Donald Trump derangement has induced Slate’s Isaac Chotiner to pen one of the least self-aware and ethically tone deaf pieces within memory. In a post taking issue with New York Times columnist Peter Wehner’s recent column arguing that political differences should not sever friendships and other personal relationships, he argued that while Wehner’s principle was usually sound, it should not apply when the source of discourse is Donald Trump. He writes:
“Of course friendships should survive some political differences: I have friends who think differently than I do about everything from proper tax rates to abortion regulations. But having a friend who supports a blatantly (and proudly) bigoted candidate is categorically different. Everyone might have a different line about what issue to take some sort of moral stand on, but Trump has stepped over pretty much all of them.”
If Chotiner wants to choose his friends like that, he is free to do so. This is the attitude that is tearing apart the traditional connective tissue that makes America a unique and productive society, however, and he is promoting it. It is also the demonization impulse, now being fed by zealots in both political parties and activists in every field, crusade and issue. This is the ultimate slippery slope. Hate your neighbor, if he doesn’t think like you do. Chotiner is embracing partyism, intolerance and, ironically, bigotry, exactly what he says makes Trump supporters unworthy of human companionship.
“To talk about issues “deeper” than politics is to make the assumption that family and friendship have greater emotional meaning to us than, say, the precise makeup of the Senate, ” Chotiner writes. “But what if you have family members or friends who are Muslims living overseas who want to visit America or Mexican American children worried about being stigmatized during a Trump administration?”
Does he not comprehend that anyone who feels passionately about any issue could make the same argument, with exactly as much validity and passion, regarding almost any candidate, any issue, any controversy? There are more justifiable reasons, I could argue with equal force, to support Donald Trump (one, at least: he is conceivably less corrupt, dishonest and untrustworthy than Hillary Clinton) rather than, for example, to support open borders, which many believe threaten the existence of our nation, or abortion on demand, which could be regarded as opening the door to infanticide, or permitting Obama-style executive orders, which some feel undermine constitutional government. Why is Donald Trump’s distrust of Muslims more intolerable than Bill Clinton’s misogyny? Why is what Chotiner calls racism (Trump is not a racist) more morally reprehensible than, one could argue, the Obama Middle East policies, which, some feel, have allowed hundreds of thousands of Syrians to die, and ISIS to run amuck?
Chotiner’s approach to human relations leads directly to the rationalization of terrorism. Where are moral imperatives felt more strongly than in religious beliefs? What better reason to demonize, and to pronounce an individual unfit for association? Why, he rejects God!
Of course, to reflex progressives like Slate’s author, the elevation of a race-baiting and victim-mongering to the highest priority is a virtual religion, and in stating that support of Donald Trump is an exception to extending a wide tolerance of beliefs, ideas, opinions, loyalties and tastes, Chotiner is doing what every religious zealot does: he is condemning infidels, as he chooses to define them.
There’s nothing unique about Trump that makes those who can’t see how awful he is unworthy of the love, friendship and companionship of those who are more enlightened….except to Isaac Chotiner, who presumes to know what are moral, ethical and acceptable beliefs to such a level of certainty that he wants to declare anyone with different ideas worthy of being shunned.
I think that attitude is as dangerous and repulsive as any position I’ve heard Donald Trump take. So could I be friends with Isaac? If he were kind, fun, smart, funny, willing to talk, listen or help out when was in trouble; it he was supportive and loyal, and didn’t abandon me or other friends when we needed support; if he answered desperate phone calls and e-mails, and never went out of his way to hurt me or others; most of all, if he was a baseball fan and liked theater—especially if he was a Red Sox fan and loved Gilbert and Sullivan—sure we could be friends, no matter what stupid political views he had or wrote about.
Besides, if you dump all of your friends you think are politically misguided, how can help them understand how misguided they are? If I had a friend who supported Donald Trump, I would be seeing more of him, not less.
Friends don’t let friends make fools of themselves while helping a boorish, vulgar, unqualified narcissist become President.
42 thoughts on “No, Of Course You Don’t End Friendships Over Support For Donald Trump…”
I’ve given this issue some thought and I’ve came to realize that some friends who adamantly support Trump overlook his massive narcissism and brutal attacks on other Republican candidates for several reasons: They see him as the one guy who will put an end to what has gone on in all three branches of government during the last 8 years. They are tired of corporate outsourcing, people that enter this country that shouldn’t be here and a President that doesn’t believe that the U.S. is an exceptional country. For these reasons, I will not end my friendships with Trump voters but try to show them why they are planning to vote for the wrong guy.
Quite well put.
I had to substitute Hillary’s name.
Isaac asserts: “I have friends who think differently than I do about everything from proper tax rates to abortion regulations.”
