Attacks vs. Criticism: An Attempt at Clarification

 

Criticism of Trump is fine. It’s good and right from a free citizenry and the associated pundit class. I also enjoyed contempt, mockery, and snark when it is aimed at, for example, a Clinton.

Contempt, mockery, and snark are properly the province of late-night comedy types (including the Trevor Noahs of the world, even if they’re in denial), and also the agents of an opposition.

Contempt, mockery, and snark are not criticism. They are attacks, as are various predictions of doom, claims that the world is laughing at us, and similar Trump is ruining everything! comments.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with attacking our own guy (Trump is our own guy, btw, and for policy one of the best we’ve had in a long while). But we’ve already got people doing it. The left and their minions; the public school indoctrinators, the clamorous press, the “comedy” faction, and some of the most prolific twittists the world has ever known.

And when they’re right, they’re right. But then again, they’re mostly not right. Even leaving out the rank partisanship and the aforementioned contempt/mockery/snark, these people I would describe as enemies of Trump also lie about him. A lot.

Bernard Meltzer famously said, “Before you speak, ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid.”

This is the kind of truly good advice that I won’t let get in my way and I certainly don’t expect anyone else to adopt it.

Nevertheless, saying things that are solidly untrue, cruel, irrelevant or damaging about your own guy is, ultimately, self-destructive.

Criticize away. But try to keep the destruction to a minimum.

There are 35 comments.

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  1. Joshua Bissey Coolidge

    This is how I feel about the Republican Party in general. We have to hold them accountable, and criticize them where they’re wrong, but there is a point of diminishing returns.

    • #1
    • May 7, 2018, at 12:29 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    If only we could decide that counts as an attack instead of a criticism. 

    • #2
    • May 7, 2018, at 12:44 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. Arahant Member

    TBA: This is the kind of truly good advice that I won’t let get in my way and I certainly don’t expect anyone else to adopt it.

    I love you, man.

    • #3
    • May 7, 2018, at 12:54 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. Arahant Member

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    This is the kind of truly good advice that I won’t let get in my way and I certainly don’t expect anyone else to adopt it.

    ARE YOU ATTACKING ME?

    Oh, Hey, Jamie. What’s happening?

    • #4
    • May 7, 2018, at 12:55 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    This is the kind of truly good advice that I won’t let get in my way and I certainly don’t expect anyone else to adopt it.

    ARE YOU ATTACKING ME?

    Oh, Hey, Jamie. What’s happening?

    Getting ready to celebrate our first Mother’s Day. Can’t screw this one up. 

    • #5
    • May 7, 2018, at 12:56 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  6. Arahant Member

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    Getting ready to celebrate our first Mother’s Day.

    Nope. Gotta do it up right.

    • #6
    • May 7, 2018, at 12:58 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Arahant Member

    In the military, people are trained about how to hit the enemies and not the good guys, but there are still friendly fire incidents. But some of what we are seeing seems more akin to fragging.

    (Just to get this conversation back on track, since I was derailing it.)

    • #7
    • May 7, 2018, at 12:59 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Eridemus Coolidge

    There is a “I did not vote for Donald Trump” account on Facebook full of the attack examples, like Occupy Democrats. The last post I saw that found its way to my wall made that site join others in being selected for the “hide everything from this site” treatment. It fails on all of the Meltzer criteria and is the kind of thing that was not possiple to ping around to everyone you know before social media…but fortunately technology does provide that out button. Unfortunately it doesn’t generate a specific response back to the source to indicate its unwelcome status, but I doubt there is anything I could say personally that would meet the criteria, either. I’m wondering when the time will arrive that all of these just bounce around by automatic response and spare our human brains, who would then proceed to co-exist in a cloud of peaceful “unknowing” while the robots battle it out with each other?

