December 10, 2002
Emily Yoffe Slams the New York Times's Coverage of the Boudin Family

Just because most criticisms of the New York Times that accuse it of having a clueless-kneejerk-limousine-liberal view of the world are false doesn't mean that all are. Here we have Emily Yoffe making points that very much need to be made:


Weatherson - Chesa Boudin, radical chic Rhodes scholar. By Emily Yoffe: ...Today the Times lauded Chesa Boudin, 22, for overcoming "striking challenges" to earn this most establishment certification of promise [the Rhodes Scholarship]. Boudin's parents, the Times noted, missed his "Phi Beta Kappa award, high school graduation, Little League games" because since he was 14 months old they have been in prison. The article opens by describing how Boudin was not even able to share the news of his accomplishment with them. Boudin's parents are Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, who were members of the violent 1960s radical group the Weather Underground. They are in prison for their part in the murder of two police officers and a guard as the result of a robbery of a Brinks armored car in New York at the late, unradical date of 1981. The Times, while having space to describe the origin of Chesa's unusual name--”Swahili for "dancing feet"--”apparently didn't have room for the names of the men murdered. They were Sgt. Edward O'Grady, police officer Waverly Brown, and Brinks guard Peter Paige. You can read more about them at www.ogradybrown.com. Nor does the Times mention the obvious point that the nine children left fatherless that day--”the youngest was 6 months old--”have also missed the pleasure of having their fathers see their accomplishments over the years...

Posted by DeLong at December 10, 2002 11:06 PM | Trackback

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Comments

The N.Y. Times article was sentimental gush. Undoubtedly reporters identify more with "idealistic" radicals than with Brinks guards. Class will tell. On the other hand, after a couple of decades, a less punitive society might have an amnesty for old political crimes. The Wash. Post article on Rove is satire and I don't see it as over the top. Satire has to be over the top.

Posted by: Daniel on December 11, 2002 04:39 AM

The N.Y. Times article was sentimental gush. Undoubtedly reporters identify more with "idealistic" radicals than with Brinks guards. Class will tell. On the other hand, after a couple of decades, a less punitive society might have an amnesty for old political crimes. The Wash. Post article on Rove is satire and I don't see it as over the top. Satire has to be over the top.

Posted by: Daniel on December 11, 2002 04:41 AM

"The N.Y. Times article was sentimental gush. Undoubtedly reporters identify more with "idealistic" radicals than with Brinks guards."

The Brink guards are blue collar and never attended the "better schools." They are barely considered human in the eyes of the pseudo educated NY Times reporters. The latter also know which side of the bread is buttered. Embracing liberalism greatly increases the chances of becoming an affluent Yuppie. Don’t let the Liberals con you: it’s about the bucks!

Posted by: David Thomson on December 11, 2002 05:45 AM

Perhaps it escaped your notice, but Chesa Boudin didn't kill anybody. In Nazi Germany or Stalisist Russia, they may have required kids to denouce the crimes of their parents, but we're (usually) more understanding about such things here.

Posted by: rea on December 11, 2002 06:23 AM

David,

I agree that the article was outrageous and seemed to be a puff piece, but do you have any evidence at all to back the claim 'embracing liberalism greatly increases the chances of becoming an affluent Yuppie'?

I would argue the opposite: embracing liberalism might be fashionable after you become a yuppie, but is hardly the way to get there

Here is where you show a knee-jerk reaction: you take a foolish article and automatically associate that with liberalism. I am a liberal (for the most part) and I found the article foolish and unfair to the victims. I am probably a 'Yuppie' although I am no longer 'Young' or 'Upwardly Mobile'. What does that say for your theory?

Can't we just criticize a stupid article without attaching ideological motives to it? Why do we view everything through an ideological lens?

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on December 11, 2002 06:25 AM

"...after a couple of decades, a less punitive society might have an amnesty for old political crimes."

"Political crimes"????

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on December 11, 2002 06:55 AM

"Chesa Boudin didn't kill anybody. In Nazi Germany or Stalisist Russia, they may have required kids to denouce the crimes of their parents...."

I don't think anyone (even John Ashcroft) is requiring anything from Chesa Boudin, but murder is something most people don't accept. Much less condone.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on December 11, 2002 07:00 AM

rea: I think the problem with Chesa was his seeming idenitification of his parents' crimes with a higher political purpose. No one is suggesting Chesa be indicted or lose the fellowship; one would have hoped to see some awareness of the taint his parents give to the fight against "imperialism."

David T: As one Repub to another, I think you would be better off trying to convince people of your views rather than antagonizing them with hyperbole. We're trying to win a war of ideas here, not vituperate.

Posted by: JT on December 11, 2002 07:07 AM

It's a simple point, but worth making again: Chesa Boudin didn't kill anyone. Whatever his parents did, young Mr. Boudin is totally innocent. He has been deprived of a normal childhood and denied the love and companionship of his parents due to no fault of his own. Being the child of criminals does not make you a criminal, just another victim. He had no part in orphaning anyone's children. What he has done, is win a Phi Beta Kappa award and a Rhodes Scholarship. Why this should cause Emily Yoffe to go into a spittle-flying rage is a matter for her and her therapist.

Posted by: Paul Gottlieb on December 11, 2002 07:13 AM

>>Can't we just criticize a stupid article without attaching ideological motives to it? Why do we view everything through an ideological lens?<<

Well, since the article in question contains this quote from Chesa Boudin:

"We have a different name for the war we're fighting now—now we call it the war on terrorism, then they called it the war on communism. My parents were all dedicated to fighting U.S. imperialism around the world. I'm dedicated to the same thing."

I don't see how an honest evaluation could ignore the ideology.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on December 11, 2002 07:27 AM

Paul,

Aren't you missing the point?

Emily rails (and I agree) against the article, not Chesa himself. It is the tone of the article that implicitly casts Chesa's 'separation' from his parents sympathetically while ignoring the cause of that separation that we find offensive.

This is not about Chesa (although it should be - anyone who equates 'war on terror' with 'war on communism' understands neither and definitely does not deserve a Rhodes). I would have no beef with the article if it had said: look at this kid, his parents are in jail for murder and he manages to get a Rhodes.

Instead it said (and I am paraphrasing) 'Look at this poor unfortunate kid, separated from his parents (implicitly by some invisible, cruel hand) and has still managed to imbibe his parents values while being deprived (deprived??!!) of their company.

The NYT article is completely indefensible. I am surprised people are even trying.

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on December 11, 2002 07:29 AM

... and Patrick,

there are two issues here:

1: Ideology of Chesa
2: The ideology of the reporter and by extension the NYT.

If David is referring to Chesa's ideology ('liberal = road to yuppie'), fine. I disagree, but it is a fair point to make.

If David is talking about the reporter ('liberal = road to yuppie') then I stand by my criticism - the ideological motives of the reporter / NYT are irrelevant and cannot be inferred from the article itself.

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on December 11, 2002 07:39 AM

blah blah George W Bush, blah blah Phoenix Program, etc. Christ these comments write themselves some days.

Posted by: dsquared on December 11, 2002 08:02 AM

"anyone who equates 'war on terror' with 'war on communism' understands neither and definitely does not deserve a Rhodes."

Jeez, equating the two it pretty standard among people who supported both wars. Tell me, which of these two wars don't you approve of?

Posted by: rea on December 11, 2002 08:40 AM

“Here is where you show a knee-jerk reaction: you take a foolish article and automatically associate that with liberalism. I am a liberal (for the most part) and I found the article foolish and unfair to the victims. I am probably a 'Yuppie' although I am no longer 'Young' or 'Upwardly Mobile'. What does that say for your theory?”

I’m sorry but the overwhelming evidence undermines your argument. Please note that Dan Rather and all the major “mainstream” big dollar TV journalists are Liberal. The same holds true in the print media. Liberalism pays the big bucks! These journalists aren’t stupid. Fox News is starting to help reverse this trend, but it’s still a drop in the bucket.

One only needs to take a look at the greed of the Democrat trial lawyers. It is also humorous how Harvard University’s grade inflation scandal has been taken often the front pages. It appears that the Liberals did everything they can to hide the fact that many of Harvard’s degree programs are riddled with fraud. The sons and daughters of the Liberal “meritocratic” elite know that their parents will protect them. Have you ever read the silly book “Fugitive Days” by Bill Ayers? He and Bernadette Dohrn are incredibly shallow. Still, I suspect that their annual family income is at least $150,000.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 11, 2002 09:41 AM

Get a grip, people. The story was about the son, not the parents. Agreed the the Times should have provided more context for the parents' crime, but it's a tangent to the son's story (gushingly sentimental or not).

Posted by: Brent Sleeper on December 11, 2002 09:58 AM

I should also add that this is why so many Liberals became enamored over the inane theories of the deconstructionists. Jacques Derrida and his fellow intellectually shallow buffoons provided an superb excuse for grade inflation. This is also true for the affirmative action programs. They make it easier to lower the standards of everyone. The result is that these Liberal youths fraudulently graduate out of their mediocre schools---and immediately obtain good paying positions. Like I said, it’s all about the money!

