1 year ago: There’s a pattern here

June 14, 2012, on this blog: There’s a pattern here

Let’s be clear: These guys are all whackjobs and they in no way represent the official views of the Republican Party or of the majority of Republicans. Whackjobs aren’t rational creatures, and they can choose to attach themselves to any larger institution whether or not that institution welcomes them.

Yet there’s a clear pattern apparent to anyone who looks at this particular form of racist whackjobbery: These guys all consider themselves Republicans.

Why would this be? Why are racists — outright, proud, explicit racists — attracted to the Republican Party? These guys sound like President Andrew Johnson, yet they’re not drawn to Johnson’s party, the Democrats. They are, instead, drawn to the part of Lincoln. The Republican Party condemns their views, explicitly and consistently, yet they remain convinced that, despite such official pronouncements, it reciprocates their affection.



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  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Really, it’s a fairly well-known early work in the field (1990). Here is the Amazon link:


    As you can tell from the quote, Butler is a fairly academic writer, so her prose style is best taken in small doses. It’s a very influential book, though.

  • There’s the problem, then, isn’t it? How do we know when something is offensive enough that it needs to end now regardless of consequences (civil war is a great deal more dangerous than Jim Crow laws and civil discrimination, all things considered), rather than waiting for people to reach that conclusion on their own time? Ideally social education and indirect means of relieving the pressure should handle a great many of our problems, but it would seem like there’s got to be a point where you have to say “okay, that’s enough.”

    With slavery it was apparently obvious to you that putting a swift legal end to it was acceptable, but you oppose legislating against segregation. Well, what if we had left it the way it was? Would we really have been better off raising several generations of citizens with inadequate education, purposefully unequal access to resources and the constant message that those citizens were inferior and barely tolerable creatures whose rights were secondary to the superior race? My concern would be that if we let that go on long enough, eventually it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. There’s only so long you can spit on someone before they stop flinching when it happens and come to expect it as a matter of course.

    On the other hand, when people talk about banning abortion, the same thought comes to mind. If we addressed the reasons why abortion is presently considered necessary — inadequate access to contraception and sex education, poor access to proper fetal care, job and financial insecurity, no access to day care and other child raising aid — then the number of abortions would substantially drop as people no longer wound up with pregnancies they couldn’t deal with.

  • Clarify, morally offensive, but not part of natural law? Ensuring that everyone has equal rights is part of what I consider to be absolutely central to a functional society. I’m inclined to pursue that by influencing social climate, but I also thing those rights need to be legally protected, or diehard bigots will just continue ruining lives well after everyone else has accepted the status of the group, whatever it is.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    I tried to address this a little in the post below. Basically,, if an offensive thing is just a legal issue, then sure, change it right away. But if it requires a social change to be effective, than work on the social change rather than trying to impose the change on an unwilling populace through unpopular (and probably ineffective) legislation. Prohibition is the classic example. In theory it was a great idea, but since people still wanted to drink, all it accomplished was to build an empire for Al Capone and foster disrespect for the law. Nowadays, drinking is growing less popular (for health reasons mostly) and with a concerted effort you might be able to stamp it out in a few decades. Smoking appears to be moving this way also. It would not surprise m to see smoking banned in the next ten years. But imagine trying to ban smoking in the 1950’s–it couldn’t have been done.

    When society changes, laws follow. When society doesn’t change, than laws which need a social change to be effective are unlikely to be successful.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    No I agree that in *Modern society* equality is certainly a Natural Law. But it took decades for society to realize this and to progress to where it could realistically be implemented. If you asked Lincoln, he would have been horrified at the suggestion that blacks and whites were equals–and he was considered a fairly forward thinker in his day.

  • Oh look

    “Traditional marriage is UNDER THREAT”

    Hey give me one more, I get bingo.

  • Why it “took generations” was because the South fought an effective rearguard action against Reconstruction. What they could not win on the battlefield in open combat, they achieved by stealth, lies, guerilla warfare, and trickery.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    I’m also in favor of a strong defense policy and privatization of government businesses.


  • Thanks. I can cash it in for my free toaster from the Gay Recruiting Society.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    That’s true, but bigotry and prejudice against blacks wasn’t limited to the South. It was endemic to society everywhere. Moves towards true equality were much slower in coming.

  • You do know MItt Romney, of all people, admitted equality of opportunity is not a reality contrary to literally decades of Republican dogma?


  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    In fairness, that wouldn’t be the first time Mitt has been wrong about something.

