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One More Post, About Motivations:

Eric Muller writes, in comments to an earlier post:

[Quoting me:] "[I]t is perfectly legitimate to identify people who have expressed reprehensible views, and to publicly condemn them."

Eugene, I don't think anyone is contesting the legitimacy of such an effort. I think what people are wondering about is

(a) the wisdom of such an effort,

(b) what might motivate a person to launch it, and

(c) how such an effort will contribute to, or, more likely, detract from, reasoned public discussion and debate of a matter that greatly concerns and affects all of us Americans--the "good guys" who support the war in Iraq, and the "bad guys" who don't.

(1) A commenter wrote, "That said, the phrase, 'I think this is a good opportunity to collect examples of such people, to show that they do exist, and are worth criticizing.' is disturbing. Give me names, quotes and sources? Nothing stifles open debate like a witchhunt." Later, Prof. Muller himself labeled the process as a witch-hunt (though possibly on narrower grounds). Last I checked, labeling an effort "witch-hunt" does contest the legitimacy of the effort.

(2) In the post to which Prof. Muller was commenting, I wrote "I was challenged to try to come up with such lists, by people who seemed to suggest that there were no such supporters, at least in positions of any significance (see, e.g., this comment, among others)." I cited this comment, though I can also point to this post.

I criticize a group. Others argue that the group has no members, or a trivial number of members. I think the implication was that I must be really trying to criticize some other group, since what's the point of criticizing an empty group -- but even if I'm misreading this implication, the explicit assertion is that I'm being foolish in criticizing people who don't exist.

What am I supposed to do? Leave the criticisms unanswered? Say "Oh, there are such people, but because I don't want to be a McCarthyite, God forbid that I should name names and give quotes and sources to make this a witch-hunt"? Yeah, that would have been highly persuasive.

So people who want to criticize the supporters and justifiers of the Iraqi insurgents are damned if they do and damned if they don't. If we don't mention names, we either look dishonest or foolish. If we do mention names, we're witch-hunters -- but no, no-one is contesting the legitimacy of our effort by calling us witch-hunters -- and our motives are questioned because of that. No, thank you. Take your accusations to those who'll take them lying down.

(3) Publicly condemning murderers -- whether Iraqi insurgents, anti-abortion terrorists, racist killers, or whoever else -- probably doesn't do a tremendous amount of good. But I suspect it does some good.

But the follow-up posts, of course, had little to do with any such public-spirited motivation on my part. I posted them because a lot of people -- including prominent bloggers such as Prof. Muller and posters at Crooked Timber -- were condemning me, some using quite harsh terms. When people do that, I often try to defend myself by providing facts and arguments supporting my position (and spend much more time and energy than I'd have preferred doing so).

So don't criticize me, insult me, and yet when I try to round up facts and provide arguments supporting my position, suggest that my responses somehow don't much advance public debate.

Scott Scheule (mail) (www):
Stand strong, Eugene, I'm with you.
8.15.2005 4:05pm
Challenge:
I really have no idea why the left side of the blogosphere has found some fault with you. It seems nobody questions such people exist, and few question they deserve to be publicly condemned, so I fail to see the problem. We can quibble about if x person is really supporting the Islamofascists or hoping for American defeat, but what's wrong with condemning such a person when their statements are clear enough (e.g. Michael Moore or Galloway)?
8.15.2005 4:15pm
alkali (mail):
I criticize a group. Others argue that the group has no members, or a trivial number of members. ... What am I supposed to do? Leave the criticisms unanswered?

Respectfully, perhaps you should have answered by identifying the persons you had in mind when you referred to that group in the first place. And if you didn't have any such people in mind, then perhaps you should have kept an open mind as to whether the criticism had merit.
8.15.2005 4:20pm
Justin (mail):
"So don't criticize me, insult me, and yet when I try to round up facts and provide arguments supporting my position, suggest that my responses somehow don't much advance public debate."

Why not? If your arguments are logically circular, internally conflicted, and cause people to ignore the logical arguments over public policy by attacking the motives rather than the arguments (a logical no-no), why shouldn't a reasonable person criticize and delegitimize such an attempt in the first instance and (accurately) evidence that such discussion fails to advance public debate?

Why do you get a pass when you (rightfully) wouldn't think for a second of giving a pass to anyone else that made arguments that you believed to be horribly reasoned and detrimental to the public debate?
8.15.2005 4:23pm
Guest18:
Respectfully, perhaps you should have answered by identifying the persons you had in mind when you referred to that group in the first place. And if you didn't have any such people in mind, then perhaps you should have kept an open mind as to whether the criticism had merit.

That might be the only thing that Prof. Volokh is guilty of. But, of course, that's not what everyone is accusing him of. Personally, I'm surprised he's wasting so much time repsonding to all the knee-jerk, reactionary liberals here....
8.15.2005 4:27pm
labrat:
So don't criticize me, insult me, and yet when I try to round up facts and provide arguments supporting my position, suggest that my responses somehow don't much advance public debate.

Facts and supportive arguments being the operative words here, much less justification for continually adjusting the boundaries of the position to defend. Possibly when attempts at reasoned discussion are made instead of large scale lists which boil down to including tangentially (after said adjustments) Moore and Rall, and no other documented instances or prominant American individuals, people can move beyond insinuating that disagreements over policy by american citizens amount to treason.
8.15.2005 4:29pm
A.S.:
I really have no idea why the left side of the blogosphere has found some fault with you.

Pretty obviously because his criticism hit a little too close to home for a segment of the left-blogosphere.
8.15.2005 4:29pm
Moshe (mail):
Eugene,

It was not necessary to dignify the responses at all. It is admirable that you did so. I second Scott's post above. We're with you.
8.15.2005 4:29pm
Noah Snyder (mail):
That's a clever shift of topic from the fact that the list *completely failed to materialize* to a few unfortunately nasty comments.

The Eugene Volokh I'm used to reading would have admitted that that this alleged group is a tiny fringe and that now that the evidence came in he was wrong. Not muddied up the waters with whether "substantial" could mean "very few" and switching attention to a few dumb comments. These methods of argument are usually beneath you.

If someone said something like "a substantial number of gun rights activists are rooting for the gangs" and then reacted to criticism by asking for a list, failing to find such a list, and then attacking the people who criticized him, what would your reaction to this person be?
8.15.2005 4:34pm
Goober (mail):
Sorry, Professor Volokh, I can't feel sorry for you. You fucked up (and that's the word I mean) when you misrepresented the Opinion Journal (mistakenly or not), and so far I've only seen you making excuses for yourself. That there are no such things as witches, for example, cannot be taken other than as a distraction. Admit the mistake and apologize and drop it, or ignore the criticism and just go on. But don't sit here asking us to feel sorry for you because you've been mistreated, or put in an impossible situation. You got yourself there.

As a side-note.... I'm frankly astonished that someone who takes seriously the First Amendment can justify the assembly of a list of people with bad opinions as merely public condemnation of those opinions.

First, asking for the list isn't like asking for examples of particularly weak examples and their refutations. You didn't try to point out faulty reasoning; you called for a list of everyone who came down on one side, whether they got there from good logic or bad. We can perhaps agree that in this case there isn't a lot of good logic that gets you to that position, but that's mere serendipity; the substance might be unassailable, but the process is what people were complaining about, and the process was lousy.

