Look who’s politically correct now

When liberals refuse to call things what they are and sub in carefully calibrated euphemisms instead, far-right conservatives respond with one of their favorite phrases. This, they say, is political correctness run amok. But now it’s the far right that’s refusing to call the cages holding immigrant children separated from their families “cages”they’re “chain-link partitionsinstead. This hypocrisy reveals how much of a sham the crusade against political correctness among the far right has always been.

.. Television and talk show host Laura Ingraham may have come up with the pleasantest description possible of the sterile rooms surrounded by metal fences where terrified kids squirm under astronaut blankets on floor mats: “essentially summer camps.”

.. The very fact that the Border Patrol is keeping these children in cages shows the administration is treating them like animals. The complaint that talking about cages makes the administration “uncomfortable,” too, is straight out of the campus culture wars, yet when liberals lodge this complaint, conservatives label them snowflakes faster than you can say “microaggression.”

.. How dare you refuse to name radical Islamist terror, they ask? How dare you say “holidays” instead of “Christmas”? And what is up with these genderless pronouns?

.. This is a strong argument only when the stifled speech is actually an attempt at truth-telling in the face of censorship. Yet when the Trump camp cries out against political correctness, it usually has nothing to do with truth-telling or censorship at all.

.. And what was the politically correct autocracy stopping him from doing?

  • Calling women “slobs,” “dogs” and “pigs.” But women are quite literally not dogs, or pigs. They’re women.
  • Describing Megyn Kelly as a “bimbo” isn’t laying bare some suppressed reality — it’s nastiness for nastiness’s sake.

.. The pro-Trump right has weaponized “political correctness” to mean they get to say whatever they want, and those who disagree with them don’t.

The Real Russia Scandal

Mike Flynn. In 2016, the retired general published a book that made clear where he stood when it came to Russia.

“Although I believe America and Russia could find mutual ground fighting Radical Islamists,” he and co-author Michael Ledeen wrote, “there is no reason to believe Putin would welcome cooperation with us; quite the contrary, in fact.”

Lest there be any doubt as to where the future national security adviser stood, Flynn went on to stress that Vladimir Putin “has done a lot for the Khamenei regime”; that Russia and Iran were “the two most active and powerful members of the enemy alliance”; and that the Russian president’s deep intention was to “pursue the war against us.”

All this was true. Yet by the end of the year, Flynn would be courting Russia’s ambassador to Washington and hinting at swift relief from sanctions. What gave?

What gave, it seems, was some combination of financial motives — at least $65,000 in payments by Russian-linked companies — and political ones — a new master in the person of Donald Trump, who took precisely the same gauzy view of Russia that Flynn had rejected in his book.

.. the president’s craven apologists insist he’s right to try to find common ground with Russia. These are the same people who until recently were in full throat against Barack Obama for his overtures to Putin.

.. Yet the alleged naïveté never quits: Just this week, he asked for Putin’s help on North Korea.

The better explanations are:

  1. the president is infatuated with authoritarians, at least those who flatter him;
  2. he’s neurotically neuralgic when it comes to the subject of his election;
  3. he’s ideologically sympathetic to Putinism, with its combination of economic corporatism, foreign-policy cynicism, and violent hostility to critics;
  4. he’s stupid; or
  5. he’s vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

.. Each explanation is compatible with all the others. For my part, I choose all of the above — the first four points being demonstrable while the last is logical.

.. There’s no need to obsess about electoral collusion when the real issue is moral capitulation.

What Was Trump’s Russia Plan?

Whatever else emerges, the administration ignored history in counting on Putin to help U.S. interests

Mr. Trump and his advisers seem to have thought they could orchestrate a major strategic realignment with the Russians. Seeing Mr. Putin as a potential ally may have been profoundly naive—I certainly think so—but it was evidently a key part of their plans.

.. Mr. Trump’s longstanding fascination with Russia’s leader is no secret. He has been lavishing praise on Mr. Putin for more than a decade. In October 2007, for instance, Mr. Trump told talk-show host Larry King, whether “you like [Putin] or don’t like him—he’s doing a great job…in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia, period.”

.. He insists that the Russia investigations in Congress and by special counsel Robert Mueller have undermined potential diplomatic cooperation with the Kremlin on containing North Korea’s nuclear threat, fighting Islamic State and other issues, which could, in Mr. Trump’s words, save “millions and millions of lives.”

.. Mr. Flynn said that the U.S. and Russia were united by a common enemy: radical Islam. “We can’t do what we want to do unless we work with Russia, period,” Mr. Flynn claimed.

