Persuading and hectoring

Kevin Drum responded to my ruminating about guilt and shame and how they trip up liberal causes.

It’s human nature to get defensive when you feel guilty, and it’s hard to recruit defensive folks to your cause. If this were only an occasional problem, that would be one thing. But let’s be honest: We really do rely on guilt a lot. You should feel guilty about using plastic bags. About liking college football. About driving an SUV. About eating factory-farmed beef. About using the wrong word to refer to a transgender person. About sending your kids to a private school. And on and on and on.

We all contribute to this, even when we don’t mean to. And maybe guilt is inevitable when you’re trying to change people’s behavior. But it adds up, and over time lefties can get to seem a little unbearable. You have to be so damn careful around us!

Without trying to join this conversation, two hours later Hamilton Nolan at Gawker illustrated Kevin’s point about well as anyone can.

Whenever an unarmed young black man is shot dead by the police, white conservatives determined not to feel guilty flock to one news source for their absolution: National Review.

Now the Gawker media empire has a brand that puts a noticeably liberal red meatish spin on news bits. They also break original news, notably Deadspin in particular, but most of the time they blog the news with the same mix of snark and context that Balloon Juice readers know well. So I really don’t want to single out Nolan for criticism here. I agree with his stuff and I like his style. His pitchforks attitude towards the rich and privileged would fit right in here. But I do think this example of Kevin’s point should inspire some reflection.

Should white conservatives feel concerned and outraged by what happened in Ferguson? Of course. We all have good reason to expect grownup behavior from cops. But guilt? Yes white conservatives all benefited from their low melanin count, but white liberals benefit just the same. I really don’t know if conservative politicos armor and empower the police any more than ours do. Bill Clinton certainly approved and those of us who will soon go glossolalic for Hillary should ask ourselves how much we really think she will challenge the police-military-industrial complex.

It seems to me the main difference is that liberals feel guilty about it and conservatives don’t. In fact it seems to me that guilt could be both necessary and sufficient to explain far ends of the liberal-conservative axis. A conservative who can feel guilt-at-a-distance is by definition persuadable (cough John Cole) and a liberal who feels none is a little suspicious. A conservative would say that liberals carry crosses around for no good reason; a liberal would respond that a conservative must be a sociopath, a sadist or overacting to hide the guilt he does feel (cf. the rabid, closeted homophobe). To be perfectly honest a creature of pure logic would choose liberal positions on some issues and side with conservatives on others. Those of us who stake ourselves to a ‘side’ do it at least in part because of what we feel or we choose not to, pretend not to or cannot feel.

Kevin is right to muse that we lefties should think twice about leaning on guilt. It can easily become a crutch and a cheap shot. Jesus loved the poor and he probably would arrive black in a shit neighborhood if he showed up today but the guy also loathed self-righteousness. It takes patience to talk with rather than at but it pays off in the long run. Put another way Rachel Carson persuaded, Ed Abbey hectored. One of them created an almost unstoppable unity of environmental consciousness in America, the other divided the movement and tarred it with groups he inspired like Earth First! and the (alleged) ELF.

I consistently find Drum among the most persuasive writers in blogs. It seems hardly a coincidence that he would use my short bit to ask whether we liberals hurt ourselves by swinging guilt like a club. Or take another group that often convinces me of things I do not already believe, American Conservative. Like drum they tend to stick to good faith (and often hard-earned expertise) over easy moral frames. Naturally I do not believe speaking with instead of at will make conservatives liberal or vice versa. Not many people will invert their most fundamental characteristics because you asked them. On the other hand I doubt that many of us either congenitally feel intense guilt or violently resist it.

Take Ferguson forexample. You hear a lot of white St. Louis defending the cop. Do that many people hate and fear black people? Some yes, but all? Probably not. Probably not even an electorally significant fraction. That KKK fundraiser fell apart because the hate community just can’t find that many people willing to associate with their embarrassing mess. I am convinced that most find excuses to ignore Ferguson not out of hate but because the alternative is shame. Whether the shame is appropriate and justified, we will not solve human nature by ignoring it.

People with no reason to buddy up with fossil fuel companies still turn their back on global warming in part because they feel like environmentalists will keep hectoring them until we all live in grass huts. This comes up a lot, and not all of it is smokescreening or trolls. I know plenty of enviro movement Abbeyites who talk this way. Bad faith assholes nutpick these guys and amplify their message, but they do that for a good reason. It works.

***Update***

Before I get permanently branded as an absolutist, even my paragons gladly shame someone when any regular person would agree that shame is deserved. There is a world of difference between making regular people feel like they’re walking a minefield of liberal sensitivities and calling out Mitt F*cking Romney (his actual middle name, in the opinion of many) for stepping all over Benghazi before the bodies were cold.

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159 replies
  1. 1
    Steeplejack says:

    Possible site issue: I’m getting a message asking me if I want to “Sign in to this site as [my e-mail address].” It first happened on Elon James White’s post “Our Eyes Are on Ferguson,” and now it just happened on the front page and on this post.

    Is this a deliberate thing or some FYWP snafu?

    This happens with Chrome on Android. Just checked, and it doesn’t happen on Firefox with Windows 7.

    (And I declined to sign in.)

  2. 2

    I was raised conservative Baptist, so yes, I feel guilty about pretty much everything. Many years of therapy and leaving conservative evangelicalism have gotten me to the point where much of that guilty is now channeled into empathy and I don’t actively dislike myself. So… progress…

    I still argue with my conservative friends like I’m giving a sermon though… they find it irritating at times.

  3. 3
    Aimai says:

    Kevin is full of shit–as usual. Liberals dont argue that people should do the right thing out of guilt. People should do the right thing because its the fucking right thing to do. It is authoritarian bedwetters, misogynists, and bullies who need praise for motivation and who cant stand to be shown up by other people doing the right thing for its own sake. These right wing assholes are all about getting a reward from god or daddy or they wont do anything. And they hate to be shown up. Thats all. Its nothing we do to them. Its their own psychodrama.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    max says:

    the many of us who will soon go glossolalic for Hillary should ask ourselves how much we really expect her to take on the police-military-industrial complex

    Or the prison-industrial/slave labor complex? Not at all, I imagine.

    Kevin is right to muse that we lefties should think twice about leaning on guilt.

    Who’s leaning on guilt? The prison-industrial complex resembles the Soviet gulag system right before it collapsed. In some ways it isn’t as brutal – in others it is work. And you certainly can’t say prison labor isn’t part of the economy, especially when anti-communists often pointed out how much of the Soviet economy relied on prison labor.

    I don’t think of that stuff in terms of guilt – I think we ought to be fucking well ashamed that we win the cold war (or rather, they resigned from the game) and then turned around and promptly emulated/copied and in some ways outdid them… for no discernable rational reason.

    You hear a lot of white St. Louis defending the cop, but do that many people hate and fear black people? Some yes, but all? Probably not.

    One hopes not, but there is clearly a large market for bitching about how good black people have it, and certainly plenty of guys like that cop calling them all bad names. I wonder if part of the liberal hand-wringing about this is how bad some liberals really don’t want to believe this is happening… unless its in front of their face, as it is now.

    That KKK fundraiser fell apart because even the hate community can’t find that many people willing to associate themselves with that mess.

    ‘Branding! Our wizards need a new brand name!’

    People with no reason to buddy up with fossil fuel companies will find climate denial pretty compelling if they feel like environmentalists will keep hectoring them until they live in grass huts.

    I am pretty sure there are people who would hector until we are all living (and dying young & diseased) in grass huts. But that trick won’t work like they think it will, simply because too many people will just go right on, bypassing the huts. (See the history of any number of 60’s communes.) That, in no way, changes the fact that some Very Serious People get off on torture.

    max
    [‘There are sadists. They are near the centers of power.’]

  6. 6
    James E. Powell says:

    You hear a lot of white St. Louis defending the cop, but do that many people hate and fear black people? Some yes, but all? Probably not. Probably not even an electorally significant fraction.

    I’m not sure how to respond to that last sentence without sounding like a dick about it. I submit that one way we can be certain that the people who hate/fear black people are a very significant electoral fraction is that we have not seen a Republican campaign since 1972 that did not include an appeal based on hate/fear of black people as a major component of the campaign.

