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Why We Hate Them, Why They Hate Us

It might not surprise you that some Americans think the other side (politically) is evil, and would like to see them die. It might surprise you, though, how many people believe that — and that more of them are Democrats. In his NYT column today, [1] Tom Edsall looks at recent academic research that finds just over 42 percent of the people in each party view those in the other party as “evil.” But wait, there’s more:

Kalmoe and Mason, taking the exploration of partisan animosity a step farther, found that nearly one out of five Republicans and Democrats agree with the statement that their political adversaries “lack the traits to be considered fully human — they behave like animals.”

Their line of questioning did not stop there.

How about: “Do you ever think: ‘we’d be better off as a country if large numbers of the opposing party in the public today just died’?”

Some 20 percent of Democrats (that translates to 12.6 million voters) and 16 percent of Republicans (or 7.9 million voters) do think on occasion that the country would be better off if large numbers of the opposition died.

We’re not finished: “What if the opposing party wins the 2020 presidential election. How much do you feel violence would be justified then?” 18.3 percent of Democrats and 13.8 percent of Republicans said violence would be justified on a scale ranging from “a little” to “a lot.”

Well, you have to figure that each party has its own troglodytes who think this way, right? Guess what:

As partisan hostility deepens [2], there is one group that might ordinarily be expected to help pull the electorate out of this morass — the most knowledgeable and sophisticated voters.

According to a forthcoming study, however, it is just these voters who display the most uncritical acceptance of party orthodoxy, left or right. On both sides, the best informed [3] voters are by far the most partisan.

You could say that it’s the best informed voters who are the most consistent voters. But you could also say that they are the most abstract ones, the ones least likely to understands what it takes to live peaceably in a pluralistic society.

In marriage preparation, pastors tell couples to watch out for the temptation to have to be right all the time. This can be very destructive in a marriage. To have a successful marriage requires the wisdom to know that the marriage is more important than your own individual needs, and to know when you should give ground for the sake of the greater good. It used to be that this was considered the art of political wisdom, but we seem to have lost that. If a politician compromises with the other side, he’s liable to be primaried by voters who consider him to be a sellout.

Edsall goes on to talk with Steven Pinker and others who explain why this is happening. It’s all pretty convincing, and pretty depressing. Edsall goes on:

When, if ever, will things improve? Jonathan Haidt [4], a psychologist at N.Y.U., is not optimistic. He emailed:

I am expecting that America’s political dysfunction and anger will worsen, and will continue to worsen even after Donald Trump leaves the White House.

Why?

The reasons for my pessimism are that 1) social media gets ever more effective at drowning us in outrage; 2) overall trust in institutions continues to decline, which makes it seem ever more urgent that “our” side take total control; 3) the younger generations have not seen effective political institutions or norms during their lives, and also seem less adept at handling political disagreements; and 4) the norms of campus regarding call-out culture [5] seem to be spreading quickly into business and many other institutions.

Read the whole thing. [1]

Our political and cultural environment has become so intensely moralized, in the sense of seeking with zeal virtue, absent prudence, that to compromise seems like giving in to evil. We see this in LGBT activism (especially trans activism), where activists claim to fail to meet their demands is to have blood on your hands. It’s a childish and absurd tactic, but I don’t for a second believe that they don’t believe it. Many really do think that it’s a matter of life and death whether or not the first-grade teacher gets to read Jacob’s New Dress to the kids in her class. When you work yourself up into such a frenzy, there has to be discharge somewhere.

One reason I am very pessimistic about the soft totalitarianism coming upon us is that the young have been raised under these conditions, and are strongly partisan to the left. As Haidt says, the norms of campus call-out culture are spreading to all kinds of institutions. This, I fear, is the new normal.

Say, if you’re in New Orleans, tomorrow, come out to UNO on Thursday night to see Melissa Harris Perry and me talk about this stuff. Info here.  [6]

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142 Comments To "Why We Hate Them, Why They Hate Us"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 13, 2019 @ 7:08 pm

“There’s nothing to fear, just laugh at the foolishness and go about your business.”

I saw an ill-dressed middle-aged fellow this morning pushing a shopping cart down the street going about his business, rummaging through the trash cans. He was laughing to himself about something. Maybe that was it. You think?

#2 Comment By Ampersand III On March 13, 2019 @ 8:19 pm

“For what it’s worth, I don’t think too many rank-and-file Democrats hate conservatives. Being a consistent ideologue is a lot of work after all. I think Democrats are very ignorant about what Christians and conservatives stand for. They “know” Trump supporters are bad people, but when gently pressed they’ll admit to not following politics too closely. You fear what you don’t understand.”

I’m sure that’s true in some cases, and for both sides. But, speaking for myself, I used to be both conservative and Christian. I grew up around them, and I’m still surrounded by them. That familiarity has made me oppose you even more. And I’m sure that my mirror image exists: conservatives who used to be liberal, and/or are surrounded by them, and strongly oppose us, despite understanding us perfectly. This whole “we only disagree because we don’t fully understand each other” thing is ridiculous “Let’s sing Kumbaya and hold hands”-style stuff. People have legitimate disagreements about life and philosophy and society. These are moral and ideological systems that don’t overlap, so there’s no common ground.