That’s rich, Isaac. I’ll bet you have friends who think corporate income should only be taxed at a 95% rate rather than 100% and that abortions should require a five dollar co-pay while you insist they should be completely free and paid for by for the government. You are probably wont to say, “Why, some of my best friends are conservatives!”
Isaac is sheer “smug leftism” personified. Sheesh.
Since it’s fundamental to leftism to force others to act and even think in a certain manner, for their own good, dontcha see?, I’m trying to imagine a leftist who isn’t smug. Or progressive/enlightened/evolved/leaning forward or whatever the word of the day is, to obfuscate the basic desire to control others. Oh, and take their stuff.
hey, you gotta give ’em credit: they’re not Trump followers!
This has never been a difficult question for me, but it has produced an unfortunate side-effect of self-censorship. I generally refuse to engage in political debate anymore with people with whom I either want or don’t mind associating with, other than my closest friends.
The reason is simple — for some people, politics is hard to separate from id, and attitudes like Chotiner’s seem to be spreading like an airborne virus. These folks are so tied up with their political beliefs that they allow it to effect every area of their judgment; defining what they buy, who they buy it from, where they attend school, medical decisions and now even friendship. It’s a level of hubris that goes far beyond the rational, being so sure of something so fraught with error as politics. If there were a perfect political system, one would think six millenia would have taught it to us.
But id is something we have to reject daily; self-interest is the number one primitive inducement to action, but a failure to reject that in consideration of the broader interests of society is an invitation to chaos. The very civilization, and “civilized behavior” that people like Chotiner purport to embrace is entirely informed by a rejection of the natural and an embrace of the collective, yet here, he argues to reject his own foundational beliefs if the circumstances require it. It’s as if he missed the Bush administration’s defense of circumstantial torture.
Humans, as social organisms, have learned to reject instinctive responses informed by “feelz” every day, and yet this guy is saying that there is a limit beyond which ideology must triumph over self-restraint and even rationality. Jack’s comparison to religious terrorism is an apt, if extreme, example of this kind of thinking.
The insidious part, though, is not just where it leads us in the extreme, but where it leads us in the here-and-now; to the outlawing of certain statements (i.e. “hate speech”), and even the thoughts that animate them. This kind of thinking, the “some political positions should make you friendless,” is what led to McCarthyism, and what characterizes the current rash of New Snowflake censorship and intolerance on college campuses.
This reminds me of the old dictum purportedly by Mark Twain: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Too many of us think we know things that are likely wrong when it comes to politics, and when we barricade ourselves into the echo chamber, we can come only to grief.
“The reason is simple — for some people, politics is hard to separate from id, and attitudes like Chotiner’s seem to be spreading like an airborne virus.”
I think that this is far along in the right direction. The more I see, the more I suspect that political behavior has a genetic basis, and that goony behavior we see is little different from what was done around campfires 50,000 years ago. One way to show your own self-confidence and fitness is to show concern for others, but our political era has made it so that you can show that concern without actually DOING anything – mere expression of concern substitutes completely for making hard choices and actually giving something up for the benefit of another. The phenomenon Jack writes about today is just another manifestation of “othering” – the chief pointing out the villainous traitor to the tribe, who can only be vanquished by adherence to the chief.
This isn’t the first time this has happened, I lost friends in 2004 both when GWB was up for reelection and after, when bitterness became a cottage industry, spawning books that asked how more than half of America could be so dumb and columns that said “ok, the rubes won this time out, but we liberals are still smarter, hipper, cooler, and RIGHT.” Bitterness became demonization, and demonization became shutting even the vaguely conservative completely OUT of the national conversation for about two years. Even after the GOP regained a voice in 2010 and more of a voice in 2014, the left continued to act and talk like no one who disagreed was even there, let alone worthy of respect. Now they see their grip on power slipping and the chance of a lot of the last 8 years coming undone (executive orders are very easily repealed). So they resort to insults, name-calling and treating those who are regaining their voices like they are the enemy.
“This isn’t the first time this has happened, I lost friends in 2004 both when GWB was up for reelection and after, when bitterness became a cottage industry, spawning books that asked how more than half of America could be so dumb and columns that said “ok, the rubes won this time out, but we liberals are still smarter, hipper, cooler, and RIGHT.” Bitterness became demonization, and demonization became shutting even the vaguely conservative completely OUT of the national conversation for about two years.”
While this is fair, let’s not pretend conservatives didn’t engage in the same type of cottage industry. Your description perfectly fits any number of Ann Coulter book titles.
