Book Reviews

A Radical History of Tennis?

Despite some interesting tidbits, a new history of the game falls short.

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When historians speak of "the people," I cringe. Do they mean the industrial working classes? Do they mean historically disadvantaged groups in a broader sense? Do they mean the kind of checklist diversity one sees in contemporary advertising? Or do they actually mean everyone? I never know what to think.

Regardless of what David Berry intended people to mean in the title of A People's History of Tennis, I was excited to read the book. I am an avid reader of the history of tennis and have long had a scholarly interest in labor history. I held out hope that this book was less Howard Zinn and more Roy Rosenzweig, whose Eight Hours for What We Will (1985) was a serious study of working-class recreation and workers' efforts to assert autonomy from corporate paternalism in their free time. A number of other fantastic culturally oriented studies followed in Rosenzweig's footsteps, including Kathy Peiss' Cheap Amusements (1986), Robin D.G. Kelley's Race Rebels (1996), and Jackson Lears' Something for Nothing: Luck in America (2004). Unfortunately, A People's History of Tennis has a few more helpings of Zinn's leftist dualism than it does Rosenzweig's celebration of laborers who built a life of their own choosing outside of their daily work.

This is, to be clear, an interesting book. Berry catalogs some of the sport's most idiosyncratic figures, both well-known and forgotten, from both the recent and the distant past. He makes a strong case that tennis has a history beyond the pomp and privilege with which it is often associated. Berry's history of the game is filled with figures who worked cracks into the game's aristocratic foundations, opening the sport up to men and women of different races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and sexual orientations.

Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, the delightful crank who helped popularize lawn tennis in the 1870s, exemplifies the interesting characters who populate Berry's book. Wingfield promoted tennis as a civil and healthful game of skill for both sexes rather than as a Darwinian contest of brawn, helping establish tennis' appeal and social acceptability for both men and women. Other noteworthy gadflies in the book include the early tennis champion Lottie Dod, who argued successfully against changing the rules of the game for women to make it safer; George Elvin, the tennis star, trade unionist, and Labour Party activist who organized a "Worker's Wimbledon" in the 1930s; and Leif Rovsing, the Danish tennis star who was banned from the sport for his "presumed homosexuality" in 1917.

But Berry's book strays too far from these colorful characters too often. He has a tendency to reduce the past to predictably Manichean morality plays. The forces of "the powerful" roam around like the shark in Jaws, forever seeking to wreak havoc on the sterling designs of "the people," who themselves are presented as a fairly uniform whole—like a collective of scrappy Gavroches singing a chorus of "Little People" from Les Miserables. The likes of Major Wingfield and Lottie Dod are interesting enough in themselves. Berry's decision to steep his story in the tropes of socialist realism makes this otherwise excellent book weaker.

Moreover, Berry's assessment of who counts as part of the establishment is a bit strange. To be a part of the powers that be, one need not be wealthy or -particularly powerful. One need only hold cultural views that are anything less than the most progressive at the time to be considered a part of the establishment.

Berry also has a puritanical streak, which comes to the fore when he discusses the sport's sexuality. Berry is interested in people of different sexual orientations breaking barriers, but he is not very interested in people expressing their sexuality as either participants in or spectators of the game. He lauds the milestones crossed by LGBT players while avoiding all but the most cursory mentions of their actual sexuality. Berry's most pronounced discussion of sex in the book is an admonishment of male spectators for their "gaze" at provocatively dressed female tennis players. And this is supposed to be a book of "the people"!

Some elements of the game's cultural impact aren't discussed nearly enough. Fashion, for example.

Tennis' tent has proven the largest when the sport has gone beyond the courts, out into the streets, and become couture. For more than a century, kids of all social classes on both sides of the Atlantic have adopted the fashion styles popularized by the game's icons: Bill Tilden's V-neck sweaters, Suzanne Lenglen's revealing tennis skirts, Maureen Connolly's cardigans and pleats, the preppy-chic "polo" shirts of René Lacoste and Fred Perry, the sleek Adidas shoes known as Rod Lavers and Stan Smiths, the Nike athletic wear of the Williams sisters, the terry cloth headbands that have held back many a flowing lock, most memorably Bjorn Borg's.