Also, I do believe that “Gen Z” is surprisingly red-pilled…but it’s mainly the white kids. So, congratulations, you’re winning over the smallest generation of white people yet.

I don’t wish death on anyone. But, if every conservative in the country got teleported to some Earth-like planet in another galaxy, I’m pretty sure I’d have healthcare within the year. It’s hard to oppose something when you’d materially benefit from it…

#3 Comment By Emil Bogdan On March 13, 2019 @ 9:49 pm

Fran, I’m sorry you experienced that kind of hardship for sticking with your beliefs. Even though I advise being dismissive, being dismissive is also one of my flaws. I don’t have the answer any more than that man with the shopping cart. I don’t really want to be him, either, but I also don’t want to be the well-dressed man who casually looks down on him. The truth is hard to admit, but I am both of those people. You were mistreated, but don’t lose hope or adopt bitterness or feel victimized. Even though you fixed that man’s car for free, you’re not beyond reproach either. For your sake, you have to find a way to forgive those people. I didn’t come up with that idea, and it’s hard as hell, but I don’t have anything better.

#4 Comment By Carl S On March 13, 2019 @ 10:47 pm

Our political and cultural environment has become so intensely moralized, in the sense of seeking with zeal virtue, absent prudence, that to compromise seems like giving in to evil.

If that is a correct assessment, the only way, to me, it is correct, is that fundamental change to our system, which includes change to the fundamental worldview of that system (our cultural predisposition), is giving up what made us great as a country. The multi-cultural pluralism message is only a message because it doesn’t take into account the reality of fundamental transformation of our country and way of life, in my opinion. Everything may be already ‘gone with the wind,’ but there is a vast residual, in that case, who never were informed of the transformation and who never had a choice or chance to have themselves heard as the changes took place. So, the evil is what people expect to happen when the last vestige of our tradition is no more. To those who have manufactured the change, the original system was evil and their discontent is aimed solely at the system which gave them the ability and right to declare such a system evil. The compromise that has traditionally taken place within the bounds of our fundamental system, has been supplanted by covered and hidden agendas by those who have worked in shadows, perhaps, or, at least by those who have worked at levels that out of touch with the traditional, folks whose virtue continues to allow this country to survive.

We have lost something great in this country, and that is character. Meanings have been skewed for thing like Coolidge’s “Thoroughbred Code” where those aphorisms were so much a part of the fabric of this country that everyone instantly understood them as the product of Christian thought. Or the virtues scribed by Marshall Field: the value of time; the success of perseverance; the pleasure of working; the dignity of simplicity; the worth of character; the power of kindness etc…

The depth, I believe, of these and many other truths were understood based on the shared Christian culture we had. No more it seems. Only immersion into the culture can bring out the meaning or even allow them to be written. To me it is as evident has reading “The Lord of the Rings” and declaring it to be fundamentally a Christian work. Outside of that context it won’t really stand in the same way.

#5 Comment By Brendan from Oz On March 13, 2019 @ 10:56 pm

The Battle of Gods and Giants – those who accept metaphysical transcendence vs materialists – was raging before Plato called it that.

The blessing and the curse of Western thought since it began.

Socrates was sentenced to death and Aristotle fled from Athens to avoid the same.

#6 Comment By JonF On March 14, 2019 @ 6:26 am

Re: I think Democrats are very ignorant about what Christians and conservatives stand for.

Do you also think that is true of the very many Democrats who attend inner city store front churches which are often fairly traditional (I won’t say conservative since that had political overtones) in their doctrine? Everyone acknowledges the importance of African Americans, among whom religion has fallen off less sharply than among whites, to the Democratic coalition– and then promptly forgets about them in this cont

#7 Comment By JonF On March 14, 2019 @ 6:30 am

Re: Socrates was sentenced to death and Aristotle fled from Athens to avoid the same.

Socrates and Aristotle were not fighting “materialists”. Their foes were people defending the Old Time Religion against the philosophers’ then-heterodox ideas– or at least people using the Old Time Religion as a club against their political enemies. (Both Socrates and Aristotle were associated with the aristocratic faction at Athens, and in Aristotle’s case he had a strong pro-Macedonian bias).

#8 Comment By muad’dib On March 14, 2019 @ 7:31 am

On the liberal side, my liberal friend has stood in a public space saying that if conservatives die in some natural disaster he won’t care. I forget what set him off— it might have been Trump’s response to Puerto Rico. But then he is as decent as can be to people he knows who are Trump voters, so in his case it is just hot air. I am sure he wouldn’t cut off aid to a conservative state if a tornado hit.

How many Republican Politicians voted against giving aid to New York & New Jersey after Sandy? 67, every one of them a Republican, and most of them Southerners.

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The rule prior to Sandy was aid is a formality with a damn near unanimous vote for the aid, because hey, who knew who would be next to get hit by a natural disaster?

But Conservatives couldn’t help themselves, when a region of the US they didn’t like got hit by a disaster, they politicized it. So now when any disaster hits the South, I just shrug my shoulders, go tough s**t and hope the Democrats treat the South the way the Republicans treated NY & NJ.

The treatment Puerto Rico got after Maria & California is getting after all the wildfires is doing nothing to convince me that I should support helping Red States after any natural disaster.

