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The Call Of Tribalism

A reader writes:

I read your piece on Kevin Williamson and marginalization [1] yesterday. What the commenter Zapollo said re: his feeling of marginalization as a non-privileged white guy in America is eerily similar to thoughts that have gone through my own mind.

One of the things that’s really pushed me in the conservative direction is the sense of constant surveillance of speech and action – not by authorities or the government, but by other ordinary people. People reference 1984 all the time in this context, but what I think a lot of people forget one of Orwell’s key themes in the novel. The most immediate threat to people’s ability to speak freely in the story isn’t the Thought Police themselves. It’s the ubiquitous presence of informers among one’s friends, family, and acquaintances; there are several references to how adults can’t even speak their minds around their own children for fear that the kids will run off and report them to the police. The constant lack of trust in that fictional society in other people is one of the most powerful forces in stopping any sort of concerted effort at resistance.

I’m a mid-20’s white male myself, and I see that kind of dynamic all the time. The really egregious cases where the Twitter mob goes national like with Damore, Williamson, the Fresno state professor, etc. are uncommon relative to the actual number of “offenses” in the eyes of the mob, but the ever-lurking possibility that you could end up on the receiving end of that kind of treatment is enough to make you watch your step. As a case in point, the university where I work has a Facebook page where people can post stupid / funny things they’ve overheard at the school, with huge numbers of followers. Some of it’s just dumb stuff, like frat brothers talking about how to get high, but a quick scan of it last night showed more than one cases where people were getting quoted as allegedly mansplaining, being sexist, etc. What’s more, multiple posts are accompanied by photographs of the people being overheard, including pictures taken from behind people showing private stuff they were reading or doing on their laptops. More than one of these pictures are distinct enough that the offender could easily be identified by people who knew him / her. And this isn’t restricted just to my university; you can search on Google and find similar pages for other schools.

The same pattern gets repeated elsewhere on social media. I’ve seen businesses accused of being racist on dubious grounds (like taking a long time to serve a black couple on a one-time basis with an all-new staff, as if restaurants never had bad service due to incompetence) on Facebook and having to do public penance to avoid losing business, offering the aggrieved free food, promises of amendment, etc. This kind of stuff I’m describing doesn’t go viral, but it’s obvious that being photographed reading Breitbart News while talking about trans people, or being accused of racism in a blue town, can have real (if not devastating) negative impacts on people. And the scary thing is that there’s virtually no consequences for engaging in this kind of mob behavior. A men’s rights activist might send despicable abuse to a feminist writer, but he knows that if he actually did carry out a rape threat, he’d face a prison sentence. An aggrieved left-winger can start a campaign to get someone fired and know that she’ll face absolutely no consequences for doing so, whether the campaign works or not.

Over time, the accumulation of little stuff like this starts adding up in your mind. For white males who aren’t inclined to engage in metaphorical self-castration every time they engage in a fraught discussion with a woman, person of color, etc., there’s a strong temptation to push back against this kind of thing by reacting in an equally extreme way by joining something like the alt-right. Leftists who respond to this kind of statement by observing that white males still hold enormous amounts of power in our society are missing the point. Of course they do. Marginalization doesn’t have to take the form of stripping people of all power (like access to capital or political influence). If members of one group can face severe personal consequences for criticizing the ideology or behavior of another group, and the same isn’t true vice-versa, then the first group is marginalized relative to the second, regardless of what other power the first group might have.

The coup de grace of all of it is the intellectual dishonesty the Left displays in denying that this sort of thing is going on at all, even when they know it is. I personally know someone involved in the selection committee for a TEDx conference who once remarked to me that regardless of the merits of the individual speakers, the committee would reject people on account of their (white) race if that was needed to achieve a diverse panel. The very same person scoffs at the idea that there’s any sort of institutional discrimination against white males. Were I not a solidly observant Christian, such that the vacuum of needing an identity was already filled, I would be strongly tempted towards something like the hard right myself. And based on Zapollo’s comments, I doubt very much that I’m alone in that.

As Ross Douthat told the angry left, if you don’t like the religious right, wait until you see the post-religious right.

In a piece about Steven Pinker’s new book [2], Robert Wright points out that we are not likely to reason our way out of these conflicts. Excerpt:

Pinker’s argument is more sophisticated than some caricatures of it would have you believe. In particular, he recognizes the big kink in his famously optimistic take on the future: Though reason can help us solve the problems facing humankind, our species isn’t great at reasoning. We have “cognitive biases”—like, for example, confirmation bias, which inclines us to notice and welcome evidence that supports our views and to not notice, or reject, evidence at odds with them. Remember how unseasonably warm it was a few months ago? The answer may depend on your position on the climate change question—and that fact makes it hard to change people’s minds about climate change and thus build the consensus needed to address the problem.

Pinker also understands that cognitive biases can be activated by tribalism. “We all identify with particular tribes or subcultures,” he notes—and we’re all drawn to opinions that are favored by the tribe.