Posted by: David Thomson on December 11, 2002 10:17 AM

Wow. On another comment list here, I commended DThomson for his general adherence to reason and calm. Those have deserted him completely on this thread.
Millionaire Dan "I'll stand where you tell me to, Mr. President" Rather a Liberal (of the same ilk as the Weathermen)?
The Ivy League an exclusive enclave of Liberal "Scare Quotes" meritocracy?
Liberal journalists on their way to riches?

What right wing circle-jerk Bizarro World does Mr. Thomson live in? Average reporters barely make a living wage, and are afraid to say so when a Republican lies to their faces. Big name reporters are millionaires whose economic interests align 100% with the Right. And it's Bushes just as much as Kennedys who get free rides at the nation's elite schools.
Honest conservatives have acknowledged countless times that the Liberal Media is a bogeyman that's been dead or comatose for decades, but brings out the base.
One of the posters here did get it right: this is a class issue. Most journalists, rich or poor, come from white collar backgrounds, and do not identify with blue collar types. Despite what Rush and DT would have you believe, the arrogant upper class is not the equivalent to Liberals. Democrats & liberals both have issues with class, but: The party that supports raising taxes on the working poor while cutting taxes on the super rich IS NOT the Party of the People.

Posted by: JRoth on December 11, 2002 10:20 AM

He's 22 years old. You and I may think the politics his parents and stepparents followed were foolish and evil, but it's a bit much to expect him to publicly denounce them--and his failure to do that seems to be the principal objection voiced here to the article. As for those who suggest above that his academic success is the result of some type of pro-left bias, nobody's presented any evidence of that. I've seen some things he's written online, and he writes pretty well for a 22-year-old. There's obviously a brain there, even if he's somewhat callow in his politics, so I don't see any basis for leaping to a conclusion that he doesn't really deserve his academic success.

Posted by: rea on December 11, 2002 10:48 AM

Please note that Dan Rather and all the major “mainstream” big dollar TV journalists are Liberal.

-David ( I want to troll) Thomson

The Power of Google comes through

Limbaugh: $22.22 MM annual (9 yrs, $200 MM)
Rather: $7 MM annual
Jennings: $10 MM annual

Q E D

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on December 11, 2002 11:59 AM

It's interesting that David Thomson consistently capitalizes "Liberal". While it's true that in this country many democrats are Democrats, most liberals aren't Liberals. I think there may be a Liberal party in New York, and of course there's one in England, but I don't see why either of these groups would have much influence on Harvard's grading policies. Perhaps Mr. Thomson could explain what he means by the proper noun "Liberal".

Posted by: Steven desJardins on December 11, 2002 12:20 PM

Republicans don’t have completely clean hands regarding grade inflation. One must candidly concede that Liberals are usually not responsible for the university scandals associated with the brain-dead football and basketball players. Nonetheless, the Liberals brought in deconstructionism and sloppily thought out affirmative action programs. By the way, I say this as someone who believes that affirmative programs have a legitimate role to play in American society.

I have also well aware that journalism is not the best way to become rich. Liberals perhaps dominate this profession because conservatives prefer to encourage their progeny to seek more lucrative employment. The superstars, though, who amass great wealth are Liberal---and espousing Liberalism does improve one’s chances. I have never been a defender of Rush Limbaugh. He is not a journalist but a rabble rouser. I don't consider Limbaugh to be a serious person.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 11, 2002 12:24 PM

"I should also add that this is why so many Liberals became enamored over the inane theories of the deconstructionists. Jacques Derrida and his fellow intellectually shallow buffoons provided an superb excuse for grade inflation. This is also true for the affirmative action programs. They make it easier to lower the standards of everyone."

Certainly most deconstructionists are liberal/left, but it doesn't follow that many liberal/leftists are deconstructionists. Noam Chomsky, who is generally regarded as pretty leftist these days, thinks that deconstructionists et al. are nuts.

I thought one _historical_ cause of grade inflation was the Vietnam War---if a student failed out, he could get drafted.

Having taught in a university myself, there's a simple explanation for grade inflation that has nothing to do with liberalism: there's no incentive to not inflate grades. (Yes, I'm a liberal who tried to not inflate so much, and it caused me much despair.) If you inflate grades, the students "win", you win (better teaching evaluations---I can personally attest to that), the department wins...everyone wins! Yay!

Regarding DT's theories on liberal journalists, the better questions are (1) what is the ideology of the people who *own* the media? (2) what bias does the media actually display? I recommend dailyhowler.com's commentary on media bias against Gore and in favor of Bush during the 2000 election. (Chris Matthews, supposedly a liberal in some quarters, fumed in a column with a November 7 dateline that Gore might win the electoral college vote but not the popular vote and would have the gall to take office...)

Best,

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on December 11, 2002 12:40 PM

"Perhaps Mr. Thomson could explain what he means by the proper noun 'Liberal'"

It does indeed seem like everybody and his second brother claims to be a Liberal. Indeed, the liberalism of a Ludwig Von Mises is hardly that of a Ralph Nader. I usually describe someone as Liberal who fails to comprehend the harsh reality that the at least metaphorical reality of Original Sin is alive and well on planet Earth. Do you require an example? Fair enough. I am appalled by those who believe that continued diplomacy will solve all problems. We supposedly have troubles with a Saddam Hussein because of a lack of communication. Tacitly, if not even overtly, they believe that war can always be avoided.

Allow me to be blunt: anyone who has an optimistic view of human nature is a fool. We should all have a soft spot in our heart for John Calvin.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 11, 2002 12:46 PM

>>Perhaps it escaped your notice, but Chesa Boudin didn't kill anybody. In Nazi Germany or Stalisist Russia, they may have required kids to denounce the crimes of their parents, but we're (usually) more understanding about such things here.<<

It's more the Orwellian fact that the three dead security guards and their nine kids seem to have no existence--neither for the New York Times nor for Chesa Boudin--that's really creepy.

And it is really creepy.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on December 11, 2002 12:48 PM

I have never been a defender of Rush Limbaugh. He is not a journalist but a rabble rouser. I don't consider Limbaugh to be a serious person.

-David Thomson

So, David, does it bother you that Limbaugh speaks to millions of people who apparently believe him and he tells them he speaks on behalf of Conservatives, people with your beliefs?

Does it bother you that when I hear you are a Conservative, I think of Limbaugh and Hannity and Coulter and O'Reilly?

I guess the same can be said of me and Al Sharpton, but at least, Sharpton doesn't reach the millions Limbaugh and Hannity do!

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on December 11, 2002 12:50 PM

When I read that article, I noticed that there were a few things fishy about this kid and his family. I'm glad somebody had the brains and the guts to put this story in perspective.

Posted by: Bobby (Yale '04) on December 11, 2002 12:54 PM

. . . Oh yeah, and I'm jealous that I'm not going to get a Rhodes Scholarship . . .

Posted by: Bobby on December 11, 2002 12:56 PM

"I thought one _historical_ cause of grade inflation was the Vietnam War---if a student failed out, he could get drafted."

That sounds pretty accurate. About the same time, the myth also spread that everyone "needed" to acquire a college degree. The available evidence indicating that few posses either the aptitude or the IQ to accomplished this feat was found unpalatable by the Liberal establishment. Something had to give. Thus, the standards inevitably had to be lowered.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 11, 2002 01:02 PM

"Does it bother you that when I hear you are a Conservative, I think of Limbaugh and Hannity and Coulter and O'Reilly?"

I describe myself as a neo-conservative. You should blame Irving Kristol, Michael Novak, Norman Podhoretz, and Irving Louis Horowitz.

"It's more the Orwellian fact that the three dead security guards and their nine kids seem to have no existence--neither for the New York Times nor for Chesa Boudin--that's really creepy."

The following is from page 47 of the "The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life":

"Think of your twelve closest friends or colleagues. For most readers of this book, a large majority will be college graduates. Does it surprise you to learn that the odds of having even half of them be collge graduates are only six in a thousand, if people were randomly paired off? Many of you will not think it odd that half or more of the dozen have advanced degrees. But the odds against finding such a result among a random chosen group of twelve Americans is actually more than a million to one."

Posted by: David Thomson on December 11, 2002 01:26 PM

"On the other hand, after a couple of decades, a less punitive society might have an amnesty for old political crimes."

Since when did killing two policemen and a security guard become "political crimes?"

This is a mentality that I'll never understand! It goes directly against our whole notion of justice, as proposed in the Declaration of Independence, and as codified in the 14th Amendment: All people should be considered equal *by* the law, and all people deserve equal protection *of* the law.

Any policeman (er, policeperson) or security guard (guardperson) should know that, if someone kills them, it won't matter whether they were killed because they were "capitalist pigs," or because someone simply wanted the money that was in the armored car.

Killing two policemen and a security guard aren't "political crimes." They are crimes. Period.

P.S. And don't get me started on "hate crimes..." :-/

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 11, 2002 02:18 PM

I confess I have no idea what Yoffe is so upset about; here's the article, which she didn't provide a link to for *some* reason.

