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June 06, 2019


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Unbelievable analogy. Think about it.


Actually, they didn't return to Nazi occupied Europe. They were taken in by France and Belgium. As it would turn our, that would lead to most of them being taken when those countries were conquered the following year.

Steve L.

According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia:

Following the US government's refusal to permit the passengers to disembark, the St. Louis sailed back to Europe on June 6, 1939. The passengers did not return to Germany, however. Jewish organizations (particularly the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) negotiated with four European governments to secure entry visas for the passengers:

• Great Britain took 288 passengers
• the Netherlands admitted 181 passengers
• Belgium took in 214 passengers
• 224 passengers found at least temporary refuge in France.

Of the 288 passengers admitted by Great Britain, all survived World War II save one, who was killed during an air raid in 1940. Of the 620 passengers who returned to the continent, 87 (14%) managed to emigrate before the German invasion of western Europe in May 1940. 532 St. Louis passengers were trapped when Germany conquered western Europe. Just over half, 278 survived the Holocaust. 254 died: 84 who had been in Belgium; 84 who had found refuge in Holland, and 86 who had been admitted to France.




anymouse, the willingness of Americans of all political stripes to take in immigrants of any type, including refugees, in 1939 was nonexistent. The US was in the seventh year of the Great Depression During the first eight years of FDR's time in office (the eight years that did not include the war), the lowest the unemployment rate ever got was in 1940, when it was at 14%. Sitting in our comfortable chairs 74 years after World War II ended, comments like yours come across as nothing more than sanctimonious posturing.


"...comments like yours come across as nothing more than sanctimonious posturing."

The whole post is sanctimonious posturing!

Now, please continue to insist that the US take in - and exploit - mass waves of "economic refugees", while the middle class continues to shrink, the poor get poorer, and YOU violate all of the basic economic regulatory rules (created by FDR et al) in order to continue extracting as much as you can from these "undocumented" folks.

How about this as an alternative policy: for every illegal the USA takes in, one American Blue teamer must be ostracized. He or she must go south of the border, never to return. As it's most likely that he or she will be a white privileged bourgeois exploiter of illegals anyway, social justice would not be infringed.

Ellen Wertheimer


Thank you for this post.

This comment is more about the responses than about your initial post. I think that this blog would be vastly improved if anonymous posting were banned. I see no reason why anyone who is legitimately carrying on a discussion should be unwilling to do so on a non-anonymous basis. And a lot of the inappropriate comments might not be made or, if made, might be made in a manner more conducive to civil discourse.

Just a thought.

Steve L.

Thanks, Ellen. Dan Filler is in charge of the comments policy; I will pass along your suggestion.



It is certainly true that the comments on this site often drift into discussions that have little or nothing to do with the original post. And, it is certainly true that people say things under the cloak of anonymity that they wouldn't say if they had to identify themselves.

But, that latter point is the point. We live in a world in legal academia of unbelievably strict and harsh thought control. You may not realize it, because you may be in sync with the dominant ideology. To criticize Obama, for example, was seen as being tantamount to being a racist. Every president is criticized (look at the no holds barred condition today and imagine if all that opprobrium had been directed at BHO: it is no answer to say one deserves it and the other didn't. A pov based on selective reading of facts is an opinion, and the many of the opinions about Trump simply could not be stated about BHO, true or not.)

In such a climate, it is impossible for those who live in the bubble you wish to create here to hear what will likely otherwise be screened out if anonymity is not permitted. YOu may recoil at Fox News and never watch it: this commenter recoils at MSNBC, but watches it nevertheless. If you would listen to the discourse on MSNBC with an open mind, you would hear just how much hate and vindictiveness underlies the discussion.

Likewise, if the issue is one that involves any hint of political teams, persons in the legal academy quite literally will do harm to anyone who speaks ill of the party line, just as, by and large, they stand silently by when the civil rights of others are trampled on because of their political affiliations.

Unfortunately, these days many recognize "wrongful" discourse only when they disagree with the underlying point. Many recognize "wrongful" behavior only when it is carried out by a political opponent.

