An Outbreak of Nazis

Rich Davis has a PhD in Immunology and a phone that is full of pictures of parasites, bacteria and his kids. These sometimes appear on his twitter feed, @RichDavisPhD.

Saturday night, following the aftermath of a white supremacist rally and counter protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, I got a request from a friend asking for some reassurance on a much less worrisome topic than white supremacy.

That topic was the plague. Like, the actual, literal plague.

I’m a medical microbiologist, recently graduated with my Ph.D. where I studied a tropical human parasite. I currently work in the microbiology division of a clinical testing lab, the place that tests your blood, wounds or poop to diagnose what’s making you sick and how to treat it.
My friend’s concern came from news reports out of Arizona where health departments have reported finding in fleas the bacteria (Yersinia pestis) that causes plague. Fleas spread the disease among rodents and, much more rarely, to humans. Plague has a lot of social cachet—a professor of mine once called this, “disease sex appeal.” People know enough about it to know that it’s scary and sometimes deadly. In this case though, scary headlines notwithstanding, it’s evidence that the system for treating potentially deadly diseases was working: someone was monitoring rodents and fleas in the wild, someone informed the authorities of a finding and they in turn made a public announcement so that people can be more cautious if they come across something that looks like the disease.

To have the literal plague pop up in the news at the same time as the more metaphoric plague of white nationalism, racism and bigotry embodied by the KKK, neo-Nazis and other hate groups? It seemed like the universe delivering a plague-ridden allegory on a plate. To be clear, I have no professional qualifications to talk about white supremacy or hate groups. But the comparisons are numerous: Both of these plagues have caused the death and suffering of millions worldwide. Both have become catchwords for filth and degeneracy. And we can’t seem to get rid of either of them.

The language of disease

Humans have been using the same language to describe diseases as they do for things that are harmful or evil for probably as long as we’ve had language: “A blight on society.” “A pox on your house.” Scriptures describe lepers and sinners with similar terms – “unclean,” “defiled.” This metaphoric connection runs deeper than saying something is “bad” — we have plenty of words for “bad.”

What is becoming more established is how human behaviors can mimic trends of infectious diseases. There are flu epidemics and pandemics, but you have probably also heard of “suicide epidemics” or the ongoing “opioid epidemic.” These epidemics (like epidemics of obesity or heart disease) are real and measurable, even though behaviors like suicide and drug use aren’t caused by a virus or bacteria infecting a human host.
Another term from infectious disease relevant to this conversation is “outbreak.” It’s so common a term that describing it seems too elementary, but, basically, an outbreak is when incidence of a disease dramatically increases in numbers and, usually, in visibility.

I think it’s safe to say we are currently seeing a clear outbreak of racism and white nationalism.

Characteristics of an outbreak

Outbreaks are defined in terms of how many cases there are above “normal background” in a given population. A disease showing up in places it hasn’t been before, or cases spiking in a place with usually low levels of that disease. With some notable exceptions (more on this later), outbreaks are often accompanied by increased media attention. Think of the H1N1 influenza outbreak of 2009 — I personally remember waiting in a long line at the department of health with my pregnant wife to get her vaccine. More recent are the deadly west African Ebola crisis of 2015, and the rapid rise of Zika cases in 2016 (fingers crossed for what 2017 will look like).

What triggers the outbreak? With many dangerous pathogens, there are low levels of disease “smoldering” (a great, descriptive term for it) at low levels in a population. But, like a smoldering fire, under the right conditions, they can come roaring up in devastating numbers. Often with viral diseases, an outbreak can result from a different, more dangerous version of a pathogen suddenly appearing (like a bird, or swine, flu). But, as with the Arizona public health departments noticing the presence of plague in fleas (not even humans), disrupting surveillance or response resources can leave populations vulnerable to outbreaks.

One of the most dramatic preludes to disease outbreaks is anything that will lower the general health and disease-resistance of a population. War is a big one -displaced populations, refugee camps, and military tactics that target civilians and their food and medical supplies result in a huge number outbreaks. The same thing occurs with natural disasters, like the earthquake in Haiti and the ongoing famine in Somalia. A similar effect occurs on a smaller scale among populations that forgo vaccinations.

A white supremacy outbreak

Hopefully some of the comparisons between disease outbreaks and white supremacy are pretty obvious, but it’s worth being clear about some of the parallels I see with this an outbreak of Nazis, Klansmen and other overt supporters of white supremacy.

