where you want them to go on the issues, you don’t chase after them wherever they are with compromises. Or so I would argue.

9

MisterMr 06.15.22 at 6:43 pm

I don’t understand if the problem is “polarisation is itself bad, let’s avoid it” or if it’s more a pragmatic question, “how do we get more votes to enact our preferred policies”.

But there is another problem: if the left is more a big tent group than the right, it is difficult to say what is the left exactly: there might be people in for feminism, and people in for economic redistribution, and people for both, but it is difficult to say if economic redistribution is more the core of the left or feminism is more core, and both sides of the left might think that they are the real deal and the others are the not very leftish ones.

It might be that as the right has a stronger identity the left turns out to be “everyone who is pissed of at the right.

My sense is that there are two distinct groups, one (that from my point of view are the radicals) is the economic left and in some sense is also the old left; the other (that I generally call the neoliberals) are in for the cultural issues including feminism and racism.

But it is very difficult to say what of the two groups is the more extremist, and also they at least in part overlap.
I wonder how much of the politics of the left can be explained by referencing to these two groups, and if they represent some sort of “class” division or other underlying factor).

10

Gina Schouten 06.15.22 at 7:04 pm

Thanks, Tim. A couple of quibbles: You characterize where I end up like this: “Democrats (1) Should tact to the right to win elections, and, (2) A compromise on abortion will solve the problem.”

But I don’t want to be read as arguing for either of those things. On (1): I don’t generally think Democrats should tack to the right. (Though I have sympathy with the argument that they should tack to the right somewhat on issues subsumed by what MisterMr calls the “cultural left,” I don’t find the corresponding argument compelling when it comes to the “economic left.”) On (2): I don’t think that any compromise on abortion will solve the structural electoral problem for Democrats that Klein describes.

More importantly: You say that “anti-abortion people don’t care more about early vs late or any other fine distinctions you want to bring to bear.” I might agree with you about this on some understanding of what counts as an “anti-abortion person.” But isn’t it fairly uncontroversial that there are loads of people out there who are very turned off by the framing of abortion as completely morally uncomplicated at all stages of pregnancy? I’m not thinking of the people who made escorts like yourself necessary. I’m thinking of people who think that abortion should be mostly legally protected but is nonetheless something to be treated with a fairly high degree of moral gravity, especially later in a pregnancy. My reading of the (again, admittedly complex) polling is that there are many such people. If that’s right, then depending on who they are in other respects (and I think we can make reasonable inferences about this, too), this is one place where tacking right could make a big difference. My suggestion is: If that is a genuine possibility, then we might avail ourselves of it without being unacceptably sacrificial of core liberal commitments, because of the significance of the distinction I tried to draw.

I think we probably do disagree about that suggestion, so this reply isn’t meant to be deflationary. I just wanted to pull apart the main suggestion I wanted to make from some of the related claims that I’m not committed to.

11

nastywoman 06.15.22 at 7:18 pm

reading @10 made me think – that’s the problem –
that’s the real problem about this Polarizing game with ‘trump’
(the Worlds new word for: Utmost Right Wing Racist Science Denying Warmongering Stupid) that you are so incredibly polite and nice and well educated Mr. Shouten and thusly are NO match for any Right-Wing Racist who just would insult you in the possible slightest way as a ‘nastywoman’ while my Harley mechanic would tell you –
if you really don’t like ‘trump’ as much as I dislike ALL nastwomen – why don’t you grow a pair and attack what you truly HATE with the force of a ‘trump’?

12

Tim Sommers 06.15.22 at 7:37 pm

Thanks for responding. I really appreciate it.
I think you are mostly right, for whatever that’s worth, but I want to add just one thing. It struck home with me when you said “But isn’t it fairly uncontroversial that there are loads of people out there who are very turned off by the framing of abortion as completely morally uncomplicated at all stages of pregnancy?”; like, literally home, since my wife is one of those people. But it’s about voting, isn’t it? She would still never vote for a candidate proposing almost any restrictions on reproductive choice. I guess I am just guessing, but I don’t think there is a voting constituency willing to switch sides on the issue, if it just gets reframed in a way more amiable to them. Maybe, I’m wrong. I lied. One more other thing. I agree with you that being economically left is much more popular that being culturally left (which I think a substantial majority hate). But I still think it’s a waste of time for Democratic politicians to beat up on the cultural left. (a) Many (most?) are still our people. And, I think the biggest thing I am trying to argue overall, (b) You don’t win by being Republic light. The people that really hate these people are voting TRUMP2024 and being a little bit against cultural leftism is not going to help you.

13

Sean 06.15.22 at 7:37 pm

Didn’t Roe v. Wade already allow US states to restrict abortion in the third trimester? Wiki says that was the ruling from 1973 to 1992 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade Its also not clear who the people calling for compromise would negotiate with. A Supreme Court can interpret the law however they please, and the only people who can negotiate before a ruling are the justices.

14

Tim Sommers 06.15.22 at 7:39 pm

Thanks again.
I am going to brag around the department that Gina Schouten responded to my comment on Crooked Timber.

15

nastywoman 06.15.22 at 7:39 pm

and let me try to translate some of the poli-lingo starting with my favourite:

‘To win electoral victory, Democrats need to appeal to voters to the right of center’.

Does that mean if ‘right of center’ means -(in America) that voters who are ‘right of centre’ don’t believe in abortions – the climate crisis – vaccinations masks and gun control –
that
THEN
US Democrats should believe a little less in ‘abortions – the climate crisis – vaccinations masks and gun control’ and what does that mean – as in sane societies – like for example in Europe the difference between somebody who dosn’t believes in ‘abortions – the climate crisis – vaccinations masks and gun control’ and somebody who does – is NOT the difference between somebody who is left – or right of center – it is the difference between some hard core Right Wing Racist Science Denying Idiots and EVERYBODY ELSE.

And how can one close that gap by believing ‘trying to win electoral victory, Democrats need to appeal to voters to the right of center’?

They can and have moved to the left in various ways, but they can’t survive if they abandon outreach to the middle, and indeed to the right-of-middle. Meanwhile, “freed from the need to appeal to the median voter, Republicans have hewed to a more conservative and confrontational path than the country would prefer. They have learned to win power by winning land, rather than by winning hearts and minds” (243).

16

nastywoman 06.15.22 at 7:54 pm

and sorry for my nasty mood and let me try to repair it with a bit of comical relief –
from wiki –

‘As of February 2020, a study conducted by the Pew Research Center highlights the current political issues that have the most amount of partisanship. By far, addressing climate change was the most partisan issue with only 21% of Republicans considering it a top policy priority as opposed to 78% of Democrats.[24] Issues that are also extremely partisan include protecting the environment, reforming gun policy, and bolstering the country’s military strength.[24] These differences in policy priorities emerge as both Democrats and Republicans shift their focus away from improving the economy. Since 2011, both parties have gradually placed economic stimulation and job growth lower on their priority list, with Democrats experiencing a sharper decline of importance when compared to Republicans.[24] This is in stark contrast to the 1990s, when both Democrats and Republicans shared similar views on climate change and showed significantly much more agreement.[25]

Furthermore, a poll conducted by Gallup identifies issues where the partisan gap has significantly increased over a period of about fifteen years. For Republicans, the most significant shift was the idea that the “federal government has too much power,” with 39% of Republicans agreeing with that notion in 2002 as opposed to 82% agreeing in 2016. On the Democratic side, the largest shift was increasing favorability towards Cuba, changing from 32% in 2002 to 66% in 2017.[26] Ultimately, as partisanship continues to permeate and dominate policy, citizens who adhere and align themselves with political parties become increasingly polarized.[26]

On some issues with a wide public consensus, partisan politics still divides citizens. For instance, even though 60% of Americans believe that the government should provide healthcare for its citizens, opinions are split among party lines with 85% of Democrats, including left-leaning independents, believing that healthcare is the government’s responsibility and 68% of Republicans believe that it is not the government’s responsibility.[27]

Likewise, on some prominent issues where the parties are broadly split, there is bipartisan support for specific policies. For example, in health care, 79% of Americans think pre-existing conditions should be covered by health insurance; 60% think abortion should be broadly legal in the first trimester but only 28% in the second trimester and 13% in the third trimester.[28] 77% of Americans think immigration is good for the country.[28] On gun rights, 89% support more mental health funding, 83% support closing the gun show loophole, 72% support red flag laws, and 72% support requiring gun permits when purchasing.[29] In the federal budget, there is 80% or more support to retain funding for veterans, infrastructure, Social Security, Medicare, and education.[30]

Political polarization has also shaped the public’s reaction to COVID-19. A study that observed the online conversations surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic found that left-leaning individuals were more likely to criticize politicians compared to right-leaning users. Additionally, left-leaning social media accounts often shared health prevention measures through hashtags, while right-leaning posts were more likely to spread conspiracies and retweet posts from the White House’s Twitter account.[31] The study continues to explain that, when considering geographic location, because individuals in conservative and right leaning areas are more likely to see the Coronavirus as a non-threat, they are less likely to stay home and follow health guidelines.[31]’

17

J-D 06.15.22 at 11:06 pm

Have I misunderstood? Is the conclusion to which this series has built:
‘Maybe Democrats should not resist some State-level restrictions on late-term abortions’
?

18

nastywoman 06.16.22 at 7:59 am

and see –
for anybody who is used to Coalitions of Parties or/and Compromises between Political Parties which at least believe in some ‘basics’ –
(like that the World is ROUND or that different Parties are actually ‘different’) –
For such sane people the American Insanity is quite challenging –
As how do you deal with Parties –
(or People) who –
just for starters –
don’t see the glaring differences between the so called ‘Right’ and ‘Left’ –
AND far more important
the difference between a flat an a round world?

And then the people who know that the world is round should find some type of compromise with the Flat Earthers in order to reduce ‘Polarization’?

Isn’t it much easier to FIRST teach the children that Belgium isn’t just a city and France is still France and
THEN –
AFTER
we all have understood such facts –
we start to work on being less polarized about our ‘cultural’ differences?

19

Fake Dave 06.16.22 at 9:50 am

So if the Democrats aren’t unified around a single identity or ideology and a whole wing (including at least two senators) won’t even agree to oppose the Republicans on anything important, in what sense are they a polarized party? We’ve had an awful lot of words about “polarization” in the abstract and even a serviceable definition of it, but I still don’t see the proof that the problem as theorized fits our present situation. Maybe it’s because Klein can’t decide if he’s writing from the progressive Left or the “normcore” Center, but he’s clearly trying to have it both ways.

His description of a squishy, conciliatory, rules-based “liberal” coalition barely holding off a winner-takes-all hard right ascendancy doesn’t fit with the naturalization/physicalization inherent in his “feedback loop” metaphor. If one side is continually attacking or obstructing regardless of resistance and manufacturing controversy to keep amping up tensions even when no feedback is forthcoming what difference does it make what the other side does?

Frankly, I don’t accept the common liberal framing that Democrats are simply too honorable or moderate for right wing animus to ever be legitimate (Remember “Clinton derangement syndrome?”). I also don’t know where Klein gets off saying there’s no appetite for leftwing/alternative media. All those Tankies and “anti-imperialists” blaming NATO for the Ukraine war are getting it from somewhere. Maybe leftist idiots use media differently, but they were still able to shove #DefundThePolice down our collective throats during a crime wave.

Then there are the symbolic issues. Maybe it’s wrong that certain people’s identities get wrapped up in the culture wars, but it’s disingenuous to claim that there’s nothing political about the dramatic rise of formal (often hamhanded) institutional statements on diversity and solidarity, Orwellian “privilege”-speak that ignores class issues, or the sudden ubiquity of awkward neologisms like BIPOC, LatinX, gender neutral pronouns, and the confusing situation where you’re supposed to capitalize “Black” but not “white.” Any and all of these shifts can be easily justified (or turned into a critique of the old order), and as a younger Progressive I “get” the point of most of them, but they can still feel like an arbitrary decree from on high.

I often wonder who decided on some of this terminology and how it became this trendy this fast (the “white privilege” example of a whole movement being saddled with one rich academic’s personal baggage is not the outlier it should be). To people who don’t have a liberal arts background or a Twitter addiction, it can all be too much to keep track of. Is this sense of disorientation and alienation among the less “plugged-in” social classes justification for embracing fascists? Of course not. Diversity is life and belief in progress toward a better society shouldn’t be the narrow province of one political current. However, if we want real popular buy-in for a progressive social platform, we can’t accept a situation where a narrow few – be it Matt Taibbi’s “Twitter Robespierres, ” David Brock’s “blue” astroturfing, or “wonks” like Ezra Klein — get to define which forms of social “progress” make it on the agenda.

20

notGoodenough 06.16.22 at 10:15 am

Gina Schouten

“But isn’t it fairly uncontroversial that there are loads of people out there who are very turned off by the framing of abortion as completely morally uncomplicated at all stages of pregnancy?”

While I personally am not so fussed about how things are labelled, I do recognise that “framing” is important (I think it is fairly well established that how a question is asked can influence the answer).

So why frame this as “is abortion morally uncomplicated at all stages of pregnancy?” rather than “is violation of bodily autonomy morally uncomplicated for medical conditions?”. This isn’t intended as a provocative “gotcha”, but rather to note that by adopting this “framing” you seem to already be starting with a certain emphasis of perspective rather than another – and I can’t help but feel that that is part of the issue (how different would society look if the alternative viewpoint regarding bodily autonomy were the one emphasised instead?).

“I’m thinking of people who think that abortion should be mostly legally protected but is nonetheless something to be treated with a fairly high degree of moral gravity, especially later in a pregnancy”

What do you envision when you say “high degree of moral gravity”? As a rough percentage, how many abortions are not treated with this already?

This is a non-trivial point, because if the percentage of abortions not treated with a high degree of moral gravity is already small, then surely the appropriate response to people with this perspective is to point out that this is already the case?

“If that’s right, then depending on who they are in other respects (and I think we can make reasonable inferences about this, too), this is one place where tacking right could make a big difference.”

If, as you suggest, there are a large number of people who fit the category of “abortion should be legally protected but treated with a high degree of moral gravity”, then I’m not sure how you can frame this as tacking “right” or “left” since (presumably) many of those people would be “left”?

“My suggestion is: If that is a genuine possibility, then we might avail ourselves of it without being unacceptably sacrificial of core liberal commitments, because of the significance of the distinction I tried to draw.”

I am not a USian, so this is an “outsider” view (and so may well be erroneous), but my impression is that in the US there are many practical restrictions on reproductive care at every stage – from access to contraceptives to abortion providers themselves. Often abortion costs money, and often it involves going against considerable societal pressure. Sometimes this requires travelling immense distances, at personal expense, and walking past a large number of aggressive (and occasionally violent and dangerous) people. It may be necessary to test for heartbeats, view ultrasounds, have doctors explain to you the “risks” of abortion (which, if memory serves, sometimes involves misinformation). And so on.

I doubt I would be considered a liberal in the US, but if “liberal commitments” are to mean anything, surely the current state of affairs has already involved sacrificing at least some of these? So I think, at some point, you probably need to be a little clearer on what you envision this “tacking right” looking like, and what “sacrifices” you think are “unacceptable” and which are not, what you think is “due moral consideration” and how you test for that, etc.

Again, this isn’t intended as a criticism per se, and perhaps you already have this in mind, but I think unless this is very clear the risk is that you are going to propose making compromises without having a good idea of what those compromises may be or even if anyone wants them in the first place. And that would seem to be a bit of a problematic starting point.

21

TM 06.16.22 at 10:33 am

Gina 4: “My suggestion, instead, is that those on the left or in the middle who want to be able to make things better should care about the distinction.”

You haven’t given any reason why you think so, and especially why you think that this could be a possible remedy for “polarization” which is the context in which you are offering these suggestions. Note also, the question isn’t whether one should “care about the distinction” but what political strategy should follow from this, and I agree with Tim’s remarks @8 regarding that strategy.

@10 you deny “arguing for either of those things” but it’s entirely unclear then what you are arguing for.

I think your – and Klein’s – polarization framing is fundamentally flawed and completely misconstrues the political reality in the US () but in addition I think your (and Klein’s) suggestions don’t even make much sense within your own framework. The polarization around abortion simply hasn’t been pushed by Democrats at all, it’s entirely a right wing obsession. Appealing to Democrats to focus less on support for late term abortions is useless because Democrats *aren’t focusing on support for late term abortions.

If you take the polarization framework seriously, isn’t one consequence that quarrels about policy nuances are beside the point? You need to develop messaging that appeals to emotional identifications. From a messaging point of view it would be a grave mistake to promote a debate about extremely rare late term abortions. Liberals must reject the right wing framing and push the discourse into a different direction by highlighting the likely consequences of Republican / fascist abortion policies now entering into force:
– Women dying
– Women imprisoned
– Doctors imprisoned
– Clinics closed, doctors delicensed
– Important contraception methods oulawed or simply unavailable
– Freedom to travel abolished
– Establishment of a “citizen Gestapo” that denounces anyone involved with helping women obtain abortions (and denouncing parents of trans children, denouncing liberal or gay teachers, and others)
– Right wing governments criminalizing citizens of other states
… and so on and on.

The part of the population that thinks these things are ok will never be won over by offering minor policy concessions. The others, if they need to be won over, they first need to understand what is at stake. This is the messaging challenge liberals must meet to prevent the worst.

(*) One fact that should be better known: Literally one of the first things the Nazis did after taking power was the foundation of the „Reichszentrale zur Bekämpfung der Homosexualität und Abtreibung“. The obsession of the US right wing with sex, gender identity, abortion, and queerness is a characteristic shared with all past and present fascist movements. Those US liberals still in denial about the state of their country have no excuse.

22

Gina Schouten 06.16.22 at 10:39 am

Tim @ 14: Ha!

