Dan Arel gets more flak

Not too long ago, Dan Arel, an atheist who once had a good reputation for his book on secular parenting, wrote a piece blaming Dave Rubin and me for a number of sins, including helping Trump get elected and aligning with white nationalism. It was a remarkable piece of misguided polemic, and Arel’s poor writing was exceeded only by the breathless sweep of his lies and distortions. I responded to his post by first providing a summary and a link:

Incredibly, Arel has expanded his list of Nazis and white supremacists to include “classical liberals,” who are said to include Dave Rubin—and me! In a bizarre post on his website called “How classical liberals helped normalize white nationalism and elect Donald Trump,” Arel takes the position that those of us who favor unrestricted freedom of speech (by that I mean speech that doesn’t incite immediate violence or constitute harassment in the workplace), as well as those of us who oppose the incursion of postmodernism into academic or intellectual discourse, are all not only white nationalists, but also helped elect Donald Trump.

Well, you can read my response at the link. Now, however, there are two more. The first is by Jeff Tayler at Quillette, “Free speech and the Regressive Left — the road back to reason.” I’m pleased that Jeff defended Dave and me, but he also offers up criticism of the Regressive Left, of which Arel has become a poster boy. And, self-aggrandizingly, I’ll put up one quote:

On second thought, though, a sample. Coyne and Rubin, per Arel, “welcome white nationalist speakers on campus and complain if students try and stop it, telling them to protest instead, and in turn, complain when they turn out in protest, accusing them of trying to live in a bubble and being an enemy of the free exchange of ideas.” Earlier in his piece, Arel had claimed that they “strawman the very idea of ‘safe spaces’ claiming its leftist liberals begging to be coddled in school, refusing or caring not to listen that these are nothing but the same ‘spaces’ we see in Alcoholics Anonymous, or even at private atheist meetings or gatherings.”

So, are we to see college students as the equivalents of traumatized substance abusers? That’s what Arel gives us to think. True, though, post-pubescent toddlers throwing tantrums on campus when they find themselves confronting differing opinions do cry out for diagnosis (and possibly medication). But the world is an increasingly dangerous place. If said toddlers lack what it takes to get through four years in such cossetted environs, how will they face tough, determined Islamists on either the ideological or the literal battlefield? In any case, Arel might have offered links to samples of what Rubin and Coyne have said about safe spaces and trigger warnings. But stream-of-consciousness editorializing is more easily accomplished unrestrained by facts, to say nothing of respect for the truth.

Next ensues a slipshod harangue that, as far as I can tell, casts Coyne and Rubin and other sane progressives as dastardly villains scheming to undo decades of egalitarian social advancement, destroy the American Way, and establish a sort of Yankee Third Reich, with Hillary’s “deplorables” press-ganged into serving as twenty-first-century Brownshirts. Little of this lends itself to rational rebuttal, but in essence, Arel contends that decriers of the regressive left “got into bed with the wrong crowd and moved into the far-right landscape because of a failure to evaluate Islam at the same critical level they do all other religion,” which is, he says, “a sin both the left and right share.”

If we translate this into standard American English, we get — mirabile dictu! — the point that sane progressives (including Rubin and Coyne, and Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins) have been making all along: that the left’s exculpatory doubletalk about Islam has, broadly speaking, split the movement into genuine progressives and regressive leftists. Or at least that’s how I interpret Arel’s tortured verbiage. With his concluding line he lapses into self-parody: “If atheism is to continue forward progress in the US, it must be a voice of reason, not a megaphone for racist white nationalism.”

Nonbelief as a “voice?” As a “megaphone?” There is neither a valid metaphor nor a truthful assertion lurking in his peroration’s final line.

Since Arel expends 1,400 words attacking Rubin, Coyne, et al, but offers no credible evidence against them, we might, once again, just cite Hitchensian license and punch the delete key on the entire screed.

