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Bill Ayers' dinner with Andrew Breitbart and Tucker Carlson
April 10, 2012 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Dinner with Tucker Carlson seemed cheery and worthwhile compared to counseling a bunch of cringing liberals.
posted by latkes (56 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Something something palling around with terrorists.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:44 AM on April 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


Well it's easy to be happy when you have no conscious!
posted by delmoi at 8:48 AM on April 10, 2012


It's no Breakfast with Blassie.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:51 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


So this disqualifies him for ever running for president, right? Good.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:54 AM on April 10, 2012


From one of the comments:

I have despised Mr. Breitbart since forever ... but his final proposal? His willingness to try and SEE another America? It's given me pause...

Now, SEE what happens when you try being civil to your rivals for a change?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Were there any conspiracists claiming that Ayers poisoned Breitbart, seeing as he died a few days later?
posted by Think_Long at 8:55 AM on April 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


compared to counseling a bunch of cringing liberals. Where is the backbone or the principle? No wonder the cadre of right-wing keyboard flamethrowers feels so disproportionately powerful. Liberals seem forever willing to police themselves into an orderly line right next to the slaughterhouse.

OMG, this.
posted by Chekhovian at 8:56 AM on April 10, 2012 [14 favorites]


This is a great essay. Thanks so much for posting it!
posted by zarq at 8:58 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "Well it's easy to be happy when you have no conscious!"

I initially parsed that as "Well it's easy to be happy when you have no couscous!," and was going to be all like "Oh no, he didn't!"

Besides. All the cool kids are eating Quinoa these days, regardless of political affiliation.
posted by schmod at 8:59 AM on April 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


That was fascinating, thanks. This kind of dialogue is what the country desperately needs. And I really would have liked to see the Ayers-Breitbart American road trip documentary.
posted by stargell at 9:00 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was a very enthusiastic member of my HS Republican club and in college became an enthusiastic libertarian. At some point I was nursing a bad breakup that culminated in the collapse of a trip we planned for Spring Break. When a random girl offered to send me on an "Alternative Spring Break" trip, I took it. Turned out it was at a hippy intentional community of sorts. I joked with my libertarian friends that they were going to find out I was an evil libertarian and kick me out. No matter who I was, they were welcoming. We stayed in log cabins and ate good home-cooked food. I heard many different opinions there that I might not have listened to before. Changed my life.
posted by melissam at 9:04 AM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


...those who understood the importance of standing on principle—friends or not—on issues such as resisting the grotesque demonization of individuals and whole social groups, or fighting the toxicity of guilt-by-association in political discourse, also became conspicuous. Those who were confused or confounded, duped or bamboozled, faded into the background.
I know many Mefites pay lip service, at least, to the idea that there are no monsters, on the left or on the right. It's very powerful to see this in practice. It's disheartening that Breitbart, to the end, saw a dinner party as a battlefield, and as much as I despise his actions I'm sad that he can never take that trip with Ayers.
posted by muddgirl at 9:04 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shorthand: Ayers, a gourmand, charmer. Dohrn, hot at 70, best behavior.

Makes the point in the Ashley Judd thread in four words.
posted by cereselle at 9:13 AM on April 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


The road trip could have been something -- a bizarro Encounters with the Archdruid for the Post Swiftboat Age.
posted by notyou at 9:16 AM on April 10, 2012


Thanks for this. It reaffirmed for me something that Bob Altemeyer says in "The Authoritarians" about building bridges between people of good will and divergent political perspectives--that a shared activity, like cleaning up a stream together, can help humanize (or maybe un-demonize) both sides. "Meeting different people in a situation where all are joined in common cause, where all have to work together, can open such vistas."
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:17 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sean Hannity always refers to him by his full name - "unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers".
posted by Trurl at 9:20 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now, SEE what happens when you try being civil to your rivals for a change?....
Oh yeah, Andrew Breitbart paragon of civility

I always find the "civility" argument annoying. A bunch of rich people all had dinner together and had a nice conversation. Okay, so what?

The problem here is that while, Okay Bill Ayers specifically was slandered during the 2008 campaign by right wing outlets, he isn't the actual target of the right wing. The actual target of the right wing are, essentially, poor people.

