Monday, April 7, 2014

Progressive stereotypes and the good cop

Well, the debacle at McGrath's blog is fast coming to a close. The end result is that I'm pretty sure Skippy finally realized that A) he had the wrong guy, and that even if he didn't, B) I wasn't following the script he had mentally written out in his head regarding his sloppy attempt at bullying. Once again, pretty amazing that it was over the pettiest of things - if you read that conversation, the trigger was that I thought it was reasonable, even if not science, to infer the existence of a creator based on looking at nature. That's some soft and mushy stuff, but lo', I made it clear I think Michael Behe is NOT, in fact, spawn of Satan (aka the Koch Brothers in modern American progressive-ese) and thus it was important that I be dealt with.

Or maybe he was trying to smear some guy I don't know by associating him with my thoughts and views. Who knows, who cares. By the end of it you can tell he was in 'Well, I fucked up' mode, trying to walk back his threats, offer apologies, and so on. By the by - I'm fine with honest mistakes, but when your apology is delivered to me only after your attempts at threatening me failed and I'm screaming to everyone who will hear what you just tried to pull off? I'm going to question the sincerity.

But, let's focus here.

Lothar - who I am going to say again, is a guy I like, a guy I find fair, a guy I can talk with despite disagreements, which means a lot - suggested I'm not being fair when it comes to progressives. He'll grant that there is some bullying that goes on, but he thinks it happens on both sides of the aisle, so to speak. He thinks "progressives" - perhaps not all of them, perhaps not most of them - don't really behave the way I say they do.

I'll put my cards on the table: my estimations of progressives really are generalizations, and generalizations are at best only true to a point. I'll grant that there are progressives who truly oppose the sort of bullying we saw with Eich, that we see with others. I do not subscribe to cartoon views of reality where everyone who disagrees with me is some kind of monster, with the only thing varying being the method. People have sincere disagreements. At times, they make mistakes. Hell, sometimes they're right and I'm wrong.

And... sometimes? Sometimes they also bullshit.

There is a phenomenon I noticed long ago with atheists. Anyone who's read my blog knows I differentiate between the Cultist of Gnu - the nasty devotee of Dawkins and Coyne with a slavish devotion to militant atheism, for whom all information about religion arrives through the filter of angry skeptical blogs and the like - and all other atheists. I am willing to concede that most of the irreligious are not only not like that, but actually find the behavior of the Gnu off-putting. They are nasty, they are hateful, and - let's be frank - they are often pretty stupid. I won't categorize the two in the same slot.

But at the same time, there is a certain kind of atheist that I call the Good Cop. The Good Cop doesn't behave like a Gnu. They try to appear friendly and approachable with Christians, with theists. But it's not that they reject the Gnu approach, the Gnu attitude, or even the Gnu hate. They just... find it tactically questionable. It's not -for them-, because -they- want to be seen as a bit more respectable than that, a bit more civil and thoughtful.

At the same time, though? They regard the Gnu as useful. After all, they're the animated maniacs who will go to Christian blogs and kick up a storm, they'll go on the attack, they'll try to convert people, they'll pressure people into silence or conformity - butts of contempt an all. And so the Good Cop decides that this Gnu has a use. The result is that the Good Cop tries to act as if the Gnu does not exist. When Richard Dawkins calls a Catholic upbringing child abuse, they don't want to talk about it - indeed, they don't even want to acknowledge Dawkins exists, in a way. He's too minor a figure, you see. Not intellectually serious. Can't we switch the topic to something else? Anything else? Why spend time on this?

What's going on is that the Good Cop approves of the Bad Cop. But they both have their roles, and even if the Good Cop snorts at the Bad Cop, his job is to tolerate the Bad Cop and enable him. To cast a blind eye towards what the Bad Cop is doing, to put up a smokescreen. Maybe the Good Cop will now and then lament the sorry state of theist-atheist dialogue, but general and broad expressions of dissatisfaction are as far as it will go... because at the end of the day the Gnu is on Their Side, doing Their Work.

Which is why we're in the curious situation where atheists will argue that many, even most atheists reject the Cult of Gnu, yet curiously it's hard to find an atheist, "secular" or naturalist organization that doesn't lavish praise on the Cult. It's as if there's an abundance of atheists out there who, for all their talk about rejecting the Gnus, don't reject them so much to actually do anything about them.

Obviously not every atheist is like this. But this is, I am convinced, a real phenomenon. And I see it with "progressives" too. If you tell me that many, even most, progressives oppose things like the firing of Eich, who oppose bullying, I'm left wondering why it's nevertheless the case that these things happen with such ferocity and ease. Will I see any "progressive" backlash against Mozilla? OKCupid? Hell, will I see it - minor as it is in comparison - over on McGrath's blog? No, I expect the McGrath pattern to show up, where after someone stupidly tries to reveal RL details about me and talk ominously about what my employer may think of my online, anonymous opinions, McGrath goes 'Threat? Threat? I saw no threat. And you said he didn't have your identity right anyway, so I figured it was no big deal.' Because if there were such things - if there was backlash against an LGBT activist targeting a Christian's business to take part in a gay wedding in a bullying attempt - there'd be more controversy about that. It wouldn't be showing up so much. I would see denunciations of the groups involved, the people backing it all.

