Tuesday, April 12, 2005
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Joel Engel goes Vizzini on the L-word
About once a quarter I'll experience a conversation in which I feel like Inigo Montoya's character in The Princess Bride when he hears Vizzini repeatedly say the word "inconceivable!" after witnessing yet another heroic feat by the masked and dangerous Dread Pirate Roberts. After hearing Vizzini say that word several times, Montoya finally turns to him and says, "I don't think that word means what you think it means."
I'm having an Inigo Montoya moment after reading Joel Engel go all Vizzini on the word "liberal" in The Weekly Standard. Here's a snippet:
Engel's implication -- that all liberals are little Ward Chruchills -- is partisanship gone absurd. Conservative Ramesh Ponnuru makes this point in NRO's The Corner in discussing Engel's litany of non-liberal actions:
In other words -- I don't think the modern incarnation of the word "liberal" means what Joel Engel thinks it means.
UPDATE: Mickey Kaus points out that the Associated Press can overgeneralize with the best of them -- this time with regard to defining "conservative":
posted by Dan on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM
Ward Churchill is surely a creation of the right wing radical fringe. I mean, this liberal had never heard of him. Had never held common cause with him. Why should the fringers feel it appropriate to lay him on my doorstep when they are the ones who dug him up and lavished all this attention on him? And, as has been discussed elsewhere, Ward Churchill is not only NOT a leader in the democratic party, he is not even an elected politician. Whereas Tom "call the Dept of Homeland Security to chase these pesky dems" Delay is the second most powerful republican in Congress. But, I don't hold him against reasonable people like Mr. Drezner here, tho I would hope he feels a bit sheepish about the bug man.posted by: carrington on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
This sort of dreck seems to be turning up more and more often in the Weekly Standard. Am I the only one who used to think of the Weekly Standard as the more calm, moderate conservative magazine (vs. National Review? What the hell happened?posted by: Ted Barlow on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Set your way-back machine to 1947-48 when "liberal" Democrats were purging the Communists and their hanger-on from the party and from unions. My father was involved in this.
Then consider that the ideological descendants of the Communists, etc., purged then are the "liberal" Democrats of today, only with much better funding.
Liberal Democrats then didn't feel that whatever America was doing abroad at the moment was wrong, but American Communists and their hangers-on did.
"Liberal" Democrats today, during the Clinton administration, and during the first Bush admnistration, are and were most definitely characterized by an opinion that whatever America is doing abroad at the moment is wrong. The change in liberal Democrats occurred during the Reagan administration.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
"Liberal" Democrats today, during the Clinton administration, and during the first Bush admnistration, are and were most definitely characterized by an opinion that whatever America is doing abroad at the moment is wrong.
Prove it, Tom.
This "liberal" Democrat certainly doesn't agree with that statement. Nor does the vast majority of liberal Democrats. Who the *&%* is Ward Churchill, and why is he so important to the freeper types? Does he have a radio show with millions of listeners? Does he have a TV show with millions of viewers? Is he a billionaire who lavishes money on crack-pot organizations, so their employees spew filth and bile? Is he a powerful politician who wields enormous influence on the direction of this country?
I'd never heard of him until a couple of months ago, and I consider myself more politically aware than 90% of the American population.posted by: mrjauk on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Honestly, fuck the Weekly Standard.posted by: praktike on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
He's got a classroom full of kids every day, every semester, for the rest of his life. And there are many, many more that think in his direction, if not as extreme. The reason conservatives are freaked out by Ward Churchill is because he is a symptom of the Ivory Tower of education in this country. You guys are right that the majority of self-described liberals are not what we would consider radical or knee-jerk America blamers. But a large proportion of college professors are, and they have no accountability and virtually no way to get rid of them. Counterbalancing them with other voices seems a no-brainer in the supposed area of free thinking that is higher education, but the truth is the PC police that run the departments wont allow it.posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Would some of the "liberals" who read this
An end to the death penalty?
Less burdensome regulation of Businesses?
Funny. John Holbo on Zizek on liberalism (click through to see the headline):
I agree. However, if memory serves, it was not Inigo Montoya but the good-hearted lacky played by Andre the Giant who uttered the classic line, "I don't think that word means what you think it does."posted by: trostky on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Ted Barlow: Am I the only one who used to think of the Weekly Standard as the more calm, moderate conservative magazine (vs. National Review? What the hell happened?
I don't think there's been much of a change. On one hand, the Standard has always been more Beltway-respectable-- nice Washington neocons who belong to the professional class and aren't going to play footsie with creationists, rant about "buggery, buggery, buggery!", or treat every anti-abortion and anti-contraception position as heroic. On the other hand, and for related reasons, the Standard's usually been more hackish and less intellectually serious-- more like the print version of a cable news show and less like an essay in natural law theology. Sometimes-outrageous positions, usually seriously-defended, vs. conventional and publicly acceptable positions, defended in conventional talking-points ways.posted by: Jacob T. Levy on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Can't you wingnuts even get your rants straight ? Throughout the Clinton administration you were ranting against Clinton being a socialist (a term Limbaugh used regularly), when not calling him a Nazi. Now suddenly, the "socialist liberals" of the Clinton administration are not Democrats.
