December 24, 2006

Responding to Jonah's response to that hot diavlog.

Over at The Corner, Jonah Goldberg has a long post about our Bloggingheads encounter:
After technical hassles too complicated and boring to describe, my conversation with Ann Althouse is up at BhTV. It got a little heated in the begining [sic] and I've been trying to figure out why Ann and I had such a problem talking to each other about Frank Meyer, state's rights etc. Ann's a nice and reasonable person, after all.

A little background: She and I both attended a Liberty Fund conference on Frank Meyer's legacy. Meyer was the author of the doctrine which became known as Fusionism (though Meyer didn't like that label). Meyer was obsessively libertarian in almost all realms, but he alo [sic] took the structure of the constitution very seriously, making him a staunch supporter of State's rights. This put him in the untenable situation of defending States' rights in the face of Jim Crow. He was right on the constitutional principle of state's rights, but he was wrong historically and morally about how that principle needed to be applied in reality. We set aside a whole panel session for this topic, though many of us — but not Ann — had already spent the night arguing about this stuff until 2:00 in the morning. Anyway, earlier last week, Ann ran a post on her site implying that attendees of the conference were a little scary because they "believed" too much. I called her post "odd." She apparently, and I think wrongly, took considerable offense. She later explained that she was really talking about the libertarians and their extreme dedication to ideological conviction. Proof of this, I learned while talking to her, was the lack of realism when talking about the States' rights stuff.

Anyway, you can learn more and see all the related links by going to BhTV. But what's been bothering me ever since our conversation is that Ann sees herself as specially positioned — both at the Liberty Fund and in conversations with me — to lecture others about race. I agree with her entirely about how conservatives need to be very careful when trying to sell federalism. But what bothers me is the assumption that conservatives need liberals to tell us about how to be racially "enlightened." It seems to me — and this is just my theory — that because a roomful of people who were not trying to persuade any audience or play to any constituency didn't perform the usual liberal rituals about how terrible Jim Crow was, Ann interpretated [sic] this as a lack of commitment. Morevoer, she thought the people in the room were woefully out of touch with racial reality and therefore need moral tutoring from a liberal who really understands these things.
I had a problem -- as I say in the diavlog -- with the continual discussion of abstract ideas that in real life were connected with racist policy as if the ideas could be examined without paying attention to where these ideas led the man who thought them up. We were sitting there essentially celebrating Frank S. Meyer for 9 hours. It wasn't that I thought I was morally superior -- though I did end up feeling like a big liberal -- it was that I found myself in a position where silence meant too much. To be frank, there were times when I it occurred to me that this might be the way highly intelligent white supremacists would present themselves in mixed company.

The incessant abstraction felt wrong to me. Isn't it nice that they talked about the problem of race during the off hours? Excuse me for being asleep at 2 a.m.! We went for hours and hours in the sessions talking about virtue. That seemed quite weird and obtuse to me. The response we were being intellectual just doesn't cut it. Imagine a left-wing conference going 9 hours talking about Karl Marx's ideas and disqualifying discussion of the evils wrought in the name of communism. We talked about the evils in the middle of the night while you were sleeping. We know all that, now get back to the fine ideas.
Maybe at a similar conference full of liberals there would be much gnashing of teeth and teary-eyed condemnations about the legacy of Jim Crow. But, if that's the case, mightn't that be a sign of how liberals embrace liberalism to feel good about themselves and morally superior to others? There's a certain Sorkinesque aesthetic to liberalism, full of self-congratulation and righteous grandstanding, that assumes the world needs liberals to tell everyone else what's right and wrong.

I'm not saying that Ann is one of those liberals, by the way. In fact, she gets a lot of grief from the left for not playing that game. But, I do think she doesn't know conservatives (or libertarians) very well, and so when we don't talk like liberals, or when we don't talk like conservatives at the University of Wisconsin, Madison — who're forced to dance a [sic] "I'm-not-racist" kabuki every time they make a point — she thinks we don't understand reality and that we really do need liberals to guide us to enlightenment.
I said in an earlier post -- one that Jonah linked to and that we discussed in the diavlog -- that I don't know many nonliberals because I'm here in Madison, so this point about my perspective has been well-conceded, and not just at 2 a.m., but publicly and explicitly on this blog. I was in a strange milieu at that conference and observing it and my reaction to it was a big part of what I was doing in the 9 hours I spent at the table. I was scarcely asking for people to "dance a[n] 'I'm-not-racist' kabuki every time they make a point." Imagine the vast number of points that were made in a 9-hour conversation. At some point the failure to talk about it has got to mean something!

But it's not just a matter of wanting people to acknowlege that race discrimination is bad. I (almost) always assumed that everyone would say: Of course, it is. We all know that. As I wrote in that earlier post, I see something wrong with the style of thinking that entails latching onto ideas as ideas. I have a problem with the fundamentalists and ideologues who don't keep track of how their ideas affect the real world and who don't maintain the empathy and the flexibility to adjust and correct their thinking in response to what they see. I kept trying to ask why people were finding the ideas of Frank S. Meyer so enthralling. One theory is that they actually like where the ideas would take a person, but no one wanted to talk about that. I'm willing to believe you don't want to go where he went. Another theory is, you just like the ideas as ideas, and if you concede that, you have the other problem, that you're an ideologue, and I find that dangerous.

Presumably, there's a third theory. Somehow, you like the ideas but not in any hardcore fundamentalist way, and you see a way to use them and benefit from them but still maintain your bearings and preserve or pursue what you, with good sense, understand to be good. Talk about that. Tell me how.
One last point I tried to get in our conversation, but couldn't.
Watch some old Bloggingheads diavlogs with Jonah. He typically dominates. I knew that and wanted to make sure I wasn't dominated. He knows how to come back if he wants. I usually pull my punches, but, in this diavlog, I went ahead and took a few shots.
Conservatives were, broadly speaking and with more exceptions than the conventional narrative allows, on the wrong side of the civil rights movement. That goes for National Review, too, by the way.
Yeah, the National Review pieces in the conference readings had Frank S. Meyer actively encouraging the state governors to take back the National Guard and fight off Dwight D. Eisenhower's nefarious plan to enforce Brown v. Board of Education. (Oh, but let's talk about Meyer's beautiful ideas.)
But the left has used this fact to put the mark of Cain on conservatives ever since. It's amazing to me how eager liberals are to say that intellectual history matters when it's inconvenient conservative intellectual history. But whenever you try to to turn the subject to liberal intellectual history, all you get back is eye-rolling. One small example: Recently, I wrote that liberals had a long love affair with Fidel Castro. This is simply factually true. And yet, I was deluged by liberal readers and lefty bloggers whining about how either that never really happened or that was old news. hardly applicable to liberals today. Well, liberal and leftwing fawning and excuse-making for Castro is far more recent than conservative support for Jim Crow, thank you very much.
Well, this part isn't about me, obviously.
The Progressive movement, which we today call liberalism, stands on a foundation of eugenics and theocracy. But, if you bring that up, you mostly get ignorant stares from the same liberals eager to tell me — a guy named Goldberg from New York City — that I have to atone for what "my side" did in the 1960s. I don't mind coming to grips with my side's intellectual history, in fact I love that stuff. What offends me greatly is when liberals say conservatives are the only ones who should do it and, moreover, they should only do it when it suits liberal ends.
I agree!
Anyway, there's other fun stuff up over there, from robot rights to kid's cartoons. Time for me to take Cosmo squirrel hunting.
I agree that squirrel makes a fine holiday meal. And he's right that we move on to talk about robots and cartoons. We also talk about toys and sex. And Andrew Sullivan.

