The presidential candidate versus the Frayster: Ralph Nader got special extra "Breakfast Table" time this week to answer a Fray post from RonK of Seattle. Ron is back at Nader below. The rise of Le Pen in France continues to bother posters, even though the election is over. Moloch says you can learn a relevant lesson from the Fray: "When somebody's ideology is truly beyond the pale, engaging them in debate can only legitimize—and encourage—them."
Subject: Talk Is Cheap
Re: "Foreigners: He'll Be Back"
From: Adam Morgan
Date: Mon May 6 1:11 p.m. PT
Why must the French debate? Which insight is debate going to provide? The French, like most European colonial countries, committed numerous genocides in Africa and Asia. They participated in the Holocaust. Also, when they did have a large Jewish minority, there was lots and lots of debate of how to integrate Jews. The French, it seems from my knowledge of history, have been debating about similar topics for centuries. Does Anne [Applebaum] think that the [success] of Le Pen is going to change something that all of the above mentioned hasn't?
Subject: Consistency on Democracy
Re: "Readme: This Throne of Kings"
From: Andrew Straticzuk
Date: Sun May 5 10:24 p.m. PT
[We act as if] a democracy is incapable of committing a wrong. … It is a cardinal sin for Iraq not to be democratic. It suddenly is our moral duty to save Iraq from itself. Why not simply give us the truth about why we have to take down Saddam? … On the other hand we had the democratically elected government of Allende in Chile. Protestations by Powell aside, we were perfectly happy when the democratically elected Chávez of Venezuela got ousted by coup, and we were visibly dismayed when he actually regained power. Oh well, play the democracy card when it is convenient. The hell with consistency! Alternatively, why not be honest and hold nations accountable for their actions regardless of their form of government.
Subject: Arguing the Consequences
Re: "The Breakfast Table: James Fallows and Ralph Nader"
Date: Mon May 6 8:07 p.m. PT
The primary issue, as I see it, is moral responsibility for one's political behavior. Are we responsible for the reasonably knowable consequences of our discretionary acts? Yes, except in systems of pure fatalism or pure proceduralism. May immediate harm be outweighed by more compelling considerations (such as the opportunity to provoke a crisis—sacrificing a generation of pawns—to create the preconditions for revolutionary change)? In theory, yes, but at great risk. Nader rejects this responsibility. He relies instead upon a thin conceit that … Gore and Bush are the Bobbsey twins. Cowardly and dishonest.
Subject: The Case for Expensive Oil
Re: "Assessment: Crown Prince Abdullah"
Date: Fri May 3 10:50 a.m. PT
That American options are so constrained by a dependency on cheap imported oil is fundamentally a political weakness, not an economic one. Bush will not address it. … When the national interest is at stake, when some Americans are asked to put their lives on the line to fight terrorism, and when to aid that fight the general population has been asked to do essentially nothing, the fact that raising federal gas taxes would be unpopular is not a good or worthy argument for not considering the idea.
Fray star Dan Simon wrote an article for Slate on privacy of e-mails and got an excellent Fray, which of course he visited, flashing a Slate icon rather than his star. The Fraynotes are at the end of the article.
Zathras was awarded a star this week: See above for his views on gas prices. Stars also went to Dira Necessitas and Beverly Mann. Yukon wrote perceptively here on how stars are awarded. Some readers have posed an interesting question: "Should stars be held to higher standards than other posters?"—so, should stars be more polite, less likely to use rough words, and more likely to have a post deleted if they do? We don't know the answer to this, as stars hold themselves to very high standards, but we're interested in readers' views on the philosophical point.
Fray of the week was on the Fallows/Nader "Breakfast Table": As well as Ralph Nader's run-in with RonK, above, there were some great discussions on legal matters and trains, a lot more still on the 2000 elections, and some very fierce arguments.
Fraysters enjoyed reading about Slate's new editor in "Slate Fare" and had many comments on the photographs of the party. We very much liked Sancho Panza's claim that the new editor was chosen in order to annoy the "Ballot Box" Fray regulars. We can't possibly comment.