#9 Comment By Oakinhouston On March 14, 2019 @ 8:49 am

“[NFR: It’s almost like you didn’t recognize from my list that I was talking about non-governmental institutions. — RD]”

I did recognize that you were talking about non-governmental institutions all right, but those “institutions” don’t have anywhere the same power over me as governmental ones have.

Humanities professors in small colleges have much less impact in my life than Greg Abbot has (regretfully, I might add). Whatever Congress does impacts me more than whether or not Hollywood produces a movie with a Christian or an LGBT protagonist, and you are the first one to say how critical is that only a Republican President gets to nominate, and a Republican Senate gets to approve, the Federal Judiciary. The Presidency and the Senate are important enough for you to override any other consideration at the voting booth. So you too believe that the Senate matters more than Hollywood, and that Kavanaugh matters more than the Dean of Diversity of Wokeville College.

#10 Comment By Ed On March 14, 2019 @ 8:54 am

In plain language, the most active voters — those notably “high in cognitive resources” — are the most willing to accept policy positions endorsed by their party, and they are doing so not out of principle, but to affirm their identity as a Democrat or Republican. They are expressing “the desire to reach conclusions that are consistent with a valued identity.”

See Jacques Ellul’s book on propaganda: educated people who think they are free from being influenced by propaganda are actually quite susceptible to it. When you have a highly-developed view of the world, you latch on to things that conform to it, and react negatively to things that threaten it.

That is another possible interpretation of the same phenomenon: that it’s not about maintaining identity, but about maintaining one’s own mental constructs. Or are the two interpretations really so different?

“Identity” seems to come from social interaction. You can maintain your lifelong identity as a Vermont Republican or Alabama Democrat until you log into a Republican or Democratic forum and find people telling you that you are only a Republican or Democrat “in name only.” So you either adapt your views to those acceptable on the forum, or change your party, or drop out of politics altogether.

There is no necessary reason why someone’s position on abortion should predict their position on global warming should predict their position on welfare should predict their position on school choice should predict their position on illegal immigration. These are all entirely logically independent, yet there is a natural tendency for alliance gravitation to pull people into sets — often binary sets — because issues are more often flags of identity, and it creates in-group dissension to have a multiplicity of views inside the group.

That is also a good point. Identity is linked to group cohesion, and group cohesion is needed to do things in the political world. Where there are plenty of outliers it’s easy to be an outlier. When conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans abounded, it was easier to be a dissenter in your party, because the party could pick up votes from the dissenters in the other party. Now that that’s much harder, the demand for group cohesion is that much greater.

Pinker cited the questions raised in the work of Kurzban and Peter DeScioli, a political scientist at Stony Brook, wondering “why so much of our moralizing does not consist in pondering how to universalize the maxim of our actions or to bring about the greatest good for the greatest number, but rather of condemning, demonizing, or scapegoating a designated sinner.”

I’m not sure people trust those Kantian or utilitarian rationales any more. They feel that politicians who talk that way are deceiving others and maybe themselves. Talk of the greater good or universal principles has too often been employed to justify uses of power that work to the advantage of one group and the disadvantage of others. We can’t go back to the days when we could bulldoze whole neighborhoods in the name of the greatest good of the greatest number. Consequently, what we have now is mistrust and rancor. But why so much rancor and bitterness?

Honest reasoning about issues is inconsistent with group loyalty. To be a good group member, I should adhere to a position because it is the group’s position, while believing that the facts justify it.

That is also true. In a polarized era, having an independent mind becomes a bad thing and people are attacked for it.

Indeed, if we keep psychology separate from biology, people will continue to believe that “race” is a sensible concept; in contrast, human population biology tells us that humanity is not divided into distinct “races.”

Not so fast. What was biology telling people a century ago? Sometimes more science or better science or more connections between sciences can help, but the mistrust that we’ve all learned should also be freely applied to ideas that science can save us.

#11 Comment By wake On March 14, 2019 @ 9:28 am

The Other Eric says:
March 13, 2019 at 3:22 pm
I wonder, wake, how old are you? Because I’m old enough to clearly remember the vitriol and hatred spewed by Democrats toward Barry Goldwater when he ran for president in 1964. I’m old enough to clearly remember the civil rights protesters and anti-war protesters telling us the government is not to be trusted. I clearly remember hearing it during the Nixon years, Reagan years and Bush years. I am hearing it now in the Trump years. Overwhelmingly, the people who have trumpeted those things most loudly have been Democrats.

There is a lesson here. The radicalism of the 60s left gave the right 20+ years of government control. It only ended when Bill Clinton ran as a responsible Republican and then was forced to govern like one.

I am not as old as the 60’s as the first commentor correctly guessed. It seems a helpful pint on where Gingrich was coming from perhaps. For my part I observed all of that as weariness as the boomers seemed to be unable to get over themselves and get over things that were ancient history to me. Being older now, 20 years ago doesn’t seem so ancient anymore.

#12 Comment By Fr Martin Fox On March 14, 2019 @ 11:31 am

Muad’dib:

Regarding tax dollars after disasters…

I have zero interest in ever vouching for the sincerity of politicians; but that said, there actually are sound, principled reasons to have voted against Hurricane Sandy funds, and lots of other such proposals.

