Tolerance and Toleration

This quotation is taken from Karl Popper’s 1945 book, The Open Society and Its Enemies.

The text is taken from the end notes to Chapter 7, as indicated by the cite. I’ve taken the liberty of re-paragraphing it, as the original is one gigantic block of text, and (I find that) these chunks are hard to follow. I also add the bolded text for my own purposes; the italic fonts are in the original.

The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any restraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. … Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.—In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise.

But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.

Another of the less well-known paradoxes is the paradox of democracy, or more precisely, of majority-rule; i.e. the possibility that the majority may decide that a tyrant should rule. … [T]hat the principle of majority-rule may lead to self contradictions, was first suggested, as far as I know, by Leonard Nelson … I do not think, however, that Nelson … was aware of the fact that analogous arguments can be raised against all the different particular forms of the theory of sovereignty. All these paradoxes can easily be avoided if we frame our political demands [differently]We demand a government that rules according to the principles of equalitarianism and protectionism; that tolerates all who are prepared to reciprocate, i.e. who are tolerant; that is controlled by, and accountable to, the public. And we may add that some form of majority vote, together with institutions for keeping the public well informed, is the best, though not infallible, means of controlling such a government. (No infallible means exist.) 1

Popper has captured with complete clarity, the situation in the modern western world, and particularly, in America. Our tolerance of intolerance has brought the country to its knees. The intolerant have manipulated both the law and the society brilliantly, to establish intolerance as a fundamental right, and not as the quality it is — an act that is fundamentally destructive of the society and, eventually, of the country.

The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence; whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.

— Baptist minister John Leland (1754-1841)

The maintenance of liberty in a country is dependent on a balanced use of force. As Reinhold Niebuhr noted,

The limitations of the human mind and imagination, the inability of human beings to transcend their own interests sufficiently to envisage the interests of their fellow-men as clearly as they do their own makes force an inevitable part of the process of social cohesion. But the same force which guarantees peace also makes for injustice. 2

Liberty within our society lives in the balance between forcibly restraining the unjust and absolutely permitting toleration at all levels. Modern America has chosen to extend the reach of the unjust, allowing them to deny certain groups their full measure of liberty, by sanctifying the tolerance of intolerance.

It’s not free speech, and not a fundamental right, to call a black man a n*gger. It is intolerance, an action to deprive that black man of his liberty as effectively as throwing him to the ground and putting him in shackles. No black individual — no man, woman, or child — is free, in America, to go anywhere, to take part in American society, without having the threat of, or the actual, limits placed on their activities by the intolerant. After the passage of the Civil Rights Act, my father said to me, “I am in favor of civil rights, but I should not be forced to sell my house to a black man if I don’t want to.” Even at the age of 15, I knew this was ridiculous nonsense. Fifty years later, people still make this same ridiculous statement to me. I no longer extend to them the courtesy of thinking they’re just confused. They’re intolerant, and deliberately baking intolerance into the structure of the society.

If you find that your defense of liberty pits you against the people whose liberty is actually threatened, you’re doing it wrong. If your conception of liberty demands that one group of people be allowed to restrict the liberty of another, through social and economic intolerance, and through violence, you’re doing it wrong. If your conception of liberty leads you to declare that the haves must be protected from the have-nots, and not the other way around, you’re doing it wrong. If you find that your religion blesses intolerance, you’re doing it wrong. If you think that intolerance will make society a better place, by driving away the undesirables, … you’re just wrong.

A country can only be free when its citizens are brave enough to refuse to tolerate intolerance.


  1. Popper, Karl R. “Chapter 7: The Principle of Leadership.” The Open Society and Its Enemies. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2013. 581-82. Ebook. Note 4 to Chapter 7
  2. Niebuhr, Reinhold. “Man and Society: The Art of Living Together.” Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics. New York: Scribner, 1960. pp. 6. Print. 

