December 15, 2006

Where I was when I was out of my milieu.

You know me, I'm usually here in my remote outpost in Madison, Wisconsin, and I'm glad to be back home again. As my previous post hints, I was severely out of my milieu in Chicago. I was participating in a Liberty Fund conference that involved six hour-and-a-half discussion sessions, all focused on readings by or about the writings of Frank S. Meyer, who wrote a book called "In Defense of Freedom," which is an attempt to fuse libertarianism and traditionalism. I might write more about what was in these readings, but let's just say it took the extreme position about limiting government as much as possible.

Sitting around a big table, with no audience, there were 16 of us, including Meyer's son, Eugene S. Meyer (the President of the Federalist Society), several journalists (two from Reason magazine and Jonah Goldberg from the National Review), and various academics all of whom seemed to feel well at home in the libertarian/conservative environment. Would you have imagined that your humble blogger felt cozy and comfortable there? Oh, no, no, no, no. Virtually every word out of my mouth was an observation about something no one was talking about and that would -- back in Madison, Wisconsin -- have been said at the earliest possible moment. So there I was, the resident liberal.

I am struck -- you may think it is absurd for me to be suddenly struck by this -- but I am struck by how deeply and seriously libertarians and conservatives believe in their ideas. I'm used to the way lefties and liberals take themselves seriously and how deeply they believe. Me, I find true believers strange and -- if they have power -- frightening. And my first reaction is to doubt that they really do truly believe.

One of the reasons 9/11 had such a big impact on me is that it was such a profound demonstration of the fact that these people are serious. They really believe.

I need to be more vigilant.

145 comments:

Ron said...

Vigilant for or against something? Ar e you planning on carving out some turf of some kind and being vigilant about defending that? Even the liberals who oppose you now, may prefer that position to your current one.

Sadly, ernestness is everywhere...

Simon said...

But, first, how are you differentiating intellectual consistency (which, presumably, is a good thing) from being a "true believer," which I take it is a bad thing? And second, surely the content of a belief informs whether it is concerning that people "truly believe" it?

Simon said...

I mean, maybe I'm just not a sufficiently "true believer" to count, which may have something to do with my conservatism stemming from purely secular sources, but do you really find someone like me strange? Plenty of other things, perhaps, but strange?

Anon Y. Mous said...

"I find true believers strange..."

No deeply held beliefs for you? You must be one of these.

AllenS said...

Professor, you confused me:

First--

"but I am struck by how deeply and seriously libertarians and conservatives believe in their ideas"

then--

"One of the reasons 9/11 had such a big impact on me is that it was such a profound demonstration of the fact that these people are serious. They really believe."

Who are you talking about in the second quote, libertarians/conservatives, or The People Who Want To Kill You? re: 9/11

Mike said...

Seems like your sample might have a self-selection bias. Anyone who would actually go to such a conference is likely to be a "true-believer".

Adam Peitz said...

Be wary of ideas, as the next thing you learn might prove you wrong. Or worse: if you don't approach new information with an open mind, you might keep on bein' wrong.

That's what I got out of this, anyway. If I'm not too far out in left field, very nice post.

Gerry said...

Isn't the problem with the Muslim extremists not that they believe strongly, but what they believe strongly?

Alan said...

I remember the HBO "Goldwater on Goldwater" ad this blog used to run. It had a Goldwater quote saying the only traditional value this country was founded on was "freedom from government." It must have been amazing to watch the hoop leaping some of those jokers must have done to pretend they're philosophically pure. For me, that would have been frightening enough to scope an exit strategy from room.

corporate law drudge said...

I think that the good professor is saying that those who are so wedded to an orthodoxy of whatever stripe that they cannot or will not hear opposing views dehumanize those with whom they disagree. 9/11 is an extreme example of such closed-mindedness.

Simon said...

Echo Gerry. That's basically what I was trying to say in the second clause of my first comment, but he said it better.

Orlando said...

Credo quia absurdum est.

dick said...

I find it strange that you find it strange that people really believe in what they say.

Would you rather people say things just to get a discussion started? If you don't believe in anything, then I find THAT strange. In that case you are just talking to talk.

What would really bother me is if what the people believed was so off the wall. That would bother me but what people from the Federalist Society are not off the wall so why would you find it strange?

I personally find the academic leftists and what they preach strange. The whole Marxist ideology scares me.

Daryl Herbert said...

Two questions:

1 - you are aware that Glenn Reynolds believes in every aspect of sci-fi libertarianism (transhumanism, space travel, gun rights, etc.) that he puts up on his blog? Do you find that scary?

2 - was Jonah cracking jokes the whole time? Or was he really serious and thoughtful? I imagine he would only be making jokes while in proximity to food.

AllenS said...

Professor, are you more comfortable in Madison, where you are surrounded by people who are always telling you, that we are only one, or two more candlelight vigils away from true world peace? Than to face other people who have a different, shall I say libertarian/conservative view point? Who are quite serious about their views?

counter-coulter said...

Shorter Althouse: Who'd a thunk that a symposium with Federalist Society members and Jonah Goldberg would be full of 'extremists'? Good thing I'm a liberal!

Adam Peitz said...

Gerry said...

Isn't the problem with the Muslim extremists not that they believe strongly, but what they believe strongly?


If they didn't believe so strongly, if they were open to new facts and other ideas, if they opened their eyes...they wouldn't believe what they do. So goes the theory, anyway.

Such strong belief isn't the problem, but it does allows the problem to exist.

Joe Baby said...

I'm not sure what's worse -- people who really, really believe what they are saying, or those who don't believe what they're saying but advocate it anyhoo.

Paul Zrimsek said...

To be safe, then, we need to seek out people who believe shallowly and frivolously in their ideas.

Whatever impostor wrote this item seems intent on convincing me that the real Ann Althouse is one of those people.

Daryl Herbert said...

3 - How much do you feel you contributed to the discussion? (in terms of what they talked about and what they took away--if they ignored one of your points, don't count that)

4 - How many women participants were there? (if you feel like you were able to "participate" in a real way, as measured by Q3, count yourself)

5 - With all due respect, why the hell did they invite you? Did they expect to get someone other than what you put on your blog? Did they try to convert you? Did they expect you to sit quietly if you disagreed with the vast majority of the other people?

Inviting Ann Althouse to a hard-right theory conference seems like inviting a Catholic Bishop to sit in at a conference for Southern Baptist church elders to hammer out all the little details of their doctrine: they already agree on 95% of everything, you just don't fit, you're not going to fit, you're not going to change, and they're not going to change.

6 - This is what you get for voting for Bush, and then admitting it!

Revenant said...

you are aware that Glenn Reynolds believes in every aspect of sci-fi libertarianism (transhumanism, space travel, gun rights, etc.)

If I may be forgiven for pointing out the glaringly obvious: there's nothing "sci-fi" about libertarian support for gun rights. Support for the right to self-defense is universal among libertarians of any kind.

Karl said...

Here's my theory...take it for what it's worth. There is a singular reason why AA is so quixotically contrarian, dislikes true believers, and asks more questions that she answers.

She hates/fears being wrong, being shown to be wrong, or admitting she's wrong.

I don't have a problem with this mindset, in fact I subscribe to it whole-heartedly. I qualify almost any statement that I have the slightest doubt might be untrue, or I find a way to let others make my points for me. I'm starting to think it's the perfect demeanor for a law professor to have, actually.

A cursory search shows not a single admittance of error throughout the corpus of Althouse that wasn't ironic or in jest...

-kd

knoxgirl said...

If the people at that conference had been so rigid, you wouldn't have been invited. The fact that you were welcome there says something. I have doubt that you would be invited to a similarly orthodox lefty event, anyway.

You're surrounded by many who lean right every day on this blog (unless I'm wrong in assuming that you spend a LOT of time among the commenters). They are almost without exeption respectful and interested in your viewpoint, despite your liberal position on countless issues.

...whereas there are many liberals and leftists who come here and are nasty and disrespectful, to say the least. derve, doyle, dave... the list goes on.

Anyway, I guess my point is, I think it's weird to make the comparison. Especially after being surrounded by rightie commenters here everyday on practically every post, and after being welcomed to this conference.

Oh well, I'm probably misinterpreting what your point is. But "I need to be more vigilant" ? I don't get it.

CB said...

Paul Zrimsek said...
To be safe, then, we need to seek out people who believe shallowly and frivolously in their ideas.

I think a better paraphrase is that one should be humble enough to recognize that there just might be some truth in beliefs that are different than your own.

Glenn Reynolds believes in every aspect of sci-fi libertarianism (transhumanism, space travel, gun rights, etc.)
OMG! Glenn Reynolds believes in space travel? What a crackpot!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ann is saying:

These mofo's are insane. I thought we were just trying to win an election here.

AJ Lynch said...

Let me tell you someting Pilgrim.

While you are lying on that couch,unlike the rest of these commenters, I have no interest in psycho-analyzing your politics (LOL).

Revenant said...

Inviting Ann Althouse to a hard-right theory conference

You'd have to be pretty far out in left-wing loonyville to think of Reason Magazine or the Federalist Society has "hard-right".

Daryl Herbert said...

OMG! Glenn Reynolds believes in space travel? What a crackpot!

Damnit, you know what I mean: the importance of space travel to the survival of our species and the general desire to colonize other worlds.

Not everyone agrees with that. A lot of people think those are crackpot beliefs.

