Between the Lines

 

The GameMost political podcasts with which I am familiar have a well-defined perspective, be it right, left, libertarian, socialist, or whatever. The hosts, the guests, the thoughts, and most of all the audiences hew closely toward some ideological mean about which controversy may take place so long as it does not go beyond the locally prescribed bounds of decency. Our political culture is such that (in podcasts, anyway) the unifying feature of discourse is the existence of the “other”: the ideological enemy which lies far outside of the conflicts we have among ourselves.

Nevertheless, to me, one of the great joys of politics and philosophy are the arguments you have with people you totally disagree with and yet, with whom you share a deep mutual respect. Such experiences help you realize that politics is after all only one of the relatively shallow aspects of the human experience. And a venue like a podcast where it is possible for people to actually complete a thought seems like the perfect place for such battles.

In that spirit, my co-host on the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast, Todd Feinburg, and I invited Emily Bazelon (“E-Baz!”), one of the co-hosts of the Slate Political Gabfest, for a bout of right versus left, cowboys versus Indians, freshman semi-formal dance boys versus girls episode of the HLC podcast which we call: “Is Trump Too Stupid to be President?

And red meat was on the menu.

Since there have been few political proposals lately that have more thoroughly alienated virtually all talking heads and, particularly, that have sent the left further into fits of apoplexy than Donald Trump’s plan to temporarily ban Muslims from coming to the United States, we asked Emily what, after all, was wrong with that idea?

Her response:

It is so counterproductive. We need Muslims around the world to be our allies fighting Muslim extremists. They’re the ones with the most power and ability to change that equation. Also there’s just no evidence that discriminating against people on the basis or religion and deciding to keep them out of our country is going to make our country safer. It’s just a really broad brush to be painting with…

There are lots and lots of Muslims in the world and most of them are peace-loving people and the notion that we are going to ascribe to the entire, huge group of people the most extreme, terrible views of a small minority makes me incredibly sad. I think it’s both wrong and absolutely the wrong way to try to fight terrorism.

Regarding the problem in Europe and the notion that the migration of basically peaceful people could conceal the motion of radicals, Bazelon argued that the basis of the problem in Europe was home-grown:

…Europe’s problem is that they’re not doing a good job of integrating Muslims into the culture and so you have these neighborhoods of really disaffected people.

As for the United States:

We have a really strong tradition of freedom of religion in this country and not discriminating against people merely on the basis of religion … I’m Jewish, and to me this idea of treating Muslims differently because they are Muslim reminds me of Nazi Germany. It feels to me like the kind of discrimination that leads to really destructive, fear-mongering, terrible responses that cost our society much more than we would ever gain.

There was lots more give and take on Islam that these quotations probably fail to capture. In addition to that, Bazelon, who is an expert on law and particularly the Supreme Court, shared her ideas about President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Court. But you’ll have to go here to check it all out.

Perhaps upon listening you will conclude (as right-thinking, Ricochet people) that Todd and I only scratched the surface — that our arguments were incomplete or altogether too polite. Perhaps you will find that we were too deferential. If so, let’s imagine that this is just the beginning and chalk it up to Bazelon’s skillful debate and our awkward bashfulness. Like girls at the freshman dance or Germans between the lines of barbed wire on Christmas Day, we don’t see liberals up close under friendly circumstances very often.

And what matters most, after all, is not who won the football game, but the fact that as fellow humans you played the game at all.

Published in Law
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There are 5 comments.

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  1. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Loser! Trump wins football games. He is the best footballer there is. His touchdowns are yuuge no one has bigger points than he does.

    • #1
  2. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    She shows the typical muddleheadedness of the Left.  She probably believes in the “collective guilt” of Germans for the Nazis, but not for that of Muslims for their jihadis.  Isn’t that so idiotic?

    And you don’t get the sense she appreciates the birth defect in Islam at all.  How stupid are these folks.

    • #2
  3. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    I listened to the podcast yesterday. It was excellent, as usual. I was very interesting to hear Todd express some of the concerns about Trump that I have been saying from the beginning of his campaign. Of course, I have known Donald since elementary school, so I had a little head start.

    What Emily Bazelon said about Jewish history did ring some bells. However, it all comes back to the problem the left has with moral equivalency. What happened to the Jews who were attempting to emigrate to the United States at the start of WW2 was a very different situation on a couple of levels. First, they were being persecuted because they were Jews and no other reason. Second, they represented no potential threat to the US population other than to a few antisemites in the State Department.

    On the other hand, Muslims represent, by far, the largest percentage of terrorists currently operating around the world. It is nearly impossible to vet Muslim immigrants coming from countries in turmoil. Also, Muslims are allowed to lie to infidels, taqiyya, so any pledge would be meaningless. Even if only 1 in 100 is a potential terrorist, admitting thousands could produce another team like the 9 who did 9/11.

    • #3
  4. Michael Stopa Contributor
    Michael Stopa
    @MichaelStopa

    Eugene Kriegsmann:What Emily Bazelon said about Jewish history did ring some bells. However, it all comes back to the problem the left has with moral equivalency. What happened to the Jews who were attempting to emigrate to the United States at the start of WW2 was a very different situation on a couple of levels. First, they were being persecuted because they were Jews and no other reason. Second, they represented no potential threat to the US population other than to a few antisemites in the State Department.

    Looking back on the interview I think the thing that strikes me most is that Bazelon simply did not believe the Pew polls that show great majorities of Muslims in the Middle East favoring execution for apostasy, adultery, heresy and homosexuality. To me, the reason that Radical Islam is *not* merely a perversion of an otherwise benign faith like Christianity is that support is widespread for all those things as well as killing cartoonists and novelists (which I guess falls under heresy). If I believed that the vast majority of Muslims have everyday ethics much like we do here in the West I would feel entirely differently. I wonder if *she* believed the contrary would her opinions about letting them in change? It is an empirical question subject to verification after all.

    Thanks for the compliment!

    • #4
  5. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Those are good points. It is true that Muslims, even the most moderate, tend to support Sharia laws which include some of the most vile punishments of women and those who deviate from the rules. This is something that I hadn’t thought of.

    One other point is that Jews are essentially western in their culture. There are some exceptions like the Hasidim, but most integrate without any noticeable differences into American and European societies. Muslims don’t. Having spent 45 years in the public school system,  I am not a fan of diversity. I watched it destroy a few very good schools.

    • #5
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