(shrug) Yes, and that was pretty bad too. I do own one of Ann’s books, which I couldn’t even get through, since it was nothing more than an unhinged rant. I am generally a Victor Davis Hanson/Charles Krauthammer reader, when I’m not unhinged.
I know we’re never liable to see eye to eye on this issue, but “This is the attitude that is tearing apart the traditional connective tissue that makes America a unique and productive society …” doesn’t hold water to me. The freedom to associate (or not) with anyone is so important to our national character that it’s written in the First Amendment. What’s more, the right to personal autonomy (property) was so essential to the Founders and the early court that it was considered inalienable, even by God.
In other words, it’s VERY American and the cornerstone of our democracy. People have been hating each other for petty reasons since the founding. Not being friends doesn’t prohibit people from working together — hell, my BEST roommates have been people I never would have associated with outside of the home. “You in your corner and you in yours” is what stops us from tearing apart that connective tissue of which you spoke.
I realize none of this adequately answers any of the points you raised; we just have two very different world views. Luckily, mine is winning.
““You in your corner and you in yours” is what stops us from tearing apart that connective tissue of which you spoke.
I realize none of this adequately answers any of the points you raised; we just have two very different world views. Luckily, mine is winning.”
What a solid argument for segregation (another Progressive idea – you know, the ‘winning’ side)…
Another unsolicited response — appreciated, as always. Segregation is forced and therefore involuntary. Friends and political allegiances are a matter of choice, however.
“(another Progressive idea – you know, the ‘winning’ side)…”
Another .. who mentioned progressives? Please don’t answer — I really don’t care.
Segregation, capitalized, was forced. The lower case version can be voluntary, but this kind IS forced, by people like you trying to exclude broad classes of citizens from “safe” spaces. That’s tribalism, partyism, racism, bigotry and isolation. To say it is “American” because many people have behaved in this divisive, intolerant and discriminatory manner in America intentionally or mistakenly interprets what the word means. The nation has thrived on the ideal of inclusion, commonalities superseding differences, open minds and willingness to respect the views of others. How anyone would interpret the opposite taking hold as either “American” or “winning” just boggles the mind.
People like me? I hate safe spaces, I hate restrictions on speech, and I hate people trying to police thought or define what’s worthy of legitimate political consideration. I realize it’s hard to suss out online, but I’ve tried to insist before that I’m NOT a lefty, progressive, or anything of the sort.
“The nation has thrived on the ideal of inclusion, commonalities superseding differences, open minds and willingness to respect the views of others.”
Agreed, but that doesn’t mean everyone must or should follow the same rules. People are able to overcome differences and compromise because they know, at the end of the day, they still get to be themselves. Jefferson and Madison hated each other and openly said so, but were nonetheless able to work together. Where is it written they had to be friends (I realize they reconciled, but that was towards the end of their lives)?
Why did you call it your side, then? You wrote…
“You in your corner and you in yours” is what stops us from tearing apart that connective tissue of which you spoke.
I realize none of this adequately answers any of the points you raised; we just have two very different world views. Luckily, mine is winning.
Then you wrote that no, by winning you didn’t mean it was succeeding, just that it was more popular. Then you write that by “my side” you don’t really mean you approve of that side.
I have no idea what this all means.
My side as in, those who believe in freedom of association. My side is winning as in, the idea is catching on. Cooperation and compromise doesn’t require friendship, only tolerance. The author states that one shouldn’t be friends with such people, but says nothing about banning them from public places, blacklisting them from jobs, or segregating them from society more generally.
People have the right to be misanthropic hermits if they so choose. It’s not only American, it’s enshrined in our founding documents. I’m not suggesting the author’s point is a good one, only that he’s not wrong and it makes no sense to post about it as though it’s an ethical issue. What ethics are being violated if I decide not to associate with a person or group (for ANY reason)? My life is my “safe space” and I have a right to alienate those I choose from it (at least in my private life).
Also, since you mentioned it, nowhere does the article even mention safe spaces, nor did I defend them. That’s why I was confused why you would use the phrase in reference to “people like me,” Moreover, the idea of safe spaces should only be abhorrent when applied to the public sphere. Everyone is entitled to a safe space in their own home, domicile, or any other private space they own or which they’re licensed to use. If you disagree, then you’re arguing against some of the founding principles.
From some dude named Madison:
“This term in its particular application means “that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.
In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage.
In the former sense, a man’s land, or merchandize, or money is called his property. In the latter sense, a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.
He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them. He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person. He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them.
In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.”
“Winning” in this context didn’t mean succeeding — I meant that it’s the worldview that’s becoming more popular.
The race card: It’s not just for liberals anymore!
Article 1 (Amendment)
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Not sure where in this amendment the ‘freedom to associate’ comes in, but if you want to believe it, feel free.