You'd have to be pretty far out in left-wing loonyville to think of Reason Magazine or the Federalist Society has "hard-right".

The Federalist Society is not "hard-right"? Then who is?

Ann Althouse said...

Daryl Herbert said...
3 - How much do you feel you contributed to the discussion?

More than my share.

4 - How many women participants were there?

4.

5 - With all due respect, why the hell did they invite you? Did they expect to get someone other than what you put on your blog? Did they try to convert you? Did they expect you to sit quietly if you disagreed with the vast majority of the other people?

I think: 1. because of the blog, 2. as a test to see if I would fit, and 3. out of a delusional belief that their ideas would be persuasive.


Karl said...A cursory search shows not a single admittance of error throughout the corpus of Althouse that wasn't ironic or in jest...

Karl misses what is right under his nose!

knoxgirl said...If the people at that conference had been so rigid, you wouldn't have been invited. The fact that you were welcome there says something.

There were some fine people there, but I don't think they would have invited me if they had known what I would end up being, and I think there were many people there who felt deprived of what they wanted it to be because I brought up things that they would have preferred not to have to hear about, things that the regular world brings up all the time.

"I need to be more vigilant" ? I don't get it.

I want to notice more things about right-wingers and be critical. I have tended to minimize their power and seriousness.

Cedarford said...

Agree with Revenent. There is nothing "sci-fi libertarian" about people who believe law-abiding people have a right to have a firearm.

Pretending the 2nd Amendment really belongs to the State to extend or with hold the privilege of firearms ownership to favored or disfavored citizens regardless of record by permit and heavy annual fees for the privilege is what cost Gore Tennessee and Arkansas. Bill and Al's home states. Hence, the election.

For that matter, space travel itself is another good dividing line. Centrists and conservatives want people risking their asses so we have Hubble looking out on the universe. We love Rovers crawling Mars finding neat stuff and plutonium-powered craft discovering what's out there at Saturn and it's moons. Left of Center people think space exploration is dangerous and a waste, NASA money better spent on a Corps of "Nurterers" to be ready to helo in and help welfare mommies get their guaranteed three squares and diaper-changes in any breakdown of local services.

*****************
The Right has it's corps of true believers clinging to bad ideas, but certainly the Left is equally if not more susceptible to ideologues refusing to discard failed ideas...And with the Left and die-hard liberals, a fixation that the only way their pet ideas fail is because Government "failed" their "duty to the children, blah, blah..." by not throwing enough money at the issue..

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"I think there were many people there who felt deprived of what they wanted it to be because I brought up things that they would have preferred not to have to hear about, things that the regular world brings up all the time."

Would you be willing to elaborate on this a little? Without knowing particulars of what they wanted to discuss and what you were bringing to the table, this is an ill-informed comment on my part, but I find it hard to imagine anyone being disappointed that they had to defend their ideas. Why would anyone prefer an echo chamber over an intellectual crucible? It seems counterintuitive that people who want to go out and convert the world would not want to prepare themselves for doing battle by getting a preview of the legitimate questions that they're going to be asked.

I can't resist asking:

"out of a delusional belief that their ideas would be persuasive."

Was it delusional because their specific ideas are unpersuasive, either of themselves or as they were presented, or was it delusional to expect you to be persuaded by conservative ideas generally?

Revenant said...

The Federalist Society is not "hard-right"? Then who is?

Anyone who strictly adheres to right-wing ideology, which -- as its embrace of libertarians proves -- the Federalist Society obviously doesn't.

These are the principles of the Federalist Society. I challenge you to explain what, exactly, is "hard-right" about that ideology, unless you simply declare opposition to unchecked government power as a "hard-right" position.

reader_iam said...

OK, I know this may be irritating, but still I'm going to post these three quotes with some bearing, no matter where one stands on the spectrum:

"Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it."
--Andre Gide

"What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires -- desires of which he himself is often unconscious. If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.
--Bertrand Russell

There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking.
--Alfred Korzbyski

Simon said...

Rev,
I think most liberals presently believe that it is hard-right to believe "[t]hat it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be." What else are we to infer from the Roberts and Alito hearings circus?

Daryl Herbert said...

Nuterers

Ahh, the age-old conflict between Nurture and Neuter.

I haven't seen a funnier Freudian slip in a while . . .

Ann Althouse said...

Simon: I'll do another post, maybe tomorrow, with excerpts from the readings, showing the extreme things that were regarded as having currency.

Revenant said...

Ann,

I want to notice more things about right-wingers and be critical. I have tended to minimize their power and seriousness.

I assume this doesn't apply to the libertarians present (the words "their power and seriousness" were the tipoff). Are you generally more open to their ideas, or is it just that libertarianism isn't enough of an influence, one way or the other, to be worth worrying about?

LoafingOaf said...

For that matter, space travel itself is another good dividing line. Centrists and conservatives want people risking their asses so we have Hubble looking out on the universe. We love Rovers crawling Mars finding neat stuff and plutonium-powered craft discovering what's out there at Saturn and it's moons. Left of Center people think space exploration is dangerous and a waste, NASA money better spent on a Corps of "Nurterers" to be ready to helo in and help welfare mommies get their guaranteed three squares and diaper-changes in any breakdown of local services.

You left out libertarians. I think the libertarian view would be that we should favor commerical space entrepreneurship as the way to most quickly and least expensively achieve the infrastructure and technologies for the future space age.

Instead we have a centralized government agency that wastes enormous amounts of our money on manned Space Shuttle missions and the like.

If you want to do experiments in space to expand scientific knowledge, why not focus primarily on unmanned missions that can do so less expensively? (InstaPundit loves robots. We should be sending more robots into space!)

And if you want to reach the day where space travel becomes widespread and perhaps even accessible to us common folk, and you wanna reach that day as quickly and inexpensively as possible, the best route through a commercial space tourism industry.

Revenant said...

I think most liberals presently believe that it is hard-right to believe "[t]hat it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be." What else are we to infer from the Roberts and Alito hearings circus?

I think many liberals suspect that federalism is just a smokescreen for a secret belief that abuses of government power are fine so long as they're the right sorts of abuses. Certainly the "fair-weather federalism" of people like Scalia doesn't help matters.

John Althouse Cohen said...

I think most liberals presently believe that it is hard-right to believe "[t]hat it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be."

This is a phony quote.

somefeller said...

"I want to notice more things about right-wingers and be critical. I have tended to minimize their power and seriousness."

Jesus, you had to be invited to a conservative confab to notice that conservatives have real political power and are serious about wielding it? You really are a political naif, aren't you?

Alan said...

"I want to notice more things about right-wingers and be critical. I have tended to minimize their power and seriousness."

I'm right there with you. I've been frustrated for a long time with the Right. And I'm a life long Republican and and a Goldwater conservative. What irks me most with the blogosphere is how many so called "classical liberals" have no problem with the direction the right has taken due to the dumbed down populism of the Malkins and Limbaughs. They also seem to not notice how the religious right has transformed conservatism into something it was never meant to be--an extension of Christianity.

Michael Simpson said...

I've been to a number of Liberty Fund conferences and it's true that you can find some folks that really hold to things that are, well, a bit unrealistic. You know you're in trouble when you're with folks who can quote Nozick's footnotes at one another.

But it's also been my experience that there has been a lot more intellectual diversity at Liberty Fund Conferences than, say, the American Political Science Association meetings - and that people who disagree with the prevailing view get argued with, not simply sneered at or ignored.

Ann Althouse said...

Revenant: "I assume this doesn't apply to the libertarians present (the words "their power and seriousness" were the tipoff). Are you generally more open to their ideas, or is it just that libertarianism isn't enough of an influence, one way or the other, to be worth worrying about?"

It does apply to them, and they are much more disturbing than I had previously thought. There is something incredibly obtuse about the libertarian view, something that misses the reality of human life and that is very wedded to a stark abstraction. In pure form, it is repellent.

Anonymous said...

Of course, it usually is only the extreme elements that usually believe strongly in something. The same can probably be said for both liberals, conservatives, and libertarians. It is usually people in the moderate majority who don't have as much passion for what they believe, which is why they are not heard.

Of course, I've got the opposite problem from you. Growing up in Alabama, I used to not see liberals really standing up for and believing in their ideas.

knoxgirl said...

There were some fine people there, but I don't think they would have invited me if they had known what I would end up being

Fair enough.

Revenant said...

It does apply to them, and they are much more disturbing than I had previously thought. There is something incredibly obtuse about the libertarian view, something that misses the reality of human life and that is very wedded to a stark abstraction. In pure form, it is repellent.

I have noticed that the sorts of libertarians who headline libertarian gatherings have a knack for convincing people they're completely nuts. That's one of the reasons I can't stand to have anything to do with the Libertarian Party. Something to keep in mind is that, unlike conservatism, libertarianism is a fringe political movement. Fringe political movements tend to attract fringe personalities, and so you get a lot of libertarians who are really nothing more than misanthropes.

Anyway, I'd be curious to hear (if you have time to write the detailed post you mentioned earlier) what sorts of libertarian beliefs you found so repellant.

Simon said...

John Althouse Cohen said...
"This is a phony quote.

John, it would be a misquote were I quoting Marbury, but it is an accurate quotation of one of the planks of the Federalist Society's statement of principles, which Revenant had linked to in the comment of his to which I was replying. :)

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Simon: I'll do another post, maybe tomorrow, with excerpts from the readings, showing the extreme things that were regarded as having currency."

