Coming Apart

Everyone I Don't Like is HitlerGun news is pretty thin, so forgive an off topic post. I might have a news roundup this week, hopefully! These days I’m more worried that the country is literally coming apart in front of my eyes.

Maybe I have it bad because this area is kind of the front lines between Red and Blue America. We’re where Blue America starts to stop, with Red America starting out in the Western Exurbs. This week I have started to manicure my Facebook News Feed to cut out people who post non-stop political bullshit. It’s not just Facebook either. Bitter quit a neighborhood group because it descended into political bickering. It’s infected a lot of other civic institutions we’re involved with lately as well. It makes you wonder if this is what it was like to live in 1850.

But the coming apart back then was at least over a real issue; slavery. Today we’re coming apart because people are frothed up about the bad guys in the movie playing in our own heads. I really don’t want to live in an echo chamber. I’m actually disappointed I’ve never gotten more than a small handful of gun control advocates engaging in the comments, and I still have gun control blogs in my feed. I’m always open to an argument on the merits of an issue.

What I’m not into is thinking people I don’t agree with are Hitler, Nazis, Fascist, Socialists, or Communists unless those people really are those things. When we use those to describe people we don’t agree with, we cheapen those terms. If everyone is a Nazi then no one is a Nazi. If everyone is a racist, then no one is a racist. Hate, actual hate, becomes meaningless. This behavior is removing our rhetorical tools for confronting people who actually are all those things. I’m not into arguing over whether the movie playing in your head is any good or not, or commiserating with you over how nasty the bad guys are. I’m kind of appalled you think any of your Social Media friends give a crap.

I certainly have anti-Trump people in my social media circles who are offering thoughtful opposition to the Administration. These folks I don’t mind. Trump will need some thoughtful opposition over the course of his presidency. But I see precious little of that versus patent nonsense.

UPDATE: Also see: “About That ‘Punching Nazis’ Thing…

51 Responses to “Coming Apart”

  1. aerodawg says:

    Your point is a big part of the reason why Darth Trump won. The left spent 50+ years calling anyone that disagreed with them politically an “ist.” Racist, fascist, etc etc to the point they have a “boy who cried wolf” problem. The only people who take them seriously are the people in their own left wing echo chamber and not the 90% in the 5-5-90 equation that matter.

    • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

      Exactly. They demeaned the words so much that they can’t defend against actual “ists” any more. Calling somebody a racist who knows they aren’t just because they support policy X does not work. All it does is discredits the speaker and their ideas.

      • TS says:

        Classic “boy who cried racist”. I know nothing about Steve Bannon. I’ve never read him, never heard him speak- even after the election as he is mostly behind the scene. I give no credence whatsoever to accusations that he’s a white supremacist, and I haven’t bothered to look into the claim myself. Why? Because they’ve used up the power of that word. Every other time I verify for myself whether someone is a racist, white supremacist, or nazi, it turns out to be bullshit. Bannon might actually be that wolf. I don’t know, and now I don’t care to check. And there in lies the moral of this story.

  2. Whetherman says:

    Just remember that even 1933 – 1945, not everyone in Germany was a Nazi. But enough supported and facilitated the Nazis that we found it expedient to kill them relatively indiscriminately, and for battlefield purposes, all were called “Nazis.”

    Perhaps the inverse of what you are saying is, if everyone isn’t a bad guy, then no one should be assumed to be a bad guy.

    Or perhaps that having the back of bad guys doesn’t make you a bad guy?

    • Sebastian says:

      This is not Weimar Germany. At least not yet.

      • Whetherman says:

        Which makes it strange that almost all of the tactics used by the Nazis to gain power in Weimar Germany have worked so well here.

        As for, “not yet”: I keep apologizing for not looking up the precise number again, but in 1928 the Nazis got something like 5.6 percent of the vote; in 1933 they had enough votes from fellow-travelers in the Reichstag to leverage Hitler to Chancellor; then came the Enabling Act; yet it would be another five years until Kristallnacht.

        Tell me, what was the precise date when Germans of a humane bent were justified in becoming alarmed?

