The evil shift in history

In the cosmos, light from more distant galaxies is shifted toward the red, as the further away an object is, the faster it moves away from us. This is called the “red shift”.

Something like this also occurs in history, where society looks increasingly evil the further back you look. At least going back a few hundred years. One can argue that just as its politically correct to make “moral relativism” excuses for primitive tribes of cannibals living in a distant rainforest, we are not too hard to societies living several millennia in the past. At least unless we can in some sense code them as “white.” This “evil shift” presents a problem for conservatives.

This post is motivated by a far better post by Matt Yglesias, which is highly critical of the position of conservatives in the history wars. At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to add anything of value, but then I realized that my venerable age might give me one of two useful insights into these questions.

Let me start with events so recent that we don’t view them as “history”. Certain cultural practices like the “casting couch” and “gay jokes” now seem to me to be much worse than I perceived them to be back when I was young. And I don’t think it’s just me. When the MeToo movement got momentum a few years back, people dug up tapes of celebrity roasts where comedians joked about sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer. For me, the wake up call occurred a few years earlier, when a former student told me about how her boss kept pressuring her for “dates”.

Contrary to what you might have been told, high school students like myself were taught about the evils of slavery, the treatment of Native Americans, and the Nazi Holocaust. The problem lay elsewhere. We never fully internalized the gravity of what we understood at an intellectual level. Is this just me? I don’t think so. I’d guess that during the 1960s there were at least 10 movies about US soldiers fighting the Nazis for each film about the Holocaust. During the 2000s, I suspect this ratio almost reversed—ten times as many films about the Holocaust. That’s an indication of what the public thinks is important.

And while we knew about slavery and the mistreatment of Indians, I don’t think we understood that these evils were analogous to the great evils that we see being committed in other societies. They seemed more like unfortunate blemishes on an otherwise stellar record of American progress. Today, I cannot recall why we felt that way.

Conservative nationalists want Americans to be proud of our country’s history. That’s not necessarily wrong, as these questions are highly subjective. One can make a decent argument that much of the bad stuff in early America was shared by many other societies throughout history, whereas the Bill of Rights, democratic elections, etc., were truly revolutionary innovations where America was ahead of the curve. BTW, nationalists in Eastern Europe and Asia face an even greater challenge. Their countries are often less distinctive than America, and thus they feel an even greater need to whitewash their history in order to glorify their homeland.

But even in countries that brought impressive and beneficial innovations to the entire world, such as the US and the UK, the “evil shift” of history is putting conservatives increasingly on the defensive. Conservatives were the last group to accept civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, etc. The areas where conservatives were correct (say their critique of mid-20th century statism) tend to be relatively technical economic issues that lack the emotional resonance of human rights issues.

The Yglesias post is entitled “Conservatives can’t win the history wars”, but he also warns woke people not to expect too much from things like the 1619 Project:

My basic view is that all tellings of history reflect contemporary concerns, and it’s a little bit reductive and naive to think we can really debate which of these perspectives is “true.” . . .

If you’re writing a book, you can absolutely just say that the lesson of American history is that conservatives are bad. You can say that on your Substack, you can Tweet it, and you can write it in a special issue of a magazine. But you can’t teach it in public schools in Indiana because Indiana is full of conservatives.

One reason that I oppose the public school system is that I don’t want the government deciding what our children learn, just as I wouldn’t want the government running the media and deciding what constitutes “news”. If we must have public schools, then I’d prefer the schools themselves (not state legislatures) determine what they teach. And yes, I understand that this means that some schools will teach creationism while others will teach that white people are evil. I oppose those choices, but I’d like to oppose them by deciding where to send my child to school, not by voting. (Yes, if we have tax-financed vouchers then there would certainly need to be a few rules, but they should be kept to a bare minimum–do they cover the three Rs?)

One thing I like about Yglesias is that he’s not fully on board with the recent trend in American progressive thought. See how his patriotism shines through in his reply to Rich Lowry’s tweet that “American is a nation, not an idea”:

But that’s dumb. Words are just words, but again, it’s Lincoln who says we’re not just “a nation” but rather a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal — i.e., an idea. Portugal isn’t dedicated to anything. It’s the Iberian kingdom that didn’t get amalgamated with Castille and Leon, and so its local dialect entered the era of mass education and mass media with the legal status of an official language, and so now they’re a “nation.” America’s not like that.

That’s why Yglesias is one of the few progressives that seems to be positively enthused about the prospect of one billion Americans.