In the U.K., the sport's iconography has played a particularly profound role in shaping youth culture. Fred Perry, Fila, Lacoste, and Adidas are standard issue for an array of subcultures in the British Isles. From casuals to chavs to mods, British kids have appropriated the styles of the court to express an identity apart from the humdrum of the everyday.

David Berry shows some interest in this aspect of tennis history. One of his book's most inspired sections profiles Lenglen's 1919 Wimbledon debut, where the English press dubbed her the "French Hussy" for her risqué attire—her mid-calf Jean Patou skirt, brightly colored cardigans, and silk chiffon headband. He also touches on the British fashion designer Teddy Tinling and the alluring outfits he created for the statuesque Gertrude Moran for her Wimbledon appearances in 1949. But his interest in fashion is scattershot, depriving his readers of a genuine sense of the practice of everyday life.

A People's History of Tennis is less a people's history of the game than an odds-and-sods history of groundbreaking individuals and formal political activism. It falls into the same trap as the work it pays homage to in its title, Howard Zinn's essential but hamfisted A People's History of the United States. To count as one of "the people" in either people's history, one has to be an obvious trailblazer for some disadvantaged demographic or part of an organized left-wing political movement.

Actual people, rendered in any sort of complexity, bear little resemblance to "the people" as invoked in these books' titles. However noble the authors' intentions, this approach turns the past into a floor plan for a coffee-shop manifesto.

A People's History of Tennis, by David Berry, Pluto Press, 256 pages, $19.95.

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  1. Berry’s history of the game is filled with figures who worked cracks into the game’s aristocratic foundations, opening the sport up to men and women of different races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and sexual orientations.

    Must be antisemitic and an Islamophobe if he didn’t mention religion and an obvious transphobe for that crack about “men and women” as well. You gotta ring all the changes these days or you’re a bigot.

    1. I mean, they segregated the sport by gender and did so biologically. Guy should be shamed.

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    3. The game should be thankful that the transition to inclusion happened organically. Otherwise, the keepers of the game may have been charged with racketeering.

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    5. Enough of this lawn gamesmanship. Trutor should rise to the occasion by publishing
      The Reason History of Real Tennis

      Pundificator has been running a rousing account of a global Court Tennis grand tour , entitle Around The World In 50 Courts

      Here’s the latest installment.

      https://pundificator.com/around-the-world-in-50-courts-toad-hall/

    6. ITT, Dee the squawking bird, who calls herself White Knight #2, has one of those moments where she embarrasses and makes herself look dumber than usual.

  2. Oh look the Dems are burning it all down, back to our hard hitting tennis coverage.

      1. Speaking of insurrection…..

        FBI narrows focus to chemical spray video in death of Capitol Police officer

        https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/fbi-focus-chemical-spray-video-brian-sicknick-death

        1. Still waving that bloody shirt and hoping against hope you can blame a stroke on some protesters, scummy pile of lefty shit?
          Fuck off and die; make your dog happy and your family proud.

          1. Seriously, seek some help.

            1. Seriously, your fake concern for me is obvious and pathetic.
              Fuck off and die.

        2. Wait a minute. What happened to the “beaten to death with a fire extinguisher” meme?

          1. More investigation happened.

            1. And lefty shits like you finally had to admit you were full of shit, long after it was obvious to intelligent people.

            2. Strike the “more” from the transcript.

        3. Oh, no, Strazele, you don’t understand: that one leaked statement from the coroner absolved the rioters from any culpability in Sicknick’s death. And freed our resident MAGAs from any introspection about the consequences of their adherence to fables about the election.

          1. ‘…absolved the rioters from any culpability in Sicknick’s stroke…’

            Fixed

        4. Maybe it was the anthrax letter mailer. They can solve two cases at once!

      2. “merchants frustrated”…

        Ok…

  3. Does it go much into the actual origins of the game itself?

    1. I mean, like any common descent it has with other games that involve manipulating something with some kind of stick.

      1. The sport was originally more like handball among French nobility. The racket came about a couple hundred years later in Tudor England. It moved outdoors in the 19th century

    2. Seems the whole ‘how do you do leisure’ would be a great niche for history. I remember reading somewhere that in high medieval (before the Black Death) days, there were 100-150 holidays each year. For peasants and serfs.