A critique of Arel is only part of Heather Hastie’s piece on the Regressive Left, “The Authoritarian Left and misdirected animosity in the atheist community“. I’ll omit her defense of Rubin and me, and add one paragraph about data you might not have seen:

In 2009 Phil Zuckerman, a sociology professor at Pitzer College (and later founder of the Department of Secular Studies) wrote ‘Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being: How the Findings of Social Science Counter Negative Stereotypes and Assumptions‘. His analyses include:

… when we actually compare the values and beliefs of atheists and secular people to those of religious people, the former are markedly less nationalistic, less prejudiced, less anti-Semitic, less racist, less dogmatic, less ethnocentric, less close-minded, and less authoritarian.

You might think about that when atheist blusterers like Arel or other bloggers (who don’t deserve naming) accuse the atheist “movement” of being especially infected by misogyny and racism. By now I must have gone to a couple dozen humanist, atheist, and secular meetings, and while of course there must be some bigots there (I haven’t seen any!), I find the atmosphere refreshingly free of prejudice and rancor, resembling many of the scientific meetings I’ve gone to (scientists also tend to be atheistic and liberal). The tendency for such people to eat their own always mystifies me, especially since, in these Times of Trouble, we should be finding common ground.

Meanwhile, Arel continues his unhinged ranting on Twi**er. This is exactly the wrong way to build a constituency, which Arel seems to want:


Extra recommended reading: The articles in today’s New York Times on the increasing violence of both anarchists and “anti-fascists”, and one on the free speech battle at Berkeley.


  1. Cindy
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    SJWism is a religion. They behave just like religious fanatics. The term “zealot” also applies. There is a reason why I keep comparing them to pro life evangelicals – these illiberal leftists are the same kind of people. It is only through an accident of birth that they are not killing in the name of Islam or bombing abortion clinics.

    They are authoritarian in nature and they seek to socially engineer a utopia, through force if necessary. They know what is best for humanity, full stop.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink


    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Someone recently, I think on a Sam Harris podcast, spoke of the lack of options for belief in the Middle East. That lead me to conclude the following.

      There are always going to be some people who are excessive in their beliefs and behaviour. In the Middle East, the only real options for those people are Islamist extremism. For some of them, that includes terrorism.

      In NZ, they go and live on a commune on the West Coast and live apart from the rest of the world.

      If they’re Catholic they might get into mortification of the flesh.

      The point is, in a pluralistic society there are options for extremists that don’t involve hurting other people. In the Middle East the choice is between DAESH, Al Qaeda, etc.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

        Yeah and some others may just get really into yoga and become fit and self aware. 🙂

  2. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I can also make a misguided declaration to illustrate his problem:
    Since the recent rise of the neo-liberals were closely followed by the election of Trump and the rise of the alt-right, then one must suspect that it was not the venerable classical liberals but the neo-liberals that are responsible for the rise of the right!

    • Walt Jones
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      I think a study of the Facebook pages of Trump supporters would reveal that the correlation/causation link isn’t as tenuous as you imply. Less tenuous than Arel’s link, at least.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      I refer to a study of Trump supporters in my post. What identifies them more than any other factor is authoritarianism. In the article about US authoritarianism that my post links to, they describe Trump as a candidate designed to appeal to authoritarians.

      Some people have become irrationally scared of all sorts of things and that makes them crave an authoritarian leader. Hence Trump.

      • Walt Jones
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        And nothing irks an authoritarian more than another authoritarian with different views.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        Yes and this is why he identifies so well with Putin, another authoritarian strongman.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 4, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink


  3. Richard Sanderson
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Dan seems rather excited at the prospect of more violence, the chance to punch people, attack women, mace students in the face, etc. I have met people like that in the past. They enjoy violence, but masquerade as a “liberal” and use “liberal” language to try and justify their violence. It is never long until their jackboots start crushing the faces of those who were not their original targets.

    He thinks he “on the right side of history”, remember!

    • Harrison
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      My own reading is that the most hawkish of the pro-violence left wouldn’t place their own noses within 50 yards of anyone’s angry fists. They’re living vicariously through the ones doing the punching and the ones being punched and in the end creating a more dangerous environment for every protestor.

      Noam Chomsky’s take on “punching Nazis”:

      “Wrong in principle, in my opinion, and tactically self-destructive. When we move into the arena of violence, the most brutal guys win – and that’s not us.”

