Cancel Cancel Culture

The state of American debate is not strong.

Two interesting pieces today argue that American liberals have become significantly less liberal—especially in the case of the elite media.

Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi, whose writing style and topical choices make him hard to pigeonhole but is certainly well to my left politically, has an incredibly long and hard-to-excerpt essay at his personal website titled “The American Press Is Destroying Itself.” After two paragraphs bemoaning how awful things have gotten under President Trump, he gets to his argument-in-chief:

On the other side of the political aisle, among self-described liberals, we’re watching an intellectual revolution. It feels liberating to say after years of tiptoeing around the fact, but the American left has lost its mind. It’s become a cowardly mob of upper-class social media addicts, Twitter Robespierres who move from discipline to discipline torching reputations and jobs with breathtaking casualness.

The leaders of this new movement are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats, and intimidation. They are counting on the guilt-ridden, self-flagellating nature of traditional American progressives, who will not stand up for themselves, and will walk to the Razor voluntarily.
They’ve conned organization after organization into empowering panels to search out thoughtcrime, and it’s established now that anything can be an offense, from a UCLA professor placed under investigation for reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” out loud to a data scientist fired* from a research firm for — get this — retweeting an academic study suggesting nonviolent protests may be more politically effective than violent ones!

Now, this madness is coming for journalism. Beginning on Friday, June 5th, a series of controversies rocked the media. By my count, at least eight news organizations dealt with internal uprisings (it was likely more). Most involved groups of reporters and staffers demanding the firing or reprimand of colleagues who’d made politically “problematic” editorial or social media decisions.

The examples are far-ranging, with some more egregious than others. But Taibbi makes a good case that there’s a heavy price to be paid for daring to deviate from the party line being set by young journalists and that it’s clouding and distorting news judgments. Indeed, he argues, it’s actually led to partisan, activist coverage:

The media in the last four years has devolved into a succession of moral manias. We are told the Most Important Thing Ever is happening for days or weeks at a time, until subjects are abruptly dropped and forgotten, but the tone of warlike emergency remains: from James Comey’s firing, to the deification of Robert Mueller, to the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, to the democracy-imperiling threat to intelligence “whistleblowers,” all those interminable months of Ukrainegate hearings (while Covid-19 advanced), to fury at the death wish of lockdown violators, to the sudden reversal on that same issue, etc.

It’s been learned in these episodes we may freely misreport reality, so long as the political goal is righteous. It was okay to publish the now-discredited Steele dossier, because Trump is scum. MSNBC could put Michael Avenatti on live TV to air a gang rape allegation without vetting, because who cared about Brett Kavanaugh – except press airing of that wild story ended up being a crucial factor in convincing key swing voter Maine Senator Susan Collins the anti-Kavanaugh campaign was a political hit job (the allegation illustrated, “why the presumption of innocence is so important,” she said). Reporters who were anxious to prevent Kavanaugh’s appointment, in other words, ended up helping it happen through overzealousness.

There were no press calls for self-audits after those episodes, just as there won’t be a few weeks from now if Covid-19 cases spike, or a few months from now if Donald Trump wins re-election successfully painting the Democrats as supporters of violent protest who want to abolish police. No: press activism is limited to denouncing and shaming colleagues for insufficient fealty to the cheap knockoff of bullying campus Marxism that passes for leftist thought these days.

Now, I think Taibbi oversells this part of the argument a wee bit. In particular, Collins was almost certainly going find some excuse to toe the party line on Kavanaugh.

Taibbi also suggests that the desire to be politically correct meant there was insufficient coverage of the rioting and mayhem associated with the recent protests. Having written that the violence was threatening to take the focus off of the cause at hand (ultimately, it did not), I’d have to disagree.

Coming from the other end of the spectrum, Andrew Sullivan asks a similar question: “Is There Still Room for Debate?” Maybe precisely because he’s not of the left, his take is less persuasive than Taibbis.

. . . Americans have always been good at policing uniformity by and among themselves. The puritanical streak of shaming and stigmatizing and threatening runs deep. This is the country of extraordinary political and cultural freedom, but it is also the country of religious fanaticism, moral panics, and crusades against vice. It’s the country of The Scarlet Letter and Prohibition and the Hollywood blacklist and the Lavender Scare. The kind of stifling, suffocating, and nerve-racking atmosphere that Havel evokes is chillingly recognizable in American history and increasingly in the American present.

The new orthodoxy — what the writer Wesley Yang has described as the “successor ideology” to liberalism — seems to be rooted in what journalist Wesley Lowery calls “moral clarity.” He told Times media columnist Ben Smith this week that journalism needs to be rebuilt around that moral clarity, which means ending its attempt to see all sides of a story, when there is only one, and dropping even an attempt at objectivity (however unattainable that ideal might be). And what is the foundational belief of such moral clarity? That America is systemically racist, and a white-supremacist project from the start, that, as Lowery put it in The Atlantic, “the justice system — in fact, the entire American experiment — was from its inception designed to perpetuate racial inequality.”

He spends several paragraphs challenging this argument as insufficiently nuanced on the website of the prestigious New York magazine, which would suggest that there is indeed room for debate. And, indeed, he not-so-subtly alludes to the race/IQ debate for which he has regularly been excoriated for being on the wrong side of for the last quarter-century.

So what’s the problem?

In this manic, Manichean world you’re not even given the space to say nothing. “White Silence = Violence” is a slogan chanted and displayed in every one of these marches. It’s very reminiscent of totalitarian states where you have to compete to broadcast your fealty to the cause. In these past two weeks, if you didn’t put up on Instagram or Facebook some kind of slogan or symbol displaying your wokeness, you were instantly suspect. The cultishness of this can be seen in the way people are actually cutting off contact with their own families if they don’t awaken and see the truth and repeat its formulae. Ibram X. Kendi insists that there is no room in our society for neutrality or reticence. If you are not doing “antiracist work” you are ipso facto a racist. By “antiracist work” he means fully accepting his version of human society and American history, integrating it into your own life, confessing your own racism, and publicly voicing your continued support.

That belief is indeed out there. And we have indeed seen a lot of celebrities flagellate themselves on the altar of white guilt. But I’ve neither replaced my social media avatars with #BlackLivesMatter symbology nor defriended those who are less than woke and, thus far at least, I have not been drubbed out of polite society.

That’s why this past week has seen so many individuals issue public apologies as to their previous life and resolutions to “do the work” to more actively dismantle “structures of oppression.” It’s why corporate America has rushed to adopt every plank of this ideology and display its allegiance publicly. If you do this, and do it emphatically, you can display your virtue to your customers and clients, and you might even be left alone. Or not. There is no one this movement suspects more than the insincere individual, the person who it deems is merely performing these public oaths and doesn’t follow through. Every single aspect of life, every word you speak or write, every tweet you might send, every private conversation you may have had, any email you might have sent, every friend you love is either a function of your racism or anti-racism. And this is why flawed human beings are now subjected to such brutal public shamings, outings, and inquisitions — in order to root out the structural evil they represent.