    • #8
    • May 7, 2018, at 1:01 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. TBA Coolidge
    TBA Post author

    Eridemus (View Comment):

    There is a “I did not vote for Donald Trump” account on Facebook full of the attack examples, like Occupy Democrats. The last post I saw that found its way to my wall made that site join others in being selected for the “hide everything from this site” treatment. It fails on all of the Meltzer criteria and is the kind of thing that was not possiple to ping around to everyone you know before social media…but fortunately technology does provide that out button. Unfortunately it doesn’t generate a specific response back to the source to indicate its unwelcome status, but I doubt there is anything I could say personally that would meet the criteria, either. I’m wondering when the time will arrive that all of these just bounce around by automatic response and spare our human brains, who would then proceed to co-exist in a cloud of peaceful “unknowing” while the robots battle it out with each other?

    Politics is just about tedious enough now that I would consider letting robots do the work. 

    • #9
    • May 7, 2018, at 3:23 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. TBA Coolidge
    TBA Post author

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    If only we could decide that counts as an attack instead of a criticism.

    I invite you to contribute to that decision. Time off for the mom-thing of course. 

    • #10
    • May 7, 2018, at 3:26 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    TBA (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    If only we could decide that counts as an attack instead of a criticism.

    I invite you to contribute to that decision. Time off for the mom-thing of course.

    That’s the problem. We most likely won’t agree on this. 

    • #11
    • May 7, 2018, at 3:35 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. Quake Voter Inactive

    TBA: Bernard Meltzer famously said, “Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid.” 

    There’s a powerful movie waiting to made from this premise.

    Just can’t forecast if it’s a comedy or a tragedy.

    • #12
    • May 7, 2018, at 4:18 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Umbra Fractus Inactive

    TBA:

    Bernard Meltzer famously said, “Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid.” 

     

    The problem is that only the first of those is objective, and the second may conflict with the last two. If there’s one thing that unites the broadly defined “right” in the US it’s that sometimes a bit of unkindness may be necessary and/or helpful. The source of all the angst right now is that criticism which many see as “necessary” is getting labeled “unkind” and/or “unhelpful” as a way of dismissing said criticism, in many cases with nothing more than the identity of the critic being taken into consideration. In turn the critics see this dismissive defensiveness itself as being “unhelpful.” So at the very least we have a fundamental disagreement about what sorts of criticism are “helpful” and “necessary.”

    • #13
    • May 7, 2018, at 5:09 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Doug Watt Member

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    This is the kind of truly good advice that I won’t let get in my way and I certainly don’t expect anyone else to adopt it.

    ARE YOU ATTACKING ME?

    Oh, Hey, Jamie. What’s happening?

    Getting ready to celebrate our first Mother’s Day. Can’t screw this one up.

    Do not get her an iron, or a vacuum cleaner for Mother’s Day.

     

    • #14
    • May 7, 2018, at 5:22 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  15. Django Member

    It a criticism has no potential for changing opinions and/or actions, there seems to me to be no point in offering it. If it has no point, how can it be “necessary”? I should say, necessary for any reason other than the satisfaction of offering it?

    BTW, this is not a criticism. I’m just making an observation.

    • #15
    • May 7, 2018, at 6:12 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    Django (View Comment):

    It a criticism has no potential for changing opinions and/or actions, there seems to me to be no point in offering it. If it has no point, how can it be “necessary”? I should say, necessary for any reason other than the satisfaction of offering it?

    BTW, this is not a criticism. I’m just making an observation.

    Then we should all probably stop criticizing “The Left” as I see no potential for their persuasion or change of action based on said criticisms.

    • #16
    • May 7, 2018, at 6:22 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Django Member

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    It a criticism has no potential for changing opinions and/or actions, there seems to me to be no point in offering it. If it has no point, how can it be “necessary”? I should say, necessary for any reason other than the satisfaction of offering it?

    BTW, this is not a criticism. I’m just making an observation.

    Then we should all probably stop criticizing “The Left” as I see no potential for their persuasion or change of action based on said criticisms.

    If you derive no satisfaction from offering the criticism, perhaps you are correct. 

    I heard someone on the AM band say, “These people are not to be negotiated with. They are to be defeated.” It is just possible that he was and is correct. 

    • #17
    • May 7, 2018, at 6:29 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. Richard Finlay Member

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    It a criticism has no potential for changing opinions and/or actions, there seems to me to be no point in offering it. If it has no point, how can it be “necessary”? I should say, necessary for any reason other than the satisfaction of offering it?