Imagine breitbart having dinner with some unemployed person who'd been looking for work for months and telling them he thought they couldn't get a job because they were lazy. Would that really be a civil conversation?

Ayers mentioned that tucker Carlson wanted military intervention in a bunch of places, including Iran and China. Do you think that, had he said that at a dinner with a typical median income Chinese citizen, that person would have found it civil? Or, for example, someone in Iran, where war is more likely?

What if they were having dinner Iraqis or Afghans who had lost family members in those wars, and told them the wars were a good idea, and their families were acceptable collateral damage? Would that be civil?

The conservatives who are pushing policies to benefit Rich, baby boomer aged dudes. Which is exactly what Ayers is. For him, the actual bad things that happen due to republican polices are theoretical.

(Somewhat annoyingly Ayers decides to bash liberals as well. Except in this case he does it in a somewhat paradoxical way by complaining about how liberals suck because liberals complain about each other all the time. And, I'm sure you could find lots of small time boards run by conservatives full of all kinds of crazy/obnoxious drama. We had a recent thread about infighting in a planned catholic university.
posted by delmoi at 9:23 AM on April 10, 2012 [39 favorites]


Enjoyed reading this, thanks.
posted by kjh at 9:26 AM on April 10, 2012


If you are not loud enough you are cringing, if you are too loud you are strident and want to take over the world.

Nice of Bill to buy into the bullshit.


having said that, I do think progressives-in-general really lost an opportunity over the last 3 1/2 years by being too binary.
posted by edgeways at 9:29 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Note that the word 'civil' only shows up twice in the piece - once mentioned by Carlson before the dinner and the second time echoed in response to a list of Breitbart's more egregious actions. I don't think Ayers has any illusion that the dinner was 'civil', or that we must above all things be civil to those we disagree with (as long as we're in the same economic/social class, of course).
posted by muddgirl at 9:29 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


conscience
posted by Billiken at 9:31 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


A bunch of rich people all had dinner together and had a nice conversation. Okay, so what? [...] Somewhat annoyingly Ayers decides to bash liberals as well. Except in this case he does it in a somewhat paradoxical way by complaining about how liberals suck because liberals complain about each other all the time.

Given that you seem to think Bill Ayers is both rich and liberal (when he is neither), it's not a surprise that you didn't get much out of this piece.
posted by RogerB at 9:33 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I do think progressives-in-general really lost an opportunity over the last 3 1/2 years by being too binary.

Well, yes and no.
posted by steambadger at 9:35 AM on April 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


A bunch of rich people all had dinner together and had a nice conversation. Okay, so what?

....I see you completely missed what I quoted, where someone realized that being civil to "those rich people" made them interested in checking out what your life was like rather than just sneering at you.

Isn't that a good thing? Or would you rather them stay in their ivory towers because it's a better target for you?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:36 AM on April 10, 2012


God, I had no idea that Tucker Carlson was a secret muslim!?!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:36 AM on April 10, 2012


Liberals seem forever willing to police themselves into an orderly line right next to the slaughterhouse.

Yeah. It's called be the change you wish to see in others. Unfortunately, politics is war and there's no place for civility in war. Or something.
posted by spicynuts at 9:37 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The conservatives who are pushing policies to benefit Rich, baby boomer aged dudes. Which is exactly what Ayers is. For him, the actual bad things that happen due to republican polices are theoretical.

I have found things annoying about Ayers, but this is a bit off to me. Agreed he was born into privilege and retains it to this day - and that's why he was able to spend 10 years or so in a revolutionary cell and then go on to a life of ease with no real reprecussions. However, he's got some real connections to the way the state can crush people. For example, he raised as a son the child of imprisoned fellow radicals. He's also spent his entire post-revolutionary life working on public education issues. So yeah, he's a rich, entitled kid and still acts like it as an aging guy, but he's also commmitted his life to dealing with the non-theoretic ways the right (and the mainstream left) destroys peole's lives.
posted by latkes at 9:38 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dinner with Tucker Carlson seemed cheery and worthwhile

I guess I could see how it could be. How was the Carlson prepared? Braised with barolo wine could be good.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:40 AM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Once again I confuse Tucker Max with Tucker Carlson. I would much rather have read about a dinner with Ayers, Breitbart and Tucker Max.
posted by spicynuts at 9:41 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Regarding Carlson & dinners, I'm reminded of the Jon Stewart Crossfire appearance.
CARLSON: What's it like to have dinner with you? It must be excruciating. Do you like lecture people like this or do you come over to their house and sit and lecture them; they're not doing the right thing, that they're missing their opportunities, evading their responsibilities?