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49 Responses to “The evil shift in history”

  1. Gravatar of David Pinto David Pinto
    2. July 2021 at 17:34

    There’s been plenty of evil on the progressive side. They just get better press.

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    2. July 2021 at 18:19

    David, Agreed. But if we’re honest then it’s clear that conservatives in America have more often been on the wrong side of history.

    Now in China . . . that’s an entirely different story.

  3. Gravatar of Russ Abbott Russ Abbott
    2. July 2021 at 19:37

    When I was in high school (in the 1950’s!), we learned about slavery and the mistreatment of Native Americans. What we didn’t learn was what it felt like to be treated that way. We didn’t learn that the people who were being mistreated were people, like you and me. That goes for the mistreatment of any group: women, gays, etc. The focus was not on the people in those groups as human beings with thoughts, feelings, etc.

    I like the slogan “Black Lives Matter” because it makes it clear, in a very succinct way, that killing someone is killing a human being. That goes for “Blue Lives Matter” also.

  4. Gravatar of Matty Wacksen Matty Wacksen
    3. July 2021 at 01:47

    Yglesia’s article also contains lines like

    “the conservative movement in America is heir to the political legacy of America’s bad guys. ”

    and at that point I started to find it hard to view his article as anything but tribalist pandering disguised as thought. Is the Democratic party not far more “heir” in this sense? What does this sentence even mean, and why should it matter? It doesn’t seem like Yglesias understands conservatives, which is a dangerous position to be in when launching an ideological attack.

    > Conservatives were the last group to accept civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, etc.

    Is this clear? If I’m not mistaken (and this is the conservative self-view) many of the groups that today code “conservative” were very much on board with civil rights (which was not a secular endeavour, also was Woodrow Wilson not a progressive?). By “women’s rights” you probably mean suffrage? If so, then casting this into the modern view of “oppressor” vs “oppressed” certainly does not do history justice, see e.g. https://herandrews.com/2015/03/01/women-against-suffrage/ . By “gay rights” do you mean gay marriage? I suspect you use this as a proxy of “acceptance of gay people”, but I feel like the former is morally far more ambiguous than the latter with all its nuances.

    >Certain cultural practices like the “casting couch” and “gay jokes” now seem to me to be much worse than I perceived them to be back when I was young.

    The former is to some extent prostitution with extra steps and the latter – while I do not want to defend them – were usually not hurtful (though sometimes I suspect they were really hurtful). We still allow “nerd jokes”, are they any better? Btw, was it the conservative “comedians [who] joked about sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer”? I don’t like this conflation of completely different issues. Yes, the past is a foreign country. Yes, they did some horrible things there. But also, we still do horrible things today; to what extent have we just not internalized them? It seems like the conservatives like to point to the good things done in the past, and the progressives like to point to the bad things done in the past, and it really isn’t clear to me why only one has the be right.

  5. Gravatar of Spencer Hall Spencer Hall
    3. July 2021 at 04:42

    The shifting started much earlier, with the advent of higher inflation. It was reflected in the architecture, where back yard decks supplanted front yard porches. It was reflected in lower student grades in the 70’s.

  6. Gravatar of TGGP TGGP
    3. July 2021 at 05:24

    There’s no such thing as “the wrong side of history”, because history is just a record of what happened and doesn’t have “sides”. One can be on the wrong side of historians, such as those that rank presidents and give higher scores to those who presided over wars (including the awful Woodrow Wilson). When the Dunning School was writing history, they had a different account of who was in the wrong, and Yglesias notes how things have changed from the “Progressive” era to the “progressive” era. I know Sumner has the Rortean view that truth is what your colleagues let you get away with, but actual truth doesn’t change like that, and most of us don’t have historians as colleagues. A better way to evaluate people from the past would be how accurate their predictions for the future were, since that wouldn’t depend on who was doing the evaluating.

    Comedians making jokes about Harvey Weinstein are not making defenses for Harvey Weinstein. They are saying publicly things that are normally said only privately because Harvey was a well-known bully, but comedians can get away with it. They helped make it an open-secret, though it took a while for anyone to do anything about it. I don’t recall any of them claiming credit for that, as Hannibal Buress did regarding Bill Cosby.

    I don’t think Polish nationalists (for example) face a “greater challenge”, and I don’t think Polish people share the worldview of American historians. Those historians are W.E.I.R.D. in the Henrich sense and the American fixation on things like conflict between blacks & whites doesn’t make as much sense abroad.

