Preparing for Political Violence

Senator Merkley is confronted by police officers in Brownsville, Texas, while trying to visit a detention center for children. credit: Sen. Merkley, Facebook

Senator Jeff Merkley planned to visit a federal immigration detention center for children in Brownsville, Texas last week. Children of asylum-seekers, separated from their families under the current administration’s new “zero-tolerance” policy, were being warehoused in a former Wal-Mart, repurposed as a privately run prison. When Senator Merkley arrived at the facility, staff panicked and refused to let him enter. Then they called the police.

What happened next should not happen again. Opponents of this administration face a reckoning. Our allegiance to a set of “norms” forged in a different time, under different circumstances, is developing into a critical weakness. We are not mentally ready for the fight unfolding around us. Senator Merkley backed down, losing the Battle of the Brownsville Wal-Mart without a fight. We should all be more prepared for the next confrontation.

Another civil war in the context we normally understand, is nearly inconceivable. Modern civil conflicts don’t look like 19th century wars, with set-piece battles and uniformed armies and sophisticated weapons. Modern civil conflicts rise from the disintegrating power of a political center, often fostered by a hostile, better organized external power. Forget about Fort Sumter or Antietam, modern civil discord looks like Eastern Ukraine or Sinaloa.

The most critical early battle in an emerging civil conflict is fought over control of whatever established political institutions remain functional. Though we seldom acknowledge it, our legislative and executive branches have largely collapsed. Damage they’ve endured over the past decade in terms of lost institutional cohesion, declining respect, and public disinterest might take decades to repair under better circumstances. Institutions still functioning at a reasonable level of competence are the ones best insulated from democracy; the FBI, military, Federal Reserve, etc. Pressing these existing institutions into a moral dilemma early, before the rot invades too deeply, will be crucial to the outcome of this conflict.

Sen. Merkley missed a valuable opportunity. For a clinic in the successful use of violence in a civil conflict, take a close look at the Bundy family’s long, successful fight against the federal government.

How Resistance Wins

Nevada’s Bundy family are a bit deranged. They have almost nothing going for them but for the fact that they’re white, crazy and rich. They’ve been stealing from the federal government since the 1990’s when they decided to stop paying grazing fees on federal lands. They were on the losing end of almost two decades of court judgments, with no successful effort at enforcement.

When, in 2014, federal officials took the modest step of trying to impound cattle the Bundys had been running illegally on federal land, the Bundys rallied hundreds of armed, drunken weirdos and staged a standoff. They shut down Interstate 15. They placed women and children at the front of their lines as human shields. A sympathetic local sheriff (remember, sheriffs are elected) came to their aid. They threatened and assaulted journalists. In a final showdown, they blocked access to federal lands, leveling guns at federal officials. The feds backed down.

Quick note on the role of guns in this standoff. If the federal government had decided to force the issue, they could have cut through that mob of morons in about three minutes, with likely no losses on their side. The guns were important as theater. They also served to raise the complexity and stakes of any federal action. Yes, FBI agents would have prevailed, but as demonstrated by the fallout from the Koresh Compound raid in 1993, a field of dead white perpetrators is too high a price to pay for justice in America.

That rule only applies to white people. Hardly anyone remembers what happened to black members of the bizarre MOVE cult. Philadelphia police incinerated an entire city block in 1985 to kill them off. When white people carry guns in a standoff with authorities it raises the cost of confrontation, making them hesitant and reticent. When non-whites carry guns while challenging authorities, it justifies any degree of violence the authorities choose to deploy.

Complain it about later. Understand it and use it now.

Formal charges arising from the incident at Bundy Ranch were laid on the family and a dozen or so of the dumbest members of the mob. Even then, most of them skated. A judge this year finally dismissed charges against the Bundys themselves for their role in the 2014 standoff.

Two years later, the Bundys went further, seizing an isolated federal park at Malheur in Oregon. They held the facility for more than a month while federal officials waited them out. One of their allies was killed when he appeared to be reaching for a gun. Again, a handful of the craziest perpetrators faced prosecution, but the Bundys beat the federal charges again. After stealing from the government and threatening to kill federal agents for decades, the Bundys remain alive, free, rich and popular.

Learn from this.

Seize the Initiative

If you gain nothing from this piece but this one sentence, it will have been worth the effort: In our legal/political system, it is somewhere between difficult and impossible to wrench gains from the hands of those who seize the initiative – as long as they’re white. The heirs of Bernie Madoff may have suffered for his crimes, but their family members will still inherit fortunes.

With very few exceptions, our system grants enormous deference to those who take the initiative, even if they do it with the worst of intentions and with terrible consequences to others, as long as they’re white. So, what happens if you take the initiative in seizing clear moral high ground?

Senator Merkley’s brief, failed standoff with local police is a learning opportunity. By politely walking away after police were called, he got a few columns of media attention. He took a moral question up to the point of conflict, then backed down. That allowed the owners of that private prison to duck a moral dilemma and retain their control over a horrifying situation. Merkley was later allowed to tour a facility, but without the right to photograph anything within. What he described went largely unnoticed. The moment had passed. Now inept Democratic legislators are working to pass a bill granting Congressmen access to these facilities, as if that was the point.

What if he hadn’t left? When employees at that facility panicked and called the police, what if he insisted on his right as an elected Senator to oversee a federal program, and on his rights as an American and a human being to resist oppression? Instead of having a brief polite conversation with local police, what if he refused to leave and called out supporters who showed up in the hundreds? And what if he threatened to take a sledge-hammer to that Wal-Mart door?

Let’s be clear about an important detail. In a strict legal sense, Merkley had no right to enter that facility without permission. Police were within their rights to force him to leave or even detain him. Insisting on access and refusing to cooperate with police are inappropriate behaviors; impolite, disrespectful, destructive of civilized norms. So was the Battle of Gettysburg. Know your circumstances. Know your ground. Know when to hold it. Your president and his henchmen don’t give a shit about the law. You won’t get any points for respecting the law and losing a fight.

If Merkley had refused to back down in Brownsville it is unlikely he would have been arrested unless he decided to submit to arrest. Remember what the Bundys have taught us. Police had no desire to intervene in that situation. If he had made the situation more difficult, they would have backed off to a perimeter and sought guidance from supervisors. There is a chance he might have faced some subsequent criminal charges for obstruction, trespassing or perhaps even something more serious. With a little effort, he could have fought those charges to a stalemate.

Out of that standoff would have come a very visible splash of crucial information and attention, which has otherwise gone largely unnoticed. In an election season, the forced warehousing of refugee children separated from their parents would have rocketed up the list of political priorities. Comparisons to certain (ahem) “historical regimes” would have been unavoidable. The grimy details of how those children have been handed to contractors and the millions of dollars those contractors are earning from this unconscionable policy would be at the center of the public’s view. Merkley missed his opportunity to give his enemies what they least want and can least endure. Don’t make that mistake. Seize the initiative.

Mental Preparation for a Fight

Mike Tyson has some helpful advice, “Everybody has a plan until they get hit. Then, like a rat, they stop in fear and freeze.” If you are a white, materially successful, law-abiding citizen with a sterling credit rating, you are America’s little precious. When something happens to you, the country reels. You are also entirely unaccustomed to any form of conflict with government authorities. Your disobedience is worth several hundred bombs, but like Senator Merkley, you are probably unprepared to use that leverage in a conflict. You are conditioned toward a compliant relationship with uniformed authorities that will undermine you in a standoff. Everybody has a plan until they take a punch. Fix that vulnerability, and you could save many lives.

Identify circumstances in which simple disobedience can cause a high-stakes stalemate. For example, our Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is entirely out of control under this administration’s supervision. Though “law and order” is the theme of their raids on immigrants, Trump commuted the sentence of an Iowa meatpacker convicted of hiring illegal workers. ICE has concentrated their enforcement efforts on deporting Latinos rather than punishing white employers who hire them illegally. ICE is evolving into an ethnic cleansing force. They should be made the emblem of this administration.

Last year, ICE stopped passengers disembarking on a domestic flight, demanding proof of citizenship. If a nice white lady had simply sat down and refused to cooperate, all hell would have broken loose. ICE lacked the authority to do what they were doing. Under pressure from the people America cares about, they would have been forced to back down, with likely career consequences for some asshole in their senior management. Simple non-cooperation at this point can raise the cost of ICE’s operations significantly.

Recognize your leverage. Neither that scenario, nor the one faced by Sen. Merkley required any guns. No one needed to punch a Nazi. At this stage of the conflict, placing your white body in the way of an unjust authority is an act of war capable of achieving consequential victories. You will experience inconvenience. You might even be briefly detained. But you will bring down painful outcomes that will shift power inside those organizations. Force your enemy to pay a price for the ground they are trying to seize. You may discover that they were weaker than you thought.

Confronting Collaborators

At this stage, few of us will see an opportunity for civil disobedience. We will, however, see chances to rob collaborators of legitimacy. Last month, a professional Trump shill had a drink thrown at her during a brunch in Minneapolis. That was impolite and intolerant and a pretty good idea. There is no reason to extend civility or tolerance to the people enabling this regime.

Force a cleaving. Burn down the neutral spaces. We are in the early stages of a fight for the future of this country that won’t likely be resolved without bloodshed. A disrupted brunch and a stained blouse are relatively civilized and humane forms of resistance when you consider what’s at stake.

By confronting collaborators now, in ways that involve the lowest levels of physical resistance, we may be able to stunt or block the growth of the Trumpist cancer inside our remaining institutions. All of our civilized instincts toward civility and national unity are being used against us now. Resist that. No one should feel safe expressing support for this regime in public. Smart exercise of resistance or even low-level violence forces a cleaving, placing decision-makers, authorities, and even bystanders in a position from which they can’t escape a clear, consequential moral choice. When you have the moral high ground, use it.

Getting Your Head Straight

No one expects ICE to check their papers on a domestic flight. Sen. Merkley probably wasn’t expecting to be confronted by police on his Brownsville visit. White people expect to go through their lives without disruption or inconvenience. Lulled to complacency by generations of relative security, we are unprepared to halt the erosion of our rights and decline of our institutions. That should change. Get your head straight.

Prepare yourself mentally for an environment in which your comforts and convenience may be compromised. Know as much as possible about your rights. Form ties to people and organizations who can offer assistance in a conflict. Use this time to get more deeply connected to your community, especially more vulnerable members of that community. Know what you won’t tolerate.

Most of all, learn the bizarre lessons of the Bundy family. When white people resist this government with implacable determination, they usually win, even when they’re hopelessly wrong and heedlessly reckless. When armed with clear moral justification, such resistance is extremely powerful. Using determined, measured resistance now, at this phase of the conflict, could save lives down the line.

142 Comments

  1. Fall back on the parts of the government that still works? That brings us to public libraries and that’s about it. The judicial branch is barely hanging on by its toes, and appears to be fully endorsing the idea of sticking its head in the sand in the face of a constitutional crisis because resolving a constitutional crisis just happens to ONLY involve the two branches of government that are failing.

    We’re getting 4 years of Trump, and probably another 15-30 years of extremist Republicanism stuffing Congress full of antagonistic representatives. With the laws of political physics being what they are, the only thing they’ll accomplish is driving the left just as batshit crazy. That’s when the house falls down. “Not my President” and “abolish ice” is just the cold water around the iceburg. It gets worse from here, folks.

  2. I fully expect that one of these days one of our protest marches, like the ones planned for June 30, will get shot up by someone with an automatic assault rifle. For me it’s more an issue of “everybody has a plan until they get shot in the head.” Nevertheless, my husband and I are planning to march and we’re getting our signs ready. We’re in our mid-late 60’s and we also didn’t expect to enter our senior years in this environment.

  3. Looks like the Mango Mussolini has blinked on this. An EO isn’t going to fix the immigration mess, nor undo the trauma already inflicted on the children, and there’s still the task of re-uniting families, but stopping the further separation of families would be a good thing. He’ll spin it as a win and his cult will swallow it, but everyone else can see that all his justifications and excuses where just more bullshit on an already enormous pile.

      1. Methinks they went too fascist, too quickly. I haven’t forgotten that there were issues with how Obama handled migrants/asylum seekers, but I never got the vibes of cruelty that I’m picking up here.

      2. Yes, the Trump admin is one of extreme cruelty. I had lots of issues with past Republican presidents but I never thought they were intentionally cruel, perhaps thoughtless, and I never thought they were actively treasonous the way I do with this one.

  4. Do we not have the technology to combat some of this? I’m not a tech person but if China and Russia can employ thousands of trolls and use bots, why can’t we identify and block? Are we that helpless against them? If so, why and why hasn’t this been addressed, apart from Trump being perfectly fine with it and dismantling the Cybersecurity office of the State Dept?

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/expert-bots-poised-wreak-havoc-2018-midterm-elections-090048965.html

    1. EJ

      Here are two possible answers.

      Firstly, it’s easier to attack than to defend. Sending thousands of bots out to wreck somebody else’s stuff is easy; preventing stuff from being wrecked is much harder. As so often, creation is the work of a lifetime and destruction is the work of an afternoon.