Presidential Elections in Which I Voted

Somebody asked me the other day, whether I was satisfied with the candidates that the Democratic Party offered for the Presidency. These are the Presidential elections in which I have voted, and the candidates for which I voted. And I answer that question, with one caveat, yes.

The caveat is Bill Clinton. I think Clinton was a good President. He ran the country. He handled a contrary Congress, and got his legislative priorities implemented. Unfortunately, he is a first class jerk. He did not provide the moral leadership that we needed. And, some of his ideas were just plain wrong.

  • 1972
    • Richard M. Nixon
    • George McGovern
  • 1976
    • Jimmy Carter
    • Gerald Ford
  • 1980
    • Ronald Reagan
    • Jimmy Carter
    • John B. Anderson
  • 1984
    • Ronald Reagan
    • Walter Mondale
  • 1988
    • George H.W. Bush
    • Michael Dukakis
  • 1992
    • Bill Clinton
    • George H.W. Bush
    • H. Ross Perot
  • 1996
    • Bill Clinton
    • Robert Dole
    • H. Ross Perot
    • Ralph Nader1
  • 2000
    • George W. Bush
    • Al Gore
    • Ralph Nader
  • 2004
    • George W. Bush
    • John Kerry
  • 2008
    • Barack Obama
    • John McCain
  • 2012
    • Barack Obama
    • Mitt Romney
  • 2016 ??

  1. Since I lived in Oregon, and Clinton was locked in to win that state, I gave my vote to the Green Party, in hopes of getting the Party certified for matching funds on the national ballot. The party needed a percentage of the vote to qualify. 

Commuting

Yesterday, I was in the city. As always, when I come into Grand Central Terminal (GCT), I am overwhelmed with the grandeur and engineering of that terminal.

When you first experience the great hall, you may look up and marvel at the beautiful (now restored) vault. And, you may remark on the vastness of the hall, which is difficult to appreciate unless you go up onto the mezzanine and look out over it. The grilled windows for buying tickets the old-fashioned way, the central kiosk for information services, the big reader boards, all link to the past and are plainly in view. Off to the side, the roomful of ATMs and the roomful of ticket dispensers, where most tickets are purchased by travelers who know where they’re going, and how to navigate the somewhat Byzantine process of ticketing.

But, to my mind, even more remarkable is the subterranean engineering. The terminal has two levels of train tracks coming into it, one above the other. These commuter trains descend into tunnels a good ten minutes away from the terminal, in Harlem. Having arrived at the terminal, commuters exit the train onto the platform, and then choose to go into the terminal, or instead, exit the platform in the other direction, through subterranean walkways that can come out onto streets as much as two blocks away from the main terminal building. If you were just walking down the sidewalk, you probably would not even notice these entries into the terminal — unless a stream of commuters was being ejected into the street.

Rush hour trains arriving and leaving will have around 7 cars, with roughly 100 commuters per car. It’s a marvelous sight, to stand at the top of the platform walkway, and watch two trains disgorging passengers onto the platform, one on either side, all 1400 or so heading toward one of the exits with just one thought in mind — get out of here. It really is a river of humanity.

Often, these experiences of the GCT are accompanied by the reflection that Americans will never again build anything substantial, beautiful, and inspiring, as is this building. We just don’t have it in us, anymore.  The idea of public service is not dead, but the idea of creating lasting public monuments, is.

Progressive Politics

I was banned from the Facebook page for The Christian Left, this morning (Wed 09 Sept 2015); as near as I can make out, this was done in retribution for pissing on the political style of “progressives,” and more than once. Okay, so maybe I did number one and number two in their cornflakes.

Basically, the argument I was making at the time I was banned, was as follows.

American progressive politics is in the crapper because progressives have been content to use the Federal government as their court of first resort, in all fights for rights or protections. Instead of fighting on the ground, at the state and local levels, to preserve and expand liberties, they go straight to Washington DC, pay a bunch of lobbyists millions of dollars, and get a Federal law or executive action, and sometimes, a SCOTUS decision in their favor.