Here’s one: if the taxpayer is going to spend billions bailing out folks whose homes and businesses get blown or burnt down, or washed out, wouldn’t it be reasonable to insist that, in the future, precautions that can be taken, be taken? Like not building in flood zones? Or, in the case of western wildfires, how about managing forests more sensibly?

Another excellent reason to vote against such expenditures is that the bills nearly always include piles of money for unrelated things. The really brazen thing is when a supposedly “emergency” bill includes spending that won’t happen for years.

There are members of Congress who ran on the promise that they would be tough on such boondoggles. However venal and self-serving they may be, I am not upset to see them actually keeping their promises. Our Republic desperately needs more members of Congress to stand up to the moral blackmail of, “vote now, now, now, how dare you ask what’s in it?”, in order to get our fiscal house in order.

#13 Comment By JeffK On March 14, 2019 @ 11:35 am

@muad’dib says:
March 14, 2019 at 7:31 am

“But Conservatives couldn’t help themselves, when a region of the US they didn’t like got hit by a disaster, they politicized it. So now when any disaster hits the South, I just shrug my shoulders, go tough s**t and hope the Democrats treat the South the way the Republicans treated NY & NJ.”

Bingo! The first thing I think The Democrats should do if they take the presidency, and retain The House, in 2020 is zero out Trump’s payments to midwest farmers that are intended to mitigate loss of sales to China.

Those states are with Trump 100%. Therefore, they should also own the downside of his policies 100%. If that means bankruptcy for the family farm that was in the family for decades, so be it. Somebody, probably Big Ag, will come in and buy it for pennies on the dollar.

Just like Mitt Romney advocated for rich people to buy houses after the 2008 crash so that they could rent them back to the previous owners. Per the linked article below.

“In an interview last October with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, based in a state where foreclosures have reached epidemic levels, Mitt said: “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.” Then he suggested: “Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up.” So Mitt Romney advocated a policy that would foreclose on the homes of many in the middle and lower class, which is their primary asset and used to store wealth, and allow the rich to buy it at fire sale prices. Instead of putting policies in place that helped them keep their homes.

So gracious of him, and so representative of the attitudes of the elite.

And a scene from The Big Short, where Brad Pitt admonishes the young investors that made millions on the housing crash: “1% Unemploment goes up 40,000 Die. Just don’t F%cking Dance ”

The Big Short “Just don’t dance” scene.
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#14 Comment By Anne On March 14, 2019 @ 12:44 pm

For the record, I too remember all the “vitriol and hatred” (e.g., “the man is an extremist”) spewed against Goldwater by Democrats and a few others (Republicans came in all political flavors, including liberal, back then). But I also remember that Goldwater had been a golf buddy of JFK, who’d said he enjoyed their “rousing” conversations. JFK often used humor to neutralize the opposition, a tactic Obama famously and foolishly tried with Donald Trump, the dire results of which Obama and the rest of us are still reaping. That, I submit, is the problem with trying to paint the Left as more intolerant or uncivil than the Right these days — as long as that man has a Twitter account and a microphone, the vitriol coming from your end is going to be the loudest, crudest and most potentially incriminating to boot.

Having been on both sides of the ideological divide, I can tell you what my own kids noted about their college professors, namely, that the liberal ones are easier to shame by an accusation of intolerance. The conservatives will look you straight in the eye and claim tolerance is no virtue. And then what do you say?

#15 Comment By Jim On March 14, 2019 @ 1:16 pm

“Our political and cultural environment has become so intensely moralized, in the sense of seeking with zeal virtue, absent prudence, that to compromise seems like giving in to evil. We see this in LGBT activism (especially trans activism), where activists claim to fail to meet their demands is to have blood on your hands. It’s a childish and absurd tactic, but I don’t for a second believe that they don’t believe it.”

As a liberal, it’s hard for me to take this kind of criticism seriously on the very day Trump’s policy expelling trans servicemembers is being enacted. Your side is destroying thousands of careers and lives – today – and here you are treating trans rights like an abstract concept, mumbling about how the unreasonable liberals are forcing inclusive books into curricula. Conservatives are inflicting this on servicemembers. Own up to it.

#16 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On March 14, 2019 @ 3:38 pm

muad’dib says:

But Conservatives couldn’t help themselves, when a region of the US they didn’t like got hit by a disaster, they politicized it. So now when any disaster hits the South, I just shrug my shoulders, go tough s**t and hope the Democrats treat the South the way the Republicans treated NY & NJ.

This is an understandable sentiment, but morally terrible. Also, even from the strictly tribal perspective those hypothetical victims of a natural disaster in the south have a good chance of being poor blacks who vote Democrat rather than voters for the politicians who have tried to exact political vengeance on California, Puerto Rico, NY, and NJ.

#17 Comment By LFM On March 14, 2019 @ 6:27 pm

“I don’t wish death on anyone. But, if every conservative in the country got teleported to some Earth-like planet in another galaxy, I’m pretty sure I’d have healthcare within the year. It’s hard to oppose something when you’d materially benefit from it…”

Nonsense. There is no necessary connection between conservatism – even the American kind – and the rejection of health care.

