(Note [November 2008]: Three and a half years after the below thread, in which Wade Coriell made extremely offensive comments and was excluded from VFR, Mr. Coriell posted at a Rod Dreher thread, where I was engaged in a big debate, and sincerely apologized
to me for his behavior back in 2004. I gladly accepted the apology.)
I just removed two hostile and disgusting comments posted by an unsavory character whom I had excluded from VFR some time ago, but who succeeded in getting in under the radar screen. I’m struck by the consistency of the pattern I’ve experienced with VFR’s bad apples.
When I’m initially thinking about excluding a person, I’m often not sure if I should do it, because the person doesn’t seem completely outrageous or hostile or irrational, and I’m thinking maybe I’m not being fair, and also I don’t want it to appear that I’m cutting off debate or that I’m thin-skinned or intolerant of different points of view and so on. Also, the person himself will often insist on his good faith, his desire to continue participating in the discussions here, saying that it would be unfair to cut him off. But then, sooner or later, in so many of these instances, the same person manifests himself as unappeasably hostile and not really interested in having a rational discussion, proving that my initial suspicion of him or her was correct.
In connection with the unpleasant necessity of excluding posters, I’m struck by the number of different types of people who dislike and resent me as a result of VFR and the various discussions here. There are liberals who think I’m a nasty racist and are out to uncover my true racism. (One guy actually admitted the only reason he was having a discussion with me was to “catch me out” as a racist.) There are anti-war paleocons who think I’m a sneaky neocon. (If you supported the need for toppling Hussein because you were concerned about the harm he might do us in conjunction with terrorists, that made you a neocon). There are homosexuals who think I’m an evil hater of homosexuals. Lately there is a military veteran who informs me he has a “rational animus” against me for posting and discussing an article critical of Kerry’s first Purple Heart. There are Moslems who think I’m an ignorant anti-Moslem. There are pro-Nazis who hate me because I’m a Jew. There are atheists who dislike me because I’m a Christian.
If all the people who are annoyed at me got together, I’d really be in trouble. But somehow I think they’d have trouble cooperating with each other.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 12, 2004 06:24 PM | Send
I have often enjoyed reading Mr. Auster’s thoughts on various events and issues, and I find him very articulate and interesting. That said, I am amazed at the self-righteous posturing, intellectual pomposity, and condescending arrogance that permeates every single one of his posts about other people’s comments on his site. For the love of God, no one cares to read a multiple-paragraph piece of intellectual masturbation about how thoughtful and special and process-oriented you are. Just shut up and talk about the damn issues, and lose the “reading people out of the movement” mentality. Mr. Roach never said anything bigoted or inappropriate, but poor little Larry got upset because his credentials were questioned. How gay.
I realize I will be banned from this site momentarily, but whatever. I’d rather participate on a website where discussion is appreciated, and not overly-moderated by some narcissistic ass whose insecurities about various aspects of his background won’t allow him to listen and engage normally with others.
I don’t hate you for any of the reasons you mention above. I hate you because the tone of everything you write is so laced with attributes I despise that I have trouble not vomiting on my screen.
Thanks, Mr. Coriell. Instead of removing your comment, I’ll leave it up for a while so that everyone can have a chance to read it and understand _why_ the exclusion of some commenters is so necessary.
Golly, Larry. When you called Andrew Sullivan a “sicko” and all the rest, you admitted you were not engaging in civil conversation but didn’t care because you consider him hopeless in that regard. Ditto for me calling you “condescending” and a “narcissistic ass.”
I forgot to include on my list: there are people who can’t stand me because I’m pompous and condescending. Also, there are people who despise me and think me a coward because I exclude troublesome commenters.
I hear you like to drop-kick puppies, trip old ladies, and flip off homeless people. On a good day.
I think that it is imperative, from time to time, to discuss what the standards of a discussion forum are, especially if anyone is being removed from it. To remove people with no reiteration of the standards is to remove them on a petty whim. I am glad that this does not happen without discussion. If it happened without discussion, Mr. Auster would be accused of being a tyrant; if it happens with discussion, he is accused of narcissistically engaging in a discussion about his own thoughts and motives and processes.
Since Mr. Auster cannot avoid criticism either way, there might as well be open discussion of what is going on rather than silent behind-the-scenes removals of posters.
Good point, Clark, if Auster had responded to ANY of Roach’s and my repeated questions as to what the offending language was. Amusing performance by a member of the so-called “politically incorrect” Right.
The site is not over moderated. If anything, Mr. Auster could use some help moderating because of the volume of comments. I want to hear what Mr. Auster says. I want to elevate my knowledge and skills. I certainly am not interested in listening to the relatively ignorant or intellectually mediocre. I suppose Rush (whom I still somewhat like and am not attempting to criticize) might fit this category though he plays a valuable role for Bush supporters, and I wish traditionalists had a similarly popular radio host even if the host operated at Rush’s level. But Rush could not debate Mr. Auster.
I have seen no evidence to support the idea Mr. Auster is tyrannical; the evidence, based on lengthy experience here, conclusively shows me he is the opposite. Indeed, I am sometimes irked by the toleration he shows impolite, moronic, boring, vile, and hateful commentators such as the villain removed today. But I recognize he must restrain himself with boors so he won’t be accused of tyranny.
The standards here are so obvious I am surprised an experienced commentator would wonder what they are. One must be literate, refrain from repeated personal attacks, refrain from using crude language, and generally be respectful towards other commentators. This could probably condensed into one word, but I can’t think of a word. I have never seen a hint that there are any other standards. These standards are everything the popular culture rejects and is a distinguishing feature between traditionalists and other groups of people.
I could go on and on in Mr. Auster’s defense, but I must adhere to Mr. Auster’s other standard: strive to be brief.
Not knowing “who” Mr. Coriell is (I must give him credit for one thing, however—for using his real name), and being fairly new to VFR, I went Google-hopping and found the following link:
Evidently, Mr. Coriell is a recent (‘01) Harvard Law school graduate who won the Moot Law Award in The World Court, or something to that effect. That indicates to me that he should be:
1) quite a good debator
3) well-to-do (silver spoon?)
4) a “Red diaper doper baby” often described by the mouthy but sometimes hilarious Michael Savage
Personally, I don’t care “what” he is OR from whence he came from. If he cannot carry on a heated debate on the issues without resorting to ad hominem attacks on Mr. Auster or others at VFR, then hue deserves whatever “punishment” Mr. Auster deems fit. I recall Mr. roach’s heated all-night debate with Mr. Auster recently. That was borderline or “over-the-line”, but then, I’m not the one to judge.
I think folks out there are hearing about VFR and that goes for the Left. They are worried sick about “Conservatives who make sense” on the issues. They are worried sick about the general population finding out that paleo and traditional Conservatives are not “Nazis” as they portray us, but really wonderful, bright people who care about this country and its future. They (the Left) are the true “Brown shirts”, as if they had the power to, they would shut down all discussion by those on the right. They cannot accept others who do not agree with homosexuality on religious and moral (and some, on “medical”) grounds. They cannot accept others who are pro-military. Hillary (Hitlery to some) is their idol. They worship her. Brown shirts in business suits, pant suits and dresses; that is the Left of today. They are, in many ways, no different from the Islamo-terrorists that would kill us all if they could, because they (the Left) still want to “Bring it all down, man!”, leaving us open to attack and destruction. They are suicidal in this regard, and most of us chose not to follow that path. They may be good “at debating”, but they are fighting a losing battle. Whether they want to admit it or not, the country is moving to the Right, NOT to the left. Look at Bush’s poll numbers. For a fumbling, bumbling public speaker, he is still ahead of Kerry because those on the fence—the Reagan Democrats as they were once called—do not want to see this country weakened and defeated. I believe that these 9/11 hearings have actually helped Bush, although it didn’t look that way at the start. The Left blew it by making those “hearings” a “witch hunt”. People aren’t dumb. I have more hope now through all this horror of late (our boys being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan) than I did just a few days ago. I believe the country is uniting, and that will make the Left “the fringe” instead of the mainstream. Fox News and VFR and other stations and chats have had a very positive effect.