      • Melanie
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        “Bring it you nazi fuck”

        Internet Tough Guy from the safety of his desk chair.

    • Alex Shearin
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      Excited at the prospect of more violence indeed! Statements like “bring it you nazi fuck” are terrifying and pretty disappointing–unchecked emotionalism is nothing to be touting proudly.

      • ToddP
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. Unfortunately, emotionalism seems to have become the default mode in any attempts at rational discourse lately. Whoever cries, pouts, forcefully claims victimhood/oppression or throws the loudest temper tantrum garners the most sympathy and dominates the headlines.

        It feels like we’re moving from an era of celebrating public intellectuals and valuing logical reasoning to glorifying public emotionalists and ceding control to crybabies.

  4. GBJames
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink


  5. Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    A “safe space” is one in which, by definition, one must not say that which is found offensive by those who are to be protected.

    I do not think that any proponent of safe spaces would find any objection with that definition. Pace Sam Harris, I hope that that is an “ironperson” characterization, as opposed to a “strawman” one.

    I have put that definition forth in order to note that it is fundamentally and irreconcilably incompatible with even the general idea of a “free speech zone.” In a safe space, you are not free to criticize, not free to meaningfully disagree, and especially not free to offend.

    I expect that defenders of safe spaces are already preparing reasons why offensive speech is indefensible — which completely misses the point.

    If you support free speech, you support all speech: the complimentary and the offensive, the kind and the hateful, the constructive and the destructive.

    And, to state the bleedin’ obvious that opponents of free speech seem incapable of comprehending: supporting the right to speak both good and ill has fuck-all to do with endorsing the words spoken.

    Instead, it’s a mutual non-aggression pact. You don’t want other people to force you to shut up, do you? I mean, you’d get pretty upset if a be-sheeted Nazi sucker-punched nigger-lovin’ mudbloods for having the temerity to suggest that whites aren’t the pinnacle of divine creation, right?

    Because, if they had their way, their safe spaces would prohibit contamination from inferior races and impure ideology.

    You, in other words.

    So, that’s the deal. You let them say what you find offensive, they let you say what they find offensive, and nobody throws any punches.

    Worst case, nobody goes home with a broken nose.

    Best case, you just might find some common ground between the two of you that can open a pathway for peaceful mutual coexistence. For example, you can at least both, hopefully, agree on the vital importance of freedom of speech and the horrific danger of “safe” spaces….



    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted February 4, 2017 at 5:01 am | Permalink


    • Sastra
      Posted February 4, 2017 at 5:48 am | Permalink

      Well said.

  6. Historian
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Without commenting on the substance of Tayler’s piece, he appears to be simply wrong in characterizing Rubin as a progressive. Per Wikipedia, Rubin voted in 2016 for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, for president. This does not make him a progressive in the sense that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are ones.

    I came across an article by Alex Katz that dissects Rubin’s political views. If anything, Rubin is perhaps a “classical liberal” in the 19th century use of the term. The 19th century classical liberal has morphed into the 21st century right-wing conservative,at least in the economic sense, meaning that Rubin supports laissez-faire economic theory — precisely what modern day progressives (or liberals if you like) reject.

    View story at Medium.com

    • Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink


    • Posted February 3, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      Ron Paul is not a liberal. While many of his positions may overlap those of liberals–especially in comparison to other Republicans–a number of others certainly do not. For example he had this to say on the separation of church and state:

      “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs.”

      Source: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2003/12/ron-paul/the-war-on-religion/

      Jefferson who? Madison who?

      Paul also thinks it acceptable to restrict the rights of women and homosexuals as long as it is done at the level of state govt. and not the federal.

      Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Ron_Paul

      Nope, not liberal.

      To me the fact that Katz would list Paul as such leaves his judgment on such matters in question.

      • Historian
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

        Katz refers to Ron Paul as a classical liberal as opposed to what we think of as a modern day liberal. He says regarding a classical liberal: “Meaning supportive of a brand of Lockean liberalism which prioritizes economic rights and limited government regulation of the economy.” Katz is thinking in terms of economic issues and the role of the federal government in intervening in societal affairs.

        • Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

          I was referring to classical liberalism as well but primarily (obviously) regarding idividual rights (privacy, sexuality, conscience etc.). Nobody –worth listening to–implies that someone is a Nazi (or similar) merely because of their economic views. The Fascists/Nazis didn’t even have a consistent set of economic ideals, however they certainly were not about limited govt.

          • Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

            Sorry, was conflating some things in my head, looking at what Katz said again, he doesn’t seem to be implying that Ruben is necessarily a Nazi etc., just that he is submitting to “illiberalism of the right”. Mea culpa.

  7. darrelle
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Dan should take care not to step over the line to inciting violence.

    I really don’t mind the insults, foul language and such from people like Dan directed at people like Richard Spencer, but their willingness to support and apparently engage in violence is so damn stupid. Their ignorance is infuriating.

    Letting people like Spencer have their say will almost certainly be a net benefit to society while opposing them Dan’s way certainly benefits Spencer and his ilk. The benefits are happening in plain sight of Dan and his ilk and yet they continue down the same path. Besides the ethical issues they are also being just plain stupid.

    Their key argument is that the ideology of their opponents is so awful that the only ethical response is to shut them down even if it takes violence. That’s an old trap that liberals aren’t supposed to fall in to anymore. Their conclusion is wrong. The proper conclusion is that the most ethical response is to do whatever it is that yields the best results. From past history we’ve got some pretty good examples of what works and lots of examples of what doesn’t work well at all. Dan and his ilk are doing what has demonstrably not worked. That is unethical.

    • Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      I think violence is acceptable in self-defence. Which means that I’d have been forced to defend Spencer if he lashed swung back.

      So congratulations, regressive: you’ve now put us in the situation where, to be true to our convictions, we have to defend right-wingers committing violent acts (albeit only in self-defence).

      • darrelle
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        Yes, a very good point.

    • BJ
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      He doesn’t just support violence against people like Richard Spencer, but against people with whom he simply disagrees. A woman got maced simply for giving an interview in which she supports Milo’s right to speak. Does Dan care? Of course not. He seems to think that anyone who supports Milo’s right to speak is a “Nazi” and deserves to have violence committed against them.

  8. Taz
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Dear Dan,

    It’s not sympathy for fascists that makes me object to your flirtation with violence, it’s that I don’t trust you for a second to decide who is and isn’t a fascist. And having read your screed, I trust you even less.


  9. Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Dan’s moral position is lost. Violence is what we’re supposed to be against.

    But there is a practical issue for Dan and anyone that thinks the sucker punch and the Berkley ‘riot’ is a good idea goin forward.

    A Trump conservative state, with many highly weaponised police, the military,


    … and a big portion of the Trump supporting public, a ‘malitia’ as they see themselves, with guns, and the NRA on their side. And Milo’s boss has Trump’s ear (and is maybe leading him by it).

    The funny thing is you hear a lot of, “We defeated the Nazis before!” Well, a lot of the guys that defeated the Nazis didn’t do it with placards and the odd punch.

    And another, “Remember what we achieved the sixties!”

    Well them conservatives love their freedom. This isn’t about Vietnam, this is about their Homeland.

    It would be the biggest damned mistake the Left in the US could make, to start endorsing violence.

    • Harrison
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      While I think the problem of escalating violence is real, I don’t think there’s a sincere threat of a Trump police state.


      Trump has no reason to suppress and silence the opposition when they’re doing so much good work for his cause. “Never interrupt your opponent when he’s making a mistake.”

      • colnago80
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        Dummkopf Donald is too stupid to realize that.

      • Posted February 3, 2017 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        I agree, I wasn’t suggesting he would create one, but that he would suppress anything that looked remotely like a ‘revolution’ in the making by anarchists.

        As much as I disagree with much of the conservative America, I think most are sincere in their belief in freedom, so much so that freedom from government tyranny is their *malitia’s* biggest fear.

        The problem with the right isn’t their love of freedom, but their belief that government is so bad it can’t even be used to help the needy. Many seem to want to vote for a government would necessarily by so useless they would be its victims of neglect.

        On the other side we have the nanny socialism that’s totally miffed that the damned prols won’t let them save them.