    Moreover, until we had a candidate who was himself African/American, every Democratic presidential candidate has been required to do the “distancing” dance. If the portion of the electorate motivated by hate/fear of blacks were not significant, the phrase Sister Souljah moment wouldn’t have entered the lexicon.

    Seriously. I don’t understand where you are coming from on this. At all.

  7. 7
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @James E. Powell: This. I’m white, and live in supposedly more “liberal” or “tolerant” New England, and I can guarantee that an electorally significant fraction of my white compatriots *do* hate or fear black people. They’ll make noises like they don’t, and they’ll never, no matter the company, say “that nigger in the White House”, but they’ll think it, and they will look at what’s gone on in Ferguson this week and say, at least to themselves, “those people” and, tellingly, “see?”

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Unfortunately, I have come across the same thing in liberal Madison.

  9. 9
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Aimai: Absolutely.

  10. 10
    mark says:

    I still maintain Drum is a mole. Whatever he says, do the opposite. Blaming the great Ed Abbey for “dividing the environmental movement”.? What bullshit.

  11. 11
    demz taters says:

    Also, don’t underestimate the power of spite. These are people who stake out their positions based on how much they can piss liberals off and how much they can punish the “wrong” kinds of people.

  12. 12
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Gin & Tonic: I got a similar vibe from a segment on Chris Hayes tonight when the (white, Democratic) Mayor of St. Louis was talking about how there was a need to understand and talk with “them” and have greater trust and understanding, etc., etc. I assume he wasn’t intending to do so, but the implication was that he wasn’t mayor of “them”, too. It made me shake my head in disgust.

    A lot of what underlies this, I think, is “where you stand depends on where you sit” – if you’re not exposed to other people and the way they think in a reasonable way, then you’re not going to understand them. That goes double in dealing with people who have disabilities, mental problems, addiction problems, medical issues, etc., etc.

    Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Patrol seems to understand these issues, but it’s not clear that he has the authority, or ability, to make his excellent pronouncements real policy on the ground.

    It also reminded me of David Ortiz’s comment after the Boston bombing:

    All right Boston. This jersey that we wear today, it doesn’t say Red Sox. It says Boston. We want to thank you Mayor Menino, Governor, Patrick the whole police department for the great job they did this past week. This is our fucking city and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.

    The people in authority in the St. Louis area and in Missouri (and elsewhere, of course) need to make it clear that they understand that we’re all in this together. And mean it. That means big changes are needed, and the sooner those productive changes happen, the better. A first step is to stop dividing citizens into “us and them”. A second step is for the Governor to quit being a coward and to appoint a special prosecutor to give people confidence that a fair, objective legal process will go forward.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  13. 13
    jl says:

    I don’t understand Drum’s post or Tim F.’s response. I don’t know any liberals, or progressives, or whatever they want to call themselves who comb over every nano-detail my, or anybody else’s, life and habits and finds 101 things to for us to feel shame and guilt about. And I live in San Francisco! The list of things one could feel shame and guilt about are endless. I would hope there is some middle between living naked in a cave, feeling horrible about oneself not being able to remedy everything while living a relatively normal life, and going YOLO and eff it, God, or The Market will take care of it all.

    (Edit: comes to mind there was a critical mass of shamers and guilters at Move-On meetings years ago the kept my participation short and not very sweet)

    I have heard from the family teabagger contingent in my family, muttering about cops having to do their jobs, and that no never, they themselves are not bigots, but there are ‘cultural problems’ in certain groups that cause them to have ‘qualms’ seeming with deep foundations in cement.

    At one very basic level, I think, the behavior of the police officer who shot the kid was unprofessional and unacceptable as soon as the incident started, long before the shooting. The MO of that city police department is odd and unacceptable on its face. A person can argue from that angle, and see if any progress is possible. Everything from how they do, or don;t do proper police reports on major incidence as it suits them, to their officers running around pointing weapons and seemingly random people yelling threats to kill them for no particular reason. The racial angle, which I admit is huge, can be approached latter. But if you cannot even make progress on those fronts, then you are dealing with a die hard authoritarian or die hard racist, and really nothing you can do. And I don’t see where guilt or shame is an issue at all, unless there is some projection coming out of the teabagger or wingnut.

  14. 14
    Tim F. says:

    @mark: No, I blame Ed Abbey for dividing the environmental movement. I don’t know whether Kevin ever wrote about him.

    I ran environmental groups back in the day. I read my Abbey and I loathed it. It’s Ayn Rand for liberals. It clearly inspired the most unpleasant and counterproductive people in my groups. It inspired the ELF, which stupidly sabotaged some initiatives I was developing until their actions horrified the locals and they shut me out. Maybe that business explains why I despise self-righteous acting out as a substitute for intelligent activism. Or maybe it’s common sense. Either way I cannot deny that I feel pretty strong about it.

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  16. 16
    Anoniminous says:

    Since the publication of “The Genealogy of Morals” a vast scholarly literature has been written on Guilt Cultures, Shame Cultures, and the differences twixt and between ’em. I suggest Mr. Drum read some of it.

  17. 17
    Hal says:

    Take Ferguson forexample. You hear a lot of white St. Louis defending the cop. Do that many people hate and fear black people? Some yes, but all? Probably not. Probably not even an electorally significant fraction.

    Sure, if you asked those people do they hate and fear blacks, there answer would be no. But what about that music? Why can’t they pull their pants up? Speak proper English?

    BTW, it’s not just white St Louis IMO. I see defense of this cop everywhere. I think the American world view is still largely influenced and guided by straight white men, and straight white men are far less likely to have bad experiences with the police, store security, apartment managers while looking for a place to live, or HR when applying for a job. So maybe that’s why so many white people react to Ferguson by saying “Hey. He should have stopped when he was told.” Out and out racism in every instance? No. But underneath that reaction is a lowering of value of the lives of certain types of black men that this country has done since the good old days.

  18. 18
    Tim F. says:

    @demz taters: Naturally. So why do they want to piss liberals off? I would suggest it has a lot to do with feeling judged.

    Never underestimate the lengths people will go to get rid of shame. Especially when at some level they know it is appropriate. Steubenville.

  19. 19
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Hal:

    Sure, if you asked those people do they hate and fear blacks, there answer would be no. But what about that music? Why can’t they pull their pants up? Speak proper English?

    Of course, a lot of these people are bothered by their fellow white guys who don’t tuck in their polo shirts. There are a shitload of simple conformists in the world who are threatened by anyone or anything that does not match their perception of “normal.”

  20. 20
    Goblue72 says:

    @jl: Do you live in the same SF I did? Cuz when I did, there were a whole lot of progressives there that loved telling folks how they should live their lives and what they should be hanging their heads in shame over.

    SF is ground zero for lefty busybodies.

  21. 21
    Downpuppy says:

    Willard (the rat whisperer) Mitt Romney.

    Not Mitt fucking Romney. Learn the name and fear it. Everything you’ve heard about leveraged buyouts taking decent businesses and bleeding them is an understatement – just check out Bright Horizons.

  22. 22
    lamh36 says:

    OT, but, if anyone can get it y’all need to see Lawrence O’Donnell’s takedown of the NYT article on the Mike Brown’s murder and how the NYT basically wrote the piece better than the Ferguson PD could..

    He called out NYT for basically doing shoddy police reporting, basically quoting and using PD version of events and never doing any due diligence by actually getting info from PD. It’s just the PDs version of events and the NYT runs with it.

    he broke it down like a fraction

  23. 23
    aimai says:

    @Tim F.: Sure,they feeljudged, but we aren’t judging them. History is judging them. Life is judging them. They are suffering and they prefer to externalize their suffering onto someone else, and then whine and cry like babies because they aren’t getting all the goodies and all the praise at the same time. Lincoln said it himself–they aren’t satisfied with just getting their way, they have to get praise for it too. My right wing sister in law was anti gay marriage not because she was willing to say “fuck the gays I hate them” but because she feared ending up in a position where she couldn’t be sure that her rules would rule everyone, where her position on things would be taken for granted, where her religious views would trump everyone else’s. She didn’t like being in the minority. She didn’t like the idea that people wouldn’t praise her and reward her for being the only kind/best kind of christian. She hated the possibility that other people–people she respected and looked up to–found her a silly, bigoted, tedious, homophobic fool. We weren’t making her feel guilty–she felt guilty and embarrassed because she was no longer in control and couldn’t receive her orders from the appropriate authorities.

