How should TSZ handle racism and hate speech?

Elizabeth Liddle, who founded this Website, has recently declared that racist remarks on TSZ should be deleted. Moderator Alan Fox would like to additionally ban hate speech, incitement to violence, and discrimination, where these are proscribed by law. However, at the present time, nothing in the Rules of this Website prohibits racism or hate speech. And how does one define these terms, anyway? In this short post, I’d like to offer a few tentative proposals.

It seems to me that a rule that bans racism alone would be too arbitrary. Why ban racism but not sexism, ageism, ableism, homophobia or transphobia?

In any case, defining racism is no easy matter. The Oxford Dictionary provides two online definitions. On the narrower definition, racism is “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races” (emphases mine). However, it is highly doubtful whether anyone living in a Western country subscribes to such an extreme view today. Even the KKK would probably reject it: thirty years ago, I watched a KKK member publicly disavow the belief that people of African descent are inferior to whites, in an interview on the NBC Today show.

The belief that most but not all members of race X are inferior to members of race Y is more widespread in our society, but labeling everyone who holds this view as racist would be too broad, as the definition doesn’t specify what kind of inferiority we are talking about (physical? mental? moral? spiritual?). For instance, is it racist to assert that some races have certain physical advantages over others, on average? Surely not. The claim that some races have an intellectual edge over others is more problematic, but I don’t think discussion of this issue should be ruled out of court: it is an empirical matter that science should decide.

The broader definition of racism given in the Oxford Dictionary is “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” That strikes me as a much better definition, as it highlights two key requirements which must be met for racism to exist: antagonistic behavior, and a belief in the superiority of one’s own race. On this definition, nineteenth-century politicians (such as Abraham Lincoln) who did not believe in racial equality, owing to the misguided attitudes that were prevalent during the time in which they lived, but who displayed no antagonism towards people of other races, would not be counted as racists. (It is true that for much of his life, Lincoln opposed giving black people the vote, but he changed his views on this subject shortly before his death.)

But what about President Donald Trump’s infamous diatribe in his 2015 Presidential announcement speech?

The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.

Thank you. It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

Many people have criticized these remarks as racist. I’m afraid I have to disagree. First, Trump was referring to Mexicans. Although the very concept of race is vaguely defined and highly problematic, it is generally agreed that Mexicans are a nation, not a race. Second, Trump wasn’t talking about Mexicans as a nation, but about a restricted subgroup: those who immigrate illegally to the United States. And he made it quite clear that he didn’t view members of this group as typical of Mexicans, as a nation.

President Trump would of course deny that his remarks were intended to stir up hate, and he was certainly not advocating any kind of discrimination in his speech. Nevertheless, there was something unmistakably ugly about it, all the same. “Antagonistic” seems an appropriate word to use here.

What about somebody asserting that illegal immigrants to the U.S. commit more crimes on average than other Americans? The claim is a contentious one, which studies don’t appear to back up, although it has its stalwart defenders (see also here). But whatever the truth of the matter may be, I really don’t think that making this claim could, by itself, be reasonably construed as hateful or antagonistic. There is a big difference between making such an observation and antagonistically calling illegal immigrants “rapists” who are “bringing crime” to America, even if you qualify your assertion by adding that “some … are good people.”

Likewise, there’s a difference between somebody pointing out, as a matter of fact, that Muhammad’s wife Aisha was probably nine or ten years old when her marriage to Muhammad was consummated (he was 53), and somebody roundly asserting that Muslims approve of pedophilia. I think it is fair to describe the latter statement as antagonistic. Moving from religion to gender issues, there’s a difference between respectfully suggesting that transgenderism may be a social contagion and that pushing children into transgenderism is tantamount to medical malpractice, and calling transgender individuals a menace to society. In a society governed by the rule of law, it is a moral axiom that nobody deserves to be bullied, no matter how odd or unsettling their behavior might appear to other people. Calling an entire group of law-abiding people a menace to society in a public forum increases the likelihood that such bullying will occur.