    • Posted February 3, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      The funny thing is you hear a lot of, “We defeated the Nazis before!” Well, a lot of the guys that defeated the Nazis didn’t do it with placards and the odd punch.

      Actually, a lot of anarchists refused to fight Nazis at all. Many were pacifists and went to prison rather than fight. Whatever you think of the rights and wrongs of their stance at least they had the courage of their convictions.

      There’s a long tradition of anarchy-pacifism. Leo Tolstoy was an inspiration to Gandhi. Alex Comfort (yes, the Joy of Sex guy) was a peace campaigner and a prominant member of CND.

      I doubt most of these thugs have read much classical anarchist literature. I doubt they’ve even heard of Bart de Ligt, or any number of anarchists who espoused pacifism.

      • Posted February 3, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it’s difficult to assign the right labels to such a complex mix of political philosophies.

        But some anarchists are revolutionary, and some see the chaos of violence as a means to an end. The noisy placard waving SJW that are usually doing no more than shouting in your face and blocking access, are being dragged into the chaos. And I guess many have feet in multiple camps.

        Similarly the Republicans don’t really know who they are, as is also the case with the Labour party in the UK.

        And yes, how much political history and theory they’ve read may be limited to those that fit their current ideology – not an uncommon feature of the young political mind.

        I see Cenk Uygur is putting his money on Alt-Right false flag ops, or something. I’m waiting for Putin’s name to turn up in this context too.

        Whatever the source of the violence, the noisy SJW left are being made to own it, and in many cases willingly, given their satisfaction at the violence.

  10. GBJames
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I recently had an extended exchange on Facebook with someone in the regressive position. What finally seemed to get through was my insistence that she hadn’t really thought things through until she could cogently answer the question: “Who gets to decide which speech should be banned?”

    She tried the “I know it when I see it” gambit which is a hopeless failure of an answer for obvious reasons.

  11. aljones909
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Arel’s defence of safe spaces is astonishing:

    “They strawman the very idea of “safe spaces” … these are nothing but the same “spaces” we see in Alcoholics Anonymous, or even at private atheist meetings or gatherings.”

    A student meeting/class is the same as a drug rehabilitation session?

    And these “private atheist meetings”. Do people realy get tearful and angry if the atheist view is challenged? Atheists seem to welcome the opportunity to debate the best arguments for theism.

    • Posted February 3, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      What does a “private atheist gathering” look like? I’ve been to numerous public gatherings of atheists. These groups always welcome more people. And, the range of ideas about atheism can be enormous. Somehow, we manage not to come to blows.

  12. Posted February 3, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    It does liberalism no favors to make white nationalists look like the reasonable party. All Spencer has to do is endure some spittle and a couple black eyes while calmly supporting free speech and the left just looks ridiculous. These are the tactics that won civil rights. Just because white nationalists are wrong and have contemptible ideas, doesn’t mean they can’t win sympathy. The idea of racial equality was popularly contemptible not long ago, but it took the moral high ground, and great patience to change those minds. It can take the same patience to change them back. There is no inherent reason that those attitudes are permanently fixed, as history has shown otherwise.

  13. Posted February 3, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    From what I read about the Berkeley march, the actual marchers were peaceful. The violence was started and exacerbated by anarchic agitators: the Black Bloc. Any suggestions on how to successfully counteract these bums (British meaning intended) beyond ignoring them?

  14. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I found myself is a weird situation on FB (where one often encounters weirdness). A very religious Christian friend posted a video that asked why we (I assume “we” includes Western democracies) should accept Muslim immigrants when their values are at odds with our own and then the video described all the nasty bits of Islam as practiced by Islamic states and held by Islamist Muslims in the UK.

    On the surface, these are good questions to ask or at least these are good facts to expose but I found the tone of the video and the assumption that all Muslims hold these values to be leaning toward tarring one people with the same brush.