  24. 24
    greennotGreen says:

    Tim, I call bullshit. The “liberals” who are all about guilt, the holier than thou ones, are the Greens who ran Ralph Nader and gave us George Bush. The progressives and liberals I know hold most of their positions not necessarily or even primarily because they are “right” (and good and moral,) but because they work. You want a more peaceful society? Countries with more economic equality and justice tend to be more peaceful and spend less of their national wealth on war. You want lower crime? See above and add in better educational systems. Want a decent world for your kids? Take care of the planet. All the stock gains in the world won’t feed your descendents when the rains don’t fall on the crops.

    It’s not guilt. It’s just reality. Liberals face it. Conservatives make up their own.

  25. 25
    Anne Laurie says:

    Thanks for writing this, TimF.

    Was just commenting on the last thread… as far as I can tell, the governing body of Ferguson (and their fellows in all those many nearby ‘incorporated areas’) have managed to reproduce a simulacra of the medieval baronies. The local ‘nobility’ uses its (undertrained, poorly paid) private security forces to keep the serfs in line, with the unspoken consent of the semi-prosperous farmholders, craftsmen & merchants. When there’s an unfortunate incident, such as a blue knight accidentally-on-purpose killing a serf in front of eyewitnesses, we edumacated elitists in our distant power centers throw up our hands and demand to know how such behavior can be permitted in “our” realm. The answer being, as far as the Ferguson leaders perceive it, that they are only nominally “our” fellow citizens… as the Chinese are supposed to phrase it, The sky is wide, and the Emperor is far away.

  26. 26
    Eric U. says:

    I think the environmental movement was doing fine until the republican party got insane enough. Now it’s just Cleek’s law, and the republican’s natural media advantage has pushed back against environmentalism except in the most limited, local instances.

  27. 27
    Goblue72 says:

    Tim – you may want to re-read your Bible. There are a lot of Jesuses in it – only some of whom are the mild mannered hippie Jesus.

    In the Cleansing of the Temple, in John, He made a whip and literally beat the money-changers like a rented mule.

    In Matthew, He was more sedate – just tossing over their tables & chairs like the Hulk on a rampage.

    And in Matthew in His “bring a sword” speech (cast fire in Luke), its pretty clear – it’s His way or the highway – even if it pits brother against brother, father against son.

    Shit be complicated. It’s both Martin and Malcolm.

  28. 28
    mark says:

    Ed Abbey is Ayn Rand for liberals? What fucking bullshit. You failed because you failed, don’t blame Ed Abbey for your failures. Ed distanced himself from EF, Desert Solitaire should have won the Pulitzer. It is a beautiful book. Comparing that to the horrible fascist propaganda of Rand is absolutely ridiculous.

    I guess you blame Jesus for having “clearly inspired the most unpleasant and counterproductive people” Wtf? You do make a good point to contrast Drum with Abbey. Ed had balls. It is the reason I love Charles Pierce and John Cole and can’t stand weak-kneed phoneys like Drum.

  29. 29
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Eric U.: “Now”??

    You don’t remember Sec. of Interior James Watt, do you?

    :-/

    National Republicans have been hostile to the environment for a very long time.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  30. 30
    Arclite says:

    To be perfectly honest a creature of pure logic would choose liberal positions on some issues and side with conservatives on others.

    Well, most of those would be liberal positions given that most liberal conclusions come from empirical observation and evidence whereas conservative ones come mostly from dogma.

  31. 31
    jl says:

    @Goblue72: You talking about SF before the real estate boom and then the invasion of the brogrammers? I think a big chunk of your shamers and guilters fled, or had to move out do to cost of living, or been diluted.

    But, with move-on, I do remember a type of person who would come to a meeting and loudly object that something was wrong, the brand of cola was the wrong brand or not raised free-range or not organic, or something wrong with it. White bread was available and it was poison. Somebody brought Dixie cups for drinks… well, just the name! The rules of order were not consistent with the ideal of the Ideal Democracy that was rattling around in their heads, and everyone else should KNOW to do everything their way, but they did not, and were therefor unacceptable,. Most of these people would just leave after awhile, or no one would listen to them or work with them and they would stop attending.

    I stopped attending too, but because I decided more important to get some Democrats elected at CA state level, and didn’t have the time.

    So, anyway, I think I know the type.

  32. 32
    srv says:

    There’s something to be said about acting predictably and never feeling any shame.

  33. 33
    satby says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: at least since Reagan said that trees cause pollution.

  34. 34
    jl says:

    @satby:

    ” at least since Reagan said that trees cause pollution. ”

    Oh, no. Now I feel guilt and shame because I like trees. You harshed my mellow.

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @mark: OMG tastes differ. What a fucking shock. Get over yourself.

  36. 36
    Goblue72 says:

    @Anne Laurie: I’m sorry but you are way over-thinking this. Ferguson is not special or unusual. Ferguson is America, and America is racist as shit.

    I am in a bi-racial marriage and I see it every fucking day. The shit my wife puts up with just walking out the door would put the average Birkenstock wearing white middle class liberal into an indignant rage akin to someone buying the last soy milk on the shelf at Whole Foods.

    Case in point – in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts – I have a friend who is Mexican-American who just got back from a weekend on the Cape. She left her keys in the car on her last day down Cape. Called the cops for help and they wouldn’t do bupkis or come help. Then they show up later to question her because someone called the cops about someone looking “suspicious”. She deals with this all the time – and she’s an IT professional who attended Harvard.

    This isn’t about Ferguson. This is about white America and its racial hang ups – as well as the obliviousness of a whole lot of white people.

  37. 37
  38. 38
    NotMax says:

    Quaint though the term may sound, ethics seems to be absent from the equation.

  39. 39
    divF says:

    @aimai:

    Sure,they feel judged, but we aren’t judging them. History is judging them. Life is judging them. They are suffering and they prefer to externalize their suffering onto someone else, and then whine and cry like babies because they aren’t getting all the goodies and all the praise at the same time. Lincoln said it himself–they aren’t satisfied with just getting their way, they have to get praise for it too.

    QFT.

  40. 40
  41. 41
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @mark: I’ve been over myself for years. I haven’t been really good since those Swedish demo tapes; you gotta admit that I went kind of mainstream.

    ETA: Why is Abbey above criticism?

  42. 42
    Goblue72 says:

    @jl: yeah, pre-brogrammer invasion. moved to PNW in late 2011. Was in SF for awhile (god bless rent control), then Oakland (where my wife is from)

    SF was turning into Manhattan when I lived there – but seems like its gotten totally outta control now.

  43. 43
    Cacti says:

    Best observation from the Twitters on the developing Darren Wilson Narrative:

    First he had lacerations, then an eye fracture, now he was beaten unconscious. Next: he died, came back 3 days later and shot.

  44. 44
    max says:

    @Anne Laurie: as far as I can tell, the governing body of Ferguson (and their fellows in all those many nearby ‘incorporated areas’) have managed to reproduce a simulacra of the medieval baronies.

    The southern planters (who had influence historically in Missouri owing to it being a slave state) conceived of themselves as the landed gentry and aristocracy of the US. In point of fact, they believed they were better than the British aristocracy they had split from because they were living on their land and lording it over their inferiors (blacks), so ‘every man a king’ of a type.

    This uh, customary point of view is the POV we are contending with to this very day.

    max
    [‘If someone is on top, someone has to be on the bottom.’]

  45. 45
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    And maybe guilt is inevitable when you’re trying to change people’s behavior. But it adds up, and over time lefties can get to seem a little unbearable. You have to be so damn careful around us!

    I’m going to have to add my “oh puhleeze” to this part at least, while admitting that the whole discussion baffles me a bit. This part I seem to understand at least however, and that’s my reaction to it.

