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Culture War Roundup for the week of December 25, 2023

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Did the alt-right ever even exist? I remember when Trump first came on the scene and people were freaking out, there were articles everywhere and people making tons of YouTube videos about the alt-right and how they were recruiting people. Nobody ever asked the question recruiting them to what? Could you even join the alt-right?

Seriously, from what I can gather, the alt-right was basically some podcast networks (TRS) and then Richard Spencer's tiny organization. His NPI conferences had maybe 500 people. Other so called members of the alt-right like Jared Taylor had already been around for decades with American Renaissance. Even when they got together at their biggest event with Unite the Right in Charlottesville, there were barely 1,000 of them and they were vastly outnumbered by counter-protesters. And a bunch of these were old school white nationalists like David Duke who came on the scene over 30 years before that.

As far as I can tell, nobody has ever seen or heard of a gathering of more than 1,000 of them together at one time. There is no alt-right to join or be recruited to and is not an organization. It has no leader or leaders. It basically doesn't exist. The mainstream media and Democrats basically made it up either as a psyop or just convinced themselves that it exists. It's probably a mix of both. This wasn't like recruiters online targeting vulnerable Muslim kids to go fight for ISIS where you could go literally join ISIS which was an organization that actually controlled land and had an army. You join the alt-right and do what exactly? Shitpost on 4chan and post edgy memes on Twitter?

Their strongest argument probably is that there were some lone wold terrorist attacks. But there were already lone wolf white nationalist attacks before Trump like the OKC bombing. And none of the closest things to leaders of the alt-right had ever committed and violence as far as I can tell. And I would argue that the mainstream media's reporting on this issue did much more to create lone wolf shooters who they gaslit into thinking we were on the cusp of a race war and gassing the Jews than any alt-right "recruiters" did.

Am I crazy here? My theory is that the Hillary Clinton campaign saw they were a good boogeyman to scare people about Trump and then the media ran with it and people convinced themselves of something on a societal level that never even existed. It's actually insane if you really think about it.

Hradzka has a good bit on what he expected Richard Spencer was trying to do with the term to start with, and what a lot of progressives were doing as well. Or see this New York Times piece (by Singal, of course) that separated the 'alt-right' from the 'alt-light' -- and contrast, even contemporaneously, other pieces.

There's a lot of if-by-whiskey, where sometimes the alt-right was just the nutty white nationalists when defining their ideology, others where it was people who hadn't denounced them heavily enough, and then other times the alt-right was pretty much everyone to the right of Mitt Romney. And to a lot of the progressive and leftist movements, the difference was kinda marginal : if you think Mitt Romney was a white supremacist, you're worried about all of them.

I'm glad that some posters mentioned Romney in all of this. The unbelievable leftist smear campaign against him in the 2012 campaign season, which was clearly motivated by nothing else but the sense of urgency to prevent the nation's first glorious African-American leader from going down in history as a one-term disappointment, was an obvious wake-up call to many otherwise moderate rightists, and convinced them that, unlike in 2008 and 2012, the GOP should actually try running a candidate who stands a chance and isn't a cuck. This had an obvious galvanizing effect on dissident right-wing politics, I think.

To be fair to the Democrats, they had no moral reason to fight fair after Kerry got swiftboated in 2004. Not that either side cared much about morality to begin with when it comes to campaigning, but my point is that this is a long story and both sides have been pulling dirty campaign tricks since the parties came into existence. There is nothing new about what they did to Romney, and that kind of dirty campaigning is not at all unique to the Democrats.

To be fair to the Democrats, they had no moral reason to fight fair after Kerry got swiftboated in 2004.

Weird example. Kerry was a worse candidate than Hillary, and he hoisted himself on his own petard by trying to run as a war hero when he was anything but. There was nothing shifty about swiftboating, unless using a candidate's own words and actions against him is now somehow sus.

He at least actually served in Vietnam, but he got railroaded by the campaign team that was fighting for a guy who spent the war safe in the US. Whether Kerry was a war hero or not I don't know, but Bush didn't even show up to the war.

Kerry was a better candidate than Hillary, and by the fundamentals, is the best 'losing candidate' (not counting 2000 for either side) in recent political history. Remember, the War wasn't unpopular yet, the economy was still fine, and Dubya still barely won. Honestly, the GOP should've seen that as a problem back then that John Kerry almost beat them, as opposed to treating it as a mandate and trying to privatize Social Security.

trying to run as a war hero when he was anything but

I can't believe I'm leaping to Kerry's defense, of all people, but based on my memories of reviewing his service record, he's much closer to war hero than pretender.

