Well, not much longer.
Perennial commenter and fellow blogger Markadelphia has decided to spend more time at his own blog and less at mine (*sniffle*), but I dropped by the other day and found a couple of posts that just begged commentary, so I indulged.
Anyway, Markadelphia responded with a comment that just requires a reply. Here’s his comment with my response. (Yes, I fisked it):
I don’t really have a belief system, Kevin, other than my belief in Christ. I have plenty of problems with liberals. In fact, the list is probably at least two thirds as long as the problems I have with conservatives.
So far, Mark, the problems you appear to have with most self-described liberals seems to be that they’re not liberal enough. It’s that “turning up the power” problem that I keep referring to as “Do it again, only HARDER!“
If I don’t understand your philosophy, it certainly isn’t for lack of trying…it is for lack of clarity on your part.
No, it’s because our worldviews are so completely divergent. You simply cannot comprehend that I do not believe the things you believe are true about all people, thus you keep trying to make me fit into your mental image. You convince yourself that if you try just a bit harder you can convince me that you’re right. After all, it’s so obvious to you. You have, after all, asked yourself the right questions! (You knew I had to throw that one in, didn’t you?)
You say you are a classic liberal, the champion of freedom and liberty, and yet you are willing to sign it all away in the name of national security.
That’s how you interpret it, but (as exampled in the comments to the post above) you keep misinterpreting perfectly good complete, meaningful sentences. Meanwhile, what are you willing to sign away in the name of “social justice”?
You shout at the top of your lungs about free speech and yet you blow a bowel when any book, tv program, or film questions our current international policy-calling them kooks and/or traitors and discouraging critical thought.
Here’s a perfect example. What does the First Amendment’s protection of free speech mean? As I understand it, it means that the government cannot shut people up. It does not protect people from any repercussions. If I want to stand directly across from protesters and tell them they’re assholes, the GOVERNMENT can’t shut me up either. If I want to take out a full-page ad directly across from theirs, same thing. If I want to boycott their product or their advertisers and encourage others to do the same, I’m perfectly free to do so. The First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause does not mean you get to protest unopposed. It means the government doesn’t get to threaten you, jail you, or kill you for exercising it. This has, however, been violated under color of law. Abraham Lincoln did it, Woodrow Wilson did it. FDR did it.
You aggressively advocate an “alternative” education to the “socialist crap” being taught in our “collapsing” schools and yet it is clear to me that what you really desire is dissemination of propaganda–propaganda which does go farther back than eight years.
The irony of your view on education is that the exact opposite of your view is the reality: virtually all American History textbooks include your version of US history. We are always acting as a force of good and when we are misunderstood it is the fault of the other and not us. I would recommend you read the book Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen for what is actually the problem with social studies curriculum as opposed to the psychosis that is Goldberg’s view.
First, that little factoid must explain why history doesn’t appear to be taught in school much anymore. My daughter graduated from high school in 1997. She had no idea what Pearl Harbor was or its significance. She was aware, however, that Thomas Jefferson fathered children on one of his slaves though!
I looked up the book. I found this (since one of your commenters mentioned how “Loewen really busts out the whupping stick on Woodrow Wilson”) very interesting. From the Barnes & Noble site, first part of the Publisher’s Weekly review:
Loewen’s politically correct critique of 12 American history textbooks-including The American Pageant by Thomas A. Bailey and David M. Kennedy; and Triumph of the American Nation by Paul Lewis Todd and Merle Curtis sure to please liberals and infuriate conservatives.
Surprise, surprise. Now, from an excerpt from the book itself:
Over the past ten years, I have asked dozens of college students who Helen Keller was and what she did. They all know that she was a blind and deaf girl. Most of them know that she was befriended by a teacher, Anne Sullivan, and learned to read and write and even to speak. Some students can recall rather minute details of Keller’s early life: that she lived in Alabama, that she was unruly and without manners before Sullivan came along, and so forth. A few know that Keller graduated from college. But about what happened next, about the whole of her adult life, they are ignorant. A few students venture that Keller became a “public figure” or a “humanitarian,” perhaps on behalf of the blind or deaf. “She wrote, didn’t she?” or “she spoke” — conjectures without content. Keller, who was born in 1880, graduated from Radcliffe in 1904 and died in 1968. To ignore the sixty-four years of her adult life or to encapsulate them with the single word humanitarian is to lie by omission.
