Sunday, November 5, 2017

If the Flag Doesn't Symbolize Unity, What Will?

This is a Special Edition of Blank versus Blank. This post is the presentation of a single side of an issue. Because it is only one perspective, we call this a Blank Verse.

This Blank Verse is presented by David.





 We are a very diverse nation. And we have very diverse opinions. But overall, we have much more in common than we don't.

The NFL protests this season have opened up considerable dialogue, although not exactly what the NFL would have preferred, or the players anticipated. Several players have offered up their view that the protests about an inequality within the justice system, is a unifying event.

It isn't. The why of their protest was overshadowed by the when of their protest.


It used to be that many Americans spent their Sunday afternoons watching the NFL. It was a unifying event. But now, for many, the introduction of politics into the sport destroyed that unity. According to ratings, many Americans are now spending their Sunday afternoons doing other things.


After the President got involved, likely for political gain, the players doubled down on their calls for unity. But it was a call for unity within their teams, not unity as a country. It should have been obvious to them that they were on the wrong side of this argument when Pittsburgh Steeler Alejandro Villanueva's jersey became the best-selling jersey in America after he stood for the anthem alone, as his team "unified" within the locker room.



Alejandro Villanueva standing alone for the National Anthem

Drew Brees, Saints quarterback, said, "Do I think that there's inequality in this country? Yes I do. Do I think that there's racism? Yes I do. I think that there's inequality for women, for women in the workplace. I think that there's inequality for people of color, for minorities, for immigrants. But as it pertains to the national anthem, I will always feel that if you are an American that the national anthem is the opportunity for us all to stand up together, to be unified and to show respect for our country." (Brees stood for the anthem.)


It is regrettable that icons of national unity like “The Star Spangled Banner” and the American flag are being used for division, no matter how worthy the cause.

The players who didn’t stand for the anthem have cited numerous reasons for their protests, such as police brutality, racism, and even opposition to President Trump and his policies, but the general, overriding message they are sending is this: We are not a united country anymore.


On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress resolved "That the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."

The United States Flag predates the adoption of the U.S. Constitution by 12 years. It's been a part of America longer than the basis of our legal system that the NFL players are protesting against.

In South Boston, Virginia, at the Annin Flagmakers factory , workers were asked by their local newspaper to name life's most important elements. No matter the political or ethnic backgrounds, the same answers come back: family, work and faith. When asked to sum up the values Americans broadly share, they point to their handiwork and what it stands for — freedom, opportunity and prideWhen presented with the idea of living in any other foreign land, they uniformly say "no, America can't be beat".


"We may be divided on some things, but when it comes down to the most important things we come together," said Emily Bouldin, a 66-year-old seated before a jabbering sewing machine on an Annin production floor awash in red, white and blue. "Because we realize, together we stand, divided we fall."

"The United States is the freest and the best country on this earth and that flag represents that," said Ed Haney, a 69-year-old maintenance mechanic at the Annin plant.



The NFL protests, because they are so open to interpretation, are ineffective. Whatever message these players are trying to send is obscured by the reckless way they’re doing it. There are plenty of other venues for protests. This is not the forum for such protest. By this time, most (but not all) of them clearly realize their tactical error. They have begun kneeling at some point during the pre-game, but they are standing for the anthem.

However, one thing is for sure, recreating national unity can’t come from top-down economic solutions or policies. It can only come from a healthy, revitalized culture and leaders who know how to channel it in the right direction. A stand for unity in America is healthy, in the right forum, and with a unified goal of making America the best that it can be.



America was never a perfect nation, but we have made incredible progress. The flag represents our aspirations and goals. It represents the best of America, not the worst.

Watch this short video of a men who had a dream of raising a 400-foot flag pole in Wisconsin, and see the excitement the project brought about in everyone involved, from designers, to engineers, to the construction crew. The flag is unifying. A really big flag is really unifying.

The Making of the Acuity Flagpole.


The American  flag itself is the most easily accessible image for unity. Is it lawful to burn it? Yes. Is it lawful to take a knee during the National Anthem? Yes. But is it unifying to do so? Absolutely not.

