Lindsay and Boghossian take down Trump

My friend Peter Boghossian (a philosophy professor at Portland State) called my attention to a piece that he and James Lindsay (a mathematician and author) have published at Quillette: “The article about Trump nobody will publish.” (Quillette appears to be replacing Slate as the go-to place for secular and atheist writing.)

Their piece begins with this intriguing note from the editor:

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 12.12.06 PM

Who wouldn’t want to read a piece that starts that way? It could mean one of two things: either the piece is abysmal, or it’s controversial. (As I recall, Sam Harris’s The End of Faith was rejected by about a dozen publishers.) Well, it’s clearly controversial, but many of the commenters seem to think it’s abysmal, including at least one writer I respect. I don’t know what to think, as the authors’ main thesis—that Trump’s success is largely due to pushback against the Regressive Left—is emotionally appealing to me, but also lacking much evidence. And that’s a bad combination.

At any rate, their thesis is still worth pondering. They begin with the usual liberal tirade against Trump, calling him a monstrous, juvenile, and dangerous self-promoter—a cancer on the body politic. Well, who can take issue with that? What many commenters took issue with was that Boghossian and Lindsay identify another cancer, one that is supposed to explain a lot of Trump’s popularity:

Trump’s rise isn’t just explained by the failure of the GOP to get its house in order, conduct responsible politics, or find a single qualified candidate to run for the office. Trump’s rise follows directly from backlash to two words: political correctness. These two words are two of Trump’s favorites, and not arbitrarily. It is almost impossible to find a Trump supporter who doesn’t back him explicitly because of his unflinching, dismissive, even hostile stance against political correctness. “Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Vote Trump!” could be a campaign bumper sticker. Should that not be convincing enough, cinching the case was the recent race-to-the-bottom sparring match between Trump and former GOP hopeful Ted Cruz, over which of them is to be deplored for being “more PC” than the other.

The Politically Correct Left is a cancer, too. It diagnoses societal symptoms far too simplistically and, largely just by calling them bigots, smears anyone who questions their moral pronouncements. Their assessment possesses no more nuance than accusing those on the Right of holding policy positions because they’re bigots: racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, and anything else -phobic or -ist that their imaginations allow. This impolitic attitude and the concomitant name-calling prevent honest discourse about pressing issues, such as immigration policy, health care, and the global concerns orbiting around Islamist terrorism. The Politically Correct Left cannot even hear the need for such conversations, though, over the sound of its bellowing accusations of bigotry. Trump bulldozes their objections and couldn’t care less. Certainly, his policy proposals on these issues are both practically and morally repellent, but democracy demands the national-level conversation he’s forcing.

It must be noted that on almost no topic is the love of Trump’s anti-PC stand more obvious than that of radical Islam’s role in current global affairs. It doesn’t seem to matter in the slightest how clumsily he handles the topic. His supporters still lap it up. Why? The fact that our current political elites—be it for good reasons or bad—are obviously not speaking honestly about the connections between Islam and Islamism is a highly malignant lobe of the PC cancer. Trump’s recommended medicine seems hardly more sophisticated than taking a relatively dull hatchet to the afflicted, but at least he’s calling for an operation.

Much of that is true; what I question is how much it’s contributed to The Rise of Trumpism. And though the authors are clear that they despise Trump, and won’t vote for him, they suggest that his election might have one good effect, serving in the long run as “chemo” to cure both the rightward-lurching Republican party and the toxic Regressive Left:

These problems truly are cancers to our democracy, and a President Trump might be potent, if rough, medicine. There’s little question that his incompetence, inexperience, impetuousness, and incivility would cripple both the effectiveness and reputation of American politics for as long as he held office; and the embarrassment to the American citizens, if it were to elect him, would be almost unbearable. Our relationships with many, if not most, other countries would deteriorate, our economy would struggle (if it didn’t crash outright), and many of our problems would either multiply or fester. Such pains, though, may be the metaphorical equivalent of what chemotherapy does to its unfortunate patients. The question to our minds, then, isn’t whether a Trump presidency would be bad for America—it unquestionably would—but whether America might survive the medicine and come out better for the noxious treatment.

. . .Are we going to vote for Trump? No. No one should. What we’ve written constitutes the only reasonable case for supporting Trump, and it’s weak. That there’s even such an argument to be made, though, tells us a great deal about what’s going wrong in our society.

But I don’t even think there’s an argument to be made. The authors simply fail to adduce even a slightly convincing argument that America would “come out better” after Trump has served. Republicans are already repudiating him right and left, realizing what a Frankenstein their efforts have produced.  The next Republican candidate, in four years’ time, won’t be anything like Trump.

And if the authors think Trump’s wrecking the country will make a Democratic President more likely in the future, that remains to be seen. I, for one, don’t want four or eight years of a demagogue to get there. As for Trump wrecking the Regressive Left because they contributed to his election, I can’t see that at all. What will wreck that segment of the Left is its own excesses, not Trump’s success (which apparently will cause Leftists to rethink their behavior.) As I’ve said before, most Republican voters don’t even know about the Regressive Left, a phenomenon largely confined to the Internet and arguments among intellectuals. But I do accept that the failure of the Democratic party to push back against the Regressive Left has given some fodder to Trump’s supporters.