You sound like Hugo Black on the issue of privacy. God never commanded the Jews to separate meat and dairy, Cagney never said “you dirty rat” and Bogart never said “Play it again, Sam.”
First, I would argue the concept is implicit in the text as it protects the right of people to say and practice whatever they choose — what is association but a form of expression? Moreover, if Congress shall make no law abridging expression or the right of people to peaceably assemble, then it would seem logical that one has the freedom to peaceably assemble with whomever they choose.
Secondly, and more importantly however, the Court has repeatedly upheld the idea in cases such as NAACP v. Alabama and as recently as Boy Scouts of America v. Dale.
But, if you choose not the believe it’s not there, feel free.
I think it is a matter of degree. I have a good friend who believes that there should be no property taxes and a very low flat federal tax. We frequently engage in political discussion — although we both know that neither of us can convince the other. Can we remain friends? Of course we can.
But if he suddenly and adamantly believed that all American Muslims should register themselves and wear an emblem on their clothing, I would dump him as a friend. There are some beliefs where I can’t “agree to disagree.”
So, for me, the question is, “Has Trump crossed that line?” I don’t think so — but he has stepped pretty close to it.
I agree that this whole discussion involves making evaluations on a continuum…and not only that it’s on a couple of intersecting continua…
On one continuum you have how outrageous is the belief that is held. As in Beth’s concern, a pro-free market type could be friends with someone who wants to hike taxes a couple of percentage points or someone like Charles could be friends with someone who wants to loosen the economy and make it more accessible to all Americans. BUT, it’s harder to be friends with someone who believes Jews are not human and ought be consigned to flames.
On another continuum you have how many outrageous beliefs are held…that is to say, can you overlook one wonky idea and still be friends?
On another continuum you have how seriously the holder of that belief holds that belief. There’s a vast difference between “hey, I’ve been toying with the notion that we ought to be more militarily involved in the middle east and am still working through it” and “yeah, I totally think we ought to nuke the Syrians”.
On another continuum you have just how much the holder of that belief preoccupies your time with that belief. If every time I go visit a friend he wants to discuss how evil capitalists are and doesn’t ever want to discuss sports, or philosophy, or hobbies, etc, there’s grounds to put distance between us.
And on yet another continuum, you have, where you place that friend altogether. Is he in your inner circle of closest friends or is he on the outer limits of just an acquaintance?
All of this of course is the larger discussion in which the post’s topic Falls. That is to say, the mere qualification that a friend supports Trump IS NOT *necessarily* sufficient grounds to dump that friend. But add the aforementioned continua into the equation…that is to say “HOW” that friend supports Trump, then it may necessarily be sufficient to dump them or demote them on the friend ladder. If I know someone who only wants to talk Trump, they may grate on me after awhile. If I know someone who is so adamantly Trump they only get angry at me during discussions to the exclusion of all other friend-oriented emotions, that may grate on me after awhile.
More about the “bigoted” Donald Trump.
“…Peter Wehner’s recent column arguing that political differences should sever friendships…” I believe that’s supposed to be “should not…”
Why not! If ending a friendship over core bills is invalid,Nathan what is?
Fuck me. Let me try that again…damn phone…if ending a friendship over core beliefs is invalid, than what is?
Yes, thanks, that makes more sense.
How does supporting a Presidential candidate in a flawed or limited or HORRIBLE field indicate core beliefs? Are all people of dubious character unworthy of human contact? Is one eccentric belief justification for rejection? Cannot some conduct, kindness, act of generosity, sacrifice or heroism in a relationship overcome anything else?
Try this: https://ethicsalarms.com/2013/05/30/the-julie-principle/
My father had essentially four close friends his whole life: men he met and learned to love as a fatherless child in Depression Era Louisville, Kentucky, forced to move and change schools every few months because his mother would run out of jobs and rent money. They all belonged to the same Boy Scout troop, and though life took all four into different locales and careers, they stayed in close contact throughout their lives. One of them, “Bud,” lived the closest to the Marshalls, so we saw more of him than the others. He was a sociopath. My mother couldn’t stand him, and with good reason. He was a shameless rogue. Lies and manipulation were his calling cards: after he died, it was hardly a surprise—though it was a surprise—when a second wife from Australia showed up, unannounced, at his funeral. Bud had maintained a second family while supposedly being happily married to the long-suffering wife that we knew.
Long before Bud’s demise, I asked my father, whom I never knew to lie about anything, why he remained friends with a man who was despicable in so many ways. He smiled and launched into a tone-deaf rendition of the opening line of the famous lament (“Can’t help lovin’ dat man o’ mine”) sung by the character Julie in the epic musical “Show Boat”: “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…” Knowing the song, I first assumed that he was telling me that the answer to my question was the same as Julie’s explanation in the song for why she continued to be loyal to her abusive, untrustworthy lover: she couldn’t help it; that was just the way she was. But that wasn’t his meaning.