    “We didn’t learn that the people who were being mistreated were people, like you and me”
    It should have been obvious they were people, although with the past being analogous to another country with different people, they surely also had differences with you.

  7. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    3. July 2021 at 05:42

    I think he misdefined the issue. It’s not a question of Conservative vs Progressive. It’s a question of whose beliefs align more with the principles of the Enlightenment. Critical Race Theory, like Communism and other forms of statism have been considered progressive but run afoul of the principles of the Enlightenment, just as Nationalism today, slavery in the antebellum South, and religious objections to homosexuality into the late 20th century were considered conservative but ran afoul of the principles of the enlightenment.

  8. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    3. July 2021 at 06:24

    I think I agree with the background premise—-of this essay—-as opposed to debating things like “losing the history wars” —-You present the premise well.

    Let me begin at the end. I too look forward to 1 billion Americans——sooner rather than later. I assume you lean in that direction as you seem to quote Yglesias favorably—-in any event I agree. I have said it 100 times, we are one of the few—-and certainly largest—-country where what we call ourselves——“Americans”—-has nothing to with race, religion or any other physical characteristics. And quoting Lincoln (MY) is perfect, for substantive and historical reasons.

    I don’t agree with MY’s framing of of the idea of “history” as an intellectual war that conservatives cannot win. I see that not as wrong—but as a non-sequitur. While he calls Lowry’s comment “dumb”—-as opposed to incomplete——I call his framing (maybe labeling is a better term) of history as ——not dumb—but -birthed from the progressive biases—-and ironically irrelevant to his main value message (or is it your main value message?)

    Why should we want a billion people? Because we are a great country——remember——even Babe Ruth made an out 55% of the time —-OBP=.approx .450) and he was the greatest—-so great is relative to the competition. I am assuming you agree —-

    (also agree with your standard libertarian ideas—-who knows—-some may actually happen—-particularly re:education)

    Bottom line—-wishing we will have a billion people= a belief that our country is Ruthian.

  9. Gravatar of David S David S
    3. July 2021 at 06:36

    I’m not even sure what modern conservatism stands for, but I think it exhibits regressive tendencies that are more at home in the 1850’s than the 1950’s. GOP leaders like Trump, McConnell, Ron Johnson seem to be perfectly happy with turning back the clock on achievements by progressives and conservatives.

    The Left is often too disorganized or distracted to see the threat posed by these “New Feudalists.”

  10. Gravatar of Brian Donohue Brian Donohue
    3. July 2021 at 07:24

    History teaches us that YOU and ME and everyone else is capable of great evil under the right circumstances. A list of nasty people includes Europeans, Christians, Muslims, South Asians, East Asians, Jews, Arabs, Armenians, Native Americans, Africans, Buddhists, Hindus, Pacific Islanders etc etc.

    I think it’s funny that “society” gives itself a medal for being so much better than in the past, while the individual humans that comprise that society continue a slow slide downhill.

  11. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. July 2021 at 08:16

    Russ, You said:

    “What we didn’t learn was what it felt like to be treated that way. We didn’t learn that the people who were being mistreated were people, like you and me.”

    Well put.

    Today we should teach students what it feels like when a father is separated from his family and deported back to Mexico.

    Matty, Completely agree on Wilson, and obviously I have somewhat different views from Yglesias. Indeed he’d view me as a “conservative”. But I stand by my claim that it was conservatives who were slow to embrace civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights.

    Roughly half of voters in Alabama recently voted for a Senate candidate who favored putting gays in prison and who didn’t think Muslims should be allowed to serve in Congress. Do you think these voters were mostly liberals or conservatives?

    TGGP, I like Rorty’s observation that saying something is “actually true” is essentially predicting that at some point in the future it will be very widely accepted as being true. In that sense, the abolitionists of the 1850s were correct about “the truth”.

    Carl, Yglesias certainly has some reservations about the more extreme claims of CRT.

    Michael, I agree with Yglesias on immigration. I’m agnostic on boosting the birth rate.

    David, I’d argue that the modern Trumpian pessimistic nationalistic conservatism meets the classic definition of “conservatism” better than the 1980s Jack Kemp/Ronald Reagan optimistic free market conservatism.

    Brian, You said:

    “I think it’s funny that “society” gives itself a medal for being so much better than in the past, while the individual humans that comprise that society continue a slow slide downhill.”

    This is an interesting point. It’s like when people take pride in the achievements of their country, or their sports team. You didn’t do that!

    But I don’t see modern humans as worse, just different. Indeed maybe a bit better. Genetically the same, but influenced by a culture that is overall better, even if worse in a few areas (such as extreme PCism.)

