The president is looking for a dangerous domestic enemy to fight.
Some presidents, when they get into trouble before an election, try to “wag the dog” by starting a war abroad. Donald Trump seems ready to wag the dog by starting a war at home. Be afraid — he just might get his wish.
How did we get here? Well, when historians summarize the Trump team’s approach to dealing with the coronavirus, it will take only a few paragraphs:
“They talked as if they were locking down like China. They acted as if they were going for herd immunity like Sweden. They prepared for neither. And they claimed to be superior to both. In the end, they got the worst of all worlds — uncontrolled viral spread and an unemployment catastrophe.
“And then the story turned really dark.
“As the virus spread, and businesses had to shut down again and schools and universities were paralyzed as to whether to open or stay closed in the fall, Trump’s poll numbers nose-dived. Joe Biden opened up a 15-point lead in a national head-to-head survey.
“So, in a desperate effort to salvage his campaign, Trump turned to the Middle East Dictator’s Official Handbook and found just what he was looking for, the chapter titled, ‘What to Do When Your People Turn Against You?’
“Answer: Turn them against each other and then present yourself as the only source of law and order.”
America blessedly is not Syria, yet, but Trump is adopting the same broad approach that Bashar al-Assad did back in 2011, when peaceful protests broke out in the southern Syrian town of Dara’a, calling for democratic reforms; the protests then spread throughout the country.
Had al-Assad responded with even the mildest offer of more participatory politics, he would have been hailed as a savior by a majority of Syrians. One of their main chants during the demonstrations was, “Silmiya, silmiya” (“Peaceful, peaceful”).
But al-Assad did not want to share power, and so he made sure that the protests were not peaceful. He had his soldiers open fire on and arrest nonviolent demonstrators, many of them Sunni Muslims. Over time, the peaceful, secular elements of the Syrian democracy movement were sidelined, as hardened Islamists began to spearhead the fight against al-Assad. In the process, the uprising was transformed into a naked, rule-or-die sectarian civil war between al-Assad’s Alawite Shiite forces and various Sunni jihadist groups.
Al-Assad got exactly what he wanted — not a war between his dictatorship and his people peacefully asking to have their voices heard, but a war with Islamic radicals in which he could play the law-and-order president, backed by Russia and Iran. In the end, his country was destroyed and hundreds of thousands of Syrians were killed or forced to flee. But al-Assad stayed in power. Today, he’s the top dog on a pile of rubble.
I have zero tolerance for any American protesters who resort to violence in any U.S. city, because it damages homes and businesses already hammered by the coronavirus — many of them minority-owned — and because violence will only turn off and repel the majority needed to drive change.
But when I heard Trump suggest, as he did in the Oval Office on Monday, that he was going to send federal forces into U.S. cities, where the local mayors have not invited him, the first word that popped into my head was “Syria.”
Listen to how Trump put it: “I’m going to do something — that, I can tell you. Because we’re not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these — Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country.”
These cities, Trump stressed, are “all run by very liberal Democrats. All run, really, by radical left. If Biden got in, that would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell. And we’re not going to let it go to hell.”
This is coming so straight from the Middle East Dictator’s Handbook, it’s chilling. In Syria, al-Assad used plainclothes, pro-regime thugs, known as the shabiha (“the apparitions”) to make protesters disappear. In Portland, Ore., we saw militarized federal forces wearing battle fatigues, but no identifiable markings, arresting people and putting them into unmarked vans. How can this happen in America?
Authoritarian populists — whether Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Poland, or al-Assad — “win by dividing the people and presenting themselves as the savior of the good and ordinary citizens against the undeserving agents of subversion and ‘cultural pollution,’” explained Stanford’s Larry Diamond, author of “Ill Winds: Saving Democracy From Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency.”
In the face of such a threat, the left needs to be smart. Stop calling for “defunding the police” and then saying that “defunding” doesn’t mean disbanding. If it doesn’t mean that then say what it means: “reform.” Defunding the police, calling police officers “pigs,” taking over whole neighborhoods with barricades — these are terrible messages, not to mention strategies, easily exploitable by Trump.
The scene that The Times’s Mike Baker described from Portland in the early hours of Tuesday — Day 54 of the protests there — is not good: “Some leaders in the Black community, grateful for a reckoning on race, worry that what should be a moment for racial justice could be squandered by violence. Businesses supportive of reforms have been left demoralized by the mayhem the protests have brought. … On Tuesday morning, police said another jewelry store had been looted. As federal agents appeared to try detaining one person, others in the crowd rushed to free the person.”
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll, according to The Post, found that a “majority of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement and a record 69 percent say Black people and other minorities are not treated as equal to white people in the criminal justice system. But the public generally opposes calls to shift some police funding to social services or remove statues of Confederate generals or presidents who enslaved people.”
