STARTING TOMORROW: Identity and its discontents!


The center, failing to hold: In the country called Bosnia and Herzegovina, things may be falling apart. 

There seems to be an increasing sense that the center may not hold. So it may be for nations which employ the word "and" in their official nomenclature! 

The nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is often referred to, more simply, as Bosnia. In a front-page report in today's New York Times, Andrew Higgins offers this brief overview of the nation's three major identity groups, and of their discontents:

HIGGINS (1/3/22): A patchwork of different peoples and religions, Bosnia has long been a tinderbox for larger conflagrations.

It was in Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital, that a teenage Serb nationalist set off World War I by assassinating an Austrian archduke in June 1914, and where the seemingly deranged rants of a Serb psychiatrist, Radovan Karadzic, presaged a three-year spree of bloodletting in the 1990s. Those Balkan wars left roughly 140,000 people dead, drew in NATO warplanes and soldiers and created a rift between Russia and the West that remains today.

Now the United States and the European Union, which Bosnia aspires to join, are desperate to stop the new crisis from escalating into conflict, or creating the sort of political instability that Russia could exploit... 

The frictions in Bosnia are rooted in the 1995 Dayton peace agreement, brokered by the United States. The deal stopped the fighting but created an elaborate and highly dysfunctional political system, with a weak central authority in which different ethnic groups share power. The trio of elected presidents are Mr. Dodik, who represents Serbs, Mr. Dzaferovic, who represents Bosnian Muslims, known as Bosniaks, and Zeljko Komsic, an ethnic Croat.

Within the country's current political system, the Croats, the Muslims and the Serbs each have their own president. Roughly 140,000 people lost their lives the last time the center failed to hold—in a country whose current population is roughly 3.3 million.

(That's the equivalent of 14 million lives lost in a nation our size.)

The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina are trapped within a tragic, very lengthy history—a tragic history none of them initiated. The nation's three "constituent peoples" speak three different languages. They tend to recall and record their long, tragic history in three quite different ways.

This news report in today's New York Times helps us think about the largely unavoidable perils of human "identity." It can be very hard for different identity groups to form the types of shared understandings which allow the center to hold—the kinds of shared understandings which serve to keep things from falling apart, even from sliding toward war.

Human identity groups tend to have vastly different beliefs. Members of identity groups may cling to their own group's beliefs in ways which brook no compromise with the beliefs and understandings of many of their fellow citizens.

The beliefs of other groups will be understood to be wrong. The beliefs of one's own group will be understood to be right—and we humans may be very strongly inclined to cling to our group's formulations.

Can Bosnia's three identity groups survive the current tensions? We have no way of knowing! That said, our own famous nation, which is much larger, is also struggling with identity issues at this perilous point time.

Can we survive our identity issues? Major experts sometimes say that our center has already failed to hold, in ways which aren't yet fully visible.

Last week, Michiko Kakutani penned an essay for the New York Times about the work of the late Joan Didion. Her essay touched on our own nation's perilous state. The essay started as shown:

KAKUTANI (12/30/21): Joan Didion was a writer uniquely attuned to the disorder and fragmentation of our times, the dizzying changes overtaking America since the 1960s, when, as she wrote in “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” lines from Yeats’s famous poem “The Second Coming” reverberated “in my inner ear as if they were surgically implanted there”:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.

For Didion, who died on Thursday at 87, the late ’60s and early ’70s were a time of social and political tumult, abrupt leave-takings and random violence... She was uncannily attuned to the dark undercurrents of the day—the social fractures and divides that fueled carelessness and alienation. This is one reason Didion’s work resonates so deeply with us today. Once again, we are living in times defined by chaos and uncertainty, and what Didion called “the jitters” are settling in again...

Here in this country, the center seemed to be failing to hold back in the 1960s. As Kakutani notes, similar "jitters" are being widely reported today.

As she continued, Kakutani described some of the ridiculous conduct which is fueling the fear of an incurable divide. She described the crazy behavior of some members of one of our nation's largest identity groups. She also noted "the fracturing of truth" which is plainly taking place within that identity group.

The group she described was our nation's "red" tribe—the tribe which supports Donald J. Trump. Kakutani didn't discuss the possibly ridiculous conduct—and the widespread "fracturing of truth"—which has simultaneously been taking place within our own "blue" tribe.

Human identity groups are like that, major top experts all say. It's easy for the Croats to see what's going wrong with the Serbs and the Muslims. It's much harder for members of identity groups to see the ways things may be falling apart among one's own identity group, or tribe.