And in fact, the strongest complaints against the Clinton administration's bombing of Iraq came from Republicans, who darkly mumbled of Wag The Dog.posted by: erg on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Liberal Democrats didn't like Clinton's actions in Bosnia and Kosovo either. Moderates of both parties did.
The only exception I can think of to my general rule for that period is that liberal Democrats did not object, during the Clinton administration, to Commerce Secretary Ron Brown's use of the CIA, and the NSA's codebreakers, to enable American businesses to outbid French kickbacks to foreign public officials for their governments' contracts. But that wasn't in the headlines. Liberal Democrats are real big on headlines, though Republican elected officials seem better "in the rush" to the nearest camera.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
This vision of academia as being populated by tons of Churchills is ridiculous--I am getting sick of it. Are there some radicals? Some as assanine as Churchill? Yes. Are there many--no! I have yet to find this radical cabal in the university. Are there cops who are racist? Yes. Are there politicians who are corrupt? Yes. Does that mean that there is a large number of cops who are racist and politicians that are corrupt? No. Show some empirics and I will begin to consider it. Don't trot out some idiot who happens to also be a professor and start smearing an entire category of people as if he is representative of that group. Churchill said (and continues to say) incredibly stupid and ill-informed things--but to trot this hack out as someone that is symptomatic of academia is just plain wrong...posted by: bp32 on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Gosh, I thought you were talking about The L Word, a series on Showtime. :-)posted by: Randy Paul on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
You've got to love the circularity of the argument: Ascribe a bunch of positions to "liberals" and then decry those same "liberals" for having perverted the meaning of the term.
I am a liberal, and I cried on Sept. 11, 2001.
I am a liberal, and I supported the war in Afghanistan. I also supported the Persian Gulf War and the Kosovo intervention because I thought they were fought for the right ends. Defending the weak against the strong is a quintessentially liberal position.
I am a liberal and, while I was not persuaded that the attack on Iraq was wise policy or that it has made us any safer, I do not root for the insurgents nor praise the Islamofascists. As a liberal, I believe that individuals have a right and a duty to criticize their own government, and that exercising that right does not imply fealty to the enemy.
I am a liberal, and I have qualms about the death penalty because I understand that the machinery of government is imperfect, and I worry about the state taking the lives of innocent people.
I am a liberal, and I decry the religious right and its "culture of life" because I find it steeped in hypocrisy. Tom Delay will move heaven and earth to save a women with no brain activity while at the same time pushing through votes to cut Medicaid -- cuts which will inevitably lead to the deaths of children whose only crime is to be sick and poor. Just because we cannot name those kids does not mean that their lives are not worth saving. Their parents love them too.posted by: KS on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Dean (the most liberal of the major Dem Candidates) supported Clinton on Bosnia and Kosovo. So clearly your definition of liberal is so constricted as to be useless.
Did anyone besides me follow the link and actuall read the article? Not that I am so great but I wanted to see the whole thing. I think Mr. Drezner has misinterpreted the piece a bit and I know that most of those commenting here have. To my reading the article is pointing out that the term "liberal" is misused and that the fringe left and their beliefs is/are not what the term has traditional meant. I diagree with Dan, to my reading Engel is NOT implying that the Ward Churchill's of the world ARE liberal, especially since Engel concludes by implying that he himself is among those who consider themselves a "classic liberal".
But read it for yourselves and see what you think.posted by: Jason on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Dean didn't discover he was a liberal until he ran for President. He was a moderate Democrat when in Vermont.
You can do better than that.
I agree about Ward Churchill. He's a crank, not merely a loon. Calling him a liberal is worse than calling Dobbs a conservative. I even tend to agree with Ted Barlow here - the Weekly Standard seems to have started posturing lately. Maybe it's a subscription drive.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
The only way to get conservatives to understand how absurd this article is, is to write a similar editorial about how the traditional word "conservative" has been so perverted that it has lost all meaning.
For example, using the full weight of Congress and the Presidency to circumvent state jurisdiction, federalism, and spousal rights on behalf of a handful of religious zealots may be a lot things but it isn't conservative.posted by: Beeble on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
I'd never heard of him until a couple of months ago, and I consider myself more politically aware than 90% of the American population.
I'd never heard of him until a couple of months ago, and I'm a professor at the University of Colorado. Seriously.
If that was the articulated stance of those on both sides who screamed the loudest, this country would be much better off. Unfortunately, those are the positions of the silent majority, and the screaming conservatives do a much better job of characterizing the screaming liberals, which accounts for the increase in conservative self-identification.posted by: Jim Dandy on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
The reason why we don't know about the Ward Churchills of the right is because the winger moneybags know that if their writings ever got out, the Republicans would be doomed. Therefore, the well-paid sinecures at right wing think tanks.posted by: Marysquito on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
> Liberal Democrats didn't like Clinton's
You know, there are actual data to shed light on questions like this. From a March 1999 ABC poll, asking people "The United States has said it may bomb Serbia unless Serbia agrees to a peace plan for Kosovo. If Serbia does not agree to the peace plan, should the United States bomb Serbia or not?"
Ideology Yes, bomb/No, don't bomb
(Numbers don't add up to 100 because of Don't Know responses.)posted by: KS on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
How come no one has heard of me. I am all knowing and powerful. Why do liberals ignore me? Why does it take wingnuts 2 1/2 years to read my brilliant treatsies?
