Thursday, February 28, 2019

Why No Attack on Trump Matters

Conservative Christian writer Rod Dreher:
The Republicans on the Committee are ripping into Cohen hard on his credibility, or lack thereof. It’s interesting to consider that the Republicans are attacking Cohen for being a scum-sucker for the things he did during the years he was working for Trump. It is certainly true: Michael Cohen is a sleaze. He essentially admits it in testimony, says he’s going to jail, and deserves to. You can say: Why should we believe him now?

Well, read his testimony. It’s 100 percent believable, 100 percent consonant with what we know about Donald Trump’s character. Seriously, read the testimony. Say with a straight face that that doesn’t sound like the Donald we know. Seriously. Come on.

So, you are asking, how could you possibly vote for a man like Trump? The answer is: the moral and political cost of giving power to the other side is even greater. You know why I say that; I’m not going to go into it any further here. We talk about this in some form all the time. It is possible that everything Michael Cohen says today is 100 percent true, and it is still a more moral choice to vote for this immoral man, Trump, rather than for a leader of the party of infanticide, left-wing identity politics, and the rest.
One of the issues Dreher brings up "in some form all the time" is that it will soon be impossible for anyone with conservative views about sexuality to hold a job in America. Dreher and his friends think what happened to Brendan Eich, fired for donating money to an anti-gay marriage group, is what will happen to all of them if Democrats get control of the government. So they support Trump in full knowledge of what an awful person he is.

The only way to ratchet down hyper-partisanship and restore some sort of normality and decency to government is to ease up on the culture wars. If you think it is necessary to fight the culture wars at the barricades, decency be damned, you are going to have to put up with a whole lot of awful politics.


Shadow said...

I learned nothing new about Trump or Cohen listening and viewing the hearing yesterday. I did see a very good committee chairman, and I would spend more time congratulating him than condemning them (yet again). If I were an investigator or prosecutor I would care about which of these two scuzballs was lying more than the other, and about what, but I'm not, so I don't feel it is incumbent upon me to choose. I know what I need to know. A pox on both of them would work nicely and, I think, fairly. I thought the chairman showed grace and wisdom. I thought some of the republican congressmen were pathetic.

Anonymous said...

"it will soon be impossible for anyone with conservative views about sexuality to hold a job in America"

That's right, John. It will soon be impossible for religious zealots to enforce untestable 2000 year-old fantasies in the marketplace, instead of keeping them locked in their addled brains where they belong.

As for Mr. Dreher's apologia, substitute the word "Hitler" for the word "Trump" and you will have a spirited Nuremberg defense of Nazi conduct even as Germany collapsed -- all heinous immoral crimes are always "better than the alternative."

G. Verloren said...



One of the issues Dreher brings up "in some form all the time" is that it will soon be impossible for anyone with conservative views about sexuality to hold a job in America. Dreher and his friends think what happened to Brendan Eich, fired for donating money to an anti-gay marriage group, is what will happen to all of them if Democrats get control of the government.

See, the problem here is that conservatives want to try to impose their will on others, and then get upset when they receive resistance or consequences.

No one cares if you're an intolerant bigoted asshole in private. You can have the most conserative views in the world so long as you keep them to yourself. You can work any job you please and no one is going to bat an eyelash, unless you take direct action to try to impose your will on other people.

You're against homosexual marriage? Well good news! You don't have to marry someone of the same sex if you don't want to. And you can belong to a church that doesn't allow homosexuals to be members of the congregation. You can disapprove all you like, on your own time, in your own life! That's your business!

But what you can't do is take actions that harm innocent people.

You can't go into work and behave badly towards your coworkers who are homosexuals. You don't have to like other people or approve of them, but if you're going to work alongside them, then you have to respect and tolerate them as human beings, and that means not letting your personal views impact your workplace behavior. That's just a basic requirement of any job, no matter who you are, or what you believe.

You also can't publically give money to organizations that are actively working to deny rights to homosexuals, or that promote barbaric practices like "conversion therapy", and not expect a backlash. You may not approve of homosexuals, but they have fundamental rights, just like you do, and if you work to deprive them of their rights simply for who they are, the world is not going to sit back and ignore it. There will be consequences.

Conservatives have every freedom to be conservatives. They have every right to oppose homosexuality, oppose abortion, oppose interracial marriage, et cetera, in their own lives. But that freedom works both ways. Other people have the exact same right to approve of all those things in their own lives, if they so choose. If other people can't tell conservatives what to do, then vice versa.

Everyone else involved is perfectly willing to live and let live, and to act with decency and decorum. But the problem is most conservatives are devoted to a philosophy of imposing their will on others, and undermining the rights of their fellow citizens who don't agree with them. They aren't willing to live and let live.