If you argue that you believe that much of this ideology is postmodern gobbledygook, you are guilty of “white fragility.” If you say you are not fragile, and merely disagree, this is proof you are fragile. It is the same circular argument that was once used to burn witches. And it has the same religious undertones. To be woke is to wake up to the truth — the blinding truth that liberal society doesn’t exist, that everything is a form of oppression or resistance, and that there is no third option. You are either with us or you are to be cast into darkness.

I’m closer to Sullivan’s views on this than Lowery’s. I fundamentally believe that civil discourse and persuasion are the only way democracy works. So, I simultaneously support radical reform of policing such that the black community doesn’t see law enforcement as a threat to their lives and condemn rioting and looting associated with the protests seeking that end. I simultaneously think we should remove monuments that were specifically put up to signal to black citizens that they were lesser beings and that we should do so according to the rule of law, not the actions of the mob. I simultaneously think we should rename Army bases named after Confederate generals and not inflame matters further by naming them after William Tecumseh Sherman.

But I also think Lowery and others have a point, even if they go too far. The nature of institutional racism is that a level playing field isn’t truly level.

And, in fairness, Sullivan seems to agree:

Mercifully, we are far freer than Havel was under Communism. We have no secret police. The state is not requiring adherence to this doctrine. And it is not a lie that this country has some deep reckoning to do on the legacy of slavery and segregation. In so far as this movement has made us more aware and cognizant of the darkness of the past, it is a very good thing, and overdue. But in so far as it has insisted we are defined entirely by that darkness, it has the crudeness of a kind of evangelist doctrine — with the similar penalties for waywardness. We have co-workers eager to weaponize their ideology to purge the workforce. We have employers demanding our attendance at seminars and workshops to teach this ideology. We have journalists (of all people) poring through other writers’ work or records to get them in trouble, demoted, or fired. We have faculty members at colleges signing petitions to rid their departments of those few left not fully onboard. We have human-resources departments that have adopted this ideology whole and are imposing it as a condition for employment. And, critically, we have a Twitter mob to hound people into submission.

Too many in journalism and the academy—myself included—draw conclusions from Twitter that are too broad. Twitter, as has been frequently noted, is not real life. But, increasingly, for those of us who make our living in the intellectual space, it seems that way.

Still, I agree with Sullivan here:

Liberalism is not just a set of rules. There’s a spirit to it. A spirit that believes that there are whole spheres of human life that lie beyond ideology — friendship, art, love, sex, scholarship, family. A spirit that seeks not to impose orthodoxy but to open up the possibilities of the human mind and soul. A spirit that seeks moral clarity but understands that this is very hard, that life and history are complex, and it is this complexity that a truly liberal society seeks to understand if it wants to advance. It is a spirit that deals with an argument — and not a person — and that counters that argument with logic, not abuse. It’s a spirit that allows for various ideas to clash and evolve, and treats citizens as equal, regardless of their race, rather than insisting on equity for designated racial groups. It’s a spirit that delights sometimes in being wrong because it offers an opportunity to figure out what’s right. And it’s generous, humorous, and graceful in its love of argument and debate. It gives you space to think and reflect and deliberate. Twitter, of course, is the antithesis of all this — and its mercy-free, moblike qualities when combined with a moral panic are, quite frankly, terrifying.

Here’s a caveat, though: the fight for black Americans to be treated as full and equal citizens has been ongoing for at least 155 years. And, while we’re undeniably a lot closer than we were 50, even 25, years ago it’s understandable that people have simply run out of patience.

I don’t like that people who dare to offer counterarguments are shouted down. And I positively loathe when ordinary people are suddenly turned into public figures and have their lives ruined for a single, thoughtless act.

Sullivan closes:

“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values,” President Kennedy once said. “For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” Let’s keep that market open. Let’s not be intimidated by those who want it closed.

I long for that ideal to be realized but despair that it’s impossible.

And, as much as “cancel culture” is making it harder, the main culprit right now is coming from the right. Whatever pressures are being placed on the editors of the New York Times and Washington Post—or even Vox and New York—to take sides in the culture wars, I get a reasonable sense of the debate from reading those sources. Fox News, the Daily Caller, Breitbart, and the like don’t even pretend anymore to show “both sides” of the story.

Still, while I don’t operate from fear of being “cancelled” online, I do find myself self-censoring more often. Even though my views on race, gender, and LGBTQ issues are likely somewhat left-of-center at this point, certainly in my age cohort, it’s just not worth the aggravation to respond to the Twitter mob. Presumably, those with views further out of favor with the “woke” left that dominates the medium do so more often.

To that extent, the mob has won. And that’s not good for the country or our state of discourse.

Now, again, this threat pales in comparison to a President that fans the flames of racial outrage and threatens the rule of law and the freedom of expression. But I do fear that the backlash against “cancel culture” will alienate people who might otherwise be inclined to vote for Joe Biden to stay home or even vote to re-elect Trump.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Media, Race and Politics, Social Media, Society,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    I, for one, love “cancel culture” and find it empowering. It is the ultimate display of my prime morality test which is “what if everyone did this?” That is to say, doing (or not doing) a thing because of the impact if everyone chose to behave that way.

    As individual citizens, we have limited power. We vote. We make snarky comments on websites. We spend money. America values money over EVERYTHING. It seems reasonable to leverage that tiny bit of power to effect change.

    12
  2. Stormy Dragon says:

    This is completely bullshit.

    If someone submitted an editorial arguing the Holocaust did not actually occur and the New York Times decided to run it, they would rightfully deserve to be condemned for that decision. If someone submitted an editorial arguing that minorities are inherently inferior and do not deserve civil rights and the New York Times decided to run it, they would rightfully deserve to be condemned for that decision. A respect for alternate views does not mean a newspaper should literally publish any view that gets sent to them whatsoever.

    We are talking here about an editorial arguing that the military should deliberately murder non-violent protesters. That is not a legitimate viewpoint and anyone who thinks it is has no business serving as a newspaper editor.

    And if you actually think that’s a necessary part of presenting “both sides of the story” then you ought to be fired too, because you have no business teaching our soldiers.

    32
  3. de stijl says:

    Literally days after 9/11 Sullivan attempted to cancel me and people like me.

    Called us fifth columnists, un American for not being proper Bush boot lickers. Fuck him and fuck this argument. Literally fifth columnists in print you can look the fuck up. Fuck him.