I could point to a number of people whose statments are more outrageous than Prof. Churchill's but I don't tar all conservatives with that brush. For example, I think Rev. Falwell's remarks over 9/11 were much more objectionable than Prof. Churchill's. Every sufficiently large group of people will contain a number of wingnuts, idiots and loudmouths. It doesn't mean the whole group is necessarily so.
That being said, I do think "conservatives" tar with this brush more often than "progressives"posted by: FredW on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
1) Fezzik said it, not Montoya.
2) I was an liberal democrat, and I was for defending people overseas in 1999 and 2001. I wasn't aware enough to have a position in 1995. My position on Iraq was that that any policy built in that many lies had to be wrong. This is clearly consistant with liberal tradition. (Opposing it because "war bad!" is not).posted by: dbt on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
was and am a liberal democrat. what a grammar booch. Maybe I should have spent more time in school. :)posted by: dbt on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
We liberals could make this sort of argument about conservatives a lot more effectively, I think. 99.9% of liberals (including me) had never heard of Ward Churchill before the wingnuts got hold of his idiotic quote. He certainly is not any sort of spokesman for us. Ann Coulter is a FAR more prominent spokesperson for American "conservatism." She frequently appears on TV, is supposedly a best-selling author, is a featured speaker at GOP and conservative conventions, and was recently named by Time as one of the 100 Most Influential Americans (gag). She has said all kinds of crazy things -- writing a whole book claiming that liberals are guilty of treason, lamenting that the 9/11 terrorists didn't hit the New York Times building, urging us to "invade [Arab] countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity," etc. One could very easily quote 20 crazy things she has said and use that to "prove" that all conservatives are insane.posted by: Frederick on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Falwell is a public figure with followers in the millions. Churchill is a nobody whom few had ever heard of. Name one person whom Churchill can claim as a follower.
You just can't compare the two.posted by: modus potus on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
trostky & dbt: It was Inigo Montoya. Jeez.posted by: Occulize on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
The Europeans actually get this one right, by distinguishing "liberal" from "left". Indeed, the two are often opposed there, as they are here, where liberals like Drezner and Glenn Reynolds are mislabled as conservatives or even, as in Drezner's case, label themselves as Republicans, most likely in an effort to dissent from the left than to embrace the "right", in the historical/European/left-wing caricature sense of the term.
I just finished a three year post-grad program at an Ivy League school. Maybe ten percent of professors/administrators were of the Ward Churchill type. Engaging with them could be exasperating, but ultimately they are not the problem. If anything, we could have used some more of that type to stir things up a bit. What I did notice was the complete absence of professors or administrators of similar temperament, i.e. not afraid to speak their minds, from any of the other traditions of thought our country enjoys.
Plenty of outspoken leftists. Few outspoken liberals or conservatives. The effect was that impressionable minds both left and right got the sense that the left was the only game in town.posted by: Ged of Earthsea on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Ah, labels. What would we ever do with out them. Think, I suppose.posted by: Boronx on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
It was absolutely Montoya:
[Vizzini has just cut the rope The Dread Pirate Roberts is climbing up]
"Liberal" Democrats today [...] are and were most definitely characterized by an opinion that whatever America is doing abroad at the moment is wrong. The change in liberal Democrats occurred during the Reagan administration.
The Reagan administration gave chemical weapons and billions of dollars of military aid to Saddam Hussein.posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.posted by: buttercup on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
"Marching against war every time the United States is involved--in fact only when the United States is involved--regardless of the war's purpose"
The other points seemed over the top, but he nailed that one.posted by: joe on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Regarding Kosovo... I'm not aware of any Liberal Democrats who were against our involvement there. What you did see is a lot of diatribes by Communists such as Alexander Cockburn... But these are not Democrats... They're Naderites, Green party, or other leftist groups. Quite a difference.
The other group who was against Kosovo were Republicans, mainly in Congress who kept trying to undermine our troops. What was interesting is that the Republicans lined right up with the Communists and pushed the same reasoning and arguments. That Milosevic wasn't so bad, that we were actually causing more harm, or as GW Bush put it in 2000 that we were overly aggressive in our foreign policy.
As a Clark supporter during the primary season, I saw a lot of this. The Weekly Standard, National Review, and other rags were parroting almost word for word the Communist talking points from Cockburn and counterpunch.org.
I guess I just find it amazing how Republicans can get away with all forms of extremism, and then do such a good job projecting their own weaknesses onto the Democrats.posted by: Steve4Clark on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Tom Holsinger: "'Liberal' Democrats today, during the Clinton administration, and during the first Bush admnistration, are and were most definitely characterized by an opinion that whatever America is doing abroad at the moment is wrong."
There are a few problems with this, one of which is that it is demonstrably wrong. Exactly *one* Democrat in Congress voted against giving Bush the authority to go to war in Afghanistan. (Are you now going to say that none of the other Democrats in Congress was a liberal?) Indeed, any criticism of the Afghan war from the left has come from fringe types, not mainstream liberals.