  12. Gravatar of Frank T Frank T
    3. July 2021 at 08:35

    @Matty Wacksen, on the topic of supporting your child if they came out as LGBTQ:

    “Close to nine in 10 liberals (88%) say they would be supportive if their child, sibling, or close family member came out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Among those who identify as moderate, 67% would be supportive. By 46% to 30%, conservatives say they would be supportive if their loved one came out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

    Conservatives are less accepting of the idea of a child or other family member coming out as transgender or non-binary. While one-third (33%) would be supportive of this, 43% say they would be somewhat unsupportive (14%) or not supportive at all (29%).”

    https://today.yougov.com/topics/relationships/articles-reports/2021/06/30/lgbtq-coming-out-support-poll-data

  13. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    3. July 2021 at 14:47

    The essence of the modern conservatism (what would historically have been called liberalism) favors small government and supports individual freedoms.

    The modern progressive movement opposes these, but as conservatives have increasingly had greater electoral success, liberals have shifted to ad hominem attacks on conservatives by trying to conflate historical political views (which everyone agrees were bad) with the modern conservative movement.

    Similarly the proponents of CRT, conflate opposition to their views with support for past policies of slavery, racism and oppression.

    This is exactly what Ygelesias is doing, and it is a dishonest and pathetic intellectual argument.

  14. Gravatar of Lizard Man Lizard Man
    3. July 2021 at 16:02

    The world changes, and one big recent change is the ability to conduct mass surveillance using IT. It is reasonable to fear that “proposition nations” like the US (and North Korea, the PRC, Iran, etc.) might not end up being better for human flourishing than blood and soil nations, because blood and soil nations purpose is to serve the people, while in nations founded upon an ideology, IT enabled surveillance can be used to make the people serve the ideology. Portuguese cannot be apostates to their Portugueseness.

    At the very least, that is the pessimistic case for the future of the US.

  15. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    3. July 2021 at 16:21

    Great post, great Yglesias article, but I’d like to sound a skeptical note or two.

    Are people improving? Is society improving? People are certainly more tolerant and sensitive in the particular ways discussed here, but I wonder if this isn’t mainly an effect of increasing wealth, and/or trade and the general level of knowledge. People are exposed to more things and less insular.

    But are people more honest now? More brave? More kind? I’m a little skeptical of rejecting the null here.

    “And while we knew about slavery and the mistreatment of Indians, I don’t think we understood that these evils were analogous to the great evils that we see being committed in other societies. They seemed more like unfortunate blemishes on an otherwise stellar record of American progress. Today, I cannot recall why we felt that way.”

    You’re using “we” but of course “we” don’t feel things – you feel things and I feel things and he feels things and she feels things, etc.

    You (and I) are older now and have had more time to think about some of these things and let the facts penetrate and permeate. Are young people today really more caring or less callous than the young people of yore?

    And also both slavery the Indians, when I was young, seemed like a long time ago (these things seem more recent now), and their suffering more historical, or abstract. I think a more relevant question is how you and I felt, say 40 years ago, about the suffering that was around us then.

    “[M]id-20th century statism” is passed off as lacking “the emotional resonance of human rights issues,” but why? I thought anti-communism was first and foremost a human rights issue. The first thing I’d cite to explain my allergy to “left-wing thinking” in general, would be the back-patting, “I’m so wonderful” thing, but a strong number 2 would be the indifference to suffering under communism.

    Look at someone like Bernie Sanders – how can someone so smart and seemingly decent maintain the bizarre attitude towards Cuba after all these years?

    When I was about 18 or 19, two friends and I were mugged by three black guys, probably not much older than us. Did we (or I) think “those guys are scum?” Of course not. We (or at least I) totally understand that we were relatively privileged suburban kids, they were underprivileged kids.

    And I’m not saying I was special – I think everyone I knew, more or less, felt like that. Yes, I’m sure there were some lunkheads back in high school who didn’t get it, but I was a college kid, and associated with other college kids.

    Nowadays, does a typical 18 or 19 year old from the suburbs, who is woke, look at (say) non-college Trump voters with any amount of (or attempt at) understanding, or do they just hate them, basically?

  16. Gravatar of TGGP TGGP
    3. July 2021 at 22:13

    If I believe that an asteroid is heading toward the Earth which will destroy all life, the truth of my belief does not depend on whether it kills everybody before they can change their minds. The map is not the territory, and what people believe is true is not the same as what’s actually true. What’s actually true helps you make predictions, people can believe all sorts of nonsense which doesn’t help at all.