STEWART: If I think they are.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: I wouldn't want to eat with you, man. That's horrible.

STEWART: I know. And you won't.
posted by audi alteram partem at 9:57 AM on April 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Given that you seem to think Bill Ayers is both rich and liberal (when he is neither), it's not a surprise that you didn't get much out of this piece.
What's the actual dollar cutoff for being "Rich" in your mind? If not rich, then obviously upper middle class. I don't really know that much about his ideology, but what makes him "not liberal"?
....I see you completely missed what I quoted, where someone realized that being civil to "those rich people" made them interested in checking out what your life was like rather than just sneering at you.

Isn't that a good thing? Or would you rather them stay in their ivory towers because it's a better target for you?
Well, to be honest I don't really spend a lot of time thinking about Bill Ayers in general. (I guess I felt kind of bad that he had his name dragged through the mud just because he happened to have some dirt and knew Obama) But other then that, why should I care if someone who is a huge asshole in general was nice to him, in particular?
For example, he raised as a son the child of imprisoned fellow radicals. He's also spent his entire post-revolutionary life working on public education issues. So yeah, he's a rich, entitled kid and still acts like it as an aging guy, but he's also commmitted his life to dealing with the non-theoretic ways the right (and the mainstream left) destroys peole's lives.
Right, but Breitbart and Carlson on the other hand... I'm not saying Ayers is a bad guy for having had dinner with those guys. I'm saying Breitbart and Carlson's having dinner and being polite doesn't really mitigate the other terrible crap they've pulled over the years.

It's not like they were never around liberals before Ayers or something. Carlson used to host crossfire with Paul Begala, they saw eachother every day. Breitbart was on lots of TV shows with liberals, presumably he spent plenty of time talking civilly with them. If Carlson and Breitbart were going to be "changed" by talking to liberals, it would have happened already.

They know what liberals actually think, but rather then telling their audiences the truth, they'll have dinner and be polite, and then go out and mislead and terrify their readers.

Again, to give a specific policy example, Carlson said that that we should go to war with Iran. Ayers didn't find that too 'uncivil' or rude, and why would he? But, if he was Iranian and had family still living in Iran, wouldn't he have found it horrifying?
posted by delmoi at 9:59 AM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


About 20 years ago I lived in Bloomington, IN and was a member of the IU BBS ("Forum"). One of the regulars there was a local Young American for Freedom who had really embraced the whole snotty "it's satire when you catch me, I really mean it when you don't" aesthetic. He drove people mildly bonkers and he was a total asshole online.

At the time, I'd recently stopped being a member of a local socialist organization in favor of hanging out a few anarchist types because I'd become disgusted and a little saddened by doctrinaire socialism: I'd been raised in an anabaptist denomination, and bridge-building — not tossing the local petit bourgeoisie against the wall — was my default mode.

So, the YAFfie was annoying everybody and it was almost impossible to engage him because he was acting like a bad-faith thread-shitter most of the time. So I invited him and a YAF buddy of his to my house for dinner. They came over and it was an entirely unremarkable evening: We ate dinner, drank some wine, and I agreed to go to one of his YAF meetings, which was mostly dull but did involve getting flirted at by a right-wing she-wolf.

I like to think he chilled out a little after that. Some of his abuse, at any rate, developed a less scattershot quality because he knew me now and he was civilized enough to skirt around me.

I do not believe he was deeply changed by the experience, and he struck me as the sort who'd probably remain a movement conservative for a long while because he seemed plugged into a wider network and behaved more like a campus organizer than a student. At the same time, I wasn't really trying to convince him of anything or change him at all. I was hoping to cause him to change his behavior, and he did just a little.