Second, demanding the public identification of people based simply on their political opinions has a history in this country (as, I would think, in your own) and produces a rather visceral reaction (as, I would think, in your own). Is it always illegitimate, as a logical matter? Certainly not, but it feels a little dicey, and thoughtful people tend to find an alternative way to make the point.

Third, anyone with the slightest bit of sensitivity will realize there's been far too many accusations of stark treason, trivially defined, on the web and elsewhere in the media, and unsurprisingly, it tends to be attached to folks who disapproved of the war. You had to be aware of this history when you posted your call for names. It's not a neutral context, and it wasn't a neutral post. It may be an unjustified leap in logic that connects you with less temperate writers, but it's one instinctively understandable.
8.15.2005 4:35pm
Noah Snyder (mail):
I remember you writing that when you opened comments you wanted to maintain a certain tone because otherwise it distracts from the brand that you're building and the reputation and readership you're trying to maintain. And I see that staring at me in the comments form right now:

"So please, also avoid rants, invective, and substantial and repeated exaggeration."

I know that some of the comments didn't live up to this requirements, however unfortunate, the post themselves are also full of rants, invective, and substantial and repeated esxaggeration. And it makes me sad to watch.
8.15.2005 4:38pm
Noah Snyder (mail):
Err... unfortunate*ly* and esxaggeration. Sorry, good spelling and grammar is also part of the brand here, and I apologize for my failure to spellcheck that last post.
8.15.2005 4:41pm
Jimbeaux (mail):
"Facts and supportive arguments being the operative words here, much less justification for continually adjusting the boundaries of the position to defend. Possibly when attempts at reasoned discussion are made instead of large scale lists which boil down to including tangentially (after said adjustments) Moore and Rall, and no other documented instances or prominant American individuals, people can move beyond insinuating that disagreements over policy by american citizens amount to treason."

I get it. This is one of those context-free, random generator hoax-thingies, huh?
8.15.2005 4:43pm
labrat:
Goober provides the reasoning and context.
8.15.2005 5:01pm
Moshe (mail):
"I'm frankly astonished that someone who takes seriously the First Amendment can justify the assembly of a list of people with bad opinions as merely public condemnation of those opinions."

Can you believe that? Someone who takes the first amendment seriously justifies the making of lists. What will he justify next, excel tables and PowerPoint presentations? Surely the first amendment doesn't allow him to do that!
8.15.2005 5:02pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Sorry if this point has been raised somewhere in one of these threads already. But reading the initial responses to Prof. Volokh's call, I had the impression that the word "McCarthyite" (and variants) surfaced rather a lot.

What Prof. Volokh did was to ask his readership for documented instances of prominent people positively supporting the insurgents. Suppose a blogger on the Left were to do the same thing — ask, or rather challenge, his/her "winger" readership to find and document instances of this allegedly-common phenomenon. Why do I think that this blogger wouldn't be slammed as a McCarthyite, even though the resulting list would be exactly as public and the contributors probably overlapping?

I suppose outing every spy in the State Department and every card-carrying Communist in Hollywood ca. 1953 could also be spun as "anti-McCarthyite" if the intent were only to demonstrate how few of them there were?
8.15.2005 5:02pm
Rob Lyman:
Goober, I don't get it. Aren't we allowed to criticize people we think hold reprehensible opinions? And shouldn't public figures be responsible for the things they say in public? David Duke recently went on the record as saying that the media is "Jewish supremacist." Is it OK for me to quote that? OK to link? OK to say I think he's full of crap? Or is that "McCarthyite" and part of a "witch-hunt"?

Eugene didn't call for an investigaton of what meetings people went to 20 years ago. He asked for links to on-the-record quotes from the past couple of years. What could be less unfair than quoting things people put into interviews and op-eds in order to criticize those people? Haven't all of Eugene's critics both quoted and linked to him in the course of their criticism? Are they "which hunters" too?

Or is there something somehow different about criticizing several people at once for the same reason? If I linked to several people who think Jews control the media, would that transform my legitimate criticism of David Duke into "McCarthyism"?
8.15.2005 5:03pm
Bryan DB:
Professor Volokh,
It has been my feeling that you've always had your search wrong, and you made that clear when you said this:

When people do that, I often try to defend myself by providing facts and arguments supporting my position

You should have adopted your position based on the facts and arguments. Had you done so, you wouldn't have ended up attacking what appears to be an "empty set." Instead, you adopted the position first, and then tried to support it. That seems like rather the wrong way to go about it, don't you think?
8.15.2005 5:12pm
Challenge:
"I'm frankly astonished that someone who takes seriously the First Amendment can justify the assembly of a list of people with bad opinions as merely public condemnation of those opinions."

What does the First Amendment have to do with this, except that Volokh has a right to compile such a list?
8.15.2005 5:23pm
Challenge:
"Instead, you adopted the position first, and then tried to support it. That seems like rather the wrong way to go about it, don't you think?"

This is just stupid. Volokh's position was that there were Westerners who supported the insurgency and terrorists in Iraq. That is not under dispute. He then asked for others to share examples, and stated pretty clearly he had no idea of how prevalent this view was either in the West or among leftists. What is wrong about his position/statements? WHAT?
8.15.2005 5:32pm
Shelby (mail):
I've supported Eugene's stance throughout this, dare I say, kerfuffle. He has every right to state he thinks there's a group of people who express a certain (condemnable) viewpoint, and to respond to critics by assembling examples to support that view. Nor is there anything wrong with asking others for help in doing so -- it's one of the virtues of the Internet that this kind of distributed research is now much easier to conduct.

I think the good Professor is, however, straying somewhat from his usual tone in this post. Orin Kerr has asserted this kind of effort yields more heat than light, and nearly all of that heat has been directed at Eugene. His critics do their argument considerable harm when they proclaim this a "witch hunt" or insist he's acting in bad faith. That sort of moronic rhetoric only shows the lack of underlying substance. Of course, it can also upset the target into responding inappropriately. I don't think Eugene has done so yet, but he may want to take a few hours away from all this nonsense if he intends to respond durther.
8.15.2005 5:35pm
Shelby (mail):
..."further." Sigh.
8.15.2005 5:36pm
Bryan DB:
Challenge,
Here are Eugene's words:
"I was challenged to try to come up with such lists, by people who seemed to suggest that there were no such supporters, at least in positions of any significance (see, e.g., this comment, among others)."

Based on the results of the hunt, the people who said "there were no supporters, at least in positions of any significance" were right.
Professor Volokh's statement, as quoted above, shows that he had no support for his initial stance. Two possibilities: 1) he had looked for evidence to support that stance, found none, but held the stance anyway, or 2) never bothered to look for the evidence, in which case the stance is unfounded conjecture.
Not sure which of those two is better.
8.15.2005 5:49pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Help me out here: I posted a criticism of people who support or justify the Iraqi insurgents. I was quite sure that there were such people -- I'd heard about and from plenty of them -- but I didn't have a list handy. When called on to provide the list, I thought it would be convenient to ask readers to help out, especially since they'd find some I didn't know about. Based on that post and others, I posted an item this morning pointing to prominent politicians, filmmakers, journalists, and authors who in fact support or justify the Iraqi insurgents.