As a result of this progressive reliance on the national government, which has been ongoing for forty years, the conservative activists retreated to the state and local governments. They organized there, they got their representatives on the school boards, the regional authorities, the city councils, the state legislatures, and in the governors’ mansions.

The conservative successes at the ground level were not foregone conclusions. They were directly the result of the opposition — “progressives” — conceding the ground because they assumed that they’d have the shibboleth of the Federal government, with which they could beat the states into submission.

Now, we have numerous issues and struggles, in which progressives are fighting rear-guard actions. We’re fighting to roll back the accomplishments of conservatives, rather than preventing them in the first place.

  • Abortion rights.
    Boxed in, seemingly, with Roe v Wade at the national level, conservatives devised what can only be described as a brilliant strategy. They can’t outlaw abortions outright, so they make them as difficult as possible to get, unleashing an onslaught of regulations, rules, and requirements, so difficult to meet in the practical and in the legal matter, that medical clinics providing abortions have disappeared like dust in a wind.

How did this happen? The overwhelming majority of Americans favor abortion rights. Where were NARAL, NOW, and the DNC, 20, 30, 40 years ago, when the state and local legislatures were being filled up with conservatives who would promulgate these rules?

  • Gun Control.
    The proportion of Americans who favor background checks and other controls on firearms is so lopsided that pols should be lining up to write the bill. 80% of Americans favor background checks for all firearm purchases. And yet, we’ve had a decade in which we have witnessed horrific slaughters; and the images of tiny children shot dead, lying in pools of their own blood, were not sufficient to bring about even the most trivial actions to curb the general availability of firearms.

How did this happen? It happens because, again, progressives have relied on the shibboleth of Federal power to pursue measures of control that should have been pursued at the state and local levels. States have the power to implement background checks. They have the power to control all aspects of the handling of firearms within their borders.1

The Senators and Representatives in the national legislature overwhelmingly are drawn from the state legislatures, and from organizations that work with those legislatures. Recent decades have seen some fairly spectacular flame-outs by wealthy individuals who tried to buy their ways into a House or Senate seat by expending huge amounts of personal capital. Legislators at the national level more often represent the politics of their constituencies in the home legislatures, than they do the ones on the ground.

  • War on Drugs.
    Here’s another case in which the public opinion is overwhelmingly against current government policy. And yet … are we having a WTF moment? Yet?

Again, the driving forces behind this “war” are/were local. And, the driving forces on ending it are local. States are taking matters into their own hands, and decriminalizing, legalizing, regulating and taxing, the uses of drugs that a few years ago, were utterly proscribed by the Federal government. The actions to ending the War on Drugs are being taken at the local levels. Oh, but wait, slow down the bus so that the progressives, still waiting hat in hand at the national legislature, can get on board.

I find that most people do not know that Prohibition, the buzz word for making the entire United States an alcohol-free zone, was the result of a decades-long, grassroots fight by the Temperance movement. The US was dried up by a Constitutional amendment, and, as you all know (right?), such an amendment requires the approval of the majority of the states. At the time Prohibition finally came in at the national level, 37 states had already banned alcoholic beverages within their own borders. Yes, that’s right, contrary to popular mythology, Prohibition was not the overreach of a Federal government overrun by power-mad do-gooders violating states’ rights. Prohibition was the Federal government coming in behind the states and codifying states’ actions at the national level.

  • Private Prisons
    This is the issue that was on the radar when I became insufferably objectionable to the moderator at The Christian Left. Bernie Sanders has made the announcement that he is introducing a bill into the Senate to “end all private prisons” within two years. Now, I have a question as to how he proposes to do that, actually. State prison systems are just that — state systems. What is the Constitutional authority under which the Federal government is going to dictate how any individual state is going to run its prison system?