In terms of applicability to the here and now, I mostly remember that story when I'm reading stupid bumper stickers or watching someone here refuse to let go of a point or even express the point reasonably to begin with: There's a person under there, I think they're wrong, but they could be a dinner guest some day.
posted by mph at 9:59 AM on April 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


So: in short, Delmoi, you would prefer to keep those unlike you far away from you, and see no point in trying to stop antagonism.

Well, we live in warmongering times.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:07 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Somewhat annoyingly Ayers decides to bash liberals as well. Except in this case he does it in a somewhat paradoxical way by complaining about how liberals suck because liberals complain about each other all the time.

Radicals and leftists tend to dislike mainline liberals as fuddy-duddy, do-nothing puppets of the neoliberal machine. They see liberals as too weak and uncommitted to real social change to be fellow travelers. At least, that's what I've seen online.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:20 AM on April 10, 2012


Again, to give a specific policy example, Carlson said that that we should go to war with Iran. Ayers didn't find that too 'uncivil' or rude, and why would he? But, if he was Iranian and had family still living in Iran, wouldn't he have found it horrifying?

Hey, trying to not to perseverate on this but I bet if you read a bit more about Ayers you might have a somewhat different perspective about this. He is probably most known for being extremeley confrontational - not a guy who believed in sitting down to dinner with the architects of war, but rather an advocate of literally blowing these guys up. Like most healthy people I think he's gotten calmer, more open, less confrontational as he has aged - but I don't think he is the least bit compromising in his beliefs about war mongers. If you haven't seen it, The Weather Underground documentary is a very well-done, thoughtful film about Ayers and his crew.
posted by latkes at 10:29 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


So: in short, Delmoi, you would prefer to keep those unlike you far away from you, and see no point in trying to stop antagonism.

Well, we live in warmongering times.
First of all, is that really a "civil" way to summaraize my comments? That's not what I was trying to say at all.

Part of what I was saying was simply that Andrew Breitbart and Tucker Carlson are assholes. If they wanted to pay $2,500 to have dinner with me, I would be happy to do so. But they would still be assholes.

My basic point with the "civility" argument is that there are real consequences for political policies. They're not just abstract concepts to discuss at dinner parties. If you can't have a conversation with someone because they like the wrong football team or use the wrong phone, that's pretty sad. But With something like bombing Iran, people will actually die, the argument on the other side is that more might die if they don't. But either way, it's actually life or death.

But here's the crucial thing: It's not life or death for Bill Ayers, or Tucker Carlson for that matter.

But it seems kind of crazy to worry more about whether or not those two people have a nice conversation then about whether or not we get into a new war in the person gulf, or whether or not Iran gets nuclear missiles.

And then of course you have all the domestic issues where people would be screwed over by republican policies too. But, crucially Not Bill Ayers. He might think they are bad ideas, but he's not the one who's actually being threatened. If they had had a nice dinner conversation where Carlson and Breitbart suggested all 60s radicals should be rounded up and thrown in jail, he would probably have been pretty disturbed, regardless of how nice they were being when they said it.
posted by delmoi at 10:33 AM on April 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


Hey, trying to not to perseverate on this but I bet if you read a bit more about Ayers you might have a somewhat different perspective about this. He is probably most known for being extremeley confrontational - not a guy who believed in sitting down to dinner with the architects of war, but rather an advocate of literally blowing these guys up. Like most healthy people I think he's gotten calmer, more open, less confrontational as he has aged - but I don't think he is the least bit compromising in his beliefs about war mongers. If you haven't seen it, The Weather Underground documentary is a very well-done, thoughtful film about Ayers and his crew.
Like I said though, my comments are really more about Breitbart and Carlson then they are about Ayers. The guy raised $2,500 for charity, etc. There is nothing wrong, IMO with talking to the other side, but I don't think people should pretended that people who are assholes aren't. I'm sure there are some non-assholes on the right. There are people like David Frum or Andrew Sullivan who strive for some level of intellectual honesty.
posted by delmoi at 10:37 AM on April 10, 2012


> I do think progressives-in-general really lost an opportunity over the last 3 1/2 years by being too binary.