  17. Gravatar of Njnnja Njnnja
    4. July 2021 at 06:55

    I think the argument is interesting but a little too unfair to conservatism. I see 2 issues. First is the grandfather’s axe paradox; liberals and conservatives from 50 years ago aren’t the same as the liberals and conservatives today so assigning general “correctness” to today’s progressives because of what was done in the past seems as bad as giving Trump credit for Lincoln’s success.

    The second, and more important, issue is that by focusing on the things that did change, it ignores the huge number of things that don’t change from one generation to the next. Like evolution, some changes are great and make things better, but some proposed changes are bad and having a force for “keeping things as they are” is helpful. Eugenics is just one of the really bad ideas that “people who want to change the way things are” have proposed over the years, and I’m glad we have Chestertons fence style knee jerk opposition to change so we didn’t end up sterilizing half the population in the early 20th century.

    So tying the 2 together, it seems that the most successful thing that progressives are doing is to define themselves and their opponents in such a way that all good ideas for change came from progressives, all opponents to those good changes are conservative, and bad ideas for change never happened (therefore today’s ideas for change follow in the footsteps of being 100% correct), or flipped on its head (“we mean nice Scandinavian style socialism, not that bad stuff that happened in Russia and China and Cuba – which really isn’t so bad – look at their healthcare!”)

  18. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    4. July 2021 at 07:01

    “I think it’s funny that “society” gives itself a medal for being so much better than in the past, while the individual humans that comprise that society continue a slow slide downhill.”

    I believe that on certain points, (“Western”) society surely has made progress, but at the same time, as Brian put it, I wouldn’t pat ourselves on the back for it. Neither do I think the individuals have gotten worse though.

    Indeed I believe most people do exactly the same thing people did for millenia: they go with their society’s taboos and rarely challenge them. The taboos change, and people go along with the changed taboos. A few heroic members of society had part in changing the taboos, the rest just went along. So I thankfully “improved” my opinions on certain matters since my youth. But I wouldn’t give myself credit for it. And I shudder at the thought of what I could have been or become under the “right” (meaning, worst) circumstances in history. I might possibly have believed a lot of really unhealthy stuff.

  19. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. July 2021 at 10:05

    dtoh, You said:

    “The essence of the modern conservatism (what would historically have been called liberalism) favors small government and supports individual freedoms.”

    No, that might have been true in the Reagan era. Now the essence is mean-spirited demagogic authoritarian nationalism. With a contempt for democracy.

    The classical liberal wing of the GOP is moving toward the Dems. Here in Mission Viejo, Romney beat Obama by 20 points in 2012. Biden beat Trump in 2020. Guess which voters the GOP lost? Not the white nationalists.

    Lizard, I worry that the entire world will lose its freedom, due to science.

    anon, Good comment.

    TGGP, You said:

    “The map is not the territory,”

    Yes, but all we perceive is what we perceive. We don’t know what’s “actually true”, that is, true despite the fact that we perceive something else to be the case.

    njnnja and mbka, Good comments.

  20. Gravatar of Matty Wacksen Matty Wacksen
    4. July 2021 at 10:05

    @ssumner:

    > But I stand by my claim that it was conservatives who were slow to embrace civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights.

    Do you count the abolitionist movement as being part of “civil rights”?

    > Roughly half of voters in Alabama recently voted for a Senate candidate who favored putting gays in prison and who didn’t think Muslims should be allowed to serve in Congress. Do you think these voters were mostly liberals or conservatives?

    Given that neither is a conservative position, and neither has any chance of becoming law, this example seems like grasping at straws. Knowing nothing at all about the situation in Alabama, I’m going to go ahead and claim that this was probably the perception of a “lesser of two evils” situation, and/or a Southern USA as opposed to really “conservative” phenomenon.

  21. Gravatar of Matty Wacksen Matty Wacksen
    4. July 2021 at 10:14

    @Frank T: I’m not at all surprised about these poll results, given that the wording is sufficiently ambiguous. What does “supportive” mean here?

    That said, I’m sure there is more discrimination against gay people in conservative circles, just like there probably is more neglect of old people in liberal circles; I don’t think this proves that conservatives hate gay people or that liberals hate old people.

  22. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    4. July 2021 at 11:13

    Scott,

    Exactly my point, your view is just a robotic recitation of the false narrative which Yglesias/NYT/WaPO/CNN are trying to attribute to conservatism. I.e Bush is Hitler. Trump is Hitler. Soon it will be DeSantis is Hitler, and people who support them are all ignorant, uneducated Nazis.

