Media, Free Speech, and Violent Extremists

Free expression sometimes enables horrible crimes. How does a free society deal with that tension?

Friday morning’s terrorist attacks by a white supremacist group against mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand have reignited a welcome if frustrating debate as to what the role of responsible media outlets ought be.

One controversy is how to treat the aftermath.  Buzzfeed (“The Daily Mail Let Readers Download The New Zealand Mosque Attacker’s Manifesto Directly From Its Website“) points to one concern:

The Daily Mail’s website uploaded the Christchurch mosque attacker’s 74-page “manifesto”, allowing readers to download the entire document just hours after the massacre on Friday which left at least 49 people dead.

The Mail was one of several British news outlets which defied requests from New Zealand police on Friday not to spread the terrorist’s first-person footage, which had been repeatedly shared across social media platforms in the wake of the attack.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit said they were working to remove the attacker’s videos from their platforms. The footage kept appearing and disappearing in search results.

But as footage of the attack continued to be uploaded across the platforms, Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour party, criticised the tech companies’ response.

“Failing to take these videos down immediately and prevent others being uploaded is a failure of decency,” he said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “I will be writing to social media companies to ask how, in this hour of international tragedy, they failed the victims of this attack and all platform users so lamentably.

“I will also be speaking to my Conservative counterparts in government to discuss how we can act together in order to deal with the unaccountable wickedness of the Silicon Valley oligarchs.”

I don’t really have an answer to this one. We certainly don’t want to glorify the violence or spur on potential copycats. At the same time, I’m uncomfortable with pressuring media companies to censor content.

In terms of the specifics here, I see little downside to publishing to perpetrators’ manifesto so that scholars and interested citizens can examine it. While one imagines that there are those out there who will see it as a call to action, the overwhelming number of people who see it will find it nutty and repulsive. More importantly, it allows us to have conversations about the limits of acceptable speech. More on that later.

My sensibilities on publishing video of the atrocities have evolved over the years. In the very early days of this blog, I was among hundreds who posted videos of Islamist terror groups beheading Western citizens on the principle that people should see the horrible acts in all their glory. Now, I tend to shy away from posting even non-grisly, ubiquitous news photos from the scene on the grounds that we should do our best to shield the loved ones of the victims from those images. Still, I can see no reason why my sensibility ought govern news outlets or social media companies.

More broadly, though, I think social media companies do have a responsibility to take reasonable measures to stop hate groups from leveraging their platforms—even as a recognition that “reasonable measures” and “hate groups” are incredibly fuzzy concepts. At a minimum, accounts, groups, “chans,” Reddits, and the like where advocacy of violence against domestic racial, ethnic, or religious groups are routine ought be shut down.

The larger debate is even more complicated. In this morning’s news roundup, I observed,

It’s a slippery slope, indeed, to include the Fox News propaganda machine in the same category as those who commit acts of terrorism. But, certainly, they render some of the white supremacist agenda more mainstream. And, in the minds of the right individuals, it’s not too difficult to go from seeing people as a dangerous “other” and seeing their extermination as not only just but necessary.

Admittedly, I don’t watch much Fox News content these days; indeed, I hardly watch any television news anymore. Still, some of the commentary that routinely circulates from the likes of Ann Coulter or Jeanine Pirro is over-the-top. If it’s not white supremacist, it’s white nationalist. And it seems to be aimed at stirring up a like-minded core audience rather than at informing debates over complex issues.

As the same time, we have to be careful about de-legitimating that debate. For example, a national commentator of some renown made this snark on Twitter this morning:

He links, respectively, to articles by David Frum and The Atlantic and Ross Douthat in the New York Times.

Obviously, his point is that these are the opposite of obscure platforms. He’s trying to make a corrective to the narrative that white supremacists lurk only in the dark corners of the Internet. And that’s an important point.

But it’s absurd to point to Frum and Douthat as white supremacists. Indeed, the very columns Scocca links point to the valuable contributions made by recent immigrants from outside the West. Rather, they’re trying to reconcile the benefits from immigration and diversity from the challenges of assimilation.

Frum quotes that noted white supremacists Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Barack Obama:

But large-scale immigration also comes with considerable social and political costs, and those must be accounted for. In November 2018, Hillary Clinton delivered a warning to Europeans that mass immigration was weakening democracy. “I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration, because that is what lit the flame,” Clinton said, referring to the upsurge of far-right populism destabilizing countries such as France and Hungary. “I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken, particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message—‘We are not going to be able to continue to provide refuge and support’—because if we don’t deal with the migration issue, it will continue to roil the body politic.”

Clinton’s assessment of the European political situation is accurate. According to recent poll numbers, 63 percent of French people believe too many immigrants are living in their country. One-third of the British people who voted in 2016 to leave the European Union cited immigration as their primary reason. In Germany, 38 percent rate immigration as the most important issue facing their country. Thanks in great part to their anti-immigration messages, populist parties now govern Italy, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.

And of course, anti-immigration sentiment was crucial to the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States.

Immigration on a very large scale is politically stressful. Yet acknowledging that fact can be hazardous to mainstream politicians. The New York Times story on Clinton’s remarks quoted four scathing reactions from liberal interest groups and academics—and then for icy good measure balanced them with a single approving quote from an Italian politician who had hosted Trump’s former campaign chair, Steve Bannon, in Rome.

It wasn’t always this way, even on the left. As recently as 2015, the senator and presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders defended at least some immigration restrictions in language drawn from the immigration-skeptical tradition of organized labor. “What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy,” Sanders said in an interview with Vox. “Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country.” Even the famously cosmopolitan Barack Obama, in his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, lamented, “When I see Mexican flags waved at pro-immigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.”

Douthat’s column is rather incoherent, frankly, but he’s mostly arguing that we can’t delegitimate a wide swath of the American electorate if we’re to come up with a workable policy:

And it’s also clear that many immigration restrictionists are influenced by simple bigotry — with the president’s recent excrement-related remarks a noteworthy illustration.

This bigotry, from the point of view of many immigration advocates, justifies excluding real restrictionists from the negotiating table. You can give them a little more money for border security, some promises about reducing illegal entry. But you can’t let them play a large role in shaping policy. The limits of this strategy, though, are evident in the repeated failure of “comprehensive” immigration reform over the last decade and more, doomed each time by the gulf between the plans of Republican negotiators and the actual preferences of their voters.