This forum is a place where the silos can be broken somewhat, but only if anonymity is allowed. The consequences of taking positions contrary to the dominant ideology, in the world that you and others have created, are just too great.

Think of our own American history, if you will. THink about the role anonymity has played in public discourse at critical times. ANd, think about what it says about the merits of a discussion that it is more important WHO says something than WHAT the person says.


" I see no reason why anyone who is legitimately carrying on a discussion should be unwilling to do so on a non-anonymous basis."

To buttress what was said (and said well) above by anon, Ellen really ought to think harder about the legion of reasons available - especially those concerning power dynamics within the academy. As what she adjudges to be "inappropriate" for civil discourse here entails SILENCING real discourse, ideas, and people's sincere beliefs, it'll be a cold day in hell before I conform to her suggestion.

Steve: If you had a post on the Trans-TERF war on this site, would you require commenters to post using their real names? Do you think that, knowing that all commenters (if not readers) must (accurately, with some form of verification?) self-identify in order for their comments to be added successfully on to this site, would, alone, give all female TERF academics sufficient confidence and assurance to feel safe posting something here?

Please also don't exploit the Holocaust for your current project of creating a(n even more) massive American underclass.

Anon #72

I'm a left-liberal, Elizabeth Warren supporting democratic socialist, but I'm also a pre-tenure track academic – I'm always worried about writing something that will spark rage from students and senior colleagues – especially since the Left has collectively decided that anyone who says something critical of the party-line, even or especially from the left, needs to be fired and cast out of whatever career they’re in.

A middle ground would be requiring pseudonyms attached to academic addresses.

I don't think liberalism's dominance of the academy is something that actively needs to be challenged. Liberal ideas are the ideas of the post-enlightenment society that universities applying reason and science rather than a monastery applying faith make possible. If universities are not mirrors of broader society's politics I count that as a good thing - it means they're doing their job of getting people to think critically about faith or disgust based traditionalist encumbrances. That said, it is essential that we leave our ideas open to contestation and challenges, including from the right, otherwise we can't be confident in our own ideas.

But we don’t.

There are lots of topics, ironically among “critical theory,” where existing theories are insulated from any challenge because to do so would enact ‘violence’ against someone’s identity (and often not the identity of the “ally” leading the charge). We all watch things like the Hypatia affair: where a pre-tenure leftist feminist professor was dragged through the mud for noticing that the left’s account of gender identity and racial identity were out of sync and a more compassionate, tolerant and liberal option would be to accept transracialism – but pointing out any contradictions, even when pointing towards a more liberal position, was intolerable.

That said, trolls who refer to Obama as “BHO” (an abbreviation I’ve never read before) should maybe have to attach their writing at least to a pseudonym.


Anon #72 Your fear of your colleagues and students is well grounded.

It is, however, I submit, a function of the hard/socialist Left's hijacking of the academy. This was in part accomplished by their usurping the very term "liberal", something well documented by historians of ideas. (By this, I don't mean to defend a classical liberal vs. liberal distinction per se). I nonetheless hope to lead you to see this difference via some questions and arguments.

Are you a left-liberal or a democratic socialist? Why would self-identification as both in any other Western country frequently be deemed incoherent, but not here?

Notice how you turned to Critical Theory when it came to provide an example of the academy's present failings, viz a lack of openness to challenges to core dogmas. Who are and were the Crits? Where did they come from? Were they liberals? No.

More importantly, you conflate securalism and empiricism with liberalism. These are, and can be, distinct. Liberalism did not drive the championing of reason and the utilization of the scientific method. These latter two - (Renaissance and) Enlightenment - ideas antedate the former. (Liberalism's having been the real force behind those two would have been news to Francis Bacon, and to most of the academy up to the 19th century, for whom the very concept would be alien. Indeed, it is fair to call its use in their context anachronistic). More to your own point, if universities today DON'T leave their ideas open to contestation and challenge, then how can they really be the ones making LIBERAL ideas "possible"? Perhaps liberal values are surviving in spite of them...? :)

(It's also hard to say what to make of claims of applying "reason" in a POST-Enlightenment/Leftist/Crit-dominated academy...).