I would really appreicate that. As I mentioned the other day, I haven't read the book that was source material for the conference, amd you seem to have reacted in quite strong terms to whatever you've been exposed to. Which I think quite naturally makes the more right-leaning Althousian commenter wonder what it is that has been said.

Gerry said...

"So goes the theory, anyway. Such strong belief isn't the problem, but it does allows the problem to exist."

Yes, I have noticed the theory. It bemuses me how strongly some believe in it.

SteveR said...

Ann: I find your site as a refuge from the extremes (or too "serious") folks on either side. Lots of smart decent people don't go there. I am serious about some things but I like having fun without leaving my brain off.

Welcome back, maybe some of the haters will finally understand.

reader_iam said...

Libertarianism, as a streak, as one ingredient balanced by others in the stew of one's belief system, has a great deal of value. In fact, it is indispensable, even crucial, in my view, as an ingredient and a counterbalance to other philosophies on both sides of the spectrum.

However, full blown, in a vacuum, it is a scary thing indeed. This has to do with with the abstract premise[s] to which--I think--Althouse is alluding, and the assumptions that tend to emanate from it [them].

For now, I'll stop there.

Gerry said...

I have the strangest feeling that there is a wry experiment going on here.

Simon said...

Addenda to John - on second reading, I can see how that wasn't clear in what I posted. But I was actually responding to Revenant question as to why anyone would think FedSoc is right wing based on their statement of principles by pointing out that at least one of those planks is regarded as right wing by the left.

Sorry that that wasn't clear.

reader_iam said...

Gerry: Either way, the conversation will be interesting and is worth having, on its own merits.

In that limited sense, Althouse's primary motive/intention can exist separately.

Sorry I can't put that better.

Gerry said...

Absotutely, as I am want to say.

I think we can all agree, and perhaps even believe strongly, that extremely extreme extremists are best kept under the watch of a wary eye.

But let's make sure we pay a bit more attention to the extremely extreme extremists who want us dead. Mmkay?

reader_iam said...

Simon: I'm pretty sure the recommendation would come better from someone else, but still: You may wish to consider reading Meyer's book. (Please take no offense when I say I'm a little surprised you haven't stumbled across it at some point. Surprised is all I am.)

Remember, Meyer was one of those involved in the founding of Nation Review and, in other ways, the founding of the modern Conservative movement. That alone, I should think, would make it interesting for you as part of 20th century, American political history.

reader_iam said...

"National Review"

Figures I'd do that in a comment specifically addressed to Simon, who especially dislikes typos and dash-off comments, of which I am particularly guilty, viewing blog comments as I do. Sorry.

The point is that there is some real merit in understanding the various threads that have gone into that movement, if only from an intellectual and historical standpoint.

MadisonMan said...

I think your mistrust of true believers is a viewpoint that is very Midwestern.

Simon said...

reader_iam -
Given how Ann seems to have reacted to a conference organized around it, it has clearly merited elevation to the top of my reading list.

To be sure, if twenty years of Scalia opinions hasn't convinced Ann yet, two days with Jonah and Co. isn't going to do the trick, but I'm curious as to what it is that's engendered this reaction. As ridiculous as it may sound, I care what Ann's opinions of conservative ideas are. I don't care if anyone thinks my views are crazy, but I want them to think my views are crazy, not that I'm crazy because other peoplein my party are crazy. If you go to a conference with Fred Phelps, and Fred Phelps scares the shit out of you, that doesn't make all Christians demented.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I'm curious too, Simon. Some of the things Ann's saying suggest that it was not conservative ideas on the menu but rather some radical, purist brand of libertarianism. But in that case the reference to "power" is mystifying.

reader_iam said...

Interesting observation, MadisonMan.

I'll have to think about that one, as a born Midwesterner (Hoosier, then Illinois resident until 10-1/2), transplanted to Delaware in 1971, returned in a decade ago, and destined to go back East in 1-2 years.

Althouse--no, in this case, Ann--has a different trajectory but still has under her belt quite the mix in geographical background (Texas [?], Delaware, northern NJ [?], NYC, Madison).

Eh, on second thought, I feel this may be wandering off the trail.

reader_iam said...

"returned to the Midwest a decade or so ago"

michilines said...

It does apply to them, and they are much more disturbing than I had previously thought. There is something incredibly obtuse about the libertarian view, something that misses the reality of human life and that is very wedded to a stark abstraction. In pure form, it is repellent.

In the marketplace of ideas, the fittest survive. The classical liberals, like Jeff Goldstein, may not make it. Libertarians will always survive, like Ron Paul.

Perhaps you meant abstruse?

Simon said...

Paul,
I tend to agree, but probably wouldn't go that far. I think that there are some ideas in the conservative canon that probably would push someone away. I actually toyed with the idea of buying Ann a book called "The Conservative Bookshelf" for Christmas, because it seemed from reviews that I had read as if it gave an interesting cross-section of conservative thought. But when I actually sat down to read it, it explicitly proceded from a religious perspective, and I just reject flat-out the premise that Christianity and Conservatism must go inseparably hand in hand. You know, the first paragraph of the introduction might as well say "if you ain't saved, get lost." So I kind of threw that idea out of the window, and hadn't yet had any better ideas.

I don't think the power observation is anything to fret about - she said frightening "if they have power."

Reader_Iam -
I've lived in Indiana since I moved to the U.S., and I'm very happy here in the midwest. Nowhere I'd rather be. :)

knoxgirl said...

reader, I really like what you said about libertarianism.

I used to get "Reason" magazine, but I found that after a while, it really irritated me. So I guess there are some aspects of it that I don't like on a gut level, though I can't pinpoint what they are. There did seem to be a lot of whining about stuff that I thought was not so important. It set off the "let's pay a bit more attention to the people who want us dead" (to paraphrase gerry) alarm for me.

Also lot of "pure" libertarians come off as pretty arrogant and smartypants-y, maybe that was it.

DRJ said...

"I think there were many people there who felt deprived of what they wanted it to be because I brought up things that they would have preferred not to have to hear about, things that the regular world brings up all the time."

The "regular world"? So now you liberals are just regular guys and we conservatives are extremists from the nether world? Apparently the pushback has started already.

I applaud you for your candor, Prof. Althouse, and in the long run I suspect you will feel better to return to your basic lifelong beliefs. For most people, it is a good thing to go home again.

Ann Althouse said...

Just to end some of the speculation, what most bothered me were some things Meyer wrote in the National Review in the 50s and 60s, such as being outraged at the enforcement of school desegregation and urging all the southern governors to obstruct it, the extolling of Western Civilization above all other cultures, and the very harshly expressed opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was repellent and obtuse -- if not racist -- for Meyer to insist on extreme libertarian values and the smallest possible government in the face of the overwhelming moral ground for the civil rights movement. Confronting this material today, I think the most charitable thing you can say about it is that he was tragically wrong.

Ann Althouse said...

So, my question for you libertarians and you fans of constitutional federalism: do you think Congress offended high principles when it proscribed racial discrimination in privately owned hotels and restaurants? Are your ideas about private property and federalism that strong?

Simon said...

Ann,
I would totally agree with that, and I think that you are more charitable than am. I mean, reading materials from that era is always jarring, because of terminology -- Justice Blackmun, IIRC, was still referring to "negroes" well into the 1980s, and that is a term that crops up throughout the writing of that period -- but I think that to oppose desegregation is simply beyond the pale, and I don't think anyone in the modern conservative movement would say any differently.

It's interesting, because Goldwater wrote - contemporaneously with Meyer, I think - about how he didn't think the Constitution allowed Brown, because it didn't comport with the original intent, although he agreed with it on policy grounds. And again, that discussion is framed in terms that today seem jarring and anachronistic, and I don't agree with it in any event (I'm not an intentionaist, and I think originalism fully supports the original meaning of the 14th Amendment fully supports Brown). But I say this just to point out that by no means all conservatives even then agreed with what you're expressing as Meyer's view, and to the extent anyone still expressed such a sentiment today, such a person has no place in the modern Republican Party that I inhabit.

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"So, my question for you libertarians and you fans of constitutional federalism: do you think Congress offended high principles when it proscribed racial discrimination in privately owned hotels and restaurants?"

I'm not a libertarian, but I am a federalist, and from that perspective, I think Congress was absolutely right on policy grounds to pass the civil rights act, because in my view, we should have a color-blind society, and that is in fact the demand of the equal protection clause. Perhaps this is an area where I lean more conservative than libertarian, but I don't object to government using its authority to break the back of insidious and indefensible conduct, of which entrenched and institutionalized racism was certainly one example.

I do have to admit -- and I realize that this is going to sound peculiar coming from me -- but I have never really contemplated it seriously from a ConLaw perspective, but would be inclined to treat it as water over the dam even if it did not rest on secure footings.

Simon said...

At the risk of taking careful aim and shooting off my own toes, though, I do have to add one last thing as an addenda. My position on what you refer to as "Constitutional federalism" -- perhaps in contradistinction to your earlier premise of "normative federalism" -- is reflected in what the Constitution demands and permits, not what I think is morally just or politically expedient.

If I didn't think that the Constitution permitted Brown (although, to be sure, I do), I would not consider that a stroke against the legitimacy of constitutional federalism. It may well be a good argument for amending the Constitution. But the Constitution says what it says, and while it is a flexible document, it is not without limits. None-the-less, I think that government can and should act in the name of justice,not only liberty.

