See also Revelation 3:16


Famous Moments in History, Reimagined By Centrists

Centrists are also fans of the “horseshoe theory”, where “we want to kill black people” and “we want civil rights” are both the same thing.

Comments

  1. acroyear says

    Yesterday I got told that any plan to raise taxes on the rich was profiling, and no different from the profiling done against minorities by TSA and the various police departments. Thus, all liberals were hypocrites.

  2. says

    Centrists are also fans of the “horseshoe theory”, where “we want to kill black people” and “we want civil rights” are both the same thing.

    That’s not horseshoe theory.

  3. Saad says

    This is pretty relevant to the discussion my brother and I just had about an email he received about the university he works at. An anti-choice, white supremacist, anti-Muslim hate group (Operation Save America) is planning a week of terror activities around the university and its hospital.

    The wording of the email describes the bigoted thuggery as follows:

    As a part of the activities planned for the convention, the group will organize daily protest rallies…

    “the activities planned for the convention”

    Sounds like they’re describing some art festival…

    Oh, and my favorite:

    Please note that, by law, they are limited to public areas

    Holy shit, thank you so much for not letting them in our private property and only limiting them to public space, which is 99.9999% of the space and to which we pay our hard earned tax money towards! They’re only limited to public space! That’ll show them! We minority folk are all eternally in your debt!

  4. Chancellor says

    Enough Americans have this, “opinions(colorful word for bigotry) are allowed to go unchallenged” thing that it’s ruining daily life for many, I do not regret not being there. If anyone tells me that I have to listen to a yt supremacist speak about me being less than on my college campus, we’re going to have problems.

    I’m not into both sides when one side is calling for my death and or enslavement.

  5. Akira MacKenzie says

    Centrist: A person who believes that there is always a “middle ground” between two diametrically opposed positions on any issue they wish would just go away.

  6. thirdmill says

    I mostly agree with the point of this post, but I think there is a danger of a false alternative, in which just because some issues are morally clear it doesn’t mean all issues are morally clear, and just because something seems morally clear to you doesn’t mean it is morally clear to everyone. Sometimes both sides have good points, sometimes neither side has good points, and sometimes there’s a need to proceed with caution. And the older I’ve gotten, the more leery I’ve become of people who say “everyone who disagrees with me is an asshole,” regardless of which side of the ideological spectrum they fall on.

  7. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Whereas at this point everytime I see someone refer to or even allude to “both sides” politically it sets off my bullshit alarms.

  8. says

    @Siobhan

    Sure, I can do that, just point me in the direction of anyone who thinks that “we want to kill black people” and “we want civil rights” are both the same thing, so that I can correct them.

  9. ck, the Irate Lump says

    The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) wrote:

    You might want to reconsider that opinion…

    You read “both sides” and substituted in “both parties”. They are not remotely the same thing.

  10. says

    @Brian
    In what way is that inconsistent with horseshoe theory? It presents a pair of socially polarized groups. The polarization is based on a commonly encountered pair that distinguishes social disagreements between social groups in conflict.

    I’m honestly curious and can believe Siobhan is encountering people willing to trade the security of another for their own, that would match my parents behavior with respect to trans people and bathrooms. A cowardly behavior that I used for argument practice.

  11. says

    The idea behind horseshoe theory is that the nutty far-right and nutty far-left are both radicalized to the point where their beliefs start to resemble each other. For example, taking a wrecking ball to all governmental and social institutions in the belief that they’re hopelessly corrupt. Left and right start from different perspectives, but they both end up playing revolutionary.

    Since “we want to kill black people” and “we want civil rights” are clearly not similar in any way, it’s hard to see how horseshoe theory would apply. And I’m not aware of a single centrist at any point in time who implied that they were the same. Their problem has always been, “We agree with civil rights, but the activists just need to stop being so obnoxious and take things slowly!” which has the effect of preserving the status quo.