First, I don’t think what we are seeing is a new “highly virulent” or “resistant” strain of Nazism/KKK-ism. They have always been “smoldering” (a very descriptive term for it) at low levels in our populations. And we have never been free of racism or bigotry. Their omnipresent reality in the United States is on every page of our history and enshrined in our laws, both historic and modern. The media platforms may be modernized, and group names may be updated, but is that sort of adaptation resulting in fundamentally difference in white supremacy?

This is why the social media hashtag #ThisIsNotUs that sprang up on Saturday is… well, simply a manifestation of the story of ourselves we’d like to be true. This is inescapably “us” (or “U.S.”). It’s the power of the stories we tell ourselves, stories of a “post-racial country” that emerged following the election of Barack Obama and celebrating a Hitler-punching Captain America, that make this outbreak, and the murderous violence manifesting with it, feel new when it’s really not.

Second, the optics of an outbreak influences its trajectory. As mentioned above the staggering, frightening numbers of a disease outbreak can help people recognize it as a serious threat to life and safety. But exceptions to this rule are as common as they are heartbreaking. Currently over 500,000 people in Yemen have contracted the serious, dehydrating disease of cholera. Thousands have died and will die before the year is out. Yet coverage and public interest, is only a fraction of what we saw during the Ebola outbreak of 2015. A cynical, but probably accurate interpretation: Cholera diarrhea just isn’t that scary to Americans. It is worth considering what other manifestations of white supremacy, racism and bigotry are smoldering around us in low numbers, devastating thousands of lives, that don’t elicit the kind of visceral response many of us had to the events in Charlottesville.

Third, decreased pathogen surveillance leaves populations ill-prepared to respond to an outbreak before it grows. In February 2017, a federal counter-extremism program was reformatted into a “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism” program, one that would no longer target white supremacists groups.

Fourth, the lowering of a population-wide resistance, either by circumstance or by ill-informed choice. What contributed to a country less resistance to the influence of white supremacy? Certainly numerous things, including open appeals to their groups and active recruitment by their leaders. But I think these things found fertile ground in our current media landscape. Articles and commentators drawing equivalences between groups like Black Lives Matter and the KKK. Puff pieces written about “dapper” white nationalists. Endless coverage of voters whose visceral dislike of a black president was often framed exclusively as economic anxiety. Did bad rhetoric or fluff articles create white supremacy? Of course not. But news-as-marketable-content, tailored to fit what viewers wanted to hear seems to be both a result and a cause of our society becoming very tolerant of white supremacy’s brand of intolerance, and thus lowering our resistance to it.

Treating the disease

One last comparison/lesson from the world of infectious disease outbreaks.

Let’s say someone seeks medical treatment and exhibits the signs of a serious, life-threatening bacterial infection like . . . the plague! Health care workers collect samples (blood, swabs of wounds, stool etc.) and send it to the laboratory. There our job is to try to identify what, if anything, is in those samples, and by extension, what is causing the disease.

But the doctor doesn’t wait! “Empiric therapy” means treating a patient based on the best interpretation of observed signs. If the physician waited until we cultured and identified the bacteria swirling around the patient’s blood, they’d be long dead. Sometimes, on the lab side of things, we fixate on knowing what the organism is. Re-culture one more day. Run one more test, just to be sure.

To me this feels like the (perhaps well-meaning) over-enthusiastic effort to publicly examine or elevate harmful, bigoted rhetoric while ignoring the ongoing visceral harm it causes. The First Amendment rightfully allows repugnant beliefs to be expressed, but publicly debating them, repeating or joking about them even to criticize them can be done thoughtlessly. Equally bad is when “rational analysis” of irrational bigotry ends up given those beliefs a veneer of being based in science or logic. While sunlight is a good disinfectant, we don’t need to feed the germs.

This is one reason why endless interviews of Trump’s voters who stand by him and HBO’s proposed “Confederate” program are as frustrating as they are common. They seem to imagine that we’re in a post-harm analysis phase of treating a disease, when really the patient is currently crashing on the table.

An armchair discussion of the metaphor of white supremacy as a disease outbreak in our nation is far less valuable than listening to input from actual the experts, historians and activists who are seeking to address it. But the reality of the situation is that this “outbreak” is real, and what we know about outbreaks is that they spread unless they are treated on a personal and population level. The damage this outbreak causing is real, and minimizing it, or ignoring it, will only perpetuate it.

Comments

  1. Really good article, but the patient is not dying on the table, so the necessity of refusing to debate ideas because of the urgency of action now does not hold up.