He meant that Bud wasn’t going to change. Bud was always like this, and his sociopathic tendencies were as natural to him as flying was to birds and swimming was to fish. “It makes no sense,” he told me, “to keep getting angry at people for who and what they are. You make a decision, that’s all. Do I care enough about this individual, for whatever reason, to be his friend, or don’t I? If I do, I accept the package, wings, gills and all. I knew Bud was like he was when we were kids. He was there for me, along with the others, when I had nothing else, and he has always been loyal to me. I decided he was my friend just as he was, and that I would accept the aspects of his character the I didn’t like. The alternative was having nothing to do with him.”
Then essentially, ethics accounting is perfectly valid when picking friends.
Now, now. Ethics accounting applies to YOUR own conduct, the conduct being “how you treat friends.” Neither I nor my father would excuse wrongful conduct because of good conduct elsewhere in a friend, or judge it less harshly. Ethics Accounting would be to say, “I can take one sociopath as a friend, because I have higher standards for my other friends.”
I have one standard for friends, as with family: do they act like family or friends toward me.
Then love (a verb and discipline, often arbitrary, not an emotion) is what rules the day in regards to this.
At the end of the day though, your father recognized a distinct value his friend provided- loyalty to assist his needs… And ruled that more important than other considerations.
Which is ethics accounting…which in the abstract and macro-view involves looking at someone’s whole life before determining how your evaluate their them.
(In the taxonomy I’m working on and about 50% complete, the rationalization of “ethics accounting” is actually one of the parent rationalizations for many others)
But remember: unless it used to excuse unethical conduct, it isn’t a rationalization. And can the selection of friends really fall under the realm of ethics? If not, then the use of ethics accounting is not a rationalization.
In which case we agree though we may not seem to.
Jack wrote: “If Chotiner wants to choose his friends like that, he is free to do so. This is the attitude that is tearing apart the traditional connective tissue that makes America a unique and productive society, however, and he is promoting it. It is also the demonization impulse, now being fed by zealots in both political parties and activists in every field, crusade and issue. This is the ultimate slippery slope. Hate your neighbor, if he doesn’t think like you do. Chotiner is embracing partyism, intolerance and, ironically, bigotry, exactly what he says makes Trump supporters unworthy of human companionship.”
I am seeking to locate and speak about what I understand as ‘core issues’. I know this irritates some people and I regret that. I value complete essays not mere quips and so, here, I offer my essay in relation to the topic:
Friendship and Enmity in Our American Present
The core of the question revolves around the idea of ‘traditional connective tissue’. The metaphor implies one body. Then there is a the mention of ‘productivity’, as if being productive is a value all in itself. When ‘uniqueness’ is mentioned I am inclined to ask ‘Whose definition of uniqueness and what exactly underlies this ‘uniqueness’ that is being referred to?
Seen from the angles that most interest me and draw my attention, and yet which are barely discussable publicly, and making reference to sectors of the population of America that have very deep doubts and misgivings about what has happened in and to the US in the post-war era, and more specifically accellerating in the 60s (I refer to the New Right or AltRight emerging in Europe, in Eastern Europe and in America only to a certain degree), their object is in a certain sense to question and interrogate this notion of ‘connective tissue’, and they feel very strongly that they do not desire to become merged into ‘one body’.
So, they do not desire to ‘connect’ and they rather wish to ‘disconnect’. This is precisely what they term ‘multiculturalism’ and forced race-blending and what they resist, and they connect these trends in American and European society with post-war managerial strategies that are inimical and harmful to European white identity.
They seek not to diminish the sense and perception of difference but to augment it by:
1) research into racial and cultural difference, 2) study and critique of the political forces and factions which have opted to change the racial composition of society by initiating immigration from non-white countries and thus change the entire demographic (England is a very good example of this), 3) study ‘cultural Marxism’ and discover the ideological sources for these political and sociological shifts, 4) and to generally analyze and reanalyze how it happened that the present has taken the form it has, and 5) to learn how to articulate a position and platform that adamantly opposes all of this by 5) defining and redefining what European society (and each ‘white’ society formed out of Europe: America, Australia, etc) is and what it should be.
It is a radical project and a reactionary project.
To the exponents of the philosophers and activists which define this reactionary ideology, Trump is a wild-card (as viewed both in America and from Europe). In some sense the ‘music’ Trump intones ‘resonates’ in them, and for this reason the New York intellecual establishment (voiced through the NYTimes) has bowel catastophes when they think on the ‘white supporters of Trump who have not had college education’ and what may happen if they emerge in any sense from out of their underground caverns (where one supposes they chew gristle off bones and other such things).