So far so good: These insights would seem to prepare the ground for a trenchant analysis of what ails the world—certainly including what ails an America now famously beset by political polarization, by ideological warfare that seems less and less metaphorical.

But Pinker’s treatment of the psychology of tribalism falls short, and it does so in a surprising way. He pays almost no attention to one of the first things that springs to mind when you hear the word “tribalism.” Namely: People in opposing tribes don’t like each other. More than Pinker seems to realize, the fact of tribal antagonism challenges his sunny view of the future and calls into question his prescriptions for dispelling some of the clouds he does see on the horizon.

I’m not talking about the obvious downside of tribal antagonism—the way it leads nations to go to war or dissolve in civil strife, the way it fosters conflict along ethnic or religious lines. I do think this form of antagonism is a bigger problem for Pinker’s thesis than he realizes, but that’s a story for another day. For now the point is that tribal antagonism also poses a subtler challenge to his thesis. Namely, it shapes and drives some of the cognitive distortions that muddy our thinking about critical issues; it warps reason.

What does this have to do with the reader’s post? This: the left-liberals in his circles do not see what is bleeding obvious to him. Their spitefulness towards white males conditions which facts they allow to intrude upon their cognition. They’re creating a dangerous situation for themselves and for us all, and don’t even realize it.

Conservatives do it too. We all do. It’s not an original observation, heaven knows, but social media and the Internet are making it far easier to do this. As Amy Chua says in her new book — I swear I’m going to write about this soon — every group in America thinks it is put-upon, and every group can find evidence for their position. The fact that no one group dominates actually makes for a more unstable situation. If we did the reasonable thing, we would recognize the dangers in allowing America to continue to tribalize, and negotiate some new settlement that allows for peaceful coexistence. But we’re tribal, so…

144 Comments (Open | Close)

144 Comments To "The Call Of Tribalism"

#1 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On April 26, 2018 @ 2:27 am

Jesse says:
Here’s the simple truth – for 90% of jobs, there’s either no actual subjective ‘most qualified’ person or in many cases, there are many people equally qualified.

Rod says:
[NFR: Ninety percent? Really? How do you figure that? — RD]

Because most job qualifications cannot be quantified. Without quantification everything is subjective. I’m assuming Jesse meant “non-subjective” rather than “subjective”. There is always a subjective best candidate, it’s the one chosen. I’m not backing the 90% number, could be 70% or 99%, who knows?

MM says:
This was the celebrity example I recalled from a couple of years ago, and what I meant by tacit:


You only need to read between the lines to know she’s referring to a certain demographic group. She’s obviously not calling out non-whites, because that would get her in hot water of a different sort.

This doesn’t seem obviously anti-white to me (anti old person sure), and really, does miley cyrus say anything that is worth reading (I want that minute of my life back)?

It’s possible I don’t see the attacks on whites because I’m an elitist who ignores media that I think is stupid. “Celebrity said anything at all” – I don’t care (and I started tuning you out midway through your sentence). “People on facebook attacked me” – what about the people on myspace and friendster? “A network TV person said something generally derogatory about white men in prime time in something that wasn’t a standup act” – that would be something. “Youtube commenters called me a bunch of racial slurs” – you realize that all youtube commenters are bots right? “The Associated Press quoted Nancy Pelosi as saying” – Ok, I’ll give you that one. “An obscure philosophy paper explores a theory to its logical conclusion” – seriously, how did you find this? “A reality TV star tweeted” – if it wasn’t the President I don’t care (even then, if it doesn’t reflect an actual policy move, I probably don’t care). “Married with Children depicts a white father as a incompetent (yet relatable) loser” – Yeah, that was a hilarious show. “An actual person I physically interacted with demeaned white people to my face” – I’ll give you that one too.

#2 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 26, 2018 @ 4:19 am


I am pretty thin-skinned and irritable when it comes to what’s perceived as an attack on groups to which I belong, as opposed to good-natured jesting. If you want to argue that that’s a character flaw, I won’t disagree with you. Of course it is.

In my previous comment I just went ahead and agreed with you about this (hey, I always like to be agreeable), but on further consideration I think there’s a better response. As Siarlys Jenkins says, calling white people “a group” and then identifying yourself as a member of it is, at best, problematic. Why is an attack on “white people” an attack on you? I don’t consider it an attack on me, and the odds are good that I’m paler than you are. (Just had my DNA tested, and as expected, my ancestry is almost entirely northern European.)

Let’s say we grant for the moment that it’s possible to identify some people as “white” at least for purposes of naming historical actors: for instance, “White people held slaves in the American South,” “white European colonial powers subjugated much of the world,” etc. If someone argues that this is the sense in which “whites” are responsible for so many of the world’s evils, well, so what? Yes, light-skinned Europeans did do those things. I don’t feel personally attacked or even criticized when someone points that out, even if I think they’re oversimplifying matters. Why do you?