Alan said...

I've never got the whole conservative argument about federalism when it seems to distill down to trampling on some other person's individual rights but at the state level. (insert eyeroll)

Zeb Quinn said...

Althouse, are you going through an identity crisis?

Simon said...

Alan,
There's a difference, though, between normative federalism and constitutional federalism. Just to come back to what I was saying above, it should be obvious from my view on abortion that I'm not a libertarian, because I want government to regulate that, but lookit: where federalism is concerned, while I think that there's room for some discretionary give-and-take, you know, some normative federalism, ultimately, it's rather like standing doctines. There are some prudential limitations, which are just that, they're discretionary, they have some give and take, but drill down far enough, and there are still the irreducible minimums of Article III standing that are required by the Constitution. Likewise, certain federalism principles flow from the federalism demanded by the Constuitution. It's not a question of tramping on individidual rights, and it isn't a question of normative preference. Look, I'm anti-abortion, and I'm lazy, so I would far rather just lobby Congress to pass a law banning it. But I can't do that, because regardless of my normative preferences, that isn't what the Constitution says; the Constitution says that I have to persuade fifty separate states to independently ban it. That seems pretty inefficient to me, and I don't think it's a great result if the game is normative federalism, but it's what's required by Constitutional federalism. So put out of your mind the idea that federalism is always a normative preference.

John Kindley said...

Ann Althouse: "There is something incredibly obtuse about the libertarian view, something that misses the reality of human life and that is very wedded to a stark abstraction. In pure form, it is repellent."

There is something incredibly obtuse about that statement (at least its first sentence, which is not directed at some undefined hypothetical and possibly perverse "pure" form of libertarianism, but at the libertarian view in general) in that its broad brush by its terms presumably includes, for example, Glenn Reynolds (whose views I had thought it safe to assume you respected) and most of the very intelligent scholars at Volokh Conspiracy.

I hesitate to directly disparage a statement of our hostess (something I have never done before), but considered that I was simply echoing her terms ("incredibly obtuse") to highlight what seems like a gratuitous disparagement of a venerable political philosophy sincerely held by many intelligent people of good will.

It's well known that folks who describe themselves as "libertarian" (as the most convenient and accurate label relative to other labels, so long as such labels are deemed expedient) often disagree on many specific political issues. I don't think there is a "pure" form of libertarianism (i.e. anarchy is a separate political philosophy). Rather, libertarianism simply means to me that government power should be decentralized and limited to its essential purposes. As such, it is simply an emphasis on some of our core founding constitutional principles that unfortunately seem too often to be de-emphasized or forgotten. Certainly there is plenty of room for rational debate as to what are the essential purposes of government to which government should be limited, so that I don't think anyone can credibly claim that their view is the one true "pure" libertarian view. I , for one, while favoring significantly less overall government spending and taxing, would like to see the federal estate tax dramatically increased (and extended to virtually all estates, not just those over $2 million) so that the federal income tax can be dramatically decreased, for two reasons: 1) the natural right of a dead person to control the disposition of his/her property, and the right of his/her heirs to property that they did not work for, seems on far shakier ground than the natural rights of a living person to the use of the fruits of his/her own labor, and 2) such a policy would be very progressive and would seem to go far towards mitigating the undeniable injustice inherent in a society of haves and have-nots, where some start life with a silver spoon in their mouth and some do not. (Whether this policy would be economically viable is a separate question.) I'm sure that many libertarians would disagree with this policy and its progressive goals, but it still seems to me that it is a thoroughly libertarian view.

I wonder whether Ann's statement quoted above does not arise from understandably being fed up with being mislabeled a conservative, so that she is now going out of her way to correct the misperception by criticizing (in this instance I think intemperately) conservatives, like Solomon dividing the baby.

On the other hand, like other commenters here, I look forward to seeing what specific ideas presented as "libertarian" Ann found "incredibly obtuse" and/or "repellent." It's quite possible I'll agree with her. I would not have visited this blog virtually every day for the last two years or so if I did not have great respect for the hostess' intellect and intellectual integrity.

On the other hand, perhaps liberals really do deserve more criticism than conservatives / libertarians. Perhaps the "truth" is not necessarily smack dab in the "center," but, at least in today's political spectrum, is a bit further to the right. Perhaps not. I just hope Ann continues to speak the truth as she sees it (along with more lighthearted pursuits), wherever truth may lead her.

Tim said...

"...2) such a policy would be very progressive and would seem to go far towards mitigating the undeniable injustice inherent in a society of haves and have-nots, where some start life with a silver spoon in their mouth and some do not."

And here I was, thinking Libertarians were not terribly interested in effecting outcomes through coercive action of government as long as individuals were free to pursue the opportunities available to them. I suppose we can call yours the "same ends as liberals but by different means" school of libertarianism?

"Decline to State" is an option too, if you don't care to associate with Republicans or Democrats.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Though I consider myself a conservative these days, I'm still libertarian enough to believe that private discrimination should be legal, and that the federal government in the civil rights era should have confined itself to stamping out government-sponsored discrimination (including those segregated schools).

Simon correctly identifies this as a fringe position within the Right. If this ever ceases to be the case, I expect you'll hear about it whether you're vigilant or not.

Eli Blake said...

It looks like, while I was otherwise occupied (very busy, at that) today, quite a discussion was had among you all.

First, while from my perception (and I've never made any bones about being a liberal) I like Ann's blog. I could hang out only on liberal blogs and feel pretty cozy, or go to conservative blogs and get banned simply for being liberal (in fact my most memorable experience on a conservative blog was when I got accused of practicing witchcraft) but the fact is that I really enjoy that fact that liberals and conservatives can engage in a civil discussion here without getting into a flame war. I'm not sure when incivility towards ones opponents became part of a 'belief system,' but lately it has been, so hence this blog is an oasis.

On the topic of guns, I would only respond that I am a supporter of second amendment rights. And that is a liberal position-- on matters of individual rights, liberals have a much more libertarian position than traditional conservatives. I believe you should have the right to keep whatever you want under your mattress, whether it is a gun or a sex toy. It's just that there are some people who would only agree with one of those, and not at all the same group of people as would only agree with the other.

On the topic of segregation and racial discrimination, I would point out that of course everyone today would agree that it was wrong (and that by implication, if they are too young to have taken a position then, that if they had been there, they'd have been on the right side.) But these kinds of protestations from conservatives often seem hard to believe, in that today we see an ongoing debate about restricting the rights of homosexuals in matters including inheritance, custody, health benefits, taxation, employment security and even against including 'sexual orientation' in existing hate crimes legislation despite the fact that gay people, proportionate to their numbers, are much more likely to be targetted by hate crimes than members of any specific religion, racial or ethnic group. And that is completely aside from the 'marriage' issue. Conservatives have passed restrictions on all of the above without even using the word, 'marriage.'

We'll see how that plays in thirty years.

Paul Zrimsek said...

We'll see how that plays in thirty years.

If gay rights is so obviously of a piece with civil rights, why doesn't it play that way NOW?

Karl said...

Ann, don't stories such as Dockum Drug Store show that the market could be just as persuasive as government mandate when it came to the issues underlying the civil rights act?

And, to my earlier point...I hardly consider "I need to be more vigilant" an admittance of error. Tell us something that you've been wrong about.

-kd

John Kindley said...

I wrote the above post and sent it before realizing that Ann had clarified above that one of the "libertarian" views she found repellent and obtuse was the opposition to enforced desegregation and Congress' proscription of racial discrimination by private hotels and restaurants. Just as I think it is well within the core essential purposes of government to protect a person from being physically attacked or from being verbally assaulted with an unprovoked tirade of racial slurs (I just realized that I don't know for sure whether the latter is against the criminal code, but if it's not, it should be), I think analogously it is within the legitimate purposes of government to protect a person from the great offense and insult of being refused service in a place held open to the public for business on account of that person's race. Property rights are important but not absolute and not more important than the rights protected by proscribing racial discrimination in restaurants, etc.

Federalism in general is very important for decentralizing power and absolutely should be fostered, but it's hard for me to get worked up when the federal government does something that government in general very clearly should do but the states are refusing to do. Not a very principled or rigorous constitutional analysis of the problem, but there you have it.

Ann's previous comments and further observations about the conference did not dispel and if anything reinforced the impression that the "incredibly obtuse" comment was meant to apply to the libertarian view in general and not just a few wack jobs harboring either racism or insanity. I guess I'm surprised that more of the actual attendees at the conference (in distinction to Meyer's writing from decades ago) did not demonstrate in the discussions a more intelligent appreciation of "the realities of human life" and instead apparently came across as hard-charging ideologues.

It seems to me that libertarianism has become much more mainstream in recent years, and when I think of libertarians I think of respectable persons like Glenn Reynolds and the folks from Volokh Conspiracy, and not the whack jobs who presumably make up a large portion of the Libertarian Party (I'm not a member, so wouldn't know for sure.)

Perhaps the majority of the attendees at the conference badly represented libertarianism. Perhaps Ann did not mean that the libertarian view itself is incredibly obtuse but that certain hard-headed libertarians are incredibly obtuse.

DRJ said...