And on the Kosovo war, liberals were much more likely to support it than conservatives. (Indeed, not only Pat Buchanan-style isolationists but many neoconservatives opposed thre war.) So of America's three most recent wars, Iraq is the only one which most (but not all) liberals opposed and most (but not all) conservatives supported.posted by: David T on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
"Marching against war every time the United States is involved--in fact only when the United States is involved--regardless of the war's purpose"
Most of the people doing this are, in fact, pacifists who happen to live in America. If they lived in Russia they would be marching to protest the war in Chechnya, but they don't, they live in America. They may be fuzzy-headed or unrealistic or overly idealistic but they are no more anti-American than all the other 99.9% of Americans who care more about and feel more responsibility for what their own government is doing than what some other government is doing. Why is a person who expects America to behave better than other countries castigated as anti-American?posted by: uldrsh nioate on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
When arguing with Republicans, I always state that I am a proud and unrepentant liberal: I believe strongly in the most fundamental tenets of liberalism:
(1) Individual liberty.
Then I ask them which of those things they disagre with. They're usually fairly befuddled at this point.
Yes, it is a shame that a truly noble word has been co-opted and perverted by the nanny-state collectivists who were too scared to properly label themselves as soft-socialists. I've often thought of launching some sort of mass appeal to reclaim the word. But them I find that I have actual work to do.posted by: Barry P. on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Barry: You're right that it is a shame that the word "liberal" has been co-opted. But trying to use a "classical liberal" definition in a world where no one goes by that definition anymore only leads to confusion.
Your "classical liberal" is today called a "libertarian". I understand the unwillingness to see the term "liberal" hijacked by soft-socialists, but face it - that hijacking was completed many decades ago. I don't like how homosexuals hijacked the word "gay", and I'm a generally happy fellow, but I wouldn't loudly proclaim myself to be "gay" in a redneck bar just because I'm happy. Definitions change. Live with it.posted by: Jeff B. on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
For example, I think Rev. Falwell's remarks over 9/11 were much more objectionable than Prof. Churchill's. Every sufficiently large group of people will contain a number of wingnuts, idiots and loudmouths. It doesn't mean the whole group is necessarily so.
I distinctly remember when Falwell made those remarks, there was quite a bit of outcry about this kind of sentiment being a "conservative view." And I am seeing a lot of religious zealots being painted as the conservative mainstream.
Look at the outraged press gotten in recent days about a comment made by one Edwin Vieira, someone 99 percent of conservatives had probably never heard of before this story.posted by: tbrosz on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Most of the people doing this are, in fact, pacifists who happen to live in America. If they lived in Russia they would be marching to protest the war in Chechnya, but they don't, they live in America. They may be fuzzy-headed or unrealistic or overly idealistic but they are no more anti-American than all the other 99.9% of Americans who care more about and feel more responsibility for what their own government is doing than what some other government is doing.
That's a nice sentiment, but I've seen the signs they carry. Tell ya what, call me when one of these groups marches against a military action or oppression by anybody EXCEPT the U.S. or Israel.posted by: tbrosz on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
I don't know, Jeff B. I tend to agree with Barry on this one. Classical liberalism was a major ideological development that persisted as a distinctive political movement for decades; back around 1910, when H.G. Wells said, "From the British perspective, all American parties espouse some form of liberalism," everyone knew what he meant. I still identify myself as a classical liberal when I think the term won't be totally misunderstood.
Reasonable people with whom I disagree politically are usually what I think of as "liberal Democrats." People like Ward Churchill I call "progressives," "lefties," or less civil terms. I don't conflate the two groups, but the Democratic party establishment has to bear some responsibility for blurring the distinction.posted by: utron on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
I'm what some of you might call a moonbat pinko, but *I* agree with all of the points Barry P. raises. And I've read Hayek and thought he had some pretty good points.
But I just happen to notice that countries without i. a state to arbitrate conflicts over individual's liberties, ii. regulations making the operations of the free market transparent, iii. some common property held in trust, and iv. a free and democratic process that supports the creation of laws to govern i. through iii., well they are kind of crummy places to live.
The rest is just debate and dialogue about specific policy choices. Or ought to be.
Ward Churchill is properly termed a scam artist with personality issues, but one thing he isn't is a leftie, let alone a Democrat. I doubt even Churchill associates himself with Democrats. Lefties yes, but that's just his protective coloration of choice. I agree with the Democrats here that Engel is way out of line concerning Churchill.
When someone like Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review says Engel is over the top, it means something.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
I'm always irritated by the use of the term 'you liberals' or 'the liberals'.
It usually introduces an argument based on generalization and prejudice, not facts.
If somebody says something that deserves rebuttal in public, then for chrissakes quote them verbatim and have at it.
Otherwise, shut the hell up and contribute to an improvement in public discourse.
As I am doing right now, naturally.posted by: Jon R. Koppenhoefer on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Joel Engel, in his use of the word Liberal, is guilty of the same sin that Juan Cole is when he uses the word Zionist: making a gross generalization about all those who hold a certain view on an issue(s). This makes his argument pejorative and, ultimately, useless to the discussion.posted by: too many steves on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
The reason why we don't know about the Ward Churchills of the right...
Um, Anne Coulter? Millions of Americans are guilty of treason (and presumably should suffer the appropriate penalty)?
To say nothing about those who *truly* believe that abortion *is* murder. I always want to ask how many Americans do they think should be facing murder charges for obtaining an abortion.
I think it's simply that the left is less rattled by the right's nutbars than the right is rattled by the left's nutbars. Odd, given I'm pretty certain that rightwing nutbars have killed more Americans than leftwing nutbars in the last 50 years. (Could be wrong, though.)