Many inherently conservative people support publicly-funded health care. (Many of these are Catholics.) Some of them remain conservative for other reasons; others support health care as far as they can but fear what you ‘liberals’ (a label of which most of you are not worthy) might do with it, in terms of vastly increasing funding for abortion, third-party reproduction, and euthanasia.

American republicanism (note the small r) had a long-standing tendency to require that services like health care be provided by private sources. I think that, originally, this was not out of a worship of free markets, but fear that tax-based entitlements and the patron/client systems that tend to develop around them are not good for the body politic. In this, old-style republicans are not necessarily wrong, and it is wise to take their warnings into account and protect against such outcomes. Unfortunately, it’s too late for that in the modern world. The damage is done, and we all – even American republicans – live in a patron-client state system whether we like it or not.

Try to read a little more history before you make such assumptions about politics. Your experience and your family are not the sum of all truth.

#18 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On March 14, 2019 @ 6:51 pm

The hate is asymmetrical. Steve Sailer explains why: “The Democrats’ strategy of mobilizing a Coalition of the Margins—e.g., blacks, transgenders, Muslims, and Jews—requires fear & loathing of core Americans to keep Dem constituents from turning on each other.”

IOW, more or less calculated political self-interest is at the heart of berserk liberalism.

#19 Comment By Brendan from Oz On March 14, 2019 @ 7:42 pm

“Socrates and Aristotle were not fighting “materialists”.”

That’s what Sophists and Sceptics and Solipsists are: Man is the determining factor in interpreting the material world. Try The Sophist by Plato and/or Heidegger’s analysis of it. See also Arsitotle/’s Metaphysics esp in Greek. I have many books of analysis of that too (eg Doing and Being: An Interpretation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics Theta by Jonathan Beere [Oxford, 2012]that also covers Plato’s Battle of Gods and Giants).

#20 Comment By Joe C. On March 15, 2019 @ 1:38 am

On both sides, the best informed voters are by far the most partisan.

You could say that it’s the best informed voters who are the most consistent voters. But you could also say that they are the most abstract ones, the ones least likely to understands what it takes to live peaceably in a pluralistic society.

Or you could say that they are the most obsessive and that their obsession mars their judgment.

#21 Comment By Edward Dougherty On March 15, 2019 @ 8:12 am

Hello Ken Zaretzke,

You said,

The hate is asymmetrical. Steve Sailer explains why: “The Democrats’ strategy of mobilizing a Coalition of the Margins—e.g., blacks, transgenders, Muslims, and Jews—requires fear & loathing of core Americans to keep Dem constituents from turning on each other.”

And that is why I mentioned the poison of The Unz Review, among other sources, in my earlier post. Who in blazes gave Steve Sailer the right to determine who a core American is and to use the basis he uses? By his lights, Native Americans are the only core Americans.

I don’t know the man but I’ll use the word deplorable to describe his thoughts. And I need another shower.

#22 Comment By JonF On March 15, 2019 @ 9:05 am

Brendan from Oz, the people who put Socrates to death and forced Aristotle to flee to his death (he died soon after he left Athens) were not the sophists. They were plain old populist, demagogic politicians supposedly standing up for traditional values against the impious, decadent elite, and in Aristotle’s case against foreign hegemony.

#23 Comment By JonF On March 15, 2019 @ 9:12 am

Fr. Fox, while I share your dislike of our foolish building policy in coastal areas, I reject your “solution”. After all, where does that end? Should we not help people who live in seismically active zones? How about the folks in Tornado Alley? Or people who suffer flooding in places where there is no historical record of flooding (inland Louisiana in 2016)? And any government that cold shoulders American citizens in a catastrophe has sacrificed its legitimacy, in public view at least, and probably in any rational moral calculus. My solution would be more targeted: “Here’s the payoff for your property. We own it now and will turn it into a public park or wetland. Go rebuild somewhere else. You can visit the beach like anyone else if you enjoy the sea.”

#24 Comment By muad’dib On March 15, 2019 @ 9:29 am

Here’s one: if the taxpayer is going to spend billions bailing out folks whose homes and businesses get blown or burnt down, or washed out, wouldn’t it be reasonable to insist that, in the future, precautions that can be taken, be taken? Like not building in flood zones? Or, in the case of western wildfires, how about managing forests more sensibly?

Interesting that all these concerns came up after NY & NJ got hit by Sandy, but not when Florida (A State that is barely above sea level and gets hit by Hurricanes ever couple of years) gets hit by a hurricane. I don’t remember any Republicans having such concerns when Katrina or any of the other disasters hit their part of the country.

This is an understandable sentiment, but morally terrible. Also, even from the strictly tribal perspective those hypothetical victims of a natural disaster in the south have a good chance of being poor blacks who vote Democrat rather than voters for the politicians who have tried to exact political vengeance on California, Puerto Rico, NY, and NJ.

May be morally terrible, but unfortunately there is no way around it. Your fine moral sentiments will guarantee that when a region of the country Republicans/Conservatives don’t care for gets hit by a disaster, it will be left to it’s own devices to deal with the disaster relief while their home states get bailed out by the Federal Government i.e. the Blue States they so despise.

