Archive for Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nothing figurative about ‘culture war’

September 16, 2009


I don’t know who coined the term “culture war” to describe our political divisions, but I’m reasonably sure he or she intended it only as a figure of speech.

It feels like something else in light of a new report from the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist groups. “Terror From the Right” is a listing of bombers, killers, would-be assassins and insurrectionists motivated by anger over abortion, gays, taxes, blacks, Muslims and illegal immigrants.

Which raises an obvious fair and balanced question: What about terror from the left? The SPLC’s Mark Potok says left-wing terror essentially means eco-terrorists, e.g., animal rights extremists. The death toll from their work, he says, is zero.

By contrast, Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people because he was angry at the government, brothers Matthew and Tyler Williams shot two men to death for being gay, James Kopp killed Dr. Barnett Slepian for being an abortion provider, and dozens of other men have been indicted for dozens of other plots to kill thousands of other people with whom they had political disagreements.

It’s one thing to read these stories in isolation and another to see them collected, and thereby connected, here, one extremist plot after another in the 14 years since Oklahoma City. It gives you a sense that — apologies to Buffalo Springfield — there’s something happening here and what it is is all too clear. The report provides troubling context for the outrageous behavior that has attended the election of our first African-American president.

When you call them on that behavior, Barack Obama’s detractors love to accuse you of equating dissent with racism. It is a specious argument. I disagree with the president’s use of signing statements to avoid complying with laws he doesn’t like, but it would never occur to me to carry a sign vowing death to him, his wife and their “two stupid kids” as a protester in Maryland did, or to pray that Obama dies of brain cancer as a “minister” in Arizona does, or to heckle him during a joint session of Congress as Rep. Joe Wilson infamously did.

That’s not dissent. It is the howl of the unhinged and the entitled. The same folks who were complacent as President Bush spent surplus into deficit, wasted 600 billion dollars and 4,000 American lives on the wrong war, and watched a major American city drown are morally outraged because the new guy wants to reform health care?

For many of them, I think — not all — that’s because they find it hard to accept that the new guy is liberal ... and black.

As Potok sees it, some of us are angry over the dramatic changes underfoot in this nation. “People who want this country to remain a white-dominated country have lost. They have completely and utterly lost the battle and they can never win it. If they were to seal the borders tomorrow, whites would still lose their majority in a matter of years, simply as a result of the difference in fertility rate.”

As a result, many people “feel that this is no longer the country that their Christian white forefathers built, that they have been robbed, that this isn’t the world they grew up in and that they are very, very frightened” — a feeling stoked and exploited by political and media demagogues, who will loudly disclaim responsibility when that fear becomes violence.

The president is black, the secretary of state is a woman, the new Supreme Court justice is Hispanic, the nation is changing, becoming vastly more inclusive. If some see that as a redemption of promise, the SPLC report reminds us that others regard it as an embodiment of threat. For the record, at least six of the plots it recounts were motivated by, or against, Obama.

Take it as proof. “Culture war” is not a figure of speech.


SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 6 months ago

And abortion has killed how many millions, Pittsy?

jaywalker 8 years, 6 months ago

"For many of them, I think — not all — that’s because they find it hard to accept that the new guy is liberal ... and black."

That's the way to cover your behind-- a gratuitious "not all" as a disclaimer. Excellent. It's not dissent, 'for the most part' (had to get mine in there too if they're that cheap), it's the "howl of the entitled" racists. And yet another volley is launched in the 'culture war'.

salad 8 years, 6 months ago

STRS has a point, too bad it doesn't fit with anything on this page. You might as well just start screamin' "9/11!!! 9/11!!!" again.

JamesUnruh (Anonymous) says…

"Openly celebrating the genocide of the white race and culture in America is apparently Pulitzer winning journalism these days. "

Ladies and gentlemen, our winner for racist of the year! Please see the nice FBI agents in the back to collect your prize.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 6 months ago

"Openly celebrating the genocide of the white race and culture in America is apparently Pulitzer winning journalism these days."

And you're backing up your accusations, when?

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 6 months ago


With regard to my comment about abortion, I say it because of Mr. Pitts' claim, " What about terror from the left?...The death toll from their work... is zero."

Actually, the death toll is closer to 40 million.

tbaker 8 years, 6 months ago

I think the editors of the LJW put this one in to hit that "one million comment" mark a little sooner.

Pitts lectures, "...the nation is changing, becoming vastly more inclusive."

So is this a revelation to Mr. Pitts and his readers? Whoever hasn't realized this a long time ago has been living in a cave. This isn't new.

