KRISTOF VILLAGE: Himmler revealed!


Part 1—Our mental and moral powers:
We live in a very challenging time.

In part for that reason, we were struck by a letter we read in Saturday morning’s Washington Post.

The letter was written by a man who “was an appellate immigration judge on the Board of Immigration Appeals from 1995 to 2003.” He said that he’d been “deeply offended” by a front-page report in the Post.

The letter writer still works for the Justice Department. We include the headline over his letter. We assume the headline was prepared by the Post:
A profile of an extremist

I was deeply offended that The Post would devote a front-page article to Kris Kobach [“From Kansas, a challenge to the powers of a president,” Nov. 23].
Before he became Kansas secretary of state, Kobach directed legal strategies for groups nurtured by anti-immigration crusader John Tanton, who hopes to preserve white supremacy, and worked on initiatives such as Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s statutes targeting undocumented immigrants; both were ruled unconstitutional by federal courts. In Kansas, he has undertaken many attempts to disenfranchise minority voters.

What’s next? Portraits of Himmler and Pol Pot as German and Cambodian conservative legal experts? After all, they, too, were attempting to remove “foreign” influences from their nations, albeit by extreme measures we fortunately do not tolerate in the United States.
On line, the letter included a link to that front-page report. In referring to Kobach as “an extremist,” some editor went beyond the charges made by the offended reader.

As a general matter, we don’t share Kobach’s views, to the extent that we understand them. We wouldn’t vote for him if we lived in Kansas.

On the other hand, we found nothing especially strange about the Post’s front-page report. It concerned an elected official who has been a significant figure in the news for the past several years.

Especially given his station in life, we found it strange that the letter writer was “deeply offended” by that front-page report. We found it even stranger that the Post printed his letter in the form it did, with its fiery comparison to Himmler and Pol Pot.

By now, pretty much everyone has agreed—it doesn’t make a lot of sense to compare people to Hitler. But so what? Replace the “t” with a double-m and you’re good to go in the Post!

Given the norms of our journalism, the publication of that letter struck us as very strange. But then, such fiery statements are becoming the norm in our fraying discourse.

More examples:

In a separate clump of letters that day, the Post let five readers state their reactions to the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri.

You can review those letters yourself; they state different reactions to the events of the case. For ourselves, we were struck by the certainty with which the various readers announced what they had found as they groped their own part of the elephant, by the way they sometimes filtered facts to make their storylines stronger.

Can the media “get the Ferguson storyline correct?” One reader seemed to feel that they could—and that he knew what that correct “storyline” was.

Another reader felt she knew where “the focus” should be in the case. The focus shouldn’t be on the justice system, she said:

“The focus belongs on the parents of young men such as Michael Brown who failed to teach their son not to steal, not to walk in the street, not to disrespect the reasonable order of a police officer and not to reach for a police officer’s weapon.”

We don’t agree with that at all. In a larger sense, is there only one storyline, only one focus, in a matter like this? So those readers implied.

A third reader had a very different reaction to the case. She seemed to refer to the case as a “murder.” She then voiced a sad lament:

“The sad thing is that, even if the grand jury had indicted this officer, it has been proved over and over again that juries rarely convict police officers. The U.S. public has repeatedly declared that police can gun down anyone, regardless of guilt or race or anything else, and, if the police are brought to trial, they almost always walk. And anyone who guns down a young black man seems to be considered justified as long as he claims he felt threatened.”

Should Darren Wilson have been indicted, then convicted, for “gunning down” Michael Brown? This reader voiced no doubts.

All around the discourse in the past week, we’ve seen a world in which various people are “full of passionate intensity.”

Various players are hunting, and sometimes creating, their Himmlers. Doubts and complexities tend not to get expressed.

So far, we’ve talked about letter writers. Yesterday, the certainty spread to the professional writers in both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

For our money, Nicholas Kristof’s latest column was most instructive of all. Kristof was full of certainty, as he often is, and he offered some silly statistics.

