The Phileas Club 93 – The Shadow of Charlottesville


On this episode we talk about:

  • French tax and labor law reforms and terrorism in Europe
  • Constitutional crisis and same sex marriage plebiscite
  • Hajj – the pilgrimage to Mecca – and its infrastructure
  • Charlottesville events and Trump reaction

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  1. This was a very hard episode for me to listen to but that’s also why it was important.

    As an American who has Latino heritage it was simultaneously infuriating and worrying.

    I’ve become a Patron as a result. Thank you for continuing to do this podcast Patrick.

    • Thank you Lorenzo. I have to say it was hard for me too, but I have come to understand Tony’s point of view. I can’t believe that he doesn’t think Trump worsens the race relations in the US, but if that’s what he truly thinks, I can see how he wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice his core beliefs for something that doesn’t make the situation worse.
      That being said, I do think Trump has proven over and over and definitively now that he is, at the very least, a friend to racists and bigots. I think it would be interesting to explore the idea of identity politics we touched on at the end of the episode, because that is in fact the cornerstone of Trump’s base, and I do think everything, from his election to the alt-right extremes, stems from it.
      And thanks especially for the support. I really hope and pray I’m doing more good than harm with all this… 🙂

      • I know we’re almost two months away from the release of this episode but it’s still with me. I wrote several draft responses but opted to keep them to myself.

        After a couple of months of reflection, I think it’s really important for me to convey the following talking points regarding further discussions around identity politics:

        1) Identity politics isn’t easily compartmentalized from one’s sense of self.
        2) Identity encompasses more than simply race. Anyone, Tony included, who votes for a candidate because they align with a certain set of values (ethnic, religious, technological, etc) leverages their identity to push legislation that aligns with it.
        3) When we hear the media refer to “white working class” they are still discussing identity politics. We essentially saw white people in the US leverage their voting power as a race to affect political change.

        I have much more to say but these are the talking points that have stuck with me for a couple of months and I hope are factored into future conversations surrounding this topic.

        Ultimately, I feel the conversations you hold on this podcast are very important and model the type of civil discourse we desperately need right now. Unfortunately, a core part of navigating this space will be to question yourself every step of the way. From my experience, any effort seeking to affect positive change in the world will also require constant self doubt. That’s just how it is.

        Thank you,

      • Hey again Lorenzo, and thanks for the comment; I’m a bit intimidated and overwhelmed by the fact this episode is, as you put it, staying with you, but I think these questions are heavy and I can only imagine how difficult it is to get away from them when you’re in the middle of it all over there in the US.
        I’ve been thinking about identity politics a lot as well, and about the best way to talk about it, and I have to say I’m still not sure. As you say, it is such a difficult and complex topic, and it would be so easy to fall in one of the many pitfalls of that conversation… We’ll see what comes of my reflexions on the topic; it seems we’re alway diving from the frying pan into the fire every single day these days, and every day there’s a hotter and worse fire to jump into. 🙁
        Ah well, when my thoughts take me to those dark places, I like to remember the height of the cold war, and the fact that they had actual fear of total annihilation back then. In comparison, today seem relatively tame…

  2. JerSeattle says:

    I DO NOT understand Tony’s point of view. It’s small minded and he doesn’t understand the implications of someone like Trump. Tony’s people are bad for America and bring America down. Tony’s people come from a place of fear and bigotry. I want to raise Tony in Seattle, in a normal part of America. He’s naive and needs to grow up. I’m ashamed of America, I’m ashamed of the naivety of Tony and his people, and I’m ashamed of America. We can do better. Racism, KKK, white supremacy and such should NOT BE TOLERATED!!!! No wish washing about it. I’m so pissed off about how things are America are going down. I wish I could educate Tony. HE’s so uneducated.