These people notice Trump certainly, and some have appreciated that he has ‘opened political space’. Yet they also ridicule him and do not trust him. But their object as it were, their values, their reaction, their activism, does not depend on Trump and, given what usually happens in the American political sphere, and maybe all political spheres, they understand that Trump will likely (?) be coopted into the system which allows him to emerge.
But if the question is ‘Who is it appropriate to hate’ and ‘To what degree shall one hate them’? Shun them, avoid them, do harm to them, undermine their personal economy if possible, get them on the SPLC hater-list, drag them out of their lair for rehearsals of public humiliation and electronic burnings-at-the-stake (righteous spectacle in glorious chiaroscuro), I would say it is highly important to define one’s enemies, to know exactly what one opposes (which will automatically define what one supports), and it seems to me that it should be played for all it is worth. It is a civil conflict in essence, and one that hinges on highly relevant definitions and ideology.
However, if politics is really nothing BUT a meaningless spectacle, and who you root for as empty a choice as to the candybar you munch or the morning’s cereal, and if one’s object is simply a connected body with flaccid ideology in a world-scale ideological WalMart, and if one roundly avoids the larger civilizational issues and debate (and struggle) in which the AltRight (for example) seeks to define itself, then I suppose one would have no good reason to sever-off from those who think – radically – differently.
I don’t know that you’re getting closer to the core of the issue so much as you’re obfuscating it with abstraction. You often make long commentaries which quote or reference philosophical texts, obscure political treatise, and whatever else, but often fail to advocate any particular point of view or outlook.
Please don’t misunderstand, I mostly appreciate your thoughts and respect that you try and tie Jack’s commentary in with other things you know, but it’s often at the expense of any real point.
Fire for effect!
Fire for effect!
I think I understand what you say, but I don’t understand ‘Target, Fire for effect’.
A line from Othello comes to mind: ‘I do perceive here a divided loyalty’. My own. I am torn in two very different directions on many issues. I feel that I am overcoming indoctrination – mine, my upbringing, an entire Weltanschauung, this culture’s managed view of things, the limits of speech, and all of this under the banner of ethics and morality. Just what is true and what a lie? I just can’t put it together in such a way that feels conclusive, so I hesitate. There is a certain virtue in that …
There is a French writer/philosopher called Alain Finkielkraut who has riles the Left-infused French culture by staring that: much of Islam is radically incompatible with French culture and society; Muslim immigrants represent a threat; French schools are crumbling under a mistaken multicultural outreach; and the inherited corpus of French culture is in danger. (He also makes statements about a newer form of judenhass which comes from the Muslim community).
His wife, a lawyer in Paris, describes that they have lost many friends because of the books he publishes and the view that he puts forward. This view (from what I understand of it) is hardly radical and is more or less common sense. Yet because it challenges one of the pillars of the post-war era: multiculturalism and the forced ‘blending’ of societies through immigration policies designed to ‘diversify’ (read: dilute) a given culture which is deemed ‘too white’, and then again because it must naturally refocus on academics and must bring discipline and order as well as hierarchy and back into the schools and must define a specific value-set in order to teach what are ‘core French repubican values’; because this represents a ‘turn against’ the present, it is seen and understood as a radical threat. And one that indeed leads to alienating friend.
I wrote: ‘Friendship and Enmity in our American Present’. Instead of bothering about ‘connective tissue’ (though I understand Jack’s examples), I suggest that we need to rupture ‘connective tissue’. Why do I say this? Because until one can articulate in precise terms what is needed or required (in a given political situation, or a social situation), and until one has organized one’s relationship to a specifc historical perriod (say the post-war era in America), there is more to be gained through radical breaks and in disturbing an intellectual status quo and in seeking the freedom to be able to articulate and rearticulate issues. As it is the status quo of our American Present, and in many ways the intelectual culture of our present, allows for no or few new currents of thought. It is (IMV) often a closed conversation where all the conclusions are foregone.
In order to forge into new terrritory then, and in order to break the hold of static idea-sets and aprioristic thinking, one has to upset ‘friendships’. I will provide a couple of examples and these illustrate perfectly what I mean. I have heard so much said about David Duke as an emblem of evil, and I have noticed that what people do is to use their notion of David Duke (not likely having read him) as a symbol of evil in order to shunt over to him an entire structure of view or an entire group of ideas or views which, to them, are epistemologically impossible. It is hard for me to find the words to describe what I mean because, perhaps, this is mostly an observation about social psychology and a description of a mass psychological strategy. In any case, because his name kept coming up I decided to read his book ‘My Awakening’. You see, everything that *you* turn instinctively and reflexively against, with no further thought, I have come to understand is exactly an area that requires investigation.