#25 Comment By Franklin Evans On March 15, 2019 @ 12:15 pm

Fr Martin:

The fatal flaw in your argument in support of denying relief for Hurricane Sandy is its hiding in the abstract. Your points are valid, but they are entirely irrelevant in their specific application to specific disasters. JonF’s rebuttal illustrates that very well.

Reader muad’dib said: Interesting that all these concerns came up after NY & NJ got hit by Sandy, but not when Florida (A State that is barely above sea level and gets hit by Hurricanes ever couple of years) gets hit by a hurricane.

That is very interesting. In fact, I respectfully submit that it should be your first focus of concern. The general situation is rife with special interests (in no particular order): municipalities wanting to increase their tax base; insurance companies whose primary method of maximizing profits is minimizing claim payments; the resort and tourism industries, and the local businesses who depend on either or both.

We either get conservatives to sit down and let governments take restrictive and punitive control over this, or we continue on with the default method of crisis management in the U.S. — wait for a crisis to happen, then try to manage it — and stop complaining about how much it costs.

There’s a Catch-22 in there.

#26 Comment By Fr Martin Fox On March 15, 2019 @ 12:23 pm

Muad’dib said:

Interesting that all these concerns came up after NY & NJ got hit by Sandy, but not when Florida (A State that is barely above sea level and gets hit by Hurricanes ever couple of years) gets hit by a hurricane. I don’t remember any Republicans having such concerns when Katrina or any of the other disasters hit their part of the country.

Well, I don’t know whether it’s actually true that no Republican raised the concerns early enough for you. Could be, but I’m skeptical. Your recollection could just as easily be explained by you not noticing. But in any case, I already said I readily concede that politicians are gonna be self-serving, maybe you didn’t get why I said that.

As for me, I’ve been saying this for a long time, but of course, we’ve only just met. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

JonF said:

Fr. Fox, while I share your dislike of our foolish building policy in coastal areas, I reject your “solution”. After all, where does that end? Should we not help people who live in seismically active zones? How about the folks in Tornado Alley? Or people who suffer flooding in places where there is no historical record of flooding (inland Louisiana in 2016)?

I think you can make a clear distinction between those things that are foreseeable and preventable, and those that are not.

And any government that cold shoulders American citizens in a catastrophe has sacrificed its legitimacy, in public view at least, and probably in any rational moral calculus. My solution would be more targeted: “Here’s the payoff for your property. We own it now and will turn it into a public park or wetland. Go rebuild somewhere else. You can visit the beach like anyone else if you enjoy the sea.”

Well, this is a difference of governing philosophy. I wouldn’t forbid people to live in high risk areas; just tell them that they assume their own risk.

Where did we get this idea that whenever something bad happens, government bails you out? Lots of bad things happen to people all the time, but no one passes an appropriation to rescue them. I’m fine with sending in food and water and tents and so forth; I’m glad we can do it. But as I already mentioned, these “must pass” bills always end up being loaded down with shady stuff, and in the end, it all sounds like what that right-twice-a-day Ayn Rand called “the aristocracy of pull.” (And for the record, I think Rand, like lots of crackpots, was great at seeing what was wrong, but terrible in seeing the right solution.)

#27 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 15, 2019 @ 12:51 pm

Emil,

“For your sake, you have to find a way to forgive those people. I didn’t come up with that idea, and it’s hard as hell, but I don’t have anything better.”

It’s the core of our Lord’s Prayer, isn’t it?

To be forgiven of my sins, I must forgive others, even as we rely on the Lord to “give us this day.”

However, for everyone involved, there must be some repentance for it to take effect. We have some reason to believe that those oppressing aren’t even acknowledging their sins nor yet repenting of them, nor forgiving us at all.

#28 Comment By Lee On March 15, 2019 @ 4:20 pm

@ Fran Macadam
“Emil: “For your sake, you have to find a way to forgive those people. I didn’t come up with that idea, and it’s hard as hell, but I don’t have anything better.”
However, for everyone involved, there must be some repentance for it to take effect. We have some reason to believe that those oppressing aren’t even acknowledging their sins nor yet repenting of them, nor forgiving us at all.”

Your forgiveness does not have to depend on anything that they did or do. You can place those requirements on it if you like but it is your choice to do so. Forgiving someone is an act within yourself and whether or not they accept it does not matter. My sister says something along the lines of “not forgiving people is like allowing them to have space in your head rent free”.

#29 Comment By Brendan from Oz On March 15, 2019 @ 4:34 pm

JonF

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were the founders of rational thought, arguing against the Sophists and their ilk in what Plato called the Battle of Gods and Giants. Simple historical fact.

Socrates was sentenced to death, Aristotle had to flee Athens. The official reasons may not be all there is to these facts, as discussed over thousands of years by many scholars. Were the Sophists so treated etc?

Please look up the Battle of Gods and Giants, in Plato and so many other sources, and attempt to make a relevant comment about the subject for once.

#30 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On March 15, 2019 @ 5:25 pm

Fr Martin Fox says:

I think you can make a clear distinction between those things that are foreseeable and preventable, and those that are not.

