Dan Arel goes full regressive: accuses “classical liberals” (i.e., me) of “normalizing white nationalism”

January 27, 2017 • 8:30 am

I recently reported that Dan Arel, atheist author and blogger, had justified the sucker-punching of white supremacist Richard Spencer in Washington, D.C., basically saying that it’s okay to punch racists (he called Spencer a “Nazi,” which he’s not). My position is that it’s never okay to use violence against those whose ideas we dislike—unless they use it against you first and you act in self defense.

Incredibly, Arel has expanded his list of Nazis and white supremacists to include “classical liberals,” who are said to include Dave Rubin—and me! In a bizarre post on his website called “How classical liberals helped normalize white nationalism and elect Donald Trump,” Arel takes the position that those of us who favor unrestricted freedom of speech (by that I mean speech that doesn’t incite immediate violence or constitute harassment in the workplace), as well as those of us who oppose the incursion of postmodernism into academic or intellectual discourse, are all not only white nationalists, but also helped elect Donald Trump.

Arel’s thrashings and flailings, in a piece that’s also poorly written, remind me of nothing other than the behavior of a fighting bull that has been goaded by a picador, looking around madly for someone to attack. What’s gored him is apparently the election of Donald Trump, and he apparently has to blame that on somebody. Never mind blaming it on the apathetic Democrats who didn’t come out to vote for Clinton, or on the working-class whites who didn’t respond to the Democratic message. Arel wants to pin it on “classical liberals”. It was we, says Arel, who allowed Milo Yiannopoulus to spew his message of hate! It was we who attacked gender-studies programs in colleges! It was we who tar the entire left as “regressive”, while aligning ourselves with the Right and “white nationalism” on all but a few issues.  And that, he claims, has played directly into the hands of Trump supporters. Before I start masticating the meat of Arel’s argument (which is actually thin gruel), I want to make three points:

  • Arel’s claim that free speech leads to fascism is not only rank intellectual laziness, but betrays him as willfully ignorant of history. There are several well-studied and documented “causes” of fascism, none of which have anything to do with a society fostering the open exchange of ideas.
  • It would be convenient for Arel if everyone who was critical of censorship and thuggery was a Nazi-sympathizing fascist, as he claims. But his flailing and disingenuous hand-waving do not make it so.
  • Arel’s attempt to smear atheists and non-regressive Leftists as “white nationalists” and “Trump supporters” is a transparent attempt to make his readers ignore criticism of his own positions. By calling others names, he conveniently doesn’t have to defend his own positions.

Here, as far as I can make them out, are Arel’s claims. They’re all in support of his thesis that “left-wing” atheists are actually white nationalists who helped get Trump elected, stated below:

The so-called alt-right white nationalists have seemingly infected every fabric of American culture, no thanks in part to the media insistence on normalizing such a movement. Unfortunately, the atheist community, one that readily prides itself on rational thought, has not been immune to such infection, and many of the loudest voices have fought to not only normalize but also help amplify the voices of white nationalism.

Arel’s points:

Defending people’s rights to speak, including Yiannopolous’s, is not defending free speech, because people like him have no right to a platform.  My position has consistently been that anyone invited to a University or other venue properly should be allowed to speak without interruption or cancellation, though nobody has an absolute right to be invited. Nevertheless, given the prevalence of right-wing, pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, and other diverse student groups on campus, it’s inevitable that speakers will be invited with whom some (or many) disagree. If you don’t want to hear them, don’t go. Or, have counter-talks, or demonstrate outside the talk, or write some pieces for the student newspaper. There are also question-and-answer sesssions if you want to have direct discourse.

As for Yiannopoulos, my dislike for most of his views has been on display here for a while, and I rebuked him for calling out a transgender student at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Despite that, Arel says this:

Professor-emeritus and author of Faith vs. Fact, Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago attacked this petition and accused the left of suppressing Yiannopoulos’ free speech rights. Of course, Yiannopoulos has a right to his hate speech, but he does not have a right to a university stage, and the school has a responsibility to protect its students. Had the government shown up and arrested Yiannopoulos for such speech, Coyne would have a case. Instead, Coyne and others on his side are only giving rise to voices like Yiannopoulos’ and doing nothing to defend the people being harassed.

Coyne was satisfied with Yiannopoulos merely agreeing to not mock students again and not actually paying a price for his actions. Yet those students who feared the damage Yiannopoulos to other students was brushed off by Coyne as regressive and anti-free speech. This view is hypocritical.

I’m wondering what price Arel expects Yiannopoulos to pay for his actions. Milo’s churlish singling out of a transgender student surely cut down on the number of his invitations, for that looked bad to many people. Does Arel want Milo to be punched?

Further, Arel makes the serious mistake of saying that a violation of free speech occurs only when the government shuts somebody up. That’s not the case. Violations occur whenever somebody has a legal right to speak in a public place but then is not allowed to speak. On college campuses, that involves either blockading a venue or disrupting a speech so severely that the speaker can’t continue. And it doesn’t just happen to Yiannopoulos: Maryam Namazie experienced this same kind of suppression when she tried to speak about reforming Islam in Britain.

We free-speech advocates try to deny free speech to those whose views we don’t like.

Arel says this:

When Yiannopoulos recently signed a $250,000 book deal with Simon & Schuster, many on the left, including celebrities such as comedian Sarah Silverman and director Judd Apatow called for the publisher to abandon the book deal. In response to this, atheist Michael Shermer called the duo “Milo haters,” and asked when they would be holding a “book burning.” All calls for boycotts became “regressive” leftist extremism and Yiannopoulos’ racism, bigotry, and hate was again defended the loudest by classic liberalists.

The classicists defend “free speech” at every turn unless it’s speech they disagree with. Yiannopoulos, in their view, must be given this book deal, a university platform, and be left to spread his hate without consequence. However, the second you speak up, using your own free speech, you’re attacked and silenced as the enemy.

This new hypocritical brand of atheism is void [sic] of critical thinking. It is void [sic] of compassion. It is completely void [sic] of any sense of humanism. It holds nothing but unquestioned contempt for the left while marching goose-step with the right, turning a blind eye to the bigotry they claim to disavow.