It may be permissible to do something, but it is not necessarily beneficial to your cause. In the instance of the NFL, protesting during the displaying of the flag and the playing of the National Anthem has aligned many Americans against the players and their cause. The message has been lost because of the manner of protest.

A great many Americans treasure the flag for very personal reasons. Members of the military specifically believe they have fought, and many of their peers have bled and died for this country and it's ideals. The American flag represents that sacrifice and the deaths of any soldier who has ever worn the uniform of our country.



These same veterans admit that one of the ideals they fought for was free speech, and for Americans to be able to protest. They understand better than most of the protestors why these rights make America a great country. But they don't have to like it, or condone the disrespect to the flag and all of the great things it represents.

What the NFL players seem to have finally realized, is that taking a knee during the anthem was the wrong manner and time to make their point. Did it start a discussion? Oh boy, did it. But Colin Kaepernick's original message has been overshadowed by the fallout over the choice of protest. Within a few short months, the NFL has fallen from it's perennial spot as America's most popular sport. Major League Baseball has taken over that spot just this year. There are other factors that play into this shift, such as the resurgence of the never-win Chicago Cubs finally winning the World Series last year. But while the NFL toppled, and it's negative ratings climbed, college football remained stable in it's fan base and viewership. So it's only professional football that is currently falling. Most polls list the NFL protests as a major factor in fan opinions. And the opinions have largely been negative.

The American flag can unify us, in a time where unity is needed.  Go out and buy one and hang it on your house today.  If the flag as a symbol can't unify us, is their anything that can?




We are all Americans, even when we disagree about the solutions to our problems. Whether it's Obama or Trump who wears the mantle of President, they both stand in front of an American flag, and represent our country to the world. I disagreed with Obama, and you may disagree with Trump. That's America, my friend. Let's rejoice in our Americanism.


There are calls for national unity everyday, yet those calls are usually followed by the usual, divisive identity-politics-messaging. Real unity will come from people like you and me, who choose to find unity with those around us each and everyday. It also means we have to find unity with those who disagree with us, each and every day.

Let's be Americans. Together.

Have a thoughtful Veteran's Day this November 11th. The NFL is planning for some extraordinarily big celebrations next Sunday. Perhaps they can repair some of the damage the've done. Waving some flags and sincerely applauding veterans will certainly be a unifying step in the right direction.










Thursday, October 12, 2017

DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA is an "American immigration policy that allowed some individuals who entered the country as minors, and had either entered or remained in the country illegally, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. As of 2017, approximately 800,000 individuals—referred to as Dreamers after the DREAM Act bill—were enrolled in the program created by DACA." The policy was established by the Obama administration in June 2012 and the policy was largely rescinded by the Trump administration in September 2017. What should be done now?

Photo credit
David:
DACA, the  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is illegal.

This is not just my opinion, but is (or was) the opinion of a former US President and Constitutional law professor.

President Obama said that he, as the Executive of the country, could not just create DACA. It needed to be enacted as law by the Congress. He made this argument very clearly numerous times.

“I’m president, I’m not king,” Barack Obama, October 25, 2010

“I think it’s important to remind everybody that, what I’ve said previously, I am not a king, I am head of the executive branch of government,” Obama said in an interview with Univision. “I am required to follow the law, and that is what we’ve done.” Barack Obama, January 29, 2013

Yet, he then changed that position and created DACA through executive order when the Democrat-led Congress failed to act. Multiple states sued on various grounds, and many cases are still pending before the courts, but so far, the former President's original argument is winning the day. He didn't have the authority to create DACA. In it's current format,  DACA isn't legal.

Which brings us to the present. DACA beneficiaries are in a state of limbo that President Obama created. President Trump put the ball squarely in Congress's court, which is where this belonged in the first place. Congress needs to take up the issue (which Democrats could have done when Obama was in office, and had a super-majority in the Senate). President Trump has done the right thing by pressuring Congress to act. President Trump's Executive Order and subsequent rules created a provision that no changes be made to the status of current dreamers for 6 months. If Congress does not act within that time frame, DACA may end. Perhaps that's what Congress needed all along, a deadline.