It was easy to see the craziness when an offshoot of QAnon supporters gathered in Dealey Plaza in November to await the return of John Kennedy Jr.  Kakutani cites that obvious craziness as her essay continues.

On MSNBC, the leading cable star of our own blue tribe entertained us with that sliver group's lunacy over the course of several nights. As her entertaining presentations developed, she made it seem that the crazy people in question were typical red tribe members. 

Her viewers may have gobbled that down. It has proven harder for blue tribe members to see the various ways that same entertaining cable news star has misdirected our own failing tribe over the past dozen years. 

At any rate, as our nation's red and blue tribes develop their dueling sets of standard facts and true beliefs, the center is failing to hold in our own "United" nation. It may well be that things have already fallen apart in a way which can't be repaired.

The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina are caught is a tragic human situation, but the same is true right here. For the record, this is an ancient type of situation. It's a situation which has played out all through the course of human affairs.

Starting tomorrow, we'll be exploring the perils of identity—identity and its discontents. We'll note the bogus beliefs which prevail within the red tribe, but we'll focus on the bogus beliefs we blue voters generally can't see—the bogus beliefs and weird behaviors which now prevail Over Here.

Experts suggest that it may be too late to heal our own nation's divide. As we wish the best to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. we'll offer our review of local facts for informational purposes only.

We don't expect a thing to change! It seems to us that our own identity groups are locked into their dueling postures and beliefs in a way which won't easily be fixed.

Tomorrow: Ted Koppel goes to Mt. Airy


  1. Your New York Times piece is bullshit, dear Bob, as Bosnia isn't even a country. It's a mere colony of the EU and US, ruled by their viceroy (so-called High Representative).

    But please note, dear Bob, that in Yugoslavia ruled by Marshal Tito there was no ethnic nationalism at all. It simply wasn't allowed.

    And that's the lesson, dear Bob: ethnocentrism and bullshit ethnic grievances can be amplified, whipped up -- as it's done by your liberal-hitlerian cult. Or they can be suppressed, as is done by any kind of a responsible governments.

    So, what's your choice, dear Bob?

    1. We can always count on you for your...umm...deeply shallow analysis.

    2. At least Mao lets you know he loves the Establishment Elites.

  2. "It was in Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital, that a teenage Serb nationalist set off World War I by assassinating an Austrian archduke in June 1914..."

    Based on his headline and theme, Somerby seems to want to attribute WWI to identity politics, but there is consensus among historians that the war was caused by the network of treaty alliances and the desire of Germany to acquire colonies and territory via military conquest. The main spark wasn't only the Serbian assassination but the decisions of several nations to enter into a war in response to German aggression which it justified by its defense of Austria-Hungary. In other words, the assassination was a pretext for a war that was desired for by Germany for reasons unrelated to identity.

    Further, Somerby fails to distinguish between individual identity and national identity (nationalism). The latter is now called patriotism, but at the time, the term referred to attempts to unite disparate people under political boundaries that were not necessarily aligned with ethnic and cultural or even language groups, to form new nations. In that sense, the nationalism emerging was little different than what occurred in the USA with the formation of a nation out of 13 disparate colonies with different sources of immigration, religions, and beliefs about slavery. The US deliberately forged its own national identity after the American Revolution. But national identity and personal identity are not the same thing and generalizations from one to the other may be misleading.

  3. "The deal stopped the fighting but created an elaborate and highly dysfunctional political system..."

    This deal has lasted for 25 years. How dysfunctional can it be? Somerby today grabs a quote to support his own opinion about the dangers of conflicts over identity, without thinking about the motives of the person who wrote that quoted material.

    Somerby's use of excerpts and quotes increasingly resembles his use of song lyrics. The overall intent of the author need not have anything at all to do with Somerby's point, as long as a phrase resonates with him. Here it is the word "identity" and the mix of ethnicities in Serbia-Herzegovina, whether these matter to the "dysfunctional government" and uneasy peace there, or not.

    Somerby is in over his head when he discusses European politics and world history. But, he doesn't really care about either. He only wants to show that respecting the differences of minorities in our country is a bad thing that may lead to the assassination of an Archduke, or at least inconvenience by those who must suppress their blatant racism and bigotry against immigrants.

    This is one of the most ridiculous essays Somerby has ever written. A harbinger of what this year will bring? That seems likely given that aging only goes in one direction.

  4. "Here in this country, the center seemed to be failing to hold back in the 1960s. "

    The "center failing to hold" refers to battlefields with infantry deployed along a broad front that is too weak to repel a direct assault. As the center is penetrated, two fronts are formed and may be flanked in a way that prevents them from working together.