ADDED: Jonah writes: "[Frank S. Meyer] was right on the constitutional principle of state's rights, but he was wrong historically and morally about how that principle needed to be applied in reality." Look at that closely. If you really believe in the principle, what saves you from going where the principle leads? If it's all about how you apply the principle in reality, you've moved away from the hardcore ideology that I was critiquing. If you're going to take the lessons of history to heart, and you're going to keep your moral compass and check your course, then you're not one of the people I'm complaining about. You agree with me. I kept saying that to Jonah, and I think he heard me. My real problem was with the libertarians. The conservative traditionalists, the Burkeans, have a safeguard against the worst mistakes of the ideologues.

YET MORE: Stephen Bainbridge reads this post and says:
My guess is that hanging out in Madison and the national law school community has exposed Ann mainly to libertarians (can you say Eugene Volokh or Glenn Reynolds), as opposed to conservatives who learned first at Kirk's feet before folding in Novak, Hayek or Meyers as seasoning. The latter are concerned not so much with abstract ideas, as they are with achieving a proper balance between the Permanent Things and the need for salutary reform, tempered with a caution founded in the law of unintended consequences.
Hmmm.... I can only assume Steve didn't read the part of this post where I say:
If you're going to take the lessons of history to heart, and you're going to keep your moral compass and check your course, then you're not one of the people I'm complaining about. You agree with me. I kept saying that to Jonah, and I think he heard me. My real problem was with the libertarians. The conservative traditionalists, the Burkeans, have a safeguard against the worst mistakes of the ideologues.
And listen to the diavlog. I tell Jonah several times that I'm not really talking about him, I'm talking about the libertarians. Steve's big point is that I need to learn about Russell Kirk (who was, by the way, in our conference readings). I tie Jonah to Edmund Burke at least twice in the context of saying I'm not really talking about him. And Kirk ≈ Burke, right?

70 comments:

Anonymous said...

"toys and sex. And Andrew Sullivan."
ROFL! I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.

You make very good points in your post, BTW, and Jonah does in his as well. It seems to me that it would have been appropriate at some time during the meetings to directly address the negative aspects of Mr. Meyer's legacy, but that obviously wasn't what the organizers or participants wanted because it would detract from their purpose. Or more likely, force a discussion of the very real consequences of the pursuit of idealogicial purity.

As you both point out, this is true of purists of all stripes and not confined to the right or the left.

Anonymous said...

"One theory is that they actually like where the ideas would take a person, but no one wanted to talk about that."

I really do agree that it's intellectually lazy to not deal with the civil rights issues inherent in a robust federalist system.

It should be noted, however, that it might have been federalism which put us on the path to eradicating slavery (had the federal government been as assertive as it is today immediately after the founding, it's possible the national consensus would have been FOR slavery; perhaps enshrined in the Constitution).

Are you going to task liberals with grappling with that history? Are you going to insinuate that maybe they have some affinity for slavery and racial discrimination because where there ideas might have led us if they prevailed in a distant past,at a specific time?

What if the national consensus on segregation prevailed in 1850, or 1890? Does that prove federalism is a good thing? And if it is a good thing, does that mean we must be more than fair-weather federalists? I'm not sure this is quite the Trump Card you think it is. But you're right it's something which should be addressed, and forthrightly.

reader_iam said...

Hans:

Exactly.

Ann Althouse said...

Internet Ronin: "It seems to me that it would have been appropriate at some time during the meetings to directly address the negative aspects of Mr. Meyer's legacy, but that obviously wasn't what the organizers or participants wanted because it would detract from their purpose. Or more likely, force a discussion of the very real consequences of the pursuit of idealogicial purity."

I kept using my time in the conversation saying things like this, and I did not get a response.

Gerry said...

As a Burkean conservative, I am quite pleased to find that folks like myself were not your intended target in your initial post-conference blog post. At the time, that fact was far from clear, at least to my eyes.

Gahrie said...

How about addressing the fact that the abortion and birth control issue that is so sancrosanct to the left has its origins in eugenics, and that as those ideas play out in the real world today, they have a (purposely?) disproportionate effect on minorities?


Imagine a left-wing conference going 9 hours talking about Karl Marx's ideas and disqualifying discussion of the evils wrought in the name of communism

Ann, this type of thing happens all the time ! When someone brings up the real world evils of Marxist thought, they are quickly and summarily dismissed as the results of imperfectly following marxist thought.

Todd said...

Word verification: zsqgl. Zee-squiggle? Hmm.

Anyway, "Jonah writes: "[Frank S. Meyer] was right on the constitutional principle of state's rights, but he was wrong historically and morally about how that principle needed to be applied in reality." Look at that closely. If you really believe in the principle, what saves you from going where the principle leads? If it's all about how you apply the principle in reality, you've moved away from the hardcore ideology that I was critiquing.
Somehow this makes me think of Kant's categorical imperative, and how he applied it. That is, badly. Isn't the point here that there isn't just one principle to consider? So when the principle of federalism bangs up against the principle of racial justice, something has to give?

In other words, we can all agree that I have a right to swing my arms, but that my right ends where your face begins.

Enjoy the holidays. Back next week.

Anonymous said...

If I understand Ann's comments correctly, and I'm not sure that I do, she is annoyed at libertarians who supported (and support) states' rights over racial equality. She calls them ideological for doing so.

First off, I'm not sure how the reverse (supporting racial equality over states' rights) is any less ideological. Each side just values a particular position more highly.

Second, I think there is an argument that centralizing power in the federal government is a less effective way to promote racial equality. It may have been better to let the South resolve this issue on their own, rather than impose new rules from above. To me, there is no doubt that Jim Crow would have been overthrown from within by now, even without federal government intervention. It's impossible to prove this counterfactual, of course, but I think it is a possibility to consider at least, when discussing the intersection of states' rights arguments and Jim Crow.

Alan said...

Federalism makes sense for economic reasons. But these conservatives sell it as a means to outlaw abortion and enforce their "virtue." The right has dumbed itself down over the last 18 or so years. Personally I blame the National Review, Bill Bennett, and Rush Limbaugh for the currently dumbed down version of "conservatism."

Gerry said...

Ann,

I am going to pick a nit, though. In your post here, you seem to make a big deal out of the fact that Jonah implied that some things were discussed the night before. An example is when you said:

"We talked about the evils in the middle of the night while you were sleeping. We know all that, now get back to the fine ideas."

Yet, when Jonah said, during your discussion, that he did not recall you picking any grand battles with Libertarians at the conference, you replied, paraphrased, 'You weren't at my table at dinner.'

Something with this strikes me as wanting it both ways. That is a minor quibble, though. I enjoyed that discussion between you and Jonah. I think that both of you made good points.

Not having attended one of these conferences, I can only go off of what I took from yours and Jonah's descriptions. That said, I am left thinking that one reason the structure is so defined to keep the discussion on the abstract is to avoid the problems when moving from the abstract to the history.