Doug:
Dealing with DACA is something that Republicans in Congress would rather avoid. They were very happy to have DACA for two reasons: 

  1. it allowed them to complain about Obama enacting it (as shown by your response above) to appeal to their extreme base, and
  2. it provided a humanitarian solution, appealing to everyone else. 

This is analogous to the healthcare situation: complain about Obamacare, but allow it to stand. But Trump doesn't understand (or doesn't care about) that dynamic. Or perhaps it is by design: he loves conflict and chaos! 

In any event, this puts the future of the Dreamers into the hands of the Republicans. What will they do? I suspect that they know that Congress is going to look very different in a year and a half when the Democratic party retakes the House, and maybe Senate at this rate. Then Congress can create a real solution for those stuck in this limbo. So, I expect the current Republican-led Congress will allow the DACA idea to die. That will appeal to their base, and the Democratic party can provide the humanitarian solution that the rest of us really want.

David:
Your opinions do not reflect any facts on the ground.  Sixty-six percent of Republican law-makers support DACA. When this comes up for a vote, Republicans will support creating a pathway for citizenship for dreamers. This is a win for Republicans. A majority of Americans support DACA, and Republicans will be the ones to put it into law, something Democrats promised during the Obama years, but failed to get done. ( I'm glad you have the optimism that your party will be in control, and get it done the next time around, something they failed to do when they had control of both houses and the executive branch.)

The only catch is whether Democrats will balk at attaching any sort of border security measures with DACA. The White House has said that Trump will not insist on any sort of wall, but increased border security is something that must be included in the deal. A majority of Americans support increased border security, and it was a major point Trump made on the campaign trail. 



As this graph illustrates, Americans support making DACA law, and they also have soured on a physical border "wall". They support a compromise (65% to 27%) of both enacting DACA as a law and increasing border security, something the President and most Republicans support. This compromise is the way forward. Everyone wins, including dreamers.

At least you are willing to concede that the dreamers are stuck in limbo because of President Obama's  executive order, and Congress needs to act. I consider that progress.

Doug:
The Dreamers were saved by Obama's administration, otherwise they would have already been subject to deportation. Those dreams were dashed by Trump's rescinding of DACA. 

I hope you are right that Republicans will join the Democrats to help save the Dreamers. And the Dreamers' parents. And all immigrants. Unfortunately, you are also right that the Republicans will probably also attach something else to the bill that has nothing to do with the Dreamers' lives and will end up killing the bill. I know many Dreamers and it breaks my heart to see their lives being batted around as a political football. 

There are many in the Republican party (e.g., Trump's base) that do not want anything like DACA to pass. We'll see if the Republicans can gather their support for a such a popular program. I'll be very surprised if they do get it passed. But hope springs eternal! It would be ironic if it falls back to Trump to make an executive action to again save the Dreamers.

David:
Two things before we wrap this up:

Dreamers are in this country illegally. It was not through any fault of their own, but they, and their parents broke immigration laws. There are laws for reasons, and there are penalties for breaking the law. What is currently going on is an effort to change the law to allow them a path towards citizenship. Only Congress can pass that law. Obama placed dreamers in a very precarious position with false promises. I consider the actions he took to create DACA (a program he repeatedly said he could not create legally) during an election season to be one of the most blatantly cynical and partisan things he did while in office. President Trump is leading an effort to make dreamer's status legal under the law. Trump won't enact any executive actions for the very reasons he had to start the process of undoing former President Obama's: It's not legal, and won't stand up in court.

Border security isn't something that has no relationship to dreamers or their status. Dreamers entered  our borders illegally. Border security funnels immigrants towards the legal means of entering the country, and taking their first legal steps towards US citizenship. If Democrats don't see DACA as having anything to do with our borders, then they will cause these efforts to fail. Border security and immigration go hand in hand. Immigrants are welcomed. The first thing they need to do is recognize that the country they are entering is a nation of law. Addressing DACA is the first step to reforming the entire immigration process, which currently appears to be too complicated and expensive for many.

Doug:
Building a wall has nothing to do with the Dreamers. You imagine their parents sneaking in via a hole in a fence. But many Dreamers aren't even from Mexico, and many came here legally. Perhaps their parents overstayed their student or work visas. They may have taken a plane into the US legally. So, no, a wall on the southern border won't help solve any problem. And neither will "increased border security" if they come in legally. So that has little to do with Dreamers. Democrats are fine with increased security all around, such as limiting gun violence. It is a question of priorities.