All of this street violence and defund-the-police rhetoric plays into the only effective Trump ad that I’ve seen on television. It goes like this: A phone rings and a recording begins: “You have reached the 911 police emergency line. Due to defunding of the police department, we’re sorry but no one is here to take your call. If you’re calling to report a rape, please press 1. To report a murder, press 2. To report a home invasion, press 3. For all other crimes, leave your name and number and someone will get back to you. Our estimated wait time is currently five days. Goodbye.”
Today’s protesters need to trump Trump by taking a page from another foreign leader — a liberal — Ekrem Imamoglu, who managed to win the 2019 election to become the mayor of Istanbul, despite the illiberal Erdogan using every dirty trick possible to steal the election. Imamoglu’s campaign strategy was called “radical love.”
Radical love meant reaching out to the more traditional and religious Erdogan supporters, listening to them, showing them respect and making clear that they were not “the enemy” — that Erdogan was the enemy, because he was the enemy of unity and mutual respect, and there could be no progress without them.
As a recent essay on Imamoglu’s strategy in The Journal of Democracy noted, he overcame Erdogan with a “message of inclusiveness, an attitude of respect toward [Erdogan] supporters, and a focus on bread-and-butter issues that could unite voters across opposing political camps. On June 23, Imamoglu was again elected mayor of Istanbul, but this time with more than 54 percent of the vote — the largest mandate obtained by an Istanbul mayor since 1984 — against 45 percent for his opponent.”
Radical love. Wow. I bet that could work in America, too. It’s the perfect answer to Trump’s politics of division — and it’s the one strategy he’ll never imitate.
Email Author: https://www.nytimes.com/by/thomas-l-friedman
first of all
uh you know black block which is sort of
a good number of the people that you
know meet in parks at night at eight
o’clock you don’t know what park it’s
going to be if you’re a citizen unless
watching you know the certain groups
that announce it earlier in the day
and they have their little they get
together they do a little shield
practice and then they
they go out and they attack whatever
they’re going to attack whether it’s you
know the portland police union or
the ice headquarters or a police station
and they uh they have and i i think
you’ve probably seen this
uh they have dozens and dozens of people
running around that says
press right little a little on their hat
or on their shirt now
obviously as a real press person i’ve
never done that in my entire life but
they do this for several reasons one is
in portland you’re not allowed to
interfere with the press the press must
be allowed to observe
but they also film incessantly first of
all they’re of the filming generation
is filmed and then they edit it very
so that you see that they are always
sort of victimized by the police or
you know by a citizen that’s yelling at
um if you are just trying to film
because that’s your job
uh they will just shout in your face
over and over and over you’re not
allowed to film you’re not allowed to
film it’s like excuse me who
who in the world said this you could
tell me that but it’s not true
i had my phone stolen i luckily got it
um because i was filming um but they are
creating the narrative that seeps out
into the media
uh one thing i noticed too that they do
um they they have these shields right
that they build and has the anarchist
system where it doesn’t and they go out
kind of like set up they’re gonna
they’re gonna defend themselves from the
but i don’t think that’s what it’s about
at all it’s all about getting the
of the police that cuts through these
shields like a hot knife through butter
because these kids
are they are sort of ungainly for the
and it’s basically to get another shot
of them being
victimized by the brutal gestapo that
are the police
that they are out to uh get rid of
uh they’re not doing a terribly bad job
making uh the police look bad if you
want to believe their narrative
yeah i i agree and it’s um it’s actu
it’s absolutely terrifying
to watch how the press handles what’s
it doesn’t make the least effort to
actually taking place in essence what
um you know actually there’s a have you
seen a film
i think it’s called a film unfinished
yeah what it is is the nazis set out to
make a propaganda film in the warsaw
and they never finished it and a modern
took the footage and reassembled it so
you could see what the nazis were up to
right and it was like take after
take of some situation that made the
jews and the ghetto
look awful but it was like they would do
the same scene
you know 20 times right with the intent
to get the one that looked worse
and that the only thing you needed to
see in order to understand what was
really going on was that you know the 20
you know where it was like action you
and so this is it has the same flavor
where it’s like okay
you’re going to have hour after hour of
between the police and the rioters
and they’re going to cut to the 15
seconds that if you just don’t see what
happened right before and right after
you’ll take this to be the police
against the rioters and the fact is the
other story is
right there ready to be reported but
what i i don’t see
is the national press anywhere no well
you know it that’s interesting i didn’t
see much national press uh when i was in
the ground either in the federal in
front of the federal building or when i
was going out last week with them on the
um you know there’s a lot of news going
on in the country obviously
uh portland is a story um but a lot of
people i think
are you know just relying on you know
grabbing these clips from online and
and most of it will grab the narrative