The truth is that Helen Keller was a radical socialist. She joined the Socialist party of Massachusetts in 1909. She had become a social radical even before she graduated from Radcliffe, and not, she emphasized, because of any teachings available there. After the Russian Revolution, she sang the praises of the new communist nation: “In the East a new star is risen! With pain and anguish the old order has given birth to the new, and behold in the East a man-child is born! Onward, comrades, all together! Onward to the campfires of Russia! Onward to the coming dawn!” Keller hung a red flag over the desk in her study. Gradually she moved to the left of the Socialist party and became a Wobbly, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the syndicalist union persecuted by Woodrow Wilson.
So we’ve established the horrible hidden historical secret that Helen Keller was a socialist! And more, that Woodrow Wilson persecuted the union to which she belonged!
But wait! There’s more!
What we did not learn about Woodrow Wilson is even more remarkable. When I ask my college students to tell me what they recall about President Wilson, they respond with enthusiasm. They say that Wilson led our country reluctantly into World War I and after the war led the struggle nationally and internationally to establish the League of Nations. They associate Wilson with progressive causes like women’s suffrage. A handful of students recall the Wilson administration’s Palmer Raids against left-wing unions. But my students seldom know or speak about two antidemocratic policies that Wilson carried out: his racial segregation of the federal government and his military interventions in foreign countries.
Under Wilson, the United States intervened in Latin America more often than at any other time in our history. We landed troops in Mexico in 1914, Haiti in 1915, the Dominican Republic in 1916, Mexico again in 1916 (and nine more times before the end of Wilson’s presidency), Cuba in 1917, and Panama in 1918. Throughout his administration Wilson maintained forces in Nicaragua, using them to determine Nicaragua’s president and to force passage of a treaty preferential to the United States.
Fucking right-wing capitalist warmonger!
Wilson’s invasions of Latin America are better known than his Russian adventure. Textbooks do cover some of them, and it is fascinating to watch textbook authors attempt to justify these episodes. Any accurate portrayal of the invasions could not possibly show Wilson or the United States in a favorable light. With hindsight we know that Wilson’s interventions in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua set the stage for the dictators Batista, Trujillo, the Duvaliers, and the Somozas, whose legacies still reverberate.
All twelve of the textbooks I surveyed mention Wilson’s 1914 invasion of Mexico, but they posit that the interventions were not Wilson’s fault. “President Wilson was urged to send military forces into Mexico to protect American investments and to restore law and order,” according to Triumph of the American Nation, whose authors emphasize that the president at first chose not to intervene.
See! He did all this for the corporations!
But “as the months passed, even President Wilson began to lose patience.” Walter Karp has shown that this version contradicts the facts — the invasion was Wilson’s idea from the start, and it outraged Congress as well as the American people. According to Karp, Wilson’s intervention was so outrageous that leaders of both sides of Mexico’s ongoing civil war demanded that the U.S. forces leave; the pressure of public opinion in the United States and around the world finally influenced Wilson to recall the troops.
See! See! Warmonger!
And he was a rabid anti-communist!
His was the first administration to be obsessed with the specter of communism, abroad and at home. Wilson was blunt about it. In Billings, Montana, stumping the West to seek support for the League of Nations, he warned, “There are apostles of Lenin in our own midst. I can not imagine what it means to be an apostle of Lenin. It means to be an apostle of the night, of chaos, of disorder.” Even after the White Russian alternative collapsed, Wilson refused to extend diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union. He participated in barring Russia from the peace negotiations after World War I and helped oust Béla Kun, the communist leader who had risen to power in Hungary. Wilson’s sentiment for self-determination and democracy never had a chance against his three bedrock “ism”s: colonialism, racism, and anticommunism. A young Ho Chi Minh appealed to Woodrow Wilson at Versailles for self-determination for Vietnam, but Ho had all three strikes against him. Wilson refused to listen, and France retained control of Indochina.
And, like all right-wingers, he was a racist!