Now it turns out that this list, which appears a few posts down, "completely failed to materialize." (Browser problem, maybe?) It "appears to be an 'empty set,'" though I could have sworn it has members. I should have "[found] an alternative way to make the point," though how could I have defended myself from charges that the targets of my criticism are an "empty set" other than by coming up with a list of people in the set?

On top of that, it's apparently a small set that represents a "tiny fringe." I surely hope that it represents only a small percentage of the Western public, and I have no reason to believe otherwise. Nor did I ever contend otherwise. But last I checked, it was legitimate to condemn small groups of people (if they merit condemnation, as I'm quite certain this group does) as well as large groups of people. As I've pointed out below, I've criticized -- as have many decent people -- Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and anti-abortion terrorists. Are they large groups? No. Are they a tiny fringe? I hope so. Am I therefore under some obligation to stop criticizing them? No.

And, yes, if "someone said something like 'a substantial number of gun rights activists are rooting for the gangs,'" and then provided a list of pro-gun-rights legislators, filmmakers, authors, and journalists who in fact supported or justified the actions of criminal gangs, I would think this assertion was perfectly legitimate. (Naturally, I wouldn't think this of proof that all, most, or even a large minority of gun rights activists are rooting for the gangs, but that wouldn't have been the assertion being made.)
8.15.2005 5:53pm
Steve:
Let me explain very clearly what is wrong with Prof. Volokh's, for lack of a better word, hunt.

First, there is the intentional blurring of the line between those who actively cheer for the Iraqi insurgency and hope they will kill US troops, and those who merely offer explanations for why the insurgency acts the way it does. One may contend, as Prof. Volokh apparently does, that those who offer "justifications" for the insurgents' behavior actually sympathize privately with the goals of the insurgency; but be that as it may, these are two different groups, and it is scurrilous to suggest that everyone who claims the insurgents are merely unhappy about the presence of an occupying force, as the President himself has, in some sense "supports the insurgency."

Second, it's all well and good to say "oh, I'm sure this group is very small, I just want to identify who the members are," but that breaks down when one proceeds to conclude that, even though only a small number of members were ever identified, there "must" be a much larger number of unidentified members. This is exactly what Prof. Volokh does when he makes the statement:

What fraction of public opinion do they represent in the West (whether Europe, America, Australia, or other relatively Western countries)? I can't say, but when politicians such as Galloway and Short make statements, and get reelected after making them (despite how incendiary the statements are), that's good reason to think that at least some voters -- quite likely not even a majority in their district, but a substantial matter -- endorse their views. Likewise, while I'm hesitant to infer much from comments by random posters on various Internet fora, the presence of those comments, coupled with the views expressed by more prominent people, suggests that there is a considerable number of people who take this position.

So in spite of the stated purpose of this factfinding mission, to actually attach names and faces to the despicable view that the insurgency deserves to win, we are right back where we started, speculating about the existence of a "fifth column" of terrorist sympathizers who we cannot name, but apparently live among us. Why even bother to try and determine scientifically whether this group is large or small, if the result is going to be a claim that no matter how small the group appears to be, there must be a much larger group of people we cannot name who belong to it?

After all this heat and a very small amount of light, we are right back to "I see a lot of anonymous blog comments taking this position, so there must be a lot of people of this sort out there." This is what happens when you conduct a study without much caring what actual evidence turns up.
8.15.2005 6:00pm
Challenge:
"So in spite of the stated purpose of this factfinding mission, to actually attach names and faces to the despicable view that the insurgency deserves to win, we are right back where we started, speculating about the existence of a "fifth column" of terrorist sympathizers who we cannot name, but apparently live among us."

This is REALLY ridiculous. Now you're pretending these people don't exist? Volokh JUST provided a list of people who indisputably hold that view. What is a matter with you?
8.15.2005 6:04pm
Steve:
Volokh cited a list of 6 people. But instead of adhering to the stated purpose of his mission, to say "aha! now we have found the 6 people who support the insurgency," he went on to claim that the existence of these 6 people proves that there "must be" an unenumerated, but "considerable," list of unnamed people who also hold these views.

I don't know what is wrong with me, Challenge, but what is wrong with you is that you did not read my comment.
8.15.2005 6:11pm
Challenge:
Steve, are you really this dense? Of course the ELECTION of a pro-insurgency politician (Galloway) means there are considerable people in the electorate which sympathesize and share those pro-insurgency views.

I suppose we can't infer that a considerable portion of David Duke voters were racists either, by your standard. Unless we list each and every racist, that inference is not valid, apparently. Get a clue.
8.15.2005 6:16pm
MA:
And how, exactly, the life and death of Steven Vincent was material to teasing out the list of 6, OR the implication that there are more than 6 in whatever group?
8.15.2005 6:16pm
duh! (mail):
Um MA- What does Challenged need to draw a map for you?

Steven Vincent- watched Farenheit 9/11 and Roger and me (and I have serious concerns that he saw the Big One).

Michael Moore called the insurgents "Minutemen"

Timothy McVeigh considered himself a Minuteman.

Ergo: Steven Vincent rooted for the insurgents, wanted to blow up Oklahoma City, and thought that Kelo was correctly decided.

-duh
8.15.2005 6:26pm
Steve:
I would like to see some evidence that voters considered Galloway to be "pro-insurgency" before I accept the inference that many people in the electorate share his "pro-insurgency" views. It's useless to cherry-pick any one statement out of the thousands made by a politician and claim that a considerable number of his supporters must agree with the cherry-picked statement. Galloway surely ran as an anti-war politician; I think it is an absurd stretch to claim that he ran on a platform of glorifying the insurgency.

I stand by my point that it is silly to attempt to catalogue the adherents of a particular view, and then when only a few adherents turn up, resort to claiming that there "must be" a large number of unidentified adherents. Of course, since we are in the world of blog comments, statements like "are you really this dense?" are apparently acceptable substitutes for logical argument.
8.15.2005 6:32pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
Mr. Muller said that he doesn't think anyone is contesting the legitimacy of such an effort. Therefore I suggest you make a list of all people (with quotes to back it up) who are suggesting that your effort is not "legitimate."

I will start by submitting Mr. Muller's name: after all, while in one breath he says your effort is legitimate, in the next, he says it's stupid, bad, and possibly evil (stupid==not wise, bad==detrimental to public debate, and evil==nefarious motivations). If that's not questioning its legitimacy, I don't know what is!

...

It's a good thing nobody ever made a list of right-wingers who publicly supported the abuses at Abu Ghraib on their blogs. Because that would be, you know, McCarthyism...
8.15.2005 6:37pm
Challenge:
Steve, you're just trolling now. It's pathetic. Let's put your statements in a different context, shall we.

"I would like to see some evidence that voters considered Duke racist before I accept the inference that many people in the electorate share his racist views. It's useless to cherry-pick any one statement out of the thousands made by a politician and claim that a considerable number of his supporters must agree with the cherry-picked statement."

I don't get the fixation on Steven Vincent, and the link of the original piece I tried appeared to direct me to something else. Why are the facts surrounding Steve's tragic death off limits? Enlighten me.
8.15.2005 6:39pm
Jimbeaux (mail):
"I would like to see some evidence that voters considered Galloway to be "pro-insurgency" before I accept the inference that many people in the electorate share his "pro-insurgency" views."