that it’s like you know the
the evil feds and the evil police and
then of course
unfortunately you have on the other side
which they just grab the
the absolutely worst thing that some
demonstrated i’m calling them
demonstrators now because if you call
them protesters people are like are you
you’re gonna still run with that line if
you call them rioters then you get
they’re just out there peaceful
protesting so i’m settling on
demonstrators right now
i want to come back to that but i
finished your life and i want to okay
i’m just saying you’ve got the other
side of the press that goes too far
i think sometimes which is like savage
is coming to your city
and it’s like okay guys you know the
story you have this on outside like
the story’s in the middle to them for
the most part
so that’s that’s been the story i’ve
been trying to tell it anyway
demonstrators go for it
well first of all i’m not so sure the
story is in the middle
um okay the story is not the version
that either of the two now discontinuous
elements of the press are reporting so i
guess maybe technically it’s between
you have a really inconvenient video for
their narrative right right now it’s not
hard to catch an inconvenient video
of their narrative because they’re
constantly doing things to provoke and
if you catch the provocation
then the whole thing is over so what
they will demonize you they will
demonize your publication
and if all else fails they will just
flat out lie about the nature of
whatever it is
you have produced and the point is it is
going to i call it implausible
and the idea is it’s constructed for
who want something to say and the point
is it doesn’t matter how low grade it is
they’ll give you the best thing they can
give you to dismiss anything you want to
right up you know through a lie if they
and the point is if you’re msnbc and
you’re trying to construct a story of
who are being attacked by trump’s feds
then you just go through the thing and
basically the point is you have an
excuse for everything you don’t want to
and then you have a list of things that
you want to amplify and you’ve created
total fiction out of a kind of
pre-rationalized editable content
and we can’t live this way the fact is
a an entity of the press to be
journalistic you have to report things
that are not consistent with the
overarching story you’re telling
when they happen and in this case um if
you don’t do that what you get is a
phony story right a totally phony story
that’s very compelling
because it’s made of video you can’t
can’t walk in with your uh with your
your your end like knowing oh i know how
the story’s gonna you gotta let the
story tell itself to you
i think two things i think it’s ex i i i
not only think
it’s extremely irresponsible for any
or any entity at all to not report what
to you know to trim the facts to fit the
i think it’s extremely dangerous i i i
know it’s extremely dangerous
and it’s equally dangerous to to pacify
to play down what’s happening it’s like
you know you get this has sort of been a
little like an insider baseball thing
lately it’s like what’s the journalist
is it to you know fight power is it to
speak truth to power the journalist’s
is to report what you see okay yeah
we’re all going to have our little
i get it i get it you know but you
should and that is something that
i think has been in short supply in
portland in my experience
oh it’s been it’s been absent
the danger couldn’t be greater i mean
and i say this is somebody who’s
now living in portland i’m watching the
um dwindle i’m watching them
hamstrung i’m watching them fatigue i
mean they are
literally being attacked up in seattle
you know it’s a
different version of the same phenomenon
we had an incident
where quick drying cement of some kind
was used to attempt to lock police into
a building that was being set on fire
that’s i mean
that’s attempted murder right now i
don’t know if this was symbolic
or if they really thought the door was
going to seal but i want
people to think about what it is like to
have a group of people
demonizing the police as all cops are
as they are actually contemplating
simulating hinting at uh suggesting
murder of police right and
demonstrating that actually you know
what they were in the commercial
district they were attacking government
they’re now in neighborhoods they are
that they view the populace of portland
as the enemy
and the fact is there’s no way out based
courageous leadership our leadership our
in portland is absolutely out to lunch
it has been coddling this it has created
and there’s no alternative of people who
are just even sensible
so where does this go so a couple of
things in terms of what they’re doing to
the police i know they’re throwing these
sort of um
you know balloons now or paint balloons
that have um
grit in it so it’ll actually like damage
the helmet or damage a windshield so you
can’t even like
uh you can’t even clean yourself off to
see what you need to do
they also do things that that are so i
mean you realize sometimes how young
these people are they they they now
feces i i was there one night and the
the cop was airing out the lobby of the
police station because they came in
through a bucket of
species and diarrhea i’m like so they
actually did that like they all [ __ ] in
like like this is like incredible you
know that this is what you would think
is the way we’re going to change the
world is we’re all going to poop in a
it’s mental patient stuff and to do it
in the middle of a pandemic yes
wow well you know they’re invincible
because they’re 20. but um one thing i
did want to mention
i was speaking with someone uh who had
knew a lot about black bloc and uh she
that because the optics are so important
um they actually don’t want to kill
like they set the the cop shop the um
gesture center on fire
may 29th i wrote a story about a woman