As a socialist I would be offended if anyone mistook me for a liberal. I also find it annoying when liberals refer to themselves as 'lefties' or their positions as being on the left.
On other matters, perhaps because I reside in Germany at the moment, I'd never heard of Ward Churchill until today. However after a quick scan through his work, I don't see what all the fuss is about. Part of the reason why terrorists attacked America*is*because of America's foreign policy. Fifty years of imperialism is going to make you enemies. Recognizing that fact is not anywhere near the same thing as claiming the attack was justifiable or anythingelse of the sort.posted by: peter on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
ulrsh nioate wrote:
"Most of the people doing this are, in fact, pacifists who happen to live in America. If they lived in Russia they would be marching to protest the war in Chechnya."
I think you're way off base on this point. People all over the world only protest against two countries in any significant numbers: the United States and Israel. You may claim that it's because of their policies, but it's hard to argue that the anger of protesters is remotely proportional to these countries' supposed sins. 60,000 people can die in Algeria's civil war and nobody raises an eyebrow. Millions die in wars in Africa every year and the world yawns. The Palestinian/Israeli conflict, although unquestionalby terrible, has claimed fewer lives than many other conflicts around the world, but it's the one that makes the headlines day after day after day....
This phenomenon is world wide (I have experienced it while living in Canada, France and Switzerland) and is not limited to "bad" wars like Iraq and Vietnam. Otherwise rational acquaintances of mine were just as angry about the wars that everyone agreed were "good" after the fact (Afghanistan, Kossovo, Bosnia, etc.)
I wonder if this is a kind of mass hysteria, and I must admit it scares me sometimes. But I think the movitation is much more basic. American success in so many fields frequently makes people in other countries feel powerless. (Similarly, losing so many wars to tiny Israel has made Arabs feel powerless.) People aren't so much angry at the fact that Saddam Hussein is gone, but that the United States can overthrow a government on the other side of the world if they choose to do so. It's just the universal story of resenting the top dog. Consciously or not, everyone always wants to see him taken down a peg or two.
While you may occasionally see a "Free Tibet" sticker on a rusty old Volvo, a conflict doesn't exist for most people unless it involves the USA.
Taking the utmost political advantage of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, then screwing us in NYC out of homeland security funds- that ain't liberal, ain't conservative, that's just a bunch of assholes.posted by: CLB72 on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Awful lot of defensiveness for an argument that is so unfounded.posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Tell ya what, call me when one of these groups marches against a military action or oppression by anybody EXCEPT the U.S. or Israel.
tbrosz, you dishonest hack. These groups protest the US government because that's the government they believe they can influence -- you know, the one that represents them as citizens (and, of course, they perceive that the US has influence with the Israeli government).
I was none to thrilled with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but my opinion and 50 cents would have bought me a soda pop (I was too young to drink coffee back then) for all the sway it would have had with the Politburo.posted by: Gregory on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
"It's just the universal story of resenting the top dog."
There's some of that. I think there is also the demonstrably unique social mobility (both up and down) of the free enterprise/democratic economic/political system.
For international elites who have for centuries enjoyed power and privelege based more on birth or force than ability or alacrity, that system is a threat, and so they make use of any means available to oppose countries who have adopted it. The most obvious being the U.S, the most conspicuous, given the systems governing its immediate neighbors, Israel.
Such elites are nothing if not adept at turning anger engendered by their illegitimate power toward anyone but themselves, and so they continue to do, with the U.S. and Israel serving as ideal targets, and there is the underlying resentment you mention to build upon, as well as the inevitable legitimate grievances.posted by: Ged of Earthsea on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
All leftists are not communists, but all communists are leftists. All leftists
All leftists don't hate America, want her soldiers to be killed, and want her to fail in the world. But most of them do.posted by: A Patriot on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
1. the use of the word "classic liberal" strikes me as silly. Times change. By the time of Lloyd George, a branch of liberalism was embracing the welfare state, but not state ownership of the means of production. If Hilary Clinton aint a liberal cause shes too "statist" than neither was Lloyd George.
2. The whole liberal vs progressive thing in the US is fluid. In 1948 it was clear, you were ADA pro-Truman or Progressive, fellow traveler, pro Henry Wallace. The '60s complicated that - the opposition to LBJ and Humphrey included both the old Progressive types, some of the Adlai Stevenson - Eleanor Roosevelt camp of liberals, and even someone whose roots were as conservative as Bobby Kennedys. Was McGovern the liberal candidate in 1972, or Scoop Jackson? Were you only a radical if you were to the left of McGovern (like poor old Gene McCarthy?) The McGovern campaign established the precedent of more left, dovish liberals accepting support from radicals, to change US foreign policy. When the salience of foreign policy declined, that alliance faded. When it rose again, the alliance rose to - and that is what Deanism looks like (though IMHO Dean is a lot more cynical about it than McGovern was) Dean supported the Kosovo war, unlike the radical left - but he wasnt spending alot of time pointing that out when he got support from fringies. Even Kerry flirted with Michael Moore - Clinton redeemed liberalism with his "sister souljah" moment - call it cynical, but it was a casting of the die. Some of us waited with baited breath for Kerrys "sister souljah" moment wrt Moore, ANSWER, or anything related. It never came. The branch of liberalism that was always unhappy with Clintonism, and finally rejected it after Clinton left office, is too small to win on its own (in the country, not on the Hill) if it cant reach across the center a la Clinton it MUST ally with the radicals.