The tenth amendment to the Constitution, the final element of the original Bill of Rights.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Blood has been shed over the significance of the words of this amendment. But, to this citizen, who is not a Constitutional lawyer and doesn’t pretend to be one on the internuts; but who has read the entire Constitution, top to bottom; the power of states absolutely includes the power to design and implement prison systems as they see fit. I do not see the Constitutional authority under which the Federal government can take over all state prison systems and mandate the design of them.

Now, the Federal prison system has some dealings with private contractors, and certainly, Sanders can introduce a law that removes those contractors from the Federal prison system. And, there are some instances in which Federal prisoners are housed within state systems, instances in which the Federal government could stipulate that these prisoners could not be held in privately run prisons.

According to the ACLU, inmates in private prisons make up 6% of state prisoners, 16% of Federal prisoners, and a smattering of prisoners in local jails in certain states.2 Considering the enormous numbers of citizens locked up in American prison systems, these numbers represent a substantial number of citizens under the control of for-profit enterprises. But, they’re insignificant by comparison to the number of citizens already under care of state operated and Federally operated prisons.

I don’t want to trivialize the dangers to all those prisoners being mishandled in pursuit of profit. I do want to point out that the amount of damage being inflicted in for-profit prisons is minuscule when compared to the damage being inflicted on the 94% of inmates who already are under state care, and the 84% of inmates already being mishandled by Federal authorities.

Bluntly, the campaign against for-profit prisons has sound moral imperatives, but will have little impact on the care of prison inmates, overall. In my view, the issue of for-profit prisons is a great issue for tub thumping at campaign whistle stops, and is nearly irrelevant with respect to reducing the mass incarceration of low-level, non-violent offenders in the United States.


  1. No, they cannot control interstate commerce, so the control of what crosses the borders is beyond them. But once that weapon is within the state boundaries, states have a tremendous amount of power. 
  2. “Private Prisons.” Private Prisons. American Civil Liberties Union, 2014. Web. 09 Sept. 2015. <http://bit.ly/1ied42q&gt;. 

Kim Davis and the Assassination of Character

I object on principle to the derogatory discussion of her marriages.

They are not relevant to the case. If issuing marriage licenses to divorced persons were under dispute, then such discussion would be relevant. Arguments should be attacked on their own grounds. Shifting the grounds of the argument, in order to undermine the character of the opponent — aka “shooting the messenger” — simply “wins,” or at least engages in, some other argument.

(The actual statements in this article are wrong — divorce was quite “Biblical” in Jesus’ time. Some knowledge of the Bible would have helped the author avoid stepping on his own tongue. )

I find this type of ad hominem, ridiculing her personal life, particularly distasteful. Some people are assholes, and invite abuse. Think George Zimmerman. Others simply blunder into a situation and are unable to find a satisfactory way out. Ridiculing her on her marriages, or her appearance, the way she talks, as people have been doing — to me, these behaviors smack of class prejudice. It’s on the same level as ridiculing a homeless person sleeping on the sidewalk. Such ridicule is also unchristian.

Often, a person who has undergone significant personal struggles, finds, at last, a way of coping that seems both legitimate and successful. That person may then fear deviating from the path prescribed by that coping mechanism. That fear of deviation is justifiable. We are not surprised, nor do we object, when a reformed alcoholic refuses to “have just one drink.” We understand, and accept, the danger that is represented by that “just one drink.”

In the case of Kim Davis, that coping mechanism appears to be Apostolic Christianity. For better or worse, she has fixated on her sect’s opposition to gay marriage, and she may well fear deviation from the path specified by that opposition. I think that quite possibly she sought pastoral counseling, and the pastor advised her to do what she is doing. I might be wrong. She just doesn’t seem a person with the character or views, to make a publicly humiliating display of herself, without some kind of encouragement to do so.