And what was that opportunity? I mean, we had to concede pretty well everything we hoped to get from electing a "progressive" leader - are you saying we should have conceded even more, and then we could have gotten... what?

Do you really think that "progressives" are more binary than the Republicans? Can you provide some evidence of those "less binary" Republicans?

"Would it help if we ran away more?"
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:46 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now, SEE what happens when you try being civil to your rivals for a change?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:54 PM on April 10


They bullshit you to your face and take the piss later?
posted by Decani at 10:52 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


....You seem to be fixated on what I said, Delmoi. What about the concept of being nice to people gets under your craw so much?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:56 AM on April 10, 2012


> ....You seem to be fixated on what I said, Delmoi. What about the concept of being nice to people gets under your craw so much?

You're doing that thing again.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:57 AM on April 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


During the Civil Rights movement, someone in mainstream America used the tone argument in criticism of some of the more vocal and strident leaders of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee because of words they directed at Birmingham's notorious Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene "Bull" Connor.

Someone, I believe it was Stokely Carmichael, replied that he did not doubt aht Mr. Connor loved his wife and children and certain television programs and a glass of wine at dinner much like himself, but that didn't mean he had to go out of his way to be genteel toward a man whose policies were hurting thousands of people.

Related to that, I agree 100% with delmoi here. It drives me up the wall when I see upper middle class progressives and liberals break their arms patting themselves on the back for being nice and accommodating to upper middle class conservatives, many (though by no means all) of whom are undoubtedly quite charming and interesting away from cameras and mics. I don't understand how they don't understand that when they're done being nice with them, those same conservatives go out and champion and create legislation and movements that completely fuck the poor over -- particularly non-wealthy women and minorities.

Dinner with Bill Ayers won't do a damn thing for Tucker Carlson and people like the late Andrew Breitbart. What Carlson and people like him need to do is have dinner with people from decaying urban America and neglected rural America; with, among many others, black men who have to consider every encounter with the police potentially fatal, with coal workers in Appalachia laboring in almost inconceivable working conditions and suffering monstrous health problems, and with poor women and their children who got hurt so badly by Pres. Clinton's "historic" and "bipartisan" welfare reform.

Come to think of it, a lot of centrists, independents, and moderates need to do that too.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:10 AM on April 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


Part of what I was saying was simply that Andrew Breitbart and Tucker Carlson are assholes.

As far as I'm concerned, right wing extremists and left wing extremists are both assholes. Judean People's Front versus the People's Front of Judea.

But me sitting here, content in that knowledge, is not really making the world a better place.

I genuinely believe that nothing but good will come of these two sets of assholes breaking bread and having a civil discussion. It's not a whitewash of what they've done, it's a fleeting hope that they'll be, at least a little bit, de-assholified by the experience.
posted by unigolyn at 11:15 AM on April 10, 2012


I don't understand how they don't understand that when they're done being nice with them, those same conservatives go out and champion and create legislation and movements that completely fuck the poor over -- particularly non-wealthy women and minorities.

I don't understand how you don't understand that throwing invective at each other in the safety of ideological echo chambers doesn't accomplish a damn thing. It's been going on for half a century, and the national discourse in the US is still nu uh, you're Hitler! nu uh, you're Stalin!
posted by unigolyn at 11:18 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's been going on for half a century, and the national discourse in the US is still nu uh, you're Hitler! nu uh, you're Stalin!

I strongly challenge this assertion. You want to see shit slung? Take a look at some of the political contests in the nation's formative years. People on all sides said and did some vile things that today would come from only the most unhinged folks at the extreme ends of the spectrum.

But I would argue that the discourse has gotten more "polite" in a large part because the American left now lies down and takes whatever the right dishes out. For example, in my experience and observation, there are a large number of Democrats, liberals, and progressives who, rather than stand up and defend, take great pains to distance themselves from "shrill" or compromised people and organizations on the left like Michael Moore, Reverends Jackson and Sharpton, ACORN, etc whenever the right successfully paints them as Destroyers of America (TM).