      Secondly, tech companies are usually willing to obey threats but not to requests; and western governments have been careful to phrase everything as a request rather than as a threat. China literally threatened to prevent Google’s web pages being accessible *at all* within China unless Google did as they said. Can you imagine America threatening to make Facebook inaccessible within the 50 states? Neither can I, and neither can Mark Zuckerberg, and that’s why he can get away with thumbing his nose.

      That said, given who it is who makes decisions on behalf of America right now, one might say that this isn’t a bad thing.

    1. I didn’t. I would have agreed if this protest were conducted outside the restaurant, but why penalize the Mexican restaurant business and the other guests? Their point could have been made at the entry quite effectively, using signs while the DHS sec was dining, sending messages to the world. Just my view.

      1. EJ

        It is, in my opinion, a misdeed to serve food to Nielsen. Voting with your wallet works both ways, after all; by accepting her custom you say that you find her work acceptable.

        If the restaurant was willing to accept her business, then they have taken a political stance, and harming their business via nonviolent protest is acceptable.

  5. Steve Schmidt left the republican party today! He ran Mccain’s campaign in 2008!

    “29 years and nine months ago I registered to vote and became a member of The Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump.”

    1. Here’s a link to the original thread: https://twitter.com/SteveSchmidtSES/status/1009325231004004352

      Head-bashingly obvious as it might seem to some, it’s still quite a sight to see Steve Schmidt leave the Republican Party. This whole sordid mess over immigrant children seems to have broken yet another wall for those Republicans who, in spite of everything, have stayed anchored to the idea of wanting to stay and fight for the Party of Lincoln.

  6. I had a coworker once, an Irish National, and somehow the subject of the IRA came up in a conversation. I was somewhat surprised to hear him denounce the group as “nothing but a bunch of criminals”. Here’s the deal…in the face of massive injustice, there will always be groups that rise up to take advantage of the situation by committing atrocities and claiming they do so in the name of the oppressed.
    Do not support them.

    I am heartsick over what is happening right now at the border. The very worst of this is that there is NO plan whatsoever to reunite these parents and their children. Some of these families may end up being permanently separated.

    Mary, as always you are our North Star, by showing us that we can’t just wring our hands and cry over this, but we need to take action.

    What is needed is volunteer help, especially of the legal variety. If you don’t have that expertise, you can donate to any number of organization that provide legal services for immigrants.
    Rolling Stone has a number of links to such organizations:
    https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/things-you-can-do-fight-family-separation-trump-immigration-w521691
    Also, there are marches planned around the country for June 30. It is critical to have our voices heard. See this website for details:
    https://www.familiesbelongtogether.org/

    Off to work, but remember, in the future, if you asked what you did to fight the hideous policies inflicted by this administration, you won’t want to say that the only thing you did was to go online and complain about it.

  7. US leaving the UN Human Rights Council and Trump calling human beings vermin. Hmm……..strange timing.

    We are on a dangerous precipice with this creature. I refuse to call him president because his behavior and intellect is unfit for the office.

      1. One thing I have noticed about the Trump cultists is how much pettier, vindictive and mean they are now. No wonder. They elected someone who espoused their worst instincts and he’s made it acceptable to voice them.

  8. The conversation on this topic seems to be slowing down a bit. To stop this administration and the drift towards authoritarianism political resistance and activism will definitely be required. However, I still cannot bring myself to believe that violence is justified and do not believe violence will accomplish our objectives. Definitely non-violent protests and some disruption is acceptable. I also believe that the ballot box will ultimately stop this madness as it has in the past.

    Regardless of how bad things may seem, I cling to my underlying optimism about America. I simply see too much good wholesome attitudes in Americans and particularly the young people. I see this in my everyday activities. i realize I live in somewhat of a bubble, but I will cite a couple examples.

    Last night we went to our granddaughter’s graduation from high school. There were 422 seniors in her class, many of them going on to college. She herself will be going to San Diego State University. There were no disruptions or incidents. The principal spoke of the importance of civic engagement and voting – that received cheers. He mentioned how the presidential election was decided by 52,000 voters in PA, WI & MI. He urged the students to vote, by emphasizing that they did not want their futures decided by a bunch of older voters. I took some exception to that, being an older voter. This particular school was active in the demonstrations following the Parkland shootings. It also suffered some drive by shootings a number of years ago. The overall impression I had was of young people pursuing their futures in a studious and serious manner.

    I also frequently participate in outreach events for Seattle
    Audubon at local elementary and middle schools for their science nights. The students present individual projects they have worked on. They are almost always well behaved and thoughtful and respect the stuffed bird skins we show. It is a delight to see families of several ethnic and sectarian groups all together in a healthy environment.

    All this just shows me that there is a lot of greatness about America and what is happening in our families and communities. When I see this, i cannot adopt a pessimistic outlook. That is not to deny that we have problems, which can seem overwhelming because of the overwhelming negativity in the press with the Trump administration. So I retain my optimism and hope that the 2018 and 2020 elections will begin to change things. That has happened in the past. I will certainly work for that and support good candidates.

    1. I heard about this guy last night. Mayor of a small Georgia town. I think this is the future of politics. I was very impressed with his style. He ran by pounding the pavement and speaking personally with the citizens of the town. He’s had some small difficulties with a city council filled with older people resistant to change and who consider him too young to have any ideas or experience. Seems like he’s proven them wrong however.

      http://clarkstonga.gov/mayor/mayor.html

      1. Thanks for the link. You will recall that DeKalb County was integral to Newt Gingrich’s rise. This is another example of the wholesomeness in America and the difference that an engaged citizenry can make.

  9. This is likely my last post for awhile, because I see my views are scaring the hell out of some people, and I don’t want to get Chris into any kind of trouble.

    So, the attorney general, the top law enforcement officer in the nation, went there last night, defending this regime’s choice to put kids in cages, as NOT Nazi-like, because the Nazi’s were trying to keep the Jews in, as opposed to keeping them out. I know, just plain nuts.

    To Aaron and Tuttabella , my views on targeted violence are held by far more people that you want to believe. And yeah, I will invoke Godwin’s Law, because it is VERY appropriate here. You two would appear to be in the tiny minority that given the opportunity, would not have shot Hitler in 1932. You seem to think that thoughts, prayers, and voting are all that it takes to stop a cult of personality.

    Because that is what this is, a cult of personality. While the underlying resentment in his disciples was there long before the tyrant hit the scene, no one else in the repub primary had the innate superb ability to tap into that resentment, fan it into the flames of hatred that we see today, and get himself installed as a dictator. And as far as I can tell, no one else on the current political scene could take up the “mantle” and carry on in the memory of a martyr. In the near future, there will certainly be someone worse, far worse, to arise, but not today.

    If the tyrant choked on a Big Mac tomorrow, pence would take over and much of regime’s power would dissipate in less than 12 months. The religious fanatic may think that the Handmaid’s Tale is a manual rather than a cautionary tale, but he simply does not have the charisma and mendacity to continue the policies that the tyrant and his handlers want. Plus, I believe, at least on global trade, the environment and immigration, he is not as stupid and monstrous. I may be wrong about immigration, but he would not be dragging the entire planet into a recession with insane trade policies.

    And no, before Aaron and Tuttabella scamper off to the FBI and Secret Service, I have no plans on decapitating the regime. The tyrant is far too well guarded, and I have no skills as an assassin. That being said, the U.S. has killed, or tried to kill, leaders they deemed antithetical to U.S. financial interests, and I am surprised that any number of nations and giga-corps have not tried with this one.

    Last word by me, likely for awhile. Consider, tomorrow is the 18 month mark in this regime. Imagine what it will do in the next 30 months, or 78 months, or 10 years, if it is not stopped.

    1. I really wish you wouldn’t Dins. I read more than I post here but I always enjoy your musings. I don’t think your posts are “scary” at all. I think you are voicing what many people think and I know this because I’ve heard many question why he hasn’t been “taken care of” every time he dismantles another department or staffs a position with someone clearly unqualified or chisels away at another of our alliances. However, the fat orange shit is far more likely to suffer a massive coronary or succumb to full-blown Alzheimer’s, which is seeming more likely.

      “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

      I find it ironic that so many right wingers would throw this quote around during Obama’s tenure but when a “lib” thinks it towards a true fascist tyrant, they get all riled up and whiny. Your post was very tame compared to what some of the Trumpanzees have been threatening on different blogs towards “libbies” and “leftists”. I put quotes around these words because the moronic simpletons wouldn’t know a “libbie” or a “leftist” if one sat on their face. In their world, anyone not far right and authoritarian has to be a commie.

      In the end, the faithful adherents to the cult of Trump will go over the cliff with him and this country will be better off for it.

    2. “So, the attorney general, the top law enforcement officer in the nation, went there last night, defending this regime’s choice to put kids in cages, as NOT Nazi-like, because the Nazi’s were trying to keep the Jews in, as opposed to keeping them out. I know, just plain nuts.

      Fox News Queen Bitch, Laura Ingraham, compared the child “detention” camps to summer camps.

  10. In all the depressive events of the Trump tenure, our courts have held strong (mostly). There are two events that are worthy of noting that may offer hope.

    First, Kris Kobach got his comeuppance from a Republican judge, and ordered to go back to “lawyer school”.

    https://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2018/06/18/kobach-citizenship-vote-court-rules-652867

    Then tonight, “the Senate voted to reimpose the U.S. ban on Chinese telecom giant ZTE, in a rebuke to President Donald Trump and his efforts to keep the company in business. The provision targeting ZTE was part of the National Defense Authorization Act, a must-pass defense spending bill that passed in the Senate.”

    My, my.

    Read more: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/18/senate-rejects-trumps-rescue-of-chinese-firm-zte-652459

  11. Another topic of reflection this thread invites is that of free speech. Can the bellicose words of the blog host and those of a certain participant be used against them? If we go by what Chris has posted about insurance for gun owners, he might not pass the algorithm test and be unable to get coverage and would have to turn in his firearms, and the other poster might not even be allowed to purchase his very first firearm, if their words are interpreted to be subversive, dangerously anti-government, or at least inciteful.

    1. With a blog title like “Preparing for Political Violence,” I wouldn’t be surprised if this blog is already on the radar of the FBI. Do the rest of us have a civic duty to report it? In the past I have posted that the right to free speech surpasses every other right unless someone’s privacy is violated, or you know for a fact that there is an act of violence about to happen. In my heart I don’t feel this is the case here, and I think the old Chris, the gentle, reasonable Chris, is still the True Chris. But you see how the question of keeping firearms from certain people is not that simple? Or knowing who to report to the authorities?

      1. Just to be clear, I have no intention of reporting anyone. I don’t get the impression that anything, other than civil disobedience, may be about to happen, and as for incitement, the rest of us have the ultimate responsibility for our actions. I will not use your right to free speech against you.

      2. Also, it’s ironic that some people are considering violence/civil disobedience, in some cases with the use of firearms, to fight against an oppressive government. Isn’t this what you normally criticize the Right for being obsessed with? Maybe this is the reason for the second amendment after all. You’re forming your own little militia to fight the unjust tyrant.

      3. Also, for those who feel the necessity of being armed in order to fight against the oppressive government, you need to move to buy your firearms quickly, before Chris’s proposed firearm insurance law takes effect. You might not pass the background check.

        Sorry for the disjointed posts, but do you see my point?

      4. Let me ask you this, Tutta. If you suddenly had new neighbors who you felt endangered your way of life (the people that visited, the noises, words, activities you observed), what would you do? Move? You’re in a family home – that would be difficult. Complain to authorities? They may not be breaking any laws, just worrying the bejesus out of you. Talk to the owner of the rental property they occupy? They’re getting their checks on time and that’s a higher priority than how “respectful” their renters are. Take up a neighborhood petition to demonstrate how many people in your immediate vicinity agree with your concerns? What do you do if you don’t achieve any change in your untenable situation? At the very least, you will have had options as outlined. You will still live next door to a very uncomfortable if not potentially dangerous situation. Decide to sell your family home as a last act of desperation? Good luck with that when the folks next door “show” themselves and scare away buyers or drive down the comps for the neighborhood. My point: we each have limited control over life’s circumstances, and when things that are critically important to each of us begin to profoundly impact the quality and sanctity of our lives, most intelligent, self-protecting people react. The “how” is where the differences are, and that is what Chris is addresssing. As a former Republican, Chris benefitted from a well-run party that stood for principles with which he identified. That changed. Likely, Chris also changed. The party that he understood and worked for no longer represented his deeper understanding of complex issues, and his party endorsed a man as its leader who has sullied many principles which the Republican Party has stood for for decades. Further, this party has silently allowed changes that are tearing at the very fabric of America’s democratic principles, dangerously so for the future of our country.

        The simplistic (but real) situation of the futility of trying to deal with bad neighbors can be extrapolated over far bigger issues (police violence, wage stagnation, personal choice relative to one’s health, access to affordable health care, destruction of environment, equal access to jobs and pay, opportunity to advance. These are important and when threatened, mount up and encroach on the very essence of one’s existence. When our individual worlds are small, we can control enough of our situation to insulate us from bigger forces of change. They simply don’t reach down and touch us. But, what of those who are affected? Our people of color, our poor, our elderly and sick, our savings, our rights?

