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Culture war games: the norming of performative intemperance

‘We told you so, you fucking fools’: the Euston Manifesto 10 years on
By Nick Cohen

When Robert Conquest published his history of Stalin’s crimes in 1968, leftish critics denounced him as a Cold War propagandist. When Conquest republished years later, no one could deny that he was telling the truth, however hard they tried. Conquest’s friend Kingsley Amis suggested he change his title from The Great Terror to I Told you so you F—king Fools.

The authors and signatories of the Euston Manifesto could say the same. We got much wrong, and were doubtless clumsy and rude on occasion, but we were telling the truth when we warned that dark movements were rising across the left, and not just on the far left where the darkness never lifts. For we did not confine ourselves to attacking the fringe. We said that the ideas we condemned could be found in the minds of people who regarded themselves as reasonable men and women of moderate temperament. We understood that ideas that begin on the extreme could take over the mainstream. We knew, too, that on other occasions, extremists merely magnified vices that already flourished in respectable society – as fairground mirrors distort the figures in front of them. We only had to look around us to see that those who thought themselves practical liberals and leftists had allowed their defences to moulder away.

Can a Former Islamist Make It Cool to Be Moderate?
By Thomas Chatterton Williams

A term that you will hear with frequency from Nawaz is “the regressive left,” as in purportedly progressive institutions like the S.P.L.C. that, often starting from a legitimate concern that Muslims en masse not be persecuted for the actions of a few, nonetheless embody a perplexingly backward mind-set when it comes to Islam. “It’s an Orientalist fetish,” Nawaz says, “a deeply socially conservative Muslim who is medieval in their outlook is a ‘real’ Muslim, and anyone who’s challenging that status quo is a sellout.” The left has, in Nawaz’s view, forfeited what’s best about the liberal project, entirely conceding the right to speak in moral absolutes and about universal values. “The problem is you can’t draw a line with that reasoning: Why is what ISIS is doing bad, then?”

ISIS Has Lost Sight Of What Our Founding Fathers Intended
By Dale Schott

What ISIS needs to realize is that there is no place in our Constitution that suggests that destroying property or endangering lives is a means to any civilized end. Would Thomas Jefferson approve of mass beheadings? And would George Washington condone using rape as a recruitment tool? ISIS should be ashamed.

Regardless of what they believe they are doing, one thing is clear to me: ISIS is not honoring the spirit of our Founding Fathers. And every time they pack a crude roadside bomb with chlorine gas, they only further pervert the vision of freedom defined by the Constitution. What would the brave men gathered in Philadelphia all those years ago think about a group like ISIS? I, for one, think they would not approve. Not at all.

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Culture war games: a modern-day auto-da-fé

Don’t Fight Their Lies With Lies of Your Own
By Masha Gessen

Fraudulent news stories, which used to be largely a right-wing phenomenon, are becoming increasingly popular among those who oppose the president. (I prefer not to add to the appeal of such stories by citing them, but an example is the string of widely shared items that purported to link every death of a more-or-less prominent Russian man to Russian interference in the election.) Each story dangles the promise of a secret that can explain the unimaginable. Each story comes with the ready justification that desperate times call for outrageous claims. But each story deals yet another blow to our fact-based reality, destroying the very fabric of politics that Mr. Trump so clearly disdains.

Why Has Trust in Media Collapsed? Look at Actions of WSJ, Yahoo, Business Insider and Slate.
By Glenn Greenwald

If you publish serious claims without any basis that mislead readers, and then refuse to acknowledge new evidence that disproves your original claims – all because you dislike the people you originally smeared with falsehoods too much to correct your error or because you hope the embarrassment will disappear faster if you don’t admit error – why should anyone view you as being different than Macedonian teenagers or “alt-right” conspiracy sites? What are the cognizable differences?

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Culture war games: don’t mention the war

The Downfall Of YouTube’s Biggest Star Is A Symptom Of A Bigger Illness
By Jacob Clifton

We got so used to invoking Godwin’s Law (the idea that every internet discussion will eventually reach the point of comparing something to Hitler or Nazis) that we internalized it, and can’t hear certain terms anymore because they’re too big to let in the door. When you are saying something that big, taking it that far, and still don’t feel heard, you get louder and louder, doubling down every time — and then to still feel invisible?