    • Hey Jer. I do understand your frustration, and I also believe that Tony gets it wrong (although I’m not being as… colorful as you are in your characterisation). I do believe he doesn’t understand the influence Trump and his ilk are having on your country, and he minimises it in a way that can become dangerous. That being said, I do value the opportunity to ask him *how* he can come to such a different conclusion than we do, to at least understand how his reasoning works. I also believe it is easy to misjudge and essentially hate someone if you never speak to them. In the case of the alt-right extremists we’re seen in Charlottesville, I’m fine with that. In the case of the many people who have voted for Trump and still support him while not being the kind of racists we see in those living nightmares, I do think it’s important to understand their issues to at least be able to evaluate how to go about addressing them. And, for exemple, if the path forward is ultimately to educate the different parties about the reality of the issues, those discussions make it possible. The one thing I know for certain is that if you never really understand the problem they see, then that won’t happen, and the situation remains entirely stuck.
      Regardless, as I said, I understand your frustration, and I’m sure it’s worse for you than it is for me…

      • JerSeattle says:

        Thank so much for replying Patrick. When I wrote this I was in the middle of listening to Tony say he was willing to still vote for Trump even with everything that has gone down. This whole experience has been an extreme nightmare for every person I know. We all strongly dislike and disagree with Trump. I’ve never thought that I would see what is happening in the USA happen. I’m sad, really worried and hopeful that he will do so much damage to the right that they wake up and realize what they voted for.

        I understand your want to unstable Tony’s perspective. Living in the USA I understand Tony’s perspective I believe. I grew up religious and know the hate and bigitory they teach their church members. I grew up in poor Democratic areas that are now republican. I also know from reading Hillbilly Elugy (awesome book and I highly recommend) that he’s part of the country is struggling. I want to advocate for that part of the country and help with getting jobs there. I want to help with generational poverty.

        But we can’t do that by promoting bigotry and ostracizing others in our society and then not really addressing the core issues. I understand that. But we cannot tolerate bigotry or hate in America. The Democratic Party used to be the party of the working man. Tony’s people are looking for the party of the working man. Tony there isn’t one. I know that the middle America is rebelling against the rights everyone was given but they weren’t helped. That the Democratic Party needs to reform and include the working mans rights. But we also need to educate our populations so they can work towards better solutions in our government other than voting in a Trump. If that was the call to help the republicans/working class is trying to call. Well you got our attention. Now use it to give us the solutions to your problems. Need more jobs or education than help us help you. So far no voice has come out truely represent them. I understand. But it doesn’t excuse away what they have done by voting trump in. Now there is strong dislike for closed minded bigots on the liberal side. I’m even less motivate to help the Midwest and south. I actually wanted to help them before. But I don’t pity or want to tolerate the bigotry from them. We can’t toloerate it ever. It’s not negotiable.

  3. StephSinalco says:

    Man, that episode was hard… But I guess it was necessary and, in the end, that’s why I’m a patreon.

    In my opinion, at some point, the American people will have to stop, almost literally, worshipping their Constitution (and by that I specially mean Art. I and II) and treat it for what it is : an important piece of legislation, supposed to protect the citizens, but something that needs to evolve and can (must!) be discussed. Free speech is central in our modern world, but, like everything else, it can’t be absolute. At some point, it has to be bound by law and we, as a society, have to agree that not everything can be said out loud. Not because it’s unpopular or even wrong, but because it reprensents a real danger. Nazism is not an opinion, it’s a crime, a call to murder and hate.

    By the way, hearing Tony say what he says is almost more frightening than seeing alt-right guys screaming in the streets. ‘Cause up until now, I could almost convince myself that, seeing those few thousands *biiips* marching, every sane American would finally wake up and start calling Trump for what he is. Hearing that Tony would still vote for Trump shattered those convictions and left me speechless and scared.

    • I agree with everything you’re saying. With the nuance that I understand Tony’s internal world view. I still think he’s wrong and don’t understand the dangerous situation, but… Well, you’ve listened to the show, you know.

  4. Dmitry Cherednichenko says:

    Patrick, thanks for another great show. You never mentioned what triggered Charlottesville events — the removal of a statue of general Lee. For me, a Russian who lived through chaotic fall of communism, breaking old statues is infantile and stupid. Acts like this only divide society further. Was it really necessary?

    • I think the difference is the status of racism in the US right now. The issue is far from being resolved, and this is a symbol of that oppression. It would be a bit like us in Europe having statues of Hitler (or Petain in the case of France) in the middle of some of our cities. At some point, this would become a problem…

    • Guyfromtrinidad says:

      It was the proposed removal of the statue, the statue wasn’t removed at the time of the march. Robert E Lee was a confederate General who rebelled against the government, overall wasn’t a very nice guy (pro slavery and such). These statues were put up at times 1911, (the majority was put up this year) 1930s and the 1960s, when civil rights were on the uptick for minorities,Many of the groups who put them up overt racist organisations.. Many of the statues were put in public spaces where people would have to do business as a reminder of who was in charge and actually have the words white supremacy written on the dedication plaque. So for many people there is strong justification for having these reminders of slavery and Jim crow removed, Others have proposed putting them in context by putting other statues around them and telling an accurate story of the time, others say put them in museums. I don’t think its divisive to talk about them but Americans must stop romanticizing them and talk more accurately about that time and the effect they still have in society.

