The Bog:
sphagnum moss, dark water, and politics
Friday, October 10, 2003
Not your favorite blue monster
Josh Marshall reminds us about the NPR Fresh Air interview where Grover Norquist compared the estate tax to . . . .the Holocaust. The relevent text:
NORQUIST: The argument that some who play to the politics of hate and envy and class division will say is, "Well, that's only 2 percent -- or, as people get richer, 5 percent, in the near future -- of Americans likely to have to pay [the estate tax]." I mean, that's the morality of the Holocaust: "Oh, it's only a small percentage. It's not you; it's somebody else." And [in] this country, people who may not make earning a lot of money the centerpiece of their lives -- they may have other things to focus on -- they just say it's not just. If you've paid taxes on your income, government should leave you alone, not tax you again.

GROSS: Excuse me one second. Did you just compare the estate tax with the Holocaust?

NORQUIST: No, the morality that says it's okay to do something to a group because they're a small percentage of the population is the morality that says that the Holocaust is okay because they didn't target everybody. "It's just a small percentage, what are you worried about? It's not you. It's not you. It's them." And arguing that it's okay to loot some group because it's them, or kill some group because it's them -- and because it's a small number -- has no place in a democratic society that treats people equally. The government's going to dosomething to or for us; it should treat us all equally. And the argument that Bill Clinton used when he wanted to raise taxes in 1993 is "I'm only going to tax the top 2 percent, so this doesn't affect the rest of you. I'm only going to get some of these guys, not you, others."

First off, this bizarre and offensive comparison is not only morally tone-deaf but historically ignorant. Whether he is equating the two or their 'underlying morality' is irrelevent. The fact that he would say it at all shows little to no moral or ethical understanding of what the Holocaust was. He's literally comparing tax codes to genocide.

Nevertheless, the moralities are emphatically not the same. Jews were not slaughtered because they only made of a small percent of the population, but because of a twisted ideology which extoled the extermination of unpure, contaminated others as the highest form of virtue. That people followed the terrible logic of Pastor Niemoller's poem - the one that starts
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
is undeniable, but here we reach a level of abstraction so high as to have no connection to reality.

Norquist completely misunderstands - or intentionally distorts - the motives behind those who oppose repealing the estate tax. This measure was spun as repeal of the "death tax," a horrible thing that plagues most Americans and causes the loss of family farms and small businesses by desperate heirs. In response, it was pointed out that the estate tax only affects a small percentage of Americans - the very rich. At issue was not the survival of treasured family farms or businesses, but the creation of vast inherited fortunes. This was not justification but explanation. The morality that underlies it is not that of Nazi genocide but of American egalitarianism and social responsibility. It's the idea that great wealth is better spent improving the society which intimately nurtured and richly rewarded its deceased owner than being turned over in its entirety to lineages of de facto aristocrats in a society of ever-increasing inequality. Perhaps this is class warfare, but in that case you should ask yourself which class it is, exactly, that is waging it?

posted by Dan S. on 10:16 PM | | link

what is a bog?
Definitions, definitions
1. ". . . one of North America's most distinctive kinds of wetlands . . . characterized by spongy peat deposits, acidic waters, and a floor covered by a thick carpet of spagnum moss." *
2. A relentless, hard-driving mix of political commentary, recipes, idle ramblings, and so on.

More about bogs here.

why "the bog"?
Something about the blog format made me think of spagnum moss slowly growing, forming layer after layer of peat deposits many feet thick, sometimes preserving (in Europe) ancient bodies . . . Also, it rhymes.

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Songs currently stuck in my head
despite all my best efforts

"My Happy Ending," by {yech} Avril Lavigne:
"Let's talk this over,
It's not like we're dead . . "

and "Laiska" by Varttina:
Laiska luotu laulmann
oikosormi soittamaan
yskin oita viettelen
unetonna laulelen

Toppling off the bedside book-pile:
Classroom Management for Middle-Grades Teachers , C.M. Charles & Marilyn G. Charles
Teaching U.S. History as Mystery, David Gerwin & Jack Zevin
Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska, William W. Fitzhugh & Aron Crowell
Arctic Crossing: A Journey Through the Northwest Passage and Inuit Culture, Jonathan Waterman
Northern Tales: Stories from the Native People of the Arctic and Subarctic Regions, Howard Norman (ed.)
Life in the Cold, Peter J. Marchand
Wandering Through Winter, Edwin Way Teale
The Winter Vegetarian, Darra Goldstein

Teas of the week:
Tea of Good Tidings: Winter Fruit Blend,
The Republic of Tea
Russian Caravan,
Jacksons of Piccailly

on the web:
Land of links:
The American Prospect
Common Dreams
FAIR: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
The Nation
The Progressive
Washington Monthly

Organic Consumers Association
Eat Wild (pasture-based farming)
NOFA: Northeast Organic Farming Association
Consumer Supported Agriculture
Edible Wild Kitchen


Blogging away:
Vassar blogs
And yes, we've been co-ed since '69...
E's Den
Useless! Worthless! Insipid!

Other blogs
Alas, A Blog
Atrios' Eschaton
Body and Soul
Daily Kos
Digby's Hullabaloo
Dispatches From the Culture Wars
Echidne of the Snakes
Feminist Blogs
Interesting Times
Late Night Thoughts asleep?
Long story; short pier
Making Light
Mouse Words
One Good Thing
The Panda's Thumb
Respectful of Otters
The Sideshow
Sisyphus Shrugged
Matthew Yglesias

old peat (archives):
December 22, 2002
December 29, 2002
January 12, 2003
January 19, 2003
February 2, 2003
February 16, 2003
February 23, 2003
March 2, 2003
March 9, 2003
March 16, 2003
March 23, 2003
March 30, 2003
April 6, 2003
June 8, 2003
October 5, 2003
January 16, 2005
October 22, 2006
November 5, 2006
November 12, 2006
November 19, 2006
November 26, 2006
September 16, 2012
December 23, 2012

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