Gerry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tim said...

I cannot wait for the liberal symposium on the virtues of the welfare state, redistribution of wealth, abortion on demand, pacifism, reverse discrimination, multiculturalism, protectionism and socialized medicine where the conservative dissenter isn't vociferously attacked as a bourgeois paternalistic European ethnocentric anti-sex Darwinian racist war-monger.

Which might be one reason so few conservatives are employed in academia.

My point? Disagree with Goldberg as you will; his arguments do not degrade your morality. The Left's moral contempt for libertarians and conservatives is a tangible barrier to reasonable dialogue - I've no doubt were the Left ever to secure its dictatorship of the proletariat, I'd end up against a wall facing the business end of a rifle.

Gerry said...

The Emperor:

"First off, I'm not sure how the reverse (supporting racial equality over states' rights) is any less ideological. Each side just values a particular position more highly."

While it may be true that both are ideological positions, there is a difference. Oftentimes, there are cases where particular rights come into conflict. Sometimes, which right needs to take precedence is not clear. Other times, it is extremely clear.

The conflict between federalism and the civil rights movement was a prime example of the latter.

As for your second point, on the effectiveness of approach, I am much closer to being on board with you. I suspect, although I freely admit that I do not know, that had federalism won out as the approach, that eventually segregation would have been tossed down south as well. I suspect, but do not know, that what we did was trade time for lingering complications.

This was one of those times, however, where the uncertainty was unacceptable. Yes, things might have worked out. But we needed to rectify the situation with certainty.

Tom said...

This was a fascinating discussion on bhtv, and the followup posts have been interesting as well. Not so much for what I should think about Frank Meyer (racist or founding father? you decide) as about the approach Ann and Jonah use to argue, which seems to lead to such misunderstandings.

It seems to me that you both agree that Meyer's civil rights legacy is shameful. I'm not sure if Ann gives any of his underlying thoughts any credence while that's all Jonah wants to talk about.

Yet when you argue, you both want to win so badly that you set up strawmen. Ann repeatedly accused Jonah of writing that she was odd. Jonah's recent post says she demanded a Kabuki dance. All very clever in a way to put the other person on the defensive, but really... not to the point!

Or maybe that is the only point. Ann several times accused Jonah of doing a blogger's trick to stir up controversy and generate clicks, saying she does this herself.

(Was the ultimate point even about Meyer? Ann didn't even mention his abhorrent beliefs in her original post about the conference: just that the people there really believe, and this made her nervous. Only watching the bhtv episode made that clear.)

It seems to me that Ann's reservations on Meyer's thoughts really should be part of a discussion of Federalism and its limitations. If Jonah admits that civil rights was (in hindsight) a valid exception to states' rights, how does this intellectual theory predict the next exception?

(Forgive me if this sort of thing really was discussed, or is well known by people who think about such things. I am but a humble programmer.)

ziemer said...

alan, you need to get out more; i don't think you've ever actually met a conservative.

i guarantee you that, if the federal government banned abortion, every conservative in the country would say that the federal government has no general police powers, and thus no authority to ban abortion, save on military property and indian reservations.

anyone who called himself a conservative, but thought otherwise would quickly be dismissed from conservative company as ideologically impure.

JohnF said...

Ann, you know I'm a fan of yours, but you did come off a little weird with Jonah--he would concede some point or other and you would keep hammering him on it like nothing had happened.

Similarly, on the states rights vs. Jim Crow thing, I thought you also pushed too far; surely the fact that a guy has some bad ideas, or takes some good idea beyond the point where it may break down, does not mean there shouldn't be discussion of his good ideas.

You criticized the conference for being too theoretical, and for not tying theory to what can actually work in the real world. I wasn't there, so I can't really speak to what was going on, but just because one could have a useful conference on the applications of theory to the real world doesn't mean that a conference on theory alone is undesirable. Much of hard science and mathematics of course works in exactly this way--all theory first, applications way down the road. Is it wrong for political scientists to give that model a try?

Simon said...

Ann:
"My real problem was with the libertarians. The conservative traditionalists, the Burkeans, have a safeguard against the worst mistakes of the ideologues."

As it's become clearer what it was that trobled you at the conference, my anxiety level has kind of retreated, because it's become implicitly clear what you make explicit in the text quoted above.

However, it is worth noting that traditionalists need a safety valve, too. This is the problem that I have with Oakeshott: that the problem with raw, uncut traditionalism or libertarianism is that it lacks an external voice that says "this far and no further." Unless the theory itself has built-in limits (which I think, although I'm not certain, is what you were telling Jonah that conservatives must advance vis-a-vis desegregation), there has to be some external authority that limits the application. The very best source of such authority, of course, is God. I think you'd have some problems with that, though, and I certainly do. So perhaps some traditional sense of culturalized Judeo-Christian morality will suffice, but I think that you perhaps concede too much in saying that Burkeians necessarily have the safety valve that libertarians lack. I'm not looking to cut my own throat here, but I think the point I'm making is that any normative theory must be constrained by a moral judgement of its results in some cases. I guess where you and I perhaps differ, although I don't know, is that while I find it jarring to read Calhoun, to take an even more extreme example than Meyer, I don't mind taking the ideas that he expressed and uncoupling them from the historical consequences, because I'm not troubled by circumscribing its application explicitly premised on moral grounds. Conservatives, as a rule, will make exceptions on moral grounds to otherwise sound principles, or at least, will limit those principles. It seems that's what pure libertarianism is missing.

I think that there's a room within the Constitutionally-prescribed federalism for discussion of normative federalism (I've been a little surprised that you haven't linked back to this article during this ongoing theme) (inter alia, "there is no escape from the normative question. In order to defeat the power of the political safeguards argument, it is not enough to show that the safeguards do not work. To argue successfully that courts should add to whatever safeguards already inhere in the political process, one must convince people that states, given more autonomy than the political process gives them, will use that autonomy to pursue worthy goals, rather than to shield deleterious behavior"). That is, where the Constitution merely gives authority rather than demands its exercise, there lies the debate in whether is it wise to exercise that power.

Simon said...

Lastly, I can't resist repeating the observation made by some others that although you point out that you're surrounded by liberals in Madison, you also interact with commenters and other bloggers who are conservative (or at least, more so than you) on a regular -- daily, even -- basis.

And, you know, if that doesn't suffice, if that doesn't "count" for the purposes of the kind of interaction necessary for you to consider "associating" with conservatives, lookit, you won't find any shortage of volunteers willing to help remedy the shortfall.

(Granted, I'm not the most conservative commenter here -- I think Gerry might have that slot presently -- IIRC, I wrote something a while ago that you pronounced the most illiberal thing you'd ever seen posted here, so that's a start. ;))

Anonymous said...

Gerry: "While it may be true that both are ideological positions, there is a difference. Oftentimes, there are cases where particular rights come into conflict. Sometimes, which right needs to take precedence is not clear. Other times, it is extremely clear.

The conflict between federalism and the civil rights movement was a prime example of the latter."

I tend to agree with you on this. My point was more to criticize Ann for being upset with the libertarians' "ideological" views. Just wanted to point out that those on the other side -- including Ann, I would guess -- were equally "ideological," but just followed a different ideology.

Simon said...