They really did him dirty.

I’ve just read the Swiftboat Vets article on Wikipedia and their own website. I can see where both sides made points and both left out details. One point which seems pertinent to me is how the Swiftboat Vets group claims they include people who were his peers and superiors, while the vets who joined Kerry’s campaign tour were his subordinates. But never having served myself, I can’t evaluate the events some fifty years ago other than as a civilian citizen hearing everything thirdhand or worse.

I don’t disparage vets for their service, but Kerry did after he got back, and that’s the part I can’t fault the Swiftboat Vets for emphasizing.

I mean we're talking about the same John Kerry that threw his Vietnam medals over the Whitehouse fence but magically had them back to display on his office wall in Congress, right?

Did the majority of the mainstream media join in the swiftboating, or was it just basically Fox News, talk radio and right-wing blogs?

To be fair to the Democrats, they had no moral reason to fight fair after Kerry got swiftboated in 2004.

I used to generally agree with this in 2012, but I changed my mind since. From a moral standpoint, dishonestly smearing someone is wrong, even as part of a tit-for-tat response.

But more strongly, I've come to realize that, for purely selfish reasons, Democrats should have fought fair then and should always fight fair. This applies to the Republicans just as much, of course. This is because the reason that I am a Democrat, and the reason I believe most Democrats are Democrats, is that I honestly believe that there's something morally/ethically/economically/etc. better about the Democrats than the Republicans. Which means I have a selfish motivation to make sure that the Democrats really are better, so that I don't suffer the shame of having backed the wrong side.

Now, a minor implication of this is that Democrats being dishonest is, in itself, something that calls into doubt their moral superiority. But Republicans are arguably (evidently?) just as dishonest just as often, so that's not that big a difference maker*. The bigger implication is that if Democrats are using dishonesty to win people over to them now, then that calls into question how I was won over to them in the past. So out of purely selfish reasons, I want the Democrats to prove to me that they have a commitment to honesty, so that I can be more confident that when I was won over, then I was won over honestly rather than being duped.

One argument I used to buy into was that the Democrats had a moral duty to win. I've since come to believe that that was motivated reasoning on my part. Given that I prefer the Democrats, my belief that the moral disaster of Democrats losing is so high as to justify underhanded tactics to prevent it is not just suspect, it's meaningless. And if winning requires such underhanded tactics such that I lose confidence that our side really is the better side, then that removes any satisfaction from winning; I want the correct side to win, not my side to win - I try to align those by changing what "my side" is to be the "correct side." And I can't get those aligned properly if the side I want to support is dishonest.

* There's a small issue here that I can't be trusted to have an unbiased view of the situation. I like Democrats and dislike Republicans, so if I perceive Republicans as being more dishonest, then that tells us nothing about if they really are more dishonest. And if I perceive a similar level of dishonesty, then almost certainly the Democrats are being more dishonest, since I'm far more likely to unconsciously gloss over their immoralities than Republicans'. I've just given up and decided to be aggressively agnostic on their relative dishonesty.

"All is fair in love or war."

Especially when both parties believe the future of the country is at stake, conscience and fairness are a nuisance that only gets in the way of seeing the "big picture." If playing by moral and ethical rules always puts you at the disadvantage of losing, it's it's always unreasonable and inconsistent to prefer the righteous team/candidate.

If playing by moral and ethical rules always puts you at the disadvantage of losing, it's it's always unreasonable and inconsistent to prefer the righteous team/candidate.

This gets into what I'd consider to be a more fundamental question underlying this, which is something like, if winning requires that you throw away any meaningful confidence you have that the world isn't, by your own standards, made a worse place because you won, then is that tradeoff worth it? I could see the argument for either, but push come to shove, I'd say it isn't. I believe there's actually something better about supporting something with some level of confidence about the goodness of that thing compared to supporting something just because it's my team. I'm sympathetic to the former choice, since winning feels good, and it often translates to direct, tangible positive consequences to someone's well-being, and that can be worth making the rest of the world a worse place for everyone else. But I'm completely unsympathetic to anyone making the former choice while claiming that it's a necessary evil to give us the better future that we deserve; that evil act corrupts our very ability to judge that us winning would make the future better than the counterfactual. If more people just baldly stated, "I don't care if politicians on my side actually make society/our lives/the world/etc. better; what matters is that it's my side, and I want my side to win," that would be worthy of respecting.