Mr. Boudin, 22, is used to it. His parents, members of the 1970's radical group the Weathermen, have been in prison since he was 14 months old, for roles in a 1981 Brink's robbery in Rockland County in which two police officers and a guard were killed. They missed his Phi Beta Kappa award, high school graduation, Little League games.

The article is about the son, not the crimes of the father and mother. And my ass he's "embraced the ideology of his parents." At no point in the article does he advocate murder. True, he doesn't express condemnation of them, but do we really expect any 22 year old to recognize the criminality of his parents? He's quite obviously softened it down into "oh, they had good intentions" or something; he'll get over it.

Yes, the NYT could have done better by reflecting on the children of the people his parents murdered, but that just means the journalist could have done better. I have no idea what the relevance of this is for Liberalism, or the New York Times in general.

I'm also not certain why the Rhodes scholarship should be withheld based on ideology, which Yoffe explicitly favors. His ideology also appears to be that the wars on terrorism and communism were wrong, which isn't *that* beyond the pale.

Oh, and Emily's definitely upset about the son getting the reward, not the article; how else do you explain this?

Has no one ever told this young man that communism oppressed millions? Was he too busy reading the profile of his adoptive father—himself a terrorist —on Sept. 11 to understand the significance of that day? Is his really the kind of "potential for leadership"—as described by Elliot Gerson of the Rhodes Scholarship Trust—that should be rewarded?

In summary: kid has blinders on about the basic criminality of his parents, thinks they're politically persecuted, and also shares their politics (without the murdering bits). Knock me over with a feather.....

Posted by: Jason McCullough on December 11, 2002 02:20 PM

as for grade inflation being easy.. thats just because liberal arts schools and courses are useless...

engineering programs rigourously apply a bell curve, where the average for each course should be between 70-75%.. the prof catches hell from the department for going above this average... this is mainly because engineers actually have to apply their skills and schools are subject to licensure and investigation of their practices... they MUST keep a rational grade distribution, no matter what kind of students they admit, they have to fail some percentage of them...

Posted by: Libertarian Uber Alles on December 11, 2002 02:32 PM

Jason McCullough writes, "I confess I have no idea what Yoffe is so upset about;..."

Well, I assume you already read it, but how about *this*:

"They will read of their son's accomplishment in the newspaper, instead, and it may be days before they can congratulate him."

Do you suppose the NY Times gives any thought to how many days it will be before those 9 fatherless kids will be congratulated by *their* fathers? Probably more than "maybe days," wouldn't you expect?

Or this:

"Now I'm not angry," he said, "I'm sad that my parents have to suffer what they have to suffer on a daily basis, that millions of other people have to suffer as well."

How wonderful that he's "not angry" anymore! But do you suppose he includes, in those "millions of other people (that) have to suffer as well"...the 3 widows and 9 fatherless kids that his parents created?

"Among the other winners announced today are Kamyar Cyrus Habib, a Columbia University student from Kirkland, Wash., who is a black belt in karate, a downhill skier and a published photographer — as well as blind;..."

And it doesn't trouble you that Mr. Habib gets a single independent clause (not even a sentence!) while Mr. Boudin gets an entire article?

Mr. McCullough continues, "And my ass he's 'embraced the ideology of his parents.'"

What do you call this: "We have a different name for the war we're fighting now — now we call it the war on terrorism, then they called it the war on communism," Mr. Boudin said. "My parents were all dedicated to fighting U.S. imperialism around the world. I'm dedicated to the same thing."

Isn't being "dedicated to the same thing" as his parents, the same as "embracing their ideology?"

Perhaps you think he didn't "embrace their ideology," because he didn't say, "I'm dedicated to the same thing...including robbing and killing the imperialist/capitalist pigs!"?

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 11, 2002 03:17 PM

Excuse me: he agrees with all or part of his parent's ideology, but doesn't advocate murder. Little difference there.

Last time I checked, it was legal to be a marxist, or fascist, or whatever; also doesn't disqualify you from receiving a Rhodes scholarship.

'And it doesn't trouble you that Mr. Habib gets a single independent clause (not even a sentence!) while Mr. Boudin gets an entire article?'

Do you think an article on Habib would be as interesting, or interesting enough to justify the front page of the NYT?

So what are you pissed about: Boudin's ideology (no big deal), Boudin's defense of his parents (no big deal), the NYT's refusal to attack him for the two previous items, or the NYT's lack of information about the children of his parent's victims?

The last one is the only valid ground for objection that I see, and it's not *that* big of a deal.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on December 11, 2002 03:39 PM

This comment of mine doesn't speak directly to the main argument--that college-educated New York Times readers don't rub shoulders with security guards--which is by and large truer than it should be. But it is not nearly as true as Charles Murray would have you believe.

So let me drop into professor mode...

Re:

>>The following is from page 47 of the _The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life_: "Think of your twelve closest friends or colleagues. For most readers of this book, a large majority will be college graduates. Does it surprise you to learn that the odds of having even half of them be college graduates are only six in a thousand, if people were randomly paired off? Many of you will not think it odd that half or more of the dozen have advanced degrees. But the odds against finding such a result among a random chosen group of twelve Americans is actually more than a million to one." <<

Alas! This paragraph is false--the American Enterprise Institute did a *real* disservice in publishing and pushing _The Bell Curve_.

The 1995 _Statistical Abstract of the United States_ tells us that back in 1994, of persons 25 years or older, 22.2 had a bachelor's degree or more (and 29.2 percent had at least an associate's degree), and 7.5 percent had an advanced degree.

Using these numbers, Pascal's triangle, and simple combinatorics, then if you interpret "college graduate" to include associate's degrees the chance that six or more of twelve randomly-selected adults will have college degrees (or higher) is not six in a thousand but 110 in a thousand. If you restrict "college graduate" to bachelor's degrees (or higher), the odds are 30 in a thousand. And for advanced degrees? The odds are not one in a million, but 1.1 in a thousand.

Why do Herrnstein and Murray get their calculations of probabilities off by ludicrous factors--a factor of 18 in one case, 5 in a second, and 1100 in a third? And why has Murray never corrected his page 47?

The only explanation ever advanced was that Murray is both not very good and very, very sloppy, that he knows he lost the academic audience long ago, but he still thinks that impressive-sounding numbers win him influence among those who don't have the time or the energy or the tools to check his footnotes, or who merely trust the AEI's warrant of quality, and that admission of error is a worse rhetorical strategy than simple stonewalling.


Brad DeLong


Posted by: Brad DeLong on December 11, 2002 04:25 PM

"Last time I checked, it was legal to be a marxist, or fascist, or whatever; also doesn't disqualify you from receiving a Rhodes scholarship."

It also doesn't disqualify you from getting an extremely sympathetic article from the New York Times. Even though the reason the NY Times is writing about him at all is because he is a Marxist whose Marxist parents robbed and murdered for their cause.

"Do you think an article on Habib would be as interesting, or interesting enough to justify the front page of the NYT?"

Well, an article on Habib wouldn't be nearly so "creepy"...as Brad DeLong properly puts it. Is "creepy" the same as "interesting?" And it certainly wouldn't suit the left-wing bias of the NYT. So it doesn't surprise me that they didn't go with Habib.

"So what are you pissed about:..."

"Boudin's ideology..."---->No. I'm not pissed that a young man is filled with leftist stupidity. Especially considering what I know about the public school system. Not to mention his adoptive parents and parents.

"Boudin's defense of his parents..."---->I wouldn't be pissed by a "defense" of his parents, if that "defense" was along the lines of, "My parents did a bad thing, but I don't think they're bad people." But he doesn't really "defend" his parents, because he makes absolutely no mention of why they're in prison. In fact, his attitude is that it's wrong that they're even *in* prison! (Why else would he previously been "angry"?)

And the NYT seems to have the same attitude! (That this young man and his parents are the only ones suffering.)

"...or the NYT's lack of information about the children of his parent's victims?"

No, it's the complete lack of acknowledgement that ANYONE may be suffering, except for Mr. Boudin, his parents, and "millions of others."

"The last one is the only valid ground for objection that I see, and it's not *that* big of a deal."

You're right. It's certainly not as big a deal as Marxist murderers not being able to share in the triumph of their son for "maybe days!"

There's no real human interest in contrasting what may have happened in the lives of children who his parents left fatherless, anyway. They're probably just pigs, like their fathers.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 11, 2002 04:44 PM

“Last time I checked, it was legal to be a marxist, or fascist, or whatever; also doesn't disqualify you from receiving a Rhodes scholarship.”

The Rhodes Scholarship Trust ostensibly provides scholarships to those deemed future leaders. Chesa Boudin states his pride in his parents dedication in “fighting U.S. imperialism around the world.” This is a very evil utterance considering the sins of these two convicted murderers. Being a Liberal is truly never having to say you’re sorry for the evil that you have caused. Does anybody really think that a member of the Ku Klux Klan or a self described fascist would be treated similarly by the Rhodes foundation?

