Lincoln Wept

Let’s take a step back and just review briefly the various defenses of neo-Nazi’s, white supremacists, and good old fashioned racists that we’ve heard so far.

Racism as free speech
It’s true.  Our constitution does protect racism as free speech.  Free speech, however, does not guarantee that you are free from other forms of punishment as a result of your speech.  Many employers have codes of behavior that allow employers to dismiss their employees for hate speech.  This is constitutional because the Supreme Court has been giving companies a lot of power lately.  Companies can’t fire people based on race, gender, or creed.  They can based on just about any other criteria that they choose to come up with.

Violence as free speech
This is not true.  There are limits to the expression of free speech.  Yelling fire in a crowded theater is the classic example.  Inciting or participating in violent acts is illegal and is not protected by the constitution.

Both sides engaged in violence in Charlottesville
It is true that there were violent clashes between both sides.  It is also true that there are extremists on the left and on the right.  There are also important differences.  The biggest difference is that the extremists on the right view violence as a tactic.  They have publically stated that their intent is to incite violence.  They feel that violence will force white people to choose sides.  They WANT a race war and ultimately they want to overthrow the government and dismantle democracy.  Those opposed, are not interested in dismantling the government.  They support democracy.  They oppose racism, white supremacy, and fascism.  They are NOT organizing demonstrations around the country in an effort to create confrontations with violent fringe right groups.  They are RESPONDING to the incitement of the right with the same level of aggression.  The response is NOT the same as the act that initiated the response.

Historical monuments
The civil war monuments erected across the south serve two purposes.  One is historic the other is sociological.  The historical purpose is to celebrate a particular point in history where the person may have done something heroic in battle.  The sociological purpose is to remind black people that white people are still in charge and to suggest to white people that cause of the south in the civil war was just.

On that last point, those who attempt to rewrite history suggest that the civil war was fought over state’s rights, or economic issues, or even cultural issues.  The issue was slavery.  The economy of the south was based on slavery.  The culture of the south was based on slavery.  Slave states succeeded from the union when an abolitionist President (Lincoln) was elected.  Many of the declarations of succession from Confederate states said exactly that.  Lincoln went to war to defend the union, not specifically to end slavery.  Lincoln ultimately put down a well-organized rebellion.  But clearly ending the practice of slavery was going to be the outcome of the war.

Only local communities can determine if the historic value of those statues are greater than the obvious sociological message.  This doesn’t mean that those statues have to be destroyed.  What it does mean is that they should be moved to some location where the signage can inform and educate those who are viewing the statue.  Typically those are museums rather than open public locations.

The reason why many communities are taking down statues is not because they object to the history or the art value.  It’s because they no longer support the sociological message.  Instead they want to project an inclusive message that is good for the community and good for business.  You simply can’t do that with a memorial to a confederate general sitting in your town square.

Pluralism, nationalism, and democracy
Our democracy is based on a simple notion.  Everyone is welcome regardless of race, color, or creed.  That’s the simple definition of pluralism.  Nationalism is the notion that your nation is better than other nations.  That concept is out of synch with the concept of a global economy.  If you want to be able to sell goods into my market, you have to provide me an opportunity to sell goods into your country.  But nationalism in and of itself is not a threat to democracy.  Racial nationalism, though, can’t co-exist within a pluralist democracy.  Large groups of disenfranchised people ultimately undermine any democracy.  Yet that’s what racists in this country are advocating.  That’s why there is no place in our country for those who refuse to accept the basic principles on which is was established.

It also should not be surprising to anyone that those who are the object of this racial bigotry, vigorously oppose those who advocate it.

The law does include a right of self-defense.  This right has recently been expanded on a state by state basis with the “stand your ground” laws.  Depending on the circumstance, you can respond with violence including a weapon, if you feel that you are in imminent danger as a result of something that someone else said or some threatening action that someone else has taken.  That’s why generally the person or group that is inciting violence has a weaker defense when claiming that they have been assaulted.

Summary
Several interesting things are happening.  Boston demonstrated that the number of neo-Nazi’s and White Supremacists WILLING to demonstrate when there is the possibility that they would be massively outnumbered is small.  We have also learned that there are personal consequences to outing yourself as a racist.  As those personal costs become better known, it appears that the number of people willing to pay that price is small.  There are also organizational costs to those who attempt to spread hate speech through the internet.  No legit social media, hosting, or domain organization is willing to help them.  Communities and institutions of higher learning are making sure that they have the appropriate use provisions in place to reject requests for these organizations to gather.  Finally, we are finding that when it becomes personal, very few socially maladjusted young men are willing to back up their offensive internet personas with an in-person appearance.  So for now, society has responded with the appropriate revulsion to these fringe groups.

The true test will be what happens in the 2018 election.  Will voters hold Trump and Republicans accountable for the rise in neo-Nazi, fascist, and white supremacist activity?  Will the threat of disenfranchisement drive more minority voters to the polls in an off year?  The wonder of democracy is that our speculation will come to an end in November, 2018.