Gahrie said...
"[Ann said] 'Imagine a left-wing conference going 9 hours talking about Karl Marx's ideas and disqualifying discussion of the evils wrought in the name of communism.' Ann, this type of thing happens all the time ! When someone brings up the real world evils of Marxist thought, they are quickly and summarily dismissed as the results of imperfectly following marxist thought."

That's precisely right. I attended severalof those conferences when I was at college. See if this sounds familiar: "true marxism has never been tried!"


The Emperor said...
"Second, I think there is an argument that centralizing power in the federal government is a less effective way to promote racial equality. It may have been better to let the South resolve this issue on their own, rather than impose new rules from above."

That justbrings me back to the point I raised about economic incentives for desegregation. The south had failed to "resolve this issue on their own" for almost a century. You seem to be assuming that desegregation was inevitable, and that it was only a matter of time. I think that's incorrect, and that the Civil Rights Act was the key instrument in breaking the back of segregation (which is a very different issue to racism, in the abstract), but even assuming, arguendo, that you're right, when would the south have voluntarily desegregated, and why - what would have spurred it that had never done so before?


Alan said...
"Federalism makes sense for economic reasons. But these conservatives sell it as a means to outlaw abortion."

That's a ridiculous idea. Overturning Roe v. Wade and returning the issue to the states will not in itself "outlaw" abortion, which is a point even Ann - no enemy of Roe she - concedes in this very diavlog, IIRC. In point of fact, post-Roe, no state will outlaw abortion entirely; but equally - and this is what terrifies liberals - no state, even Massachusetts, will permit abortion on demand. Each state will enact a more or less restrictive framework somewhere between the two poles - and most, I suspect, will permit all but frivolous abortions, ban partial-birth abortion, and require parental consent for minors. If you think that's what pro-lifers regard as a solution, you're very far off the mark.

The reason that I believe abortion should be returned to the states is because that's the level the Constitution says it will be decided. It has nothing to do with my normative position, and everything to do with my descriptive view of what the Constitution reqires. Truth be told, given a free hand, I would far rather just persuade Congress and ban abortion nationally; that seems far less work, and far more elegant, to me than traipsing around fifty state legislatures and creating a more-and-less patchwork of regulations.


Gerry said...
"When Jonah said, during your discussion, that he did not recall you picking any grand battles with Libertarians at the conference, you replied, paraphrased, 'You weren't at my table at dinner.' Something with this strikes me as wanting it both ways."

I advanced a similar criticism of what I saw as Ann's criticism of pro-lifers using emotive language to talk about abortion, a couple of months ago.

rightwingprof said...

"I had a problem -- as I say in the diavlog -- with the continual discussion of abstract ideas that in real life were connected with racist policy as if the ideas could be examined without paying attention to where these ideas led the man who thought them up."

That's the only way they should be discussed, because the two are entirely separate issues. What bothers me about this -- well the political climate in the US today in general, not just this -- is that Federalism is considered to be some sort of controversial issue. There's something badly wrong when the basis of our government as it was created is considered to be controversial, or is inherently tied to separate issues (racism).

Simon said...

"If I understand Ann's comments correctly ... she is annoyed at libertarians who supported (and support) states' rights over racial equality. She calls them ideological for doing so. I'm not sure how ... supporting racial equality over states' rights[] is any less ideological."

It seems to be more coupled to a moral judgement about the evils of racial discrimination than an ideological view of how public institutions should be organized. While moral judgement could, perhaps, be considered an ideology, I think it's better characterized here, as I did upthread, as a safety valve to ideology, as a way out of a theory which might lead to untenable results.

Anonymous said...

Simon said:

"The south had failed to "resolve this issue on their own" for almost a century. You seem to be assuming that desegregation was inevitable, and that it was only a matter of time. I think that's incorrect, and that the Civil Rights Act was the key instrument in breaking the back of segregation (which is a very different issue to racism, in the abstract), but even assuming, arguendo, that you're right, when would the south have voluntarily desegregated, and why - what would have spurred it that had never done so before?"

The South would have desegregated in response to massive civil rights protests, from both souterners, northerners and foreigners. Basically, the process would have been similar to the way things actually happened, just without federal government and Supreme Court intervention. The political institutions of the South would have been forced to change on their own, which would have better in many ways than being told to change by outsiders.

As to when, I have no idea, and that's a key point. I think Gerry is right when he suggests that there was a tradeoff between time and lingering complications. That is, without federal government intervention, desegregation would have happend later but with less conflict.

No way to know for sure, of course, and I agree that in this situation the federal government intervention was probably worth the downside.

Anonymous said...

Simon said:

"It seems to be more coupled to a moral judgement about the evils of racial discrimination than an ideological view of how public institutions should be organized. While moral judgement could, perhaps, be considered an ideology, I think it's better characterized here, as I did upthread, as a safety valve to ideology, as a way out of a theory which might lead to untenable results."

Well, this may be more of a definitional point than anything. I'm not quite sure how Ann was using "ideology." But generally speaking, I can't see much difference between (1) a moral judgement that racial equality is important and (2) support for federalism as a superior political system. They are both just views on which guiding principles are important for a society.

Alan said...

Ziemer,

"i guarantee you that, if the federal government banned abortion, every conservative in the country would say that the federal government has no general police powers, and thus no authority to ban abortion, save on military property and indian reservations."

Maybe you haven't been paying attention. The premier conservative spokesman, Rush Limbaugh, doesn't seem to care who does it as long as it's done:

"...conservatives are for big government in many cases. They want big government to make sure that there’s not abortion. They know they’ve got to have a government agency or a law or something to say that." LINK

Outside of the supposed abstract, voting for "conservative," pro-life candidates seems to give us great leaders like Rep. Virgil Goode.

I've seen today's conservative and I don't like what I see.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I remember when Jonah Goldberg's quote: "Althouse is cool" was part of the masthead on this blog.

It wasn't so very long ago, was it?

Simon said...

"I can't see much difference between (1) a moral judgement that racial equality is important and (2) support for federalism as a superior political system."

I'm not sure that the values of racial equality and federalism are in tension. I started writing a reply that opened with the statement that "ours has never been a pure federalism, any more than it has been a pure democracy," but on reflection, that misstates the nature of federalism: it is not impure federalism that there are restrictions on the states; federalism does not stop at the edge of federal preemption. In delineating the spheres of state and federal decisionmaking, the Constitution has included both substantive and procedural restrictions on how the states may act even within their acknowledged sphere. That doesn't seem like "bad federalism" to me, and it seems to me that even if you take the view that the Fourteenth Amendment doesn't decide the question freestanding, withini reason (that is, stopping short of outright subversion of the system) the Federal Government certainly has the power to adopt policies that use its legitimate powers (in the case of the CRA, over commerce) to coerce.

I do, however, think that it's important to recognize that thereare two federalisms: normative and Constitutional. Constitutional federalism flows from the structure of the Constitution itself, and its dictates are not open to negotiation. Normative federalism comes into play where the Constitution has not closed the question, which includes whether - allowing that it is consistent with Constitutional federalism - it was appropriate to use the commerce power to break the back of segregation. That's a normative question, and on that question, I think the answer must be yes, no matter what your views on normative federalism, because the overwhelming moral case against segregation should short-circuit normative federalism, provided that (as was the case with CRA) Constitutional Federalism could accomodate such action.