At least one commenter, whom many of us will recognize, had an even stronger aversion to the piece. Here are his two comments, and let it be noted that Orac (author of the website Respectful Insolence) is a cancer surgeon, and so may have reacted more violently than most to the invocation of cancer and “chemo”:

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Weigh in below, and I’ll call the comments to the authors’ attention.

84 Comments

  1. Jeff Ryan
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Should Trump be elected, he will immediately be able to nominate a Supreme Court justice to replace Scalia.

    Is there really anything more to say?

    • colnago80
      Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Take it from someone who has been pointing out for a long time on a number of blogs that the most important consideration for deciding what course to follow in the upcoming election is the question of SCOTUS appointments. However, the Hillary haters on the left and their fellow traveling Bernie Bros will have none of it. In particular, I point out Federal Appeals Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown as very much a possible SCOTUS appointment by a Rethuglican president. From what I have read about this miscreant, she is at least as bad as Thomas, Alito, and the late and unlamented Scalia, if not worse.

      http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/11/01/2876381/need-know-severely-conservative-judge-just-ruled-birth-control/

    • Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Jill Stein: “Tramp says terrible things. Hillary does them.” I’ll take 4 years of Trump and election over 8 years of Hillary. Hopefully the FBI will indict her and we can have Bernie or even pervie Uncle Joe.

      • BobTerrace
        Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        That indictment is very unlikely, unlike the conviction on charges of fraud by Trump for his fake university which is very likely to happen.

        • Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

          I agree the indictment is unlikely. But I can dream, can’t I?

          Trump’s fraud case is civil. There will be no conviction.

          “Is it a risky bet? Absolutely. A Trump presidency cannot be seen in a more flattering light than an attempt to drink a little chemo, get sick, and kill a handful of political cancers at once. Is it flirtation with fire? Yes. The whole gambit rests upon the horror of a Trump presidency creating a political backlash that repairs our most damaged institutions.”

          Hillary’s hawkish tendencies are also risky. She doesn’t get Putin and is likely to escalate.

          https://www.librarything.com/work/17888038/book/130972756

          Sakwa documents Hillary Clinton’s attitude towards Russia as epitomizing the worst of the blindly destructive and culpably foolish that beset the leaders who stumbled into war in 1914.

          • BobTerrace
            Posted June 12, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

            Putin will eat Trump, spit him out and laugh about it. Someone who thinks like a five year old can not handle foreign affairs. His sociopathic thinking will make his explode.

            • Posted June 16, 2016 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

              I fear that Putin will do the same with any US president that can be elected, as has already done it with Bush and Obama.

              • Posted June 16, 2016 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

                I fear more Hillary’s old school globalist thinking and how she could escalate Ukraine and that area into a real war than I do Trump’s nationalism and his likely retreat from global conflicts that he doesn’t consider relevant.

              • Posted June 16, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

                My bet: she will not escalate any war. Like Obama, she is good at talking.

              • Filippo
                Posted June 17, 2016 at 2:21 am | Permalink

                “I fear that Putin will do the same with any US president that can be elected, as has already done it with Bush and Obama.”

                Specifically why would/should that necessarily be? For example, it’s not like Russia has managed to place weapons systems in countries next to the U.S., as the U.S. has done in Eastern Europe. (How could that possibly not provoke Russia?) Obama hasn’t naively and fatuously said words (a la Bush) to the effect that he has looked in Putin’s eyes and seen his soul.

              • Posted June 21, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

                I think that the answer to your question is the fact that today’s Americans do not care how many countries will be attacked and suffer land grabs by Russia.
                Russia does not need to place weapons systems in other countries, she uses weapons (and manpower) right away. And the West does not feel provoked by the attacks against Georgia and Ukraine – on the contrary, we find things we have done to “provoke” Russia and decide to be even meeker in the future.

              • Filippo
                Posted June 21, 2016 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

                ” . . . today’s Americans do not care how many countries will be attacked and suffer land grabs by Russia.”

                Well, historically it seems that most U.S. citizens generally haven’t been particularly bothered when their own government invaded and took control of places around the world. (E.g., 1860’s “gunboat diplomacy” in Japan; the Philippine (so-called) “Insurrection” 1899-1901, and the annexation of Hawaii about the same time – at least partly to accommodate U.S. business interest there?; U.S. military presence in China in the 20’s, to name a few, not to mention the extirpation of Native Americans as part of “Manifest Destiny” – inspired westward expansion. IIRC, U.S. Marine Corps General Smedley Butler in his memoir said words to the effect that he was a shake-down artist or (“mafia”?)”enforcer” for U.S. policy/business interests in various foreign climes during his career.)

                “Russia does not need to place weapons systems in other countries, she uses weapons (and manpower) right away. And the West does not feel provoked by the attacks against Georgia and Ukraine – on the contrary, we find things we have done to “provoke” Russia and decide to be even meeker in the future.”

                Right. We are generally provoked by attacks on our own soil, as on 12/7/41 and 9/11/01, and as was Russia in the summer of 1941.