Plenty of people will say the ends justify the means. Or to adopt the position of some leftists a number of years ago who used to say, "there are no bad tactics, only bad targets." After all, why even waste your time being in the game if honest actors have no hope of winning it? Darwinism applies just as much to the political sphere, and it's survival of the fittest, win at all costs, because that's our system. We don't have proportional representation here, only the winner walks away with the keys to the kingdom.

For better or worse, no matter who gets into power, getting 'anything' done in politics is actually very difficult. It's a worthwhile debate to ask if it even really matters who becomes President. I'm undecided on the issue, but I agree with Andrew Breitbart entirely when he said politics is downstream from culture. You start locally and expand your sphere of influence.

I agree with Andrew Breitbart entirely when he said politics is downstream from culture.

But is it downstream from the culture of the people or the culture of the elites? These are two very different things.

Arguably, democracy is merely a way for people to have some influence on which elites are in power.

More comments

That mitt romney article reminds me of one from the bush campaign where they claimed that the John Kerry kids were awful and rude and used slurs and a bunch of other bullshit.

His kids at the time were two-four years old. People will write literally anything during campaign years, so long as it makes the other side look bad.

This is what mystifies me about how large the supposedly beyond the pale attacks on Romney during the 2012 campaign are such a huge theme on this forum, popping up time after time after time.

My understanding of American presidential elections is that they have always pretty much been a no-holds-barred cage match, behind the scenes, with both parties (not their ticket headers but lower figures) continuously accusing the other party's candidate of everything under the sun and negative campaign galore being the theme of the day.

However, there's now a suggestion that in this particular election, with this particular candidate, the Dems should have refrained from all this and, in effect, fought with one hand behind the back, that there was something particularly ungentlemanly about going after Romney in the typical way. And the people claiming this don't even really like Romney all that much!

The articles on Romney painted him like he was a cross between Giga Hitler and Satan, while he's a bog standard conservative who mildly disliked the gays. He is the very definition of milquetoast.

I wasn't even a conservative back then and even I saw the absolute bullshit that was going down. If he being such a nobody got the treatment he did, there was literally NO upside to trying to be moderate.

So, despite what the other people are saying, I think what upsets the sort of anti-anti-Trump person that talks about 2012 the most isn't the just-so story about Romney being this honorable man the evil Democrat's attacks, that were so wrong and beyond the pale.

It's that 2012 was the first time the Democratic Party realized they had a national majority and acted that way in a national campaign. The reality is for the previous 30+ years, from Carter on, the Democrat's basically agreed with the Republican prescription of things, they just wanted a slightly kinder way of doing it - yes, crime is out of control. Yes, welfare is bad. Yes, government is too big, but the GOP are run by crazies who won't cut the right things. That was basically the Dukakis/Bill Clinton/Al Gore/even John Kerry argument.

Obama shifted that, but 2008 wasn't much of a nasty election because McCain liked Obama and vice versa, and people realized the GOP were doomed. But, in 2012, the Democrat's did thing they hadn't did in deciades - talked about how maybe, very rich people weren't perfect ideals of greatness who deserved all the credit for everything.

It helped that Mitt Romney said he liked to fire people, had shut down companies to get rich, and attacked half the population as well, basically 'deplorables' (unlike Hillary, who only attacked half of the Trump voters, so about 25%). People also forget in the post-2012 election, he basically blamed his loss on people (specifically minorities) wanting free stuff before he calmed down.

Now, I know the pushback will be "well, liberals love him now," and as the resident left-wing partisan Democrat, we don't love Mitt Romney, we just accept a right-wing neoliberal is better than a wannabee fascist, and Romney's one of the last Republican's who have actual ideas. Plus, 2012 Republican Nominee Mitt Romney wasn't really what Mitt Romney wanted to be, and he'd admit that to you today. He just couldn't run and win a primary as either 2006 MA Governor Mitt or current day pro-BLM pro-child tax credit anti-insurrection Mitt. I still don't think he's a good guy, I think his wealth should be taxed, and in a perfect world, his many, many children would not get much inheritance from him.

