Impermissible Ideas
Saint-Saëns: Septet Op. 65 for an Odd Combination of Instruments

A Bit More On Impermissible Ideas

This piece by Stanley Kurtz at National Review is a commentary on the very rapid growth of the belief, and subsequent practice, of left-wing journalists that views which they despise should not be heard. It's worth reading in its entirety, but here's how Kurtz ends it:

Classical liberalism arose to prevent murderous civil strife between those who could not agree on ultimate things—and who questioned each other’s good faith as a consequence. Throw aside the marketplace of ideas, throw aside even the aspiration to neutral reporting, and throw aside, on this account, the basic rights of those with whom we disagree, and we are back in the soup, back to the wars, back to the days before liberty and civil peace, the crowning achievements of our history, the history we’ve stopped celebrating—or even remembering. Is that what we want? Because that is where we are headed.

Back in 2015 or maybe early 2016, when I was younger and more innocent, I had a couple of conversations with left-of-center friends in which I asserted that the country was in a sort of cold civil war. They were dismissive. Looking back at those exchanges now, I think those people were entirely confident that Trump would lose and that the "arc of history" would continue to move in its mysteriously ordained progressive direction. I don't know if they would still scoff at the civil war notion; we don't talk anymore.

By the way, in case it isn't clear: I have not changed the views that I've expressed often here, that I favor the classical liberal ideal over most of the remotely possible alternatives. I have not boarded the Catholic Integralist train. I want to save the American system, not replace it, though saving it is certainly not a hope-filled project now. If you are interested, this post from fourteen years ago, "The Liberal Conservative," still stands. Some of it is dated now but the principles haven't changed.

I want very much to preserve liberal institutions, chiefly republican government and the republican concepts of citizenship, ordered liberty, and religious toleration as we have known them for much of the past couple of hundred years; in short, I want to conserve the genuine achievements of liberalism.


In other news: I'm sure you're aware of the group in Seattle which has declared a piece of the city to be the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone," and not a part of the United States. So I think this tweet is very funny:


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Yes, I have been thinking it would be rather amusing if the first state to secede would be a blue one. Would we need a passport to go there? Would there even be diplomatic relations?


I read that they are asking for identification before letting people in. Borders, barriers, papers--just too funny.

Just to be clear: it's the setting up of borders that I find so funny. The secession itself...well, it would certainly present a problem if taken seriously, but I don't take it very seriously, and I hear a lot of the people in Seattle don't, either. I hope Trump keeps his nose out of it.

I do too. Really, I think the best thing to do is ignore them.

I do worry about vulnerable people, especially young women, in a place where you can't call the police.

What do you do if your 15 year old daughter goes in there?

It makes me think of Joan Didion.


Indeed it does. There were reports of that kind of thing in the big Occupy Stuff thing a few years ago, but I don't know how accurate they were.

In any case it's Seattle's problem. Or party, I guess, depending on who you ask. It's pretty silly to take it as a serious insurrection.

That reminds me: I was going to re-read Abbie Hoffman's Revolution for the Hell of It for the book I was working on, but within the first few pages he said such despicable cold-blooded things about parents looking for runaway children that I didn't go any further.

Seems to me that the Stanley Kurtz piece rests on dismissing the point made by the author of the Vox piece on the Cotton op-ed, namely, that the "movement Trump represents, of which Cotton is an aspiring leader, has drifted into a racialized authoritarianism," and all that follows from that.

Anyway, the full Vox article is worth a read:

I did read it, when I was writing the post, and in fact had a long quote from it in the original version of the post. Then I decided that I didn't want to spend the time to deal with it at that length, especially considering that only a few dozen people would read it.

I don't think Kurtz is dismissing the point. In fact I think he is speaking squarely to it. If the Vox guy had only been talking about Trump, it might have been justified. But he extends it to the entire Republican party, and by unavoidable implication to anyone who votes for it. Tom Cotton's argument may be right or wrong but it's not crazy or racist or authoritarian or in any way outside the frame in which we used to be able to discuss laws and policy. The Vox guy is essentially affirming an effective state of war: these people (approximately half of the country) are the enemy and must be dealt with accordingly. Of course for now it's a cold war (as I've said). But what happens if or when the enemy is not subjugated at the ballot box?

Just looking again at the tweet about the pigs taking the barricades. To be fair, they took the pigs' police station. The pigs ought to at least be able to keep their barricades.


I don't think fairness to the "pigs" is an antifa value. Though I'm ever so slightly surprised that they're still using that term.

Re the Vox guy's sentiments etc.: I read things like this frequently on right-wing sites: "Given the street fighting rules the Left has imposed upon us, we are stupid suckers to play nice anymore."

And the same thing, substituting "the Right," from left-wingers. When both teams believe the other is disregarding the rules, the rules cease to matter. Instead of boxing, you get a fight to the death, with no tactic off limits. That is what we are doing to our institutions and principles. The only hopeful aspect of that I see is that most people don't see things that way.

From a left-wing journalist who's kept his feet on the ground:

"Google claims commenters, not articles, were the culprits": "Google says Zero Hedge was warned last week and failed to address the problem. The Federalist was warned and set to be demonetized within a few days, but Google’s communications team issued a followup tweet saying that 'The Federalist was never demonetized,' and 'we worked with them to address issues on their site related to the comments section.' Google’s spokesperson tells The Verge that The Federalist removed racist comments after the NBC article’s publication; as of this writing, they’re simply turned off altogether.

Well, that's reassuring, at least somewhat. Somebody must have been really hunting for bad things, because from what I've seen comments at the Federalist tend to run into the hundreds and thousands.

More and more websites these days are discontinuing comments. The Atlantic and Commentary did it quite a while ago. Moderating them got to be just too much work.

No wonder. If you want reasons to despair of humanity, read the comments at any mass-audience news site. They tend to run the gamut from merely stupid to raw sewage.

I don't know how Dreher manages to moderate all those comments and stay sane. I'm sure that he nixes a lot of really awful stuff, but he still has to read it.

I just read some comments on Facebook about a new product for women. People were fairly nasty to each other. What the heck? People will fight about anything.


There is a whole lot of hate abroad these days. Not surprising that it would spill over into non-political discussions. Or turn non-political ones into political ones. I guess y'all have read about the great war amongst...knitters?...yes, knitters.

I found it alarming that when the virus hit people almost immediately broke into the usual red and blue parties. Not without some reason, as the Democrats were obviously wanting to hype it up to hurt Trump, and the other side wanting to play it down to help him.

On more reflection, I have to say that the Federalist thing is worrisome: knowing that there are people actively looking for bad things, and that an organization as big and powerful as NBC is working with them. Especially since the definition of "bad thing" gets broader all the time. And "silence is violence."

Well, The Federalist situation is confusing. But there doesn't seem to be much doubt that it was the target of left-wing would-be censors at both the small Stop Funding Fake News and large NBC News. That's pretty clear if you follow the link to the former in this piece:

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