August 28, 2012

Fish politics, insect politics.

You may know I'm a longtime fan of the 1986 movie "The Fly," especially the part where the main character, the scientist-turned-fly, has his rant about "insect politics." ("Have you heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects don't have politics.... they're very brutal. No compassion.... no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first insect politician. I'd like to, but.... I'm an insect.... who dreamed he was a man, and loved it. But now the dream is over, and the insect is awake.")

I'm always alert to stories that can take my blog tag "insect politics."

And I love lawprof/public intellectual Stanley Fish, who's written many cool books and in recent years has been doing a column on the NYT website. I was already delighted to see that Fish had put up a new column on the Dinesh D'Souza movie "2016: Obama's America," but my delight bubbled over into ecstasy when I arrived at the insect politics:

Unlike the once glorious but fallen empires [D'Souza] recalls reading about as a child in India, America, he declares, is an “empire of ideals” — individual rights, freedom of choice, upward mobility limited only by your willingness to work hard; and the fact that the nation has not always lived up to its ideals is a testament to the power they exert even as they are being breached.

In contrast, Obama, first at Columbia and later at Harvard, is influenced by leftist teachers like Edward Said and Roberto Unger, immerses himself in texts by Marxist, feminist and ant-colonialist authors, and thus fleshes out the lineaments of “his father’s third world collectivism.”
Ant-colonialist authors! This sounds very brutal! I thought Obama was the "empathy" guy, that he was 22 points out ahead of Romney when people were asked who cares about you. But now... No compassion. Whatever happened to the dream?
[D'Souza] rejects birtherism, the contention that Obama was born in Kenya and is hence not an American citizen; but he replaces it with a back-door, or metaphorical, birtherism when he characterizes Obama as an alien being, as a fifth-column party of one who has pretended to be an American, and technically is one, but really is something else.
You mean... the ant-colonialist?

Now, let's get serious. Fish says D'Souza "founders on the fallacy of assuming that the adjective 'American' has a fixed meaning with which everyone, or everyone who is right-thinking and patriotic, agrees." Here we go! No fixed meaning... Fish himself is was part of the intellectual stew in which  young Obama was immersed in college and law school.
But the meaning of America is continually contested in essays, books, backyard conversations, talk shows and, most of all, in elections. It is often said, and it is true, that the opposing parties in an election have “different visions for America.” There are many ways of describing the alternative visions offered to us in a year like this; but describing one of them as un-American and its proponent as a foreign intruder is not to further discussion but to foreclose it and to replace the contest of ideas with the rhetoric of demonization. 
Let's assume Fish is right and "the meaning of America is continually contested." D'Souza is simply fighting hard in that contest. He's got a powerful argument. And Fish wants D'Souza to disarm. You can't make that argument. It doesn't "further discussion." It "foreclose[s] it." Another way to put that is: D'Souza is winning the argument! It's too good of an argument. It doesn't give the other side enough of a chance to win. Hey, if it's a contest, both sides get to fight.

Fish says D'Souza's ideas are not ideas. Is that an idea? Fish says D'Souza is doing "demonization." Is Fish demonizing D'Souza? Who gets to say what can be said in this contest over the meaning of America? Must one side don boxing gloves while the other side punches back — "twice as hard" — bare-fisted?

85 comments:

Freder Frederson said...

D'Souza is simply fighting hard in that contest. He's got a powerful argument.

No, D'Souza doesn't have a powerful argument. He has bullshit, amateur Freudian psychoanalysis that he can't back up with one fact on how Obama's anti-colonialism has manifested itself.

Besides, even if D'Souza's thesis were true, what is wrong with being anti-colonialist? I thought the determining character of "real" Americans, especially conservatives, is the belief in self-determination and local control of government. How is foreign interference in the affairs of a country "American" in any sense of the word.

Bob Ellison said...

Describing something as un-American is a very American thing to do.

Tank said...

Freder

Your comment shows you have not seen the movie. He does in fact give examples of how the anti-colonialism has manifested itself. You could dispute them (if you'd seen the movie), but they are there.

I thought the movie was well done and presented an interesting plausible theory putting into context many actions Zero has taken as President.

What it is not is name calling or demonization. The movie has some weak points, but holds together pretty well.

If Freder had seen the movie, he'd know why anti anti-colonialism is bad as practiced by Zero. Then he could make some actual argument.

Right is right! said...

Obama is an Armative Action selected, anti-American communist who SHOULD be considered outside the parameters of normal debate in this country. He should be placed on trial for treason when the extent of the damage he has done to this country becomes clear after his defeat in November.

rhhardin said...

Fish long ago made his name trashing Wayne Booth's _Rhetoric of Irony_. Always punch up.