        I can more easily understand why people voted for Trump than I can understand why they still support him (and the Republican agenda). How can other Americans look at the actions and words of this president and not see the damage being done to the office of the President and the reputation and relationships of our world standing? I can not ignore T’s hurtful rhetoric, his outright lies, and watch the destruction he is deliberately causing to our institutions and not hold him responsible. Republicans are complicit because they have abdicated historical principles in exchange for financial gain for themselves and their donor base – at the expense of the vast majority of Americans. I cannot respect or accept that. Too many people are being hurt. I cannot tolerate mistreatment of people who are in the minority or of different ethnicity and gender. What is happening to our democratic institutions – justice, laws, equality, respect, legislative integrity – is shocking deeply concerning to me.

        I am angry at what is happening, working hard as one person to mitigate the assault on these important areas, but watching as one by one they are savaged. The people who should protect them are tearing them down, or allowing them to be publicly ridiculted and insulted. The democratic process that I have believed in and worked within my entire life is shockingly being destroyed. It hurts and it worries me for myself, my family, and our country.

        As much as I believe that DJT is a despicable human being and guilty of offenses for which he may never be held accountable in a court of law, I would much prefer that he (and the GOP enabling him) be turned out of office in a sweeping public referendum than be impeached. Why? It would validate the viability of the democratic process. But, to be very frank, I don’t have confidence the system will work for people who think like me. Then what? I will not criticize Chris nor you for your different positions on what actions to take, but what I will state is that I am disheartened and deeply angry. It is remarkable that I find myself participating frequently in protests and marches, donating money to candidates and organizations that I hope will achieve what I cannot, instead of spending my senior years in indulgent tranquility. As weary as I am of the effort required to resist and fight, to do anything less would be far worse. Hope for change is all that is left and each of us will pursue change as we can. Those who are happy with the status quo will likely never be able to understand why we are so disheartened. That’s really sad.

      5. Mime, I respect Chris, and I thank him for encouraging us to push the envelope, using whatever leverage we have at our disposal, be it Whiteness, old age, money, influence, etc.

        The talk of violence scared me at first, and I was tempted to keep my distance and not post anything, but I’m glad to have participated. I think this is the best, most thought-provoking thing he’s ever written.

      6. A name more descriptive of the actual post might have been “Preventing Political Violence”. And it might have steered conversation in a different direction. I think Dinsdale is pretty much alone in wanting assassinations – I agree with Aaron about what that approach is likely to bring about, if it brings about anything more than martyrdom for a bad person.

      7. “lust for a really devastating cardiac arrest for potus.”

        I’m hoping he’ll stroke out while sitting on his toilet during one of this manic (drug-fueled??) twitter meltdowns. Very Elvis like.

      8. EJ

        Violence is always easy to judge after the fact. With the benefit of hindsight, we can say that the violence carried out by followers of Nat Turner in 1831 was justified, as was that carried out by followers of John Brown in 1859; whereas that carried out by followers of Nathan Bedford Forrest during the Reconstruction era was unjustified. It’s much harder to judge it fairly at the time. When you pick up a gun you might turn out to be a hero or you might turn out to be the villain, and in both cases it probably seems to you at the time as if you’re the hero.

        There are also cases where people chose not to commit violence, and it turned out to be the historically wrong thing to do. The west chose to stand by and allow the Darfur and Rohingya genocides to occur; it is clear from hindsight that we should have done something, but at the time it was deemed not in anyone’s national interest and so it was allowed to go ahead. The genocidiares, for their part, probably felt that they were serving their country patriotically.

        Lastly, we should not forget that every day, we meet a great many people and choose not to kill them, trusting that they will also choose not to kill us; and that turns out to be the right choice. This sounds pretty obvious, but who we choose to leave alive is as important a part of our attitude to violence as who choose to kill.

        We do not know which side history will take. The Soviet Union and the British Empire constructed ideologies that reassured them that history was on their side; ironically in both cases history had the final word on the subject. Hopefully we’re wiser than they were. However, the only time that we can judge violence is at the time. Waiting for history to deliver its verdict means that the verdict will be too late to matter.

        Therefore, every reasonable person needs to have a rule for deciding when they believe violence is justified; and needs to understand that this rule will inevitably be imperfect and will be based on the imperfect information that’s available to you at the time. Some people will kill when their country’s leader tells them to, or when the legislative assembly that writes their laws tells them to. Others will do it when their religion or ethnic group is in danger of no longer being dominant. History is replete with examples of both of these systems going disastrously wrong.

        I, for example, refuse to ever lift my hand in violence against another human being under any circumstances. This means that if Auschwitz happens again I won’t be killing the guards and rescuing the inmates; but it also means that I won’t be one of the guards doing the killing of the inmates. Given my situation I believe this is the right tradeoff but I understand that others may differ.

        Dinsdale has his rule. It is different from mine, but I can respect that he accepts the moral responsibility that comes with the fact that he may be mistaken or may be acting on bad information. This is a difficult thing to face into and requires a certain degree of introspection and moral courage.

        What’s your rule?

      9. My ‘rule’, insofar as I see it, is to never allow myself to make a choice of violence out of blinding rage or anger; to calmly, rationally, and as objectively as a person can reasonably be expected to, make a choice based on the circumstances of the moment. Act with precision and even cold ruthlessness to protect what needs to be protected above all else and to swiftly bring the violence to a close.

        I won’t say to never murder another human being, no matter what, but if it has to be done, then do it only in the most extreme of circumstances and if no other viable option exists. Act with this most heavy of resolves only to defend your own life and/or the lives of others.

        We don’t live in a kind enough world where the dazzlingly beautiful ideal of not bringing harm to others is a workable one. Inevitably, that kind of resolve will bind you down like invisible chains, leaving you at the mercy of others with no such inclination – a consequence only averted by obtaining overwhelming power or secluding yourself off from other people and never getting involved with them too deeply. With respect to the latter, that also requires a fair bit of luck.

        Take the world for what it is; become strong enough to bear unlimited optimism and dreams for the future; obtain power sufficient enough to pursue them for all the days of your life, and live a life worthy of satisfaction at the end.

        If one can reach that core flame of humanity at its best and brightest, they can bear the burden of whatever the world throws at them.

  12. I read this post a few days ago when it was posted, then read the comments, then reread it. I want to highlight this specific paragraph:

    “At this stage of the conflict, placing your white body in the way of an unjust authority is an act of war capable of achieving consequential victories. You will experience inconvenience. You might even be briefly detained. But you will bring down painful outcomes that will shift power inside those organizations. Force your enemy to pay a price for the ground they are trying to seize. You may discover that they were weaker than you thought.”

    This is the second time that Chris has written something, let’s call it ‘from the right’ or at least not from the in-group language of general leftist and progressive circles, that recreates the wheel of what’s been termed ‘privilege.’ I’m not saying that as a criticism of Chris because a) those leftist/progressive terms are poorly written and considered in terms of how people outside the conversation can understand or perceive them, and often are the reason why people feel they can be condescending and b) because non-left of center people can relate more to Chris and therefore get the same message from an approach they trust more in language they can understand better.

    But what I understand Chris to be saying here is that you should “use your privilege to call out injustice where you see it.” And what that means in practice, whether Chris says it or some ‘social justice warrior’ says it, is that when police show up at a demonstration of people of color or immigrants, you should place your lily white body right in between the police’s guns and the less lily white bodies.

    That’s terrifying because it means you have to contend with staring down the barrel of a gun. But it is far more likely to mean that nobody gets shot than the alternative situation of you not being there, which is where someone likely will be shot — and then called a thug and other dehumanizing slurs by Fox & Friends and 45 himself.

    Where I see some mixed messaging in Chris’ posts is regarding all the stuff with the Bundy’s, and the role of guns. And that’s where Dinsdale goes off on his ‘single bullet versus bombs’ nonsense that at best serve no purpose other than derailing these threads, or at worse will result in that guy getting fucking arrested and this forum being known as “an obscure political forum where the perpetrator posted his extremist views.”

    So regarding all that, first to Dinsdale directly: there’s no ultimate target to that line of thinking, and that’s why that line of thinking will fail. Say you shoot 45: there’s still Pence. Say you shoot him. There’s still Sessions. Say you shoot the whole damn administration. There’s still the state level and city level representatives. Say you shoot all them. There’s still their voters. Say you shoot all of them. There’s still their voters’ families, who won’t take kindly to you trying to force your view of politics on them at the back of bloodshed. There’s no direction that kind of behavior goes that doesn’t end in an early imprisonment for you as a terrorist, or with a lot of needless and counterproductive bloodshed and pain.

    I’ve met plenty of left-of-center people in my life who feel taking up arms is the best way to resolve this social conflict they view as a currently waging war, and like to talk in major abstractions such as ‘taking down the oligarchy’ and ‘armed revolution’ against plutocrats, fascists, even ‘capitalists’, or whatever terminology they feel necessary, and what I’ve found when pressed is that these people never have a clear idea of exactly who the enemy is except maybe a handful of targets (the Koch brothers, the Trump family, etc). The reason this is a problem is because you can’t exterminate an idea; and if you set an ideology itself as the target, then you’re creating the fundamental building blocks of totalitarianism. The goal-posts always move when you try to eliminate all relatives of an abstract notion. The impure believers or merely related become targets too.

    The other thing I notice about people who think they can solve everything with violence is that they don’t really seem to have great ideas on how to lead, legislate, or rule. Not only do they seem to be pissed off that they’re not the ones in power, but they actually do a pretty poor job indicating they’d handle power better than the people who have it. At best they’d become the very fascists they detest, but more likely they’d just be even more incompetent ones.

    I don’t see Chris’s post as a call to arms but that’s for him to decide. I just personally want to state that I don’t recommend it. Being able to take punches is a very different skill than delivering them. I recommend gearing down for taking punches from Nazis rather than punching Nazis.

    1. I’m also kind of taken aback by the sentiment that this post is particularly provocative, by Chris and commenters alike. From my perspective, the point of consciousness objection has always been to be capable of staring down the barrels of the guns of state and say, “You can shoot me, but that doesn’t mean you’re right.”

      It’s easy to say that from the comfort of home, facing an electronic screen, but your beliefs can’t be too strong if the fear of a bruise is stronger than them.

      For me personally, the major comfort I have always had about my beliefs is that nobody can take them from me. The bigger risk, and highest existential threat that I am far more worried about, is losing my beliefs to cognitive dissonance as the environment changes around me.

      That’s why it’s always important to take the time to remind yourself what your fundamental values are, and when you can, write them down. For me, I believe the project of civilization is the constant work of improving the human condition for ALL, each and every, human being. In that project there is always rewarding work to do, and thus opportunity and economies. There is no, not one conflict, between improving the lot of other people and enriching yourself, even if only morally and emotionally.

      People who seek to damage the lives of others intentionally are by definition evil, because I definitely evil precisely as ‘the pursuit to do harm to others.’ The banality of evil is when you unintentionally do harm to others, be it through ignorance, lack of knowledge, or complacency about the harm being done. That is always worth reconsideration and reevaluation, but the intentional pursuit to do harm is never worth reconsideration or reevaluation.

      I am very willing to take a bullet to the face over these beliefs.

      1. >] People who seek to damage the lives of others intentionally are by definition evil, because I definitely evil precisely as ‘the pursuit to do harm to others.’ The banality of evil is when you unintentionally do harm to others, be it through ignorance, lack of knowledge, or complacency about the harm being done. That is always worth reconsideration and reevaluation, but the intentional pursuit to do harm is never worth reconsideration or reevaluation.

        But isn’t that such an overly broad interpretation of what it means to be evil so as to actually be counterproductive? Slice it however you want, but citizens are rising up to effectively bring harm against Donald Trump; not physically, obviously, and surely in the greater interests of our country and home, but that’s what those efforts, if successful, will result in.

        Exceptions exist of course (such as intentionally ripping children away from their parents and stuffing them in cages), but broadly speaking, I can’t think there’s much significance or worth in divvying up things into being ‘good’ or ‘evil’. You’ll drive yourself up a wall thinking like that – rather, going on a case-by-case basis and evaluating the circumstances as they come before you is a much better way to go, IMO.

        Also, OT, but yes it’s me. I’ve had some e-mail trouble and had to re-register.

      2. Your new “meme” fits the tone of the post, Ryan!

        I sense frustration is shared across all levels of our society. This president by action and this GOP majority by negligent inaction, have created a cauldron of constant chaos in America and by extension, the world. People are responding with introspection, creativity and barely contained sarcasm. Change is “in the air,” if we pause and aggregate what is happening around us. Our courts have shown resolve and impatience for the arrogant abuses of power by those who thumb their noses at our nation’s system of laws and justice. Kris Kobach got a taste of this when sentenced to extra sessions of continuing education (delicious irony) in addition to a strong rejection of his rule regarding voter registration in Kansas. Most recently, the religious community has stepped up en masse in response to the decision to separate children from parents who are seeking asylum in the United States. The highly unusual sanctioning of DOJ AG Sessions by more than 600 members of the United Methodist Church leads the way, but much more is happening.

        “Specifically, the group accuses him of child abuse in reference to separating young children from their parents and holding them in mass incarceration facilities; immorality; racial discrimination and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines” of The United Methodist Church.

        All are categories listed in 2702.3 as chargeable offenses for a professing member of a local church.”

        http://www.umc.org/church-charges-brought-against-sessions.static.html?