This country sure has changed over the last 100 years. Most of the people in the US whose parents came to the US have no idea whether they are here legally:
"When people say their ancestors came legally, if they came before 1924, everybody was legal,” said Ngai. “It wasn’t a choice they had to make. After 1924, if you couldn’t get a visa because your country’s quota was filled, many came without documents. They sneaked in." - The Inquirer
It is a world that is upside down where doing something to save the tax-paying Dreamers is seen as "cynical" and rescinding the attempt is seen as "leading an effort to" save them. In any event, I don't know why you insist on stating this mixed up position when it has little to do with what to actually do next. It is pretty simple: just turn Obama's policy into law. As your graph shows, most people want this. Except for the elected Republicans. We'll see what happens in Congress. And then we'll see what happens in the next election. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Is X a Terrorist Organization?

David:
As we saw in Berkley recently, Antifa thugs showed up with clubs, and assaulted just about anybody who happened to be in the vicinity. This occurred even after the original peaceful meeting had been cancelled. They were there just to wreak havoc, inflict injuries, and promote violence. They also seem to have a somewhat mixed message as to what it is they are actually fighting for (or against). While it certainly is justified to fight against Nazis, many had signs just attacking President Trump. At the Berkley rally, they were there in force to suppress a prayer rally.  And when the rally was cancelled, they supressed anyone who might be a conservative.

Doug:
You are always assuming that "we" watch whatever you watch and that "we" know what you are talking about. Can you point to something specific? What prayer rally? How were they "suppressing" people? Where are these stories about assaulting "anyone in the vicinity"?

David:
As Vizzini said in The Princess Bride: INCONCEIVABLE!

I'll cut you some slack, because I believe you may have been on vacation during that week, but a quick search of google indicates that not a single news organization failed to report on this story.

Doug:
I was on vacation, of sorts. Ironically we were dropping your favorite niece off at college in California. But also I just want to be specific, and to make sure we're talking about the same thing. There are always protests at Berkeley. Even if you said the "Berkeley 2017" protests, that only narrows it down to six different events, so far this year.

David:
I'm talking about the recent cancelled prayer-for-peace rally that antifa showed up to and beat people senseless. That seems to me to be pretty specific, but maybe that exact scenario happens at Berkley every week these days.

Here's one of the reports, which is fairly representative of most of the news stories:

Antifa attacks peaceful demonstrators in Berkley.

A group called Patriot Prayer, led by Joey Gibson, had planned a rally to pray for peace. He isn't a white-supremacist, but was reported as a black man. When it became apparent that Antifa was planning a violent clash, the prayer meeting was called off. Antifa still showed up and attacked Gibbs and several other people who were not involved with any rally at all, as well as police.

Doug:
Now that I know what you are talking about (August 27, 2017 protests in Berkeley), I see that there was a lot going on that day in Berkeley California, and there were lots of participating groups. ABC News' headline was "Black-clad anarchists swarm anti-hate rally in California." Your description of the Patriot Prayer is a bit off, too. You (strangely) mentioned Gibbs race as black, but it appears that he is Japanese-American. It is hard to imagine that a group connected to alt-right goes into "liberal territory" to merely "pray for peace." I am most suspicious of any claim without links to supporting evidence.

David:
You are partly correct. Here Mr. Gibson is interviewed and explains himself and his motives. He describes himself as Japanese, and explains why he is visiting the liberal West Coast.

I find it interesting that ABC News does not identify Antifa by name.

Doug:
Yes! That is the kind of curiosity we need. Perhaps this story isn't as simple as you describe in your opening, and perhaps it is conceivable that your description doesn't match what others have seen on TV. Perhaps there is not evidence to blame a single group on the violence.

David:
Just like Donald Trump didn't blame a single group for the violence in Charlottesville, you mean? Maybe there is more to a story than the media claims? What a novel idea. So you support the President's original claims, then?