I’m sorry but I see no reason to cut the young man any slack. You will have to forgive me, but I think that Liberals should have to earn what they get. The fraudulent degree programs of Harvard University are only the tip of the iceberg.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 11, 2002 04:58 PM

“Using these numbers, Pascal's triangle, and simple combinatorics, then if you interpret "college graduate" to include associate's degrees the chance that six or more of twelve randomly-selected adults will have college degrees (or higher) is not six in a thousand but 110 in a thousand. If you restrict "college graduate" to bachelor's degrees (or higher), the odds are 30 in a thousand. And for advanced degrees? The odds are not one in a million, but 1.1 in a thousand.”

I will be glad to go along with Brad DeLong’s figures. They seem far more plausible than those of Charles Murray and the late Richard Herrnstein. Still, a sound argument can be made that the New York Times journalist considers Brinks security guards as something akin to space aliens.

PS: The irony is that I strongly criticized "The Bell Curve." I just thought the authors might have at least something right in the book.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 11, 2002 05:19 PM

...a Liberal (of the same ilk as the Weathermen)

I'm sorry, I couldn't read past this point in the thread, because my brain exploded.

The Weathermen... so much as mentioned in the same sentence with the word Liberal??? By someone, moreover, who shows every sign of otherwise speaking the English language?

Gah! I can't take this much verbal pollution. The Weathermen were a bunch of weirdo far-left quasi-Marxist violent fringe lunatics, way the hell to the left of Nader, about as representative of liberals as, as... as Tim McVeigh is of conservatives.

Look, guys. Everywhere else in the world, "Liberal" means sensible, socially responsible, wanting a social safety net to the extent that it's decently affordable, tempering the excesses of capitalism... that sort of generous, perfectly reasonable position. It's a region near the centre of a nation's political landscape. How did you ever get suckered into letting your opponents attach the word to extremists? Why do you knuckle under like that? Why doesn't your real left wing have a generic label of its own? Make one up, it's not that hard to coin a word. Chomsky isn't a liberal, for crying out loud...

Ahh, it's no use. I go along thinking I pretty much understand, and then every so often something like this comes along. Don't mind me. I'll just go off to the emergency ward to reassemble my skull.

Posted by: Canadian Reader on December 11, 2002 05:40 PM

I applaud your desire to restrict the interpretation of Liberalism to “that sort of generous, perfectly reasonable position. It's a region near the centre of a nation's political landscape.” Regretfully, however, I hope when they reassemble your skull that they point out that you don’t own the copyright to the term Liberal. Noam Chomsky describes himself as a Liberal and so do the Weathermen. Did I ever tell you that life is fair? Also, are you bigger than Chomsky? He may wish to beat you up for excommunicating him from the Liberal fold.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 11, 2002 06:12 PM

'And the NYT seems to have the same attitude! (That this young man and his parents are the only ones suffering.)'

I beg to disagree. I don't see any sympathy for the parents. And, of course, it's not the son's fault his parents killed some people, is it?

'You're right. It's certainly not as big a deal as Marxist murderers not being able to share in the triumph of their son for "maybe days!"'

'Being a Liberal is truly never having to say you’re sorry for the evil that you have caused.'

.....and being a conservative means you can't make subtle distinctions, apparently. "Doesn't like the war on terror or the war against communism (not sure about what he objects to in that one, specifically)" isn't the same as "Klan member." Do go on conflating his unpopular views and killer parents into a defamation suite, though.

'The Weathermen were a bunch of weirdo far-left quasi-Marxist violent fringe lunatics, way the hell to the left of Nader, about as representative of liberals as, as... as Tim McVeigh is of conservatives.'

Good summary.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on December 11, 2002 06:30 PM

“And, of course, it's not the son's fault his parents killed some people, is it?”

The only thing I care about his admiration for these murderers. And yes, I expect to hear him condemn his parents for their crimes. It is also fair to speculate that this Rhodes Scholar "leader” of the future agrees completely with his parents’ actions.

I also was not the one asserted that “Last time I checked, it was legal to be a marxist, or fascist, or whatever; also doesn't disqualify you from receiving a Rhodes scholarship.” My point is that the almost certainly ultra-Liberal Rhodes Foundation might give a scholarship to an avowed Marxist, but not to a Klan member. However, both the Marxists and the KKK are equally responsible for causing much horror and bloodshed. Anybody who is a Marxist deserves the contempt of their fellow citizens. The same hold trues of a KKK member.

The Rhodes Scholarship organization is probably like the MacArthur Foundation. Only Liberals will get any money. Embracing Liberalism is often just a cowardly way of making sure you're financially taken care of. They know which way the wind blows. By the way, when will the Democrat party have the guts to put the trial lawyers in their place? Or for that matter, Jessie Jackson?

Posted by: David Thomson on December 11, 2002 07:25 PM

"Noam Chomsky describes himself as a Liberal and so do the Weathermen."

Nice try. Where do the Weathermen (do they still exist?) describe themselves as "liberal"? Groups like the Weathermen, Black Panthers, etc., hated liberals for precisely the characteristics described by Canadian Reader.

Also, you never did explain why you insist on capitalizing "Liberals." Do you mean something different than the uncapitalized version of that word? It is a little confusing.

Posted by: nameless on December 11, 2002 08:57 PM

>>I should also add that this is why so many Liberals became enamored over the inane theories of the deconstructionists. Jacques Derrida and his fellow intellectually shallow buffoons provided an superb excuse for grade inflation. <<

I merely note in passing that this is yet another instance of Mr Thomson trying to pretend to have read a book he hasn't read, something which can get you chucked out of a good university.

Posted by: dsquared on December 11, 2002 10:59 PM

'And yes, I expect to hear him condemn his parents for their crimes.'

Oh, good god. Well, my comments on this are done.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on December 12, 2002 12:44 AM

“I merely note in passing that this is yet another instance of Mr Thomson trying to pretend to have read a book he hasn't read, something which can get you chucked out of a good university.”

The deconstructionist are nothing more than dabblers in gobbledegook. It is a scandal that any university ever took such gibberish seriously. The fact that they did only proves how much fraud is going on. I strongly recommend that everyone read “The Sokal Hoax: The Sham That Shook the Academy (further information: http://skepdic.com/sokal.html).” What did I say before? It’s time for Liberals to earn what they get. Is it my problem that so many of them lack intellectual integrity?

Posted by: David Thomson on December 12, 2002 04:06 AM

Wow, speaking of Jacques Derrida. I found this only minutes after posting my last comments:

“Paris, 2004: French President Jacques Chirac said today that he would not issue a statement denouncing an alleged anti-Semitic riot in a Paris suburb. He said that it would be one-sided to issue such a denunciation without also denouncing what he called the far greater threat of anti-Muslim riots. He denied that he was influenced in his decision by the reluctance of American university presidents to endorse a plea for tolerance that cited only anti-Semitism. He said that he was inspired instead by the writings of Jacques Derrida, a French postmodernist philosopher.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-strauss121102.asp

Posted by: David Thomson on December 12, 2002 04:24 AM

Barry Strauss is indulging in a bit of tongue in cheek. Still, I can easily imagine Jacques Chirac uttering such sentiments in a few years down the road.

"'And yes, I expect to hear him condemn his parents for their crimes.'

Oh, good god."

Does anyone really doubt that Jason McCullough would demand a condemnation from the young man if his parents were Nazis? Are Communists supposedly not as evil as the Nazis? I have also always found it hysterical that an Eric Hobsbawm is tolerated within the halls of academe. This man is no more than a defender of pure evil.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 12, 2002 04:42 AM

David, since 6.12pm on Dec 11, you have:

1) Claimed that Noam Chomsky describes himself as a liberal, which is quite simply untrue

2) Pretended to knowledge of Jacque Derrida's works which you do not possess

3) Had the temerity to accuse others of lacking "intellectual integrity" when the context was me calling you for a second offence of pretending to have read books you hadn't read.

4) Confused deconstructionism with postmodernism in implying that the editors of "Social Text" were deconstructionists.

5) Humiliatingly failed to notice that you have posted a "news item" dated 2004 (in which the equally ignorant author also manages to confuse postmodernism and deconstructionism)

6) In trying to cover up your mistake, failed to notice that Chirac is a political conservative and would not typically have anything good to say about Derrida

I count a rough average of one blindingly boneheaded statement every three hours, not bad when one considers that you quite probably do not post in your sleep. Do you not think that if you thought a bit more before posting, you might embarrass yourself less? Try counting to twenty or something.

In related news, am I the only one to find it a bit ironic that people who are demanding condemnation of murders from this young man are also excoriating him for not living up to the ideals of Cecil Rhodes? To be quite frank, a quick glance at what Rhodes actually did with his life would suggest that the only living people suitable for a Rhodes scholarship would be Osama bin Laden and Idi Amin!