He didn't tolerate Kenneth Burke either. I wanted to say that Fish made a drama of his argument.

Ann Althouse said...

@Freder Your comment is incoherent. D'Souza is making a powerful argument, and you disagree with the argument. You don't like it. If it were not powerful, you wouldn't have to fight against it so hard.

Why not admit that it's powerful and counter it with your powerful argument, which is pretty much the argument that D'Souza is attributing to Obama. Put both arguments out there and let the voters choose.

If you'd seen the movie or even just read my posts about it, you'd know that D'Souza isn't against anti-colonialism per se. He's against the collectivist ideology that supported 20th century anti-colonialist movements.

Obviously, the American founders D'Souza loves were anti-colonialists. He promotes their ideology and presents it as what is the vision of America that voters should choose.

rhhardin said...

American will always go back to what it's worth recalling.

That's how words survive.

BarrySanders20 said...

It's an argument that might have appeal. Whether it appeals to those who have not decided if Obama deserves another term is unknown. I don't need this argument to convince me that Obama is a very poor leader with personality defects and bad ideas. But I knew that last time too.

Are you worried, Freder? Chris Matthews is.

Freder Frederson said...

He does in fact give examples of how the anti-colonialism has manifested itself. You could dispute them (if you'd seen the movie), but they are there.

Most of which are outright lies or gross distortions. Even when he isn't lying (Obama raised the debt), the connection to theoretical "Marxist anti-colonialism" is really a stretch.

virgil xenophon said...

Excellent analytical post, Ann (especially as it agrees with my ideological pre-dispositions :) ) Of course Fish is a singular spokesman par excellence for the post-modern, deconstructionist shape-shifting
academic who intellectually bends/tortures both facts and logic to fit his procrustian bed of a lefty world-view--a view observed only thru the polarized filter of glasses tinted by every concept that Focult & Derrider ever dreamt in their most fevered of lefty dreams..

Shana said...

I can see why Althouse likes The Fly. That dialogue sounds like something she would write herself.

Dennis said...

'Must one side don boxing gloves while the other side punches back — "twice as hard" — bare-fisted?'

Of course, this is what the politically correct is all about.

EDH said...

"Must one side don boxing gloves while the other side punches back — 'twice as hard' — bare-fisted?"

Modern boxing gloves were developed to protect the hands of the striker during a bout (as opposed to the ancient cestus, developed as a weapon), though specialized gloves are now available for competitions, sparring practice and other types of training. The use of modern boxing gloves typically results in fewer superficial facial injuries but does not reduce the risk of brain damage for participants, and may even increase it because of the ability to throw stronger punches to the head without hurting the hands.

Dennis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freder Frederson said...

D'Souza is making a powerful argument, and you disagree with the argument. You don't like it. If it were not powerful, you wouldn't have to fight against it so hard.

His argument is bullshit.

Bringing up the bust of Churchill was bullshit. D'Souza himself shouldn't like Churchill. If Churchill had his way India would still be a British Colony.

D'Souza claims Obama has done nothing to impede Iran's nuclear capability. Bullshit. Besides, what does Iran (an Islamic, certainly not a collectivist, Marxist state) have to do with collective anti-colonialism.

Obama is "weirdly sympathetic to Muslim jihadists."?! All I can say to that whopper is WTF?

Obama wants to return the Falklands to Argentina. Again, made up out of whole cloth. Discouraging Britain from going to war again over the Falklands is hardly advocating return of the islands to Argentina.

rhhardin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pettifogger said...

Tank's reply is good. The movie does explain why "anti-colonialism," as the movie describes it, should be regarded as bad.

The movie argues for, as I have long accepted, that "Americanness" is the belief that individuals inherently have rights and that the primary purpose of government is to secure those rights. The Left devalues the inherent rights (so-called negative rights) in favor of positive rights (so-called rights the government gives you, such as the right to housing, food, medical care, etc.) But the more positive rights are provided, the more negative rights are undercut.

Not everyone in America agrees with my notion of Americanness. That is why we are locked in a cultural war over what America is all about. Calls for compromise to get things done in the public interest are really calls for surrender in the cultural war.

Freder Frederson said...

Modern boxing gloves were developed to protect the hands of the striker during a bout (as opposed to the ancient cestus, developed as a weapon), though specialized gloves are now available for competitions, sparring practice and other types of training. The use of modern boxing gloves typically results in fewer superficial facial injuries but does not reduce the risk of brain damage for participants, and may even increase it because of the ability to throw stronger punches to the head without hurting the hands.

I was going to point that out too, but feared I would be accused of being pedantic.

CWJ said...

I agree in part with Fish's observations, but even more so with our hostess' counter punches. I was thinking nearly the same things as I finished reading Fish's embedded quote.

Senator Blutarsky said...