Doug:
I thought we are talking about the violence on August 17, 2017. It was caused by about 100 people, in one group or the other. After all, these aren't card-carrying member of an organization. But that would be useful. "I got a Mastercard with my membership to Anarchists United."

David:
Right. Before you couldn't narrow down which rally we were discussing, now you don't want to talk about any rally except that one.

Interesting to me is the Southern Poverty Law Center doesn't consider Antifa to be a hate group, but has considered most tea party groups, and many other conservative groups to deserve that designation at one time or another. It appears the SPLC considers Antifa to have the correct type of hate.


Doug:
Ah, the Washington Examiner. Why do you read such bad things? SPLC considers most Tea Party groups are hate groups? Considers many conservative groups hate groups? Can you point to such injustices?

David:
Do you do any research at all before you comment? Why is it you never fail to  to try to discredit anything I say by accusing me of not doing research, and then fail to do even the simplest search before you make a comment like that? There is a very nice group of folks here in Indianapolis that I have spoken to a few times called The Eagle Forum. They are conservative, but certainly are not racist, hateful, terroristic, or anything else you might describe as "bad". Yet they are on an SPLC list. It appears anyone who disagrees with the SPLC's agenda is, by their definition, a hate group. When I was part of the leadership of the Indianapolis Tea Party, we were listed there.

Doug:
Slow down. All I did was ask for evidence that what you say is true. Assaulting anyone (babies? old ladies? puppies?) in the vicinity? Asking for a link is not trying to discredit you. So, let's take one of your claims that SPLC doesn't think that "antifa" is a hate group. SPLC did condemn the actions (I read the article). Is your outrage that they haven't been formally listed on some list of hate groups by SPLC? Your second claim was that SPLC considers "most Tea Party groups hate groups". Where is this list? The list you link to is not a hate group list, but a list of "extreme antigovernment groups." I suspect that the Eagle Forum would be happy being called an "extreme antigovernment group." But that isn't hate, right?

David:
Do you have a link to support your comments? The Eagle Forum is not extreme in any sense of the word. Nor are they anti-government. Do you think the SPLC draws a sharp line between an antigovernment group and hate groups? Do you have a link to show me how they make that distinction? They have all of these lists on the same page, linked to each other.

If you're going to require a link to every single thing each of us says, this will become a very time consuming blog. But if you insist: This article indicates that there were four people attacked (all men) who were not involved with the original protest, but were at the site. It also includes descriptions of the perpetrators of violence as being black clad and masked, the official uniform of Antifa.

Doug:
Official uniform? Fox News?

David:
I included a link for your benefit (and at your insistence), one of the most watched news organizations in the country, and you dismiss it. Yet you feel that you can use ABC news as a reliable source. That appears to be a double standard based on bias.

I have no outrage about any of this. I don't know why you would make that assumption. Outrage indicates a failure to control emotions. Perhaps you are trying to influence readers that I'm a little unstable and they should avoid listening to me? "Look, he's outraged at such a simple little thing!"

Doug:
You are wasting my time. I'd like to discuss something that someone (you or me) cares about. There are important things to discuss. The world is literally burning, drowning, and being killed around us while the Republican administration removes science from government. And you pick a topic that you don't really care about? Look, he's picked a topic that is such a little thing! But of course, there is terror going on around us, and it isn't 100 people with an "official uniform." My DACA friends are terrified. My friends who are against fascism are greatly worried.



David:
And Antifa is one of the players committing violence. That's what I'm talking about. And again, you reiterate the idea that talking about Antifa or their tactics is a waste of time. Why are your friends who are against fascism worried? Are your friends supportive of Antifa and their methods?

The SPLC site is fairly extensive, with numerous pages of lists. There are lists of hate groups, hateful ideologies, and individual "enemies". In their list of groups, they list the Mormon Church, the Liberty Council, and the Family Research Council right along side the KKK. They are all jumbled together into one big bunch. They list their hateful ideologies from the same page. On this list is anti-government groups, with the Don't Tread on Me flag as the emblem of this category of hateful ideology. Why use that symbol? Because it represents the entire tea party movement. They list this right alongside the KKK and Nazis. This close association indicates they feel all of these groups are hate groups.