that was works there’s trapped in the
you talk about rubber cementing someone
they actually know that killing someone
is going to be bad optics so they’re
going to keep that but here’s my
and i’ve written about this this
movement has a glow
right and it glows and it glows and it
people are attracted to glow it’s not
always going to be someone that’s in
your little black block affinity group
it’s going to be mr bonehead over here
that is going to be a hero
or going to like just take it to the
next level you have no control over that
right right oh so i don’t accept this uh
for exactly the reason you just pointed
out some of them know
right but the very nature of this thing
the cellular nature of black bloc
and their central dogma
involves this euphemistically named
diversity of tactics thing
and the point is diversity of tactics
essentially look um we’re going to have
timid people they’re going to do some
protest stuff that’ll be good for the
optics we’re going to have some violent
people they’re going to do some thuggery
right and you know innovate something
and the point is
look you’re telling people that it’s a
diversity of tactics
you’re spray painting the wall with the
suggestion that police
deserve to be murdered right if somebody
takes your goddamn suggestion
right that’s on you you set this up and
the fact that you didn’t really
mean it is nothing right but they’ll
never but they’ll never
ever accept that right so okay joe
bonehead goes and he kills two cops
right but who’s gonna take
responsibility for that
why do we care what they accept
they are in violation of the law they
proposing things that are inconsistent
with the continuing of society
we have every right to shut this down
and you know what it’s going to look
like when it gets shut down
it’s going to be ugly so be it that’s
the nature of it
Trump’s America has accelerated “the authoritarian dynamic.”
In the continuing debate over whether liberals or conservatives are more open minded, whether those on the left or the right are more rigid in their thinking, a team of four Canadian psychologists studied patterns of “cognitive reflection” among Americans.
They found that a willingness to change one’s convictions in the face of new evidence
was robustly associated with political liberalism, the rejection of traditional moral values, the acceptance of science, and skepticism about religious, paranormal, and conspiratorial claims.
Those who ranked high on a scale designed to measure the level of a respondent’s “actively open-minded thinking about evidence” were linked with the acceptance of “anthropogenic global warming and support for free speech on college campuses.”
Conversely, the authors — Gordon Pennycook of the University of Regina, and James Allan Cheyne, Derek J. Koehler and Jonathan A. Fugelsang of the University of Waterloo — found that an aversion to altering one’s belief on the basis of evidence was more common among conservatives and that this correlated “with beliefs about topics ranging from extrasensory perception, to respect for tradition, to abortion, to God.”
In their forthcoming paper, “On the belief that beliefs should change according to evidence,” the authors develop an eight-item “Actively Open-minded Thinking about Evidence Scale.” People taking the test are asked their level of agreement or disagreement with a series of statements including:
“A person should always consider new possibilities.”
“Certain beliefs are just too important to abandon no matter how good a case can be made against them.”
“One should disregard evidence that conflicts with your established beliefs.”
“No one can talk me out of something I know is right.”
“I believe that loyalty to one’s ideals and principles is more important than ‘open-mindedness’.”
Pennycook and his co-authors concluded:
People who reported believing that beliefs and opinions should change according to evidence were less likely to be religious, less likely to hold paranormal and conspiratorial beliefs, more likely to believe in a variety of scientific claims, and were more politically liberal in terms of overall ideology, partisan affiliation, moral values, and a variety of specific political opinions.
In other words, there is one more item to add to the constantly growing list of factors driving polarization in America: Those on the left and right appear to use substantially different cognitive processes to interpret events in the world around them, large and small.
At the same time, there are scholars who raise questions about these and similar conclusions concerning the reported differences in open-mindedness between conservatives and liberals.
“Discrimination Across the Ideological Divide: The Role of Value Violations and Abstract Values in Discrimination by Liberals and Conservatives,” a 2013 paper by Geoffrey A. Wetherell, Mark J. Brandt and Christine Reyna of Valparaiso University, Tilburg University in the Netherlands and DePaul University, challenges the common notion that there are marked differences between liberals and conservatives on measures of tolerance and bias: “Despite ample research linking conservatism to discrimination and liberalism to tolerance, both groups may discriminate,” they write.
In their research, Wetherell and his colleagues demonstrate that
liberals and conservatives supported discrimination against ideologically dissimilar groups, an effect mediated by perceptions of value violations. Liberals were more likely than conservatives to espouse egalitarianism and universalism, which attenuated their discrimination; whereas the conservatives’ value of traditionalism predicted more discrimination, and their value of self-reliance predicted less discrimination.
Disputes over differences in judgment, character and moral values between liberals and conservatives are among the most fraught topics in political psychology.