3. Why WS getting nasty? To some extend what they above have said about style is correct - but theres also the need for them to prove their loyalty - they are supportive of McCain, villified on the right, hostile to Rummy, glorified on the right, etc. Getting nasty about liberals is one way to remind folks which side theyre on. NR doesnt need to do that. Similalry you will occasionally see something really nasty about the right in TNR, which seems out of character with their actual ideological moderation on policy issues.
1. Mark, check out A Patriot's brilliant and well thought out post to see where the defensiveness comes from. I don't hate America, I don't want the soldiers to be killed, and I expect nothing but the best from this country. And goddammit, I'm tired of being labelled as such because I didn't vote for the decadent cock in the White House.
2. APatriot: blow me.posted by: Jim Dandy on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
I believe you Jim. And for the record, im not a nazi, I dont want to turn back the clock to 1859, I dont want a theocracy, I dont want perpetual war, I dont want to lock people up for their political speech, and I dont want the Bill of Rights revoked for the duration of the unending
And I too am sick of being tarred as such by those who know it is a crock but seem to get off fantasizing about the digital brownshirts being 5 minutes from a new Kristallnatch. I happen to agree that the majority of liberals in this country are damn good Americans and trying for the best, but I also happen to believe the most vocal and visable of them take a juvenile pleasure in imagining themselves modern day John Browns willing to tear the country to shreds to end the intolerable evil of removing a ruthless genocidal dictator or drilling in carabu country. It's annoying and its self-indulgent. You can have a fight in the political sphere without making it a circa 1968 crusade every time.posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Jason's comment (far) above is correct, I believe. Joel Engel is simply saying that many of the beliefs and acts that are currently being described as "liberal" are in fact not liberal. Surely, liberalism as an ideology evolved over time, but the word has become completely separated from its past, and therefore has become meaningless in any serious conversation.
It is - dare I say - inconceivable that Dan and many commenters rip Engel for arguing something he didn't.posted by: Andrew Steele on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
You people who say that liberals always march against any way the U.S. gets involved in should just. shut. up.
IN HIS OWN WORDS: WHAT TOM DELAY USED TO SAY…
posted by: expatjourno on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
"war." Any "war." Sorry.posted by: expatjourno on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
How about this: we liberals get to define what a conservative is and then say we hate them!posted by: expatjourno on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
And why all the demonization of Michael Moore? Michael Moore doesn't hate America. Michael Moore's first movie, Roger and Me, showed the pain inflicted on the people of Flint, Michigan, caused by the closing of the last automobile assembly plants there, and the refusal of the automaker executives to even consider if they had obligations to their community. It also showed the failure of Flint city officials to revitalize their economy. Michael Moore's recent movie Fahrenheit 9/11 shows the Bush administration's method of responding to the terrorist attacks on the United States, beginning with President Bush's deer-in-the-headlights response to the news of the attack. This movie has been widely criticized for making stuff up. It does include opinion, but the opinions are visibly opinion and not disguised to appear to be fact. And the facts as presented are basically right. In fact, recent disclosures on the departure of Saudi citizens shortly after September 11, 2001, corroborate Fahrenheit 9/11.
Michael Moore has strong opinions, and he's entitled to them. He's not the voice of the Democratic Party. Some of the things he wrote in Stupid White Men are over the top, but I read those as exaggeration for the sake of humor, not with the expectation that everything should be taken literally.
It's been pointed out to me that, contrary to what I said above about National Review and the Weekly Standard, the Standard *has* published some creationism/ Intelligent Design articles, while NR has published a critique of same (by John Derbyshire, which is why I didn't read it and so don't remember it, but he's pretty consistently good and sharp when he's writing about math & science).posted by: Jacob T. Levy on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
liberalhawk has zeroed in on the liberals' problem here - failure to differentiate themselves from the always America-worster lefties.
Almost everyone here knows there is a difference between lefties and liberal Democrats, but the liberals are letting the lefties define all Democrats by not denouncing them.
The longer liberal Democrats sound like lefties on the war, the more they identify themselves with all lefty positions, and help the lefties eliminate any effective difference between lefties and liberals.
This is precisely why I made an analogy to the liberal Democrats of the late 1940's purging the Communinists and their "fellow travellers" from the Democratic party and labor unions. Today's liberal Democrats are not doing the equivalent when America was attacked at home and there is an on-going war.
I mentioned that today's lefties are much better funded. But there is another reason which the liberal Democrats here absolutely hate.
They really do agree with the lefties about the war against Islamic extremists. Liberal Democrats in general oppose it. Not all of them, but most. And the ones who don't are conspicuous by one thing:
Which makes liberal Democrats and lefties effectively the same on the war and all its peripheral issues.
Moderate Democrats are seldom seen or heard here either.
So the Democratic party is increasingly defined by the lefties.
I conclude with the following advice to all Democrats - liberal and moderate.