As for the rest, the petty BS people get hung up on happens in every Presidential election - Carter almost lost because he was slightly honest in a Playboy interview, the supposed liberal NYT turned Gore into some serial liar, and peopel already went over the Swift Boating of Kerry.

I also don't regret stopping him from massively cutting people's taxes, passing right-wing social policy, and so on. Be better than the petty wannabe fascist doesn't make you good. Respecting the will of the people isn't a high bar to clear, so I don't need to give him cookies.

But yes, to a certain brand of conservative who was used to the Democrat's being the Washington Generals, where they got most of their policies passed even when the Democrat's won, 2012 was the first time in their political memory the Democrat's actually punched back, and they've never forgiven Obama for doing so, which is why they'll talk themselves into supporting Trump, again.

Romney's one of the last Republican's who have actual ideas.

Your chauvinism is showing. What makes an idea "actual", besides it "actually" being a Dem policy position?

No, like JD Vance & Josh Hawley have ideas, too. They're dumb ones, but they do.

But, folks like Tuberville, MTG, Boebert, and the rest of the newly arriving Trumpian Senators and Representatives just don't. Like, at the top of each party, the knowlesge level is similar, bu even the most down the line hacky Democratic politician could tell you a decent amount about their pet policy, whether it's ya' know, health care or child care or taxes or whatever.

Ah, so plenty of Republicans have "actual" ideas. You just think there are some loonies on the fringe. And of course, you can't find any loonies on the fringe of your own party. Yeah, that's not the same perspective that's been expressed by partisans on both sides since, well, forever. Yawn.

The reasons that Romney was a clear escalation are many:

  1. He wasn't close to winning, so why do it at all?
  2. It was his family as well, mostly his children and sick with MS wife.
  3. The attacks on him were so incredibly deranged, like the binders full of women one.

Overall, the Romney attacks exposed a pathological desire to grip power that was like Nixon on steroids, except without the real enemies.

This is what mystifies me about how large the supposedly beyond the pale attacks on Romney during the 2012 campaign are such a huge theme on this forum, popping up time after time after time.

Centrist types frequently argue that Trump is a person of bad character, and that his bad character should be a matter of concern to his supporters. Romney is brought up as one-half of a refutation of this argument (the other half being noted rapist Bill Clinton), demonstrating that any Republican will not only be accused of bad character, but that the accusation will stick, regardless of their actual character, while any Democrat will be presented as heroic and that presentation made to stick, again regardless of their actual character. Romney is the Republican example because he was widely perceived to be the cleanest-cut, most virtuous candidate Reds could possibly have gotten, probably the most virtuous candidate either party has had in a generation or more, and it made precisely zero difference and arguably handicapped his ability to fight and win. It follows that such arguments should not be taken seriously, either now or in the foreseeable future. Good-faith conversation about the character of the candidates is impossible, at least across the aisle, and probably at all, and those who think otherwise are either ignorant or deceiving themselves. The fact that, having smeared him, Blues went right back to pretending they preferred him is merely the icing on the cake.

This argument does not rely on liking or supporting Romney in any way. I think it's a decisive argument, and I voted for Obama.

More generally, this is one of a class of arguments demonstrating that the basic assumptions civil society is built on do not hold, and that cooperation across the tribal divide is not positive-sum.

This is what mystifies me about how large the supposedly beyond the pale attacks on Romney during the 2012 campaign are such a huge theme on this forum, popping up time after time after time.

Some of it's literally just me, and just used as an example over other cases like Palin or Dubya because Romney's more recent.

That said, just because it looks like harsh weapons sometimes get used doesn't mean that there are no rules, or motions about rules that people 'should' follow. LBJ's famous (alleged) pigfucker politics weren't exactly shared as aspirational goals -- note this summary is from a clearly progressive partisan Dem! And we do not see many serious attempts to call random politicians literal pig-fuckers today, and indeed that progressive partisan Dem mostly does not highlight statements from either serious politicians or their cutouts.

Part of that's because 'no one would believe it' (uh...), but the bigger part is that after a certain point this is the sort of thing that gets the Wohl's convicted or Project Veritas driven to bankruptcy. There are rules, as arbitrary and ill-enforced as they might be.

More critically, there's a point where the published violations of those rules would be more costs than the benefits might hold. It's like the people who wonder why Peter Thiel doesn't just hire private detectives to ruin the lives of everyone who pisses him off: the very act of trying to hire them would be a far bigger story than anything they could come up with would be, in ways that would undermine anything they could come up with. Scott Alexander might call this a specific form of bounded distrust, and while I don't particularly agree with his analysis, it's not completely wrong, either.