    I think one of the biggest myths this country embraces is that people on the left are trying to control everyone and get in everyone’s business, and people on the right just want everyone to be independent and live and let live and so on.

    Right wing conservatives are the most easily offended bunch ever seen in the history of the world as far as I can see, and most often what they’re taking offense at is someone refusing to be forced by them to live by their rules, hitting the fainting couch if anyone refuses, moaning about how we won’t let them practice their religion if it includes acting like a bigot, and all the rest.

    Every time I read something about “political correctness” I think my God, what do you call all of the outrage and name calling over the past bunch of years about any number of things, including who wasn’t wearing a flag pin or who expressed doubt that we were always in the right, and the list goes on and on. Republicans in the United States House of Representatives were offended at fries being referred to as “French” fries at one point, and the outrage carried them to the point where they changed the freaking name. If the code words for that aren’t “political correctness”, and they’re not, they should be.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are people positioned on all parts of the political spectrum who can be unbelievably annoying about lecturing and hectoring others to live the way they think everyone should. This idea however that hey, let’s face it, “liberals” are just like that, which implies that people elsewhere on the spectrum aren’t like that, or are less so (yes, I’m sorry, it does imply that, that’s clearly the meaning) is just ridiculous, to the point of being one of my pet peeves.

    And if you don’t agree with me and live the way I think everyone should, I shall taunt you a second time.

  46. 46
    sublime33 says:

    Liberals may be the most frequent users of using guilt trips, but the right uses it as well. How else do you explain the slut shaming and anti-contraception positions of the right? How is “you shouldn’t be using birth control” any different than “you shouldn’t be driving a gas guzzler”?

  47. 47
    El Caganer says:

    The urge to lecture others on their improper behavior has nothing to do with political philosophy. It just betrays a lack of humility and a lack of a sense of humor.

  48. 48
    scav says:

    Cheap business-kowtowing elites in governance need to have their reputations rubbed in the fact that inadequate local social infrastructure, including poorly trained police with freebee guns and no training reflects as poorly on their acumen and personal reputations as burnt-out buildings, collapsed bridges and potholes. NIce new model car you have parked in front of your tasteful home with the designer kitchen, but your trophy wife belches, spits, has really bad halitosis, glass eyes and false teeth. But, getting elected is more important that doing the whole job, they just want to skim the cream.

  49. 49
    scav says:

    bother. not worth the dup.

  50. 50
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: Where I see it the most in left on left criticism is in accusations of “champagne socialism” or gauche caviar or the like. There is a puritanical strain on the left. I, however, prefer the libertine left. It’s more fun – but perhaps less pure.

  51. 51
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    Completely OT: Hannah Reid of London Grammar is lovely and has a beautiful voice.

  52. 52
    Dog On Porch says:

    What Drum calls guilt I call awareness. And I don’t agonize over it, either– never have, never will, if only because to do so would be so damn pointless.

  53. 53
    James E. Powell says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet:

    The people in authority in the St. Louis area and in Missouri (and elsewhere, of course) need to make it clear that they understand that we’re all in this together.

    To many of us, and probably to nearly every progressive/liberal, it is obvious that “we’re all in this together.” But to right-wingers, that’s not America, that’s Karl Marx, that’s heresy. Remember “Let him die!” from the 2012 Republican debate? They weren’t joking.

  54. 54
    Steeplejack says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    Face it, man, Yoko Romania ruined you.

  55. 55
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): I don’t even know what the left is anymore in this country.

    I do know that when I hear “people being annoyingly over-the-top about trying to force everyone to live according to their rigid viewpoint and beliefs” that brings certain groups immediately to mind, and they ain’t liberals.

    Again, it exists all over the spectrum, but lefties sure aren’t the first group that that description suggest to me. Far from it.

  56. 56
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Steeplejack: I just had to wipe my computer screen, you bastard.

    Anyway, I prefer to think of myself as Tim Armstrong after Brody left him. I am getting my edge back, man. I can feel it.

  57. 57
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: Rigid authoritarianism isn’t just a feature of the right. It is, however, not a hallmark of what I would consider a liberal.

  58. 58
    Marc says:

    @El Caganer:
    And it sure as hell is displayed in ample measure in the comments here (not yours, but you don’t have to look far up or down to see it in action.) It is ironic to see people proving Kevin and Tims point without recognizing it…

  59. 59
    different-church-lady says:

    Yes white conservatives all benefited from their low melanin count, but white liberals benefit just the same.

    For the nine hundreth goddamned time: Whites do not “benefit” from systemic racism: Blacks and other minorities are OPPRESSED by systemic racism.

    To say that whites benefit from a society in which blacks are treated like shit is to say that in a fair would everyone would be treated shitty.’

    Whites shouldn’t feel guilty about what they have. They should feel guilty about not doing anything to break a system that keeps non-whites from having the same things. They should feel guilty that they allow two different societies to exist, not guilty that they’re not the ones on the wrong end of the boot.

  60. 60
    srv says:

    Speaking of Authoritarians:

    The New York Times reporter James Risen, who faces jail over his refusal to reveal a source and testify against a former CIA agent accused of leaking secrets, has called President Barack Obama “the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation”.

    Speaking to his colleague Maureen Dowd, Risen accused the president of aggressively pursuing journalists, including himself, who report sensitive stories that reflect poorly on the US government.

    Risen faces jail over his reporting of a botched intelligence operation that ended up spilling nuclear secrets to Iran. The Justice Department has long been seeking to force him to testify and name the confidential source of the account, which is contained in his 2006 book State of War.

  61. 61
    James E. Powell says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    Of course, a lot of these people are bothered by their fellow white guys who don’t tuck in their polo shirts.

    Wait, we’re supposed to tuck in our polo shirts? This may explain why I am so rarely invited back.

  62. 62
    Ruckus says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    Not even that hidden a comment, it most of the people at work are any example, and I live in sunny, liberal southern CA.

  63. 63
    Mandalay says:

    Gov. Jay Nixon yesterday: “A vigorous prosecution must now be pursued“.

    Gov. Jay Nixon’s minder today:

    “The governor’s comments yesterday were not intended to indicate prejudgment in this matter…The governor used the term ‘prosecution’ to refer to all duties and responsibilities of the prosecuting attorney, including the exercise of prosecutorial discretion; whether and what evidence to present to the grand jury; the filing of criminal charges if supported by the evidence; representing the state if charges are brought; and ultimately ensuring that justice is served.”

    Nixon was the state’s AG for 16 years. How the hell could he have expressed his view on a legal matter so ineptly in a prepared statement?

    I’m still amazed that this worthless fucker was ever being touted as a possible VP in 2016. Is our bench really that thin?

  64. 64
    Ruckus says:

    @Aimai:
    As the kids say, This.

  65. 65
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @different-church-lady: I, personally, benefit anytime I am asked to run in a race where some of my competitors are forced to where ankle weights and I am not. My advantage is a lack of disadvantage.

  66. 66
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): No it isn’t exclusive to any group, that really is the point. The fact that what pops into my mind are conservatives when I hear “political correctness” just serves for me to underline what a farce it is that some people try to make it seem mostly on the left.

    Actually at this moment in history I do see more fanaticism and proselytizing on the right, but there was a time decades ago when I would say it was more on the left. But it’s ever and always present in both.

  67. 67
    different-church-lady says:

    It’s absurd to argue that there isn’t a certain type of liberal who gets off on putting out guilt trips. It may not represent the heart of liberalism, and it may not make up much of a percentage, but we know they’re out there. They provide the caricature. They don’t give a shit about the penguins so much as they give a shit about you knowing they care more about things like penguins than you do.

  68. 68
    Valdivia says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): I’m seeing them when they’re here in November. Yay me :)
    Also too. I agree she does.

  69. 69
    different-church-lady says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): Framing as a competition is part of what I’m trying to say: it shouldn’t be a competition. Whites and non-whites should not be running a race against each other in the first place and we shouldn’t look at it like that.

  70. 70
    scav says:

    @different-church-lady:

    We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
    Unlike the rest of you squares.

    1965

  71. 71
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Tim F.:

    So why do they want to piss liberals off? I would suggest it has a lot to do with feeling judged.

    I would suggest it has a lot more to do with them being fucking assholes. YMMV.

