Damage Done

A second type of individual appears to have lined up to oppose the “Ground Zero mosque”: the liberal coward, whose refrain goes something like this (paraphrasing):

We can acknowledge Imam Rauf’s right to build a mosque near Ground Zero, but why is now the time, and why is that the place? This will damage East/West relations. He should show his good faith by moving the mosque somewhere else, to allow a constructive dialogue to grow.

If we doubted the sincerity of the person making this argument, we’d call him a “concern troll.” As it stands, we can at least doubt his ability to assess causation. The flaw here arises because, by the time you ask the question about whether the center’s construction will damage East/West relations, it’s too late to avoid the harm. The center’s opponents had the last, best chance to avoid revealing this country’s latent strain of anti-Islamism; instead, they’ve done their best to whip it into a frenzy. Rauf can hardly be blamed for thinking, ten years later, we were ready to talk about Islam like adults, and a free nation shouldn’t be in the business of asking minorities to assume the risk of bigotry.

Now that this die is cast, and East/West relations already damaged, we need only concern ourselves with the best way forward. Do we evidence our country’s commitment to freedom, and the discomfort that sometimes entails, by rallying to the Little Guy, or throw him under the bus at the first sign of trouble? If we’re to take seriously the Bush era notion of “winning hearts and minds,” now seemingly abandoned by the right as quaint or at least contrary to a helpful election year narrative, the answer seems clear.


  1. So close. So close. You almost made it through a post without criticiznf the Right. Way to keep that partisan street cred alive and well.

  2. Hardly! I think “winning hearts and minds” is a GREAT idea, and didn’t mean to imply otherwise. I’d dispute Bush’s execution of that idea, but the idea itself is gold.

    1. “…now seemingly abandoned by the right as quaint or at least contrary to a helpful election year narrative”

  3. Well, isn’t that strictly accurate? I appreciate that you’re on the right side of this one, but all public faces in the GOP aren’t.

    1. But why make the comment? Is this sentence any less powerful?

      “If we’re to take seriously the Bush era notion of “winning hearts and minds,” the answer seems clear.”

    2. The right wing in general deserves to suffer for its poor leadership selections. It’s hardly an unfair point to make that even Bush was better than the second-tier minds we have to put up with lately.

      1. But wasn’t your post about, “A second type of individual…the liberal coward” ?

        1. Just so I understand, you’re using the term liberal = Democratic, rather than as a position on the political spectrum of liberal to conservative, whether or not you view yourself as a member of the Republican or Democratic Party, correct?
          Right does not always indicate Republican (although I have to admit, right-leaning liberals are not common, and tend to be libertarians).

          And the post is correct – the right has decided that their election year politics does not need to “win hearts and minds” but terrify the public into voting for them.

          1. I think Ames would agree that he uses Left/Democrat and Right/Republican at will. If there is more nuance to his position I’d love to hear it.

            As for his closing remark, you have to understand that in my experience reading his blog for several years now, he has made it painfully clear that he approaches politics as a team sport. This is of course because Ames wants to be a politician himself, as he has implied several times in the past. So, every blog post must contain at least one criticism of the other team. Seriously, try to read through his archives. I dare you to find more than a handful of posts in three years that don’t criticize the Right in some way. It’s okay, that’s his style of blogging. It’s just kind of…predictable.

            1. I’ll have to defer in regards to your personal experience – Ames doesn’t need me to be a cheerleader. However, it does seem that focussing on the terms and the “points scored” detracts from the questions that Ames brings up, and removes your ability to discuss what’s happening from your view and provide approaches and solutions. IMHO, of course.

              1. Erika – you are exactly right – that certain focuses DO detract from providing info on one’s views and solutions. I would LOVE to hear Ames’ ideas about how to fix various issues. The only thing I have been able to gather in 3 years of reading though is that he is really good at pointing out what the GOP is doing wrong. I rarely hear any positive remarks about liberal policy other than ‘it’s beter than what conservatives want’.

            2. That’s the position I take. Thanks Erika ;)

  4. Bush era notion of “winning hearts and minds

    You spelled “stabs” wrong.

  5. I’m really mystified by this whole mosque thing. It’s been almost 10 years – do people really give a crap about 9/11 anymore?????