We’re all “members” of or identifiable with lots and lots of “groups.” Inevitably, some or all of those groups will come under criticism for one thing or another. I don’t know if over-reacting to that is really a character flaw or more of an intellectual mistake, a kind of category error. You, yourself, are not the group, and even if you’re “in” it, you’re also in all those others, so it’s hardly the sum of your identity. In some cases, particularly in matters like race, the group might not even really exist except as a kind of rhetorical convenience. So, like, y’know, just chill. Angry people say angry things. Let them. Who cares?

#3 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On April 26, 2018 @ 7:58 am


That was indeed a very interesting essay. I am not going to agree with everything in it- some of it, particularly the idea that science, technology, the Enlightenment owed something to peculiarities of Europe is something I’d disagree with, as well as with the tired “cultural Marxist” shibboleth. His basic point though, that tribalism, concern for one’s ethnic group, and subsequent limitations on migration, aren’t inherently bad things, are excellent points and need to be said, many times. I’m not that interested in reading Pinker’s book (which seems like boilerplate propaganda, truthfully), but I’m interested in reading some of the articles he cites, particularly the ones by Elizabeth Cashdan and Carsten van Dreu. The idea that love for one’s own ethnic tribe doesn’t necessarily imply hatred or dismissiveness towards others, is a very interesting idea and one I need to learn more about.

#4 Comment By NJguy On April 26, 2018 @ 9:15 am

“Stop identifying as “white.” Its a myth, a delusion”

You need to visit Paterson, New Jersey on a daily basis I encounter dozens of strangers who seem to think it isn’t a delusion.

Loosening citizenship laws and allowing anyone to become Romans was one of the worst mistakes Ancient Rome ever made Will Durant (who won the presidential medal of freedom) brings this up repeatedly as many newcomers felt no attachment to their new homeland or the statues they walked under each day.

Sound familiar to any current events here in the states?

#5 Comment By KD On April 26, 2018 @ 9:22 am

Seoulite writes:

Third is no so how do you determine who is white or not? That’s where it gets very messy. I would guess they would say something like “you’ll know it when you see it” like pornography, but that is a cop-out. I think if and when that question is seriously being answered, that’s when blood is being spilled.

I believe this gets to my point. Ethnonationalism is based on an appeal to blood, an appeal to kinship. Granted, something like French identity is contrived, but it was contrived over centuries. How do you appeal to blood when who is or is not your kin is pretty blurry?

If you are going to fall back on language and religion, then you are de-emphasizing ancestry, and why not ditch it altogether then? Further, if you start emphasizing religion, then you have the problem of Catholic/Protestant/Pagan/Atheist business. If you stick with English-only and some pieties about Anglo-heritage, you are basically a civic nationalist, on the verge of lapsing into propositional nationalism.

It seems like a hard sell to me, and I am not even considering the practical problems, in terms of what kind of opposition you would likely provoke, what the policy options are, etc. You will never have that kind of problem selling Poland for the Poles.

#6 Comment By KD On April 26, 2018 @ 9:32 am

Siarlys Jenkins:

You might want to check out David Reich’s new book, Who We Are and How We Got Here. There is a genetically homogeneous population from the Iberian Peninsula to the Altai Mountains, and its all thanks to a group of “Indo-European” nomadic pastoralists conquering Eurasia and India 4 to 5 thousand years ago.

#7 Comment By mrscracker On April 26, 2018 @ 9:33 am

Siarlys Jenkins says:

“Stop identifying as “white.” Its a myth, a delusion, its a concept only 500 years old. There aren’t any “white” people”
True. Go back far enough & per researchers, there were dark skinned, blue eyed British like the Cheddar Man.
I think there’s more variety in our DNA than we care to believe-especially for folks living in the Americas.
What we inherit from our ancestors may be important, but the least important part is our complexion.

#8 Comment By JonF On April 26, 2018 @ 9:39 am

Re: They view America as part of the Christendom / Northern and Western European civilization, and therefore Jews and Hispanics are not part of it.

Culturally, the Jews have been part or our civilization since the early Ptolemies welcomed them to Alexandria. Hispanic culture is another matter: it’s at least partly Native American, though that varies by nation: Argentina and Uruguay not so much, Peru and Mexico quite a bit. Moreover Spain itself was sometimes seen as only marginally European. “Europe ends at the Pyrenees” Napoleon scoffed when the Spanish people did not welcome the French as liberators from despotism, as had happened elsewhere in Europe. Also the Protestant “black legend” of Spain made the country seem like there was something alien about it.

[NFR: Anybody who says the Jews aren’t a key part of Western civilization is nuts. — RD]

#9 Comment By KD On April 26, 2018 @ 9:49 am

The ironic thing about the Alt-Right and “God Emperor Trump” is that what we are seeing in Trump is the continuation and intensification of a trend that began in the Bush Administration: the Likudinization of the GOP.

I am not talking about AIPAC’s influence or foreign policy per se, rather, as Likud’s control of Israel has increased, Israel has increasingly resorted to anti-liberal policies that have made it increasingly isolated. Unsurprisingly, American has begun to mirror Israel’s anti-liberalism, whether in its torture policies, its border walls, expulsion of Africans and brown people, etc.