    If North Korea started bombing Seoul, and racists were protestjng, I think we can all agree the time is not right to debate how foolish the racist ideology is. And also even then, counter protesting would be counterproductive.

    But on the contrary, now more than ever we need to shine light on their beliefs and have all sides (left and right) debate them. Not try to hang the racists around the neck as an albatross when ever someone as advocates freedom of speech even though they disagree with the racists (to say nothing of the bizarre punching fantasies).

    The counter protests are great, IF they are peaceful and use persuasion. We can’t tolerate people giving in to violent vigilante protestor fantasies. I believe (assume) the vast majority are peaceful, but we all need to speak up and tell others to put away their violent fantasies and get on with demonstrating in word and deed how wrong the racists are.

    To say we have no obligation to do so, is to deny their reality as children of God and our brothers and sisters. We ought to plead and persuade and hope they can see the hurtful error of their ways. Jesus felt they were worth dying for too. They can be redeemed and we can be intruments in accomplishing that.

    To say otherwise, is to give up out of exhaustion and take the lazier and more hazardous route of force and compulsion, which is must more dangerous to control if it metastasizes across society.

  2. ymmv: “Not try to hang the racists around the neck as an albatross when ever someone as advocates freedom of speech even though they disagree with the racists (to say nothing of the bizarre punching fantasies)”

    I swear I read this several times but don’t understand it, except for the general impression I got that you think we’re too mean to racists?

  3. With respect to protests and speech, I’m going to quote Michael Austin (without permission but full attribution):

    “I think that there is a lot to be said for rallies that show opposition to hateful ideas and express support for their targets. I spoke at just such a rally last week, and I am glad I did. But there is also something to be said for cutting off the oxygen supply of hate groups, which is media attention, and just letting them shout to the wind in isolation. I am not quite sure where to draw this line.”

    With respect to violence, I think it needs very very serious attention but not quite apocalyptic, and I feel that Trump and his supporters (voters and politicians) have swung the balance away from protecting against U.S. far-right extremists. For the numbers, I refer to Politifact and GAO reporting (quote but with hidden ellipses not intended to alter facts or change meaning)::

    “The 9/11 terrorist attacks resulted in the largest number of deaths in the United States caused by violent extremism–about 3,000 people were killed in the attacks.

    Since then — from Sept. 12, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2016  — there have been 85 attacks in the country by violent extremists resulting in 225 deaths. Of those 225 deaths:
    • 106 individuals were killed by far-right violent extremists in 62 separate incidents;
    • 119 individuals were killed by radical Islamist violent extremists in 23 separate incidents.”

  4. Geoff - Aus says:

    It would seem there is an imballance between freedom of speech and its consequences.
    Here is an example of hate speech legislation, which would allow people to deal with hate speech without the confrontation.
    A person, by a public act, must not incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or a group of persons on the ground of –
    (a) the race of the person or any member of the group; or
    (b) any disability of the person or any member of the group; or
    (c) the sexual orientation or lawful sexual activity of the person or any member of the group; or
    (d) the religious belief or affiliation or religious activity of the person or any member of the group.

  5. Jonathan Cavender says:

    @Steve:

    I read his comment as saying that there are those who attack people defending free speech for Nazis (or any other malignant ideology) as espousing that ideology. I read his parenthetical to be contrasting the negative responses free speech advocates get when saying that Nazis have the right to speak and peaceably assemble (no one that I am aware of advocates the right of violent assembly) – claiming that they are Nazi sympathizers, apologists, or Nazis themselves – with the positive or neutral responses given to people advocating a violent response to the exercise of a constitutionally-protected right (i.e. punching a Nazi).

    For what it’s worth, I agree with him on that part. Maybe I’m a bit of a Pollyanna, but I can’t imagine anyone saw those images of people carrying torches and chanting and thought to themselves, “Now there’s a movement I can get behind.” I think the greatest threat to fascism is to have fascism brought into the light. Fascism rose to power during a time without social media and without an understanding that we now have (Hitler willingly accepted the title of dictator because it didn’t have the negative connotations it does now). In light of our history and experience, the only way Nazism grows is in the darkness as an “oppressed” philosophy. Bring it out into the sunlight, and all people of good will turn away in disgust.

    Want to end fascism? Instead of punch a Nazi, or denying a platform to a Nazi (how’s that working, anyway?), instead show who Nazis are, bring them into the sunlight, and watch the world reject their hateful ideology.

  6. Jonathan, thank you for translating – I am not sure if that’s what the comment is saying but that’s an interesting point. Re: the rest of your comment…. yes, I do think you’re a bit Pollyanna there. Nazi ideology is on the rise — that is the point of the OP — and this despite our abundant sunlight.