        • Sebastian says:

          I think that problem was pretty effectively described by Johnathan Rauch in The Atlantic. It’s a good question, but I don’t think there’s an easy answer.

          • Whetherman says:

            The question seems to be somewhat analogous to, how many of the “Seven Warning Signs of Cancer” should you experience before you become concerned? :-)

        • Whetherman says:

          “…in 1928 the Nazis got something like 5.6 percent of the vote…”

          Correction, with apologies: It was only 2.6 percent of the vote, providing only 12 seats in the Reichstag.

          • Old 1811 says:

            I see your point, but I think you’re overstating it.
            The Weimar Republic was a brand-new, shaky government that had been forced upon Germany by the Allied powers. Every voter in it had been driven to the point of starvation by a needless war, then suffered astronomical inflation that meant their life savings wouldn’t buy a ham sandwich. The voters were looking for a scapegoat, and they settled on the old standby (the Jews). The rest is history.
            This doesn’t mean we should blithely ignore what’s happening now. It bears watching, but there are about two parallels with 20s Germany and about a million differences.

            • Alpheus says:

              While the parallels always seem to shift, there always seems to be two or three parallels and a million differences.

              There’s someone that Glenn Reynolds on Instapundit likes to quote, who says “Fascism always seems to loom over America, but it always seems to fall in Europe”…

              • Whetherman says:

                “Fascism always seems to loom over America…”

                Maybe it’s like that quote that yielded the book title, “None Dare Call It Treason”: “Treason never prospers; what is the reason? For if treason prospers, none dare call it treason.”

                Substitute fascism for treason. Anytime fascism has prospered, you would get strung up for calling it that. (Except of course, when the word was new, and the American Legion was openly calling for the United States to adopt a fascist government.) And, no one in Europe ever acknowledged fascism as totalitarianism until after it was defeated.

                I’m old enough to remember when Franco and his regime were still in power in Spain; but I don’t remember it being openly referred to as “fascist” at the time.

            • SDN says:

              And oh, BTW, were dealing with open warfare (as in complete with artillery barrages) between the Communists and the Freikorps.

  3. Harry Schell says:

    I have not seen such bitter and senseless division in my life (66 years). I like some things Trump is doing and some I don’t. The left is unable to take any tack but “rule or ruin” (aka Cloward-Piven) from the top all the way down to individuals completely unknown to Trump and unable to affect what he does.

    I hope for some calming of tempers with a bit of time.

    • Patrick says:

      Serious inquiry: is that division among people you know, or between people you see on TV?

      I see small effects between people I know, but for the most part it’s a media narrative in my corner of the world. And I work inside the DC Beltway in/around government and legislation.

      Not sure if I’m just more inured to it, which is why I ask if your life is different or if its just media pretending things are different. I see actual stress (and relief) due to the election in various folks I know, but it’s not causing serious personal rifts between us (yet?). Curious what you are seeing.


      • Sebastian says:

        For me it’s people I know.

        • Zermoid says:

          I’m lucky I guess, majority of people I know are like minded to me, can only think of a couple that are not happy that Trump won. Many wish they had better candidates to choose from but can agree he is better than the alternatives.

          • Whetherman says:

            “Better than the alternatives” always drives me nuts. Is it better to have an incurable form of cancer, or, say, ALS?

            To continue with the disease metaphor, suppose you went for tests with the prospect that you had one terminal disease or the other, and found out which one you had. Would you be “happy” with the diagnosis, because you had been dreading the symptoms of the alternative diagnosis more?

            Or, would you now try to fight the disease you had?

            Sooner or later the Trump administration is going to end in tragedy. The only question now is, whether it will be a tragedy for a few, or a tragedy for the whole damn nation.

            I for one am not happy with that.

            And please don’t whine and blame “the left” for not just laying down; because that was just never going to happen. It is just part of the facts-0f-life scenario. Resistance was always the unspoken “other” option that would come with a Trump win, just like resistance from the right was sure to come with a Hillary win. But there never was a prospect for a good outcome.

