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Clarifying an Argument

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Glenn Greenwald is a profoundly dishonest person.

In his article today, entitled “The Racism that Fuels the War on Terror,” Greenwald uses me as an example of someone who gives cover to the war on terror.

Here’s the actual article I wrote which Greenwald uses as his evidence.

Connor Friedersdorf writes the kind of political essay I can’t see anyone but a privileged white person writing. Going as far as to nearly (but not quite he says!) compare President Obama to an apologist for slavery, he can’t stomach voting for Obama because of his policies in Pakistan, drones, etc.

Instead, he says we should vote for Gary Johnson since there’s a candidate who won’t do those things.

In a sense I respect it when people care so much about one issue that they can’t vote for any candidate who disagrees. On the other hand, Friedersdorf doesn’t seem to care one iota about the horrible economic and social policies a Romney administration would enact. He doesn’t seem to care at all about labor, abortion rights, gay rights, environmental policy, etc., etc. It’s all about drones, civil liberties, and such. And Obama has indeed sucked on those issues.

But given that Friedersdorf probably doesn’t have to worry much about his next paycheck or be concerned about having an unwanted fetus in his body, it’s a luxury for him to be a one-issue voter on this particular issue. It’s all too typical of a lot of angry left-wing white men from Glenn Greenwald on down who live privileged enough lives that they can find the one issue where there really aren’t any differences on the two parties and instead suggest alternatives that completely ignore the poor in this country, whether being Paul-curious to not voting to voting for a whacko like Gary Johnson. That doesn’t solve any problems and it goes back to the worthlessness of politics to make a point I talked about last week.

Now, I regret that first sentence to some extent because it is too broad and generalizing. But let’s look at the actual argument, which is that a bunch of white males like Connor Friedersdorf and Glenn Greenwald writing articles with the specific goal in mind of telling progressives it is OK to vote for Gary Johnson or another 3rd party vanity candidate because of one issue where the 2 parties unfortunately hold similarly bad positions is real easy to do when the very real differences between those parties don’t affect you–i.e., abortion rights, racial issues, labor rights, environmental protections, etc. To make such an argument reflects both a naive understanding of how American politics work and, yes, can reflect white male privilege. It basically says, “I am willing to sacrifice the future of women having the right to an abortion in order to cast a meaningless vote on a candidate with no chance of winning so that I can make a point about how morally righteous and correct I am.”

No doubt Glenn will disagree with this characterization. But a shift to the far right in American life was the consequence of the Nader debacle in 2000. If I’m wrong about this, please provide evidence. If enough progressives voted for a 3rd party candidate to give Romney the election, the message would have been what exactly? And who would have sacrificed personally to make that message? Not the large majority of the people making those arguments.

Note the argument I made is not against opposing drones. And it doesn’t say that only privileged white dudes would have a reason for opposing drones. The argument I made specifically revolved around the 2012 elections. I completely support Greenwald’s critique of unchecked executive power on drones and other issues. Unlike Glenn, I opposed the Iraq War from the beginning, opposed Obama’s surge in Afghanistan and will almost certainly oppose future U.S. wars, whether started by Republicans or Democrats.

I mean, Glenn can throw around accusations of racism all he wants to. But he can only do in reference to my article if he chooses to intentionally misrepresent my points. Of course, he does choose to do that, even though he’s linked to that piece 100 times now.

It’d be nice if Glenn could characterize my arguments with a modicum of honesty. But that’s obviously too much to ask. I’ve been tempted to write this post about 10 times and haven’t done it. But being linked to in a post where he talks about the “racism that fuels the war on terror” is profoundly offensive and beyond the pale of acceptability. I must respond.

…..In the comments, someone asked to block quote the specific point in Greenwald’s article where my piece was linked. Here it is:

Amazingly, some Democratic partisans, in order to belittle these injustices, like to claim that only those who enjoy the luxury of racial and socioeconomic privilege would care so much about these issues. That claim is supremely ironic. It reverses reality. That type of privilege is not what leads one to care about and work against these injustices. To the contrary, it’s exactly that privilege that causes one to dismiss concerns over these injustices and mock and scorn those who work against them. The people who insist that these abuses are insignificant and get too much attention are not the ones affected by them, because they’re not Muslim, and thus do not care.

I am the Democratic partisan to which he refers. Which is weird because I don’t even like the Democratic Party. I vote for Democrats because I understand how American politics work, but those votes are usually with nose held closed to keep out the stench, Rhode Island’s excellent senators excluded.

I’ll let Chester Allman in comments respond to that paragraph:

Let’s see… “in order to belittle these injustices” is astoundingly dishonest – it suggests that Loomis’s goal is to “belittle” opposition to racism and drone strikes, when anyone with even a modicum of honesty or reading comprehension skills would understand that this is not Loomis’s purpose at all.

Again: “causes one to dismiss concerns over these injustices and mock and scorn those who work against them.” And yet Loomis does not dismiss these concerns, and does not “mock and scorn those who work against them” – he shares the concerns; he only opposes the idea of sacrificing the lives, health, and well-being of millions of people for the sake of a completely futile, symbolic gesture.

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