    25
  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    Should editorial page editors pay attention to the Overton Window? As @Stormy Dragon: points out, yeah, you kind of have to. There are limits to presenting both sides. If the NYT runs a piece on Covid 19, the alternate point of view is not, ‘It’s being done by witches and Jews,’ because this is not the 15th Century.

    The Cotton piece was pushing for a violent fascist reaction to protests and looting. There are good arguments to be had on lots of aspects of politics and I favor keeping my Overton Window as wide as is reasonable. But in the midst of a national crisis, yelling, ‘we must send in the army!’ is awfully close to yelling, ‘fire!’ in a crowded theater. Especially since it can be assumed that Cotton is writing in bad faith. Because he is.

    That said, is the Left bad at debate? Yes. Not as bad as the Right because the Right doesn’t actually debate, it just lies which is so much easier. It takes two sides to debate. One side isn’t good at it, the other side refuses even to play. So who forfeited that game? How do you play a team that won’t show up?

    I’ve had numerous running battles with people in the kidlit world who think they are being good progressives but very often don’t actually understand the issues, the arguments or even basic logic. I won’t defend the Left’s tendency to go crazy over trivia while entirely losing the plot. And I am not going to argue that the Left is particularly open-minded, they aren’t. I might want to re-open some of those inside-baseball debates, but there’s the small problem of a psychopath in the White House and his fanatical cult of brain dead zombies to consider.

    On the one hand: evil. On the other hand: a fair bit of stoopid. Evil first, stoopid when we have the leisure time.

    25
  5. de stijl says:

    I hate very few people.

    Andrew god damned Sullivan I fucking hate. He basically accused me of treason in the very fraught days just after 9/11.

    That whiny Johnny come lately complains about cancel culture. Fuck him. Reap the whirlwind.

    17
  6. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I get why you’re using the phrase and a agree with your actual point, but you may want to look up the history of the phrase “yelling, ‘fire!’ in a crowded theater” sometime, because invoking it actually undermines the argument you’re making: it was originally a justification of jailing anti-war protestors during WWI.

    1
  7. Stormy Dragon says:

    @de stijl:

    Don’t forget that Sullivan is a white supremacist who has written extensively about his belief that minorities are genetically less intelligent than white people. The fact he has a career at all is proof that cancel culture is not an actual thing.

    21
  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Since basically no one knows that, the phrase means what it means for the overwhelming percentage of the audience.

    The phrase, ‘the devil to pay,’ has an origin that has nothing to do with the devil and is not about paying a moral cost. It began as a reference to caulking the seams of a wooden ship. The common usage is only vaguely related. Since not 1% of an average audience knows the origin, the phrase means what it means to the 99%.

    But if I may, that’s an example of bad debate technique in that it interjects a distracting irrelevancy, does nothing for the argument, and needlessly irritates an ally. Me.

    15
  9. de stijl says:

    The First Amendment does not apply.

    The First Amendment does not inoculate you from public approbation.

    Your boss did not approve and chose not to publish your shit. Boo friggin hoo. Call the Labor Department. Oops Trump already gutted it.

    You started this; no backsies. Words have consequences even years later.

    6
  10. Teve says:

    When I see arguments against cancel culture I automatically expect they’re coming from a white man, so they seem to be an illustration of white fragility. Scott Galloway was babbling on his podcast about how narrow minded universities are these days, but Dorothy A. Brown pushed back against him, telling him to ask some black students for examples of the racist shit they’ve heard in class. It’s far from a cushy liberal safe space. Every time some overenthusiastic sophomore at Oberlin tries to cancel Taco Tuesday for being cultural appropriation I’ve got to hear white men bellyaching about Universities These Days.

    I’m fine with canceling Bill Cosby, canceling Harvey Weinstein, canceling Kevin Spacey, and canceling Louis CK. Cancel the shit out of people like that.

    I think what’s really going on is that white men realize they now have to actually pay attention to what comes out of their mouths and can’t just say whatever offensive shit they want to without consequences. And they’re not happy about that.

    24
  11. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Since basically no one knows that, the phrase means what it means for the overwhelming percentage of the audience.

    Just because you don’t know something doesn’t mean no one knows it. Anyone who is actively involved in free speech activism knows this history of that phrase. Invoking it is usually received as “oh, this person has no clue what they’re talking about and can safely be ignored”.

    But if I may, that’s an example of bad debate technique in that it interjects a distracting irrelevancy, does nothing for the argument, and needlessly irritates an ally. Me.

    See, I’d say the exact opposite. There’s any number of metaphors that could be invoked to make that point. Is choosing the one with alienating historical baggage a good debate technique? The people who don’t know the history aren’t going to miss it if you choose a different metaphor, so you’re alienating part of your audience for no actual gain.

    1
  12. Mikey says:

    @Teve:

    I think what’s really going on is that white men realize they now have to actually pay attention to what comes out of their mouths and can’t just say whatever offensive shit they want to without consequences. And they’re not happy about that.

    For those who have always benefited from privilege, equality feels like oppression.

    11
  13. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    We are talking here about an editorial arguing that the military should deliberately murder non-violent protesters.

    I disagree with Cotton but he in no way argued that. Here’s the core of his op-ed:

    For instance, during the 1950s and 1960s, Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson called out the military to disperse mobs that prevented school desegregation or threatened innocent lives and property. This happened in my own state. Gov. Orval Faubus, a racist Democrat, mobilized our National Guard in 1957 to obstruct desegregation at Little Rock Central High School. President Eisenhower federalized the Guard and called in the 101st Airborne in response. The failure to do so, he said, “would be tantamount to acquiescence in anarchy.”

    More recently, President George H.W. Bush ordered the Army’s Seventh Infantry and 1,500 Marines to protect Los Angeles during race riots in 1992. He acknowledged his disgust at Rodney King’s treatment — “what I saw made me sick” — but he knew deadly rioting would only multiply the victims, of all races and from all walks of life.

    Not surprisingly, public opinion is on the side of law enforcement and law and order, not insurrectionists. According to a recent poll, 58 percent of registered voters, including nearly half of Democrats and 37 percent of African-Americans, would support cities’ calling in the military to “address protests and demonstrations” that are in “response to the death of George Floyd.” That opinion may not appear often in chic salons, but widespread support for it is fact nonetheless.

    Again, I think that’s wrongheaded. A display of force in response to protests that are about police brutality is a really bad idea. But it’s not akin to Holocaust denial.