    And I’m the first person to point out all the nasty bits of religion but I found myself writing that the questions were all good ones, nothing is beyond questioning, including religious practices and beliefs BUT like all religious people, Muslims practice Islam differently so not all Muslims hold values contra to liberal values. I then pointed out that all people who hold liberal values dear should support liberal Muslims and I gave the example of Maajid Nawaz as one such liberal Muslim we should support, and that, like many liberal Muslims, he is persecuted by illiberal Muslims so he literally risks his life supporting liberal values.

    I felt I had to say all that because I had the distinct impression that my religious Christian friend was engaging in religious bigotry. I then chuckled to think that as an atheist, I am used to accepting people with different views (almost everyone is different given most people are religious) and as a Christian, this could be the first time this person is encountering someone with opposite views.

    • Cindy
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Judge people as individuals, not members of a group.

      What Arel is doing is designating individuals as members of another group – Nazis – for not holding the precise beliefs that Arel thinks they should hold.

      “Anyone who disagrees with me is a Nazi and can be treated thusly”

      So, curiously, you get people who disagree about the wage gap, or the existence of sexual dimorphism, lumped in with *actual* Nazis.

      • Cindy
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        To add to what is an incomplete thought…

        So Maajid Nawaz goes into the ‘Nazi’ bin, due to having the wrong set of beliefs, whereas a Muslim who actively advocates for the genocide of Jewish people and child marriage goes into the ‘not-a-Nazi’ bin.

        Beliefs are what matter to illiberal leftists – not skin colour, not sex, and not sexual orientation. If you are a member of what has been designated as an ‘oppressed group’ you can get away with murder (sometimes literally concerning recent events) up until the point that you disagree with the all important narrative.

        This is why I prefer to call this phenonemon ‘ideology politics’ instead of ‘identity politics’. Identity politics is just a cover. Beliefs matter first and foremost. Oppressed groups merely exist as props, as religious relics, for the SJW fanatics to rally around. A religious fanatic flagellates himself in front of a religious relic – Jesus on the Cross. An SJW fanatic does the same, only this time it is in honour of black people, women, or Muslims etc. They do this to demonstrate their piety. They are more virtuous than the guy next to them, who just isn’t beating himself nearly hard enough. This is why people like Maajid Nawaz and AHA *must* go into the Nazi bin – they disrupt the narrative of virtue that SJW fanatics have created for themselves and their place in the world. Power and politics is what matters to the fanatic, not actually improving the lives of those who are oppressed.

        A bit more on how belief is everything to the fanatic. I used to listen to Matt Dillahunty’s The Atheist Experience, and one point made by him always stood out to me. Hitler, for example, could kill millions of people, but as long as he believed in the Christian God and the redemptive power of Jesus, he would go to Heaven, whereas an atheist who spends his life helping the poor will go straight to hell because not believing is the greatest sin of all. Eternal torture for simply refusing to believe. You know, when I think of it that way, Arel’s vicious attitude makes even more sense…

        And how many of you remember all of the televangelists who have been caught with hookers, begging for forgiveness on the TV? And they get it! Their parishioners are more than ready to forgive them – because they have the right *beliefs*, and beliefs are what matter, not actions. And for anyone who is the least bit familiar with the drama over at FreeThoughtBlogs and #anti-GamerGate, you will have picked up on a similar theme. There are admitted perverts, paedos and molestors amongst them, and they are accepted and loved, because they have the correct *beliefs*.

        Before I ramble on more, one final point. Which beliefs are ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ is purposely vague. They are ever-changing. You never know when you will be committing a grave sin. *Any* of you here could be labelled a Nazi by Dan Arel and those like him should it be decided, on a whim,that your beliefs are Nazi-ish in nature. What the illiberal leftist wants is power, and they will do whatever they can to get it and to keep it.

        P.S. SJWs are not a monolith. I think that some are true believers and naive in the extreme. This is why I use the term ‘SJW fanatic’ and “illiberal leftist’ in my descriptions. I don’t want to make the mistake of treating SJWs as a monolith, the way they treat anyone who disagrees with them.

        • BJ
          Posted February 3, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

          “Beliefs are what matter to illiberal leftists – not skin colour, not sex, and not sexual orientation.”