To apply the same principle to another area, I would say the same thing about abortion, but for the fact that the Constitution much more explicitly leaves that matter to the states. Thus, the scope for normative federalism in that debate is much more closely confined by Constitutional federalism. But even there, I do think that the Federal government can act (at least, it can undertake some actions; I don't buy into FPBAA, for example) within its sphere to take actions that help bring abortion to a halt, and just as with the CRA, I don't think that's bad federalism, either Constitutionally or normatively.

Jeff said...

Excuse me, but Jim Crow wasn't exclusively a Southern phenomenon. Nor was it Republican; in fact Woodrow Wilson instituted Jim Crow at the federal level. And it was largely Democrats who fought to preserve Jim Crow in the 50's and 60's.

Simon said...

ziemer said...
"I guarantee you that, if the federal government banned abortion, every conservative in the country would say that the federal government has no general police powers, and thus no authority to ban abortion, save on military property and indian reservations."

Having disagreed with him above about why I want Roe overturned, I have to take Alan's side on this point. I think that you vastly overstate the general conservative commitment to federalism in this area. Witness, for example, the almost total lack of objection among conservatives to FPBAA when it was passed. Witness that, so far as I know, not a single organization has filed an amicus brief mentioning federalism in Carhart. The President signed that law. Scalia has reported conversations - and I know that he's had them, because I've been in similar arguments - where pro-lifers have tried to tell him that the Constitution absolutely and positively requires that abortion be banned.

To be sure, there are a substantial number of conservatives who take my view (and presumably yours) that it's almost exclusively a matter for the states, where Congress has limited power to act (the principle exceptions being the military, D.C., and conditioning of federal funding). But it vastly overstates the case, I think, to say that "if the federal government banned abortion, every conservative in the country" -- or even a majority of them -- "would say that the federal government has no general police powers."

By your theory, assume that the Supreme Court strikes down FPBAA next spring. Are you anticipating a 9-0 opinion that is as favorably received in conservative circles as it is in liberal circles, albeit for different reasons? Or do you expect a 5-4 opinion that will be bitterly condemned by conservatives?

Al Maviva said...

1) It’s interesting that nobody has raised the theory that Brown v. Board was actually a step behind the times under our federalist system. It came in the wake of marches and protests, in the wake of a lot of unrest against the Jim Crow system, and in the wake of the desegregation of the military and some other significant social institutions in the U.S. There appears to have been some significant social pressure in favor of desegregation, and the election of a post-Eisenhower President Kennedy, who favored equal rights, tends to reinforce that notion. Yes, civil rights with respect to race have suffered and can suffer within a robust federalist system. But then again, the federal government has proved time and time again, general civil liberties can suffer quite badly at the hands of a strong centralized power. Comstocks, red scares, and jailed war protestors, anybody? Federalism was a mechanism that made de jure desegregation more complex, but it also may have facilitated a gradual changeover from segregation to desegregation. After all, if there was one natoinal standard, moving the political debate along may have been exceedingly difficult, and also may have caused political instability as well, by forcing the debate into a "last straw to break the camel's back" mode.

2) Jonah makes a pretty good point about the double standard on race. As a Burkeian/Hayekian, I’d just as soon be able to order a cup of coffee without having to apologize for the national history of slavery and racism. “Of course, I decry slavery and acknowledge that supporting robsust federalism (had I been alive at the time) would have been of no aid in stamping out Jim Crow, and can I have the double espresso and an almond biscotti please?” How the progressives, so-called, have mau-mau’ed conservatives into this requirement is beyond me, when the progressive movement itself stands on a foundation of oppressive religious paternalism and high minded (and utterly inhuman) eugenics. Hitler admired Margaret Sanger, for Christ’s sake, and I’ve never heard a liberal say “of course I disaapprove eugenics and the notions of a social project to pefect the gene pool, but I support abortion rights because…” So I’m not going to apologize for goddamn Bull Connor even if that swine Nixon wanted to claim his fans as voters.

3) The crux of the problem with federalism and libertarianism is that most self-labeled libertarians tend to be ideological purists. Like a lot of ideological systems, libertarianism is an idea, not a way to live or political methodology. Similarly, federalism is a principle, not a series of immutable rules. Though I believe libertarian thought and federalist thought needs to inform governmental action, I believe that they are no more ends in and of themselves than any other kind of political thought. They are simply a method to work through problems, if properly understood. “Conservatism” too isn’t an organizing principle, it’s a temperament or a method of filtering the world, one that is pragmatic but at its heart skeptical of change, especially big changes. A conservative will be less skeptical of the infliction big libertarian ideas than big marxist ideas, because as a general rule “more freedom” has a better track record than “less freedom,” even though indiscriminately applied “more freedom” (a la Rothbard, the anarchists and others) has often led to some bad results as well. On questions of race and most other tough issues, a rigid application of libertarian thought (problem: which libertarian thinker do you adhere to?) or federalist principles don’t offer a solution, they merely offer a method of informing one’s evaluation of possible solutions. No more, no less. To look to “libertarianism” or “federalism” or “central government planning” for the answers to problems is foolish. Problems tend to suggest their own solution if you study them enough – libertarianism and federalism and some conservative principles might suggest a way of providing the solution, or may caution that the solution is incompatible with lib/fed/cons ideas at its core… but you can’t blame segregation on libertarianism or federalism or any ism other than “racism.”

4) Number 3 probably describes the operation of most fusionist thinking, to a greater or lesser degree, at least among those who come to fusionism from a basically conservative viewpoint.

Simon said...

Al Maviva said...
"It’s interesting that nobody has raised the theory that Brown v. Board was actually a step behind the times under our federalist system."

Of course it was a step behind the times! It finally gave practical effect what had actually been the law for nearly a century - that in a country governed under a Constitution that forbids any state from "deny[ing] to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws," U.S. Const., Amdt. 14 §1, "the fundamental principle [is that] that racial discrimination in public education is unconstitutional ... [and] [a]ll provisions of federal, state, or local law requiring or permitting such discrimination must yield to this principle." Brown II, 349 U.S. at 298.

To the extent that anyone has a problem with Brown today, it is the reasoning, not the result. I think it's universally acknowledged today that Harlan was right in Plessy when he said that no "legislative body or judicial tribunal may have regard to the race of citizens when the civil rights of those citizens are involved," and that the Civil War Amendments, "if enforced according to their true intent and meaning, will protect all the civil rights that pertain to freedom and citizenship ... [and] remove[] the race line from our governmental systems ... They declared, in legal effect[,] ... that the law in the states shall be the same for the black as for the white; that all persons, whether colored or white, shall stand equal before the laws of the states. Plessy, 163 U.S. at 554-6 (Harlan, dissenting). Contemporary critics of Brown would file a concurring opinion in that case, not a dissent.

Simon said...

Al:
"Jonah makes a pretty good point about the double standard on race. As a Burkeian/Hayekian, I’d just as soon be able to order a cup of coffee without having to apologize for the national history of slavery and racism.