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ve had numerous running battles with people in the kidlit world who think they are being good progressives but very often don’t actually understand the issues, the arguments or even basic logic. I won’t defend the Left’s tendency to go crazy over trivia while entirely losing the plot. And I am not going to argue that the Left is particularly open-minded, they aren’t. I might want to re-open some of those inside-baseball debates, but there’s the small problem of a psychopath in the White House and his fanatical cult of brain dead zombies to consider.

    On the one hand: evil. On the other hand: a fair bit of stoopid. Evil first, stoopid when we have the leisure time.

    I think both are really really bad but we’re in agreement that one is a crisis and the other a mere impediment.

    @Teve:

    I’m fine with canceling Bill Cosby, canceling Harvey Weinstein, canceling Kevin Spacey, and canceling Louis CK. Cancel the shit out of people like that.

    You’re conflating convicted rapists, a pederast, and a weirdo.

    I think what’s really going on is that white men realize they now have to actually pay attention to what comes out of their mouths and can’t just say whatever offensive shit they want to without consequences. And they’re not happy about that.

    But Taibbi, at least, is pretty far left on the American political spectrum. And most of the examples he calls out are of liberals eating their own.

    8
  14. de stijl says:

    I admit I was a bit triggered and flung too many f-bombs about.

    I am calm. Actually I am not calm, but I am mimicking deep, calming breaths.

    Fuck Sullivan. Fuck him for deploying the I’m being oppressed for my views card. Fuck him.

    Deep breaths. In …. Hold …. Out ….

    5
  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Jesus Christ. You’ve set yourself up as a poster boy for how not to win an argument.

    Words and phrases are tools, they are not magical talismans. They mean what the audience thinks they mean. Tools for communication, not term papers for some fusty academic to grade. If you’re ‘alienated’ by an ally using a common, widely-understood phrase, because you’re part of the cognoscenti that chooses some other meaning, a meaning no one outside of your in-group knows or accepts, you do exactly what you’ve done here: irritate your friends, baffle the larger audience, communicate absolutely nothing of value and drive the debate off the road.

    “Actually, a hundred year ago X meant Y!” Who gives a shit? Do you think the point of debate is to show off your erudition? Do you think the intended audience is the hippest, coolest segment of the Park Slope to Berkeley axis? A political debate is not meant to be a virtue signaling circle jerk for graduates of Brown University, we are supposed to be changing minds and winning hearts. Right? Did you just do anything to change a mind or win a heart? No, you just showed off.

    Long ago when I was producing political ads I took to heart something I’d seen an old-timer point out: you cannot judge the usefulness of a political ad without knowing who the target audience is. IOW an ad that might warm the cockles of a Seven Sisters liberal arts major might be a beautiful piece of work, but if the race you’re hoping to influence is in Arkansas, it’s probably not just pointless but counterproductive.

    Who is your target audience? If it’s people just like you, well done. If it’s a wider audience you failed.

    11
  16. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    I notice how you conveniently edited out the bits where he repeatedly equivocates between violent crime and “disorderly” protesting. And with his subsequent “no quarter” tweet, you’re also clearly sanitizing his argument.

    Stop playing dumb. It’s perfectly clear what Cotton was arguing for: he wants the military to commit war crimes against protesters who disagree with him politically.

    12
  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    Popular topic this week. Besides Sully and Taibbi, Roger Cohen, Bret Stephens and Ross Douthat have written about it for the Times and Jonathan Chait did on Friday. As @Michael Reynolds: points out news organizations need to apply the Overton Window to issues, but the question is how wide is that window? My belief is that @Stormy Dragon: construct is too narrow. If we are going to be true to Liberal values, we need to allow and even study opinions that we might view as abhorrent.

    With regard to Cotton piece, yes it is fascistic, but as Stephens’ points out at one point 52% of citizens polled supported some semblance of using the military to control the streets, so Cotton certainly reflected a view that a significant portion of the populace held. Plus, Cotton is likely to be a contender to the 2024 Rethug presidential nomination, the mainstream press is going to ignore him?

    1
  18. Sleeping Dog says:

    James, please release me from moderation. Twice this morning, what did I do??

  19. Bud Smoker says:

    “To that extent, the mob has won. And that’s not good for the country or our state of discourse.”

    No shit.

    3
  20. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Stop playing dumb. It’s perfectly clear what Cotton was arguing for: he wants the military to commit war crimes against protesters who disagree with him politically.

    He doesn’t say anything of the sort. He’s literally calling for “a show of force” to stop riots and looting. Again, I think that’s a bad idea. But it’s not what critics claim it is, either.

    3
  21. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “But Taibbi, at least, is pretty far left on the American political spectrum. And most of the examples he calls out are of liberals eating their own.”

    Taibbi over the past few years seems to have left the Left and joined a party with Sullivan and Bill Maher and a few other pundits whose sole philosophical precept is “you are all fucking stupid for thinking and saying things that don’t line up exactly with what I want to say, even if it was what I was saying yesterday.” Taibbi went nuts over the Russia investigation mostly, it seems, so he could find a way to claim that Democrats were awful while still maintaining that Trump was awful — it was as incoherent as any political writing I’ve ever read (except maybe late Greenwald), but the main point was that everyone in the world is a moron except for him.

    13
  22. JohnMcC says:

    A strange thing happened shortly after Mr Trump’s inauguration; did anyone notice? How quite a few right-wing writers and polemicists had to find new mastheads. Some even invented their own magazines and such.

    I notice Mr Tabai is still occupying a major seat around the Rolling Stone’s large table. And as said, Mr Sullivan is still a weekly fixture at NYMag.

    Gosh, that liberal cancel culture is just horrible! Will civilization survive?

    Sarcasm alert now OFF.

    The very idea that somewhere on the ‘conservative’ side of things, that someone can point at LIBERALS for ‘cancel culture’ is absolutely nuts. On a par with claiming Mr Trump’s rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth is “a celebration” of that magnificent day. On a par with looking us in the eye and claiming the largest inaugural attendance in FOREVER.

    C’mon, Dr Joyner.

    12
  23. Jay L Gischer says:

    Regarding Cotton’s op-ed in the NYTimes, I am in an odd position. I don’t read the NYTimes – I have a west coast chip on my shoulder about it. So I don’t really care about what’s in the NYTimes or not. It’s not going to change my decision about whether to subscribe.

    The process that led to the publication of Cotton’s op-ed might will lead some NYTimes subscribers to question the motives of the leadership of the Times, and take action – cancel their subscriptions and so on. This, to me, is not something new, it’s something Americans have been doing as long as there have been newspapers.

    Broadcast television and the accompanying Fairness Doctrine created an unusual situation where we would find only unremarkable material on television, which everyone saw. It gave us an impression of reasonableness, (for those of us who are old enough). In contrast, every media outlet wants to stir controversy in order to attract eyeballs. This is what the NYTimes did, and it’s kind of shocking to realize that. But those are the times we live in, and there’s no clear institutional way out of it.