Like that goose-step analogy? Think it’s accidental? Well, that aside, whoever said that Yiannopoulos has to be given book deals or university platforms? A company agreed to publish his book, and if you don’t like what he says or writes, don’t read it. But don’t ban it, either. As for university platforms, well, if some student group wants to invite Milo, and he accepts, then trying to ban him or shut him down is indeed a violation of free speech. I will defend anyone’s right to speak under those circumstances, whether or not I like what they say. When have I ever urged censorship of anyone? Throughout the article, Arel’s characterizations of my positions can charitably called lies.

And there’s this:

It would rather align itself with those Hillary Clinton referred to as “deplorables” simply because they share an equal hatred of Islam, and feminism, rather than align themselves with the left, which has been responsible for the decades of forward progress in the US.

Umm. . . I voted for Clinton and have always despised Trump. On the Rubin show, I said I considered myself a liberal and as someone on the Left, and had always voted Democratic. Arel goes on:

They [Rubin, I, and our minions, apparently] strawman the very idea of “safe spaces” claiming its leftist liberals begging to be coddled in school, refusing or caring not to listen that these are nothing but the same “spaces” we see in Alcoholics Anonymous, or even at private atheist meetings or gatherings.

Instead of listening to these reasonable demands, they attack and mock them. They welcome white nationalist speakers on campus and complain if students try and stop it, telling them to protest instead, and in turn, complain when they turn out in protest, accusing them of trying to live in a bubble and being an enemy of the free exchange of ideas.

I have listened to these demands, winnowed the reasonable ones from the unreasonable ones (not all are reasonable!) and explained why. I welcome all speakers on campus if they’ve been properly invited, and my complaints are not against protesting those speakers, but when those students try to “stop it,” i.e., shut down such speakers. Again, I’ve encouraged those who oppose speakers to picket, ask questions during the Q&A sessions, stage counterspeeches, and argue in the public forums. I have not argued that such protests should not occur (though I think they’re sometimes misguided), but only that their intent cannot be to prevent someone from speaking.

Apparently Arel is the one who’s in favor of censorship, approving of the punching of Spencer, apparently agreeing that publishers should abandon book deals if people protest their hate speech, and urging people to deny Yiannopoulos a platform to speak, even after he’s been invited. Remember, too, that Arel approved of Richard Spencer’s being sucker-punched, which is not only violence but also an attack on free speech. If you want to read two very nice pieces by free-speech lawyers about why we shouldn’t approve of such violence, or of shutting down “hate speech”, see these two articles.

On punching Nazis,” by Ken White at the Popehat site. One excerpt:

“Applying social and legal norms about punching or prosecuting people based on speech shouldn’t be confused for treating all speech as equivalent. All speech isn’t equivalent. Nazis are scum. They don’t support the social or legal norms in question and in fact support killing people based on skin color, religion, or disagreement. Saying they are scum, and that their speech is qualitatively different than other speech, and that they ought to be shunned and reviled, is not the same as punching or prosecuting them. It is a good thing to identify Nazis as scum and treat them – socially and rhetorically — accordingly.”

Defend Donald Trump’s right to free speech” by Marc Randazza on CNN. And one excerpt from that:

“It is a fair opinion to think Trump’s speech is offensive, problematic, or hateful. But, the First Amendment requires neither tact nor politeness. It requires that we permit all views to set up stalls in the marketplace of ideas, and we let that marketplace decide which ideas prevail. That is why it is called “the marketplace of ideas,” not “the marketplace of gangs beating each other up.”

Would Trump similarly stand up for the rights of others? I doubt it. But that is not the point.

If you don’t stand up for Trump’s liberty today, someone may come for yours tomorrow

If we believe in free speech, we need to believe in Trump’s as well.”

The regressive norms about speech adhered to by people like Arel will (and have been) used against those who encourage them. For instance, if the person who punched Spencer were black (he wasn’t), could he be prosecuted for a “hate crime” against whites? It’s not inconceivable.

Nobody, including Arel, should set themselves up as arbiters of what is “good” speech and what is “hate” speech that is okay to censor.  No speech should be censored, for the free exchange of ideas is designed to lead to the victory for the best ideas. That this is true is demonstrated by the advance of moral thought is a free society (in the U.S., for instance, civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, including marriage), and the lack of such advances in societies where discussion is prohibited or criminalized.

Decrying postmodern gibberish and extreme regressive leftism (e.g. excusing Muslim-based misogyny) is an offense to social justice and aligns the critics with white nationalism.

Arel thinks that my mockery of postmodernism, especially in gender studies, amounts to a critique of feminism itself. In fact, he contradicts himself below by saying that we atheist fascists do indeed support women’s rights, but yet we “mock gender-studies”. And look what I’ve put in bold!

These community appointed leaders argue for a further centrist, or a right-of-center libertarian model of government, one they cling to as “classic liberalism.” They break from the right only by supporting women’s rights, same-sex marriage, and a wall between the separation of church and state, yet the join the right in fighting against feminism, progressive social justice, and go as far as to mock gender-studies. Instead of embracing the political left and the strides it has made in those areas of social justice, Rubin, Coyne, and the like, lambaste the left as extremists, while aligning closely with white nationalism.

They give voice to the worst humanity has to offer and work to silence and shame those who stand up against such bigotry. This is because they accuse the entire left of being “regressive.”

There is no contradiction in promoting feminism and, at the same time, mocking the gibberish that comes out of not only gender-studies programs, but other areas of the humanities, including science studies. I am not aware of having written off gender-studies, science studies or other areas of the humanities as a whole; as readers will know, I claim that these areas are infected to greater or lesser degrees with postmodern cant and relativism, and call it out when I see it—as in the notorious “feminist glaciology” study, or academic work on the whiteness of pumpkins or the racism of Pilates.  Such studies are palpable nonsense, and I haven’t particularly concentrated on work coming out of gender-studies programs. Nonsense is nonsense, and a lot of it comes from postmodernism in the humanities. Science itself, which does accept the notion of progress towards truth, isn’t so afflicted.

As for aligning ourselves with “white nationalism”, which I take to mean white supremacy, Arel is simply lying. I’ll speak just for myself when I ask anybody to name one instance when I’ve lambasted the entire left as extremist, or, especially, “aligned closely with white nationalism.”

What we see here is the most classic regressive-Left technique: when you don’t want to deal with someone’s arguments, tar them with the worst epithets you can think of: racist, misogynist, and so on. That puts them beyond the pale, demonizing them to such an extent that one no longer needs to pay attention to what they say. Even on this site a reader will occasionally say that they have written off somebody’s entire oeuvre because of one thing they’ve said. That’s not wise, for everyone sometimes says foolish or invidious things.