Look, for example, at the controversial conclusion reached in “Combating Fake News: An Agenda for Research and Action,” a research report released in May 2017 by Harvard’s Kennedy School and Northeastern University: “While any group can come to believe false information, misinformation is currently predominantly a pathology of the right.” Some conservative voters “are even suspicious of fact-checking sites,” the report continued, leaving them “particularly susceptible to misinformation.”
The report also noted that “there is at least anecdotal evidence that when Republicans are in power, the left becomes increasingly susceptible to promoting and accepting fake news.”
Or consider a 2019 paper, “False Equivalence: Are Liberals and Conservatives in the United States Equally Biased?” by Jonathan Baron and John Jost, professors of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and N.Y.U., who write, “Nowadays we read that liberals are every bit as authoritarian as conservatives; as rigid and simple-minded; as intolerant; as prejudiced.”
The authors found it
ironic and more than a little bewildering that social psychologists are drifting into this relativistic view of morality and politics just as authoritarian conservatism (and illiberal hostility to democratic norms) seem to be reaching new heights of popularity and brazenness not only in Trump’s America but also in Erdogan’s Turkey, Orban’s Hungary, and Netanyahu’s Israel.
Baron and Jost also cite studies suggesting that those on the right are more susceptible to authoritarian appeals:
Conservatives score higher than liberals on measures of personal needs for order and structure, cognitive closure, intolerance of ambiguity, cognitive or perceptual rigidity, and dogmatism.
Liberals, they write, “perform better than conservatives on objective tests of cognitive ability and intelligence” while conservatives “score higher than liberals on measures of self-deception” and “are more likely than liberals to spread ‘fake news,’ political misinformation, and conspiracy theories throughout their online social networks.”
In a 2018 paper, Baron argues for the necessity of flexible thinking in a democracy:
In order for a democracy to function well (both for its own citizens and outsiders), its citizens need to endorse three (somewhat synergistic) social norms, which I called cosmopolitanism, anti-moralism, and actively open-minded thinking.
In making his case, Baron cites John Stuart Mill’s essay “On Liberty,” specifically this famous passage:
The whole strength and value, then, of human judgment, depending on the one property, that it can be set right when it is wrong, reliance can be placed on it only when the means of setting it right are kept constantly at hand. In the case of any person whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has it become so? Because he has kept his mind open to criticism of his opinions and conduct. Because it has been his practice to listen to all that could be said against him; to profit by as much of it as was just, and expound to himself, and upon occasion to others, the fallacy of what was fallacious.
It may be, however, that the very complexity of thought and resolve proposed by Baron and Mill would be resisted, and indeed resented, by many on the right.
In a February 2019 paper, “Liberals lecture, conservatives communicate: Analyzing complexity and ideology in 381,609 political speeches,” four political scientists, Martijn Schoonvelde, Anna Brosius, Gijs Schumacher and Bert N. Bakker, argue that “speakers from culturally liberal parties use more complex language than speakers from culturally conservative parties” and that this variance in linguistic complexity is
rooted in personality differences among conservative and liberal politicians. The former prefer short, unambiguous statements, and the latter prefer longer compound sentences, expressing multiple points of view.
The authors cite studies suggesting that this linguistic divide is persistent: “The Readability and Simplicity of Donald Trump’s Language,” published in The Political Studies Review and
Research on linguistic habits of American and British politicians shows that conservative politicians make less complex statements than liberal politicians.
One study showed that
the speeches of liberal US presidents score higher on integrative complexity than those of conservatives, as measured by the presence of “words involved in differentiation (exclusive words, tentative words, negations) as well as integration of different perspectives (conjunctions).”
Another found that
conservative political bloggers use less complex language than their liberal counterparts and conservative citizens use language that scores lower on integrative complexity than liberal citizens.
Separate studies of the language used by presidents — both “The Readability and Simplicity of Donald Trump’s Language,” and an analysis of the language used by the last 15 presidents on the blog Factbase — concluded that President Trump speaks at the lowest level of all those studied, as measured on the on the Flesch-Kincaid index. As Factbase put it:
By any metric to measure vocabulary, using more than a half dozen tests with different methodologies, Donald Trump has the most basic, most simplistically constructed, least diverse vocabulary of any president in the last 90 years.
Some scholars argue that a focus on ideological conflict masks the most salient divisions in the era of Donald Trump: authoritarians versus non-authoritarians.
It’s really critical to help people understand the difference between conservatives and authoritarians. Conservatives are by nature opposed to change and novelty, whereas authoritarians are averse to diversity and complexity. It’s a subtle but absolutely critical distinction.
