IN HOC SIGNO, WARFARE: Silly Southern boys wanted their war!

MONDAY, JULY 22, 2019

But so does Professor Glaude:
Because it was free on our On Demand—and on the advice of several top experts—we decided to rewatch a pair of scenes from the famous film, Gone With the Wind.

We started with the famous film's famous opening scene:

On the front steps of Tara, two silly Southern boys are trying to woo the admittedly fetching Miss Scarlett—and they're excitedly looking ahead to an onrushing war.

Brent and Stew are hot to trot. The movie starts like this:
BRENT: What do we care if we were expelled from college, Scarlett? The war is going to start any day now, so we would have left college anyhow.

STEW: Oh, isn't it exciting, Scarlett? You know those poor Yankees actually want a war?

BRENT: We'll show 'em!
In fairness to Brent and Stew, they were very young. Also, though, "Consider the species!" Or so a disconsolate phalanx of future anthropologists have repeatedly gloomily said.

Brent and Stew were eager for war. As the famous script proceeds, this annoys Miss Scarlett:
SCARLETT: Fiddle-dee-dee. "War, war, war." This war talk is spoiling all the fun at every party this spring. I get so bored I could scream. Besides, there isn't going to be any war.

BRENT: Not going to be any war?

STEW: Ah, buddy, of course there's going to be a war!

SCARLETT: If either of you boys says "war" just once again, I'll go in the house and slam the door.

BRENT: But Scarlett honey—

STEW: Don't you want us to have a war?
"Don't you want to have a war?" According to leading anthropologists, our species has been wired for such self-destructive musings ever since the dawn of time, possibly even before that.

Scarlett prepares to go in the house, and the silly boys change the subject. But they were right, and Scarlett was wrong. As President Lincoln would later say:

"And the war came."

And the war came, Lincoln said—as it so frequently has! At any rate, a mere 68 minutes later in that famous film, we're shown a famous portrait of Atlanta lying in ruins.

We see acres of the dead and the dying. They're stretched beneath a torn Confederate flag.

Now we're engaged in a great tribal war. In our view, it isn't clear that the corporate giants within our own liberal tribe are any wiser than the silly Southern boys at the start of that famous film.

Did Brent and Stew make it back from their war? We can't answer that question. But just this morning, on Morning Joe, the TV stars were calling for another war, one all our own.

It fell to Professor Glaude to make the explicit suggestion. Starting at 6:11 Am Eastern on this Morning Joe videotape, you can see him acting out that ancient human impulse:
GLAUDE (7/22/19): The problem isn't just Donald Trump. The problem is, involves at least, those who are silent, who are complicit in their silence, those who are complacent in their criticism.

There are a host of factors that allow for this moment that we are in...

Donald Trump wants to have this fight. And it seems to me that we ought to have it. We have to finally, Joe—and I've been saying this over and over again—we have to finally rid ourselves of this undertone, right? Of of this undercurrent in our politics.

He wants to have this fight, Joe. We need to have it. We need to have it once and for all.
"We need to have it once and for all!" "We have to finally rid ourselves of this undertone!" As the professor floated these notions, we thought of the opening scene of that famous film.

Joe and Mika had started the day in the manner now required. Every sentence must now be a noun and a verb plus racist and xenophobe.

(As part of the morning's undercard, Joe and Jonathan bantered about the Red Sox. This lets everybody know that this is all done in good fun.)

Forgotten were the many years when Joe and Mika were buddies with Trump. He was already pimping his birther claims. They were along for the ride.

Now these well-paid professional giants have flipped to the current corporate position. Leading professors will even suggest that a fight of the type he seeks can be settled "once and for all!"

"Consider the species," top future experts have repeatedly told us. This very morning, Cornell Belcher has told us something more.

He's quoted in the New York Times. We suspect that he may be getting it right:
HERNDON AND MEDINA (7/22/19): Ryan Enos, a political scientist at Harvard University who has studied voters’ attitudes toward race, said that to the extent the president’s racial divisiveness is a political strategy, it could be an effective one.

“There are a lot of people who are uncomfortable with someone who covers her hair in Congress,” Mr. Enos said, referring to Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. “It is really an ethical and electoral issue, and if it works, that earns Trump another four years in the White House.”