.. K.T. McFarland, a month away from becoming Mr. Flynn’s deputy, said that Mr. Obama’s move was intended to “box Trump in diplomatically with Russia” and curtail the new president’s freedom to try to maneuver Russia away from its allies Iran and Syria.

.. Russia, she wrote, is the “key that unlocks [the] door.” Ms. McFarland’s message tracks with other evidence that Mr. Flynn, Jared Kushner and others attempted to persuade the Kremlin to help contain China.

.. Mr. Flynn’s request to the Kremlin not to overreact to the imposition of new sanctions by the Obama administration was a stunning break with the well-established protocol of not interfering with the actions of a sitting administration. It also raises troubling questions about what the Trump team might have offered in exchange. Sanctions relief? Reconsideration of U.S. support for Ukraine and other countries that have been victims of Russian aggression?
.. Given widespread reports at the time about Russian cyber and information operations seeking to influence the 2016 campaign, these efforts would have sent an unambiguous message to the Kremlin: The Trump team was relaxed about Russian meddling and eager to get down to business.
.. In Syria, rather than negotiating a Russian-American alliance to fight Islamic State, Trump’s team soon had to face up to the reality that Russian and Iranian military intervention had already transformed the war in favor of the Syrian regime, decimating U.S.-backed rebels in the process. The notion that Mr. Trump could disrupt the Russia-Iran relationship also proved fanciful. Tehran and Moscow are firmly united in opposing actions by the administration that threaten not just the Iran nuclear deal but a balance of power in the Middle East that serves the interests of both countries.
As for plans to put distance between Russia and China, Mr. Trump’s apparent strategy fared no better.
.. his troubled dealings with Russia have already proved what other administrations learned over a much longer period: In dealing with the Kremlin, across so many divergent interests, there are no easy fixes or grand bargains, even for Mr. Putin’s self-declared friends.

Why most evangelicals don’t condemn Trump

For such critics, the only possible explanation for evangelicals’ continuing faith in Trump is some combination of ignorance and hypocrisy.

 .. These voters — and almost all of them voted — see Trump’s flaws but perceive him as a fellow sinner willing to fight the forces of the establishment on their behalf.

.. The barrage of negative press hardly rattled him or most of his colleagues, who see the mainstream media as anything but friendly to their opinions and their faith.
.. “He has to fight all of them,” said the preacher, referring to the Democrats and the media.Another minister told me he appreciates that Trump has no hesitation taking on “the reprobate left” that considers the president “an enemy of their established power system.”

.. Part of the decision by many evangelicals to support Trump for president was attributable to long-standing differences with liberal candidates over social issues. Evangelicals tend to share conservative positions on abortion, gun rights, border security and the fight against “radical Islamic terrorism,” as they usually make sure to phrase it. But more than anything, Trump’s specific pledges to the religious right got their attention.

.. So far, they think Trump has kept those promises. He has followed up with invitations to the White Housesought input on court appointments, stood firmly with Israel and signed an executive order expanding religious freedom in regard to political speech.

 .. when Trump refuses to fully adopt the conclusion that climate change is due to man-made influences, he demonstrates an affinity with evangelical Christians who do not blindly accept every scientific theory.
.. They also know they are considered by many to be superstitious or ignorant for adhering to their beliefs.
.. Probably half the people in churches across the country defined as “evangelicals” were converted from lives that were even more unprincipled than the life Trump has led. Some experienced divorces, others used foul language, and many were addicted to drugs or alcohol.
.. In most cases, no immediate miracle happened with regard to their behavior at the moment of their confessions of faith or their emergence from the baptismal waters. The only miracle they were promised was the application of the grace of Jesus Christ, which, under New Testament doctrine, washed away their sins.

They hate the US government, and they’re multiplying: the terrifying rise of ‘sovereign citizens’

While US counter-terrorism efforts remain locked on Islamist extremism, the growing threat from homegrown, rightwing extremists is even more pressing

the “Patriot” movement, a spectrum of groups who believe the US government has become a totalitarian and repressive force.

.. Although the Trump administration is reportedly planning to restructure the Department of Homeland Security’s countering violent extremism (CVE) program to focus exclusively on radical Islam, a 2014 national survey of 175 law enforcement agencies ranked sovereign citizens, not Islamic terrorists, as the most pressing terrorist threat.

The survey ranked Islamic terrorists a close second, with the following top three threats all domestic in origin and sometimes overlapping: the militia movement, racist skinheads, and the neo-Nazi movement.