But I don't think -- I mean, maybe this is something that Ann can clarify, but I didn't think that Ann's point was that she wanted ostentatious disclaimers, displays of loyalty to the principle of desegregation. I thought her point was that if you have a political philosophy which has been used in the past to justify a morally repugnant result, you need to explain why that principle is misapplied if it is taken to reach that result. That is, that you need to explain why that theory doesn't demand (and preferably, that it structurally forecloses) that unacceptable result.

You know, if you wanted to go around saying that socialism is a great idea, you have to account for the Soviet Union. You have to account for why Lenin and Stalin were actually a perversion of your theory, why socialism wouldn't lead to the same results now, here, that it reached then, there.

And that is a threshold question, by the way: just establishing that socialism doesn't lead to tyranny (assuming that you actually could establish that, which you can't) doesn't win the debate, but it at least gets you in the front door. Likewise, if your political philosophy was used to justify states segregating on the basis of race, you absolutely need to explain why your theory would not now permit them to do so again, were they so inclined.

I take Ann's comment about Jonah's Burkeian defense to support this view: Burkeians can say "look, whatever the situation was fifty years ago, no one's going to go back and start re-segregating. We're against that, because that question is settled." But if your political views reject Burke and Oakeshott, if you feel unconstrained by tradition, that defense isn't available to you, and you need to explain why your view wouldn't mean again what it meant then.

paul a'barge said...

Jonah stayed up until 2:00 am in the morning arguing about what some dead guy thought?

Deep breath.

I'm reminded of what Ann Coulter had to say about the boys at National Review.

Brendan said...

Was this event taped or video-recorded in any way? That might clear up the he said/she said conundrum.

Anon Y. Mous said...

I find it odd that all the discussion about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 seems to focus on a black or white (no pun intended) view of the law, that is, either it should have been passed or not. The problem with that law is that the principles of our constitution were compromised, some may say as a matter of pragmatism. Had Congress stuck to its authority granted in the 14th amendment, they would have been able to do what was necessary: outlaw all racial discrimination by state and local governments, including the Jim Crow laws that mandated racial segregation in public accommodations.

Instead, they also used the commerce clause, which is itself a misnomer. The power they have is to regulate interstate commerce - commerce between the states. Using the fiction that all public accommodations are part of interstate commerce, they included an outright ban on all racial discrimination in public accommodations.

The idea that the founders had intended Congress to have the power to regulate every little mom-and-pop coffee shop is ridiculous. Where does it end? By what principle is Congress prevented from regulating all commerce, and therefore, all kinds of things in our lives? The problem with compromising your principles in the name of pragmatism, is that the principles will no longer be there when you need them.

Anonymous said...

If Goldberg was so fond of empiricism, a quick Goggle search would point him to studies that show D.C. is ranked more liberal than Madison. How this guy is taken seriously from all the craptastic articles he has written is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Ann: I thought so! That was my definite impression when I read your very first post after this conference (the one criticized by some as being too brief and cryptic).

So far, reading and listening to everything mentioned subsequently, I have yet to run across anything that genuinely surprised me (except Virginia Postrel's response), which is why I was a bit mystified by some of the initial and subsequent reactions of others (as in "Why did I get it when so many others didn't?").

As I noted before, I've attended similar conferences (held by left and right) and that may be the explanation. Then again, it could be as simple as the fact that we share a remarkably similar aversion to zealotry of any variety.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Should have been a "may" in the last sentence, as in "... may share a remarkably similar aversion...." Hard to know for sure ;-)

Gerald Hibbs said...

I was scarcely asking for people to "dance a[n] 'I'm-not-racist' kabuki every time they make a point." Imagine the vast number of points that were made in a 9-hour conversation. At some point the failure to talk about it has got to mean something!

Yes, it means the matter is so settled, so unquestionably decided, that to address it further is considered unnecessary.

"Imagine a left-wing conference going 9 hours talking about Karl Marx's ideas and disqualifying discussion of the evils wrought in the name of communism."

Perhaps I'm viewing it through conservative-colored glasses but that seems an apples/oranges comparison. I would argue that the 14th Amendment settles the issue of civil rights and it was due to the inherent flaws in humanity (combined with history circumstances) that the resolution was not recognized until the 60's. As such there is no longer any need to address the downside of federalism regarding race as the issue has been taken out of the states hands by the Constitution.

Lastly, as to Jonah usually dominating BHtv diavlogs: I admit I may be blind to that possibility since I am a registered member of the Flying Monkey Brigade. However, I would point to the BHtv edition pairing Matthew Yglesias with Jonah.

http://bloggingheads.tv/video.php?id=91

This seemed to me the perfect model of the genius of BH where both participants can meet on level ground and engage in a high level of amiable debate. Both of them came out looking great and they were both able to make lots of points while getting reasoned responses from the opposition.

downtownlad said...

Conservatives ALWAYS believe in states rights, EXCEPT:

1) when it comes to banning same-sex marriage, i.e. DOMA and FMA

2) when it comes to the FDA banning medical marijuana

3) when it comes to regulating abortion, i.e. Congress banning partial-birth abortions.

4) when it comes to regulating pornography

etc, etc., etc.

Yup - those conservatives - always standing behind principle. Consistent through and through.

Not.

Anon Y. Mous said...

downtownlad: "Conservatives ALWAYS believe in states rights, EXCEPT:

1) when it comes to banning same-sex marriage, i.e. DOMA and FMA"


I think you are off on this one, at least to DOMA. DOMA allows the states to conduct gay marriages.

"2) when it comes to the FDA banning medical marijuana"

Agreed, to the extent that it's true. But, there are plenty of conservatives who oppose the war on drugs, for instance, William Buckley of The National Review.

"3) when it comes to regulating abortion, i.e. Congress banning partial-birth abortions."

Most conservatives would prefer the whole issue of abortion be returned to the states.

"4) when it comes to regulating pornography"

Again, I agree, as far as it's true. But, it isn't a universal position among conservatives.

downtownlad said...

DOMA says that the federal government will never recognize a state recognition of gay marriage. Which pretty much nullifies it, since marriage is kind of meaningless if it evaporates once you drive over your state border, still have to pay the inheritance tax if your partner dies, have to pay a gift tax if you give your partner money, can't collect Social Securitiy benefits if your partner dies, etc.

If conservatives want the abortion issue left to the states, then why is the Federal prohibition of partial birth abortion currently before the Supreme Court? That doesn't seem like leaving it to the states to me?

If you don't favor the banning of pornography by the federal government, then you are not a true conservative. At least according to Hugh Hewitt and Powerline.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the outlawing of internet gaming, DTL! Yet another sterling example of federalism as practiced by those who espouse it, our lament its apparent demise, at every opportunity.

downtownlad said...

Yes internet gambling was in my "etc., etc., etc."

Good point.

Anonymous said...

Oops - TYPO alert: In my previous post, "our lament" should read "or lament." Just wanted to make that perfectly clear ;-)

Anon Y. Mous said...

downtownlad: "DOMA says that the federal government will never recognize a state recognition of gay marriage. Which pretty much nullifies it, since marriage is kind of meaningless if it evaporates once you drive over your state border, still have to pay the inheritance tax if your partner dies, have to pay a gift tax if you give your partner money, can't collect Social Securitiy benefits if your partner dies, etc."

Somewhat true, although I think that most people define the meaning of marriage as something beyond the financial benefits. But, maybe that's what it's all about for gay marriage.