I am not worried about the Wade Coriells of the world. Not in the least.
Mr. Coriell asked for examples of Mr. Roach’s offending language in the Kerry medals thread. I would say that statements such as “If you hung around with normal masculine guys you’d know that we often refer to one another by our last names” are ad hominem and offensive. I would say that suggesting that Mr. Auster might be a “draft dodger or shirker” is ad hominem and offensive. Does Mr. Coriell think this is a proper way to discuss the controversy over Kerry’s medals?
Mr Wade Coriell wrote:
‘Ditto for me calling you “condescending” and a “narcissistic ass.”’
Maybe Harvard Law ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. When I went to school, we were taught that when a pronoun modifies a noun, the pronoun must be in the possessive case (unless it is considered an adjunct modifier).
Should be “Ditto for MY calling…”
Or maybe good grammar is passé.
Mindless ad hominem attacks such as those splattered above by young Master Coriell could perhaps be left alone and unanswered, so that they may announce their author as a boor whose wit or arguments are so weak that he can oppose Mr. Auster’s truths and insights only with vilification - and thus defeats himself. On the other hand, from the point of view of sheer aesthetics, it were perhaps as well to sweep such postings from this site, as so many rat droppings from a cupboard stocked with delicacies….
I wish to encourage Mr. Auster to continue following his current standards for excluding posters. I understand that he can intuitively sense the hostility of a commentator, but it would appear arbitrary if he excluded commentators before they reveal themselves to be “unappeasably hostile and not really interested in having a rational discussion”. It can be difficult to decide whether or not to exclude a commentator; however, Mr. Auster has done well in balancing free debate and expression with the standards of decency, civility, and rationality. If openness to opposing views, decency, civility, or rationality were missing, this website would lose much of its worth.
A couple of comments:
1. Mr. Auster was well within his rights to ban “Roach,” who resorted to personally attacking Mr. Auster about his not having served in the military. I believe that Mr. Auster showed much forebearance and patience with the rantings, which became progessively more irrational over time. Sadly, Mr. Coriell seems to be going down the same path.
2. Even so, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to categorize Mr. Coriell as a mindless leftist. He’s not in the same category as SixFootPole and other assorted types who show up from time to time.
As one who has disagreed with Mr. Auster on occaision, most recently on “The Passion,” I think that he handles dissent very fairly and has done a terrific job in morderating the discussion here.
Ignoring is a reasonable and effective method of dealing with nominalists and the obtuse, after pointing out the commentator’s error. Exiling is probably the best way to deal with the persistent user of ad hominem. Exiling is unfortunately the maximum penalty for the vile; vileness would disappear if there were some kind of cybersoap to wash out the mouths of the vile.
Mr Coleman wrote: “I think that it is imperative, from time to time, to discuss what the standards of a discussion forum are, especially if anyone is being removed from it.”
What he said.
This forum has a very high signal to noise ratio and that’s not something anybody gets and keeps by accident. Whatever needs to be done to keep it high is well worth doing. On the other hand, I needed to lurk for a week to figure out what the house rules were. Even so, I could have easily made the same mistake as Mr. Roach. Where I come from, asking people to connect their personal lives to their political arguments is the most obvious and natural thing in the world.
There’s another thing not everyone is going to come in understanding. A challenge to justify your core beliefs for the nth time, no matter how politely and respectfully phrased, is still going to be received as noise, not signal.
A permanent link off the front page to a list of house rules and explanations would save some trouble with the well-meaning but clueless.
Mr. Coleman points to something I’ve been thinking of writing about: that an online forum is a metaphor for civilization in its encounter with leftism, namely in regard to the relationship between “oppressive authority” (the website host) and the “oppressed alienated victim” (a misbehaving commenter). Thus, as Mr. Coleman pointed out, if I excluded someone without giving reasons, his advocates would consider me a tyrant; if I give my reasons, they consider me narcisistic and self-important. No matter what the “oppressive authority” does, it is wrong. If America uses strong methods to catch and destroy the insurgents in Iraq, then she is a tyrant and her pretensions to bringing democracy to the Iraqis are a sham; but if she refrains from doing those things and lets the insurgents run rampant and turn Iraq into a charnel house, then she is a coward who is once again betraying the Iraqis who trusted in her. Lots of other examples could be provided. A friend said something to me this evening that is relevant to this subject: “Given the current mindset of the world, we should consider having no relationships with the lower cultures (those weren’t the exact words used), because no matter what we do, we’ll be in the wrong.”
Here’s another example of the parallel. If the oppressive authority punishes the oppressed victim, the oppressed victim (or, in this case his advocate) always claims total innocence. Mr. Roach indulged in repeated offensive and insulting behavior toward me, even one instance of which should have been enough to get him excluded. Instead of excluding him, I told him several times he was out of line and told him, even asked him, to stop. But he kept it up until finally I had to exclude him. But, according to Mr. Roach’s advocate, Mr. Roach did _nothing_ wrong and I excluded him utterly arbitrarily and without a cause. This reminds me of something I saw once on Broadway in my neighborhood. A black man approached some police officers who were standing near a squad car. He hassled them, gave them a hard time. They kept indicating him to stop or go away. But he kept up the behavior, getting in their faces. Finally they arrested him, and the man started loudly complaining, “Why are you picking on me? I haven’t done nothin!”
Thanks to Mr. Murgos, Carl, Shrewsbury, Joshua, Mr. Levin, and everyone else for their comments. As for Mr. Hechtman’s suggestion, I’ve thought of that before, and will do it sometime soon.
As for personal information about me which some people seem to regard as of interest, I’ve actually revealed a fair amount of myself in various discussions here—or at least of my inner self. As for biographical stuff, true, I have not been particularly forthcoming. But there’s a time for everything.
Mr. Hechtman informs, or perhaps tantalizes, us that “Where I come from, asking people to connect their personal lives to their political arguments is the most obvious and natural thing in the world.”
He’s clearly not from Marin County, Chappaqua or Hyannis/Palm Beach. Plains, Ga., perhaps?
Not to make light of this discussion, but wouldn’t it be possible (once The Rules were established by Mr. Auster) that one rule that might be considered could be of the “three strikes and you’re out” variety as we have here in CA—or “two strikes” or even “one strike” if the attack is truly below the belt? Thus, a commenter would only be allowed ONE, TWO or THREE ad hominems TOTAL, in any number of threads over time (the limit set by Mr. Auster, of course) directed towards ANYONE in the thread, including Mr. Auster, before being “exiled”. VFR Folk are quite good at keeping tabs on ad hominems—sort of our own “Self Police”! Thus, it wouldn’t be hard to find proof of such “rule breakings”, and we all could enjoy the wonderful threads this special site has to offer (compliments of Mr. Auster, of course!).
As a traditionalist conservative with aristocratic/monarchist tendencies I prefer Mr. Auster’s current approach to a highly formal, codified process. When in the Court, behave yourself or get ejected. No further formalization is required, and in fact further formalization just provides false pretext for whining. We are in the Court at the pleasure of the Duke of VFR.
