Weekend Reading

It’s the weekend, so let’s do this thing:

There is a traditional terms of alliance between liberals and radicals in American social movements: through civil disobedience and direct action, the radicals create a fire on the liberals’ left that makes them seem relevant as a moderate alternative; the liberals keep us out of jail. In this case, the liberals spectacularly failed. Over the winter, rather than making an issue of the extraordinary illegal violence of the evictions, they chose, instead, to create an almost histrionic moral crisis over a few broken windows in Oakland months before. But when OWS re-emerged in the spring, the abandonment of the liberals, the drying-up of the money, have become an almost miraculous blessing. Activists have honed and polished their street tactics and democratic process. New alliances have been created, with community groups, immigrant rights organizations, and, increasingly, labor unions.

It is simply false to suggest that the Allies had some kind of high-minded respect for neutrality during World War II. When strategically expedient, neutrality was violated, at times for reasons that were far more legally spurious than U.S. drone strikes against al Qaeda. Al Qaeda, after all, is at least engaged in conflict with the U.S. In the case of Iran, not even the justifications used for planned or actual violations of Norwegian and Scandinavian neutrality – the presence of German naval vessels or personnel supporting them, or German invasion – were present, instead it was done as a naked attempt to secure logistical assets necessary for aiding the Soviet war effort. The war on terror is obviously not World War II. But what is rather bizarre – and it is a problem that is certainly not limited to Tom Parker, but to those who write about international security issues more broadly – is the casual and ahistorical use of World War II as some kind of moral standard for wartime conduct.

A president endorsing, even as a “personal position,” marriage equality for gays and lesbians is, as Vice President Joe Biden once said, a big fucking deal. But Obama has endorsed marriage equality federalism—not the notion that marriage for gays and lesbians is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution that can never be taken away. Obama has adopted the same position that Vice President Dick Cheney did in 2004, when Cheney said he believed in marriage equality but that the states should be allowed to decide by a show of hands, as North Carolina did Tuesday, whether gays and lesbians have the same rights as everyone else.


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