  23. Gravatar of Brian Donohue Brian Donohue
    4. July 2021 at 14:20

    Adversity builds character. Simple as. Take a look around, we’re on our way to Wall-e, sneering contemptuously at our ancestors along the way.

  24. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    4. July 2021 at 20:36

    I don’t even think gay rights has been a slam dunk positive. Unless you think it’s un correlated to break down in marriage rates, births high enough for population growth, nuclear family.

    It certainly seems more humane to have gay rights but it does seem that something is wrong today for strong families and childbirth.

  25. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    4. July 2021 at 20:46

    I’m not even sure what the point is on metoo. It’s never been a gop position that rape should be legal. And there have been a lot of false public rape claims.

    The only conservative view a bit related is a beliefs men and women are different and have different desires which explains a lot if differences in outcomes (income).

  26. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. July 2021 at 21:26

    dtoh, Actually, I have a very different view of Bush, as do all those other sources you cite.

    It’s kind of weird to deny that conservatives are becoming nationalistic, given that they are now claiming to be nationalistic and writing books extolling nationalism.

    And they are now trying to steal democratic elections. I plead guilty to not being blind to what’s going on in America.

    BTW, when you mentioned CNN, etc., you forget to mention liberals like Bob Barr and John Bolton and Liz Cheney.

    There are GOP parades demanding that Trump be re-instated. Do you recall such parades for Bush after he lost the election?

    Sean, You said:

    “Unless you think it’s uncorrelated to break down in marriage rates,”

    You think gay rights reduces the marriage rate? Actually, because conservatives were unsuccessful in stopping gay marriage it ended up increasing it.

    You said:

    “It’s never been a gop position that rape should be legal.”

    I was talking about conservatives. As a matter of fact, conservatives in many countries around the world still believe that marital rape should be legal. Many used to believe that in America. Indeed it wasn’t until 1978 that a person was prosecuted for marital rape in America.

  27. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    4. July 2021 at 23:49

    Scott,
    You’re just cherry picking the extremists. The same arguments can be made about the nutjobs in the progressive movement. And just because CNN chooses to highlight a particular person or faction, doesn’t make them mainstream, much as that is the false portrayal that CNN intends.

    I don’t know how you define nationalism, but I think it’s orthogonal to conservatism.

    I don’t understand your point about Barr, Cheney and Bolton.

    And the parades were for Gore not Bush https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/13243

    As for elections…. if voter identification and eligibility is not verified, and voters aren’t required to cast their votes in secret, elections will not have credibility. These are bedrock principles for a functioning democracy. It’s the Democrats who are trying to subvert these principles. To blame the Republicans is Kafkaesque.

  28. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    5. July 2021 at 05:57

    I’m seeing marriage rates at all time lows.

    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/marriage_rate_2018/marriage_rate_2018.htm

    So we basically allowed more people to get married but ended up with fewer marriages.

    My guess is it flows thru religion which both opposed gay marriage and signified marriage was required for Herero couples.

    My guess is gay marriage and less family formulation is just correlated and not a cause but it’s still very concerning.

  29. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    5. July 2021 at 08:55

    dtoh, Sad that you don’t see how the GOP tried to steal the election. If you can’t see that, I can’t help you. You keep talking about liberal bias, but ALL OF THE CONSERVATIVE INTELLECTUALS I READ SAY THE SAME THING. Have they all been brainwashed?

    “You’re just cherry picking the extremists. The same arguments can be made about the nutjobs in the progressive movement.”

    No, the loony left doesn’t control the Democratic party. The loony right controls the GOP. That’s why Cheney was ousted–she tried to stand up for democracy.

    Nationalists believe their ethnic group is better than others. They believe that history books should lie to glorify their nation. They favor protectionism and oppose immigration. They oppose minority rights.

    Sean, I see no problem in people waiting longer to get married. Teen marriages often don’t work out.

  30. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    5. July 2021 at 09:01

    –“David, Agreed. But if we’re honest then it’s clear that conservatives in America have more often been on the wrong side of history.”–

    Only if you take the current status quo to be some sort of absolute norm by which all other periods are properly referenced. The ‘wrong side of history’ would look very different to the 18th century plantation owner or 5th century Roman.

    The current situation reflects Lockean liberalism combined with two centuries of British and American global dominance and nothing more. Lockean liberalism looks very much like is running out of steam, with many parts of both of the American right and left now rejecting it, and America itself seeing its global position steadily erode.

