Althouse’s Commenters Delineate A Trend

Is something in the etho-cultural air? I wonder. Suddenly hints that patience with the resistance/progressive/Democratic/mainstream media assault on the Presidency, democracy, fairness, honesty, civic discourse and the rule of law is running out even with typically left-leaning citizens are turning up in multiple venues all at once. This is, of course, gratifying here at Ethics Alarms, since I have regarded this as an ethics crisis since 2016.

Fascinating evidence can be found in the comments to a recent post by Ann Althouse, in which she pointed to a res ipsa loquitur piece in Politico, “‘What Happened to Alan Dershowitz?’,  which I would summarize as “Whatever could have possessed Alan Dershowitz to make him opt for objectivity, principles and integrity at a time like this?” Ann, as she frequently does, didn’t comment substantively on the essay, deciding instead to make an arch observation while pointing the way for her readers. She flagged what she called “the most obvious quote” in the essay: “Maybe the question isn’t what happened to Alan Dershowitz. Maybe it’s what happened to everyone else.” Of course, nothing happened to Dershowitz. He’s doing what a lawyer, an analyst and a trustworthy pundit is supposed to do: apply the same standards to everybody; not let emotion rule reason, and when all around him are losing their heads and blaming it on him, keeping his own despite temptations to follow the mob.

Ann’s readers distinguished themselves in their reactions. I wonder if the Democrats are paying attention. They are fools if they don’t.

Read as many as you can. Here’s a representative sample:

  • Well, DUH! Rosanne said it best in Kimmel: “We haven’t moved. The rest of you have gone so far left that no one supports you anymore.”
  • Dershowitz proves the axiom of the French Revolution: the radicals of yesterday become the mainstream of today and will be the executed conservatives of tomorrow.
  • Liberalism, having no anchor of morality, just moved right on to extreme leftism. Everything is relative.
  • The angry left seems to get farther and farther into a fugue state that resembles The Terror, but so far without the Guillotine.
  • The latter half of the article becomes a trudge, just going around and around in circles. No, Mr. Neuborne, Dershowitz‘s position is not that the president is above the law but only that the president cannot break the law by performing his constitutionally sanctioned responsibilities.
  • Dershowitz is a liberal, his critics are not. At the heart of liberalism is liberty, and when liberty involves justice, it requires that justice be blind. We don’t create one rule for Trump, and expect a different rule for everyone else. That is a differentiated justice, a corrupted justice.
  • What has happened is pride. It’s what always happens when a society abandons shared principals and common virtues. The factors used used to answer the question “how am I doing?” shift from comparison against principles to comparison against other people. If more people are beneath you in the comparison, you feel you are succeeding, you feel you’re better, you feel you’re doing well. The problem with comparison against other people is that it creates enmity between you and others. That another person may be succeeding, that another person may be correct, that another person may come out of a discussion or argument with the better reasoning or position, threatens your own sense of well-being. Therefore all things warp to make sure others stay below you. Facts are ignored, Your own true beliefs or former positions or abandoned, you want other people to fail, you don’t care if you ruin society, before you are willing recognize that there may be someone else correct or above you in something. In extreme cases it creates a scorched earth political philosophy. I may not be able to win but I’m gonna do everything to make sure they don’t win. It’s what destroys societies companies and families. Pride. Simple thing to describe. Difficult thing to admit in ourselves
  • The thought comes to mind that Dershowitz really is that most trustworthy man who followed a Higher Loyalty in DC, like Comey pretended to be. DJT could use him on the SCOTUS.
  • Classic liberals (Nat Hentoff (RIP), Camille Paglia, Ann Althouse, Alan Dershowitz) seek the truth wherever it leads them. Modern liberals seek rigid compliance to the latest progressive narrative.
  • …So what changed?History, it turned out, did not march in the right direction–as first Reagan and Gingrich and now Trump shows. That’s annoying. At the same time, progs are still confident that they are on the side of HIstory–which means they can now cast aside opposition and dispense with respect for alternative views….Dersh doesn’t care about History and doggedly sticks to the old, actual liberal perspective. He is a traitor, and traitors are the worst.
  • “He is a traitor, and traitors are the worst.” One doesn’t have to be black to know that leaving the plantation can get you killed.
  • Dershowitz has marched beyond the Berlin PC Wall. It was built to keep people from leaving. The author of this article declares himself a guard. But he is shooting blanks behind the razor wire line.
  • It is interesting that the positions taken by classical liberals are often today impugned as (and for) being conservative. I consider myself a classical liberal but I more often align with conservative policies.
There are a lot more, and like most long comment threads online, it deteriorates as it continues, even though Ann is a scrupulous moderator. Nonetheless, I see hope in this and other signs that a pervasive, unethical, coercive, political strategy that strikes at the heart of core American principles may be finally generating the furious bi-partisan backlash it deserves.

