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« Dear Nate Silver, I'd give Donald Trump 21 | Main | Still dreaming of Mitt »

November 24, 2015


Peter G

The dead giveaway that your views would be what they are is the picture of the happy hat waving dude in the upper right of this web page. My tell is that I infest this place.


It's not just the childishness of it, but the hypocrisy as well. I have never known a single person, myself included, who has not, at some point, held some sort or xenophobic attitude, and who has also, in some manner, acted on that attitude. Usually, it's a reflexive response beyond our conscious control. (You'd think Princeton students would have learned this in all the social/cultural/critical theory classes they're inundated with.) The best we can do is continue the hard work of self-awareness and self-criticism. Meanwhile, we can extend some grace and humor to others who share in this same, perpetual struggle. Because, as I have embarrassingly learned too often in my life, the soap boxes we erect quickly and magically transform into banana peels.


I agree with Cohen and you. The only thing I'd add is that Cohen is writing about *students*. While not children, one of the reasons they're in college is to learn to think like adults, though in my experience it doesn't always take. He's a bit ahead of the situation.

Peter G

I wonder if there is not in this behavior a distinguishing mindset that separates Canadians and Americans. There is, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, a statue dedicated to the "famous five" who were a group of women who brought the "Persons" case before the Supreme Court of Canada in order to determine the legal status of women. Of these the most famous (Canadian standard famous) is Nellie McClung and she is an icon to Canadian civil rights movement. Particularly among feminists naturally. But she was also a leading advocate of eugenics and the forced sterilization of inferior human specimens. Among these were the looming Yellow Peril whose presence in Canada was owed to the fact that they built our railroads too.

If you were to mention these personal deficiencies most places in Canada you would not engender support for removing her image from our capitol. What you would get is support for removing you. It seems we still like to lionize our heroes and overlook the clay feet. Americans seem more focused on the feet.

Peter G

I once had an interesting exchange with a fiery female youth activist at CrooksandLiars. She was quite young herself and passionately vented about how much our baby boomer generation sucked principally due to the wars we inflicted on her generation. She was also quite vocal about how infinitely superior her generation was and gave no thought whatsoever to how each generation stands on the shoulders of the previous generation. Ours had done nothing right. Her generation would fix everything. Didn't like it went I pointed out the origins of modern feminism, or the civil rights movement of the sixties and seventies or environmental awareness or the birth of climate science etc. But what really got her was when I pointed out that Warlords love recruiting the truly youthful for they make the most remorseless mass murderers anyone could ask for.

But we weren't any different. One day she'll learn that.

The Dark Avenger

This Canadian is one of my favorite heroes:

According to a 1954 biography written by Charles Drage with Cohen's assistance, Morris Cohen was born in London in 1889 to a family that had just arrived from Poland. However Cohen was actually born in 1887 into a poor Jewish family in Radzanów[disambiguation needed], Poland, about 45 miles northwest of Warsaw. Soon after his birth the Cohens escaped the pogroms of Eastern Europe and emigrated to the St George in the East parish in London's East End.[1]

Cohen loved the theaters, the streets, the markets, the foods and the boxing arenas of the British capital more than he did the Jews' Free School, and in April 1900 he was arrested as "a person suspected of attempting to pick pockets". A magistrate sent him to the Hayes Industrial School, an institution set up by the likes of Lord Rothschild to care for and train wayward Jewish lads. He was released in 1905 and Cohen's parents shipped the young Morris off to western Canada with the hope that the fresh air and open plains of the New World would reform his ways.

Cohen initially worked on a farm near Whitewood, Saskatchewan. He tilled the land, tended the livestock and learned to shoot a gun and play cards. He did that for a year, and then started wandering through the Western provinces, making a living as a carnival talker, gambler, grifter[citation needed] and successful real estate broker. Some of his activities landed him in jail.

Cohen also became friendly with some of the Chinese exiles who had come to work on the Canadian Pacific Railways. He loved the camaraderie and the food, and in Saskatoon came to the aid of a Chinese restaurant owner who was being robbed. Cohen's training in the alleyways of London came in handy, and he knocked out the thief and tossed him out into the street. Such an act was unheard of at the time, as few white men ever came to the aid of the Chinese. The Chinese welcomed Cohen into their fold and eventually invited him to join the Tongmenghui, Sun Yat-sen's anti-Manchu organization. Cohen began to advocate for the Chinese.

Morris Cohen soon moved to the city of Edmonton in the neighbouring province of Alberta. There he became manager of one of the provincial capital’s leading real estate agencies and was appointed, on the personal recommendation of the Attorney General Sir Charles Wilson Cross, to serve the province as a Commissioner of Oaths, an appointment offered only to "fit and proper persons".[2]

It was in pre-WW1 Edmonton that Cohen commenced his long and varied military career by recruiting members of the Chinese community and training them in drill and musketry on behalf of Dr Sun Yat-sen’s representative organization in Canada.[3]


If she was American she should make note of the fact that Bill Clinton started no major wars and that most boomers wouldn't claim GW Bush.


I don't really get worked up over all this. The sudden hysteria over "PC" seems overblown to me, but I'm not following things that closely. Besides, in my experience, "PC" is whatever the person making the accusation needs it to be in order to make the accusation. So, for example, Jon Chait and Ben Carson have very different ideas of what it means.

Obviously we'd have to rename damn near everything if we decide that we can't name anything after a historical figure with an imperfect record on race relations, as judged by today's norms. Lincoln himself would be a contemptible racist by today's standards.

My inexact way of thinking about it would be something like this - we know that Woodrow Wilson was a racist even by the standards of his day. So I would consider renaming buildings that have some historical connection to civil rights progress. But he was also a pivotal figure in the US's rise as a superpower and the shaping of the modern international order (even if his League of Nations effort died). So buildings named after him and having international affairs as their present or historical purpose - leave them be.

Personally, I find Andrew Jackson's legacy to be so irredeemably brutal that I think his face and name should be taken off pretty much everything. But he's a special, peculiar case. I have never understood how he ever enjoyed such an exalted place in US lore and I think he's one of our very worst presidents. But, the Deep South clearly disagrees with me. As do the Fed and Treasury, who seem to be in no hurry to take him off the $20 bill. I mean, I get that he was a consequential president, but that does not mean he was a good president. Buchanan was consequential too, but we never went on a spree of plastering his name all over our buildings and currency.


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