Before I get into the reasons why I’ve decided to discontinue posting essays or comments at buhdydharma‘s Daily Kos-inspired blog, let me briefly explain why I began posting there in the first place.

A couple of weeks ago, I joined Docudharma at the suggestion of a Kossack who recommended that I cross-post my diaries there, in case one of them didn’t get much site traffic on Daily Kos.  While I know for a fact that there are writers who post at Docudharma because they are frustrated with different elements of Daily Kos, that was not the case for me.  I simply wanted an additional outlet for publishing and discussing my political opinions.  The first diary I posted there was generously promoted to Docudharma’s front page within a couple of hours, which I thought was pretty cool (and it was also listed on Daily Kos’s Diary Rescue later that night).

I figured that there wasn’t really any harm in cross-posting my diaries over at Docudharma, if only to give them a little extra exposure.  But, my decision to leave Docudharma has nothing to do with my own diaries.  It does, however, have everything to do with this one — entitled “The United States is Evil.”  It was published by TocqueDeville, a well-known former Kossack whose posting privileges at Daily Kos were revoked several months ago.  The essay itself contained nothing except for a YouTube video set to the soundtrack of a speech given by John Stockwell, a former CIA officer who described atrocities committed in other countries by the CIA and the U.S. military.

It was bad enough that the essay’s title was designed to be inflammatory, and that the diary had no substantive or original commentary by the author to back up his claim.  What was worse was his response to a commenter who strongly objected.  Here’s what the author had to say to that commenter:

You can jump off a high building for all I care. You’re just another cog in the machine. A brainwashed warrior-slave who would rather hold on to a delusion than accept reality and help fight it. Just another good German, your loyalty to the empire has been noted.


Are Americans evil? Of course not. The people ruining and running this country are but a small minority. But one’s individual minor infraction, shopping at Walmart, driving around like there’s no tomorrow, CAN become evil en masse.

In other words, we are not individually evil. But we can be collectively evil. Understand, there are no absolutes. And there are saints among us. I hear about them from time to time.

But the simple truth is most Americans are, to varying degrees, spoiled, fat, selfish idiots. And if you told them that driving SUVs would put their grandchildren in great peril, and possibly cause mass extinctions across the planet, they would drive them anyway.

It’s funny how a person can write a sentence like “there are no absolutes,” yet also claim in the same screed that the actions taken by a minority of people in power — as well as day-to-day actions undertaken by ordinary citizens that the author considers “minor infractions” — therefore makes the entire nation of the United States “evil.”  It’s a simplistic, ignorant generalization that’s hardly worth debating.  It attributes the actions of a sample of people and globalizes them to the entire population.

I do wonder, as a matter of consistency, if TocqueDeville considers other nations to be “evil” as well.  After all, there are a lot of SUV drivers in Japan, and Germany, and China too.  I wonder, as a matter of logic, if TocqueDeville considers the United States to be morally “good” at the same time — because after all, there are lots of people in this country who don’t drive SUVs and do good deeds like charity work and community service.  I also wonder how he came to the conclusion that “most Americans are, to varying degrees, spoiled, fat, selfish idiots,” and what criteria he used to determine those qualities in an entire nation of people.  Besides, even if it were true that “most Americans are, to varying degrees, spoiled, fat, selfish idiots,” so what?  That’s not the same thing as being “evil.”  Applying a moral extreme like that to an entire country because the author believes that most of its citizens are “spoiled, fat, and selfish” illustrates a gross misunderstanding of what the term “evil” really means.

But beyond the logical fallacies in his arguments, the author’s essay strikes me as being nothing more than incendiary.  As someone who has been very critical of some of President Obama’s policies thus far — like escalating the conflict in Afghanistan — I would still never stoop so low as to brand my country as being “evil” because I strongly disagree with that policy.  I didn’t think the United States was “evil” even when George Bush was President, and his administration did a lot of horrible, morally repugnant stuff.  It’s true that there have been evil institutions in this country’s history that were constructed and maintained by those in power (i.e. slavery, Jim Crow laws), and there certainly have been powerful individuals in the highest levels of our government who undertook criminal and evil actions of their own (i.e. authorizing torture of prisoners).  But TocqueDeville’s essay doesn’t discuss these issues or policies in a rational manner.  It just applies a moral absolute to an entire country based on the actions of a few, all while the author lamely denies the existence of moral absolutes.