          • Ahnold says:

            I’m not so sure anymore if Trump was the better choice. My hopes were that all his “rhetoric” on the campaign trail were just that- campaign rhetoric- and that once he was sworn in he would transform into a no bullshit, all business president. From what I’ve seen so far, It’s all bullshit and almost no business. My hopes of a pragmatic businessman were dashed with the power Trump places in ideologues such as Bannon and Miller. Time will tell. Perhaps people like Kushner will win out- pushing out people like Bannon and Miller- therefore transforming Trump into the pragmatic businessman we had hoped for. time will tell

      • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

        Same as Sebastian for me- I have liberal friends and are just FREAKING out. Of course I’m worried about Trump, but they seem to have lost their mind.

        Its so odd.

  4. Alpheus says:

    I generally try to avoid Facebook, mostly because of a couple of bad arguments. I couldn’t help but notice an interesting pattern, though: Someone posts a controversial political thing; I challenge the logic behind controversial post; argument ensues; threats (or recommendations) to de-friend are made. (This was well before Trump, so I haven’t been unfriended because of this last election….)

    I don’t mind a political argument now and again; however, if I were to post political content, I would expect (and potentially welcome) political arguments. I find it odd that others who post political content get offended when you disagree with them…it’s as though a certain class of people naturally expect everyone to agree with them, no questions asked!

    • Sebastian says:

      I think the Internet is probably just a bad place to have political arguments. In real life you can read body language and have an idea where not to push. You lose that online.

      In most cases though, there’s a hint of truth in something someone says, and in a lot of cases you might agree with that. For instance, I don’t agree with much of Trump’s EO on immigration, specifically not exempting green card holders was seriously a breach of decency, but opposition (or support, take your pick) comes wrapped in a bunch of other (often false) assumptions I don’t care to entertain.

      I’ll give an instance…. I had a family member post something on the gun issue that was total bullshit. I don’t mean bullshit as in I disagreed with it… I mean it just wasn’t true at all. So I made a polite attempt to correct the record and got told they weren’t up for a debate. But hey… surely everyone wants to hear my ignorant opinion!

    • Jim says:

      My wife is on Facebook but she tells me of a disturbing trend of seeing how people she thought were friends really have become unhinged. Relatives and friends fighting with each other the way they would never do face to face. I sent her a quote the other day (not mine) that pretty much explains it.

      “Twitter is bad, but Facebook is worse. Twitter tells you random strangers are obnoxious assholes, Facebook tells you your friends & family are”.

      For me Facebook is a waste of time in a very short life.

  5. RAH says:

    The anger is from their assumption that they would never lose power. They had the power and in their moral superiority they could not imagine losing. So they continue to be insulting. The only reason these people were winning before is because of the apathy of those who are not politically minded. Those apathetic people are getting PO at being called racists. Disconnecting is not the correct response Just push back.

    • Sebastian says:

      I don’t really get that. Except for the White House, losing is what they’ve been doing for the past eight years!

    • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

      I think the “morally superior” part is dead on. They KNOW they are right, and how can ANY sane human oppose them? And now that they are out of power, they are angry and just tilting at windmills because they have no idea what to do. They don’t know how to actually convince people.

  6. Whetherman says:

    “I find it odd that others who post political content get offended when you disagree with them…”

    That may be a human-nature thing that is slightly different from the way you perceive it. I have recently been experiencing — again — that people will interpret any criticism of any aspect surrounding an issue, as an attack on the entire issue. For example, that disagreeing about the efficacy of any tactic proposed for promoting an issue, means you are actually opposed to the issue itself.

    People fall in love with an entire package, and expect everyone else to love their whole package, without reservation. That becomes especially true when any level of conflict or competition is involved.

    • Sebastian says:

      That’s an issue. I have a lot of family on social media (and there’s a lot. My mother had something like 36 first cousins). I might agree with on a core issue they care about, but I’m not buying the whole package. I see that on both sides. And that’s for the ones that aren’t just “Ra! Ra! Go Team!” which is a lot more people I’m connected to on social media than I wish it were.

  7. Patrick says:

    Take a mental pulse of all your friends, co-workers, family and close acquaintances. How many are Nazis or actual Fascists?