                Is it true enough that, since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis – provoked at least in part with U.S. government meddling including the Bay of Pigs fiasco (with the exception of its Cuban proxy in Angola in the mid-70’s), in terms of military force projection, Russia has restricted itself to west of the International Dateline and east of the Prime Meridian – the Eastern Hemisphere? Has the U.S. similarly restricted itself to the Western Hemisphere?

                With the exception of its activities of the last few years in Ukraine, when and where was the last Russian (Soviet) adventure – Afghanistan in the 70’s? And the U.S. also took part in that adventure, eh, supporting the Mujahideen, the precursors of the Taliban, IIRC? Regarding Georgia, can it be reasonably claimed that Russia was responding to Georgia terrorists’/separatists’ attacks, both in Georgia and Rusiia? Remember that bloody school massacre?

                If the U.S.’s underwriting defense systems in countries formerly in the Russian/Soviet sphere of influence is not reasonably, predictably provoking to the Russians, pray tell, what more significant action would the U.S. have to take for you to consider it provoking?

                Do I correctly recall (I think from Christopher Hitchens’s telling – did Hitch somehow have it wrong? Did I misunderstand him?) – by all means correct me if I’m wrong – that during the Bush I administration, as a result of the verbal negotiations, Gorbachev was under the definite impression that he had a “gentlemen’s agreement” with the U.S. that, as part of and in return for Soviet concessions, the U.S. would not push for placing weapons systems in these countries? Then, when the day of the formal signing arrives, Gorbachev was unpleasantly surprised to discover that the U.S. repudiated (or denied the existence of) such a gentlemen’s agreement? Considering how many (20,000,000? More?) Russians perished in WW II, is it reasonably that Russia/the Soviets would want some sort of major weapons-free zone between it and the West?

              • Posted June 23, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

                Filippo, I think that an invasion pursuing and achieving a land grab is very, very different from an invasion that does not pursue or achieve a land grab.
                You see that Russia is grabbing land now, while, to “prove” that the USA is no better, you have to bring centuries-old events.
                I think the USA does not need to restrict itself in the Western hemisphere, because other countries (such as mine – Bulgaria) want to belong to its sphere of influence. My country was forcibly kept in Soviet orbit until late 1989, the pubishments in the penal code for hurting the Soviet Union were the same as for high treason, so it is difficult to me to grasp the idea that Russia was in any way restricting itself.

                “Regarding Georgia, can it be reasonably claimed that Russia was responding to Georgia terrorists’/separatists’ attacks, both in Georgia and Rusiia? Remember that bloody school massacre?”
                It was Russia who used Abkhazian and Ossetian separatists as pawns in its land grabs in Georgia. Georgians are Christians and have absolutely nothing to do with the Chechen and Ingush Islamists who did the school massacre in Beslan (you need not believe me – check this).

                “If the U.S.’s underwriting defense systems in countries formerly in the Russian/Soviet sphere of influence is not reasonably, predictably provoking to the Russians, pray tell, what more significant action would the U.S. have to take for you to consider it provoking?”
                It is exactly these countries, that have suffered gravely from Russian aggression, that need these defense systems. I do not understand why the fact that we have been successfully raped by Russia is a reason to keep us defenseless so that Russia can rape us again anytime it wishes.

                “Do I correctly recall (I think from Christopher Hitchens’s telling – did Hitch somehow have it wrong? Did I misunderstand him?) – by all means correct me if I’m wrong – that during the Bush I administration, as a result of the verbal negotiations, Gorbachev was under the definite impression that he had a „gentlemen’s agreement“ with the U.S. that, as part of and in return for Soviet concessions…”
                I have no such data, and I do not see why Hitchens must be necessarily right about them (if he had so much intelligence data, he would know that there were no WMDs in Iraq by 2003).

              • Posted June 17, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink

                I think there is general agreement that Hillary is more hawkish than Obama and more connected (beholden) to the Finance/Defense industries that need war to feed.

                If Obama is willing to provoke in this way, how much more will Hillary be willing?

                http://www.npr.org/2016/06/17/482432771/anakonda-16-wests-war-games-in-poland-gets-russias-attention

      • Nom de Plume
        Posted June 12, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        I’ll take 4 years of Trump

        See, here’s the problem with that: you might be able to “take” a Trump presidency, but what about all the people who couldn’t? He has a long list of folks he wants to deport, bar from the country, punish in the courts (courts he’d have the power to appoint), and sundry other acts of fascism.

        But hey, you’ll be fine, so fuck everyone else.

        • Posted June 12, 2016 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

          Here is the thing, what you fear may or may not happen, and to the extent it does, that is bad. But to me it’s still the lesser of two evils, as Hillary’s impact has been and mostly likely will be measured in body bags – both American and those of people around the world. If you don’t fear that, vote for her. I fear that more than the problems Trump may cause.

          • BobTerrace
            Posted June 12, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

            I wouldn’t want to live in your head with all those fabricated scenarios. Your stories are just like the Repulicans blaming Clinton for Benghazi when the real cause is the defunding of embassies by Republicans even after they were told what might happen.

          • Jeff Ryan
            Posted June 12, 2016 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

            Oh for Christ’s sake, grow up.