15 thoughts on “Althouse’s Commenters Delineate A Trend

  1. Three points:

    1. Reading the actual article, it is mostly speculation turned into an ad hominem attack with quite a bit of circular logic.

    The rationalizations:
    “Trump presidency as the sort of challenge that demonstrates the resilience of a liberal democracy—a seminal ethical moment like the Skokie marches or the Nuremberg trials, in which society protects procedural rights as it simultaneously expresses profound disagreement with those whose rights are being protected.”

    I do believe there will be a reckoning,”

    Keeping one’s bearings in the Trump era is hard

    “I’m sort of half-sympathetic for Alan pointing out that the left has been inconsistent, but that’s only one side of the story,” Neuborne said. “Conservatives are inconsistent, too.”

    “This is what we expect in Venezuela. This is not the United States or anything.”

    “The shoe-is on-the-other-foot moral test is “the first, basic exercise in critical thinking that America needs to engage in,” Kuby said, “But that’s not a conversation you can have on the Fox News channel.” Neuborne agreed. “I want to try and separate the intrinsic merits of Alan’s concerns from the propriety of the venue—whether we should be debating or expressing them on Fox News,”

    “Someday my grandchildren will ask, ‘Grandpa, what did you do in those extraordinary times.’ (two for one!)

    “I think we’re in about as risky a place as we’ve been in my lifetime.”

    3. Not really related to Dershowitz, but I just loved this paragraph:

    “Others take a darker view, as a raft of seriously argued recent books about Trump and democracy attest. In How Democracies Die, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt identify four warning signs that a leader puts democracy at risk: a weak commitment to democratic rules, denial of the legitimacy of opponents, toleration of violence, and a willingness to curb civil liberties or the media. “With the exception of Richard Nixon,” they write, “no major-party presidential candidate met even one of these four criteria over the last century.” On the other hand, “Donald Trump met them all.”

    For a second there I thought they were talking about Obama.

    • I wrote about those guys, you’ll recall, and their one-way, self-serving theory. What hacks! Apparently trolling on twitter is evidence of “a willingness to curb civil liberties.” Obama just did it, but that was different, somehow.

    • I wrote about those guys, you’ll recall, and their one-way, self-serving theory. What hacks! Apparently trolling on twitter is evindce of “a willingness to curb civil liberties.” Obama just did it, but that was different, somehow.

      • Nevermind Obama, I thought they were talking about themselves.

        1) “A weak commitment to democratic rules”

        I mean… Just the little ones, like the electoral college, and whoever gets the most votes in the electoral college wins…. Right?

        2) “Denial of the legitimacy of opponents”

        This feels like shooting fish in a barrel. #resist.

        3) “Toleration of violence”

        This boat sailed years ago; Wake up, eat breakfast, punch a Nazi, burn a campus, riot in the streets, carry water for extremists (but only if they’re brown).

        4) “And a willingness to curb civil liberties or the media”

        I mean, not THEIR media, obviously, but if they can ever attack secondary media, they’re in. Remember folks: “Fake News”, before blowing up spectacularly in their faces, was supposed to describe how everything not mainstream was a lie.

          • Ooooh, I get it. It’s only bad when presidents do it (But only if they aren’t brown)! Activists, local leadership, community organizers, the entirety of the media, authors and members of the house or senate? Who cares! It only matters if we’re talking about the president! Values are only for the biggest of (not brown) people! That means…. Just Trump, right now! Go figure. That logic there is downright airtight.

  2. I see little in those comments other than partisan talking points, which is typical for Althouse’s comments section.

    The first one is a real hoot:

    Well, DUH! Rosanne said it best in Kimmel: “We haven’t moved. The rest of you have gone so far left that no one supports you anymore.”

    Yes, I really need the former Peace and Freedom candidate who is now a Pizzagate and Qanon conspiracy theorist to tell me how extreme I am.

    I’m too young to have seen anything “happen” to Dershowitz—the entire time I’ve been politically active I’ve only seen his name trotted out by conservatives to say “See? This liberal agrees with us!” If he’s published anything of note in the past decade that doesn’t meet that criteria, I’m unaware of it. He strikes me as similar to Andrew Sullivan and Camille Paglia in that I’m fairly certain he chooses to self-identify with a group that he doesn’t agree with in the slightest in order to get attention.

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