In recent days there has been been a spate of comments relating to Jews on a TSZ thread I’d rather not link to, which I find a little disturbing: sly denigration of their claim to be the chosen people, an assertion that Jews are more likely than other nations to steal other people’s land, and a heated discussion where one commenter told a moderator, “[Y]ou sort of align with Hitler.” Yikes. Is this antagonistic? In my opinion, yes.

I’ve never liked the term “hate speech” because it imputes a bad attitude to someone which they may turn out not to have, and because an accusation of hate warrants a high standard of proof. The term “antagonistic” is far less loaded: calling someone antagonistic doesn’t imply that you regard them as a bad person, whereas calling someone hateful does.

So may I make a suggestion? Before posting anything which is likely to arouse bitter controversy on TSZ, people should ask themselves: “Is there a less antagonistic way of expressing what I’m trying to say?” If there is, then try to say it that way. I realize that all of us will probably lapse from this standard of charity from time to time, but it is one we should aspire to.

A simple change in the Rules to reflect this new standard would be to introduce an additional rule covering material posted on TSZ, whereby any material deemed to be clearly antagonistic in the manner in which it is expressed would be deleted (there will, of course, be gray areas), while at the same time affirming people’s right to express any view, no matter how controversial, in a non-antagonistic fashion. Banning people, on the other hand, is a very drastic thing to do, and I’m leery of advocating it. Perhaps a persistent and long-standing habit of making comments which are clearly antagonistic might justify such a ban, but at the present time, I would advise against introducing a rule imposing such a ban, as it would be unwise in the absence of a solid consensus.

Well, that’s my two cents. And now, over to you.

81 Replies to “How should TSZ handle racism and hate speech?”

  1. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    The broader definition of racism given in the Oxford Dictionary is “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”

    And since atheism is not a race, atheists cannot be racist.

  2. T_aquaticus
    Ignored
    says:

    Instead of deciding what to ban, you should focus on supporting posts that facilitate mature and enlightening dialogue. If someone’s goal is to insult, troll, and instigate stupid discussions then that is when you should moderate their posts. Focus on the positives instead of trying to nit pick the negatives.

  3. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: And since atheism is not a race, atheists cannot be racist.

    Since racism is not a race, racists cannot be racist.

  4. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    I agree that less antagonistic posts and comments would be a step in the right direction. But it’s also less than clear whether a comment or post is antagonistic.

    I’m not in favor of banning anyone, but I’d be in support of taking away author privileges from people who have repeatedly demonstrated a lack of basic competence on the subject matter they are talking about and have repeatedly not accepted correction when their errors are pointed out to them.

    I suppose the whole question of racism is tricky in part because there really aren’t such things as races — at any rate not biologically. Races are real in roughly the same way that money is real: as a social construction.

    I really don’t think it’s productive to try and parse racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia etc in terms of intent. Intent is epistemically opaque and quite frankly not very interesting from the standpoint of justice.

    The question that matters to me is “are speech acts of this kind such as tend to reinforce a dynamic of relative privilege of the person uttering that speech act and relative marginalization of the people to whom it is addressed?” That question should be answered by listening to the people to whom it was addressed when they speak out, or asking them if they aren’t. Since privilege is almost always invisible to those who have it, its up to those who were addressed by that speech act to say whether it had those effects. Arguing about intention is politically futile and epistemically impossible.

  5. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Dr Liddle

    I do not want racist material on this site. Like porn, it should be deleted immediately (not moved to Guano).

    The poster should be warned, and if there is ONE further violation, then the poster should be banned.

  6. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Does the newly proposed martial law at TSZ apply to quotes by Jesus?

    “23Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and you have neglected the weightier things of the Law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. It behooved you to do these, and not to be leaving aside those. 24Blind guides—those straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel!

    25Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of greed and intemperance. 26Blind Pharisee! First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the dish, that their outside might become clean also.

    27Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like tombs having been whitewashed, which indeed outwardly appear beautiful, but inside they are full of bones of the dead, and of all impurity. 28Thus indeed outwardly you also appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

    29Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous; 30and you say, ‘If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ 31Thus you bear witness to yourselves that you are sons of those having murdered the prophets. 32You, then, fill up the measure of your fathers. 33Serpents! Offspring of vipers! How shall you escape from the sentence of Gehenna?”
    ttps://biblehub.com/blb/matthew/23.htm

    Or, does he get a pass?