  7. I’m with Jonathan, though I’ve also been accused of pollyanna-ism. I’ve seen too many people read tweets and blog posts of avowed ethno-nationalists and say, “But I never saw them say anything racist.” Unless you spell out why some ideas are problematic, people will fall for the propoganda. We *need* better education.

  8. Another post illustrating why liberalism is a mental disorder. Where were these posts condemning BLM when they were looting and rioting? You want to talk about parasites? At leave we didn’t see stores burning or leaders advocating the death of rival leader groups. But yet you sit on fictitious moral ground condemning a group that went to advocate free speech?

  9. I don’t take the OP to be arguing that violence or illegal action is necessary at this point in the fight against racists. I think the OP does imply that what we’ve been doing, including the disinfectant sunshine of free speech, isn’t working well enough. Things are getting worse, so we have to do more.

    If you believe in the power of free speech, then you have to figure out what kind of speech is necessary. Maybe you ought to be participating in some mass demonstrations. Maybe you ought to be telling more people what you think. Maybe you ought to risk offending some people you know by calling them out. Speech ought to be peaceable, but it is also often uncomfortable.

    Beyond speech, there is political activism. The removal of Confederate monuments is an appropriate reaction to the rise of white supremacy. It is an example of leveraging political power within the system. It is a way to deprive white supremacists of power by taking away their officially sanctioned emblems.

    Voting rights is another political issue that’s deeply intertwined with white supremacism. We can speak out against the efforts to suppress minority votes. Those efforts are happening at all levels of government right now. We can encourage Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act. (I am convinced that the Supreme Court’s decision in the Shelby County case, which gutted part of the Voting Rights Act, meaningfully encouraged people who want to restore the Jim Crow approach to voting.) We can pray that the Supreme Court finds a good resolution for the gerrymandering case it’s hearing this fall.

    And close to home, in the church, we can do our part to expose racism among us. We should not tolerate it. We should not let it pass without comment. We should make it clear—always—that it should have no place in the church.

  10. I do not agree that removal of Confederate monuments is an appropriate reaction to the rise of white supremacy. I believe Confederate monuments teach exactly what we choose to use them to teach.
    If you teach the full history, then they are a warning about allowing your greed to overcome the Christian values you are supposed to be taught on Sunday. So let us teach the full history of slavery and of the Civil War, that slavery was excused because it allowed people to get rich growing cotton, something they could not accomplish by relying on their own labor. And those men, being wise in manipulating others, prepared justifications for their behavior and had it preached from the pulpits and in the government meetings. They convinced the simple minded and others who saw a way to get gain without work that these were good and true ideas. And the ultimate cost to those who believed it was a devastating war and poverty that lasted for almost 100 years after.
    Let us use the statues as places to tell the real stories, not just the glorified battle stories. Let us put markers next to them with the full picture of these men’s lives, of the numbers of slaves they kept and how they treated them and how much wealth they derived from their labors.
    If we see clearly how much is justified when some people see a way to make money from others unjustly, we will teach a different church lesson and a different history lesson.
    Perhaps we can include a section in school about the economic penalty faced by those accused of witchcraft in Salem, forfeiting their property if they confessed, dying if they did not. How much weight did that penalty carry in the accusations made and believed.
    Or how many people backed Henry VIII and his leaving the Catholic Church because they received the wealth of the monasteries and abbeys Henry closed in return for their loyalty. Or how the mobs tried to push out the new settlers in Nauvoo, those who had bought land from the departing Mormons, because the mobs wanted to claim all the land and building wealth of the Mormons in the land sales for deserted property without competition from other non-Mormons, who actually bought the property. That perhaps anti-semitism was as much about grabbing the wealth of the Jews as it was about seriously hating Jews. About how people can be taught to hate the other by those with ulterior motives of theft.
    When I was in school, we had a whole section on propaganda and its use to sway the populace. Could we reinstitute those lessons? And include an update on cases where the police made drug raids because of the value of the property to be seized not their certainty of the drug trade taking place on that property.
    Second, I have to ask when this monument destruction will end. I saw my first news story this week seriously questioning whether we should remove the faces of Washington and Jefferson from Mount Rushmore. Will we need to post guards next month to stop their faces from being blown up? Will there be a movement to burn the Declaration of Independence because a slaveowner wrote it? Will we need to rename Washington, D.C? Will we have to demolish the U.S. Capitol because slave labor was used in its construction? Should we cancel Martin Luther King Day because he was an adulterer? Should we remove the statue of Brigham Young from Salt Lake because he practiced polygamy?
    What I feel we are witnessing here is the madness of the French Revolution, not the American Revolution.