 Such tactics have led to the accusation that in fact it is people like Arel, not me, who, through their policing of language and thought, have pushed a lot of disaffected and discouraged people into the Trump camp. As I’ve said, I’m not so sure about that claim, but I bet that accusation has stung people like Arel, leading to his and others’ attempt to throw the blame for Trump on the progressive Left.

I’ve already run on too long, for in truth I don’t think Arel’s slander deserves a response this thorough (and, truth be told, his commenters have kicked his tuchas so hard that he won’t be sitting down for a month), but I want to say one more thing about Dave Rubin. Arel indicts him, as have others, for failing to call out the right-wing views of some of his guests. Arel:

Host of the online talk-show The Rubin Report, Dave Rubin, an outspoken atheist, invites the likes of former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro, or Breitbart’s controversial Milo Yiannopoulos to speak for hours without offering counter arguments or forcing them to defend their white nationalist and xenophobic ideologies. Instead, Rubin looks for points of agreement and forms bonds. The alt-right, in turn, enjoys Rubin’s large audience to spread their message of hate. Rubin has stated his choice of guests help him push his own agenda, so if one is confused as to why he brings on such voices, it’s because Rubin himself is pushing this same agenda.

Rubin claims to be a champion of the free exchange of ideas, but you’d be hard pressed to find a guest he disagrees with. He goes as far as to blame the left for the election of Donald Trump, accusing the politically correct culture of rallying the right around Trump’s message.

What Rubin ignores is the fact that he gave a megaphone to many of Trump’s loudest supporters, giving rise and credibility to their ideas, empowering the white nationalist movement and bringing them to new audiences. It’s not the left that helped elect Trump, it was racism, sexism, anti-Muslim bigotry, and those who helped raise those voices above the rest.

If you consider who Rubin’s had on, including Sam Harris, Gaad Sad, Milo, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Lawrence Krauss, Inna Shevchenko, Sarah Haider, and so on, you’d be hard pressed to see these as fitting into any consistent agenda, much less the “alt-right” one or any adherence to “the white nationalist movement” (some of these guests, after all, aren’t white!). Rubin’s model for a talk show is not Jerry Springer, but Larry King, where guests get to simply air their views. Now you may say that Rubin lets some pretty odious views pass uncriticized, but remember that, as he’s always emphasized, he’s drawing out people’s ideas in an attempt to have his audience find a place where both Left and Right can sit on common ground.  It is the division between people, both culturally and politically, that has led to our extremely polarized society. If we’re to fix that, we either have to increase the polarization, and foment a revolution, or try to find compromise within our democracy. Rubin, I think, is engaged in the latter project.

Recommended reading: “The new totalitarians are here” by Tom Nichols on The Federalist (2015).

h/t: Grania

107 thoughts on “Dan Arel goes full regressive: accuses “classical liberals” (i.e., me) of “normalizing white nationalism”

  1. You claim that Spencer is not a Nazi.

    Video of Spencer: “Hail Our People! Hail Victory! Hail Trump!”

    What ‘people’ do you suppose he’s referring to? Could it possibly be… white people?

    And that phrasing, Hail So-and-So — haven’t we heard that before? Maybe sometime between 1933 and 1945?

    If Spencer is not a Nazi, then I give him props for his first-rate impression of one.

      1. For me, one important distinction is one of venue.

        A college campus is a very different place from a city street. Municipalities like Skokie have a police force for dealing with potential violence; college campuses usually have only a handful of officers. Someone like Milo brings a very ugly crowd with him wherever he goes, and public safety becomes an important issue with such hate-promoting personalities.

        Let me be clear: Nobody should interfere with anyone’s right to attend or hear a speaker.

        However: No group that supports the basic protections of civil society would even consider inviting a hatemonger like Milo to speak on campus. That the groups that invite him are not the Campus Nazis but rather the Campus Republicans shows how rotten the average right-of-center American is.

        No University administration should approve the appearance of such a person on campus. The role of the University is to spread ideas, not intolerance. Letting Milo speak on campus is the same as letting a modern-day Goebbels speak — it is utterly beyond the pale. The University has a right to keep such malevolence off-campus.

        If Milo wants to speak, he can rent a private venue in the city in which the campus lays, and he can have his free-speech rights, and the College Fascists can attend and cheer.

        Administrators at any place of learning permitting people like Milo to speak there should be ashamed of themselves.

        1. The role of the University is to spread ideas, not intolerance.

          And what’s to stop Universities from calling ideas you like ‘intolerance’? Do you seriously think that the people you give censorship power to will always agree with you on what should be censored?

          Good lord, man, look at our President and legislature. Look at how society is getting more conservative. IMO it was always a bad idea of the far left to claim some speech is too dangerous to tolerate. But now, it’s just sheer self-immolative, shoot-yourself-in-the-foot insanity.

            1. You’re right, just as tools like waterboarding, a sprawling spying apparatus, and increased executive power promulgated by Bush and Obama have not now suddenly fallen into the hands of Donald Trump.

              When you create weapons of silencing and intimidation in a democracy, you don’t get to hold onto them. They are always eventually used against you. That’s why we have *absolute* rights, like free speech.

              1. When you create weapons of silencing and intimidation in a democracy, you don’t get to hold onto them. They are always eventually used against you. That’s why we have *absolute* rights, like free speech.

                This cannot be repeated nearly often enough.

                NSA spying, waterboarding, persecution of whisteblowers and killing innocents with drone strikes do not suddenly become morally acceptable when ‘my team does it’

                “It’s ok when we do it”

              2. “It’s ok when we do it” has been the mantra of regressive and radical leftists for ages now. From harassment and violence (committing real harassment and physical violence, while calling any argument with them “harassment” and any words they disagree with “violence”), to staples of online cultural warfare like doxxing and public shaming. It’s ok when they do it because they’re “on the right side of history.”

                It wouldn’t be quite so odious if those same people weren’t also constantly using accusations of such things against their enemies to score points and shut down their speech.

              3. When I was 8 years old I believed that my opinions were obviously and clearly correct because why wouldn’t they be? It was inconceivable that I could ever be wrong about anything in my 8 year old mind.

                I have since grown out of that. It seems that many have not.