The present view of many liberals seems to be that restrictionists can eventually be steamrolled — that the same ethnic transformations that have made white anxiety acute will eventually bury white-identity politics with sheer multiethnic numbers.

But liberals have been waiting 12 years for that “eventually” to arrive, and instead Trump is president and the illegal immigrants they want to protect are still in limbo. So maybe it would be worth trying to actually negotiate with Stephen Miller, rather than telling Trump that he needs to lock his adviser in a filing cabinet, slap on a “beware of leopard” sign, and hustle out to the Rose Garden to sign whatever Durbin and Graham have hashed out.

My point here isn’t to engender a debate about these columns in particular or immigration policy more broadly. Rather, it’s to add context to the “slippery slope” comment from earlier. We ought be able to differentiate actual hate speech from speech which is merely hateful from intellectually honest discussions about controversial topics—including race, ethnicity, religion, LGBTQ status, and others—and treat them accordingly.

There’s no debating those who advocate violence against their fellow citizens. They should be treated as pariahs and, if they step over the line into illegality, treated accordingly.

The David Frums and Ross Douthats of the world should be engaged. They’re amenable to honest exchange and enhance the debate considerably.

I’m increasingly unsure of those who reside in the middle. They’re mostly intelligent folks who have figured out that pandering to the lowest common denominator is a lucrative racket. I’m not sure how much of what they say they actually believe. Certainly, though, they should be called out as fellow travelers and enablers of the haters.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, First Amendment, Media, Terrorism, U.S. Constitution
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor 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. Stormy Dragon says:

    But it’s absurd to point to Frum and Douthat as white supremacists. Indeed, the very columns Scocca links point to the valuable contributions made by recent immigrants from outside the West. Rather, they’re trying to reconcile the benefits from immigration and diversity from the challenges of assimilation.

    Thankfully, Radley Balko has already laid out how disingenuous Frum’s entire article is far better than I could:

    For immigration opponents, any old argument will do

    Not only is Frum a white supremacist, deep down Frum KNOWS he’s a white supremacist, which is why he has to hide behind the “we need to pretend to be fascists before a real fascist shows up” misdirection instead of just making the argument for immigration restriction on its own merits.

    The problem is, you imagine white supremacists must be irredeemably evil, therefore David Frum can’t be one because he’s not a mustache twirling villain.

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    It is not possible to remove every lunatic from the internet. It is possible to educate the American people. There is a spectrum from rational to irrational on both sides of the immigration debate. There is no such spectrum on issues of race or religious affiliation, there is hate on one side and reason and compassion on the other, and very little connective tissue between the two.

    Education is not a cure-all, there are well-educated white supremacists like Gorka and Miller, but educational level still seems to track pretty closely with Trump cultists and white supremacists. The thing all the shooters have in common is that they are losers, and that, too, tends to track with education. But just as we can’t banish all lunatics from the internet we can’t wave a magic wand and get rid of all of life’s losers.

    The problem with tolerating Fox News et al is that they are doing the opposite of education. They teach ignorance. They glorify and excuse ignorance. They attack and vilify people with education. And while this does not cause white Christian terrorism, it sure as hell smooths the way by subverting notions of common humanity, by excusing cruelty and brutality. Fox News et al feed white paranoia and attack any fact-based narrative, leaving their viewers vulnerable to all manner of disinformation that feeds into paranoia and a sense of victimization.

    There is no question: Fox News et al are doing evil in this country, as similar outlets are doing in other countries.

    Nevertheless, the only real counter to ignorance is education. The counter to lies is truth. We need a nationwide effort to teach the American people the basic civics lessons they evidently missed in school.

    And yes, at some point we should have a rational discussion about immigration, a discussing not possible so long as one side is terrified and the other side oblivious.

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  3. Teve says:

    The US lets in about a million immigrants per year. That’s what, about one-third of 1% of the population? I’m not worried about them assimilating. By the second generation, the kids of Guatemalans, or Indonesians, or Nigerians, typically assimilate just fine.

    The people who keep re-electing Steve King to Congress, the people who voted for John Fitzgerald, Seth Grossman, Arthur Jones, Russel Walker, and Roy Moore, those are the people who need to start assimilating. Their value systems are incompatible with modern America, full of anti-intellectualism, homophobia, racism, and other garbage, and they need to get their shit together.

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  4. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    There is no such spectrum on issues of race or religious affiliation, there is hate on one side and reason and compassion on the other, and very little connective tissue between the two.

    I kind of feel like human being would be less amenable to killing each other if we didn’t think like this.

    Gonna quote from the post:

    We ought be able to differentiate actual hate speech from speech which is merely hateful from intellectually honest discussions about controversial topics—including race, ethnicity, religion, LGBTQ status, and others—and treat them accordingly.

    Yeah, we oughtta. Some people…apparently can’t, especially when other people with up/down buttons are looking.

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  5. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Education is not a cure-all, there are well-educated white supremacists like Gorka and Miller, but educational level still seems to track pretty closely with Trump cultists and white supremacists.

    I concur. There’s certainly a long history of “scientific racism,” and Nazi Germany included some of the nation’s top intellectuals. (Philip Lenard, who was appointed head of Aryan Science, was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist.) But in modern Western society, there does tend to be a very strong correlation between these attitudes and lack of education. That’s not to say the educated elite are free of racism; far from it. Indeed, systemic discrimination comes straight from the top, unlike these bursts of violence by lone-wolf crazies. And there’s a symbiotic relationship going on between the elites and the masses. When I’ve read about Miller, the thing that strikes me about him is the incredible level of raw cruelty. He isn’t ignorant, he’s simply an evil little troll who knowingly exploits the ignorance of others to feed his craven desires.

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  6. Andy says:

    We ought be able to differentiate actual hate speech from speech which is merely hateful from intellectually honest discussions about controversial topics—including race, ethnicity, religion, LGBTQ status, and others—and treat them accordingly.

    The problem is no one agrees on a definition for hate speech and some, me included, find the whole concept of “hate speech” troublesome. It’s completely subjective.

    Douthat’s column is rather incoherent, frankly, but he’s mostly arguing that we can’t delegitimate a wide swath of the American electorate if we’re to come up with a workable policy

    It’s a major problem when people believe or declare that a large percentage of their fellow Americans are enemies. One wonders what their endgame is or if it is just talk.