            And strap that knee down – it’s jerking out of control.

            • BobTerrace
              Posted June 12, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

              +1

          • Kjf
            Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

            You don’t think a man who wants to upend the delocate global political system that’s been in place since the Second World War and who proposes deporting entire populations based on their ethnicity is not going to end up with a bigger body bag?

        • Kjf
          Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          Not to mention his extremely reckless and dangerous foreign policy positions compounded by his utter ignorance of global politics, thin skin and lack of empathy.

      • Jeff Ryan
        Posted June 12, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        Congratulations! You are, at least for now, the winner of the “stupidest thing said on the internet today” contest!

        Let’s see how the rest of the day goes.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Ithought Obama was doing that already. The Republicans in some parts of the government may be trying to block it but is that (the nomination, or the rejection) a fait accompli, or what?

      • Jeff Ryan
        Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        My read (and many, many others’) is that if Trump wins, the Republicans will continue to block Garland’s elevation, so Trump will be able to nominate whomever he chooses.

        If Hillary wins, they might let it through, fearing Hillary will nominate someone worse. Though I suspect that if Hillary wins, they will simply refuse to approve Garland and anyone else for the entirety of her term.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 12, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          “if Trump wins” – the nomination, or the election?
          Do they have the option of filibustering appointment for 4 or 8 years? By that time, there probably wouldn’t be a single living Supreme Court judge. Can America legally exist like that?
          [Gets cheese and biscuits.]

          • Jeff Ryan
            Posted June 12, 2016 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

            I’m assuming he has the nomination sewn up. Though, this year, who the hell knows? So, the election.

            As to whether they can filibuster for 4-8years, sure. File it under the things Madison thought of as “But no one would be THAT big of a dick, so don’t raise silly objections.”

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted June 13, 2016 at 7:12 am | Permalink

              What’s that saying about the ingenuity of fools?

              • Jeff Ryan
                Posted June 13, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

                That they are brazen, as well as foolish.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted June 14, 2016 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

                “The difficulty with making something foolproof is that fools can be so ingenious.” is what I was thinking of.

  2. Matt G
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    So we shouldn’t call bigotry bigotry? That sounds politically correct to me….

    • Posted June 12, 2016 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      You can if you want to. The problem is, bigotry is often in the eye of beholder, and what is a statistical evidence, or quest for justice, or whatever, for one person is bigotry to another.

  3. BobTerrace
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    After I read the piece, my reaction is close to what Orac said, but I wouldn’t call it silly – I would call it ludicrous and inane.

    I also resent the implication that Political Correctness is always wrong. A lot of it is correct and justified and makes people better human beings but some PC goes way too far.

    • GBJames
      Posted June 12, 2016 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      I agree, too, with Orac. The false equivalence is staggering. For all the flaws and long-term potential damage that illiberal-left thinking might produce it pales in comparison to the scale of the right wing insanity that entirely controls the Republican Party. There simply is nothing like it on the Democrat side, despite the absurd refusal to acknowledge “Islam” in “Islamism”.

  4. Scott Draper
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    “serving in the long run as “chemo” to cure both the rightward-lurching Republican party”

    I don’t think they could elect anyone so egregiously bad that they would admit that their political convictions are at fault. Otherwise, they would already have admitted that. Any failure can be blamed on the fact that their leaders lacked enough gumption to follow through on their values or on the evil of the opposition.

    The shift back to the left will occur one funeral at a time.

  5. Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    “It must be noted that on almost no topic is the love of Trump’s anti-PC stand more obvious than that of radical Islam’s role in current global affairs. It doesn’t seem to matter in the slightest how clumsily he handles the topic. His supporters still lap it up. Why? The fact that our current political elites—be it for good reasons or bad—are obviously not speaking honestly about the connections between Islam and Islamism is a highly malignant lobe of the PC cancer. Trump’s recommended medicine seems hardly more sophisticated than taking a relatively dull hatchet to the afflicted, but at least he’s calling for an operation.’

    This needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

    • colnago80
      Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      One only needs to read comments by the Sam Harris haters on the political left for his politically incorrect criticisms of Islam

      • Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        Ayaan Hirsi AliVerified account
        ‏@Ayaan

        No doctrine is more violent to the gay community than Islamic doctrine. It is time to take on Muslim homophobia.

  6. Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    A while back Mr. Boghossian really set what remains of my hair afire over some comments on tw***r. What I didn’t know at the time and have since come to understand is the environment he lives in esp w/regard to what he considers the regressive Left. I still disagree with what he said, but I now understand his thinking in its context.
    So with that same view I can understand the underlying motivation to write an opinion piece on our next Dear Leader, Mr Trump. I’d think after some time for the heat of the moment to pass, he could apply his keen skills for disambiguation to his writing and evolve in a mature way.
    If I had to blame something for the rise of Drumpfism I would point to two things. First, K-12 education hasn’t included any “civics” awareness beyond reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to begin the school day since the 80’s. Most Americans can’t tell you who their local representatives are or accurately recall anything of significant historical value outside Presidential election cycles. They know nothing of Statesmanship, what Government is intended to do, or why. They are rudderless on foreign and domestic policies.
    The second and more important flaw is the complete abrogation of journalistic integrity in the media. It has spawned a new generation of chattering class whose sole responsibility is to gin up ratings and tell viewers how they should think about what will most benefit corporate bottom lines. It’s a sad day when a “news outlet” sues for the right to mislead the public and wins.
    If the MSM had insisted on paid airtime for Trump, his campaign would have died a quiet death shortly after it began.