Ridiculously, while the WaPo and the NYT raises the alarm about Nazism, the American Right apes the Israeli Right, and I am sure this has everything to do with helping Israel rehabilitate its international standing by normalizing Likud anti-liberalism.

Now America stands at a critical diplomatic juncture: will it repudiate the Iranian nuclear deal?

I think if it does, it will trigger the dissolution of NATO, and the emergence of a European Axis that can stand both diplomatically and militarily on its own two feet. Further, whether Germany falls to identitarian movements on the Right, or multiculuralist/Third Worlders on the Left, the Israeli alliance will prove toxic to Europe.

This will lead to a diplomatic rebalancing between the US and Russia viz. Europe, with a strengthening of ties to Russia, and a greater opposition to America.

Further, whether triggered by a shift Left, or a shift Right, I believe a Sovereign Europe by necessity will have to look inwards towards its innate sources of vitality.

I suppose this means I have become a neoconservative of the spirit?

#10 Comment By Franklin Evans On April 26, 2018 @ 10:06 am

Isidore: You are spot on. I’m pushing myself through self-examination that starts with that being true. My sense of tribalism is, well, skewed, because my upbringing was based on an arbitrary separation from my heritages (both of my parents were deliberate about it). I like to think that I replaced it with a rational and constructive patriotism, and I can claim partial success so long as I also acknowledge where I’ve stumbled.

We compare ourselves to others, draw conclusions and make judgments, and base decisions on that. It’s a valid process, no less so for it being flawed and prone to resulting in mistakes. I try to not denigrate the mistakes of others, that being hypocritical, but I don’t always get that right.

#11 Comment By KD On April 26, 2018 @ 10:11 am

I fail to mention the possible immanent withdrawal of Turkey from NATO, and an alliance between Russia, Turkey and Iran.

#12 Comment By MM On April 26, 2018 @ 10:57 am

Jefferson: As I said before, this isn’t hatred, but:

Why would the shooting death of a 6-year old autistic boy by police in Louisiana not become a major national news story? If the boy was black and the officers white, I’ve not doubt it would’ve (hint: it was the other way around in the case of Jeremy Mardis).

Why would political commentators like David Sirota and Dean Obeidallah, while terrorist attacks were literally in progress, express their hope that the peretrators weren’t black or middle-eastern, but white instead?

Why would the founder of Talking Points Memo conclude that the increase in white mortality reported a couple of years ago was due to whites losing their unearned privilege, which he considered a good thing?

Why would Politico keep a running tally of the number of white (only) officials and staffers in the Trump White House, for no stated reason whatsoever?

Why would the Los Angeles Times applaud continued growth in the Latin American population, and decline in the white population, under the premise that more diversity is always good, when such changes have been causing California to become less diverse since 2014?

Why would the Washington Post publish an editorial complaining that that proposed changes to immigration law (e.g. chain migration) would only keep America “whiter” longer, which they considered a bad thing?

Call me a snowflake, that’s fine, I’m not offended, just pointing out the obvious. Though unlike lefty snowflakes, I’m not demanding a complete suspension of the Bill of Rights just to make myself feel better. 🙂

But it doesn’t change the fact that these sorts of examples are tacitly anti-white, and ubiquitious, in the media these days. What sources are fringe vs. mainstream isn’t the issue: If I’d been writing these down over the years, I’d have a list of hundreds of examples from a broad variety of outlets. These are just the ones I remembered being reported, or heard about on my local radio!

#13 Comment By grumpy realist On April 26, 2018 @ 11:43 am

Looks like the “snowflakes” aren’t just with the SJW crowd…


#14 Comment By MM On April 26, 2018 @ 12:33 pm

Hobbes: “This doesn’t seem obviously anti-white to me.”

No, I never said it was obvious. What is unsaid and unqualified is the point, here.

You know, and I didn’t have a dog in this fight, but when Proposition 8 passed in California with majorities of black and Hispanic voters supporting it, more than white voters incidentally, I remember hearing a lot of celebrities and pundits trying to rationalize that away. But they never called black and Hispanic voters in California “dinosaurs who should die.”

I wonder why? Anybody?

Catholics and Mormons from out of state (re: white) received a lot of criticism.

Proposition 8 was an attempt to amend the state constitution to define marriage as hetero-only. But Indiana’s RFRA law was mild by comparison.

#15 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On April 26, 2018 @ 1:38 pm

MM says:
No, I never said it was obvious. What is unsaid and unqualified is the point, here.

That is very different than Zapollo’s claim of being bombarded.

when Proposition 8 passed in California with majorities of black and Hispanic voters supporting it, more than white voters incidentally, I remember hearing a lot of celebrities and pundits trying to rationalize that away. But they never called black and Hispanic voters in California “dinosaurs who should die.”

I wonder why? Anybody?

Because liberals believe that blacks and Hispanics are minority groups that have historically been and still are discriminated against not because they believe white people are more evil than blacks or Hispanics. It’s basically affirmative action for political views and it’s kinda insulting to the minorities. It’s basically them saying, you guys have had it tough and are a little backwards because of it, so I’ll cut you some slack that I wouldn’t cut the dominant group.