  11. A good thing about the controversy over Confederate monuments is that it forces us to face the depth of the problem. If removing monuments seems like a drastic step to you, you’re right! It’s a drastic step because the problem it’s addressing is so serious.

    Renny, it sounds like you believe that for the monuments to be useful their meaning would have to change enormously. They would have to stop being monuments to the greatness of the Confederacy and, somehow, start being lessons about the evils of slavery. So your disagreement is not about the meaning of the monuments, but about how best to address the problem that the monuments propagate. I’m not convinced that a mass attempt to rebrand the monuments would accomplish what needs to be done, but I’m pleased that you recognize that the monuments, as they are now, are unacceptable.

    We find ourselves in the middle of politics and history, neither of which ever stop. “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

  12. The monuments to Confederacy teach fear and white supremacy. They need to come down. We don’t need them to teach us anything about history.

  13. The monuments to the Confederacy do not teach me fear and white supremacy. I am sorry that they teach you that Steve. But I believe that is your interpretation and not everyone’s. Why does your interpretation have to be considered the correct one? Do you have some sort of advanced degree in monument meaning interpretation?

  14. I would like to see some scientific studies proving that these monuments are causing harm. Let’s add some scientific rigor to these debates. Not just Steve Evans’ opinion on what these monuments teach. (Sorry Steve, but you need to back up your statements, not just make them like you are the Oracle of Delphi.)

  15. Renny, want to know the intentions of the United Daughters of the Cofederacy? How about this from their founding documents: “To perpetuate the memory of our Confederate heroes and the glorious cause for which they fought . . . to endeavor to have used in all Southern schools only such histories as are just and true.”

    Glorious cause indeed! My guess? Pat and Rennybare from the south and . . . are white.

  16. Lest Renny and/or Pat read my comment as somehow derogatory of white or “white-hating” or any of those other misconceptions that some (especially those who tend to be on the right) might take away. Being white isn’t a problem. But not trying to emphasize with those are the margins who are suffering is. And those people definitely see these monuments as Steve says. Maybe listen them?

    Also, Renny and Pat, there are, in fact, people who do study the history of monuments . . . and they are saying what Steve is saying. Do some researches on the monuments and the organizations that place them and the times in our history when they have been placed.

  17. Did you see the news yesterday? New York City will now be studying whether or not to remove the statues of Columbus and of General Grant. Has this gone far enough for those of you who want the Confederate statues removed? When is this silliness going to stop?

  18. I would very much like to see the statues of Martin Luther King removed. Also the holiday and the streets named after him. I am a woman and find it very offensive that he is a known adulterer. This causes me pain every year when the holiday is celebrated. He showed no respect for his wife or women in general. I do not believe we should be celebrating such a man’s life and will be happy to vote to have his statues removed.

  19. Brian, source of your statement on people who study the history of monuments and their conclusion please. Cannot take anything said here at face value. I need backup.
    Also, I think you meant “empathize” not “emphasize”. Am I correct?

  20. Sorry, Brian. I am one quarter Native American, one half Asian. And we have taken a different path to teaching the full history of the interactions between the white and black majority and the Native Americans whom they defeated. Perhaps you could educate yourself by checking out the website http://www.custermuseum.org/indian_memorial.htm
    Both sides are presented. No one has plans to take down the memorial to Custer and his men. Just to present the full picture.

  21. New York City will now be studying whether or not to remove the statues of Columbus and of General Grant. Has this gone far enough for those of you who want the Confederate statues removed? When is this silliness going to stop?

    All I saw in New York City’s paper of record is that “Mayor Bill de Blasio said a task force would be put together to review ‘symbols of hate’ on city property with an eye toward determining whether removals are necessary.”

    Where did you hear about Columbus and Grant? What’s silly about hate?

  22. Never mind the first question, I found the reference: “Mark-Viverito also suggested that a statue of Christopher Columbus in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle be evaluated by that task force, based on his treatment of indigenous peoples.”

  23. I think the problem with reviewing “symbols of hate” is who exactly is defining what those are. They can be anything the commission decides to make them.

  24. Might I review here the famous George Orwell quote from “1984”:
    “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by date and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the party is always right.”

  25. I am with Bobbie. My ex-husband committed adultery and destroyed our marriage. It causes me great emotional distress every time Martin Luther King Day is celebrated. It needs to go!