  4. https://twitter.com/janestreet/status/1365798152603897860?s=21

    Fascinating moment at CPAC just now: A woman in the crowd asked about how to fix the voting machines that “switched thousands and thousands of votes,” and GOP attorney @cspiesdc told her that was completely false: “There is just zero evidence that’s true.”

    1. “Fascinating” to TDS-addled shits like you.

    2. Only a few conspiracy theorists and Rachel Maddow believe vote machines were “changing totals”.

      The real question of irregularities and fraud are all the (now confirmed) ballots and voters registered to empty lots, and the vote counting shenanigans that went on during election night. Alas, that will never be known because the media is completely uninterested in it, and anyone who points this confirmed evidence out is blocked from the social media platforms.

    3. Also, the reason an NBC reporter finds this “fascinating” is because the media is engaging in its own conspiracy theory: The idea that all Republicans (or in this case, anyone who voted against Biden) believe in a singular oddball theory of voter fraud. It’s a classic tactic. Pick out the small number of crackpot opposition theories, then elevate these as the primary argument in a debate.

      The media themselves have made all sorts of ridiculous statements about the 2020 election. Michael Malice made an excellent point about one in particular, the claim by the media within days of the election that the 2020 election “was the most secure in history.” As Malice pointed out, perhaps this claim could be true, but that is a physically impossible claim to make so quickly after the election with little to no investigation. It was just something the media spewed out to get people to look the other way and shutter debate.

      To make that claim, it would require months of investigation, an army of forensic accountants, preservation of ballot/signature combinations, statisticians going over numbers in every district (in a nation of 330,000,000 people!) and door-to-door verification of large numbers of registered voters chosen randomly for statistical sampling purposes. It’s possible that the 2020 election was in fact the most secure ever, but that claim is simply impossible.

      1. “…Pick out the small number of crackpot opposition theories, then elevate these as the primary argument in a debate…”

        Pretty much as the media *and* the swamp scum continue to treat the protest in the Capitol; they found one guy sitting in Pelosi’s chair and that means they were just about to overturn the Republic!!!!!!!!!
        As an example, note TDS-addled shit above, still trying to blame death from a stroke on the protestors.

      2. >To make that claim, it would require months of investigation, an army of forensic accountants, preservation of ballot/signature combinations, statisticians going over numbers in every district (in a nation of 330,000,000 people!) and door-to-door verification of large numbers of registered voters chosen randomly for statistical sampling purposes.

        And then do it again for every election in history, for comparison.

    4. I’m a little tired from housecleaning, and read that as her asking how to fix her washing machine.

    5. The only thing fascinating about 70% of Republicans (and 30% of Democrats?) thinking that the election wasn’t free and fair is that people still find it fascinating.

      It’s sort of like the Russian collusion thing. Progressives love to internalize narratives and somehow always find it fascinating when no one else does.

      Have you ever found it fascinating that some people don’t believe Donald Trump was a Russian agent?

      I find it fascinating that some people think trespassing on public property somehow justifies shooting unarmed protesters, but then I’ve always found the ol’ banality of evil thing fascinating.

      “Arendt’s book introduced the expression and concept of the banality of evil.[7] Her thesis is that Eichmann was actually not a fanatic or a sociopath, but instead an extremely average and mundane person who relied on clichéd defenses rather than thinking for himself”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eichmann_in_Jerusalem#The_banality_of_evil

      Sound like anybody else we know around here?

      You’re not saying this woman should be shot for not believing the election was free and fair, are you? Or is was okay not to shoot her, in this case, since she wasn’t necessarily breaking any laws?

  5. Does it include Nassau County’s “you can kick their balls, just don’t touch them” regulations?

  6. I was severely disappointed by Howard Zinn’s People’s History. I had heard little of it, thought a history which concentrated on people themselves rather than dates and names would be pretty interesting. Didn’t take long before I was just skimming and getting more and more disgusted. Reminded me a whole lot of Mein Kampf, which I had checked out from the library as a kid and ended up just skimming; its weird insults got boring after a while, and the lack of actual content made me wonder how many people had actually read it. I don’t think I was old enough yet to think about translation problems, and I know I did not understand all of what Hitler and the Nazis had done, like sending copies to all newlyweds.