Posted by: dsquared on December 12, 2002 06:28 AM

When David Thompson claims that the Weathermen describe themselves as "liberals", he shows that he is the true intellectual heir of Charles Murray. In other words, he is making a statement that is factually untrue, and he is making it either because he is completely ignorant of the truth, or he doesn't care. If there was one thing that distinguished the Weathermen it was their outspoken contempt for liberals who believed in democracy and free speech. The Weathermen's program explicitly called for violent revolution because they regarded liberal democracy as hopelessly corrupt. Everyone who has ever thought about or read about that era knows that. Only a fool could think otherwise

Posted by: Paul Gottlieb on December 12, 2002 06:39 AM

“1) Claimed that Noam Chomsky describes himself as a liberal, which is quite simply untrue”

This is total rubbish. Chomsky definitely describes himself as a Liberal. You need to argue with him if you disagree.

“2) Pretended to knowledge of Jacque Derrida's works which you do not possess

3) Had the temerity to accuse others of lacking "intellectual integrity" when the context was me calling you for a second offence of pretending to have read books you hadn't read.

4) Confused deconstructionism with postmodernism in implying that the editors of "Social Text" were deconstructionists.”

Both postmodernism and deconstructionism are examples of anti-intellectualism. There is simply little reason to make a distinction between the two. No self respecting person should have a bit of respect for this junk. However, the shameless pseudo intellectuals of many of our universities were never trained to think and follow a logical argument. I prefer playing the role of the child who clearly sees that the emperor is wearing no clothes. It’s not my problem that these fools want to pretend they are serious people.

“5) Humiliatingly failed to notice that you have posted a "news item" dated 2004 (in which the equally ignorant author also manages to confuse postmodernism and deconstructionism)”

You failed to read the very next post where I added this clarification:

“Barry Strauss is indulging in a bit of tongue in cheek. Still, I can easily imagine Jacques Chirac uttering such sentiments in a few years down the road. “

“6) In trying to cover up your mistake, failed to notice that Chirac is a political conservative and would not typically have anything good to say about Derrida”

Chirac is a reactionary clown who has little in common with conventional conservatives. He is also shallow man who will probably do little to save France from the abyss. However, he does describe himself as a conservative--and there’s not much I can do about that.

“In related news, am I the only one to find it a bit ironic that people who are demanding condemnation of murders from this young man are also excoriating him for not living up to the ideals of Cecil Rhodes?”To be quite frank, a quick glance at what Rhodes actually did with his life would suggest that the only living people suitable for a Rhodes scholarship would be Osama bin Laden and Idi Amin!”

It is not particularly relevant what moral values were originally espoused by Cecil Rhodes. All that truly matters is how the Rhodes Foundation currently perceives its role in the financing of our future intellectual leaders.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 12, 2002 08:14 AM

“When David Thompson claims that the Weathermen describe themselves as "liberals", he shows that he is the true intellectual heir of Charles Murray. In other words, he is making a statement that is factually untrue, and he is making it either because he is completely ignorant of the truth, or he doesn't care. If there was one thing that distinguished the Weathermen it was their outspoken contempt for liberals who believed in democracy and free speech. The Weathermen's program explicitly called for violent revolution because they regarded liberal democracy as hopelessly corrupt. Everyone who has ever thought about or read about that era knows that. Only a fool could think otherwise.”

You have half a legitimate argument. The Weathermen were definitely contemptuous toward mainstream Liberals. Still, these radicals considered themselves as Leftists. It is absurd to claim otherwise.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 12, 2002 08:30 AM

Chomsky describes himself as an anarchist and has done for about twenty years.

>>There is simply little reason to make a distinction between the two. No self respecting person should have a bit of respect for this junk. <<

Haha haha haha. "Intellectual integrity" appears to mean, in the world of Thomson, the following attributes:

1) Not reading something
2) Making false statements about what you have not read
3) Condemning the authors of books you have not read on the basis of false statements made by yourself.

As I say, this is the kind of behaviour that gets you kicked out of any decent university.

>>You failed to read the very next post where I added this clarification:<<

No, I noticed it with hilarity. If there was a clarification to be made, why not make it in the "very same post" rather than "the very next post". To do what you did gives rise to the reasonable suspicion that you posted before thinking, then saw the date, then tried to cover your ass, and I for one will not be giving you the benefit of the doubt. Take my advice and count to twenty next time.

Posted by: dsquared on December 12, 2002 08:43 AM

I am reminded of the late John Cage and his ridiculous “4'33".” This con artist recorded four minutes and thirty three seconds of total silence---and there were a lot of idiots who pretended that this was somehow intellectually profound. I can’t help it if so many self described Liberals are without honor and integrity. It’s time to make sure these clowns earn what they get.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 12, 2002 08:44 AM

For reference on the topic of Chomsky "referring to himself as a liberal":

>>Mr. SHORR: Let me get back to the issue of propaganda. Again, people like Newt Gingrich will point to the media in this country and label them the "liberal, cultural elite media," saying that the major networks, for example, are part of the -- are liberal, in essence.

Mr. CHOMSKY: I agree with him. They're liberals, but the liberals are the main commissars. I mean, the liberals are the ones who set the bounds, saying this far and no further. So, the liberals are supposed to say we must balance the budget, but I think eight years, not seven years. Or, the liberals will say, well, yeah, it was a noble enterprise to go into Vietnam, but I think maybe we made a mistake, you know. That's the role of the liberal media.

If you want to talk about the truth about the world, you can't possibly get it through the liberal media, that's not their role. So, Newt Gingrich is right and, in fact, it's smart for him to denounce the liberal media because that makes it look -- it's a mutually supportive game. They love to be denounced from the right, and the right loves to denounce them, because that makes them look like courageous defenders of freedom and independence while, in fact, they are imposing all of the presuppositions of the propaganda system. <<

http://www.cdi.org/adm/Transcripts/923/

Posted by: dsquared on December 12, 2002 08:46 AM

Noam Chomsky describes himself as a "libertarian socialist." I concede that after awhile this stuff gets very confusing. Nonetheless, the fact that Chomsky criticizes Liberals who are more moderate than himself does not negate the fact that he considers himself as something of a Leftist.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 12, 2002 08:59 AM

1:
“1) Claimed that Noam Chomsky describes himself as a liberal, which is quite simply untrue”

This is total rubbish. Chomsky definitely describes himself as a Liberal. You need to argue with him if you disagree.

Posted by David Thomson at December 12, 2002 08:14 AM


2:

Noam Chomsky describes himself as a "libertarian socialist." I concede that after awhile this stuff gets very confusing. Nonetheless, the fact that Chomsky criticizes Liberals who are more moderate than himself does not negate the fact that he considers himself as something of a Leftist.

Posted by David Thomson at December 12, 2002 08:59 AM


What a distance to travel in the short space of 3/4 of an hour!

Chomsky went from 'definitely Liberal' to 'Libertarian Socialist (confusing)' to 'something of a Leftist'.

Fact of the matter is, Chomsky does not appear to 'consider himself' anything. He says what he thinks which are mostly Libertarian (he even drew praise from Ayn Rand for his criticism of Skinner). Others 'consider him' to be this and that.

Posted by: on December 12, 2002 10:14 AM

"You have half a legitimate argument. The Weathermen were definitely contemptuous toward mainstream Liberals. Still, these radicals considered themselves as Leftists. It is absurd to claim otherwise."

"Nonetheless, the fact that Chomsky criticizes Liberals who are more moderate than himself does not negate the fact that he considers himself as something of a Leftist."

Nobody said they weren't "leftists." We said they weren't "liberals." You claimed that they described themselves as liberals and you were wrong. Now you try to pretend that your point was that they were leftists.

Words have particular meanings and we should try to use them correctly if we care about honest use of the English language. You apparently do not.

Instead, you repeatedly attempt to smear liberals by:(1) accusing liberals of not holding good-faith beliefs; (2) blaming liberals for grade inflation; (3)implying that radical fringe groups like the Weathermen are liberals; (4) accusing "so many" liberals of lacking honor and integrity; and (5) gratuitously sprinkling your comments with innuendo about the evils of liberalism. Do you hope that if you repeat such things often enough people will believe liberals and liberalism are evil?

Also, the fact that you mention deconstructionists and the Sokal Hoax together leads me to believe that you do not truly understand what deconstruction was. Do you care to explain what your understanding of deconstruction is?

Not that I would expect an answer; you still haven't explained why you use "Liberal" as a proper noun, contrary to ordinary usage.


Posted by: nameless on December 12, 2002 10:25 AM

'Does anyone really doubt that Jason McCullough would demand a condemnation from the young man if his parents were Nazis?'

Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in.

Dang it, this isn't about ideology, it's about people *siding with their relatives*. Sheesh. I wouldn't be too disapproving of Kissinger's kids being unable to understand his crimes, either.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on December 12, 2002 10:34 AM

I don't think it's possible to continue to pretend that Thompson's constant confusion over the terms "liberal" and "leftist" anything other than a dishonest rhetorical ploy--and a fairly lame one at that. Stalin was not a liberal, Mao was not a liberal, Enver Hoxha was not a liberal, Trent Lott is not a liberal, Rush Limbaugh is not a liberal. Some of the people I just listed are authoritarian leftists, some are right-wing nitwits, but none of them are liberals. This stuff is not that hard.