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  7. James Joyner says:

    @Andy:

    The problem is no one agrees on a definition for hate speech and some, me included, find the whole concept of “hate speech” troublesome. It’s completely subjective.

    I’m generally opposed to “hate crimes,” in that I don’t think the state should be in the business of punishing ideas a majority finds offensive. But I don’t have any problem with the notion that “Kill the niggers/Muslims/fags/trannies” is different from “affirmative action is problematic because . . . ” or “I’m uncomfortable with people with penises using the same restroom as my 9-year-old daughter.” The problem is that there seems to be a subset of the population who sees these as identical sentiments.

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  8. Modulo Myself says:

    Even the famously cosmopolitan Barack Obama, in his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, lamented, “When I see Mexican flags waved at pro-immigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.”

    Lol at Frum pretending not to realize Obama was lying through his teeth. What kind of moron becomes upset at seeing a Mexican flag? Obama didn’t care. He was trying to make an appeal to the white rubes, to show he meant business.

    And as far as intellectually honest conversations go, as Baldwin said: there is no white community. None. It’s just a giant zero. Douthat and the people he defends are as capable as Trump of intellectual honesty. They were like that a decade ago. A guy like Frum scamming his way from the Axis of Evil to a BS position as a ‘reasonable’ conservative is case in point. It’s worse now. Far worse. There’s no conversation coming about the pros and cons of diversity. It’s barely even words. One side is deceit, power trips, inferiority complexes, and racism, and the rest of us have to deal with these people and hope they die off or their kids disown them or asphyxiate them in their sleep.

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  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    The declaration of war came from the Right: Abortion is Murder. A large percentage of the Right believes that, or pretends to for political reasons.

    What’s the conversation look like after someone calls you a murderer? “Well, you make some valid points about me being a murderer. . .?” “I hear what you’re saying as you accuse me of slaughtering millions of children, and I’m sure it comes from a good place. . .”

    You can either make up some equally obnoxious slogan to counter, or you can argue to no purpose, or you put them on ‘ignore.’ None of those three is an avenue leading to kumbaya around a campfire. Extremism is not effectively countered by calls for dialog, extremism either burns itself out or is destroyed, it is not dissuaded by reasoned argument. Unfortunately it does not take two sides to make war, just one.

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  10. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    The problem is that there seems to be a subset of the population who sees these as identical sentiments.

    So basically, you’re okay with decrying racism, provided it’s only applied to things you would never say, because the real crime would be making you feel uncomfortable and possibly precipitating a reconsideration of your own biases.

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  11. Jay L Gischer says:

    Having been through anti-immigrant hysteria in California roughly 20 years ago, I see no incentive to bargain with Stephen Miller whatsoever. I think this sort of things fans up, swings ethnic votes toward Democrats, and the immigrant haters eventually find they have no political sway whatsoever.

    I think the immigrant resistance is born of a sense that people have that they aren’t doing well, and opportunists have convinced them that’s because of immigrants, and Democrats who care more about immigrants than them. I think many of those people aren’t, in fact, doing well. We’ve seen increasing mortality in older white people, for instance. I think we did a very poor job of taking care of the working class during the Great Recession for another. I think blaming immigrants for this is dastardly misdirection.

    In any case, should they start doing better, that will sap the energy from the movement as well.

    Yes, I think the country will go the way of California. It might take longer, but then again, it might not.

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  12. James Joyner says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I think this sort of things fans up, swings ethnic votes toward Democrats, and the immigrant haters eventually find they have no political sway whatsoever.

    At which point the haters, in the best case, vote for the Donald Trumps and Steve Kings of the world or, in the worst case, decide that shooting up mosques is their only sane recourse.

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  13. Jay L Gischer says:

    @James Joyner:

    At which point the haters, in the best case, vote for the Donald Trumps and Steve Kings of the world or, in the worst case, decide that shooting up mosques is their only sane recourse.

    Yeah, that’s what the peak resistance looks like. I’ve seen these haters close up. I had conversations with them face-to-face. What we do about this is what we do about any crime. We arrest, indict, try and convict them. We send them to prison or execution. And we vote them out of office. We can, and will, do this, it’s just a matter of time.

    I will not be intimidated by terrorists. This is a democracy. I’ve have votes go against me lots of times and never thought I should resort to using weapons and violence to get my way. I will rot in my grave before letting any threat of that change my sense of what is right and what is good for the country.

    This, to me, is not an issue like health care, or budgeting, or entitlements or most of those money issues. Those are negotiable.

    And frankly, I’m ok with having some sort of throttle on immigration. Too much too fast can create problems.

    However, “too much too fast” is not the argument made in Christchurch, or by Steve King, or by Stephen Miller. The argument there is “they are inferior and ruining America”.

    No. No, no, no. This is factually wrong, and morally wrong, and I will never endorse bargaining with that attitude.

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  14. James Joyner says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Sure. But it’s not a matter of negotiating so much as acknwledging the underlying concerns. I think Joe Biden and even Bernie Sanders are doing this in a more productive way than Trump. But “fuck ’em, we have the votes” is the path to civil war.

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  15. Jay L Gischer says:

    Just a bit more followup. The wikipedia page for California Prop 187 says

    Republicans’ embrace of Proposition 187 has been cited as a key factor for the decline of the Republican Party in California, particularly as the demographics have changed to include more immigrants.

    What happened demographically in California is happening everywhere in the US. Trump and Steve King have not changed that in the slightest. This analysis appeared on the national scene after the 2014 election, and the collective (yes, there was dissent!) response of the Republican Party was to double down on racial politics and try to motivate white voters to vote more because of racial grievance. But their base is still slowly eroding. That’s what creates that panic in the first place.

    They will lose.

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  16. James Joyner says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Yes, there was an Atlantic cover story back in 1997 or so arguing that it was that referendum that turned California from a reliable Republican state to a Democratic one. It’s likely right. But they use this as evidence that their country is being stolen from them by outsiders who don’t share their values.

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  17. Jay L Gischer says:

    @James Joyner: Do you appreciate how many times things I’ve cared about have run into the attitude “fuck ’em, we have the votes?”

    Let’s start with Merrick Garland and go from there.