Put Up or Shut Up. It's Now or Never. Denounce the Lefties or Admit That You Guys Are All Lefties.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Jacob, you really should read Derbyshire more. Yes, he can be bigoted but at least he is not bound by any "party line" of the Right and can say things that are surprising in National Review--e.g., that John Paul II was basically a failure.posted by: David T on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Tom Hosinger: "They really do agree with the lefties about the war against Islamic extremists. Liberal Democrats in general oppose it. Not all of them, but most."
Utter nonsense. Once again--how many liberal Democrats in Congress denounced the war in Afghanistan? You may disagreee with both some liberals and some Pat Buchanan-style conservatives as to whether the war in Iraq was a legitimate part of the war on Islamic extremists or a distraction from that war, but that is another matter.posted by: David T on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Until Democrats start denouncing their own extremists, it does not matter what else they do - they were, are, and will be defined by the lefties.
I am talking public perception here. Your reference to Afghanistan is as pertinent to that as Harry Truman's denunciations of Stalin.
The Clinton of 1992 and 1996, and the Al Gore of 2000, could not have won the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination as a non-incumbent. The Democratic party has changed. It is not what it was in 2001, 2000, 1996, 1992 or 1948. It has veered sharply to the left.
Money has something to do with that, as I mentioned. But ideology means more.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
I see your point about how it would be valuable for the Democrats to collectively denounce their extremists (as opposed to the usual habit of commenting "I don't really agree with this person's position").
Would you do me the favor of pointing me to the GOP-run site where unelected righties--Ann Coulter, James Dobson, Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell, Grover Norquist--and elected ones--Bill Frist, Tom DeLay are similarly denounced?
-Danposted by: Dan on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Denouncing the war is completely different from opposing the idea behind it. I have no problem with Saddam Hussein staring at a cement wall on death row, and I'm positive that 90% of the Senate democrats don't either. But you know where the problem stems from? Do you know where exactly we take issue with this administration on Iraq?
1. The lying. Abuse of the intelligence community to hear what they want to hear. Don't argue with me: you'll be wrong.
2. The prosecution of the war. Like I said above, we are the best country in the world. I was raised believing that, and I still do, in my heart of hearts. But we're sure as hell not showing it. Corrupt bidding practices, incompetency in the reconstruction effort, and that giant albatross, Abu Ghraib are making it impossible for us to be perceived as such, and part of our strength was our position as a leader.
And as far as a war on Islamic Extremism, how about we not focus on Islamic extremism and work on eliminating ALL extremism? Singling one group out sounds an awful lot like a crusade to me.posted by: Jim Dandy on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
sorry for rambling--I'm leaving work in 18 minutes, and my mind is half elsewhere.posted by: Jim Dandy on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Its interesting to me that you define "liberal extremists" based on one issue - the war. I know you care deeply about that issue - but I consider myself moderate to liberal and I opposed the war - for several reasons - but primarily because reasons given to justify the war were a moving target. It’s darn hard to argue that there was some great principal here when the justification changed so radically – from WMDs and yellow cake to bogus connections with AQ and finally settling on “democratization.”
It’s also interesting to compare your attacks on “lefties” to the attacks on Chris Shays for calling for Delay’s resignation. Do you subscribe to the notion that dissent or disagreement cannot exist without “disloyalty” at a minimum or “treason” at the extreme?
I certainly hope not. You are way too smart for such a simplistic way of thinking.
1) What Jim Dandy said on 04.13.05 at 10:39 AM is spot on.
2) I call BS on Tom's assertion that the Democratic party has "veered sharply to the left". Indeed Democrats probably are much farther away from the typical conservative Republican now than they were in the past, but it is because the cons/Reps moved right, not the other way around! It's like looking at snow with rose-colored sunglasses. When you take them off, the snow looks blue -- but it is your perception that changed, not the snow.
Point - the contrast from Ike to W is much MUCH bigger than the contrast of FDR or JFK to Clinton, Kerry, or even Dean. It was Ike who warned of the "Military Industrial Complex", and you should read the quote from a letter to his brother. Google "a few other Texas oil millionaires" + Eisenhower
The GOP established its credentials here by running off Pat Buchanan. Clinton did with Sister Souljah as liberalhawk noted.
But there is nothing but silence from non-lefty Democrats concerning lefties and the war. The war is the big issue. Liberal Democrats are heard on it spouting the same lefty nonsense as the lefties. Moderates are doing a "Seldom-Seen Smith" imitation.
None are denouncing their extremists. At some point it will no longer matter whether they do or not. Like I said, it's now or never.
I have speculated with some rootin' tootin' Texan friends as to what issue Hillary will choose to make her own break here. We're starting to focus on the Cuba - Venezuela relationship (another Allende moment). That offers a three-fer - the lefties (all expendable) will go absolutely nuts over losing Castro while it doesn't really involve vital American interests (Democrats have problems defending those) and more importantly, won't impact all the emotional energy & personal commitment liberal Democrats have put into opposing the war against Islamic extremism.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
One last point:
In today's 51-49 America, neither side can afford to alienate ANYONE, let alone people who naturally identify with your cause.
There are actually three sides: Left, Right, and Liberal. The Left/Liberal Alliance of the sixties was so successful, the meaning of the two terms became blurred.
The current Bush presidency is a fragile Liberal/Conservative alliance held together by their mutual distaste for the Left, engendered, ironically, by the ascendance of the Left within universities, which now the vast majority of America's leaders experience during a formative time in their lives, leading to an overestimation of the power, for good or ill, of the Left in American life.