    One thing I do notice though. In the beginning, comments on YouTube were terrible. They were the worst. There was no value in reading them. This is so, so different now. So maybe we’re learning?

    2
  24. de stijl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    The NYT is not obligated to publish his opinion piece.

    4
  25. de stijl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    You got moderated because of too many links.

    I believe 3 is the upper limit.

    A response counts as a link.

    1
  26. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    Taibbi has been Bill Maher junior for years now.

    4
  27. Sleeping Dog says:

    @de stijl:

    I know that.

    The fact that Cotton is a major political figure in one of the country’s dominant political parties, is a factor in a newspaper’s selection of opinion. The Times and Post, consider themselves and are considered, newspapers of record, to live up to that these papers should be publishing the opinion of the Cotton’s.

    If not for the circular firing squad that has enveloped the Left, Cotton’s opinion is outside the mainstream and he should be taking the incoming fire, but he’s been left off the hook.

  28. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    He doesn’t say anything of the sort.

    And, if necessary, the 10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 1st Cav, 3rd Infantry—whatever it takes to restore order. No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters. https://t.co/OnNJmnDrYM— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) June 1, 2020

    8
  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “I should be able to say anything I want. All you people being mean to me need to shut up.”

    If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    4
  30. Tim D. says:

    What I find funny about this perennial debate is that people like Sullivan are simultaneously saying “We need to open up space for views like Cotton’s” (more speech) and also “those cancel culture people sure need to shut up” (less speech). For the most part, cancel culture IS speech — just speech that Sullivan doesn’t like the tone or spirit of. (And yes I agree that it sucks when civilians lose their jobs over small mistakes, but those examples are a bit cherry picked.)

    A wider issue here is a discomfort with activism. Sullivan agrees we need a “reckoning” with the legacy of slavery (which he situates as being in the “past”), but just doesn’t like any of the tactics designed to force the issue. Here, he says, are the approved tools you may use for creating social change.

    I will also say that in my experience in leftist and activist circles, there is a lot more diversity of thought and grace and openness than the media gives credit for. We say “do the work” because activism is inherently a hopeful job, looking to bring people in.

    12
  31. Jon says:

    Seems to me that way too many people are overlooking the fact that, just on its own merits, Cotton’s article should not have been published. It was rife with factual inaccuracies. Many of the complaints from within the Time’s newsroom were centered around that, correctly pointing out that in many instances the Time’s own reporters had already debunked those assertions. Attempting to portray that as ‘… reporters and staffers demanding the firing or reprimand of colleagues who’d made politically “problematic” editorial or social media decisions.’ is disingenuous at best. Folks were upset that a misleading piece had been published, and at the Opinion folks for apparently now knowing or not caring about the hard work other Time’s employees had already put in on this very subject.

    Also too, fuck a bunch of Andrew Sullivan. The fact that he is repeatedly granted a platform, by a series of news outlets, to complain about people being de-platformed is just a bit too much for me.

    7
  32. de stijl says:

    Cancel cancel cancel culture.

    If you routinely and automatically side with actual bullies and rhetorical bullies maybe you need to re-evaluate.

    Grant credence unwarranted. Assume the official account is correct and unbiased. Equate looters to protesters.

    Maybe the problem is you.

    3
  33. Jon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Words and phrases are tools, they are not magical talismans. They mean what the audience thinks they mean. Tools for communication, not term papers for some fusty academic to grade

    That reminds me of this piece, The Linguistic Case for Sh*t Hitting the Fan which contains the lovely phrasing:

    … idioms, though seemingly mundane, are the fossilized poetry of language. Their origins are often frozen in time, lost in the mists of metaphor and meaning.

    3
  34. James Joyner says:

    @JohnMcC:

    How quite a few right-wing writers and polemicists had to find new mastheads. Some even invented their own magazines and such.

    There’s no doubt that there’s orthodoxy in Republican media circles, much more during the Trump era than before. National Review is really the only significant outlet that tolerates a widish range of views. But it’s actually somewhat different, in that it’s mostly a function of funders demanding consistency. The Weekly Standard literally lost its financial backer, who shuttered it.

    That’s dangerous for the conservative movement and the Republican Party but it’s not a widespread phenomenon in the way this is.

    3
  35. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon:You asserted “he wants the military to commit war crimes against protesters who disagree with him politically.” I said, correctly, that that misrepresents his argument. Your retort, “And, if necessary, the 10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 1st Cav, 3rd Infantry—whatever it takes to restore order. No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters” is a non sequitur. Sending in troops to put down an insurrection or other criminal acts is neither a war crime nor an attack on “protesters who disagree with him politically.

    5
  36. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    it’s mostly a function of funders demanding consistency

    It’s one of those irregular verbs: “I edit”, “you demand consistency”, “they censor”

    4
  37. James Joyner says:

    @Jon:

    Folks were upset that a misleading piece had been published, and at the Opinion folks for apparently now knowing or not caring about the hard work other Time’s employees had already put in on this very subject.

    That was a very small part of the reaction. I agree that the piece, as written, shouldn’t have been published. The critique of the lack of fact-checking and editorial oversight is quite reasonable. But the reaction was to a very bad headline and a distortion of the argument Cotton was making, not to the tropes.

    3
  38. gVOR08 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    It’s perfectly clear what Cotton was arguing for: he wants the military to commit war crimes against protesters who disagree with him politically.

    That may be a bit of an overstatement, but it is what he’s arguing for, for the military to go in and bust some heads to show black people their place. But I don’t think that’s what he wants. He knows it isn’t going to happen. What he wants is the same as Trump, to talk tough for the base without actually doing anything. It’s OK to condemn them for inflammatory rhetoric, but we should also point out that it’s bluster. Tom (Lando) Cotton’s piece isn’t an effort to explore and espouse a point of view, it’s a campaign flier. And as such it has no claim to being published free in NYT, much less on the (decreasingly) prestigious op-ed page.

    We should also note that Bennet not only pissed of the younger news staff with the Cotton piece, he drove a record level of subscription cancellations. Likely someone had to go to assuage the stockholders, Bennet or Kid Sulzberger. And Sulzberger got to say which.

    3
  39. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    A declaration of “no quarter” is a war crime, as per the Hague Convention of 1907:

    Art. 23. In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden

    (d) To declare that no quarter will be given;

    This was reaffirmed at the Nuremberg tribunals as both a war crime and a crime against humanity.