    Let me be clear. I’d be happy to negotiate this with Lindsay Graham. I’m clear that the Senate produced a solid immigration bill multiple times, and a caucus of Republicans in the House managed to prevent it being brought to a vote. I supported that bill. I’m fine with that. Don’t paint me as unwilling to negotiate on this issue. I am willing to negotiate. Just not with people who do not have a majority in Congress, but who think they can win anyway via intimidation and threats.

    Honestly, Sanders’ willingness to talk nice about anti-immigration is one of the core things that turns me off about him.

    James, this goes back to the conversation we had the other day. There are more Hispanics in California than white people. What some people are terrified about is my daily reality, and I. Don’t. Care. I’m fine. Everything is fine. Growth is good, housing is too expensive, but the job market is healthy. The immigrants did not Ruin Everything. That premise is bullshit of the highest order, and since I’m an engineer, bullshit is the enemy. I will not compromise with it.

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  18. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    “He did it first” doesn’t fly with my grade-schooler and it sure doesn’t fly as an argument coming from a grown man.

    And historically such attitudes are destructive as they inexorably lead to escalation and conflict. I’ve seen the effects of that first-hand, I don’t want that for my country.

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  19. grumpy realist says:

    Different countries have different ways of dividing up humans. When I was in Japan, the consensus was pretty clear: “Japanese” and “other.” Whether you’re Caucasian/black/Hispanic/Filipino/Chinese the result is the same: you are considered “gaijin” all together in one lump. Then I move to London, and notice that the real bottom-of-the-totem-pole “other” there isn’t black–it’s Pakistanis and other Muslims.

    And if we go back in history in the US to 99% white communities you’d note there would still be fault lines where the Irish immigrants weren’t considered “truly white” (or Jews or Italians or Greeks). Then if you got down to “purely white” of that period you could always get miffed that there were Catholics in the vicinity…

    I suspect that we’re going to go down one of two paths: either the “white rights” people are going to lose traction as the effects of their mindset becomes more known (and after Trump dies of a coronary from all those Micky D’s he’s been wolfing down) or Hispanics are going to start being considered “white” as has happened to other ethnic groups. Or both at the same time.

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  20. Lit3Bolt says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Fine. You be a weak meek little Eloi, while I’ll be an alpha Morlock with my very own tribal pack.

    @DrJoyner

    James, the problem is you used the words “responsibility” and “tech industry” in the same sentence…this is the same tech industry that regularly sells and “loses” your data, to Russia or China or god knows where. Then you used “intellectual honesty” and “conservatism” together. Trump has eased the sheer gaslighting and bad faith from some conservatives, who by God, actually had some principles and see Trump for what he is, whether it comes from genuine national security concerns to “Oh God, we’re going to lose every suburb for the next 20 years.” Frum is one, not so sure about Douthat. But my point is for my political lifetime, conservatives have approach almost every issue in either bad faith or “screw you, we have the votes” steamrolling. There’s conservativism, and there’s wrong. And now an entire generation of conservatives are getting high on their own supply and being exposed to white nationalism, broadcast live on Fox News!

    White nationalism is Nazism! Like, I thought conservatives and liberals could both agree this stuff is bad! White terrorism is bad and is a big problem! And no, there’s simply no First Amendment debate about this. We do not need to be tolerant of intolerance.

    Just imagine that Ann Coulter was Louis Farakhan. And Tucker Carlson is Louis Farakhan. And Alex Jones is Louis Farakhan. And Sean Hannity is Louis Farakhan. And D’Nesh D’Souza is Louis Farakhan. And Steve King is Louis Farakhan. And Donald Trump is Louis Farakhan.

    Conservatives, or I should say people who call themselves conservatives, have like 10,000 Louis Farakhans being Congressmen, on TV, getting book deals, writing op-eds! They are saying some vile, white nationalist, fascist crap. And saying they should be let off the hook because they didn’t explicitly call for violence is like saying “Oh well Hitler is blameless because he didn’t specifically order for 12 million people to be killed in concentration camps or say it in a speech.”

    I dare you to go to reddit, or 8chan, or YouTube, or Breitbart, and read the comment sections about this terror attack. This stuff is finding fertile ground worldwide.

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  21. An Interested Party says:

    @Teve: It is pretty sad that some people who have lived in this country their whole lives not only don’t know how so much in this country works, but also take for granted all that they have by simply being in this country…meanwhile, so many people who have to fight and struggle to become a part of this country not only appreciate it but also know more about how it works than so many native born folks…

    I think the immigrant resistance is born of a sense that people have that they aren’t doing well, and opportunists have convinced them that’s because of immigrants, and Democrats who care more about immigrants than them. I think many of those people aren’t, in fact, doing well. We’ve seen increasing mortality in older white people, for instance. I think we did a very poor job of taking care of the working class during the Great Recession for another. I think blaming immigrants for this is dastardly misdirection.

    The same bait and switch that wealthy Southern planters used on poor whites…it would be nice if various oppressed groups worked together rather than being divided by opportunistic oppressors…

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  22. Teve says:

    Mike Adams, the scammer who runs Natural News, says he’s going to launch a billion dollar lawsuit against YouTube, Facebook, Google, etcetera for censoring pro Trump speech, which he says amounts to “online ethnic cleansing”.

    some Congressperson said this past week that the green New Deal amounted to ethnic cleansing against white people.

    for fun I thought I’d go to the Gateway pundit and see what the comment sections were showing

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    Avatar
    DarkAngelMichael
    14 hours ago
    99% of the people that commit the record murders in Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, St. Louis and Cleveland are Obama supporters.

    For that matter, so are 99% of the murderers in Central and South America, Africa and The Middle East.

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    Avatar
    dooberheim DarkAngelMichael
    13 hours ago
    No, they’re just black. Most of them don’t support anyone. Criminals are remarkably apolitical.

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    Sword of Truth dooberheim
    12 hours ago
    no. they are mostly democrats

    and they really have some lovely opinions about how the Jews are putting Muslims in charge of the u.s.

    Oh and the 737 Max 8 crash was Obama’s fault, and the mosque shooter in NZ was brainwashed by the Mainstream Media.

    You know, I’m inclined to think all this white supremacy stuff won’t go anywhere, but if some national crisis results, people will look back at items like this and say “Teve what the fuck was wrong with you that you couldn’t see this crisis was about to happen????”