    • gluonspring
      Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      “abrogation of journalistic integrity in the media”

      Isn’t this a direct result of the proliferation of channels and, finally, the ultimate echo chamber, the internet?

      Why would the average person listen to someone give a careful story when they can flip channels and be entertained more? Why would they listen to someone who disagrees with them on some topic when they can flip channels and find someone who is their ideological clone?

      I don’t know the way out of this, but it strikes me as a serious problem that no one in particular choose to embrace. It was forced on everyone. The only people making choices here are the channel flippers.

      • Posted June 12, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        I’d agree that the inundation we experience in the media is probably a contributing factor. I’m not saying there should be “no entertaining” content, I’m saying there is zero commitment to factual broadcasting any longer. I don’t think the world would collapse if CNN only did “hard news” for 2 hours a day instead of little to no news 24 hours a day. Back in the “day” we had free press because it stayed outside the corporate profit model and journalism kept govt accountable by investigating, asking the difficult questions that are impossible to consider on the MSM today. For what it’s worth, I don’t know that we can put the genie back in the bottle. It does need to change, though.

        • gluonspring
          Posted June 12, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

          I totally agree that it’s change in the way you describe, and that that’s an awful awful thing.

  7. Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    “As I’ve said before, most Republican voters don’t even know about the Regressive Left, a phenomenon largely confined to the Internet and arguments among intellectuals.”

    They don’t know it by name, and I think the article overstates the influence of the Regressive Left, but republicans do see the left bending over backwards, every time there’s a terrorist attack, to exculpate the influence of Islam. The see it jumping to the conclusion that law enforcement is to blame every time a minority is killed. They see it largely ignoring national security where immigration is concerned. And they see people being called bigots, and racists for even wanting to have a dialog regarding these issues.

    • kelskye
      Posted June 12, 2016 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

      I’d agree with this. There has been a cultural shift on what can and can’t be said, as well as what kinds of values we ought to adopt. Regressive leftism is just the label the hard-headed liberals give to the phenomenon – the right call it political correctness and perceive it as an assault on their personal identity. And let’s be honest, it is to a large extent an attack on their personal identity.

    • Posted June 16, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  8. gluonspring
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    On the question of whether Trump might be good medicine, well, just look at what a nice place Germany is today. That whole thing they did in the 30’s and 40’s seems to have been very cleansing to the political pallet. Was it worth it?

  9. W.Benson
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I have travelled many back roads in the Old South where Trump signs have sprouted up like rabbit tobacco. Here people support Trump mostly because he thinks the way they do: Not much at all.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      rabbit tobacco.

      Well, there’s something new to me. I’m now expecting to find “Br’er Hashish” and “Frau Catnip” in the lexicon too.

  10. Ken Pidcock
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Our relationships with many, if not most, other countries would deteriorate, our economy would struggle (if it didn’t crash outright), and many of our problems would either multiply or fester. Such pains, though, may be the metaphorical equivalent of…

    Say what? The word that comes to mind is adolescent. Let’s have chaos, man. It’ll be great.

    • Linn
      Posted June 13, 2016 at 7:16 am | Permalink

      Hehe. I thought that part was ridiculous as well. Discussing with these people is like discussing with anarchists:
      “Anarchy would be so cool dude! It would cleanse this country.”
      ” Yes, until multiple gangs and warlords appear demanding protection money. If you don’t pay the gangs will kill your family and keep you as their bitch. There will be no police to help you. When you get appendicitis there will be no health care system to help you and you will die a prolonged and painful death”
      “Yeah, well, it would still be so cool dude. And I would be in the gangs, becauae I’m so great.”

      The thinking of Trump supporters and their ilk isn’t far from anarchists. They all think that they will never be among the groups that dies in the “cleansing” of the country, just like they will never need a sick leave or an expensive surgery. They’re invincible after all. It’s those icky gays, sick people and immigrants that will cleansed from the country.
      I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

      • Posted June 16, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        It is not Trump supporters who are “cleansing” gays.

        • Linn
          Posted June 17, 2016 at 2:52 am | Permalink

          I wasn’t talking about the horrific massarcre in this post. Islam being (at least partly) responsible for so many horrors, doesn’t erase right wing politics.

          I was responding to the way this article talked about making chaos as a form of chemotherapy.
          Many right wing supporters are against f.ex healthcare for all because they think they’ll never need it themselves, or because they have good insurance already. And even though they claim to want freedom from the state as much as possible, they often want the state to intervene agaist the gays and against women having abortions. I find it a hypocritical position to take.

          A lot of the right wingers talk about making america (or whatever country they’re in) great again. It’s always unsure what time period they consider great. I suspect some of them would like to go back to the 1800s and to do that, they want a proper cleansing first (through deportation of muslims for instance), or chemotherapy as it was called in this article.