Tim @ 12: Absolutely agreed that it’s about voting. Would your wife vote for someone who said, “my view on what the government should do about abortion is roughly captured by the Roe decision (though not necessarily on the grounds that decision offers). We should have strong legal protection (and now add genuine access) to abortion in the first couple of trimesters, possibly diminishing late in the second, and allow states to restrict it in the third. We should do this on principled grounds, but also because this is where the country is, and this is a case where if we’re careful, we can protect the most essential rights at stake without departing too far from where the country is.”? I have no idea about your wife, and you or she (or I) may disagree with the substance of this candidate’s claims. But I really do think there’s a kind of conflicted constituency (it includes many youngish working class Catholics I know) who are single-issue voters but only in a very specific way: They’re okay with some range of the middle ground on abortion policy, but the way they perceive the issue as being talked about on the left acts as a sort of deal-breaker, where they are otherwise friendly to progressive policy. I do recognize that view that there’s a constituency here needs more support than my own experience. But that’s mostly what I’ve got. Given what I know about the issue and the people at a certain demographic intersection, it seems to me to stand to reason that there are quite a few who are effectively one-direction, single-issue voters on something like “abortion tone.”

23

Gina Schouten 06.16.22 at 10:51 am

J-D: Nah, the series has not built to that. Each part was meant to describe a bit of Klein’s argument and then make some minor point about it. This post’s point was brought to mind by Klein’s remarks about the ways in which our institutional design reinforces polarization differently for the two poles.

24

Gina Schouten 06.16.22 at 10:52 am

Fake Dave: You might be right that polarization isn’t a helpful lens here, but I don’t see that you’ve made that case in what you’ve written. We might have polarization on Klein’s definition (which you make reference to) even if one pole is only very loosely ideologically sorted. And we may have a feedback loop as he describes it (institutional arrangements–for example, electoral practices that respond more to land than to people–lead to greater tension between the poles, then that greater tension reinforces polarizing institutional practices, etc.) even if one side is continually attacking or obstructing. (Indeed, it is part of his story of asymmetry between the poles that one side is continually attacking or obstructing.)

Maybe something I wrote made you think his story is meant to be of a a feedback loop between the polarizing of one pole and the polarizing of the other? If so, apologies.

25

Jake Gibson 06.16.22 at 12:47 pm

Interesting that it is always Democrats that are encouraged to move to the right and moderate their positions to appeal to the “center”.
I can’t remember anyone ever advising Republicans to move to the left to appeal to the center. The truth is that even “left leaning” pundits are right of center.
It is possible that they realize Republicans will never budge.

26

Trader Joe 06.16.22 at 1:23 pm

Two thoughts

1) maybe polarization is sort of a red herring. The vast majority of US Presidential elections basically come down to the economy. If the economy is crap, the incumbent loses, if its not – they win. The rest is mostly noise. The polarization discussion plays much better at the state and/or legislative level where people are far more likely to choose based on policy than whether their bank account feels o.k. or not.

2) I’d place myself in the camp Ms. Schouten describes with respect to abortion. I’d describe myself to anyone who asks as ‘pro-choice’ and I’m fine with Roe. That said, I’m also fine with the 15 week limit (just beyond first trimester) that was subject of the SC case, particularly with medical necessity beyond that attached. That encompasses about 98% of procedures performed today and in my view allows ample choice, less ample than Roe, but still ample. For the record I’m 100% not ok with the Texas law banning at 6 weeks – that’s not really choice. I’d observe that most of Europe has laws more consistent with the 15 week than with Roe and those nations are never framed as anti-choice.

Thanks for the continued observations on the series…much to think about, which is the point.

27

TM 06.16.22 at 2:08 pm

“There are, in essence, early-stage pogroms occurring regularly now at queer events. It is being encouraged and amplified by some of the most powerful voices with the largest megaphones. We really have to see this for what it is: the first stage in something much worse.”
https://twitter.com/EladNehorai/status/1536962479137251329

Apology if this is considered off-topic. I think it isn’t. We are at the stage of open fascist violence being incited and condoned by powerful Republican leaders. Talk of “polarization” is in these circumstances not just wrong-headed but insulting.

28

steven t johnson 06.16.22 at 2:11 pm

There has always been “polarization” in the sense that most districts have one-party politics. Even on a national level, there has usually been one dominant party, the Ins, with the other party loosely banding together the Outs that plays with alternative policies. Political scientists like to refer to these typical times with terms like the first party system, etc. In US history, the great example of two parties in a real contest over policy was the rise of the Republican Party. A genuinely competitive politics is usually a period of crisis for the owners.

The notion that there is a meaningful center or middle strikes me as highly unlikely. In economics, there is no center. The Marxist Biden has clearly announced his highly traditional reliance on the “independence” of the Federal Reserve. It’s independence is of course independence from the needs and commands of the majority of the people. The notion that democracy is majority rule simply is not widely accepted. In economics and foreign policy, there is also very little contest.

How this pervasive submission to right-wing economic and foreign policy somehow doesn’t count because of occasional superficial conflicts over various social issues is unclear. But even here the notion of widespread polarization is not so clear.

The abortion example that somehow came up is a good example. The notion that there are careless women who don’t give a moment’s serious thought to the morality of abortion is border-line misogynist enough. If there were, though, those are exactly the women who shouldn’t be inflicted on children. Even worse, that applies even more to the women and men—and yes, anti-abortion is also a woman’s cause, as conservative women are still women and can’t be erased as easily as wished—who are supposedly disturbed about the morality of abortion. The fact is, being against abortion is being for the birth of unwanted children. People who think unwanted children are a moral good are unfeeling and irrational.

The argument appears in truth to be even worse, that these people should not just have the right to vote their impaired minds and consciences, but rational people who can’t ignore the plight of unwanted children should flatter the vanity of these creatures, even after they prove they don’t even understand the issue.

29

Tim Sommers 06.16.22 at 2:23 pm

You may well be right. Thanks for doing the whole series. It was really great. I look forward to following your work in the future.

30

Gina Schouten 06.16.22 at 2:26 pm

Thanks, NotGoodEnough. Three things in response.

First: I think that abortion is both a matter of bodily autonomy (and women’s equality) and morally complicated. I think the left tends to talk about it mostly in terms of bodily autonomy and women’s equality, and that’s mostly great, because those are the considerations on the basis of which so many people support Roe. But I also think that certain parts of the left talk about the issue in ways that are off-putting to voters who care about bodily autonomy and women’s equality and who also think abortion is morally complicated, and so those parts of the left should take better care to acknowledge the moral complicatedness, or at least not to equate the set of people who think there’s a complicated issue here with the set of people who are misogynists.

Second: Like you (I think), I suspect that most abortions are very grave and serious matters to those who are having them. My suggestion is that the issue be treated as one with more moral gravity by politicians who are talking about it as a political issue. Thanks for prompting me to make this clarification.

Finally: I don’t think your impression of the status quo with respect to abortion access is mistaken, and I agree with you that it is clearly condemned by liberal commitments. Most straightforwardly, people’s access to abortion depends heavily on social class, which means their ability to secure their bodily integrity depends on social class. We shouldn’t think that’s okay. My point is that liberals could tack to the right relative to the abortion stance they set out in many policy pronouncements and much of their rhetoric (NOT relative to the status quo), but only on one side of the access distinction I made in the post.

31

J, not that one 06.16.22 at 4:02 pm

I think the dynamic identified as polarization means there is nothing Democrats can do to appeal to a supposed center. People who are single-issue voters on abortion, in 2022, are already in that dynamic. They have chosen a side.

I don’t know what to say to someone who believes right-wing rhetoric that tells them to think the most extreme things about pro-choice advocates, or that tells them they’re in a war with evil people and anything is worth defeating them. A “nice” response would be to cede some ground for the sake of getting along. But the responsibility for making sure they believe good information and discard the bad is not mine. It’s not the responsibility of the people they demonize.

Similarly, I don’t know what to say to someone who believes there’s broad support for an invisible ideology that would give enormous benefits to people of all races, deemphasize profit and private ownership, and reduce the cultural respect given to bling and the wealthy, except that they also want more traditional gender roles and more lip service paid to traditional religion. A fascism that removes choice from most people’s lives but makes everyone feel “good” about themselves, and keeps black and brown people in enclaves so white racists don’t have to see them (they are not actually going to give up racism once they have UBI and male pride) is not that.

32

MisterMr 06.16.22 at 9:28 pm

“someone who believes there’s broad support for an invisible ideology that would give enormous benefits to people of all races, deemphasize profit and private ownership, and reduce the cultural respect given to bling and the wealthy, except that they also want more traditional gender roles and more lip service paid to traditional religion.”

Speaking for myself, I certainly I’m more for the “economic” left, but I don’t want more lip service paid to religion (I’m an atheist) and I don’t want particular gender roles, I don’t want gender roles in general (that means that I don’t want “wake” gender roles either).

I think also most “economic lefties” would like only moderate respect paid to religion and a certain form of gender blindness. It seems to me that it is the other side, the “cultural left”, that for some reason can’t conceive that someone sees the cultural objective as secondary, and therefore assume that, let’s call them “mildly leftish” cultural positions, in reality have to be necessarily culturally reactionary because they assume no middle ground.

This is at least my impression as en “economic leftie”.

“A fascism that removes choice from most people’s lives but makes everyone feel “good” about themselves, and keeps black and brown people in enclaves so white racists don’t have to see them (they are not actually going to give up racism once they have UBI and male pride) is not that.”

I have no idea who are the “economic lefties” who want this, in your view.
I think you are projecting some really distorted idea like that fascism/nazism where forms of socialism, which they weren’t in reality. If you have something different in your mind, please let me know: does Sanders want this? Melenchon? Who exactly are we speaking about?
UBI would also go to blacks, not just to whites.

33

J-D 06.17.22 at 12:14 am

Thanks again.
I am going to brag around the department that Gina Schouten responded to my comment on Crooked Timber.

I envy you. I wish I knew people who would be impressed if I told them that Gina Schouten responded to my comment on Crooked Timber.

Maybe leftist idiots use media differently, but they were still able to shove #DefundThePolice down our collective throats during a crime wave.

What crime wave?

Maybe it’s wrong that certain people’s identities get wrapped up in the culture wars, but it’s disingenuous to claim that there’s nothing political about the dramatic rise of formal (often hamhanded) institutional statements on diversity and solidarity, Orwellian “privilege”-speak that ignores class issues, or the sudden ubiquity of awkward neologisms like BIPOC, LatinX, gender neutral pronouns, and the confusing situation where you’re supposed to capitalize “Black” but not “white.”

Of course there’s something political about some of the ways that the use of language changes (although I have found no evidence of the existence, specifically, of anything which is accurately described as ‘Orwellian “privilege”-speak that ignores class issues’), but I don’t know why this is supposed to be worth mentioning; I’m not aware that anybody is denying that there is something political about it, and there’s no reason why political change should not be associated with changes in the use of language. I am aware that some people object to the idea of language changing (or being changed, which comes to the same thing), but their objections are ill-conceived, as for example:

… they can still feel like an arbitrary decree from on high.

I get how they might feel like that (to some people), but just because it feels so doesn’t mean it is so!

I often wonder who decided on some of this terminology and how it became this trendy this fast

I also sometimes wonder about such things, but I don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s important.

(the “white privilege” example of a whole movement being saddled with one rich academic’s personal baggage is not the outlier it should be).

Just delete the last five words. The ‘white privilege example of a whole movement being saddled with one rich academic’s personal baggage is not. There are no examples of a whole movement being saddled with one rich academic’s personal baggage.

However, if we want real popular buy-in for a progressive social platform, we can’t accept a situation where a narrow few – be it Matt Taibbi’s “Twitter Robespierres, ” David Brock’s “blue” astroturfing, or “wonks” like Ezra Klein — get to define which forms of social “progress” make it on the agenda.

Then you should be pleased that we are not faced with the problem of whether to accept such a situation, because there is no such situation! Good news, right?

While I personally am not so fussed about how things are labelled, I do recognise that “framing” is important (I think it is fairly well established that how a question is asked can influence the answer).

So why frame this as “is abortion morally uncomplicated at all stages of pregnancy?” rather than “is violation of bodily autonomy morally uncomplicated for medical conditions?”.

Why not frame it as ‘What good is done by imprisoning people for terminating their pregnancies?’ That’s how I frame it. Note that within this frame, if somebody objects ‘Some people have abortions late in pregnancy without due consideration for the gravity of the decision’, the response is ‘It’s possible that this is true, but supposing it is, what good is done by imprisoning those people?’

J-D: Nah, the series has not built to that. Each part was meant to describe a bit of Klein’s argument and then make some minor point about it.

It’s your blog and you can post what you like, but if you describe the argument at this much length without having any major comments to make on it, that suggests you find some value in it. I find no value in it; what am I missing?

34

nastywoman 06.17.22 at 4:53 am

@
‘My point is that liberals could tack to the right relative to the abortion stance they set out in many policy pronouncements and much of their rhetoric (NOT relative to the status quo)’

I do that ALL THE TIME –
by telling fellow Americans – that if they don’t believe in ‘Abortions – Climate Change, Vaccinations – Wearing Masks – and Gun Control and every European must think that they are –
without any doubt –
‘Right-Wing Racist Science Denying Warmongering Idiots’-
that I’m just joking –

And
THEN
I always add the joke:
‘that this is ‘off-putting to voters who care about bodily autonomy and women’s equality and who also think abortion is morally complicated, and so those parts of the left should take better care to acknowledge the moral complicatedness, or at least not to equate the set of people who think there’s a complicated issue here with the set of people who are misogynists’.

And then the ‘Right-Wing Racist Science Denying Warmongering Idiots’ LAUGH together with I (ME-MOI) and we hug and kiss –
(but whiteout… tongue – if you guys know what I mean?)

35

nastywoman 06.17.22 at 5:20 am

BUT! –
on the other hand –
A group of… let’s call them… ‘Mechanics’
have built
H E A V E N Nr.7
THE ROOM for all of you guys to find – what they call in Germany: ‘Erleuchtung’
(y’all know ‘Kant and all of such ‘stuff’)
And that room is ‘mobile’ (on the base of a Ford 350 Econoline) and easily can come to each of YOU guys –
(and even to Harvard)
and
THEN
y’all can sit in it –
(just one after another – as THE ROOM is very small)
and
THEN –
Michael Heizers Levitated Mass -(lifting OFF) will give y’all the answer y’all obviously need so desperately –

And Dear Mrs. Shouten couldn’t’ we make an appointment when we should arrive in Harvard?
(because currently H E A V E N Nr.7 is still in North Hollywood at CBS Auto Body getting repaired after a Hyundai Santa Fe rammed the – HAHA! – ‘Right’! Side!)

36

nastywoman 06.17.22 at 5:34 am

AND –
Please –
Guys! –
don’t take what I have posted too lightly –
as my ‘mechanics’ (all ‘working class) have found out –
that IF y’all talk with any Right-Wing Racist Science Denying Idiot
FIRST!
about ALL the ‘mechanical’ problems of his Harley –

AFTERWARDS –

there is NO way anymore to talk ‘about the issue in ways that are off-putting to him –
if he cares about ‘bodily autonomy and women’s equality and who also think abortion is morally complicated, and so those parts of the left should take better care to acknowledge the moral complicatedness, or at least not to equate the set of people who think there’s a complicated issue here with the set of people who are misogynists’.

Capisce?

37

notGoodenough 06.17.22 at 8:16 am

Gina Schouten @ 30

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to respond and offer your perspective in a thoughtful and engaging way – I appreciate it takes time and effort, and value the way you (and others on CT) endevour to provide a good discussion.

I think that abortion is both a matter of bodily autonomy (and women’s equality) and morally complicated”

Certainly! I didn’t mean to imply anything about your position (I apologise if I gave that impression), but rather about the framing you used. Again, this may seem like a trivial point, but it seems to me that if terminology such as “morally complicated” is being used, so too should “bodily autonomy” – otherwise the framing (regardless of the beliefs or positions) may end up becoming lopsided (even though that may not be the intent).

“But I also think that certain parts of the left talk about the issue in ways that are off-putting to voters” […] the set of people who are misogynists.”

This may well be a reasonable assessment (I can’t really speak to that myself). However, I would note that there are certain parts of the right who talk about the issue in ways that are off-putting too – yet it doesn’t seem to have hindered their ability to elect people who adopt even rather extreme positions.

I don’t say this to try to make some form of “both sides” argument, or as a justification, etc., but rather to make the observation that – regardless of what appeals to voters – it seems that the decades long project of chipping away at abortion access may well culminate (at least according to the reproductive rights discussions I’ve read?) in a fairly dramatic and sweeping overturn of abortion rights.

While I think it is fair to consider what is/is not appealing to voters, it also seems that a certain degree of strategy is required (for example, more extreme positions may well be more appealing in certain areas than others – as the previous discussion on polarization have highlighted!). I have heard people discuss Overton window shifting as a strategy – essentially (as I understand it) making the argument that a spectrum of positions are required so that a) extreme positions balance out and b) extreme positions make less extreme positions seem more acceptable. I am curious as to how you feel about these sorts of approaches, and how they fit in with your position here?

”Second: Like you (I think), I suspect that most abortions are very grave and serious matters to those who are having them.”

I do think that abortions are typically serious matters to those having them – and so, if people are concerned about people treating their abortions in a frivolous manner, then this may well be a point worth making.

I should clarify a little that I don’t think that abortions should have to be grave and serious to someone for that abortion to become “acceptable”. The main reasons for this which spring to my mind are 1) I don’t think someone’s access to an abortion should be dependent on moral evaluations, as making degree of bodily autonomy a function of assessed individual character seems a dangerous precedent to set; 2) I don’t really see any way of reliably measuring how grave and serious an abortion is to someone; and 3) I don’t see any way of enforcing any degree of gravity and seriousness which doesn’t (to my mind) veer into the cruel and unusual. In short, to my mind bodily autonomy is a useful metric as it is (relatively) easy to assess and enforce, whereas having appropriate seriousness seems to me difficult to assess/enforce and as something potentially opening up a can of worms (and thus being somewhat less useful from a practical perspective). I wish to be clear I don’t say any of this to make an implication about your own positions, as an attempt at disagreement, or even as a coherent thesis that I assert others should adopt – this is purely to clarify my own thoughts on the matter.