Within Fish's frameowrk, can't he and D'Souza both be correct?

That is, even if we stipulate for purposes of argument that there is no fixed meaning of "American," surely that doesn't preclude a set of boundaries within which Americanism may be debated, and beyond which something may be fairly said to be un-American.

The only alternative in which Fish would be correct would be if there were infinite, and therefore no, definition of American, but it seems like he either shrinks from saying this or else shrinks from giving D'Souza's argument its due.

Also, boxing gloves benefit the puncher much more than the punchee, so I'd rather be the guy with the gloves. Even if the other guy "punches back twice as hard," he'll injure his hands in short order and then be the mercy of my comfortably padded fists.

rhhardin said...

Stanley Cavell on frog turned into a prince, a frog that had never been a prince, bottom of page and next page.

"The frog in him will keep trying, I imagine, to get out."

(link fixed I hope. Firefox sabotages address copying by leaving off the http sometimes, and blogger then adds in a blogger.com root)

Dennis said...

'Must one side don boxing gloves while the other side punches back — "twice as hard" — bare-fisted?'

Of course, this is what the politically correct is all about.

Senator Blutarsky said...

Freder Frederson: " If Churchill had his way India would still be a British Colony."

And if Churchill hadn't had his way, India would have become a de facto Nazi colony, along with the rest of the British Empire under an accomodationist Lord Halifax.

Is that better?

Dante said...

As far as I'm concerned, nearly anything is fair game against Obama. That's because of the despicable tactics Obama and his minions have pulled on his competitors in races.

Describing Obama's previous tactics and low moral character as "insect like" is too charitable. While they are calculated and self serving, the nature of them, such as against Jack Ryan, work because there is an understanding of the destruction they wreak against human beings. In this sense, the coldness and mindlessness of the insect is morally preferable to the deliberate destruction of human lives for personal gain.

rhhardin said...

Deconstruction as Derrida did it was about following meanings, not claiming them.

Derrida was a virtuoso reader.

Pettifogger said...

Freder says: "Discouraging Britain from going to war again over the Falklands is hardly advocating return of the islands to Argentina."

I recall struggling in law school with the implications of a tort law concept: one is held to intend the natural and probable consequences of his actions. The natural and probable consequence of not resisting Argentine aggression is surrender of the Falklands.

I don't personally care about the Falkland Islands as such. But I do care that the people who live there strongly prefer remaining British, as would I in their situation. In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio, Lefties constantly call for the self-determination of the "Palestinian people." But Lefties don't seem to give much thought to the self-determination of the Falkland Islanders.

Argentinians feel aggrieved over a perceived wrong that occurred in the 19th Century. We are now in the 21st. If we're going to start righting historical wrongs, why start with something as trivial as the Falkland Islands? Let's set right Ceasar's conquest of Gaul or perhaps the Norman Conquest. That will keep you busy for a while.

Colonel Angus said...

Obama wants to return the Falklands to Argentina. Again, made up out of whole cloth.

Since Obama thinks the Falklands are off the coast of India I would agree with you.

Freder Frederson said...

And let's further explore this rather bizarre notion that Obama's sympathy for radical jihadists demonstrates Marxist collectivist, anti-colonialist sympathies.

If you, or D'Souza, can recall more than the last decade, you would know that there is no group, or greater enemy of the Soviet Union and Arab pan-nationalism (a collectivist, anti-colonial movement) than radical jihadism.

traditionalguy said...

The truth is coming into focus about Obama's desire to transform all of America into a husk of a once powerful Nation transformed into a large Detroit.

That has been so obvious so long that the only denial uses the logic that accusing Obama of doing such a destructive and evil things is out of bounds and unfair because a good person would never do such things.

But that logic actually says Obama is an evil person since we are watching him do them.



Freder Frederson said...


I recall struggling in law school with the implications of a tort law concept: one is held to intend the natural and probable consequences of his actions.

A natural and probable consequence of the action is that there will be a diplomatic settlement with no invasion by Argentina and no need for Britain to defend the Falklands against invasion.

Nonapod said...

I tend to dislike arguments that try to redefine terms, or suggest a relativism in terms. To me it's intellectually lazy to say something like "that's how I think of what it means to be American". By not having a fixed definition of what it is to be "American" you can say anything is American or Unamerican of course. The left seems to resort to redefining terms a lot. Isn't that one of the Alinsky methodologies?

Freder Frederson said...

Argentinians feel aggrieved over a perceived wrong that occurred in the 19th Century. We are now in the 21st. If we're going to start righting historical wrongs, why start with something as trivial as the Falkland Islands?

Actually, what is driving the current argument is more about the possibility of exploitable oil around the Falklands rather than 200 odd year old border disputes.

Rialby said...