Make Hitler Happy: The Beginning of Mein Kampf, as Told by Coca-Cola
By Max Read

Is Coca-Cola a white nationalist organization? Its Twitter says: Yes.

It’s true—we asked Coca-Cola to tweet about its concern for the continuing existence of the white race. But this is not particularly different from asking for a retweet from a brand or a celebrity. If we asked Coca-Cola to retweet, for example, the first four paragraphs of Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf, would it?

As it turns out, yes. Gawker Editorial Labs director Adam Pash built us a bot to tweet the book line-by-line, and then tweet at Coke to #SignalBoost Hitler and #MakeItHappy. Below, read Mein Kampf, as told by the global soft-drink manufacturing and distribution corporation Coca-Cola …

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Culture war games: still crying wolf

News Coverage of the 2016 General Election: How the Press Failed the Voters
By Thomas E. Patterson

Watchdog reporting can build confidence in the press, but when journalists condemn most everything they see, they set themselves up to be as credible as the boy who repeatedly cried “wolf.” In the closing days of the 2016 campaign, the nation’s editorial rooms rang the alarm bell, warning voters not to make the choice that many of them seemed ready to make. It went for naught. The watchdog had lost its bite, as well as the respect of the public it claims to serve. In a Pew Research Center survey taken shortly after the November 2016 balloting, only one in five respondents gave the press a grade of “B” or higher for its performance. Four of five graded its performance as a “C” or lower, with half of them giving it an “F.”

Donald Trump is moving to the White House, and liberals put him there
By Thomas Frank

How did the journalists’ crusade fail? The fourth estate came together in an unprecedented professional consensus. They chose insulting the other side over trying to understand what motivated them. They transformed opinion writing into a vehicle for high moral boasting. What could possibly have gone wrong with such an approach?

Put this question in slightly more general terms and you are confronting the single great mystery of 2016. The American white-collar class just spent the year rallying around a super-competent professional (who really wasn’t all that competent) and either insulting or silencing everyone who didn’t accept their assessment. And then they lost. Maybe it’s time to consider whether there’s something about shrill self-righteousness, shouted from a position of high social status, that turns people away.

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Culture war games: junior illiberal outrage machine

Remarks by the President at the 2016 Toner Prize Ceremony
By President Barack Obama

… I spend a lot of time reflecting on how this system, how this crazy notion of self-government works; how can we make it work. And this is as important to making it work as anything — people getting information that they can trust, and that has substance and evidence and facts and truth behind it. In an era in which attention spans are short, it is going to be hard because you’re going to have to figure out ways to make it more entertaining, and you’re going to have to be more creative, not less. Because if you just do great reporting and nobody reads it, that doesn’t do anybody any good, either.

But 10, 20, 50 years from now, no one seeking to understand our age is going to be searching the Tweets that got the most retweets, or the post that got the most likes. They’ll look for the kind of reporting, the smartest investigative journalism that told our story and lifted up the contradictions in our societies, and asked the hard questions and forced people to see the truth even when it was uncomfortable.

Spare Me Your Hypocritical Journalism Lecture, Mr. President
By Jack Shafer

How do we hate Obama’s treatment of the press? Let me count the ways. Under his administration, the U.S. government has set a new record for withholding Freedom of Information Act requests, according to a recent Associated Press investigation. FOIA gives the public and press an irreplaceable view into the workings of the executive branch. Without timely release of government documents and data, vital questions can’t be answered and stories can’t be written.

Obama’s “Insider Threat Program” has turned employees across the government—from the Peace Corps to the Social Security Administration to the Department of Agriculture—into information-squelching snitches. If this isn’t Trumpian behavior, I don’t know what is.

“Obama hates the press,” New York Times national security reporter James Risen said not long ago, “and he hates leaks.” AP Washington Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee has decried the “day-to-day intimidation of sources” by the Obama administration, judging it worse than the Bush administration on that score. And in a 2013 piece, POLITICO’s Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen documented Obama’s mastery of “limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.”

Obama official says he pushed a ‘narrative’ to media to sell the Iran nuclear deal
By Paul Farhi

“All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

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Posted in Games.