The flip side to 'Bounded Distrust' is that, even assuming it to be true, those bounds are not set in stone or engraved into golden plates, and the 2012 election was either a major shift or the revelation of a major shift, here. People point to the 2008 Swiftboating of Kerry, and maybe th at was another shift, but it was one where a rando PAC made allegations. We did not have a handful of plausibly connected cutouts claiming Romney would put "Black people back in chains"; we had the sitting vice president of the United States do it. We did not have some sketchy tabloid mag claiming Romney did not pay taxes; Harry Reid stood on the Senate floor and made his case.

But probably the more damning bit is that Romney made no small part of his public persona his decency. There's a (fair!) argument that this was always skin-deep: 47%, and all, and I've got a draft post I've been working on pointing out how much he was just as prone to snickering about his opponents as Trump was, just behind their backs rather than to their faces. Yet he made a large number of costly commitments to that skin-deep 'decency', while no small number of partisans on both sides were talking up how vital it would be both for the Republican project and for the American democratic project as a whole to elevate discourse.

The thing is that the romney campaign didn't reciprocate with those punches, and instead held their tongues.

It reminds of that utterly lame-ass attempt by the McCain campaign in 2008 to attack Obama by bringing up his association with Bill Ayers, of all people. Very obviously it had to be a white dude in any case.

The attacks on Mitt don’t seem particularly out of bounds, but the attacks on his family were a major escalation from previous norms and there’s definitely some 2012 campaign issues that play into it.

You're right, you wouldn't expect any different from the campaign and the partisans. The difference was the way the media treated it, the nauseating network of "fact checkers" and "journalists" who willingly, even gleefully participated in the smear job. It was no campaign worker but a "journalist" who used the debate forum to harangue and "correct" Romney's facts - erroneously! It was not just the Obama campaign and the DNC that mocked Romney for saying that Russia was the top geopolitical foe, it was also newspapers, magazines, late-night shows, and even straight news programs. What the Romney stomping clarified is not that Republicans would be subject to completely unfair smears from their opponents. It clarified that the media was also an opponent, and one so powerful that it could not possibly be defeated without attacking it directly. That is what Trump was not afraid to do, and that is why he won.

This is what mystifies me about how large the supposedly beyond the pale attacks on Romney during the 2012 campaign are such a huge theme on this forum, popping up time after time after time.

Because they refute a common talking point -- that if the Republicans would just run someone Respectable, their candidate would be treated with respect by the media. Sometimes Romney is even given as an example.

if the Republicans would just run someone Respectable, their candidate would be treated with respect by the media

Oh, yeah. Now Romney is the Only Good Republican because he criticised Trump. All the "Why don't the Republicans run someone like Romney?" stuff makes me choke, because we saw exactly what happened when they did run him.

I mean, you couldn't get more bland milquetoast than Mitt, and the more I think about him, the more I think that he was the Republican version of Barack Obama (wait, don't run away, I may be crazy but I'm going somewhere with this): the young (in political terms) guy with the aura of hopey-changey who was going to do all the right and good things for the country and would be a change from the existing political structure. First Mormon Ever, as a parallel with First Black Ever. And what happened?

Binders full of women as a talking point about how he was a sexist misogynist (years later, this was quietly rowed back on as what he meant it in the first place, but that was after he was well beaten and a new bogeyman had replaced him)

Animal cruelty to poor doggie-woggie

Going to establish a Mormon Theocracy (just like JFK was going to hand the White House over to the Vatican)

Monstrous capitalist eater of the poor (the unfortunate 47% remark plus Bain Capital connection)

Op-ed in British newspaper from progressive think-tank member about how he was not only a bad politician but a bad person

So yeah, tell me again about "if only the Republicans would run a Nice Guy". And I don't even like Mitt, or think President Romney would have been anymore than a mediocre not terribly bad, not terribly good president.

Sometimes it's even the exact same people.

I have, in my life, a mainstream progressive democrat, who occasionally complains that the GOP won't run someone who she disagrees with but can respect, "like Mitt Romney". She gets quite upset when I point out that I have screenshots of her saying that she would "never vote for a dog murderer" and never quite squares that circle.