I don't know, but I thought it was telling that when he ran for re-election (after his expulsion from Labour), he moved to a district that was pretty thick with Muslims. He seemed to think that his expressed views would go over better there than in his old constituency.
8.15.2005 6:48pm
duh! (mail):
A senior US military chief has admitted "good, honest" Iraqis are fighting American forces.
Major General Joseph Taluto said he could understand why some ordinary people would take up arms against the US military because "they're offended by our presence".
In an interview with Gulf News, he said: "If a good, honest person feels having all these Humvees driving on the road, having us moving people out of the way, having us patrol the streets, having car bombs going off, you can understand how they could [want to fight us]."

**

I'm not sure if he watches Michael Moore movies, but here is #7 on the list, obviously.
8.15.2005 6:56pm
Dread Justice Roberts:
I will help you out, Prof. Volokh:

This started with a post that reproduced an OpinionJournal story that said, "Those Westerners who side with the 'Iraqi resistance' against America and its allies are defending the equivalent of the murder of Emmett Till."

If, by posting this, you thought that OpinionJournal had in mind something like the very small set of insurgent-supporters that you eventually posted, then I don't think there would have been quite such a stink. In fact, you later posted that the post did not refer to all anti-war proponents, but only those that actually support the insurgency.

You made it clear, however, in your next post, that you wanted to refute those "people [who] questioned whether there really are a substantial number of Western commentators who defend the Iraqi insurgents." At that point, at least, you believed the number was substantial.

After many comments, some suspects were identified and debated, at which point you backtracked, saying:

"As to whether it is indeed accurate to say that a 'substantial section of those who opposed the war' is rooting for the other side, I can't speak helpfully to that, since 'substantial' is pretty vague, and since I haven't followed closely the range of public commentary on the subject."

You could have said, "It turns out that the set of people is fairly small. I thought there were more. Maybe I am skewed by all the anti-war email I receive. Even so, this small set is still worthy of criticism." Instead, you acted as if the word "substantial" hadn't originated with your own post, and that the proposition of substantial numbers of insurgency-supporters hadn't been refuted. Rather, you denied that the minimal number of insurgency-supporters was even relevant.

Meanwhile, another blog compiled a list determining that it is actually fairly common for the right to criticize those against the war as supporting the insurgency, or treasonous in some way. Specifically, WSJ is on record as saying the left doesn't want the US to win, refuting the update to your original post where you stated that you didn't think OpinionJournal was criticizing all those against the war. But you didn't mention that.

In addition, you claimed that falsely accusing one's opponents of siding with the "bad guys" was wrong. But you never acknowledged or condemned the mounting numbers of people on your side who are doing just that. Instead, you insisted that the shrinking set of insurgency-supporters were worthy of criticism. Retreating again.

Finally, you put together the best list you could and claimed victory. "See! Here are the people I was talking about." But really that wasn't who you were talking about. You had an impression (you were "quite sure") that there were a "substantial" number of them. There weren't.

So there's the problem: 1. You could not acknowlege that the original post impugned more than the small set of insurgent-supporters. It did, as was later shown by another WSJ editorial. 2. You sought to prove that there were substantial numbers of insurgency-supporters. There weren't. 3. You repeatedly moved the goalposts, from "siding with the insurgency" to "justifying" the insurgency, later qualified in such a way that the President now falls under your definition. 4. You retreated to the unremarkable assertion that insurgency-supporters, abortion bombers, and neoNazis should be condemned, and claimed this is what you were saying all along.

But that wasn't what you were saying.
8.15.2005 6:59pm
Steve:
Yes, Challenge, that would be a great argument if we were talking about David Duke, but your claim that Galloway is the David Duke of the pro-insurgency movement doesn't become true just because you say it is.

Only on the Internet could I post reasoned, logical arguments, and have the guy whose idea of discourse is to call me "dense" and tell me to "get a clue" accuse me of trolling. Oy.
8.15.2005 7:04pm
JoeSlater (mail):
I'm willing to offer the following compromise set of propositions:

(1) The group of prominent (as defined in E.V.'s orginal post) westerners rooting for the insurgents to win is greater than zero.

(2) The group of promient westerners rooting for the insurgents to win is actually relatively small, especially when compared to most previous U.S. conflicts (e.g., Nicaragua and Vietnam).

(3) Anybody who is actually publicly rooting for Islamic extremist terrorists to take power in Iraq or anywhere else can fairly be criticized by those with liberal values, i.e., E.V. is not a McCarthyite for saying these folks should be criticized.

(4) There are a significant number of prominent westerners on the political right ("significant" here meaning "greater than then number of folks referenced in (1) and (2)) who exaggerate the number of prominent westerners who support hope the Islamic extremists/insurgents win in Iraq.

At least that's what I believe I've learned.
8.15.2005 7:04pm
Steve:
I would be willing to sign onto Joe Slater's list of propositions.
8.15.2005 7:19pm
A.S.:
The group of promient westerners rooting for the insurgents to win is actually relatively small, especially when compared to most previous U.S. conflicts

This seems false, if you use, for example, WWI or WWII as the points of comparison instead.

Here's what I've learned:

(1) All of the cited examples of "prominent Westerners" rooting for the insurgents (or making excuses for them) are members of the Left-Wing. This leads me to hypothesize that the left is more likely to support the insurgents than is the right.

(2) If you criticize some (small number of) left-wing Westerners for supporting the insurgency, a larger number of left-wing Westerners will get all upset and defensive. This leads me to hypothsize that the larger number of left-wing Westerners are, if not closet supporters of the insurgency, at least sympathetic to the Westerners who are supporters.

(3) If you present these upset and defensive left-wing Westerners with facts (such as a number of statements and links) they will ignore the facts and make claims that are obviously contradicted by the facts (i.e., that the list of supporters of the insurgency "completely failed to materialize" and "appears to be an 'empty set'"). This leads me to hypothesize that the left-wing Westerners are impervious to arguments of reason.

Now, I accpet that my hypotheses are not capable of being proven. However, they certainly seem to be supported by the evidence at hand.
8.15.2005 7:28pm
frank cross (mail):
A.S. cleverly tries to rescue the proposition by changing the word "substantial" to "small"
8.15.2005 7:41pm
A.S.:
The two are not antonyms. Indeed, the one is perfectly consistent with the other.
8.15.2005 7:42pm
Challenge:
Galloway and short have both made comments supportive of and justifying the insurgency. Both were re-elected. Yet we cannot infer ANYTHING from that fact, that they were elected. None of the individuals who voted for them hold those views. Alrighty then, Steve. Like I said, are you really this dense? It's getting old.
8.15.2005 7:43pm
Shelby (mail):
If the most notorious and extremen views of a politician cannot be linked in any fashion to his supporters, then I guess centrist and right-wing bloggers were wrong to get all upset about Trent Lott's remarks, back when he was still Majority Leader of the Senate.
8.15.2005 8:21pm
frank cross (mail):
Why, then, A.S. do you suppose that NRO chose the word "substantial" rather than the word "small" for its article?
8.15.2005 8:42pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
The original post which drew so much criticism from left-leaning readers was but a direct quote from James Taranto without comment.