Doug:
The Tea Party doesn't get to claim "Don't Tread on Me." There are many groups that use it. They are one of many groups that have tried to claim it for their own use, and meaning.

David:
Um, you failed to provide any sort of evidence or link for that statement. Who are all of these other groups? I'll bet when most people see a Gadsden Flag, they think "tea party".

If I listed you in the same list as Hitler and Stalin, you'd be making a reasonable guess that I considered you as having a similar character to them.

Doug:
That isn't evidence, and that isn't an argument. You're the one making these claims, and I am just asking for evidence. But here are some links on the Eagle Forum. Here is a nice quote from their leader: "You’re not racist if you don’t like Mexicans." That sounds extreme to me. You might be interested in reading the SPLC's definition of "antigovernment." It isn't what you might think. I think the Eagle Forum would proudly agree that their goals match the definition. You claimed that the SPLC considers the Eagle Forum a hate group. Where is the evidence? They do consider them an "antigovernment" group. You claim that "antifa" assaulted anyone in the vicinity. Where is the evidence? I'm not trying to discredit you, I'm trying to understand you.

David:
By trying to cast doubt on what I say. And by using Right Wing Watch as your source? That sounds like a conspiracy theory site if ever I heard of one.

Doug:
You can't discredit a group that does exactly what they say. If you want to dismiss Right Wing Watch because their name sounds like a conspiracy, then I'm going to stop reading the crappy articles that you point me to from Fox News and Washington Examiner. You have to read the article before you decide that there is a conspiracy.

David:
You equate Fox News with Right Wing Watch? Good grief.

If you actually read the article you are quoting about the Eagle Forum, you'd have read this:

Ed Martin, who ran for Missouri attorney general four years ago and now is the chief spokesman and ally to conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, said at a Tea Party rally in the St. Louis area Sunday: “You’re not racist if you don’t like Mexicans. They’re from a nation. If you don’t think Muslims are vetted enough, because they blow things up, that’s not racist.” Martin told the Post-Dispatch in a written statement that his comments regarding Mexicans were aimed only at illegal immigrants. Regarding his comments on Muslims, he said: “My point is that it is not racist to make clear that some Muslims should not be coming to America. They are not a race but a religion and there are white, black and brown Muslims and we need to make sure that the ones who wish us ill are not allowed to enter America.”
Doug:
That's racist! If you put everyone from a country in one category, that's the definition of racism! It is racism if you don't like Mexicans. 

David:
"Mexican" isn't a race. That's what he said, and that is true.

Doug:
And asking for evidence is not trying to cast doubt on you. And what about that picture? I did a Google search on that image: it reported that there were about "25,270,000,000 results". That is 25 billion? Can that be right? I'm trying (as I always do) to track down the accuracy of the things that you mention. What is the source of this image?
David:
I don't know the original source for the photo. Does the fact it has been viewed billions of times indicate some problem with it? Are you denying that it appears to represent antifa members?

Doug:
Google doesn't show views, but hits... pages that actually have that picture (or a very similar one) on it. Click it. So that picture appears on (apparently) 25 billion pages. That doesn't seem correct to me. Also, I am not happy not knowing the source of the picture.

David:
Well, I do want you to be happy...

Doug:
It doesn't look like Berkeley in 2017 in the summer (it was hot there, these people are in coats and hats). But maybe it was. I'd like to find out. The article you pointed to mentioned 100 "antifa" members. If so, they must have been tightly packed in for this picture. I count at least 50 people in that picture.

So, why are we talking about these 100 people in California on August 27, 2017?

David:
Perhaps you need to read the titles of the blog before you start participating. It might help you to formulate your ideas a little better, and provide some focus to the discussion. Perhaps then, we wouldn't spend time talking about whether the photo of Antifa is from the specific event in question, or if it was taken at a different time. Sometimes it's very hard for me to try to discuss events with you when you claim complete ignorance on a news item that generated stories in all of the major news media, and follow up stories for over a week afterwards.

Doug:
If this photo is from the Netherlands from 2009, then it does matter.

David:
But you just said you don't know the source of this photo. So, you automatically assume it isn't real? Why?

Doug:
If you claim that a black man was just trying to hold a prayer rally, but he is not black, and it wasn't about praying, then it does matter.