  72. 72
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @James E. Powell: I don’t do it and my hair is a bit too long. Of course, my preferred style is slightly disreputable aging preppy, so what do I know?

    @Bill E Pilgrim: I think we are more or less in agreement. As far PC goes, in 2008, my 88 y/o grandmother (a purebred child of New England puritans) announced during the Democratic primaries that she was voting for the “the black fella.” I wasn’t going to correct her terminology.

  73. 73
    Goblue72 says:

    @different-church-lady: whites do in fact benefit and should indeed feel guilty about.

    Jesus H. Christ – white privilege anyone? How the eff does it work?

  74. 74
    Groucho48 says:

    There probably are some fringe folks on the left who hector. But, they are a distinct minority. They are used by the right wing noise machine as proof that’s how all liberals are. Sounds like Drum bought in to it.

  75. 75
    different-church-lady says:

    @Goblue72: Other than not being the victims of racism, what is it that whites have that you think they should not have?

  76. 76
    different-church-lady says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    So why do they want to piss liberals off? I would suggest it has a lot to do with feeling judged.

    I would suggest it has a lot more to do with them being fucking assholes. YMMV.

    The intersection between the two is where the real action is.

  77. 77
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @different-church-lady: Every college application and job interview is a competition. Society shouldn’t be one, but within it they exist.

  78. 78
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @different-church-lady: Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

  79. 79
    Mandalay says:

    @Goblue72:

    whites do in fact benefit and should indeed feel guilty

    Feel guilty of what? Their very existence? She had already correctly stated what whites should feel guilty about: “They should feel guilty about not doing anything to break a system that keeps non-whites from having the same things“.

  80. 80
    scav says:

    @different-church-lady: The isolation of not sharing the worst downsides of the crap the social environment we have constructed as a a general ensemble. We’ve outsourced the negative effects of our decisions upon the weakest and least able to cope. We should have the shit show up in our own living rooms and not just those other peoples.

  81. 81
    joel hanes says:

    One can sometimes reduce the emotional baggage by choosing less loaded words.

    Instead of “feel guilty about”, try “accept some responsibility for”

    Liberals tend to accept some responsiblity for the the secondary and tertiary effects of their own choices and of the choices made by the societies in which they live.

    Libertarians deny that they are responsible in any way to anyone for anything but their own choices, and tend to be blind to secondary effects and “externalities”, or to deny that they exist.

    Current American conservatives tend to resist accepting responsibility even for the effects of their own choices, and tend to deny utterly any responsibility for social policies that have benefitted them over others.

  82. 82
    Steeplejack says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    I recommend an Unplugged live set.

  83. 83
    different-church-lady says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): So maybe if we don’t let whites into college either that solves the problem?

  84. 84
    max says:

    @different-church-lady: They should feel guilty about not doing anything to break a system that keeps non-whites from having the same things. They should feel guilty that they allow two different societies to exist, not guilty that they’re not the ones on the wrong end of the boot.

    Amen. Goddamn.

    max
    [‘I agreed with you.’]

  85. 85
    different-church-lady says:

    @scav: I agree, but put that under the category of “not being the victims of systemic racism.”

    That’s a huge part of what is so insidious about systemic racism: it’s invisible to those who aren’t the victims of it.

  86. 86
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Mandalay: To my knowledge, no one in my family owned slaves or participated in the slave trade. OTOH, they achieved significant wealth by fucking over natives. I feel good for the Pequot “house of chance” because my ancestors killed a shitload of them during the Pequot War. You may think it is silly, but the 400+ years of racism put me in a place in which others would not be. Having been thus advantaged, I can do two things. First, try to use my privilege for good. Second, try to ensure that the privilege is knocked down.

  87. 87
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @different-church-lady: Jesus, You know that I implied nothing like that. Just take the ankle weights off of the non-white.

  88. 88
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Steeplejack: Maybe a “Take Away Show.”

    They are really good. I recommend looking at the series.

  89. 89
    SatanicPanic says:

    Eh, I meet some shamers and some idiots who want to burn shit down like Abbey, but most of this is just conservatives believing a bunch of BS from conservative media.

  90. 90
    different-church-lady says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    Just take the ankle weights off of the non-white.

    And there we go: the subject is back where it belongs. To the extent we as “whites” are culpable for putting those ankle weights on others, or allowing them to remain there, we should feel guilty. We shouldn’t be feeling guilty about our own ankles being unencumbered. Because unencumbered ought to be the default state for all.

  91. 91
    Steeplejack says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    Cool. Will check it out.

  92. 92
    goblue72 says:

    @Mandalay: They should feel guilty about every single unearned privilege they have. This is not merely about feeling guilty only about “not doing anything to break a [racist] system” – that’s the kind of mealy mouthed privileged response I’d expect from my the average white person. How much fucking land, labor and cultural heritage do white people need to steal before they start feeling guilty? (and please don’t give me that “my ancestors weren’t here during slavery/Jim Crow” shit) Every single thing a white person has in this country, every dollar in their pocket, every job they’ve ever head, the school they went to, the house they live in, the car they drive, – EVERYTHING – there’s a not immaterial portion of which they never earned, and only have by virtue of being white. Even more so when that white person is a man. There are entire academic fields of study in this stuff. Not everybody gets to win. Zero sum is everywhere in life. And when the scales are so egregiously tipped – yes, you SHOULD indeed fell guilty for your very existence – because there’s a chunk of it you don’t deserve.

    Why is it white people get so fricking defensive when they are called on their privilege? Accept the fact that you didn’t earn it – AND DEAL.

  93. 93
    srv says:

    @joel hanes: Libertarians are imprisoned by all your socialized externalities.

    They have to drive on those roads and fund all those schools and then have to put up with all the criticism when they criticize the status quo which enslaves them.

  94. 94
    Mandalay says:

    @joel hanes:

    Instead of “feel guilty about”, try “accept some responsibility for”

    I see where you are going, but I’m not sure that phrasing helps at all. Bob McDonnell and Rush Limbaugh and Bill Clinton (to use random examples) all “accepted responsibility” for what they did, but only after they got caught. In fact, “accepting responsibility” is even worse than guilt, because the implication is that then you are somehow off the hook for whatever you were guilty of.

    I still think post #59 nails it beautifully. It’s not about feeling guilt or accepting responsibility. It’s about actually doing something to change the status quo.

    Maybe “accept responsibility to address systemic racism”?

  95. 95
    Julia Grey says:

    They don’t give a shit about the penguins so much as they give a shit about you knowing they care more about things like penguins than you do.

    Also known as the Holier Than Thou Syndrome, which is a glitch of human nature, regardless of political persuasion.

    calling out Mitt F*cking Romney (his actual middle name, in the opinion of many) for stepping all over Benghazi before the bodies were cold.

    And then smirking like a triumphant sociopath as he turned to walk away from the podium following his little graveyard dance.

  96. 96
    joel hanes says:

    @srv:

    and then have to put up with all the criticism

    If they were “Constitutional Imbeciles Conservatives” like Sarah Palin, they’d know that the First Amendment guarantees them the right to utter arrant nonsense and palpable lies in any public forum without criticism (but offers no such protection to liberals and Democrats).

  97. 97
    srv says:

    Corey Griffin passed away in a Nantucket, Mass. diving accident just hours after he left a fundraiser where he reportedly raised $100,000 for ALS research. He was only 27 years old.

    Corey was a close friend of Pete Frates, 29, a man diagnosed with ALS in 2012 whose loved ones first launched the ice bucket challenge to raise money and awareness for ALS research. Corey helped pioneer the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which has gone viral and raised millions of dollars for the cause.

  98. 98
    joel hanes says:

    @Mandalay:

    Bob McDonnell and Rush Limbaugh and Bill Clinton (to use random examples) all “accepted responsibility” for what they did

    The scare quotes demonstrate that you already know that these men did not, in fact, accept responsibility — they mouthed the words “I accept responsibility”.

    As different as chalk and cheese.

  99. 99
    Mandalay says:

    @goblue72:

    They should feel guilty about every single unearned privilege they have.