                Oh, it should be mentioned that the Randazza lawyer (mentioned in PCC’s article) who is pro free speech and anti-feminist has been hired by PZ Myers to defend against Richard Carrier’s defamation suit.

              4. Yes which is why I have said and will keep saying that SJW types don’t actually believe a lot of the sh*t that they spew.

                They are only ‘true believers’ until their pocketbook is in danger, then all of those superior ‘ethics’ can take a hike.

                They only care about power. This goes for evangelicals too. Their morals change depending on context, because all that matters is that they hold the moral high ground and you do not. And they use this ‘moral high ground’ as a cudgel to beat you into submission.

                A few years ago it was common for evangelicals to claim that they were being persecuted. Persecuted because they couldn’t deny gay people the right to marry. Basically, they were ‘victims of persecution’ because they could not force society to abide by their authoriatrian vision of utopia.

                SJWs and evangelicals are the same kind of people. They want to control your life – they use the same methods, all that they disagree on is which beliefs you should be *forced* to abide by.

                Speaking of evangelical types, I am currently arguing with a woman who just said that women deserve to bleed to death in pregnancy if they *chose* to have sex. She said:

                ” I think that you are ignoring that the embryo is innocent and the woman is guilty”.

                She then complained that I was criticizing her for her batshit beliefs. I told her that if she is gonna spew the crazy, that she should not whine when taken to task for it. No, I don’t believe that she should be punched for having such a despicable belief. However, I believe that her nuttery should be aired for all to see, so that people can be rightly 1) horrified 2) argue against it.

            2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slippery_slope#Non-fallacious_usage

              If an argument uses valid reasoning, it would not be identified as the slippery slope fallacy,[2] and the term “slippery slope” may be used without an implying faulty argument. Non-fallacious usage acknowledges the possibility of a middle ground between the initial condition and the predicted result, while providing an inductive argument for the probability of that result versus a middle-ground one, usually based on observation of previous comparable circumstances. This form of the argument is prevalent, under the actual name slippery slope, in United States First Amendment case law, for example.

              By definition, any case involving a valid establishment of a positive feedback mechanism constitutes a non-fallacious use of the slippery slope argument, since the slippery slope argument precisely describes a positive feedback mechanism.[3] The argument is fallacious when it is assumed that a certain action behaves with positive feedback without any prior evidence or logical reasoning that it does, but if evidence of a positive feedback mechanism is found, the slippery slope argument may be an accurate description. Positive feedback mechanisms are common in sociology, including positive network effects, and the bandwagon effect.

              Both fallacious and valid forms of slippery slope are prevalent in political and public policy debate generally;[4] distinguishing which one is operating in any given argument can be challenging.

            3. the problem, Pluto is you don’t even want to listen to anything you don’t like. If you want to learn about the humanities and history you have to read things across the political spectrum and you have to know about things that upset you because the world is not nicely sliceable into neat ideologies.

              1. +1

                You often have to work hard, walk long distances and wade through rivers of ‘shit’, to reach valuable insights on the other side.

                And, it is not (in my own experience) uncommon, that it turns out that it is the traveling in itself, that end up being the most valuable, and not where you happen to end up.

                The thinking often produced by these postmodernist (or their apologists) is (in my opinion) tarred with not only an intellectual laziness, but also a very naive and profound ignorance about basic human nature and our history.

                They want it all their own way, an appeal to the siren song of utopia. It is as if these people in some ways got stuck early on, and have not been able to, or wanted to grow up.

                Lives are messy, our societies are messy, and our histories are even messier, and if you put a bucket over your head every time something happen you don’t like, your world of knowledge and experiences will be very small indeed.

        2. Utter mollycoddling nonsense. You are envisaging conflict and physical assaults by both sides. The proper role of protesters should be silent protest in the face of such attempted provocations.

        3. Well if students have to resort to violence on campus, before someone they hate has even spoken, then I agree – the University authorities have to protect the rights and safety of their students by eliminating the violent elements from the campus community. Such violent persons have no place at a university and wouldn’t have been tolerated in my student days.

        4. It’s interesting that you say someone like Milo brings ugly crowds with him wherever he goes. Video after video has shown that those who turn up to see him are peaceful and just want to sit and listen to a talk, while it’s the regressives on campus who bring ugly crowds with them every time they protest something.

        5. Someone like Milo brings a very ugly crowd with him wherever he goes, and public safety becomes an important issue with such hate-promoting personalities.

          That’s a load of crap. There have been far more instances of “ugly” behavior on the part of the protesters than the people who come to hear him speak.

        6. A hate monger like Milo.

          Nope, you get much more hate froma various extreme and not so extreme left people and groups.

          ‘Someone like Milo brings a very ugly crowd with him wherever he goes’
          There is plenty of evidence of ugly left crowds, a never ending supply.

          Up to and including punching people.

          You have an opinion, a mere opinion. That it seems ‘so’ certain and true to you makes you feel warranted in calling for opposing voices to be ‘banned’.

          But realize please, that you are wrong.

        7. You’re both fantastically wrong.

          If you take the time to listen to Spencer’s views, you’ll find that they’re almost identical with european intellectual mainstream views of the end of the 19th century and the beginning 20th century – cultural supremacy based on racial divides in character and capabilities. Back then, this attitude was hardly considered anything more than ‘common knowledge’.

          Racism is not what set the Nazis apart from mainstream society. What set them apart was the offensive approach to cleanse society from destructive influences of societal movements that seeked to undermine the free development of the “Herrenrasse”; by all means, including, first and foremost, violent suppresion of their ideological opposition, which they deemed to be a jewish-bolshevik conspiracy. Their streetfights and barfights with the marxist-colored socialists (and communists) were quite legendary. They were dead serious about their goals and they had next to nothing in common with the bunch of chicken breasted protestors you see in the streets today, may they come from the left or the right.

          Judging from the people you call ‘Nazis’, it’s safe to assume you have no idea how any why Nazis became such a force. Terror on the inside, war on the outside. When Trumps sends a swarm of goons to kick down your door at 3 in the morning because you’ve said something bad about his ideas in public.. then by all means, call him a Nazi. Unless anything of that quality is even thinkable to happen in the US, please refrain from branding him, or anyone else, as ‘Nazis’, or you’ll look like ignorant fools.