    1. Of course they do. Ten years has allowed the mythology to take over rather than the facts or actual actions of the time. Ten years is enough time to cover over the brief coming together of Americans to deal with the tragedy, and replace it with the manufactured mythology of the “Islam hates us and is trying to destroy the US (and they can succeed if we don’t do things just right)”. If there’s one thing that America is great at, it’s creating a mythological history and acting on the story rather than the facts.

      1. I agree. Joe Scarborough discussed that very point this morning.

  6. Mike, so your position here is that, regardless of whether I’m right, and the conservative movement is trying to score points at the expense of Muslim Americans, I shouldn’t be allowed to make this point, because it’s… repetitive?

    1. My position is that your post was about liberals who are behaving badly about the mosque thing. The conservative dig at the end was just silly.

      It all goes back to the same thing though Ames. You are a ngeative blogger. You don’t really celebrate liberalism or discuss why liberal policy is better. You just point out why conservatism is wrong, wrong, wrong. It sort of makes me think you aren’t really all that proud of the Left other than the fact that it isn’t the Right?

    2. I think you’re emphasizing some posts over others, unfairly. A quick read over the past week shows a lot of posts about the positive things about the left’s worldview.

      1. And how many of those make no mention of the Right?

      2. Good is defined in relation to bad; I can’t imagine a rule of writing that requires positive statements never include any mention of the alternative. If that’s the rule you’re urging, it’s silly.

        1. See – that’s incorrect. Good policy should be contrasted with the problem it’s supposed to correct. You state the problem and explain why your policy would fix it. Pointing out how the other side’s proposal would NOT fix it is just partisanship.

          Now, if the problem stems directly from bad policy, fine – point out the flaws in the bad policy. But you always take it a step further. You say, “Here’s this terible policy – and by the way, the GOP put that in place.” It’s petty.

          I’m not saying you should NEVER bag on the other side. We all do it. But when it’s EVERY..SINGLE…POST. It’s exhausting. When you contrast your style with other blogs that really want to encourage a dialogue, it’s night and day. But hey, if this is just prep for the campaign trail, I’d say you’re doing great.

          1. Hmm, I was taught in debate class that to have a full debate you have to 1) state the problem 2) state how your proposal will solve or mitigate the problem 3)show how your proposals differs and is better than other proposals out there (if other proposals actually exist). According to your argument, 3 is pure partisanship? Now I was in high school decades ago, but I’m figuring that debate basics haven’t changed since then.

            If you’re discussing a policy that was put in place, shouldn’t you describe who put it in place and why so that the argument can be fully understood?

            1. The problem is that Ames skips 2 completely and only carries out the parts of 3 that bash the other side.

        2. I think you’ve seized upon a line of attack that has the peculiar quality of being impossible to disprove, because you’ll just shift your definition of what “nonpartisan” writing should look like, and claim I haven’t met that bar. Good for you!

          Against such a squishy line of attack, I think the best response is to question your comparison to other blogs. I think I, here, hit about the same tone as, say, Sullivan’s Daily Dish, or Salon, or blogs like that. Give me an example that I’m not living up to?

          1. Sullivan? Really? Hyper-partisan nonsense.

            I would start with The League of Ordinary Gentlemen. And don’t just read the posts. Read the comment sections. It’s the most civil and intelligent commentariat on the web IMO.

            But even going beyond this to look at pro-bloggers like McArdle or Yglesias. They don’t go out of their way to criticize the other side constantly.

  7. That’s funny, because Sullivan plausibly calls himself a conservative. Just a small-government conservative, not a thought/body control conservativel ike the modern GOP. I wonder if he’s rather an unpleasant reminder of what your movement used to be.

    1. Sullivan gave up his credibility as soon as he started on the Trigg Palin stuff. Since then he’s ventured so far into wacko land that i really don’t think anyone on either side of the aisle takes him seriously.

  8. Haha, you know what’s also funny? What you accuse ME of doing, the entire Republican PARTY is doing. As even their chief apologist concedes.


    I’m at least a little adjunct of a larger movement that’s creating and in the process of selling ideas. Yours just doesn’t have any!

    1. Ames – i honestly don’t see you selling anything other than criticism of the Right. Your party is selling a few items, but unfortunately there just don’t seem to be any buyers. Anxiously waiting for the post Election Day excuses…

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