It's not happening. Which puts me in the unfortunate position of having to reason that "progressivism" is led and driven by the lunatics, that quite a number of the quieter "progressives" are simply playing Good Cop to the lunatic Bad Cops, and the remainder are too small in number to be of much consequence in the entire ordeal.

It is an illustration of how this game, so to speak, is being played on the public, social, political stage. These are not merely fringe events rarely popping up at the extremes of society - it is day to day reality. And I am very tired of ignoring it and pretending most progressives, gosh darn it, just want to get along and agree to disagree.


Acatus Bensley said...

Why do you even give them the time of day? I really think most progressives and atheists don't give a shit about anyone else's interest in this country. They downplay things like the cult of gnu because they like the results. They don't like the tactics, but it gets them what they want. People drop their faith or don't challenge progressive policy out of fear. That's what they want. That's not a good cop.

Crude said...

Why do you even give them the time of day? I really think most progressives and atheists don't give a shit about anyone else's interest in this country.

It depends on the person. Like I said, "progressive" is a generalization - it's not like they all work according to a rulebook. I think most people are more politically and even religiously bland. They have biases and leanings and sympathies, and you can talk with many of them.

Likewise, I have problems with conservatives too, even social conservatives. Lately I'm focusing on the "Progressives" because a lot of things happened at once, and it has me furious. I'm calming down, but the shift will remain. One key difference between many (non neo-)conservatives and "progressives" is that the conservative's biggest sin is leaving the world alone too much, whereas "progressives" won't stop injecting themselves into everyone else's lives.

I can talk with Lothar, for example. I can talk with Victor. I can talk with some other people. That is what I ask for, and all I need to interact - the ability to have a mutually respectful conversation, even if I'm (again) pissed off lately. And some people can have their minds changed. Some people are more complicated. I respect that - I'm complicated myself, and you seem to be as well.

But I'm not going to ignore real trends and real problems, and I think "progressives" have a lot to answer for now.

Acatus Bensley said...

When I said time of day I meant it in a "why do you expect any rationality from them" way. It seems like you would know better than to give them the benefit of the doubt. I don't see how you could see any redeeming qualities in the left. The sane ones seem to be in the minority. Like very small minority.

Crude said...

Well, I differentiate between 'person who has some left-wing views' and 'committed self-described leftist who has been that way for ages and hangs out with leftists and supports leftist causes and...' I think a lot of people likely have left-wing views due to cultural inertia, the media, etc. Others will have other reasons. Generally when someone starts explicitly calling themselves "progressive" you're in trouble, but if so it tends to manifest quickly. It really doesn't take long to see when James McGrath goes off the rails, or his weird stalker allies. But Victor Reppert is, I believe, a self-described liberal - I can converse with him.

That's one thing the "progressives" have over conservatives, I think. Conservatives write off people who disagree with them as lost causes. "Progressives" spend time trying to think of how to move everyone even a fraction closer to their views, whether it's force or media manipulation or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

""Progressives" spend time trying to think of how to move everyone even a fraction closer to their views, whether it's force or media manipulation or otherwise"

Is it possible to do this in an respectful manner?

This what I am striving for, but I am limited and fall infinitely short from perfection.

Crude said...


It's entirely possible to try and convince people that they're wrong about something and having a proper scope to one's actions and methods, sure.

The Fez said...

A classmate of mine, the other day, blurted out "Fucking Christians. I've really got nothing better to do than rape these guys with arguments". He was referring to some apparent internet squabble he was having on Facebook.

Context: Graduate level architecture studio. fifteen grown men (and one woman).

This guy, by and large, is probably a little off-kilter. At the ripe age of 24, you should probably not exist perpetually in gym shorts and moth-eaten t-shirts, but I digress. The point is, the hostility is tangible. You can see the axe being ground to a fine point. The utilization of the word "rape" is not entirely an exaggeration. His intent really is to force his opponent into mental submission. It's not about persuasion, or trying to show a person the error of their ways. It's about submission.

Be it the good cop or the bad cop, the objective is the same in the interrogation room. Submit and confess. "Tell us why you did it." The tacit assumption of some inward guilt is pervasive in most of the discussions I've had with Progressives, to the extent that I've often wondered whether I was in the hot-box, and not having a friendly discussion online. "You know you've probably emotionally scarred homosexuals before" is some literal shit that someone said to me. The only thing they're missing is crime-scene photos draped in a vanilla folder to slap down in front of you. And mustaches.

Crude said...

That sort of thing, Fez, is one reason why I advocate an attitude of defiance and resentment when it comes to frantic partisans. I can have a calm and civil debate with an atheist, a liberal, a "progressive", and so on. I cannot have one with a Cultists of Gnu, a party jackboot, a culture warrior. I do not advocate trying to be nice and kind and forever apologetic with them.

I've seen it before. I believe that 'pajama boy' in the Obamacare ads bragged about how he was able to, and I'm paraphrasing closely here, not only able to 'win' debates but 'make people feel terrible about themselves'.

Hence your encountering 'you've probably scarred', etc. They do not advance their positions by reason and logic. Mister 'rape them with arguments' there probably couldn't argue his way out of a paper bag. But I bet he can emote like a fucking pro.