  31. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    5. July 2021 at 14:20

    Scott,
    What exactly is it that all conservative intellectuals are saying?

    How did the GOP try to steal the election?

    “Nationalists believe their ethnic group is better than others. They believe that history books should lie to glorify their nation. They favor protectionism and oppose immigration. They oppose minority rights.”

    How does any of that apply to the conservative movement?

  32. Gravatar of J Mann J Mann
    6. July 2021 at 07:50

    IMHO, what’s going on with the CRT wars at their core is that progressives have largely captured the educational system. With that capture mostly complete, there’s a natural tendency to try to radicalize students in ways their parents don’t appreciate.

    Conservatives don’t really have a good plan to fight back, but pushing back on the effort to institutionalize the 1619 Project and CRT is a clumsy attempt to do so.

  33. Gravatar of J. . Dubois J. . Dubois
    6. July 2021 at 12:17

    Loads of good comments, especially Njnna. However I would also like to respond to the original article.

    The first thing is the passage about comedians, jokes or Harvey Weinstein. How exactly is Weinstein coded as “conservative” now? Weinstein was a powerful figure in historically most liberal and progressive places in America. Additionally is not having sex with many women a cookie-cutter example of conservativism? If you say that powerful progressives in Hollywood are doing horrible things to young women who flee their families to seek fame – would it be somehow surprising? And also the double standard. We now have information that Hollywood was incredibly sexist and callous place for decades.

    But all is good because we caught the perpetrator. Somehow I have hard time imagining that catching let’s say pedophile priest thanks to his colleagues and conservative parents will be spoken about in the same way.

  34. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    6. July 2021 at 13:49

    @dtoh:

    “How did the GOP try to steal the election?”

    That’s a clown question, bro.

  35. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    6. July 2021 at 16:25

    @msgkings

    No seriously. Specifically how did the Republicans attempt to steal the election?

  36. Gravatar of J Mann J Mann
    8. July 2021 at 13:21

    dtoh, my understanding is that Team Trump tried to get Congress to refuse to certify the election based on allegations of fraud that were pretty clearly non-material at best.

    The more aggressive accusation is that Trump tried to get the state and county auditors to fake information that would invalidate the election. Trump’s language is opaque enough that I can’t say for sure that this accusation is likely true or false; the conclusion seems to rest on each of our priors about Trump.

    I suspect your final argument with Scott would be whether the “GOP” or the “Republicans” are responsible for the above two. Lots of GOP leadership mouthed platitudes sort-of supportive of Trump, some of them voted the way he wanted, others didn’t.

  37. Gravatar of J Mann J Mann
    8. July 2021 at 13:21

    dtoh, my understanding is that Team Trump tried to get Congress to refuse to certify the election based on allegations of fraud that were pretty clearly non-material at best.

    The more aggressive accusation is that Trump tried to get the state and county auditors to fake information that would invalidate the election. Trump’s language is opaque enough that I can’t say for sure that this accusation is likely true or false; the conclusion seems to rest on each of our priors about Trump.

    I suspect your final argument with Scott would be whether the “GOP” or the “Republicans” are responsible for the above two. Lots of GOP leadership mouthed platitudes sort-of supportive of Trump, some of them voted the way he wanted, others didn’t.

  38. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    8. July 2021 at 19:22

    Thank you J Mann, but I’ve found that when someone asks a question that shows how rabidly partisan they are, no answer will get through to them. The answer to dtoh’s question is quite obvious, so him asking it says a great deal about his tremendous partisan bias.

  39. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    9. July 2021 at 04:17

    J Mann
    How is it stealing or illegal for members of the House to raise objections during the counting of the Electoral College vote. The Democrats did the same thing in 2017.

    Msgkings – Yeah, yeah, yeah. Can’t answer a question in a factual objective manner, so you resort to ad hominem attacks.

  40. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    9. July 2021 at 09:01

    Justin, You said:

    “The ‘wrong side of history’ would look very different to the 18th century plantation owner or 5th century Roman.”

    Agreed, and indeed that’s my point, isn’t it?

    dtoh, You asked:

    “What exactly is it that all conservative intellectuals are saying?”

    They are describing Trump in almost identical terms to the way I describe Trump. You always suggest it’s just hysterical liberals, whereas almost all of the George Wills of the world are equally “hysterical”.