Though the federal CVE program already devotes almost the entirety of its resources to organizations combatting jihadism, the White House feels that the current name is “needlessly ‘politically correct’”, an anonymous government source told CNN.

.. “Many of [the people attracted to such movements] are guys my age, middle-aged white guys. They’re seeing profound change and seeing that they have been left behind by the economic success of others and they want to return to a never-existent idyllic age when everyone was happy and everyone was white and everyone was self-sufficient.”

.. Today’s sovereign citizen movement can be traced in part to two popular Patriot ideologies:

.. One of the movement’s foundational texts was The Turner Diaries, a 1978 novel by the white supremacist William Luther Pierce that describes a near future in which a small group of patriots fighting the extinction of the white race work to bring about a race war and the eventual genocide of non-white peoples.

The rise of sovereign citizens is linked to home foreclosures

not all sovereign citizens are white: Gavin Long, a black sovereign citizen, killed three law enforcement officers in Louisiana last year. An increasing number of black Americans are coming to the sovereign movement from the Moorish Science Temple, a black Muslim church that believes African Americans are the descendants of ancient Moors.

.. “There is still racism and bigotry,” she said. “Some of this is situational. If there are two members of your 12-person militia who are black, who are conservatives, military veterans, whatever – they are your brothers. You would kill for them and you would die for them. But two black guys in Ferguson, on the other side of the political spectrum – if there is a hierarchy of hatred, they are as low as you can get, lower than animals.”

.. “Their only agenda is they are anti-government.” Paudert believes that in some ways, sovereign citizens are better understood as an extreme left or anarchist movement than an extreme right movement.

.. “I call them rightwing anarchists … So perhaps it is almost a full circle, if you have that continuum.”

.. “The sovereign citizens really got big in the late 2000s because people were losing their houses to foreclosure.” Many are house-squatters

.. Financial crime is rampant among sovereign citizens, who are also well-known for harassing their enemies with fraudulent liens. “There are a lot of people scamming each other.”

.. Many come from a cluster of amorphous internet communities, MacNab noted, including far-right trolls, the hacking collective Anonymous, and Copwatch, whose supporters upload critical videos of police on YouTube.

.. Younger and older sovereigns get an overwhelming share of their news from Infowars, the media channel of the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and RT, the propaganda network known for pushing negative stories about the American government.

.. Among some of the anti-government groups MacNab tracks, Trump has enjoyed something of a honeymoon since the election, she said. But she believes that it won’t last: when they realize Trump is not the panacea they thought he was, they will feel used, and turn against him.

Trump, Obama and the Politics of Evasion

O.K., now here’s hoping you’re revolted by each of the six preceding points. Because, if you are, then maybe we can at last rethink the policy of euphemism, obfuscation, denial and semantic yoga that typified the Obama administration’s discussions of another form of terrorism.

.. Islamist terrorism, or what former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano used to call “man-caused disasters”

.. Napolitano’s “man-caused disasters” didn’t survive the political laugh test, but the fantastically elastic phrase “violent extremism” did.

.. there is a record of what Obama believed were the causes of terrorism. “Extremely poor societies and weak states,” Obama explained in 2007, “provide optimal breeding grounds for disease, terrorism and conflict.”

.. “lack of opportunity for jobs” as the “root causes that lead people to join these groups.”

.. If Iran had taken Americans hostage and killed hundreds of our soldiers, well, as Obama often noted, hadn’t we helped overthrow the Mossadegh government back in 1953?

.. it indicts him all the more, since it’s precisely the sort of bizarre and blatant evasiveness he used to denounce in his predecessor.

.. But it should also be a reminder that when it comes to looking the other way in the face of extremism and violence, failing to call evil groups by their correct names and providing economic alibis for moral depravity, liberals have their own accounts to settle.

 

Comments

.. Obama’s reluctance to conflate “Islam” with terrorism and violence was a credible effort to differentiate the vast and growing world population of muslims from the aberrant, militant minority of radical Islamists. It was a formalist, intellectual position, easy to misunderstand, and vulnerable to exploitation by Republicans and Right Wingers wishing to exploit blind hatred (for political gain) of muslims based on horrific terrorist stereotypes.

I don’t see the equivalence between the Obama administration’s carefully considered strategy to separate religion from politics, and the Donald’s unwillingness to confront the re emergent darkness of an unamerican fascist movement.

 

.. Wow – even with this, the right wing cannot avoid false equivalence.