At home, Wilson’s racial policies disgraced the office he held. His Republican predecessors had routinely appointed blacks to important offices, including those of port collector for New Orleans and the District of Columbia and register of the treasury. Presidents sometimes appointed African Americans as postmasters, particularly in southern towns with large black populations. African Americans took part in the Republican Party’s national conventions and enjoyed some access to the White House. Woodrow Wilson, for whom many African Americans voted in 1912, changed all that. A southerner, Wilson had been president of Princeton, the only major northern university that refused to admit blacks. He was an outspoken white supremacist — his wife was even worse — and told “darky” stories in cabinet meetings. His administration submitted a legislative program intended to curtail the civil rights of African Americans, but Congress would not pass it. Unfazed, Wilson used his power as chief executive to segregate the federal government. He appointed southern whites to offices traditionally reserved for blacks. Wilson personally vetoed a clause on racial equality in the Covenant of the League of Nations. The one occasion on which Wilson met with African American leaders in the White House ended in a fiasco as the president virtually threw the visitors out of his office. Wilson’s legacy was extensive: he effectively closed the Democratic Party to African Americans for another two decades, and parts of the federal government remained segregated into the 1950s and beyond.
A racist and an anti-communist, a warmonger and a colonialist. All undeniably true.
But there’s still more:
Wilson displayed little regard for the rights of anyone whose opinions differed from his own. But textbooks take pains to insulate him from wrongdoing. “Congress,” not Wilson, is credited with having passed the Espionage Act of June 1917 and the Sedition Act of the following year, probably the most serious attacks on the civil liberties of Americans since the short-lived Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. In fact, Wilson tried to strengthen the Espionage Act with a provision giving broad censorship powers directly to the president. Moreover, with Wilson’s approval, his postmaster general used his new censorship powers to suppress all mail that was socialist, anti-British, pro-Irish, or that in any other way might, in his view, have threatened the war effort. Robert Goldstein served ten years in prison for producing The Spirit of ’76, a film about the Revolutionary War that depicted the British, who were now our allies, unfavorably. Textbook authors suggest that wartime pressures excuse Wilson’s suppression of civil liberties, but in 1920, when World War I was long over, Wilson vetoed a bill that would have abolished the Espionage and Sedition acts. Textbook authors blame the anticommunist and anti-labor union witch hunts of Wilson’s second term on his illness and on an attorney general run amok. No evidence supports this view. Indeed, Attorney General Palmer asked Wilson in his last days as president to pardon Eugene V. Debs, who was serving time for a speech attributing World War I to economic interests and denouncing the Espionage Act as undemocratic. The president replied, “Never!” and Debs languished in prison until Warren Harding pardoned him. The American Way adopts perhaps the most innovative approach to absolving Wilson of wrongdoing: Way simply moves the “red scare” to the 1920s, after Wilson had left office!
So Wilson was quite happy to use the Constitution as toilet paper, too.
And all those words are taken from the text of Loewen’s book.
But what does Loewen leave out?
That Woodrow Wilson wasn’t just associated “with progressive causes like women’s suffrage,” he was a dyed-in-the-wool Progressive – the predecessor to today’s “liberal” (who today want to call themselves “Progressives” because we’ve figured out that “liberal” is a word that’s been hijacked). He was the perfect Progressive for his time – nationalist, Darwinist, admirer of Hegel, Christian, and a staunch advocate of reform of the nation through the power of the Federal government.
PBS reports (you believe PBS, right? Bill Moyers’ network?):
An academic rising star, Wilson returned to Princeton in 1890 to become a professor of jurisprudence and economics at his beloved alma mater. The most popular professor on campus, Wilson lectured on the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots in America in the early 1890s. Captains of industry like the Rockefellers, Carnegies and Morgans had become fabulously wealthy, while the majority of American workers lived in poverty. Wilson proposed the federal government be given more power to rein in big business. Publishing his views in magazines like Harper’s and accepting numerous speaking invitations, Wilson soon became a nationally-known public figure. In 1902, Wilson was unanimously elected president of Princeton University.
“He apparently had an extraordinary effect on audiences. His voice was powerful and very moving…I think he’s probably at his best when he spoke.” – Louis Auchencloss, historian
Boy, does that description remind you of anyone?
The New Jersey Democratic Party political bosses, who mistakenly thought the college president would play the part of political stooge, convinced Wilson that their support would guarantee his election as the state’s governor. Once in office, Wilson successfully pushed a decidedly progressive agenda, and along the way outwitted the very bosses who thought Wilson a puppet for their use. His New Jersey successes positioned Wilson at the forefront of the cresting, national wave of progressivism.
During his first two years as president, Wilson demonstrated his political acumen in accomplishing one of the most impressive strings of domestic legislative victories in history.