Therefor: by saying “I have read David Duke and with certain reservations (that can be articulated) I find him to be sincere, articulate, rational and to be speaking to real issues and real concerns that should not be swept under the rug or dismissed”, it will automatically occur that I will henceforth be shunned and a danger sign will mystically appear over me and my ideas will be seen as tainted with ontological malevolence.
Do I ‘mind’ this? Is it ‘wrong’ that this occurs? No, and I do understand and quite well that it is exactly in this way that ‘our present’, with its estabished attitudes and viewstructures that are enforced and not necessarily arrived at through ‘free processes of thinking’, has structured itself/been structured. To turn against that is to take the ‘red pill’.
This is all, in fact, a very very very serious *game* if you will. I use the word ‘game’ with certain reservations but nevertheless I still use it. Here is how it functions: Once you have articulated a position – and this might happen only through the use of ONE WORD which sounds discordant to your hearers, but one you are seen as deviating, you are branded mentally (I mean within their mind). Then, they come out with an attack based in ridicule. Then the attack becomes more formalized. And then it turns to enmity. They say “I never want to hear anything that you have to say ever again!’ (Beth, deery) and they shut you out. And then political work begins: Work with others to block you, exclude you, to be sure that you do not have a platform within political space to articulate your meanings. A serious game but a game nonetheless.
This enmity is REQUIRED and it is NECESSARY. I do not deny that. In fact I support it because I understand that, at the base, a coerced viewstructure is an ‘act of violence’ and to maintain it requires the exercise of a similar violence. Circle the wagons and kill the approaching enemies.
You see? It resolves to issues of power: strict power principles.
Now, what do you desire that I conclude from this? What specific statement do you desire that I make? Must I lead you to a specific conclusion? Spoon feed you some pre-digested pablum so your tummy don’t ache? I don’t think really that any further thing needs to be said: A situation is laid bare to look at. And from a philosophical perspective, and directly in relation to my neoplatonic perspective (the way I see issues and articulate them) I have done my work. What this means to you, Who in the heck can say?
(But silence will ensue and this as well I fully understand).
1. Multi-culturism isn’t “one of the pillars of the post-war era.’ It’s just a very, very dangerous and bad idea that will be recognized as such, one hopes before it is too late to undo the damage.
2. “I suggest that we need to rupture ‘connective tissue’. Why do I say this? Because until one can articulate in precise terms what is needed or required (in a given political situation, or a social situation), and until one has organized one’s relationship to a specifc historical perriod (say the post-war era in America), there is more to be gained through radical breaks and in disturbing an intellectual status quo and in seeking the freedom to be able to articulate and rearticulate issues.” This is a convoluted and deceptive way of advocating chaos, societal disintegration and civil war.
3. “Therefor: by saying “I have read David Duke and with certain reservations (that can be articulated) I find him to be sincere, articulate, rational and to be speaking to real issues and real concerns that should not be swept under the rug or dismissed”, it will automatically occur that I will henceforth be shunned and a danger sign will mystically appear over me and my ideas will be seen as tainted with ontological malevolence.” Who would say that? Nobody rational. I wouldn’t suggest saying it in an official position, but it just means you are open-minded and responsible. I don’t read Duke because his public statements reveal him as someone I don’t trust sufficiently to bother to read his book, but I admire anyone who does. Given sufficient time, veryone should read Mein Kampf, The Art of the Deal, Ayn Rand, Das Kapital, and Hillary’s bio too. Good for you. I mean that.
4. Neither Beth, nor deery, nor Charles Green, nor Patrice, nor the late but hopefully returning tgt, nor self-exiling residents of various havens on the political spectrum like Liberal Dan or Barry Deutsch, have ever been “shut out”. Liek everyone else including me, they have their good arguments and their less persuasive ones. There is no game. The condition you describe would be a fair description of the university system, though.
5. You know, this is a provocative, substantive, interesting and well-constructed post. It would be a slam-dunk Comment of the Day, if it could be edited into a more digestible mass. And more people would think about it and argue about it. In situations like this, you shut out yourself.
It’s kind of tragic for everyone.