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  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    Pearl Harbor. 911.

    ‘He did it first’ is not only logical it is inescapable.

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  24. Kit says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It is possible to educate the American people

    I’m not against this per se, but feel that a more effective tactic is the address the miseducation of the American people. I’m thinking Fox, along with all the insalubrious corners of the internet that allow ignorance and evil to fester.

    Effective solutions… Here I’ll admit that I doubt we are up to the challenge. We’re paralyzed. We’re the can’t-do generation. I find myself wondering if all great countries, in their moment of ruin, know the direction to take but simply cannot summon the will. Kathy?

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  25. James Joyner says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    Conservatives, or I should say people who call themselves conservatives, have like 10,000 Louis Farakhans being Congressmen, on TV, getting book deals, writing op-eds! They are saying some vile, white nationalist, fascist crap. And saying they should be let off the hook because they didn’t explicitly call for violence is like saying “Oh well Hitler is blameless because he didn’t specifically order for 12 million people to be killed in concentration camps or say it in a speech.”

    I dare you to go to reddit, or 8chan, or YouTube, or Breitbart, and read the comment sections about this terror attack. This stuff is finding fertile ground worldwide.

    You seem to have two boxes: “Agree with me on all issues” and “white nationalist.” If white nationalism includes everyone from David Duke to David Frum, it’s a term with no meaning.

    I noted the reddit and 8chan creeps in the OP. I don’t think we can have reasonable discourse with these people. That’s not true of Frum and Douthat.

    And, while, again, I haven’t watched the shows in more than a dozen years now and thus have only distant memories and controversial clips that circulate on social media to go on, I’d put Coulter and Hannity and Carlson in a middle category. They’re not interested in dialog but in getting attention. Whether they believe what they’re spouting or are just doing it for the cash is really immaterial; they’re not persuadable. Still, I think Tucker Carlson is something so different from Alex Jones that putting them in the same box is laughable.

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  26. grumpy realist says:

    @Lit3Bolt: Who pissed in your Wheaties this morning?! I’m simply stating how things have worked out historically.

    I wonder if the alt-right idiots realise that if there are enough “alt-right loner white males” carrying out violence then they will start to be considered a group and the same government power that they are hoping so much to be turned against Muslims in general will be directed towards them. With much more firepower. As it is, said idiots considered a nuisance, but that can easily change, and the rest of society won’t complain too much about “human rights”, either.

    To all groups: control your lunatics or be considered part of the problem and under suspicion and need to be regulated. Happens with ISIS sympathisers, happens with food manufacturers and how the FDA came into being, and now is (IMHO) about to happen with the tech giants/social media.

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  27. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “… in the worst case, decide that shooting up mosques is their only sane recourse.”

    And the response to that should be what, James?

    Given them what they want? Declaring their viewpoint legitimate?

    Or perhaps we should hunt them down like dogs.

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  28. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “You seem to have two boxes: “Agree with me on all issues” and “white nationalist.” If white nationalism includes everyone from David Duke to David Frum, it’s a term with no meaning.”

    James, the point is that David Frum is mainstreaming Duke’s views. He’s trying to move the Overton Window in their direction, and we know from watching these guys that they don’t intend on a notch or two, but all of the way.

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  29. James Joyner says:

    @Barry:

    And the response to that should be what, James?

    Given them what they want? Declaring their viewpoint legitimate?

    Their viewpoint is legitimate, in the sense that it’s pretty much the American attitude from the founding through not that long ago and still held by a sizable plurality. It has to be engaged with. “Fuck you, we have the votes” simply isn’t a reasonable attitude in a diverse polity.

    @Barry:

    James, the point is that David Frum is mainstreaming Duke’s views. He’s trying to move the Overton Window in their direction, and we know from watching these guys that they don’t intend on a notch or two, but all of the way.

    Frum’s views are mainstream. What’s your evidence that he’s trying to “move the Overton Window” in Duke’s direction?

    Or perhaps we should hunt them down like dogs.

    If they actually foment violence? Sure. For holding views you find offensive? No.

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  30. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The declaration of war came from the Right: Abortion is Murder. A large percentage of the Right believes that, or pretends to for political reasons.

    What’s the conversation look like after someone calls you a murderer? “Well, you make some valid points about me being a murderer. . .?” “I hear what you’re saying as you accuse me of slaughtering millions of children, and I’m sure it comes from a good place. . .”

    There’s a chunk of the right that is unreachable on everything, but it’s not as large of a chunk as you think.

    How do you talk to the abortion is murder crowd? Well, you have to start by acknowledging their point of view — not agreeing with it, but recognizing that if you assume that a fertilized egg is a human being with a soul and rights then abortion would be akin to murder. You start by not completely dismissing them.

    You find the common ground. Many of the pro-lifers are not opposed to increased access to birth control, and if you don’t drive them away by assuming they buy into the whole package, there is agreement to be had. Or you change the subject to something where there is common ground.

    It’s easier to do on a personal level, one on one. And it sounds like something Pearce would say. Be excellent to one another, and all of that. I wouldn’t go that far, but I wouldn’t write people off immediately, not when what most people want, more than anything, more than agreement, is just an acknowledgement that you can at least see their point of view.

    But I’m also stoned out of my guard on OxyContin, since I had my appendix removed a day or so ago, so I’m feeling pretty mellow.

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  31. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @Gustopher:

    How do you talk to the abortion is murder crowd? Well, you have to start by acknowledging their point of view — not agreeing with it, but recognizing that if you assume that a fertilized egg is a human being with a soul and rights then abortion would be akin to murder. You start by not completely dismissing them.

    You find the common ground. Many of the pro-lifers are not opposed to increased access to birth control, and if you don’t drive them away by assuming they buy into the whole package, there is agreement to be had. Or you change the subject to something where there is common ground.

    I think that’s right.

    I’ve never been particularly religious, so I’m something of an outlier. Still, I would have agreed with “Abortion is Murder” well into my adult lifetime. Engaging with the debate, I moderated to “Well, it’s probably more like a lower-degree homicide because, reasons.” Over time, I’ve come to the conclusion that, while they vastly overstepped their bounds by legislating from the bench, the Supreme Court ultimately got it right with Casey et al: That there ought to be a right to choose through the point of fetal viability and then a well-defined “health of the mother” exception afterwards.