  12. thirdmill says

    Just to be clear, when I said “both sides” I did not mean both political parties. I was talking about both sides of any given political or social issue. For some of them, the good points are all on one side; for others, there are good points and bad points on both.

    If you look at the cartoon, you see that it uses the most extreme examples possible — the KKK, Hitler, and the French Reign of Terror. Well, those issues are cut and dried, and not much open to debate, but not every issue is. On the fourth, war, I disagree with the cartoonist; there is such a thing as a just war. What’s the argument for not going to war against Hitler? Probably most wars are not just wars, but some are, so that one is misplaced in any event.

  13. consciousness razor says

    On the fourth, war, I disagree with the cartoonist; there is such a thing as a just war.

    What do you think you’re disagreeing with?

    Arguments for a just war don’t involve a claim that we should be satisfied with (and petition for, with signs!) some “reasonable amount of wars,” because those have nothing to do with what is considered somehow to be a reasonable number of them. They also don’t say peace itself is “unrealistic,” that wars may be just because “it’s complicated,” or that we can justify a war with statements like “okay I guess.” That shit is pure ridiculousness. Whatever actual just war theories/arguments might be worth, it’s only fair to point out that none of them are like that.

    Of course, the fact that someone made some kind of argument that few paid any attention to, whatever the fuck it may be like, seems to be enough for some people to conclude that wars are arguably okay somehow…. So some do fill in the gaps however they want, with all sorts of crap like that.

    Let’s imagine you can make sense of what a “just war” is supposed to be like. If you’re going to settle for an “unjust war” anyway, what would be the point then? The only thing you might accomplish is to confuse others into believing that maybe this is one of those mysterious “just wars” that somebody somewhere has alluded to before. That might be the point.

    But let’s assume you’re not being horrible. Now, it sounds like you should be happy that the comic is mocking crap that you ought to believe is not only very stupid but also very harmful. You think there are good, serious reasons to go to war in some exceptional circumstances; and the shit in the comic panel does not remind you of the sort of thing you’d consider good, serious reasons for going to war in exceptional circumstances. Maybe your complaint is a little misplaced?

    What’s the argument for not going to war against Hitler?

    Well, there is the fact that Hitler is dead….

    But whatever. Let’s say it’s before WWII, and somebody came up to you and said “peace is just not realistic.” How would you reply? You could say “Wow, what a solid point you have there. Am I mistaken, or does that justify a war? Let’s attack.”

    I’m assuming you would say something less stupid. Right?

  14. OptimalCynic says

    Let’s say it’s before WWII, and somebody came up to you and said “peace is just not realistic.” How would you reply?

    “We’d better ramp up our military spending and construction then, and reinforce Czechoslovakia and Poland. We’ll be in a better position if that racist madman attacks.”

  15. consciousness razor says

    Defense costs something, sure, and maybe more (or less) needs to be spent on it here or there. I don’t know. But “going to war” is something else. People are always clamoring for that … anybody who’s ever been in a war might have more reservations, but there are such people.

    If it comes to you, then of course you don’t need to go to it. If we’re not starting wars and are being peaceful (and maybe we’re serious about only engaging in “just wars,” whatever those are), it could still happen that war comes, since not everything in the world is under our control, since we have not (yet) conquered everywhere. That’s something that can happen.

    Is there some expectation that some kind of argument needs to be made against this? What would it be about? I mean, it’d be absurd to argue that someone didn’t start a war with us, if that’s what they what did.

    So, it does sound like thirdmill’s question is asking why we (or somebody back then) shouldn’t preemptively attack Germany. I’m not sure what kind of alternate history I’m supposed to be thinking of here. Anyway, starting wars would be bad in any case, and Hitler is also an especially horrible person, so it’s hard to imagine how bad it might get. Sounds like an awful choice to me, if we’re talking about a time when there was still a choice and we’re not already in a war that somebody else started. What is the argument in favor of it supposed to be? Defending yourself isn’t “just” enough? Or what?