It doesn't matter, though, because she develops amnesia again a month or two later and says the same thing.

And the people claiming this don't even really like Romney all that much!

I would guess that most of the people complaining are more concerned about who he was running against. And for some of those people, more specifically the race of that person.

  • -27

I would guess that most of the people complaining are more concerned about who he was running against. And for some of those people, more specifically the race of that person.

The resulting comment chains to your statement is yet another example of the problems caused by using words such as "most" and "some" because those words are vague and can be interpreted in so many ways.

At this point, I say you should put a percentage estimate with your confidence on that estimate (e.g. I am 90% confident 5% of Romney voters voted for him because they didn't like Obama being black) and this should reveal what you really think about the matter. And if your estimate is reasonable it should take some heat off your back.

As I said earlier, I am 100% confident that some Romney supporters voted for him out of anti-black animus, and some Obama supporters voted for him out of anti-white animus. The numbers are probably quite small in both instances. But I disagree that that is the source of the heat.

  • -10

You haven't actually done what I suggested.

What percentage of people that voted do you think did with that as their primary motivation to do so? 0.1%, 1%, 5%, 20%, 50%? You can even give a number range, like 1 - 20%. If you can't do this then you're speaking with no conviction in your thought.

You might be thinking why does this matter? Well, it matters because it reveals your motivation for making that statement. If you think 50% of voters did so with racism as their main priority, it tells me that your view of the world is flawed and I should view any argument/statement you make with more scrutiny. If you think it's 0.1% of the voters, then why did you even bring up the point? It's so miniscule that it's irrelevant. You failed to provide any other reason for why people might be against the opposition candidate other than the race factor so it's reasonable to assume that you think racism is a significant enough contributing factor.

When you're providing an explanation for something but that explanation is like the 8th or 9th in the list of reasons that matter and you provide no other reasons, and nobody else has provided the more likely reasons, well it seems to imply you have some kind of agenda or you want to push some kind of perspective. It's poisoning the well, and it's not conducive to a productive conversation. There probably is something interesting and insightful in the point you brought up, after all I've seen some amazing conversations here based on disagreements but the resulting comment chain so far has not been enlightening on anything of substance other than the nature of your character at this moment in time.

The charitable view is that you just some off-hand remark you made without giving it much thought, but the fact that you continue to argue rather than saying it was just some careless wording on your part seems to suggest something else. I get that it's human nature to get defensive, especially when you get piled on like this, but it's not doing you any favors here.

So I'm defending Mitt Romney (God help us and save us) because I'm an anti-black racist? Good to know!

As I said, only some people who are defending Mitt Romney are possibly motivated by anti-black racism. Just as some people who supported Obama were anti-white racists.

You can probably find someone who voted against Obama because "I don't want no nigger president" or something of the sort. But, you know who the only candidate who managed to (briefly)bump Trump out of his frontrunner spot in the 2016 primary was? Ben Carson. You know, the sleepwalking black brainsurgeon. Herman Cain was a grassroots star, too. So was Allen West. Yes these people were crazy, but the tea party loved them. On the other hand there were lots of white liberals and rinos that they hated.

Everything we know about the backlash to the Obama administration points to it being driven by traditional values, tribal dynamics, and the rural-urban divide, not anti-black racism. 'Obama is unamerican' was a sentiment driven by him being a liberal(how many times does Trump say 'Americans vs socialists' or something similar? It's a lot) who grew up in Indonesia and was married to a woman who openly said she'd never been proud of America before.

I would guess that most of the people complaining are more concerned about who he was running against. And for some of those people, more specifically the race of that person.

Do not weakman in order to show how bad a group is. Especially when that group is "this forum," please.

I didn’t say anyone is "bad." I was describing their possible motivations, not their moral value as people. For example, Trump was right to say that there were "very fine people on both sides" at Charlottesville; in fact, the vast majority were probably perfectly fine people. Even James Fields's actions were perfectly understandable, even if they were morally wrong. I have known of ]gang members who have done terrible things, but who are not terrible people]( Whether a person's actions are wrong does not mean that the person is a "bad person," and indeed with some exceptions, claims about the moral worth of individuals are meaningless, at best.

  • -14

I didn’t say anyone is "bad."