    The phrase used by Didion comes from a W.B. Yeats poem using that military reference to describe descending chaos:

    "Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,"

    and it continues until the Second Coming. In the second stanza Yeats muses using Biblical terms, concluding with:

    "And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?" This is the title of Didion's book.

    Somerby, of course, ignores what Didion meants and what Yeats meant, to co-opt the phrase for his own purposes, referring oddly to identity politics. He treats this as if the only important word is "center" and the only important idea is one about unity, which he seems to construe as homogeneity (implemented as dominance of mainstream culture over all differences among people). He doesn't wish to acknowledge that for him, mainstream culture is white, privileged, male, and allows no room for others to live without assimilating to it. Neither Didion nor Yeats would approve, based on their own extensive writings.

  5. "Kakutani didn't discuss the possibly ridiculous conduct—and the widespread "fracturing of truth"—which has simultaneously been taking place within our own "blue" tribe."

    She doesn't describe it because it isn't happening. This isn't a "both sides" phenomenon. The left respects facts, reality, truth and seeks it, even if imperfectly sometimes. The right rejects it and prefers its own conspiracies and false beliefs.

    Somerby's attempts to convince readers that the left is just as bad as the right, that the right is misunderstood, victimized by the left's attempts to hew to reality, that expertise and knowledge are empty posturing, is consistent with the right's gaslighting and propaganda efforts. Kakutani calls this out and does not in any way agree that the left is like the right.

    Somerby is wrong about this. He wants to say that liberal hubris won't allow us to acknowledge our flaws, but that is untrue as well. The left has a history of self-criticism and has critical factions that would readily point out such flaws if they were happening beyond Somerby's imagination. This is an attack on the left by an operative of the right, Somerby. His use of literary icons is inappropriate and he should not be putting words in other people's mouths like this.

    1. Fucking ROFL. You don't have a single idea -not even one- that wasn't barfed at you from a glowing screen. And your smug self-assuredness guarantees you never will.

  6. "identity and its discontents"

    This phrase alludes to the famous book by Sigmund Freud entitled Civilization and its Discontents. Somerby has substituted the word Identity, in a not particularly clever way, since he makes no other reference to Freud's work but merely likes the word "Discontent" and the weight that name-dropping such a title gives to his own thoughts. But there is no actual thinking involved, since his reference is shallow and doesn't go beyond that single word to consider anything in Freud's important book.

    This isn't how rhetorical devices work. It is how schizophrenics engage in stream-of-consciousness word salad, in which they grab whatever loosely associated term flows through their brains, without any attempt to make sense. It has been a long time since Somerby has made any sense.

    1. I could see where you would be one of the world's top authorities on how schizophrenics engage in stream-of-consciousness word salad.

    2. Just because you don't understand what someone is saying, doesn't mean they aren't making sense. I think the comprehension problem is with you.

      And yes, I have both read books and interacted with schizophrenic people in my work, so I do know how their brains put together ideas.

      When something is hard to understand, take it sentence by sentence. Look up the words you don't know the meanings of (words you think you know may not be correctly understood). Then put the meanings together and see if they make any more sense. If the problem is that the words refer to ideas or concepts or historical events you know nothing about, look those up too. If none of that helps, try discussing your idea of what is being said with someone else, preferably an educated person. They may suggest different ways of understanding things than you arrived at.

      This is what Somerby should do with Godel and others he tries to read. If he did, he wouldn't be so quick to give up, blaming his lack of comprehension on the author instead of his own lack of effort.

      I realize that you intended your remark to be a quick insult, but I suspect that your motive to insult me comes from your frustration about not knowing what I am saying. You can skip my comments and go about your life, or you can try to figure it out. The choice is yours.

      But do keep in mind that if you just dismiss what others say here, you are being like the people Somerby complains about -- people who won't listen to other people's ideas but only want to have their own way. Somerby thinks it is the liberals doing that -- I disagree and think it is people like you and Somerby himself. Calling someone a schizophrenic isn't any way to understand anyone, and it isn't nice to use a mental illness as a derogatory term for someone you dislike.

    3. I'm just saying you write schizophrenic word salads every day so it's interesting you bring them up.

    4. And I'm saying that the things you consider "word salads" are understood by other people. But never mind -- you be you.

    5. Of course the psycho writing the word salads is going to defend them. Your shitty life depends on them.

    6. Nothing Freud did was important, except perhaps as a warning of the danger of jewish subversion.

    7. Dear 11:06,

      Fuck off and die, Nazi filth.

  7. "It seems to us that our own identity groups are locked into their dueling postures and beliefs in a way which won't easily be fixed."