Auster can’t seem to stand the heat in his own kitchen. He is thin skinned, that is clear, and has a hard time with posters unless they are part of his “amen corner.” Stick in there roach and Wade.
A man’s blog is his castle. If someone like this other matt addressed me that way in my house - or on my blog if I had one - I would throw him out into the street like any other cur unfit for the company of civilized men.
If you want to say something, get your own blog. If you want to say something _here_, then earn and keep the privilege with good behavior.
Matt (upper case) is of course correct. However, I don’t think of a blog as a house or a private home so much as a debating society. I used to participate in a gathering called Catholic Renaissance. The organizer would rent the upstairs hall in an old building on Riverside Drive, there would be a speaker on some topic, followed by discussion. Parliamentary rules were used, i.e., the meeting was directed by a chairman, and people addressed the chairman rather than each other, and would refer to each other using the third person. I had never been a part of something like this and I thought it was great. Now suppose a person came into such a meeting and showed a hostile attitude, using bad language, attacking the group, the chairman or the speaker in personal terms, and generally being obnoxious. He would be asked to leave.
The point is, if you want to participate in some organized group activity, there are certain behaviors that you simply do not engage in. In the real world, as in my debating-club example, everyone would understand this without its being explained. But on the Web, which detaches the human self from a concrete physical and social environment with its natural constraints, and thus easily becomes a reflection of the pop culture and the radically “free” self, many people, like matt (lower case), have the notion that they have the right to behave any way they want, to show up at a website, attack the website, insult the host or other participants there, and if they are chastized or excluded, to make further personal comments. It’s simply unacceptable behavior in a real social environment, and therefore unacceptable at a website such as this as well.
I am a cur! ‘Gasp’
Lawrence, if I came to your house and we had a conversation and I said, “Lawrence, I think you are being a little thin skinned,” would you toss me out? Wouldn’t you merely say, “matt, I think you are wrong for the following reasons…” Tossing me out seems much more uncivil than simply trying to correct my possibly incorrect assumption.
Matt, does good behavior merely mean agreeing with everything that goes on in a conversation? It seems to me that you hurled the first genuine insult without anymore information than what I have posted here. What did I do to incur such wrath?
If you (lower-case matt) came into my house, and in my own house you snidely accused me of being thin-skinned and not being able to stand the heat in my own kitchen, I would reward the style of your candor with ejection. That would allow you to depart in smug satisfaction, while I would no longer have to tolerate your rude presence. Everyone wins.
I don’t have a blog, so I have to reason by analogy here. But if you are in my domain, yes indeed, you will be civil - which includes respectful - or you will depart.
Mr. Auster’s analogy of blog to debating society is a good one, but it is a debating society hosted in a particular person’s home.
What if weren’t snide? What if I just said you were being thin-skinned? And what about the “cur” comment?
I think your snide comment and the cheering on of the uncivil who have already been ejected speaks for itself. It isn’t my living room, but if it was you would already be out with the dogs. It is to your good fortune that Mr. Auster is less thin skinned than I.
That is probably all I have to say on the matter, other than to reiterate that I very much prefer that there NOT be a comprehensive legalistic set of rules that attempt to make the boundaries of civilized conduct explicit. If someone isn’t certain beyond doubt, without aid of a posted set of comprehensive rules, that his conduct is past the threshold of basic civility he ought not engage in it in the first place.
I have had good friendships in which men could call each other to account and challenge each other to do better, to stop rationalizing some personal bad habit, etc. Yet, I don’t think we have ever just said something like, “You are thin-skinned, that is for sure.”
If “matt” truly wants to understand the source of the friction here, he might consider the difference between my friend saying, “Clark, that was not a very smart thing to do”, and “Clark, you are not very smart, that’s for sure.” Smart people do some dumb things once in a while, and we all accept that. Describing a particular action of mine is not the same as drawing a general conclusion about me as a whole.
“matt” also might want to spend more time browsing the archives of the web site, noticing the range of opinion on numerous topics, before deciding that Mr. Auster “has a hard time with posters unless they are part of his amen corner.” (Notice that this is another example of a personal conclusion rather than a criticism of a particular action.) I could hardly begin to list the good discussions in which various contrary positions were taken by the participants with no censure from Mr. Auster.
Mr. Caesar wrote: “Mr. Hechtman informs, or perhaps tantalizes, us that “Where I come from, asking people to connect their personal lives to their political arguments is the most obvious and natural thing in the world.”
He’s clearly not from Marin County, Chappaqua or Hyannis/Palm Beach. Plains, Ga., perhaps?”
Further left than that, but you get the idea. One of those places where “the personal is the political” and vice versa.
A couple of observations:
1. I notice that the first thing someone did in response to my post was to google me. That is a perfectly natural response and well in line with Mr. Roach’s substantive point last week.
2. Mr. Roach indeed questioned Mr. Auster’s masculinity, but this was after Mr. Auster pompously mocked Mr. Roach’s last name. Why was this necessary? The fact is, all of you would be lying if you were to say Mr. Auster is not often condescending and insulting in his posts. Given that style, my view is that he should grant a little leeway to those like Mr. Roach who do not curse or directly insult him.
3. Timegrid’s grammar point is well-taken, although I should say that Harvard Law School does not offer courses in grammer. It is, after all (and admittedly arguably) a law school.
4. Someone on here called me a leftist. That bit of hilarity is representative of the phenonmenon I recognize in all of you. Anyone who disagrees with your approach to issues such as civility must be some sort of political opponent. The fact is that Roach is my good friend. Perhaps some of you so-called conservatives have heard of loyalty?
5. Incidentally, I have never served in the military, and yet Roach has no “animus” toward me. Must blow your mind, Mr. Auster.
Could someone explain to me what a “red diaper doper baby” is?
In response to Mr. Coriell’s five points of 11:20 AM:
1) I was personally not too pleased that you were “googled”, and did not consider it relevant to the discussion. Whether your comments are correct or not is not based on you being from Harvard Law School or any place else. I do not agree that it was “a perfectly natural response”, and we see in point #4 what it leads to.
2) Mr. Auster did not mock Mr. Roach’s last name. The subject of the name came up long ago, at which point in time Mr. Roach let us all know that it was indeed his surname. The point was made then that it is best to have recognizable names that everyone can use in reference to each other. Mr. Auster has also questioned the need for aliases such as “thucydides” and “thrasymachus”, but at least one poster claimed that there was a need for anonymity in order to avoid academic retribution, so the matter was dropped. In the Kerry medals thread, Mr. Auster was just reiterating what he had already said: It would be better to see “Mr. Roach” with some proper capitalization rather than “roach” with no capitalization. If this practice were followed, you can be sure that no one would make any negative references to his name.
3) That is “grammar”, not “grammer” :-) ; otherwise, point well taken. Grammar criticisms are best left to private emails, lest they appear to be diversionary ad hominem, as in the case Mr. Coriell cited.
4) The same person who “googled” you speculated that you were a leftist based on the Harvard affiliation; another reason why I did not find the attempt to “google” your personal background appropriate or productive.
5) The claim was not that Mr. Roach has animus towards anyone who did not serve in the military, but towards any such person who questioned military matters such as the awarding of medals. Perhaps law schools teach that you should properly represent the point you are rebutting — or does the adversarial legal system now teach that misrepresentation is a better strategy? In any case, if you did not know Mr. Roach and voiced any agreement with those who questioned the medals, you might receive a different response from him, even though the questioning sources being cited were veterans themselves.