"He has bullshit, amateur Freudian psychoanalysis that he can't back up with one fact on how Obama's anti-colonialism has manifested itself."

You mean the kind of "analysis" we heard for 8 years from the Left about George W Bush and his own father?

Rialby said...

I would like to point out that D'Souza continually reaffirms that being anti-colonialist is a morally neutral stance. It can be both a good and a bad thing. For example, as I'm sure D'Souza would argue, being an American is, in and of itself, an anti-colonialist position. We were once a colony of a Western empire that fought to remove those chains. That said, we remain incredibly loyal to the Western traditions from which we descended. The same cannot be said of Obama's anti-colonialism or of that of the broader Left.

The Crack Emcee said...

Two things:

1) It's funny to see Fish declare America has "no fixed meaning" when I just posted on the gay marriage thread about the denial of reality - a NYT imperative.

2) It sure is funny but "the alternative visions offered to us" were the same one's I received in the "foreign" land of France. They insisted on it, and - just like with liberals here - rejected any suggestion a black American could be a real black man (again: denial of reality) unless he accepted this "foreign" take.

Good blogging, Ann, you're getting to the crux of it all,...

dbp said...

I think Obama is a collectivist, but it is just an impression. There is little possibility of knowing for sure, unless he were to come out and say "Yeah, I'm a marxist." The impression comes from listening to what he says and seeing what he does. Others will come to different conclusions.

There are millions of Americans who are collectivist in outlook, possibly most of the some 20% who call themselves liberal. The thing is that most of us are decidedly not-collectivists and if the majority of Americans come to the same conclusion about Obama as I have, he has no chance at re-election.

This is the threat that D'Souza poses: Already, a substantial number of people think Obama is not a fan of or believer in free markets or individual effort. If a few more people are convinced, then there will be a tipping point. His only defenders will be people who increasingly let-slip their own collectivist mind-set.

Bob said...

How can Mr. Fish argue that the claims of Obama's un-Americanism foreclose discussion? He's discussing it. Everyone here is discussing it. The nation and the world are discussing it.

What he should have said is that arguments asserting that Obama is un-American are unpersuasive, because they benchmark to Americanism -- a criterion that is too vague. If critics want to argue that Obama supports a large government that infringes upon personal freedom and personal incentive, then they should make that argument, and engage the issue on those terms.

Mr. Fish might also have discussed the reason that Obama critics like to argue in terms of Obama's Americanism. Calling him un American is done intentionally to appeal to unreasoning fear -- fear of the different. That someone who looks different, whose name sounds different, whose father came from a place that was different, is probably out to hurt me, and people who look like me, have names like mine, and whose fathers were born in the USA.

It's entirely legitimate in a debate about Obama's policies to point out the poverty of the un American claim by noting this.

The Crack Emcee said...

Freder Frederson,

Bringing up the bust of Churchill was bullshit. D'Souza himself shouldn't like Churchill.

So there's no way I should be able to respect the Founding Fathers?

Really, Freder?

edutcher said...

Ann makes a good point about the meaning of America, but it's really the same way the Lefties view the Constitution - it's whatever they want it to be in whatever situation makes that interpretation necessary for the Lefties to get what they want.

Freder Frederson said...

D'Souza is making a powerful argument, and you disagree with the argument. You don't like it. If it were not powerful, you wouldn't have to fight against it so hard.

His argument is bullshit.

Bringing up the bust of Churchill was bullshit. D'Souza himself shouldn't like Churchill.



Why, because, as a Lefty, Freder figures that's the way all Indians should see it?

Maybe D'Souza appreciates Winnie's fight against Fascism, National socialism, and then Communism.

If Churchill had his way India would still be a British Colony.

And that's a bad thing, how?

If the Limeys had hung on to the empire, the world wouldn't be half the mess it is now.

D'Souza claims Obama has done nothing to impede Iran's nuclear capability. Bullshit.

Oh, yeah, those sanctions are doing a world of good.

William said...

Michael Collins, the leader of the IRA, was militant in his anti-colonial beliefs. He was a good athlete, but he refused to play soccer or cricket because he judged them to be English "garrison sports". You can mock his fervor, but that's the way it goes with anti-colonialists. They throw out the baby with the bathwater. In defense of Collins, you can say that, at least, he didn't reject capitalism and democracy like so many anti-colonialists.....Leftists seem to think that just being anti-colonial puts one on a higher moral plane, regardless of the form that that anti-colonialism takes. In the example of India, Nehru did not reject British ideas so much as the ideas of British imperialists. He was quite respectful of Beatrice Webb's lame brained theories and thereby blessed the Indian people with another two generations of poverty. And, of course, one can claim that Clive and the British did not impose an imperial regime on the Indians so much as they overthrew or suborned an existing imperial regime......At any rate, I think it's a fair statement to claim that Obama is far more wary of imperialism and capitalism than, say, Romney and that this wariness engenders a certain amount of wariness in those who believe in American exceptionalism.