    What would "fixing" such divides look like? In Hitler's Germany, he put people of other ethnicities onto trains and shipped them back to their supposed countries of origin (no matter how long they had been in Germany). At the end of WWII, the countries of Europe were more homogenous than they had ever been. Did that help prevent the Serbian crisis?

    Our democracy is unique in protecting the rights of the minority against oppression by a majority. That may be a legacy of having to overcome slavery. Somerby seems to regard the effort involved in making our democracy work as some kind of fracturing of a nonexistent whole, one that has never existed here or most other places either. We have a system for dealing with diversity that is now under threat by those who want their own identities to be imposed on others (i.e. the right). Instead of trying to protect our democracy, Somerby pretends that diversity is the problem, not those who want to impose conformity (religious, political, social) on everyone else. I don't believe that will work. I do believe that our democracy can work, if The Others will set aside their own self interest and allow it to work. That requires good will that I find lacking on the right. But I will stand with our government to protect the rights of right-wing minorities to speak their minds, as long as they allow the rest of America the same freedom. Today, that freedom is being jeopardized by a power grab on the right, one that even Liz Cheney recognizes.

    Somerby is on the wrong side of history with this one. Dressing up his wrongness in other people's phrases won't help him convince the left that the right should be permitted to impose its views on everyone else in our nation. That is what is fracturing our country. Not people's identities.

    1. “Today, that freedom is being jeopardized by a power grab on the right, one that even Liz Cheney recognizes.”

      Liz Cheney AND Google!

    2. What are you talking about? Your comment makes no sense.

    3. "Your comment makes no sense."

      Look who's talking!

  8. Families and cultures differ in the ways they deal with conflict. In general, some don't mind conflict, find arguing and even yelling stimulating, a way to clear the air, part of normal family life and not at all threatening to the family unit. Others fear that conflict with jeopardize the union and suppress complaints and disagreements for fear that arguing may lead to divorce or estrangement, a disruption of harmony. Problems tend to fester in such situations.

    Family counseling helps families that do not deal with conflict well to discuss their problems without fear that the union with dissolve. It is a protected environment. Mediation does the same thing for other kinds of organizations. Often consensus may not be possible but a workable compromise can be achieved through discussion when good will and a promise to seriously try to resolve the conflict is present. Without good will, there is not much chance of fixing problems, with or without conflict.

    Somerby says he is Irish. As a culture, the Irish are comfortable with conflict and don't mind some theatrics. However, upper class people (cross culturally) are less comfortable with conflict and adopt traditions that involve avoidance of conflict. WASPs in the USA are notorious for avoiding conflict and thus allowing problems to be suppressed which results in them worsening and a family becoming dysfunctional and unsatisfying to its members. Perhaps Somerby's family was wealthy enough to have adopted WASP traditions so that he learned to suppress conflict instead of facing it head on (without violence).

    It seems to me that Somerby's suggested approach of maintaining peace at the cost of loss of integrity, bargaining even when there is no demonstrable good will, compromise of strongly held values, reflect the upper class approach to resolving problems. "Upper class" doesn't mean better, although there may be situations in which temporary peace is more desirable than long term solutions. If so, it is ironic, since Somerby keeps calling liberals elitists.

    First, I object to Somerby framing our political disagreements as a battle, as war. That IS how Republicans look at it, but it is unhelpful if the goal is not to win but to unite the country and achieve better conditions for everyone (not just the right). In the phrase, the center cannot hold, the word center doesn't refer to centrists, it refers to the middle of the battle front having insufficient strength to repel an attack. Those aren't good terms for discussing political disagreement.

    There is a film called The War of the Roses. The reference is to ongoing religious wars in England, but the couple is cutely named Rose and the movie is about their divorce, which degenerates into self-defeating attempts to hurt each other. Some people find that sort of thing funny. Once you start thinking in those terms, it is harder to resolve problems. Yet it is Somerby who is calling for peace, but he is doing so by blaming liberals, not by attempting to reach mutual understanding by discussing issues.

    Historically speaking, our country is not more divided due to identity issues. It is continuing to struggle with the legacy of slavery and the challenges of immigration (which is a benefit economically and culturally). What is different today is that the Republican party decided to seek power at the cost of the nation's well-being and elected the wrong leader, someone who similarly doesn't care about the whole nation, only his own narrowly defined interests. It is up to Republicans to fix the problem they have created, by prioritizing different values and getting rid of Trump, eschewing violence and dealing with its own violent factions. Republicans need to participate in governance in good faith again. This is what Somerby should be calling for. Liberals didn't create Trump and we can't fix the problems he has created, other than by complaining about them.