Mr. Belcher, the [Democratic] pollster, was also skeptical of his party’s ability to meet Mr. Trump on his playing field.

“White progressives don’t understand race in this country and conservatives and Republicans do,”
he said. “But they better learn, because Donald Trump is coming.”
Belcher was casting himself in the Rhett Butler role. Our side is going to lose this fight, Butler tells a roomful of true-believing planters in that famous film.

We'll ponder this problem all week long. For today, we'll ask that question again: Did Brent and Stew come home?

In hoc signo vinces! So Constantine's battle cry is famously said to have said. But does anyone ever win these fights? Or are they just versions of the warfare toward which our tribal race is inclined?

Tomorrow: Our own congressman, Elijah Cummings, explains his own approach


  1. Somerby says he can't answer the question about whether Brent and Stew made it back from the war. If you watch the film, Scarlet marries one of those foolish boys (to spite Melanie) and soon becomes a widow. So, no, they didn't both make it back.

    I don't mind Somerby using films as rhetorical devices, but he should at least watch them.

    1. Did Brent and Stew made it back? Can you answer that question?

    2. Yes, the one that married Scarlet did not make it back. That is why she is a widow. She is dressed in black and dancing behind her charity booth counter when she meets Brett in Atlanta. It is all there in the movie.

    3. Rhett, not Brett, sorry.

    4. No, actually Scarlett did not marry either one of the Tarleton twins.

    5. She marries one of her suiters (one of the two who she eats with at the beginning of the film) and he dies. If it wasn't one of the Tarleton twins, who was it? Ultimately it still answers the question of whether the excited boys anticipating war came back or not. The film shows rows of bodies, it shows people scanning the lists of casualties in the newspaper, it shows widows in black, and that is the larger point that Somerby raises, not which specific twin (or not) Scarlet marries. We can obviously see that the boys did not all come back, because that is one of the points of the film itself -- the costs of the war imposed on the South.

    6. In the book, Scarlett is 16 and Rhett is in his 30s.

    7. She marries Charles, Melanie's younger brother. Not one of the two twins

  2. Somerby likes to blame liberals for the rise of Trump. Aside from that being nonsense, it is also a conservative meme discussed here:

    Why is a supposed liberal repeating conservative memes? I think it is time that Somerby admit he is not actually any kind of liberal now, if he ever was one.

    1. The liberals have left the Democratic party building. They're voting for Trump or no one.

      The only voters left for Democrats are the unhinged leftists whose top issue after promoting the empowering sacrament of killing not yet born human beings is whether government will force a woman to wax the hairy balls of a big fat man who "identifies as a woman."

      Your party is unappealing to normal people.

    2. Yang is their only hope but they won't see that and will destroy him as they continue their uroboric demise.

    3. 2:14,
      You forgot to mention Stalin, Mao, and Soros in your scatological meandering.
      And stop sniffing your fingers, for chrissakes.

  3. Men are born for games. Nothing else. Every child knows that play is nobler than work. He knows too that the worth or merit of a game is not inherent in the game itself but rather in the value of that which is put at hazard. Games of chance require a wager to have meaning at all. Games of sport involve the skill and strength of the opponents and the humiliation of defeat and the pride of victory are in themselves sufficient stake because they inhere in the worth of the principals and define them. But trial of chance or trial of worth all games aspire to the condition of war for here that which is wagered swallows up game, player, all.

    Suppose two men at cards with nothing to wager save their lives. Who has not heard such a tale? A turn of the card. The whole universe for such a player has labored clanking to this moment which will tell if he is to die at that man’s hand or that man at his. What more certain validation of a man’s worth could there be? This enhancement of the game to its ultimate state admits no argument concerning the notion of fate. The selection of one man over another is a preference absolute and irrevocable and it is a dull man indeed who could reckon so profound a decision without agency or significance either one.

    In such games as have for their stake the annihilation of the defeated the decisions are quite clear. This man holding this particular arrangement of cards in his hand is thereby removed from existence. This is the nature of war, whose stake is at once the game and the authority and the justification.

    Seen so, war is the truest form of divination. It is the testing of one’s will and the will of another within that larger will which because it binds them is therefore forced to select. War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence.

    War is god.