I may be mistaken, but it is entirely possible that the next American majority will be Conservative/Left. As a Liberal, I believe this would be disastrous, so we Liberals here might want to stop fighting among ourselves long enough to figure out how to avert it.posted by: Ged of Earthsea on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Tom can't be serious that "liberals" need to denounce everyone on the left they disagree with, especially his belief that the general public is looking for such denunciations. I must have missed declarations from "conservatives" of their disassociation from Rush's of extremist language, going back to "femi-Nazis," and of Crazy Coulter's urging of forced conversion or murder of Muslims, and the Swift Boat liars belittling of combat veterans by smearing the military for awarding fake medals to John Kerry, which I remember the righties said lots of medals are really not deserved and officers lie about those under their command like they did for Kerry.
It's okay, Tom, take your time and cite me the instances when these people, all more prominent than Ward Churchill, were called out by "conservatives" for their extremism. Hmmm...So maybe that's NOT the defining difference between liberal and conservative that you claim it is. Don't be a tool. Your generalizations don't make you seem insightful--they prove you to be shallow. Look again.posted by: W Action on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
I just looked back at Tom's recent comments. Never mind. I took him seriously when he's just another bile vomiter. Hillary! Could our future possible be more bleak?! (Sigh.) These people are like cockroaches. Night-all.posted by: W Action on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Note that the lefties can't fathom why the war against Islamic extremism is such a big deal. They equate its importance with their pet issues.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
You're a moron.
Tired of banging my head against a wallposted by: Jim Dandy on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Note also that they attack people rather than ideas. This is because they can't defend, or even express, the latter.
Name-calling is a sure sign of loserdom.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Wanted to give my two cents worth.
I think Barry P. was right on when he listed the 4 Democratic principles, becuase those ARE the principles of the Democratic Party. Classical Liberalism as Locke, Hobbes and Mill wrote about and helped define are what the Democratic party bases it's principles on, you will not find Rousseau or Hayek influencing our beliefs.
Liberals get bogged down in defending and arguing about tools some would use to support these principles. Big govt is not a principle, it's a tool. Fiscal responsibility and small govt are not principles, they are ideas about how the country should be governed. Republicans can say these are their principles, but I don't see how; say you achieve smaller govt...now what?
I'm a Democrat and I support small govt and fiscal responsibility, becuase I believe it's the only feasible way to govern such a large nation and remain free. That doesn't mean I abandon my principles as a Democrat, they're other ways to accomplish individual autonomy, protect the minority and defend private property rights. We need to explore those ideas and not let our principles be defined as things they are not.
But, some of this criticism should be taken seriously, the Democratic Party needs to be careful who it is associated with and who it supports. Tom's right, people like Michael Moore should not be sitting next to prominent members of our party. He does us no justice and doesn't represent what the majority of Democrats believe.posted by: scott on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Scott, great post. I agree with the implicit idea of positive definitions, rather than "well, we're not..."posted by: Jim Dandy on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Yes, well said Scott. If we could focus on what we're for, we'd find a lot more common ground between "liberals" and "libertarians". The division comes in what we're against, or more accurately, what we perceive to be the greater threat to those things we agree on being for.posted by: Ged of Earthsea on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
I definitely agree Ged, I think there's alot of principles the two can agree upon. And a little correction, too, I meant to say "Rousseau and MARX," not Hayek...preview is my friend. I was gonna add a little aside about Hayek, but didn't, guess he made it in anyway :)posted by: scott on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
Well, that helps! I certainly hope that Hayek can influence our beliefs in some measure. = )
Having recently spent time at a university, I'm a Drezner Republican. But I suspect we'll all be on the same side (politically, we already are nationally) within 20 years whether we like it or not, so we might as well figure out how to get along better.posted by: Ged of Earthsea on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
I like the way you think, Ged. Hopefully it won't be long until the Democratic Party can reestablish itself as the liberty party, and cast aside the idea that government should be our most used tool. Hopefully we can curtail the extremes among our parties, but I'm not holding my breath at the moment. It seems to me we either have to lose a chunk to the Greens or keep losing our base of support. And I hate saying that, because I think everyone should have their representation in government, but sometimes the vocal minority gets way too much.posted by: scott on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
"I like the way you think, Ged. Hopefully it won't be long until the Democratic Party can reestablish itself as the liberty party, and cast aside the idea that government should be our most used tool."
Yes, it is odd that the "People's Party" should stand for more government/taxes. After all, it was King John who worked for the government, not Robin Hood.
The distaste among Democrats for the current government, while it seems to me largely misplaced, might help this process along. And I don't think it necessarily will involve losing "the Greens" or any other chunk of the electorate. The Greens are no more monolithic than any other collective, and see themselves as Greens for a variety of reasons.
We just need to find a new thread to tie those reasons together. One consistent with valuing liberty, among other values that do, in fact, continue to hold our society together, if not our current polity. My intuition is that such a thread must be stated positively as being "for" something.
"Injustice, poverty, slavery, ignorance - these may be cured by reform or revolution. But men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals, individual and collective, a vast variety of them, seldom predictable, at times incompatible."
Isaiah Berlin, Four Essays on Libertyposted by: Ged of Earthsea on 04.12.05 at 02:59 PM [permalink]
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