We’re increasingly struck by Kristof’s work, which strikes us as lazy and poor. Tomorrow, we’ll start to look at his claims and suggestions—and at the predictable barrel of comments his latest effort engendered.

Increasingly, Kristof’s work strikes us as lazy, type-by-the-numbers, poor. We aren’t sure it provides the best model for these challenging times.

Tomorrow: Concerning those NBA refs!


  1. I disagree that it's out of bounds or invalid to compare certain bad actors with Hitler if the ideological extremism, personality and methods of justification for evil of whomever is the target of criticism are similar. It's a useful comparison since most would be able to consider the similarities and any dangers they represent.

    The first letter writer is correct in that efforts to teach Brown behaviors other than those that brought on his death "failed" if they even existed. The most useful focus would be on that element of the tragic incident, the one that can and should be changed and, if changed, would have saved the lives of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

    1. It would be interesting to see what behavior changes should have been taught to Trayvon Martin you think would have saved his life.

    2. No. No it would not be interesting to see that.

    3. "When people emotionally offend you, be careful not to attack them and beat their heads into concrete, son. You're not so entitled and besides they might have a gun."

    4. "Don't get into a fight with pussies like Zimmerman and Wilson. They pee their pants at the sight of a black kid and always go for their guns because they know they are in for an ass-whuppin.'"

    5. Yes, it's probably a good idea not to start fights with, or attack, people. That's a great lesson for all of us to learn. And as a bonus, you then don't need to worry about them overreacting by drawing a weapon.

    6. One can never know if they "overreacted" because they didn't wait to see what the men attacking them "would" do if they could continue to attack them.

  2. Although Kristof is surely well-motivated, and acknowledging the possibility that Brown was treated differently from a white person, I think the narrative promoted by Kristof is bad for blacks, for three reasons:

    1. The furor in this case will discourage aggressive policing in the black community. Far more blacks are killed by other blacks than by police. Thugs like Brown are a greater threat to the black community than are the police.

    2. A narrative that discourages blacks from seeking advancement within the system does a disservice to them. Opportunities for blacks are there for the taking. Employers may be racists in their hearts, but they're seeking qualified minorities. Universities give big preferences to blacks.

    3. To the degree that the furor over this case encourages irrational, race-based attacks like this hammer attack, all races are harmed.

    1. 1. There is absolutely no evidence that cases like Ferguson have discouraged "aggressive" policing in the black community.

      2. "Opportunities for blacks are there for the taking." When are you picking up your NAACP Image Award?

      3. From the first clause of the article you link to: "A police spokeswoman said investigators do not believe race played a role in the bludgeoning death of a Bosnian immigrant early Sunday, ..."

    2. 1. True, in the sense that no scientific study has been done. Nor has one ever been tried. However, policing in the inner city is already difficult, unpleasant, and risky. Now, add to that the fact that, fairly or unfairly, a single action can lead to the loss of one's job and reputation and the risk of one or one's family being attacked in revenge. I think this case makes a policeman less apt to take risks in doing his job.

      2. I don't understand your comment.

      3. There have been many senseless, vicious attacks by groups of blacks against whites and Asians As Flaherty sadly demonstrates, Black hostility and racial resentment towards white and Asian people are now mainstream. And they are easy to find in all the black web sites, all the news shows, fueling all the black mob violence and black on white crime happening right in front of reporters around the country.

      . This particular attack fits that pattern. For some reason, authorities generally try not to attribute these attacks to racism. OTOH, if it goes the other way, racism is immediately charged. E.g., suppose that 3 white youths beat a black man to death with hammers for no reason. Or, for that matter, consider the Michael Brown killing.

    3. I don't understand your comment.

      Yes, I know.

    4. David, if jobs for blacks were there for the taking, the black unemployment rate would not be higher than for whites, even after controlling for education and experience.