    1. “It seems to me that Somerby's suggested approach of maintaining peace at the cost of loss of integrity, bargaining even when there is no demonstrable good will, compromise of strongly held values, reflect the upper class approach to resolving problems. "Upper class" doesn't mean better, although there may be situations in which temporary peace is more desirable than long term solutions. If so, it is ironic, since Somerby keeps calling liberals elitists.”

      Public service announcement, folks.

      Please check your wallets.

    2. FYI, the differences between the upper and lower or immigrant classes in how they deal with conflict is the main theme of Woody Allen's film Annie Hall.

    3. You can find this stuff in any textbook on family counseling.

      Note Cecelia's bad faith way of saying she disagrees with something that was said -- who knows what, since she doesn't say.

    4. Read the rhetoric and check your wallets!!

    5. Is this something you learned the hard way, after donating to Trump and having your one-time donation turn into a monthly contribution? Did you find out that little of the Stop the Steal money actually went toward vote audits? Anyone dealing with Trump would naturally learn not to place their trust in the man or his campaign apparatus.

      You think you're clever, calling someone a liar without having to pony up any arguments or evidence, but it just makes it clear that you are a vacuous aggressive idiot, sort of like MTG. I'm surprised you can spell rhetoric.

      This amounts to: I know you're wrong. I may not know why you are wrong, but I just know it. This is how stupid people reason.

  9. Digby says:

    "All of that indicates that the GOP is very dug in on The Big Lie and the ensuing insurrection. It’s unlikely they are going to change their minds. If there were decent leadership in the Republican Party and a moral compass among the right-wing media, all of whom know the truth but refuse to speak it, there might have been a chance to walk back from the precipice. But there is not and so we are facing the increasingly uncomfortable reality that tens of millions of our fellow Americans see violence as a reasonable response to losing elections. Because of that, two-thirds of Americans now see democracy as being threatened. And they are right."

    This is the situation that Somerby thinks consists of liberals and conservatives having their own sets of facts. He never mentions a third set of facts called reality/truth and he never evaluates that degree of congruence with reality on the right as opposed to the left.

    I agree with Digby that this difference in perception of our last presidential election, fostered by lies on the right, is why we are having this crisis of democracy. Somerby seems to be pleading for the left to give up their grasp of reality and join the right in its delusions. If that happens, I believe our nation will be lost.

    1. Actually, Somerby said that both sides are locked into identity groups that won’t easily be fixed.

      That’s not gilding anyone’s lilies. You’ll have to decide if you’re able to tolerate an utterance like that.

    2. He also said that it is up to liberals to fix the problem.

      Think about the logical implications of that, cecelia.

    3. He’s a liberal and he’s saying that. I

      It’s why everyone in the world should be admiringly offering their services.

    4. He’s not the five people who are anonymices.

    5. Yeah, I see almost no Republicans admiringly offering to pitch in to end tribalism.

    6. Who said he was? This is a deflection.

      Why do you fill up the comments with nonsense one-liners like this? It disrupts actual conversation and makes you look foolish.

      Here are some of the reasons why Somerby is not a liberal:

      1. He routinely disparages liberal candidates for office while supporting none of them. He did not support the liberal presidential nominee in 2016 or 2020, disparaging them here.
      2. Although claiming that Trump is a disaster and may be mentally ill, he routinely uses conservative talking points to attack liberal points of view and individuals expressing them. Often those talking points have appeared on Fox News or been said by prominent Republicans on the same day as Somerby uses them.
      3. He does not appear to hold liberal values, such as concern for immigrants, empathy for poor and victims of systemic police brutality, equal opportunity for all (not equal outcomes), respect for freedom of discourse and other ACLU issues, support for civil rights, and so on.
      4. He regularly attacks self-described liberal media figures, such as Rachel Maddow, attacks gay media hosts, attacks professors advocating liberal points of view, defends and supports right-wing martyrs and advocates watching Fox News (not for diversity but because they have better facts).
      5. He displays bigotry including racism and sexism, without concern for avoiding harming others. He has no interest in supporting anti-racist efforts or examining his own behavior.
      6. He has never supported some of the major liberal issues, such as women's health issues, domestic violence, climate change, anti-poverty and income inequality, humane treatment of those seeking asylum in the US, and effective measures to fight covid.
      7. He frequently excerpts from columnists who are generally considered to be conservatives, approving of their content, praising them.
      8. He avoids using environmental explanations for children's failure on NAEP tests and emphasizes the instransigence of performance gaps based on race.
      9. He said nothing whatsoever about the 1/6 insurrection. He decried Trump's impeachment claiming that it undermined the will of the electorate to use the process to remove a president, ignoring Trump's wrongdoing and violation of the constitution.
      10. He creates and repeats untrue characterizations of liberal views, such as claiming that liberals considered Comey a God. He uses terms criticizing liberals with the redefined meanings created by the right, including the words woke and CRT, most recently.