          You can see this in how they’re always saying that we need to “listen to the voices of women/people of color/LGBT/etc.” and then promptly harass and exclude any people from those groups who express views the illiberals don’t like. They call black people who call them out on their bullshit “uncle Tom” or “race traitor,” women who do the same “gender traitor” or people with “internalized oppression,” and so on. Regressives don’t really care about any of these people, and the second any of them step out of line, they’re treated abominably.

          • Posted February 6, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

            Unfortunately this is an old tradition. My friend Raven used to say she got flack from some of her fell Native American activists by suggesting the way to get what she took to be the positive traditions to survive was to allow those of different backgrounds to adopt them (with appropriate qualifications based on merit, rather than “blood”).

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

        Yes, the worst insult to hurl at a liberal is “nazi” or “racist” or “sexist” and by yelling these things to people who disagree with you, hurts their reputation (or so the yeller hopes) and you silence them and this win.

    • aljones909
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      “A very religious Christian friend posted a video that asked why we (I assume “we” includes Western democracies) should accept Muslim immigrants when their values are at odds with our own “.
      A good question. Where has muslim immigration (at significant levels) been a success?

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the contretemps between Arel and Tayler over “who’s to blame” for Trump’s victory, this is one instance in which it is failure that has a thousand fathers. Trump’s margin of victory in the electoral-vote-rich “Brexit belt” of industrial Great-Lakes states that runs from western Pa., across northern Ohio, up through Michigan, and around the UP horn into Wisconsin, numbered in the tens of thousands.

    Given those meager numbers, the difference between the thrill of victory and agony of defeat can be traced to any of the myriad factors that swung votes one way or the other — the alt-right/racist/misogynist turnout, electoral alienation engendered by the regressive left, disgruntled Bernie bros, the Johnson/Stein third-party block, and, of course, the 53% of white wimminz who cast their votes for the tangerine candidate. These unceasing recriminations do the losing side no good.

    Regarding Arel’s criticism of Dave Rubin for having on his show Brietbart reprobates like Milo and B. Shapiro, I have one word: bullshit! It is precisely by pulling them out of the dank crevasses of their own echo-chambers and exposing them to some clean air and confrontational questioning that such vermin is best dealt with. I wouldn’t grant them the legitimacy of a spot on the dais at a premier program, but having them in for a face-to-face is entirely appropriate. Oughta happen more often.

    • darrelle
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Nicely said. I agree on all counts.

    • Historian
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Yes, everything broke for Trump on Election Day and there are at least a dozen or more explanations (all with merit) that provide the various pieces as to what happened. He was extraordinarily lucky. Certainly, Hillary’s failure to send a message with the power of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” was one reason she had difficulty in getting out the vote for her in the key states.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 3, 2017 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        Hmmm, yes. When one considers how improbable it all was, it must have been a miracle. God sent us Donald Trump!

        Just another reason to detest the bastard.


  16. Sastra
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Before “classical Liberal White Nationalist Enablers” and “Regressive Left Social Justice Warriors” go into battle, they ought to both be presented with a long list of clear, specific examples of “safe spaces” and “no platforming” and other hot button buzzword in contention. Some examples are going to be more extreme than others. Down the list they both go, checking boxes which say “I’m okay with this” and “I’m NOT okay with this. The lists are then exchanged, studied carefully, and …

    Only those items which have been marked differently can be brought up.

    There will still be specific areas of disagreement, of course, but neither side will straw-man the other, or be straw-manned themselves. And they will both be on the same page, talking about the same issue. My suspicion is that this would save everyone a lot of grief.

    I’ve no idea how to implement it, of course. But I think it would be nice, if only for those watching. I keep thinking “is that what they really meant?”

  17. Posted February 4, 2017 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    I am not a USAian, so this is not my controversy, but I feel that Ophelia Benson recently made a good point on her blog. As far as I can tell, this Milo guy in particular is not so much a conservative thinker as mostly a troll aiming to make people angry, as an end unto itself. The question is then really if “free speech” is the right category under which to file this.

    I mean, if I have five British citizens over at my flat for dinner, one of the five spits into my drink and insults my wife, and I show him and only him the door, I don’t think anybody could claim that I am generally hostile to the opinions of British citizens. Likewise, how about inviting conservative speakers who do not go out of their way to insult and bully people? Surely one can represent diversity of opinion by conversing with somebody who is a decent person?