Mr. Coriell’s belligerence is exacerbated by his utter cluelessness. I was not mocking Mr. Roach’s last name, but doing just the opposite. I wanted to treat his last name _as_ a last name, and not let it sound like the name of an insect. That’s why I addressed him as “Mr. Roach” instead of as “roach.” In fact, some months earlier I had discussed this with him, and as a result he had changed his online name from “roach” to “Mr. Roach.” But then in this more recent thread about Kerry, he changed his name back to “roach.” That’s what I was talking about when I brought up his name. I was not insulting him at all. Here is that earlier exchange with Roach:
I’ve allowed Mr. Coriell to continue to post his hostile messages, so that they could serve as an example of the very topic of this thread. However, that indulgence has served its purpose. Mr. Coriell has heard enough to understand what is acceptable and unacceptable conduct at this site. He can either modify his behavior, or go elsewhere. However, based on my past experience with people like him, I’d say the odds are about 70 to 1 that his next post will be his last.
A “red diaper” baby was a child of communist parents, who sometimes expressed their solidarity by actually using red cloth diapers. Some radio talk show host — perhaps Michael Savage — added “doper” to include the fact that many of these kids grew up to be 1960’s student radicals and part of the explosion of drug use in that era.
To actually be a red diaper baby, you would probably have to be born sometime between 1930 and 1960, as a rough estimate, as I think the practice died out after American communism lost most of its adherents to the neo-Marxist New Left organizations during the 1960’s. (Also, disposable diapers got popular!)
I’m the only child of a pair of traditionally conservative parents from Texas. Both of them seem to have missed out somehow on all of the popular 60s fads, a fact for which I am eternally grateful.
I will say one more thing and then drop this Roach matter. I don’t think this is at all hostile and offensive, so I trust it will not get me banned, if indeed I am wrong about the way such banning works at this site:
A friend of mine asked me to read through his conversation in a thread on this site, for which he was banned. I did so, and while I saw a heated discussion that sometimes strayed into general questions of a personal nature, I found nothing particularly offensive and said so. I am of the opinion that Mr. Auster at times strays, in both tone and manner, into somewhat insulting comments to others. We all do, and I bring it up only to point out that Roach should not have been banned. I can honestly say that you all are missing out by his no longer being permitted to post here.
Over and out.
I would like to add, speaking of mischaracterizations, that Mr. Roach is not a military veteran.
One thing about Harvard students has remained constant through the years as Mr. Roach & Mr. Coriell have shown us: arrogence, and the belief that we would be so much better off having them around to enrich our lives. Methinks Mr Roach & Mr. Coriell are used to tame, Harvard conservatives that bent over on command, not the type they encountered out here, and it put them a touch off stride.
Mr. Roach is not a Harvard student, and for the millionth time, this dispute is one about civility, not politics. I am not going to engage in some sort of “I’m more right-wing than you are” debate, but let’s just say my conservative credentials are just about the LAST thing I’m insecure about.
Moreover, I doubt my presence here has enriched a single one of your lives, given that my posts have been almost exclusively about this silly banning debate, and not anything substantive.
Finally, Mr. Auster, if I’m expected to restrain my hostility, is it not fair to ask individuals such as Mr. Hagan to refrain from making retarded attacks on my background. I would be happy to engage with him were I allowed, but my guess is I would get banned.
Little thin-skinned there Mr. Coriell. My post was not hostile, just making a little fun at your expense. Please feel free to fire away at me:)
Frankly, the self-satisfaction of folks like Mr. Hagan is more reminiscent of Harvard Law School than anything. Reminds me why I was so glad to graduate.
In that case, I think the use of emoticons is ridiculous and juvenile.
I think Mr. Hagan was replying to Mr. Coriell’s immature, disgusting and hate-filled first post in this thread, for which he deserved instant exclusion from this site, but which I deliberately left on the board so that other people could see the kind of thing I’m dealing with. Anything Mr. Hagan said is so mild compared to what Mr. Coriell said that I’m not going to find fault with him for it.
However, I have to reverse myself on something. When I gave Mr. Coriell an ultimatum in my 11:46 a.m. post, I had frankly forgotten how grossly insulting he was in his first post. Not only has he not retracted those statements, but he even threatens to unleash his hostility further if he is not treated right. Given the fact that he has already stated that he “hates” me, it would be an offense not just to me, but to anyone who expects reasonable standards to be maintained at this site, for Mr. Coriell to remain. Therefore he is banned.
What I should have done at the start was to leave the post up, but to ban Mr. Coriell from further posts. I regret the oversight.
Also, I acknowledge that Mr. Coriell, proving my prediction wrong (at least initially), did comply with my ultimatum that he drop the hostile attacks. But, once again, it was my error to have given him that chance to reform himself, since, as I’ve said, he deserved exclusion for his earlier post by itself, even if he had been willing become a perfect citizen afterward.
I will fess up to baiting Mr. Coriell somewhat, but only because it was so easy to do, and proved a point Mr. Auster made about his instability and crudness. In many respects Mr. Coriell is a typical product of our elite Universities, utterly clueless, yet full of rage, snide comments, and hate. For that I see he received many awards at Harvard Law school.
I have to differ with the general assessment of Harvard grads around here. The ones I’ve had working for me have been diligent and capable when given the proper direction. Kind of high maintenance, but quite capable when carefully and diligently managed. Downright relentless in the face of impossible odds too, though it was never quite clear if the underlying attribute was hubris or ignorance. Of course our success with our Harvard grads may have had something to do with how strict we were about just who we hired in the first place.
If you ever get yourself into the tough spot of having a Stanford grad work for you, though, remember the Cardinal Rule of Executive Leadership: the fastest way to improve morale is to fire all the unhappy people.
I will out myself here Matt as being a Harvard College grad, so I don’t have any hate, or contempt for the University. I was just trying to see if Mr. Coriell was able to get his emotions under control. As for our elite universities like Harvard, well, there are some promising things happening on campus, and some troubling things.
Per Mr. Hagan’s comment:
Maybe I missed something, but I don’t think Mr. Roach has confessed to being a Hah-vud Man. Mr. Coriell has confessed to being one and to being Roach’s friend. I’m not sure it follows that Roach is therefore a Harvard Man himself, unless one assumes that the only people who will befriend Harvard graduates are other Harvard graduates. Harvard has become a grotesque blight on the American scene, but there are a few people left who have managed not to lose their minds completely while taking a Harvard degree. As Harvard continues to decay, their numbers dwindle… HRS
I hope I escaped Harvard with some sense, but Mr. Sutherland is right that Mr. Roach is not a Harvard student, or grad. I just thought that Mr. Coriell & Mr. Roach came as a package-deal. My mistake.
I would like Mr. hagan to please tell me just what is “positive” happening at Stanford these days…The Hoover Institute?? While all eyes were on U.C. Bezerkeley during the tumultuous 60s and 70s, all lot too was happening at Stanford. Diversity and liberalism are king and queen at Stanford. If you’re from another country, they love you. If you’re a conservative, you had better keep your trap shut. I know.
My last post to David Levin was lost, so if it comes back I trust Mr. Auster will delete it. Stanford, like many elite institutions, has excellent courses in the hard sciences. The computer lab at Stanford is doing great, cutting edge work. The trouble at places like Stanford & Harvard resides in the education schools, divinity schools, law schools, and in the social sciences which are in ruin. There is a great difference between the soft sciences & the hard sciences on the American campus. This state of affairs is what I was commenting on. I should have been more clear on that fact because it shows the clear breakdown in our culture. If the left can find a way to despoil the hard sciences they will. As of yet, they remain a beacon of hope on campus.