    Twaddle. Feeling guilty achieves absolutely nothing. I am not going to feel guilty about a situation (being white) over which I had absolutely no control. If you want to waste your life on pointlessly feeling misplaced guilt then have at it.

    You sound just like the Catholic Church which assured me that I was born a miserable sinner and could not possibly enter the gates of heaven until I had done their bidding.

    You seem far more interested in having white people feel guilty than having white people step up and actively fight racism.

  100. 100
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Steeplejack: Be careful, it is a French thing.

  101. 101
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mandalay: I should clarify a bit, in that I’m well aware than there are plenty of people out there who need a big whap on the head before they even acknowledge that systemic racism actually exists, never mind accepting any responsibility for it or changing it.

    I’m just pretty sure that “you have shit you don’t deserve” is not an accusation that’s ever going to achieve said acknowledgement.

  102. 102
    Mandalay says:

    @joel hanes: Your criticism is valid, but my larger point – which I obviously didn’t express very well – is that accepting responsibility (like feeling guilt) achieves absolutely nothing.

    More generally, actions speak louder than words.

  103. 103
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @different-church-lady: Yup.

    Or: Having a goal in mind is important. But it’s also important to have a decent idea of how to get there – the goal itself isn’t enough.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  104. 104
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mandalay:

    is that accepting responsibility (like feeling guilt) achieves absolutely nothing.

    It might achieve initial awareness, which is a useful first step. But it’s useless by itself, without any of the succeeding steps.

  105. 105
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Mandalay: You, as usual, miss the point completely. I once represented a client who was maced and handcuffed because he was jaywalking. He was poor and black. When the cop stopped him for the jaywalking (through an alley, may I add), the cop asked him for his driver’s license. My client said “I don’t have one” and reached for his back pocket. The cop threw him to the ground and maced him. My client had intended to finish his sentence by saying “… but I have a state ID,” and then showing that ID to the cop. Me, I am white and well-off looking. I had jaywalked, drunk in front of cops many times without a blink of an eye. I could do that because I was who I was and my client couldn’t because he was who he was.

    I should feel guilty that this situation exists.

  106. 106
    SatanicPanic says:

    @goblue72: I get what you’re saying, but realistically I don’t see people suddenly starting to think this way.

    Off topic blogwhoring- I wrote a post about White Flight that I’m pretty happy about if anyone wants to check it out.

  107. 107
    different-church-lady says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): Tell you what: you go ahead and feel guilty you didn’t get thrown to the ground, and I’ll feel outraged your client got thrown to the ground.

  108. 108
    Bobbo says:

    This is all my ballz. People of whatever political persuasion see something that they think is wrong and they say, “I think this is wrong; maybe can we change it?” If those who disagree feel defensive or guilty who fracking cares? That’s on them. And in a world where guilt is baked into the cake (“original sin,” anyone?), guilt is going to be a pretty common reaction to just about everything.

  109. 109
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Mandalay: I too was raised Catholic, and I actually think that people thinking we’re bad people and should be on the lookout for our asshole tendencies is pretty helpful to me. Of course, I don’t believe in hell, I just think it’s a useful way of thinking. To each their own. Then again, I don’t expect anyone not raised this way to suddenly adopt this way of thinking.

  110. 110
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @different-church-lady: Yeah. That was my point. Jesus, are you trying to be obtuse? it is two side of the same goddamned coin. I am advantaged or someone else is disadvantaged. We aren’t even.

  111. 111
    Mandalay says:

    @goblue72: You really are a hoot. I just read the start of the thread, and saw your post #20….

    there were a whole lot of progressives there that loved telling folks how they should live their lives and what they should be hanging their heads in shame over. SF is ground zero for lefty busybodies.

    But then in post #92 you said….

    yes, you SHOULD indeed fell guilty for your very existence

    So I’m only seeing two possibilities here. You are either DougJ trolling, or you are one of the lefty busybodies you mocked. Which is it?

  112. 112
    Mandalay says:

    .

  113. 113
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Mandalay: You do realize that feeling guilty can cause a difference in future behavior, right?

  114. 114
    Bill D. says:

    @goblue72:

    “And when the scales are so egregiously tipped – yes, you SHOULD indeed fell guilty for your very existence – because there’s a chunk of it you don’t deserve.

    Hell, all men should feel guilty for their very existence because of their unearned privilege. And all straights, and all cisgender folks, and all the temporarily abled and the non-fat. All Americans (even if they don’t fit into *any* of the above categories) should feel guilty because, as Americans, they have unearned privilege and economic benefits vis-a-vis people in developing nations, thanks to many decades of American foreign policy that have favored our economy over others. Aren’t we all despicable for even existing?

  115. 115
    Ruckus says:

    @different-church-lady:
    I was going to say that I understood where you were coming from but the original construct was not really there. But this furtherance really does explain the way I understood your point. And it is a good one. Whites don’t need to actually give up anything. Unless you see the world as a zero sum game, which is how conservatives see everything.

  116. 116
    John N says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): Great Rancid reference!

  117. 117
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Ruckus:

    Whites don’t need to actually give up anything.

    Yes, we do. We need to give up accepting that weight attached to the ankle of the other person. I don’t know the specifics of how we do it, but I know it needs to be done.

  118. 118
    joel hanes says:

    @Mandalay:

    accepting responsibility (like feeling guilt) achieves absolutely nothing.

    Ah.

    Would it help if I said that, absent action, I don’t think that someone has actually accepted responsibility ?

    Acting, walking the walk, is taking responsibility. Talking ain’t.

    And with that, I’ll subside.

  119. 119
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @John N: It resulted in this.

  120. 120
    aangus says:

    ( OT but tired of waiting for an open thread & need sleep.)

    OH, MY!
    The Huey P. Newton Gun Club

    No shit.

  121. 121
    John N says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): Haha, awesome. Tim Timebomb and friends are certainly doing a lot to keep me from going crazy, too.

  122. 122
    Mandalay says:

    @joel hanes: Yes, I think we are now on the same page. Maybe this encapsulates it?….

    BAD => accepting responsibility FOR something
    GOOD => accepting responsibility TO DO something

  123. 123
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Mandalay: Actually no. Accepting responsibility for something is the first step toward doing something about it. But then, you are really too much of an ass to notice.

  124. 124
    Steeplejack says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    The Steeplejacques originally came from France.

  125. 125
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Steeplejack: So did some of the Omnibii.

  126. 126
    Mandalay says:

    @different-church-lady:

    Tell you what: you go ahead and feel guilty you didn’t get thrown to the ground

    What we’ve got here is failure to communicate, partly because of a limitation of the English language. The world “guilt” is used for two different but related emotions. There is “personal guilt” relating to situations for which we bear direct responsibility, and “collective guilt” relating to situations where one group has wronged another group. I’d guess that the use of “guilt” in this thread refers to collective guilt, even where it isn’t obvious.

    I don’t subscribe to the idea of collective guilt, but evidently some here do.

  127. 127
    demz taters says:

    @Bobby Thomson: Pretty much this.

  128. 128
    Splitting Image says:

    @different-church-lady:

    It’s absurd to argue that there isn’t a certain type of liberal who gets off on putting out guilt trips. It may not represent the heart of liberalism, and it may not make up much of a percentage, but we know they’re out there. They provide the caricature. They don’t give a shit about the penguins so much as they give a shit about you knowing they care more about things like penguins than you do.

    What you’re describing is a fundamentalist. Fundamentalism isn’t limited to “right-wingers” or evangelical Christians, but it is characterized by a concern for appearances and the ability to seem holier than the next guy by dotting the Is and crossing the Ts while ignoring that the words on their paper make no sense as written.

    An appropriate synonym for fundamentalist is fake.

    It is perfectly true that there are fundamentalist liberals, but complaining about them too loudly at this point in time is an exercise in High Broderism. Fundamentalists of all kinds have completely taken over the Republican party, so Drum’s basic argument is “Liberals do it too.” Not the first time he’s done that.