At any rate, why would anyone think that any one state can dictate to the rest of the country how marriage is defined? That's your idea of states rights? That's not what most people mean when they talk about the 10th amendment.

"If conservatives want the abortion issue left to the states, then why is the Federal prohibition of partial birth abortion currently before the Supreme Court? That doesn't seem like leaving it to the states to me?"

Well, there's this thing called Roe v Wade, that removed it from the states. However, if you were to ask around, I bet that you would find that the vast majority of conservatives would be willing to trade: overturn Roe and in exchange, strike down the PBA ban.

"If you don't favor the banning of pornography by the federal government, then you are not a true conservative. At least according to Hugh Hewitt and Powerline."

Me? I have never proclaimed myself to be a conservative. And while Hewitt and the guys at Powerline are entitled to their opinion, I don't think they speak for all conservatives on all issues.

Mortimer Brezny said...

First off, I'm not sure how the reverse (supporting racial equality over states' rights) is any less ideological.

I don't think it is all that ideological to support the rights of people over the rights of legal entities or governmental subdivisions -- legal entities and governmental subdivisions exist to further the interests of people.

Revenant said...

I don't think it is all that ideological to support the rights of people over the rights of legal entities or governmental subdivisions

Anti-Federalists don't "support the rights of people over the rights of legal entities" any more than federalists do. Gonzales v. Raich -- where the federalists supported the peoples' rights and the anti-federalists supported the federal government -- is a good example of this.

Civil rights is not the most important issue in the history of the universe. Yes, federalism yielded bad results on that issue, but it would have yielded GOOD results on many others. Libertarians believe that federalism is superior to a national Uber-State because it more often yields the right results than a "the feds can do whatever the hell 51% of the national population wants" system does. It isn't enough to show that there are cases where federalism fails -- you have to show that it fails so often that the alternative is superior.

For example, I think that governments should not be in the business of jailing political dissidents and criminalizing political thought, because I think that *overall* we lose lives and freedom if we allow that suppression. If you want to dispute that, it isn't enough simply to point out that WW2 could have been avoided if the Nazis had been rounded up and shot while they were still politically weak.

Anyway, Merry Xmas -- now I'm going to take another shot at sleeping on this guest bedroom bed. :)

Gahrie said...

downtownlad and internet ronin:

Actually, internet gambling is one of the things that the Commerce Clause actually should cover. It is by definition commerce. Especially since most internet gambling is international in nature.

That being said, I believe that Congress should be regulating internet gambling, not attempting to ban it.

Anonymous said...

I might be willing to concede that point, Gahrie, were it not for such contemporary "federalism in action" policies such as states banning the mail order sale of wine not produced within that states, the lack of regulation of nationwide catalog sales through the mail or on the internet, the recent history of the federal deregulation (and abolition of regulatory agencies such as the Interstate Commerce Commission).

downtownlad said...

It's obvious that conservatives don't give a damn about federalism. It was just a ruse that they used to stop the federal government from passing laws that they opposed.

Conservatives never supported Brown v. Board of Education. They had zero problems with segregation laws. But rather than argue in favor of segregation, it was much easier to argue in faovr of States Rights.

Once conservatives took control of both houses of Congress and held the Presidency, the whole charade of States Rights went out the window. And those (like Andrew Sullivan) who argued against those laws in the name of states rights were told that they were no longer conservative.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Ann has a habit of shaking her shoulders when she thinks she's being saucy or cleverly facetious enough to get under another's skin.

Ann Althouse said...

Mortimer: I noticed that on re-viewing. I think it's ridiculous and intend to stop.

Bruce Hayden said...

I do think that racism has had a lot to do with states rights / federalism since almost the beginning of our country. Our Civil War was just that, the majority, through the federal government, imposing its will on the slave states. And before that, it was this that the slave states used to preserver slavery. After the Civil War, states rights was again used to regain as much of slavery as they could, given the Civil War Amdts.

So, I do believe that almost from our founding until the 1964 CRA, the positions of many on states' rights revolved around their views on race. So, instead of having libertarians coming down against the 1964 CRA on the basis of federalism, for most their position was outcome determined - those believing in segration backed states' rights, and most who opposed it, backed the federal right to overrule the states.

But I would suggest that this was unfortunate, because the result is that government is now more unaccountable than ever. I can't remember Friedman's exact quote, but it is something to the effect that we happily elect people to Congress in order to let them bribe us with our own money to reelect them. Gerrymandering, Majority-Minority districts, etc. have resulted in a system where Congress is all but unaccountable, buying reelection through spending our billions of dollars a year frivilously on currently untracable ear marks in order to be reelected.

Bruce Hayden said...

I did find almost this entire discussion one of the best, more articulate, that I have seen here. Instead of the usual name calling, we saw a very high level discussion.

Thanks.

Freder Frederson said...

and I’ve never heard a liberal say “of course I disaapprove eugenics and the notions of a social project to pefect the gene pool, but I support abortion rights because…”

Of course I disapprove of eugenics and the notions of a social project to perfect the gene pool, but I support abortion rights because it is one of the most personal medical decisions that a woman can make and the government is ill-equipped to deal with the philosophical, medical, scientific and religious decisions that go into deciding when exactly an embryo becomes a human life. That decision should be left to a woman, her doctor, her conscious, and her own personal religion.

Now you have heard a liberal say it. Not that I believe you have ever heard a liberal (or anyone else for that matter) discuss their support for abortion in terms of eugenics and "perfecting the gene pool". You are merely setting up a ridiculous and dishonest strawman to imply that liberal support of abortion rights (and apparently birth control) is somehow tied to some eugenics scheme.

Eugenics was a stain on the history of science. And it is very true that some of the early advocates of artificial birth control were concerned about the shockingly high birthrate of the lower classes whom they considered genetically inferior. To imply this was a left wing position, however, is to ignore history. Eugenics advocates and those that believed in the perfectabilty of race were primarily strong advocates of market capitalism and the status quo. They believed that the lower classes were reproducing too quickly and would quickly weaken the gene pool. After all the poor are poor not because of circumstances or oppression but because they are simply less intelligent and ambitious than the rich. If you let them breed without restraint you will eventually overwhelm the gene pool with a bunch of morons and idiots (words that used to have precise scientific definitions).

Freder Frederson said...

To me, there is no doubt that Jim Crow would have been overthrown from within by now, even without federal government intervention. It's impossible to prove this counterfactual, of course, but I think it is a possibility to consider at least, when discussing the intersection of states' rights arguments and Jim Crow.

I don't know why you have such faith in the good people of the south when all the evidence points to the exact opposite conclusion. Within the last ten years both Alabama and Mississippi had ballot initiatives to remove their anti-miscegnation laws from the books. The laws have of course been null and void since 1967 and presumably both states have seen an influx of new residents from other parts of the country and an entire generation raised without Jim Crow. Yet both states' laws were overturned by embarrassingly small margins--in both instances along the lines of 60--40%. Last year Mississippi tried to remove a Civil Rights era amendment to its constitution that explicitly states that primary and secondary education is not a guaranteed right of the children of Mississippi. This was passed in the sixties in response to a Federal integration order so Mississippi could shut down the public schools rather than integrate (several other states resorted to this tactic). The good people of Mississippi refused to repeal that particularly repugnant, and blatantly racist, piece of legislation.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Mortimer: I noticed that on re-viewing. I think it's ridiculous and intend to stop.