    And again, we see Cotton equivocating between violent criminals (“rioters”) and people who merely disagree with him politically (“anarchists”). Being an anarchist is not a crime, much less one that justifies summary execution by the military. And we all saw how this goes down in Lafayette square: the military forces aren’t just going after the scattered criminal elements, they’re being used to violently repress all public protest.

    13
  40. de stijl says:

    The NYT had no obligation to run Cotton’s piece. It was a gift to look both siderist.

    It was a press release up jumped to an op-ed.

    I fail to see the point. Cotton got an NYT op-ed.

    Sullivan said his usual bullshit.

    Who exactly is being “cancelled” where?

    Criticism is not cancellation.

    I reject the hypothesis.

    4
  41. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Conformity” is a better word choice than “consistency.” But the axiom “freedom of the press is reserved to those who own one” is longstanding.

    2
  42. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl:

    Who exactly is being “cancelled” where?

    James Bennet, a widely-admired journalist with decades in the business, was forced to resign and the new editor has essentially turned the newsroom on its head, inviting low-level staffers to weigh in on the news judgment of the editorial board. Taibbi does a much better job than Sullivan of explaining why that’s a bad thing, indeed.

    3
  43. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    And I’d like to point out the hypocrisy here: in the same comment thread where he whines about someone losing a job for publishing an op-ed that by his own admission should never have been published, Dr. Joyner is also soft-peddling the use of the military to violently repress public protest.

    Because in his mind, one middle class white man actually facing consequences is a bigger threat to liberal democracy than hundreds of protesters getting clubbed and shot in the streets.

    9
  44. Modulo Myself says:

    These guys aren’t even trying. Cotton is a dumber blander version of a Trump talking point. Taibbi is going off about how journalists are wusses while the police are shooting rubber bullets at actual journalists in the streets. Sullivan praises complexity and nuance, and then compares ‘anti-racism’ to a cult and thinks that the Woke Left was brainwashed by college professors or some shit.

    Honestly it’s going to be a hard pill for some to swallow but the entire idea of Reasoned Discourse seems to exist so we can explain away racism, violence, and bigotry. That’s it. White people crossing the bridge of racial violence to come together with the white people on the other side. None of these idiots has ever had a reasonable thought about anyone. Same goes for their audiences.

    6
  45. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    But the axiom “freedom of the press is reserved to those who own one” is longstanding.

    And here it what it’s also really about: you don’t actually give a shit about liberal democracy, you’re just upset that the ownership class doesn’t have free reign to do whatever they like and damn the consequences anymore.

    6
  46. Modulo Myself says:

    There’s also the fact that the Times pays ‘writers’ like Bari Weiss and Bret Stephens probably around 200K to complain about how mean the left is and they both have a habit of emailing bosses and editors of their online critics to complain, sometimes with hilarious results. Overall Bennett did nothing to stop the weird right-wing/centrist tendency of being a private narc and a public defender of the right to offend, and I’m sure that factored into why he was canned.

    7
  47. Gustopher says:

    I simultaneously think we should remove monuments that were specifically put up to signal to black citizens that they were lesser beings and that we should do so according to the rule of law, not the actions of the mob.

    I think we are seeing the effects of what happens when the rule of law is used to oppress people. Minor oppression compared to some historical contexts, certainly, but oppression nonetheless.

    Are monuments to tyranny ever taken down by rule of law? After the fall of the Soviet Union, statues of Lenin were sold off for scrap metal (we have one in Seattle), but more often than not we video of angry mobs tearing them down.

    Right now we’ve been seeing videos of joyful mobs tearing down confederate statues. Angry, but also joyful. I’m delighted by that, and bothered that the rule of law has failed black Americans for so long.

    7
  48. Monala says:

    @James Joyner: speaking of which: I haven’t read anything by Taibbi since about a decade ago, when I read an essay he wrote about how he and his American friends regularly sexually assaulted women during their days in Russia in the early ‘90s, because they knew the women had no protections and they could get away with it.

    6
  49. Monala says:

    @Monala: more on Taibbi and Russian women. Link

    2
  50. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    James Bennet, a widely-admired journalist with decades in the business, was forced to resign and the new editor has essentially turned the newsroom on its head, inviting low-level staffers to weigh in on the news judgment of the editorial board.

    He might be a fine journalist, but he’s a really shitty Editor-in-chief. Including not actually reading the piece before publishing it.

    He’s also likely a really shitty manager, as no one who worked under him had his back, even in a “he made a bad call, but we respect him” way. Open revolt in an office does not come about because of one bad decision.

    I don’t know who is coming in to replace him, and what changes are coming and how awful they are, but as much as two wrongs don’t make a right, the second wrong doesn’t retroactively validate the first.

    7
  51. Monala says:

    @Tim D.: I agree. Earlier this week, James wrote a post about JK Rowling’s habit of making transphobic comments on Twitter. After some recent blowback, she wrote a post on her blog defending herself.

    A trans advocacy group in the UK called Mermaids wrote an open letter in response. I encourage everyone to read it. It is not “cancel culture.” It is a gracious letter, but also a very cogent argument that takes apart JK Rowling’s comments point by point. They were able to do this despite feeling deeply hurt by her comments.

    3
  52. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    He doesn’t say anything of the sort. He’s literally calling for “a show of force” to stop riots and looting.

    What do you think a “show of force” is? Do you believe it is like a peacock, spreading his glorious tail, except with guns?

    Do you think it’s carefully targeted at the looters, and will somehow allow the rest of the protestors to continue to exercise their first amendment rights?

    Tom Cotton was calling for the military to crush protests that he disagrees with. I think you are neglecting all history and context when you read that piece, similar to how you wanted to give the killers of Ahmaud Arbery every benefit of the doubt.

    I do think the times should have run that Op-Ed, along with an editorial that basically read “Holy Forking Shirtballs!” They failed on the latter.

    10
  53. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    Bennet quit because he screwed the pooch for no valid reason. The NYT had no obligation. Publishing Cotton’s piece was a choice.

    Cotton’s piece was extremely provocative arguing for federal forces to beat protesters into submission.

    Low level staffers want a say. Good!

    Seize the means of production.

    The low level staffers have better sense than Bennet did.

    You may be the most reflexively institutionalist person I’ve ever encountered.

    7
  54. steve says:

    I am with you here James. The cancel culture is so similar to the Tea Party where purity in ideology is all that counted. It doesnt matter if you are on the same side, if you dont phrase something correctly you get beat up. I also dont understand the unwillingness to hear nothing but one’s arguments. If one is firm in one’s convictions then they needn’t fear other arguments.

    Steve

    3
  55. David Kelsey says:

    White men whining part 6,781.