Most of the critics assumed that the quote indicated complete agreement with the entire quote, which was apparently so over the top that it should not have been quoted by any respectable law professor because it somehow implicitly conflated criticism of "those Westerners who side with the 'Iraqi resistance'" with anyone against the war. Some like Goober above even claim that the quote somehow "misrepresents" the Taranto excerpt maybe claiming without explanation that the quote was out of context [it wasn't].

Quickly the argument shifted to criticism for Volokh's asking for evidence relating to quantification of pro insurgent opinion among those against the war, labeled by some McCarthyistic.

All along, nothing Volokh did nothing more than any professor in a law school class does every day. Introducing a subject for discussion, and directing discussion. Sounds to me like an exercise in academic inquiry.

A close analysis of the multitude of arguments on these actively discussed posts might be a great subject for a law review article identifying the various rhetorical devices and argumentative techniques (valid and invalid) used to support attacks and defenses in these comments.
8.15.2005 8:46pm
David Berke:
I'm not sure that the number of people rooting for the other side was substantially less in WW I and WW II. There was a lot of internal disapproval of the United States being involved in those wars - the country had a very strong strain of isolationism at the time.

I would also disagree with those who say that the election of a pro-insurgent and number of obviously pro-insurgents means nothing about the population of those whom are pro-insurgent. To state that a politician can express an extreme opinion which is supported by not a single one of his constituents, and still be elected would appear to defy logic. Any politician who supports an extreme opinion on a pressing political issue is likely to have trouble being re-elected. To say that it was perhaps not an extreme opinion is to admit it is hold by a fair number of individuals, thus conceding the point.

Furthermore, as a matter of logic alone, it would appear that the more unpopular and dangerous a viewpoint is, the fewer people are willing to expose themselves by admitting to such a viewpoint. More prominent individuals would appear to have more at stake, and thus be less likely to admit to such a viewpoint. To some extent, this may be countered by the need for "sensationalist" figures to express such viewpoints in order to enhance their visibility. However, one would not expect this to apply to ordinary citizens.

Therefore if six (or 12, or whatever) prominent people are willing to admit to such a viewpoint, one would expect there to be dozens of prominent individuals and thousands of less prominent individuals who would own up to it. I don't see any particular reason to draw up a list of such individuals (before someone calls me a McCarthyite), unless one is looking for a group particularly needy of free psychological services.
8.15.2005 9:06pm
Noah Snyder (mail):
Let me clarify what I meant when I said your list failed to materialize.

a) You initially asked "Stick with quotes that are pretty unambiguous — no need to dilute the clear stuff with questionable material" and "[stick with] famous people."

b) You suggested as an example of your goal to be to produce something like the list of people supporting total bans on hand guns.

By my count your "list" here consists of 1 famous person (I can't count Moore's endorsement as unambiguous) and 1 group (some of whom support a violent insurgency, some of whom just think the U.S.'s position is wrong, hard to tell in any particular case). You also found 3 obscure semi-public figures.

Compare that to the handguns list. There you have news anchors, WaPo columnists, senators, and presidential candidates. That's what a real list would have looked like.

I think I'm justified in saying that a list of one unambiguous famous person is a failure.
8.15.2005 9:21pm
Noah Snyder (mail):
I think JoeSlater's list of compromise positions is the most evenhanded and thoughtful (dare I say Volokhian?) post on this matter thus far (though the Dread Justice Roberts post is up there too). I would, however, like to add a fifth observation:

5) Against a background of frequent unfair accusations made by prominent conservatives (see point 4), one should be especially careful when making facially similar accusations to distance oneself from the unfair accusations.
8.15.2005 9:33pm
Challenge:
"Why, then, A.S. do you suppose that NRO chose the word "substantial" rather than the word "small" for its article?"

He didnt't say they meant the same thing, he said they weren't mutually exclusive. A small group of fanatics can indeed be "substantial" or "significant" in the risk they pose. And we're not talking about just fringe individuals. Michael Moore is the director of the most popular documentary in history and Galloway is a former labor MP. Their continued popularity (even on these threads) is testament to the fact that many share their views, or at the least sympathesize with someone who could come to those radical views. These aren't exactly marginal characters, however much I wish they were. Journalists, professors, prominent film directors, notable British Labor party leaders, this isn't a cast of characters to be easily dismissed as "insignificant" or "unsubstantial." The fact they are all originating from the left is cause for concern for liberals, but instead of defending the indefensible or pretending they don't exist, why not join us in condemning their statements and philosophy?
8.15.2005 9:39pm
Steve:
David Berke, please provide some support for the claim that the people who voted for Galloway in May 2005 were motivated by the knowledge that he would refer to the insurgents as "martyrs" in August 2005.

To be clear, I am not maintaining that Prof. Volokh has identified the only 6 people in the Western world who have uttered a sentence that could be construed as support for the insurgents. Galloway represents a largely Muslim district; I imagine that someone in that district views Osama bin Laden as a hero, although whether there are 1, 100, or 1000 residents in that category is open to debate.

Which brings us back to the reason for this whole bloody discussion. We started out trapped between members of the Right who believe there is a massive fifth column of insurgency supporters among us, and members of the Left who believe that such people are virtually non-existent. In order to resolve this dispute, Prof. Volokh suggested a scientific way of proceeding: actually identify the famous persons who fit into this group. And out of the thousands and thousands of famous and semi-famous people in the Western world, a total of 6 were identified, most on the basis of a single quote.

The reason we are still having a discussion is that some people, including Prof. Volokh himself refuse to accept that the evidence suggests the number of pro-insurgent people in the Western world is roughly equivalent to the number of people who believe the Earth rests on the back of a giant turtle, and thus hardly worth the attention that has been lavished upon them here. Instead, these people want to undo the argument and go back to the original condition of unproductive argument concerning the unknowable number of private citizens who are pro-insurgency.

The arguments are sometimes sound, like Mr. Berke's point that if 6 famous people fit this category, surely a greater number of non-famous people fit it, and sometimes unsound, like A.S.'s oft-repeated claim that because many liberals get upset at the statement "some liberals are traitors," that proves that the liberals who get upset must themselves be traitors. But either way, the argument cannot possibly prove anything, other than the remarkably unambitious claim that the number of pro-insurgency people in the Western world is greater than 0. The only thing we have learned from this discussion is that if you don't like the answer provided by the evidence, you should go back and change the terms of the question.
8.15.2005 10:01pm
Justin (mail):
Galloway and short have both made comments supportive of and justifying the insurgency. Both were re-elected. Yet we cannot infer ANYTHING from that fact, that they were elected. None of the individuals who voted for them hold those views. Alrighty then, Steve. Like I said, are you really this dense? It's getting old.

Bill Frist likes to do experiments on puppies. He got re-elected multiple times. So much for the animal lover of Tennessee.

Sen. Byrd was a former Klansman. He got re-elected multiple times. There are no black people in West Virginia.

Sen. Colburn did forced sterilizations. Oklahoma elected him to the Senate. Okie is full of Chinese Communists.

Bill Clinton supported universal health care. Bill Clinton won a HUGE victory in 2006. Universal health care is massively popular in the United States.