Posted by: Paul Gottlieb on December 12, 2002 12:24 PM

"Dang it, this isn't about ideology, it's about people *siding with their relatives*. Sheesh. I wouldn't be too disapproving of Kissinger's kids being unable to understand his crimes, either."

I'm sorry but I expect more from a Rhodes scholar. Does he have to describe his parents as @#$%@ scum bags? No, but a future leader should be able to at least subtly tell us that these two murderers are guilty of inexcusable behavior. After all, they carried out this crime in a cold blooded manner. This is not a grey issue. As matter of fact, isn't that what leadership is all about?

Posted by: David Thomson on December 12, 2002 12:52 PM

“Noam Chomsky
(Liberal Activist)
Mario Cuomo
(NY Governor, 1982-94)
Clint Eastwood
(Mayor and activist)
Jane Fonda
(Liberal activist)

http://www.issues2000.org/”

The issues2000 website described both Noam Chomsky and Jane Fonda as Liberal activists. Is that fair? Oh well, at least you know how conservatives feel when Adolph Hitler is called a right-winger when he was actually the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party. Gosh, should I expect that you will soon expend some energy to set the record straight regarding the Fuhrer? Should I hold my breath?

Posted by: David Thomson on December 12, 2002 01:11 PM

“Also, the fact that you mention deconstructionists and the Sokal Hoax together leads me to believe that you do not truly understand what deconstruction was.”

Gosh, maybe it’s because Alan Sokol stated the following:

“But why did I do it? I confess that I'm an unabashed Old Leftist who never quite understood how deconstruction was supposed to help the working class. And I'm a stodgy old scientist who believes, naively, that there exists an external world, that there exist objective truths about that world, and that my job is to discover some of them.”

“Do you care to explain what your understanding of deconstruction is?”

This is what I wrote a few years ago on the Amazon.com community board:

"Fish is Right: Censorship is Intrinsically Unavoidable, July 2, 2000
Top 500 Reviewer Reviewer: David Thomson (see more about me) from Houston, TX USA

Stanley Fish takes advantage of the fact that many people fail to grasp an essential aspect regarding all human communities: censorship is unavoidable and intrinsic. It is inherently impossible to do otherwise. The only legitimate question is how extensive and invasive the censorship of the society will be. We are all censors and somebody will ultimately decide if and when someone has gone too far in violating the values that the overall group considers heretical. It's only a question where one draws the line. Everybody practices censorship. All societies must select and impose the values considered non negotiable. Heretics of either religious or secular dogmas are always punished. The philosophical premises of Logical Positivism are insufficient to underpin our democratic culture. Reasonable certitude is epistemologically the best humans can achieve. "Political correctness" is actually a neutral term. The only real debate is over the situations demanding tacit or explicit prohibition. Language is intrinsically nebulous. The meanings of words mutate endlessly. So what? Deconstructionism is merely the mistaken notion that since words cannot be preserved from inevitable change that logically we cannot oppose the forces of Nihilism. We might, for example, feel yucky about the murder of innocents in a concentration camp, but this is mere sentiment and not the result of rational thinking. Fish is simply taking advantage of our society's preference to indulge in self delusion. Many feel reluctant to admit that our values are rarely absolute and there are indeed times when they must appropriately be abandoned. The occasional exception, it is mistakenly perceived, always precariously places us on the slippery slope leading to Armageddon. The late Sidney Hook was one of the few who even dared to tackle the dilemma surrounding the paradoxes of democracy. An unspoken Taboo prevents many others from even admitting a problem exists. .

Stanley Fish admittedly has half a point to make when claiming that hiring practices are rarely an exercise in total objectivity and meritocracy. Such decisions made by flesh and blood human beings will indeed be flawed. Subconsciously, if not even consciously, factors such as class, race, gender, etc. may play a disturbing and invalid role. Nonetheless, Fish seemingly pushes his argument to the point of absurdity. The real answer, of course, is that human beings must learn to confront their prejudices and develop the virtuous habits to overcome them. Stanley Fish is merely building a career around the fact that prudential judgment, and not a hard-science absolutism, underpins our decision making. He is something of a con man who exaggerates his main points to deceive us regarding their ultimate value. Perhaps others can perceive the debate over Fish as merely an abstract intellectual exercise of no real importance to the real world. I am not one of these people. Deconstructionism asserts that human beings cannot achieve reasonable certitude in their decision making. The underpinnings of this epistemology destroy any hope of building a democratic society. The result is that we must ultimately rely on pure brute force. One possesses power not because of the ability to persuade others---but you can kick the crap out of them!"

Posted by: David Thomson on December 12, 2002 01:36 PM

Whoa, David, you brought John Cage's 4'33" into it. It's an interesting topic and I don't think you should either include it in a political discussion -- since it has no political content, nor any "content" as such, as Cage would claim -- or write it off so quickly. It's actually an interesting thought piece. BTW, the piece hasn't been recorded (it would defeat the purpose) and certainly wasn't premiered that way.

Posted by: JT on December 12, 2002 02:36 PM

Canadian Reader writes, "Look, guys. Everywhere else in the world, 'Liberal' means sensible, socially responsible, wanting a social safety net to the extent that it's decently affordable, tempering the excesses of capitalism..."

And what in the world does that have to do with liberty? (Or the latin root, "liber," meaning "free.")

http://www.geocities.com/etymonline/l3etym.htm

"How did you ever get suckered into letting your opponents attach the word to extremists?"

How did REAL liberals (proponents of liberty) get suckered into letting Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson get attached to the word "liberal?"

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 12, 2002 03:03 PM

"How did REAL liberals (proponents of liberty) get suckered into letting Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson get attached to the word "liberal?""

Ain't that the truth. I suspect that Lord Acton and Adam Smith would have been outraged by the “theft” of the term Liberal by Franklin Delano “New Dealer” Roosevelt and Lyndon "Great Society" Johnson. Yup, there would be some serious but kicking!

Posted by: David Thomson on December 12, 2002 03:27 PM

Jason McCullough (12/11, 6:30 PM) writes, "I beg to disagree. I don't see any sympathy for the parents."

I'm not surprised you don't! I'll point it out again, but I'm sure you *still* won't see it:

"Though Mr. Boudin has rigged his dorm room at Yale University to override the block on collect calls, neither parent was able to connect with him today. They will read of their son's accomplishment in the newspaper, instead, and it may be days before they can congratulate him."

Have pity on the poor murderers, who will be forced (by the unfair prison system) to read about their son's accomplishment in the newspaper! And it "may be days before they can congratulate him."

Now, most people would find that "creepy," if not downright infuriating. After all, how long will it take for those dead policemen and security guard to learn about what *their* children have accomplished, or to congratulate *their* children?

But I don't expect you to see it that way. To you, I'm sure it's just the unbiased NYT, reporting the facts.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 12, 2002 03:30 PM

Of Noam Chomsky: "He says what he thinks which are mostly Libertarian..."

Good L@rd! Them's fightin' words, fella!

Noam Chomsky supported RALPH NADER for President!

http://www.commondreams.org/views/110100-102.htm

In a informal poll of approximately 200 Libertarian Party members, who was voted the "Most Hated" politician in America?

Ralph Nader. (Motto: "You think you've seen left wing dictators? Elect me, and I'll show you a REAL left wing dictator!")

Mark Bahner (*real* Libertarian)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 12, 2002 03:46 PM

“BTW, the piece (4'33") hasn't been recorded (it would defeat the purpose) and certainly wasn't premiered that way.”

Tell that to this dude:

“Frank Zappa does 4'33" on 'A Chance Operation: A John Cage Tribute'.
You can hear him opening and closing the piano (to signify when the
piece begins and ends). It was recorded in a studio (I asumme) because
there isn't much ambient noise.

I was reading some silly '92 wrap-up article which mentioned how,
in honor or Cage's recent passing, someone (in the UK) had released
a CD single of 4'33", priced 4.33 pounds (not sure how to notate this..).
I assume it was just 4 minutes and 33 seconds of zeros, but maybe not.
It may have just been a rumor.”

http://www.newalbion.com/artists/cagej/silence/html/1995q4/0092.html

“...topic and I don't think you should either include it in a political discussion -- since it has no political content”

I think some guy named George Orwell might disagree with you. He once wrote some stuff on “Politics and the English Language”:

http://www.resort.com/~prime8/Orwell/patee.html

Posted by: David Thomson on December 12, 2002 03:49 PM

"Words have particular meanings and we should try to use them correctly if we care about honest use of the English language. You apparently do not."

The word "liberal" has no meaning, because modern "liberals" have virtually no interest in "liberty"...which is the root of the word.

For every position on which "liberal" Al Gore supports "liberty"...I can name you two positions on which he does not:

1) The "wrong" people say the "wrong" things 30 days before a primary, or 60 days before an election? Al says, throw them in prison!

2) Sick or dying people think marijuana might help them...and even their DOCTORS are willing to prescribe it? Al Gore (aka, Mr. Authoritarian) needs to see more studies, before he can actually *follow the frigging Constitution* and allow the sick or dying people their marijuana.