“My suggestion is that the issue be treated as one with more moral gravity by politicians who are talking about it as a political issue. Thanks for prompting me to make this clarification.”

Thank you for your clarification. I would say it is not unreasonable to assert politicians who are talking about abortion as a political issue should treat it with moral gravity (though, and I suspect you’d agree with this, it is important to ensure “treat with gravity” does not veer into stigmatising!).

Without any examples of politicians treating this issue with what you view as insufficient seriousness it is difficult to see what is meant by “more” in this context, so I can’t really comment on that.

From a purely rhetorical and political perspective, it may be the case that the degree of gravity and seriousness which plays well somewhere may not elsewhere. For example, could it be possible some people would resent having their abortions treated with what they view as unnecessary moral gravity and feel that it borders onto moral judgements about them? I don’t say this to imply that that would be the intent (or even necessarily the result), but certainly I know (non-USian) people who would respond to being told their abortion is a morally grave matter…rather negatively (though this may be something of a cultural divide!). Of course as a political calculation one would need to make an evaluation of the rhetoric and see how much support is gained or lost – but again, without any specifics this seems destined to head into speculative “what iffery”.

”My point is that liberals could tack to the right relative to the abortion stance they set out in many policy pronouncements and much of their rhetoric (NOT relative to the status quo), but only on one side of the access distinction I made in the post.”

Thank you for laying out your point so clearly and concisely.

I think part of the problem here though is that without examples it is a bit difficult to make any judgements (“liberals” is quite a broad block of people, and without specifics regarding rhetoric or policy proposals it is a bit tricky to see if this is a point of agreement or disagreement!).

Another part of the problem is that, again, rhetoric and policy pronouncements by “liberals” (which may, after all, include people with little chance of effecting any change, or perhaps are an advocacy group) may be selected for different reasons (such as “firing up the base”, or “shifting the Overton window”, or “counterbalancing anti-abortion rhetoric and policy pronouncements”, etc.). In which case, it may not make sense to “tack to the right” as that may run contrary to what is trying to be achieved.

I don’t say these things as a rebuttal or counterargument, but merely to make the point that while your argument may well be reasonable from a specific perspective with specific goals in mind, it may not be from another perspective with other goals in mind – and so, reordering of the “political magnets” may run both ways, depending on what is trying to be achieved….

I’m not sure, ultimately, that this comment I am currently writing is going to be particularly useful, but hopefully it manages to lay out some points of potential interest for future thought. So thank you for writing out your perspective in this series of discussions, and for the interesting feedback – I genuinely appreciate it.

38

Fake Dave 06.17.22 at 9:07 am

@24. Thank you for the reply, Prof Shouten! I was trying to show how Klein is trying to argue from two contradictory perspectives at once, but I think I wound up doing the same thing. Apologies.

What I’ve seen of campaigning left-of-center is that there are several distinct blocs that it’s bad politics to conflate. Several posters have made a distinction between social and economic liberalism, but I’m not sure those labels are helpful either. Many good Democrats aren’t very liberal and many very liberal people aren’t good Democrats. The former group is well represented in Democratic campaigns and primaries, but largely sidelined for the culture war. The latter group is all about the culture war, but may not have any loyalty to party or institution.

There may be some overlap in where and how those two constituencies live and the labels they identify with (though much of the research on this is marred by the same category error I’m describing. Many people who identify themselves as “somewhat/very liberal” are really just saying how often they vote for the Democrat.) and it could be most of us are somewhat ambivalent about both party and ideology, but I don’t think you can define a coherent “anti-Republican” position from these disparate groupings.

The conceit of the rightwing culture warriors is that the various forces arrayed against them all share an underlying worldview and agenda that can broadly be defined by its opposition to “our” traditional (Christian) American morality and way of life. The first sleight of hand comes in how they define themselves. Somehow, conservatism can be both faith-based and nondenominational, libertarian and conformist, hierarchical and populist. It’s a chimera whose relatively benign parts have been unnaturally joined to make a powerful monster. The next trick is to conflate their fairly tepid policy conflicts with the center-left party with the white-hot rage of the culture war. Nothing about how Democrats actually govern justifies the counter-revolutionary fervor of Republicans, but the broader liberalization of society threatens the very core of their identity. The “base” has convinced themselves that they need to be militant and power-seeking in order to protect society from an otherwise unstoppable decay of moral decadence (or something), but they’re only heroic as long as there’s an even bigger monster to fight. Otherwise, they’re a menace. Sort of like Godzilla.

The problem with people like Ezra Klein and many other “mainstream” media liberals is that they can’t seem to see themselves or their own role in the culture war. The corporate media monster really is big and ugly enough to make people root for Godzilla, but they insist on acting as innocent as the fleeing citizens of Tokyo.

The partisan wishlist he poses as a solution to polarization reads like parody and I don’t see how someone can claim to be opposed to polarization yet write off all alternative media as “uniformly conservative.” If he’s right that the mainstream media isn’t “that liberal,” then the two “poles” of polarization are not liberal and conservative, but rather a “mainstream” led by moderate truth tellers and an “alternative” led by rightwing propagandists. Meanwhile, the people who are “that liberal” presumably get to golf clap from the sidelines. That picture may actually have some merit, but I don’t think it’s the point he was trying to make. In the end, it was probably too much to hope that someone that good at creating polarization would also know how to solve it.

39

J-D 06.17.22 at 11:29 am

… I don’t want “wake” gender roles either …

Then you’re in luck! There are no ‘wake’ gender roles. Good news, isn’t it?

It seems to me that it is the other side, the “cultural left”, that for some reason can’t conceive that someone sees the cultural objective as secondary, and therefore assume that, let’s call them “mildly leftish” cultural positions, in reality have to be necessarily culturally reactionary because they assume no middle ground.

This is at least my impression as en “economic leftie”.

I have no idea who are the “economic lefties” who want this, in your view.
… Who exactly are we speaking about?

Oddly enough, that’s my question for you. Who exactly are you speaking about? Who are the ‘cultural left’ about whom you have the impression you described?

40

Fake Dave 06.17.22 at 12:06 pm

@ J-D
“What crime wave?”
Quoth Time Magazine:
“Crime, particularly homicide, has been a noteworthy issue since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Homicide numbers increased by 29% in 2020, per the FBI’s own report last year, which used UCR numbers. The increase slowed a bit in 2021 but many cities still experienced a record number of killings. But the lack of concrete data can make it difficult to accurately assess what is happening.”

https://time.com/6159812/fbi-crime-stats-data/

Honestly, if you live somewhere that hasn’t had a terrifying spike in crimes of misery and desperation, I envy you. Here in Humboldt County, three times as many people have died of Fentanyl overdoses as COVID. Our rightwing sheriff wrote an open letter blaming Chesa Boudin for it. Our local law enforcement is largely corrupt and incompetent, but even in a community that deeply distrusts the cops, they get a lot of calls from people with no one else to turn to. If the second half of “defund the police” is supposed to be “and fund social services,” then they should have led with that. As it is, in a lot of communities, the cops are the only ones who show up at all.

I also should have explained the “white privilege” thing as it’s a story more people should know. Peggy MacIntosh, the woman who coined the term, based it on her personal experience as the daughter of a wealthy engineer who went to the best private schools in New York and on to an Ivy League PhD (In English) and a plumb posting teaching Women’s Studies at Wellesley. Just a typical white person doing white people stuff.

Her methodology in researching and defining “white privilege” (an analogy to existing theories of male privilege) consisted of a mix of self-reflection, conversations with her few Black colleagues, and “praying on it.” As far as I know, McIntosh had not studied social science or compared notes with anyone that did, nor did she have any particular expertise in racial issues. What she had was a catchy slogan and a lot of prominent friends. There is no scientific theory underpinning her concept of white privilege and her original papers don’t even do a good job of defining it. Still, it helped propel her to the top of the Ivory Tower and made her a figure of envy and inspiration for a generation of self-proclaimed anti-racist activists hawking corporate diversity seminars. My Sociology of Race class brought up white privilege on the first day, despite it having no basis in the sociology of race and generally being useless as theory. That’s the kind of baggage I’m talking about.

41

J, not that one 06.17.22 at 1:44 pm

MisterMr @ 32

You’re at an advantage here, because I can’t say “I’m an economic leftist, and here’s what I believe, and other economic leftists also believe this.”

Following several comments on this post (and some elsewhere by people who are both leftists and religious), I was trying to make sense of the idea of a political view that’s for economic leftism, against cultural leftism, against everything neoliberal, feels good to people who put religion at the center of their lives, and is popular. I don’t think such a thing exists. I described two different things and you appear to have misread me and taken my comment as a personal attack.

I’m noticing that your comment is much more about what you dislike, and what you think is in my own head, than what you like. I see that you are for economic leftism, and for gender-blindness (and also race-blindness?). It sounds like you’re against both extreme religiosity and extreme atheism. You’re against politics where people organize or ask for things on a basis of race or gender. You’re against particular activists (who you think must be cognitively deficient or else they’d agree with you that your issues are more important than theirs). Your economic leftism might include a UBI (not sure because you appear to have just picked up on the one economic policy I mentioned myself). You want people to have money and you want people not to be mean to one another.

That sounds very nice. If only people would be nice, they would want to give everyone enough money and they would not make distinctions on a basis of race or gender. They would not ask others to treat them more nicely, because confrontation is rude. I would agree that niceness is popular. I doubt, however, that those policies are popular or that most people living in the US today really, in practice, want to live in the world that would make white male “economic leftists” happy. (It’s possible your “economic leftism” is actually a mild left-centrism, or just a general attitude of being nice to working people. I can’t know because all I know is that you don’t like either “wokeness” or “neoliberalism.” But in that case I admit it might be popular, as long as you called it centrism and not leftism, and dropped the obsession with telling people stuff they like is “neoliberalism”.)

And that does not address the many people who are currently organized on the basis that the government must impose a religiously-founded morality on everyone, whether they like it or not, and are committed to overthrowing a system of government in order to get it, unless their opponents roll over and do it for them. The above would not sound “nice” to a someone who’s a single-issue voter on abortion.

42

David in Tokyo 06.17.22 at 2:27 pm

Fake Dave wrote:

“the two “poles” of polarization are not liberal and conservative, but rather a “mainstream” led by moderate truth tellers and an “alternative” led by rightwing propagandists.”

Yep. Good to see that someone finally figured it out. (For example, living in a country with universal affordable (and now quite seriously good*) health care (dental and eye care are covered (yes, I’m rubbing it in)), the US health care system can clearly be seen as the criminal disaster it is and Democratic attempts to fix it don’t come even close to getting to “mainstream” (but other industrial country standards), but the Repugs scream bloody murder. This idea that the US right is anything other than completely and hopelessly insane is nuts.)

*: Forty years ago, health care here was a tad iffy here. But that’s ancient history, and has been so for at least 20 or so years. Oh, yes. My SO’s family is dense of conservative MDs and dentists. At a funeral for a relative, my a sister inlaw’s (right-wing MD) hubby turns to me and says “It can’t possibly be true that, as the news is saying, that the US doesn’t have universal health care, can it?”. (This was back when Obamacare was getting started. He was truly shocked.)

43

David in Tokyo 06.17.22 at 4:25 pm

Fake Dave wrote:
“”What Crime Wave?”
THIS ONE!!!”

Uh, I guess you weren’t living in New Haven 1981-1985. My apartment was broken into three times, there was all sorts of excitement on the street between the police and civilians.

Seriously, US murders, per 100,000 population, went down from over 10 (1980) to around 6, the last few years*. Sure, it’s up recently, but given the stress of covid and the vastly larger number of guns in people’s hands, it’s actually surprisingly low, at least by late 70s to late 90s standards.

Interestingly, Japan has also seen a reduction in murder rates from 1990 (0.55) to 2018 (0.26). About 20 times lower than the US. Oh, right. There are no guns here, so you really have to mean it if you want to kill someone. Guns: another complete insanity brought to you by the completely insane Repugs.

*: https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/USA/united-states/murder-homicide-rate

44

nastywoman 06.17.22 at 4:52 pm

and you guys – just need to click:

https://youtu.be/4L_yCwFD6Jo

and then
when
Andrea Bocelli chimes in
substitute his words with:

‘that this is ‘off-putting to voters
who care about bodily autonomy
and women’s equality
and who also think abortion is morally complicated,
and so those parts of the left should take better care to acknowledge the moral complicatedness,
or at least not to equate the set of people
who think there’s a complicated issue here
with the set of people who are misogynists’.

and that works
BEAUTIFULLY!

45

nastywoman 06.17.22 at 5:01 pm

WAIT!

I made a terrible mistake –
it’s this one:

https://youtu.be/eiDiKwbGfIY

to this… rap:
‘that this is ‘off-putting to voters
who care about bodily autonomy
and women’s equality
and who also think abortion is morally complicated,
and so those parts of the left should take better care to acknowledge the moral complicatedness,
or at least not to equate the set of people
who think there’s a complicated issue here
with the set of people who are misogynists’.

46

politicalfootball 06.17.22 at 5:09 pm

Reiterating what many have said: Klein frames the matter as “polarization,” but he is honest enough to see a need to explain the obvious fact that one of the poles isn’t moving much. And that’s not polarization; that’s radicalization of one of the poles.

47

MisterMr 06.17.22 at 7:15 pm

@J, not that one 41

Things that I would like, and that I don’t think the general “left” is even trying to do, are:

Very high marginal income tax rate, as in 80% rate;
Enforced limits on the workweek, like 35h workweek;
Significantly higer automatic stabilizers, which means in general a significantly higer part of the economy ran by public institutions, and generally higer unemployment help (might be an UBI, but not necessarily);
Taxes on wealth drawn with the purpose of decumulating wealth (so yeah, some people should pay in taxes more than the income they get from wealth, otherwise this doesn’t work).

The problem that I see is that many people in the left balk at this stuff, and sorta assume it is a pipe dream or that the politicians who propose this are just bulshitting.

In many countries this comes out as two different parties, or two different currents of the same party:
In the USA Sanders VS Clinton and later Sanders VS Biden;
In the UK Corbyn VS Stramer;
In France Melenchon VS Macron;
In Italy a variety of figures where there are many mini-parties on the left that keep changing every election but sorta play the same role of Sanders/Corbyn.

What I see is that in many cases these leftish currents are accused of not being enough into the “cultural left” camp, as in Sanders being accused of being anti-feminist when he campaigned against Clinton, or Corbyn being charged with more or less bogus charges of antisemitism.
I don’t see Sanders, Corbyn etc. as being against the “cultural left”, but I see often the “cultural left” being against them, so I have the suspect that the “cultural left” actually represents a different worldview than the economic left also in economic matters.

You say: ” You want people to have money and you want people not to be mean to one another.”
Not at all: I want the left to be way less nice and way more confrontational against some economic interests. I see the “cultural left” as being too nice about economic interests, and I suspect that this is because the “cultural left” actually doesn’t believe that strong economic policies, like rising the marginal income tax rate to 80%, are doable or even desirable, so when the left is in power and rises the marginal tax rate from 30% to 30.2% this is seen from many of the cultural left as “mission accomplished”, and then they are somehow surprised when people in the “economic left” feel betrayed in their expectations.

48

politicalfootball 06.17.22 at 9:11 pm

A tiny portion of abortions occur late in pregnancy — it would be even tinier if material access were secured at earlier stages — and these are rare in the absence of extenuating circumstances. Why not be open to states restricting abortions late in pregnancy, then, while insisting on access in extenuating circumstances?

I’m puzzled here. You acknowledge that this is what Roe does; you support Roe in this respect; and you understand that Roe has failed in the US political system.

If you’re asking that citizens stifle liberal beliefs about abortion in the interest of political comity 1.) we won’t do that and 2.) if we did, it wouldn’t win a single vote on the Supreme Court and 3.) it has already been tried and failed.

49

anon/portly 06.17.22 at 9:33 pm

[JD, 33] I am aware that some people object to the idea of language changing (or being changed, which comes to the same thing), but their objections are ill-conceived

Here’s an apparently ill-conceived tweet from Ruben Gallego, who represents Arizona in the US House of Representatives:

To be clear my office is not allowed to use “Latinx” in official communications.
When Latino politicos use the term it is largely to appease white rich progressives who think that is the term we use. It is a vicious circle of confirmation bias.

https://twitter.com/RubenGallego/status/1467920180135276554

50

J-D 06.17.22 at 11:28 pm

“Crime, particularly homicide, has been a noteworthy issue since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Homicide numbers increased by 29% in 2020, per the FBI’s own report last year, which used UCR numbers. The increase slowed a bit in 2021 but many cities still experienced a record number of killings. But the lack of concrete data can make it difficult to accurately assess what is happening.”

It’s the last sentence that’s the most important.

The annual homicide rate will go up about half the time and down about half the time. You can’t sensibly call every time it goes up a crime wave.

Honestly, if you live somewhere that hasn’t had a terrifying spike in crimes of misery and desperation, I envy you.

Only since you mention it (not because it’s relevant):
https://www.aic.gov.au/statistics

Here in Humboldt County, three times as many people have died of Fentanyl overdoses as COVID. Our rightwing sheriff wrote an open letter blaming Chesa Boudin for it.

Do you really think that’s good evidence of a crime wave? It is not.

I also should have explained the “white privilege” thing as it’s a story more people should know.

No, people should not believe false stories to be true.

Peggy MacIntosh, the woman who coined the term …

She did not: the term predates her use of it by decades.