      I have repeatedly, almost daily, identified the ways in which Somerby is no liberal. You can go back and read such comments going back for several years now.

      I don't know how many people agree with me here, but I have seen comments on other blogs talking about the ways in which Somerby has changed. It is natural to think that Somerby might be liberal because of his defense of Al Gore, but I suspect that is only because they were once friends, not because he agreed with Gore's platform as presidential nominee. Over the years, Somerby has grown bolder about defending Southern culture, and expressing his own bigotry. That is one of the "gifts" Trump has given us. The bigots have come out of the woodwork.

      Calling himself a liberal by using phrases like "us liberals..." and "our own tribe" doesn't make him any kind of liberal. Liberal is as liberal does, and Somerby doesn't.

    7. Yet you’re here, year after year, recording the heresies of a man who decidedly isn’t a current era political automaton.

      Just how powerful and influential do you think he is? Let me know. I find him just as convincing and persuasive as you obviously do.

    8. I like reading other people's comments here -- not yours though.

    9. I don't particularly like reading most of Anon/Corby/mh comments. Except the one that stated it only posts as Anonymous, that one was funny.

    10. Anon, Corby and mh are at least 3 distinct people, probably more judging by their writing styles and content.

      Cecelia started referring to everyone she doesn't like as one person. It is just another kind of name-calling.

      I don't like reading your comments either. Like Cecelia, right or wrong, you are needlessly hostile.

    11. Then why read them, rationalist? The rational thing to do would be to skip them.

    12. anon 2:45, TDH is a liberal. You have to be an idiot not to see that. On the other hand, you're no liberal, but instead a close-minded dogmatist, with no insight or ability to think critically, who swallows a huge amount of bs whole.

    13. @AC: The commenter gave you a detailed list of reasons why Somerby might not be liberal, and your response is “yes he is”, and an ad hominem. Not very convincing.

      For myself, I don’t particularly care, but I can’t provide any solid evidence to support your claim. The commenter made some reasonable arguments. Why does it matter so much to you? What does being a liberal mean to you, and what do you think it means to Somerby? I mean, at some point, there must be some disqualifying principle.

    14. 2:45 I don't agree with you. He is a liberal.

    15. I base it on his criticisms of Maddow. It takes a true liberal to stand up and point out the empress isn't wearing any clothes.

    16. So, if I criticize Tucker Carlson, does that make me a conservative?

    17. 3;07,
      What's the thing, other than bigotry, which draws you to the right?
      Or is it just that simple?

    18. mh, I read her list, and it is extremely poorly reasoned throughout. I am presumably working to earn a living right now, and can't spend the time to elaborate on every one of her items of "evidence". One example, she claims as evidence that TDH isn't "liberal" that he "frequently" cites conservatives and praises the contents of their columns. This is hardly evidence that TDH is not a "liberal." It would depend on what the content of the conservative columnist's piece. TDH generally makes reasoned arguments. It is illiberal, and irrational, to assume that just because a columnist is "conservative" that whatever he or she says is wrong, or can't be considered approvingly. That type of bad reasoning permeates anon 2:45's outlook. She is on some type of bizarre crusade to prove that TDH isn't a 'liberal' - why doesn't she just call a meeting of the Liberal Tribunal and have him ex-communicated?

    19. TDH has proved that he is not liberal.

      You really cannot claim to be liberal while remaining sexist, racist, loving Tucker and hating Rachel, defending Roy Moore and Rittenhouse and Manchin, and not supporting Democratic candidates, even for President, even against Trump. He doesn't even like Kamala! Need I say more?

    20. The entire establishment lied for two years about Russian collusion, and you want to say ordinary people are dug in because they doubt the results of an election that featured multiple states doing mail-in ballots with no oversight on an emergency basis?

      Fucking lol. TV-race should be gassed and put in mass graves.

    21. Dear 11:04,

      Fuck off and die, Nazi filth.

    22. 11:04

      No oversight? You fascist lying prick?

      Hey, how 'bout that Green Bay Sweep plan? Bwahaha!! Too bad the QB punked out, he must have been a never-trumper, eh?

