The solution to every complex problem begins with a unified theory. All the pieces have to fit.
I’m Bernard Chumm, resident curmudgeon of the Sands Institute, living in Portland. Chatting, and other forms of uncivil intercourse, with the Enemy is my bailiwick, so to speak.
Vassar asked me to look in on the threads associated with a complaint by a regular commentator, Icythus, about the declining state of civility between commenting members on RedState.
There was an other-wordly quality to that entire session, since looking around us, with news from Washington almost as the news from Dunkirk in ’40, our Republic’s toes already teetering over the precipice, to be wondering if tweeds would be more suitable for that final tumble into the abyss than black tie and dinner jacket.
Not to seem glib, VENUE is much of the problem here, as I gathered from the initial complaint that 1) RedState is a conservative, even Christian, site, and that much like the YMCA, anyone who is willing to respect the significance of the “C” in that acronym is also invited to participate.
In other words, you speak of this site as a kind of club. Being outsiders, although we agree with almost everything being done here (we’ve been watching much longer than we’ve been posting) I can’t help but note the clubsy atmosphere. Them and us. Trolls seem to be anyone who is one of them. Regardless of their use or mis-use of the English language, they are uninvited.
The standard warnings about club membership, of course, apply, as I was once a member of a North Carolina country club in the 1970s. Any club can first wrap its arms around you and embrace you, then restrain you. Hitler proved that peer pressure among professional club members (doctors, lawyers, civil servants) can be one of the greatest tools of murder imaginable. Marx did the same with academicians. He made them the unthinking tools for tyranny. Such is the power of the club.
What is other-worldly is that the Left occupies an entirely different place on the internet than most conservatives do, making the relationship between FrontPage posters on Redstate also other-wordly vis a vis back- benchers such as ourselves and Icythus. We are all only observers to a fight being led by others, commenting along the way.
On the Front Page there is a real war being carried out, with soldiers moving…on both sides. On our side, we read, we even edify, we comment, we commiserate (a lot)…but only amongst ourselves. No movers and shakers, no one in Congress, in the GOP, or other power circles really notice what we say. Thus, here, we have a club. There, they have a fight…and if you haven’t noticed, there’s a war on.
Now, I can’t know Erick Erickson original purposes, but it has worked. He, and this site, are now “players” to the extent blogs can be that. It has worked because RedState has become a center of conservative action, especially grass roots action, a clearinghouse for all sorts of citizen action in local communities. It is also a great news source. Most of all, being professional analysts ourselves, with a unified theory and an objective, we especially like the analysis found on RedState. RedState can cause things to happen. It can get things moving. It can even lead.
But speaking of “other worlds”, RedState is as close to accomplishing on the Right in the past couple of years what the Left has been doing on the internet at least a decade…using it as a weapon. It is in this context that I read almost all the commiserations about “civility” and the use of certain ill-tempered words among colleagues and common bondsmen.
Alas, and I really don’t know the “why” of this, too many modern conservatives aren’t of a fighting mind. While the Left can put 500 people to trolling popular conservative sites every day, or 100, or even a 1000 people to a location, e.g., someone’s store front, or into a bus caravan, inside a few hours, too many conservatives seem content to talk the problem to death inside their internet club, believing as many “professional Christians” (Mark Twain’s term) believe, that with that one hour visit per week to church they’ve made their weekly tithe to protecting the Constitution, retiring at night, sleeping the sleep of the innocent, wondering who is dropping the ball and letting Congress get away with all this stuff. “Sure as hell ain’t me.” (I’m sure you know this kind.)
If you haven’t gathered by now, though well into our sixties, we are all fire-starters in our little group. I’m the guy with a bag of rotten tomatoes, looking for just one clear shot at Lady Nan. If Congresswomen wore panties anymore, we’d be the ones trying to set up a raid to steal them…not just because that is what the situation calls for in these dire times…acts that are outside the box, and one step ahead, rather than behind the contingency plans paid handsomely for with considerable millions of the Soros-dollars Republican donors can’t seem to find…, but “Ay, God, Woodrow”, they are fun. (RedState should be working with donors for its own cadres for Agitprop, but that’s another issue.)
The Left uses the internet as a tool, as ammunition. The Right seems to use it as sanctum sanctorum, an escape from the rudities and crudities of the political world. I can’t help but believe this latter condition is caused from a nearsightedness that is damned near narcissistic in nature.
So, we like trolls, opposite minded people sneaking into a site and stirring up a ruckus…inasmuch as we think our side would be better at trolling than the Left. If armed with the facts, a keener wit, etc why not invade the bastions of Mordor under the shadow of darkness?
You see, our purposes would be different than the Left’s. Almost everywhere, when a fellow comes onto a site lobbing f-bombs, he/she is quickly dumped. Most beta filters catch the awfullest words, but, like email spam, they can still find a way. (On our home site I can say “d**n” to accentuate a point, but must say Richard Cheney, as they won’t let me say “Dick”. I feel like George Carlin in Las Vegas, trying to say “shite” in a town where the number one game is craps.)
What you may not know is that person/troll is as often as not sent there, as a probe. The Left has millions in the pop culture (which we don’t, since we abandoned it…another culture war we don’t want to dirty our hands with) who, from 15 to 21 volunteer for these missions all the time….because it is in their nature to do this sort of get-even thing. They were trained and prompted in the public schools and into the little cliques since sixth grade, just to nurture this type of alienism.