In terms of subjecting the university's beliefs to challenge, what about opening them up to Islamic critiques, then? How about to PRC critiques? After all, we're very happy to take China's money and exchange students, and to have Islamic law scholars in law schools (rather than have them housed in religion or political science departments). Notice, too, though, how you write about challenging or being confident in "our ideas", as if liberalism = university values, or as if y'all "own" the place!

Again it's dubious to conflate liberalism with secularism per se. Now, the Left today wants people to think critically about faith or disgust-based normative systems, yet it damns as "ignorant" and "xenophobic" explicit critiques of such groups (and wants to greatly increase, and legitimize, the number of religious immigrants - legal and illegal!), save for their own explicit and open condemnations of American Christian values and culture(s). Y'all don't tolerate such beliefs when espoused by group X; but whitewash or ignore them (if you are even aware of them) when they come from group Y.

Further, are all right-wing dogmas disgust- or faith-based? What of its economic ones? What of its constitutional preferences? Are the Left's economic commitments in turn borne of pure reason and the scientific method? Do capital "L" Liberals in Western Europe (who are on the center-right) reject the scientific method? (Don't these Europeans like to think of THEMSELVES as the defenders of reason and science against the Left's "fantasies"?).

The epistemic tropes you present about your side being the exclusive knowledge-holders reflect a particularly disastrous (bipartisan) problem in contemporary America. Democrats say: we are the side of knowledge, science, and truth; y'all are simply ignorant and superstitious, and harbor horrible values, which we can accurately explain in reductionist terms vis-a-vis your fear and anxiety, which is in turn driven by the Murdoch media, etc. Republicans say: y'all are economic illiterates and naive internationalists.

At any rate, observe further how you interpose the term "liberal" into the Hypatia debacle. You use it as a positive term for the - undeniably just and correct? - basis for the inclusion and legitimization of the contested class. However, liberal opponents of "transracialism" (i.e., not those who actually participated in the debacle) could deny that their arguments against inclusion or acceptance of the contested class MUST necessarily be illiberal, or be explainable wholly in reductionist terms viz. their own fear and prejudices. So too with regards to TERFS who oppose Transgendered people's claims; such scholars believe they are offering good grounds for rejecting "dubious" essentialist concepts. (You are, of course, free to nevertheless believe that they are ultimately "just prejudiced", and "thus" really illiberal).

Regarding both the Hypatia story and the Trans-TERF War, though, it is not senseless to believe that these are both examples of the - the non-liberal/illiberal - Left's true nature. (This also isn't a case of "Crits" vs. the Liberals and the Left). Both cases reflect internecine struggles to champion their competing conceptions and the respective politico-legal-social fallout/gains from using each's preferred candidates. However, these, like many of the arguments the participants throw at each other, are based on their intuitions and normative preferences, NOT the strict use of "reason" (per se), let alone the scientific method - like much of the humanities and social sciences, pace your conceits about the ivory tower. Further, as in much of the LEFT's history, unlike that of LIBERALISM, such contests and debates over concepts and their borders are not met with reasoned debate and argument, but with efforts to silence the other - one way or another!

No one knowledgeable about the hard Left's real history, barring its periodic opportunistic defenses of the First Amendment in this country, should be surprised by this. The link is to an unfair, but basically accurate and amusing slice of the story:



OH DEAR. Using the last set of initials for Anon #72 was out of line. Beyond the pale!

I was in agreement, mainly, with Anon 72's comment above until that last bit of absurdity destroyed the very point he/she was trying to make. Anon 72 would judge and exclude someone for using the convention ALWAYS used for presidents.


Oh, and btw, calling someone a "troll" is not only a droll and childish maneuver in this context; that sort of comment harkens back to Ellen's point.

A comment like that is exactly the reason that many object to anonymous comments here. Those who come on this site and yell "you are a liar" "you are stupid" "you are a troll" and all the rest of the really vicious name-calling that goes on, and then complain about a lack of civility and tolerance, are really to be commended, in a sense, for they epitomize everything that is wrong with the so-called "liberalism" in legal academia that some are trying to explain to folks who don't seem to comprehend very well.