  7. vjtorley
    Ignored
    says:

    Hi Kantian Naturalist,

    The question that matters to me is “are speech acts of this kind such as tend to reinforce a dynamic of relative privilege of the person uttering that speech act and relative marginalization of the people to whom it is addressed?”

    In plain English: “Does this comment exalt the speaker over his/her audience?” Sometimes simpler is better.

    However, I think the criterion you propose is a bit too broad. Practically any utterance by a person from a privileged background could be construed that way by a “woke” audience with finely honed micro-aggression detectors. Even your own comment above could be objected to on these grounds: “Too many big and fancy words! He’s over-educated!” See what I mean? Personally, I think we need to be more focused than that, in what we discourage on this Website. Cheers.

  8. vjtorley
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac,

    There is a time and a place for harsh condemnation of a group of people who are unrighteous hypocrites – a Sunday sermon, for instance. On a Website which we all share, we need to adhere to a basic standard of courtesy, so that we can remain on civil terms.

  9. vjtorley
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan,

    Thanks very much for digging up that comment by Lizzie. There are certain sentiments which are beyond the pale, and the assertion by one commenter (which you rightly deleted) that Southerners were morally superior to African-Americans in the Old South was particularly odious. I don’t think it would have any defenders on this Website, now. At least, I hope not.

  10. DNA_Jock
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac,

    I note that Jesus is criticizing a particular subset of Jews (scribes and Pharisees), for their actions, and not merely because they are Jewish. Obviously, what with him being, y’know, …
    Perhaps others will take this distinction to heart. A guy can hope.

  11. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    vjtorley: There is a time and a place for harsh condemnation of a group of people who are unrighteous hypocrites – a Sunday sermon, for instance. On a Website which we all share, we need to adhere to a basic standard of courtesy, so that we can remain on civil terms.

    I agree 100%… But since times have changed since Jesus and even atheists have left the church and moved on to social media why not use “this time and this place for harsh condemnation of a group of people who are unrighteous hypocrites’?
    Phoodoo has been in fact doing it… with vering success…

  12. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    DNA_Jock: I note that Jesus is criticizing a particular subset of Jews (scribes and Pharisees), for their actions, and not merely because they are Jewish

    You are right on the money… Those were a very particular subset of Jews called hypocrites… If you have a hardtime comprehending what hypocrites are, just read a few substandard comments about IDiots, creationists or Christians… If you are still not sure, just substitute the words IDiots, creationists or Christians with Darwinists or atheists and see if they are going to have the same meaning…

  13. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Could we also do something about bluffing? I’m tired of reading about the omnipotence of natural selection and how evolution can do magical quantum computations…

  14. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: If you are still not sure, just substitute the words IDiots, creationists or Christians with Darwinists or atheists and see if they are going to have the same meaning…

    I’m not sure of your point. Nasty comments about Darwinists and atheists are very common at TSZ.

  15. Robert Byers
    Ignored
    says:

    I see no problem in these areas.
    Freedom of speech is a God/natural right.
    If freedom of speech is rejected then the powers that rule decide what shall be allowed to be speeched. SIMPLE
    Yet we also don’t want abusive speech in our society. This is also historic by slander laws and defamation of character which , I underrstand, in our nations has criminal peanalty.
    So we have/desire freedom of speech but don’t desire malice.
    its simple . Allow fredom of speech and don’t allow malice that passes a threshold.
    Malice must be more then mere insults.
    God said in the bible THE FOOL has said in his heart there is no GOD. God was not being malicious but factual. if a athesist/skepic here says Christians, creationists are stupid iTS not malice. its just nasty opinion upon sincere opinion.
    Its simple.
    I don’t agree there is any such concept in human hearts as racism or hate speech.
    Even if hateful things are said about races/identities/etc.
    Yet those on the liberal left side do and even normal common people.
    so we live in this and must struggle about speech.
    Our ancestors didn’t do a good job about speech when they invented free speech/recognized it from God/nature.
    If malice is to be deleted, banned, punished then it means tHERE IS A JUDGE.
    then if the people accept a JUDGE then one must accept decisions.!
    i was JUDGED here but accept the authority without the verdict.
    In fact don’t talk about anything that touches on touchy subjects especially for the left wingers/liberals etc.
    Moderators here are being asked to do what North america now does a terrible job about.
    Just stop malice speech and accept the JUDGE.
    Its not malice to say creationism is stupid(though, SEEN, a reflection on creationists) and its not malice to say evolutionism is stupid(though, SEEN ,as a reflection on evolutionists) Evolutionism is stupid if I mat say so but evolutionists are not obviously. These are complicated conclusions about invisible things in origins.
    Its simple.
    Its already the historic law. No not the modern illegal HATE SPEECH LAWS.
    By the way hate is a natural right and heritage . However today it only means about identities and not your relatives and fellow drivers. Its also stupid.
    Did I fixed it?! (Fell free to comment on mE or my comments without malice pas a threshold)