Additionally, centrists and moderates only ever seem to scold liberals for tone. I'll put it this way: I occasionally go to places like Free Republic, Little Green Football (back before it recovered some semblance of sanity), and Fox News websites to see what the comment streams are like. I've never seen anyone point out that the comments and attitudes there from conservatives aren't helping. The most I've seen self-appointed moderators of America's political discourse do is No True Scotsman away those conversations and claim that there are actually a ton of eloquent and restrained conservatives out there soberly discussing policy and philosophies.

Yet I can't even express my dislike for elites giving themselves a ton of credit for having dinner with elites from "the other side" without being accused of contributing to uncivil discourse.

Another example of this lopsided view of the political climate emerged after the shooting of Rep. Giffords. Political commentators gasped and wondered if maybe bipartisan rancor contributed to the event. Progressives pointed out that there is one side in America which gleefully, frequently uses violence-tinged rhetoric when discussing responses to the actions of the opposite side, and it ain't us. But what we hear is "both sides are equally bad and responsible."

All of that said, I firmly believe in Dr. King's advice to "love the hell out of" one's enemies. You will not find me accusing even the most reprehensible members of the modern American right of being Hitler or advocating spiritual, physical or mental harm toward them.

But I find nothing praiseworthy or noteworthy in discovering or proclaiming that people on the other side of the aisle from me are human after all; that's the point of the story about Bull Connor I related in my previous post. And it is because I know they are human that I urge them to stop being assholes to people and to stop remaining willfully ignorant of how the policies they advocate are causing great harm to large portions of the Earth's population and to the planet itself.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:59 AM on April 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


I have despised Mr. Breitbart since forever ... but his final proposal? His willingness to try and SEE another America? It's given me pause...

Now, SEE what happens when you try being civil to your rivals for a change?....
What you're missing here is that people like that do not change their opinion -- or at least, there is substantial pressure not to -- because they are public figures with a great deal of investment in the hateful crap they spew. I would not expect them to be uncivil -- but maybe persistent and politely deferential to the host. Like any party guest.

Ayers did this to get $2500 from tucker carlson, to push everyone's buttons and to amuse himself. Largely, this subtext is what has people responding negatively. The "cringing liberals" in this case are rightfully expressing the concern that they could get the $2500 from somewhere else without turning it into theater for Ayers. Ayers is just being an asshole... who invites his asshole friends to dinner. His liberal buddies who "isolated" him are recognizing that.

Hint: Breitbart was telling a polite lie.
posted by smidgen at 1:01 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm inclined to agree with you smidgen - as evidenced by Ayers writing the whole thing up to gloat over. In his defense though, he didn't invite these guys to dinner, they signed on. He says he and Dohrn have done similar events before as fundraisers, and I believe him also when he says they couldn't have raised that much money from a more traditional donor.
posted by latkes at 1:05 PM on April 10, 2012


Ayer's whole point is that fulfilling his obligation to have dinner with whomever won a charity option in no way signals that the various parties are 'friends', or that any person there accommodated the actions of beliefs of any other person.
posted by muddgirl at 1:31 PM on April 10, 2012


I meant charity auction. "Auction/Option" is a weird brain substitution.
posted by muddgirl at 1:37 PM on April 10, 2012


It's heartening to know that gathering a bunch of priveleged white people together results in jovial rhetorical jousting over carrot-ginger soup.

Also: carrot-ginger soup is so last week, man. Slap some pork-kidney foam on that shit.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:54 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess my feeling is that there really isn't an obligation. No one held a gun to his head. All this proves is that, yes, a bunch of people can get together and politely disagree with each other for a while, then go on their way. This is not a surprise to most people. Plenty of backward motherfuckers can sit down at a table and bullshit for 3 hours without jumping to strangle the person on the other side of the table. Again, not news.

Yet, here he is giving himself and tucker lots and lots of press. Quickly, without looking it up on the link, do you recall what the charity auction was supposed to benefit?
posted by smidgen at 1:56 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess my feeling is that there really isn't an obligation. No one held a gun to his head.

That's not the meaning of 'obligation.' Yes, I think many people would be surprised to find that Ayers could fulfill a promise that he made to a charitable organization when the beneficiary of that promise was Carlson and Breitbart.

Yet, here he is giving himself and tucker lots and lots of press.