  • So do you deny the veracity of this part of his speech?

    If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, then a chronically bad economy would be equally bad for everyone. Instead, it’s worse for African Americans in almost every way. The unemployment rate, the duration of unemployment, average income, and median family wealth are all worse for the black community. In June, while the overall unemployment rate remained stuck at 8.2 percent, the unemployment rate for African Americans actually went up, from 13.6 percent to 14.4 percent.

    These are all statistical data you can get from the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    No, they’re probably all true. The issue is that they aren’t really adjusted properly for education, married vs single households, age and other factors. If you carefully matched all of the social variables and found that equivalent blacks and whites were doing differently, than it would be a more interesting statistic.

  • I still see your hand waving so hard you’re generating gravitational waves.

  • Hm. I’m not seeing where discrimination is purely a social issue and not a legal one, if it’s built into the system that certain people are legally required to have it worse than others (such as public buses and African Americans being required to abandon their seats for white citizens). Agreed that you couldn’t change people’s minds that African Americans should give up their seats since the comfort of a white citizen was more deserved, but you’d only be changing the law to remove the legal requirement that they do so.

    (Incidentally, it has been suggested that prohibition grew out of gasoline companies wanting to protect their assets from the threat of ethanol-based fuels, which had been gaining ground in the early 1900’s, similar to how hemp products were being praised as a textile just before marijuana and cannabis banning laws were enacted.)

  • Ah, yes. Every time I see “traditional marriage,” I feel the need to link this:

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    But, as recently as the 1940’s nearly everyone–North, South, Rich and Poor–regarded Blacks as *not* equal to whites. They were not just legally disadvantaged–they were actually inferior people. Nowadays only a few extreme racists hold this view, but back then nearly every white person did. So laws which discriminated against lacks weren’t seen as offensive because they just “reflected reality”. It wasn’t until blacks gained respect as real people that most whites realized these laws were unfair and demeaning. So the laws changed as a result of the underlying societal change. There was no call to change them before people’s attitudes changed, because until then, they weren’t seen as objectionable. And even if they had been changed somehow, people’s prejudices would not have gone away.

  • dpolicar

    I still don’t follow, sorry.

    On your account as I understand it, even if foreigners regard my country’s policies as morally offensive, even if people a century later will consider my country’s policies as violations of natural law, it is still a mistake to override the preferences of the majority of voters to repeal those policies.

    Yes? Did I get that right?

    If so then, again, what made it acceptable to violate democracy to eliminate slavery? Your opinion about Natural Law in 2013 is not sufficient, since (on your account) Natural Law in 2013 is not binding on people in 1861. Nor are the beliefs of people in Europe and other Americas, if I understand you.

    So what was?

  • Would it have been possible for them to gain respect as real people while continuing to be relegated to inferior trash on every legal level?

    That hasn’t entirely gone away, either. There’s a “racial expert” in Texas who makes a living arguing that African Americans are more likely to commit violent crimes and therefore they should be executed for crimes for which other people get lesser sentences.

  • dpolicar

    There was no call to change them before people’s attitudes changed, because until then, they weren’t seen as objectionable.

    Seen by whom?

    If 40% of the population sees X and Y as deserving of equal treatment, and 60% sees them as deserving of unequal treatment, a purely democratic process enforces unequal treatment, and a nondemocratic process might enforce equal treatment. But it certainly isn’t the case that unequal treatment isn’t seen as objectionable. It certainly is, by 40% of the population.

    If 90% of X and 40% of Y see X and Y as deserving of equal treatment, and X and Y each comprise 50% of the population, but only Ys vote, then a purely democratic process enforces unequal treatment… even though 85% of the population sees it as objectionable.

    Also, sometimes the law changes the conditions that constrain how people see their environment.

    Suppose, for example, that actually getting to know out gay couples has the effect of encouraging people to see gay couples as deserving equality. Suppose, further, that being an out gay couple is punishable by law, and that gay couples would be out if they weren’t punished for it.

    In that (no doubt hypothetical) scenario, repealing that law will predictably have the effect of encouraging people to see gay couples as deserving equality.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Sorry if I was unclear. Even in 1861, Slavery was seen as a violation of Natural Law by most people outside of the South. If Lincoln had put the matter to a vote, he probably would have won. But, given the attitudes of the day, he was justified in taking immediate action. To use an analogy, if the State of Maine permitted murder for any reason, he would have been justified in ending it right away, not calling for a vote.