Now, you might wonder why I would care enough about this one blogger’s opinion.  Surely I could just ignore it and continue posting at Docudharma anyway, right?  And, aren’t there lots of diaries at Daily Kos that make the Rec List, even if I strongly disagree with the arguments made in some of them?  Well, the problem is, TocqueDeville isn’t just some random blogger at Docudharma.  He’s one of their main front page authors.  Whatever positions Markos or Meteor Blades might hold on particular issues (and however you might disagree with them), they don’t engage in the kind of inflammatory rhetoric that accuses an entire nation of being evil.  In my opinion, allowing that particular diary to go right to Docudharma’s front page — without editing or fact-checking or criticizing or even asking the author to elaborate further on a rather extreme claim — reflects poorly on the website’s management and those who endorsed it.

I don’t say that to cast aspersions on all writers at Docudharma — there are some eloquent diarists who participate in their forums and make good points.  I’m not going to attribute TocqueDeville’s opinion and globalize it to the entire population of Docudharma.  But I would still rather not be associated with a website in which one of its main authors uses extreme language like to make an incoherent point — and then dismisses someone who objects to that point as a “brainwashed warrior-slave” and “just another good German” who can “go jump off a high building.”

So, I hope the site admins and other users at Docudharma will respect my decision to leave.  I appreciate that they allowed me to post my opinion there, regardless of how short-lived an experience it was.



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    • quince on December 22, 2009 at 18:25

    It belongs here, not there.  

  1. You want to pick up your marbles and go home because you can’t handle the truth about what our nation has done, then go away and don’t come back, you whiny little right-wing douchebag.  You’re neither needed or wanted here.

    • TMC on December 22, 2009 at 18:30

    over one essay. I think your reasons are rather weak considering you voice no objection to the hateful screed diaries attacking Jane Hamsher that are based on a lie and misinterpretation of her own words. Those diaries have been littering the Recommended List there for days with little or no comment from the administrators or Markos. The comments are even worse and the attacks on slinkerwink are vile. You’d think Dkos was a right wing blog. But to each his own. Good Luck.

    • quince on December 22, 2009 at 18:35

    but I bet had you voiced your objections in a non-GBCW diary you might have been front paged here too. DD thrives on competing viewpoints. Its one of the best things about this place.

    I hope you reconsider. DKos is my main home too (for now), and I’m a bit erratic on my postings here, but I think you would have plenty to contribute if you decided to stick around.

    Just my opinion, and we all have to pick where we want to live on the internets ourselves.  

  2. For me there’s a bottom line, or rather two different phenomenon going on.

    You might classify a statement that the “United States is Evil” as hyperbole or you may not.  It doesn’t offend me, because I hold no particular feeling or obligation to share that point of view; rather an exhortation to get better as a country is implicit in any such statement.

    I’m not saying you do at all, but I never thought of my country as being like my mother, for whom a statement deriding it whether accurate or not is fundamentally a kind of fighting words.  Rather, statements like “The United States is Evil” I feel free to either ignore or use as a baseline for discussion.

    The reason on the other hand that things like rah rah pro Americanism in a vacuum don’t do much for me, or that I find , yes, even mildly offensive, is that the phenomenon of jingoism is actually a pretty big problem in our society, one that is designed to keep us from looking at the big systemic problems our country faces.  It is a huge irony that those who feel the most positively about America often seem to be the ones who are loathe to fix anything that is wrong — by denying anything is wrong.

    The best parts of America are the ones which are routinely deprecated both by mindlessly flag-and-bible-self-wrapping Republicans and right wingers and also, at times, ironically by people we think of as on our side on the issues, moderate pro-lefties.  That dissent is bad, or that it hurts our leaders — there is nothing about that that is recognizably American.

    I want at least for some kind of America I recognize to be here 100 years hence.

    I understand your point of view and I even respect it.  But I don’t think the discussion of the bad things America does or has done, even wrapped in a statement like “The United States is Evil” goes to the credibility of a blog, rather it might be indicative of a blog that is brave enough to look at the ugly rust coated parts of the undercarriage.

  3. An open mind can always stand a closed one, if it has to — by making room for it in the general picture. But a closed mind can’t stand it near an open one without risking immediate and complete destruction in its own terms. In a closed mind, there’s no more room.