“I would like to add, speaking of mischaracterizations, that Mr. Roach is not a military veteran.” —Wade Coriell
We military veterans picked up on that fact right off the bat.
I think they should develop a new reality TV show with all you cockgobblers in it. It should be called “Conservatives Even the Most Rabid Right-Winger Thinks Should be Sodomized With a Glowstick.”
In each episode, Larry “the Liquidator” Auster would preside over a room filled with somewhat effiminate yes-men who, between rabid attempts to pleasure Larry orally, would compete to see which one would be left standing at the end of the show. Larry would periodically “ban” his yes-men from the room, and he would of course accompany each ban with a pompous discourse about how he is the world’s sole remaining defender of the classical virtues. This would be partially true, as Larry would be engaging in the classical Greek practice of having sex with younger men.
It’s been a real hoot listening to you imbeciles for a few days. But as Sinatra said, now the end is near, and so I face my final curtain. Thanks for being the first group of people in 3 years to make me actually wish I was back in the Harvard intellectual environment. The bar was set low, but you turds managed to lambada under it. Kudos, and ta-ta.
To quote one of my dad’s friends, “You can’t make an egg without breaking a few omelettes.
Mr. Coriell should visit michaelsavage.com to find out the definition of a “Red diaper doper baby”. I believe Savage coined the term. He also explains the definition fairly regularly on his show.
Another response to “the departed” Mr. Coriell. I was the one he accused of “googling” him. To be fair, I have “googled” more than Mr. Coriell, and I see nothing wrong with looking someone up on the internet (isn’t it free to anyone who wants to use it?) who in all possibility may be famous! I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself needlessly by joining a discussion in which I had no clue as to “who” I was debating or chatting with—I would want to have every advantage. As any good lawyer or debator knows (I assume Mr. Coriell is one, as he graduated from a great law school), the more “prepared” one is for a debate, the more that person can add to the discussion! I have certainly made my share of errors joing a discussion I knew nothing or little about. I did not “google” Mr. Coriell to find out if he was a Jew or an Arab American or even a married man or “where” he lives. I did so only to see if he was famous or someone I should know about, and in fact, I found out that in some ways, he IS! So, with all due respect, I have nothing to apologize for. “Know thy enemy”—isn’t that a famous quote? Well, Google and other search engines allows us to “know” our friends as well as our enemies. Tit for tat applies here, and Mr. Coriell is more than willing to “Google” ME if he so desires.
To show that even conservatives have humility, I withdraw my “Red diaper doper baby” comment after Mr. Coleman’s well-explained 11:46 AM post. I also withdraw my statement in my “Personally, I do not care who he is or from whence he came” comment, because that belies my looking him up at Google. That was a hypocritical statement.
Mr. Coleman, in his previous post (11:39 AM) showed displeasure with my finding/opinion that Mr. Coriell “is a leftist because he went to Harvard/Harvard Grad School” and for my posting the link I found on Mr. Coriell at Google. For these I also apologize, because I am certain that somewhere out there, there have been Harvard Law School grads who are conservatives or libertarians.
I also want to thank Mr. hagan for his desription of Stanford’s computer science and other “hard science” centers. As I grew up on that campus, I was subjected to mostly the liberal arts profs and their grad students, not the science or computer science students and their professors. But we had “neighbors” who I got to know outside of our home who were definitely pro-military and conservative. Mr. hagan is absolutely right; the politics of the hard science staff differed from those of, say, my father’s area (Dept. of English, ‘52-‘70) and I am sure it still applies. On the other hand, some great writers and poets came out of that English Dept. who were, unfortunately of “a different political persuasion”—Ivor Winters, Wallace Stegner et al.
Though banned, Wade Coriell got in under the radar. As I did before, since the subject of this thread is malcontents like Coriell and how to deal with them, I’m going to leave the comment up as an example for all to see. In the future, when people question me for banning posters, I’ll point to this and say, this is not a matter of dealing with people who have different opinions from oneself, this is a matter of dealing with pathology.
You have to wonder, what decay is going on inside a person such as Coriell to make him fall apart like this? And why, time after time, do people like Coriell go for aspersions on their enemy’s masculinity? What explains this rage that invariably goes for the lowest, most shameful kind of insults which only cast disgrace upon the person making them? Blacks have always gone for this kind of thing to put down an opponent; but before the last couple of years, I had never seen white men resort to the same thing. Yet nowadays I see it happening over and over. The moment that an argument turns bitter, these rejected people start calling you by certain well-known epithets. However, Coriell in his fit has gone beyond anything I’ve seen.
Also, are we to understand that Coriell is a graduate of Harvard Law School? God save this country.
By the way, I exchanged several e-mails with him on Thursday, explaining why I was excluding him. I spoke to him firmly but civilly. And look at the hysterical result.
Which returns me to the point I made previously, that the problem of dealing with troublesome posters is a metaphor for civilization in its relationship with the cultural Other and the alienated. Such people cannot be dealt with successfully through reason, they cannot be appeased. Any attempt to deal with them reasonably only makes them more furious. Isn’t this what has happened in our relations with the Islamic world? America thought it was helping Moslems in Somalia, in Kosovo, in Bosnia, in the Gulf War, in the Israel-Palestinian “peace process,” and so on and so on. But these things did not make the Moslems more friendly toward America, but more filled with hate against America.
The lesson is that there is no way to deal with angry aliens, or angry outsiders, or with the “oppressed,” except to have nothing to do with them. Which is why my own preference for dealing with the Moslem world is to isolate it and form a cordon sanitaire around it, rather than to try to reform it. Any attempt to help it or reform it—whether by exporting democracy and modernization to Islamic countries or by importing Moslems into our country—will most likely result in more hatred and more violence and trap us in a hellish nightmare.
“People generally quarrel because they cannot argue.” —G. K. Chesterton
Whenever there exists a disease that is not known to be curable, but which can spread its damage to others, the moral response is to quarantine it. SARS has been successfully controlled by nothing but quarantines, yet it is said to have had the potential to kill millions. Healthy people were inconvenienced, but the evil was thwarted. The cynical even asked us to cast our sympathies toward the communist-collaborating businessmen overseas, while betraying the potential victims. This example is to illustrate that there exists quarantine-value. Excluding evils is a proper value, but one that no-borders advocates, and others who support nihilistic openness, can’t very well espouse. Evils need our openness, but virtues do not; they have, or can make, other avenues.
Another thing that has been annoying over the last 30 years or so:
As America’s “élite” universities have precipitously declined thanks to Leftism generally and affirmative action and feminism specifically, their names have lost none of their credential-power. As far as I can see, American higher education is at war with America (at least as people generally understood America before about 1970). The more élite the university is considered to be, the worse it usually is. Harvard, America’s oldest college, is Exhibit A. Maybe Mr. Coriell’s performance on this site will disabuse a few people of their illusions about the inherent superiority of the ivy-trained.
Sadly, and I suppose it is mostly because of the credential value, alumni who are people of the sort their almae matres now despise and reject retain a loyalty to these places that would shame a whipped dog. My late father had business (‘43) and law (‘49) degrees from Harvard. He was an old Southern WASP, and he always marveled at how generous his former classmates, especially the Northeastern WASPs, were to their alma mater. As he would say, “Don’t these people realize that Harvard hates them and all they represent?” Even when Harvard continually rejected their well-qualified children, they kept right on giving. Of course, most of them - guilty white liberals that they were - saw the “justice” in affirmative action. As for my father, he spent happy college years at Sewanee, and that’s where his money went…
Once Americans see through these schools, their great influence - which is, as far as I can tell, almost entirely bad - will diminish. That would help our cause enormously, as to a large extent the fads of élite campuses set trends for the country, especially in business and the professions.