    BTW, this is not a criticism. I’m just making an observation.

    Then we should all probably stop criticizing “The Left” as I see no potential for their persuasion or change of action based on said criticisms.

    The purpose may not be to try to change the Left but to try to more nearly unify the non-left. 

    • #18
    • May 7, 2018, at 9:41 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. TBA Coolidge
    TBA Post author

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    It a criticism has no potential for changing opinions and/or actions, there seems to me to be no point in offering it. If it has no point, how can it be “necessary”? I should say, necessary for any reason other than the satisfaction of offering it?

    BTW, this is not a criticism. I’m just making an observation.

    Then we should all probably stop criticizing “The Left” as I see no potential for their persuasion or change of action based on said criticisms.

    The purpose may not be to try to change the Left but to try to more nearly unify the non-left.

    The essence of red meat. 

    • #19
    • May 8, 2018, at 5:31 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. TBA Coolidge
    TBA Post author

    Umbra of Nex, Fractus (View Comment):

    TBA:

    Bernard Meltzer famously said, “Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid.”

    The problem is that only the first of those is objective, and the second may conflict with the last two. If there’s one thing that unites the broadly defined “right” in the US it’s that sometimes a bit of unkindness may be necessary and/or helpful. The source of all the angst right now is that criticism which many see as “necessary” is getting labeled “unkind” and/or “unhelpful” as a way of dismissing said criticism, in many cases with nothing more than the identity of the critic being taken into consideration. In turn the critics see this dismissive defensiveness itself as being “unhelpful.” So at the very least we have a fundamental disagreement about what sorts of criticism are “helpful” and “necessary.”

    I suspect that Meltzer’s criteria were meant to be taken like the Bill of Rights in that they had to be balanced against each other; people speak unkind truths and necessary lies all the time. 

    What I am hoping is that we could perhaps move towards a non-binding recommended rules of engagement such that we tear each other’s throats out less. More like a gentleman’s agreement than a code of conduct. 

    Or at least make more specific what might be considered excessive or unsupportable within the never and ever camps. 

    For example; perhaps we can agree that #notmypresident is an unsupportable position but regretting that he is my president is. 

     

    • #20
    • May 8, 2018, at 6:00 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. Kevin Creighton Contributor

    TBA: Contempt, mockery, and snark are properly the province of late-night comedy types (including the Trevor Noahs of the world, even if they’re in denial), and also the agents of an opposition.

    Yeah, right. 

    :)

    • #21
    • May 8, 2018, at 10:05 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. Joe P Member

    Quake Voter (View Comment):

    TBA: Bernard Meltzer famously said, “Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid.”

    There’s a powerful movie waiting to made from this premise.

    Just can’t forecast if it’s a comedy or a tragedy.

    If it’s “hilariterrible”, I think that means it’s a comedy.

    • #22
    • May 8, 2018, at 10:19 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    There is no way in the world that you are going to get the entrenched Establishment members, be they of the Right or of the Left, from stopping destructive behaviors.

    Especially hard would it be to have the Right’s establishment leaders stop hitting on Trump. As after all, Trump is hitting them where they live, right?

    Where the Right and the Left meet is in the upper echelons of society. The traditional “leaders” of the two parties are both pro-endless wars, both pro-support for Big Banking interests at the expense of the middle and lower classes. They both like Big Pharma, Corporate-controlled science, and the ability to let a few families in the world control it all. Many leaders on the Right like immigration, as it allows for under the table low wages at restaurants, car washes and other business places. But low wages don’t matter as long as there is welfare and food stamps to augment the meager pay, right?

    Trump is representing a change from all that. He stopped allowing the CIA to fund (Expletive deleted) ISIS, for Pete’s sake.

    Then he gave some people in the middle class a significant tax break, which the Left has used to smear him with. “O-oh noes!” they exclaim, “This middle class tax break will bankrupt the country.” Where they were when Obama and Geithner/Bernanke gave away 28 trillions of dollars to Wall Street I do not know.