“What we’re facing,” she continued,
is an authoritarian revolution — not a conservative revolution, the term is inherently contradictory — which in the U.S. has been creeping up since the 1960s.
Authoritarianism, Stenner continued, is
clearly distinct from what I call “laissez faire conservatism.” In fact, in cross-national research I consistently find that these two dimensions are actually negatively related. If anything, authoritarians tend to be wary of free markets and more supportive of government intervention and redistribution, perhaps even schemes of equalization and progressive taxation.
For Stenner, the “overriding objective of the authoritarian is always to enhance oneness and sameness; to minimize the diversity of people, beliefs and behaviors.”
In a 2009 paper, “ ‘Conservatism,’ Context-Dependence, and Cognitive Incapacity,” Stenner wrote:
Authoritarianism is a functional disposition concerned with maximizing “oneness” and “sameness” especially in conditions where the things that make us one and the same — common authority, and shared values — appear to be under threat.
Threat, she continued, sets in motion an “authoritarian dynamic” that activates
latent predispositions to authoritarianism and increases their expression in manifest intolerance. That is to say, intolerance is a function of the interaction of authoritarian predisposition with conditions of normative threat.
In her email, Stenner argued that “non-authoritarian conservatives, opposed to change, dedicated to upholding laws, and to the defense of legitimate political and social institutions that underpin societal stability and security” are a crucial pillar of democratic governance.
In the real world, she continued, “it is the authoritarians who are the revolutionaries.”
Because of this authoritarian revolution, here and abroad, Stenner contends that
the whole of liberal democracy is in grave danger at this moment. But the fault lies with authoritarians on both the right and the left, and the solution is in the hands of non-authoritarians on both sides.
Stenner makes the case that the authoritarian revolution began in the 1960s: “Once the principle of equal treatment under the law was instituted and entrenched by means of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act,” traditional conservatism — “fidelity to the laws of the land and defense of legitimate institutions” — took a back seat to authoritarianism “as a factor driving expressions of racial, moral and political intolerance.”
Stenner takes the analysis of contemporary conflict and polarization full circle back to the fundamental American divide over race, a subject that touches on virtually every issue facing the nation.
And Trump is determined to use authoritarian means to restore race to the core of his campaign.
Last week, Trump sent dozens of armed federal forces in camouflage to quell Black Lives Matter protests in Portland.
On July 19, Trump responded to a direct question from Chris Wallace of Fox News about whether he would “accept the election” win or lose. Trump answered: “I have to see. Look, you — I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no.”
And on July 20, Trump threatened to send more armed troops to New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland to quell dissent, noting that these cities’ mayors were all “liberal Democrats.”
Put another way, Trump plans to echo George Wallace and take his stand in the schoolhouse door or, even more ominously, to use urban America as his Alamo.
You must have know at this point in 2001 or 2003. Wikipedia was growing really fast.
You decide, I guess around 2003. What was the thinking behind that? Why did you do that?
The community of volunteers very much wanted it to be a non-profit.
Finally for me, it just made sense. Aesthetically, my ambitions for Wikipedia.
really make a nonprofit option more senseible. I think if we had gone a different route it would be very different today.
Imagine a world in which every person on the planet were given access to the sum of all human knowledge.
But I wonder why you could not have done that same thing and still have put ads on Wikipedia, like banner ads and stuff.
So here’s the thing — think about the DNA of an organization.
It is very difficult to have an organization from following the money. So Wikipedia is a non-profit, we could run ads. There is no prohibition of non-profits running ads.
Suddenly, people would start to care a lot more about our traffic in highly developed advertising markets. We would begin to care more about which pages you’re reading.
If you’re reading about Queen Victoria.
If you’re reading about Tesla cars or vacations in Las Vegas, we would have an incentive to
We an encyclopedia. We don’t think about adding page views.
We just think about how we make the encyclopedia better and how do we reach more people in the developing world. That’s just fundamental to what this is all about.
How do you even fund that. How do you even get the money to even fund the servers.
The main reason why we started the non-profit is exactly thinking about that for the future but I had no idea whether it was going to be possible. So we setup the non-profit in June.
Then we had this disaster on Christmas day and I had to scramble to get the site running on 1 server and it was painfully slow. And it was painfully obvious because the traffic was doubling.
That was the first time I decieded to do a fundraising campaign.
These days we call that crowd funding.
I remember very clearly that had hoped to raise $20,000 in a month’s time. But in about 2 weeks time we had raised $30,000.
A lot of small donors. And that is today the model for Wikipedia. People who believe in Wikipedia, who think it is useful for their lives.
Hey I should chip in.
When you think about this thing that you built and your role in the history of the internet, how much of the success of Wikipedia do you think was because of your brilliance and your hard work and how much was luck?A huge amount due to luck.