I might be quite wrong. But, descriptions of her various marital antics give the impression of someone narcissistic and manipulative. Such a person might find the unexpected spotlight of this legal battle attractive, even irresistible. That person definitely will not find jail at all attractive.

Her arguments in justification of her behavior are not valid. They’re not legally valid, they’re not morally valid. They’re not valid in terms of doctrine. If discussion needs to be had, it should be confined to her arguments; leave off on her marital confusions, her sense of style, and her personal habits.

Copy-Pasta, or, How to be Internet Smart

This has been passed around the internuts for at least four years, — the earliest occurrence I found was from 2011. I broke it up into a list. In the original format, a single paragraph1, it is a monster to read. As fine a collection of language butchery as one is likely to find.

  • I hole-hardedly agree, but allow me to play doubles advocate here for a moment.
  • For all intensive purposes I think you are wrong.
  • In an age where false morals are a diamond dozen, true virtues are a blessing in the skies.
  • We often put our false morality on a petal stool like a bunch of pre-Madonnas, but you all seem to be taking something very valuable for granite.
  • So I ask of you to mustard up all the strength you can because it is a doggy dog world out there.
  • Although there is some merit to what you are saying it seems like you have a huge ship on your shoulder.
  • In your argument you seem to throw everything in but the kids Nsync, and even though you are having a feel day with this I am here to bring you back into reality.
  • I have a sick sense when it comes to these types of things.
  • It is almost spooky, because I cannot turn a blonde eye to these glaring flaws in your rhetoric.
  • I have zero taller ants when it comes to people spouting out hate in the name of moral righteousness.
  • You just need to remember what comes around is all around, and when supply and command fails you will be the first to go.
  • Make my words, when you get down to brass stacks it doesn’t take rocket appliances to get two birds stoned at once.
  • It’s clear who makes the pants in this relationship, and sometimes you just have to swallow your prize and accept the facts.
  • You might have to come to this conclusion through denial and error but I swear on my mother’s mating name that when you put the petal to the medal you will pass with flying carpets like it’s a peach of cake.


  1. I hole-hardedly agree, but allow me to play doubles advocate here for a moment. For all intensive purposes I think you are wrong. In an age where false morals are a diamond dozen, true virtues are a blessing in the skies. We often put our false morality on a petal stool like a bunch of pre-Madonnas, but you all seem to be taking something very valuable for granite. So I ask of you to mustard up all the strength you can because it is a doggy dog world out there. Although there is some merit to what you are saying it seems like you have a huge ship on your shoulder. In your argument you seem to throw everything in but the kids Nsync, and even though you are having a feel day with this I am here to bring you back into reality. I have a sick sense when it comes to these types of things. It is almost spooky, because I cannot turn a blonde eye to these glaring flaws in your rhetoric. I have zero taller ants when it comes to people spouting out hate in the name of moral righteousness. You just need to remember what comes around is all around, and when supply and command fails you will be the first to go. Make my words, when you get down to brass stacks it doesn’t take rocket appliances to get two birds stoned at once. It’s clear who makes the pants in this relationship, and sometimes you just have to swallow your prize and accept the facts. You might have to come to this conclusion through denial and error but I swear on my mother’s mating name that when you put the petal to the medal you will pass with flying carpets like it’s a peach of cake. 

Living on the Edge

I was reading the other day about the next-gen Windows browser, Edge, that replaces Internet Exploder in Windows 10. Apparently, the browser informs Microsoft of just about everything to do with your activities, even your GPS location. Disabling this “feature set” means yet another string of window and mouse clicks, specific to the tool.

I’m just so sick of that horse hockey.  One is forced to adopt a strategic plan regarding online privacy.

What is my goal for online security?

  • Prevent my financial information and related personal information from being sprayed indiscriminately around the internuts.
  • Fuck with the gummint, because, ‘Murica.
  • Establish a beachhead for data security, in view of the probability that the gummint is (still) going after data unlawfully.