  16. Tomato Addict
    Ignored
    says:

    It’s hard to define an anti-racism rule, but it’s much easier to define and enforce a rule requiring people to treat others with respect. Disrespect towards a whole class of people is racism, bigotry, intolerance, etc. It’s possible to talk about ‘isms and phobias without condoning such, though it’s a good idea to express opinions carefully on sensitive topics. P0rn is disrespectful too, and abuse.

  17. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac:
    Could we also do something about bluffing? I’m tired of reading about the omnipotence of natural selection and how evolution can do magical quantum computations…

    You’re tired of reading things that have never been said? It’s a hard life.

  18. Acartia Acartia
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: If you have a hardtime comprehending what hypocrites are, just read a few substandard comments about IDiots, creationists or Christians…

    Those comments may be rude, crude and offensive, but are they really hypocritical? I don’t think so.

  19. Acartia Acartia
    Ignored
    says:

    Prejudice is when we say things out of lack of knowledge. Which is what I and many others did growing up in white-bread America (OK, Canada) in the sixties. Brazil nuts and licorice babies were commonly called something we would never say today.

    Bigotry is continuing in this behaviour when you have the information to know better.

  20. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac:If you have a hardtime comprehending what hypocrites are, just read a few substandard comments about IDiots, creationists or Christians

    I think a better example of a hypocrite would be someone who insists their own side has all the moral high ground in this.

  21. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    I appreciate the attempt at analysis in the OP, but I think it is wrongheaded to try to formalize rules to exclude certain types of posts.

    Illegal posts (according to laws of UK (where I think TSZ is hosted) should be banned and deleted (not moved to guano).

    Furthermore, the terms of reference for the site should state that moderators reserve the right to remove any posts at their discretion. General situations like racist or homophobic posts can be given as examples. But decisions should be up to the moderators’ judgement, not subject to formal rules open to public interpretation and discussion.

    The person paying for the site chooses moderators whose judgement that person trusts.

    If people do not agree with the judgement of moderators, they can post elsewhere.

    People who repeatedly violate these rules should be banned. Speaking personally, I have no interest in participating in sites which do not deal with such posts and posters in a forceful manner.

  22. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    I think the idea of free discussion of moderation is a noble one, and it’s sad to see the privilege abused. It only takes one or two to mewl incessantly about moderation – about the conduct of a site they are in no way obligated to visit! – for things to deteriorate markedly. Which I suspect is intentional.

  23. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller:
    I think the idea of free discussion of moderation is a noble one,

    I am not sure what you have in mind, but to me Zuckerberg’s original vision for Facebook could also be called noble, at least by the technocrat libertarians of Silicon Valley.

    I expounded on this topic ad nauseum in the advice for Lizzie’s return thread, so I’ll stop now in this thread.

  24. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Jesus doesn’t have an account here.

    ETA: Jesus can say whatever he likes on his own blog.

  25. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS,

    It’s “ad nauseam”

  26. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    That’s a nice OP, Vince. Thanks.

  27. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Are Christians a chosen race?

    But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

    https://biblehub.com/1_peter/2-9.htm

    Maybe.

  28. stcordova
    Ignored
    says:

    Why ban racism but not sexism, ageism, ableism, homophobia or transphobia?