    And yes, Trump tried to get Congress to overturn the election and give him the presidency. He failed, but the GOP is basically expelling anyone who is highly critical of his actions. Trump is also now defending the mob that stormed the Capitol. That tells you where they are on the issue.

    As I’ve been saying, we are now a banana republic. The GOP of 1974, when many members of Congress honestly investigated the crimes of Nixon, no longer exists. That America is gone, probably for the rest of my life.

    In addition, the new GOP is increasing anti-free market, and anti big corporations. Look at people like Vance in Ohio.

    Mann, I agree that progressives tend to dominate education, but not as much as you think. In southern states, history textbooks are almost laughably sympathetic to slaveowners. Take a look at some examples that have recently been discussed in twitter.

    Dubois, You asked:

    “How exactly is Weinstein coded as “conservative” now?”

    I don’t think anyone suggested he was.

  41. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    9. July 2021 at 16:30

    Scott,

    You said,

    “It’s kind of weird to deny that conservatives are becoming nationalistic, given that they are now claiming to be nationalistic and writing books extolling nationalism.

    ALL OF THE CONSERVATIVE INTELLECTUALS I READ SAY THE SAME THING.”

    So I asked,

    “What exactly is it that all conservative intellectuals are saying?”

    So you respond,

    “They are describing Trump in almost identical terms to the way I describe Trump. You always suggest it’s just hysterical liberals, whereas almost all of the George Wills of the world are equally “hysterical”.

    So you are citing George Will as being critical of Trump as proof that “conservatives are becoming nationalistic.”

    That makes no sense, so I will ask again, what makes you think that conservatives are becoming nationalistic.

  42. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    9. July 2021 at 16:44

    Scott,

    “Trump tried to get Congress to overturn the election and give him the presidency.”

    How is that trying to “steal” the election. As I have commented before, objecting to the electoral vote in Congress is a process which is provided for under the law and is the same thing which the Democrats did in 2017.

  43. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    9. July 2021 at 16:51

    Scott,

    You said,

    The new GOP is increasing anti-free market, and anti big corporations.

    1. What do you mean by the “new” GOP.

    2. What makes you think the GOP is increasingly anti-free market.

    3. How is being anti-big corporations anti-free market?

  44. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    9. July 2021 at 19:16

    @dtoh:

    “How is that trying to “steal” the election. As I have commented before, objecting to the electoral vote in Congress is a process which is provided for under the law and is the same thing which the Democrats did in 2017.”

    Just stop it. Don’t play dumb, you are not. Start with the fact that Trump did and said many, many other antidemocratic and obviously mendacious things for months before the election even happened. Afterwords was a total farce that history will laugh at forever.

    You know exactly what he did, we all saw it happen.

  45. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    9. July 2021 at 19:18

    Trump took a giant dump on the carefully built and desperately needed norms that undergird our democracy. That is by far the worst thing he ever did, worse than any action of his term before.

    The fact that some partisans still can’t see the steaming pile of crap Trump disrespected us all with is truly disgusting.

  46. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    9. July 2021 at 20:38

    @msgkings

    The last time I was swayed by the argument “It’s true because I said so” was probably something my big sister told me when I was in second grade.

    The last time I was swayed by a scatological argument was probably sometime in the 8th grade.

    And I would ask you which party changed the rules in the 2020 election to, in many cases, eliminate the requirement for secret ballots, voter identification and confirmation of voter eligibility.

  47. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    9. July 2021 at 20:44

    @dtoh:

    Please, the facts speak for themselves, you just refuse to see and you never will. Fortunately your kind are outnumbered.

    There is no argument actually. Trump did exactly what I said he did, it was in all the papers. I don’t even win, you just refuse to acknowledge the facts in evidence, so you have no standing to argue this. Read a book, compare Trump’s reaction to every other president in history and get back to us. Because you are not a serious person.

  48. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    9. July 2021 at 22:22

    @msgkings

    Exactly as I commented before. There are no facts in your argument just ad hominem attacks. And now tribalistic attacks…. “your kind….”

  49. Gravatar of Emerich Emerich
    10. July 2021 at 13:45

    Conservatives were emphatically not the last to accept civil rights. A higher proportion of Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act than Democrats, for example. Now, you might claim that in those days Democrats, or at least some of them, were “conservative”–after all, they voted against the Civil Rights Act in greater numbers. But then your argument gets circular. What’s true is that to the extent some American conservatives are libertarian-leaning, they tended to oppose (and still tend to oppose) coercion, including coercive laws such as restrictions and requirements on who you can do business with. But that’s a very different as a matter of principle from “opposing” civil rights.

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