Indeed, in many cases you can. For example, much of the damage to New Orleans from Katrina was foreseen decades in advance (I actually saw a video about it in junior high more than a decade before Katrina) and preventable. Do you think most of the people living there knew that and had real choice to live where they lived vs someplace “safer”? There were a number of structural preventative measures that could have been done differently by different aspects of local government as well as the Army Corps of Engineers. Do you think the federal government should have just said “Whelp, you guys screwed up, you deal with the mess”?

Well, this is a difference of governing philosophy. I wouldn’t forbid people to live in high risk areas; just tell them that they assume their own risk.

What if they were born that spot and they don’t really have the financial means or connections to move? How are you gonna define high risk areas? Is tornado alley a high risk area, the Gulf Coast, Florida, the Bay Area, the Pacific North West (recently discovered large earth quake danger)?

#31 Comment By craig On March 15, 2019 @ 5:26 pm

Edward Dougherty says: “Who in blazes gave Steve Sailer the right to determine who a core American is and to use the basis he uses?”

Don’t be naive. The core population of every nation-state in history is determined by right of conquest. It doesn’t make it moral, just typical. The fact that much of the continent consisted of unmapped, unpeopled wilderness does provide ‘core’ Americans a plausible narrative justifying their claim upon less-bloody grounds than many. But throughout most of Asian and African history, piling up mounds of enemy skulls and raping their women has been considered sufficient justification of the newcomers’ claim. There are no university “studies” departments now demanding reparations for the historical injustices perpetrated by Tamerlane or Mohammed or Shaka or Ahuizotl.

I guarantee that if immigration goes unchecked and America becomes majority-brown in 2050 or whenever, the new core population of Aztlan will, without apologies or reservations, proclaim their right of conquest to rule over Yanquis in perpetuity. Sorrowful pearl-clutching about who gave them that right will be music to their ears.

#32 Comment By Brendan from Oz On March 15, 2019 @ 6:49 pm

JonF,

From [10]
“The most important sections about being are the Battle of Gods and Giants (Sophist 245e–249d) and the aporetic passage that follows (Sophist 249d–251a). The Gods are friends of the forms and look a lot like middle period Platonists (committed to separate immaterial forms), and the Giants are materialists. The Stranger tries to reconcile the two groups by getting them to agree on a definition of being. He offers the reformed Giants a definition (horos) of being as a capacity (dunamis) to do something to something else or to be affected by something else (Sophist 247d–e), and then tries unsuccessfully to get the Gods to agree (Sophist 248a–e). For different interpretations of the Battle of Gods and Giants, see Owen 1966, Keyt 1969, Brown 1998, and Gill 2012, chs. 3 and 7.”

I couldn’t be bothered typing out the Greek from my Loeb Edition of Sophist, but we find in Fowler’s translation “…for they lay their hands on all such things and maintain stoutly that that alone exists which can be touched and handled; for they define existence and body, or matter, as identical, and if anyone says that anything else, which has no body, exists, they despise him utterly, and will not listen to any other theory than their own.”

For discussion of dunamis and being see Aristotle’s Metaphysics esp. Book Theta.

From Beere, Jonathan – Doing and Being: An Interpretation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics Theta [Oxford, 2009, p. 214]:
“When Aristotle elucidates being in Metaphysics Delta 7, he does not distinguish possibility, actuality and necessity. Possibility is discussed in Delta 12 on ‘dunamis.’ Necessity does not receive its own treatment. Being, as discussed in Delta 7, is actual being.”

As I said, the Battle of Gods and Giants has been ongoing since the inception of rational thought. Simple historical fact – and today is no exception. Rational metaphysics is rejected for Postmodernism.

Rational thought doesn’t win by having good arguments or facts, however. It can be quite dangerous to think rationally and speak the truth.

#33 Comment By Emil Bogdan On March 15, 2019 @ 11:10 pm

Fran, it’s easy to forgive someone who acknowledges their sin against you, repents, and extends to you their own forgiveness. Most of us who ever felt wronged salivate for such a circumstance. But when the offending party just keeps trespassing self-righteously? I can’t think of anything more challenging than forgiving your enemies, but not forgiving them is terrible. Facing your own perceived humiliation and possibly your need for dealing out bitter vengeance and retribution is terrifying. In my experience.

Without claiming Christianity or any kind of special virtue, I do turn to the moral example it offers. It’s a teaching for people, after all, and the Eastern religions you mentioned also tend to emphasize compassion for others. My grandmother taught me the Lord’s Prayer, so I do use it. My feebleness in the face of trespasses calls for it. Forgiving “those who trespass against us” is the challenge of a lifetime, and it’s probably an impossible summit, but the other way leads downward, and we are here to work on difficult tasks.

#34 Comment By Edward Dougherty On March 16, 2019 @ 5:19 am

Hello Craig,

So black people, to take an example, who helped to build this country, are to be considered on the margins? What a bunch of un-Christian garbage.

I’ll take the pearl clutching over that line of thinking any time.

#35 Comment By Fr Martin Fox On March 16, 2019 @ 10:58 am

Thomas Hobbes:

Government cannot alleviate all the risks that we face in life. Even if it theoretically could, to trust that it will is foolish.

#36 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On March 16, 2019 @ 12:07 pm

Fr Martin Fox says:

Thomas Hobbes:

Government cannot alleviate all the risks that we face in life. Even if it theoretically could, to trust that it will is foolish.