There is no scientific theory underpinning her concept of white privilege … having no basis in the sociology of race …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiteness_studies#White_privilege

In 1965, drawing from insights from Du Bois and inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, Theodore W. Allen began a 40-year analysis of “white skin privilege”, “white race” privilege, and “white” privilege. …
In 1974–1975, Allen extended his analysis of “white privilege”, racial oppression, and social control to the colonial period with his ground-breaking Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race. With continued research, he developed his ideas as his seminal two-volume The Invention of the White Race published in 1994 and 1997.
For almost forty years, Allen offered a detailed historical analysis of the origin, maintenance, and functioning of “white-skin privilege” and “white privilege” in such writings as: [additional titles snipped]

51

JimV 06.18.22 at 3:24 am

“It’s not even clear they care about abortion as opposed to controlling women.”

Coming from a fundamentalist, Republican-voting family, I don’t see it as that narrow. In my experience, women (of that sort) are often the strongest anti-abortion advocates. I see it more broadly, as control of other people’s morality. There are lots of other things which they would like to control, some of them gender neutral. E.g., homosexuality (male or female) and drug use. If and when men started cloning themselves, they would object to discarding any of the clones for defects at early stages of development also. (Even if they objected to the cloning itself, which they probably would.)

A lot of them sincerely think that’s what a god who created everything wants them to do. To un-polarize them, you just have to convince them that’s wrong. (I tried a few times, didn’t work.) Or you can try the argument that other people should have the right to make their own moral choices. (Tried that, too. Abortion is murder, so, no.)

There are a lot of liberal issues like health care which they wouldn’t mind voting for, but not if they had to vote for a pro-choice Democrat to get it. Some of them whom I know recognized who and what Trump was in 2016, but couldn’t vote for HRC either so they wrote in some other name.

I’m not saying there are no hypocrites or grifters on the Republican side, of course there are. But the ones I know are quite sincere, and do a lot of volunteer charity work.

52

nastywoman 06.18.22 at 5:45 am

and what I reeky mean…
perhaps there should be THE book:

‘America and it’s Right-Wing Racist Science Denying Warmongering Idiots’ –
totally ‘un-polarized’ –
where finally ‘the Right-Wing Racist Science Denying Warmongering Idiots’ show the same… joyful (American) ‘spirit’ they showed when they printed –
‘Proud Deplorable’ –
on their t-shirts and started to cry –
together with –
I –
(and didn’t that rhyme?)
when ‘the Bieb’ -(even if he doesn’t get called that anymore) – came on –
and I think Harvard –
or Prof. Shouting –
BUT NOT ‘Klein’ –
should write that book –
for every American to understand – how funny ‘THE ELITE’ can be –
and how cute and nice to every-
Right-Wing Racist American Science Denying Warmongering Idiot!

53

nastywoman 06.18.22 at 5:51 am

or should it be titled:

‘America and HER Right-Wing Racist Science Denying Warmongering Idiots’ –?!
(subtitle: Un-Poloraized)

54

David in Tokyo 06.18.22 at 1:39 pm

Jim V wrote:
“I see it more broadly, as control of other people’s morality.”

Yep. That sounds about right. Logically and morally equivalent to the Taliban.

Really nice Taliban: they do volunteer and charity work. But Taliban nonetheless.

55

reason 06.18.22 at 1:58 pm

Mr Mister @45
Not sure that I follow exactly what your desires are, but you must understand the way you framed the last point – taxes raised on wealth aimed at decumulating wealth – I can’t agree with as expressed. I think the word “wealth” is a very ambiguous term, but I don’t want to tax wealth as such, but large collections of wealth. I agree with Herman Daly – our aim should be to maintain and even improve our capital while minimizing throughput (i.e. use of resources and creation of waste). Understood that this is the aim of the whole society and says nothing about distribution.

I often explain my preferred world as one where it is easier to become a millionaire, but impossible to become a billionaire.

I’m inclined to think that high marginal tax rates and high inheritance taxes are sufficient to reduce wealth extremes.

56

J-D 06.18.22 at 10:59 pm

Things that I would like, and that I don’t think the general “left” is even trying to do, are:
[details snipped]
The problem that I see is that many people in the left balk at this stuff, and sorta assume it is a pipe dream or that the politicians who propose this are just bulshitting.

Of course there is variation within the left: some are further to the left and some not so far to the left, and some proposals are supported by some but not all. This is why there are descriptions like ‘far left’, ‘moderate left’, ‘centre-left’, ‘hard left’, ‘soft left’, and so on. Missing is any justification for using the specific description ‘cultural left’ for the people balking at the proposals you favour.

In many countries this comes out as two different parties, or two different currents of the same party:
In the USA Sanders VS Clinton and later Sanders VS Biden;
In the UK Corbyn VS Stramer;
In France Melenchon VS Macron;
In Italy a variety of figures where there are many mini-parties on the left that keep changing every election but sorta play the same role of Sanders/Corbyn.

What I see is that in many cases these leftish currents are accused of not being enough into the “cultural left” camp, as in Sanders being accused of being anti-feminist when he campaigned against Clinton, or Corbyn being charged with more or less bogus charges of antisemitism.
I don’t see Sanders, Corbyn etc. as being against the “cultural left”, but I see often the “cultural left” being against them, so I have the suspect that the “cultural left” actually represents a different worldview than the economic left also in economic matters.

It’s not clear that Emmanuel Macron (or his party) count as ‘left’ at all; in current French politics he (and it) are probably more naturally described as ‘centre’ than ‘left’. It’s certainly the case that he (and it) are not as far left as Jean-Luc Mélenchon (and his party), or (if you prefer) that Jean-Luc (and his party) are further to the left than Emmanuel (and his party). What I can’t figure is whether you are associating Emmanuel (and his party) with the description ‘cultural left’; I can’t figure any good reason for doing so.

Likewise I can’t figure any good reason for associating Keir Starmer (or his supporters) with the description ‘cultural left’.

It’s true that accusations of anti-Semitism were used against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour Party. Part of the context for this is that some anti-Semitism (unsurprisingly) does exist in many parts of British society (as it does, equally unsurprisingly, in many other countries), including the Labour Party: but the level of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is less than the background level of anti-Semitism in British society generally and also more specifically and with particular relevance less than the level of anti-Semitism in the Conservative Party. I expect, therefore, that some of the complaints about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party while Jeremy was leader were well-founded, and also that some of them were mistaken but nevertheless made in good faith; but it’s obvious that the issue was exploited in bad faith by people both inside and outside the Labour Party. It is, in particular, clear that the people in the Conservative Party who exploited this issue in this way were doing so in bad faith; if they were genuinely concerned about anti-Semitism their focus would have been on rooting it out of their own party. However, Conservatives are obviously not ‘cultural left’ as they are not left at all. As Jeremy has always been well known as being on the left of the Labour Party’s internal spectrum, his opponents within the party predictably came from the right of that internal spectrum, which would still put them to the left of where the centre is in the current spectrum of British politics; but how on the ‘cultural left’? I still don’t get that.

57

J-D 06.18.22 at 11:10 pm

Here’s an apparently ill-conceived tweet from Ruben Gallego, who represents Arizona in the US House of Representatives:

To be clear my office is not allowed to use “Latinx” in official communications.
When Latino politicos use the term it is largely to appease white rich progressives who think that is the term we use. It is a vicious circle of confirmation bias.

I don’t know how much truth there is in the statement that Hispanic politicos use the term ‘Latinx’ largely to appease rich white progressives who think that it is the term Hispanic people use. It would be relevant to know how much truth there is in it. If it’s true, or mostly true, then Ruben Gallego’s point is valid. If it’s not true, then his point is still not ill-conceived; in that case, the problem with it would be not that it was ill-conceived but rather that it was based on a mistake of fact. (Everybody makes mistakes of fact sometimes; it’s not a sign of muddled thinking to have made a mistake of fact.)

I became sufficiently curious to try to find out a little more about the history of the use of the term Latinx; looking at the relevant Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latinx) I found this instructive:

Critics say the term does not follow traditional grammar, is difficult to pronounce, and is disrespectful toward conventional Spanish …

The objection that Latinx is difficult to pronounce in Spanish is well-conceived and I take it to be accurate (although I don’t know enough about Spanish pronunciation to know why). When somebody coins a new term (in any language), it is relevant and appropriate to discuss how easy it is to pronounce. The objection that the term is ‘disrespectful toward conventional Spanish’ is ill-conceived, and a typical example of the kind of ill-conceived objection that is made to language change in general (in any language). People deserve respect; no language is the kind of thing that deserves respect.

58

Orange Watch 06.18.22 at 11:56 pm

J-D@48:

Your citation of prior use of the term “white privilege” is not terribly enlightening in this context – it’s like pointing out that the term “evolution” pre-dated Darwin’s use of it in a discussion of the theory of evolution. Pointedly, from following the link you provided:

In the late 1980s, the term gained new popularity in academic circles and public discourse after Peggy McIntosh’s 1987 foundational work “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. In this critique McIntosh made observations about conditions of advantage and dominance in the US. She described white privilege as “an invisible weightless knapsack of assurances, tools, maps, guides, codebooks, passports, visas, clothes, compass, emergency gear, and blank checks”, and also discussed the relationships between different social hierarchies in which experiencing oppression in one hierarchy did not negate unearned privilege experienced in another. […] McIntosh’s essay is still routinely cited as a key influence by later generations of academics and journalists.

There’s some grim irony that Du Bois’s use of the term did not gain widespread recognition, but McIntosh’s essay inextricably linked the term to her within academic Critical Theory and the many disciplines drawing upon it. McIntosh (and her baggage) is w/o question extremely relevant to the term as it is routinely understood and used today. Her framing of it is the basis of its mainstream subsequent scope and usage – even if the phrase (or near cousins of it) had seen prior use, the concept attached to that term is her construct, or descended therefrom.

59

nastywoman 06.19.22 at 6:29 am

and I know I have been… very… silly –
but it was meant to be as some kind of humorous ‘incentive’ in order to finally talk about the real reason for the unpleasant polarisation – as do you guys remember the Movies Social Network or/and the Wolf of Wall Street?
Like when ‘the Zuck’ was worried that outing him as ‘a Greedy A…hol’ would have all kind of negative consequences for him and his business – and then he found out that there were a lot of Americans out there – who (still) believe that ‘Greed is Go(o)d’ and with ‘trump’
(The Worlds New Word for: Utmost Racist Right Wing Science Denying Warmongering Idiot) ALL of these American finally got FREED to express their ‘a… holiness’ to th utmost dgree –
and
NOW
it’s just some ‘Libs’ (the Right needs to owe) who keep on spoiling that Party of
NO FILTER ANYMORE!

Or as my Harley Mechanic confessed:
When Obama was President I couldn’t do this… that…
‘Polarizing Thingy’….

60

nastywoman 06.19.22 at 6:37 am

or in other words:
‘I’m such a ‘stupid moralising European Snowflake’ –
(according to my Harley Mechanic)
that I deserve to be constantly owned by some ‘Right-Wing Racist Science Denying Warmongering Idiots’ –
as at least WE ALL –
NOW
are able –
to name names?

Right?
(Wingy-Winky)

61

nastywoman 06.19.22 at 7:04 am

and @58
‘Your citation of prior use of the term “white privilege” is not terribly enlightening in this context – it’s like pointing out that the term “evolution” pre-dated Darwin’s use of it in a discussion of the theory of evolution.

But who –
of all the Racist Right-Wing Science Denying US Idiots have
EVER
heard of ‘Peggy McIntosh’s 1987 foundational work “White Privilege”?

None?
As they just associate ‘White Privilege’ with the utmost current Tucker Carlsons rant’s against anybody who use such… w-w-w-words?

Right?
(Wingy-Winky)
Sooo –
Pointedly –
the term: ‘White Privilege’ now is majorly linked to the Racist Right-Wing –
as one of ‘the terms’ they HATE most!
(and who is… who?… M-M-M- Mackintosh?)

62

David in Tokyo 06.19.22 at 7:46 am

MisterMr wants, among other things.

Very high marginal income tax rate, as in 80% rate;

I want that too. We’ve tried it before and it resulted in (or at least was contemporaneous with) some of the highest economic growth rates capitalism has ever seen. But it does have some downsides, e.g. The Stones fleeing the country and the Beatles (well, GH) writing the embarassingly stupid (but also friggin’ brilliant) Taxman. Sigh.

63

Fake Dave 06.19.22 at 7:53 am

@ J-D 48

This thread has probably heard enough from me, but I do have to rebut the notion that a single year jump in homicides by almost a third is just noise. Looking back over the data, the last time it came close to doing that was a 20% jump in 2001 (presumably the 9/11 victims are included.) I didn’t pull the homicide rate just to cherry pick. The overall crime rate for 2020 isn’t out yet (at least I couldn’t find it). Many other crimes have seen similar jumps such as domestic violence or the aforementioned Fentanyl crisis, but feel free to keep checking my work.

After all, you were right that Allen apparently talked about “white skin privilege” first, which I may have known at one point. I read a few chapters of The Invention of the White Race and it did seem like a real scientist wrote it, but it was also quite a bit more nuanced and complex than the pop culture definition of “white privilege,” which is pretty much pure McIntosh. Maybe McIntosh had read Allen, but she certainly doesn’t cite him. In fact, except for one brief namecheck of the Combahee River Collective, she hardly cites anyone. She’s actually quite eager to assert in both her original papers that this is her brilliant idea that she came up with all on her own. My read on her is that she was a dedicated and well-intentioned scholar who made the all-too-common mistake of assuming her expertise would transfer to an unrelated field. It’s a forgivable sin and I’m sure she’s done good as well, but many of the more persistent myths of modern pseudo-science started with the same combination of ignorance and arrogance. If we actually want to win the culture wars, we need weapons that shoot straight.

PS in the last post I said McIntosh went to private school in New York, but I was misremembering. She actually went to public school in New York. The private schools were in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

64

J-D 06.19.22 at 10:31 am

The idea that there exists a whole political movement based mostly or wholly on one individual’s personal baggage is grossly implausible on the face of it, and therefore nobody should accept that it is the case just because one Internet commenter says so, or just because two Internet commenters say so.

The idea that a single essay has had a lot of influence is plausible on the face of it, but when a single essay has lots of influence there are reasons why that happens. Peggy McIntosh does not have sorcerous powers.

65

MisterMr 06.19.22 at 1:29 pm

@J-D 56
It’s not clear that Emmanuel Macron (or his party) count as ‘left’ at all; in current French politics he (and it) are probably more naturally described as ‘centre’ than ‘left’.
From wikipedia:
“Macron was appointed a deputy secretary general by President François Hollande shortly after his election in May 2012, making Macron one of Hollande’s senior advisers. He was later appointed to the French cabinet as Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs in August 2014 by prime minister Manuel Valls. In this role, Macron championed a number of business-friendly reforms. He resigned from the cabinet in August 2016, launching a campaign for the 2017 French presidential election. Although Macron had been a member of the Socialist Party from 2006 to 2009, he ran in the election under the banner of En Marche!, a centrist and pro-European political movement he founded in April 2016.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmanuel_Macron

I’d say center-left is a reasonable definition, perhaps more center than left but still left, not right.

Of course there is variation within the left: some are further to the left and some not so far to the left, and some proposals are supported by some but not all. This is why there are descriptions like ‘far left’, ‘moderate left’, ‘centre-left’, ‘hard left’, ‘soft left’, and so on. Missing is any justification for using the specific description ‘cultural left’ for the people balking at the proposals you favour.

The impression I have is that groups that are against “hard (economic) left” policies strongly use “(cultural) left” policies to signal their diffwerence from the guys on the right. Now, there might be many explanations for this:

Maybe I’m just more (economic) far left and less (cultural) far left, so I use my opinion as a parameter and see everyone not enough (economic) far left and instead a lot (cultural) far left, but this is just a matter of my perspective.

Another explanation, that I think is quite plausible, is that in the 90s (economic) left policies where unpopular, so some leftish paries pivoted towards moderate (economic) leftish policies. Parties on the right had then to go harder on the identitalry policies, because the Clintons and the Blairs were stealing their “reasonable realistic people” appeal (that I think in the 90s still very much was something associated to the right).
As the rightr became more and more identitarian, it gained in some groups but also it became unpalatable to others, who were thn pushed towards the left.
According to this explanation, there are now two groups that form the left:
one old left, that I call the economic left, that is also more extremist in economic matters;
a new left, that in reality is made by people who would be centrist economically, but who were pushed to the left because the right became more and more identitarian, so for example if you are a centrist who is religious but not a fundamentalist you will be pushed toward the left when the right becomes more and more pro fundamentalists and gets mixed with Q-anon adn stuff; This second group is actually centrist, but it is formed by all the people who were pushed to the left by the right’s identitary policies, so they end up being the (cultural) left.

There are perhaps also other options, for example I’m using the term “cultural left” to mean a variety of issues but someone who is a feminist is not automatically an anti-racist is not automatically an enviromentyalist etc., so maybe the “cultural left” is a void concept.

Personally I’m quite in doubt, on the one hand I understand that it might just be a matter of my perspective, on the other hand I sometimes say something like that the left should raise taxes and increase redistribution and people look at me as if I was weird, so I think that there might be a group that self-defines as “left” but is very different in opinions VS what was usually called “left”, and would be probably better be defined as “liberal” (old sense of the word).

66

nastywoman 06.19.22 at 2:38 pm

and@
‘The idea that a single essay has had a lot of influence is plausible on the face of it, but when a single essay has lots of influence there are reasons why that happens’.

Yeah –
I think a lot of people –
(and even Americans)
one day had noticed – that is is a lot more *privileged’ to be ‘white’ –
(and even in America)
THAN
to be a member of any other ‘color’
(or ‘club’?)
As just yesterday I saw the Documentary ‘Halftime’ with Jlo –
and what do you guys think? –
Are two brown Latinas are as ‘privileged’ as one white dude performing at the Super Bowl?

67

banned commenter 06.19.22 at 3:25 pm

@20″…violation of bodily autonomy…”

It doesn’t seem that banning a medical procedure when it’s not required by medical necessity violates anyone’s “bodily autonomy”.