    1. You must pronounce the word "war" the way Hollywood's southern characters say it:


  4. Scarlet O'Hara and Rhett Butler are not experts on today's political issues. I'm not sure why future anthropologists will consider them such, but I am much more inclined to see war as the final stage in conflict resolution, employed after lesser efforts have failed. I see diplomacy and negotiation as human inventions to prevent war. Despite Trump's many flaws, the means to resolve conflicts peacefully still exist. That makes Somerby's hair pulling somewhat puzzling. The most war talk I hear these days comes from Somerby (who pretends war is inevitable). I do believe it is irresponsible to pretend that war is coming, with the further consequences that liberals did something to provoke it. Somerby is an ass and war is no joke and he needs to stop this crap.

  5. It should be noted that Somerby omitted the final lines of the article, which occur immediately after the passage he quoted:

    “Asked why he was pessimistic, Mr. Belcher laughed.
    “Because I’m black,” he said.”

    It would have been a better story if the authors had asked Belcher what he meant when he said “White progressives don’t understand race in this country”, because his meaning is not abundantly clear. There is a subtext that the reader is forced to assume.

    And it is likely that Somerby infers something different than Belcher intended.

    Aside from this, the whole article is another mainstream media sowing of doubt about Democrats and their chances. Trump and the GOP’s racist appeals go uncriticized, while the Democrats are faced with the quandary of how to respond, at least according to the article.

    Suffice it to say that Somerby fails to point out the way the story, as so many others do, creates doubt and confusion for Democrats, a variation on “Dems in Disarray”.

    He also fails to discuss the reactions of the candidates that are quoted in the article, among them Harris, Booker, Warren, and Biden, or to ponder whether their responses meet or fail whatever notional test the authors have erected to judge Democrats’ effectiveness at responding to Trump, a test that they haven’t coherently defined.

    Of course, Somerby obliquely predicts failure, as he always does, in this case by paraphrasing Rhett Butler. He also warned us that Dems were heading for a loss in 2018. So, there’s that.

  6. “Belcher was casting himself in the Rhett Butler role. Our side is going to lose this fight”

    Belcher did not say we were going to lose this fight.

    A clue to understanding what Belcher means is given by a quote that Somerby omits:

    ““Just as much time and resources as the nominee spends on targeting and messaging around health care and wages and climate change, they should spend an equal amount of resources around an alternative racial vision for the country,” said Cornell Belcher, a prominent pollster who worked with Mr. Obama. “This isn’t a goddamn distraction.””

    Belcher is saying that the racist appeal of Trump and his campaign are a core issue for them (“not a distraction”), and that Democrats *must* respond to it with an “alternative racial vision.”

    He does not say what that vision should look like, nor whether any of the candidates have articulated one.

    We offer this as context for his assertion that “White progressives don’t understand race in this country”, even though it is still not totally clear what he means by this.

    What *is* clear is that Somerby wants to appropriate Belcher, or at least the part that looks like an indictment of progressives, for his own purposes.

  7. I like to come here and other places like it to see the lib zombies calling me a racist. My favorite is when they shift from calling Trump a racist to calling his supporters racist. It fuels my activism for Trump just like it did in 2016.

    The most satisfying thing is knowing it's fueling others, not just in Pennsylvania but Michigan and Wisconsin. We need it to win, and we're going to get it. Especially now with the four insane congresswomen defining the Democrat party.

    Sometimes I like putting on my lib zombie mask and trolling other conservatives with accusations of RACIST to keep them interested and motivated. I'm not even Russian!

    1. You’re going to have to up your game if the 2018 midterms are any indication of your effectiveness.

  8. Cornell Belcher is looking forward to a war against Trump -- a war of words, that is. However, what new insults can the Democrats hurl at Trump and his supporters that they haven't been saying all along? The Democrats are already at Top Level, so they can't escalate.

    1. Belcher says nothing about a war, with words or otherwise. He does say that Democrats need to articulate an alternative racial vision. He says nothing at all about “hurling insults” even. Did Somerby confuse you with the other guy who talked about a “fight.”? (It was Somerby who uses the word “war”, by the way, and brought up an actual war as depicted in a revisionist piece of Hollywood fiction.) Also, you and Somerby seem to be assuming things that Belcher meant without pointing to the place where he, you know, actually said those things.