Security Begins At Home

I accomplish these goals mostly by using a private VPN. The VPN secures my data over the network from the NIC on my system to its target; and back. I have two fundamental protections. The data is encrypted, i.e., unreadable to anyone inserting himself between my system and the network. The encrypted data goes through a VPN server, meaning that anyone on the network cannot see the originating system.1

Communications

I have a paid account at Hushmail, which I use periodically to keep it active; but which exists primarily as a fall back, to be able to securely send encrypted mail, if needed. Hushmail provides a challenge-response mechanism for mail recipients to read their Hushmail online, via an encrypted protocol in the browser, without having to open and maintain a Hushmail account.

I have a Skype phone number and subscription for sending text messages. Skype-to-Skype calls and messages are encrypted.2

Disk Encryption

I have whole-disk encryption on my linux laptop. I used the default system that comes with Ubuntu 15.04. 3

BitLocker

In Windows, you have access to a built-in encryption technology, BitLocker. This software has some well-known issues, not least of which is an abiding mistrust of Microsoft among members of the technical community.4

Other free/”open source” tools exist, and so do some commercial ones. Excepting BitLocker, technical expertise and courage will be required to install them on your systems.

BestCrypt

Bruce Schneier recommends BestCrypt5, a commercial disk encryption system that comes in two forms. Container encryption enables the user to encrypt sections of the user space. For example, you might encrypt your documents folders, and perhaps, your porn collection. Volume encryption is the BestCrypt terminology for “whole disk encryption.” The tools are not overly expensive, but they’re not cheap, either.

DiskCryptor

DiskCryptor 6 started as a drop-in replacement for any of several other disk encryption packages.  One of these, TrueCrypt, has gone to the software graveyard.

Data Drifting Overhead

Of course, no musing about data integrity would be complete without contemplating the ubiquitous cloud, the mythical storage place for all out data.  In the fallout of the Snowden debacle, several prominent cloud storage providers, including Yahoo and Google, quickly made public plans to completely seal their cryptographic containers, so that government agencies could no longer help themselves. Additionally, they committed to using hashed, unrecoverable keys that could not be handed over whenever government agents went fishing.

In the event that these promises of the megacorps are insufficient, tools exist to add a user-level cryptographic layer to the floating data.

BoxCryptor

BoxCryptor is a product of a German company that encrypts files in online services like Dropbox.  Essentially, it creates a virtual drive, made up of the portion of the filesystem that is occupied by the Dropbox folder, and then encrypts the “whole disk.” The disadvantage to these services is that you are required to use the virtual drive for accessing the unencrypted files. In the case of BoxCryptor, it’s a Windows/Mac product, only, with apps for Android and iPhone.

Self-Sufficiency

One can’t escape the determined reach of a government arm.  That does not mean we can’t make it as damned difficult as possible to get a grip on us.  The various forms of media are full of yak from people talking up firearms as the answer to every problem.  A firearm will not keep government hands off your data.  A bit of self-sufficiency will. Everyone knows that the NSA has God-like powers, when turned loose upon an unsuspecting population.  But, a suspecting population can make these “data collection” operations expensive, and, eventually, unprofitable.