    But Trump lets us have this gain. My tax break won’t change my life, but it does mean that for a few months at least, if I want new shoes, they won’t go on my credit card. Which is why Banking Interests hate Trump. The idea that middle Americans will make it through a tax season without use of the banking industry’s credit cards for necessities has their panties in a knot.

    The fact that the leaders on the Right still side with Mueller-Rosenstein et al, and have the “moral conscience” to want a change in leadership because of a porn star event in 2006 is laughable. The leaders of both parties have no morality. If they did, our jobs would not have been shipped overseas, over the last 35 years, with few leaders on either side moaning about the destruction of America’s middle class. (Sociologists much wiser than me have stated for decades that no society is a democracy if there is not a vibrant middle class.)

    • #23
    • May 8, 2018, at 10:29 AM PDT
    • Like
  24. Valiuth Member

    CarolJoy (View Comment):
    The leaders of both parties have no morality

    You do realize Trump is the leader of the Republicans right? How long are you going to pretend like he is not in charge of this circus, but just the victim of universal whims over which he has no control or input over. 

    ***

    I for one reject Trump as my guy. He isn’t. I don’t want him any more than I wanted Obama. And the constant attempt to lump me into this “we” is tiresome and irritating. I don’t feel any need to be kind or helpful to Trump or the Republicans any more than I need to be kind of helpful to the Democrats, who by the way never seem to have gotten the benefit of these kind and helpful considerations when they were in charge. Also, why should anyone give Trump these benefits when he clearly never gives them himself to anyone? 

     

    • #24
    • May 8, 2018, at 11:21 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    CarolJoy (View Comment):
    The leaders of both parties have no morality

    You do realize Trump is the leader of the Republicans right? How long are you going to pretend like he is not in charge of this circus, but just the victim of universal whims over which he has no control or input over.

    ***

    SNIP lump me into this “we” is tiresome… I don’t feel any need to be kind or helpful to Trump or the Republicans any more than I need to be kind of helpful to the Democrats, who by the way never seem to have gotten the benefit of these kind and helpful considerations when they were in charge. Also, why should anyone give Trump these benefits when he clearly never gives them himself to anyone?

     

    Here is a recent interaction Trump had. His response indicates why he is loved. (And this interaction is not one you will find in the media.)

    Guy in crowd, shouting it out: “Hey, Trump, if you get the Nobel Peace Prize for your work on North Korea, won’t that be some gift for you?”

    Trump: “We’ve gotten the gift – the gift is peace.”

    So much for the notion that he is a self consumed, bloviating narcissist. If the No Korean benefit turns out to be the real deal, I don’t know why you wouldn’t be appreciative of it.

    I can’t a full response, as I have no idea to what you are discussing when stating this: any more than I need to be kind of helpful to the Democrats, who by the way never seem to have gotten the benefit of these kind and helpful considerations when they were in charge. 

    As far as I can tell, the Dems got oodles of benefit from both sides of the aisle. Number one – Obama, Geithner/Bernanke gave the Main Street economy away to big financial interests. Not a peep from anyone about this. In fact by mid-summer 2009, everyone on the Money Channel would praise Geithner so much it would make any middle class person want to puke. By end of the summer, Obama signed off on 159 or 169 billion dollar increase to the military portion of the US Budget. Again, not a peep from anyone.

    So flash forward to the point this year when Trump perhaps inflicted 4 to 6 trillions of dollars to the budget deficit, due to the middle class tax breaks. The Democrats and their rank and file, who had no interest in complaining about the 26 to 29 trillions of $$s that went to Big Banking under Obama were aghast at this tax break. But even their own research shows a 2 percent gain any time monies is released directly into communities – so there might not be any deficit on account of the tax break.

    Trump decides on 59 billion $$ military increase .The Dems acted like it was WWIV. That increase was 100billion under what Obama gave up!

    • #25
    • May 8, 2018, at 12:43 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Ben Shapiro has just recounted an adventure with Joe Scarborough and Sam Harris, Eric Weinstein, Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, and others. A TV segment called “the Intellectual Dark Web (IDW).”

    “The entire premise of the IDW is that many on the Left refuse to acknowledge good-natured disagreement; instead, all disagreement must be due to nefarious evil on the part of those who disagree.”