          1. Thank you for this response, but it is on the uncivil side; please read the posting guidelines on the left sidebar. It is not necessary to call people “fantastically wrong” or say that they’re in danger of looking like “ignorant fools.” We don’t talk to each other like that here, and I expect that if you continue to post you’ll refrain from such epithets.

        8. That’s why Milo usually pays the security fees the university offers.

          Still, the “ugly crowd” he brings with him, are usually the people protesting him. To date, there’s only one instance of a Milo fan committing violence – and after footage came out confirming that it was self-defence, the police let him go and dropped all charges.

          So you’re either lying about Milo having some type of Nazi goons who deal out violence, or saying that it’s OK to ban a speaker because people like you, with your political opinions, will get violent and unruly. By that standard, you can shut anyone up, as long as you’re willing to behave badly. Which Milo’s protesters are more than willing to, frankly.

    1. Spencer is a Nazi-fancier, and that makes him a despicable human with loathsome ideas. That is not being disputed here.

      What is being disputed is notion being bandied about in the last few days that a healthy way for society to treat people with ideas they hate is physical violence.

      1. Which makes me giggle because in Latin “hail” is ave which I forever have translated as “hi”.

        1. Apparently it’s all right to say “hail” when saying “Ave Maria.” I find it interesting when certain phrases or gestures become anathematized after being used by certain people or groups. For example, what we think of as the Nazi salute was the standard salute to the flag in the United States prior to becoming the Nazi salute. The swastika had philosophical or religious symbolism before being used by the Nazis. It’s not the language, gestures or symbols that are at fault. It’s the people using them and the significance they intend.

    2. Just as a person doesn’t have to belong to the Libertarian Party to be a libertarian, a Nazi doesn’t have to belong to the Nazi Party to be one. Regarding Spencer, Wikipedia notes “Spencer has repeatedly quoted from Nazi propaganda and denounced Jews, and has on several occasions refused to denounce Adolf Hitler.” Spencer meets my definition of a Nazi, but I don’t care if he is called a white nationalist or a fascist. The point is that if he thought the circumstances were right, he’d be wearing a brown shirt and guiding the Jews to the gas chambers, presumably under his leadership.

      That being said, violence against him or denying the right to speak is not the answer. If a society that gives the highest priority to free speech cannot relegate Spencer to the most distant fringe of political respectability then that society is in deep trouble and the likes of Spencer would not be the cause of it.

    3. I once said “hail the mighty white mage” during a particularly stirring game of Dungeons & Dragons, but I’m not a Nazi.

    4. What does it matter for present purposes whether Spencer is a Nazi or not.

      There’s no “Nazi exception” to the duty to abide free speech by others. However distasteful we may find another’s speech, we have no right to punch his lights out based on speech alone, absent that person’s own violent conduct.

    1. Yes but it seems to happen all the time. The right gets walloped in an election, they pull together and become a strong opposition party. The left gets walloped in an election, they fall apart blaming each other.

      1. I think this seems to be because the right is better at gathering to troops to vote against a common enemy. Whereas the left is poor at it and seems to much more require a charismatic leader to vote for. For a recent example here in my home state of Wisconsin, look at the Walker recall election. The democrats just brought back the guy that lost to Walker in the first place. So in the end more people signed the petition to recall Walker, then came to the polls to vote for Barrett.

        Of course I may be wrong.

        1. Honestly, I think it’s because the Left is failing to acknowledge what sunk them to begin with.

          After they lost to Obama, the Right famously held a “postmortem” and tried to figure out where they went wrong. (Humorously, they decided to appeal more to Latinos next time, which probably helped them in Congress, but obviously they had an unexpected candidate who didn’t do that at all). Anyways, the Left had something similar and decided it was…Russia, or James Comey, or racists, or whatever. So they don’t actually think they did anything wrong, despite over 8 years losing the entire government. If one member of the Supreme Court dies over the next 4 years (8 years? incumbent advantage), then that’s the Supreme Court too. Blaming that on outside forces and the voters being bad people is just…bad. If the Left really wants to unite, they’ll figure out what they did wrong and try to change to accommodate that.

      2. Well if they want something or someone to blame for Trump having been elected they could start with a woman with an appalling record of hawkishness, incompetence and graft, who connived with cronies to steal (unnecessarily since they already had the superdelegates in the bag) the nomination from Bernie Sanders; and combine that with a party machine that apparently did not know the rules determining the vote of the Electoral College.

        1. Hillary got some 3 million+ more votes then Bernie did in the primaries and caucuses. Unless you have some evidence of voter suppression, ballot box stuffing, or vote stealing, your comment is nothing but piffle.

          The party machine was well aware of the rules for determining the Electoral College votes. The problem was that the Hillary brain trust fell for the notion that states like Pennsylvania and Michigan were in the bag and instead of insuring victory in those states tried for a landslide by putting resources into states like Arizona and North Carolina which were problematical, instead of taking care of business.

          The fact is that the Clinton people were too busy reading the pundits in the lamestream media who thought that dummkopf Donald didn’t stand a chance.

          However, IMHO, none of the strategic mistakes made by the Clinton brain trust would have mattered sans the intervention by the likes of Coney, Assange, and Putin.

          1. Ah same old colnago. You make the case for me. The democrats as you say ignored those states they needed to carry to get a majority of the electoral college votes. You don’t win by ignoring how the game is played. And it isn’t smart to field a candidate like Clinton with all the baggage she drags around. As for Comey, Assange and Putin (really? Putin? read Craig Murray’s blog sometime) the fact is neither the DNC nor Podesta’s eMails have been shown to be fakes. In fact they haven’t even been denied. Do you really think that Comey’s announcement changed anything people already knew or thought they knew about Clinton?

              1. To be fair that is a pretty bogus rape charge, you are making more of than is warranted, to score points.

                But I think Hillary was the best choice for a multitude of reasons, brought down by gossip and trivia.

          2. Let’s be real here for a moment: Hillary Clinton was under active FBI investigation. The media constantly downplayed this, while being biased in favor of her more generally.

            Add this to the fact that Bernie’s biggest issue was name and face recognition. Had he received the media attention he deserved, it might’ve been a very different race. I mean, they actually scheduled the primary debates on Sundays.

        2. No, now you’re doing the blame game. Pointing fingers at other Dems.

          Look, how about this; for the next four years, we are all sufficiently liberal. For the next four years, there’s no such thing as “not left enough” in the Democratic party. We’re all left of Trump and the current Congress, we all want the government to shift to the left, and if, in the future, someone like the Clintons comes along, accept that their election would shift the government to the left, would be enough left that people further to the left shouldn’t oppose it.