Mr. Levin’s comment about how the hard sciences are less tainted than other academic fields is good to hear. I wonder just how that benefits Americans, though, as my impression is that we are making over our science departments to Asians, just as we are making over our engineering and scientific jobs to them. The number of Americans pursuing science and engineering is declining, as young Americans look at the fate of their predecessors in those fields: to be displaced by cheaper Asians, at home and abroad. Given their reflexive preference for aliens over Americans, we can expect no help from our universities here. HRS
One of the things that infuriates people like the recently excluded poster, as expressed over and over both in his comments here and in his e-mails to me, is my perceived attitude of superiority—that I’m “condescending,” “pompous,” “impressed” with myself, and so on. Now in one sense the charge is true, in that I am attempting to explain things to people who need to have things explained to them. There is the assumption on my part that I understand something that I am seeking to impart to them, and people don’t like that. But part of it is simply that I am _explaining myself_. Instead of just saying, “You’re a bum, get outa here,” I explain why I am excluding them. They could understand and accept the former, because that’s speaking their language, the language of rage and disrespect. But to speak rationally to an enraged man strikes him as adopting an attitude of insufferable superiority over him. He is not capable of such rationality, it’s not where he’s at, it’s not what he wants. So if you attempt to explain yourself rationally to the person who is already motivated by malevolent fury, he only becomes more malevolent and furious. Just like a liberal, I have sometimes been blind to this fact of human nature in dealing with certain types.
The only way to avoid these difficulties in the future (including the long and by now tiresome discussions connected with them) is to have a written statement posted at the website and to refer annoying commenters to it. If they misbehave once, I will direct them to the statement. If they misbehave again, they’ll be excluded without further ado.
We can do very well without Coriell’s stupid abuse. Mr. Auster, you are not “condescending.” You are just doing your reasonable best to maintain a civil atmosphere, and please continue to do so.
The term red diaper baby for the children of long-term CP members is an old one. I seem to recall it being mentioned in Rothman and Lichter’s Roots of Radicalism, over 20 years ago, and I believe it was a popular term among leftists or people knowledgeable about the left at least as far back as the 60s. My own understanding was that it was simply sarcastic; I had never heard, until now, that Commies literally used red diapers!
Earlier in this thread (May 12, 11:58 PM), Joshua wrote:
“I wish to encourage Mr. Auster to continue following his current standards for excluding posters. I understand that he can intuitively sense the hostility of a commentator, but it would appear arbitrary if he excluded commentators before they reveal themselves to be ‘unappeasably hostile and not really interested in having a rational discussion’.”
This sums up my problem perfectly. After hosting discussions at VFR for two years I am now an expert in “intuitively sensing” when someone is a bad apple, which means, among other things, that I _know_ he’s going to get worse and worse. But I can’t act on that knowledge until he actually _gets_ worse. It’s an odd thing. It’s like, you have to wait for the enemy to do a Pearl Harbor or a 9/11 before your own response to the enemy will be unquestionably justified.
This is another example of how an online forum is a metaphor for civilization.
Connected to this problem is a political typology I’ve discussed before: A reactionary (or shall we say a traditionalist?) is a person who sees a threat to his society the moment it appears. A conservative is a person who sees the threat to his society after it’s already done a lot of damage. A liberal is a person who only sees sees the threat to his society after it’s too late to do anything about it—or he never sees it at all.
Furthermore, the reactionary and the conservative take steps against the threat as soon as they see it. But the liberal, if he sees the threat, will only take steps against it with great tentativeness and reluctance, and will cease from action the moment the immediate emergency seems to have passed. This makes it impossible for him to engage in consistent self-defense over a period of time. This is because the liberal is not able to conceptualize such transcendent notions of “my society” and “enemy of my society,” just as he cannot conceptualize good and bad, or better and worse. He is only capable of responding to an immediate situation which is so momentous or unbearable that it unquestionably—though non-conceptually—demands_some_ kind of response. For example, it is a liberal truism that “9/11 changed everything.” 9/11 justifies radically different kinds of action, even for liberals. But 9/11 is not a concept that connects with any larger principle. It’s just an unprincipled exception to the usual liberal order of things, a situational referent that liberals have agreed has certain pragmatic implications, e.g., “Now we’ve got to get tough.” But as soon as the immediate emotions and damage of 9/11 have faded, the reasons to be tough get harder to remember and justify.
9/11 is (so far) the ultimate unprincipled exception.
Interesting that the Founding Fathers are classified as reactionaries by some because of their recreation of the Greek Senate to check the power of popular majorities. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactionary.
There is no article at the link that Mr. Murgos provided. However, it would not surprise me to find that some leftist nitwit classifies “learning from the lessons of history” as “being a reactionary.”
Does Mr. Murgos mean “Roman Senate” rather than “Greek Senate”, as the term “Senate” comes to us from the Latin name for the Roman counsil of elders?
The Latin word “senatus”, from which our word “senate” comes by way of French, is derrived from the Latin word “senis” meaning “old man.”
I don’t know why Mr. Murgos’ Wikipedia link does not work. I went to Wikipedia and searched for “reactionary”, and found an article on the topic with the same URL as Mr. Murgos’ link.
Here is the section of the article which discussed reactionism in relation to the American Revolution.
Since there never existed an American version of the absolutist monarchies in Europe, it is difficult to define the term “reactionary” in the context of the 18th century in America. One possible interpretation is that the first “reactionaries” in American history were the Tories or Loyalists who supported King George III and the British Crown, while the “revolutionaries” were the Founding Fathers. As with any revolution, the American Revolution consisted of “revolutionary” insurgents fighting against “reactionary” loyalists of the old regime. However, it may be argued that many leading American revolutionaries were far less radical in their views than their European counterparts, and that therefore, by European standards, the Founding Fathers might be leaning more towards being conservative than “revolutionary”.
Some scholars note that, while the U.S. Constitution might be seen as conservative in contrast to the rhetoric of the earlier Declaration of Independence (drawn up by Thomas Jefferson) with its grand abstractions about ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’, the Constitution was in the Burkean, not the reactionary mode of conservatism. Thus, it preserved the United States both from the radical decentralization proposed by Anti-Federalists as well as the more extreme conservative vision of those who, like Alexander Hamilton, hoped for a stronger executive and central government.
From the democratic forces, the Founding Fathers of the United States “represented the crest of reactionary movement of their own day.” They sought to balance the demands of the democratic elements with the keeping of the Senate, modeled on the House of Lords to, as in the words of Woodrow Wilson, “to check the sweep and power of popular majorities”.
Thanks for the excerpt from the article about reactionaries and the American Founding. I would claim that Woodrow Wilson was not one of our Founding Fathers and his interpretations are not relevant. The Senate was primarily a device to represent the states directly, as a check on the central government in general, not just on the “more democratic” House of Representatives. Wilson lived in an age that unwisely passed the 17th amendment, fueled partly by pragmatic issues and partly by ignorant populist misunderstandings about the “undemocratic” nature of the appointed Senate.
A recent editorial addressed the damage done by electing senators: http://www.nationalreview.com/nrof_bartlett/bartlett200405120748.asp
Opposing tyranny and rule by special interests who always seek bigger government is hardly the same as being a reactionary.