    5. Anon 10:11 -- It's difficult or impossible to control for education and experience. You can control for years or for degrees awarded, but not what people have actually learned. I've seen various flawed studies designed to "prove" discrimination against blacks. I'd have to see how this controlling was done to decide if it was proper.

      The trouble is that too few blacks get a good, solid education. Only 62% of blacks graduate from high school Of blacks who enter college, only 42% graduate. There's no statistics on what percentage of college graduates haven't learned as much as one would hope.

      But, I will stand by my point. A black high school student who's serious and reasonably capable will easily get admitted into college. A black college student who graduates with a meaningful degree will get hired because of affirmative action.

    6. Like, say, D'leisha Dent?

      You have no point because your qualifiers let you off the hook. A black high school student who doesn't get into college? Not serious or capable enough. A black college graduate who doesn't get hired? Not a meaningful enough degree.

      You haven't got the slightest idea what challenges black students face, so why not quit making generalizations from ignorance?

    7. I saw my three black (more precisely, half-black) cousins go through school, in an integrated city. The oldest, is diligent and reasonably bright. He had some problems coping with his black classmates' disapproval of "acting white", but he's a big guy with a sound ego and he did OK. He went to Princeton and now works as a computer programmer.

      His sister is brilliant. She didn't need affirmative action to get into Yale. She's now a writer. The New York Times sometimes uses her to review books written by a black author.

      The youngest graduated from a good college and has held various jobs, despite some emotional problems.

      The point is, whatever problems my cousins had to deal with in getting a job were not based on discrimination.

      Now, I admit that the three of them spoke proper English and presented themselves like responsible members of the greater community. They didn't look like drug users or gang-bangers. But, that's my point. Black children in the inner city can learn those same skills. Those who learn them will succeed.

      P.S. D'leisha Dent did get into college.

    8. Are your three cousins precisely more than half black? Because if that's true, we can generalize from your personal experience to the majority of the black population, dontchathink?

      P.S. High-school star student D'leisha Dent only got into college "easily" because she applied to a college that takes all applicants.

    9. deadrat, my point isn't to generalize to the black population. It's to generalize to the non-black population. The non-black world was fully accepting of my three cousins. In some cases they seem to have benefitted from racial preferences.

    10. Ah, "Some of my best cousins are half-black."

      That's quite a family you have, David. No matter what topic is under discussion, you've always got a relative whose life experience perfectly match whatever loony point you attempt to make.

  3. "Should Darren Wilson have been indicted, then convicted, for “gunning down” Michael Brown?"

    Indicted? Yes. He shot an unarmed teen. That should be enough to indict every time.

    1. "He shot an unarmed teen. That should be enough to indict every time."

      Regardless of evidence of self-defence?

    2. Yes, evidence of self-defense (sic), can be presented at trial.

    3. True, but surely you're not implying that one should be charged with a homicide if the totality of the evidence indicates that the shooting was in self defense. In America generally we don't charge individuals with crimes without probable that a crime has occurred. And shooting an unarmed teen in justifiable self defense is not a crime.

    4. Shooting an unarmed teen shouldn't be enough to indict every time. What an absurd thing to say. People have lost their minds.

    5. Shooting anyone, armed or unarmed, should be enough to indict every time, so long as there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.

      Not every shooting or killing is a crime, in particular one done in justifiable self-defense.

    6. Missouri characterizes mens rea (i.e., the culpable mental state necessary for an act to be a crime) in four ways -- purposely, knowingly, recklessly, and negligently. These roughly correspond to the four types of illegal homicide -- first degree murder, second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter. The latter two require a gross deviation from a standard of care a reasonable person would apply to a substantial and unjustifiable risk. Voluntary manslaughter requires a conscious disregard; involuntary manslaughter, a failure to be aware.