          You know, work together.

  2. “What’s gored him is apparently the election of Donald Trump, and he apparently has to blame that on somebody.”

    I can tell him whom to blame it on. Dan Arel: Look in the mirror.


    Left leaders like Arel spent the campaign beating their drum about what a piece of s#!t HRC is, which turned out to be an excellent voter suppression strategy: Suppressing Democrat voters.

    How about punching yourself Mr. Arel?

    1. Excellent point. This is his guilt talking.

      It’s also his ignorance. You’d think if you were going to spend an entire post criticizing the views of someone i.e. PCC(E), you’d at least make yourself familiar with their views first.

      I started writing a post pointing out all the errors in Arel’s post. Before I was half way through my post was already longer than his.

    2. Although Arel can be heavily criticized for his bad mouthing of Hillary, I have no problem with his refusal to vote for her. He is a resident of California which is now a deep blue state. My problem is with voters in purple states who declined to vote for Hillary, particularly in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

      1. So it’s ethically okay to do what Arel did, as long as you’re in a state blue enough to allow you the decadence of voting your conscience?

        That doesn’t ring true to me. And even that logic could fall apart if enough Californians made the same assumption Arel did.

  3. I think Spencer is despicable but punching someone out for saying something is not acceptable

    These depressing, irrational little self important ideologues are a large part of the reason why we’re saddled with Trump. They are not even humane – they are merely obsessed with being on the right side as they see it and quite happy to brutalise anyone who disagrees with them. Ultimately they are violent and unsocial and no different from the more thuggish element of Trump supporters.
    For example I don’t like the expressed views of this Rebel reporter who supports trump and is anti feminist but this is unacceptable – she was punched out by a guy at a women’s march where she was seeking to interview participants (not in a provocative way)

    1. Yes, never acceptable to use violence against a peaceful person.

      This seems symptomatic of the regressive left: Shout down, de-platform, or use violence to silence the people you don’t agree with.

      Seriously? These people are historically illiterate. They need to study the rise of Fascism and Nazism in the 20s and 30s.

      Suppressing free speech is never the answer. Attacking someone from “the other side” who is asking honest questions is nuts. It prevents any sort of discussion, learning, or understanding amongst people.

      Yeah, their are dick-heads. But we are still required to be the adults in the room.

      1. How do we know they haven’t studied the rise of fascism and nazism. Everything about their MO suggests that they have done so and taken the lessons to heart. Not the ignorant, self-absorbed foot-soldiers maybe but the leaders seem to have.

  4. I agree with most of this (although I think calling Spencer a Nazi isn’t unreasonable). But I do wonder whether there aren’t occasional limits. For example, just yesterday the Curzon Cinema in the UK backed down, after a concerted campaign of complaints, from allowing a screening of the film Vaxxed promoting Andrew Wakefield’s dangerous lies. As a person with similarly vigorous free-speech views as you, I find myself torn on this one.

    1. I would simply have picketed outside and handed out leaflets. After all, the Internet is loaded with tons of anti-vaxxers. Should we shut them all up? That won’t settle the issue, I think. Free discussion will, and is actually doing so now.

      Now making claims on drug packets that they do stuff they can’t–that I don’t see as free speech.

      1. Fair enough up to a point, but I can’t personally picket every despicable event.

        Sometimes I think there’s also a place for assuming ignorance on the part of those who are promoting these ideas. Just as anyone should be allowed to invite anyone to speak at an event, they should also be allowed to *disinvite* them if they become aware of facts about them they hadn’t previously appreciated. So if I learn that someone has been invited to speak and I think that person is hateful, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to write to the promoters and ask if that person has been invited with full knowledge of their background

        This case is a good example. The film was being screened in a private event, and people were writing to the cinema to ask them if they were aware of what it was they were showing and the background behind it. If they chose to remove the film having become appraised of the facts, I think that’s arguably their prerogative.

        (Although there’s a separate argument about whether a cinema ought to be in the position of censoring the films it shows – as with the pro-prayer advert that caused a storm recently, I have my doubts on that score too)

    2. A “concerted campaign of complaints” sounds like people exercising their free speech to me. Threatening a boycott and bad press, essentially. I think people are well within their rights to do that. I similarly have no problem at all with student groups who don’t want right wingers on campus to tell other students and their administration that.

      What I would object to would be threatening the theater (or Uni) with violence or other illegal retaliation. Claiming the theater, Uni, or another student group cannot bring such a person in as a matter of legality or policy. Or preventing, via physical blocking, of the event to occur. Those sorts of responses aren’t merely exercising ones’ free speech, telling the Uni/theater you don’t like their decision and won’t patronize their establishment any more. Those things are intimidation and an attempt to create a heckler’s veto.

  5. I agree with all that you have written. It was (and is) much needed. But for all those with short attention spans – the numbers of whom (even among those engaged in tertiary education) seem to increase annually – the 18 word sentence. attributed to Voltaire, but possibly first recorded by Evelyn B Hall in the early part of the 20th. century should become a mantra:-
    “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”.

  6. Dan Arel went “full Werleman” a few days ago. And as all sensible people know, you never go “full Werleman”.

    He also accused Stephen Knight (Godless Spellchecker) of a similar charge, and also stated that he wanted to deport all Muslims. A complete lie, of course.

    Dan actually retracted the claim and apologised to Stephen, but get this, this was AFTER Dan had blocked Stephen, meaning the latter could not directly see the apology. I guess this was a “notpology”, as SJWs would say.

    Dan looks like he has fallen in with the same sack of deplorables as CJ Werleman and PZ Myers, whose sheer hatred and illiberalism blinds their outlook.

    1. Arel’s project is about shutting down anyone who disagrees with him. Some of those people may be odious but so is Arels contempt for exploration of context and ideas outside a narrow range of ideology that he subscribes to. There are too many de facto totalitarians around; they come from both sides of politics and their approach harbours ill for democracy ; as a matter of fact many hard line leftists, just like hard line right wingers, have little respect for democracy and refuse to recognise the de facto messiness of all political processes and the impossibility of outcomes that please everyone.

