The Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web blog is back from vacation, and I’m so pleased because they are talking about me again. Editor James Taranto is now calling me Baroness of Mush (he’s quite the wit), because in a recent column I defined incivility, in part, as “not letting other people speak their piece” — shortly before cutting off comments to this blog.
And so I did, for reasons already covered. But let me explain something to Monsieur Taranto. I didn’t stop people from speaking their piece, only from speaking it on my own private blog. It’s my party, and I invite the guests.
Private property should not be a very shocking concept over at The Wall Street Journal.
Speaking of which… I’m rather grateful for the feature on the WSJ site, including Taranto’s blog, that gives readers the option of hiding comments that are not posted by paying subscribers. As The New York Times said last year in News Sites Rethink Anonymous Comments, The Journal offers the turn-off valve:
on the theory that the most dedicated readers might make for a more serious conversation.
Hey, perhaps I should start charging for my blog and let paying customers hide comments by the outsiders.
Anyhow, those unhappy with me these days are free to unload on their own websites or on Taranto’s — if he lets them.
Douthat column this morning warns us of the dangers of making foolish stereotypes about Christian conservatives — and the politicians who cater to them.
The key part, applicable to influences outside religion, as well:
it’s easy to succumb to a paranoid six-degrees-of-separation game, in which the most radical figure in a particular community is always the most important one, or the most extreme passage in a particular writer’s work always defines his real-world influence.
Moderate Republicans may be liked in New England, but getting re-elected is another matter.
Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, meet former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee.
The Obama administration has done the hard part of comprehensive immigration reform. Time to move on to step two.
Oh really? Read WALL STREET, PREPARED FOR THE WORST…
Contingency plans are in place, positions established and cash sidelined. Now it’s a matter of wait-and-see, along with collective annoyance that the confrontation has dragged on this long. While few think the United States will default on its debt obligations, if 2008 has taught investors anything, it’s to prepare for the worst.
Columns by me and others calling tea partiers “terrorists” for threatening to blow up the American economy if they don’t get their way set off a stormy (and orchestrated) fit of protest letter writing.
A Wall Street Journal blog mischievously placed quotes from my column above or below (I forget) quotes about my being president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, which runs a Civility Project. The clever James Taranto never directly called me uncivil. Pointed and provocative commentary is hardly a shocking concept over at WSJ. But the tea partiers were not that clever, as Taranto — under fire himself for calling them “Hobbits” — knew they would not be.
My new column expands on the topic of civility, sensitivity and economic terrorism.
In Britain, the impact of mass immigration and ensuing cultural conflict has been dropped in the laps of the working class while the “fancy villages” wall it all off. The recent riots suggest this situation cannot continue.
With Washington, D.C., in smoking disarray, the states are doing things that liberals and conservatives have supported — and that liberals and conservatives have disliked. There is an argument letting states solve some of the sociological conflicts in concert with local sentiment.
Terror Monday on Wall Street confirmed my opinion that the tea party is poison to America and its economy. I can’t argue with its members, because they don’t deal with the facts as I and most of the world know them. But I do argue with the Republican leadership for not having marginalized this national wrecking party and with Obama for letting the full faith and credit of the United States become subject of “compromise.”
As many know, I am currently president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, which is embarked on a Civility Project whose mission is to raise the quality of the national conversation. The Civility Project’s director is Frank Partsch, who served as editorial page editor of the Omaha World-Herald for a quarter century.
Last week The Wall Street Journal blog stirred up the tea party swarms by noting that I’m president of a group that promotes civic discourse and then quoting from the column.
My column was tough but not uncivil. In my experience, the columns that raise the most ruckus are often the ones that hit the mark.
So I take back not a word of it. Subsequent events — the collapse of the Grand Bargain at the hands of the tea party and the downgrade of America’s credit rating — support my case.
New York Times columnist Joe Nocera also referred to the tea partiers as terrorists and subsequently apologized. I have great respect for Nocera, but I hope that this change of heart did not reflect his being overwhelmed by the orchestrated tea party attacks with which I am quite familiar.
Meanwhile, let me quote Partsch on the Civility Project:
Let’s give some individual thought to what incivility is and what it is not. Let’s be thinking about where we, individually, might draw the line between robust, hard-hitting, withering commentary and, on the other hand, cheap-shot, below-the-belt incivility. Most of us know that effectively scoring on a point of argument opens us to the accusation of mean-spiritedness. It comes with the territory, and a commitment to civility should not suggest that punches will be pulled in order to avoid such accusations.
It’s possible that a good part of the audience isn’t ready for the finer distinctions. So our commitment to civility may have to involve, in part, building up the understanding that not every smartly-targeted rhetorical barb is an automatic example of incivility.