        In the same week, at the annual Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, a changing crowd that is younger and more diverse are pushing to separate the organization from the Republican Party’s ultra conservative positions. They are responding to women who are rejecting their prescribed supplicant roles in marriage, a more diverse and younger membership who bring new ideas, amidst significantly declining membership. Their members are challenging the purity of their moral authority by tethering themselves to the hard-right evangelical stance and specifically, Donald J. Trump, whose transgressions and behavior are inconsistent with Christian principles. Vice President Pence was the invited guest speaker but not without great resistance from many of the members who voted against his appearance. As the author notes, “In Trump’s America, where the religious right wields outsized influence, the shifts among Southern Baptists could be a harbinger of broader change among evangelicals.” Let us hope.

        https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/06/southern-baptists-call-off-the-culture-war/563000/?

        I offer these observations to give hope – hope that our great nation is capable of healing itself. To be sure, we are in incredbily difficult, challenging, dangerous times for our democracy, but it is important to weigh the chaos against subtle changes occurring below the surface. DJT is a vile, small person, and he is doing great harm, as is the handmaiden Republican Party but, there are signs of quiet rebellion all around us if we look for them. Vigilance and involvement across all levels is required to turn this dangerous agenda around. Women have stepped up; our teens have stepped up; our churches are speaking out. There is a seething unrest in our country and we need to build upon what is good to cast out what is bad. Mid-terms are a scant five months away and offer the opportunity for each of us to cast our votes for change. I continue to be hopeful that America is capable of digging deep within ourselves to right our nation. The alternative is unbearable to consider.

      3. Good news but I can’t believe they threw their support behind him in the first place. The man has never been a christian but, then again, neither have the evangelicals or Southern Baptists, as a whole. 🙁 Merely, a political party belonging to old, white, patriarchal bigots.

        I guess as long as their agenda is promoted they would support the anti-christ.

        Off topic, but I found a recent episode of The Handmaid’s Tale to be quite interestingly timed. The Commander and his wife went to Canada seeking a treaty, all appears to be going well but then Canada calls it off when the names of Handmaids and Marthas, being held captive and/or raped, are revealed by a massive protest. Canada tells the Sons of Jacob and the Republic of Gilead to fuck off. This was the same week Trump and Trudeau met and Trudeau handed Trump his ass.

      4. Kayray – of course Evangelical support for Trump is total hypocrisy and so are these groups. That they would place abortion at the nexus of their agenda and abandon all other pretexts of their faith exposes them. I won’t even start on the piety of the Southern White Baptist organization. Yet , the value of the changes cited above (Methodists and Evangelicals) is that they appear to be coming to terms with their own hypocrisy and are willing to risk making changes. I consider that progress even if the number who share this enlightenment are only a portion of their total and even if the outcome is self-serving (Evangelicals).

      5. “But isn’t that such an overly broad interpretation of what it means to be evil so as to actually be counterproductive? […] ou’ll drive yourself up a wall thinking like that – rather, going on a case-by-case basis and evaluating the circumstances as they come before you is a much better way to go, IMO.”

        A statement of values is a guidepost for the individual complexities of decision making. Of course everything has to be determined on a case-by-case basis, which is exactly why we have the due process system that we have.

        “Slice it however you want, but citizens are rising up to effectively bring harm against Donald Trump; not physically, obviously, and surely in the greater interests of our country and home, but that’s what those efforts, if successful, will result in. ”

        Say a Guy 1 tries to hit another Guy 2 at a bar, but the bouncer restrains him. Being restrained is not physical harm, but it prevents it. RESTRAINT is a lot of how many things in our system works, such as the systems of checks and balances or business regulations. Restraint is the cure for 45, and is not the same thing as harm against him.

      6. I have often wondered if the most effective way to “restrain” DJT wouldn’t be to just ignore him. Think about how he feeds on attention. Then take it away, enough so that he notices. Cover major news, but no hanging out in the halls or lobby, onto his every word….”there” just in case he drops by. Let him drop by an empty room. It’s the one thing that hasn’t been tried. I don’t know about anybody else, but if I didn’t hear his voice, see his picture, or visage on television, I would be a great deal happier.

        One more thing, if I can claim privilege of seniority. Let’s not get personal in our disagreements on this blog. We are all smart enough and capable enough communicators to make our points on the basis of issues and concepts. These are weighty topics we deal in here. I pledge to do a better job myself. The civility of Political Orphans has been its underlying strength, in combination with smart commentary. That’s special. Apologies to all for being “preachy”.

      7. >] “I continue to be hopeful that America is capable of digging deep within ourselves to right our nation. The alternative is unbearable to consider.”

        Apocalyptic-sounding talk is too often overblown, but we really do only have one shot to get this right. It’s not as if the country ceases to be if we fail, but the generational damage and catastrophic system failure that will come about if we don’t is too much for any one mind to wrap itself around.

        Leave not a single vote behind this November. This is going to be an election, for better or worse, that will be talked about for decades to come. Let’s make damn sure it’s a happy story we have to tell.

        >] “Good news but I can’t believe they threw their support behind him in the first place. The man has never been a christian but, then again, neither have the evangelicals or Southern Baptists, as a whole. 🙁 Merely, a political party belonging to old, white, patriarchal bigots.

        One of the great recollections of this era will be the complete forfeiting of Evangelicals’ moral authority to the cult of personality in the manifestation of Donald Trump. Up-and-coming members may yet be able to bring them back from the abyss, but they have a damn long road ahead of them.

        >] “Say a Guy 1 tries to hit another Guy 2 at a bar, but the bouncer restrains him. Being restrained is not physical harm, but it prevents it. RESTRAINT is a lot of how many things in our system works, such as the systems of checks and balances or business regulations. Restraint is the cure for 45, and is not the same thing as harm against him.

        You’re venturing into an argument of semantics, Aaron. Harm, whether it comes physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually, or whatever else, is harm. As a matter of natural consequence between humans, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that – but you have to pick yous battles and see to it that when you’re harming another, you don’t forfeit your humanity or principles in the process.

        If the people come out on top against Trump, significant harm is going to come to him. Ain’t no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Calling it “restraint” is just shying away from the fight. Face it head on and embrace it.

    2. Saw your post further down but wanted to comment closer to the top.
      It’s not about race; uneducated black and Hispanic workers don’t benefit from imported competition either. It’s about feasibility. One of the staples of the left, one I think we all agree on, is that in some form or another people have a “right” to more than what all of them are worth economically. UBI, welfare, public services, free healthcare, … Somebody has to pay for all of that, and some people are going to make a net benefit. What Europe has been doing with its immigration policies is increasing what it owes its inhabitants as their right more than it has increased its GDP (worsening this is a tendency of economic immigrants to send money home).
      Children are a different matter, as is the US in general on this issue. But really, if you go to France or Germany illegally, deliberately undocumented because it’s easier to fake being a refugee that way… just how good of treatment do you think you’re entitled to?
      Is it fair that the same skill level gets a higher standard of living in Europe than in north Africa? No. But that gap represents what the West, and liberal thinking, has achieved.
      Of course, the suburban, upper middle class, retainer class, 9.9%, coastal elites, whatever you want to call them, does benefit from flooding labor markets that they’re not in. I saw a quote somewhere that is relevant. From memory: “Every trade deal is justified the same way. There will be more winners than losers, and the losers will be compensated. But the compensation never happens.” So perhaps the revolt was to be expected.

      1. I’m just going to go through this step-by-step:

        “It’s not about race; uneducated black and Hispanic workers don’t benefit from imported competition either.”

        I won’t say that people of color never express that concern, but I will say I’ve never heard one express it. More on that in a bit.

        “It’s about feasibility. One of the staples of the left, one I think we all agree on, is that in some form or another people have a “right” to more than what all of them are worth economically.”

        Economics and policy serve people, not vice versa. Economics and policy are not the only way to serve people, either.

        “UBI, welfare, public services, free healthcare, … Somebody has to pay for all of that, and some people are going to make a net benefit.”

        I have mixed feelings about each and every one of those things and each and every one of those things we can discuss a broader cost/benefit analysis, and I’m open to those discussions about how to make them feasable, what their risks are, and whether it’s worth it.

        But for the record the United States has an astoundingly massive economy and an obscene amount of development-ready space. We can afford to do a lot of things, we just choose not to.

        “What Europe has been doing with its immigration policies is increasing what it owes its inhabitants as their right more than it has increased its GDP (worsening this is a tendency of economic immigrants to send money home).”

        I’m actually not fully certain what you’re saying here because your phrasing is awkward, but it’s absolutely an immigrants right to send their money wherever they please.

        “Children are a different matter, as is the US in general on this issue. But really, if you go to France or Germany illegally, deliberately undocumented because it’s easier to fake being a refugee that way… just how good of treatment do you think you’re entitled to?”

        I feel human beings are entitled to good treatment by virtue of being human beings. I don’t particularly give a shit about their nationality or skill level.

        What I need to say now before I continue, but what I’ll go into detail below, is that I’m for giving people the opportunity to try, but that’s not the same as being for preventing them from failure. In a broader since, I think all immigrants should be allowed in, and if they don’t pay into the benefits pools then they shouldn’t have access to those benefits. But also we have to be clear about which benefits are generally available to all people (like, arguably, healthcare), and which benefits are only available to those who put into the system (like, arguably, social security and unemployment).

        “Is it fair that the same skill level gets a higher standard of living in Europe than in north Africa? No. But that gap represents what the West, and liberal thinking, has achieved.
        Of course, the suburban, upper middle class, retainer class, 9.9%, coastal elites, whatever you want to call them, does benefit from flooding labor markets that they’re not in. I saw a quote somewhere that is relevant. From memory: “Every trade deal is justified the same way. There will be more winners than losers, and the losers will be compensated. But the compensation never happens.” So perhaps the revolt was to be expected.”

        So we should be focusing on how to compensate the losers rather than forcing other players not to play. This brings me back to my point below: if the issue is immigrants undercutting wages, then why are we kicking out the immigrants rather than enforcing the wages? Why are businesses not taken to court over breaking minimum wage laws but immigrants are taken to court even when they haven’t broken any laws?

        And this brings it all back to where it started: unskilled white people are not going to get new jobs because immigrants are kicked out. Whether immigrants are here or not, ‘unskilled’ means ill-fit for work. There are plenty of ways we could discuss getting these eager potential workers into the labor pool with dignity and with value to offer, but we are instead trying to prevent brown people from even trying. The immigration debate is about racism.

        So when you say “immigration affects black and Hispanic people too”, note that the immigration we’re enforcing somehow magically doesn’t target unskilled immigrants from Western countries, of whom I know a few. They haven’t had one personal sweat over this whole debacle because they know they’re not the target. If we were trying to protect our people of color’s jobs from immigration in general, we would also be casting a wider net than immigrants from Latin America and the Middle East (also notice the relative lack of enforcement in Asian communities). Also notice how the immigration enforcement has now expanded into naturalized citizens, which would be a great portion of the aforementioned black and Hispanic workers. The immigration debate is about racism.

        As for the economics, every economic ‘cost’ is an opportunity, for those who choose to look for the opportunity in the costs. Yes, immigrants are additional mouths to feed. We can either look at it as “How will we get the money to feed them?” or “How do we enable them to buy food?” If they buy food, then the foodmakers profit. This is an overly simplistic way of saying immigration costs and benefits can be debated rationally and organized with good policy. But good policy is not what is currently taking place in the United States. In the United States, children are being locked up in abandoned Wal-Marts for their parents crime of attempting to improve their life while being brown. The immigration debate is about racism.

        When it comes to economic winners and losers, those terms mean different things in different contexts and different frames of reference. One thing that frustrates me about how economics is discussed is that economics is a study of how wealth and resources are produced and consumed, but people act like it’s a JUSTIFICATION for how they are produced or consumed. No. You can change how things are produced and consumed, and economics will study the impact. As I said above: economics should serve people, people do not serve economics. If your economy is not serving people, be they immigrants or unskilled citizens, there is a missed opportunity there. But nobody is looking at how to grab that opportunity, because what is being practiced by the United States is completely based in racism.

      2. Gonna follow along roughly in order here.
        Whether or not they express it is not the same as whether or not they’re affected. On the whole, if your argument is that US immigration policy is racist, or that some/most people take anti-immigrant stances because of racism, I’m receptive. But if you’re arguing that anybody who wants some sort of limit on immigration is a bigot, I’m not convinced.
        I have mixed feelings about each of the examples I listed off as well, but all of them involve direct or indirect redistribution. For anyone (such as myself) who’s not a libertarian, this is one of the biggest purposes of government: to adjust the flows of goods and services determined by laissez faire supply and demand. Why and how this is done varies hugely, sometimes being motivated by boosting the economy as a whole and sometimes by a desire to help some specific subset, but there is a common theoretical thread. And notice that a minimum wage fits into this pattern as well.
        When I said “economically worth”; there’s two ways I’m willing to define that. The lazy definition would be a person’s expected lifetime earnings. The other, which is more useful but also much harder to guess, is the marginal change to GDP that we would get by adding/removing that person to/from our economy. Now, I know that this quantity is not a person’s intrinsic worth – there are artists, stay-at-home parents, or just the economy being unfair – but I think it is fine as well as more feasible to use a quantity like this for macro-level accounting estimates. I know economics is supposed to serve people. The crux of what I’m saying is that in countries with a great deal of government services, there is a danger inherent in expanding the number of people in income levels that make a net monetary gain from the taxes/services system. If we let in a group of immigrants who have an expected cost of €2X in the form of healthcare, new schools, language classes, housing, etc., but who will only increase GDP by €X … that can’t continue forever. And honestly I’m not sure that GDP increase is the right number to be working with; my €2X hypothetical quantity is supposed to be measuring government expenditure and perhaps we should be looking at marginal tax increases.
        Yes people can send money where they damn well please. What I meant to convey with that line is that any sort of dynamic accounting has to consider that not all of the money immigrants are earning is staying in the economy. Normally an amount of money would be taxed multiple times as it moves around the economy since it is counted as somebody’s income with each transaction. But if some of that money leaves the country then there’s a dampening effect on tax revenue. I admire someone going to a foreign country to earn money they send back to their family, but it does mean that the host country has economic reason to prefer someone who will live (spend) more fully in it.
        I have nothing to say against your last few paragraphs. I voted against this administration in 2016, will do so again this year and in 2020, and do not plan on offering it my moral support between elections.