    Of course, our attitudes in 2013 are not relevant here, as you observed.

  • dpolicar

    Ah, OK. Thanks for the clarification.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    It’s difficult for people in 2013 to realize how ingrained the view of black inferiority was among the general public up until the 1950’s. In the 1940’s, scholarly college textbooks attributed black speech to their thick lips and “lazy habits”. So the idea for calls to repeal laws about bus seating or other minor issues just never arose. It wasn’t even a case of clashing ideas–there just wasn’t a perceived need for it.

    If by some miracle these laws had been repealed, the result would have been resistance or outright hostility by Whites. Society just wasn’t ready for equality yet. Seeing a black sitting while a white person stood would have produced outrage, not acceptance.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    It was certainly very difficult, which is why the struggle for black equality took over a hundred years, and isn’t finished by some measures. But trying to accelerate the process by laws ahead of what society was ready for would not have helped much. Even in the 1960’s and 1970’s, legal measures produced enormous outrage and pushback. A few years earlier, they wouldn’t have been possible at all.

    Unfortunately, statistically blacks DO commit more violent crimes than their numbers would suggest. But the guy in Texas is clearly a throwback to the old days.

  • Possibly yes. Imagine if the
    Brown decision had been enacted individually by States. Blacks could
    choose to move to a State that respected their rights. And there would
    have been no lynchings and riots in the States the refused to comply.
    Over time, popular opinion would have peacefully brought everyone in
    line. By, say, 1964, when a national law was democratically passed.

    Citation needed.

    Because I am absolutely 100% certain that if the state had not forced the issue, we’d have states with formalized, de jure segregation today.

    And even if you were right, what about the rights of black people in the interveing time? Because those people are human beings and american citizens too.

    Every discussion of “Things would have been easier/more peaceful/better if we hadn’t forced the issue and used persuasion and social pressure to get equal rights” takes for granted that the racists are right, because every discussion like that is using “easier” and “better” and “more peaceful” to mean for the white folks who were already counted as full human beings — for the people who were given rights in this way, it would mean more years wherein they did not legally count as full human beings. And that isn’t “better” or “easier” or “more peaceful”

  • So you believe that minorities have no rights except what the majority deigns to give them.

  • I suspect he was actually so not fine with it that he was trying to use a kind of legal magic spell to make it retroactively not-have-happened.

  • We don’t even have the language to properly discus the problem. I’ve hardly ever heard a discussion of consent that didn’t sound like (regardless of how it was intended) it assumed that rape was, in the general case, a matter of being mistaken about whether or not valid consent was granted.

  • I think it’s more a problem of laziness and privilege. Society bends over backwards to forgive rapists by trying to make fuzzy the question of whether consent was given. The idea that consent must be meaningful and enthusiastic challenges both. It means they have to think about it, be certain they’ve obtained consent, and to do nothing which threatens that consent. That’s a lot of responsibility with which they’d rather not have to deal.

  • EllieMurasaki

    …? I mean, I can see what you’re saying, it’s just, *boggle*.

  • Of course the father has rights. Just not rights to control the pregnant person. I’m pretty sure “One person is not allowed to assume legal control over another person’s body” is right there in the constitution.

    Pro-life arguments at a fundamental level always seem to forget that a pregnant person, a pregnancy, a fetus, and a baby are all different things.

    But anyway, Let’s say you grant the father some kind of rights. IS there still anyone more qualified than the pregnant person and her doctor to make the final decision?

    This is the thing I can’t get past with “compromise” positions. Maybe there is some magic date after which abortions are always wrong. Why should this be a law? We don’t have laws saying that a doctor can’t make certain incisions, or that it’s illegal to perform an apendectomy on certain patients. So why should it be a law? Why do we need congress to get involved in a medical decision?

    If it is never the medically right decision in certain cases, then any doctor who did one would already be committing medical malpractice. Making it illegal says “It is the medically correct course of action, but you’re not allowed to do it anyway.”

    And that’s why I’m a hard-liner on abortion laws. I believe there are lots of cases where an abortion is the morally and medically wrong thing to do, but I do not believe there is ever a case ever where someone is better qualified than the pregnant woman and the doctor to make that decision, and I am dead certain that the voting public is never better-positioned to make that decision for a particular pregnant person than the person and her doctor.

  • Could you provide an example of that?

  • One of the things I have discovered in my life is that sometimes when something is very bad and you can’t go back in time to stop it from having happened, there is a very strong impulse to try to recast it into a thing that is less bad. I think this is one of the motives you see a lot when rape apologism comes from people like the victim’s family (or the victim themselves. Which happens.)