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted February 4, 2017 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      The question is then really if “free speech” is the right category under which to file this.

      Is he directly inciting violence? Is he shouting “fire!” in a crowded auditorium? Is he harassing individuals?

      From Ben Goren at #5: “If you support free speech, you support all speech: the complimentary and the offensive, the kind and the hateful, the constructive and the destructive.

      And, to state the bleedin’ obvious that opponents of free speech seem incapable of comprehending: supporting the right to speak both good and ill has fuck-all to do with endorsing the words spoken.”

      Ejecting someone offensive to you from your own home is nothing to do with free speech.

      • Posted February 4, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Is he harassing individuals?

        That is my understanding, yes, after the incident with the transgender student. That is precisely the issue.

        Ejecting someone offensive to you from your own home is nothing to do with free speech.

        And that was precisely my point, so I am glad that we agree. The question is then only to what degree a university is at least party a kind of student’s “own home” for the time they are its students, a place in which they are expected to learn and be exposed to new ideas but in which they can also expect nobody to just walk in and single them out for public humiliation.

        • Cindy
          Posted February 4, 2017 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

          The student had gone on TV. She is therefore a public figure. One could argue that Milo behaved in poor taste (and I think he did) but if one is going to go on the TV and argue for something don’t expect your opinions to go unchallenged.

          • Posted February 4, 2017 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

            This sounds a bit as if the expectation is that public figures, no matter how little power they have to defend themselves, need to take anything that is thrown at them. Surely that would be chilling to free speech, as everybody who doesn’t have a team of lawyers and private transport at their disposal would have to think very hard about speaking out?

            • Cindy
              Posted February 4, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

              Don’t expect your opinions to go unchallenged if you are going to argue them in the public square.

              • Posted February 4, 2017 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

                Sorry, I was not entirely clear here. And maybe I am not well informed enough, but my understanding was that the student was not challenged on opinions, but publicly shamed, humiliated, and insulted. Or did I get that wrong?

                I mean, a public figure like the president is expected to live with abrasive political cartoons and insults because they have so much power and live in such a bubble that these attacks just bounce off anyway. In fact it could be argued that they constitute a good safety valve for all who don’t have any other way of venting as they feel powerless in the face of decisions they oppose. At least they get to laugh.

                But if I as a speaker disagree with the opinion of a university student in the audience, I would not expect to publish e.g. a cartoon like this one about them or call them names and have people think I am still a decent human being, because the power differential is very much the other way. It would just be bullying.

              • GBJames
                Posted February 5, 2017 at 7:53 am | Permalink

                Or did I get that wrong?

                You decide.

                IMO this student is a public social activist on a relatively small stage. There’s nothing wrong with that, IMO. But flames of being “outed” by Milo are preposterous.

                He (Milo) is a tasteless provocateur. But student activists put themselves in the public sphere by their activism.

    • Fred
      Posted February 4, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      Milo is a known agent provocateur but having watched a couple of his speeches he just doesn’t get up there and insult people Sam Kinison style. He does present actual arguments – such as the wage gap myth being an earnings gap and so on.

      I watched his last speech in which he defends the church and that was mostly bullshit. Thankfully there were people – anti SJWs no less – who took him to task on the misinformation he was peddling.

      • GBJames
        Posted February 4, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        “who took him to task on the misinformation he was peddling”

        Which is how it should be. Shutting down speech on the basis that you think someone is a “troll” is nothing but a whitewash of totalitarian action. Totalitarianism is found in the shutting down of free expression, not in whether the speaker is a provocateur.

    • aljones909
      Posted February 4, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      “Likewise, how about inviting conservative speakers who do not go out of their way to insult and bully people?”. It’s absolutely essential that we allow people to use insult as part of free speech.
      As Rowan Atkinson said :
      “The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult.”
      He was referring to Section 5 of the Public Order Act. The law that criminalises “hate speech” in the UK.
      An article in the Telegraph https://tinyurl.com/j9pu8se

      details arrests made for insults made against Scientologists and a radical islamic group.

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