  16. thirdmill says

    I said not a word about preemptively attacking Hitler, though now that you raise the subject, my question would be when, exactly, does it cease being preemptive and become defensive? After he’s invaded Austria? After he’s invaded Poland and the Low Countries? After he’s conquered France? Are policy makers really not entitled to understand that an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure?

    Hitler, I think, is an easy case because he was so dreadful and really did pose a threat to the entire world. Most wars are not that clear. Most wars are fought for far less noble reasons. But the idea that it’s completely and starkly black and white that the only acceptable moral position is no war ever — which seems to me to be the cartoonist’s position — I think that’s just naive. We live in a dangerous world, and sometimes kill or be killed really are your only realistic alternatives.

  17. blf says

    Hitler, I think, is an easy case because he was so dreadful and really did pose a threat to the entire world.

    Some well-known USAian(?) conservative(s?)† have argued the the States entered WW ][ on the wrong side, and should have sided with you-know-who.‡ The reason? Stalin / communism was a greater danger, and you-know-who famously invaded Russia.

      † Rather annoyingly, I can’t recall a specific name here — Pat Buchanan? William F Buckley Jr? — neither sounds quite right and my Generalissimo Google-fu has gone fubar, so apologies for the lack of citations.

      ‡ In Europe. I have no idea / recollection if the people I unfortunately can’t quite recall had an opinion about the warlords on the other side of the globe.

  18. consciousness razor says

    my question would be when, exactly, does it cease being preemptive and become defensive?

    There simply is no question about which events happened earlier and which happened later. (Before anyone feels like jumping on this: relativity is great and all, but it doesn’t actually complicate the matter in cases like this.) There is a fact of the matter of whether or not we are already at war. Before we move on to the specific conditions you’re about to propose, when I just consider it generally, it’s hard to see what you think is problematic so far.

    After he’s invaded Austria? After he’s invaded Poland and the Low Countries? After he’s conquered France?

    If any of them are our allies (am I answering on behalf of the US or another country?), and Hitler is the one who makes the choice to go to war by invading those places, then it’s time to ask your question:

    “What’s the argument for not going to war against Hitler?”

    That’s what you wanted to know, although it is awfully hard to make sense of it. I’m supposed to argue why Hitler shouldn’t have done that? I could explain why that was the wrong thing for him to do, but it doesn’t sound like you believe it was an okay thing for him to do. If you believe we’re on different sides of that argument, you’ll have to explain what you have in mind.

    Do you think I’m supposed to explain why we (i.e., some country) shouldn’t have formed meaningful alliances with others? If a person does make claims like that, then they can try to explain them to you, but I haven’t and won’t and am not in a position where I need to do that.

    Do you think this is when I make the case to you that in fact they didn’t invade Austria, Poland, the Low Countries, France, etc.? Or I’m supposed to say we shouldn’t believe/accept that they did? Maybe it only seems as if that’s true, but in reality it’s somehow not, or it’s ambiguous whether we’re the defenders or the aggressors in that situation? Or I should make some other kind of argument that will somehow negate the fact that Germany went to war with us?

    It looks like the premise is that in fact we didn’t start a war; and as a person who didn’t want to start a war (a “pacifist” you might call me), I should persuade you to agree with me that we should be opposed to something. I’m to give an argument against it, whatever it is, because you think you’re on the other side.

    I don’t get it, so how about you tell me what my argument is supposed to be? To whom would it be addressed, what would it be about, why would I (or anyone) want to make it, and what would making this argument accomplish? For now, please do tell me what I’m thinking, and I’ll try to make sense of that however I can, as an idea that a not-totally-confused person might actually entertain, in some conceivable situation or another. If it isn’t something I would think, then I’ll let you know.

  19. says

    † Rather annoyingly, I can’t recall a specific name here — Pat Buchanan?