      It would be hard to show intent, deliberation, or conscious disregard on Wilson's part, so I'd say we're talking about involuntary manslaughter. The risk was clearly substantial, so it would remain to determine justification and the standard of care. Justification is based on the state of mind of the target. Missouri does not grant targets the right to testify before a grand jury, and ordinarily, the DA doesn't call them. (Mostly because they'd be foolish to do anything but take the fifth.) What about the standard of care? The law does not allow a cop to kill a fleeing suspect just because he's fleeing, so when Brown ran, why did Wilson even draw his weapon?

      An indictment for involuntary manslaughter would have been reasonable under ordinary circumstances. But that isn't to say that returning a no-true-bill would have been unreasonable. In fact, as I understand things, it's the usual. But the circumstances were anything but ordinary or usual. The DA ran the grand jury not as a body just to indict, but also to investigate. This is a legitimate function of a grand jury in Missouri, but it's usually restricted to cases of official corruption. This allowed Wilson to testify on his own behalf and for the introduction of exculpatory evidence. In addition, the ADAs in charge misled the jury about the standard of care, giving the impression that fleeing suspects may be legally shot and killed.

      Part of the dissatisfaction with the grand jury probably stems from the way it was run.

    7. Nice post, deadrat. As I understand it, the forensic evidence showed that Brown was not shot in the back. So, it would appear that he wasn't fleeing at the time he was shot.

    8. Let's say we're talking about involuntary manslaughter --

      Is it even a debateable issue that a reasonable police officer in Darren WIlson's shoes would be justified in firing upon a suspect that continued to advance upon him after being ordered to stop, which suspect had assaulted him and attempted to take his gun just prior?

      Again, given the totality of the evidence at hand, where does one find even plausible, let alone "probable," grounds that Officer Wilson's conduct was a "gross deviation from a standard of care a reasonable person would apply?"

      This is what the prosecutor was up against. The available evidence showed that probability was on the side of the Defendant's justifiable use of force. To nevertheless indict him anyway would be prosecutorial overreach and frankly, un-American.

    9. Wilson drew his gun in case the fleeing felon stopped fleeing which he did. Can anyone be as dumb as to not know this?

    10. Not to mention that those claiming they only wanted a trial would be enraged by the inevitable acquittal it would only give the race hustlers another opportunity to claim an injustice.

    11. majneb, turning a fistfight into a lethal shooting is likely a deviation from the standard to which a trained policeman should be held. Especially when the suspect runs. Was it a gross deviation? Given the evidence available at the usual grand jury sessions, you bet. Given the evidence presented at this grand jury, probably not.

      @9:20P, Wilson doesn't really need your rationalizations for drawing his weapon. He's got a whole story line that the grand jury bought.

      @9:23P, Multiple mind reading. Very impressive. But, yeah, let's not have a trial because some people you don't like might object to the verdict. That's the ticket.

    12. The standard of care would be applied to Officer Wilson's conduct at the point in time he utilized deadly force -- i.e., the moment Mike Brown stopped fleeing, turned around and then, despite being warned to stop, began to advance upon Wilson with gun drawn.

      I don't see probable cause for even a minimal deviation from the conduct expected of a reasonable officer, let alone a gross deviation.

    13. Race out of the equation, do you people have any idea what it takes to indict, let alone convict a cop?

      This case is unusual in some respects.

      The fact that a cop shooting an unarmed person, of any race, faces no trial is not at all unusual.

      It's the way the system is built.

      We foolishly -- and yes, with unexamined racist assumptions -- built the system that way.

      Here's the bar: live video footage of a thoroughly subdued, pleading suspect, prone, hands behind back, being shot in the back of the head by a cop would definitely be sufficient to indict.

      But it would still be even money whether a jury would convict.

      This case is not even close.