I didn't say that you said anyone is bad. I modded you for violating the rule against weakmanning. Since you were apparently confused by the shorthand, here is the rule in its entirety:

There are literally millions of people on either side of every major conflict, and finding that one of them is doing something wrong or thoughtless proves nothing and adds nothing to the conversation. We want to engage with the best ideas on either side of any issue, not the worst.

Post about specific groups, not general groups, wherever possible. General groups include things like gun rights activists, pro-choice groups, and environmentalists. Specific groups include things like The NRA, Planned Parenthood, and the Sierra Club. Posting about general groups is often not falsifiable, and can lead to straw man arguments and non-representative samples.

Avoid posting solely about gaffes, misstatements, or general bad behavior from prominent people. Discussing policy implications is always fine, and concrete criminal or impeachable offenses are also fair game. For example, "Look at Congressman Jones being a jerk" is not OK; "congressman Jones is under suspicion of taking bribes" is fine, as is "congressman Jones's employment law is bad for these reasons . . ."

Sometimes we get good discussion about the consequences of gaffes, misstatements, or general bad behavior; for example, "here's Congressman Jones being a jerk, let's talk about the underlying reason why congressmen do this sort of thing regularly". In most cases, these should stand as valuable posts regardless of whether they refer to Congressman Jones or not.

Links to news stories should generally follow the above rules, although cannot be expected to adhere to them exactly. For instance, a news story which uses an anecdote to introduce a concept is OK (this is a very common framing discussion), a news story which is about tweets from non-prominent people reacting to some event isn't ok.

You broke that rule, and in particular the group under discussion was this forum, which I am particularly protective of, as we have discussed.


I didn't say that you said anyone is bad.

Yes, you did: "Do not weakman in order to show how bad a group is."

If ascribing motives to people who post here is considered against the rules, fine. But I suggest clarifying that in the rules, because the rule you quote explicitly endorses ascribing motives to the common behavior of groups: "let's talk about the underlying reason why congressmen do this sort of thing regularly".

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It's only weakmanning to show how bad a group is if you assume that Gdanning thinks there is something bad about disliking Obama for his skin color.

I haven't assumed anything. But if you're suggesting that Gdanning should have been modded under "speak plainly" instead, your suggestion has been noted.

... do you have an example person you're highlighting, here? Because that's a pretty serious charge to just be throwing out for The Implication, especially given the previous poster was specifically talking about people on this forum.

It's extremely interesting how your go-to response to any claim you dislike is to demand evidence, or else discard it as invalid, but have no issues with divining the true motives of people you never even debated on the subject.

If you really know what is the point of bringing up attacks on Romney, even if you don't like him, it's to argue against the claim that attacks on someone more populist are justified. Any Republican will always be literally Hitler.

I have evidence, because I have been on here a while, and just as there are some commenters here who clearly have issues with Jews, there are some who have issues with blacks. Not all, nor even a majority, but some.

And, for the record, I demand evidence for claims that I like. I am not a fan of Justice Alito's jurisprudence, and so it would be great to dismiss him as a "partisan hack," but alas I can't, without evidence. Do you form your beliefs in a different manner?

I have evidence, because I have been on here a while, and just as there are some commenters here who clearly have issues with Jews, there are some who have issues with blacks. Not all, nor even a majority, but some.

Normally I wouldn't do it, since I find these sort of requests disingenuous, but since you insist the above is a valid approach, can you please link the evidence that the same people objecting to how Romney was treated are the same people who have expressed a problem with black people?

And, for the record, I demand evidence for claims that I like. I am not a fan of Justice Alito's jurisprudence, and so it would be great to dismiss him as a "partisan hack," but alas I can't, without evidence

That doesn't mean your demands for rigor is in any way balanced.

Do you form your beliefs in a different manner?

Of course, evidence is just one of the factors that shapes my beliefs. I think very few people base their beliefs solely on evidence, nor do I think it's healthy to do so.

  • I think very few people base their beliefs solely on evidence, nor do I think it's healthy to do so.

Perhaps, that is a red herring. The issue is whether it is unhealthy to base belefs on a complete lack of evidence, or on things that purport to be evidence, but are not.

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Part of it is probably that Scott Alexander wrote specifically and eloquently about how unfair the attacks on Mitt Romney were, so their unfairness has become fixed as a fact in our minds more than potentially similar attacks in previous presidential elections.

At the time, I thought some of the enthusiasm for Obama was way more embarrassing than any attacks; tingles up legs and Indigo Star Children Light Workers? 🙄