FWBuff said...

Here in North Texas, the dominant political debate recently has been over how to curb the outbreak of West Nile Virus. One group has strongly advocated aerial spraying to kill the disease-carrying mosquitos. The other group opposes aerial spraying because it could also kill fish in local lakes and ponds. When I read the title of your post, I thought that you had picked up on our story. But now I see that all (insect/fish) politics aren't local!

The Crack Emcee said...

Nonapod,

The left seems to resort to redefining terms a lot.

I'm glad you added "a lot" in there, because the right does it, too (Mormonism, currently, isn't a cult - despite all that false prophet nonsense - who knew?) but, yeah, redefining terms is primarily the left's domain.

Right is right! said...

Obama is foreign. He does not look anything like America. His father hated America. His groupie of a mother was brain washed into hating America. Now Barack Hussein Obama is somehow president and is doing his best to destroy America.

This is a white Christian country that is being overrun by foreigners who want to change it and then destroy it. They must be stopped.

Colonel Angus said...

If you, or D'Souza, can recall more than the last decade, you would know that there is no group, or greater enemy of the Soviet Union and Arab pan-nationalism (a collectivist, anti-colonial movement) than radical jihadism.

I'll agree and take it a step further and argue that the radical jihadism is the greatest enemy of mankind. Well next to an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.

The Crack Emcee said...

Right is right!,

This is a white Christian country that is being overrun by foreigners who want to change it and then destroy it. They must be stopped.

That's me!

Lance said...

His argument is bullshit.

Ad hominem.

Bringing up the bust of Churchill was bullshit. D'Souza himself shouldn't like Churchill. If Churchill had his way India would still be a British Colony.

Non sequitur.

D'Souza claims Obama has done nothing to impede Iran's nuclear capability. Bullshit.

Ad hominem.

Besides, what does Iran (an Islamic, certainly not a collectivist, Marxist state) have to do with collective anti-colonialism.

That makes D'Souza's point: because Iran doesn't fit into the President's collectivist agenda, he ignores it as much as possible.

Obama is "weirdly sympathetic to Muslim jihadists."?! All I can say to that whopper is WTF?

Ad hominem.

Obama wants to return the Falklands to Argentina. Again, made up out of whole cloth.

I haven't seen the movie or read the book. Does D'Souza make this accusation?

Discouraging Britain from going to war again over the Falklands is hardly advocating return of the islands to Argentina.

But it can be. And it certainly supports the argument that the President is motivated by anti-colonialism.

BarrySanders20 said...

Write is Write,

Your sockpuppet is showing.

chrisnavin.com said...

Agree with the nod to relativism. Perhaps, Fish is arguing that D'Souza is engaging in polemics, but maybe stopping short of propaganda. I don't know why Fish just wouldn't make that argument, instead of the standard relativist line of there not being an "America" as such.

The Culture Wars move onward righteously, through documentary films.

Matthew Sablan said...

Argh. Now I'm tempted to go watch this movie just to see what everyone's talking about. I hate theaters.

PatCA said...

I saw the movie yesterday and not once does D'Souza call Obama "un-American."

D'Souza's thesis is that Obama thinks differently about America than he does, and he goes on to prove his thesis. But someone like me has always thought that--I came to the same conclusion when Obama banned oil drilling in our waters but gave billions to Brazil and Mexico to do the same thing! Wait, if oil is evil isn't oil evil everywhere? People like Freder, or trolls like Right is right, have no explanation for this, and people like Fish apparently get very defensive.

Yes, it's part psychological profile, so speculative, but authors have been doing that to political figures for years and D'Souza at least goes to the trouble of providing concrete examples to bolster his point.

I didn't read his book or Obama's but thought the film was well done, as far from the hysteria of Farenheit 9/11 as anyone could get. More like a master's thesis than a polemic.

BTW Obama's brother George looks and talks so much like him it's uncanny.

Schorsch said...

I'm missing the insect politics. Perhaps the metaphor is too subtle for me to grasp? Or maybe the insects and I have the same problem: we have these glorious brains, shaped by evolution and experience to make us successful in our little worlds, that completely fail us in others.

Marshal said...

but he replaces it with a back-door, or metaphorical, birtherism when he characterizes Obama as an alien being, as a fifth-column party of one who has pretended to be an American, and technically is one, but really is something else.