    Or Christianity-phobia or Creationism-phobia or ID-phobia or Conservative Phobia or Rebulican Party Phobia. IDists and Creationists and Christians are the object of more hate speech here at TSZ than any other group.

    Btw, I just got my official Republican National Committee member card with a pre-printed thank you from The Donald himself. Now y’all can hate on me. 🙂

  29. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    stcordova: Btw, I just got my official Republican National Committee member card with a pre-printed thank you from The Donald himself. Now y’all can hate on me.

    Well, why not want to get that card? I mean, I can see why anybody would want to join a Party of lying, xenophobia, immigrant-hatred, corruption, inefficiency, sloth, environment decimation, corporate favors, budget-busting, bullying, and nepotism. Who wouldn’t? (Well, libtards, I guess, but who else?)

    Anybody who hates on you for this should def be shot–maybe with a legally concealed weapon.

  30. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    stcordova,

    IDists and Creationists and Christians are the object of more hate speech here at TSZ than any other group.

    ‘Not much’ is a bit more than ‘hardly any’, I suppose. But it really depends what you call ‘hate speech’. If someone’s ideas are full of crap, and one says so (trying to choose a better way to phrase it, perhaps!), is that hate speech? I can certainly see why there might be an asymmetry in that!

    There does seem to be an outbreak of victimhood of late. We all have our cross to bear…

  31. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    stcordova: IDists and Creationists and Christians are the object of more hate speech here at TSZ than any other group.

    Indeed, one can hardly spend a few minutes at TSZ without seeing “I HOPE YOU ROT IN HELL CREATIONISTS!!” every other post. And the rape threats and death threats that IDists receive are, of course, well-documented.

    Unless, that is, one understands what the phrase “hate speech” actually means.

  32. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    stcordova,

    You’re not at all conflicted between the Bible account of Jesus’ sayings and the politics of Donald Trump?

  33. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: You’re not at all conflicted between the Bible account of Jesus’ sayings and the politics of Donald Trump?

    Conservatives only care about the personal morality of the president when it’s a Democrat in office.

  34. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist, Motes and beams!

  35. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS:
    Kantian Naturalist,

    Friston versus Freud

    Thanks! That was interesting! But I worry that it relies on a severely caricatured view of Freud!

  36. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: Thanks! That was interesting! But I worry that it relies on a severely caricatured view of Freud!

    No doubt. But, who could resist that alliteration. Not I ! (or should that be “not me”? walto?).

  37. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox:
    stcordova,

    You’re not at all conflicted between the Bible account of Jesus’ sayings and the politics of Donald Trump?

    Self-reflection is for losers.

  38. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    stcordova: IDists and Creationists and Christians are the object of more hate speech here at TSZ than any other group.

    And of course, there are facts to back up this claim.

  39. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    stcordova: IDists and Creationists and Christians are the object of more hate speech here at TSZ than any other group.

    Good that you’re pro free-speech then, right?

  40. Acartia Acartia
    Ignored
    says:

    stcordova: IDists and Creationists and Christians are the object of more hate speech here at TSZ than any other group.

    Am I allowed to say “BULLSHIT” on this site?

    All that has happened in society is that Christianity is no longer immune from criticism. Which is a good thing. Women can move forward. Homosexuals no longer fear being jailed.

  41. vjtorley
    Ignored
    says:

    Hi walto,

    I’m glad you enjoyed reading the OP. Thank you.

  42. vjtorley
    Ignored
    says:

    While we’re on the subject of President Trump and the Republicans: I think this is a good example of why we all need to cool down. Let’s grant at the outset that Trump has said some truly outrageous things and (in his personal life) done some unsavory things, as well. But what about his policies?

    Some people think his policies on immigration are wickedly immoral. First, some stats: in 1970, there were 9 million Hispanics living in the U.S. Today, there are 57 million. That’s a pretty big influx over a relatively short time. I think it’s fair to say that America has been more than generous, in accepting immigrants. Most immigrants from Latin America arrived perfectly legally, but at least 7.5 million didn’t. The total number of illegal immigrants from all countries in the U.S. is at least 10.7 million, and some estimates put the number as high as 22 million. Coming from Australia (as I do), I have to say that strikes me as farcical. You can’t have 11 million or 22 million people wandering around your country, when you don’t even know they’re there. That’s mad. Logic would dictate that you build some sort of barrier along your border, so that you can screen who comes in and who goes out. A country that can’t police its own border, doesn’t really have a border.