      1. Not only do they have little respect for democracy, but they think democracy and its attendant rights shouldn’t be afforded to their ideological opponents. Most college students now believe free speech is a bad idea. People like Arel here don’t believe in democracy, they believe in totalitarianism where they and their friends are the elite and rule over the rest of the people who are too stupid to make their own choices and live by their own guidance.

    2. … never go “full Werleman”

      Right on. And around here, we try never even to spell out the full W*rl*m*m, man. 🙂

      One must maintain one’s standards — “All the names that are fit to print,” to paraphrase The Times‘s motto.

  7. For instance, could the black person who punched Spencer be prosecuted for a “hate crime” against whites? It’s not inconceivable.

    Good piece; but I thought it was a white guy who hit him? I may be wrong; I have trouble keeping up with the news these days, what with Trump and Brexit!

    Here’s another article decrying Dan Arel from Alonzo Fyfe:


    On this matter, I would argue that Dan Arel’s posting presents a much greater threat to my safety and the safety of other innocent people than Richard Spencer. It is much more likely that one will listen to Arel, take from it an attitude that a particular act of violence is justified, and engage in an act of violence than that Spencer’s words. This is because more people are more likely to listen to Arel and conclude that an act of violence is justified than will draw that conclusion from Spencer.

    This would make Dan Arel a threat – a more significant threat then Spencer. This, in turn, would justify the use of violence against him – to get him to shut up – before some innocent person is harmed as a consequence of his words. However, I would argue against such use of violence since I hold that Dan Arel has a right to freedom of speech that grants him a moral immunity from violence for mere words. The only legitimate way to respond to Arel is with a counter argument – which I present here.

    1. It was a white guy who punched Spencer. Some people on 4chan doxxed him and the guy is some sort of poo-fetishist.

  8. Yes, Jerry, you identify the key point about the expansion of definitions. Hitchens made a related point about how people one disagrees with ascribe the worst possible motives to your opposition.

    I had a conversation with a supporter of Arel who approved of the sucker-punch on Spencer. He supported the biff because Spencer is a fascist, which he then defined as terrorization and the ‘excision’ of others – an odd phrase.

    I pointed out that this would equally apply to supporters of Saddam, Assad, Stalin’s pogroms, Suhartoists, the Myanmar junta, Nigerian anti-Igboists, the Rwandan government 1994, the Taiping rebels, Pol Pot, Mao, Omar al-Bashir, the Bangladesh genocide, IS. I could have added Hamas, Hezbollah, AQ and almost limitless others.

    My interlocutor did not demur. I suppose the corollary is that he thinks the best way to fight fascism is through some one-by-one street-ruck à la a cartoon Popeye bing pow. He must possess one hell of an upper-cut: as well as lots of free air-miles.

    1. Indeed.

      I’ve had similar debates, and you quickly find out that many of those that approve of punching “fascists”, get a bit vague when it comes to which other groups of people we can go around and start punching as well.

  9. “If you consider who Rubin’s had on, including Sam Harris, Gaad Sad, Milo, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Lawrence Krauss, Inna Shevchenko, Sarah Haider, and so on, you’d be hard pressed to see these as fitting into any consistent agenda, much less the “alt-right” one or any adherence to “the white nationalist movement”

    The last two Rubin Reports I listened to were Margaret Cho and Yanis Varoufakis – those bastions of the alt-right!!!

  10. I’ve come to the conclusion that self promoting extremists, of any political persuasion, have poisoned public debate. They used to be dismissed as nutjobs and obsessives but the media (including social media) actively promoting ‘exciting’ news everything gets polarised into tribal positions.

    Yet in real life people still manage to get along tolerably well – but how long will this continue? You can *always* find offence or victim-hood if you look for it (justified or not), especially if you have been primed to do so by those pushing their own agendas.

  11. Arel engaged in some pretty despicable character assassination there. And none of it was accurate. How in hell do you have a reasonable, cooperative association with someone like Arel after they have committed themselves to such a rant filled with lies, half truths and venom?

    Most people aren’t able to change direction once they have so forcefully and publicly committed themselves. It is self inflicted damage that can effectively close off certain paths of thought that they might have otherwise been able to take.

  12. From comments on Arel’s blog:

    “”Solid Bow
    a day ago
    The 2nd Paragraph is, essentially, accusing 3 Jewish men of being Neo Nazis.

    That’s incredible.

    If you can’t see how that’s ‘regressive’ there’s zero hope for you.”””

  13. For me, the most firghtening thing that Arel said was:

    “Of course, Yiannopoulos has a right to his hate speech, but he does not have a right to a university stage, and the school has a responsibility to protect its students”

    Leavng aside the misrepresentation of the fundmental right of students to invite as a strawman assertion of right of a speaker to be invited, this is a repulsive doctrine, giving University administrations the right – indeed the duty – to decide which views are so dangerous that students need to be protected from exposure to them.

    Nor am I impressed by the “threat of public disorder” defence of censorship, which grants a veto to disruptors.

    Meanwhile, whie we are busy with this nonsense, in the real world MAGA is morphing into Make Abu Ghraib Again

    1. You’re right here. What I see from the regressives is that they’ve learned a lesson from Islamic radicals. They’ve seen that when cartoonists dared draw a picture of Mohammed,reactionary Muslims rioted and many (too many) institutions began self-censoring the reproduction of such images. What Arel is arguing is that if universities allow certain speakers to speak, he and his ilk will protest violently; therefore, in his twisted logic, it is the university that is creating the unsafe space. He’s demanding that universities self-censor, like the American media did/does in the face of implied threats of jihadis.

      1. They’ve already been using this tactic for the last few years. Several colleges where Yiannopoulos had been invited to speak shut down his talk, using the excuse that security costs would be too high because of all the violence protesters have engaged in at other schools. They’ve managed to silence opposition with violence on many campuses.

        1. After studying/engaging right wing evangelical authoritarian nuts for the last few years I have come to the conclusion that they are really just a mirror image of illiberal leftists.

          For example: it has been a tactic of pro-lifers to loudly protest outside abortion clinics and then to complain to the government to get the clinic shut-down because it is a ‘threat to health and safety of those nearby’.

          1) they create the disturbance
          2) they demand that the opposition be silenced/shutdown because it is the ultimate cause of said disturbance

  14. Arel’s mistake is to believe that atheists should speak with one voice on issues other than atheism. There is no logical reason why this should be. As regular visitors to this site surely know, the political views of the commentators (presumably overwhelmingly atheists) vary greatly. Rubin’s political views are not in accord with mine. I think he is wrong much of the time. The fact that he is an atheist is irrelevant. My political views often are in accord with theists of a liberal bent.