  10. This one is for David in Cal:

    When people from China come to the US, they become part of a larger group called "Asians" that includes as much, if not more, diversity as the population of the US itself. Instead of choosing Serbia to focus on, he might have talked about China and its diversity, its ongoing struggles with democracy, its minorities and how they are treated. That might have made it clearer that diversity (differences in identity) is not a problem that makes countries weaker, not the inevitable cause of wars, but something that adds richness and texture to a nation, if it can find a way to resolve its differences. Finding that way to resolve differences is what Americans are grappling with now, not identity.

    1. anon 1:12, tell it to the Tibetans and Uigars (spelling? the ones who are all in internment camps)

    2. @1:12 Here's a nice video featuring the brilliant Thomas Sowell explaining why diversity and multiculturalism do NOT make countries and organizations stronger.

    3. So you side with the “Jews will not replace us crowd”, David?

    4. Sowell is a conservative. My link about Wax is referring back to other things she has said elsewhere in which the things you claim were not demonstrated are present. If you think Wax doesn't consider whites and Asians superior, you are being excessively legalistic because she certainly says so in other places. This is a person with a body of writing, not limited to the excerpts you wish to misinterpret.

      AC/MA is right about the Uighers and Tibetans in China, and that is the point. Amy Wax wishes to lump all Chinese together with Koreans and Japanese and other Asians into one group called Asians -- yet they are all different in important ways.

    5. mh - I'm interested in your comment, since both Amy Wax and I are Jewish. However, I don't know what your comment means. Could you please explain it?

    6. @David: Because diversity and multiculturalism simply are a fact in the US. If they do not make us “stronger”, then what does that imply? That they make us weaker. And that would seem to call for a solution, which would logically be to get rid of diversity and multiculturalism, which the neo-Nazis explicitly support.

      I would also argue that it makes little sense to find a problem with diversity in the US, the strongest country on earth.

    7. Thanks for the clarification, mh. Sowell answers your question at the link I provided. He opines that diversity is problem, but the US has done a good job of dealing with that problem. I don't know nearly as much as Sowell, but one can just look at the ongoing problems in Canada, caused by separate English and French-speaking sub-populations. IMO Israel has done a good job of coping with sub-populations of Jews and Moslems, but I don't think one would argue that this diversity is a strength.

      Of course, your suggestion of getting rid of all minorities ia a joke. However, there is a serious point. IMO encouraging people to see themselves as a member of a particular subgroup is bad for the country. That's why, when asked my racial identity, I answer: "human". Whether intentionally or not, CRT encourages racial animosity. IMO that's horrendous.

    8. David: No, the neo-Nazis and way too many others are dead serious about getting rid of minorities.

      Anyway, I’m sure then that you object when Republicans tell rural white voters that they are members of the subgroup “real Americans”, and liberals are the evil elitist subgroup.

      And CRT doesn’t encourage me to feel any animosity. It encourages me to try to understand history and different points of view.

    9. David has convinced me whites have to go.

    10. Dear mh says: "And that would seem to call for a solution, which would logically be to get rid of diversity and multiculturalism, which the neo-Nazis explicitly support."

      Yeah, dear mh, the neo-Nazis like Ralph Waldo Emerson and countless others who, for well over a century now, approvingly described -- and praised! -- the US society as a "melting pot".

      Thank you for another confirmation that Liberal-Zombie "neo-Nazis" translates to English as "good people".

  11. Somerby seems to imply that if liberals did not have a liberal "identity" then they wouldn't hold liberal beliefs. But is that really how this works? Don't the beliefs make someone liberal, not vice versa?

    I actively chose my political affiliation when I was a teenager. I didn't believe the same things as my parents (it was the 60s) but a thoughtful evaluation might have led to their affiliation if I had held different values. Hillary Clinton describes the same process, when she was a Goldwater Girl in high school but became a Democrat in college.

    So, is it right to assert that identity is at fault, when it is beliefs, attitudes and values that are at the heart of someone's political affiliation?

    On the other hand, perhaps Trump supporters are in it for the t-shirts and red caps and team spirit at the rallies, and not because of principled positions on issues. They may feel like they have adopted an identity as Trump or Q-Anon or Proud Boys. That may be their main interest in politics, the shouting and fan enthusiasm, not the issues and governance. Trump certainly liked being the president more than he liked governing. Maybe The Other like their MAGA identity more than they like thinking about what the country needs. Is it the same for liberals? I don't see the hats and cohesive team spirit, except on behalf of specific candidates. The left cannot be called a cult in the same way as the right has become.