Maybe I'm being too simplistic for this discussion but isn't it possible that Prof. Althouse just doesn't like libertarian ideas? My guess is that her distaste was magnified when she came face-to-face with people who unabashedly embrace those ideas. It's easier to tolerate something from afar than when you're up close and personal.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that it does come down to the role of the government, and in particular when it comes to civil rights, the federal government. Looking back to Goldwater in 64 and his stand on civil rights, I still respect him for taking it, but by now disagree with it because I do see some role for government, and that is precisely one of the places that I see it most useful - providing a level playing field for race, sex, religous, and ethnic blind opportunity. Not outcome, but opportunity.

But before condemming the entire conservative movement, I think that you have to look back at who voted for and against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Republicans other than Goldwater in the Senate voted for it, IMHO, as a continuation of their beliefs that gave us Emancipation, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amdts.

But this has also disclosed a scary slippery slope. Where do you stop, once you have allowed the federal government to prevent discrimination in public accomodations on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion? It is a small step between equality of opportunity and equality of results. Also, what about other ways that people are discriminated against? The ADA looks fine on paper, but the result is that very many are disabled in one way or another, and there is a point of significantly diminishing returns, as the disabilities become ever more rare. For example, there is a push right now for web sites to be made accessible for the blind. Fine for GM and Wal-Mart, but where do you draw the line? Do I have to make mine accessible to the blind too?

I can understand the desire for bright line rules, and a bright line in this area would probably justify opposing the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But life isn't black and white, something needed to be done, and it had to be the federal government, because states were furthering segregation under the guise of "States Rights".

Bruce Hayden said...

My guess is that libertarianism is gaining traction now as the faults of big government become ever more obvious. I think that there is a very serious and legitimate argument that can be, and is, made that the government that governs the least, governs the best.

But with that at the logical extreme comes opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act on the grounds that the federal government shouldn't be interferring with private contracting, etc.

I think though that my argument there is similar to some extent to my argument against big government liberalism - both are based on some sort of utopianism.

The problem with utopianism is that we are human. Big government liberalism, despite its lofty ideals, has given us earmarks, trillions of dollars of unfunded government obligations, and the Culture of Corruption that lost DeLay his position in Congress and has made it so hard for Nancy Pelosi to find enough senior Democrats barely clean enough to fill out her leadership positions. On the other hand, utopian States Rights and libertarianism gave us Jim Crow, separate bathrooms, and Blacks sitting at the back of the bus.

Anon Y. Mous said...
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Anon Y. Mous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anon Y. Mous said...

Ann Althouse: "So, my question for you libertarians and you fans of constitutional federalism: do you think Congress offended high principles when it proscribed racial discrimination in privately owned hotels and restaurants? Are your ideas about private property and federalism that strong?"

Yes. I think the same result could have been achieved if we had just insisted that government at all levels adhere to equal protection principles. That would include voting (and therefore the ability to get elected), the military, public schools, etc. With that large a part of our society treating everyone equally, the rest would have come along.

Or, to put it another way, if we today were to drop all anti-discrimination requirements in the private sector, you would see very few businesses embracing discrimination. It's just bad business, even without any pushback (why cut yourself off from profit opportunities). And then consider how the marketplace would punish anyone perceived as using bigoted practices.

Anon Y. Mous said...

One more note, it's not just my "ideas about private property and federalism" that bring me to my conclusions, but, even more so, my ideas about freedom of association.

Mark said...

I think it's clear that Althouse's disdain for libertarians is not that they "really believe" what they're saying. It is that she thinks the content of that belief is beyond the pale. This is something that can at least be argued. Criticizing someone for being too consistent in his beliefs, on the other hand (and pace Emerson), is absurd. I dare say Althouse would find it maddeningly incomprehensible, for example, if someone attacked her view that the government has the right to enforce racial non-discrimination by private individuals, not on the basis of her arguments, but because she holds it so deeply.

Gerry said...

"So, my question for you libertarians and you fans of constitutional federalism: do you think Congress offended high principles when it proscribed racial discrimination in privately owned hotels and restaurants?"

Offended high principles? Yes. (But wait, there's more!) Did you ever see Kevin Costner's version of "The Untouchables?" Near the end, Ness makes a comment along the lines of "I have become what I beheld and I am content that I have done right." The fact of the matter is that the racist practices in the country 'back then' offended high principles, even more.

I told this story on my blog before folding it up. Back when growing up on Long Island, I used to really enjoy the drive to Jones Beach. There were these beautiful stone archway underpasses that you would go through, passing quickly by the busy roads in all of the towns just north of the beach. So pretty.

But I found out later why these underpasses were built. It was specifically to prevent poor blacks from being able to take buses to the public beaches. The bathhouses at Jones Beach were cooled to temperatures which were thought to be unpleasant to blacks.

Do you know what it was like to discover these things about something you loved as a child? And to know that it was not someone exaggerating or claiming racism over innocent things, the way Al Sharpton does so often today?

The one thing I am not clear on, however, is if there could have been ways of accomplishing the same goals of the civil rights movement without the heavy hand of government force. Perhaps not. Perhaps that was the only way. But I tend to think that change that comes from changing hearts and minds has fewer adverse side effects than change that comes from government force. I still wonder to this day that if we had facilitated integration in a different way, if we would have exchanged a slower pace in the dismantling of the racist culture for an end result where we could be closer today, with less residual racism, with less tension between the races, and with less class stratification.

Anonymous said...

"True believers" of any flavor (religious, political, or Amway) can be quite frightening, and, on occasion, dangerous (although the Amway distributor is usually armed with nothing more than a bottle of Zoom or L.O.C.).

If genuine libertarians had their way:

There would be NO public schools of any type - elementary, junior or high school, only private.

There would be NO public colleges, only private.

There would be NO public highways, only private.

There would be no Social Security.

There would be no Medicare.

There would be no food stamps.

There would be no public assistance for the disabled.

There would be no public hospitals.

There would be no regulation of business of any type.

There would be no Securities & Exchange Commission

There would be no Federal Deposit Insrance Corporation.

There would be no environmental regulations whatsoever. The national forests would be sold.

There would be no U.S. troops overseas anywhere (not just Iraq).

The United States would not belong to any international organization (UN, NATO, etc.).

There would be no limits on immigration.

There would be no government enforcement of civil rights.

The would be no Pure Food & Drug Act, no FDA, no regulation of medical providers, no regulation of drug companies, no public research institutions like the NIH.

Freder Frederson said...

It amuses me to no end that our most popular "libertarian" bloggers (Instapundit and most of the gang at the Volokh Conspiracy) are law professors at public institutions and one of the current hotbeds of libertarian philosophy is also a public university (George Mason). I guess those guys really do believe in "do as I say, not as I do".

Mark said...

Internet Ronin: Do you find people who truly and intransigently believe the following frightening?

Murder is wrong.
Slavery is wrong.
Censorship of political opinions is wrong.

If not, then your fear of libertarians has nothing to do with the intensity of their belief.

Anonymous said...

Ann said: I want to notice more things about right-wingers and be critical. I have tended to minimize their power and seriousness.

Oh, oh. I hear echoes of Andrew Sullivan.

Richard said...

Ann-- I think you've baited folks with this post. Here on this blog you regularly write very strongly about things you believe. I don't hear from you many on-the-other-hand's, or but-I-could-be-wrong's. You are committed to your ideas to the same extent as your True Believer. The only difference between you and them is they believe different thinks. If you were not you, you would scare the hell out of yourself.

Anonymous said...

No, Mark, I don't. I meant that the wholesale implementation of their ideas can be frightening to contemplate, not that they had any chance of actually seeing them enacted. There is a difference, as I am sure that you will agree. Talking to someone who is so divorced from reality as to actually believe that all of that is not only preferable but doable can be an eye-opening experience. Or wouldn't you agree?

Do you believe that we should have no public education of any kind, that all highways should be private, that there should be no government regulation of drugs, no government assistance to the disabled, no Medicare?

A "true believer" libertarian does.

How do you feel about human cloning? Embryonic stem cell research? Abortion? Intellectual property rights?

John Althouse Cohen said...

John, it would be a misquote were I quoting Marbury, but it is an accurate quotation of one of the planks of the Federalist Society's statement of principles, which Revenant had linked to in the comment of his to which I was replying.

Oh, sorry. But FYI, it sure gives the impression of being intended as a quote from Marbury! Interesting how the Federalist Society has distorted that language to fit their own goals.

Art said...

This is starting to sound like the Monty Python sketch:
"And now, the man who disagrees with everything.
No, I'm not."

"And so on, and so on, and so on."

As for the folks at the conference:
"Once we achieve true (fill in your idology here), the state will whither away."

Anonymous said...

Mark - In other words, most modern self-proclaimed libertarians are not "true believers." Rather, they choose one belief from column A and another from column B like the rest of us. And that is why people who line up on both the left and the right like to say they are "libertarian." To a point, perhaps, but not really.

But the true believers aren't like that, as Ann discovered.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Art. That about sums it up (and not just for libertarians).

reader_iam said...

Small (?) point: Emerson wasn't criticizing "consistency," per se, though the way his words are generally quoted would make it seem so.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

Note the skipped word and the rest of the sentence.

Anonymous said...

If genuine libertarians had their way

Yes, please, let's get into a debate over who is and is not a "genuine libertarian." Then we can move on into who is a "true American" and whether or not you can say that creamy Skippy or extra crunchy Jif is "genuine peanut butter".

me said...