    2. anon 3:31 - I'm a lifelong dem and think Trump is repulsive. But what is Trump's "racial vision?" - and what would an alternative racial vision consist of. It seems dems largely have gone off the rails obsessing about "racism" and identity politics. It largely doesn't make a lot of sense and seems not an effective way to win the next election.

    3. AC, as so many have pointed out before, Somerby’s blog is about the Journalism. I do not know what Belcher means, nor does Somerby, because the Times article doesn’t ask Belcher to elaborate. The article does, however, imply that Dems need to respond to Trump’s racism somehow, and they might end up choosing a failed strategy, whatever that may be in the reporters’ views. It might have been useful for Somerby to examine what the candidates said who were quoted in the article, and to try to separate the aims of the Times reporters, which may be a desire to undermine the Dems by creating a narrative (“must respond”, “ineffective response”,”losing strategy”), from those of the actual candidates.

  9. A problem I see keep propping up: liberals attempts to shape all issues in terms of race and identity.

    Thirty years ago, when I came to to this country, the fella on my right was no less American then the fella on my left. Today, I cannot say that. One could be a globalist, willing to break laws and compromise ideals in pursuit of global aims. Its not about the color of ones skin or religion. And globalist applies equally to the ultra wealthy and those who profess love of open borders.

    1. A problem I see keep propping up: liberals attempts to shape all issues in terms of race and identity.

      This isn’t a problem you see “propping [sic] up”; this is right-wing nonsense you hear in the echo chamber you’re stuck in. Every right-wing accusation is an admission. Rightards accuse liberals of a preoccupation with race, as they themselves struggle mightily from North Carolina to North Dakota to deny suffrage to those of the wrong race.

      Sorry, I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you came to this country 30 years ago in a golden age of American fella-ship. I don’t believe you know any “globalists.” The prime example of people willing to break laws are those in the current administration, and the prime example of people willing to compromise their ideals are the “values” voters and evangelical yahoos who support an administration that saddens the heart of the Baby Jesus they claim to love.

      There are no people who “profess love of open borders,” but there are people who tolerate the literal and moral stench of concentration camps along those borders

    2. Liberals need to remember whites and Christians are also "the diverse" as well as blacks, Latinos, lbgtq etc and that issues of class, war, the economy and the common good affect all these Americans and must be addressed politcally first and foremost.

      National politics is not about “difference,” it is about commonality. And it will be dominated by whoever best captures Americans’ imaginations about our shared destiny.

    3. It was white, Christian men who established our system of government based on the guarantee of rights.

      Liberals should bear in mind that the first identity movement in American politics was the Ku Klux Klan, which still exists.

      Those who play the identity game should be prepared to lose it.

    4. "Those who play the identity game should be prepared to lose it."

      Just when deadrat claims no people "profess love for open borders", along comes Fagin to prove him wrong.

    5. It was white, Christian men who established our system of government based on the guarantee of rights.

      So what? It was white, Christian men who established our system of slavery based on the guarantee of rights to white, male landowners. What’s your point?

      Liberals should bear in mind that the first identity movement in American politics was the Ku Klux Klan, which still exists.

      Good thing for you ignorance isn’t painful. You’d be in agony. The KKK, which not only still exists but which pretty much has the endorsement of this administration, was founded just after the Civil War. (Which I’ll noted ended 1865, just to be safe.) An earlier “identity movement” based on religion was the Massachusetts Bay Colony, founded in 1628 (by “white, Christian men.”) It didn’t take them a decade to banish their first heretic Roger Williams to Rhode Island.

      Those who play the identity game should be prepared to lose it.

      Sometimes the instigators lose (see Sherman’s march through Georgia), and sometimes they win (see the Japanese internment after Pearl Harbor).

    6. @11:30P,
      You think Fagin loves open borders? I'd guess there wouldn't be enough white Christian male immigrants to suit his taste.

    7. The point is liberals shouldn't be indifferent to one of the major forces that shaped our country, white Christian men.

      Liberalism’s success depends on reaching out to Americans in every walk of life, including these white Christians and including whites from sparsely populated areas who may have identities different from our own. Liberalism can't exclude any group if it wishes to be a unifying force capable of governing.