    We probably have the same types pf friends, family and co-worker as you. So extend to the people you know are like you. Keep increasing scale however you wish.

    Now extrapolate: if you are like me, your world is full of OK people who maybe don’t get along all the time. Friends come and go for all kinds of high drama, but not many will try to end our civilization as a result of whatever political fetish rules the day.

    Yes, the wife and I have friendships/associations that have shifted lately, but we’re not that worried about it. It’ll either repair or dissolve. Whatever. Some of our most assured liberal friends of are even closer now.

    Arguing political points – even vehemently – is mostly sport. Speaking of, I’ve met people who cannot stand Sox fans. Somehow the world didn’t dissolve even though I was a Yankees guy. The people of Boston didn’t trash my house for it (probably because they couldn’t swing a bat without graphic instruction and a t-ball base…).

    We are special in history only because of the way we tend to get along, in spite of ourselves. Not because we’re all closet Fascists. My advice: Don’t buy into the hype of those who wish to divide.

    We’re going to be just fine.

    • Whetherman says:

      “How many are Nazis or actual Fascists?”

      This is the kind of statement that always gets me in trouble because people misconstrue what I’m saying, but, you realize the average Nazi was a damn nice guy, right? He loved his family and was kind to his dog and looked out for his neighbors. He didn’t see himself as the slathering, comic-book monster we think of when we imagine the German Nazi, and most weren’t. But to a man/woman they supported Nazism, in spite of whatever reservations about this or that issue they may have had. They all saw some net good in it, that outweighed their reservations.

      An anecdote told me by an old WWII combat veteran who did occupation duty in Germany for awhile was, that postwar he and his unit had sheltered and covered for a former Nazi colonel, because “He was a damn nice guy, and really knew a lot about guns.”

      • 290892 says:

        Whetherman, you are a poster child for this for Sebastian’s post. If you think Trump is Hitler, you need to step away from the keyboard and re-evaluate your life.

        Trump has done nothing Hitlerish at all.

        • Whetherman says:

          If I’m a poster-child for calling Trump and his regime “fascist,” just let me know where I can pose for the photo.

          I would submit you are one of the many poster-children for denial.

      • Patrick says:

        “…you realize the average Nazi was a damn nice guy, right?”

        This is the silly kind of moral equivalence that passes for intellectualism among the left. I know exactly what you are saying, and I also see the (not so subtle) implication you wish to make: that “nice people” who support Trump today could really, truly be supporting the Nazi monster despite their habit of not kicking their own dogs.

        It’s a silly argument because you ignore that Fascism and its ilk are systems – political, economic and cultural – systems. Oppression of ‘the other’ is planned and executed on a systemic level by people who understand and support the end game. Of course Nazi’s were nice to each other. They were on the same team.

        It is lazy to equate this with the US conservative movement in any of its popular forms. Our culture is offended by systemic oppression of any people. Our aversion to Islamist culture is not oppressive – it is a natural recoil from those who support an Islamist system design to oppress, kill and torture. People are welcome so long as they are not oppressors.

        Those who dwell in the Leftist fever swamp work themselves into their feinting couches considering the indignities of an immigrant being asked, “Do you think it right to kill gay people, mutilate little girls, deny women the same opportunities as men, rape unaccompanied women or kill atheists?”

        Fascism includes the exercise of violence for political power. We see that violence in pursuit of political power is being exercised today in the USA, and advocated by serious players within the political establishment. All of those players – and all of that violence – originates on the Left.

        Trump is not Hitler, and the people who support his policies are not sympathizers. Whatever authorities he has exercised existed prior to his election. Some of those authorities were conceived and assembled by the left in support of their assumed permanent ascendancy to the Executive Office.

        President Obama created authorities that did not exist in 2007, in order to exact a political outcome. Trump exercising those same authorities to undo that outcome – or gasp! – implementing a different outcome is the failed return on your bad investment.

        You bent the system until it broke your way, now complain that the system you created is being used by the people you oppressed to undo the damage. Tough. Maybe at the end of this you lefties will start to understand the carnage that an all-powerful federal is capable of inflicting, and work with us to unwind the machine.