There are certainly lefties that think “whites” are an evil group that should die, but they are a minuscule minority. The Democratic party still has more “whites” than any other skin tone in it and they are not self hating (mostly), they just don’t feel threatened.

#16 Comment By MM On April 26, 2018 @ 2:30 pm

Hobbes: “The Democratic party still has more ‘whites’ than any other skin tone in it.”

White male or white female? I suspect you’ll find a significant gender factor at work. That figure was 60% total back in 2012, but it may have declined since then.

Complicating the matter, and this feeds in to the majority-minority demography claims, is that HALF of Hispanic Americans, about 30 million people, consider themselves “white”. Hence the singling out of non-Hispanic whites in various survey results.

I really don’t see the point of that. It’s like these pollsters don’t want to show American assimilation at work. This is probably a 2nd and 3rd generation phenomenon, identifying with the majority group.

I agree on Zapollo’s claims, he’s overstating things beyond his immediate environment. But ethnic studies, humanities, history departments in college? Not so much.

#17 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 26, 2018 @ 3:10 pm


If you’re just going to dismiss Zapollo as [a snowflake], why did you ask for examples of the kind of rhetoric he was referring to?

Never mind, then. I suppose you’d attack anyone for pointing to actual anti-white sentiment, huh?

I would call anyone a snowflake who heard something Miley Cyrus said and inflated it in his mind into “the media” “bombarding” him with the message that whites are “a cancer” who are responsible for most of the world’s evils and should just “keel over and die.” It’s the ridiculous threat inflation that I was reacting to.

Am I a snowflake for finding such things repugnant?

The Townhall article you link to collects three examples — nominally four, but #4 was apparently a write-up of #3. Anyway, those two referred to Warmbier as a “frat boy.” That’s the same as calling him white and explicitly blaming his whiteness? Example #2 says nothing about his being white except to quote Example #1. So this round-up of examples boils down to one case, maybe one and a half — which, by the way, I, like you, disagree with and consider in poor taste.

I’m betting that a close look at your further list would yield similar results. It sounds like the way we get to a “bombardment” of media “messages” (such as it is) is by conflating a bunch of different points made in different contexts, many or most of which are nothing like what Zapollo described. For instance, if somebody at Politico is keeping a count of whites and nonwhites around Trump, the context of that presumably is (a) that Politico is a political magazine and covers everything about the presidency obsessively, and (b) that other presidents in recent decades have been making efforts to bring ethnic diversity into the White House and Cabinet, on the theory that presidents are supposed to represent the whole nation and shouldn’t just be getting advice just from a narrow range of golfing buddies and fellow plutocrats. In that context, what would be noteworthy is the fact that now there’s a presidency that has abandoned that idea. That’s the point being made, I would think, not that whites are a cancer who should just die.

Of course, one can take issue politically even with that more anodyne point, and lament the fact that the Eisenhower years are behind us and it is no longer assumed without question, as it was for so long, that virtually everyone at the highest levels of government will be white men in suits. If Zapollo and his alt-right buddies were just waxing nostalgic over their cribbage boards for the old days and the old ways, I’d see them as somewhat backwards but wouldn’t call them snowflakes. It’s the shrieks of terror that I find weak and absurd.

#18 Comment By MM On April 26, 2018 @ 3:54 pm

Jefferson: “I’m betting that a close look at your further list would yield similar results.”

Whether its Bustle or Huffington Post, why would you invoke the race of someone who was tortured? Whatever you can dismiss these sites as fringe, that’s fine.

But by all means, please do. I’m sure you’ll find a way to dismiss all of my examples for one reason or another. That doesn’t prove they aren’t valid for the point I was making.

I don’t consider myself a snowflake by pointing out the rank hypocrisy and inconsistency of the left and the press, there’s overlap there, when I see it. And there’s a lot to observe these days.

But taking your point to its logical conclusion, “Angry people say angry things. Let them. Who cares?”, I assume you’d tell Americans of all persuasions, white, black, brown, to suck it up no matter their perceived grievances, right?

I mean, if there’s no point in talking about this, why are we talking about this? You know, whining about whining?

#19 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 26, 2018 @ 6:49 pm


But taking your point to its logical conclusion, “Angry people say angry things. Let them. Who cares?”, I assume you’d tell Americans of all persuasions, white, black, brown, to suck it up no matter their perceived grievances, right?

Absolutely. I think Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the biggest whiners around, and would happily tell him this.

Whether its Bustle or Huffington Post, why would you invoke the race of someone who was tortured? Whatever you can dismiss these sites as fringe, that’s fine.

I didn’t dismiss the sites as fringe. I pointed out that Townhall misrepresented them as commenting on Warmbier’s whiteness, when it appears that only one of the four actually did (apparently in an article by an African American writer). The rest of their examples were an exercise in bootstrapping from that one case. This is a kind of lying.

#20 Comment By MM On April 26, 2018 @ 9:21 pm

Jefferson: “The rest of their examples were an exercise in bootstrapping from that one case.”