    Again, I think there are fundamentalists—some of whom are violent—who can’t be negotiated with. Most people, though, aren’t fundamentalists.

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  32. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Pearl Harbor. 911.

    ‘He did it first’ is not only logical it is inescapable.

    Retribution is not the same thing as self-justifying “he did it first.” We don’t hijack airliners and fly them into skyscrapers and then use 9/11 as an excuse for why it’s suddenly acceptable for us to do that. Your calculus has a logical conclusion – that anything is acceptable once a taboo is broken. Again, historically that never ends well.

    Edited to add: And furthermore I do not at all agree with framing domestic political disputes in terms of violence and war. Such talk, allowed to fester uncontested, will be self-fulling.

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  33. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    Again, I think there are fundamentalists—some of whom are violent—who can’t be negotiated with. Most people, though, aren’t fundamentalists.

    I think that’s right. But what I’m seeing is a sort of purity spiral that does not allow disagreement even on minor details. The fundamentalists are trying to drive more reasonable people into camps.

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  34. Lit3Bolt says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Tried to be jokey. Sorry, should’ve used the /s tag.

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  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner: @Andy:
    I’m sorry, but that’s just more mush from the middle. What’s the compromise mid-point we’re going to reach with people who think my wife and I have committed murder? It’s like looking for common ground with people who think I am, because of an accident of birth, part of a global conspiracy to dominate Christians. “I acknowledge your argument that because I’m a dirty Jew I am evil. Let’s take that as our starting point and have a chat.”

    No, sorry, we have cried peace, peace when there was no peace. 2016 was the end of compromise. 46% of American voters chose a racist, misogynist criminal who loves thugs and hates law, to occupy the Oval. And they did it to send a giant ‘fck you’ to people they despise. That’s not a few radicals, a few extremists, that’s half the country. Half the country voted to put a cretinous piece of human garbage in charge of 1500 nuclear weapons because they don’t like transgender people, and they don’t like brown people, and they don’t see what’s wrong with cops shooting unarmed black people.

    That same half of the country has ceased all contact with consensual reality. How exactly does one compromise between reality and fantasy? How do you reason with people who actively reject reason on principle? We aren’t having some Oxford union debate here, this is a fight between reality and democracy and tolerance on one side, and a self-pitying, hate-fueled cult of personality on the other. What is the reasonable dialog between decent, rational humans and David Duke or Steve King or Sebastian Gorka or Donald Trump?

    No, no, no, we are not letting these people move the Overton window. We are not going to start by nodding and stroking our chins and saying, “Hmmm, you make some interesting points about how brown people are vermin. . .” The time for all that is over. Before 2016 maybe we could delude ourselves into thinking there was a rational middle ground achievable After 2016? No. They’ve taken off their masks and there will be no compromise.

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  36. Modulo Myself says:

    Here’s Ben Shapiro being banned from a Christian college. This is the only story worth telling about free speech. It’s old white conservatives who require constant reassurance who are breaking the system. Instead of just telling the truth or something else radical, they need to be smart, reasonable, and non-racist, so they’ve built this media machine which completely sucks, filled with mediocrities like Shapiro, none of whom have any relation to the actual world. When young Christians tell the hip young conservative philosopher to go fuck himself, it means that the hip young conservative philosopher’s audience is desperate old middle-managers.

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  37. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Well, you certainly have a right to your views, as much as I disagree with them. I clearly do not see things in the starkly black-white binary terms that you do.

    I wish you bad luck with your self-righteous war against half of America. I earnestly hope you don’t succeed in your crusade to purge your enemies.

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  38. Modulo Myself says:

    Many of the pro-lifers are not opposed to increased access to birth control, and if you don’t drive them away by assuming they buy into the whole package, there is agreement to be had.

    Are you kidding me? Conservatives are waging a war against poor people having access to health care. They think that the ACA shouldn’t be allowed to cover birth control if Catholics don’t want to provide it in their health plans. They demonize Planned Parenthood, which does provide services for women’s health. This is just fantasy–conservatives loathe women’s autonomy, which is why they all lined up behind the pussy grabber and people like Tucker Carlson, who has interesting ideas–does he not?–about raping 14-year old girls.

    This just does not fly in 2019. Conservatives back Trump and therefore have fulfilled everybody liberal stereotype of their attitudes. It’s childish and narcissistic to insist otherwise. I mean, at a certain level, you are showing up at a blog devoted to politics with opinions which are either profoundly clueless or in bad faith. Expecting a decent, reasonable response is just selfish. Half of the problem with tone is that sometimes telling someone to fuck off is proper. You don’t have the right to show up and talk about politics and blunder about as if nothing has happened except the things rattling around in your head.

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  39. Moosebreath says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    “They think that the ACA shouldn’t be allowed to cover birth control if Catholics don’t want to provide it in their health plans.”

    Or other Christians (see Hobby Lobby).

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  40. grumpy realist says:

    @Lit3Bolt: I was wondering a bit because I didn’t remembering you as being a commentator on that side of the fence….

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  41. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    I note that you have not answered any of my questions. You want compromise? Describe the compromise point between ‘murder’ and ‘not.’ Or the compromise between ‘your transgender daughter shouldn’t exist’ and ‘yes, she should.’ What discussion am I to have with a person who insists climate change is a fraud because: God/Trump? You can’t because there is no point of compromise and sniffing about self-righteousness doesn’t in any way address the actual issues.

    As a matter of fact, here’s an easy one, an example that doesn’t even involve liberals or progressives: what’s the reasonable compromise between actual conservatives who say Trump is a traitor, and so-called conservatives who literally don’t care? You can’t even square Jennifer Rubin or Max Boot with the Trump culties.

    Sometimes it’s just a fight. The Right has been playing it that way for a long time, lying, cheating and stealing. We tried sweet reason, they told us to drop dead. OK, fine, we tried. Now we are going to do to Republicans nationally what we’ve done with them in California: render them irrelevant.

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  42. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    At which point the haters, in the best case, vote for the Donald Trumps and Steve Kings of the world or, in the worst case, decide that shooting up mosques is their only sane recourse.

    WOW. Do you not realize how evil this sentence is? What in the hell thought process were you going through that led you type this?