Under Wilson the income tax was passed. Under Wilson, the eight-hour workday, child labor laws, and anti-trust legislation were all herded through Congress.
The Democrats carried majorities in both houses of Congress, and many newly elected rank-and-file lawmakers were eager to gain favor with Wilson by supporting his agenda. Party leaders, controlling powerful committee chairs after many terms in the minority, were also willing to give the president much of what he wanted. Wilson exerted his power boldly-more than any chief executive had done before-by drawing from his strengths as orator, educator and political scholar. He cast complex legislation in moral and uplifting terms. He often conferred with party leaders, to find and build consensus. He participated actively in drafting the details of proposed legislation.
Lest anyone claim that all he did was sign the bills that came to his desk.
Looking ahead to re-election, however, Wilson calculated that further reform was the only politically viable means to capture a second term. Wilson saw as his best course a consolidation of his support among Democratic Party progressives and those of the former Progressive Party. Political realities dovetailed with his own convictions to produce a legislative agenda attractive to social reformers, farmers and labor. In a second flurry of legislative productivity, Wilson championed some of his more far-reaching, previously shelved reforms, including the Nineteenth Amendment extending suffrage to women.
All this from that racist, warmongering, colonial, anti-communist corporatist!
Whose philosophy was thoroughly modern Leftist – the use of power to make the world a better place, as he saw it.
Don’t you find it ironic that you bemoan Rousseau and yet, when it comes to you country, all you see is the good in it?
No, Mark, I see a lot more than just the good. I’m not the one who wrote “We have to face the unpleasant fact that our country is horribly broken and I am simply not going to attempt to appease these psychotic putzes anymore.”
Is the country broken? No, it’s about as fucked up as it usually is, but at least I see the good.
You were bang-on-the-money when you said this, though: “I realize that it is pointless to try to see the middle ground on issues where there is no middle ground.”
You almost grasp that there is no “Third Way” (which is what Obama keeps promising, though he never calls it that) when the philosophies are so widely divergent. You have a philosophy, Markadelphia, a belief system. But it’s one that you’ve just slapped together haphazardly. It’s internally contradictory (most are, but yours… whew!), and you bend it to suit whatever situation comes up, but it’s a system you apply daily. I have read your blog.
I’ll finish up with one more excerpt from one of your posts, and then I suggest that we not darken each others doorsteps again:
Fellow blogger Kevin Baker asked me this question on his blog the other day: how will Obama heal our souls? The question reminded of another question that was asked in comments last week: how will Obama get able bodied men to work who are lazy and don’t want to? The answer to both questions is the same.
Barack Obama is not the messiah. He will not heal our souls. What he can do is lead us to the beginning of the path and the rest of it is up to us.
So he’s not the Second Coming of Jesus, he’s the Second Coming of Moses?
In effect, each one of us is a messiah to ourselves. Believe me when I tell you, we really NEED to start down that path or it’s over for our country.
Each of us has that Christ power that inside of us. Every one of us has the capacity for love, hope, and peace. Everyone of us has the power to take these three fundamental traits and put them into action, not just in our communities but in our country at large. We can do this by picking an issue in our communities, getting involved and making it better. I think the reason why most conservatives don’t grasp this concept is that they don’t understand the difference between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.
Sure we do. But we also understand that a lot of people who say they’re doing things to improve the world are doing things to improve themselves at the expense of others. As for the ones who really are trying to make a better world, the majority of them get damned dangerous if they get their hands on that power.
They can’t understand people who are motivated to do the things purely for the joy of doing them. Most conservatives believe the only way to motivate people is through money…and fear. It really doesn’t have to be that way.
When you break out of that system, you gain power.
Woodrow Wilson believed precisely what you believe – that the Power of God would allow him to fix everything. Everything he did, he did believing that it would Make the World a Better Place. You think Obama can inspire people to Make the World a Better Place, but for some reason the only place he can do that is from behind the desk in the Oval Office.
What that last excerpt proclaims is what was once known as Social Gospel. Well, you’re at least keeping in theme. Give that last link a read. You’ll reject it out of hand, but still, I keep trying…
Personally, I’m against government trying to make people… better. Because the only tool governments have is force, and using that tool, they tend to break a lot of things. When they build mass social movements, they tend to kill a lot of people.
Like the people they think they can make better.
And when that doesn’t work, they try again, only HARDER!
Just remember one thing: THIS “psychotic putz” is armed.