Relating to the article posted by Joshua: it is definitely appropriate to classify the founding fathers as conservative in the same vein as Burke rather then ‘reactionary’ or even ‘revolutionary’ although these terms are constantly driven into our heads from gradeschool. The American ‘Revolution’ was much less revolutionary then the English departure from traditional constitutional law. Only after repeated attempts to return to this law were met with contempt and violence did the colonies resort to force to defend their rights. In fact, their “rights as Englishmen” were what every American had in view.
Also, switching tracks, I must give my hearty support to Mr. Auster for banning such vulgar posters as Wade Correil and Roach. VFR stands out in a profane web as a forum for clean, rational, debate. Discussion with such malcontents is truly impossible. Thanks for maintaining standards of decency and sense in this mad world!
Thanks to Joshua for the correction. Roman Senate.
Mr. Sutherland’s 10:10 AM post on the elite universities and the kind of people they turn out seems to be “on target”.
However, I have “divorced” myself from “the Harvard of the West” to the point where I feel like a stranger when I do events there or visit. I even went to elementary school on the Stanford campus, so I go back a ways there. But, I am not in receipt of statistics on the ethnicity/race of students Stanford or Harvard are graduating and accepting into their graduate programs and giving phds to. Certainly, Asian Americans have been the predominant group at UC Berkeley, though the Left has tried to change all that with affirmative action (forcing the UC system to accept a quota of Latino Americans and Black Americans instead of the higher-marked Asian Americans and Anglos). If Mr. Sutherland is correct, and Stanford is graduating and accepting mostly Asian Americans—or even Asian nationals—into its graduate programs, I cannot say that this bothers me, however. Trends and trends and will change over time. I think the REAL question should be discussed, perhaps not here, is “What kinds of kids are the Government and private high schools graduating/preparing for college?” and “Are they ‘quality students’ as our graduating classes were?” I’m not so sure I will like to hear the answer.
There’s no sense in which the American founders were reactionaries, and I wasn’t thinking of them in connection with my typology of reactionary-conservative-liberal. Reactionary, like conservative, has its origin in the negative response to the French revolution. We might say that Burke offered the classic conservative response to the Revolution, while de Bonald and de Maistre offered the classic reactionary responses. The idea I was trying to convey via “reactionary” is that of total, absolute opposition to the Revolution and all its works, and an attempt to articulate and return to the order that the Revolution destroyed. Some time I’ll have to scan and reproduce my 1991 NR review of de Bonald’s On Divorce which is a fascinating expression of what might be called rational reactionism, as compared with Burke’s half-traditional, half-progressive view which is founded on “what is” rather than on transcendent or rational principles. Also, when we remember that Burke was a Whig, i.e. an 18th century liberal (though an increasingly conservative one), it’s hard to think of him as a reactionary.
In any case the American Founders were a unique blend of liberal and conservative—George Washington is fascinating example of this—and the term reactionary simply wouldn’t apply to them.
The term reactionary is always relative, but the term conservative is sometimes absolute; as when it refers to a conservative temperament which could inform the corresponding politics. The left is always trying to confound political discourse by redefining these major terms; therefore they know that there side would suffer from more rational knowledge of what they are about. Case in point: the Left and Right in Russia, as described by our leading journalists over the last dozen years. Being challenged on the relativity of truth and morals; one may reply to the assertion that there is no absolute truth, by asking if that is absolutely true. Likewise, where it is claimed that there is no absolute right or wrong, one could expose the contradiction there, by asking if that is absolutely better than another behavior (which forbids such a statement).
I think that Mr. Auster is quite reasonable in his use of his host’s prerogative.
I remember that early on in my posting career on VFR, I got into a bit of a tiff over whether or not paleocon’s reactions to Richard Perle were “bizarre.” I never saw any notion that i would be beanned from the site, and everythng worked out fine in the end, so it is clear to me that Mr. Auster doesn’t use his “ostracizing” power indiscriminately.
Moreover, as a former poster on FrontPageMag discussion boards (which are unmoderated), I can testify to how a few out-of-control and hateful posters can ruin a discussion board for everyone else.
All right-wingers (and right-wings) are different, whereas all left-wingers (and left-wings) are exactly the same. Because all peoples are different. An English and a French reactionary will thus look very different from one another, not to mention from a reactionary Chinaman, Mussulman or Hindoo.
Burke and the Founders could fairly be called reactionary in that they fought to return their people(s) to the essence of who they were— in the case of the Anglo-Saxon, “a unique blend of liberal and conservative”, to borrow Mr. Auster’s words. (Actually the blend is not so unique in Western aristocracies; the English genius is in letting it seep down into the bourgeois and even working classes.)
Maistre gave us a rule of thumb which I find useful in comprehending Saddam’s Iraq (and Castro’s Cuba): “Every people gets the government it deserves.” Don’t say this to a modern Republican, though.
Viscount Bonald’s equally pithy and utile observation was that “Woman rebels against her husband, then wonders why her children rebel against her.” (I’ve lost the citation to this statement, and would appreciate it if someone could supply the source.) This is eminently adaptable; e.g., change “woman/husband/children” to “man/God/wife”.
As an aside, Mr. Levin’s education echoes that of the composer Leroy Anderson, who went from kindergarten pupil to Ph.D. all on the same street in Cambridge, Mass.
On Friday, there appeared an extremely long and psychological post which actually diagnosed someone, or pretended to do so. Would it also have been a search-engine exploitation, in view of the thousands of words possibly involved? Presumably it has already been deleted.~~~~~~ The use of the term reactionary, which once was as fearsome to the right-wing as the word racist is today, has lost its power to intimidate. No one on the right today says: ‘I’m no reactionary, but…’, or, at least it seems to have become a much less fear-inducing package-dealers’ conglobulation. There is hopefulness in this development; mightn’t the same happen with the terms racist, chauvinist, nativist and several others? The ideal of progress towards socialism is no longer upheld with such confidence; therefore the term reactionary doesn’t have the same negative moral associations that it once did.
Thanks to Mr. Jose and others for the supportive comments. Re FrontPage, it’s a shame what happened there. They had a very good comments board, which was screened by the editors. Then they changed their whole format a year or two ago and also made their discussion threads unmoderated, and as a result, the discussion threads became an unreadable and often vulgar and disgusting mess. I complained to the editors, and found that that the reason for the unmoderated comments was that FP had been sued over a reader’s comment; the magazine was considered responsible for comments if they were screened; so they made them all unscreened. A shame.
In the latter part of this thread, there is some discussion of the term “reactionary.” Generally, it is a leftist term of abuse for those who are sceptical of utopian revolutionary schemes. Lately, however, it is liberals and leftists who have become reactionaries. They reflexively reject the growing strength of efforts to repair some of the damage they have done, but are devoid of new ideas themselves.
In reply to Thucydides, in recent years there were some moves among paleoconservatives to give “reactionary” a positive meaning. M.E. Bradford published a collection of essays called “The Reactionary Imperative,” and Fleming at Chronicles some years ago tried using “reactionary” with a positive connotation, but I’m not sure he continued with that. When I call de Maistre and de Bonald reactionary thinkers, I do not mean it with the modern, negative connotation, but descriptively.
I remember seeing the late Balint Vazsonyi discussing the term “Reactionary” on the former NET channel. Vazsonyi noted that American leftists, such as Jesse Jackson, would use “Reactionary” in the same way as the Communists he had grown up under.
To socialists, calling someone a reactionary is the ultimate insult, in Vazsonyi’s view. Goebbels also used the term to describe Germans who weren’t for the New Order.