    It may be that Somerby is correct to question whether engaging in politics as an identity is good for people and our nation, but I think he is aiming that concern at the wrong group. I just don't see most liberals taking their identity from being liberal. They seem to me to be identifying with other things, the things like gender, race, ethnicity, that Somerby thinks are too divisive. But Somerby hasn't explained why a MAGA or Q-Anon identity isn't similarly divisive, especially when it seems to be a cult built around individuals such as Trump and Q, and one that discourages its members from thinking about issues clearly. Biden has never had groupies the way Trump does, although Bernie does have his bros. The left focuses on issues and its supporters are issues voters, not cultists.

    So, why is this the left's problem? Is Somerby suggesting that we should become a nation of Independent voters? Surveys show that Independents are primarily Republican-leaning voters who don't want to be associated with the label. They don't seem to be people who make their choices on an issue-by-issue or candidate-by-candidate basis.

    1. Many people may have formulated their political druthers as you did as a teenager and other people may have formulated or reformulated them as an adult with the advent of the technocrats.

    2. Who are you talking about when you say "technocrats" and why would they cause anyone to reformulate their political views and affiliation?

    3. Help me out…is Donald Trump a technocrat or just an oligarch?

  12. Does Somerby not understand that the problems in Bosnia were related to religion and not nationality or ethnicity?

    1. And why would Somerby talk about Bosnia at all?

    2. Ask him. He said: "The nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is often referred to, more simply, as Bosnia. In a front-page report in today's New York Times, Andrew Higgins offers this brief overview of the nation's three major identity groups, and of their discontents..."

      Then he quoted someone else talking about Bosnia and Serbia-Herzegovina (the new name).

      He raised this as an example of tribal conflict, since he thinks identity leads to such conflict. Then he segued into discussing our home grown tribal conflict, as if they are in any way similar (hint: they aren't).

      Do you not read Somerby's posts?

    3. religion, ethnicity, nationalism, the same concept

    4. No, they aren’t the same. The concept you are referring to and Somerby presumably, is the sense of belonging to a “superior” group that frowns on other groups. By that measure, any group can be trotted out as a purported example to bolster Somerby’s point. Cowboys, philosophy professors, etc.

    5. anon 6:22, they're all the same in that they are all humans. Getting carried away by identity divides people, causes strife and war. They are superstitions, someone who is intelligent transcends them.

    6. So, you treat men and women as if they are identical too? Young and old? Foodies and sports fans? You are reducing people to a common denominator that ignores everything that makes them unique individuals. That isn't going to be interesting in real life. People want to be seen as who they are, not member of a large faceless group all dressed in the same blue pajamas.

  13. In fairness to Q-anon, it could be that someone was passing around a copy of one of Bob's columns at that rally, and by the time JFKjr arrived, they all were asleep.

  14. An “offshoot of Qanon”, which Somerby describes as a “sliver group”. He is presumably referring to the “offshoot”, if there is such a thing.

    And chides Maddow for covering it.

    Meanwhile, is Qanon proper a sliver group? Is it not itself an insane conspiratorial cult, with adherents in the US Congress in good standing with the Republican Party?

    “QAnon groups have millions of members on Facebook, documents show”

    This should be getting more press, not less. How can liberals hope to fix this by themselves?

    1. QAnon believers are a "tiny sliver" of the Right. No more than 80-90%.

  15. From a psychological perspective, it isn't possible to be a human being without some form of identity. So Somerby is asking for either (1) something not humanly possible in normal people, or (2) a certain kind of identity, which he has specified only by objecting to several existing kinds of identity (racial, gender, ethnic, national (but not American?), religious). Exactly what type of identity would Somerby consider to be OK? Based on the way he chides liberals but doesn't chide "The Others" I get the feeling that he wants everyone to be conservative Republicans. If you think I'm wrong about that, please explain what kind of identity Somerby thinks is acceptable.

  16. The “Others” with their “real American”, heartland dwelling, gun-toting Bible thumping, intensely “nationalistic” “white working class” (with emphasis on “white”) ways, this is an acceptable identity, or…?

  17. Since Somerby thinks some people's equal rights need to be sacrificed for comity, I say we take away his right of free speech.
    I feel the tribes getting closer already.

  18. Maddow is somewhat guilty of harping on the most freakishly crazed; but the real sin there is that it takes the emphasis off how far gone the average Republican is. For it was them, after all, who have shown their contempt for fair play and common decency by backing Trump’s attempt to achieve dictatorship. Sure, there were always garbage people like Mao, and those who enable them like Cecilia, but the real radicalization took place on Fox News, right around the time Bob decided he didn’t even have guts to follow what was being broadcast by the station.


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