…in the long run.

[UPDATE: Ms. Troy considers herself of the Left, and is indignant to be so misconstrued. My apologies for the error. Cobb has hardly if at all taken notice, but although it is difficult to impossible to assign him to the Right, he is certainly going in directions I as a Rightist can approve, though I do think they take him through more difficult terrain than necessary.

The rest stands.]

Winning validates the winner. Commanders who win are eligible for promotion, those who lose are not; clearly the winners are better at the game, and deserve a shot at higher stakes. Regardless of what the game is, if it’s competitive, the winner of the last round is a better bet in the next one than either a newbie or someone who lost last time out.

More subtly, winning validates the tactics and strategy the winner used, and that’s the sticking point. Things change. Most importantly, enemies change — you get new enemies, or the old ones go home, lick their wounds, and look for holes in your tactics and strategy that they can use to defeat you next time.

Once upon a time there were cavalry charges, massive attacks by armed horsemen against infantry armed with swords, and they carried the day in most cases. Cavalry officers were winners, and got promoted; cavalry-based tactics and strategy were clearly the way to win. Bemedaled cavalry officers became generals, planners, and advisers, and directed the further development of military forces.

Then the Swiss invented the pike square, and suddenly cavalry tactics were less effective. Cavalry-oriented planners responded by making cavalry heavier and heavier, better armored and armed, riding bigger horses. Infantry-based tactics got more and more sophisticated, and it turned into an arms race, with more and more money being poured into cavalry to keep them effective.

Along came the longbow, and later the musket. Ooops! Cavalry can’t break infantry if they never get there because they got blown away at long range. In a very short time, cavalry became auxiliaries, scouts and special-purpose forces, with gun-armed infantry as the main force of the army.

In retrospect, it probably would have been more cost-effective for armies faced with enemies using the pike square to spend more time and money on infantry tactics. But the people in charge didn’t do that; they were winners, and you always go with the advice of the winners, and the advice of the winners is always going to be that the tactics and strategy they used is the way to win. They were fighting the last war while their enemies were planning the next one, and their previous triumphs set them up for ignominious defeat because they didn’t adapt to the new system.

Pamela at Thought Crimes quotes Jon Stewart:

There are terrorists, and racists, and Stalinists, and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume.

She can’t bear the notion:

Let’s take this weird notion – one that should astonish anyone who has actually seen racism in the raw — that the hatred that drives racists and homophobes requires effort.

It doesn’t. Hell, it’s the easiest, most lazy fallback position there is. I’ve known many, many racists and homophobes who did not actually take the trouble to attend rallies, download essays from Stormfront and sit up at a their sewing machine to adjust the eyeholes in their robes. Haters just hate, effortless, casually, and without thought.

The always-interesting and sometimes profound Cobb recapitulates Jefferson in response:

What is laughable is that somebody carrying a sign with an offensive word is going to take bread off my table.

…and, in comments responding to Pamela,

If the word ‘racist’ needs to be used, what does it need to be used for? To draw attention to racism in order to combat racism or to discredit someone with whom you disagree? Do you believe that the Tea Party needs to be called racist? If so, would you consider their racism the arbitrarily lazy type you describe or the substantial thoughtful difficult effort that Jon Stewart describes?

Context here: Pamela sees herself as on the Right, and is finding fault with Stewart, whom she sees as on the Left. Jon Stewart is not one of my favorite people, but (as noted in a previous post) a stopped clock is right when it’s right — and, in this case I have to applaud Stewart, because his remarks aren’t addressed to or even truly criticism of the Right; they are aimed at his fellow leftoids.

Half a century ago, liberals came to me and mine and told us we were racists. They were correct, but it took a lot of time, effort, and sacrifice on their part to convince people of that and get the ball rolling toward an amelioration of that situation. Ultimately, though, they won, even triumphed — and the tactics and strategy they used became an integral part of what later evolved into today’s leftoid ideology. The folks who opposed them, back in the day, were racists, no doubt about that (I was one of them). Now they have carried that forward; opposition to their proposals (which they still see as “liberal” in the Sixties context) must of necessity spring from the same well as the former did.

The fact that Barack Obama is black becomes an irresistible lure. The Right opposes Obama; Obama is black; the opposition must, of necessity, come from racism. Never mind that the actual policies the Right opposes come largely from Pelosi and Reid, both of whom are white; Barack is black, therefore opposition to him must come from the same motives that impelled Bull Connor and Orval Faubus.

They are fighting the last war. Don’t think of them as “smelly hippies”; think of them as gold-braided, medal-jingling cavalry generals, observing that the enemy’s pike-armed infantry is accompanied by a scouting force of cavalry, and insisting that a cavalry charge will win the day; we have to defeat the cavalry; that’s what’s always worked before!

Stewart is advising his fellow leftoids that that’s not the way to do it:

Not being able to distinguish between real racists and tea partiers, or real bigots or Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people, but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate, …just as the inability to distinguish between terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.

or, in my metaphor, pay attention to the pikes, fools, the dudes on horseback are a minor problem.

Stewart’s message is blunted because of his excursion into “hate” rhetoric. He and his fellow leftoids have talked themselves into a corner where they are trapped into denying the very free speech they depend upon to get their message out — free speech for them is praiseworthy, free speech in opposition is “hate” and must be suppressed. That, in turn, is powered by the same last-war strategy he is declaiming against. Opposition must of necessity be “racism”, racism is definitionally “hate”, and “hate speech” must be suppressed. His allies cannot respond to his point because they are distracted by their concentration on what worked last time.

For those of us in opposition to leftoid policy this is a good thing, although infuriating beyond words in many cases. The commander of the pike-armed forces sees an enemy composed of good cavalry and lousy infantry, and feels confident. Taking down the arrogant, expensive lobsters and their four-footed transportation will be hard and result in casualties, but once it’s done the poorly-trained peasant levées will be easy meat; there is even a real chance that the snooty aristocrats will treat your light scouting force as their social equals — they’re cavalry, too! — and attack that, leaving your real force almost unopposed.

There are real racists and homophobes among the tea partiers, but they are irrelevant distractions; the more time and effort the leftoids expend in beating them down, the more chance the real forces have to operate without notice — “under the radar”, to update the metaphor.

Pamela is trying for a redefinition of “hate speech” that includes the leftoids. This is a wrong strategy; it amounts to spending a lot on arming the cavalry when the infantry is what will win, and runs the real risk of ending up with dueling censorships. Cobb argues that the “haters” are negligible; he is correct, but runs the risk of taking the focus away from the decoys. Let ’em run. The longer they keep the heavies of the leftoid forces distracted, the better off we’ll be. They won the last war, and want to fight it again. Let them use up their time and energy while we gird ourselves for the next one.