And so we get this nonsense complaint that they feel victimized, because people are finally telling them "No, you can't act that way toward other people!". The "Culture Wars" aren't about forcing the poor, picked on conservatives to conform to nasty liberal values - they're about stopping the conservatives from shoving their politics down other peoples throats. They're about saying, "Enough is enough! Mind your own goddamn business!"

David said...

Perhaps it is worth pointing out the Eich is not some ordinary worker just trying to support his family. He resigned as CEO of Mozilla after being forced out by a public campaign against him, and, according to Wikipedia, he's still a CEO. True, he's now CEO of a more-or-less startup, so he's come down in the world. But whatever he is, he's a player, not a small, helpless victim, and not an exhibit for the mass firing of ordinary working people who happen to be cultural conservatives.

Unless, of course, one is trying to create agitprop.

John said...

@G -- you may think, and I may think, that what people believe is nobody else's business, so long as they are polite and respectful. But many on the left do not agree at all; I read statements all the time that effectively say nobody who isn't 100% supportive of trans rights should be allowed to teach or hold lots of other jobs, ditto for believing in a looming climate catastrophe, and so on. Many young leftists think that it ought to be illegal to say that homosexuality is a sin, in any context whatsoever. If you don't believe me, read Slate.

Sometimes you speak as if everyone on the left were reasonable, and that is manifestly untrue.

G. Verloren said...


I don't personally encounter such extreme views often, but I'm willing to concede that they do exist, and perhaps are even more common than I'm aware.

That said, they strike me as reactionary stances built upon a long history of conservatives attacking innocent people, so I can somewhat understand them.


Now, trying to make it illegal to say that homsosexuality is a sin? That's obviously absurd overreach.

But as for the matter of not allowing anti-trans individuals to be teachers? Well...

Ask yourself, honestly, based purely on your experiences and awareness of society - is someone who is vocally anti-trans rights the sort of person who should be teaching in a public school, where they will almost certainly have to deal with issues involving trans students?

Because to me, the very concept seems laughable and absurd in its unlikeliness. I can scarcely fathom such a person putting aside their personal beliefs to treat the children under their care with anything even remotely resembling respect and dignity. Quite the opposite - I can only picture them harassing and abusing innocent students from a position of largely unchallengeable authority. It already happens all the time around the country, on scales ranging from micro-aggressions all the way up to full blown assault and battery.


Being a bigoted schoolteacher isn't like a being bigoted bank teller. A racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic bank teller has no real power to exert over bank customers they don't approve of. They can't get away with refusing to cash someone's check because they're wearing a hijab, or because they're holding hands with someone who is clearly their same sex partner, et cetera. They are required to treat every customer the same way, and there are severe consequences if they don't.

But schoolteachers? They have incredible leeway to bully, abuse, harass, and otherwise torment students whom they don't approve of, and the children have little to no recourse for handling the problem. They're stuck with their assigned teacher for the entire schoolyear, or even potentially several years. And they can be arbitrarily punished for "disobedience" and "disruptive behavior" that is in actuality simply them standing up for themselves against unjust harassment.

They can complain to their parents, and if the parents can in turn complain to the school, but schools often won't take any action unless forced to, and it's actually incredibly difficult to press the issue via lawsuits or criminal charges, because students in this country have shockingly restricted legal rights.

Moreover, not all parents are supportive of their children's personal identities, and may actually be abusive themselves in turn, compouding the issue even further.

Surely you must concede that bigotry really has no place in public schools, in any form, because it is a fundamental conflict of interests? Every student has a right to their dignity, and bigoted teachers are a direct threat to that dignity, and a very real risk of intolerable abuses.

David said...

I don't read Slate (or Tumblr, etc.), but I'm sure John is right that a lot of the SJW commentary there can get quite vindictive and intolerant. I imagine the same could be said of the rightist commentary on 4chan and the like. In 2016-17, the latter was riding high. That was the age of cuck, Pepe, and so forth. I for one was pretty scared. John made it clear he was not.

In the last two years, the right seems to have lost a lot of its momentum. Under stronger leadership, it might not have.

Now the left is riding high, and John, based on what he writes here, finds them pretty scary, many of his readers less so. The left has been more effective than the right at getting powerful institutions like big companies and universities to toe its line. Of course, the right is more effective at beating people up.

My own thought is that our society has a strong pull toward the middle. I think this is partly because of the nation's British heritage--historically, English-speakers are known for pulling to the middle in their internal affairs--and partly (perhaps especially) because of the strength of a middle class that wants a morally and verbally unrigorous culture that will be safe for their way of life (and perhaps that's what I really mean by "British heritage") and their standard of living. This means that both Rod Dreher and Ward Churchill are unlikely to get the kind of society they want.

The main danger I see on the left is that they will split the Democratic Party in 2020. In that case, I fear we will see a three-person race that Trump will have a good chance of winning in the electoral college.