        But somehow I think you’ll just work to take control of it again, so that you can oppress us even better than you did last time. But that’s another day.

        • Whetherman says:

          “It’s a silly argument because you ignore that Fascism and its ilk are systems – political, economic and cultural – systems.”

          And your silly argument grows out of the assumption that “systems” do not grow out of a handful of individuals crafting it as a path to their own power. International Communism grew out of the efforts of Marx, Engels, et al, and an initial handful of people who saw it as a way to secure their own advantage. Fascism as a so-described system grew out of raw power-seeking, initially in Italy, and then expanding through Europe.

          I cited above the historical factoid that c. 1923 the American Legion was openly advocating for the U.S. to adopt the Italian Fascist model for for governing the United States; they more than once sought to have Benito Mussolini come to the United States to be the keynote speaker at their National Convention.

          Do you believe the American Legion was any less patriotic than it is today, or that they were covert plotters seeking to impose an evil “system?” Or did they just deny that what they were advocating could become evil?

          And speaking of silly, I see you immediately engaging in assumptions about who I may have supported in the past — based on the fact that I am not currently supporting your champion of statism and authoritarianism. That abandonment of logic, after you refer to others as pseudo-intellectuals

          • Whetherman says:

            If you need a reference for the American Legion’s embrace of fascism, you can start with the following from Wikipedia.

            In 1923, American Legion Commander Alvin Owsley cited Italian Fascism as a model for defending the nation against the forces of the left.[72] Owsley said:

            If ever needed, The American Legion stands ready to protect our country’s institutions and ideals as the Fascisti dealt with the destructionists who menaced Italy!… The American Legion is fighting every element that threatens our democratic government—Soviets, anarchists, IWW, revolutionary socialists and every other red…. Do not forget that the Fascisti are to Italy what The American Legion is to the United States.[73]

            The Legion invited Mussolini to speak at its convention as late as 1930.[73]

            There is a good deal more detailed information on that available if you care to pursue it.

            • Sebastian says:

              There was a lot of admiration of Italian Fascism in the US before the Second World War. Jonah Goldberg wrote pretty extensively about it in his book “Liberal Fascism,” which highlighted a lot of the admiration on the left. Of course, a criticism of his book is he left out a lot of the right’s admiration of Italian Fascism as well.

              • Hank Archer says:

                FDR was also an admirer of Mussolini.

                • Whetherman says:

                  FDR also admired, trusted an respected Stalin. It is not unusual for the heads of empires to envy each other; “Birds of a feather,” as they say.

                  But I sense both you and Sebastian engaging in a variation of “Whataboutism,” which in this case is manifested by, if “the right” can be shown to have aligned with anything now acknowledged to have been evil, examples “on the left” must be found that presumably are supposed to mitigate the criticism; it then can be said in effect, “Yeah, but What About. . .?”

                  In this case the ideological alignments are not really relevant, because the point is, good people supporting things that turned out being evil, without ever having had evil intent.


                  Whataboutism is a term describing a propaganda technique used by the Soviet Union in its dealings with the Western world during the Cold War. When criticisms were levelled at the Soviet Union, the response would be “What about…” followed by the naming of an event in the Western world.[1][2] It represents a case of tu quoque (appeal to hypocrisy),[3] a logical fallacy which attempts to discredit the opponent’s position by asserting the opponent’s failure to act consistently in accordance with that position, without directly refuting or disproving the opponent’s initial argument.

                  The term describing the technique was popularized in 2008 by Edward Lucas in an article for The Economist. Lucas said that this tactic is observed in the politics of modern Russia, along with this being evidence of a resurgence of Cold War and Soviet-era mentality within Russia’s leadership.[1]

                  • Sebastian says:

                    I don’t really dispute your point that good people can end up supporting something (like nazism or fascism) that turns out to be evil. I think the question is how much that informs what’s happening today. I don’t dispute we’ve seen a surge in authoritarianism and populism. The cops can do no wrong crowd got a shot in the arm. It looks like Trump is a fan of Civil Asset Forfeiture, which isn’t surprising. But we’ve seen this before, and it hasn’t descended into breownshirts or blackshirts organizing to beat protesters on the streets, or to round up opposition in the dark of night.