    14. Of course we give cops the benefit of the doubt, especially when physical evidence and witness testimony supports their story. If there were no witnesses and only evidence Brown attacked Wilson in his car with zero further evidence supporting or undermining Wilson's story, he should be given the benefit of the doubt. This is what civilizations do to ensure that any sane person will step up to serve without fearing he will be tried when there is evidence supporting him acting in self defense or tried and convicted when there is no evidence in either direction, the absurd outcomes progressives hope for when the suspect who is shot has black skin.

    15. The discussion of 'custody of the crime scene" (as just one item) happens on TDH, not in a Grand Jury room. That's why I think shooting an unarmed kid is enough to indict.
      Unless you're saying it can happen in a Grand Jury room, but this particular grand jury didn't do it's job. If it's the latter, who's going to tell whitey this grand jury was flawed?

    16. majneb, Sorry, but even if we assume that a fleeing, unarmed suspect stops and then "advances" on a cop, shooting him dead is likely a deviation from the standard of care.

      @8:49, You're right to point out that cops are almost never indicted even when they're clearly in the wrong. I'm just noting that had the DA conducted a grand jury as usual, the case he presented could have supported a true bill or not. Given the reluctance of grand juries to indict a cop, the "or not" would probably have prevailed. But the DA didn't want to take any chances.

  4. "Thugs like Brown are a greater threat to the black community than are the police."

    Poverty trumps both. As does the peonage programs run by the cops, the courts, and the city of Ferguson.


    1. That might be true is Ferguson were a medieval village.

    2. Based on the politics, and who runs the city, Ferguson IS a medieval village.


    3. One difference between Ferguson and medieval village is that the villagers in Ferguson could change everything in a couple of elections.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. ...the villagers in Ferguson could change everything in a couple of elections. [END QUOTE]

      Which is to say that the villagers in Ferguson could change everything in the space of time that includes the two Tuesdays after the first Monday in any two consecutive Aprils. Two of the City Council's seven voting seats are up for election each April except every third year when, with the mayor's position on the ballot, the holders of three of the seven voting Council seats are determined. [LINK]

      The City Council chooses the City Manager and the City Manager chooses the Police Chief.

      To hear the New York Times [LINK] explain it though, things would probably have to get a whole lot uglier in Ferguson for blacks to all of a sudden get registered and make it to the polls in large numbers on a day not in November... or something:

      [QUOTE] ...Ferguson’s demographics have shifted rapidly: in 1990, it was 74 percent white and 25 percent black; in 2000, 52 percent black and 45 percent white; by 2010, 67 percent black and 29 percent white....

      In Ferguson last year, 86 percent of stops, 92 percent of searches and 93 percent of arrests were of black people — despite the fact that police officers were far less likely to find contraband on black drivers (22 percent versus 34 percent of whites). This worsens inequality, as struggling blacks do more to fund local government than relatively affluent whites.

      By contrast, consider the city: After decades of methodically building political power, blacks in St. Louis City elected a black mayor in 1993 and black aldermen or alderwomen in nearly half the city’s wards, and hold two of three seats on the powerful Board of Estimate and Apportionment, which must approve all city contracts. Well-established churches, Democratic ward organizations and other civic institutions mobilize voters in black wards.

      But because blacks have reached the suburbs in significant numbers only over the past 15 years or so, fewer suburban black communities have deeply ingrained civic organizations.

      That helps explain why majority-black Ferguson has a virtually all-white power structure: a white mayor; a school board with six white members and one Hispanic, which recently suspended a highly regarded young black superintendent who then resigned; a City Council with just one black member; and a 6 percent black police force.

      Many North County towns — and inner-ring suburbs nationally — resemble Ferguson. Longtime white residents have consolidated power, continuing to dominate the City Councils and school boards despite sweeping demographic change. They have retained control of patronage jobs and municipal contracts awarded to allies.