This is completely dishonest. First Fish establishes the idea that different visions of America are acceptable. Then he says that by asserting Obama has a vision different than most Americans D'Souza is calling him a fifth columnist. How can having two visions be acceptable if having a different vision is traitorous? Describing someone's vision isn't treachery. This is just a typical leftist play trying to invalidate criticism by pretending their patriotism is being questioned.

at the present time the United States, originally a colony itself, is the chief neo-colonial power, continuing its flawed history of subjugating native Americans, Mexicans, Hawaii and the Philippines into the 21st century.

Above is the meaning of current day anti-colonialism. So the fools trying to claim the Americna Founding Fathers were anti-colonialist should try again with everyone understanding exactly what they expect others to believe.

garage mahal said...

One of the right's intellectual leaders:

A darling of the right-wing-campus-newspaper-backing Collegiate Network, D’Souza helped found the infamous ultra-conservative Dartmouth Review as an undergrad. Under D’Souza’s “leadership,” The Review ran notoriously tasteless, bigoted, and just downright offensive articles of all stripes. Among his signature pieces: a parody of African American students at Dartmouth entitled “This Sho Ain’t No Jive Bro”; an interview with a Ku Klux Klan member featuring a graphic of a hanged black man; and selected words of wisdom from Adolf Hitler. The Review consistently referred to gay men as sodomites, and D’Souza himself publicly outed one gay student in an article based on stolen correspondence between members of the Dartmouth Gay Student Alliance. Link

Matthew Sablan said...

Wow! The fact D'Souza may have said some crazy things means we should totally ignore unrelated things he said. This ad hom point clearly seals the deal for your side.

dreams said...

Liberals live in an incestuous bubble, their liberal ideas are never challenged by their liberal friends and so they can't defend their ideas because they have never had to seriously think about them. They have never been or rarely presented with an opposing argument. When they do encounter some push back or another point of view, they are reduced to trying to shut off the debate by playing the race card or questioning the compassion and motives of the opposing debater.
A problem we conservatives don't have because we are constantly inundated via tv, movies, and the whole culture with the liberal viewpoint. An example, look what Saturday Night Live did to Sarah Palin's reputation, most people believe that Palin said that she could see Russia from her Alaska home when it was Tena Fey who said that in one her Sarah Palin skits.

raf said...

@Schorsch: I'm missing the insect politics

In the jokey first part of the blog post, Ann quotes a fish typo: "ant-colonialism." If you miss the jokes, you miss a lot.

vza said...

Stanley Fish nails it!

" There are many ways of describing the alternative visions offered to us in a year like this; but describing one of them as un-American and its proponent as a foreign intruder is not to further discussion but to foreclose it and to replace the contest of ideas with the rhetoric of demonization. (Democrats have been as guilty of this as anyone.) Obama may have a vision for America that you don’t like, but it is a vision for America put forward by an American. If you don’t like it, vote against him, not in the name of Americanism but in the name of the ideas and outcomes you, also an American, prefer."

creeley23 said...

Who gets to say what can be said in this contest over the meaning of America? Must one side don boxing gloves while the other side punches back — "twice as hard" — bare-fisted?

Exactly. This is just Phase II of Prof. Fish's argument from last March that for folks on his side there can be no double-standard when they beat down conservatives:

I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule "don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you" the rule "be sure to do it to them first and more effectively." It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.

-- Stanley Fish, "Two Cheers for Double Standards," NYT 03/12/2012

Skookum John said...

Freder-

"Discouraging Britain from going to war again over the Falklands is hardly advocating return of the islands to Argentina."

Well that's the stupidest thing I've read this morning, by a mile. Under what circumstances would Britain go to war but another Argentinian invasion? And if Obama discourages a response to that, allowing the Argentinian conquest to stand, what other interpretation is possible?

Shouting Thomas said...

garbage pulls another racism rant out of his ass...

And for proof of his rant...

He links to a progressive site that constantly pulls racism rants out of its ass!

tim in vermont said...

Cracky One Note is back with the Mormanism thing today.

I am wondering when he is going to write about something he didn't see on The Daily Show.

garage mahal said...

garbage pulls another racism rant out of his ass...

Right, because it's always racist to point out something racist!

Geoff Matthews said...

Seeing what's happened in the countries that are former colonies in Africa, I have a hard time supporting anti-colonialism.

cubanbob said...

I don't know what is Freder's beef about Churchill? Arguably Churchill was more of an American than Obama.

Argentina is once again on an economic express train to hell, that's why the Argentinian president is making all these noise. The usual bread and circuses to distract the people even though the people know its the usual Peronist crap. There will be no war as Argentina knows perfectly well the Brits have more than enough already in place on the islands to stop them and will have no compulsion about using their subs against Argentinian ships and maybe launching a few cruise missiles. And if Obama were dumb enough to try to muscle the Brits even Cameron isn't dumb enough to pass on an opportunity the show that Brittain isn't America's poodle, basically neutering the far right and the left in the UK.

grackle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk Parker said...