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  43. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I note that you have not answered any of my questions. You want compromise? Describe the compromise point between ‘murder’ and ‘not.’

    I have not answered your questions because I categorically reject the premises in which you frame them, the false binaries like “murder” or “not” and the way you broad-brush half the country with your strawmen, lumping everyone into an enemy camp.

    I’m not dumb enough to fall in the trap you are attempting to set by answering questions which are clearly loaded and dishonest along the lines of “have you stopped beating your wife?”

    In short, I don’t think it’s possible to have any kind of actual honest debate with you on this topic. Therefore I am perfectly content to agree to disagree and move along.

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  44. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Half the country voted to put a cretinous piece of human garbage in charge of 1500 nuclear weapons because they don’t like transgender people, and they don’t like brown people, and they don’t see what’s wrong with cops shooting unarmed black people.

    To be clear: They don’t like the progressive left.

    Probably because all they hear is progressives telling them this is what they believe when they don’t actually believe that.

    @Stormy Dragon: There’s nothing evil in that sentence, dude. C’mon….

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  45. Teve says:

    Kentucky just passed two new abortion laws. One, you can’t get an abortion after 6 weeks. Two, you can’t get an abortion after the fetus has been diagnosed with any kind of medical disorder like anencephaly.

    https://www.aclu.org/blog/reproductive-freedom/abortion/kentucky-just-banned-abortion

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  46. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Pearce:

    There’s nothing evil in that sentence, dude.

    1. It’s pushing the long discredited theory that bigots are otherwise normal people who were somehow traumatized by the targets of their bigotry and only became bigots in reaction to that trauma

    2. He actually described shooting up a mosque as “the only sane recourse” to a Democratic nominee winning an election. Even if it was only intended as the description of what the shooter thinks, why in God’s name would you use a mass murderer’s framing?

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  47. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: what’s wrong with that sentence? I think it’s a little exaggerated, but mostly spot on.

    The people it describes are evil, but the sentence is mostly right.

    If people don’t feel like they are a part of the system, and that their voice matters, they begin to lash out and try to find some way of regaining some control. Some are nuts enough to go shooting up mosques.

    Finding a way to keep these deplorable people in the political system, as they lose, is important. Yes, they hate brown people, and we cannot compromise there, but often that bigotry is how they are expressing other problems.

    If you feel like you are falling behind, you’re going to lash out more, and it’s easier for a charlatan to steer your anger towards a scapegoat. We don’t just need to beat racists on Election Day, we need to work on the things that make them susceptible to the hate mongers — we need to revitalize rural America. We need a president who represents all of America, not just his/her/their base.

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  48. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I don’t think you give other people a lot of space to find and compromise or common ground with you, even though you aren’t calling them murderers.

    The characters in your books are more nuanced and complex than you seem to think most Republicans are.

    @James Pearce: I think being stoned on powerful painkillers makes your comments make a lot more sense. Make of that what you will.

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  49. James Pearce says:

    @Stormy Dragon: No, it’s pushing the theory that bigots aren’t just going to lie down and die or accept that they have “no political sway.” They will vote –which is their right– for awful people and some of them will commit crimes. It displays an understanding of human nature; it’s not an expression of evil.

    Even if it was only intended as the description of what the shooter thinks, why in God’s name would you use a mass murderer’s framing?

    Because understanding is a virtue and virtue signaling is pointless.

    How long have you been coming here? Have you read anything that would make you think James thinks a mass murder is a “sane recourse?”

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  50. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I nowhere call mass violence a “sane recourse.” I say that, in response to a declaration that “the immigrant haters eventually find they have no political sway whatsoever,” the response to that is predictable:

    At which point the haters, in the best case, vote for the Donald Trumps and Steve Kings of the world or, in the worst case, decide that shooting up mosques is their only sane recourse.

    That’s what people backed into a corner do. Democracy gives them an outlet and electing bigots or those who pander to bigots is one recourse. But if they find they have no recourse within the legal parameters of society, some small number are going to do evil things. Are they justified in doing so? Nope. But it’s what humans in those circumstances have been doing for generations.

    @Gustopher puts it well:

    If people don’t feel like they are a part of the system, and that their voice matters, they begin to lash out and try to find some way of regaining some control. Some are nuts enough to go shooting up mosques.

    Finding a way to keep these deplorable people in the political system, as they lose, is important. Yes, they hate brown people, and we cannot compromise there, but often that bigotry is how they are expressing other problems.

    If you feel like you are falling behind, you’re going to lash out more, and it’s easier for a charlatan to steer your anger towards a scapegoat. We don’t just need to beat racists on Election Day, we need to work on the things that make them susceptible to the hate mongers — we need to revitalize rural America. We need a president who represents all of America, not just his/her/their base.

    That’s what I’m advocating with this post. Figuring out a way to get frustrated people with wrongheaded ideas on board with the inevitable changes in society. Most bigots are swayable. It took a long time but anti-black bigotry went from being the 90% norm to a 10% fringe. We’ve made more rapid progress on anti-gay bigotry and even anti-trans bigotry, which has seemingly come into the spotlight only in the last decade or less, is quickly evaporating in contact with evidence, argument, and exposure. Not everyone can change. Most people do.

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  51. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    That’s what I’m advocating with this post. Figuring out a way to get frustrated people with wrongheaded ideas on board with the inevitable changes in society. Most bigots are swayable. It took a long time but anti-black bigotry went from being the 90% norm to a 10% fringe. We’ve made more rapid progress on anti-gay bigotry and even anti-trans bigotry, which has seemingly come into the spotlight only in the last decade or less, is quickly evaporating in contact with evidence, argument, and exposure.

    Exactly, and we didn’t make progress on those fronts by constantly lecturing others about what terrible, despicable people they are for having the wrong beliefs. That kind of purposeful alienation has never been an effective motivator for change.

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  52. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    The problem with Gustopher’s statement is that it is demonstrably wrong. When the Nazi’s came to power, did they become less anti-semetic because their violence was “frustrated people lashing out” and they now finally felt secure? Did the Hutu becoming the majority government in Rawanda cause them to become less violent toward the minority Tutsi? Did the institution of formal segregation in the Jim Crow south cause the violence toward blacks to go down due to the fact that the white now had a political monopoly?