David:
Initial reports were that he was black. He isn't. We've corrected my error. Since the rally was cancelled, you are once again assuming the worst, without any proof to support your own claim that the rally was something different. It seems like that should matter as well.

Doug:
If you claim that SPLC considers some boy scouts a hate group, but that isn't so, then it does matter. So, I guess if you want to make unsubstantiated claims to start some discussion, I am happy to not make it so easy on you. It is very hard to have a discussion with someone when they have a set of beliefs that are based on innuendo and misunderstandings. You can try to turn that description on me, but I really am interested in evidence. I don't want to have a discussion based on misunderstandings. For example, I want to know the source of the photo.

David:
You think this discussion is hard? I'm reminded of a lady I met once in the ER. She said she couldn't move her legs. But while talking to her, she continually moved her legs. "Look, you're moving them now", I said. "No I'm not", she responded. After arguing back and forth for a few minutes, she said she was tired of arguing, got up and walked out of the ER. You think I'm outraged by your side of the discussion, but I'm usually sitting at my desk chuckling at your notions and assumptions. Mainly because you fail to see your own assumptions in action.

Doug:
I understand: you don't care about this. You chuckle at my attempt at an argument because I am self-deluded. And yet, I continue to blog with you. I'm not laughing at you. I'm still trying to understand you.

David:
I noticed you actually changed the title of the blog from my original "Is Antifa a Terrorist Organization?" to "Is X a Terrorist Organization?" What's up with that? Can you not even allow the discussion to proceed as it began?  Do you support the notion that The Eagle Forum is dangerous to America, but Antifa is not?

What I found curious, and what prompted the (attempted) discussion here, is the follow-up stories. Joe Scarborough, of MSNBC's Morning Joe, described Antifa as a fascist group itself.

Doug:
That would be a place that I would put a link to support your claim. Not that I doubt you. Ok, I do doubt that you remember things correctly. I doubt that you are listening to Joe Scarborough. I do doubt that you are interested in this discussion because Scarborough claimed something.

David:
You know what happens when you assume...

And as usual you assume a very great deal.

Scarborough's comments prompted other news outlets to report on what Scarborough had said.

Doug:
That sounds like an interesting chain of events in order to get to a point of discussion. (Not really.) So this is interesting to you because of an opinion that others are buzzing about. You realize that we could discuss anything based on this storyline. I suspect that you believe because your narrative traces this back to someone on MSNBC, we can't really blame you for bringing this up. You're just reporting what others are talking about. Here is Nate Silver saying the same thing:



David:
I'm being blamed for asking your opinion of a current event? What are you talking about? And when you say "we can't blame you", are you having a conversation with your invisible friends again?

Nancy Pelosi had originally called for a cancellation of the original rally because she claimed (wrongly) that it was about hate. After the rally, even she condemned Antifa for their use of violence, and that became a story.

Doug:
It has become your story. There are many stories in the news, but it does seem that you latch onto some very specific, narrow, and not all that important in the grand scheme of things.

David:
I never did say it was  the most important thing in the universe, just something I was curious as to how you felt about Antifa. And once again, you are belittling the entire discussion, and avoiding the entire discussion. You've talked about everything but Antifa's use of violence to shut down discussion and intimidate others.

Doug:
I don't think we need to do this then. I don't want to spend this time and energy if you ask questions that you don't even care about my response.

David:
I've been waiting for a response throughout this entire blog. My question is (and was, before you inexplicably changed the title): should Antifa be declared a domestic terrorist group? The State of New Jersey has already made that designation official.


(By the way, the photo is of the New Jersey flag. I don't know the source of the picture or when it was taken, but I don't think it makes any difference. It's still the New Jersey flag.)

Doug:
I'm not sure that producing a 1-page PDF equates to the headline: NJ declares antifa a domestic terrorist group. If that were true, then I suspect if someone claimed that they were a member of antifa, then they could be jailed immediately. I see no evidence of that. This is an informative PDF written up for Chris Christie by his cabinet. 

David:
It's an informative PDF from New Jersey's Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness from their section on Domestic Terrorism Groups. This is information available on their website for the public, not just for the governor.