3) Young people trapped in a "Social Security" Ponzi scheme (which would be illegal, if done by any private individual or group) and want to get out? Sorry...Al won't let them!

4) Don't want to see your hard-earned tax money going to Archer Daniels Midland, in a big, fat ethanol subsidy? Sorry, your money is really Al's.

5) Don't want to see your hard-earned money squandered by unconstitutional federal spending on education? Instead, you want to keep the money in your pocket, so you can spend that money locally? Sorry, once again, your money is really Al's!

Etc. etc. etc. The list is endless.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 12, 2002 04:05 PM

"True, he doesn't express condemnation of them, but do we really expect any 22 year old to recognize the criminality of his parents? "

Oh, come on! It's not like he's a child, for crying out loud. The answer is that we'd damn well better expect full-fledged adults to recognize criminal behavior and to disapprove of it.

Posted by: Kenneth Uildriks on December 12, 2002 06:06 PM

Okay, I think I've got the ol' skull patched together again, but here I am, bravely risking another brain meltdown...

DT, thanks for pointing out the issues2000 website. Interesting, and very thorough, analysis of the way the word "liberal" has been corrupted in American politics by dragging the entire political grid right-ward and mis-labelling the parts.

Do I have copyright on the word liberal? No, but neither does the American right-wing, who have been allowed to get away with an egregious re-definition within the borders of the USA: liberal has been turned into a synonym for the far left. This is a prime example of the use of language to assault one's opponents by depriving them of a name.

What liberal used to mean, and what it still means in the rest of the English-speaking world, is as I described in my previous comment.

In Canada, Noam Chomsky would be instantly recognizable as belonging to NDP territory. In no way would he be considered a Liberal, nor even a liberal. I think the Greens are the closest you've got to an NDP, except not so respectable, so it's no surprise to me that Chomsky endorsed Nader.

The Weathermen, the SDS, Weather Underground, Black Liberation Front... well (scratches head -- Ow! Not quite healed yet), actually, they wouldn't be anywhere on the political scale in Canada. About the closest we've ever had to them would be the FLQ, I guess. Yeah, that fits... same era, bunch of fanatics, some of whom turned terrorist. They used some muddle-headed left-wing rhetoric, but mainly they were Quebec nationalists who blamed their joblessness on Quebec being part of Canada, and couldn't stand it that the provincial Liberals had just won another election. In October 1970, the FLQ kidnapped, and murdered, the provincial cabinet minister of immigration and labour -- Pierre Laporte, Liberal.

So pardon me, but that's one reason I think making a distinction between liberals and the extreme left is important.

Of course Hitler wasn't right-wing! He and Stalin were both common garden-variety authoritarian thugs, not different from Pol Pot, or Idi Amin, or Mugabe, or Atilla, or Saddam, or Caligula, or any of thousands of that ilk who have afflicted mankind through history, except that those two happened to get their hands on the reins of a modern, industrial nation, which let them cause a great deal more trouble for the world. Let me repeat, in case you want it said louder: Hitler had nothing to do with left or right wing ideology; all he cared about was power. Okay?

Oh, and Mark, you've got "libertarian", already. You don't need to grab the word "liberal" too.

Posted by: Canadian Reader on December 12, 2002 08:13 PM

Once more, David "Intellectual Integrity" Thomson shoots his mouth off on subjects he doesn't understand:

>>I am reminded of the late John Cage and his ridiculous “4'33".” This con artist recorded four minutes and thirty three seconds of total silence<<

No he didn't. He did not "record" 4'33''. He scored it, and wrote copious performance notes. I know this because I've got the score at home. It's a Surrealist comment on the "background noise" of a concert hall.

Posted by: dsquared on December 13, 2002 12:00 AM

“So pardon me, but that's one reason I think making a distinction between liberals and the extreme left is important.”

You are right and I will try to be more careful in the future. Alas, it so much easier to throw out the term “Liberal” and not go through all the effort to add all those adjectives! Now I’m forced to describe a Noam Chomsky as some sort of “anarchist-libertarian-radical-nut ball.” Could somebody help me out? I am desperately seeking a one word description of Chomsky’s political beliefs. Could we somehow get together a million dollars and have a contest?

“Oh, and Mark, you've got "libertarian", already. You don't need to grab the word "liberal" too.”

Mark originally did own the word liberal! Almost certainly, the term Libertarian evolved because their opposites were confusing everyone by calling themselves Liberal.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 13, 2002 05:36 AM

"Once more, David "Intellectual Integrity" Thomson shoots his mouth off on subjects he doesn't understand:

>>I am reminded of the late John Cage and his ridiculous “4'33".” This con artist recorded four minutes and thirty three seconds of total silence<<

No he didn't. He did not "record" 4'33''. He scored it, and wrote copious performance notes. I know this because I've got the score at home. It's a Surrealist comment on the "background noise" of a concert hall."

Once more, David "Intellectual Integrity" Thomson shoots his mouth off on subjects he doesn't understand:

>>I am reminded of the late John Cage and his ridiculous “4'33".” This con artist recorded four minutes and thirty three seconds of total silence<<

No he didn't. He did not "record" 4'33''. He scored it, and wrote copious performance notes. I know this because I've got the score at home. It's a Surrealist comment on the "background noise" of a concert hall.

Why doesn’t it surprise me that you actually own a copy of John Cage’s score “4’33?” You likely represent .000000001% of the general population that can make this claim. Do you also possibly own some works by Piero Manzoni (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/06/30/nart30.xml)?

Posted by: David Thomson on December 13, 2002 05:50 AM

DT: I would have a stiff drink and relax. Try the tellie. OK, you found a recording of 4'33". I was unaware of it. So what? I'll be more exact: the piece has no specific content. It consists of ambient noise. Orwell has nothing to do with it. It isn't a "liberal" piece; if you're about to start equating a dirigiste welfare-state political orientation with experimental art, that is really dumb. Try thinking of the piece and what it means for a little while; it's actually an interesting concept.

Posted by: JT on December 13, 2002 06:31 AM

I'm from Australia. Here the current ruling party is the Liberal party. They're actually conservatives - in fact the Prime Minister describes himself as "the most conservative PM Australia has ever had". The main opposition party - the Labor party - was in government from 1983-1996 and slashed trade barriers, floated the currency, deregulated financial markets, strongly enforced anti-trust policy, sold off most government corporations, made the civil service contract out just about everything that could be, curbed the power of militant unions, cut minimum wages and taxes and tightened up the welfare system. They are nominally a socialist party!

Best not to get too hung up on these labels.

Posted by: derrida_derider on December 13, 2002 07:09 AM

More 'pick on DT' stuff:

"You likely represent .000000001% of the general population that can make this claim."

That would be 5 hundredth of one person (assuming a world population of 5 billion)!

The minimum number here should be 0.00000002%. anything smaller and you are talking body parts!

Nitpicking is such joy!

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on December 13, 2002 10:22 AM

DT, I suggest you call Chomsky a leftist intellectual. (He doesn't sound much like a libertarian to me.) Though I don't agree with all of his positions by a long shot -- I think he gets carried away with his ideology and needs to do a reality check way more often than he does -- I probably don't disagree quite as violently as you do.

So if you want to discuss why you think he's wrong in a specific instance, you'll do better at convincing me if you avoid calling him names, and just talk about the issue. Come to think of it, that's a good general principle for all political discourse, isn't it? More honored in the breech than the observance, of course, but still.

And derrida_derider: yes, the political landscape is everywhere full of pits, pendulums, and curious contradictions, wherein all expectations must eventually fail. Life is complicated; does anyone here disagree?

Posted by: Canadian Reader on December 13, 2002 10:46 AM

'The word "liberal" has no meaning, because modern "liberals" have virtually no interest in "liberty"...which is the root of the word.'

Oooh! Can I play?

The word "conservative" has no meaning, because modern "conservatives" have virtally no interest in conserving anything.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on December 13, 2002 11:47 AM

"The word "conservative" has no meaning, because modern "conservatives" have virtally no interest in conserving anything."

I'd say they generally have an interest in conserving:

1) big government,

2) outdated social mores, and

3) ties between religion and government, which are better off completely broken.

That's why I'm a liberal--a *real* liberal--not a conservative.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 13, 2002 04:51 PM

"Oooh! Can I play?"

Be my guest! In fact, I don't mind if you go to Free Republic or FrontPageMagazine.com, to bash conservatives. I do. :-)

Mark (as liberal as can be)

P.S. My bashing of conservatives should be understood to be bashing of "the majority of conservatives," or even "the vast majority of conservatives." Not *all* conservatives...as there are some with whom I'm in substantial agreement on many issues.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 13, 2002 04:56 PM

"Oh, and Mark, you've got "libertarian", already. You don't need to grab the word "liberal" too."

It's not a "grab." Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson and Ted Kennedy did the "grab."