  1. An additional layer of anonymity is added by the fact that I can choose which VPN server will route my traffic. Today, I’m using a server in New Jersey. Tomorrow, I could route my traffic through a server in Arizona. 
  2. Much ink has been spilled over Microsoft’s apparent ability to read messages sent over its system; this, despite the fact that the service claims end-to-end encryption. The likely status is that your messages and voice traffic are safe from outside interference, but that Microsoft has built itself a back door. A back door is inherently insecure, since your data is now only as safe as Microsoft’s protection of the back door. I would not use Skype if I wanted to hide from a government agency with a 3-character abbreviation for a name. 
  3. “Guide to Full Disk Encryption with Ubuntu.” The Simple Computer. The Simple Computer, 28 June 2015. Web. 04 Sept. 2015. http://bit.ly/1XscjCP”…full disk encryption using Cryptsetup, dm_crypt and LUKS.” 
  4. Lee, Micah. “Microsoft Gives Details About Its Controversial Disk Encryption.” The Intercept. The Intercept, 4 June 2015. Web. 04 Sept. 2015. http://bit.ly/1hISx5p&#160;
  5. “BestCrypt Volume Encryption.” Fixed & Removable Whole Hard Disk Encryption Software. Jetico, n.d. Web. 04 Sept. 2015. http://bit.ly/1Xs7w4o.&#160;
  6. “Main Page.” DiskCryptor Wiki. N.p., 09 July 2014. Web. 04 Sept. 2015. http://bit.ly/1Xs8CwX. DiskCryptor is an open encryption solution that offers encryption of all disk partitions, including the system partition. 

Double Jeopardy

Angry Black Man

Another big stink about black activism, this time about Farrakhan calling for 10,000 black men to search out and kill cops.

Here is the short transcription of the 2-minute clip circulating on the right wing web sites.

Ten thousand fearless men, who say, Death is sweeter than continued life under tyranny. Death is sweeter than to continue to live and bury our children, while the white folks give the killer a hamburger. Death is sweeter than watching us slaughter each other to the joy of a 400 year old enemy. … retaliation is prescribed in matters of the slain. Retaliation is a prescription from God to calm the breasts of those whose children have been slain. So if the federal government will not intercede in our affairs, then we must rise up and kill those who kill us. Stalk them and kill them and let them feel the pain of death that we are feeling. 1

The actual words are quite different from their portrayal in various media, social and otherwise. It’s clear, first of all, that his call for the “10,000 men” is rhetorical, and not a literal “call to arms.” And I have to say, nothing in the above paragraph, transcribed from his speech, offends me. He exactly nails the issue. The government at all levels continues to tut-tut and adjourn the meeting, as police officers around the country continue to kill blacks — not just “thugs,” but young children, middle class family men and women, grandmothers and grandfathers.

Additional irony can be found in the first sentence: Ten thousand fearless men, who say, Death is sweeter than continued life under tyranny. Don’t we hear this same clarion in the speeches of white supremacists and their various fellow travellers? Give me liberty, or give me death — bold and true, spoken by a white man; evil and terroristic, spoken by a black man.

Angry White Man

On the flip side, unremarked and unimportant to whites, is this terroristic rant by white supremacist, former prison guard Nathan Ener, recorded on home video and uploaded onto his Facebook page.

The whole rant is about six minutes long. One of the highlights is his warning to law enforcement officers.

Law enforcement, I’m talking to you now. When we get there — and we going to be there — step aside. Our fight is not with you — it’s for you.

Later, he picks up a shotgun, pumps the slide and promises:

The last fucking thing some of you sons of bitches will ever hear is that noise when we’re out there, when we come in your goddamn house.

Contrast Farrakhan’s powerful speech in defense of those who are being indiscriminately killed, with the intense hatred being expressed by Ener.

End Game

A takeaway from the video of Farrakhan’s speech was that the church was, by and large, filled with middle class blacks. These people who came to his speech were not “thugs,” hoodlums from the hood. They were men and women with a stake in America, who are fed up with the shilly-shallying of whites. As PE noted, “It takes a nation of millions to hold us back.” But that nation of millions is now on the brink of facing a second nation of millions, who are going to push back.

Wake up, American white man.

The Uncivil War

The Battle

Sometimes, the nonsense that gets bruited about the internets just makes my ‘nads shrivel.  Since the uproar over the Confederate flag began, the tsunami of nonsense has inundated even the most sensible corners of the talk-i-verse.

I was a certifiable “Civil War buff” for many years. I’ve read everything from Mary Chesnut’s Civil War Diary1 to Allan Nevins’ 8-volume history2 to Emory Thomas’ The Confederate Nation 3 to McClellan’s autobiography4 in a first edition.  