Well, perhaps. But again, my point about tacit bias is still relevant. If Warmbier was a black fraternity member who was tortured before being released and later dying as a result, would those four sites have uttered even a whisper of criticism about his actions, on any level?

Frankly, would any conservative site have made fun of someone who died in that fashion?

I doubt it.

#21 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 27, 2018 @ 2:06 am

MM: “Frankly, would any conservative site have made fun of someone who died in that fashion?”

They made fun of him after he died? It looks to me like Salon actually took down its “frat boy” article after he died.

Anyway, I agree that liberal sites have better things to do. Debunking the Sandy Hook Truthers, for instance (speaking of extreme political bad taste). Huffpost was particularly good on that one.

#22 Comment By MM On April 27, 2018 @ 9:41 am

Jeffeson: “They made fun of him after he died?”

No, ultimately died due to the torture he received. Why would anybody mock an American college student overseas who’s arrested on trumped up charges by arguably the most totalitarian regime on the planet?

Nobody did, except for a handful of these left-of-center media outlets and comedians. I suspect the response would’ve been very different if he *wasn’t* a white male fraternity member, because, you know, there’s a presumption of guilt here in the states for “jerks” like that, at least regarding sexual assault…

#23 Comment By MM On April 27, 2018 @ 11:47 am

Jefferson: “Huffpost was particularly good on that one.”

Did it need to be debunked? Most Americans, most intelligent people, can see through crap like that.

But Huffpo is one of those outlets, like Slate (“There are no good Trump voters”, “Secret server in Trump tower communicating with Moscow”) that I used to read, but would be embarrassed to do so any more.

Once they abuse journalism past a certain point IMO, without apology or retraction, I tend to throw the entire newspaper away and never subscribe again.

#24 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 27, 2018 @ 3:14 pm

Did it need to be debunked?

“Need” to be? Well, I don’t know. But let’s consider this sequence of events:

> In 2014, paranoid lunatic Alex Jones goes full Sandy Hook Truther, revising his previous insane view that the murders were a false-flag government operation and floating the even more insane theory that in fact no children were killed in the first place.

> In 2015, Donald Trump, himself a leading “birther” conspiracy theorist, runs for president. As a candidate, he appears on Jones’ “Infowars” and praises Jones’ “amazing reputation.”

> In 2016, Trump wins the Republican nomination and then the presidency, in the process collecting tens of millions of followers, many of whom reportedly see him as a brave truth-teller and apparently hang on his every word.

>In 2017, there are reports that as president, Trump continues to call Jones, and that his chief of staff has been trying to limit his access to “news” from the right-wing fringe.

I’d say in that environment — quite different from the ubiquitous anti-white reign of terror described by Zapollo — debunking may or may not be effective, but I’m pleased that it’s least being done.

#25 Comment By MM On April 28, 2018 @ 12:06 am

Jefferson: I’m a big believer in guilt by association, so it’s morally digusting IMO that Trump would patronize Infowars.

That being said, it’s morally disgusting x 1000 when the Clinton Foundation accepted millions and millions of dollars in donations, while Hillary was Secretary of State, from foreign governments and associated individuals of such countries as Algeria, Bahrain, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Qatar, the Sudan, and Uzbekistan, all of whom where either accused of or investigated for rampant corruption, election fraud, terrorist financing, human rights abuses, or crimes against humanity.

#26 Comment By Franklin Evans On April 28, 2018 @ 10:25 am

MM, while you might have a point about ethics, you have zero point about a foundation that happens to have a Secretary of State’s name on it, which is a registered non-profit organization, and absent any rational evidence that HRC personally benefited from the donations, let alone received any of them in-kind.

There are plenty of elected officials who sit on boards of directors of non-profit organizations, and are ecstatically welcomed by them for their connections and fund-raising muscle thereby. They are expected to comport themselves ethically under that arrangement, and when proven otherwise appear in court and/or resign or are removed from office.

#27 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 28, 2018 @ 10:45 am

Didn’t like Hillary and voted against her in the primary. That said, your list of Clinton Foundation donors makes me nostalgic for the bygone days when high officials took their bribes through nonprofit organizations subject to public audit. The Trump-Kushner profiteering entangles our current leadership with foreign interests known only to God and the special prosecutor.

#28 Comment By MM On April 28, 2018 @ 2:32 pm

Franklin: “Absent any rational evidence that HRC personally benefited from the donations.”

Is she not still married to Bill? Did he not receive highly lucrative speaking fees in conjunction with foundation donations? Why have such speaking fees and foundation donations plummetted since Clinton lost the election?

A more concrete example: Why would Hillary as Secretary of State did not enforce the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006, legislation she co-sponsored at the time, after disuputed elections were held there? Coincidentally, $100 million in donations came from a wealthy “blood mineral” mining company, the Lundin Group, that did not want provisions of the act implemented.

If there’s nothing to see here, why all the money changing hands, sir?