John Locke (1632-1704) was a liberal...a REAL liberal:

http://www.heise.de/tp/english/inhalt/te/1343/1.html

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 13, 2002 05:07 PM

"Now I’m forced to describe a Noam Chomsky as some sort of “anarchist-libertarian-radical-nut ball.”"

There! See, that's why we ought to get "liberal" back! Because people call Noam Chomsky a "libertarian!" ;-)

(Or "anarchist." Where an "anarcho-capitalist," ala economist David Friedman, has a political philosophy that I can agree MIGHT be even better than Libertarian.)

Let's just call Noam Chomsky a Green.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 13, 2002 05:15 PM

I should have done this earlier. A quick spin around google for "liberal eytomology" shows that "liberty" isn't the root word.

Bartelby gives the eytomology as such:

"Middle English, generous, from Old French, from Latin lberlis, from lber, free. See leudh- in Appendix I."

And here and here describes that root in the context of free/educated men who devote themselves to studying the classics vs. labor.

I fail to see how you get libertarian anarchism out of this. That said, trying to redefine terms is something of a suckers game; have fun.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on December 13, 2002 07:48 PM

"So if you want to discuss why you think he's wrong in a specific instance, you'll do better at convincing me if you avoid calling him names, and just talk about the issue."

I wish it were that simple. Alas, there are times when labels do have to be used. This is simply a dilemma that is intrinsically unavoidable. We'll just have to do our best to be as accurate as possible.

This discussion, though, does highlight the central error of deconstructionism. We all concede that language is not a perfect tool to facilitate communication. It can sometimes be downright frustrating. Nonetheless, we are usually more than able to make the effort to ensure that our use of language is good enough to get the job done. A debate about whether someone is a liberal or an anarchist is something we can live with. The main thing, though, is that we can all agree that a banana is not a rose! There might be areas of gray, but there are also a lot of areas which are patently obvious and not confusing. The deconstructionists erroneously assert that we cannot truly distinguish between a banana and a rose. This inevitably results in nihilism--and the logical conclusion that democracies are unworkable. Please note that postmodernists/deconstructionist inevitably incline toward dictatorships.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 14, 2002 05:56 AM

>>This discussion, though, does highlight the central error of deconstructionism. <<

Yup, it's the one constant in life.

"Stands the church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?

... and is David "Intellectual Integrity" Thomson still shooting his gob off about subjects he doesn't understand?

>>deconstructionists erroneously assert that we cannot truly distinguish between a banana and a rose<<

No they don't, and unless you can come up with a single supporting quote, I'm going to assume that you're a big fat liar as well as an ignoramus. You might try trawling through the deconstructionist literature on the subject of Gertrude Stein, who was rather emphatic on the point of whether or not a rose is a rose is a rose.

>>Please note that postmodernists/deconstructionist inevitably incline toward dictatorships. <<

I'd hoped that you might have spent the weekend learning something about either postmodernism or deconstructionism (the "For Dummies" series does quite good introductions to both). But no. Again, evidence please, "Intellectual Integrity".

Posted by: dsquared on December 15, 2002 11:08 PM

“>>Please note that postmodernists/deconstructionist inevitably incline toward dictatorships. <<

I'd hoped that you might have spent the weekend learning something about either postmodernism or deconstructionism (the "For Dummies" series does quite good introductions to both). But no. Again, evidence please, "Intellectual Integrity".”

Where do I start? should I mention Michael Foucault’s disgusting adulation of Iran’s Ayatollah khomeini? Or better yet, what about Jean Paul Sartre’s contemptible boot licking of the Stalin regime? Has anybody ever heard of Martin Heidegger or Paul De Man---and their infatuation with the Nazis? Do I really need to continue? Even Stanley Fish’s milder version is antithetical to democracy when taken to its logical conclusion.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 16, 2002 01:40 PM

OK, "Intellectual Integrity", why don't we play a game? You name a "postmodernist" who has supported a dictatorship, and I'll name a member of the Republican Party who has supported a dictatorship while in office. First one to run out of candidates, has to kill himself. Deal?

Posted by: dsquared on December 17, 2002 01:46 AM

“OK, "Intellectual Integrity", why don't we play a game? You name a "postmodernist" who has supported a dictatorship, and I'll name a member of the Republican Party who has supported a dictatorship while in office. First one to run out of candidates, has to kill himself. Deal?”

There are no examples whatsoever of any Republican adoration of a dictatorship. Our elected leaders, though, are often placed between a rock and a hard place and must form alliances with some less than admirable people. The Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt rightfully did this during WWII with Joseph Stalin. Robert Kaplan splendidly deals with this theme in his “Warrior Politics.” The formation of pragmatic alliances is not the same thing as kissing the rear end of totalitarians. Michael Foucault, Jean Paul Sartre, Martin Heidegger, and Paul De Man adored dictatorships and considered them necessary in the evolution of humankind. Their actions were similar to the groupies who throw themselves at rock stars. I strongly recommend that everyone try to find a copy of David Lehman’s “Sign of the Times: Deconstructionism and the Fall of Paul De Man.”

Posted by: David Thomson on December 17, 2002 07:12 AM

>>re are no examples whatsoever of any Republican adoration of a dictatorship<<

Other than those run by Pinochet, Batista, Suharto, Fahd, Marcos, Trujillo, Duvalier, Somoza and many others lauded as "defenders of democracy" before the revisionists moved in.

Does the phrase "moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers" ring any bells, II? Because it is just as fair on these grounds to claim Ronald Reagan as a supporter of the Taliban as it is to claim that Foucault's 1978 dispatches from Iran represent an opinion on the Khomeini regime.

You don't know what you are talking about, Intellectual Integrity. You're just repeating other people's critiques which you have not perfectly understood, like a lazy student who reads the commentaries but not the texts. That is why you make mistakes all the time.

Posted by: dsquared on December 17, 2002 10:56 AM

“Other than those run by Pinochet, Batista, Suharto, Fahd, Marcos, Trujillo, Duvalier, Somoza and many others lauded as "defenders of democracy" before the revisionists moved in.”

You are obviously not paying attention. The examples you provided only substantiate my thesis. The American government in each and every instance cited were simply trying to make lemonade out of lemons. Robert Kaplan is right on target in reminding us that democratic governments are often confronted with awkward and less than perfect choices. This is why I mentioned my approval of Roosevelt’s partnership with Uncle Joe Stalin during WWII.

Martin Heidegger worshipped Adolph Hitler. He looked upon the Nazi Fuhrer as something of a god. The deconstructionist and their ilk get misty eyed and mushy when talking about the glories of a Castro, Stalin, of Khomeini.

Posted by: David Thomson on December 17, 2002 12:58 PM

>>The American government in each and every instance cited were simply trying to make lemonade out of lemons. <<

"The moral equivalent of the founding fathers".

Some lemonade. Some lemons.

Posted by: dsquared on December 17, 2002 11:28 PM

Jason McCullough (12/13, 7:48 PM) writes, "I should have done this earlier. A quick spin around google for "liberal eytomology" shows that "liberty" isn't the root word."

Heh, heh, heh! Rather than do your own research, and get the wrong answer, why not simply read my posts?

This whole issue started on December 12, when Canadian Reader wrote, "Canadian Reader writes, "Look, guys. Everywhere else in the world, 'Liberal' means sensible, socially responsible, wanting a social safety net to the extent that it's decently affordable, tempering the excesses of capitalism..."

I responded (December 12, 3:03 PM), "And what in the world does that have to do with liberty? (Or the latin root, 'liber,' meaning 'free.')"

The root word of both "liberal" and "liberty" is the Latin word, "liber," meaning "free." Not "generous" (with other people's money, of course) or "caring" (again, using other people's money."

The root of "liberal" is "liber," meaning "free." That's why libertarians (who actually care about freedom) are true liberals. And "liberals" (faux liberals, actually), as defined by Canadian Reader, have nothing to do with "liber."

Mr. McCullough continues, "I fail to see how you get libertarian anarchism out of this."

Heh, heh, heh. Notice how Mr. McCullough uses the phrase "libertarian anarchism," a contradictory phrase, which renders it essentially meaningless (except as a pejorative, which is all Mr. McCullough really wanted to convey, anyway). Someone who is a "libertarian" thinks that the only legitimate function of government is to protect people from physical harm or fraud by others. Someone who is an "anarchist" thinks that it's not necessary to have *any* government.

Again, the root word of "liberal" (and "liberty")is the Latin word, "liber," meaning "free." Since modern faux "liberals" don't really support freedom (certain not anywhere near as much as libertarians), modern faux "liberals" should stop destroying the meaning of the word, and use some other phrase to describe themselves. "Social democrats," perhaps? Modern faux liberals certainly don't care about liberty!

Here is a better page of the etymology of various "l" words:

http://www.geocities.com/etymonline/l3etym.htm

Note this important entry:

"...the purely political sense is c.1801, from Fr. libéral, applied by its opponents (with suggestions of foreign lawlessness) to the party favorable to individual political freedoms. Liberalism is 1819."

Modern faux "liberals" should using the word "liberal." It confuses people into thinking they care about liberty (freedom).

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 18, 2002 09:52 AM
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