                    The closest American analogue to that was the KKK, and I don’t notice they’re experiencing a serious resurgence.

          • Patrick says:

            So in response to an argument that the modern conservative movement in the USA is neither fascist nor oppressive, you point to a small group in 1923 that supported Mussolini?

            I’ll call that a concession. Thanks.

            And speaking of silly, I see you immediately engaging in assumptions about who I may have supported in the past — based on the fact that I am not currently supporting your champion of statism and authoritarianism.

            So, you don’t support lefty causes (I’ve read your other posts)?

            Pointing out that modern conservatives are not fascists is not the same as signing up for “statism and authoritarianism”. There is no bridge between those two points, except the one in your head.

            Again, this is sport for me. Don’t take it too personally. We’d probably have a blast if we ever sat down for a spell.

  8. Mike V says:

    I’d personally go with 1857 or 1858 than 1850. The left seems to believe we are ignorant racist savages and we think they’re morally smug elitists. It’s like they hate us and we’ve come to hate them back. I really hope everyone can take a breath and a step back before things get really out of control.

  9. Dave says:

    Things are already out of control.

    The tea party spawned out of fear of the Neo-soc(ialist) BHO. while his party affiliation was Democrat, his positions were mainstream with what that label has traditionally meant for most adults. He was / is effective at self marketing, messaging, and mobilizing to the core primary voters and he was able to bring along actual democrats for the ride. And what a ride it was!

    We could not and would not have had Trump without BHO. But what is radically different is the reaction between the 2 respective “core” elements. I’m avoiding calling them the “base” because I believe that the constituency of protesters and troublemakers have been different makeup between the right and left.

    On the right, the Tea Party consisted of both libertarian and right wing base type of thinkers who espoused -actual- smaller government, not the “talking about” smaller government type of republican.

    On the left, is a coalition of more broad spectrum of people including statists, socialists, communists, liberals, democrats, and various left leaning interest groups and various left leaning “you owe us” groups.

    I don’t recall the tea party lighting stuff on fire, but maybe i missed it.
    The current crop of protesters and troublemakers – they are not the same – are escalating their rhetoric and their actions into the realm of criminal.
    although this is not all new behavior the numbers involved are new and concerning.

    • Whetherman says:

      “On the left, is a coalition of more broad spectrum of people including statists…”

      I take it you believe the right are not statists?

  10. Facebook has become horribly toxic, even with my limited 102 friends. I think it’s about time to deactivate my account. The platform has become anti-social and has rapidly lost the value it once had for me. I don’t care about meme sharing and click bait headlines.

    • Sebastian says:

      I’ve not spent much time on Facebook at all for the past few days, and it’s nice. Yeah, it was once a good way to keep in touch with family and friends without having to see them. But it’s become awful.

      • Whetherman says:

        Have you seen Trump’s tweet urging Americans to dime out their neighbors?

        • Sebastian says:

          You mean like this? I’ve been seeing crap like this since the Bush Administration. I’m sure you could probably find rhetoric like this during the Red Scare in the 1950s.

          Not that it’s suddenly become right, but I’m not sure it’s a sign of impending fascism. It looks like the same kind of populist authoritarian sentiment that’s existed in this country for a long time.

          • Whetherman says:

            No, I mean the one where he urged everyone to “make it your goal to turn in at least one illegal alien.”

            The issue of course being, that like the Nazis urging Good Germans to turn in Untermenschen, he is urging people to judge for themselves the status of their neighbors, and to report them to authorities first.

            You don’t need to be a softy on immigration to see the problem with the concept. People are not qualified to know, only to suspect. It invites deadly raids and confrontations, and at very best will waste a lot of enforcement time if ICE et al follow up on the dimes. Trumpniks don’t care.

            But closer to the subject at hand, it encourages us to be suspicious of each other. Then everyone marvels at the way we are at each others throats!

            • Whetherman says:

              Here’s Trumpakov’s tweet, just in case someone thinks I’m making this stuff up.

              I get a sense many people around here engage in careful self-censorship, so as not to encounter any information that might trouble them. :-)


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