Come on, there’s no need for willful ignorance…

#29 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On April 28, 2018 @ 5:23 pm

MM has a decent point about the Clinton Foundation. I think perhaps we should ban anyone who has served in elective federal office or in an appointed cabinet role from ever serving on the board of any foundation or corporation, for profit or non-profit, ever again, for the rest of their lives. The potential for corruption is just too great. Its not like they need a job. The pension alone for any such office is several times what I’ve lived on each year. And they can still volunteer with Habitat for Humanity or go teach school in a remote village in Zaire.

#30 Comment By Franklin Evans On April 28, 2018 @ 8:02 pm


You have observations and potential correlations. You have, nor has anyone offered, evidence or proof.

I trust the vast majority of our politicians including HRC as little as you trust her. I’m eager for Mueller’s investigations not because I despise Trump — I do despise him, and did so before he declared for the primaries — but because the observations and correlations around him are strong and compelling. Unlike some, sir, I’ll shrug and move on if he proves to not be guilty of the things so many accuse him.

Come on, there’s no need for conclusion leaping…

#31 Comment By MM On April 30, 2018 @ 11:34 pm

Franklin: “Come on, there’s no need for conclusion leaping…”

True or false, the millions and millions of dollars in speaking fees received by Bill Clinton benefitted his wife personally while she was Secretary of State?

Well, they’ve been married a very long time and file a joint tax return in the state of New York. And income earned while married becomes “marital property” in New York:


There’s your answer. Or do you disagree? If so, I’d love to hear your legal reasoning.

The Clinton State Dept. rarely if ever objected to Bill getting involved, accepting money here and there and everywhere from parties with business before the U.S. government.

By all means, continue to put you head in the sand. That’s what Clinton was counting on.

Regarding Mueller, I don’t see the crime, nor evidence thereof, that justified his appointment to begin with.

That being said, for consistency sake, since he is on a fishing expedition, I would support 100 special counsels investigating all elected federal representatives, their staff, associates, and donors, on an ongoing basis, all the time.

You do realize how many crimes would be “found”, since we’re not dealing with probable suspicion, don’t you?

But one just for Trump and nobody else, no sir, it has all the appearance of a targeted campaign against the guy nobody in DC thought could be or wanted to be President.

#32 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 1, 2018 @ 9:54 am

MM, you write/speak out of both sides of your fingers/mouth. You challenge me to “find” probable cause against Trump when prosecution professionals already have a long list, and sit there (or maybe stand) wishing that someone would find some dirt on the Clintons… when Congress has already spent months and millions conducting that search and finding… nothing.

People are stupid. They’ll believe a lie because they’re afraid it might be true, or because they want it to be true. We are all, every one of us, vulnerable to that. In your case, I seriously doubt you’ll get over your stupid in this case.

Mueller’s questions for his Trump interview were leaked yesterday. I await Trump’s “answers” for each of them, and you can be sure that every evasion, every appeal to the 5th Amendment, will come back to haunt you sooner rather than later.

#33 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 1, 2018 @ 9:56 am

As for your spurious joint-property logic, the only answer would be for Bill to have taken a vow of poverty while Hillary was in office. I’ll put real money on a bet that you’d be satisfied with nothing less.

#34 Comment By MM On May 1, 2018 @ 12:06 pm

Frankling: “Prosecution professionals already have a long list…”

This is simple exercise, sir. Cite the federal statute, and then cite the evidence that he violated the statute.

I’m with Alan Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley on this issue. All ears… show me the crime, and evidence thereof…

Franklin: “As for your spurious joint-property logic…”

So you have no answer? Good, that validates my point that she personally benefited from Bill’s income from foreign interests.

Speaking of which, much like President Trump, Secretary Clinton also wanted to improve relations with Russia during the first Obama term. So much so, apparently, that Bill received at least half a million dollars from Russian banks connected to the Kremlin, not to mention the millions of Russian rubles that went to the Clinton Foundation.

Now, if Trump is acting as a de facto Russian agent due to his connections, how were the Clintons not acting the same way?

Could you answer that one?

#35 Comment By MM On May 1, 2018 @ 12:12 pm

By the way, I can cite the federal statutes that Secretary Clinton violated with regard to her handling of classified information, chapter and verse.

Despite what Director Comey claimed in his press conference, gross negligence is a crime that does not require intent.

Her email server, unauthorized and less secure than a free commercial account, was essentially the same as taking classified documents to the park and letting the wind blow them into the Potomoc.

Only someone named Clinton running for President, and presumed to be the winner in advance, could avoid prosecution for that…

#36 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 1, 2018 @ 2:49 pm

MM, I’m not a lawyer. Are you?

I don’t care if you are or not. Neither of us is privy to the documents and evidence Mueller has collected. If you want to play armchair prosecutor — with the credentials or not, again I don’t care — by all means have at it. In the meantime, I’ll settle for actual lawyers who’ve informed me in a formal context — member of a jury — that probable cause and indictments are not subject to our review.

By the way, this is a test: in which of my prior posts did I write that I trust Clinton as little as I trust Trump? I get the strong impression that you either don’t read entire posts, or you don’t care to trust what’s in them.