  • And you seem to think that preventing the outrage of those white people is a loftier goal than letting those black people sit down

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    This is a textbook example of why so many people find the “hard-liner” position on abortion so horrifying and disgusting:

    “This is the thing I can’t get past with “compromise” positions. Maybe there is some magic date after which abortions are always wrong. Why should this be a law?”

    Maybe because after some “magic date” you’re killing a viable and visibly human baby?

    “We don’t have laws saying that a doctor can’t make certain incisions, or that it’s illegal to perform an appendectomy on certain patients. So why should it be a law? Why do we need congress to get involved in a medical decision?”

    So that’s how you see a fetus? As a totally useless bit of tissue, morally and legally interchangable with an appendix? Some people might beg to differ with that.

  • AnonaMiss

    Languages work because there is common vocabulary and grammar that everyone agrees is correct

    This is not true.

  • AnonaMiss

    “I am far less concerned with prejudices of powerless people than the prejudices of powerful people.”

    The problem with this is that it inevitably focuses the eye on problems which primarily affect the higher classes.

    I’m conflicted on this, because part of me wants to say “Well of course, higher-class people have a longer reach than lower-class people and will do more harm overall.” But if the president of, say, Dartmouth is a bigot, that only really hurts the rich. If the president of the local community college is a bigot, that hurts the powerless a lot more, even though he’s small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.

    Should we be be more concerned with the prejudices of powerful people, or with the prejudices which harm powerless people? The two categories aren’t identical.

    I don’t mean to imply we should give the powerful a break – just that we shouldn’t dismiss as unworthy of acknowledgement the real harms petty dictators can do.

  • dpolicar

    Yeah, that’s true.

    I initially considered spelling out the full version of the thought — “when two people in a power differential are equally prejudiced against one another, I am far less concerned with the prejudices of the powerless than those of the powerful” — but decided it was too wordy.

    You’re right, though, that in seeking conciseness I distorted meaning.

  • I dunno, it sounds cromulent to me.

  • You keep talking but all I hear is “When it’s a woman we’re talking about, the state can take a medical decision out of the hands of the patient and the doctor.”

    So that’s how you see a fetus? As a totally useless bit of tissue,
    morally and legally interchangable with an appendix? Some people might
    beg to differ with that.

    Stop putting words in my mouth. I don’t. But I still don’t see how that makes the state a better arbiter of whether or not a given abortion is moral than a doctor and patient.

    That’s what this comes down to. You’re saying “We will override the medical judgment of a trained medical doctor, because who cares about medical science.”

    Name for me one other medical procedure where the government and the voters get a veto? If the fetus is a baby (it’s not) and needs an advocate (it doesn’t), how can you possibly justify saying that anyone other than the mother should be our first choice of advocate? It doesn’t matter if it’s a baby, if it “looks pretty human” by the standards of Joe Bob Jesus-Botherer Who Isn’t A Medical Doctor, if you have an affidavit from the lord God almighty that it’s got a soul. There is no one better qualified than the person that fetus is growing inside and her doctor to make medical judgments that affect that fetus.

  • AnonaMiss


    Quick and dirty counterexample: mutually intelligible dialects. Each participant believes the other is speaking “incorrectly”, but they can still understand each other.

    Longer explanation:

    The idea of linguistic correctness is a very recent one, crystallized by the invention of writing. In pre-literate languages (with the exception of ritual languages and lingua francas, which like written languages have been artificially frozen by common agreement), language changes very quickly. Think ‘kids these days and their slang’ only more so, because without formal language education, instead of slang having one basic starting point from which to diverge, slang can cascade off of slang cascading off of slang. Money becomes bread becomes sleep becomes bighorns. Silly word games pick up meaning and become grammatical features.

    Speakers of actively evolving languages can understand each other not because they agree on which language features are correct, but because they have the context to infer each other’s intent. And of course, they can ask for clarification if they’re confused.

  • ApostateltsopA

    You do realize that the language changes over time right? Changes through common use, that usage in a durable format informs what words make it into dictionaries?

    Your insistence that a gender neutral pronoun is funny is just as bigoted as the last ass I talked to who was upset that it was Cis male and not “normal” male.

    So when you dehumanize someone that is a joke? No, it is you being a bigot.

  • I was being sarcastic. That’s why I used an illegitimate word that means “legitimate”.