    Ethnic violence is not an act of desperation, it’s an act of confidence.

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  53. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Heck, look at our own country. In 2016, the Republicans took control of both houses of congress and the presidency. Have hate crimes gone up or down since then? How does that square with your theory that this is a result of political marginalization?

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  54. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: So, 1) Most Trump supporters aren’t Nazis or Hutus; indeed,almost none are. 2) It’s true that there are historical instances of genocide led by the in-power party. But most terrorist groups are formed by people whose grievances can’t be addressed within the system.

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  55. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    but most terrorist groups are formed by people whose grievances can’t be addressed within the system.

    Again, this is demonstrably not true:

    Where Are ISIS’s Foreign Fighters Coming From?

    They find that poor economic conditions do not drive participation in ISIS. Rather, the number of ISIS fighters from a given country is positively correlated with that country’s per capita gross domestic product and its place on the Human Development Index. Many foreign fighters originate from countries with high levels of economic development, low income inequality, and highly developed political institutions.

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  56. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Joyner:

    You have a right to vote in our system, but you do not have a right to have your grievances addressed to your satisfaction. The argument here is the same the incel and red-pill types make–you are not entitled to be popular anymore than you are an entitled to have sex with any woman you want. I would say that the overlap between the psychology between the psychology of Trump voters and the red-pill MRAs is big. Entitlement and selfishness are the dominant factors here.

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  57. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    Most Trump supporters aren’t Nazis or Hutus

    Most Nazis and Hutus weren’t Nazis and Hutus… until they were.

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  58. Andy says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    You have a right to vote in our system, but you do not have a right to have your grievances addressed to your satisfaction.

    The point is that once individuals or even political communities no longer believe their grievances can be fairly adjudicated by the existing power structure, they will seek to exit that structure or turn to a path that ends in violence. And that change doesn’t happen immediately, especially for individuals, as there always some process of radicalization. Societies may not be able to prevent the underlying grievance, but they sure can do a much better job combating radicalization which, in turn, would prevent or diminish the violence.

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  59. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Andy:

    White nationalist violence isn’t being directed toward the existing power structure to tear it down. It’s being directed toward the lower classes to reenforce the existing power structures. It’s reactionary, not revolutionary.

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  60. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Not all racists are the same, and we need to treat them differently. I’m less worried about a genocidal regime here than I am about racist terorism.

    We have Nazis and Klansmen and the White Nationalists who might be entirely ok with genocide. Radicalized racists.

    But we also have far more casual racists. They were raised racist, and they aren’t doing as well financially as their parents did, and they see immigrants coming here and being successful and they resent them. They see the Democrats defending the minorities, and wonder why the Democrats are never defending them. These folks are ripe for recruitment by the radicalized racists. These folks at the ones we need to reach rather than push away.

    These are the non-college-educated white folks. These are the people living in small cities and large towns that are failing. Wages are dropping, costs are rising, bankruptcies are rising, and these people are scared. We need a message that reaches these people, and which is more convincing than “did you know that there are 666 billionaires in America, and half of them are Jews?”

    The radicalized racists are more than happy to reach out to these people if we don’t. And, if we can’t, then we will have a problem beyond just an increase in hate crimes.

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  61. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Most Nazis and Hutus weren’t Nazis and Hutus… until they were.

    Actually, I’m pretty sure the Hutus were always Hutus. Pretty sure Hutu is an ethnic group like Irish, rather than a political group. You’re right about the Nazis though.

    Heck, look at our own country. In 2016, the Republicans took control of both houses of congress and the presidency. Have hate crimes gone up or down since then? How does that square with your theory that this is a result of political marginalization?

    The Republicans have managed to win electorally while still defining themselves as victims. That lets them continue to feel marginalized. Along with the embrace of white nationalists, that makes them very dangerous.

    I’d say part of that is a long pattern of stoking resentments and doing little to help their base — Republican economic policies have devastated the manufacturing sector in smaller cities and rural areas.

    If you’re worried about a rise in Nazis and othe Radicalized Racists (and I don’t think that’s an insane fear), you need to be able to reach the not-yet-radicalized.

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  62. An Interested Party says:

    I’d say part of that is a long pattern of stoking resentments and doing little to help their base — Republican economic policies have devastated the manufacturing sector in smaller cities and rural areas.

    And this is one of the reasons why so many look down on rural folks, because a lot of those folks continue to vote for politicians who hurt them on a regular basis…it’s pretty sad when people are more swayed by racist dog whistles or the promises of sticking it to the coastal elites rather than by politicians who promote policies which are actually helpful to them…

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  63. Monala says:

    @Andy: which grievances do they have that can’t be dealt with in the existing power structure? If the grievances are non-racial in nature (e.g., income inequality), many non-racial white people are facing the same struggles and would be willing to work with them on addressing it.

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  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: Since I pick on you a lot, I need to give you credit where it is due. Your statement was thoughtful. I know others will disagree with me (at least 10 for certain), but I recognize thinking when I see it and don’t much care what others think.

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  65. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Yeah, but if they don’t blame the problems on immigrants, someone might start asking why people with the power (and capital) to change things aren’t doing so.

    Can’t have that, now, can we?

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  66. Gustopher says:

    @An Interested Party: Do you really expect people to understand policy details and outcomes?

    The Republicans have had some wonderful slogans over the years, which sound like they should be helpful. “Cut taxes on businesses to promote jobs”, “get rid of regulations that are tying businesses hands, so they can create jobs”, “equality of opportunity, not guaranteed outcome”… They aren’t voting against their interest, as much as they are being lied to.

    The cheap junk heath insurance looks great until you have to use it.

    And, if they are living paycheck to paycheck, cutting their taxes seems like a great idea, since nothing else is increasing the money in their wallet.

    And all of these policies take years to have a measurable impact for most people.

    Think about this — When you go to the doctor, and the doctor talks you through a decision, do you think you really understand all the implications? No, of course not. You are relying on the doctor’s judgement. Same with voting. Or getting a loan.

    I don’t look down on the square state folks who are voting against their interest, I think we have done a piss poor job of educating them about the issues. We need to do better.

    One thing I would love to see is every household get a summary of how much, per capital, their county pays in state and federal taxes, and how much they get back. Make it clear to the rural folks that we aren’t taking away their money to help others when they themselves are hurting.

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