  5. Guyfromtrinidad says:

    Identity politics works both ways, Trump has engaged with it as have democrats. And identity politics are actually a pretty good way of identifying social issues and problems . You cannot talk about mass incarceration in the US and not acknowledge that persons of color are incarcerated at a disproportionate percentage. They are also sentenced for longer sentences for the same crime. And you can go down the road from there. Where Identity politics fails is as a strategy to deal with those issues, because it may further create divisions rather solve the issue. This very civil conversation goes into it a bit more and while the participants are all liberal they are honest enough to acknowledge the failings of liberal thinking Another point I just want to make in response to this episode is I would advise that individuals try to not politicize social issues to far. For example abortion. Abortion rates in the US is at its lowest since 1974, they have actually been falling since 1980, and while there is some debate (liberals say its planned parenthood and more access to contraceptives, conservatives say its more restrictions and less access to clinics) It is clear that abortion rates are falling and pregnancies are not rising so access to contraceptives is playing a role, defunding planned parenthood may be the wrong way to go. I would say to conservatives and liberals find a middle ground and support more social programs that deal with the issues that lead to unwanted pregnancies and support proper foster care and adoption policies, rather than to view the other side as evil.

    • I agree, but I very much doubt the people defending contraception and planned parenthood view things like foster care and adoption policies as “evil”. With all the open mindedness in the world, I honestly think that the only notion of evil introduced in these debates is that of “abortion is murder”, and thus evil. Which is the source, IMHO, of the violent animosity in the debate. Maybe those are my rosy-left wing colored glasses, but the US is the only country where this debate is so fierce; everyone else in the west is very happy to give proper foster care and have efficient adoption policies while promoting healthy planned parenthood. The two are never antithetical, unless you are morally opposed to one of them. Promoting planned parenthood never negates the need for foster care and adoption.

  6. Guyfromtrinidad says:

    Hey Patrick I forgot to share this as well as it relates to our neighbors Venezuela. We have been getting quite a few refugees from Venezuela coming over, many are professionals who are forced to take low level service jobs. A friend of mine in UNHCR says that we already have surpassed the amount of refugees/immigrants/asylum seekers from all of last year in the first 5 months of the year and we are the 3rd favored country in the Caribbean for refugees.

  7. Patrick, just finished the episode and wanted to applaud your firm stance with Tony on the issue of Trump. So very often you’ve taken a middle of the road approach to issues on the show, but I really appreciated the direct question of how he could still support Trump after all this (I had the same question about how women could still support him in such numbers after the leaked Access Hollywood tape). I think the disconnect that Tony and others that share his viewpoint have is that they can afford to care more about other issues. As a white male in the US, whether race relations get better or devolve, whether women’s rights are impeded or expanded, it won’t ultimately matter to his worldview because none of these things affect his voice. This type of rhetoric and idealism that Trump is propping up directly threatens me as a black male and supersedes my ability to even care about other issues. I don’t think that folks like Tony fully appreciate that the bare minimum for society to care about your ethics/morals is to be seen as an equal. What does it matter which side of abortion I come down on if my opinion doesn’t matter because I’m black? It’s really easy to care first and foremost about economic policies, immigration, or job growth if you’re not worried about your neighbors literally trying to erase you from the face of the Earth. So yeah, it’s very scary to hear otherwise educated rational Americans continue to support Trump and rationalize his actions simply because his detrimental words/actions don’t affect them directly. I used to think that protecting and promoting basic human rights for all of our citizens was a bare minimum qualification for being president, but apparently that’s no longer the case.

    • Yeah, that was kind of my point indeed. I think the key thing is, Tony doesn’t think Trump is making things worse (and if he did believe that, he wouldn’t support it). But I think discussing this point puts us in the middle of an “identity politics” debate, which is really hard to cover without delving into somewhat party divisions. It feels like an endless vicious circle…

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