Doug:
But I am indeed glad that you got to your point! Remember that "I'm just asking a question" is not a valid form of argument. Which is why the title of our post is "Is X a Terrorist Group?" You can ask that question about any group. But merely asking the question is part of the goal of some. We don't do that here. We want to actually explore a question, not just ask a question for its own effect.

David:
I believe it was you who once said in our blog that BlankVersus Blank is all about asking questions. Most of the blogs you have started begin with a question. Is that only true for you, but not for me?

I'm asking you a very specific question to get your take on it. So far, you have belittled the question, tried to shed doubt on any pretext to the question, actually changed the question to something more generalized, and refused to answer the question.

Doug:
Exactly right: I'm not going to let you "just ask a question to get my take on it." That isn't how we're going to discuss things. That is a "Do you still beat your wife?" loaded question. So, the question is: what would make any group a terrorist group? 

David:
No, that is not the question. That is your new question, to avoid the original. Your tactics are those used by someone trying to protect or hide something. My question was specific to Antifa, a group that is now all over the media due to their use of violence. Do you support Antifa's tactics or their goals? I'm just trying to understand why you are trying to obfuscate the discussion?

Doug:
No, the general question can be asked without reference to a specific instance. If we can decide on what constitutes any terror group, then we can apply it to all. So, what groups do we have in the US operating as terror groups? What is terror? Why is it effective? What is a group? Does it need to persist for a period of time? 

David:
Obfuscation.....

Doug:
Let's take a look at antifa. You never mentioned that "antifa" stands for "anti- fascist." We are all anti-fascist, right? The real question regarding this group is: is it ok to punch a Nazi? That is a troubling question. On the one hand, we have the Indiana Jones argument. Well, it isn't so much of an argument as just: yes, you do punch Nazis.



David:
Antifa wasn't punching Nazis. I have not found any single story that described anyone at this (cancelled) rally as a Nazi. Where is your link to that "fact", brother? They attacked folks at a prayer-for-peace rally. You're showing your true stripes if you are equating Trump supporters, conservatives, or Christians to Nazis.

Doug:
On the other side, violence can be seen as, you know, violent.

David:
Wow. When you put it like that, violence to shut down speech you don't agree with doesn't sound so bad.

Doug:
So what to do? It seems clear in this case that if you get rid of the fascist movement, you could get rid of the anti-fascist movement. Are the fascists a terrorist organization? Isn't that a better question in the wake of Heather Heyer's death in Charlottesville. Members of the KKK said that they were "glad" she was killed. That sounds like terror to me. Is the KKK a terrorist organization? Of course. How much of that terror should also be claimed by white nationalist groups?

David:
Finally. You've put together a great argument that Antifa is indeed a terrorist organization. They are the same as the KKK, as you have illustrated, and everyone should treat them as such. Why didn't you just say that at the beginning? This could have been a two-sentence blog, and we could move on to something else, like DACA.

Doug:
Cancer and chemotherapy are both damaging to the body, but that does not make them the same. Fighting Nazis with violence is not the same as terrorizing blacks and other minorities with violence.

David:
Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that simple. Antifa doesn't just attack fascists and Nazis. They also go after Trump supporters and conservatives, by calling them fascists.  Note that in this article, CNN also fails to mention the name Antifa, while other news organizations, including the Berkeley newspaper, did so. Violence is violence. Violence is bad. Don't give it a pass because it's perpetrated against someone you abhor. The KKK is abhorrent, but in America, they still have the same free-speech rights as everybody else. Even The ACLU agrees with me on this point.

Doug:
We do have a long history of terrorist organizations in the US. But I don't think "antifa" is something that we need to be worried about in the long run: I hope that we can beat down the fascist movements quickly and effectively. And then there is no need for anti-fascists, violent or not.

David:
Beat down? You are arguing the way to eliminate Antifa's violence is to let them eliminate (with violence) anyone they consider a fascist? Antifa considers President Trump and anyone who supports him or any part of his agenda, as well as the police, to be fascists. By not identifying that simple fact, and promoting their violence, you are destroying free speech and the rule of law. Nice.

Antifa's goal is to promote violence against those they disagree with. To me, that equals terrorism, not ends that justify the means.