Have you seen the obviously gaping logical fallacy yet, Challenger? You surely can't be *this* dense?
8.15.2005 10:38pm
Challenge:
"The only thing we have learned from this discussion is that if you don't like the answer provided by the evidence, you should go back and change the terms of the question."

I think this characterizes your idea of debate more than Volokh's. Gives us names. Oh, Volokh's got names? Witch hunt! Ok, well, it's only six highly prominent people, we want more. McCarthy! Oh, Volokh thinks Galloway being elected means people support Galloway! Unthinkable! You want more lists and evidence, and when someone provides them you call them McCarthy incarnate. Or you just pretend "minuteman" means "bogeyman" and that calling for more killing so we can be "forgiven" really means Michael Moore wants as few soldiers as possible killed. Oh, and let's not forget Muller's incoherent "I am not questioning the legitimacy... blah blah witch hunt."

This reminds me of the ridiculous denial that the MSM has liberal bias. Deny, deny, deny. Facts? What facts? Deny, deny, deny. Prove it! Witch hunt! Not good enough! deny, deny, deny. McCarthy!

I have had enough of the feigned ignorance, the ridiculous denials, and the overall cacophonious tone of this dishonest "debate."
8.15.2005 10:42pm
Challenge:
Justin, nice try. Keep the strawmen coming!

I never said that EVERY voter must agree with EVERY position a person takes. I never said that, and neither did Volokh. You see, the position you're defending is that very few Galloway voters agree with Galloway on his biggest and most prominent issue. In fact, the original commenter on this topic seemed to imply these people didn't even exist at all. Very persuasive. And I guess all those David Duke voters are also members of the NAACP.

Galloway's position on the Iraq war is well known and quite controversial. Voting for him implies at least a tolerance (if not complete agreement) for his position as a reasonable, moral stance. There may be a portion of voters who disagree with him quite strongly but believe his other positions make up for that, but that can't be every Galloway voter. I suspect at least 20% of Galloway voters share his radical views, and I wouldn't be suprised if it were more. At the very LEAST it means that Galloway voters are not terribly troubled by his position, at least not enough to prevent them from voting for him. That says a lot. That should speak for itself.
8.15.2005 10:57pm
jayann (mail) (www):

Galloway and short have both made comments supportive of and justifying the insurgency. Both were re-elected. Yet we cannot infer ANYTHING from that fact, that they were elected.


Clare Short's a Labour MP with a safe seat, whose vote share fell by 17 per cent in the last election. What can you infer from that, alone? Nothing. (She seems to have lost votes to an anti-war candidate, but there may have been other factors, as there were in my constituency.)

George Galloway's a clear case of someone gaining from an anti-War vote. But then no-one in their right mind would try to argue that there is not a massive number of people in the UK opposed to the war, or that it played no part at all in the last election; the question was about people who wanted the US to lose. The problems that formulation entails have been pointed out here, I see no need to repeat them.
8.15.2005 11:47pm
frank cross (mail):
Would it be fair to say a "substantial" number of conservatives are racists, or that a "substantial" number of conservatives think women should not work and should subordinate themselves to men, if we can find some examples of conservatives who adhere to these views?
8.15.2005 11:59pm
Justin Kee (mail):
Obligatory quote courtesey the NYT..." But as Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter noted in 1951, speech that extols political violence is often "coupled" with sharp "criticism of defects in our society." For that reason, Justice Frankfurter said, there is an important public interest "in granting freedom to speak their minds" even to those who advocate the use of force to bring about political change. A democratic society must protect itself against violent attack, but it cannot do so by preventing its citizens from hearing even sinister criticism that defends the use of violence."
8.16.2005 12:21am
Challenge:
Frank, I don't think Volokh was limiting his search to liberals, it encompassed all of "Westerners." I would say there is a substantial number of Democrats and Republicans who are racist, unfortunately, but defining "substantial" is a bit subjective.
8.16.2005 12:27am
David Berke:
Steve,

I think you know that the following is an unreasonable request because you reframed my point: "please provide some support for the claim that the people who voted for Galloway in May 2005 were motivated by the knowledge that he would refer to the insurgents as "martyrs" in August 2005."

My point was a simple one; If Galloway made it clear that this was his opinion before the election (an allegation made by numerous people in different posts, which I do speak to the truth of, and is irrelevant to the issue I explore), and one concedes that it is an extremely radical position to take, he would have difficulty being elected again without a fair amount of support for that position, or, in the alternative, for a belief that the viewpoint is not particularly radical, which itself suggests that it is one held by a fair number of that person's constituents.

Perhaps my understanding of human nature has led me astray, but I tend to think that if someone running for reelection suddenly suggested that we should give most of California back to Spain, that person wouldn't get re-elected. Well, at least not somebody running for election in California. That might go over quite well elsewhere.

For what it's worth, I do not believe that Volokh was advancing the proposition that there was a massive 5th Column, but instead supporting his argument that there were in fact enough such people to be worth the effort of identifying the group.
8.16.2005 12:41am
David Berke:
What's with the whole "Substantial" discussion anyway?

There are two possible concepts of substantial here, with radically different meanings:
1. Substantial as an absolute number.
2. Substantial as a percentage of the population.

Does anyone really think that Volokh was suggesting that a substantial percentage of the population (which I will arbitrarily label > 15%) of liberals want Iraq to win? I profoundly doubt it.

However, as an absolute number, substantial could easily be < 10,000. That's a lot of people. However, it also means that approximately 1/280 of 1% of people (In the US) hold the belief. According to a Fatburger sign I saw the other day, that is substantially less than 1% of the number of people who believe Elvis lives. I readily believe there are 10,000 "intellectually different" American people who really want the Iraqis to win and hope we leave.
8.16.2005 12:50am
David Berke:
(sigh) lose, even.
8.16.2005 12:51am
Jimbeaux (mail):
"Frank, I don't think Volokh was limiting his search to liberals, it encompassed all of 'Westerners.'"

Good point, particularly since Pat Buchanan and David Duke have taken positions that are pretty much spot-on with those of Michael Moore and J. Garafalo. (You know, the Jews suck, etc.).
8.16.2005 2:20am
Conor Friedersdorf (mail) (www):
Here's to Prof. Volokh for demonstrating more patience than any other blogger I've found. Since people are bound to disagree sometimes - as maddening as that is when it seems that the evidence is clearly on your side - it seems unfair to condemn anyone, as some have condemned Prof. Volokh, when they go out of their way to consider challenges to their argument, fight off the impulse to respond intemperately and answer substantive challenges as fully and rigorously as anyone could hope.
8.16.2005 8:03am
Defending the Indefensible:
Someone's got to do it, I suppose. Even the most heinous criminals are entitled to a vigorous defense, and here we are condemning people for mere statements without the slightest concern to consider a charitable context in which they may have been made.

Who among us hasn't, out of frustration, anger, or just plain tiredness, made an injudicious offhand remark that we might not have made in a more sober and careful circumstance? Who has never been misunderstood to imply something we might not?

Those who oppose war, and this war in particular, might reasonably be thought to have some level of ire at its continuation, the prospect of its extension and replication, multiplying the mass destruction of this war and creating ever deepening resentments and further escalating the cycle of violence, whether terrorist or state-sponsored.