Freder,

GMAFB. I have no doubt D'Souza--like many of us--has mixed feelings about Churchill. But given the fact that India spent the first four decades or so after independence tearing itself down (and Pakistan is still on that path), I doubt his take on him is nearly as one-sided as you are supposing.


grackle said...

If you, or D'Souza, can recall more than the last decade, you would know that there is no group, or greater enemy of the Soviet Union and Arab pan-nationalism (a collectivist, anti-colonial movement) than radical jihadism.

Jihadists have been allied with authoritarian regimes since at least WW1, almost a hundred years ago – which is about 10 decades. In modern times just two examples would be the Russian involvement with Iran and Syria's nuclear programs. North Korea is also a jihadi ally. Another example closer to home would be Iran's current lovefest with the worst of the authoritarian regimes in South America. Indeed, I expect the jihadi/South American connection to become a major foreign policy issue in the near future.

Islam and collectivist, authoritarian and totalitarian regimes are natural allies – and have been for many years.

wildswan said...

The argument of the liberal is "I am on a higher moral plane than you" plus "You are reacting with irrational fear to a challenge to your (outdated) moral convictions". And so they don't think they have to answer challenges with data - they just scream "Bullshit" as in the above comments. But the conservatives are no longer impressed or affected by this argument so that liberals are now saying all this to the mirror as: "I am on a higher moral plane than THEM and THEY are reacting with irrational fear to a challenge." So it is quite clear to conservatives that the liberals are reacting with irrational fear to a challenge to their assumed moral superiority but liberals can't see the position and the irony of it. This is exactly what that NYT public editor said: The hive mindset which the liberals now have is obvious from the outside but it is hard to see from the inside.

What can we learn then about present day liberals from the study of insect societies? As Heinlein said in "Starship Trooper" we have to identify the real queen bee and his/her strategy. This is what D'Souza is trying to do. But were the third world anti-colonialists masters in their own movement?

Kirk Parker said...

Go away, Moby! I'll put up any number of non-white first-generation immigrants I know who are just as enamored as I am of the American ideal.

Colonel Angus said...

One of the right's intellectual leaders:

When in college, Barrack Obama admitted in his autobiography that he sought out and befriended radicals and Marxists. Yet we are told he isn't a radical or Marxist.

Which reinforces my view that you can't believe a single thing that he says.

ricpic said...

Whatever leftist hack wrote The Fly put the standard leftist view of politics, that its highest manifestation is compassion, in the fly's mouth. That genuine compassion cannot be coerced, as in the government robbing Peter to pay Paul and calling it compassion, would never even dawn on Mr. Hack.

Freder Frederson said...

When in college, Barrack Obama admitted in his autobiography that he sought out and befriended radicals and Marxists. Yet we are told he isn't a radical or Marxist.

I bet you did a lot of things in college that in hindsight seem pretty silly.

Of course this is from a man who insists on using a picture of himself in a Confederate uniform as his avatar. I know, "heritage not hate".

Tim said...

"Within Fish's frameowrk, can't he and D'Souza both be correct?"

The problem with that question is, it is based on the wrong premise.

If one believed Fish was arguing in good faith, and that the framework he uses to criticize D'Souza was an honest one, then sure - he could be "correct."

But the framework isn't honest. It tilts the table. Fish, like most all Leftists (like Obama) is alienated from America's founding principles. They don't have complaints with modern American life; they have profound complaints with the very reasons by which America came to be, and with the very principles at the root of her founding.

American Leftists are a virus, seeking to introduce new visions, new principles to completely redefine what America means, what life in America means, what it means to be an American. American Leftist reject the founding fathers. They will cite them, in bad faith, to seduce the naive and the stupid into believing voting from them, or their candidates, is somehow not antithetical to America and what it means to be an American, but they do so only as a tool to ratchet the misguided into places they would never go on their own.

And, once they do so, their "change" is permanent; more permanent than the "living" constitution they seek to abuse to recreate an America that never existed, that was never supposed to be, an America from which they are no longer alienated.

This, in addition to his glaringly profound absence of any qualifying experience for office, is why voting for Obama was such a tragically stupid, foresighted action by so many ostensibly "smart" people.

He was so clearly a tool of people who never liked America; people who want America to be something it was never supposed to be; people who are embarrassed to be Americans ("And let me tell you something -- for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." -- Michelle Obama); and he was always one of them, the willing tool of those who want to recast, reshape, recreate America in another image not organic to America.

That 53% of Americans could not, would not see this before voting for Obama is, despite all excuses, shameful.