@28 “The fact is, being against abortion is being for the birth of unwanted children.”

Yes, unwanted by the biological mothe… sorry… what is it now — the birthing person?.
But probably very much wanted by plenty of other persons. So, where’s the drama?

68

Orange Watch 06.19.22 at 3:28 pm

J-D@56:

The discussion of weaponizing antisemitism against Corbyn you’re responding to here refers specifically to the The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014–2019, a leaked Labour investigation. This received far less coverage outside the UK as compared to the initial controversy about Corbynite antisemitism, which is itself not surprising and not unrelated to the sort of broad-left factionalism being discussed therein – Corbyn being accused of systemic antisemitism was far more politically useful than revealing the role of internecine factionalism in the controversy.

The other thing your comment underscores is how increasingly unhelpful dogmatic usage of a one-dimensional left-right political spectrum is even when not discussing authoritarian-egalitarian divides.

J-D@57:

You might want to go further afield than Wikipedia on the Latino/Latina/Latinx controversy. The core objection is that the term originated from a small group of prescriptivist Latin activists who saw a problem where the broader Latin population did not, and introduced their solution to academics and activists (many if not most of whom were not Latin) who embraced it enthusiastically as being more respectful and inclusive… but the large body of people they were referring to generally did not welcome the imposed solution to an invented problem (i.e. Spanish grammar conventions being perceived as problematic when imported into English, which lacks the corresponding linguistic rules and structures). In a very real sense, it’s an issue of giving not just the English language primacy over Spanish in what claims to be a demand to be more respectful of Spanish-speaking people’s identity, but a specific activist subset of anglophones primacy. This latter is a recurring theme in the interactions between critical theory adherents and/or those descending from that tradition (first in academia, but also further down the pipeline in activist circles) and the public at large. Which leads us back to…

J-D@64:

McIntosh’s essay’s outsized influence is attributable to the specific hierarchical “star system” in critical theory (and Theory-adjacent) academia in the 80s and 90s. There was an extremely top-down heirarchy, where those lower on the heirarchy contributed almost exclusively derivative work and the vast majority of citation was of “star” academics. This hierarchy had a specific, dominant relationship to both progressive activism and the corporate cottage industry of diversity and inclusiveness consulting. The idea that a single essay (and the baggage baked into it) would shape an entire movement descending from it might seem implausible if you aren’t familiar with these academic fields in this particular historical moment (nor of the academia-to-activist pipeline that has popularized their ideas on a delayed schedule), but assuming that the dynamics of other academic fields are universal ignores the very real, boring, petty, insular, and obscure history of these formulations & concepts, and their enunuciators & populizers.

(This also speaks to nw@61 ? modern usage of white privilege in popular parlance has been filtered through McIntosh. Carlson et al don’t need to be familiar with her to engage with her legacy. Not that anyone was talking about Tucker or his ilk’s use of WP before you invoked him to demonize the people you disagree with, mind you. It’s exhaustingly unhelpful when you simplisticly lump all your opponents together into one indistinguishable mass, as you’ve done here.)

69

anon/portly 06.19.22 at 5:30 pm

It seems like a lot of the comments are more about the “Popularists vs. Progressives” debate than about polarization.

Ezra Klein wrote about this – in particular about the views of David Shor, and Shor’s critcs – here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/08/opinion/democrats-david-shor-education-polarization.html

Gina Schouten discusses sorting by ethnicity and then says:

The upshot is that “Democrats need to go broad in order to win over their party and…they need to reach into right-leaning territory to win power. Republicans can afford to go deep” (231). And that means that Republicans can appeal to voters through appeals to group identity, whereas Democrats must use party platform and policy goals to unify a diverse collection of interest groups.

Then later:

How does this restrain polarization on the Democratic side and exacerbate it for Republicans? To win electoral victory, Democrats need to appeal to voters to the right of center. They can and have moved to the left in various ways, but they can’t survive if they abandon outreach to the middle, and indeed to the right-of-middle.

The Shor view – or this article, Klein – puts more emphasis on educational or class sorting, which I think is helpful in explaining Schouten’s points. Here is one (hopefully not too long) excerpt:

What’s changed the equation, Shor believes, are several interlocking forces.

First, educational polarization has risen sharply in recent years, particularly among white voters. Democrats are winning more college-educated white voters and fewer non-college white voters, as pollster shorthand puts it, and Donald Trump supercharged this trend. There was a time when Democrats told themselves that this was a byproduct of becoming a more diverse party, as non-college white voters tend to be more racially reactionary. Then, in 2020, Democrats lost ground among Black and Latino voters, with the sharpest drops coming among non-college voters.

I want to stop here and say I believe, as does Shor, that educational polarization is serving here as a crude measure of class polarization. We tend to think of class as driven by income, but in terms of how it’s formed and practiced in America right now, education tracks facets that paychecks miss. A high school dropout who owns a successful pest extermination company in the Houston exurbs might have an income that looks a lot like a software engineer’s at Google, while an adjunct professor’s will look more like an apprentice plumber’s. But in terms of class experience — who they know, what they believe, where they’ve lived, what they watch, who they marry and how they vote, act and protest — the software engineer is more like the adjunct professor.

Either way, the sorting that educational polarization is picking up, inexact as the term may be, puts Democrats at a particular disadvantage in the Senate, as college-educated voters cluster in and around cities while non-college voters are heavily rural. This is why Shor believes Trump was good for the Republican Party, despite its losing the popular vote in 2016, the House in 2018 and the Senate and the presidency in 2020. “Sure, maybe he underperforms the generic Republican by whatever,” Shor said. “But he’s engineered a real and perhaps persistent bias in the Electoral College, and then when you get to the Senate, it’s so much worse.” As he put it, “Donald Trump enabled Republicans to win with a minority of the vote.”

70

J-D 06.20.22 at 2:00 am

This thread has probably heard enough from me, but I do have to rebut the notion that a single year jump in homicides by almost a third is just noise. Looking back over the data, the last time it came close to doing that was a 20% jump in 2001 (presumably the 9/11 victims are included.) I didn’t pull the homicide rate just to cherry pick. The overall crime rate for 2020 isn’t out yet (at least I couldn’t find it). Many other crimes have seen similar jumps such as domestic violence or the aforementioned Fentanyl crisis, but feel free to keep checking my work.

There are reasons why people adopted and promoted the slogan ‘Defund The Police’, and there are also reasons why (other) people reacted to it with hostility or in other negative ways, but those reasons had little or nothing to do with what was happening to the general crime rate at the time, still less (if possible) to do with rates of domestic violence or Fentanyl use.

I expect a useful discussion could be had about the advantages and disadvantages of the slogan ‘Defund The Police’ and about ways it could (or should not) be used, but it’s not a good way to begin that discussion to say ‘You’d have to be an idiot to promote this slogan while the crime rate is rising steeply’.

Likewise, I expect a useful discussion could be had about the best way to understand the various issues which different people have discussed under the heading of ‘white privilege’ and the best terminology to use when referring to them, but it’s not a good way to begin that discussion to say ‘”White privilege” is nothing but the invention of somebody who had no valid basis for what she was saying’.

71

nastywoman 06.20.22 at 5:32 am

Correction of the following NYT article:

‘The Republican Party in Texas made a series of far-right declarations as part of its official party platform over the weekend, claiming that President Biden was not legitimately elected, issuing a “rebuke” to Senator John Cornyn for his work on bipartisan gun legislation and referring to homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice.”

The platform was voted on in Houston at the state party’s convention, which concluded on Saturday.

The resolutions about Mr. Biden and Mr. Cornyn were approved by a voice vote of the delegates, according to James Wesolek, the communications director for the Republican Party of Texas. The statements about homosexuality — as well as additional stances on abortion that called for students to “learn about the Humanity of the Preborn Child” — were among more than 270 planks that were approved by a platform committee and voted on by the larger group of convention delegates using paper ballots. The results of those votes were still pending on Sunday, but Mr. Wesolek said it was rare for a plank to be voted down by the full convention after being approved by the committee.

The resolutions adopting the false claims that former President Donald J. Trump was the victim of a stolen election in 2020 as well as the other declarations were the latest examples of Texas Republicans moving further to the right in recent months’.

STOP!
NOT further to ‘the right’
Further to INSANITY!

72

TM 06.20.22 at 10:13 am

MrMister 47 and J-D 56:

The problem that I see is that many people in the left balk at this stuff, and sorta assume it is a pipe dream or that the politicians who propose this are just bulshitting …
In France Melenchon VS Macron; …

Isn’t it relevant to this discussion that there just were elections in France with the following results:
Presidential election: Mélenchon 22% in the 1st round, not making it to the second round
Legislative election (with record low turnout): NUPES under Mélenchon’s leadership 1st round 26%, second round 32%

I haven’t checked all the details of Mélenchon’s program. Not sure whether they ran on 80% marginal tax rates. Mélenchon’s economic program is generally considered as hard left and nobody to my knowledge has accused him of being “woke” or some such. His electoral results are not bad, some even consider them a success: the left has fared far better than in 2017 (*) and at least managed to become the main opposition force and break Macron’s absolute majority. But nobody can look at these numbers and pretend that Mélenchon’s brand of economic leftism is super popular. If the argument is that “cultural leftism” is unpopular and “economic leftism” is popular, the evidence hardly supports that.

(*) 2022 was better for the left than 2017, when Socialists and LFI together collected just 20% and a paltry number of seats, but still worse than almost any earlier election. The Socialists alone got 41% in the 2012 second round, 42% in 2007, 35% in 2002, 38% in 1997…

73

TM 06.20.22 at 11:30 am

Gina Schouten @31
“But I also think that certain parts of the left talk about the issue in ways that are off-putting to voters who care about bodily autonomy and women’s equality and who also think abortion is morally complicated, and so those parts of the left should take better care to acknowledge the moral complicatedness, or at least not to equate the set of people who think there’s a complicated issue here with the set of people who are misogynists. …
My suggestion is that the issue be treated as one with more moral gravity by politicians who are talking about it as a political issue.”

It might help if you could be more specific: do you suggest campaign ads stating “We Democrats agree that aboprtion is a grave moral matter”, or “we do not support late term abortions”? I don’t need to explain why that would be an awful idea do I?

Democrats do much less talking about abortion than Republicans, because they consider it a private issue (notwithstanding its moral gravity). When they do talk about it these days, it’s almost always in the very specific context of the right wing assault on reproductive rights. So Democrats tend to emphasize their comitment to these rights (e. g. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/05/03/statement-by-president-joe-biden-4/), because the political moment requires it.

It is instructive to revisit Obama’s attempt at combating “polarization”. I remember how in the very first presidential debate in 2008, which was held at a conservative church (it was not an “official” debate), Obama had talked about abortion in terms of moral gravity (I don’t remember the exact words) and then stated something like “at least we should all agree with reducing unwanted pregnancies” (which btw is an absolute standard position of moderate conservatives in Europe). The response from the audience was icy. It was clear that this wasn’t what they wanted at all.

Obama actually tried to implement a program to “reduce the need for abortion.” Here’s an interesting account (https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/barack-obama-faith-adviser-book-abortion-reduction-214635/):

“Over the course of the initiative to “reduce the need for abortion,” we met with more than a hundred leaders and advocacy groups, held dozens of internal meetings and spent hundreds of hours on draft documents. The end goal was clear: create a set of common-ground policies and administrative actions that move our politics beyond the zero-sum game of the culture wars, and actually reduce abortion by addressing its root causes.

Our work was focused on identifying policies in five buckets: preventing unintended pregnancies, supporting maternal and child health, opening up pathways of opportunity for women and mothers, promoting healthy relationships and strengthening adoption. There was ample common ground available, and we made great progress in defining it: strengthening enforcement to prevent pregnancy discrimination in employment, combating sexual coercion in relationships, improving access to information regarding prenatal care, and supporting innovative partnerships between adoption service providers. I have no doubt that with the White House’s focused leadership, and a willingness to spend political capital on the effort, the president’s vision could have been realized.

But zero-sum politics won. Anti-abortion groups, most of which might as well be legally incorporated into the Republican Party, did not want to give a pro-abortion rights president the victory of leading the charge to reduce abortions. Moreover, they had already warned the country that the president would be the “most pro-abortion president in history,” thus making it difficult to partner with him.

This ain’t “Polarization.” Remember what Obama was hated for most: expanding health care (including maternal health care in Southern states) and expanding access to contraception. It is impossible to find a mainstream conservative figure in Europe (not sure about Poland, but certainly in Western Europe) publicly opposing contraception, or for that matter opposing medically accurate sex education in schools, yet in the US it is the standard position of the GOP which has already started outlawing important contraception methods, guaranteeing more unwanted pregnancies, more teen pregnancies, and more women seeking abortions (so the fascists can criminalize them).

Messaging is important. Lamenting polarization in the face of a full-blown fascist war on democracy, war on women’s rights, voting rights, gay rights, war on historical truth, war on science, … is bad messaging.

74

nastywoman 06.20.22 at 11:31 am

@
‘It’s exhaustingly unhelpful when you simplisticly lump all your opponents together into one indistinguishable mass, as you’ve done here’.

But on the other hand it helped – and still helps to focus in order to find a (focused) answer to the main issue and question of this thread:
‘Why We’re Polarized Part 4: The Last one, about Party Differences’

As Ezra Klein argues that while the forces of polarization act on both major U.S. political parties, the Democratic party has managed to weather them whereas the Republican party has largely succumbed. That is, Republicans stand out for their growing violation of and downright hostility toward established norms’ and as Tucker Carlson for sure stood and stands out for their growing violation of and downright hostility toward the established norms of NOT being totally obvious racist – and he (supposedly) has million of followers –
who believe it when Tucker broadcast ‘replacement theories’ – and the propagandising of ‘replacement theories’ have a lot to do with his ‘white privilege’ – and one of the major differences between Right-Wing Racist Science Denying Idiots -(like Carlson) AND the majority of the US D-Party – that US Democrats DO NOT propagandise ‘replacement theories and thusly the (white privilege) of… of… of…
Oh… MY?

Where was… I?

Did I just fell for the old Monty Python Shtick of writing about something completely different than the topic of this thread?

And why can’t we FOCUS – Orange?

75

TM 06.20.22 at 11:36 am

This weekend in polarization:

Gustavo Petro, a former rebel and a longtime legislator, won Colombia’s presidential election on Sunday… Mr. Petro, 62, received more than 50 percent of the vote, with more than 99 percent counted Sunday evening. His opponent, Rodolfo Hernández, a construction magnate who had energized the country with a scorched-earth anti-corruption platform, won just over 47 percent. Shortly after the vote, Mr. Hernández conceded to Mr. Petro. “Colombians, today the majority of citizens have chosen the other candidate,” he said. “As I said during the campaign, I accept the results of this election.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/19/world/americas/gustavo-petro-colombia-presidential-election.html)

Texas Republicans Approve Far-Right Platform Declaring Biden’s Election Illegitimate
The Republican Party in Texas made a series of far-right declarations as part of its official party platform over the weekend, claiming that President Biden was not legitimately elected, issuing a “rebuke” to Senator John Cornyn for his work on bipartisan gun legislation and referring to homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice.”
(https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/19/us/politics/texas-republicans-approve-far-right-platform-declaring-bidens-election-illegitimate.html)

It is impossible to overstate the extent to which the GOP is a right wing extremist outlier even among right wing parties internationally, even in countries with a history of right wing authoritarianism.

76

nastywoman 06.20.22 at 11:42 am

AND
Orange –
I don’t want to crack the old joke –
that –
if it looks like a… an Orange –
and talks like an Orange –
and walks like an Orange
it
MUST be
a
‘Trump’ –
as that would be ‘lumping’ the old German Baron ‘FF Von Clownstick’ ‘ exhaustingly unhelpful and simplisticly with ALL the people who say the same silly things Von Clownstick liked to tweet.
AND I hope – that if you really DO NOT one ‘indistinguishable mass’ –
YOU NEED –
to FOCUS
on fighting all of the Nonsense and Lies –
EVEN
if it means that you are going to be as POLARIZED as a ‘trump’.

Capisce?

77

J, not that one 06.20.22 at 3:58 pm

I would say “left” doesn’t mean “left of center.” It means “farther left than the Overton Window,” or in the US “farther left than either party in the standard party system.” Could confusion about this point itself lead to polarization, or am I overthinking it?

78

steven t johnson 06.20.22 at 4:28 pm

“But nobody can look at these numbers and pretend that Mélenchon’s brand of economic leftism is super popular. If the argument is that ‘cultural leftism’ is unpopular and ‘economic leftism’ is popular, the evidence hardly supports that.”

The numbers include LePen’s party making massive gains. The evidence most certainly shows cultural leftism is less popular. The evidence suggests economic leftism is possibly more popular, as LePen et al. posture as economic leftists too. But this isn’t so clear.

The notion Melenchon is a hard leftist is absurd. It’s like the general belief Biden’s spending is causing inflation and Biden failed catastrophically in Afghanistan. Macron wants to cut pensions. Opposing this is not hard left, it’s not even particularly left, it’s just not being company man who likes to cover up being a stooge by inventing something called the center-right. (Or depending on the location of the Overton Window for an issue, center-left.)

79

notGoodenough 06.20.22 at 4:46 pm

Orange Watch @ 68

“The core objection is that the term originated from a small group of prescriptivist Latin activists”[…]“broader Latin population”[…]“(many if not most of whom were not Latin)”

I think you mean “Latino”? The “o” ending denotes the masculine form which (as I would hope you would know, given you are pontificating on the subject) takes primacy for any group not explicitly female only. Of course, if you wish to be slightly more inclusive you could use “Latino/a” (or some variation thereof) instead. As far as I am aware, unless you are referring to the language of ancient Rome there is little reason to use “Latin”.

“In a very real sense, it’s an issue of giving not just the English language primacy over Spanish in what claims to be a demand to be more respectful of Spanish-speaking people’s identity, but a specific activist subset of anglophones primacy.”