Given this context, and the fact that the people who have been paraded here as apologists for the Iraqi insurgency have clearly stated their preference that the troops be brought home, it cannot really be thought that they would prefer the troops be harmed, for they do not want them in harm's way at all. The frustration arises because there is no apparent desire of the US government to bring them home, no appreciation of or concern for the civilian casualties of the military adventure, and no indication that things are improving or likely to improve unless some sort of price is paid for it. This price, it might be hoped, would simply be political, social and moral, a public repudiation of the war, and to the extent any other price might be paid, especially in terms of human lives lost or destroyed, it is not a price worth paying, and that is precisely the point.
8.16.2005 9:49am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I don't think I've ever seen more comments wasted on a less important topic...
8.16.2005 10:34am
Justin (mail):
see, the position you're defending is that very few Galloway voters agree with Galloway on his biggest and most prominent issue. In fact, the original commenter on this topic seemed to imply these people didn't even exist at all. Very persuasive. And I guess all those David Duke voters are also members of the NAACP.

If you can't win the argument *as it is*, you don't have the right to make up facts. Gallaway's biggest issue was anti-war, not pro-insurgency, even if he's once said something that inferred that he was pro insurgent (he was also unopposed in his "primary" and up against a Tory in the most liberal MP district in England, which is sort of like saying that because Congresswoman McKinney was able to spout conspiracy theories and still should have beaten a Republican had she run opposed that her district believed in those conspiracy theories also.

Now, Gallaway's district is very much immigrants and people who associate themselves more with the middle east than the west. Do some of them support the Iraqis? Probably at least one, but that doesn't even make them western, nor does their vote for Gallaway prove that.

And no, the fact that David Duke was able to win in Louisiana did *not* prove that Louisianans, any of them, were pro-KKK. It did mean that a substantial amount of them in a state that was no absolutely safe were okay with his KKK ties, but it only meant that those KKK ties were not enough to get them to vote against him, not that they agreed with them, or had any opinion at all.

Challenge, you like using obnoxious tones and insults to try to make up for the lack of persuasiveness in your posts. Do you think people are so dumb as to fall for it?
8.16.2005 10:56am
Justin (mail):
"I suspect at least 20% of Galloway voters share his radical views, and I wouldn't be suprised if it were more. At the very LEAST it means that Galloway voters are not terribly troubled by his position, at least not enough to prevent them from voting for him. That says a lot. That should speak for itself."

Same with Louisiana and David Duke. Same with Bill Frist and the actual killing (not the support of killing), illegally, of many many pets. Same with Byrd and the KKK. If that's your argument, it isn't a straw man at all, ESPECCIALLY since

1) Gallaway made the comments after his most recent election to Parliament.

2) Most people, up until this witchhunt (yes, the right word), associated Gallaway with being extremely pacifist/anti-war, not being pro-war/pro-Iraqi insurgency. To get to your point (which you even admit is a lot of speculation), you have to believe that everyone in district sees Gallaway the same way as you did, even before the singular comment you are judging him on, and then voted in support of that proposition, not just that he was the best candidate to end the war in the views of the voter. AND YOU STILL can't prove that the voters in his district you are reffering to were "westerners" in a cultural sense.
8.16.2005 11:01am
JoeSlater (mail):
Thanks to the couple of people who endorsed my compromise, but even granting that they are prominent contributors to this discussion, I can't in good conscience label the number significant.

As to the main point, what we're talking about is whether these six or so figures are "significant" or stand for a significant group, right?

So, how do we know what counts as significant? I am, for the fourth or fifth time, again going to suggest looking toward history. I mentioned Vietnam and Nicaragua, and nobody has even tried to deny that the numbers of war opponents who were rooting for the other side was much greater then.

A.S. says WWI and WWII are counter-examples. Not true, as David Berke points out. Both World War I and World War II saw much more public opposition to U.S. involvement during the run up to and during the war: by pacfists, isolationists, members of ethnic groups from countries we were fighting; and at various points, the far left and the far right. The one 20th century war that featured relatively little public opposition was, oddly enough, the Korean War. And Gulf War I, I guess, although that was over pretty darn quickly.

Of course again we run into definitional issues about when opposition to a war becomes rooting for the other side, but by comparative standards at least, there is not a significant amount of either in the current Iraq war.

Finally, I'm still willing to say that folks who really are rooting for the Islamic theocrats to "win" should be condemned. Just as folks who falsely conflate most criticism of Bush or the war effort with that sentiment should be condemned.
8.16.2005 12:58pm
Steve:
Gulf War I had significant opposition, although it may not seem so in hindsight. The Congressional vote, to start with, was far closer than the vote on the current war. I was in college at the time, and I remember the street being flooded with hundreds of protestors holding "No Blood For Oil" signs. It's just that the war ended in a week or so and everyone felt mighty silly. But there was definitely a lot of public hesitation concerning the use of force - unsurprising, I guess, since it was our first significant military venture in some time.
8.16.2005 1:11pm
TL:
Justin-you are right: people should be accountable for what they say or write. Here are two of your persuasive nuggets.

Challenge, you like using obnoxious tones and insults to try to make up for the lack of persuasiveness in your posts. Do you think people are so dumb as to fall for it?

Professor Volokh, sadly to say, this is the end of
1) any chance you ever had at a judical appointment
2) your relevance.


You could learn a lesson from Galloway and Moore. People react and judge you for how you advocate your point (which is sort of the whole difference between "sypmathy for the Iraqis," and being a "Minuteman," no?).
8.16.2005 1:14pm
TL:
Who are we nobodys who type thoughts into cyberspace to say that Volokh is not relevant, will not be judicially appointed, etc.? He is in a different strata than are we, or we would have our own ______ Conspiracy, read by 100's of thousnads of readers each week.

Doesn't mean our opinions don't count, just means we should be careful how haughty we are in asserting them. . . unless we are in fact prominent legal scholars by day, and anonymous posters using pseudonyms like Justin, TL, Challenge, Public_Defender, et. al. by night.
8.16.2005 1:15pm
JoeSlater (mail):
Steve:

Yeah, that's why I added Gulf War I, so you could say that supports my overall point too. But it's not quite the same thing as a war like the others I listed and the current war: conflicts in which a decent number of Americans were being killed over a prolonged period of time. Those facts tend to raise the stakes on both pro- and anti-war sides.
8.16.2005 1:15pm
JoeSlater (mail):
Sigh ... Previous post should have read "that's why I *could have* added Gulf War I ...*
8.16.2005 2:19pm
Public_Defender:
The flaw in professor Volokh's argument is that he looks at Taranto's work the same way he'd look at a court decision, a legal brief, or a student's essay. In all of those case, it's frowned up to use backhanded insults to the integrity of people with opposing views.

But Taranto was engaged in political rhetoric, not legal writing. As another poster (and Crooker Timber) have more aptly described, Taranto (and many others on the right) work to conflate 1) any attempt to understand the motivations of the insurgents, 2) a hope that the insurgents will prevail, and 3) critics of Bush's war policy.

And finally, I was careful not to call Volokh's effort a "witch hunt." I used "snipe hunt" because I correctly believed that he would find virtually nothing to support his argument.
8.16.2005 2:21pm
Sandy007:
Reply to labrat:



no other documented instances or prominent American individuals



Why just individuals? How about a list of American organizations?