And so too would it be shameful to assume Fish argues from good faith. Fish writes, "That was in fact the way my wife responded to the book. She told D’Souza — he was bemused — that reading it had allowed her to see more clearly what she liked about Obama; she was the person who said, in effect, what’s wrong with that?" They want the "other" to redefine America.

creeley23 said...

Of course this is from a man who insists on using a picture of himself in a Confederate uniform as his avatar. I know, "heritage not hate".

Freder F @12:30: Actually you don't know. Your cultural ignorance is showing. You've missed one of the most sustained sequences of double-entendres ever shown on American television.

Tank said...

Freder Frederson said...
When in college, Barrack Obama admitted in his autobiography that he sought out and befriended radicals and Marxists. Yet we are told he isn't a radical or Marxist.

I bet you did a lot of things in college that in hindsight seem pretty silly.


If you saw the movie [or even if not], you would see that this is just one small part of a lifetime progression involving parents, mentors, professors, activists, reverends, etc. Added up all together, they no longer equal "something silly I did in college." And viewed in the context of decisions he's made since becoming President, they seem to fit the theory presented.

creeley23 said...

I bet you did a lot of things in college that in hindsight seem pretty silly.

Freder F: No soap.

I was a leftist in college. I've repudiated it. For the most part I don't hang out with leftists anymore, though that's usually been more than their choice than mine.

Obama never repudiated his leftism. He remained in a leftist, black power, anti-American chruch for twenty years. He made the radical black pastor his mentor and a close friend of the family. Obama even took the title of his second book from a Rev. Wright sermon.

Obama not only continues to associate with hard leftists, he hires them to run our government as czars, e.g. Van Jones.

Freder Frederson said...

Freder F @12:30: Actually you don't know. Your cultural ignorance is showing. You've missed one of the most sustained sequences of double-entendres ever shown on American television.

Well, hell, I don't watch SNL much anymore.

Aridog said...

Of course this is from a man who insists on using a picture of himself ...

Er...Christopher Walken.

Maybe if our Col.A used "The Continental" character, it would be less pejorative?

The Crack Emcee said...

tim in vermont,

Cracky One Note is back with the Mormanism thing today.

I am wondering when he is going to write about something he didn't see on The Daily Show.


How about a Mormon admitting they're lying to your face? Does that count?

If it makes you feel any better, The Daily Show's Larry Wilmore is in there also, backing up your claim of how "nice" they are.

Seeing how you guys agree so much, why you don't like that show, I'll never understand,...

poplicola said...

Fredo's argument distilled:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYabrQrXt4A

Thanks, Freder. I've heard from six friends in the past few days that I should see the movie. There's no chance that I'll vote for Obama: I knew what he was in 2007 so I didn't think I needed to, but your screed tells me that it hits a nerve that I want to be able to hit too. Buying tickets now.

Colonel Angus said...

I bet you did a lot of things in college that in hindsight seem pretty silly.

I quit mid way through to start my own business. Then again Obama didn't claim his associations were silly. In fact, he seemed to cultivate them well beyond acadamia.

Of course this is from a man who insists on using a picture of himself in a Confederate uniform as his avatar. I know, "heritage not hate".

Your powers of observation are astounding.

wef said...

Having been steeped in academic life for too long - and having floundered about like a Fish in all sorts of dorm-room and faculty-lounge bs in my Berkeley years - I want to add two cents about anti-colonialism as I think a good proportion of lefty economics and poli-sci academics take the meaning. Anti-colonialism is pretty much anti-West, anti-Liberal (in the classical sense). In fact, today "anti-colonialism" is a bit quaint. Today in Latin America, for example, the sentiment is not called anti-colonialism (always a strain anyway in LA), but anti-Neo-Liberalism. I suspect that Obama himself would resonate to the anti-liberal label more than anti-colonialism tag. The Founders back in the 18th century were against living in a colony, but they were colonialists - they were pro-colonialist spreading an alien idea in an occupied land. D'Souza is a colonialist by the anti-west-ism perspective. Maybe Fish is somewhat confused by D'Souza's narrow interpretation of anti-colonialism to mean a dislike of foreign government direction. That's old hat.

JamesB.BKK said...

Wildswan: A good thought. Reminds one of the Froma Harrop interview with John Oliver. http://moelane.com/2012/01/13/froma-harrop-attempts-to-commit-professional-suicide-on-the-daily-show/

kentuckyliz said...

When I was done rowing Monday evening, I was being stalked by a murderous giant horsefly that had to be two inches long.

It was like a horror movie. I was screaming and trying to get away.

I had to go across the road to the campground and beg a camper to soak me in bug spray.

Insect politics:
No DEET, You're My Meat, I Eat!

DEET it--Beat It--Delete It!

The evil buzz glared at me and said, "Next time, my pretty!" and buzzed off after a passing cyclist.

kk said...

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