    Yes, him. He took a fair amount of heat for it, but in the decades since, it’s become a common meme on the far-right. Even more common is a latter-day McCarthyism which holds that the western allies must have been secretly pro-communist because they allowed the USSR to capture Berlin and dominate eastern Europe, and didn’t immediately start WW3. Amazingly, this stupidity has only grown since the collapse of the USSR proved that containment worked.

  20. thirdmill says

    Consciousness Razor, what I actually think is that I made a simple, straightforward point that a reader of average intelligence would have understood, and your response was several paragraphs of pedantry that pretend to not understand what I was saying, simply so you can look intelligent. I hope you enjoyed yourself.

  21. says

    @Area Man
    Let me see if I have this right, I want to be fair about it and it’s all incomplete science anyway (not to mention the very real bias in research with social implications). But there is very real general human behavior here worth exploring, a juxtaposition of things in social communication. Blue and red, donkeys and elephants, and asserted characteristics of groups and people at the least.

    The idea behind horseshoe theory is that the [nutty] far-[right] and nutty far-[left] are both [radicalized] to the point where their beliefs start to [resemble] each other. For example, taking a [wrecking ball] to all governmental and social institutions in the belief that they’re hopelessly corrupt. Left and right start from different perspectives, but they both end up playing revolutionary.
    First thing, I’m with you when it comes to the damage done by people associated with right-wing, conservative, and related re-brandings. But what matters here is what they are measuring as a resemblance. I’m not familiar with it myself. It links like social conflict related symbolism to me. Black and white, red and blue, right and left, those are farts on history. The real enemy is the nature of a system can cause systematic bigotry and less irrational political behavior (freeze peach for example).

    People who are passionate, dedicated, and aggressive on behalf of their group in a social conflict will share general stereotyped behaviors because of how our social cognition works. Both sides will be swinging with symbolic fists (because the same logic machine runs physical and social conflict), creating connections between people and things so we can interact symbolically.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piaget%27s_theory_of_cognitive_development#Symbolic_function_substage
    Foe example some brain system makes FUCK a thing. Right and left are arbitrary beyond a directional metaphor. Think about the language used by left-leaning antivaccination people. There will be a common form in that shared with creationists, antifeminists, racists, misogynists, and other people with irrational emotion attached to groups of people (as opposed to people making rational connections).

    Since “we want to kill black people” and “we want civil rights” are clearly not similar in any way, it’s hard to see how horseshoe theory would apply.
    What matters (and I freely admit ignorance of this being in horseshoe theory specifically), is that this is the balance set by a bigoted society. Free speech does protect bigoted language created by history and biology. So citizens must step up and confront our fellow citizens with our own aggressive language when necessary.

    Bigotry in general social discourse is generated by social conflict processing, in addition to anything else involved in irrational reasoning.

    And I’m not aware of a single centrist at any point in time who implied that they were the same. Their problem has always been, “We agree with civil rights, but the activists just need to stop being so obnoxious and take things slowly!” which has the effect of preserving the status quo.
    It’s not about what you think you are doing and what you know you are doing, it’s about what is regardless of social intent. Bigots are. Left, right, they mean nothing when it comes to the essence.

  22. says

    I guess I forgot the tags. Lazy fix.

    @Area Man
    Let me see if I have this right, I want to be fair about it and it’s all incomplete science anyway (not to mention the very real bias in research with social implications). But there is very real general human behavior here worth exploring, a juxtaposition of things in social communication. Blue and red, donkeys and elephants, and asserted characteristics of groups and people at the least.

    >”The idea behind horseshoe theory is that the [nutty] far-[right] and nutty far-[left] are both [radicalized] to the point where their beliefs start to [resemble] each other. For example, taking a [wrecking ball] to all governmental and social institutions in the belief that they’re hopelessly corrupt. Left and right start from different perspectives, but they both end up playing revolutionary.”

    First thing, I’m with you when it comes to the damage done by people associated with right-wing, conservative, and related re-brandings. But what matters here is what they are measuring as a resemblance. I’m not familiar with it myself. It links like social conflict related symbolism to me. Black and white, red and blue, right and left, those are farts on history. The real enemy is the nature of a system can cause systematic bigotry and less irrational political behavior (freeze peach for example).