    Americans who believe that people from Latin America should be allowed to enter their country at will should (if they are consistent) be advocating political amalgamation of North and South America into some kind of pan-American version of the E.U. Why aren’t they doing that?

    I might add that the percentage of foreigners living in Mexico is less than 1%, whereas in the U.S., it’s 13%. Yet the President of Mexico got to grandstand on U.S. TV back in 2016, denouncing Trump’s immigration policies as evil and racist. Mexico, by the way, is by no means a poor country: according to the World Bank, its per capita GDP in $US18,149 (measured in PPP terms) – which is just above the world average of $16,961 and above that of China ($16,807). So if I were an American, I would ask: why can’t Mexico take more immigrants from Central America, like the caravan that recently traveled through Honduras? Its unemployment rate is low, too: only 3.7%. Why does Mexico get a free pass, while America cops all the criticism? Doesn’t make sense.

    Trump was also attacked for wanting to restrict immigration from Muslim countries. But around the world, the majority of Muslims favor making sharia law the official law in their country, with the exception of Muslims in South-eastern Europe, central Asia, Lebanon, Chad, Guinea-Bissau and Tanzania. In south-east Asia, south Asia, the middle East and Africa, sharia law is supported by strong majorities of Muslims. And among sharia supporters in south Asia, the Middle East and north Africa, 78% want religious judges to oversee family law, and a majority want severe corporal punishments for criminals, as well as execution for those who leave Islam. Common sense would dictate that if you’re going to accept immigrants from other countries, it would be prudent not to take those whose values are diametrically opposed to your own country’s values. Viewed in this light, Trump’s attempt to impose a travel ban on just six Muslim countries, which make up a tiny percentage of the world’s Muslim population, hardly seems extreme.

    Trump was also attacked for lowering the federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. If you also include state corporate taxes, then America’s average corporate tax rate is now 25.7%, which is about average for the OECD. Britain’s is 19.0%, while Ireland’s is 12.5%. So why is everyone jumping up and down and calling Trump eeevil? Why the hate?

    Trump has also been attacked for doing nothing on global warming, too, and for refusing to sign the Paris agreement. In order to see why the solution to global warming will probably elude us, I’d urge you to have a look at the following three short articles, which are all by highly respected sources. The first is a one-page article by Vaclav Smil, who is Bill Gates’ favorite energy commentator, and it’s titled, “What I see when I see a wind turbine”. He concludes:

    Undoubtedly, a well-sited and well-built wind turbine would generate as much energy as it embodies in less than a year. However, all of it will be in the form of intermittent electricity – while its production, installation, and maintenance remain critically dependent on specific fossil energies. Moreover, for most of these energies – coke for iron-ore smelting, coal and petroleum coke to fuel cement kilns, naphtha and natural gas as feedstock and fuel for the synthesis of plastics and the making of fiberglass, diesel fuel for ships, trucks, and construction machinery, lubricants for gearboxes – we have no nonfossil substitutes that would be readily available on the requisite large commercial scales.

    For a long time to come – until all energies used to produce wind turbines and photovoltaic cells come from renewable energy sources – modern civilization will remain fundamentally dependent on fossil fuels.

    The second is by Robert Samuelson, a journalist for The Washington Post who has been writing about economic and business issues since 1977. His article is cheerfully titled, “Solving global warming is mission impossible”. He has a few suggestions of his own about how global warming might be tackled, but freely acknowledges that they might not work at all. He also writes:

    Trump’s hostility [to the Paris agreement] is not as crazy as it sounds. If suppressing global warming is as hard as I’ve argued, one likely response is a series of half measures that don’t much affect global warming but do weaken economic growth. The politicians’ real aim is to brag that they’ve “done something” when all they’ve really done is delude us. Trump would skip this stage.