Thank you Anne. Pure libertarianism IS scary; my husband leans toward the pure type, thinks gov't should not be able to enforce de-segregation of private establishments, etc. His view: the market will sort it out. My view: that ignoes human nature and societal forces that transcend the market. I suppose that is the core view of libertarianism however -- that nothing transcends the market.

To the idea that The Federalist Society is not "hard right" because they stand for limited gov't and separation of powers.

Take a look at their famous members and admirers: Orrin Hatch, John Ashcroft, Ken Starr, and Dick Cheney. And, where is their dislike of big gov't and support for separation of powers when it comes the executive, intead of the legislature? Is there one example of anyone in the Federalist Society decrying the extension of the power of the executive?

Anonymous said...

jinnmabe: Point taken. Poor choice of words on my part. Counter-productive. I was at a loss for a better one at the time. How about classical libertarian? My meaning was "One who subscribes to the whole set of libertarian principles, not a few here and there."

Anonymous said...

jnnmabe: BTW, I believe that neither Skippy nor Jif are genuine peanut butters. Both contain additives. Laura Scudder, however, is 100% peanut butter ;-) Thoughts?

reader_iam said...

Got peanuts, got a food processor: got peanut butter!

Anonymous said...

If Skippy and Jif aren't "genuine peanut butter" why do they taste so damn good? Admittedly, I prefer my peanut butter on a fried peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwich, but...

I'll be back in a few minutes.

Anonymous said...

Reader: Too much work! Too messy! Too tempting!

jnnmabe: Maybe it is the partially hyrdogenated vegetable oil! ;-)(Banana & Honey? Your mileage definitely does vary from mine!)

knoxgirl said...

It amuses me to no end that our most popular "libertarian" bloggers....are law professors at public institutions and one of the current hotbeds of libertarian philosophy is also a public university ...

I agree with Fred here, wonder of wonders. I can't imagine being a libertarian and working for the man. The hypocrisy is too much. It's not at all unlike limousine liberals.

Tim said...

All political parties in America are delusional; third parties like the Libertarians only more so. I think the "True Believers" of any political party not bowing to practical realities would strike many of us, including our hostess, as frightening and strange. In many respects the Democratic and Republican "True Believers" are more frightening because they actually have access to power and proven histories of winning power; Libertarians and others ache for the day in which they are taken as seriously as Ross Perot and his "Reform Party," which, as events proved, wasn't taken all that seriously after all.

The real issue for individual Libertarians is with whom do they choose to align themselves in elections - Left, Right, or opt out by not voting or voting for their own 100% chance of losing candidate? That's where the action is on the Libertarian side. Purity has its price - for Libertarians it's general inconsequence upon U.S. politics and governance.

Simon said...

Bruce:
"But before condemming the entire conservative movement, I think that you have to look back at who voted for and against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Republicans other than Goldwater in the Senate voted for it, IMHO, as a continuation of their beliefs that gave us Emancipation, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amdts."

Bruce,
I have to confess some ignorance on this point, because when the Civil Rights Act was being debated, my dad was younger than I am now. I wasn't around at the time, is the point, so what I know of Goldwater's position on the matter comes from what he wrote in his book. And as I had understood it, Goldwater's opposition to Brown and the Civil Rights Act stemmed from a mistaken intentionalist reading of the Constitution, and the limits it placed on Federal power (and the limits it did not place on state power) rather than any hostility to their aims?

Simon said...

Richard said...
"If you were not you, you would scare the hell out of yourself."

If I wasn't me, I'd wonder why I was wearing my underwear.

I'm sorry, I thought we were auditioning for Real Genius 2.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ronin, I must disagree with your comments.

If genuine libertarians had their way:

I don’t know about genuine Libertarians, maybe the hard fringe, but most Libertarians are more of ‘give unto Caesar’ variety. Leave to the Federal government what it is Constitutionaly required to do,and get it out of where it has no right to tread.

There would be NO public schools of any type - elementary, junior or high school, only private.
There would be NO public colleges, only private.
There would be NO public highways, only private.


Each of these is a genuine function of government, just not a function of the FEDERAL government to be involved in any of these institutions, but the state and, especially the case of grades 1-12, only the most local level.

There would be no Social Security.
There would be no Medicare.
There would be no food stamps.
There would be no public assistance for the disabled.


Again, not functions of the government. I would be a lot happier (and richer) if I were able to take the 15% of my salary that goes to the Federal tax pool as Social Security and use it in my 401k instead. That 15% raise would also allow me to fund more local charity to locally, not Federally, care for the aged, poor and disabled.

There would be no public hospitals.

Hospitals attached to teaching universities or even locally funded tax supported hospitals are not a problem.

There would be no regulation of business of any type.
There would be no Securities & Exchange Commission
There would be no Federal Deposit Insrance Corporation.


These are more difficult to do away with, especially post Enron, but why are business and banking not self regulated, like medicine and law? Banking is probably only second to the nuclear industry as the most regulated around, yet how many banks are there really? Maybe 5-6 nationally, a few Mom & Pop locals and the credit unions. Because banking is so highly regulated it becomes a bar to new business starting and protects the monopoly of the larger ones.

And look what we have now. Fees to access your money at a the ATM, or some cases at the teller. Fees to cash checks at your branch, if the account holder is not the presenter. Savings interest rates and lending interest rates 3-4 points apart, and the banks the richest entities in the country. This is regulation for MY benefit?

I would rather see the whole damn thing deregulated, and the Feds rate the banks for security, or better still a private entity to insure their liquidity, and rate the security of each entity.

There would be no environmental regulations whatsoever. The national forests would be sold.

Just because I feel the Federal government has no power to control the minutiae of my existence does not mean we dismantle the park system; we transfer it to the states. Other than military installations and Washington DC ban the Feds from owning property. The exact number escapes me, but I believe it is somewhere around 80% of the state of Nevada is owned or controlled by the Federal government. That ain't right. Enviromental regulation is allowed, but not form the Federal level.

There would be no U.S. troops overseas anywhere (not just Iraq).
The United States would not belong to any international organization (UN, NATO, etc.).
There would be no limits on immigration.


The sole purpose of the Federal government is to provide national security, being Libertarian is not being isolationist. There need to be limits on immigration as part of that national security.

There would be no government enforcement of civil rights.
The would be no Pure Food & Drug Act, no FDA, no regulation of medical providers, no regulation of drug companies, no public research institutions like the NIH.


Again, these are areas not in the Federal purview. The states can control each of these areas, or band together to generate some national policy that each of the states can sign onto or not, like they did with the Uniform Commercial Code.

The last two amendments of the Bill of Rights say it all, in my opinion (sorry for the restatement of what most know, but in some respect these are the greatest amendments, and the most over looked):

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Anonymous said...

Russ: Where I grew up, the Santa Ana Register a libertarian newspaper regularly editorialized against public funding of schools by any government.

Much of the rest of what you are decribing seems to me to be "federalism" and not "libertarianism," as in transferring property back to the states. The states are governments, not private entities.

As to classical libertarian thought, I think it is isolationist, as in self-defense begin at our shores not overseas, no entangling alliances of any type, no involvement in foreign wars of any type.

With regard to immigration, here again, I believe that people prefer to choose something from a menu containing a column a and a column b. As I recall, the emphasis was on free markets & free peoples (as in free migration).

Anonymous said...

I also believe it was the Ninth and Tenth Amendments the Goldwater based his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on.

I am currently reading White's 'The Making of the President 1964', and it has several chapters on both the Civil Rights Act and racial relations at that time.

It is intersting to read the mid-sixties language and attitude, unchanged by later PC mores. At one point White calls Adam Clayton Powell a 'racist' for his attitudes, and predicts the way politics will be run at the end of the Johnson Presidentcy, in 1972.

The question is obviously where would race relations be today without the CRA/1964? We can surmise, but not know.

Would a sign stating "No Coloreds Allowed" still be as acceptable as if was 40 years ago? Without the Act would we have moved to our current attitudes anyway?

Would the Federal government solely acting in its proper role have been able to influence those attitudes? (By proper role I mean not having the authority to pass the CRA/1964 and make it stick.)

This is the hard part of holding fast to any position; what happens when your position and what's right conflict. I firmly believe in the right of the states to govern themselves.

But...

The way minorities were treated prior to 1964 in most of the country was a disgrace, yet being "Right" does not allow stepping outside your legal bounds.

After you allow one transgression to correct a wrong, where do you again draw the line, and how do you decide who's right?

Anonymous said...

Russ: When you mentioned the states banding together, it reminded me that some states did band together to sue the tobacco companies, and Microsoft. FWIW, perhaps I missed it, but I don't recall the Federalist Society issuing a press releases in support of their banding together. I do recall the Wall Street Journal, a staunch supporter of fedralism in principle if not fact, editorializing against their cabal.

Elizabeth said...

Wow, what a thread! This is why I read Althouse.

As I read, I found myself agreeing with Internet Ronin and me (me, you always put me, this me, in a grammatical dither. Of course I agree with me!) about how I understand a sort of spectrum of libertarianism. I don't buy that the market will remediate all wrongs. There's no human sensibility to market forces; having grown up and lived in the South most of my life, I don't for one minute believe that, given enough time, we'd have voted out Jim Crow on our own. To argue that ignores just how zealously and brutally the segregationists enforced their controls over the ballot box, for one thing. That's why I don't buy into assurances now that, given time, the rights of gay people should be left to the whims of voters and the market.