      The North County Labor Club, whose overwhelmingly white constituent unions (plumbers, pipe fitters, electrical workers, sprinkler fitters) have benefited from these arrangements, operates a potent voter-turnout operation that backs white candidates over black upstarts. The more municipal contracts an organization receives, the more generously it can fund re-election campaigns.
      [END QUOTE]

  5. OMB (Himmler and Pol Pot, Oh My! On the Yellow Brick Road with OTB)

    As a general matter, we don’t share BOB's views, to the extent that we understand them. We wouldn’t vote for him if we lived on your planet.

    That said, we wholeheartedly agree with BOB that comparisons to Himmler and Pol Pot are excessive. Better to use milder forms of comparison. Can we talk? Here are a few BOB might approve.

    Salem Witch Hunters and Spanish Inquisitors
    McCarthy and Stalin

    1. As a general matter we relish your absence, dread your arrival, loathe your presence, and pray for your departure.

    2. As a constant responder we delight in your inability to articulate anything substantive on any topic.

      That said, we take it you thus agree with BOB and our preferences for comparisons.

    3. Go away KZ. No one wants you here.

    4. That's true. But no one wants him anywhere else either.

    5. Also gotta loathe KZ's defining douche move: pretending he knows whether 1:34 Anon ever articulates anything substantive.

      "You detest me, the great KZ, and on that basis I am sure you have never said anything of merit!"

      What a self-important fuckwit.

    6. Stop beating up on KZ. If he bothers you, then do what I do: just read his excellent spell casting posts.

    7. Yeah, do what deadrat does: destroy him with withering snark.

    8. My chief weapon is withering snark. Snark and contempt. Contempt and snark. My two weapons are snark and contempt, ... and biting rhetorical questions. My three weapons are snark, contempt, rhetorical questions, and an almost fanatical dedication to accuracy. My four ... no, amongst my weapons are ....

      I'll come in again.

    9. Lemme guess, the 4th is "I'm always right and I never lie."

  6. I don't think Kobach's political and racial beliefs should affect the newsworthiness of that WaPo article. Rather, its newsworthiness should depend on the likelihood that Kobach's suit will overturn Obama's action.

    1. You were a big fan of Pravda back in the day, eh comrade?

  7. Increasingly, we wonder how long Bob will be allowed to get away with pretending the things he talks about are important because eventually, if they continue on this trajectory he has been claiming they are on for many years now, they will be important. The world is full of real problems, but instead of talking about them Bob chooses to try to scare people with things that aren't -- but "increasingly" are -- problems. It's a lazy and dishonest mode of writing that Bob should have thrown out long ago.

    To get a sense for just how long and frequently Bob has been playing this game, a search for the word "increasingly" on his old site yields 527 hits; on this site 8 pages worth (no number counters here, so no practical way to count individual uses of the word). Reading through them shows the names change, but the verbiage itself remains: Ed Schultz and Keith Olbermann (remember them? ) have been replaced by Rachel Maddow and a rotating cast of pinch-hitters in Bob's universe, but all of them, as their predecessors once did, are getting "increasingly" stranger, odder, crazier, stupider, more like Fox, and so on.

    If the things Bob chooses to complain about were actually so vital -- NOW -- he wouldn't need to constantly tell the world how "increasingly" worse things are getting. Given the many years liberal stars have been "increasingly" going off the rails, according to Bob, we ought to be roasting in a fiery hell of liberal inanity and insanity by now, but increasingly, its obvious that we aren't. Increasingly, we wonder when it ends, when Y actually reaches infinity. Or in ten years, will Bob still be writing about how bad things are "increasingly" becoming, with a new cast of "increasingly" bad miscreants?

    1. I searched "increasingly!"

      Look at me!

      Hey, mom -- I have a comment up on the internet!!!

    2. "Increasingly" is like "seems." Two of Bob's favorite weasel words from a lazy mind that renders his meanderings meaningless.

      In short, Bob lacks the drive to support what he says, and the guts to say it.

    3. We aren't roasting in a fiery hell of liberal inanity and insanity? Sorry, but Bob has shown this to be the case many times over.

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