  129. 129
    John N says:

    There are two distinct events here. The first is the racial hatred/bias/prejudice itself, and the second is our response to that. We all carry a little bit of responsibility for our society’s response to racism, which has been inadequate. For people who deny racism is a problem, there’s no reason to be guilty. But for those who acknowledge that it is a problem, it is hard to accept that collectively, we (white people) have kind of swept the issue under the rug. We don’t really want to talk about it. And that failure, while not being on the level of, say, being an overt white supremacist, is still a failure. And it’s not wrong for an individual to feel that, even if their own contribution to the issue is small. I guess, it is easy to say “what could I do, I’m just one person,” but if what you did was nothing, then “anything” is the answer.

    Then, there is the separate notion of empathy, which is to say that when we imagine the way that people are being treated, it makes us feel bad, because we can place ourselves in their shoes, and while we may never truly understand, we can imagine, and that’s fundamentally what the nature of being a caring human being is about. I can feel bad about something without feeling guilty about it per se.

  130. 130
    Joel Hanes says:

    @Mandalay:

    the doing is the accepting

  131. 131
    tybee says:

    @aangus:

    my, my, my. this should be interesting to watch.

  132. 132
    Gvg says:

    Um, I wasn’t raised to feel guilty about things I didn’t do myself. I do not really understand what the heck you are going on about but I think if you are the type to feel guilt ,you may be thinking everyone else is motivated by guilt or avoidance of it. It looks to me in this thread and elsewhere, some people are and some aren’t. because I’m not, your arguments for persuasion techniques seem odd and off target.
    many liberals don’t feel or argue from guilt and I at least am tired of that dumb stereotype.

  133. 133
    brantl says:

    Yes white conservatives all benefited from their low melanin count, but white liberals benefit just the same. I really don’t know if conservative politicos armor and empower the police any more than ours do.

    As long as they keep pandering with the stuff about “those lazy, layabout welfare cadillac queens, taking money they are too lazy to earn”, yes, they do armor and empower the police more than we do. As long as they keep spouting how stop and frisk targetted at minorities is perfectly reasonable, and the myriad of other bigotted practices they espouse, that shit on minorities and the poor, yes they goddamn well do! Now, I have to read the thread, having gotten that off of my spleen.

  134. 134
    brantl says:

    @sublime33:

    How else do you explain the slut shaming and anti-contraception positions of the right? How is “you shouldn’t be using birth control” any different than “you shouldn’t be driving a gas guzzler”?

    One has an eminently practical reason, and the other is just being a dick? What do I win?

  135. 135
    brantl says:

    @different-church-lady: Whenever there’s less to go around than is needed/wanted, and it’s first-come-first-served, it’s always a race. That’s the socioeconomic “physics” of the matter, the “invisible hand” slaps a lot of people in the face.

  136. 136
    Sherparick says:

    A lot of this comes down to individual temperament, what the Ancients would say a person’s predominate humor, in how they act. Still, one’s personality can be trained by thinking and acting virtually; the actions train and develop habits of minds. By temperament I am conservative; I am accepting of things as they are, uncomfortable with disturbance, and deferential to authority. A natural “Republican” one might say, except I read and think and I practice empathy. I don’t think of it as “guilt” to live consciously and change when one thinks about an injustice and decide to no longer accept it or support it. So much it is personality, one can’t expect an Edward Abbey or Glenn Greenwald or Yves Smith or David Sirota or Al Sharpton or a William Lloyd Garrison to be other than true to their personalities, as Garrison wrote in the first issue of the “The Liberator:” “I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” This also somewhat makes them “dicks” who cannot see the humanity and the tragedy of their opponents (and with opponents like Ann Coulter, Rich Lowry, Tucker Carlson, Roger Stone, et. al., we are dealing with som really morally crippled human beings). The three great liberals in American history, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, and MLK were all practitioners of a moral realism which allowed them to remember the common humanity of their opponents, to realize they were not without sin, who accepted the American community, but sought to expand and redeem it. One of best books I read on Lincoln and political art the last ten years is William Miller’s “Lincoln Virtues” http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/ja.....w=fulltext. On FDR Page Smith’s history of the “New Deal,” I suggest finding a copy of Page Smith’s “Redeeming the Time.” http://www.amazon.com/Redeemin.....0140122648. Smith’s books are out of print, sadly, but hopefully will be e-booked soon.

  137. 137
    Kay says:

    It’s human nature to get defensive when you feel guilty, and it’s hard to recruit defensive folks to your cause. If this were only an occasional problem, that would be one thing. But let’s be honest: We really do rely on guilt a lot. You should feel guilty about using plastic bags. About liking college football. About driving an SUV. About eating factory-farmed beef. About using the wrong word to refer to a transgender person. About sending your kids to a private school. And on and on and on.

    Honestly, Kevin Drum must not spend a lot of time around conservatives in his daily life if he thinks liberals are bad with making people feel guilty. I work with them daily, and if he thinks conservatives don’t spend a LOT of time judging other people he’s wrong. They attribute most of the problems in this country either to liberal leaders directly or to liberal policy, and they take that directly down to individuals.
    I wait for it, in my work, because I know it’s coming. Present conservatives with an issue or problem and they will find the moral or character flaw in the individual WITH the issue or problem that either makes solving or addressing the problem unnecessary or makes the person unworthy of sympathy or help or even fair treatment.
    Don’t complain about not having access to health care if you smoke or are fat, is all I can say! Don’t complain about foreclosure if you’ve ever been fired from a job! Living in your car? Let’s really dive into the details and find out why this is your fault, and why no one should care because you did it all yourself!
    I have yet to find the poor person who meets their tough standards for “worthy”. Something or other always knocks them out of the running in the “worthy” category. They’ll go back to kindergarten to find the personal failing or moral lack that led to this person really deserving whatever horrible thing is happening. Once we figure out why the person deserves it, we’re done! We found the problem and it is poor people themselves.
    I see it again and again and again, every single day.
    You can only believe that liberals are the ones doing all the shaming if you just happen to NOT be on the list of people conservatives spend a hell of a lot of time shaming and it’s a long list.

  138. 138
    Joey Giraud says:

    Tim really nailed this one.

    My conservative born-again Christian brother used to avoid me and was very closed and secretive. About 15 years ago I decided to never again criticize his beliefs, never point out that his predictions didn’t come true ( for example 8 years post Terri Shavio we still don’t have government death panels, ) and in general keep my mouth shut unless he asked for my opinion and even then keep my opinions very impersonal, not directed at anything he’s done or said.

    Now he feels very comfortable around me and confides in me all sorts of things. I would rather have my brother actually in my life then feel righteous and be “winning” arguments.

    Some people do feel shame and/or guilt more acutely. And those people react poorly to liberal preaching.

    And even better, now when he does ask my opinion and I tell him in an impersonal way, he often is quiet and murmurs something vague about many different points of view. And I’ve noticed his RWNJ quotient gently decreasing the past few years.

  139. 139
    Kay says:

    It’s almost worse if they DO find the person who managed to surmount incredible challenges and overcome whatever horrible set of circumstances or bias they labor under, because that person now proves that the rest of them could do it if they would only try hard enough.
    I almost hate to fall into the “are they WORTHY?” contest on defense because all I’m doing is creating a perfect person against whom all other people will be measured, eternally and forever. Managed to somehow keep a roof over your head when you’re a single parent making minimum wage? God, don’t tell them, because now we have the example of why they don’t have to change anything, ever, since all problems stem from individual personal failings and the exception I’ve created proves that rule. Every other single parent will now be measured against that one, and they all will come up short.
    I don’t know how you can miss this shaming in the national “debate”. It is EVERYWHERE. The moment someone complains about inequitable treatment or the playing field not being level, there’s a huge almost frantic effort to find the flaws in the person doing the complaining and then insist it was all their fault and exonerate everyone else. Michael Brown is just the latest example. It happens all the time. Shaming is 90% of what we do in this country, and 90% of it directed at a certain group of people who for one reason or another are NEVER worthy of anything.

  140. 140
    Kylroy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): If guilt were an effective driver of behavior change, the U.S. would be the skinniest nation on earth.

  141. 141
    Kathleen says:

    @Kay: Amen.

  142. 142
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Kay: Another edge of that coin are people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A person who survived a horrible childhood, escaped, became a forceful voice for justice for women while in Holland, wrote (at least one) compelling, heartbreaking book (Infidel), but became a talisman for American RWNJs and those who thrive on exclusionary, overheated rhetoric.