      3. Oh and if there are some benefits which you would be willing to not extend to those who haven’t paid into them, I consider that a very important concession. Because mostly what I’m asking for is that we think about it in those terms.

        If our government cares more about national origin than, say, skill level, then I absolutely oppose its immigration policies.

      4. @JonCr,

        thank you for your responses. You and I are pretty aligned in our thoughts.

        I want to make clear that my views on immigration are probably my most liberal views politically: I literally do believe that there should be no limits, anywhere in the world if possible but especially in the US. In the US particularly because the country was founded on immigration, and to deny access to the US is inherently racist, because it’s to argue that European immigrants are okay to come and go but non-European immigrants aren’t allowed the same courtesy, dignity, or opportunity.

        Let me put it this way: I have an Irish friend who is here without a visa working, a Canadian colleague who is overstaying her visa, two New Zealanders who who took a vacation here about three years ago and never left, and a Brit who is seeking naturalization. None of these people are in the least bit worried about ICE knocking on their door. They are not worried because they know ICE doesn’t exist to target them, and you know that, and 45 knows that, and 45’s voters know that.

        If they’re allowed in without fear or worry for their daily safety, so are brown people, so should brown people be.

        I also take the argument in the other direction, that Americans should see migration as opportunity for their own job market globally as well. In other countries Western migrants are known as ‘expats’. That’s mere semantics; they are immigrants, and often able to work with full knowledge that they will not receive entitlements and benefits made available to citizens of their host country.

        That’s the way it should be for everyone, as much as possible, in my view.

      5. Thank you as well for taking the time
        We do sound more or less aligned. I share your frustration with the double standard. And it’s easy to guess where it comes from – I’m imagining the sorts of people that would join ICE and there’s a dark picture in my head. And then at the top you have the thing who pardoned Dinesh D’Souza (the written form of Sean Hannity) making appointments…
        (And I see now that what I originally expressed as a couple sentences needed to be expanded to a few paragraphs.)

  13. Hi there- long time, no post, but all my heavy lifting phase of grant writing is done, and there’s
    now more time for political involvement this summer. First, I am very pleased to see the Chris is back to posting regularly. But the flip side of that is seeing him write what he never wanted to write. I agree that it’s getting serious.

    The beginning of the end of this creeping (although by now it’s up to walking speed) fascism is a major rebuke at the balllot box. I started my bit on Saturday, when I went block walking in the 3rd Ward for Beto O’Roarke’s campaign. That’s something that’s out of this introvert’s comfort zone, but griping on the Internet isn’t going to get out the vote. It was a good experience, I have a few new friends, and we did reach a few potential voters who did not know that Ted Cruz had an opponent. I except that I will be making quite a few trips back there this summer, as there are a lot of potential votes and persuadable people there. I also plan to be doing the same for Sri Kulkarni’s TX22 campaign among the Asian-American neighborhoods, as that demographic has had low voter turnout. GOTV is the most direct path to cutting off this nightmare.

    The one small silver lining is that this cruelty shown to children in the name of border security by Twitler and his minions is causing some cracks to show in the Trump coalition. Franklin Graham, who’s been happy to give Trump a pass on all sorts of reprehensible behavior, has denounced this. The United Methodist Church publicly rebuked Sessions. The Catholic Church has been very loud in its condemnation. Trump cultists are a lost cause, and I will not waste time trying to sway them, but there is that tepid support on the edges that can be sloughed away, one guilt trip at a time.

      1. My neighbor down the street has more experience than I do at organizing these types of things. She did a lot of organizing for Harvey victims and was almost singlehandedly responsible for getting donations of clothes and household goods for a lot of immigrant families in Rosenberg who lost everything. If anyone can organize this, she can.

        She’s one of those “horrible” bleeding-heart liberals. 🙂

  14. I was watching an old movie tonight. The Night of the Generals. Basically, a detective story set in 1942 Poland, June 1944 France, and then a decade or so later in Germany/France. The storyline is actually irrelevant to my musings, but the semi-monologue Rommel gives about the place in history of those that tried to kill Hitler in June ’44, plus the entire backstory of the movie, got me thinking.

    I know this is a question with nuanced answers, but precisely how much of the population of a country has to buy into following a dictator for that dictator to be successful, by the standards of controlling a country? I recognize we are getting an object lesson on how a dictator gains power, and every situation is different, but there has to be a critical mass of the populace that must be willing to follow the leader. In complete military dictatorships, or military oligarchies, a certain percentage of the military must be willing to do whatever the leader desires. But even if the military is 100% behind a leader, does not a certain percentage of the civilian population also be willing to follow?

    Like I said, I know each authoritarian regime is slightly different, but they must have similarities, and certain thresholds of the population must adhere to the belief system of the leader(s). What are those numbers?

  15. I’ve enjoyed reading all of the comments to this post, and would like to offer this thoughtful essay which looks at America’s problems through a different lens. Per Umai Haik, writing for Medium, the real problems are not people like Trump, but the failure of America’s institutions to meet the needs of the people. He suggests that Trump is both manipulative in rendering our institutions less functional in order to advance his authoritarian goals, and opportunistic in seizing upon problems that already exist. The challenge with his theory is how to solve the dilemma of a broken society when our political structure has shut out those who are most interested and responsive? Respond with equal force, or wield the more uncertain, but democratic power of the ballot? Confrontation can take many forms and be effective without being violent, which the comments affirm are possible and important. What it cannot do is avoid all conflict from the vocal, strong minority that seeks to intimidate.

    https://eand.co/beating-authoritarianism-isnt-as-simple-as-you-think-it-s-even-simpler-6800b8dfc119

      1. Great article, Creigh. Thanks for spelling correction as well. Tough times. I keep hoping that something better will come from all the pain and chaos we are experiencing. Hope keeps life worth fighting for.

  16. First, I love this forum. Second, let me take a minute to expand on Wall’s comments. I’ll take them in order, as I understand them:

    1) We should recognize that our political systems remain relatively functional and effective and try to preserve them.

    Yes. The question right now is, who will have the 1) leverage to influence their near-term direction, and 2) will we have the will to exercise the leverage we have.

    One thing we learned from the Nazi experience is that tyranny grows in increments. A population that doggedly resists small horrors may not experience the larger ones.

    The fact that so many of our institutions still work doesn’t mean we should be less aggressive, it means the opposite. There remain decent souls in relatively powerful positions in key institutions. Force hundreds of tiny moral crises now, while those people can still exercise influence, and maybe nobody gets shot.

    In other words, goad these functioning institutions toward the defense of our basic values before the rot advances. Meanwhile, work to place decent people into positions of influence wherever possible – remember, there are Congressional elections coming this fall.

    Above all, we should learn this lesson from the Trump experience. A large majority of the American right has no investment in the dominant values of the American experience. Let me say this one more time (and maybe it needs another post), stop trying to appeal to their better nature – it doesn’t exist. They are happy to live under a dictator as long as it’s a white dictator, governing in the interests of white people against everyone else. They will destroy the judiciary, the FBI, the military, the CIA, NATO, public schools, even the NFL if that will protect their racial preferences. Stop trying to reason with these people and start trying to rescue what remains of the republic.

    2) Tearing down a defective system does not necessarily harken the birth of a better system. In fact, usually what follows is worse.

    Yes, Edmund Burke, this is absolutely true. If we draw a line in the sand now and place our bodies behind it, we might get to keep our remaining functional institutions and have the leverage to reform the corrupted ones. It is not in our interests to tear it all down. Taking a stand now is our chance for preservation, not revolution.

    3) White privilege is not equally distributed. In other words, what works for the right will not necessarily work for the left.

    And the corollary – no one is hated as much as in-group traitors.

    Sorta. Look how long those Occupy Wall Street kids were allowed to live rent-free in Zucotti Park. And look at the influence their protest had on the direction of our politics. I can’t imagine a Bernie Sanders without an Occupy Wall Street. If that protest failed it’s because no one could figure out what goals would have constituted success. If they were protesting to insist that a specific bank president be indicted for his role in the financial crisis, and that person had in fact done something prosecutable, I submit to you that the target of their protest would be in jail.

    And again, no one was shot. When the city grew tired of the spectacle they cleared them out, but the only injury in the whole process was a minor cut to one of the police officers. Stop and imagine the scene if they had been black.

    4) Protests are often misinterpreted.

    One thing that has puzzled me for years, going back to my work on Republican campaigns in Texas, is the left’s lack of self-confidence. They never stop worrying and often quit a successful effort even when they’re winning out of hand-wringing concern about things that would never enter into a Republican brain. I still don’t understand it. Democrats simply do not know how to take the initiative and hold it. They always fold.

    From Sinclair’s work to the NFL protests, know that the right saw all of them as lethal threats. And they were all pretty successful, except for the ’68 riots.

    The Hippies always looked entitled, aimless and spoiled. It was pretty clear to everyone outside the left in the late 60’s that none of those protests would have happened if the Johnson Administration hadn’t acted to reverse discriminatory bias in the way the draft was administered. If those children hadn’t been worried about the draft, they would have done what they eventually did when their exposure to the draft disappeared, grown up to become America’s most narcissistic generation.

    The problem with 68 wasn’t the protest. It was the protesters.

    5) The retainer class can’t be counted on because they can relatively easily leave.

    There is likely to be some slippage. For example, I’m determined to stay here and fight it out no matter what, but I’m not necessarily advising my children to do the same. They are comfortable abroad and almost any serious job these days involves some exposure to global business. However, a lot of that just comes down to the disintegration of the nation state as a relavant organizing force. We increasingly experience the nation-state in a way much like how Americans experience their attachments to a state.

    That said, America’s retainer class is unusually large and most of them aren’t going anywhere. If all they did was begin to act in concert, we would probably mark the end of this era by that date. There would be no war. There would be little commotion. Laws would change and we would move on. I think we are starting to see America’s 25%, the professional and business class just below the wealthy who represent the entirety of our bureaucracy, and almost all of our professional and managerial class, begin to coalesce into a bloc. By taking disruptive action we can accelerate and harden this process. Where those people go, America goes.

    6) What should minorities do?

    That’s tough. We are all Americans. This country is ours. However, responsibility for this this problem isn’t equally distributed. White people built this monster. African-Americans and others have done the lion’s share of the work in bringing attention to this problem and devoting thought to potential solutions, but at the end of the day this is a problem of the white community that the white community needs to resolve. That’s an awkward comment, but I don’t know how to get around it.

    How do you say that this is a uniquely white problem that white people need to solve, without diminishing the role and contributions of non-white Americans. If there’s a way to do that, then that’s what I’d do.

    1. A very funny comic does a bit about how in the south, you can say pretty much anything you like about someone so long as you preface it with “bless his/her heart”. It is like saying this poor soul just ain’t quite right so we have to take anything they say with a whole dang box of salt.

      It is a rather effective form of ridicule that does not debase the individual, more so the information on which the opinion is based. I have found it to be quite effective in dealing with the Trumplidites who feel the occasional buyers remorse. The true believers are a lost cause, but a tactfully placed “bless your heart”, can open a mind or two. Recent criticism from the religious right over the separation of migrant children shows cracks are forming. You don’t need them to vote against the dotard, just stay home.

    2. “They are comfortable abroad and almost any serious job these days involves some exposure to global business. However, a lot of that just comes down to the disintegration of the nation state as a relavant organizing force. We increasingly experience the nation-state in a way much like how Americans experience their attachments to a state. ”

      My very first professional job outside of college was abroad — in the Middle East in fact — and when I was abroad and talked to people from all over the world, what was communicated over and over again is that the world is hungry for American talent, or if not talent at least American labor. In fact, a lot of the successful Western businessmen in Dubai are at best mediocre businessmen from Western norms.

      One of the interesting things about this whole debate about jobs and globalization is basically that my experience abroad taught me that if any American wants a job, they can get one… as long as they’re willing to get a passport and go abroad. And when I see educated people complaining about the ROI on bachelor’s degrees with the inflation of school debt, I put forth that that group is NOT recognizing the true size and expanse of their labor market. Any dumbass can start up a business in Dubai, but a dumbass with a degree makes other countries salivate.