It remains the case that “reactionary” is a problematic term and not optimal as a self-description. In the earlier comment where I suggested a typology of reactionary-conservative-liberal, by “reactionary” I really meant a serious conservative or a traditionalist, a person who is devoted to the first principles of his civilization and therefore _instantly_ recognizes a civilizational threat because he sees how it is is antithetical to those first principles. He doesn’t have to wait for an ideology such as multiculturalism or feminism, to create actual social problems in order to recognize that the ideology itself is the threat. The moment that an idea is enunciated or a reform is introduced which undermines the first principles of the society, he recognizes it and opposes it as such. That’s what I meant in my typology, and it would have been clearer to say that, instead of “reactionary,” which may have created some confusion.
As a term, “reactionary” has advantages that “conservative” simply does not: it suggests motion toward a goal, improvement, and romance. In short, it’s progressivism in the opposite direction, and without the utopian baggate. (The past worked, for awhile anyway.) As such, it might be more attractive to intelligent youth, whose recruitment is necessarty for the long-term survival of any movement.
When people ask if I’m a conservative, I tend to answer “Good heavens, no. I’m an ultra-reactionary. Who wants to conserve this rot?” A couple of years ago, while attending a funcion put on by New York’s “lost cause” Conservative Party, I was itching to suggest they change to “The Party of Reaction”. That would get people’s attention, and it would be closer to the truth— and to the good and the beautiful and the one.
Our host made a crucial point: “The moment that an idea is enunciated or a reform is introduced which undermines the first principles of the society, [the reactionary] recognizes it and opposes it as such.”
This is why moderates, and not radicals and ideologues, are the true danger. They make the bad ideas sound reasonable. No one thought Nelson Rockefeller, that immoderate moderate, a radical (just spendthrift) when he sought to turn a network of humble teachers’ colleges into a “world class university”. Barely 40 years later, the mayors of those once sleepy college villages are “marrying” sodomites. How would that concept have gone down in the 1958 election?
One approach to reclaiming important terms which have acquired negative connotations through leftist propaganda (and the corresponding blight of government schools being given over to subhumanizing materialism), is to put the prefix ‘pro-’ before them. Capitalism used to have as negative a sound as racism, sexism and the like. Then the enormity of the leftist crimes become almost universally known, and the right became bolder in calling themselves capitalists or pro-capitalist. Yet a capitalist is also a profession or a behavior; which one can abstract one’s intellectual position from by saying pro-capitalist. The same can be done with pro-sexist, pro-racist, pro-chauvinist, or pro-nativist. The left can’t then so easily say: but you are a nativist, therefore you join a gang which hunts and beats up on foreigners. Likewise the pro-sexist doesn’t have to believe that all women are impulsive, but he champions the rights of those who do. Pro-exclusionist is another such term that comes to mind.
I agree with Caesar’s underlying political commitment, whichever term we use for it. We ought to remember that one of the meanings of “conservative” is the same as Caesar’s definition of “reactionary.” Addressing the question, “what is conservatism?” Frank Meyer wrote:
“Such a movement arises historically when the unity and balance of a civilization are riven by revolutionary transformations of previously accepted norms…. Conservatism comes into being at such times as a movement of consciousness and action directed to recovering the tradition of the civilization. This is the essence of conservatism … “
Yet, as we’ve discussed at great length at VFR, “conservative” in our time has lost in any practical sense the restorationist meaning Meyer gave it. That’s why I prefer “traditionalist” or “traditionalist conservative.” If Caesar wants to say, “reactionary,” that’s fine too.
I also discussed the Frank Meyer quote here:
I am humbled by Reg Caesar’s May 15 3:47 post’s comparison to Leroy Anderson, but I am unfortunately underserving of it. While I did go to Stanford Elementary fr. ‘59-‘61 (long since torn down for condos—isn’t that “progress”?), I only attended Stanford University as a student during two summer sessions (‘69 and ‘70).
Mr Levin then might agree that what were once called “normal schools” were anything but! Certainly my own, in the Catskills, in 1970-1. It still stands, but the prominently-placed, regal red-brick Old Main to which it was a stepchild annex was also torn down for condos— and grey ones at that. (Try tearing down condos, though.)
I for one am of the opinion that Mr. Coriell has been treated somewhat hysterically. It’s one thing to say his post was immature and offensive, and to ban him. But it seems to me that these sweeping condemnations of him as suffering from some sort of “decay” or as being utterly “clueless” and “consumed with rage” are a bit much. He claims friendship with Mr. Roach; perhaps he simply overreacted in this instance to a perceived slight of his friend. Certainly he let his emotions take control, but on the other hand, it is quite “immature” and “clueless” to assume that because that occurred in one context of a man’s life, it reflects a polluted soul.
Let’s have some perspective here.
Coriell is long gone, thankfully, along with his obscene attacks. Yet now Answerman comes along and tells us that this filthy-mouthed, out of control, enraged person was not immature or offensive, but was a poor misunderstood soul, and that we treated him unfairly, hysterically, immaturely by excluding him. Get something straight Answerman. This site is not open to filthy-mouthed ranters like Coriell. If you are so stupid and immature as not to understand the reason for that, which is evidently the case, then you are not welcome here. We have better things to do than to go on forever explaining the obvious to the clueless.
Fellows who come around to this site and start calling the host “Larry” too often end up acting like Curly or Moe. In Mr Coriell’s case, it was the latter.
Correction. Answerman said that I had the right to exclude Coriell for his bad behavior, but that he thinks I and others were immature, etc. for saying such harsh things about him. If Answerman were not totally clueless, he would have read some of Coriell’s choice attacks on us, and seen that the things that were said about him were actually quite mild and restrained compared to the filth he directed at us. I deliberately left Coriell’s comments posted on this board so that people could see the kind of thing I was dealing with. But our Clueless Answerman did not pick _any_ of this up. He actually wanted me to recommence the whole stupid discussion, just so he could express his sense of grievance over the fact that poor misunderstood Coriell was meanly spoken of.
People like Cluelessman are making me get faster and faster in excluding people. Since this is an immigration restrictionist, anti-multiculturalist website, that kind of makes sense doesn’t it?
Here’s another analogy between an online discussion board and civilization. It’s basically the question: can civilization defend itself from the uncivilized? Civilization sets up certain rules, such as civility, equality of rights, individual freedom. Then certain people come along and attack the civilization. In defending itself from these enemies, the civilization of necessity is not civil, does not treat all people equally, and does not recognize the equal freedom of all persons. But the enemies of civilization, who have picked up all the lingo of the civilization, then complain: “You’re hypocrites! You say you believe in civility but you dont. Look how harshly you’re treating me and my friends.” Thus the enemies of civilization seek to use the civilization’s own standards to make the civilization defenseless against them.
Civilization, even the highest civilization, rests ultimately on force. It is an island in the midst of an ocean of barbarism and must be prepared to fight to maintain itself, which means that the standards of civilization cannot be applied equally to all. A liberal civilization cannot maintain its existence for very long, because it believes there’s no such thing as barbarians or enemies, but only misunderstood souls, who, if they were only treated with sufficient compassion, would become just like “us.” Any civilization that gets drawn into this dialectic is doomed.
Yes, inequality and unequal treatment in the service of the maintenance of the necessary standards of civilization, is no contradiction. Civilization is not equality; it is discrimination. In the world wars, it doesn’t seem likely that anyone in congress said: what about the good Germans, are we being prejudiced against them?
Answerman wrote to me acknowledging that what Coriell had said was far worse than what anyone had said to him and that Coriell deserved to be excluded, and he also apologized for any misunderstanding. He’s free to post again if he wishes.