    The third is by award-winning journalist Somini Sengupta, writing in The New York Times. Her article was republished in The Seattle Times. It’s titled, “World still depends on coal, cheap, plentiful — and dirty”. She concludes that India and other developing countries will continue to rely on coal until there’s a cheap and efficient way to store energy from solar and wind energy.

    Bill Gates agrees. In an end-of-year message titled, What I learned at work this year, he writes:

    Global emissions of greenhouse gases went up in 2018. For me, that just reinforces the fact that the only way to prevent the worst climate-change scenarios is to get some breakthroughs in clean energy.

    Some people think we have all the tools we need, and that driving down the cost of renewables like solar and wind solves the problem. I am glad to see solar and wind getting cheaper and we should be deploying them wherever it makes sense.

    But solar and wind are intermittent sources of energy, and we are unlikely to have super-cheap batteries anytime soon that would allow us to store sufficient energy for when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Besides, electricity accounts for only 25% of all emissions. We need to solve the other 75% too.

    Gates backs advanced nuclear power as the best solution to the problem. Unfortunately, the party which claims to care most about global warming is also stridently opposed to nuclear power, so it won’t happen.

    Finally, I’d like to present you with a set of numbers. In today’s dollars, the total cost of the Manhattan Project was about $22 billion. The total cost of the Apollo project was about $100 billion. The total cost of fighting global warming, in today’s dollars, will be around $100 trillion. That’s 1000 Apollo projects, of about 5000 Manhattan projects. That’s a HUGE undertaking, and one which dwarfs anything the human race has faced before. Is it any wonder that Trump is reluctant to act?

    And for those readers who wonder why anyone would support a foul-mouthed philanderer for President, I can offer one very simple answer: children. About 887,000 unborn children lost their lives to abortion in 2016. That’s a national tragedy. Trump, unlike all the other “gentleman Presidents” who preceded him, managed to get two pro-life lawyers on the Supreme Court. Maybe at last, the tide will turn, and we can get to see Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton repealed or at least restricted, thereby saving the lives of tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of children.

    Incidentally, Trump’s own views on abortion are far more typical of Americans than Hillary’s were: she refused to condemn even partial-birth abortion, while Trump wanted to allow each state to ban abortion, except in special cases such as rape or incest. Trump’s opinions are middle-of-the-road, nationally: about 43% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all (29%) or most (14%) circumstances, while a majority of 53% say it should be legal in only a few (35%) or no circumstances (18%).

    So what do readers think?

  43. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    vjtorley: But what about his policies?

    They are awful.

    A country that can’t police its own border, doesn’t really have a border.

    I agree with that.

    There have been a number of attempts to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the last 20 years. And it is always the Republicans that block them.

    According to Trump, the Democrats are the problem. But that’s propaganda. Don’t believe it.

    The last immigration reform bill, under president Reagan, included strict rules for checking immigration status before hiring someone. That’s one of the best controls on immigration. The liberal universities are very strict at following these rules. Conservative run private businesses violate them all the time (including businesses owned by Trump).

  44. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    vjtorley,

    Why are Hispanics more of a problem than WASPs? Asking for a Native American friend.

  45. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    vjtorley,

    This is a big comment embracing a wide range of interconnected subjects. Worth a separate OP, perhaps.

  46. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Robert Byers,

    Robert, I honestly tried to follow the thoughts in your comment. I think I even got some of it. I’m going to respond to Vincent’s last comment but there may be some overlap relevant to you.

  47. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    vjtorley:
    While we’re on the subject of President Trump and the Republicans: I think this is a good example of why we all need to cool down.

    At the moment, it’s Brexit that renders me incoherent.

    Let’s grant at the outset that Trump has said some truly outrageous things and (in his personal life) done some unsavory things, as well. But what about his policies?

    The current political leader of my adopted country, Manu Macron, had some great policies. The reason he is an almost universal disappointment to the French electorate is he has failed to implement anything except tax cuts for the rich. There comes a point when an electorate is entitled to expect results. What has Trump managed to implement?