Pitts is a loon if he thinks the "Culture War" is about the white, christian power structure feeling threatened. It is when one group, usually a minority (as in size) is trying to impose it's will on another group (usually the majority). It becomes particularly acute when group A's desire to impose something on group B actually causes group B to lose something.

Live and let live folks. If whatever you want to do doesn't harm, cost, or deprive others of anything, then party-on Garth. Otherwise, you're wrong. Pitts' argument is a straw man in a field of pyromaniacs.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 6 months ago

And sometimes, James, it's just calling it like it is.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 6 months ago

"The yell of “Racist!” is a good tactic for untalented hacks"

kgrimes 8 years, 6 months ago

STRS, abortion isn't really terrorism, since it is kinda, ya know, legal. Either way, I wonder how many of those 40 million can be attributed to Republicans visiting the clinics?

Boosh 8 years, 6 months ago

Seems to me the yell of “Racist!” in blogs is the new equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater. If there is a fire then the shout is warranted, if not then the ensuing stampede is nothing short of grotesque.

salad 8 years, 6 months ago

Boris (Anonymous) says… "Salad seems to be the racist of the day. Constantly throws the race card on anyone he disagrees with."


"Alot like Pitts!"

A badge of honor!!!

salad 8 years, 6 months ago

JamesUnruh (Anonymous) says… "I was being Ironical."

First, "ironical" is not a word. You meant to say, "I was being ironic." Secondly, you comprehend irony about as well as Alanis Morissette. Thirdly, you were just being racist: by invoking "white culture" you align yourself with right-wing hate, which is inherrently racist. Congratulations, you also win the "Sarah Palin-I have no idea what my words mean" award.

salad 8 years, 6 months ago


With regard to my comment about abortion, I say it because of Mr. Pitts' claim, ” What about terror from the left?…The death toll from their work… is zero.”

Not disagreeing that abortion is something tragic that we could do without, but it's not terrorism. Terrorism has an agenda. If you wanted to make an effective arguement, you would have brought up the anti-govt./anti-war terrorist-like activities from the left during the 60's and 70's. That death toll is NOT zero. There, I threw ya a bone.

Shane Garrett 8 years, 6 months ago

"Great innovations should not be forced on a slender majority." --Thomas Jefferson to John Armstrong, 1808. ME 12:42 Everyone needs to be educated on the sound principals of majority rule. "The first principle of republicanism is that the lex majoris partis is the fundamental law of every society of individuals of equal rights; to consider the will of the society enounced by the majority of a single vote as sacred as if unanimous is the first of all lessons in importance, yet the last which is thoroughly learnt. This law once disregarded, no other remains but that of force, which ends necessarily in military despotism." --Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, 1817. ME 15:127

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 6 months ago


And from Jim Crow to segregation to slavery to WWII internment camps, we know that all laws are moral and just, right?

Shane Garrett 8 years, 6 months ago

Setting the record straight:
"Error indeed has often prevailed by the assistance of power or force. Truth is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers 1:548

kgrimes 8 years, 6 months ago

STRS, my point was that abortion isn't terrorism. I also happen to find it morally sound, to an extent. I realize that others do not feel this way, and therefore would consider abortion to be wrong, however that does not make it terrorism.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 6 months ago


And I respectfully hold the exact opposite point of view of on abortion.

Leonard Pitts' problem here is that he vilifies only some of that which is abhorrent. I, however, vilify it all.

jaywalker 8 years, 6 months ago

"That statement could not be more “Klan / White Power”."

And that statement couldn't be more moronic.

"by invoking “white culture” you align yourself with right-wing hate, which is inherrently racist"

Nearly as moronic as porch's statement. Call it a dead heat. Well done you two.

Satirical 8 years, 6 months ago

Wait, did someone use the fear tactic of claiming racism??

That's my cue as a loyal democrat to immediately suspend rational thinking and find any evidence, no matter how tangential or unsupported (sort of like the opposite of "birthers") to back up this claim.

If conservatives are racist, then by default I must support liberals....right? I must fall in line and accept whatever proposal the democrats are advocating, whether or not the proposal is fiscally responsible or actually achieve its objectives. Because I am afraid that by agreeing with racists our country will look like it did pre-civil rights ear, I will give into this fear and support the liberal agenda.

jaywalker 8 years, 6 months ago

Pretty clear who the moronic one is porch. Should be a picture of you next to the def in Webster's. And of course I don't believe the white race is subject to genocide in this country, I wouldn't defend that statement's validity in any fashion. But your believing that you've "accurately labeled" the line as "incredibly racist" is exactly why you are far and away the biggest idiot on these boards. You're a very sad, very challenged little boy, porch.