The reasons for most of these incursions is not to engage you in argument, but to cause you to tighten security, so as to make yourselves even more insular. They do this because they know your predilections for insularity (clubsiness). Why bother to lay siege to your sally ports when you’ve already bricked them up…from the inside? (At least you know how the GOP gets its leadership.)
Behind these useful idiots are a number of “mentor” sites…college profs, etc…who will mature them like so much chord wood….before throwing them into the fire. This has been going on for years, and is well financed. These mentors are just as erudite, well-read, and glib as your best writers here…only they have that army of cannon fodder and we don’t.
We argue, they can be had, made more security conscious themselves, and even more paranoid, although it requires a deft hand and some perseverance. What they cannot do is be saved, at least by us. What can be done is to have their sense of invincibility made more vincible. We can hit them on recruitment, as being “cool” is their greatest recruiting tool. For instance, we have a volunteer science ethicist and Christian who liked to visit the “open sites” where anything goes. For three years he honed on a no-holds-barred Canadian video site, before they shut down. Now he’s asking deep questions on a very erudite pro-atheism. But on Glumbert he wrangled with a mob of about 5 regular scat-mouthed anti-American terror-symps. Identifying himself early on as a Christian, he took a terrible beating, five against one. He quickly proved what’ we’ve always argued on our site, that most atheists aren’t. They didn’t “not believe” in God, they just disapproved of Him. After all, He was a meanie who had rules that couldn’t be side-stepped, or fixed, or jury-rigged. And He was always saying “no”. As Vassar Bushmills wrote in his essay on the “Mother of All Liberalism”, the modern Left is nothing more than people who define themselves by what and who they hate; just a giant teat fit. Bushmills traced this back to Marx and beyond.
In this vein, our friend “streamline” would argue, and they would curse for several days, then as he began to get the best of them, they would simply move to the next anti-Bush, anti-America, anti-common man video, and the ruckus would start all over again…they believing they were starting with a blank slate. When the site closed down earlier this year, he had about 10 regulars on his side, and all but two of the original mobsters were still on board against him. The tide had turned.
This is how you win…by shutting them up. It is not for you know if you ever really won a point with them, but just like here, you do win points with the readers who are quietly watching.
We study their vanities, as well as their delusions. As with name calling, like most politicians, Lefties are almost impervious to being called liars by outsiders, for that is what they do. It is a tool…only, like Tiger Woods, they also lie to themselves. Carve a path toward unmasking that lie, and their own self-image crumbles in front of their bathroom mirror.
But ike Democrats in Congress, and the Clintons during Travelgate, they will move heaven and earth to prevent being shown to be incompetent. This is their achilles heel. To be seen as unsmart, especially among peers is almost suicide. This is also why certain words such as “idiot” or “liar” won’t work. Besides, as Vassar Bushmills wrote a year or so ago, the use of such terms are usually lies themselves. He says that every misstatement of fact can be from one of four reasons; stupidity (incompetence, idiocy), misinformation, lying, or self-delusion (a big Leftie disease among the young.) The greatest lie extant today is when a person says a thing is so when he cannot possibly know it is so. The entire global warming scam is built on this sort of lie…from the originators of the original data, to the analyzers, to the political repeaters of those “facts”. Get rid of that one lie in public discourse and we win. It’s that simple.
But once a fact of a lie, or incompetence, etc is proved, within a reasonable doubt, all bets should be off. In Mark Twain’s time, it was a fighting matter to be called a “d**ned lair”, or damning someone’s (innocent) mother by calling them b**stard or SOB. We should find the modern equivalent words to these fighting words today and use them for In our view, sometimes it is appropriate, even called for to not only call a spade a spade, but a fritzing shovel. And better from the mouth of Mitch than Erick Erickson or Rush Limbaugh.
So, back to Our Side, it does our cause no good at all, if we do have all the facts, all the keen wits, the moral, ethical and philosophical high ground, but have no backbone, no taste for a fight, or a willingness to get our shirts dirty and our nose bloodied, so as to take back the highway they patrol and control.
Let me finish by saying pointing out a few unified facts: As the Republic does seems to be collapsing, every man/women/family in America has to confront it and deal with it along a path of their own choosing, with the survival of their House first in mind. History shows most people, if allowed, tend to sidle off to the side before deciding on a final course of action. (That they will do this is part of the game plan of the Left, with the hope that it will be too late by the time they wake up.) In the Revolutionary War, almost half did just that, preparing themselves for a stark, frightening new beginning if the rebels won, or a continuation of the awful, but survivable usurpations by the crown if the King did. One of the devils, they already knew.
Our situation today is more precarious. Several million Americans have already decided they know the devil that lay ahead, and for them there will be no turning back. (My little team here also knows this devil, for we’ve seen it in its starkest form, in China, Russia, the eastern Bloc.) Most of these Americans are not on the intellectual side of the conservative ledger. They are not policy wonks. They have never read Von Hayek, though probably have read Glenn Beck.
Chesterton reminded us that the common man and woman have a greater stake in democracy than do his betters. 1) They can’t run away and relocate. 2), They can’t cohabit collegially. For them there is only fight or surrender.
I have to place this entire “civility” notion in that context. Decide on your own how and who you want to work alongside, despite or because of his use of the word “idiot” as a noun when it would have served a more honest purpose by being used an adjective. But in the end there will be a fight, an ugly fight, and a fight that will no doubt get some noses bloodied and shirts ruffled.
If you choose, for the sake of your vanities, the sidelines, especially over trivial rules interpretations, i.e., …when it is over, don’t expect the usual old seat around the constitutional dinner table. A bag boy down at QFC will have taken your place.