  11. gluonspring
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    How does one even untangle causes and effects? I suppose you can try to ask what came first?

    Well, bigots preceded political correctness. Liberals call out bigots. Bigots don’t like it. Somewhere in there PC was invented as a response to bigotry. Some lazy/zealous people on the left found the PC hammer too tempting and overuse it. Non bigots on the right get lumped in with the bigots on the right and resent it. The left starts using their PC hammer on other people on the left (that’d be people here, say). Those people call them the Regressive or Authoritarian left and decry this excess in PC. PC has a bad name in quite a few circles now.

    And now we have Trump. I suppose he might appeal both to non-bigots who are irritated by PC and to bigots who are apoplectic about their loss of status in society (as exemplified by their inability to even speak their thoughts in polite company). But fundamentally Trump is a creation of the forces on the right that have pandered to bigotry for decades. Trumps vile Birtherism is exhibit one for my case here. It was his signature foray into politics. Can you really argue that that was some kind of anti-PC crusade? That Obama’s non-Americaness was something obvious that most everyone knew but that the PC police wouldn’t let us discuss? Or was it what it looked like, an appeal to racists to delegitimize the first non-white President?

    I can see how excessive political correctness helps him. Excesses in political correctness helps all bigots, because it irritates the non-bigots too and gives them something in common. But at the end of the day I just can’t see how you lay Trump at the feet of political correctness. Except in the very most extreme examples that we are starting to see, for example on campuses where there is actual shutting down free speech, political correctness is usually no more than an irritation. There are very few PC laws. It’s just a social norm, an norm people can and do flaunt all the time. No president is needed to set that right.

    I agree that the Authoritarian Left is an emerging threat to classically liberal society, but they did not create Trump.

    • Ken Pidcock
      Posted June 12, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Well said.

    • Posted June 12, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      “PC has a bad name in quite a few circles now.”

      Both a recent Fairleigh Dickinson survey, and a Rasmussen poll found that 70% of Americans find political correctness to be a big problem. 81% of republicans, and 62% of democrats. PC has a bad name in almost all circles except perhaps among the regressive left who mischaracterize the pushback as entirely inspired by people who want to freely express their racism, and bigotry. This piece in the New York times makes a case similar to that made by Lindsay, and Boghossian.

      • Posted June 12, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        Great article, thanks. Six months old. He wrote “Trump’s chances of winning the nomination remain slim.” I wonder if he would still write “The odds still favor a Hillary Clinton victory.” I think for many Hillary epitomizes political correctness and identity politics. If 68% agre that political correctness is a big problem, including 62% of self-identified Democrats (such as myself), for how many will that be a defining issue in selecting the next President?

      • kelskye
        Posted June 12, 2016 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

        “PC has a bad name in almost all circles except perhaps among the regressive left who mischaracterize the pushback as entirely inspired by people who want to freely express their racism, and bigotry.”
        I’ve even had that happen on this website – the suggestion that “proponents of PC sometimes go too far” was met with “you just want to call a n****r a n****r”. With reactions like that, how is progress ever to be made?

        When it comes to morality, there’s no middle ground, because a step away from the moral ideal is taken as immorality. What we end up with is rival moral tribes signalling to each other their moral purity, and throwing contempt at those who not 100% agree.

  12. Simon
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I reject the conclusions of this BLOG post because Orac. Quoting Orac is an immediate fail, at least on this subject. Panderer to SJWs and posterboy for the superior to both sides meme. Seriously, the dude is full of lazy, cliched invective toward the skeptical deficiencies of the alt med crowd but swallowed SJW narratives with the level of skepticism of a David Icke-a-like.

    Is it really far fetched to posit a link between frustration at the stubborn and transparent refusal of the PC MSM and political class to call an Islamist spade a spade and the rise of a candidate who plays to that frustration?

    The situation in Yerp may not be absolutely analogous, but there is a definite swing to the right in reaction to the irresponsible denial by the left of the dangers of mass Muslim immigration. The left does not seem to have cottoned on to the fact that the Saudi/Gulf State faction is deliberately inserting Salafi/Wahabbist imams into the West.

    • Jeff Ryan
      Posted June 12, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      What “mass Muslim immigration”?

      • Simon
        Posted June 12, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        Clearly you don’t follow events in Europe.

        • Jeff Ryan
          Posted June 12, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          I wasn’t talking about Europe. Apparently, you are.

          • Simon
            Posted June 12, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

            A misunderstanding then. Perhaps I should not have assumed that the word ‘Yerp’ was widely known.

            • Jeff Ryan
              Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

              First time I’ve heard it, honestly.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

              It is widely recognised in Europe as being a comedic stereotype for certain groups of American politicians. If I recall correctly, it was introduced in the early 1980s – while some of us were fighting to get American bombs off our doorsteps – to summarise “Raygun Reagan’s” murderous regard for his allies in a series of Steve Bell cartoons on the theme that “The President’s Brain is Missing.”
              They’re the associations that you pick up by using that term.