  26. Walter, yes you are correct, I meant empathize. There are recent articles in both the Washington Post and Vox by people who study the monuments.

    Renny, thanks for the link. I see, however, that the statues in questions for removal and that of Custer you mention are depicted in a completely different contexts and for different purposes. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Wow, out in force. It probably shouldn’t need to be said, but we’re hardly anywhere near a “1984” situation, being that the Civil War is very much taught. Removing statues that were erected to specifically change the attitudes toward the traitorous to “oppressed underdogs” isn’t erasing or “sanitizing” history; it’s righting it.

    General Lee foresaw that Confederate monuments were a bad idea, that it would make the situation of the South worse (which it did and continues to do). http://leefamilyarchive.org/papers/letters/transcripts-UVA/v076.html

    If you’d like to work to get MLK statues/memorials removed, you’re certainly free to do so. Get enough people to care about it and it might even happen. That is the only reason monuments are coming down and being reassessed now; enough people care and are willing to work to make it happen.

  28. I am very triggered by the subject of adultery and would like to see all references honoring Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy removed from public life in America. I think the Kennedy Center needs to be renamed and any streets and statues of him removed from the United States. The same with Mr. King. In my mind both are guilty of hate crimes against women.

  29. I’m very triggered by the number of people coming here just to tell us they’re triggered, thinking they’re making a valid point that undermines everything we understand to be right.

  30. If you care to send a message to the mayor of New York City asking for the removal of various statues, the contact page is:
    http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/mayor-contact.page
    I have sent mine asking for the removal of the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr.
    And Frank Pellett, I do understand what is right. Speaking up for the rights and honors due marriage is right. Condemning adultery is right. And seeking to have public statues that honor people guilty of hate crimes against marriage or women is right.

  31. I think the problem with reviewing “symbols of hate” is who exactly is defining what those are. They can be anything the commission decides to make them.

    I suppose, but it’s not like the statues we have were put up in a transparent and inclusive public vetting process and now it’s just jackbooted thugs who want to tear them down.

    I am curious where Bobbie, EllenC, Pam et al stand on the intersection of adultery and the presidency of the United States and why the only mention thus far is of a president long dead.

  32. Wondering says:

    Goodness. What happened here? Did someone put a link to this post on an alt-right site and send its adherents over to make specious arguments and personal attacks?

  33. peterllc, I did not vote for Trump, but I do not remember there being a statue for President Trump currently. I would certainly oppose one for the very reason of his adultery. It is also the very reason why I refused to vote for McCain or Clinton.
    And wondering, what exactly is specious about the arguments. Many here want to see certain statues removed because they feel the lives of the people whose they are are not worthy of honor in a public place. I feel the same about people who commit adultery. Do you consider adultery worthy of honor or respect in the public square? It seems to me that your words, calling someone who extends the arguments to their own beliefs about behavior unworthy of public honor, a member of the alt-right, is very much a personal attack. Why would you participate in such name calling? Are you a member of the alt-right?

  34. Wondering, you seem very alt-right is your statement. How did you find this site?

  35. The only mention of adultery I see was to both President Kennedy and to Martin Luther King, Jr., one a president, one not. I believe the mentions to these two men are because there are a number of statues and public sites named for them. As far as I know, President Clinton and President Trump do not yet have public statues dotting the land and public buildings named in their honor. I am sure there were other adulterous presidents. I am afraid my historical knowledge of those is limited. Is there anyone you would like to add to the list? I am happy to oppose statues and public praise given to anyone who disrespects women. And yes, I do consider adultery a hate crime. Do you find that objectionable?

  36. I am very disturbed by the lack of rigor to the arguments put forth by some of those who comment.
    Frank Pellett separates the commenters into them and us. “people coming here just to tell us”, trying to undermine “everything we understand to be right”. Who is “we”? How is it that “we” just understand what is right? Shouldn’t we state how we know this?
    Is this an echo chamber where only those of the approved beliefs are allowed an opinion? Must all others be silent or be accused by Wondering of being an “adherent” of the “alt-right”? As for Brian, he dismisses opinions that differ from his by labeling those who so commented as ” from the south and . . . are white.” Yes, we all know that the opinions of people from the south or white must be dismissed without discussion. Just stick a label like “white” or “from the south” on someone and nothing else needs to be said.
    I am sorry, but did none of these commenters ever study logical arguments and the methods used to undermine them, such as labeling or forming an in-group of we and them. These tactics remind me of those used by bullies in high school to silence others.

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