      I don’t really know what it would take to push that thought into policy or cultural shift, the latter of which is more difficult. I don’t even have a clear idea of what I mean when I talk about this. All I know is that since the global recession, Americans have been extremely pessimistic and depressed about their economic opportunities despite the fact that the US economy rebounded far faster than the global one and that American labor and talent commands a premium worldwide. Somehow there’s a disconnect between what people think their opportunities are, and what opportunities are actually there. And the opportunities are not in steel and aluminum tariffs, they are in expanding access to passports and opening up borders.

  17. I’m rather saddened and scared to see Chris go from kind-hearted, gentle political activist to this extreme stance. The old Chris had a much better chance of bringing about the change he seeks, at least with me.

    I do appreciate the chance for reflection that has resulted, to ask ourselves how far we would go for our beliefs.

      1. Chris,
        i may have the number wrong a bit, but in 2016, 45,000,000 people didn’t vote! If people would vote, all this would be a distant memory, just a bad dream!
        But they do not vote! People march, they bitch up a storm, they complain when their children are shot to death in schools! But vote? Well, that is way too much to ask!
        The GOP has a lock on the David Duke vote, the Neo Nazi vote and the Klan vote! The GOP gets all the skin head votes! the GOP has every vote of people who want to carry tn AR-15 to Walmart to buy a gallon of milk!
        There doesn’t need to be a revolution! No need for any violence! Just somehow motivate people to vote!
        How? i have no idea! The GOP is perfectly content to take health insurance away from 25, 000,000 people! One would think that alone would be motivation enough to create a groundswell of anti GOP votes!
        But apparently one would be wrong!
        I have no idea what the answer is. But until people vote, I think our country is going to keep going in the direction it is going!
        Downhill!
        Joe

      1. EJ

        The old Chris saw the problem coming more clearly than anyone else did at the time. He reported on neoconfederatism, on paleo-nationalism, on corruption, on Fox News and Breitbart, and on the failure of the religious Right. He was, by the standards of his time, a prophet. I would resist being too harsh towards him.

      2. No, the old Chris did not fail, he started a movement. Over my many years in the military I’ve seen lots of changes. None have made me fear for our country like the Cult of Trump.

  18. Wow Chris. This is a far cry from your original posts when I started reading a few years ago. You’ve come a long way from the Blue Wall…

    I can’t argue against your logic but it’s still a bit too shocking to believe this is where we’ve arrived. But I do have a few questions for you to consider (you probably already have, in which case, I’d love to see your thoughts)

    1) Have we actually arrived at this place? I know that we Americans believe our political institutions are completely dysfunctional and at this point probably better off destroyed and rebuilt than trying to reform them in place. But I will humbly suggest, as an immigrant from a different country (India), that our political institutions are still incredibly functional and responsive. You have no idea what it means to live under a predatory state until you have to bribe an official to get your welfare card (yes, they’ll happily take half the rice you’re entitled to even if they don’t need it, and your family will starve without it), need to know someone’s cousin to buy a train ticket, or avoid the police because they’re far more likely to beat you up for reporting a crime than actually care about solving it (this latter one may be true for black folks in our country, I guess). And even India has far better governance than lots of developing countries.

    This is my way of suggesting that our institutions are actually still quite strong, and maybe it’s still better to consider reform from within than destroying it from the outside. I’d suggest that to bemoan them as completely dysfunctional is sort of like a billionaire whose net worth is reduced to $100 mil and now thinks he’s poor.

    2) When you destroy a system and build a new one, it’s not always the case that the new one is better. It’s incredibly hard to create functional, efficient government. We can’t just glibly assume that because, by the grace of God, we managed to create one the last go around, that we will easily do so again. Especially as our current govt took about 150 years and one searing civil war before it could be considered modestly functional.

    3) The group of people who can safely fight the government is smaller than just “all white people”. If you’re a leftist, you will get shot almost (not quite, but almost) as quickly as a black person. The Bundy’s and the Koresh’s are great examples. They were treated with kid gloves despite clearly violating the law, being armed, and openly threatening federal officials. Yet the cops had no problem tear gassing unarmed college kids in Occupy Wall St. movements nationwide, shooting at Vietnam War marchers protesting legally, or beating down white protesters at the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968 (eventually found by the courts to be a “police riot”). This is because when a right-wing nutjob violates the law, their putative enemies, the left-wing, writes handwringing pieces about how we have to understand their pain. The flipside is not true. The right-wing doesn’t care if you’re white or black, or what your “pain” is. They will come after you. The FBI currently spends more time infiltrating hippy-dippy eco-“terrorists” running around the forest with flowers in their hair, than they do armed right-wing militias practicing military tactics and openly talking about insurrection against the federal government.

    Actually, I take that back. Every group despises traitors to their group more than the outsiders. Muslim fundamentalists despise “unobservant” Muslims more than infidels of other religions (remember Osama bin Laden’s real beef in life was with the Saudi Monarchy; we were only 2nd on his list of bad people to destroy), since the former are traitors to their group. The same, I argue, will happen with white folk who ally themselves with minorities: the right-wing and the state apparatus that it controls will hate them far more than they do the worst black gangbanger out there, and they will be dealt with far more severely than right-wing protestors. Ask a wingnut who they’re more upset with, uppity black football players kneeling in the NFL, or the white traitors that choose to kneel in solidarity with their black teammates…

    In essence, I’d argue that it’s not the Bundys’ skin color that protects them, it’s their right-wing views. No such protection will be given to white protesters fighting from the left (witness police actions against the antifa movement). Indeed, they may face even more retribution since they’ll be seen as traitors to their race.

    4) You should be prepared for your protests to be misinterpreted and end up being counterproductive at times. Again, I’d say this happens more with the left-wing than the right-wing. When Bundy was shooting at federal officers, there were tons of articles in left-wing places like HuffPo trying to explain the long history of ranchers’ fights with the federal government, struggles over water and grazing rights, etc. There were very few left-wingers who took the position of saying “I don’t care what they’re protesting. If you threaten a federal officer with a gun, you should be shot dead.” The only thing I ever saw was a few twitter posts pointing out the hypocrisy that if the Bundys were black and only accused of speeding, they’d probably have been shot. But even that didn’t extend to openly calling for law enforcement to wipe out the entire Bundy clan and their holed up supporters. (Call it a controlled burn on federal forest lands and you’ll even get the environmentalists on board).

    In contrast, NFL players taking a knee didn’t inspire the right-wing media to try to better understand police violence. They wanted those players’ heads on a platter for “insulting” the military (the same one those wingnuts openly talk about resisting with automatic rifles) and the flag. The only result of players taking a knee was a few NFL rule changes about what players can / can’t do on the field while the anthem is playing. Nothing changed about police violence.

    Similarly, Upton Sinclair’s famous book _The Jungle_ was written to point out the deplorable working conditions in the Chicago union stockyards. But instead of leading to better labor protections, which was his intention, it lead to the creation of the FDA. No one cared about the plight of the workers. They only cared about the depictions of the (literal) sausage-making process and wanted to ensure the food on their table was safer. Workers be damned.

    Protests can even be counter-productive: historians now believe that the protesters at the 1968 Chicago convention actually probably tipped the nomination to Humphrey. The delegates and the vast majority of middle Americans watching the convention were so horrified by the riots that potential allies of the anti-war movement went with Humphrey rather than McGovern. At the end of the day, those protesters might have been better off working within the system to get their man nominated.

    5) Apropos to Dinsdale’s question about whether the retainer class can be induced to finally join this fight, here’s a wrinkle: thanks to globalized commerce, finance, and technology, it’s a lot easier for the retainer class to simply leave this country if it gets too bad. Back in the Civil War, leaving the country meant leaving behind everything and starting over, which was a big problem if you were rich and established. Better to hunker down and fight for your country, even if reluctantly.

    But nowadays, if you’re a Google engineer, you can easily hop on a flight, and work from Toronto, or Beijing, or Bangalore in 12 hours. You’ll still have access to your money via your ATM and credit cards, and can facetime your friends and family wherever they are (not to mention visit them with a quick flight for the weekend). Finance people can work out of London, Singapore, HK, Mumbai, or Dubai and barely feel like they’ve left NYC.

    Most blue state “New Economy” workers in this country would be more comfortable living and working in Paris or Barcelona than they would be in Mobile AL or Biloxi MS. It would actually be less of a culture shock. What’s to keep them from simply leaving when the fight gets too intense?

    Thanks to globalization, the global elite now have class identities that are stronger than their national identities. That is, a banker in NYC shares more in common (culture, economic interests, worldview, political philosophy) with bankers in London, HK, and Singapore, than they do with the guy shining their shoes in Grand Central Station, or the dentist they visit in Brooklyn. When Manhattan starts burning, where will they retreat to, and who will they fight for?

    6) Finally, what’s your recommendation for minorities? I recognize that for African and Latino Americans, the best advice may be to hunker down and try not to get killed in the crossfire. But what about for Asians? We’re generally viewed as nerdier white people. And we’re generally treated by the system as white people. However, this changed somewhat for Indians (and any other brown people) after 9/11. Now we’re profiled as muslim terrorists. Just like African Americans joke about being pulled over for the crime of “Driving While Black”, we joke about getting wand raped by the TSA for the crime of “Flying While Brown”. Doesn’t matter if I’m not a muslim and have lived here my entire life. What can I do that is not counterproductive and that doesn’t get me renditioned to a CIA interrogation cell (only half joking)? Or is this a battle that must be fought by white people amongst themselves for the soul of white America, with the rest of us maybe cheering and assisting our team from the sidelines? I don’t know…

    1. WX, I tend to agree with you.. Personally, I continue to expect that the people of the US will respond and correct the problems of which we are all so aware. The US system does tend to be slow to respond but historically it does respond. I believe that the 2018 elections will result in major negative feedback, with the D’s taking the House and perhaps achieving a narrow majority in the Senate. That should hopefully stop some of the worst abuses of the present administration. Then in 2020 hopefully the Trumps will be shown the door and possibly be faced with criminal charges. I still do not think he will be removed from office by impeachment and conviction.

      Having lived through the late sixties and early seventies, I can attest that widespread rioting does not generally result in the changes required. As you say the Chicago riots horrified Americans. That is primarily the reason Nixon got elected. Even so Humphrey almost pulled it out. Nixon had to sabotage Vietnamese peace talks to secure the election. There were more fatalities in Vietnam during Nixon’s administration than before. I believe the Chicago riots were counterproductive in that they paved the way for Nixon.

      However, if the midterms do not begin to correct the issues and the R’s retain control, then I will get really worried. I will begin to think that more drastic action will be required. What that is I do not know. Living in Seattle and on the Left Coast as I do, I tend to think that we will continue to go our own way. There may be more serious consideration of separation. As an indication of the independence of the left coast, there will be an initiative on the ballot in CA to split into three states. It will likely be defeated and has no chance in Congress, since it would create another semi-blue state and another swing state, as well as the rump CA remaining solidly blue.

  19. Hi, Bobo. I don’t post much here anymore but I saw your comment and wanted to chime in. I’m not sure even voting will help since it is highly likely we have outside interference in our elections. It’s been pretty much confirmed that Russians did, in fact, tamper with results and probably have before. It would explain Rove’s look of shock on Fox when Obama’s victory in Ohio was announced. The hacker group Anonymous claimed they switched stolen votes back to Obama during his run against Romney. In 2010, China rerouted 15% of the world’s internet traffic through their servers.

    https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2010/11/how-china-swallowed-15-of-net-traffic-for-18-minutes/

    Unless we go back to all paper ballots we are vulnerable to outside forces swaying our elections. Trump is okay with this since he’s essentially disbanded our Cybersecurity Department and, yes, has a deal with Putin. We are in a dangerous time and, if I were a religious woman, I’d say Trump is the anti-Christ mentioned in the Bible. He sows chaos and discord and is far more interested in allying himself with ruthless dictators than our traditional allies. He’s ceding US influence in the world to China and Russia and doing their bidding.

    I’m not a gun person but my S.O. has a sizable collection in a safe and goes to the shooting range. Last night he was discussing buying more guns and ammo because shit is getting real. The last few days have been alarming. I can only hope Mueller moves faster on this and can’t believe the SS and CIA can’t arrange a terrible “accident”.

    Anyway, enough of my rant. Driving down to the boat later for the weekend. That’s another weapon in our arsenal. 🙂 Serious considerations of taking it down to the Caribbean and retiring, taking paying customers out to fish and snorkel. Basically, getting the hell out of Dodge before the shit hits the fan.

  20. Just curious — has anyone here engaged in civil disobedience or violence for political reasons? What is your ethnicity, and what were the consequences? Did you accomplish what you were seeking? Did you suffer any long-lasting consequences? Was it worth it? Would you do it again?

    1. I am personally opposed to violence, and to the harrassment of individuals, both online and especially offline, just for voicing support for something or someone we oppose. It’s a violation of their personal space, and it accomplishes nothing productive. It just makes people dig in their heels even more. This tactic smacks of simple childishness, because the results of the election didn’t go our way. There’s nothing noble about this tactic. And Trump did win the election, which means you are in the minority trying to force your opinions on the rest of the nation.