As I understand it, the issue is primarily a result of Spanish words being inherently gendered, making it rather difficult to navigate if you happen to be (for example) outside the typical gender binary or you object to being referred to using the masculine gender for non-female exclusive groups / feminine gender for groups typically associated with being female-exclusive (the first objection typically being associated with the LGBTQ+ community, the second with some feminists in arguments going back at least to the 1980s which I believe significantly predates “Latinx”). The idea being not to be “more respectful of Spanish-speaking people’s identity” but rather to be “more respectful of some hitherto excluded Spanish-speaking people’s identity”. One can certainly argue with the approach, but I think it important to be careful and recognise this is not stemming from an argument made solely anglophones but has also, for example, long been the subject of discussion amongst feminists in Spanish-speaking countries (who, one might presume, may have at least some say in how they choose to use their own language).

In short, as I understand it this is less a problem of “Spanish grammar conventions being perceived as problematic when imported into English”, but it is in fact more inherent to the Spanish language itself (there are other approaches adopted by the Spanish-speaking community, such as using non-gendered neopronoun “elle” and the “e” ending, or the alternative proposals summarised by Bengoechea dating back some 40 years). I would suggest, therefore, being careful not to conflate the issue (use of gendered words within a language) with one specific proposed solution (using “Latine” or the more Americanised “Latinx”).

Of course, it may be worth noting any approach which seeks to agglomerate a large group under one “label” is going to be problematic – indeed, I believe many people reject such labels as “Latino/a” altogether and identify using the country of their family’s origin. So arguably people should avoid using “Latino/a” (let alone, what I understand to be the rather fraught term, “Hispanic”!) altogether anyway…

“This latter is a recurring theme in the interactions between critical theory adherents and/or those descending from that tradition (first in academia, but also further down the pipeline in activist circles) and the public at large.”

If, as you appear to imply, “critical theory adherents” are responsible for forcing the term on people, why do “critical theorists” also use Latino/a (for example, LatCrit – Latina and Latino Critical Legal Theory) and why do some (albeit a small minority) of Spanish speakers also use Latinx/Latine when referring to themselves (often in addition to Latino and Latina for others)? Why does it seem “Latinx” and “Latine” seem more popular amongst LGBTQ+ Spanish speakers than the more general demographic?

I suspect one reason may be because this is less an issue of “anglophone activists forcing language imperialism upon Spanish speakers” and more an issue of “people are trying to introduce more gender neutral terms (sometimes clumsily) which are generally being rejected by a broader society”. Similar issues, I should note, have also occurred when gender neutral terms have been attempted to be (re)introduced in English (consider the singular “they”).

Personally (though I should note this is speaking as someone who is neither a “critical theory adherent” nor someone who is likely to use “Latinx/e/o/a” on a regular basis), were I to be so bold as to suggest an approach it would simply be to ask someone how they identify rather than trying to force a label upon them – but perhaps the world is not ready for such a radical notion.

80

Tm 06.20.22 at 5:45 pm

Further to 72: the French election is precisely not an example of „cultural left“ turning against „economic left“: nearly all forces of the left united under the leadership of what MrMister himself identified as the economic left.

Sure when you start from the premise that Macron (https://www.newsweek.com/macron-france-reject-american-woke-culture-thats-racializing-their-country-1634706) represents the „cultural left“, you can arrive at any nonsensical conclusion you like. It’s easy for a certain brand of leftism to agree with the fascists that wokeism is the enemy, and if need be you can always quote an antiwoke centrist neoliberal as proof of the „cultural left‘s“ rottenness.

81

steven t johnson 06.20.22 at 7:41 pm

“Sure when you start from the premise that Macron… represents the
cultural left,’ you can arrive at any nonsensical conclusion you like. It’s easy for a certain brand of leftism to agree with the fascists that wokeism is the enemy, and if need be you can always quote an antiwoke centrist neoliberal as proof of the ‘cultural left‘s’ rottenness.”

The Macron premise is only meant to apply to French politics. The concluding generalization that the Macron premise applies universally is nonsense, attributing a preposterous position to unnamed persons to condemn—in this case—a “certain brand of leftism,” and manages to conflate the left and fascism, harking back to moldy nonsense about totalitarianism.

It is not an accident that the question of whether Macron is “woke” is merely dismissed. Macron of course is entirely “woke” on feminist issues, like, the hijab is oppression of women. The Taliban oppresses women. Russians and Chinese oppressing gays is evil. Etc. Etc. Etc.

The difficulty cropping up here is that there is no guarantee that the so-called cultural left is actually left. The touchstone for leftists, at least in the Marxist tradition as a whole, is, solidarity with the working class and the oppressed.

82

Tm 06.20.22 at 8:34 pm

Stj 81: „Macron of course is entirely “woke” on feminist issues, like, the hijab is oppression of women.“

If you take a bog standard right wing position (ask Marine Le Pen) as definition of the meaning of the term „cultural left“, you might have a problem and I’m not gonna say any more about this parody of trollishness.

83

J-D 06.21.22 at 1:14 am

The impression I have is that groups that are against “hard (economic) left” policies strongly use “(cultural) left” policies to signal their diffwerence from the guys on the right.

A question which should be asked by anybody reading a remark like this is ‘How reliable is this impression? On what is it based?’

Another question which MisterMr has not yet answered is ‘Who do you mean by “the cultural left”?’

… I sometimes say something like that the left should raise taxes and increase redistribution and people look at me as if I was weird …

If the definition of ‘the cultural left’ is ‘people who look at MisterMr as if MisterMr is weird’, it’s not a useful term.

84

J-D 06.21.22 at 1:41 am

It doesn’t seem that banning a medical procedure when it’s not required by medical necessity violates anyone’s “bodily autonomy”.

That’s a mistaken impression. It (banning a medical procedure) is exactly that (violating bodily autonomy). If you want to make an argument in favour of banning a medical procedure, you should not disingenuously deny that it is a violation of bodily autonomy, you should frankly make your argument in favour of the violation of bodily autonomy.

Yes, unwanted by the biological mothe… sorry… what is it now — the birthing person?.
But probably very much wanted by plenty of other persons. So, where’s the drama?

First, the drama is in the lives of the people who find themselves unable to terminate pregnancies they wanted to terminate and suffer the consequences of that. Second, the drama is in the lives of the people who find they can only get their pregnancies terminated in unsafe conditions and suffer the consequences of that. Third, the drama is in the lives of the people who are falsely accused or suspected of terminating pregnancies and suffer the consequences of that. Fourth, the drama is in the lives of the people who did in fact terminate pregnancies and who suffer criminal penalties as a result, and in the lives of their families and the people who love them.

85

J-D 06.21.22 at 3:37 am

The discussion of weaponizing antisemitism against Corbyn you’re responding to here refers specifically to the The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014–2019, a leaked Labour investigation.

Maybe this is being cited with the intention of supporting a point I was making; maybe it’s being cited as contradicting a point I was making; maybe neither. It’s not clear.

The other thing your comment underscores is how increasingly unhelpful dogmatic usage of a one-dimensional left-right political spectrum is even when not discussing authoritarian-egalitarian divides.

I don’t think so. The ways in which the political concepts of ‘left’ and ‘right’ were once helpful are ways they are still helpful; the contexts in which they are not now helpful are contexts in which they were never helpful.

You might want to go further afield than Wikipedia on the Latino/Latina/Latinx controversy.

I am aware of the limitations of relying on what Wikipedia tells me, but I am also aware of the even greater limitations of relying on what one anonymous blog commenter tells me.

The idea that a single essay (and the baggage baked into it) would shape an entire movement descending from it might seem implausible …

It doesn’t stop being implausible just because somebody tells me it isn’t.

86

Fake Dave 06.21.22 at 5:16 am

“LatinX” is bizarre because when I was a kid we were all taught not call people by the English word “LA- tin” and instead encouraged to use the (allegedly) more respectful Spanish cognate. Now a bunch of equally self-righteous wannabe cultural authorities are trying to get us to abandon the Spanish usage and go back to the Anglo pronunciation with an X at the end. I’ve heard actual Spanish-speakers say Latino and even “Latine,” but never “la-TEEN-eck-EES” which is quite the mouthful. The problem isn’t the neologisms per se though (gender inclusivity is cool and good), but rather the self-righteousness with which factions of the intelegentsia try to push their preferred terms (and worldview) on the rest of us.

87

nastywoman 06.21.22 at 5:19 am

So –
in conclusion can’t we ALL agree –
that:
@ ‘Lamenting polarization in the face of a full-blown Right Wing Racist Science Denying Idiots war on democracy, war on women’s rights, voting rights, gay rights, war on historical truth, war on science, … is bad messaging?

And instead of ‘polarization’ let’s just call it just:

‘Fighting for the truth’
(and there are NO nice people on both sides)

88

nastywoman 06.21.22 at 6:17 am

and about
@
‘the self-righteousness with which factions of the intelegentsia try to push their preferred terms (and worldview) on the rest of us’.
as everybody knows here – that I’m NOT a member of some ‘intelegentsia’ –
(as I hardly can write either) –
let me say that all these ‘terms’ –
(like for example ‘nastywoman’)
are NOT ‘the problem’ –

Or are they?
– if they would be the major reason for the so called ‘Polarisation’ –
(like – when we call ‘trump’ a ‘Racist Right Wing Science Denying Warmongering Idiot’ instead of ‘FF von Clownstick’?)

Perhaps – we just need a whole set of new… ‘terms’?

89

J-D 06.21.22 at 6:17 am

I want to stop here and say I believe, as does Shor, that educational polarization is serving here as a crude measure of class polarization. We tend to think of class as driven by income, but in terms of how it’s formed and practiced in America right now, education tracks facets that paychecks miss. A high school dropout who owns a successful pest extermination company in the Houston exurbs might have an income that looks a lot like a software engineer’s at Google, while an adjunct professor’s will look more like an apprentice plumber’s. But in terms of class experience — who they know, what they believe, where they’ve lived, what they watch, who they marry and how they vote, act and protest — the software engineer is more like the adjunct professor.

Of course the things listed (who I know, what I believe, where I’ve lived, what I watch, who I marry, and how I vote, act and protest) are all part of my experience; but it would never have occurred to me to describe them specifically as part of my class experience. The suggestion having been made, I find it weird. If I were asked to describe aspects of my experience which I thought of specifically as my class experience, it’s not things like that which would come to my mind. Beliefs, for example–does anybody think of being religious, or being an atheist, as a class experience?

90

Tangurena 06.21.22 at 6:28 am

I’m constantly amused and angered by the constant demand for Democrats to “move to the right.” No one has ever asked the Republicans to stop moving to the right. No one has ever asked the Republicans to move to the left. Every time the DNC has moved rightwards, the demands are that they move yet further rightwards. As a Democratic voter, my position is that the Democratic Party has gone too far to the right. No more. Not one step further.

The Democratic Party panders too much to corporate interests and not enough to actual voters. That’s why Biden was selected as the candidate. He appeals to corporate donors and corporate interests. Not to people.

Democrats need to … reach into right-leaning territory to win power.

To win electoral victory, Democrats need to appeal to voters to the right of center.

The Democrats are already right of center. If Ronald Reagan were alive today, he would be denounced as being to the left of Obama.

Republicans have moved so far to the right that their very own 2008 and 2012 Presidential candidates are used as slurs to denounce other “insufficiently ideologically pure” politicians. Have we forgotten the “Eyepatch McCain” slur being used lately?

Why not be open to states restricting abortions late in pregnancy, then, while insisting on access in extenuating circumstances?

Colorado showed that ready access to contraceptives dramatically reduced teen pregnancy rates. Yet Republicans have taken the political and theological position that all contraceptives work by causing abortions. Hobby Lobby argued this in their Supreme Court case. That is where any abortion restrictions will lead us.

91

J-D 06.21.22 at 6:47 am

The problem isn’t the neologisms per se though (gender inclusivity is cool and good), but rather the self-righteousness with which factions of the intelegentsia try to push their preferred terms (and worldview) on the rest of us.

If some people self-righteously insist on a term being used, the self-righteousness is a problem; if some (other) people insist on exactly the same term not</> being used, the self-righteousness is a problem.

92

banned commenter 06.21.22 at 9:03 am

@84
“It (banning a medical procedure) is exactly that (violating bodily autonomy).”

I don’t think so. You might believe it, but — in the context of the post — you may want to realize that not everyone does.

“If you want to make an argument in favour of banning a medical procedure…”

I don’t. All I’m saying is that it doesn’t seem to violate anyone’s “bodily autonomy”. The medical establishment is not allowed to perform the procedure, and you still control your body to the same extent as before. You have fewer choices in your life, yes, but that, in my opinion, has nothing whatsoever to do with “bodily autonomy”.

“First, the drama is in the lives of the people who find…”

“The birth of unwanted children” is missing from your list of dramas. Does it mean we agree?

93

TM 06.21.22 at 9:13 am

“Where’s the drama”?

Abortions have been safe and legal in much of the world (*) for at least a half century and some people apparently need to be reminded how many women just were killed routinely by abortion bans before liberalization.

Great news that we now have time machines to go back to the dark ages:
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/jan/26/poland-death-of-woman-refused-abortion
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/02/18/poland-abortion-protest/

94

J-D 06.21.22 at 11:09 am

“It (banning a medical procedure) is exactly that (violating bodily autonomy).”

I don’t think so. You might believe it, but — in the context of the post — you may want to realize that not everyone does.

I am aware that people oppose the position that I take. It doesn’t surprise me that you are one of them. The way you point this out to me is as if you think it might be news to me. I don’t know why you’d think that.

The medical establishment is not allowed to perform the procedure, and you still control your body to the same extent as before. You have fewer choices in your life, yes, but that, in my opinion, has nothing whatsoever to do with “bodily autonomy”.

It’s not clear what you mean by ‘bodily autonomy’. It seems that you are defining the term in a way which is consistent with saying that if I am prevented from doing something to my own body that I want to do to my own body, that’s not a restriction of my bodily autonomy. Obviously if you want to define the term in this eccentric way I can’t prevent you, but the definition of the term doesn’t affect one way or the other the fact that what we are discussing is efforts to prevent people from doing things to their own bodies that they want to do to their own bodies.

“First, the drama is in the lives of the people who find…”

“The birth of unwanted children” is missing from your list of dramas. Does it mean we agree?

Again, that may depend on how you are defining a term, in this case the term ‘unwanted children’. First on my list was ‘people who find themselves unable to terminate pregnancies they wanted to terminate and suffer the consequences of that’; those consequences include (but are not restricted to) people giving birth to children that they don’t want to give birth to. If you want to exclude those from the definition of the term ‘unwanted children’ you can find another term for them, but the facts aren’t changed by the term you choose to apply to them.

95

TM 06.21.22 at 11:53 am

“educational polarization is serving here as a crude measure of class polarization”

That’s totally wrong and this kind of framing is often an intentional attempt to divert attention from the actual inequality.

[Btw We should resist feeding the troll even more… it’s obvious there’s good reason why they are banned.]

96

SamChevre 06.21.22 at 12:11 pm

@J-D
Beliefs, for example–does anybody think of being religious, or being an atheist, as a class experience?

Generically, no, but specifically, very much yes. With the exception of Catholicism, almost every religious group in the US has fairly strong class associations: Episcopalian is generically high-class, Pentecostal and Baptist are working-class, etc, etc. Similarly with atheism–“doesn’t believe in God” is not classed, but “references Dawkins” is absolutely classed.

97

notGoodenough 06.21.22 at 1:52 pm

banned commenter @ 92

“It doesn’t seem that banning a medical procedure when it’s not required by medical necessity violates anyone’s “bodily autonomy”.”

To me, “bodily autonomy” means, simplistically, the right to self-govern (autonomy) one’s own body (bodily). Thus, external influences which prevent someone from governing what happens to their own body are a violation of “bodily autonomy”. This would be true if someone’s body is being affected against their will, and is equally true if someone is prevented from affecting their own body against their will – in both cases your ability to self-govern what is happening to your body have been violated.

”The medical establishment is not allowed to perform the procedure, and you still control your body to the same extent as before.”

If you are prevented from having an abortion then you do not control your body to the same extent as were that not the case, because you have been prevented from controlling your body via the medium of an abortion.

”You have fewer choices in your life”

Yes – you have fewer choices over what happens to your body. And, if you are prevented from making choices over what happens to your body, your ability to self-govern (autonomy) your body (bodily) has been violated – and so, your autonomy over your body (“bodily autonomy”) has been violated.

”but that, in my opinion, has nothing whatsoever to do with “bodily autonomy”

Well, yes, in your opinion. Perhaps, at some stage, you might consider offering some explanation for how you reached that opinion, or some justification for its basis?

““First, the drama is in the lives of the people who find…”
“The birth of unwanted children” is missing from your list of dramas. Does it mean we agree?””

Gosh, what an interesting place to cut the quote from J-D. I wonder if there was anything after that point that could be relevant to your question? Let’s get the full sentence, shall we:

“First, the drama is in the lives of the people who find themselves unable to terminate pregnancies they wanted to terminate and suffer the consequences of that.”

I wonder if one of the consequences of people being “unable to terminate pregnancies they wish to terminate” could be “the birth of unwanted children”?

98

anon/portly 06.21.22 at 4:38 pm

[notGoodenough,79] Of course, it may be worth noting any approach which seeks to agglomerate a large group under one “label” is going to be problematic – indeed, I believe many people reject such labels as “Latino/a” altogether and identify using the country of their family’s origin. So arguably people should avoid using “Latino/a” (let alone, what I understand to be the rather fraught term, “Hispanic”!) altogether anyway…

Aren’t “Latino” and “Hispanic” useful terms, though? Is it the suggestion that we have no word at all to “agglomerate [this] large group?”