    Some people think his policies on immigration are wickedly immoral. First, some stats: in 1970, there were 9 million Hispanics living in the U.S. Today, there are 57 million. That’s a pretty big influx over a relatively short time. I think it’s fair to say that America has been more than generous, in accepting immigrants. Most immigrants from Latin America arrived perfectly legally, but at least 7.5 million didn’t. The total number of illegal immigrants from all countries in the U.S. is at least 10.7 million, and some estimates put the number as high as 22 million. Coming from Australia (as I do), I have to say that strikes me as farcical. You can’t have 11 million or 22 million people wandering around your country, when you don’t even know they’re there. That’s mad. Logic would dictate that you build some sort of barrier along your border, so that you can screen who comes in and who goes out. A country that can’t police its own border, doesn’t really have a border.

    USA was built on immigration. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Especially in the light of falling birth rate in developed* countries, immigration can still be a net benefit. Immigration controls can work to the good of both immigrants and the country of adoption (and the old country – where money sent home can be an important economic benefit). But the USA thrives on illegal immigrants. Trump businesses apparently employ illegals. A simple but effective registration system where it was impossible to employ people without documentation would be far more effective than a wall.

    Americans who believe that people from Latin America should be allowed to enter their country at will should (if they are consistent) be advocating political amalgamation of North and South America into some kind of pan-American version of the E.U. Why aren’t they doing that?

    Why, indeed? The EU is a model idea. It is far from perfect but has provided a solution to the Irish troubles, now under threat, a way to accommodate Scottish autonomy, a potential route to solve Catalan aspirations.

    No time, will have to respond to the rest later.

  48. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    vjtorley,

    Really? Maybe you better go and read up on a sociologist named Douglas Massey, because you are wholly uninformed about the Latin immigration issue. He began a study called the Mexican Migration Project. Its the biggest migration database in the world. Millions of life years of data.

    And here’s what they found. When there was a porous border between Mexico and America, immigrants would come from Mexico, do seasonal work, then return to Mexico to be with their families. It was mutually beneficial for all parties (why do you think Trump hires so many illegal immigrants?)

    But then something odd happened. Because of one Vietnam veteran, who took over the Border Patrol Chief position, they began making the border crossing more and more difficult. They put up barriers, and employed many more agents. So not only was it harder to get into America, it was just as hard to return, and so most would no longer risk going back and forth, and just stayed. The more they increased border security the worse the problem got.

    We built a wall to keep Mexican migrants out. In fact, the wall has kept them in. People who would otherwise have gone home stayed so long they’ve put down roots. In March of 2016, Douglas Massey, along with Jorge Durand and Karen Pren, published a brilliant paper in the American Journal of Sociology, Why Border Enforcement Backfired, in which they ask a hypothetical question. What would have happened if the United States had done nothing over the past 30 years, frozen the budget and staff of the border patrol at 1986 levels, allowed for some circular migration?

    The researchers estimate the undocumented Mexican population of the US would be about a third lower, a third lower than it is now. This is according to the people who know more than anyone else about Mexican migration, who have access to one of the biggest immigration databases in the world, and what is their conclusion? That the attempt to solve the problem of illegal Mexican migrants is what has caused the problem of illegal Mexican migrants.

    Read up a bit more would you. By the way, is there really a difference between being born somewhere, and then working there? If there are jobs, then there are jobs. If not, they will go elsewhere. No one forces these companies to hire these people. If wages were increased, then the jobs would go to the locals more readily.

    And are you in favor of a wall on the Northern Border as well? What stops the Canadians from taking our jobs? Hint hint, low pay?

    Trump policies. He has no policies nor does he have any principals at all. He has one driving factor-what makes him look good with his fanatics.

    You are also way wrong about abortion, you didn’t understand the one awkward poll that was poorly worded. In reality abortion is supported by nearly 60% of Americans. Amongst those with higher education its over 70%.

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/10/17/nearly-six-in-ten-americans-say-abortion-should-be-legal/

    I think you should stick to your critiques of Adam and Eve.

  49. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller:
    vjtorley,

    Why are Hispanics more of a problem than WASPs? Asking for a Native American friend.

    Oh, and VJ forgot to mention, he himself is an immigrant in Japan.

    Crikey.

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