Thursday, November 15, 2007

Supporting Hypocrisy

This is bewildering to me, and I'm curious what people think about it, particularly the many readers who lean to the left on the war in Iraq.

A troop of Boy Scouts is wondering why their donation boxes meant for troops in Iraq were thrown out of polling stations last week.

Election officials ordered the removal of donation boxes set up by a troop of Cambridge Boy Scouts of America during last Tuesday’s municipal election.

The boxes were set up inside the 33 polling stations around the city to collect donations for soldiers serving overseas in the war in Iraq.

Marsha Weinerman, executive director of the city’s Election Commission, said the boxes were removed after a resident complained to commission workers about their implied “pro-war” message.

I don't get this. Is supporting donations to troops somehow "pro-war"? (Wouldn't that mean not supporting them through donations is "anti-war"?) This seems ridiculous. Supporting troops, sending them products, donating items to make their stay in Iraq easier... these are all things that are completely unrelated to politics, are they not? Regardless of one's political views, troops from this country are serving in Iraq. Supporting them is a wonderful gesture, and will show them that people here care for their safety and well-being. Sending them gifts is not making a statement about the war; it is making a statement about our troops. It doesn't somehow keep them there longer or change the politics of this country.

Am I missing something?


  1. was the issue that they were "inside" the polling stations?

  2. No, see the articles linked. They had permission, and the law says they're fine as long as they're not about issues that are in that election.

  3. u are not missing anything but people thinks if they are helping someone is almost like you are supporting this. For example, will Arabs donate thier own money to poor people? Yes, if they believe it, so let us take futher, will Arabs donate to poor JEW? Heck no! Because they are anti-semities and if people heard this particular arab guy are donate to poor jew, people would think he likes jews eventhough he don't but this is a poor guy who just happen to jew! Same thing here, people don't want to donate to troops because they don't want other people to see that they are suppoting to the war, so they refrained thier money to the troops.

  4. This is one of the problems with discussing politics. Obviously, donating to the troops is not an explicitly pro-war position. Providing donation boxes for the troops in polling stations certainly carries undertones of a pro-war message, though. Shall we just ignore undertones or pretend that their a figment of our imagination? Is it all about plausible deniability?

    I'm not saying the boxes should have necessarily been pulled -- that's a legal question and I don't have the background. But do you think there wouldn't have been an outrage from the right if some group had put out donation boxes for the Iraqi residents of Haditha? What if there were boxes for donations to employees of the Department of Education or the EPA? Or boxes for Earth Day?

    This reminds me of the recently renewed debate about Reagan launching his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, talking about "states' rights." Might it have been an accident or a coincidence? Sure, it's possible. But it seems unlikely.

  5. Shall we just ignore undertones or pretend that their a figment of our imagination? Is it all about plausible deniability?

    Isn't that exactly the problem? Anything that can possibly carry any undertones ends up being scrapped? Must everything be completely 'pareve' for it to be put out there? I was mocking that in the post - the undertones from not doing it are just as strong, are they not?

    It's ridiculous. There's a marked difference among your examples. Donating to support the troops is very general and non-specific; donating specifically to residents of Haditha is meant to send a certain message.

    Employees of the Dept. of Ed? My elementary school used to have boxes for Earth Day; what's wrong with that? I don't think anyone is against helping the environment or helping people.

    That's really just it. We're over scrutinizing *everything* nowadays even for stupid undertones because 'chas v'shalom!' anyone get the wrong idea. It's ridiculous. The Reagan example is perfect: *NOBODY* back then really read it like that; Best of the Web has been covering this well the past week (you should check it out), detailing exactly what people said about it then and when this whole criticism of Reagan began. (A: New York Times editorial writers, one of who first said something in the 90's, the other only the past 4 years.) It's only now, in retrospect, people are trying to find imaginary 'undertones' and make them out to be the point. It's all about the 'hidden agendas' and garbage like that; nothing is taken at face value, it's all this sneaky crap to get subtle messages across.

    It's BS, that's all. Maybe he actually wanted to talk about states' rights!?

  6. The Reagan example is perfect: *NOBODY* back then really read it like that

    That's just not true, Ezzie:

    Here's a sampling of coverage from the 1980 campaign:

    * Newsweek, Aug. 18: "Reagan's courtship of the black vote last week started out in a way that made many blacks suspicious. Speaking to a nearly all-white crowd at a county fair in Philadelphia, Miss. — the town where three civil-rights workers were murdered in 1964 — he spoke in favor of states' rights, the code words for segregation in the 1950s."
    * U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 25: "In early August, Reagan made a three-day trip to Mississippi, New York and Chicago that attracted mixed reviews. He spoke to a mostly white audience at the Neshoba County (Miss.) Fair and declared support for states' rights. The outing may have helped him in a state that Carter narrowly carried in 1976, but it drew criticism from blacks. Neshoba County is where three civil-rights workers were slain by Ku Klux Klansmen in 1964 with the help of local lawmen."
    * The Associated Press, Sept. 16: "It was the pulpit of the late Martin Luther King Jr., and Carter invoked his memory in urging that blacks exercise their hard-won right to cast ballots. 'You've seen in this campaign the stirrings of hate and the rebirth of code words like states' rights in a speech in Mississippi and a campaign reference to the Ku Klux Klan relating to the South,' Carter said. 'That is a message which creates a cloud on the political horizon.' "
    * The Washington Post, Sept. 28: "Philadelphia, Miss., was the worst place in the world to mention 'states' rights.' Whatever the term might mean to Ronald Reagan now and whatever it might mean to others, it means something else to Jimmy Carter. It was always a code phrase for racism. It did not mean that the state had some sort of right to tell the government to shove it when it came to occupational safety. It meant, bluntly, that the state could deprive blacks of their civil rights and there wasn't a thing the federal government could do about it."
    * The New York Times, Oct. 15: "Andrew Young, campaigning on behalf of President Carter, told an audience in Ohio last week that Ronald Reagan's advocacy of 'state's rights' in a speech last August in Philadelphia, Miss., 'looks like a code word to me that it's going to be all right to kill niggers when he's President.' " (The White House distanced itself from that one.)

    I could go on (and on), but you get the idea. The point is that, despite what Brooks would like you to believe, Reagan's pit stop in Mississippi was one of the most controversial moments in the 1980 campaign. Liberals didn't start attacking Reagan over that visit a few months ago — they did it repeatedly 27 years ago.

  7. Here's the quote on states rights from that Reagan speech:

    Programs like education and others should be turned back to the states and local communities with the tax sources to fund them. I believe in states' rights. I believe in people doing as much as they can at the community level and the private level.

    That's got so little to do with race it's laughable.

    The knock that David Brooks makes is that he should have said something then about racism and civil rights and didn't. But to read into it what people are doing? Insane.

    Anyway, it certainly wasn't nearly as big of a deal back then, though I hadn't seen those pieces. Taranto earlier this week had noted there was little, but I didn't see he was referring specifically to the NYT.

  8. And it's not like this came out of left field. Do you deny Nixon's use of the Southern Strategy as well? His strategist Kevin Phillips, in 1970:

    From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats."

  9. Also, almost all the examples were Carter's campaign pointing to it and making a big deal out of it - not unbiased observers. Nobody else understood it that way, only Carter... and only as political fodder.

  10. You're comparing the two? Give me a break.

  11. Programs like education and others should be turned back to the states and local communities with the tax sources to fund them. I believe in states' rights. I believe in people doing as much as they can at the community level and the private level.

    Education? States' rights? What do you think he was talking about there? This is about forced busing and the desegregation of schools. Of course, it's possible to interpret it differently, and that's just what we're talking about here. Plausible deniability.

    If a r Republican candidate had gone to Laramie, Wyoming a few years after Matthew Shepherd was murdered to open his presidential campaign and had talked about "family values" and "strengthening marriage" would you say it had nothing to do with the issue of homosexuality?

  12. What!? You think that's what he was advocating? That's crazy. It's like if someone can come up with a way to spin it horribly, that must be what his undertone was. That's really, really crazy.

  13. Why that location to kick off his campaign? Do you think it was really a coincidence?

  14. What do you think of Krugman's point of a larger pattern with Reagan?

    Indeed, you do really have to feel sorry for Reagan. He just kept making those innocent mistakes.

    When he went on about the welfare queen driving her Cadillac, and kept repeating the story years after it had been debunked, some people thought he was engaging in race-baiting. But it was all just an innocent mistake.

    When, in 1976, he talked about working people angry about the “strapping young buck” using food stamps to buy T-bone steaks at the grocery store, he didn’t mean to play into racial hostility. True, as The New York Times reported,

    The ex-Governor has used the grocery-line illustration before, but in states like New Hampshire where there is scant black population, he has never used the expression “young buck,” which, to whites in the South, generally denotes a large black man.

    But the appearance that Reagan was playing to Southern prejudice was just an innocent mistake.

    Similarly, when Reagan declared in 1980 that the Voting Rights Act had been “humiliating to the South,” he didn’t mean to signal sympathy with segregationists. It was all an innocent mistake.

    In 1982, when Reagan intervened on the side of Bob Jones University, which was on the verge of losing its tax-exempt status because of its ban on interracial dating, he had no idea that the issue was so racially charged. It was all an innocent mistake.

    And the next year, when Reagan fired three members of the Civil Rights Commission, it wasn’t intended as a gesture of support to Southern whites. It was all an innocent mistake.

    Poor Reagan. He just kept on making those innocent mistakes, again and again and again.

    PS: It has been pointed out to me that Reagan opposed making Martin Luther King Day a national holiday, giving in only when Congress passed a law creating the holiday by a veto-proof majority. But he really didn’t mean to disrespect the civil rights movement - it was just an innocent mistake.

  15. I'm really not trying to be biased here. I've said before, and I maintain still, that George Bush doesn't have a racist bone in his body, as far as I can tell. I just find the reasoning for why Reagan (or whoever) chose that spot to be compelling.

  16. Krugman got ripped by Brooks in his own paper.

    You can pick out a few cases from any President and make them out to be a "pattern" - I'm not impressed.