    Sullivan is a bigot still peddling race science. He has been widely-read since the days he was trying to cancel anyone who wouldn’t buy into Bush’s 9/11 lies, and he still has a New Yorker column – does any Black Lives Matter principal have a New Yorker column? Who is the New Yorker’s equivalent black liberal columnist?

    Taibbi spent 2016 helping elect Trump by smearing Hillary and her majority-minority coalition, trashing as insufficiently-progressive anyone who would not buy into Bernie’s detail-free neosocialism. He has a widely-read Rolling Stone column. Which Hillary-supporting member of the Movement for Black Lives has a Rolling Stones column?

    Nobody has been “canceled” by the nonexistent “mob:” they’ve been defeated in the marketplace of ideas by those with better ideas. If, in fact, BLM and the left turns out to be wrong, then that marketplace will eventually reject their ideas. And both boycotts and calls for consequences are legitimate forms of speech.

    But if liberal-tarian white men find themselves self-censoring, that’s their own choice. And it’s probably because their ideas suck. Because when you have the courage of your convictions, and when those convictions are factually and ethically sound, no “mob,” real or imagined, can shut you up.

    Sullivan and Taibbi have spent years slandering and trying to shout down people like me as being genetically less intelligent because I’m black, as insufficiently patriotic because I opposed Bush’s illegal warmongering, as regressive because I supported Hillary Clinton. Hurtful lies, but I didn’t retreat into a corner whining and crying about cancel culture. I shouted back, sold my counter-ideas, and changed minds until I was proven right or vindicated. And neither I nor other anti-Bush, pro-Hillary black queers had benefit of The New Yorker or Rolling Stone as a bully pulpit.

    Some white men — members the demographic with the most media, political, and economic power — spent the better party of a decade attacking BLM as a racist, cop-killing, terroristic extremist group. The FBI *actually* labeled BLM activists a potential threat and surveilled them, a actual, literal free speech threat. Did we whine? Did we cry? Did we lament the Twitter mob while feeling sorry for ourselves?

    No. We stood up for our beliefs despite the invective, which is not hard when 1) you’re facing real threats not the ones imagined by whiny white media bros and 2) you know your ideas are rooted in sound facts and principles. Has the FBI put Sullivan under surveillance? Taibbi?

    Blacks and our allies have long been terrorized, criticized, and brutalized not just tangibly in real life but also in media and the thought realm. Sorry, but I’m not impressed with the whiny media bro brigade who are now wilting because someone was mean to them on Facebook. Sullivan and Tabbi do not want a free marketplace of speech. They just want to win without any effort, like so many white guys in the intelligista had long grown accustomed to.

    18
  56. Northerner says:

    Three strikes (or fewer) and you’re out used to be a conservative position. When did it become a liberal one?

    3
  57. JohnMcC says:

    @James Joyner: Well, there is the changing leadership at Heritage (just to name one I am sort of familiar with because Jim DeMint). And didn’t David French finally leave NatReview (yep, his ‘farewell’ was Oct ’19)? But since we are assured this is MOSTLY a liberal phenomenon….

    2
  58. de stijl says:

    The Dixie Chicks would like to have a minute or two to say something.

    9
  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: Also try repeating to yourself “just for today…”

    1
  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: For whatever my opinion is worth, I thought Cotton’s opinion piece was more of a “whistle” whistle than a “dog” whistle. Then again, in my neighborhood “bringing a show of force” meant cracking their f**king heads open and came with references to making omelets and breaking eggs. Clearly, you grew up in a more refined and genteel neighborhood. You were very lucky.

    2
  61. An Interested Party says:

    Apparently some of those who want to express their disapproval of racists are now nothing more than sadists who only want to hurt people…who could have guessed that trying to get a bigot who spews racist claptrap off the air was the same thing as pulling the wings off of flies…I guess we learn something new every day…there is definitely something disturbing here, but it’s not what that writer thinks it is…

    1
  62. CSK says:

    @JohnMcC:
    French and Jonah Goldberg left the National Review to help found the Morning Dispatch, a conservative online publication that is much more uniformly opposed to Trump than is NR.

  63. Monala says:

    @David Kelsey: Well said. And if you feel comfortable doing so, please comment on this site more often. I’d love to hear more from you.

    6
  64. Matt says:

    @James Joyner: Yeah and you know damned well what happens next after that “show of force” fails….

    @James Joyner: Oh come on James. You’ve seen police attack peaceful protestors over and over since this began. Bringing the military in for a “show of force” WILL inevitably result in peaceful protestors being shot…

    6
  65. JohnMcC says:

    @CSK: Yep. Lots of self-sorting on that side, you know, the ‘party of ideas’. (Sarcasm alert)

    My tolerance for this perennial theme from the rightwing is very low. They are the most active self-policing political grouping it’s possible to imagine. Just ran into an article in theAtlantic – The Wedding that Started a Republican Civil War by Emma Green – describing VA5th CD holding a drive-in convention at a megachurch in Lynchburg to nominate a candidate to replace (repeat – replace!) a sitting R-party congressman with a November candidate for the seat. Because gay marriage.

    There is no comparison on the left.

    3
  66. JohnMcC says:

    @David Kelsey: Bravo to you, sir!

    4
  67. robert sharperson says:

    Well said James. As a left winger I have been worried about this all week. Some of my comrades are losing it over the BLM movement and are threatening to cancel anyone who has the slightest disagreement while lecturing like a tenured college professor. They mean well but I wish they would cool down. Well atleast my southern confederate buddies will allow for vigorous debate on the monuments. Sad

    2
  68. JohnMcC says:

    I am wearing this out and really promise to stop right away. But just noticed a headline (did not read the article) at VanityFair. “Spike Lee calls Woody Allen a Friend and says ‘you can’t just erase someone.”

    Everything from the so-called ‘conservatives’ is either confession or projection.

  69. CSK says:

    @JohnMcC:
    Is Spike Lee a conservative?

    2
  70. Gustopher says:

    @Northerner: 95 South, did you pick a new name? How ya been? Well I hope.

  71. Gustopher says:

    Who has the left successfully cancelled?

    Ass-grabbin’ Al Franken. And he’s still out there, with a platform, just not a sitting Senator.

    The racist woman who called the cops on a birdwatcher and was choking her dog? Ok, she got fired. And she deserves worse. But she got her dog back.

    I suspect the Coughing Karen in Queens this weekend will get fired. And I’m ok with that. It’s turns out there’s a lot less anonymity in the world than some people realize.

    What I’m not seeing is people being effectively canceled for what they believe, but for things they do. Well, I’m sorry that actions have consequences.

    2
  72. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    The funny thing is what an obvious lie the name is, because no one from the north actually calls themselves a “northerner”.