I even discovered that a tiny local library where I lived at the time had its own Civil War memorabilia collection, donated to the library by a community member in his will; and I was able to look at actual field maps from some of the major battles. The librarians had the stuff locked up in a back room because they had no money to do anything with it.

These discussions about slavery and the CW are about as lame as one could get and still breathe without the aid of a machine. Are you kidding me? What is your point? That slavery wasn’t that big of a deal? Really? What? Could you repeat that?

States’ Rights?

The Constitution makes absolutely no allowance for states to withdraw from the union. Period. No textual evidence exists, not in the document, not in the Federalist Papers, nor in the known writings of its writers, that substantiates any claim on that score. Just stop with the “states’ rights” yak. The Constitution clearly delineates the lines between states’ rights and Federal rights, and secession is not among them.

Some states, motivated by the desire to maintain white supremacist governments, tested out the theory that they could just go off on their own. They were decisively defeated in the attempt. The Civil War put paid to that nonsense.

Love It or Leave It

Really, I’m not one of those über-patriotic yak monkeys, who like to make this grandiose assertion.  But, seriously, if your dislike of the USA is that great, use your passport. That’s what it is for.


  1. Chesnut, Mary Boykin Miller. Mary Chesnut’s Civil War. Ed. C. Vann Woodward. New Haven: Yale UP, 1981. Print. 
  2. Nevins, Allan. Ordeal of the Union. 8 vols. New York: Scribners, 1975. Print. 
  3. Thomas, Emory M. The Confederate Nation, 1861-1865. New York: Harper Perennial, 2011. Print. Originally published 1979. 
  4. McClellan, George B. McClellan’s Own Story: The War for the Union; The Soldiers Who Fought It and the Civilians Who Directed It. New York: Kessinger, 2007. Print. Reprint of 1887 edition. 

Guns and R̶o̶s̶e̶s̶ People

Guns

Guns are more important than people in America. There’s no “here” here. Nobody is going to go first, and just do what is right for the country.

During the Civil War, when soldiers — who were not professional soldiers, but conscripts or volunteers who came to the battlefield as members of a state militia — when soldiers would step up to the skirmish line, they knew that the first row of soldiers to advance would almost certainly be killed in short order. They just did it. It’s impossible to overemphasize the courage of the Civil War soldier, North or South.

That kind of courage no longer exists in America, except for the isolated individual, here and there. And, especially, it doesn’t exist among gun owners. Those guys in France, who disarmed the nut ball. In America, the American gun owner would have said, “I wish I had my pistol,” and sat silent. Those guys gave a lesson that went unlearned: what is needed to maintain order without firearms is courage. The modern American gets courage from a gun, the way the coward in a Hollywood movie gets it from a bottle. So weakened has become the American citizen’s fortitude, that he needs to take his gun with him to buy a burger at Burger King.

Less than 30% of homicides are committed by strangers to the victims. 30%. Three out of four people murdered in America, will be murdered through violence by someone they know.

Of violent crimes committed by strangers to the victim, less than 10% involve the use of a firearm. The violent criminal with a gun is a scary monster with psychological impact, but no empirical validity. The person in possession of a firearm is more likely to use it against family or friend, or himself, than to use it in commission of a crime or in defence against a crime.

People

If gun owners decided to support background checks, regulation of the size of magazine clips, creation of a database to track gun sales, requirements for safe storage and transport, licensing for gun ownership, and insurance requirements, could we reduce the amount of homicides by firearm? Damn right, we could.

It’s not going to happen. The wife shot by her estranged husband, the bloody corpses of little children strewn about a school, the moviegoers lying in pools of their own blood, the neighbor girl shot in the head by the toddler who found Daddy’s gun under his pillow, — those deaths are the price gun owners are willing to pay, the suffering gun owners are willing to inflict on others, to maintain their right to keep and bear arms.