On the other hand, I read Reason's blog and find a lot that appeals to me. I share their concerns about how we've allowed our drug war to morph into a war on citizens. We shouldn't have poorly trained local cops decked out in Homeland Security-supplied military gear breaking down doors in the middle of the night to serve a drug warrant. If no one's life is in imminent danger, the SWAT gear ought not to come out.

Do I have another hand? New Orleans so completely lacks leadership at all governmental levels right now that there's a kind of grassroots libertarianism--a leave me alone and let me handle it myself attitude--that's developed. But of course it's limited. We do need help, we do need government to rebuild levees and so forth.

At one point, a strange alliance of libertarians and Cindy Sheehan were complaining that New Orleans was under occupation, with the National Guard patrolling the streets. The Guard's still here, and I welcome them. They kept my home from being looted in the days we were unable to return to the city; they now protect areas where people are rebuilding but still unable to live full-time. That's an appropriate role for the citizen soldiers.

I think for some, libertarianism, without digging too deeply into its core, feels like a correction to the nanny-government of liberalism and the religious swamp conservatism has become lost in.

Anonymous said...

Russ, BTW, I believe that there are still a few thousand banks in the United States.

Anonymous said...

I think for some, libertarianism, without digging too deeply into its core, feels like a correction to the nanny-government of liberalism and the religious swamp conservatism has become lost in.

Bingo!

(Great post, Elizabeth!)

Anonymous said...

Maybe the difference is between 'classical' and (what I would consider my self to be) 'logical' Libertarianism.

The way your describing Libertarianism it would be closer to anarchy than a system of any governance. Maybe a Jeffersonan Libertarianism- that government is a necessary evil that governs least, and in my opinion, closest to the people.

My vote for President is one in hundred of millions; Senator- one in millions; Representative- one in hundreds of thousands; my local city council- one in thousands. Who should have more control over me; where my voice is one of millions or where it is one of thousands?

When you allow a few folks in a federal city to control millions, money talks and the vox populi walks. If my city councilman decides to vote against my wishes I can stop by his office to discuss it on my way home from work. What are my chances of even getting an audience with my Senator, without a large contribution in my hand?

Anonymous said...

Russ - Answer to your last question: nil to none, unfortunately.

Agreed, you and I are not describing the same thing. I'm thinking about what Ann probably encountered in those sessions sponsored by the Liberty Fund. You are attempting to be more practical and searching for a way to reclaim control or influence over a government that increasingly serves narrow but powerful special interest groups (on the right and the left) bent on accumulating, not delegating, power.

michael a litscher said...

So, my question for you libertarians and you fans of constitutional federalism: do you think Congress offended high principles when it proscribed racial discrimination in privately owned hotels and restaurants? Are your ideas about private property and federalism that strong?

Should speech you find offensive be:
1) Federally regulated out of existence, or
2) Met with more speech?

Personally, if someone is running a business (think lunch counter), or an organization (think Boy Scouts) who's philosophy runs counter to yours, the correct answer is not the heavy hand of government to force compliance with your philosophy, but competition.

If you think your philosophy is better, then put your money where your mouth is, and implement it at your own risk, not at someone elses. Go ahead, proove the business/organization wrong, and show the world. Do it yourself the way you think it should be done.

Anon Y. Mous said...

Elizabeth: "There's no human sensibility to market forces; having grown up and lived in the South most of my life, I don't for one minute believe that, given enough time, we'd have voted out Jim Crow on our own. To argue that ignores just how zealously and brutally the segregationists enforced their controls over the ballot box, for one thing."

I think you are muddying the waters here. Jim Crow refers to laws that required the separation of blacks and whites in public accommodations. The libertarian approach would be to require that government treat everyone equally in governmental settings, and just stay out of it in the private sector. Without laws mandating separation, some businesses would have done away with it, and over time, public pressure and good old greed would have moved the holdouts.

Paul Zrimsek said...

One of the oddities of these debates about free-market discrimination-- and I've been in a million of 'em-- is how everyone always focuses on the Jim Crow South. Odd, because the state of things in the North at that time was so much closer to racial laissez-faire, and a much better example of its advantages and limitations.

Elizabeth said...

Anon. Y. Mous,

aside from the public/private muddying, I stick by my assertion. If there weren't currently laws to the contrary, the South would be full of racially segregated private stores, bars, restaurants and more. There are many such things right now, within whatever parameters allow it. There are plenty of private clubs and associations in New Orleans that exclude blacks and Jews. There isn't enough greed to counteract deep-seated bigotry. Your scenarios reveal more wishful thinking than an understanding of the Deep South.

Ann Althouse said...

I agree with Elizabeth. The notion that economic incentives alone would have desegregated the South is a ridiculous fantasy that I am amazed to hear expressed by anyone with a sound mind and a basic education. For one thing, a region can languish in economic backwardness seemingly forever. (Look at the world today.) For another, there were economic advantages to segregation in terms of pleasing the white clientele, who had more money to spend. In the Supreme Court case about the 1964 Act, it was in the lower court record that the restaurant made more money by refusing to seat black people. The white customers filled the place and were happy with the situation, and the black customer bought take-out food. Even if you think that economics would have solved the problem eventually, it wasn't right to demand that black people wait until white people changed their minds.

It seems obvious to me that if your political theory doesn't provide for desegregation, you need a new theory.

Alan said...

"...it wasn't right to demand that black people wait until white people changed their minds. "

I thought of the movie "When Harry Met Sally" when I read that.

...because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life without being discriminated against, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Simon said...

A third reason why "[t]he notion that economic incentives alone would have desegregated the South is a ridiculous fantasy" seems to suggest itself: because they hadn't already done so in the near-century between the ratification of the CivilWar Amendments and enactment of the Civil Rights Act. If it hadn't happened prior to the 1960s, what changed, and - this is a serious question - what is the timeframe envisioned by libertarians for the marketplace-based solution they suggest? When would it have begun? Why? How long would it have taken?


"In the Supreme Court case about the 1964 Act"

This is Heart of Atlanta Motel, right?

Anon Y. Mous said...

Ann Althouse: "The notion that economic incentives alone would have desegregated the South is a ridiculous fantasy that I am amazed to hear expressed by anyone with a sound mind and a basic education.

Who expressed that? What I expressed was that the government stop mandating segregation. The major factor behind segregation in the South was the force of law. If someone wanted to open a diner that served blacks and whites together, they would have been shut down by the local government. Had the government stopped mandating segregation, then economic factors could have began to play out.

"For another, there were economic advantages to segregation in terms of pleasing the white clientele, who had more money to spend. In the Supreme Court case about the 1964 Act, it was in the lower court record that the restaurant made more money by refusing to seat black people. The white customers filled the place and were happy with the situation, and the black customer bought take-out food."

That only could work where there was no competition. Had blacks the choice between a restaurant that would seat them vs one that would only sell them take-out from the back, it's not too difficult to figure out what they would have chosen.

It seems obvious to me that if your political theory doesn't provide for desegregation, you need a new theory.

If some group of people, black, white, whatever, want to have an establishment where they want to exclude all others, let them. If they don't want me in their joint, I'll go to another. Personally, I prefer an open environment, but if others prefer a closed setting, more power to them - as long as the government isn't oppressing anyone as was done under Jim Crow.

My theory provides for freedom of association, without the government either telling people they must or must not associate with whomever they choose.

Paul Zrimsek said...

The notion that economic incentives alone would have desegregated the South is a ridiculous fantasy that I am amazed to hear expressed by anyone with a sound mind and a basic education.

I am struck by how deeply and seriously you believe this.

Simon said...

"It seems obvious to me that if your political theory doesn't provide for desegregation, you need a new theory."

The thought occurs: do you contend that a normative political theory that opposes desegregation is indefensible, or are you suggesting that a descriptive theory of the limits the Constitution places on authority of the States vs. that of Congress (to enact the Civil Rights Act) is indefensible if it fails to effect and/or accomodate desegregation? I ask recalling Ed Whelan's comment last year that "[t]he Left's current interest in Brown [v. Board] is in asserting that originalism ... could not have produced Brown's mandate to end segregated schools and must therefore be regarded as illegitimate." (Footnote 1 of Justice Scalia's Rutan v. Rupublican Party dissent tackles this question as well). As indicated upthread, I agree with the former proposition, but I can't agree with the latter, insofar as I continue to believe that theories of Constitutional interpretation must be descriptive, not normative. I think you're referring only the the former, though; we have disagreed on how to interpret the Constitution, but I don't think I've ever seen you endorse raw instrumentalism.

To be sure, I don't mean to suggest that originalism does not support Brown's result, only that it is not a legitimate criticism of a descriptive theory that it might produce results that are normatively unacceptable. I can think of several examples in which the Constitution supports results that I think are at least "obtuse" (it's Constitutional for states to criminalize sodomy, for example), and even "repellent" (it's Constitutional for states to permit abortion, for example). Readers may not agree with those examples, but the point is that a descriptive theory of law has different hurdles to clear than does a normative theory of politics.

Jeff said...

Why pick on the South? New York and Philadelphia are at least as segregated as any municipality in the US!

admin said...

All philosophies of constitutional interpretation are inherently normative. That's what they are - norms. "Originalism" is a set of interpretive norms.

Eli Blake said...

Paul Zrimasek:

To have your positions one has to be wilfully ignorant of history.