I agree. What in the world does that have to do with anything I wrote? Do you think government money should be spent to help poor families that lose everything in a tornado or just giant corporations that lose money due to shady behavior? I asked a specific question about specific places before. You responded with a non sequitur.

#37 Comment By craig On March 17, 2019 @ 9:22 am

Edward Dougherty says: “So black people, to take an example, who helped to build this country, are to be considered on the margins? What a bunch of un-Christian garbage.”

Don’t pull a muscle patting yourself on the back so hard. Virtue signaling is not the same as thinking. If you want to argue that the Christian answer to ‘whom does a nation comprise?’ is ‘anyone’, prove it from Scripture.

Black people have only ever been at most ~25% of the population of the USA as a whole, and that was while slavery still existed. If you want to make the debate about who ‘built’ this country, you’re helping make the white nationalists’ argument for them. Since 1973 blacks have been aborting themselves into demographic also-ran status. The jobs and communities that were once theirs are rapidly turning Latino — but because it’s not white hipsters moving in, it doesn’t get all the bad press that ‘gentrification’ gets.

#38 Comment By JonF On March 17, 2019 @ 6:29 pm

Re: Black people have only ever been at most ~25% of the population of the USA

So what? There are white ethnic groups which comprise an even smaller fraction of the population. Did they not help build the country too? Just who does qualify? The British and Germans maybe?

Re: he jobs and communities that were once theirs are rapidly turning Latino — but because it’s not white hipsters moving in

Actually “Latinoization” is often the first step of gentrification. Once the ethnicity of a once-majority black neighborhood becomes mixed the hipsters soon follow.

#39 Comment By JonF On March 18, 2019 @ 9:13 am

Brendan, I’m not sure why you’re airbrushing the pre-Socratic philosophers our of the picture: rational thought began a bit before Socrates after all. And while we’re on the subject of philosophers who ran afoul of Athenian politicians there’s also Anaxagoras, one of the first scientific thinkers, well before Aristotle.
The charge against all three of these gentlemen, in differentgenerations, was impiety: this is not doubted, as far as I know, by anyone. The political reasons are a bit more speculative maybe, but Socrates was associated with the aristocratic faction, most of his followers were idle young men of fortune (Plato was even a nephew of one of the Thirty Tyrants). Aristotle was very closely associated with the Macedonian hegemony as Alexander’s tutor (though the two had a falling out), and a personal friend of the Macedonian regent Antipatros. I don’t see how you can shoehorn any of this in a tale about sophism. It’s a tale about populist demagogues and governments in times of great stress catering to the prejudices of the mob by using religious orthodoxy as a club against dissidents.

Plato told several myths in his writings (see also: Atlantis) which is an interesting way to illustrate erudite matters- Jesus’ parables are of that genre. I’m unclear why the one you cite us so meaningful. Greek thought in general gave at least lip service to the rational and the moderate even if the Greeks themselves so often failed to follow their own maxim of Nothing In Excess.

#40 Comment By JonF On March 18, 2019 @ 9:26 am

Brendan, I typed my last reply before seeing your longer post. Please don’t be too frustrated by my apparent ignoring of it.
My own metaphysical bent is toward Idealism, though I don’t go as far as Berkeley or even Kant or Plato himself. I criticize most of past thinking however as making a fundamental errir as to the role of Time. I follow Ilya Prigogine in regarding Time not as a mere classical parameter but as an operator and a “strange”* one at that
I’ll leave it at that.

* strange as the term is used in Chaos Theory.

#41 Comment By craig On March 18, 2019 @ 10:07 am

JonF says: “So what? There are white ethnic groups which comprise an even smaller fraction of the population. Did they not help build the country too? Just who does qualify?”

Motte-and-bailey argument. Edward Dougherty’s original complaint was over white Americans (originally Anglo-Protestant, but expanded through time and intermarriage) being characterized as ‘core’. I responded that ‘core’ was a morally neutral term — that a nation is bound to coalesce around something, and whichever group predominates by definition is that something.

The complaint then shifted to who ‘helped build’ the country, and of course blacks did and Chinese and others too depending on region. But the actual argument underlying the complaint is just a paraphrase of Syndrome from The Incredibles: if everyone is ‘core’, that’s another way of saying no-one is. America is up for grabs.

The people who make this argument do not argue likewise that Boers are core to Zimbabwe and South Africa, or that Palestinian Arabs are core to Israel. They’ll argue that Moors are core to Spain, but not that Greeks are core to Anatolia. They’re not opposed to nationalism in principle, just anti-Western in application.

#42 Comment By Edward Dougherty On March 18, 2019 @ 8:57 pm

Craig,

You actually gave a much better definition of what core means in your last post. I don’t necessarily agree with it but it requires me to at least look at your point in a different light.

Where we disagree is that America is up for grabs but I would contend it always has been. That has been the ideal but that does not mean open borders. It means give me your tired your poor your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. And all who built it should share in the bounty.

As for the Boers I’d argue that they’re core to South Africa and the other African states. Maybe not in the same way you would perhaps but they are.

As for the Palestinian Arabs, well isn’t Israel supposed to be a Jewish homeland? That’s a different situation than America.

As for your examples