      Sometimes the instigators lose
      Like Democrats in 2016, that's the entire point.

    8. " an earlier “identity movement” based on religion was the Massachusetts Bay Colony, founded in 1628 "

      I was speaking about identity movements in American politics.

    9. " Liberalism can't exclude any group if it wishes to be a unifying force capable of governing."

      Liberalism can't be a unifying force, because it's based on individualism. Its essence is in division, in amplifying group- and individual grievances.

      And it's easy to observe too. Take the illegal border crossings, for example. Common sense indicates that it's harmful to the US society as a whole. Liberal response (the video endlessly repeated on CNN): look at this poor girl who tried to commit a suicide when her father was deported after illegally crossing the border. Emotional manipulation, plain and simple.

    10. deadrat isn't super sharp in matters political and intellectual. Like here, he's a bit pathetic, like an angry child who can stop, think and reason. He's a pretty dumb guy but I guess you can't blame him. He does the best he can with what he has been given. You can see the results speak for themselves.

    11. "Common sense indicates that it's harmful to the US society as a whole."

      Not harmful to Trump's Establishment Elite buddies. That's why he's caging the children, and not those who hire their parents illegally.

    12. Yes, i think Fagin loves open borders. His posts, here, frown upon those who play "identity games". Seems he wants a society that doesn't parse immigrants vs. non-immigrants, since those are ways of dividing humans into identity sub-groups.

    13. Tell us what you really think 10:13 AM.

      "That's game, set, match. Well played, deadrat."

    14. Oh, lookie here @10:13A. It’s my own personal troll, eagerly reading my comments so he can try to hurl insults at me. Shouldn’t that be “like a child who can’t think and reason”?

      You may think you’re my harshest critic, but if you hang on my every word, then, bitch, you’re my biggest fan.

    15. @11:30, I read Fagin as a concern troll, using the right-wing meme "identity politics" and worrying about all those forgotten and oppressed white people. The parsing I infer is dark vs white. But you may be right, so let's ask him:

      Hey, Fagin, are you in favor of open borders?

    16. I was speaking about identity movements in American politics.

      So was I, Fagin; so was I.

    17. Open borders? No. That will never happen. Are you? Why do you ask? That's politically impossible.

    18. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was an American political movement?

    19. Fagin, Are you even reading this thread? I wouldn't blame you if you weren't, but check Anonymous @11:30A.

      What? The MBC not big enough for you?

      OK, how about the identitarian movement that led to the Trail of Tears?

    20. Are there not forgotten and oppressed white people that can be helped by liberalism? I don't understand. Are you mocking? Saying there are not forgotten and oppressed white people in this country? Help me understand. I'm not against you. There are not whites, rural whites, who have been 'bent out of shape' by corporatism and crony capitalism? Please, please explain.

    21. Anonymous @11:30A - Oh - that is just juvenile foolishness. I see, you are not taking the issue or my comments seriously. That actually makes sense.

      No problem. Wishing you the best.

    22. Fagin,

      Just about everybody can be helped by liberalism. That’s not a statement of confidence in liberals or any great trust in liberal policies. It’s trivial, a truism because liberalism’s opposite number, kleptocratic reactionary politics, is based on shoving as much wealth and income as possible up the economic ladder at the expense of everybody else.

      There are forgotten and oppressed white Christians in this country. They are thick on the ground in the rust belt and rural America. But they’re not forgotten or oppressed because they’re white or Christian. They’re white and Christian because most people in this country are white and Christian.

      State governments are not gerrymandering these people’s Congressional districts to deprive them of power.

      Legislatures haven’t refused to register these people to vote because they don’t have street addresses.

      Hindus don’t allow opening prayers in a legislature to claim that Ganesh is all powerful and provides the foundation for the country’s political system.

      Part of the problem is that the economy has left these people behind. You can find a county in Kentucky’s eastern coalfields where the median income for a household is about $22K. Nobody wants Kentucky coal anymore. Part of the problem is of their own making: that country’s voters gave Trump about 90% of their votes. If you go there, you’ll be deafened by the sucking sound of the state draining federal tax dollars from productive states. But at least you won’t be able to hear the residents complaining about lazy blacks on welfare.

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