    Immediately one of the Lefties tried to say that what else could the Left do, when those with whom they would discuss things are of course, “You know what.” (That is, racist.)

    Opposing “identity politics” does not mean a person is a racist. Scarborough had to intervene and help those on the Right make their points, because the Left simply will not listen. You can see for yourself here:

    https://www.dailywire.com/news/30380/watch-msnbc-guest-just-showed-why-intellectual-ben-shapiro

    • #26
    • May 8, 2018, at 12:51 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. TBA Coolidge
    TBA Post author

    Moderator Note:

    To everyone reading this: Do not accuse people of being, or imply that people are, a leftist just because you disagree with them. It's incredibly rude, and we're going to keep saying the same thing week after week, regardless of what position you hold on this website.

    Valiuth (View Comment):

     

    I for one reject Trump as my guy. He isn’t. I don’t want him any more than I wanted Obama. And the constant attempt to lump me into this “we” is tiresome and irritating. I don’t feel any need to be kind or helpful to Trump or the Republicans any more than I need to be kind of helpful to the Democrats, who by the way never seem to have gotten the benefit of these kind and helpful considerations when they were in charge. Also, why should anyone give Trump these benefits when he clearly never gives them himself to anyone?

    Oh. I had assumed you were center-right and interested in the country retaining conservative qualities. 

    • #27
    • May 8, 2018, at 12:51 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. Umbra Fractus Inactive

    TBA (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):

     

    I for one reject Trump as my guy. He isn’t. I don’t want him any more than I wanted Obama. And the constant attempt to lump me into this “we” is tiresome and irritating. I don’t feel any need to be kind or helpful to Trump or the Republicans any more than I need to be kind of helpful to the Democrats, who by the way never seem to have gotten the benefit of these kind and helpful considerations when they were in charge. Also, why should anyone give Trump these benefits when he clearly never gives them himself to anyone?

    Oh. I had assumed you were center-right and interested in the country retaining conservative qualities.

    Oh. I was told, repeatedly, that it was a straw man argument to assert that loyalty to Trump and Trump alone was the sole dividing line between right and left, yet here you are asserting that rejecting Trump causes Valiuth to forfeit his place on the right.

    • #28
    • May 8, 2018, at 1:53 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Umbra Fractus Inactive

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    You do realize Trump is the leader of the Republicans right? How long are you going to pretend like he is not in charge of this circus, but just the victim of universal whims over which he has no control or input over. 

     

    It worked for Obama.

    • #29
    • May 8, 2018, at 1:53 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  30. Matt Upton Coolidge

    This classification of attacks vs. criticism appears to swing on tone, and carries a built in assumption that only criticism is fair discourse or helpful to your political side. This disregards the nature of disagreements with Trump. Different kinds of issues draw different reactions.

    I may disagree respectfully with Trump on tariffs. It’s a policy decision. There is lot’s of room for criticism without showing personal contempt for Trump. 

    When Trump changes his story several times about paying off a pornstar to keep quiet about an affair, I’m not sure what my options are besides 1) Denial and support, 2) Silence, 3) Contempt. He is a man of contemptible character who has done contemptible things. There is no room for simple criticism beyond political calculus along the lines of “It would have been better for Trump to come clean up front instead of dragging this out.” But that only addresses the politics of the situation without making a judgment about the issue itself. 

    Yes, Democrats never seem to break rank even when their leaders are contemptible (see: Clinton, Bill), but I’m not convinced they are better off because of it. They may be winning the culture war, but it is not because they defend party incumbents to the death. I would guess the reverse is true: Democrats can elect contemptible people because they have cover from the larger media culture. Those contemptible politicians then make life generally worse for their constituents. They give positions of power to equally bad allies, set policy out of self interest, and convince the public it would be even worse if the other side got power. Their supporters are victims of their own party’s cultural dominance.

    So no, I don’t think contempt and mockery have to be off the table for critics on the right. I would say that critics on the right should not mock if criticism is the appropriate response. 

    • #30
    • May 8, 2018, at 2:35 PM PDT
    • Like
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