  4. knowing full well that it’s a short synopsis of MASS KILLINGS – tip of the iceberg in fact – and not come to same conclusion as Toque did?

    You have now made yourself in fact a poster boy/girl for American culpability, since you’re clearly more upset about what Toque said, then about the fact this really happened. Is still happening. And- due to a nation of knee-jerk arm-chair ‘patriots,’ folks like you, who could apparently care less–will continue to happen far into the future.

    I’ll glad Toque pissed you off, and that you outed yourself, as someone whose values are upside down.

  5. You have no idea what you’re talking about, he hardly ever posts here.  

    The central theme of his essay is accurate, evil is pervasive in this country.  Whether that makes the United States itself evil is a matter of opinion.  You should be focusing on the pervasiveness of evil in this country and what to do about it instead of leaving DD because the title of an essay offended you.        

    • Inky99 on December 22, 2009 at 22:01

    This place is different.

    And if you like the extremism and the hatred expressed on a constant and sadistic basis over at DK, well then more power to you.

    For the most part (like the one comment in this one) that shit is left at the door here.

    And TDV is right.  If you don’t like it, engage.   Prove otherwise.

    I totally agree with TDV on this one.   If you’re not one of the beneficiaries of the United States’ evil, you see it for what it is — it’s evil.  

    Most of us benefit from the evil, so it’s in our best interests, both psychologically and materially to say “hey, it’s not SO bad!”.

    There was a commentor at DK the other day, when the health care bill passed its first 60 vote test, actually say “Abortion doesn’t affect me, so I don’t care about that”.   Person actually said that.  Was recced up.  He wasn’t being snarky.  

    That’s the whole problem.

    I just wrote a comment in another diary about the Druse Muslims in the hills of Lebanon, and how they hate us, and Israel, for how we indiscriminately bombed them from ships that they couldn’t even see, back in the 80’s.   We lobbed bombs the size of volkswagens up and over the hills, into their homes.  We slaughtered women, children, old people, you name it.   There was no purpose for it, it was PURE TERRORISM, because there was no military purpose for it whatsoever, it was designed just to scare the shit out of people.

    That’s evil.

    Most people here don’t even know about it.

    • dkmich on December 22, 2009 at 22:07

    personally benefit from the hc bill and didn’t give a damn about it beyond that.    

    • Xanthe on December 23, 2009 at 00:51

    You wouldn’t give a friedship or a relationship such a short time before making a dead cut.  What’s up?  Something else afoot?

    We are all so paranoid on these blogs now, aren’t we?  At any rate – so long and good luck.  

  6. match the intensity of the events, this is something, I know a lot of people on Kos object to. I am capable of making my point, at times without them, but then you have to compare that to what we do as a nation, how many are either complicit or guilty, and how that lines up with our morals. I think that we are able to put this together that major evil events have taken place in our name, and we are able to identify it, means that we are not entirely lost. That some still remain aware of the evils we perpetrate. Caught in that uncomfortable position of knowing what is evil and what evil events are happening create the cognitive dissonance for action. And eventually that leads to real change.  

  7. whatever pissed you off about detoq is irrelevant to this site.

    i would have to say that the usa has collected a ton of evil karma.

    i’m not a nationalist in any sense, beyond my personal identity which has to be as a us citizen and the fact that it is my home and we all have feelings about our home.

    but there has always been evil afoot in this nation.

    from genocide towards native americans to slavery to repression of poor whites and the identification of middle class and upper class whites with the oligarchy.

    can you honestly deny that?  there is evil karma afoot and i personally believe the usa is about to get a big comeuppance after 200+ years, well more really if you count from 1607.

    this is a spiritual issue for me, not a political reality.  any power which acts the way we have for centuries is going to get some serious blowback sooner or later.

    so why does this offend you so?

    i’m really interested.  

    • TMC on December 23, 2009 at 18:19

    you need to know. First, there are those of us who can “see” who is logged in to the site. I can see lurkers, this is not a state secret. I known you have been back since you posted this essay to read the responses.

    Second, this NOT Dkos. We will NOT berate you if you wish to comment or even reconsider. Most of us would prefer you did discuss this. It’s up to you, the door is always open and the light is always on.

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