An article in Boston Review (90,000 unique visits online per month) is 'lots and lots of press'?
posted by muddgirl at 2:08 PM on April 10, 2012


....You seem to be fixated on what I said, Delmoi. What about the concept of being nice to people gets under your craw so much?
So, you're choosing to respond to my points by being snarky and dismissive? I didn't say I had a problem with it, I just don't think it accomplished anything (other then getting the $2,500, of course)

It's not that it bothers me, it's just that I just find it kind of hilarious that some people who advocate more civility can't even manage to stay civil when advocating it.
I genuinely believe that nothing but good will come of these two sets of assholes breaking bread and having a civil discussion. It's not a whitewash of what they've done, it's a fleeting hope that they'll be, at least a little bit, de-assholified by the experience.
Yeah, and I don't. Now, maybe your local neighborhood racist uncle who's never met an actual liberal might have his eyes opened, but these guys have been inside the D.C elite, been on talk shows (and greenrooms) for years, decades in the case of Tucker Carlson. They've met tons and tons of liberals. The idea that they simply haven't ever had the experience of having a pleasant conversation with a nice liberal is just not realistic.

The problem is, these guys are dishonest. They're not unaware of the liberal arguments, they just don't care.
I don't understand how you don't understand that throwing invective at each other in the safety of ideological echo chambers doesn't accomplish a damn thing. It's been going on for half a century, and the national discourse in the US is still nu uh, you're Hitler! nu uh, you're Stalin!
It's been going on since the founding of the country. In fact, the middle of the 20th century was actually something on an anomaly in terms of discourse. Do you think abolitionists and secessionists were nice to eachother during the civil war?
Hint: Breitbart was telling a polite lie.
Yeah, the "we should totally do X" thing. People make all kinds of proposals for stuff, even if they think it's a good idea at the time that doesn't mean they'd really go through with it. Breitbart maybe have tossed that out in conversation, that doesn't mean they'd ever actually do it.
posted by delmoi at 4:23 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Arguing about civility in political theater is like arguing about illegal moves in pro wrestling. It's entertainment. Wanting your guy to maintain the persona off camera is unhinged.

The correct response to people reenacting their side's talking points around the watercooler or dinner table or whatever is polite embarrassment, not countering with Olbermann's smackdown or Stewart's skit. If you care about another person's political opinions and they care about yours, civility is the only choice. If not, don't talk about politics.

And if it's happening on the internet, you might as well be 13 year old boys imitating Hogan and Andre on the backyard trampoline.
posted by Ictus at 10:11 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find it remarkably easy to be civil with right-winger types, honestly. Say some mouthfuls on American exceptionalism or how it should be a leading light for freedom, wealth and prosperity for the rest of the world, perhaps add a few baseball references in, and they become very nice to you, perhaps even show some of the famed American hospitality. It's almost as if they have this pathological need to prove their American identity to you.

And even when I voice my disagreements with them, I word it in the context of philosophical differences, or differences in legal / constitutional values, which most folks I know seem to take remarkably well. It's only when you start pointing out that they've been leading a false life or had been worshipping false gods that they start becoming defensive.
posted by the cydonian at 11:25 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fantastic article. Bill Ayers is a treasure. I suppose if I'd have to label him "communist" ... definitely not "liberal."

I myself enjoy bow ties, so I've always tried not to pay attention to Tucker Carlson, but man, he comes off as much of a douche as Breitbart. Breitbart seems like a psychotic warmonger, while Carlson seems like the dude going along for the ride to get laid.

I think the argument against civility is misplaced. You can strongly and clearly denounce someone while maintaining civility. It's when clothing gets ripped, offensive epithets hurled, and forks stabbed that civility breaks down.

The conservatives who are pushing policies to benefit Rich, baby boomer aged dudes. Which is exactly what Ayers is. For him, the actual bad things that happen due to republican polices are theoretical.

Do you know who Bill Ayers is or what he does? He's a teacher. I assume he's retired, but not sure. The "actual bad things that happen due to republican polices" do certainly affect him directly.

You think that "republican polices" don't affect the Illinois Humanities Council, for whom he donated the dinner in the first place? WTF?!
posted by mrgrimm at 9:25 AM on April 11, 2012


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