I produced the first tweet in a short thread by Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego back in 47. Here is the entire thread:

To be clear my office is not allowed to use “Latinx” in official communications.
When Latino politicos use the term it is largely to appease white rich progressives who think that is the term we use. It is a vicious circle of confirmation bias.

Look y’all. Hispanic, Latin American are gender neutral. So we have already gender neutral options to describe the Latino community. Adding an x and creating a new word comes off as performative.

It will not lose you an election but if your staff and consultants use Latinx in your mass communication it likely means they don’t understand the Latino community and is indicative of deeper problems.

Here is another Twitter thread from Ritchie Torres, a Congressman from New York (responding to a Tweet from a baseball team that used “Latinx”):

I represent the South Bronx, home to the Yankees. Never heard anyone locally use the term ‘Latinx.’

Does a majority of Hispanics actually use the term ‘Latinx’?

If the answer is ‘no’, how did ‘Latinx’ come to be the term to use in government and Corporate America?

If you are speaking to a particular person who prefers ‘Latinx,’ then, by all means, use the term.

But if you are referring to the Hispanic community in general, why not use the term that the majority itself predominantly uses?

Every community should have the right to label itself, rather than have a label imposed on them by others.

I never said there should be a ban on the term ‘Latinx.’ Quite the opposite.

I mostly use the term ‘Latino’ whereas Corporate America & government almost exclusively uses the term ‘Latinx’.

I am simply wondering why in light of the following study [shows 76% of Latinos haven’t heard of ‘Latinx’, 20% have heard of it but don’t use it; 3% have heard of it and use it]:

https://twitter.com/RitchieTorres/status/1530158582611812361

They both seem fine with “Hispanic” and “Latino.”

I’m sure this isn’t the last word – maybe there are good arguments against the views of Gallego and Torres, or for that matter other members of Congress who are more enthusiastic about “Latinx.” But I think they are making interesting and useful points on this topic.

Are their takes all that different from what Fake Dave was saying back in 19, the comment that initiated this discussion? I certainly don’t think they would respond to Fake Dave in a derisive or belittling fashion.

99

Fake Dave 06.21.22 at 9:23 pm

It’s not at all clear what Stephen T. Johnson (or anyone else) means when they say “woke” these )days. It used to mean something like a dawning awareness of the legacy of prejudice and systems of oppression in society (including bans on ethnic headwear, presumably). Now though, it’s been thoroughly appropriated as a buzzword by an oblivious mainstream and as a term of abuse by the right. Some social justice types (used to) identify as “woke,” but most of the people thus labeled probably don’t.

100

J-D 06.22.22 at 1:26 am

If you are speaking to a particular person who prefers ‘Latinx,’ then, by all means, use the term.

But if you are referring to the Hispanic community in general, why not use the term that the majority itself predominantly uses?

Every community should have the right to label itself, rather than have a label imposed on them by others.

I never said there should be a ban on the term ‘Latinx.’ Quite the opposite.

Without hesitation or qualification I endorse this view, and the more general principle of which it is a specific application, namely, that the way you refer to people should be guided by their own preferences.

101

J-D 06.22.22 at 3:35 am

It’s not at all clear what Stephen T. Johnson (or anyone else) means when they say “woke” these )days.

Usually it means either ‘My thinking on this subject is confused’ or ‘Expressing my position clearly would not be to my advantage, so I am clouding the issue instead’.

102

notGoodenough 06.22.22 at 7:00 am

anon/portly @ 98

“Aren’t “Latino” and “Hispanic” useful terms, though?”

Some people probably find “Latino” and “Hispanic” useful terms. Some people probably find “Latine” and “Latinx” useful terms. I was under the impression that the point was not “are the terms useful” but “would the use of these terms be in accordance with the wishes of those they refer to”?

”Is it the suggestion that we have no word at all to “agglomerate [this] large group?”

I cannot say as to the suggestion (as previously noted I am no expert and unlikely to need such terms), but my suggestion (which I by no means promulgate as the best or definitive) would be to refer to people using the terms they prefer.

Consider this poll (merely to illustrate the point) “a new nationwide survey of Hispanic adults finds that these terms still haven’t been fully embraced by Hispanics themselves. A majority (51%) say they most often identify themselves by their family’s country of origin; just 24% say they prefer a pan-ethnic label. Moreover, by a ratio of more than two-to-one (69% versus 29%), survey respondents say that the more than 50 million Latinos in the U.S. have many different cultures rather than a common culture.”

It seems to me that if we should consider the desires of people when it comes to what terms are used to describe them (and certainly I would tend to argue we should), then it is worth taking note that the majority of “Hispanic” people would prefer being identified by their families country of origin / pan-ethnic label (and, it would seem, to like a little more acknowledgement of unique and diverse heritages). Suggesting following peoples’ preferences regarding their descriptors is not arguing that no-one should ever agglomerate a large group – merely that some degree of care should be taken when doing so.

“They both seem fine with “Hispanic” and “Latino.””

I would go further than you, and suggest that many other people may be “fine” with the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” – after all, I gave an example of an entire “scholastic community” (those apparently dastardly “critical theorists”, no less!) who use the term “Latino” (LatCrit – Latina and Latino Critical Legal Theory). It is just that many people would also seem to prefer other options when being described.

Interestingly, Torres seems to advocate using an approach similar to the one I have suggested (of generally using the term someone prefers), e.g. “if you are speaking to a particular person who prefers ‘Latinx,’ then, by all means, use the term”.

“But I think they are making interesting and useful points on this topic.”

I would tend to agree. Were it sufficiently important to me and I in the position to do so, I might ask their opinions approaches such as using both genders (e.g. “los voluntarios y las voluntarias”), and whether or not they think similarly about “Latine” as they do “Latinx”. Of course, perhaps they would not answer, but were they to do so it too might result in interesting and useful comments – though, of course, it also might not.

“Are their takes all that different from what Fake Dave was saying back in 19, the comment that initiated this discussion?”

With respect, this discussion was initiated by you just now. My only previous comment on this topic (which I attempted to keep brief, as it seemed useful to note these points but also close to off topic) was regarding the use of “Latin” rather than “Latino/a”, and what I took to be a slightly erroneous suggestion regarding the history of, and reasons for, objections to gendered language (and those who have made them).

I hope I have now offered a reasonable elaboration on my rather minor comment about how agglomerating a large and diverse group under one label is likely to be (at least somewhat, to some people) problematic, and my suggestion that perhaps we should generally (at least where possible) consider using the labels preferred by those to whom the refer.

103

TM 06.22.22 at 7:27 am

Women’s lives don’t matter to fascists.

Texas Abortion Law Complicates Care for Risky Pregnancies
Doctors in Texas say they cannot head off life-threatening medical crises in pregnant women if abortions cannot be offered or even discussed.

Dr. Ingrid Skop, an obstetrician in San Antonio who belongs to the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said that even a girl as young as 9 or 10, impregnated by a father or a brother, could carry a baby to term without health risks.
“If she is developed enough to be menstruating and become pregnant, and reached sexual maturity, she can safely give birth to a baby,” Dr. Skop said.

“It’s one of the most egregious invasions of the physician-patient relationship that we’ve ever seen,” said Dr. Rick Snyder, a cardiologist in Dallas who is chair of the board of trustees of the Texas Medical Association.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/26/health/texas-abortion-law-risky-pregnancy.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/20/us/abortion-high-risk-pregnancy.html

104

steven t johnson 06.22.22 at 2:13 pm

Fake Dave@99 may not have noticed the scare quotes I put around the word woke. The observation that Macron loudly advocates for women, which would surely be woke in terms of being aware of women’s oppression was an example leading to the conclusion that claiming to be cultural left doesn’t necessarily even mean that’s true.

Again, it’s not at all clear that cultural lefts or wokes, whichever term you approve, are meaningfully left-wing. Insofar as cultural lefts/wokes advocate for reforming people’s minds/purifying their souls/changing their manners/more and improved social discipline they are diverting from actually changing lives instead. Given that experience changes lives better than sermons, even secular lay sermons, opposition to radical changes in property and economic life is the path forward. Cultural lefts/wokes, whichever, apparently exist because they oppose moving forward.

Reconstruction in the end failed because hard money and strike breaking were more important. Moral susasion was the tool left. But as the history of Christianity (and every other religion shows) moral suasion is guaranteed failure. The failure for some is a feature, not a bug, as the bitter joke has it.

105

steven t johnson 06.22.22 at 2:17 pm

When all nouns are gendered, the notion “Latino” being gendered as male has the same impact as gendering in a language where only some nouns are gendered strikes me as a difficult proposition to accept. The notion that a verbal formula that officially includes women doesn’t strike me as actually including women. Words don’t have the impact that daily life does. Using “men” for both men and women means something different when women are a real and inescapable presence in all parts of our experience.

106

anon/portly 06.22.22 at 4:22 pm

I couldn’t agree more with this. However – perhaps it wasn’t clear (and with apologies for initiating another discussion with you by responding to something you said in a blog comment) – my comment was specifically directed towards something else you said in 79, this:

79 So arguably people should avoid using “Latino/a” (let alone, what I understand to be the rather fraught term, “Hispanic”!) altogether anyway…

Ruben Gallego: “Latino community.” Ritchie Torres: “Hispanic community.”

Where you say “arguably,” my comment 98 was largely directed towards the quality or reasonableness of such an argument. (I thought the words of Torres and Gallego went beyond that, though, specifically to the ideas Fake Dave was musing upon in 19).

107

Orange Watch 06.22.22 at 4:52 pm

notGoodEnough@79:

No, I meant Latin, as in “Latin America”. It’s a subtle jab at the fact that there’s no need to create a neologism to import the word Latino into English w/o gendering it – we very literally already have a word for it. Using “Latinx” instead of “Latin” draws attention and gives cultural cachet to the academics and activists introducing the term. It’s creating jargon to empower these individuals rather than the broader group they purport to speak for. Latinx is creating a problem where none exists – if you want to borrow the Spanish word rather than using an English term, it makes sense to borrow the grammatical conventions as well. If you can’t abide by the implications of using a gendered noun/adjective in a language where that has different implications than in its source language, you should make it gender-neutral according to the linguistic rules the target language actually uses rather than inventing new ones, particularly when the new ones are as ostentatiously alien to the language.

As to the broader point you’re raising, it does look like you’re falling into an anglocentric trap. This is not at all uncommon in the discourse we’re engaged in, and is a result of the different sociological implications gendering has in an ungendered language than in a gendered one. Forex, you see francophone feminists creating specifically female forms of nouns in a way that is anathema to anglophonic feminists – in English, it’s viewed as pejorative to be a waitress (f) rather than a server (n), but in French not having both male and female versions of a professional noun is what is viewed as exclusionary because the language is (grammatically) gendered. This is the same issue with Latino/Latina/Latinx/Latine/Latin – an English understanding of grammatical gender (which is strictly equated with sociological gender) is being given primacy over the Spanish understanding of grammatical gender (which is not strictly equivalent to sociological gender). Latinx is more inclusive when we ignore or subordinate hispandophone understandings of grammatical gender to anglophone understandings thereof – but this necessarily gives primacy to anglophony (and again, specifically an activist jargon) even as it purports to defer to hispandophony by importing the Spanish term. If you must use a neologism, go with Latine, as it is closer to the phonology of both languages even if it has the same underlying conflations of grammatical and sociological gender. Either using Latino (and thus not imposing English understandings of grammatical gender on a Spanish word) or Latine (or even the older, more cumbersome Latin (American)) is far more respectful than creating an extremely artificial neologism that corresponds to neither English nor Spanish grammatical (or phonetic) conventions.

And it must be said that the generally-solid maxim of “use whatever the other party wants used” isn’t actually a solution here, because these terms will be frequently used in conversations where no such person is a participant. We still have to decide which term is “best”, and given that there are competing views amongst those being referred to about which of these are not just acceptable but offensive, we cannot simply defer to one authoritative voice. Alas.

108

Orange Watch 06.22.22 at 5:23 pm

J-D@85:

I am aware of the limitations of relying on what Wikipedia tells me, but I am also aware of the even greater limitations of relying on what one anonymous blog commenter tells me.

I deleted a much longer reply to this, but I’ll boil it down to the following: reliance on a cultivated set of citations from an anonymous blog commenter is not perforce less limiting than the commenter’s statements w/o citations, and can be more debilitating b/c it may lend unearned confidence and authority to their interpretation thereof. It is as reasonable to be skeptical of the fullness and impartiality of those sources presented as it is of the accuracy of unsourced claims. Indeed, I’m inclined to greater skepticism when a commenter expresses a general lack of deep knowledge of the subject coupled with a Wikipedia article (or comparably shallow source) upon which they base strong conclusions.

109

J-D 06.22.22 at 11:32 pm

Dr. Ingrid Skop, an obstetrician in San Antonio who belongs to the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said that even a girl as young as 9 or 10, impregnated by a father or a brother, could carry a baby to term without health risks.
“If she is developed enough to be menstruating and become pregnant, and reached sexual maturity, she can safely give birth to a baby,” Dr. Skop said.

Correction: for ‘said’ read ‘lied’, throughout.

110

nastywoman 06.23.22 at 2:16 am

OR –
in other words:

In October 2021, Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, published “The Rise of Political Violence in the United States.”
ADVERTISEMENT
Continue reading the main story

Kleinfeld argues:

Ideas that were once confined to fringe groups now appear in the mainstream media. White-supremacist ideas, militia fashion, and conspiracy theories spread via gaming websites, YouTube channels, and blogs, while a slippery language of memes, slang, and jokes blurs the line between posturing and provoking violence, normalizing radical ideologies and activities.
While violent incidents from the left are on the rise, Kleinfeld continued,

political violence still comes overwhelmingly from the right, whether one looks at the Global Terrorism Database, F.B.I. statistics, or other government or independent counts. Yet people committing far-right violence — particularly planned violence rather than spontaneous hate crimes — are older and more established than typical terrorists and violent criminals. They often hold jobs, are married, and have children. Those who attend church or belong to community groups are more likely to hold violent, conspiratorial beliefs. These are not isolated “lone wolves”; they are part of a broad community that echoes their ideas.
Perhaps the most telling aspect of Kleinfeld’s essay is a chart based on statistics collected in the Global Terrorism Database that shows a surge in far-right terrorist incidents in the United States, starting in 2015 — when Trump first entered the political arena — rising to great heights by 2019, outstripping terrorist incidents linked to the far left, to religious groups or to environmentalists.
What will come of all this?

Parent made a good point by email: “This is tricky: Trump has been a conspiracy theorist since forever and he was only briefly a successful politician.” As The Times put it in 2016, “Donald Trump Clung to ‘Birther’ Lie for Years.”

Parent continued:

What’s freakishly destabilizing about the present is that ideological glues have never been so designed to eviscerate democracy and promote violence. Previous leaders always had the option to go down that road, but chose not to. Now the inmates are running the asylum’.

111

faustusnotes 06.23.22 at 4:47 am

Is it really the case that Klein wrote this?

Because the mainstream media and academia actually aren’t that liberal, because they mostly do put truth-seeking ahead of partisanship

Does he really believe that the media put “truth-seeking ahead of partisanship”? Because that’s the most ridiculously stupid thing any adult human being could write, and you can’t take anyone seriously if they believe something like this.

112

J-D 06.23.22 at 5:17 am

And it must be said that the generally-solid maxim of “use whatever the other party wants used” isn’t actually a solution here, because these terms will be frequently used in conversations where no such person is a participant. We still have to decide which term is “best”, and given that there are competing views amongst those being referred to about which of these are not just acceptable but offensive, we cannot simply defer to one authoritative voice. Alas.

A good guide in such cases–although it may not be possible to apply it in 100% of cases–is to use the term most frequently preferred by members the group of people in question. (My impression is that in the case under discussion this would point towards using ‘Hispanic’, but the rule is a generally sound one even if that is not the particular application in this case.)

113

J-D 06.23.22 at 5:20 am

Indeed, I’m inclined to greater skepticism when a commenter expresses a general lack of deep knowledge of the subject coupled with a Wikipedia article (or comparably shallow source) upon which they base strong conclusions.

Did I seem to be basing a strong conclusion on a Wikipedia article? I don’t think I did that.

114

J-D 06.23.22 at 5:27 am

… that’s the most ridiculously stupid thing any adult human being could write …

Cordelia: I personally don’t think it’s possible to come up with a crazier plan.
Oz: We attack the Mayor with hummus.
Cordelia: I stand corrected.
Oz: Just trying to keep things in perspective.

115

faustusnotes 06.23.22 at 7:00 am

J-D I think strictly speaking in that episode of Buffy Cordelia was not yet an adult? I also maintain that Oz’s plan is more rational than writing, in a book, in 2022, that the mainstream media “put truth-seeking ahead of partisanship”.

116

TM 06.23.22 at 7:24 am

fn 111: When Klein (and many others) refers to “mainstream media”, he leaves out Fox and Murdoch and the whole right wing media universe as if they were not “mainstream”. Totally illogical but one of the most consequential misconceptions in American political discourse.
(I pointed this out in this series at https://crookedtimber.org/2022/06/08/why-were-polarized-part-3-moving-on-to-institutions/#comment-817787)

As to the so-called liberal media, they are in fact reasonably truth-telling in their reporting, always with exceptions of course but as much criticism as they deserve, there is no comparison to the routine lies and propaganda on the right. For the most part however, they are not “liberal” respectively they are only liberal to the extent that “reality has a liberal bias”. Their biggest journalistic failure is their obsession with both-sidesism, precisely because they try so hard to be “nonpartisan” and “unbiased” that they feel compelled to treat right wing lies as equal to the verifiable facts they report.

117

SamChevre 06.23.22 at 11:43 am

In October 2021, Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, published “The Rise of Political Violence in the United States.”

If you want an illustration of polarization, the fact that a respected researcher at a reputable organization managed to write an article on “political violence” and completely miss/ignore/define as out of scope the massive and massively effective BLM protests/riots is hard to beat as an example. My adopted hometown (Richmond) was vandalized to the point of being unrecognizable, including by its political class which was willing to argue that long-standing monuments were an “urgent threat to public safety” because of the rioting: if that’s not “political violence,” the term isn’t particularly meaningful.