Alizia, as usual, your posts are thought-provoking. Of course, I never have confidence that my thoughts are the type of thoughts you hope to provoke, and they are rarely on point with Jack’s initial post. While I agree with Jack that multiculturalism is not a “pillar” of post-war society, I do think multiculturalism is a loosely-conceived ideal that is rarely clearly defined, and yet vigorously promoted by persons from across the political spectrum throughout America (and mostly post-war). From my perspective, it seems the means to achieving multiculturalism has become the dividing issue as well as the defining element of what multiculturalism is and can be. (For the rest of this post, I do not mean to exclude those of us that may not identify as “white”. I am only speaking from my perspective, which, apparently, is “white”. You are free to place yourself where you want to be.)
With few exceptions, every country on the planet has a dominant culture. Given that most Americans are of European descent, our dominant culture reflects Western, European values. Because some people cannot separate geography (and culture) from skin color, this culture (including language, religion, music, male and female roles, food, economics, and more) has been mistakenly (and sometimes maliciously) labeled “white culture” (as if the majority of us actually chose our culture and the color of our skin). In truth, our culture has been multicultural ever since the first Europeans set foot on the continent, and has included many skin colors, ethnicities, and cultures beyond “white”. In our history, we have done multiculturalism well, and we have done it disastrously.
Getting back to the means employed, should we be a melting pot, a salad bowl, or a country of antagonistic tribes? The “privilege” of being white is that we don’t have to think of ourselves as white or anything else. We can think of ourselves as ourselves. We don’t need a “white identity”, whatever that is. We may still identify as American, regardless of the nation of our ancestry. Whatever the case may be, we have found ourselves in the American pot. Since it is our pot, we can allow others to melt into our pot, thereby benefiting from the diversity of their flavor, and adding our flavor to those melting in. Traditionally, this has been the preferred means or process for admitting persons and cultures into the dominant culture. This is a process that not only strengthens the existing connective tissue, but also propagates opportunity for more connective tissue.
Alternatively, many have taken the salad bowl approach. This approach promotes the Little Italys, China Towns, and Harlems we see in many American communities. The goal is to give each group their own separate but equal portion of the bowl which will enhance the liveliness of the whole salad experience – but only if we want to venture into that part of the bowl. For those of us that don’t want to expand our cultural comfort zones, this works out very well. For us newcomers that choose to reside within our little segment of salad, it seems to work as well. Either way, we can avoid those areas of the salad we find uncomfortable. However, comfort is a very low bar for ethical behavior, and does not build connective tissue. Further, seeking comfort, as an ethical goal, has formidable long term costs.
There is, of course, a long history of (some of) us identifying ourselves as “white” that would rather have none of this melting or salad-making in our midst. Those of us in this position simply tolerate the existence of others, and have no interest in building connective tissues that would bind us to the rest of humanity. Those of us in this camp have usually been identified as members of the far-right. We usually have a “white identify”.
Oddly, for the last couple of decades, it seems that those of us on the far left are most interested in separation of cultures. We want to sever all connective tissue so that all cultures can thrive in their own milieu without being forced by the dominant culture to conform (or melt in) to “white” culture. Other cultures cannot even be expected to inhabit the same salad bowl. Anything and everything that anybody does, as long as it can be tied to some other culture somewhere else on earth, should be permitted to exist independently, and should be given a safe space in which to exist. To expect otherwise is asserting white privilege, colonialism, conservatism, prejudice, bigotry, or homophobia. This means of asserting multiculturalism seeks to divide us into antagonistic tribes and sever all connective tissue that would encourage all of us to recognize the value in each one of us.
My interest is individual behavior. I perceive very little value in “white identity” or any other identity. I care very little about one’s skin color, ancestry, gender, or national origin. Our behavior has very little to do with any of these. We can behave ethically regardless of any of these. Ethical behavior is not dependent on culture or group identity.
The divisive folks on the left as well as the divisive folks on the right, squander the opportunity to be truly multicultural within one dominant culture. Like Chotiner, they attempt to divide us into various groups, either by skin color, continent of origin, religion, political affiliation, language, or gender. A person’s group identity does not determine the ethicality of his (or her) behavior. Any pretense otherwise is disingenuous at best.
[In response to Jack’s original post, Chotiner is an idiot that was preconditioned to easily believe and exaggerate every anti-Trump statement made in the media. Trump would make a terrible president, but he’s not the pure evil the media has made him out to be (while Clinton comes much closer to pure evil). Sadly, if I were to abandon all Trump and Clinton (and Sanders, Cruz, and the rest of the ilk) supporters as unworthy of friendship, it would be an awfully lonely world. Further, though we may never change their opinions, we always have an opportunity to supply a reason for doubt in certainty.]
Thanks for your response. Give me a day or so to think through it. I kind of like the threads that have receded away from the immediate present (I mean those that are from previous days) that only those who posted to it have an interest in.
I think what I will do is print it out (need new cartidge) and see if I can ‘improve’ it by editing. (Obviously not my strong point.)