      Now, I am in favor of certain forms of civil disobedience, the resistant type, protests and such, those that address the actual matter that’s being challenged, like refusing to show your papers to airport officials, or maybe harboring illegals to keep families together. These are noble acts, and much more productive than splashing people who voted for Trump. That’s just petty.

      I think we should ask ourselves if we are acting out of nobility or pettiness.

      1. Also, from what I’ve seen, whenever Trump tries to do something that’s potentially illegal, don’t the courts usually succeed in blocking him, even if it’s just temporary, while the matter is reviewed? The ACLU is already challenging the separation of immigrant families, and various courts have agreed that the ACLU’s concerns have merit. Isn’t this an example of the balance of powers at work?

      2. Actually, it looks he may not have legitimately “won” the election at all. That’s where a lot of the concern is from. The question I have is why do so many Trumpsters feel okay with that? Isn’t it childish to want your candidate to win at any cost, no matter how dishonest or traitorous?

        Cheating and stealing is apparently okay as long as it has an “R” or a “D” next to the name. That kind of voter isn’t what this country needs.

      3. Sorry Tuttabella, but you are wrong. You can hate violence, but moments in history demand it. I imagine a number of Germans had the same view as you in 1933. If you think that history cannot repeat itself with this tyrant, you are very very wrong.

        The tyrant has already stated he is above any law, and his acolytes keep repeating it. The rule of law is dead in America.

      4. This is not scientific prooof of anything, but I’ve met enough people who say they voted for Trump that I believe his victory was not due to fraudulent tactics and that he won fair and square. In fact, most of the people with whom I have discussed the election said they voted for Trump. As for whether their votes were tainted by outside influence, I can only say that so many people vote based on totally arbitrary and/or emotional reasons, based on looks or voice, or based on who their pastor or family says to vote for, solely based on race or gender, or in response to negative TV ads.

      5. So what are YOU going to do, Dinsdale? You’re the one who’s the most gung-ho about all this. What is Chris going to do? Will you guys act on this, or just get other people riled up while you sit back and watch?

      6. In the beginning, I thought he won fair and square too but the more I’ve been reading about strange patterns in internet traffic and how invested Putin has been in our elections, I’ve begun to have doubts as to the reliability of our election process. I’m also quite suspicious of anyone who shrieks denial and wants no investigation at all. This needs to be investigated.

        I believe the 2016 elections are a sordid mess and can only hope Mueller is unearthing the corruption in our system. A neighbor of mine knows Mueller from past work and says if anyone will get to the bottom of this mess, it’s him. Says he’s a very honorable man who puts his country before his party. I think things are escalating now with Manafort going to prison and Cohen perhaps flipping soon. We can only wait and see.

      7. “which means you are in the minority trying to force your opinions on the rest of the nation”
        1. Clinton won the popular vote.
        2. I never understood supporters of democracy acting like there’s something so noble about a majority or plurality. Truth does not bend to the whims of whatever 50.01% happen to believe at any point in time.

      8. Jon, I agree. Being in the majority doesn’t necessarily make you right, and those in the minority have every right to voice their opinions. I just object to people trying to force their opinions on others, even if they’re right, especially through the use of violence.

      9. Speaking for myself (and yes I’ve hitherto failed to clarify deviation from the group norm on this issue) I’m not that worried. I think the Rs will fall apart the normal, legal way. While Din is right that it’s easy to imagine situations in which pacifism cripples virtue; I just don’t see a path utilizing violence here and now. Even if there was… I generally agree with David Frum’s remark on Antifa: “People who punch Nazis don’t do it because they hate Nazis. They do it because they love punching people. Hit them, spin them around, they’ll BE Nazis.”

      10. Replying to Tuttabella:

        “So what are YOU going to do, Dinsdale? You’re the one who’s the most gung-ho about all this. What is Chris going to do? Will you guys act on this, or just get other people riled up while you sit back and watch?”

        I have gone after Zionists who were screaming down a Palestinian protest. Had two cops corner me there and tell me go home or we arrest you on trying to start a riot. Yeah, I am white and middle-aged, therefore have that privilege.

        More times than I can remember I have argued with strangers in public locations when I hear them spouting insane lies.

        I have contacted my local politicians when I see gross inequities that I think they can address. No, not on the national level.

        I plan on buying a gun, for the first time in my life, and learning on how to use it properly.

        Not in my lifetime have I seen the U.S. so close to outright dictatorship. I was too young to remember the 60’s violence, and clearly missed McCarthyism.

        Can I do more? Yes?
        Will I have to do more? Indeed.
        But I am not 25 anymore. Fighting a pitched battle in the streets I can no longer physically do.

      11. “In fact, most of the people with whom I have discussed the election said they voted for Trump.”

        I meant to address this yesterday but I was in a hurry. The “most” you talked to are likely friends and family? Many times they tend to think along similar lines and like attracts like. My social circle is a mixed bag. Some Trump but most non-Trump and even the “trumpers” are fairly apathetic about him at this point. They won’t admit it but I think they are having buyer’s remorse as they’ve really quieted down on the “MAGA” bullshit and sigh wearily when he’s a twitter rampage.

        Some good news, Breitbart is in trouble and a right-leaning rag in Columbus has been writing some fairly negative pieces on Trump/Pence too.

    2. EJ

      Just curious — has anyone here engaged in civil disobedience or violence for political reasons?
      Yes. Civil disobedience, on two occasions. Once we counter-demonstrated against a neo-Nazi group despite being denied police permission for the counter-demo; and once we blockaded an “immigrant detention centre.”

      I frequently go on demonstrations, but those are legal despite being discouraged and very strictly regulated.

      What is your ethnicity, and what were the consequences?
      I’m White.

      The detention centre blockade was broken up by police with truncheons and tear gas, although I was fortunate not to be personally subject to violence from the police. It was made clear to us that if we did not disperse then dogs and firearms would be used, so we dispersed and went home. Perhaps that was cowardice on our part; the people detained inside the centre had no option to go home, after all.

      Did you accomplish what you were seeking?
      On the occasion of the counter-demo, yes, I think we did. The Nazis had originally intended to march through a Jewish neighbourhood, which the police had approved. When it became apparent that they would be met by ten times their number of counter-demonstrators, the police first tried to prevent the counter-demo. When that became impossible, they told the Nazis that their protest had to happen elsewhere, in a government district, under heavy police escort. Many of them decided not to turn out at all, and since it wasn’t in a Jewish neighbourhood, I think we succeeded.

      On the occasion of the detention centre blockade, we didn’t close it down, but we didn’t think we would; we did succeed in attracting media attention and getting people to discuss an aspect of European policing which is uncomfortable and therefore often tactfully avoided. So that’s a victory of sorts. I also like to think that it made the people working there feel like scum and the people detained feel like they were not alone, both of which are very important.

      Did you suffer any long-lasting consequences?
      No in both cases.

      Was it worth it?
      Yes, in my view.

      Would you do it again?
      Yes.

      1. European… you’re German right?
        May I ask why you were against the detention centre? I don’t want that to sound sarcastic; it’s a serious question. I’ve been reading Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe, which is mostly about immigration, and I have to say I’m convinced the EU should have controls.
        Some of the book (which is centered on the UK) is about a cultural argument that doesn’t really apply with immigration in America – basically that governments didn’t encourage integration, so it didn’t happen, and now they have much-increased FGM and sexual violence, partly because the immigrants are overwhelmingly young men and partly because their culture doesn’t value women.
        But there’s also an economic argument and I think that’s universal. Murray talks about immigrants pretending to be Syrian when really they’re economic migrants from stable countries (they know nothing about Syria when asked). Despite what the progressive zeitgeist would tell me, I don’t think it’s racist to not want to flood a country with people who will undercut your wages. Nor is it racist to say that the welfare state and other services should favor those who have paid into it their entire working lives. What seems to exist here is an elite class that isn’t suffering from the consequences of their policies the way less skilled workers are, and who then attack the motivations of anyone who challenges them.

      2. EJ

        Tuttabella:
        Thank you.

        I think there’s a distinction between being law-abiding and being what we call a pro-social person. To take your example of finding money at the ATM, would you keep it if it were legal to do so, or would you still hand it in? In other words, is your desire to do the morally right thing motivated by a fear of punishment, or is it motivated by a desire to be a good citizen to those around you?

        You’ve always come across as a very decent human being who takes pains to be inoffensive. I admire that. To paraphrase Emma Goldman, I don’t want to be part of any society which has no place for opinions like yours.

        JonCr:
        I’m a German citizen, yes. My people are from a town called Potsdam which is within greater Berlin, although I live in the UK for work nowadays.

        I haven’t read Murray, but I’ll check him out. English writers predicting the death of Europe is nothing new, I’m afraid, and they have been consistently wrong thus far. However, we have not faced a challenge this severe for a few years. It’s possible that this time, the doomsayers are right.

        Philosophically, I am opposed to the concept of borders. I believe that to erect one is inherently an act of violence, whether one is attempting to keep people out or to keep them in. As such, I do not accept that a Europe which fortifies its borders against those seeking better lives is something that we who are inside it can tolerate. I accept that this is an optimistic view; but then the people who thought that the Berlin Wall would fall and the Soviet Union would crumble were also dismissed as optimists, and look at us now.

        It is possible that Murray will change my mind. I will recommend a book to you in return, on the same topic: Slavoj Zizek’s “Against the Double Blackmail.”

      3. Thanks, EJ, good point. I don’t jaywalk because it’s unsafe, and I turn over money I find because it’s the right thing to do, not because doing the opposite is illegal. However, I do refrain from doing the moral thing, like civil disobedience that is warranted, simply because it is illegal.

      4. I put in an order for Zizek’s book. I am a bit curious about your recommendation, though; reviews make it sound as though he agrees with much of Murray’s arguments. I don’t even think they sharply disagree over the cause; Murray talks about how the colonial structures of the 1800s-1940s made countries exposed to immigration from former colonies in the 60s-80s. I don’t think (though I’m not sure) he denies that there is a humanitarian crisis in the present day that necessitates response; I believe he is just exacerbated by the context it is appearing in, a long history of inviting in cultures that have yet to mix and a strain on certain public functions, i.e. a shortage of schools.
        From his book and other readings I am getting the impression that the Christian right in America and Europe are not the same thing. It’s not discussed directly but he seems to act like European Christianity is much like American Judaism: secular, and basically a cultural identity that has little to do with belief. If anybody knows anything about this I’d like to hear it.

      5. EJ

        It’s interesting how different Europe and America are. To a European ear, the language you use to discuss borders and refugees comes across as overtly far-Right, which I don’t think you intend. I wonder how mine sounds to you?

        As for religion, I think that most European Christians would disagree with the way you phrase that. Many people here are deeply religious, whether Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed or some other faith. However, this belief is not mutually exclusive with the ability to live a secular life. The two strands coexist without conflicting greatly. Ireland, one of the two great bastions of hardline Catholicism, recently legalised abortion via a landslide referendum.

      6. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/05/american-atheists-religious-european-christians/560936/
        The standout line here is that only 23% of European Christians professed belief in God, compared with 27% of American “nones”. Perhaps the category of people who identify as religious in a survey is much broader than that of those who identify publicly.
        I consider myself part of the center. I attribute my crowd seeming like the right these days to the left being more relevant and influential, while the actual right is intellectually defunct.
        A world without borders to me sounds neoliberal, which is the right in its own way. The biggest victims are the poor. It’s the poor who will have their wages undercut, the poor who have a harder time benefiting from limited social programs, and the poor who will face most of the language and cultural barriers. (Educated people I trust to learn the language of the country they want to move to.)

      7. “which fortifies its borders against those seeking better lives”
        I think a thought experiment involving a household approximates the situation well enough. No matter how great the need of people outside, there will come a point at which you stop inviting people into your home and supporting them as well as you do your own family. And if there isn’t, it’s reasonable to expect a revolt from the other existing inhabitants.
        And that’s just the economics of it. I think it reasonable to argue that the Cologne New Year’s assaults and the Rotherham grooming gangs wouldn’t have happened with slower, controlled, properly vetted immigration, and maybe some instruction about values upon entry instead of acting like all cultures are equally good.

      8. EJ

        You can judge yourself to be part of the centre all you like; but I’m afraid that your discourse (and especially the examples you choose) pinpoint you as belonging to a rather different part of the political spectrum, and one that I am not interested in engaging with.

        For contrast, here is how a centrist European would phrase what you just said:

        “We have both a human and a legal responsibility to offer a new home to all of those who are not safe in their previous nations; and by the way, the overall rate of street crime committed by the New Germans is lower than that of established Germans of their socioeconomic bracket.”

        Can you see the difference?

      9. You think that pointing out Rotherham and Cologne makes me a “part of the political spectrum you are not interested in engaging with”? To me it sounds like perhaps women’s rights are not so important to you. This kind of reasoning – I don’t like your conclusion so I won’t engage your argument – is why I can’t associate with the left. It would be very dangerous for you all to recognize the difference between people who argue from racism and those who argue from a position of practicality and a respect for the strains you’re putting on nationals, so you don’t. Or you pretend not to. The supporters and writers of publications like Salon, Vox, and HuffPost have cried wolf so many times…
        “Center”, by the way, has a very specific meaning to me right now in America. It’s people who don’t like either party but are mostly supporting Democrats at this juncture in time.
        I already addressed part of what you put in quotes. A responsibility doesn’t mean much if you can’t feasibly do it, and it also doesn’t mean much if you’re letting economic migrants from stable countries pose (unconvincingly) as refugees from war.
        Going further… Murray writes briefly about how stable, non-European countries like the Arabian peninsula states were allowed to take in no refugees. Also, I’d appreciate a link to so bold a claim (I’ll have Google do a crude translation of the page). Murray writes about methodological flaws behind a similar claim in Britain, which is why I’m not convinced. (The flaw was, basically, acting like a wealthy French entrepreneur represented an average immigrant to England at the time.)