Bill Turnier

I have noticed that almost all comments by named individuals tend to be relatively polite.
Those that are anonymous do tend to be personally hostile to a higher degree.



You may not "notice" the lack of "politeness" in signed comments. You may forgive or overlook the nastiness of signed comments, because you approve of or agree with the pov of person commenting. This phenomenon is what we see, for example, with respect to MSNBC. Rarely has a collection of more nasty persons been assembled to present vicious partisan politics as "news." Yet, for fans of the Democratic Party, the network they never watch (FOX) is the actual culprit and MSNBC is perfect.

All that said, as acknowledged (and demonstrated) above, it is a fact that the name calling and insult quotient is much worse when anonymity is allowed. The trade off is that views are expressed that would generate a lot of repercussions in legal academia for the speakers.

It is a fact, and again, acknowledged above by both "sides" of the partisan debates, that the legal academy is populated mainly by a particularly vicious and intolerant community of zealots, who will hurt, yes hurt, those who express views even slightly divergent from their own.

Ask yourself which is worse: a few random nasty comments on the FL or the pain that would be inflicted on any person who might dare to speak freely on this site?

Ellen Wertheimer

If people could eliminate the name calling and insults while retaining anonymity, it would be great. The fact that MSNBC and Fox may engage in nastiness does not justify its use anywhere else and especially not in academia. Insults do not make one's argument more persuasive; indeed, the reverse is the case.

If anonymity could be employed usefully to further substantive, reasoned, and civil conversation with the open expression of many viewpoints, it would be great. I am, however, not optimistic. Unfortunately, those who seem to believe that insults are viable rhetorical techniques on an academic blog seem to dominate the discussion of sensitive topics. I wish that were not the case.

Steve L.

Much appreciated, Ellen. I agree.


Once again, the epistemic norms used to drive knowledge production in the academy are not liberal ones. Nor are norms of civility and politeness. Moreover, noting the Left's totalitarian efforts to silence its disfavored ideas isn't to bemoan the loss of liberalism per se - especially as the term is employed in this country.

"Insults do not make one's argument more persuasive; indeed, the reverse is the case." Thinking that the validity and/or soundness of arguments turns on whether insults are present is foolish. Thinking that persuasiveness, then, ought to turn on their presence or absence is too. If you are put off by them, you are missing the forest for the trees. If, on the other hand, you have empirical evidence to back your claim (i.e., about how people assess arguments), then we have a different story (one that would concern people's reasoning skills - and one that won't help the cause of liberalism...).

"If anonymity could be employed usefully to further substantive, reasoned, and civil conversation with the open expression of many viewpoints, it would be great. I am, however, not optimistic." Hiding behind appeals to manners to quash the practice of posting anonymously is not a credible posture. Stopping the practice would stifle real debate. Again some important ideas simply wouldn't get expressed otherwise. For even hearing the content of certain claims - even when presented politely - is enough for Leftists to act to sabotage others; not only does this directly affect hiring and promotion, it also leads them to misrepresent both the ideas and their sources. (E.g.,

And I agree with anon June 8 5:47pm about certain people's obliviousness to open and public displays of nastiness and insult making - even by the makers. This happens almost daily in my university by people who think their politics are the one true faith. I compare it to (the obviously more intolerable situation of) being a black person in the old south being called "N%$$er" to her face every day, without her ever being able to say anything in response because of the ramifications.

Steve, of course you agree. That's because you really are a fascist.



I'm not sure what you mean by "dominate" as the comments are generally wide open.

As stated above, "Unfortunately, these days many recognize "wrongful" discourse only when they disagree with the underlying point. Many recognize "wrongful" behavior only when it is carried out by a political opponent."

It might be helpful if you would illustrate your point. For example, among the comments above, which would you choose to demonstrate the problems with anonymity?

Finally, there is trade off, as stated above. You don't seem to address that. If you admit that there is a terrible price to pay for speaking, however politely, against the "dominant" culture in the legal academy, then how would your ban on anonymity not stifle the debate you say you approve?

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