How about the endorsers of this Jury of Conscience document from the World Tribunal on Iraq? Let's take a look at this document, shall we? Here's a nice quote:

It is the occupation and its brutality that has provoked a strong armed resistance and certain acts of desperation. By the principles embodied in the UN Charter and in international law, the popular national resistance to the occupation is legitimate and justified. It deserves the support of people everywhere who care for justice and freedom.



Now take a look at who endorses the notion that the "acts of desperation" and "armed resistance" to the "occupation and its brutality" deserve "support of people everywhere".



The list is sort of long, but here's a few of the American groups:



Campus Antiwar Network



Center for Constitutional Rights



CODEPINK: Women for Peace



International Action Center



International A.N.S.W.E.R



National Lawyers Guild - NYC chapter



Veterans for Peace - NYC Chapter



United for Peace and Justice



Click the earlier link. There's plenty more. It makes no sense to turn a blind eye or to pretend that these folks don't support the Iraqi resistance when they blatantly obviously do.

people can move beyond insinuating that disagreements over policy by american citizens amount to treason

Maybe I'm just weird, but I tend to think that supporting the scum who are killing American troops amounts to a bit more than a policy agreement. It may not be treason, but it's certainly reprehensible and indefensible.

8.16.2005 2:52pm
MCO:
Justin et al.-

I find it hard to believe that you are arguing that prior to his most recent election, people thought of George Galloway as some sort of radical pacifist, as opposed to a vocal supporter of Saddam and, thereafter, the Iraqi "resistance." Let's take a quick walk down memory lane, shall we.

From March 2005, on the relationship between progressives and Muslims: "Not only do I think it's possible but I think it is vitally necessary and I think it is happening already. It is possible because the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies. Their enemies are the Zionist occupation, American occupation, British occupation of poor countries mainly Muslim countries."

From November 2004: "The people who invaded and destroyed Iraq and have murdered more than a million Iraqi people by sanctions and war will burn in Hell in the hell-fires, and their name in history will be branded as killers and war criminals for all time. Fallujah is a Guernica, Falluaja is a Stalingrad, and Iraq is in flames as a result of the actions of these criminals. Not the resistance, not anybody else but these criminals who invaded and fell like wolves upon the people of Iraq. And by the way, those Arab regimes which helped them to do it will burn in the same hell-fires."

And here's an oldie but a goodie from 1994, from a speech to Saddam Hussein: "Sir: I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability. And I want you to know that we are with you, hatta al-nasr, hatta al-nasr, hatta al-Quds [until victory, until victory, until Jerusalem]."

And here's a little nugget for you people who think Prof. Volokh is conducting some sort of a witch hunt for fifth columnists. In GG's book he says, among other things, the Shi'ites Saddam murdered in the 1980s were often "a fifth column" who "actively undermined the Iraqi war effort in the interests of their country's enemy". Now that's a witch hunt.
8.16.2005 3:03pm
Public_Defender:
TL,
I have not questioned Volokh's "relevance." I have also repeatedly expressed my respect for his blog. Please don't put words in my mouth.
8.16.2005 6:13pm
TL:
Pub_Def,
Please read posts more carefully. Your name is in the same list as mine. No one attributes you to the comment that "Volokh was not relevant." That was in a separate post.

Your name is only illustrative of the principle that most everyone on here does not take personal responsibility for posting like Prof. Volokh, who risks his credibility everytime he posts (even when he merely solicits topical discussion).
8.16.2005 8:44pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Following up on David Berke's point about "substantial", I would guess that it is more on the order of 100,000 to 250,000 Americans (or roughly 1/30 to 1/12 of 1%) who support the Iraqi insurgents. There are plenty of anonymous and pseudonymous posters to the more freewheeling leftwing blogs and bulletin boards (especially Democratic Underground) who take that position in their remarks, and watching any anti-war rally will reveal several people (usually dozens) passing out pro-insurgent flyers or holding pro-insurgent signs. Many of these are from groups such as Revolutionary Youth Communist Party, Young Spartacist League, and other CPUSA leftovers.

A review of the organizations supporting the "World Tribunal on Iraq" further evidences the widespread support among the fringe left for the Iraqi insurgents - the Green Party USA being the largest and best-known organization to do so.

With the ascendancy of Michael Moore in Democrat Party circles over the last two years, the risk is posed that Moore's statements will be defended or excused by Democrats because complaints would be seen as partisan attacks.

There are also prominent people whose other statements about the war have been so extreme and anti-American as to make it reasonable to infer that they too support the insurgents, with Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney being the highest ranking person clearly in this camp. [It is a logical outgrowth of saying that the US and/or Israel planned 9/11 to then say that the people we are fighting against are actually innocent and are the good guys.]

Add in the people who think the US deserved the 9/11 attacks (if those were OK, what could be wrong with targeting civilians in Iraq?), which overlaps significantly with the first two categories, but also includes public statements from people like U of TX professor Robert Jensen, who haven't been heard from publicly in a while, and you have a fairly substantial fringe, although one not heavily composed of political insiders, that could reasonably be expected to support the Iraqi insurgents.

As for the assertion that a significant number of conservatives/Republicans are trying to conflate opposition to the war or how it is being handled with support for the insurgents, that is true, and it is of a piece in modern political rhetoric with the NARAL ad on Judge Roberts. Overblown, misleading, and inflammatory attacks on political opponents are a fact of life as old as the Republic.

Nick
8.16.2005 8:52pm
hg wells:
One of my anti-war confided to me that, although he knew it was wrong, he hoped that US the would lose and lose badly in Iraq. I'm glad that my friend knew that what he hoped was wrong.

Then there was Prof. De Genova of Columbia who said, as Baghdad was being encircled,
The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military. I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus."
Those who oppose the Iraq War have a tricky line to walk between opposing US policy and supporting the Iraqi resistance. Which is not to say that it can't be done, but that it is tricky.
8.17.2005 2:27pm
Goober (mail):
Professor Volokh, if you still have the patience to read this thread (won't blame if you if you don't), Sandy007's little list up there is exactly the kind of thing that got people nervous about your call for names in the first place. It's reductionist, it tars with far too broad a brush, and it appears facially intended to create a group of "bad people" who are "hurting America," or whatever the buzzwords are these days.
8.17.2005 3:16pm
hg wells:
Goober -- I would note that many posters who have opposed Prof. Volokh's exercise have gone beyond being "nervous" to expressing ad hominems towards him.

If Volokh's request makes anti-war people nervous, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Frankly I think a discussion within the anti-war movement of where their opposition against the Iraq War ends and anti-Americanism begins is long overdue.

It's understandable to an extent. The more the Iraqi resistance succeeds, the more justified the anti-war position becomes and visa-versa.

I couldn't help but notice how subdued my anti-war friends were when Baghdad fell and later at the successful Iraqi elections. I thought the end of a fascist regime and the start of a new democracy were things that they could celebrate and still oppose the war, but apparently not.
8.17.2005 4:39pm
Public_Defender:
hg wells provides another example of conflating opposition to Bush's policies with a hope that the terrorists will win.

Even supporters of the war should be "subdued" in their comments about the fall of Bagdad and the "successful" elections. It's still far from certain that the elections were a success or that war will make Iraq a better place.
8.20.2005 11:47am