Let me say this in simple language that Brett can understand. If the response to C’ville was to say “this proves that all white people must be monitored and condemned because they are all fascists”, or “this means that all christians and all supporters of the second amendment are dangers to the republic”, then we might have a comparable situation. But that didn’t happen.

.. However, they never avoided condemnation of the acts of violence. It is a world of difference.

.. The first difference is that the KKK and white supremacists are white and we know lots of people who are white but do not hold these ideologies. Therefore, we do not paint all white people with the broad brush of white supremacists who may incite violence. We are not passing white people in the street looking at them suspiciously or designing laws to discriminate against white people because they may harbor these views but since we can’t tell just by looking at them, we’ll just treat all white people as potential violent white supremacists.

Conversely, not many of us know any Muslims, or at least not well. So, our beliefs about them are developed by what we see on TV. If we only see this group of people as a bunch of terrorists, then every Muslim we meet are going to viewed as a potential terrorist.

.. The Obama Administration was walking on eggshells to protect millions of innocent Muslims from vengeful people who target them because of how they look, where they come from, how they worship.

Trying to balance public safety against the appropriate condemnation of violent jihadists, and people who use their religion as an excuse to murder and brutalize others, and as an excuse to commit mass murder for political gains is a tricky proposition.

The truth is that James Alex Fields, and Dylan Roof are cut from the same cloth, inspired by vile and evil rhetoric, as the lone wolf Islamic terrorists. But the other truth is that angry mobs are unlikely to go and attack random white people assuming they are terrorists. That’s not true for Muslims, as we saw in Kansas, just being there got two Indian men shot, or at the Sikh temple, or at the recent Mosque bombing.

.. This is a great example of why it’s been so hard for moderates to talk with conservatives. The conservative response is always: “But Obama” or “What about her emails”. Where’s the frank evaluation of Trump’s response?

.. Criticizing specific Islamist beliefs (e.g. martyrdom, Paradise, jihad, apostasy, etc.) is criticism of ideas, not bigotry against people. Criticism of these illiberal ideas is as legitimate and worthy an enterprise as criticism of the alt-right’s ideology. In fact, criticizing the ideology of both Islamism and the alt-right isn’t just intellectually honest – it’s also the *liberal* thing to do.

.. Linking terrorism to Islam ties all Muslims to terrorism. Linking terrorism to white supremacists ties only white supremacists to terrorism, not all white people. The situations are not equivalent.

Besides, what Obama did is part of a critique of Obama. It’s not a validation of Trump, who is operating in different circumstances. He has the burden of riches, not blackness. Trump is an independent individual supposedly capable of making his own choices and decisions, and he is entirely responsible for those.

.. Jeffery Goldberg had a long essay in The Atlantic explaining why he thought Obama’s soft talk on terrorism was tolerable – his actions, according to Goldberg, killed many terrorists and thus he was walking softly and carrying a big stick. I don’t agree but its a fair point.

We’ll see if Trump’s Justice Dept. carries a big stick re: Nazis and KKK. It must.

.. This weekend wasn’t the time for Trump to drag in the Antifa groups but they will have to be reckoned with at some point: what they did in Berkeley, Hamburg and so many other places- harassing, assaulting, rioting, vandalizing and looting behind balaclavas and kerchiefs – tears at the social fabric and is dangerous business: anarchy for the sake of anarchy.

.. Here’s a frank evaluation of Trump’s response. His statement was a measured 100% accurate response which nicely summed up the situation. Violent National Socialists (Nazis) were confronted by violent International Socialists (Antifa), and a young woman whose connections to either group is unclear, is now dead. Until you condemn both sides, your just playing partisan politics.

 

A Gift for Donald Trump

At the heart of Trumpism is the perception that the world is a dark, savage place, and therefore ruthlessness, selfishness and callousness are required to survive in it. It is the utter conviction, as Trump put it, that murder rates are at a 47-year high, even though in fact they are close to a 57-year low.

It is the utter conviction that we are engaged in an apocalyptic war against radical Islamic terrorism, even though there are probably several foreign policy problems of greater importance.

.. Fraternity is the desire to make friends during both good and hostile occasions and to be faithful to those friends. The fraternal person is seeking harmony and fair play between individuals. He is trying to move the world from tension to harmony.

.. But look at how many of any day’s news stories are built around enmity. The war over who can speak in the Senate. Kellyanne Conway’s cable TV battle du jour. Half my Facebook feed is someone linking to a video with the headline: Watch X demolish Y.