A huge amount of luck
I do think a component of the success of Wikipedia is that I’m a very friendly and nice person and I’m very laid back and so therefore I was able to work in a community environment where people basically yell at you and just have to kind of roll with it and you’re in some sense a leader but you can’t tell anyone what to do. They’re volunteers, so you have to work with love and reason and move people on in a useful way.
So I do think that I’m not irrelevant to the process, but I also think that the community is amazing and the luck of the timing of really hitting that moment when it was possible to build Wikipedia.
Jimmy, you’ve seen the estimates that if Wikipedia were a for-profit, it could be worth at least $5 billion dollars, maybe more.
Does mean anything to you?
Not really. I mean. It’s you know.
People, they love to write about how Jimmy Wales is not a billionaire.
I think that there are actually articles with the headline. Jimmy Wales in not an internet billionaire.
Exactly. And for that’s a bit odd. My life is unbeelivable interensting. amazing. I have the ability to meet almost anyone in the world. And usually I introduce myself an say I’m Jimmy Wales founder of Wikipedia. And usually they say “Oh Wow”. And if I say: “I’m Jimmy Wales. I own the largest group of car dealers across the southern part of America.” Not that interesting.
At least in that regard, no one will remember me in 500 years, but they will definitely remember Wikipedia.
That’s something that you can hardly get your head around.
There have been comparisons to the Gutenberg Press. This is the biggest dissemination of human knowledge in modern world history.
But its a bit embarrassing to talk about it that way. I just try to have fun.
For years, the company has moved billions in profits to Puerto Rico to avoid taxes. When the IRS pushed it to pay, Microsoft protested that the agency wasn’t being nice. Then it aggressively fought back in court, lobbied Congress and changed the law.
Impeachment is moving forward and going nowhere. There is new information but it doesn’t really tell those who’ve paid attention anything they didn’t know. Putative administration operative Lev Parnas said on “The Rachel Maddow Show” Wednesday that the president knew everything about efforts to lean on Ukraine. But this was clear in testimony throughout the impeachment hearings. His own ambassador to the European Union said it! The ambassador to Ukraine knew she was being schemed against, lost her job because of it, and spelled it out under oath.
It’s icing on a cake that’s already sagging. The president will be acquitted for a host of reasons, from partisanship to a prudential judgment that his actions don’t warrant removal with a presidential election 10 months away.
What did Speaker Nancy Pelosi gain by playing her monthlong game of peekaboo, waiting to send the charges to the Senate? She withheld from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell papers he didn’t wish to receive and she saw that as leverage? It appears she was playing for time as investigators tried to develop more evidence. But again, for what? The president couldn’t look more guilty.
Meantime impeachment as a dramatic and distinct event lost all momentum. In the month after the House vote the story lost lift, then got lost in the Iran drama. This second stage feels not like the continuation of the first but a brand new second impeachment, which a lot of people will experience as overkill.
On the creepiness of the signing ceremony for the impeachment articles: Modern presidents have always held such ceremonies and signed big, happy legislation with many pens. Lyndon B. Johnson liked clutching bunches of them in his thick, meaty fist and handing them out personally. But the impeachment of a president is a grave and unhappy event. It’s not celebratory. Enacting triumphalism was shallow and looked like a tell. Why pens, why not a scalp?
Serious people understand the implications of things. Impeachment has now been normalized. It won’t be a once-in-a-generation act but an every-administration act. Democrats will regret it when Republicans are handing out the pens.
To the Democratic debate Tuesday night in Des Moines.
It contained my favorite panel-candidate moment of this cycle.
Bright young woman journalist: “Sen. Sanders, I do want to be clear here, you’re saying that you never told Sen. Warren that a woman could not win the election?”
Sanders: “That is correct.”
BYWJ: “Sen. Warren, what did you think when Sen. Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”
Warren: “I disagreed.”
It was like Judge Judy on drugs:
“Ernie, did you hit Peggy on the head?”
“No, of course not.”
“Peggy, how did you feel when Ernie hit you on the head?”
The moment went uncorrected. This is why people hate the press.
I found myself watching Elizabeth Warren. She has proved she can take a punch and throw one (“Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections.”) Of the candidates in their 70s she’s the highest-energy and most indefatigable. Actually she’d have high energy for a 50-year-old. All candidates now have to be actors but she’s a good one, telling her stories over and over, her voice growing husky at the moving parts.
Her challenge is not that she’s a woman, it is her policies, and maybe something else. I watched the debate with a man who’s a sophisticated observer with no dog in the fight. Ms. Warren was doing her magical thinking about how universal Medicare won’t cost people a thing, it’s all savings with a few small tax increases on people we don’t like. I asked aloud, “Does she believe what she says or does she know it’s make-believe?”