              • Jeff Ryan
                Posted June 12, 2016 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

                Wow. Now if I can just find a way to use it in a sentence…

  13. Posted June 12, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been saying something similar about Trump to friends and coworkers; electing Trump would be the national equivalent of an individual hitting “rock-bottom” But sometimes hitting rock-bottom is required for a person to turn their life around.
    I think the aggressive attack against the authors is unreasonable. Their opinions on whats going on may be a bit of a stretch but lets not forget that EVERY veteran political analyst was certain that Trump wasn’t actually running for the nomination and when it turned out he was, was 100% certain he wouldn’t get the nomination. At this point Lindsay and B have a better track record than most of them.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      But sometimes hitting rock-bottom is required for a person to turn their life around.

      And sometimes the hitting of rock bottom is an encouragement to get better digging tools. PDC bits and percussion drills are effective rock digging tools.

  14. Posted June 12, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    When I read the piece at the time, I found it confused due to its use of many mixed metaphors, and not just the Dead As Doornail types that permeate every text. If I were their editor, I had asked them to cut down on some of them, or find analogies that can carry the points they are making for longer.

    They begin with “[m]ajor political cancers are driving it to madness.” But cancers don’t have a reputation of inducing madness. Not much later, the Republicans need to “abandon their devastating pitch” and “get back on the rails, and do so quickly, to reclaim a stable position”. The Republicans are a cancer that didn’t just derail, they even flew and then turned into a “insane far-far-Right bunker”. And then “Trump’s shocking and meteoric rise” somehow put the republican party, now a house, “in shambles”. I’m not sure whether meteors rise in English idioms, but rocks from space can only destroy a house by crashing into them. By the end of the paragraph Trump turns into a “wrecking ball” to do his destructive work. Then there’s the “second cancer”, a “mirror image” and this cancer-mirror-image is even “shrieking”. I am not a native speaker, but this doesn’t work.

    The thesis that the so-called “Regressive Left” contribute to the rise of Trump was voiced by Bill Maher, too. It is certainly not the one and only reason, but multiculturalism and PC authoritarianism does play some role, which is frequently a topic in Germany too, with other actors taking the place of Trump and his supporters (namely AfD and Pegida).

    The problem is that topics surrounding social justice and immigrants are heavily shifted towards what Bühler called the expressive function of communication; what the act of communication says about the speaker. First, “It is important to me, that you know that I think this and that… ” (this comes automatically by communicating). Second, whatever is said is seen as a statement on the political leanings and to which tribe the speaker belongs to. Being “for” something, i.e. framing plays a role, and being “for people” especially the disenfranchised and oppressed sounds better than being against them. Regressives, known as “Social Justice Warriors”, make use of this by advertising their membership in the Blue Tribe and by showing anti-racist tenets (which is not non-racism). In short, they make it even more about themselves and how good people they are. All that comes before a sentence is even understood. As such, the debates are virtually always unproductive, and the problems go unaddressed, which lead to frustrations (and activated voters for the far right).

  15. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    as the authors’ main thesis—t[…]—is emotionally appealing to me, but also lacking much evidence. And that’s a bad combination.

    No, no ProfCC(E) – go with your emotions. Don’t bring evidence into a matter where only faith matters. What do you think you are – some sort of rational scientist or something?

  16. Posted June 12, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I object to the representation of PC as a cancer that “chemo” or surgery can cure. For the most part, cancer is not cured. It is temporarily prevented from progressing and, if fortunate, one may live a reasonable quality of life for a period of time. Cancer may be curtailed in one area of the body, but may later pop up again in the same place or in a new one. My mother-in-law had breast cancer in the same breast twice, and in two other parts of the body later. True: she lived for 15 – 20 years, but still died of cancer with all the painful treatment that required and a painful death.

    For those who get out and about in areas lauding Trump, they are not a small number of people. And, they like that he says what he thinks because it expresses what they think also.

    The PC problem has spread not only to the right and left, but to the universities as has been discussed here various times before. Recently, hispanic students at a minimum of seven high schools in Oregon walked out in protest over a sign saying “Build the Wall”
    (trumpeting Trump) that was posted over other signs relative to Unity Week.

    The following was reported in the Woodburn Independent newspaper:

    “We want to recognize that the sign hung in Forest Grove was not an isolated incident,” one of the student organizers, Marisol Ceballos, said in an email. “Many students within our own student body, which is overwhelmingly Latino, have experienced similar incidents of discrimination, even within our own community.”

    In response to these issues, the students made several “demands” of the Woodburn School District: that it carry ethnic studies courses or classes that extensively cover issues like immigration and racism; that it sponsor cultural sensitivity training for members of the school board, administration, faculty and staff; that the make-up of the board and district staff would more closely reflect the demographic of the student body; and that ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses be offered at all Woodburn High School small schools. (Currently, ESOL courses are available only at the Academy of International Studies.)

  17. p. puk
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Brock Turner, the guy who raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster deserves to die. And if you don’t agree then you are a rapist / rape-apologist / member of the patriarchy / a bigot / privileged… etc… etc… etc…

    So, that’s what it boils down to. Either you think that some sleazy jock who made some incredibly bad decisions and who will pay for it for the rest of his life – if not receive some punishment in kind in prison – should die or you are part of the problem.

    And there’s your problem right there. That’s why the right is empowered by the regressive left. Because if you don’t believe the enemy du jour needs to be killed then you are also the enemy.