    People who are passionate, dedicated, and aggressive on behalf of their group in a social conflict will share general stereotyped behaviors because of how our social cognition works. Both sides will be swinging with symbolic fists (because the same logic machine runs physical and social conflict), creating connections between people and things so we can interact symbolically.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piaget%27s_theory_of_cognitive_development#Symbolic_function_substage
    Foe example some brain system makes FUCK a thing. Right and left are arbitrary beyond a directional metaphor. Think about the language used by left-leaning antivaccination people. There will be a common form in that shared with creationists, antifeminists, racists, misogynists, and other people with irrational emotion attached to groups of people (as opposed to people making rational connections).

    >”Since “we want to kill black people” and “we want civil rights” are clearly not similar in any way, it’s hard to see how horseshoe theory would apply.”

    What matters (and I freely admit ignorance of this being in horseshoe theory specifically), is that this is the balance set by a bigoted society. Free speech does protect bigoted language created by history and biology. So citizens must step up and confront our fellow citizens with our own aggressive language when necessary.

    Bigotry in general social discourse is generated by social conflict processing, in addition to anything else involved in irrational reasoning.

    >”And I’m not aware of a single centrist at any point in time who implied that they were the same. Their problem has always been, “We agree with civil rights, but the activists just need to stop being so obnoxious and take things slowly!” which has the effect of preserving the status quo.”

    It’s not about what you think you are doing and what you know you are doing, it’s about what is regardless of social intent. Bigots are. Left, right, they mean nothing when it comes to the essence.

  23. consciousness razor says

    thirdmill:

    I’ll keep this one short and sweet. I think you’re a bullshitter who’s been grasping for some kind of an excuse to start wars every now and then.

  24. thirdmill says

    Well, consciousness razor, if you actually do believe that, then my simple straightforward point sailed right over your head. Next time I’ll dumb things down for you.

  25. consciousness razor says

    You can give me the extra-dumb thing you have in mind, if that suits you best. I’m not exactly looking forward to it, but do what you need to do.

    Or we might agree about a few things, and you could say anything you want about that. Or maybe I misinterpreted something you said (or you misspoke), which you could easily clarify for me, since it’s so abundantly simple and straightforward. Or you can think it’s just me “pretending,” if you don’t mind being wrong. It’s up to you.

  26. says

    @Brony,

    I’m honestly not sure what you’re trying to say, but let me clarify that I’m not trying to defend horseshoe theory, just trying to (weakly) explain it. And to explain why PZ bringing it up didn’t make a lot of sense. There are plenty of criticisms of the theory that I agree with, if you choose to take it seriously, but I don’t take it seriously. It’s basically a bit of pop-poly-sci that is amusing and explains a few things, but is far too simplistic. If you’re worried that it applies to you, it almost certainly doesn’t. The people to whom it applies lack that level of introspection.

  27. says

    Is this performance art? A blurb about Centrism followed straightaway with a display of characteristically Centrist backpedalling from

    “That’s not horseshoe theory”

    to

    …point me in the direction of anyone who thinks that…so that I can correct them

    The human mind is a funny, funny thing.

  28. says

    …oh, almost forgot some fun facts:

    A few minutes of research will lead one directly to many articles, essays, and books by or about Jean-Pierre Faye, who first uttered the term horseshoe with regard to precisely such an idea about the sameness of end points (so-called) of a construed political “continuum” [sic]. It seems to me that the typical centrist (or Moderate or Independent or…) is happy to take direction and comfort from authoritarian institutions while also taking credit for being some kind of tolerant, cultural “freedom” anchor. There’s no pleasing militant Centrists.

    I thought it (slightly) interesting that Faye, not uncharacteristically, counts Deconstruction and Postmodernism as the great enemies of, like, civilization n’stuff.

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