#37 Comment By MM On May 1, 2018 @ 3:40 pm

Franklin: “You don’t care to trust what’s in them.”

Given your avoidance of simple questions and a lack of relevant facts, that’s a good guess!

I’m not a lawyer, but reserve to right to act like a juror in the court of public opinion, everybody has that privilege.

But I’ll take that as a “I don’t know” as to the statute question.

That’s the definition of a fishing expedition, by the way. Keep investigating, absent probable suspicion, until you find something, anything, even if it’s far removed from the original investigative mandate.

It’s an interesting contrast, given the Clinton campaign’s reaction to her criminal probe: They attacked the NYT for daring to call it that, which was correct. They blamed the GOP for politicizing it, and then turned around and politicized Trump’s foreign contacts during the campaign. They lied about lying, for goodness sake, after Comey’s press conference.

But nobody, not Comey, not the the Press, not the never-Trumpers, called her a Big Liar with authoritarian tendencies who was attacking Freedom of the Press and the Rule of Law, like they do Trump today.

Fascinating contrast…

#38 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 1, 2018 @ 4:16 pm

Wow. Trump lied starting the day after his inauguration, and has only accelerated since. His verbal attacks against journalists — taken as “truth” by his supporters — are numerous and specific. His most cogent reply to those who challenge his lies has been “everybody is saying it”. Indeed, his most effective tactic has been to divert people with “look! They do it, too!”

You are welcome to your diversion. In the meantime, you have the easiest and most accessible remedy to your ignorance: read, every word, twice and thrice, and consider the possibility that you are being lied to by the President of the United States. Just consider it.

#39 Comment By MM On May 1, 2018 @ 5:18 pm

Franklin: “You are welcome to your diversion.”

Ironic, considering you’re now diverting from my point. I’ll translate: “I don’t care about rank ideological hypocrisy and double standards.”

Since I didn’t vote for Trump, I think I’m smart enough to determine for myself when I’m being lied to by elected officials.

But I’m certainly not going mistake your opinions on the law for the truth.

#40 Comment By MM On May 1, 2018 @ 5:40 pm

Yeah, a President with no prior political experience who lies about crowd sizes vs. a former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State who lies about national security and avoids prosecution.

Diversion? Ignorance?

Not if we’re talking about the law, sir!

#41 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 2, 2018 @ 10:54 pm

MM: Serious question.

Is crowd size the only thing about which Trump has lied?

Clearly, you know much more about his truthfulness than I do. I depend on you to educate me here.

#42 Comment By MM On May 3, 2018 @ 1:50 pm

Franklin: “Is crowd size the only thing about which Trump has lied?”

No, but when he lies about the health care system in order to expand government power, and about why an ambassador was killed in a terrorist attack, and about the tangible benefits he secretly negotiated with a hostile foreign power like Iran, then I’ll agree he’s as bad as the previous President.

You remember, the guy you once claimed wasn’t responsible, as Commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, when in the process of carrying out his stated policy objectives in Afghanistan, blew up a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders.

That was a astounding show of willful ignorance, by the way, remember?

#43 Comment By Franklin Evans On May 4, 2018 @ 10:20 am

MM, you cover the main logical fallacies quite well.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc: Appeal to correlation without proof of causation, or ignoring any of the requirements of causal proof.

Tu quoque: What-about-ism. I was going to list this one first, but that would mean calling you a troll. Are you a troll? If so, I have some nice, tasty troll biscuits for you.

Argumentum ad populum: This one Trump uses constantly, and I’m glad to see you are quite in lock-step with him. In short, “Everyone says it, so it must be true.”

You spice it up nicely with a bit of ad hominem. I could list a few more, but since they don’t have Latin phrases for them which come trippingly on the tongue, I’ll let you and the readers look them up.

You know, there was a time when another fallacy held sway in this country, Argumentum ad baculum, appeal to the stick and nicely summarized as coercion to agreement. Sen. Joseph McCarthy was the poster child for it, and it raised its ugly face just before and during the invasion of Iraq. It’s quite a simple concept: brook no dissent, and attack it in every way including physically until it returns to its hiding place. MM, Trump is more than just a bully. He’s a bully with ambition. If you can’t see that, I pity you.

I will share with you one personal perspective. My immigrant parents spoke with heavy Slavic accents. They arrived in the U.S. in 1948. Neither were Russian, had Russian relatives or were ever in Russia. They were living examples of what happens when fear rules us, when xenophobia is considered normal, and when scapegoats were seen as a necessary good. I will never relent in asserting that Trump is an evil man. I believed that of him well before he entered our political consciousness.

#44 Comment By MM On May 6, 2018 @ 8:45 pm

Franklin: Thanks for avoiding all of my points, facts, and comparisons.

You’ve lived up to my expectations for left-of-center commentary around here.

If you guys can’t even own up to the lies and criminal acts of the previous administration and its hand-picked successor, which you so loyally make excuses for, why should I or any other open-minded person give a damn about Trump?