He considered: “She did.” he said. That sounds right, that she started with belief but at this point sees the holes in what she’s saying. She’s caught, because she’s said it too often and now can only repeat it.
Bernie Sanders has the same magical thinking about the cost of things, who’ll pay, and what effect that will have on the nation’s life. But he gets away with it because he’s a declared socialist. His supporters don’t want realism and his foes don’t expect it. Ms. Warren says she’s a capitalist with a critique, so she faces a different burden.
There was also in the debate a kind of detachment from real life. A voter asked: “How will you prioritize accessing quality affordable child care?” The candidates were indignant that women can be held from the workforce by the high cost of child care. Pete Buttigieg vowed to get “federal dollars” involved, and spoke of stunted careers. Ms. Warren said, “My plan is universal child care for everyone.” She told of how she was almost forced “off track” by child care problems. Mr. Sanders said, “Every psychologist in the world knows 0 through 4 are the most important years of human life, intellectually and emotionally.”
No one spoke with compassion for parents, for mothers who forgo the earnings and status (“I have a job”) and relationships (“I’m not lonely all day”) of having a job to stay home with kids under 4. No one said that actually a lot of parents think the most important thing is to stay home and raise the kids, that many struggle to do it, and we might want to help them. No one noted we don’t give any particular honor to those who stay home, even though our culture depends on them.
What seemed to guide all the answers was a technocratic assumption that it’s best for little children to be raised by well-compensated strangers as mom is absorbed into the workforce, where she’ll finally achieve full self-actualization.
It was all so . . . cold. And detached from real life as many live it.
Meanwhile in full-employment America, Donald Trump is taking out terrorists with drones and announcing trade deals with China and seemingly weathering every storm. In the China ceremony Tuesday, in the East Room, after a booming “Hail to the Chief,” with a palpable sense of triumph filling the room, with the golden frames of the great portraits shining, Mr. Trump rolled off the names of the CEOs in the audience. There were a lot! It was in a way a fabulous celebration of the riches produced by capitalism. But it also seemed an almost sinister declaration of the intimate ties between great U.S. corporations and the federal government. The CEO of Boeing is here, the chief of eBay. “How’s General Electric doing, Nels?” “Ryan Lance, ConocoPhillips, you’re doing fantastically well!” “I made a lot of bankers look very good, but you’re doing a great job.” “Ken Griffin, Citadel, what a guy he is.”
It was reminiscent of the scene in “The Godfather: Part II” where Fulgencio Batista hands around the solid gold telephone. “I’d like to thank this distinguished group of American industrialists for continuing to work with Cuba for the greatest period of prosperity in her entire history. Mr. William Shaw, representing the General Fruit Company . . . Messrs. Corngold and Dant of the United Telephone and Telegraph Company . . . and of course our friend Mr. Robert Allen of South American Sugar.”
We all think our breathless recitations of the latest revelations matter but I don’t know, it keeps feeling like 2016. Only this time with full employment.
The editor of the Atlantic maligned a reporter for getting the story right.
The Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg took some heat on Twitter Thursday for remarks he made in an interview about why there are so few women and people of color writing cover stories at his magazine. Then he tried to pin the blame for his words on the woman journalist who published them.
Goldberg spoke with Nieman Lab’s Laura Hazard Owen about recent diversity achievements at the Atlantic, when he conceded that the writers of the print edition’s most important stories are overwhelmingly white and male. Nieman Lab noted that of the 15 issues published this year, 11 had cover stories written by men.
Here’s what Goldberg said:
It’s really, really hard to write a 10,000-word cover story. There are not a lot of journalists in America who can do it. The journalists in America who do it are almost exclusively white males. What I have to do — and I haven’t done this enough yet — is again about experience versus potential. You can look at people and be like, well, your experience is writing 1,200-word pieces for the web and you’re great at it, so good going!
That’s one way to approach it, but the other way to approach it is, huh, you’re really good at this and you have a lot of potential and you’re 33 and you’re burning with ambition, and that’s great, so let us put you on a deliberate pathway toward writing 10,000-word cover stories. It might not work. It often doesn’t. But we have to be very deliberate and efficient about creating the space for more women to develop that particular journalistic muscle.
It’s difficult to take this position seriously since there are obviously lots of women and people of color who already have the particular journalistic muscle required to write excellent longform nonfiction, as evidenced by the fact there are lots of women and people of color doing it all across America, including for the Atlantic! For example, “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates changed the political debate in the Democratic Party on the question of reparations. “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” by Anne-Marie Slaughter is a defining piece of our era on women and work.
Sample Article: The case for Elizabeth Warren