If gay rights is so obviously of a piece with civil rights, why doesn't it play that way NOW? (12:50 last night)

The same arguments we see made about gay people (including a Bible-based reason for discriminating) were made, circa 1955 (or 1945, or 1935, or 1925, or 1915, etc.) about black people. And for millions of people (not just southerners-- Brown v. Board of Education had its roots in Kansas), those arguments 'played' to them just fine. For that matter, anti-Semitism 'played' very well pretty much right up until the moment that newsreels coming back from Auschwitz made it no longer acceptable. For that matter, it its heyday slavery itself was justified by its supporters. So, I wrote what I did because I see human rights improving over time (keep in mind that the U.S. of 1789, while remarkably enlightened for its time, only fully enfranchised white male property owners who had reached the age of 35.)

The present battle involves sexual orientation. And just as in the past, there are those who will defend discrimination against gay people. So we will see in thirty years whether they are so proud to have stood up for it, as those who supported gay rights will be to have stood up for them.

So that's why I'm saying we will wait for a historical perspective.

And if you really believe your argument that economic incentives would have desegregated the South, you have to ignore a hundred years of history. Had, for example, southern restaurant owners (and some in the north as well) desegregated their restaurants any time during that 100 years, they would in theory have expanded their customer base. But it didn't happen. Further, even if it had, once the nation woke up to the fact that it was morally wrong to allow segregation, then it was also morally wrong to allow it to continue a day longer than it took to get rid of it.

DRJ said...

Apparently Thomas Sowell would not be welcome here. He has written that desegregation began in the 1950's and that, while the Civil Rights Acts were important, they may have impeded black economic progress.

me said...

Ann Althouse: "The notion that economic incentives alone would have desegregated the South is a ridiculous fantasy that I am amazed to hear expressed by anyone with a sound mind and a basic education.

Anon-ymouse: "Who expressed that? What I expressed was that the government stop mandating segregation. The major factor behind segregation in the South was the force of law. If someone wanted to open a diner that served blacks and whites together, they would have been shut down by the local government. Had the government stopped mandating segregation, then economic factors could have began to play out."

Sorry, but I must disagree. The major force behind segregation in the South was RACISM, enacted into law by racist legislators. If you think if those laws hadn't existed, the South would have been integrated you are wrong. The hatred that caused white racists to kill white civil rights workers and entomb their bodies in a dam (see Missippi burning), or burn crosses, or commit lynchings, does not allow for the rationality you speak of. If Jim Crow hadn't existed, the KKK or the white business associations would have run businesses that served blacks out of town. White supremacists weren't shy back then, and they certainly were't shy about using violence to enforce their will when their supremacy was challenged. Juries didn't convict people of bombing black churches where four little girls died. Witnesses were intimidated. Police chiefs positively delighted in firehosing protesters. If all Jim Crow laws had been repealed, they still would have been enforced by the communities that wanted to have them. Federal troops didn't have to go to Little Rock for nothing.

"That only could work where there was no competition. Had blacks the choice between a restaurant that would seat them vs one that would only sell them take-out from the back, it's not too difficult to figure out what they would have chosen."

See above.

"If some group of people, black, white, whatever, want to have an establishment where they want to exclude all others, let them. If they don't want me in their joint, I'll go to another. Personally, I prefer an open environment, but if others prefer a closed setting, more power to them - as long as the government isn't oppressing anyone as was done under Jim Crow.

My theory provides for freedom of association, without the government either telling people they must or must not associate with whomever they choose."

Yes, your theory is fine if people aren't murdering you for opening another joint where your type is served, or having every gas station in town refuse to sell you gas, or not let you sleep at a hotel, etc. etc. I suspect you have never experienced such a thing, or cannot imagine the oppression it entails, or you would not be so blase.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Eli, if all you wanted was to repeat your argument all over again, cut-and-paste would have saved you a load of time. I'm no closer than I was before to knowing why the 30-year clock on gay rights is only starting to run down now. Back in the civil-rights era mainstream liberals themselves evidently saw some difference between the two causes; about the most they were interested in doing for gays back then was-- what?-- trying to ensure that their "illness" would get humane treatment?

Revenant said...

So, my question for you libertarians and you fans of constitutional federalism: do you think Congress offended high principles when it proscribed racial discrimination in privately owned hotels and restaurants? Are your ideas about private property and federalism that strong?

I do think Congress offended higher principles when it did that, but I think it was necessary at the time. I feel the same way about torturing terrorists -- it violates higher principles, but it is sometimes necessary.

Elizabeth said...

I have to say that I stand by me. The idea that economic incentives would have changed the face of racism in the South is a sad fantasy, and the historical examples me offers illustrate the grim reality.

Kirk Parker said...

Ann,

What's not to like about "extolling of Western Civilization above all other cultures"? To put that in a broader context, I might not agree with the current leadership in Beijing's belief that Chinese culture is better than others, but I certainly wouldn't find that belief offensive.

Paul Zrimsek,

"I'm still libertarian enough to believe that private discrimination should be legal, and that the federal government in the civil rights era should have confined itself to stamping out government-sponsored discrimination (including those segregated schools)."

Hold on a moment! Surely you think that enforcing an impartial and non-racially-biased administration of the law is also of vital importance? The meaning of the 14th Amendment is somewhere in this general neighborhood, isn't it?

Bruce,

"Do I have to make mine accessible to the blind too?" Good point, but even better to explicitly state the implied "regardless of the cost*"? That's the killer, in my book, that takes the question far beyond the letter of the Constitution and puts it right back into the larger questions of legitimacy of government and tyranny as expressed in the Declaration. As always when the ADA comes up, I recommend O'Rourke's chapter in Parliament of Whores.

But I don't think it's fair to say that States' Rights and libertarianism gave us Jim Crow--it was already here, these ideologies merely allowed it to be preserved for longer than it might have lasted in a formally-centralized state like France.

--------------------------------
*Or even the somewhat less harmful, but still tyrannous, "We get to decide at what point you get relief from spending more to comply."

Anonymous said...

I don't know who was at this conference, and I've never read Frank Meyer, but I have been to dozens of Liberty Fund conferences and, more often than not, found them to be genuine conversations where disagreements are invited. The point is the conversation, and no one is invited to a conference in order to be "persuaded" or tested for ideological purity. (Lately, Liberty Fund has, however, been interested in including bloggers.)

But, and this may be why Ann is so uncomfortable, assumptions that go without questioning in some contexts--like Madison, Wisc.--do not necessarily enjoy such lack of scrutiny around a Liberty Fund table. On the specific issue of civil rights, in my experience libertarians then and now have been divided about the question of public accommodation (as opposed to desegregation of government facilities like schools). Some, including myself, are acutely aware of the need to break the racial caste system that had been enforced through a combination of legal strictures and legally tolerated terrorism in the South. We are therefore willing to make the tradeoff in sacrificing freedom of association. But, unlike our blog hostess, we explicitly recognize that such a tradeoff exists. Others, most notably Richard Epstein among contemporaries, think that tradeoff has had too many negative consequences, including tangled arguments about whether private employers should be allowed to implement affirmative action. (He thinks they should be allowed to.)

As for the argument about whether economic pressures would or could have ended Jim Crow, it's hard to know how such a counterfactual would have worked out in practice; certainly there is some evidence, e.g., from the steel industry in Birmingham, that "foreign" (i.e., northern) firms resisted segregation. It's hard to picture a South full of segregated McDonald's, but one never knows. Certainly outsiders who wanted to integrate their customer bases or workforces were freer to do so than locals, who were subject to financial pressures (local banks could be nasty enforcers) and, in many cases, physical threats.

It can indeed be shocking to encounter such arguments for the first time, but that doesn't mean those arguments aren't worth thinking about, if only to understand why, other than knee-jerk "this is what everybody I know thinks" reasons, you believe they are wrong. The quality of the discussion at a Liberty Fund conference depends largely on exactly who the 16 people are and whether they are willing and able to enter into the spirit of the discussion.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Surely you think that enforcing an impartial and non-racially-biased administration of the law is also of vital importance?

Of course I do. I cannot imagine why you assume that "stamping out government-sponsored discrimination" wouldn't include this.

David Nieporent said...

If Jim Crow hadn't existed, the KKK or the white business associations would have run businesses that served blacks out of town. White supremacists weren't shy back then, and they certainly were't shy about using violence to enforce their will when their supremacy was challenged.

Yes, that would be a valid argument, if the debate were between the current Civil Rights regulatory scheme and anarchy. But libertarians aren't suggesting that anarchy was the solution to Jim Crow. Libertarians would want the government to come in shooting, if necessary, if the KKK was violently running people out of town.

Juries didn't convict people of bombing black churches where four little girls died.

Juries convicted white southerners of violating civil rights of blacks. They didn't bring in jurors from the north to do that; they just brought in prosecutors and judges committed to enforcing the law.

nolackawanna said...

Your view, especially as a law professor, shocks and disturbs me. Your innuendo suggest that anyone who doesn't agree with your rigid, biased, intolerant weltanschauung is incomprehensibly freakish. I naively expected that those people entrusted with shaping tomorrow's federal judges would be more fair-minded and impartial, but you're a reminder that inflexible minds exist everywhere. No wonder the Supreme Court is such a parody of justice, all those narrow minds twisted and shaped by people like you. Perhaps some terrible thing was done to you as a child, in which case, I hope you seek professional help.