    That makes about as much sense as Trump Talk and if simple people are forced to make a choice between two types of madness then it’s no surprise many of them choose the man with the little hands.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      Because if you don’t believe the enemy du jour needs to be killed then you are also the enemy.

      First they came for the Enemy du Jour, but I did not speak out, for I was not the Enemy du Jour.
      Then they came for the Enemy du Nuit, but I did not speak out, for I was not the Enemy du Nuit.
      Then they came for the Enemy du Matin …

      And I’ll stop doing horrible things to Pastor Niemoller.

      • Jeff Ryan
        Posted June 12, 2016 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        Yeah. Because I was half expecting the Enemy du Petit Dejeuner.

        • sshort
          Posted June 12, 2016 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

          Funny, and delicious. Touché!

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted June 13, 2016 at 7:10 am | Permalink

          Oh, la grippe!

  18. mfdempsey1946
    Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Donald Trump is undoubtedly the most dangerous presidential candidate in all of American history to have a genuine chance of actually becoming president — as astoundingly unbelievable as such a statement would have been not so long ago.

    Right now I firmly believe that the now actual possibility of his election to the US presidency puts our country in the greatest danger it has been since the beginning of the Civil War.

    So even as a thought experiment, the idea America might somehow survive a Trump presidency with some of its problems improved, even if inadvertently, provokes only sickening dismay.

    This clown has shown us with the utmost clarity that he has the clear potential to become a killer clown in so many, many ways. It is imperative that, regardless of her shortcomings (and they, too, are many) Hillary Clinton block his entrance into the White House.

    Call it the lesser of two evils or whatever you want. But Trump and the multi-faceted disaster that he embodies must be underestimated. He must be stopped at the November polls once and for all.

    Then we had better get seriously busy about addressing the elements of our society that made Trump’s ascendancy possible. Or we won’t need climate change to do us in.

    • mfdempsey1946
      Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Correction — must not be underestimated.

      • p. puk
        Posted June 13, 2016 at 4:33 am | Permalink

        I can’t honestly say if Dubya was any better or worse than Trump. It’s no surprise to me that guys like these are considered qualified to lead the USA.

        Also, you spelled misunderestimated wrong.

  19. Posted June 12, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  20. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 13, 2016 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    Re: “would cripple both the effectiveness and reputation of American politics for as long as he held office”

    Oh, it might go for wayyy longer than he held office.

    In related news, Berkeley Rep is staging a new adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here” this September.

  21. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted June 13, 2016 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    The problem I have with these endless pieces with a diluted message is perhaps personal, to the point that I detest them and never read them. What would be the point?

    But, having done an exception, I can analyse the little I extracted.

    I think people have commented on mixed metaphors and other dilutions of a message, so I won’t.

    The point everyone can agree on is that Trump is a demagogue. That takes me through sentence number three.

    Orac has commented on the problems with the main hypothesis.

    But we can also speculate that the feeble attempt was constructed in order that the rambling piece would deliver a twist. It seems to me due to the recurrent scheme that it is in the mind of many social commentators (and reviewers) necessary. Likely in order to make the piece have a style and be unforgettable. But that in my eyes makes it like every other such comment.

    So what is the twist? The author’s claims, without evidence, that their “reasonable case for supporting Trump” has a bearing on something that is “going wrong in our society”.

    A reader could conclude – if there is such a correlation – it is the style of unlikely, reaching analysis that is a problem in our society.

  22. Steve Zeoli
    Posted June 13, 2016 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    I don’t buy the argument that PC is responsible for Trump. The Trump supporters I know have held extreme right-wing views for a long time. What Trump has done has legitimized the hate and bigotry — the fear maybe — that has resided in his supporters all along. It has nothing to do with PC as far as I can tell. And lets not pretend political correctness only “supports” the left. In the media, political correctness has manifested itself with a “respectful” treating of Trump’s views and a major failure to push back hard on Trump’s lies.

    • Jeff Ryan
      Posted June 13, 2016 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Absolutely spot on. Wish I’d said it.

      The “PC” trope is a distraction, and has managed to divert needed attention away from the drive to make bigotry and hatred “the new normal.” I have been stunned at how much time is wasted on this pointless, and phony argument.

      Those who decry PC are really saying they want the license to revert to demeaning and dismissive approaches to those they loathe, blacks, women, “elitists,” etc. The Trumpelos have been straitjacketed by society’s recognition that the neglected and the despised are – ta-da! – actual people after all. When we bemoan PC we are validating the idea that there’s no harm in calling women “bitches,” blacks “niggers,” and gays “fags.” Hillary is right about one thing: When Trump says he wants to “make America great again,” he’s really saying “turn America backward.”

      Anyone with even a modicum of sense should see that Trump is the most obviously unqualified person, by any measure, to seek the office. And the vilest, to boot. This is all fucking obvious, and yet we seem to have gone insane by taking him seriously. He must be challenged, by everyone, every time he opens his mouth. He is a thug, a liar, a fraud and a thief, and he deserves no respect.

      Going backward is never the answer.

      • Filippo
        Posted June 13, 2016 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        sub


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