9 Responses to “Lincoln Wept”

  1. Keith says:

    YS)hat happens in the 2018 election. Will voters hold Trump and Republicans accountable for the rise in neo-Nazi, fascist, and white supremacist activity? Will the threat of disenfranchisement drive more minority voters to the polls in an off year? The wonder of democracy is that our speculation will come to an end in November, 2018.

    MR) interesting comment. Trump is not a racist and is not a member of the KKK. I think you’ll agree with that. But your question makes me wonder if President Obama didn’t give rise/embolden illegals marching down the main streets of our country flipping off our laws?

  2. Keith says:

    But my further thought there are very very few KKK neo nazis. It’s not a movement. The media is just doing there jobs going after Trump.

    I looked for the silver lining when President Obama was elected. The left has not done this with Trump. Wish they had. Also what’s up with the Russian thing?

  3. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Trump is not a racist and is not a member of the KKK. I think you’ll agree with that.

    I just go by what he says.

    If he supports the right of others to promote racism (they have the right to express their opinion but no one is under any obligation to agree with them), then as far as I’m concerned, he is a racist. He doesn’t have to belong to a group in order to fit that mold.

    If it were just a one-time occurrence, then you might cut him some slack. But he has a long history of racist positions. He was prosecuted under the fair housing laws. You could say that this was just business, but it is still racism. He was a champion of the birther movement. You could say this was just politics, but it is still racism. Now he has said that those opposing racists at a rally were just as guilty as those promoting racist position because some of them got into fights. You could say that this was just stating the facts, but many across the whole political spectrum said it was not consistent with our country’s values – in other words racist.

    But your question makes me wonder if President Obama didn’t give rise/embolden illegals marching down the main streets of our country flipping off our laws?

    Not sure what you are talking about. If you have a point to make here, please try to do so more clearly.

    What you inadvertently did, however, is to remind everyone that Obama is no longer the President. So those inclined to make racist statements can no longer hide behind the fact that their claims were politically motivated.

  4. Jeff Beamsley says:

    But my further thought there are very very few KKK neo nazis. It’s not a movement.

    Not sure what constitutes a movement. But the Southern Poverty Law Center which tracks these sorts of things has said that racist and white supremacist organizations are in fact on the rise.

    https://www.splcenter.org/news/2017/02/15/hate-groups-increase-second-consecutive-year-trump-electrifies-radical-right

    The media is just doing there jobs going after Trump.

    It is the job of the media in a free society to speak truth to power and hold our elected officials accountable. If that’s what you mean by “going after Trump”, then yes they are doing their job. We’ve already had this conversation. His relationship with the media IS HIS OWN FAULT. He decided to pick a fight with them and they have been happy to engage because it provides them something to write that readers want to read. The NYT and WashPost are having banner years. MSNBC just surpassed Fox as the most watched news channel.

    I looked for the silver lining when President Obama was elected. The left has not done this with Trump. Wish they had.

    YOU may have looked for a silver lining, but as I recall Republicans made it their mission to make Obama a one term President through obstruction. They failed. So please tell me why Democrats should behave any differently when Trump is actively dismantling as much of the Obama legacy as he can with executive orders? In other words, what has Trump done to indicate that he is interested in governing for any but his own base? So far, nothing. You have to admit that Obama at least tried to find middle ground with Republicans. They simply refused.

    Also what’s up with the Russian thing?

    If by “the Russian thing” you mean the series of ongoing investigations into the connection between the Trump campaign and Russians, this is also Trump’s fault. So far, NOTHING that he has said regarding past involvement of his campaign and his administration has turned out to be true. Worse, he fired the head of the FBI during an ongoing investigation BECAUSE Comey was unwilling to stop the investigation. Now we have an independent counsel AND an active grand jury with a broad mandate to pursue any investigation they feel may lead to criminal activity. So far it seems as though the field is RIPE with opportunities for indictments, and we haven’t even started to talk about Trump’s finances. Those will come though. Mueller has a high powered team with lots of experience in investigating both financial as well as political fraud and misdeeds. They are going to busy well in 2018 and they will not come up empty handed.

  5. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW also interesting to see how KJU and DJT continue to work out the details of their bromance.

    Last installment had DJT threatening to start a nuclear war if KJU even whispered a threat against the US.

    KJU then threatened to fling some missiles at Guam just to prove that he could.

    That sounded like a threat to me, but DJT didn’t unleash a the “fire and fury”. Instead he double dog dared KJU by threatening him with things he never could imagine (Dennis Rodman in diapers, no wait that already happened). Trump also said the military was “locked and loaded”, but that turned out not to be true (just like the last time Trump said an Armada was heading to NK). There were no changes in military preparedness that anyone could determine.

    Then KJU said that they were still ready to fling missile at Guam, but weren’t interested in doing that right now. DJT responded that KJU isn’t as stupid as he looks, which KJU took as a compliment.