Oh, no you don't. At least I hope you don't. That was one of the highlights.

Gahrie said...

Not that I believe you have ever heard a liberal (or anyone else for that matter) discuss their support for abortion in terms of eugenics and "perfecting the gene pool

You are completely wrong. Two of the most common justifications used to support abortion today are:

1) It has reduced the number of crminals. This argument was made in a bestselling book called Freakonomics in 2005. The underlying study explicitly tied the reduction in crime to abortion's disproportionate effect on Black children. This is explicitly a racist and eugenic justification.

2) Proponents of abortion also constantly cite the reduction in the number of births of the handicapped, and specifically those with Down's Syndrome. This is also a justification based in eugenics.

3) Regardless of the intentions of those who support abortion, the real world effects of abortion (which are all that matter according to Althouse) is to disproportionately effect minorities and the poor, which is precisely what the eugenics movement intended.

The Jerk said...

You are completely wrong. Two of the most common justifications used to support abortion today are:

1) It has reduced the number of crminals. This argument was made in a bestselling book called Freakonomics in 2005. The underlying study explicitly tied the reduction in crime to abortion's disproportionate effect on Black children. This is explicitly a racist and eugenic justification.


One book that is intended to be shocking? That's hardly "common"

2) Proponents of abortion also constantly cite the reduction in the number of births of the handicapped, and specifically those with Down's Syndrome.

If this is done constantly, perhaps you can provide several examples. And it would be helpful if they were mainstream examples, not obscure cranks.

the real world effects of abortion (which are all that matter according to Althouse) is to disproportionately effect minorities and the poor, which is precisely what the eugenics movement intended.

And getting rid of affirmative action will disproportinately effect minorities, which is precisely what white supremacists intend. So what? This is a stupid line of argument.

Freder Frederson said...

This argument was made in a bestselling book called Freakonomics in 2005.

Gee, I didn't realize the economics department at the University of Chicago was a hotbed of liberalism.

the real world effects of abortion (which are all that matter according to Althouse) is to disproportionately effect minorities and the poor,

Oh really? Do you have the least shred of evidence to back this up. The revolution in easily available birth control and abortion has actually produced the exact opposite result the eugenicsits hoped for. The poor and lower classes continue to breed like rabbits while the middle and upper classes avail themselves of birth control and abortion on demand to limit the number of children they have. Isn't that what the radical right is always complaining about? That we are being outbred by hispanics and the the Muslims and our Euro-centric culture is being destroyed because we aren't having enough children.

Gahrie said...

Black women are almost four times as likely as white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are 2.5 times as likely

The abortion rate among women living below the federal poverty level ($9,570 for a single woman with no children) is more than four times that of women above 300% of the poverty level (44 vs. 10 abortions per 1,000 women).

These quotes are from the Guttmacher Institute, an arm of Planned Parenthood itself.

Gahrie said...

2) Proponents of abortion also constantly cite the reduction in the number of births of the handicapped, and specifically those with Down's Syndrome.

If this is done constantly, perhaps you can provide several examples. And it would be helpful if they were mainstream examples, not obscure cranks.


OK, I'll start with Peter Singer and Nobel prize winner James Watson. Both of them also go one step further and advocate outright infanticide.

Then read this:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/232776_focus17.html

It seems that Sen. Clinton has defended abortion in Congress on eugenic grounds.

The Jerk said...

These quotes are from the Guttmacher Institute, an arm of Planned Parenthood itself.

And the quotes are simply facts, cited to point out that restricting abortion will disproportionately constrain the reproductive freedom of women. You can't make the leap from pointing that out to the claim that pro-choice people defend abortion in eugenicist terms, and to do so is intellectually dishonest.

OK, I'll start with Peter Singer and Nobel prize winner James Watson. Both of them also go one step further and advocate outright infanticide.

So they're more properly termed infanticide supporters. Of course, that support for infanticide suggests support for abortion does not mean the converse is true.

It seems that Sen. Clinton has defended abortion in Congress on eugenic grounds.

It seems you don't know what eugenics means. It means the improvement of hereditary traits by selective breeding.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics

So Clinton's defense was not on eugenic grounds. So far you've failed to find anyone who can fairly be said to have defended abortion on eugenics grounds. Try again.

Gahrie said...

Are you deliberately being obtuse? or are you just naturally that way?

1) Both Singer and Watson are of course pro-abortion as well as pro-infanticide. The reason they favor infanticide is because they take the whole "abortion doesn't kill a human, because a fetus isn't a human" arguement one logical step forward and argue that an infant isn't a human yet either.

2)Your definition of eugenics is the benign scientific one. The real world historical definition of eugenics is the selective killing of humans to improve the human race. Abortion pioneer Margaret Sanger and Adolf Hitler agreed on the efficacy of this idea. Sen. Clinton suggested on the Senate floor that the reason partial birth abortion was so valuable was that it allowed the late term abortion of handicapped children.

The Jerk said...

Are you stupid or just dishonest? You can't find a single mainstream abortion supporter, such as Planned Parenthood or NARAL, who defends abortion for eugenicist reasons, so you have to drag out radicals who support actual infanticide. Pretty pathetic.

2)Your definition of eugenics is the benign scientific one. The real world historical definition of eugenics is the selective killing of humans to improve the human race.

You don't get to define words to suit your ideological purposes.

Gahrie said...

http://www.notdeadyet.org/eughis.html

The Jerk said...

Neither do they.

The MinuteMan said...

From the aptly named Jerk:

It seems you don't know what eugenics means. It means the improvement of hereditary traits by selective breeding.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics


From the Wikipedia entry offered by the aforementioned Jerk:

Eugenics is a social philosophy which advocates the improvement of human hereditary traits through various forms of intervention.[1] ...
Earlier proposed means of achieving these goals focused on selective breeding, while modern ones focus on prenatal testing and screening, genetic counseling, birth control, in vitro fertilization, and genetic engineering. Opponents argue that eugenics is immoral and is based on, or is itself, pseudoscience. Historically, eugenics has been used as a justification for coercive state-sponsored discrimination and human rights violations, such as forced sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, in some cases, genocide of races perceived as inferior.


Gee, per the Jerk's preferred source, "eugenics" encompasses various interventions including birth control (including, presumably, abortion) and genocide.

The MinuteMan said...

From the aptly named Jerk:

It seems you don't know what eugenics means. It means the improvement of hereditary traits by selective breeding.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics


From the Wikipedia entry offered by the aforementioned Jerk:

Eugenics is a social philosophy which advocates the improvement of human hereditary traits through various forms of intervention.[1] ...
Earlier proposed means of achieving these goals focused on selective breeding, while modern ones focus on prenatal testing and screening, genetic counseling, birth control, in vitro fertilization, and genetic engineering. Opponents argue that eugenics is immoral and is based on, or is itself, pseudoscience. Historically, eugenics has been used as a justification for coercive state-sponsored discrimination and human rights violations, such as forced sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, in some cases, genocide of races perceived as inferior.


Gee, per the Jerk's preferred source, "eugenics" encompasses various interventions including birth control (including, presumably, abortion) and genocide.