    1
  73. DrDaveT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Because in [James Joyner’s] mind, one middle class white man actually facing consequences is a bigger threat to liberal democracy than hundreds of protesters getting clubbed and shot in the streets.

    Yeah, that’s pretty much what it looks like.

    James, when Cotton referred to “insurrectionists, rioters, anarchists, and looters”, what fraction of the peaceful protesters do you think he was including in that list? Seriously.

    8
  74. Mu Yixiao says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that all these “I apologize for being racist” statements sound exactly like the “confessions” given by political prisoners and those kidnapped by terrorists?

    * I confess my transgressions and admit that they are wrong
    * I now understand how my words/actions were harmful
    * I regret my previous words/actions and denounce them
    * I recognize the authority of the new regime and promise to follow their rules.

    If you think these “confessions” are okay… Compare them to other “confessions” and ask yourself if you feel comfortable in the company of those requiring them.

    3
  75. Mikey says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Because context is completely meaningless, right? You can’t be serious with this nonsense.

    I mean, I have wronged people and said these things when I realized I had. They’re part of a real apology. Except for the last one, that’s just garbage you stuck on the end to make your analogy seem something besides utter crap, but it doesn’t actually belong at all. What goes there instead is “I will do what it takes to make things right.”

    8
  76. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Because in [James Joyner’s] mind, one middle class white man actually facing consequences is a bigger threat to liberal democracy than hundreds of protesters getting clubbed and shot in the streets.

    Oh, bullshit.

    Our dear friend Dr. Joyner has a lot of flaws — myopic worldview, bothsiderism and a bad haircut among them — but he does not put a middle aged white guy’s job over the lives of a bunch of protestors. While he’s institutionalization, often wrong, fails to suss out dishonest arguments from the right, and craves order, once you pry open his eyes and make him see other’s experiences, he has good values.

    He doesn’t approve of Tom Cotton’s plans, and he thinks you mischaracterize them (he’s wrong there, because he doesn’t always recognize context and bad faith arguments from the right).

    And he doesn’t see this as a middle aged guy losing his job, he sees it as an attack on the press. On the institution of the press.

    James isn’t the enemy, he’s a potential ally who doesn’t share your worldview.

    JKB is the enemy.

    Is an attack on the press a greater threat to American democracy and freedom than an attack on protestors? I don’t know.

    But that’s the question Dr. Joyner is more likely pondering.

    And on that question, I suggest we ask one of the press who were targeted by riot police — perhaps the photojournalist who lost an eye to a rubber bullet. I think this might be the weekend she’s going camping with a bunch of other people who lost eyes to rubber bullets because that is the world we live in now.

    Police targeting the press for assault seems a bit worse to me than mean tweets.

    Anyway, James is just wrong. Not evil.

    ——
    His haircut is fine, it just amused me to add something trivial…

    7
  77. Gustopher says:
  78. The Q says:

    Ok, let’s put this to the test, “I, as a liberal, believe that 95% of African American difficulties are a result of institutional and systemic racism and 5% due to the failure of black leadership.”

    1
  79. Northerner says:

    @Gustopher:

    No, I’m a newcomer, from northern Canada.

  80. Northerner says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The funny thing is what an obvious lie the name is, because no one from the north actually calls themselves a “northerner”.

    You’ve clearly never been in the north (that means north of 60). And if you’re north of the Arctic Circle then you’re in the far north, Anyone living south of 60 is a southerner.

    2
  81. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Northerner:

    People who actual live in the north think of themselves as things like Midwesterners, New Englanders, etc. The concept of “The North” existing as a cultural group one is a member of is a concept that only exists in the South.

    1
  82. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    Dr. Joyner is the poster boy for what MLK was talking about in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” when he wrote, “the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice”.

    3
  83. Northerner says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    If you ask someone from the Northwest Territories where we’re from, we’ll say “the North”. Don’t take my word for it, come up for a visit. There are no big cities or nightlife like what you might be used to, but Yellowknife is a very warm place in every way but temperature — we’re very community oriented, especially in winter, and visitors are welcome. There are (when not locked down) a lot of very friendly bars, a lot of free community events, and within a short time you’ll get to know a lot of people and be invited to parties.

    And of course, the fishing is excellent. Yes, there are flies and mosquitoes, but you don’t have to go far from shore to get away from them. You can rent almost everything you need too.

    1
  84. Monala says:

    @Stormy Dragon: true, if you’re American. It sounds like Northerner is Canadian.

    2
  85. Monala says:

    @Gustopher: I admire their spirit, but it’s simply awful. On the Twitter thread, someone wrote that at least 14 people have lost an eye to rubber bullets since the protests began, and the American Academy of Opthamologists has put out a statement condemning it. “Using your voice shouldn’t mean losing your sight.”

    2
  86. Rob Roy says:

    @wr: @wr:
    wr says:
    “Taibbi over the past few years seems to have left the Left and joined a party with Sullivan and Bill Maher and a few other pundits whose sole philosophical precept is “you are all fucking stupid for thinking and saying things that don’t line up exactly with what I want to say, even if it was what I was saying yesterday.” Taibbi went nuts over the Russia investigation mostly, it seems, so he could find a way to claim that Democrats were awful while still maintaining that Trump was awful — it was as incoherent as any political writing I’ve ever read (except maybe late Greenwald), but the main point was that everyone in the world is a moron except for him.”
    WT:
    You couldn’t be more wrong about Taibbi. He is in no way joined with Maher and Sullivan, quite the opposite. Unlike those two, Matt is never “incoherent” and if he “went nuts over the Russia investigation,” it wasn’t to claim the “Democrats were awful,” it was to prove they indeed were awful, positing accusations with no evidentiary facts whatsoever, which finally blew up in their faces. Other reporters agreed with Taibbi, such as Parry (RIP) with the other VIPS, Mate, Hedges, and people who got vilified for not getting on the bandwagon of Russiagate…you know those who can’t get printed in the NYT and other MSM that push establishment propaganda narrative that the public eat it up; that’s why we don’t elect decent presidents. Apparently, you don’t read consortiumnews, mintpress, counterpunch, the grayzone, mondoweiss, the electronic intifada, global research.
    BTW, Greenwald is always clear as a bell whether you agree with him or not.

  87. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Stumbling block, not wall. And the very people King needed to win over to be successful.

    1
  88. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Monala:

    My apologies then, it’s just that lately I’ve noticed a lot of rural white southerners coming into conversation spaces pretending to be from northern urban areas (and often pretending to be minorities as well) to try an create the impression that Republican policies are a lot more popular than the are, so I tend to get suspicious when someone new shows up and seems to be emphasizing their “northern-ness”.

    It never occurred to me in this case it might be a Canadian, so I guess I have some American privilege issues I need to work on in the future.

    2