    Just to make sure that DJT still loves him after he caught DJT blowing kisses at the neo-Nazi’s and those cute white supremacists in Old Navy uniforms, KJU posted a video of what a missile attack on Guam would look like. Sounds like another threat. DJT has been too busy defending his wandering eye to respond.

  6. Keith says:

    China publicly stated if the US initiated action against NJ then they would defend their interests. If NK attacked first they would remain neutral. Sounds like somebody did some deplomacy with China. Yes?

    How about this one?

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2017/08/23/espn-removes-a-commentator-from-calling-u-vas-home-opener-his-name-robert-lee/?utm_term=.91fed5ee4855

    You’ve speculated on Trumps Russian troubles. Here’s the other side. His new counsel says it will be over by thanksgiving. Year end latest. “Nothing there.”
    So words are just words. Let’s wait and see what happens. You refused to speculate about President Obama and in particular Hillary. Maybe you should continue along those lines. 😄

    These are interesting times.

    Just to give you an update, Trumps bluster about imposing 232’s in favor of the domestic steel industry has had positive results. He has moved it to the back burner but other countries are playing it right down the middle. This in fear of what might happen.

  7. Jeff Beamsley says:

    China publicly stated if the US initiated action against NJ then they would defend their interests. If NK attacked first they would remain neutral. Sounds like somebody did some deplomacy with China. Yes?

    How does this statement protect us from attack any more than the mutual assured destruction reality that already exists? What this represents instead is China telling the US that China will NOT accept unilateral military action against NK. If this is evidence of the result of US diplomacy, it is weak sauce at best.

    How about this one?

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2017/08/23/espn-removes-a-commentator-from-calling-u-vas-home-opener-his-name-robert-lee/?utm_term=.91fed5ee4855

    ESPN’s choice.

    IMHO it supports the Haitt taboo/toxic theseus. ESPN is going to ridiculous extremes (IMHO) to make sure that they are in no possible way associating themselves with the right-wing protesters at UVA or Trump.

    You’ve speculated on Trumps Russian troubles. Here’s the other side. His new counsel says it will be over by thanksgiving. Year end latest. “Nothing there.”

    Trump’s new counsel? And we’re supposed to believe him because?

    So words are just words. Let’s wait and see what happens. You refused to speculate about President Obama and in particular Hillary. Maybe you should continue along those lines.

    Please provide details on what I was refusing to speculate about.

    Neither Obama or Clinton had multiple investigations or a special counsel or fired the head of the FBI during an active investigation or had a key administration official DOCUMENT that they took a meeting in the hope of getting information that would have been illegal if delivered.

  8. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW, here’s a short incomplete list of what has happened since Trump first said that no one in his campaign had any association with any Russian.

    Trump’s campaign was warned about Flynn and nominated him anyway.
    Flynn – lied about working for Russians and was fired.
    Sessions – lied about meeting Russians and had to recuse himself.
    Kushner, Manafort, and DT jr. exchanged emails with Russians about obtaining damaging information against Clinton
    The same group actually took a meeting with Russians for that same purpose
    At the same time there was at least one other Trump campaign worker trying to set up meetings between the Trump campaign and Russians who worked for Putin.
    Trump asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn
    Trump fired Comey when he refused to stop investigating Flynn
    Mueller was appointed special counselor because the FBI was compromised by the Comey firing
    Mueller takes over a grand jury as his investigation intensifies – You don’t engage a Grand Jury unless there is something for them to do
    Trump warned Mueller to stay out of his personal finances
    The FBI raided Manafort’s house, confiscated his computers, and took his records
    Bannon on his way out of town warned that Kushner is going to be the weak link on Russia

    In summary, this is NOT NOTHING.

    My prediction is that Mueller will produce indictments. That’s because these investigations RARELY come up empty handed. Whether those indictments end up being directly or tangentially connected to the original Russian investigation doesn’t matter. What does matter is that until these investigations conclude, little or nothing of any substance is going to get through Congress. Even without these investigations, Republicans have begun distancing themselves from Trump because of the taboo that he broke. Trump has since made the problem worse by calling out Congress and picking a fight with McConnell and Ryan.

    The prediction of Trump’s new counsel, however, will be easy to track. Thanksgiving is not that far away and in another four months this year ends. I believe the odds that this new counsel will either resign or get fired by then are higher than the odds that the investigation will conclude with no indictments. IMHO, If this were an open and shut case, Mueller would not have assembled the team that he has assembled.

  9. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Just a little bit more on the “nothing burger” of Russian involvement.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/08/24/breitbart-other-alt-right-websites-darlings-russian-propaganda-effort/598258001/

    Amid an investigation into Russian meddling in the last U.S. presidential election, a Russian propaganda Twitter network aimed at American audiences consistently spreads links to Breitbart and other right-wing or conspiracy theory websites that boost President Trump and bash Democrats.

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