(demented cackle)

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 6 months ago

I looked at the headline and then looked at who wrote the article and decided I didn't want to waste me time reading stuff from him.

The left doesn't have any extremeist? Might want to go look into Obama past and see who he has aligned himself with.

BrianR 8 years, 6 months ago

Yes, the last administration lowered our taxes and spent wildly by selling us out to China. Imagine a government that wants to raise money before it spends. Way to hit rock bottom and begin to dig, James.

jaywalker 8 years, 6 months ago

"So you “wouldn't defend that statement's validity in any fashion” directly after you call my critique of the undefendable statement “moronic”."

You make me smile, porch, just not in a good way. It's like witnessing a fool perpetuate his legacy for the umpteenth time; you feel bad, but you've done what you can. The guy's a moron and can't be helped. Just because Unruh's statement is poor and indefensible in and of itself, that doesn't make ANY "critique" you might 'think' you have automatically valid. No, his statement does not have merit. But you asserting it is an example of "Klan/white power" is equally as moronic. The fact you can't see that is not a surprise.

You just go ahead and keep thinking you're somehow intellectually superior, punkin. The world needs ditch diggers, too.

jaywalker 8 years, 6 months ago

Shocker that you can't fathom that simple explanation, porchie. And what's funny is you telling me to "let go of old arguments". Are your freakin' serious?! That's all you seem to be able to do, regurgitate old arguments 'cuz ya got nothin' for the current topic. How old is this healthcare bs you keep going back to? And by the way, as is your m.o., quit being such a bald-faced liar. I never "claimed health insurance companies would write" blah blah blah.
Man, you are pathetic.

tbaker 8 years, 6 months ago

Come now porchie, keep the sunny side up.

jaywalker 8 years, 6 months ago

Demented cackler,

??? What the hell is that supposed to prove/back up/support/whatever??? "Excuse"? "Lie"? Once again you can't prove your own lies. Well done. I've got to figure you're just too much of a whackadoo to understand that which you cite has no bearing on the lie you began with. You really do need serious help, porch, and not just one shrink. You need a team workin' on you 'round the clock.

georgiahawk 8 years, 6 months ago

75x55, how would you know?

I do not know anybody on this thread to know whether or not they are racist, but there are some of you that sure are sensitive about it. If you are not racist then you are not, you should not have to go to great lengths to prove it!

jaywalker 8 years, 6 months ago

"Nothing like getting trumped with your own words, is there, jaywalker?"

Wow. You really need to seek help, man. Seriously.

Mixolydian 8 years, 6 months ago

Nothing figurative about it..the applicable phrase here is "Pay to the Order of: Leonard Pitts"

Let's all chant as one... "Keep racism alive!" Leonard Pitts has an article to write.

Dying print media outlets see his column as a way to drive viewers/article commenters to their online papers. Just a bunch of white guys arguing over who's more racist.

Too funny if it wasn't so sad.

tbaker 8 years, 6 months ago

Porch - please stop calling people liars. Show some maturity. All you accomplish when you do that is harden a person's position against yours forever. You don't get people to see things your way when they are angry with you. Changing things in this country starts with civil dialog.

As to your rant about health care I want better health care too. Every thinking person does. My question is why must we set about fixing it in a way that proceeds from a seriously flawed assumption? Does that sound dumb to you?

The flawed assumption is the problem we have is so big, so complex, and so intractable that ONLY the federal government can solve it, that ONLY some massive new entitlement program we can't afford can solve it.

If we REALLY want to fix health care, then we have to start by being honest as a country and acknowledging the government's 100% failure rate with big entitlement programs. We have to acknowledge we have a very serious deficit and national debt problem that threatens to ruin the value of our money and destroy our country - ergo, we can't add to it with some massive and expensive new program.

I'm not not one of these nuts that crows about "stopping Obamacare at all costs!" That isn't productive, and I don't think anyone with a brain thinks that way. I think people want our leaders to be honest and own up to the fact our government has a horrible track record of failure when it comes to these big entitlement programs, and that we simply cannot afford it as a country.

I want our government to take a honest look at all the ways they currently interfere with the country's health care system, and propose real ideas that take government out of the equation, don't cost anything, and clears the path to empower ordinary people to make their own decisions and take care of themselves when it comes to health care.

There are scores of things like this the government could do, but none of this can start until people are honest about defining the problem - both in DC and places like this blog.

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