118

nastywoman 06.23.22 at 1:51 pm

Is it really the case that @111 wrote this?
‘Is it really the case that Klein wrote this?
Because the mainstream media and academia actually aren’t that liberal, because they mostly do put truth-seeking ahead of partisanship
Does he really believe that the media put “truth-seeking ahead of partisanship”? Because that’s the most ridiculously stupid thing any adult human being could write, and you can’t take anyone seriously if they believe something like this’

I NEVER believed the lies of FOX or any of the Right-WIng Racist Science Denying Trump State Media as it would be – ‘the most ridiculously stupid thing any adult human being could write, and you can’t take anyone seriously if they believe something like this’.

119

nastywoman 06.23.22 at 2:20 pm

@
‘If you want an illustration of polarization, the fact that a respected researcher at a reputable organization managed to write an article on “political violence” and completely miss/ignore/define as out of scope the massive and massively effective BLM protests/riots

BUT Kleinfield didn’t –
he wrote:
Ideas that were once confined to fringe groups now appear in the mainstream media. White-supremacist ideas, militia fashion, and conspiracy theories spread via gaming websites, YouTube channels, and blogs, while a slippery language of memes, slang, and jokes blurs the line between posturing and provoking violence, normalizing radical ideologies and activities.
AND –
‘While violent incidents from the left are on the rise’ –
AND did you miss that? –
‘While violent incidents from the left are on the rise’ – political violence still comes overwhelmingly from the right, whether one looks at the Global Terrorism Database, F.B.I. statistics, or other government or independent counts. Yet people committing far-right violence — particularly planned violence rather than spontaneous hate crimes — are older and more established than typical terrorists and violent criminals. They often hold jobs, are married, and have children. Those who attend church or belong to community groups are more likely to hold violent, conspiratorial beliefs. These are not isolated “lone wolves”; they are part of a broad community that echoes their ideas.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of Kleinfeld’s essay is a chart based on statistics collected in the Global Terrorism Database that shows a surge in far-right terrorist incidents in the United States, starting in 2015 — when Trump first entered the political arena — rising to great heights by 2019, outstripping terrorist incidents linked to the far left, to religious groups or to environmentalists.
What will come of all this?

Parent made a good point by email: “This is tricky: Trump has been a conspiracy theorist since forever and he was only briefly a successful politician.” As The Times put it in 2016, “Donald Trump Clung to ‘Birther’ Lie for Years.”

Parent continued:

What’s freakishly destabilizing about the present is that ideological glues have never been so designed to eviscerate democracy and promote violence. Previous leaders always had the option to go down that road, but chose not to. Now the inmates are running the asylum’.

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notGoodenough 06.23.22 at 3:13 pm

anon/portly @ 107

“I couldn’t agree more with this. However”.”[…]

Thank you for your considerate comment, and for highlighting something which gives me the opportunity to clarify what may be a misunderstanding resulting from poor choice of words on my part.

I don’t wish to spend to much time on this (I think we’re broadly in agreement!), so to explain quickly what I meant was that the preferences of people seem to point to the use of more nuanced labels, so the less nuanced “Latino” and “Hispanic” should be avoided where possible in deference to this – not that we should never use those terms under any circumstances. I think this sentence makes sense if you delete the word “altogether”…?

Regardless, I think I will finish our discussion here on (what I hope to be) a pretty positive note!

121

David in Tokyo 06.23.22 at 3:30 pm

@117 “its political class which was willing to argue that long-standing monuments were an “urgent threat to public safety””

If you are referring to monuments glorifying seditious racist traitors, then it’s long past time they were removed.

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notGoodenough 06.23.22 at 6:24 pm

Orange Watch @ 107

As to the broader point you’re raising, it does look like you’re falling into an anglocentric trap. This is not at all uncommon in the discourse we’re engaged in, and is a result of the different sociological implications gendering has in an ungendered language than in a gendered one.

sigh

I did point out that it is important not to conflate the perceived issue resulting from the use grammatical gender with views regarding one particular proposed solution.

As you are no doubt aware, one common position essentially boils down to: el lenguaje sexista es un reflejo de nuestra sociedad androcéntrica y el lenguaje no sexista debería ser la norma; los usos gramaticales predominantes han entroncado la centralidad del varón y del masculino, invisibilizando a las mujeres y lo femenino en el discurso. De este modo, difusamente se ha hecho corresponder simbolismo lingüístico y simbolismo cultural, transmitiendo los valores androcéntricos a través de la lengua. So, while Spanish grammatical gender is not strictly equivalent to sociological gender, this sort of argument rests in the belief that the way in which it is used reflects (and potentially reinforces) underlying tendencies and biases.

One may or may not agree [1] with this (there has long been the counterargument that the language is irrelevant, and that the only thing that matters is the people using it), but when you argue that the objection is predicated on English (sociological) gender being misapplied to Spanish (not strictly equivalent to sociological) gender you are, in fact, ignoring the actual argument and who has made it.

You give an example with respect to French (instead of Spanish, for some reason) where the exclusion comes from the lack of both masculine and feminine forms of the word (presumably reminiscent of the strong opposition to feminisation of obispo). However, by offering such a limited example, you ignore many other points of conflict – for example, mismatched meanings (such as between “el gobernante” and “la gobernanta”) and androcentric derivatives (such as “la alcaldesa”). Again I must stress these are not being raised by people subordinating the Spanish language to English – they are being made by Spanish-speaking people about their own language and arguably go much further than you appear to be implying. Consider the long-standing argument:

Aunque tenemos una lengua extensa, conformada por suficientes palabras como para que todas las personas seamos nombradas y estemos representadas, sin embargo históricamente se nos viene enseñando a hacer un uso casi siempre que favorece la masculinización, hecho que lejos de ser definitivamente cuestionado parece a veces hasta aplaudido. Cuando se emplean vocablos (sexismo léxico) o se construyen oraciones (sexismo sintáctico) que, debido a la forma de expression escogida por el hablante y no a otra razón, resultan discriminatorias por razón de sexo. Un ejemplo claro de ello es recurrir al uso abusivo del falso genérico en la utilización del masculino cuando se quiere hacer referencia tanto a aquello que es masculine como a lo que es femenino. En la utilización del masculino genérico, no suele ser siempre claro que su referente sea un colectivo de varones o un colectivo mixto y por ello, utilizarlo como generalizador – algo que ocurre con tanta frecuencia – implica la ocultación de la existencia de las mujeres y su participación en aquellas actividades o ámbitos a los que se haga referencia en cada caso particular. A lo largo de los últimos años, destacados miembros de la Real Academia Española de la Lengua han venido censurando públicamente la tendencia al desdoblamiento del sustantivo en su forma masculina y femenina (por ejemplo, cuando en una misma frase se lee: los ciudadanos y las ciudadanas…, o los alumnos y las alumnas…) apelando a que el criterio básico de cualquier lengua es la economía y la simplificación, esto es, obtener la máxima comunicación con la menor energía posible. Si no se acepta este desdoblamiento y se defiende el falso genérico, se cae en el riego de seguir fomentando una más que evidente invisibilidad de las mujeres así como la de los grupos sociales más minoritarios y frágiles que seguirán estando más ocultos y, sobre todo, se seguirán poniendo en evidencia discursos que no integran la diversidad y la inclusión, incumpliendo ese mandato implícito que es propiciar el carácter democratizador del lenguaje.

Again, people are free to agree or disagree with such sentiments [1], and certainly any proposed solutions are up for discussion, but these are in fact arguments rooted in an understanding of the Spanish language (and, in this case, Spanish society) and are not necessarily, despite your assertions to the contrary, anglocentric.

“If you must use a neologism, go with Latine, as it is closer to the phonology of both languages even if it has the same underlying conflations of grammatical and sociological gender”

And now we come neatly to the second part of “don’t conflate the perceived issue with one proposed solution” – so let us consider the use of “x” vs. “e” when generating gender neutral language (GNL).

The point, as you well know, is that formal linguistic conventions for Spanish regarding the implementation of GNL still don’t really officially exist – so when you argued that nouns/adjectives should be made ”gender-neutral according to the linguistic rules the target language” you have (for all practical purposes) argued against the existence of gender neutral neopronouns and neologisms at all even where they are being developed by Spanish speakers for themselves. Indeed, the position you appear to hold would result in the dismissal of any GNL at all, erasing approaches such as “-os y -as” (as previously noted also commonly used by GNL inclusive native Spanish speakers, but also not RAE approved and therefore likely unacceptable under your methodology).

Language continually evolves, and while deploying approaches such as using the “elle” form to generate ungendered sentence construction (e.g. “nosotres estamos cansades”) are certainly new, they are being developed by Spanish speakers (such as, for example, Spanish people) to address issues that affect them. Regardless of whether these become popular or not, to argue (as you repeatedly do) such formulations are borne of ignorance of grammatical gender rather than a fundementally different view of sociolinguistics is rather dismissive of the Spanish speaking people making them. If you greatly begrudge and/or oppose GNL being developed you are certainly welcome to do so, but you should at least be honest about it and the consequences of what you advocate for.

As it happens, while I think that the issue that people have argued “x” was intended to solve is one worthy of consideration (you apparently disagree and believe that using GNL in Spanish is a ridiculous notion only coming from people for whom you feel little more than visceral contempt), I would say the proposed solution of using “x” is itself problematic. Given the support for this approach compared to the opposition against it, it is likely not the optimal “solution” – and that since “e” exists and seems to be the more common approach (at least in Spain and Portugal), that would seem preferable.

Of course, my reasoning is based on the preferences of members of the Spanish speaking groups with which I am familiar, rather than a strict adherence to formalised grammatical rules – making my methodology seemingly completely unfathomable to you. This leads us to:

“And it must be said that the generally-solid maxim of “use whatever the other party wants used” isn’t actually a solution here, because these terms will be frequently used in conversations where no such person is a participant. We still have to decide which term is “best”, and given that there are competing views amongst those being referred to about which of these are not just acceptable but offensive, we cannot simply defer to one authoritative voice. Alas.”

Had I suggested deferring to one authoritative voice this paragraph would have merely been patronising, but as it is this has transcended such mediocrity to become a delightfully confident rejection of an approach I never suggested in the first place.

We do not, in fact, have to decide what term is best – in the situation where “no such person participates” we could rely upon appropriately acceptable forms of address generated from understanding the group to which we refer (by, for example, having already determined what the most common, least offensive, most useful forms are according to the group themselves).

Of course, this would involve actually engaging with the relevant community – perhaps even actually treating them as a variety of unique cultures with differing perspectives rather than an amorphous and interchangeable blob. A radical notion, I know, but I think that the proposal the group itself should have some say in how they are agglomerated and what they are labelled, rather than “we”, does have a little merit – at the very least, it would seem likely to decrease polarisation between “we” and “them”.

You are, of course, free to continue arguing that only the formal linguistic rules of Spanish can govern its usage (a delightfully prescriptive approach of your own). You certainly may continue insisting that proposals for more gender inclusive language (such as those summarised in Lo femenino en la lengua: sociedad, cambio, y resistencia normative) are the result of an anglocentric perspective precluding proper understanding of grammatical gender within Spanish. And if you wish to assert the Spanish speaking LGBTQ+ community are misguided when they seek to develop GNL (in relation to enbies, for example), I would never dream of standing in your way. My only suggestion would be you write up your arguments and submit them to the appropriate venue (possibly somewhere like Estudios de sociolingüística: Linguas, sociedades e culturas, where your discourse will certainly receive assessment from appropriately qualified people). I look forward to hearing about it next time I swing by UAH’s Departamento de Filología Moderna.

However, as this seems now rather far from the topic of polarisation (except, perhaps, as an example), I see little reason to continue this discourse much further.

Un salud, notGoodenough

Footnote:

[1] It has become increasingly apparent to me that it is necessary to explain (as this seems to be a regular source of confusion) that when I point to an argument someone else uses this does not necessarily mean I agree with it – it merely means I am pointing out what the argument actually is. I may agree with it (fully or in part) or I may not – but mostly what I am doing is trying to avoid arguments being made against positions which are not being held.

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politicalfootball 06.23.22 at 6:48 pm

The medical establishment is not allowed to perform the procedure, and you still control your body to the same extent as before.

This is an interesting principle. Does it also apply to dentistry and open-heart surgery? Can they be banned without implicating issues of bodily autonomy?

Does it also apply to interventions that one performs on oneself, like Plan B?

What about other matters that require the cooperation of another individual? Are we saying here that bodily autonomy is not implicated in questions of human sexuality? Can we ban heterosexual sex without violating the bodily autonomy of consenting adults?

Can we say that one has no right to bodily autonomy in the food that one consumes? In where one travels by car, bicycle or plane?

I do understand that you recognize that bodily autonomy is an issue for suicide, masturbation and self-mutilation — as long as no tool manufactured by someone else is used. But does your conception of bodily autonomy recognize anything that involves the participation of another person?

If so, then we’ll just have to invent another word to account for things that normal people consider matters of bodily autonomy. Maybe we can all agree to call these things “boodily autoonoomy” or something.

124

politicalfootball 06.23.22 at 7:01 pm

My adopted hometown (Richmond) was vandalized to the point of being unrecognizable

An argument could be made that racist statues represent the essence of Richmond, and that their removal rendered the city unrecognizable. You could likewise say Crooked Timber is a racist place, and SamChevre’s removal would render it unrecognizable.

That’s not crazy, but I think it’s unduly harsh.

125

faustusnotes 06.23.22 at 11:17 pm

TM, have you heard of Maggie Halberman? The idea that (what you call) mainstream media are devoted to truth-speaking over partisanship is ridiculous. As a case in point, consider the NY Mag scandal happening this week (boys who are ostracized for revenge porn are victims of cancel culture). Look at the way the entire US and European media were reporting for 5 years about nazism in Ukraine, just to turn on a dime and declare there is nothing to see there as soon as the war began; the constant barrage of copaganda in every mainstream media outlet; the reporting of the recent local elections in the USA.

I assume you’ve read your Chomsky, but Klein clearly hasn’t if he believes this hogwash. And how are we to take any analysis or prescriptions seriously when the person writing them believes the people reporting on the issues are telling him the truth. This foolish man, for example, has been writing a book on polarization while believing all the stuff about cancel culture he is seeing in media is being reported honestly; or thinking Halberman is not Trump’s stenographer.

I mean, I’ve never taken this dude seriously. But if you want to see just how unserious he is, imagine him umming and ahhing and Thinking Very Hard over Bari Weiss’s latest cancel culture screed or Haberman reporting something “from Trump’s inner circle” that was actually the result of a direct call to the deranged idiot himself, and then Klein Very Seriously writing Very Serious Thoughts about how society is polarized?

It’s just impossible to take such a thing seriously.

126

J-D 06.24.22 at 1:16 am

J-D I think strictly speaking in that episode of Buffy Cordelia was not yet an adult? I also maintain that Oz’s plan is more rational than writing, in a book, in 2022, that the mainstream media “put truth-seeking ahead of partisanship”.

Cordelia suggested that something was the craziest possible plan, and Oz immediately provide an example to demonstrate that it wasn’t.

You suggested that something was ‘the most ridiculously stupid thing any adult human being could write’. I suspect it would be possible to find examples of adult human beings writing even more ridiculously stupid things.

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J-D 06.24.22 at 1:20 am

My adopted hometown (Richmond) was vandalized to the point of being unrecognizable, including by its political class which was willing to argue that long-standing monuments were an “urgent threat to public safety” because of the rioting: if that’s not “political violence,” the term isn’t particularly meaningful.

It’s not clear what the antecedent of ‘that’ is. Is it ‘people arguing about monuments’? I think the term ‘political violence’ is still meaningful even if it doesn’t include people arguing about monuments. Is it ‘extensive vandalism’? I think the term ‘political violence’ is still meaningful even if it excludes many examples of extreme vandalism.

128

J-D 06.24.22 at 1:26 am

Early in the morning, I first see the sun;
I say a little prayer for the world:
I hope all the little children live a long, long time;
Yes, every little boy and little girl.
I hope they learn to laugh at the way
Some precious old words do seem to change
‘Cause that’s what life is all about:
To arrange and rearrange and rearrange.

Pete Seeger, ‘Arrange And Rearrange’

129

Trader Joe 06.24.22 at 11:29 am

@117 SamChevre

For the record and for any readers who have not been to Richmond the city was NOT vandalized to the point of being unrecognizable. There were some parts that experiences some vandalism, but no worse than any of several dozen cities in the midst of the Floyd protests and marches.

That said, the statues in question were heavily vandalized and the substantially daily protests (the Lee statue was occupied continuously for more than 100 days) and gatherings did in fact represent an “urgent threat to public safety” as the demonstrators were not always peaceful and even when they were they served as a lightning rod for counter-protesters with the result being frequent gunplay (though few actual shootings) and nearly daily arrests for one reason or another (some reasonably justified, some plainly unjustified).

There was more than ample reason to remove the statues even if none of that ever happened – the fact that 1 political figure (the mayor) finally, after decades of dithering on the matter, finally seized on an expedient excuse for doing what needed to be done can should be regarded as enlightened political opportunism. The fact that the protests and related vandalism stopped concurrent with the removal should more than amply prove the point.

Interestingly if you poll residents, this was not a ‘polarizing’ topic. Predictably there were hard core entrenched interests on each side – but the vast middle decidedly ‘got it’ as to why they needed to go and when they finally did, the removals were completed without any incident whatsoever.

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politicalfootball 06.24.22 at 7:06 pm

As I said, I think SamChevre is incorrect that Richmond is so racist that it is unrecognizable without its racist statues, but I do agree with Sam that the statues — erected as monuments to Jim Crow — are inherently political, and not some kind of neutral effort to embody heritage or whatever.

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