      10. @JonCR (don’t know if you’ll see this this late after your reply):

        Re: “Despite what the progressive zeitgeist would tell me, I don’t think it’s racist to not want to flood a country with people who will undercut your wages. Nor is it racist to say that the welfare state and other services should favor those who have paid into it their entire working lives.”

        Chris already addresses this in the original post. Why is ‘immigrants are undercutting our wages’ being resolved by ‘get rid of the immigrants’ rather than ‘fine the businesses that pay less than minimum wage?’ Because the solution of keeping out the immigrants is based on the concept that white people shouldn’t have to compete on equal standing with ‘outsiders’.

        In a free and fair and open labor market, if you can’t compete with an uneducated immigrant, what is your labor really worth? If it’s the government’s job to protect your quality of life and enable opportunity, the idea that jobs are a limited resource ‘stolen’ by immigrants is pure fantasy.

        And with these ‘strained welfare state’ arguments: the United States has never had a robust welfare state and the European countries’ welfare systems are strained after a decade of austerity spending, so why is it the fault of the immigrants and not a fault of policy? Why blame the poor brown people that your life sucks when your government is so excited to pass a tax cut for the 500 American citizens who have wealth north of ten figures off of the assumption that they’re going to cut your personal benefits in the next couple of years?

        There are plenty of reasonable ideas and potential solutions on how to structure welfare and labor to deal with new trends and markets, including trends of cross-country migration and global businesses. Putting brown people’s children into cages at the border is not the solution. It’s racist. Deal with it.

    3. I have protested outside Kevin Brady’s office along the street. We numbered about 7 women, had signs (nothing purile), and stood in what we thought was a public right of way. We were approached by a police officer who asked what we were doing (?@%!) there. We “persisted” in waving our signs at passers-by. We then received a second visit by a building management representative, accompanied by two police officers who told us we had to move. We demanded to know why and he stated they maintained the public right of way therefore they were allowed to ask us to leave. There was some back and forth and we finally left as he threatened to arrest us if we didn’t leave, so we did.

      We were there about 30 minutes, were seen by lots of drivers, and more importantly, felt good about our small act of resistance. Sometimes resistance is more for those who participate than it is for those who watch. There is something noble about taking a stand in public on an issue important to you. In this case, we got the attention of drivers, building management, and Brady’s office and those in adjoining offices. Hopefully, the experience was a little uncomfortable for him but mostly it was a positive investment of energy for us.

      1. “We demanded to know why and he stated they maintained the public right of way therefore they were allowed to ask us to leave.”

        If you weren’t purposefully blocking the entrance, that’s pure scare tactics. You should have stayed.

        “There was some back and forth and we finally left as he threatened to arrest us if we didn’t leave, so we did. ”

        This is exactly how I interpret Chris’ original post: you absolutely should have stayed. Think about it, what’s better news to get your message across to far, far more people than whomever drove by in the 30 minutes you were there than a group of 7 women getting arrested for protesting? I’m also under the impression you are elderly and white, so think about what it means for an ELDERLY WHITE WOMAN to get ARRESTED for PROTESTING?

        I’ve personally seen the power of elderly white women protestors. A single, and by single I mean one, solitary, woman closed down an entire film festival in my home city because she called the media and stood outside one of the theatres protesting that, because the festival featured a segment on adult films, it was showing porn. This media attention grabbed the interest of the city council who found the theatre in violation of ancient and barely enforced zoning laws designed to limit porn theatres. The festival was fined and went out of business. One elderly white woman destroyed a decade old community event because of her moral outrage of a single two-hour programming block.

        If she can do that with a placard and a phone call, think of what you can do with a placard, phone call, and police showing up.

      2. Counter-example number two:

        Pro-life protestors REGULARLY attempt to block people from entering Planned Parenthood, and never get arrested for it.

        If they can get away with their bullshit, you can too. Especially since you’re not even actually attempting to block people. Ultimately I suspect the police won’t touch you, but it’s a win win. Either they don’t touch you and you get to keep protesting, or they do and you now have some real media red meat.

        Keep persisting.

      3. You are likely correct but we felt we had accomplished what we basically came to achieve. It was also my first protest and I was more easily intimidated. It wasn’t my last. Your advice is noted. Your statement earlier in the post, “use your privilege to call out injustice where you see it.” That is so true and I have thought about my cowardice as a white person/woman when watching protests where people put their lives at risk. I do what I can to stand up for those who are less fortunate but I agree that I haven’t risked bodily harm or arrest to do so.

  21. EJ

    Chris, it has been an honour to watch your views shift over the past few years. At every point along that shift, your thoughts have been both a pleasure and an education to read.

    Please allow me to be the first to say that there is an established term for the position you are currently urging. We call it “antifascist action”. You may know it better by its Spanish abbreviation.

  22. Talking about “Violence”

    The idea that Lead in Petrol cause the upsurge and downsurge in violent crime has had so much data confirming it that it has probably moved from being a “Hypothesis” to becoming a “theory”

    https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/02/lead-exposure-gasoline-crime-increase-children-health/

    So we have brain damage in the children who grow up and commit more violent crime when they are in their “peak crime” years – 15 – 30

    But they don’t get better – the brain damage is permanent – they just get older
    So who are these people?
    They are “us” – the Baby Boomers and Generation X

    The 40 to 70 year olds –

    New Zealand did not have many cars back then – so our “peak” was lower than yours and our politicians are just a wee bit younger than yours

    But you guys had LOTS of cars and drove lots of miles – and your 40 – 70 year olds are firmly in charge

  23. Off topic but I wanted to second Tut’s questions on the previous post. I also wanted to add a general “but what’s the point?”. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of “shut up and listen” rhetoric, but I didn’t respond because it was honestly hard to see where your argument was going. If the argument was simply that there have historically been white supremacist elements in southern churches I don’t have much to say, but I feel like there was something more.

      1. I thought this tweet from Will Wilkinson was striking:

        https://twitter.com/willwilkinson/status/1007089817866338304

        “Those innocent kids can’t be held captive in that hellish Brownsville WalMart. It just can’t stand. If it’s legal, the law is criminal and does not bind us. It’s a mass violation of basic human rights, of basic principle of justice. So how do we get them out, peacefully, but now?”

        He also wrote:

        https://twitter.com/willwilkinson/status/1007364494920740864

        “Trump chose (100% his discretion) to put a clock on DACA to get leverage to cut legal immigration. Didn’t work. Now he’s chosen (100% his discretion) to kidnap and traumatize kids to force concessions. At this point, to agree to any cuts in levels is to capitulate to terrorism.”

        Evan McMullin has also started to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the governing, sometime after the reports about the facilities:

        https://twitter.com/Evan_McMullin/status/1007440429850251264

        “What value does a party that tolerates white nationalists like @SteveKingIA offer a nation like ours, founded on the self-evident equality of all? If people of diverse races are unequal, then upon what principle are those who govern equal to the governed?”

      2. Chris, you know my feelings towards this regime by my past posts. So I am not being contrarian here, when I ask, what do you think has changed in the past 6 months that the retainer class is now willing to lead a revolt?

        It can’t be from an economic perspective, as that class of people are doing great right now, or at least the same as 6 months ago. Do you think that they have gained new insight into the puppet tyrant’s regime and his acolytes’ practices, and decided that these monsters have crossed some line of morality?

        I don’t see it. If the accountants and doctors and middle managers did not do anything 6 months, 12 months, 18 months ago, what will prompt them now? What has changes have occurred to make them say “enough”?

  24. WOW!!! This sounds an awful lot like the rhetoric of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) in the 1960’s and early 70’s. A student of history in that period knows where that led. I lived through that period, being a student at the U of Wash, one of the hot spots.

    But seriously, the nation may be approaching that point. Certainly ICE is evolving into an American version of the Gestapo!

    There is a lot to digest in this piece and I may have more comments later.

    1. This is another one of those pieces that rolled around in my head for a year or so while I looked for reasons not to write it. This sucks.

      And yea, the comparisons to SDS do not exactly thrill me.

      Had a really interesting conversation with a group of conservatives about the relative uselessness of conservatism in a time that calls for resistance. Conservative values seem out of place when it’s time to fight an oppressive regime. This is not the time I expected to live in.

      1. Depends on how you look at it. Standing up for honor and justice against an immoral mob sounds very conservative. It’s just a matter of getting past superficial similarities and differences, or even substantial but secondary ones.

        Also, William Strauss and Neil Howe warned about the situation we find ourselves in, even if they didn’t figure on OT being so orange. I’ll have to come back once I find the quote I’m thinking of.

      2. Wow Chris..nice to see you coming round to my view. I was hoping you would comment about the pimp out in Nevada and the nazi’s in Iowa and Virginia, but I am guessing they are part of the trigger, as well as the internment camps being set up, for profit.

        I was in a pizza joint today for lunch, talking to my server, who I have gotten friendly enough with over the past couple years. I stated that all the global repercussions going on in the world (not even worth discussing the obvious domestic ones) could be ended with a single bullet, and how many countries have assassination teams.

        This redneck cracker at the next table gave me the evil eye. I am 5’7, almost 300 pounds, but it is not all fat. He looked to be in his 50’s also, over 6 foot. I simply glared back at him until he lowered his gaze.

        40% of the country are the equivalent of a large segment of the population in 1933 Germany, siding with the nazi’s. Yesterday, I saw something that sewed it all up. Yesterday, CNN, Politico, and fox all agreed on the same statement. The repub party is now the “party of trump”, and any disloyalty, any dissent of any kind will not be tolerated.

        The fascists have rallied around a cult of personality, just like it has throughout history many times. The ONLY way this ends is in violence. Though I think it is too late, and the U.S. will be revealed as a full blown dictatorship before enough people can recognize and resist.

      3. I too have followed William Strauss and Neil Howe. Many years ago in Generations, they predicted that the US would face an existential crisis during this period. The last existential crisis was the Great Depression and WWII. By their timelines, they felt that the crisis ended in 1943, rather than 1945 – the actual end of the War. Their reasoning was that the tide of the War turned then and that the eventual Allied victory was virtually certain. That is when the Japanese advance in the Pacific was stopped, the Axis’ surrendered in North Africa, and the tides turned on the Eastern Front and the Battle of the Atlantic. Adding 80 years, the generational timeline they used, the crisis is due approximately 2023. We are certainly within that time frame.

        That is also the reason that Strauss and Howe dated the beginning of the Boom Generation to 1943, not 1945/46. By that reasoning, I consider my partner and myself Boomers, since we were born in 1944 & 45. That has certainly been my life experience, as I have been on the leading edge of all the major life events of the Boom Generation, more so than the trailing edge of the previous generation.

        Finally, I have been expecting the existential crisis for some time and current events seem to be flowing in that direction. Even the parameters of the crisis are beginning to come into focus. One aspect will be climate change, another will be major domestic and global institutional changes, there will be major social changes and others. However, I do expect the US to emerge on the other side as a stronger. more inclusive and diverse nation, if thermonuclear war can be avoided. The Millennial Generation has some interesting times ahead of it, but as Strauss and Howe predicted, they will be the next Greatest Generation.

      4. Depends on what is to be conserved. It does throw overboard the hewing towards working through incrementalism and process and the legitimacy of existing institutions. But as you have pointed out, the latter is patchy and, in some places, clearly gone. So what to do? Not an easy call in these times.

      5. This topic has been on my mind recently, as a (pastor) friend of mine was recently handcuffed along with many others for his protesting as part of the Poor People’s Campaign.

        I wonder about where the line between civil disobedience and “low-level violence” is. It seems to me that opening the door to advocating violence (of any flavor) is a mistake, creating ambiguity of the primary message and also various easy counter-attacks. Partisans might not be interested in the message of a cause they oppose, but they will most definitely try to weaponize words against their “enemies” – and some statements are very easy to distort, no matter how well-qualified they may be.

        What I hear you saying is a powerful message. I think acknowledging that violence might be the eventual result of our current national trajectory is important. However, shouldn’t the focus be on the kind of determined, provocative, impossible to ignore civil disobedience that provokes the violence from others ? Am I just mired in semantics here or do you see what I’m getting at?

      6. This is not the time I expected to live in.

        This^

        I’m in my 70s and I didn’t expect to end my time on earth in this kind of country.

        To me, the story of America has always been fascinating, even when I didn’t understand it, even when scales continued to fall from my eyes, even as I understood it differently as time passed.

        The taking of children from their parents is simply dreadful. Taking them for a ‘bath’ …. what is wrong with those people? I don’t have words to express the pain I feel.

        Individuals and most organized groups actually have very little power in our system. The system has had a better PR function than actual equitable operational function.
        .
        Voting is about it. If we don’t get them out in the next general election it will be difficult to see a brighter future.

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