    Atheism is not a political movement in regard to most issues. It only becomes political when elements of society propose discrimination against atheists or attempt to foist religious beliefs on them. Otherwise, I will ally myself with any political group whose agenda conforms to my own.

    1. + 1. Some fellow commenters here, when we have a serious disagreement, rush to declare me a closet believer. While I find nothing wrong if a believer comes to an atheist site to exchange opinions with atheists (as long as it’s civil and the host doesn’t mind), I am not such a case.

      1. I regularly disagree with you regarding immigration policy, but I hope I’ve never accused you of being a closet believer! What Historian says is entirely true; atheists can, do, and will disagree on political issues. And that’s okay, so long as nobody is trying to alt-left the other into silence. 🙂

      2. It’s just the radical left atheist’s version of the same old ploy they use again and again: if you don’t agree with me, you’re a racist/sexist/misogynist/transphobe/homophobe/fascist/etc.

        Of course, the right-wingers use this tactic too; all extremists do, because they simply can’t comprehend how someone could disagree with them without being a despicable person.

  15. The attempt to restrict the speech of one’s political opponents is age old, even in this country. What amazes me is that those who make the attempt never understand that if they succeed in legitimizing censorship (notice how it’s never called that by its supporters), then all that’s left is to argue about what should be censored. That would be solved at each election (unless we were to do away with those). Now that Trump is President, I wouldn’t think that anyone who opposes him would support censorship, because at this point Bad Speech is more likely to be determined and restricted by his partisans.

    With regard to safe-spaces, I rarely see anyone come out and identify their origins with self-help groups. While I support safe-spaces in that context, that is a choice that all members make when they join something like AA. Many (most?) people don’t go to college for self-help, and shouldn’t. That’s not what schools do. Schools educate, and the idea that ideas shouldn’t be challenged is antithetical to that mission. You can’t impose safe-spaces; that would be a form of censorship. Save it for group.

    1. Exactly.
      That confusion over ‘safe spaces’ probably reflects a tad more confusion over, hmm, everything.

  16. If you take the views of the ultra-right, OR the ultra-left, and follow them to their extremes, you will ALWAYS find yourself at fascism.

    1. True. We were always taught that they were opposite ends of a spectrum, but it’s really a circle that meets at the extreme.

      1. I regard it more as a x-y graph, with left-right on the horizontal axis and authoritarian-vs [whatever is the opposite of authoritarian] on the vertical axis. And right at the top of the vertical axis, authoritarianism swamps all other considerations and you have fascism.

        (At the bottom, you have, I presume, anarchy).


  17. So they’re so upset by the alt-right that they want to establish and empower some government entity to censor and punish objectionable speech, even though they are completely aware that the at-right is currently in power and will be running that entity.

  18. … it’s never okay to use violence against those whose ideas we dislike—unless they use it against you first and you act in self defense.

    I would append to that the defense of innocent third-parties and, in specific circumstances, the use of violence to prevent an imminent attack using deadly force by another — the analog of “preemptive war” (by which I mean the legitimate preemptive-war doctrine, not the bullshit version that Dubya peddled to get us into a war in Iraq).

  19. Regressive left thuggery accomplishes the exact opposite of the self-righteously proclaimed aims of the regressive left: It justifies violence from right wing thugs and gives them totally undeserved credibility when they speak of “libtards” and how all liberals are thuggish authoritarians fighting to take away our freedoms. When someone throws the first punch it is a photo-op for the person whose views he opposes to claim victimhood and the moral high ground.

  20. Growing up as a lefty, one of the things that stood out was how the right-wing would use morality as their excuse for restricting free-speech. It turns out that they also believe in free speech, but in the particular circumstance we find ourselves in, the expression of it violates a moral taboo. Thus it is justified to deny the right for free speech to others.

    In other words, what I saw was a conservative culture that denied the liberals a voice using morality as an excuse. Looking back on it now, I think I ignored (or even excused) all those liberals who were looking to do the same to conservatives. And now given I’m still very much in a liberal bubble, what I tend to see is the left doing it – and doing it with such sincerity that it makes me wonder if freedom of speech was ever a liberal principle.

    The basic principle behind defending free speech seems a no-brainer – if you argue for restrictions in speech, then those who wish to deny your speech have grounds to do the same. And ideas really ought to be refuted rather than labelled as societal taboos.

  21. Just read Dan Arel’s entire piece (patting self on back. I find it too imbecilic to be worth taking apart any more than has been done here so admirably, or, indeed, by a great many intelligent commenters on his blog.

  22. Oh dear, I seem to be a white-supremacist Nazi. And I used to be a commie socialist pinko nigger-loving leftie. In fact I think I still am.

    I’m suffering a major identity crisis. Thank you so much, Mr Arel.


  23. ‘As for aligning ourselves with “white nationalism”, which I take to mean white supremacy, Arel is simply lying. I’ll speak just for myself when I ask anybody to name one instance when I’ve lambasted the entire left as extremist, or, especially, “aligned closely with white nationalism.”’

    Describing white supremacist H. L. Mencken as “the first New Atheist”.


    1. If that’s the best you can do, that’s pretty pathetic. Why don’t you say that I expressed admiration for Darwin, who, though an abolitionist, also believed in the superiority of the white “race.”


  24. This article that Arel has written is really innaccurate and it’s a shame it will probably just be taken and believed at face value.

    I’ve gotta admit though, that I’m getting a little bit skeptical of Rubin’s setup and the use of the “classical liberal” label. Isn’t classical liberalism already an established political movement (that includes free market capitalism among other liberal values))? Yet, Rubin also claims to be a left-liberal, which isn’t really compatible with free market capitalism. I’m assuming the term “classical liberal” is just being used in a new way, but I’m also wondering if Rubin hasn’t fully jumped ship into the full-blown libertarian/small government style of “classical liberalism” that might more accurately be described as right than left. I’ve seen a lot of comments and suspicions that might back that up as well. I still love the Rubin Report, I’ve just been considering some nit-picky complaints and thoughts.

    I think there definitely should be a term for an American left-leaning liberal minus the reliance on postmodernist thought and authoritarian tendencies, but “classical liberal” could be confusing to a lot of people since it already has a meaning.

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