    People are products of their environments (among other things). We’re all flawed – even the best of us. Trying to get inside the head of those who are different from us, and those who disagree with is, is nearly essential for lasting progress.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  143. 143
    Marc says:

    @Kay:

    I think that both Tim and Kevin are arguing that a judgmental approach is counterproductive. It has nothing to do with whether conservatives are worse or even about the merits of the item being discussed. When you tell someone that they’re a bad person they will react badly. They react better if you are trying to convince them to change a behavior or belief.

  144. 144
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):
    OK, you are correct, I should have said whites don’t have anything to lose. Other than the attitude that whites are superior. Life won’t really change for whites if they give up strapping on those weights, not in any negative way. Unless they are hateful assholes, in which they lose their motivation for living.
    I’m not seeing a downside.

  145. 145
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    I read my Abbey and I loathed it. It’s Ayn Rand for liberals.

    @Tim F.: I love some of Abbey’s work more than anything else I’ve ever read, his profound love and respect of nature comes shining through in a way that few authors have ever been capable of putting to paper, but you’ve got him dead to rights on this post. Put nicely, he – and more importantly his self-proclaimed followers, weren’t helpful to environmentalism. At all.

  146. 146
    Kay says:

    @Marc:

    Right, but that presupposes debates or persuasion operate one way, with liberals judging and those liberals are trying to persuade remaining silent, neutral, just quietly becoming alienated because they don’t drive a Prius. That isn’t how it works. There’s a reason they aren’t persuaded. Often they’ve made their own judgments that preclude adopting liberal ideas, and you know, they SAY that.

  147. 147

    Most of the judgiest judgmental people I have come across have been religious and yes conservative. There may be some holier than thou, fair trade coffee drinking locavores but they don’t hold a candle to the judgy religious wet blankets.

  148. 148
    john b says:

    @lamh36:

    I was wondering about that NYT article. Many things didn’t square with what I had read from other sources in previous days. Plus, the trope that “everyone confirms that all shots were from the front” was directly contradicted by the press conference from Brown’s medical examiner (which is the only actual person willing to put their name to much of anything in this investigation so far).

  149. 149
    PJ says:

    @aimai: I once heard a curious comment made by an acquaintance: “I’m not going to let anyone make me feel guilty.” How can anyone (except your mother) make you feel guilty? That feeling is an innate response to the recognition that you have done something wrong. Or, in the case of the racism displayed in, and as a result of Ferguson, that your attitude is wrong. But to acknowledge that would be to acknowledge your own responsibility, which is something that your sister-in-law and the people flocking to the National Review for comfort cannot admit, for then they might have to take the responsibility to change themselves. Many of these people have grown up listening to authoritarian voices telling them that they are righteous and better than those other so-and-sos, and its a very hard thing to accept that they might be no better than them.

  150. 150
    PJ says:

    @goblue72: The belief that life, and politics, are zero sum games is typical of a conservative/authoritation mindset – if someone else is doing better, then that must mean that I am doing worse. “I’ve got mine, so fuck you.” The liberal mindset is that a free and just society benefits everyone, and that if my neighbor does better because of it, it is better for me as well.

  151. 151
    Rob in CT says:

    I find myself agreeing in part with both Tim F.’s argument and Aimai’s rebuttal.

    I see that the always better-than-those-other-lefties Freddie DeBore is all over this same thing over at Sullivan’s place, arguing on Tim F’s side basically (sorry, Tim, Freddie’s on your team. That’s usually not a great sign). I’m amused that the guy who is always leftier than thou is now lecturing lefties on being too sanctimonious or whatever. This is the guy who showed up at LGM and called the commentariate “objectively despicable people” (now a rotating tagline). Snicker. Anyway, I think it’s obvious what’s driving him: his humiliating experience with online feminism from years back.

    And yet… there is something to this, in a “hey, people ain’t perfect” sort of way. People DO have fragile egos. People DO try to avoid admitting being wrong, accepting responsibility, and all the rest. This is not going to change. So I think there’s an interesting argument to be had regarding tactics. Basically when is it best to go with honey, and when is it time to bring out the vinegar?

  152. 152
    PJ says:

    @Mandalay: The corrollary of really accepting responsibility is that you have to change your behavior. Or acknowledge that you are just an asshole.

  153. 153
    Joey Giraud says:

    @PJ:

    Because the guilty feelings are always there, just below the surface. It only takes a little trigger to bring them raging to the fore.

    People know a lot of things in the back of their minds that they deny in the front of their minds.

    A lot of these folks had authoritarian parents telling them how worthless and stupid they are. They spend their lives struggling to hold back their guilt, shame and anger just to get through another day.

  154. 154
    PJ says:

    @SatanicPanic: I’m also a recovering Catholic, but I think the tendency to consider whether one’s behavior or attitude is good or justified is healthy.

  155. 155
    Kylroy says:

    @Rob in CT: You gotta deploy vinegar *very* selectively if your goal is to attract people.

    Most lefties aren’t interested in attracting people.

    My napkin analysis of the 60s desgregation movement is that it worked as long as it was able to hand out realtively low-cost warm fuzzies to people in or adjacent to power, and sputtered and died when it no longer could.

  156. 156
    Someguy says:

    Huh. We hit a point where there’s maybe finally a chance to do something about police abuse and overreach generally.

    So what’s the move?

    Explain to our base and politicians than it’s basically a metaphysical impossibility that conservatives in particular or Republicans generally could support it. Yeah, that’s a winner.

    FWIW, I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions about the Ferguson shooting until all the details are out. There’s a video that captured unwitting eyewitness discussion on the audio indicating the kid was running at the cops, and there’s the leak about the cop’s condition post-shooting, involving a shattered orbit. Then you got the “locals rioting and looting,” only the people getting arrested are all from out of town. It’s possible the video is faked and that the cop’s buddies roughed him up (though I’ve had a fractured orbit, you don’t get that from a casual slug) and it’s possible all the out-of-towners just happened to be in town visiting so they’re kinda local and the locals aren’t actually protesting, but gettin’ down with some street fighting.

    The bottom line is that police abuse occurs regularly, the cops are way too gunned up, the state and local governments have mishandled this, and the young man in question may have been trying to kill the cop – so it’s entirely possible we’re looking at another shitshow starring a cast of freakshow characters, all of whom are huge morons to varying degrees. I wouldn’t be putting money on any particular outcome, or any particular theory at this point, though the mess has done a good job at pulling the scab off a couple public policy problems that aren’t going away soon.

  157. 157
    Bill D. says:

    @Someguy: The shattered orbit is a hoax by Jim Hoft and has been officially refuted.

  158. 158
    Gex says:

    @Kay: Yes. The shame comes in because they know they aren’t willing to do anything differently. And so any discussion of the negative impacts of their behavior makes them feel shamed. Sometimes, yes, the person discussing the issue is issuing a guilt trip. But more often they aren’t.

    And with respect to race, the shame they carry is because they think it is zero sum. Studies show that a majority of white people think their lot needs to get worse for things to get better for black people. If they didn’t think they had to lose for black people to gain they’d probably have different attitudes. But they don’t want to lose. And that is a feeling the 1% really reinforce with their policies because we are ALL losing and it’s scary. But along with feeling like blacks can’t have it better because it means they will have it worse is the guilt that THEY IMPOSE ON THEMSELVES by thinking of it in zero sum terms in the first place.

    Or as Aimai said, it is their own psychodrama at play. A hectoring liberal couldn’t make them feel guilty if they didn’t realize there was something to feel guilty about. And that truth exists regardless of the person “guilting” them in the first place.

  159. 159
    Lynn Dee says:

    I generally enjoy Kevin Drum’s writing — this despite the fact I also often find his self-conscious contrarianism tiresome. He’s got some of that going on here. But my main response is this: So some of the white males in the lib contingent now think we should rein in “making” conservatives feel guilty? After all, can we really be surprised to learn certain rock stars (to take a rather baffling example of where we may be “overdoing” it) are misogynist? Bah. Wanna try that with the racism of “certain rock stars” and see how it strikes the ol’ eardrum?

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