    I’d have probably picked up something like this in a bookstore to flip through it, but never would have bought it. Howard Zinn ruined the “People’s History” genre permanently.

    1. I tried to read it a long time ago. It was horrible, as you say.

      1. Nobody believes you read books.

    2. More honest title: A Marxist Re-writes American History.

      I was amused when my son’s American history class (in Texas) used Zinn along with other texts.

      1. It had a lot of potential. Even with its Marxist slant, it could have been interesting, showcasing all sorts of real history of the people. But it was as you say, more like “History Filtered and Colored By a Marxist”, nothing to do with the small folk, just like Marxism.

    3. and the lack of actual content made me wonder how many people had actually read it.

      In the case of Mein Kampf, almost no one. In the case of Zinn’s History, I understand a lot of professors made it required reading, but I don’t have any data on that. If it did have a pretty widespread readership in college, it might explain a lot of what we see with the under-45 set.

      1. My wife had to read it for poli-sci, but not history. I was never assigned it for any class; professors tended to focus on long-used editions rather than Zinn, thank goodness. I doubt my grade would have survived a semester of essays entitled, “Here’s Why Zinn is Full of Shit on This Subject.”

        Zinn wasn’t any different from most comm-symp, bourgeoisie left-liberals in that he loved to trash the country he lived in, while reaping the benefits of living there that was the result of the people and events he was trashing.

    4. It’s another coffee table book. Nowadays, people like to position them on a shelf behind them, so people can see the book when they’re in web-conference.

      It’s like driving a Prius or a Tesla, except buying the book and displaying it for fashion points costs a lot less than a Prius or a Tesla.

    5. Zinn my be essential to understanding the Progressive Left’s mindset. It not necessary if you want to understand American history.

  7. I would rather read The Renegade History of Tennis, in the spirit of Thaddeus Russell, and the perspective of non-elite, non-activist Americans. Subtitle: Tennis, Who Gives a Fuck?

    A short read.

  8. Just like a person can be smart, but the people are idiots – a history can be smart, but a people’s history is idiotic.

  9. Berry’s decision to steep his story in the tropes of socialist realism makes this otherwise excellent book weaker.

    It’s kind of all the rage now though. You have to appeal to the target demo.

    1. The target demo wants doesn’t actually want to read about tennis from the perspective of socialist realism, but, you’re right, of course, and the target market is pretentious douchebags.

      I bet the book is big, like a coffee table book. People buy books depending on what they want the people they invited over to think about them.

      They just put them on the coffee table or the table by the front door for show–as if when the guests aren’t over, they’re just sitting around the coffee table reading about architecture, fine wine, and tennis from the perspective of socialist realism. It luxury real estate, they refer to laying books like this around as “staging”.

      When the guests aren’t there, their hosts are actually getting drunk and watching Netflix. Beyond the observation that Republicans should want socialism because they think education is socialist, they don’t know anything about anything with the word socialist in it.

      1. Mein Kampf and People’s History side by side on the coffee table might get some interesting reactions.

    1. Sometimes, real events are such that the paleo-libertarians seem really smart.

      They’re pragmatic in all the wrong ways; they’re ideologically rigid in all the wrong ways; and they can be a little bit cultish in some ways. But they’re right about a lot of things.

      They lost a critical voice when they lost Justin Raimondo, and I miss the days back when he used to chat with us here in comments.

      1. Wtf does that have to do with anything?

        1. You linked to the Mises Institute.

          They look really smart right now–especially as libertarians opponents of the authoritarian progressives.

          Reason looks like a bunch of progressive apologists, especially on the issue of the Capitol riot.

          It doesn’t not surprise me to see them post something critical of the Democrats’ response to the Capitol riot itself–since, you know, they’re paleo-libertarians.

  10. Roy Rosenzweig, whose Eight Hours for What We Will (1985) was a serious study of working-class recreation and workers’ efforts to assert autonomy from corporate paternalism in their free time.

    That seems like one of those books that you put by the bedside table just to occupy a few minutes – that ends up really interesting. Except for the ‘serious study’ part which sounds way too wonkish and not at all like say Studs Terkel.

  11. “Berry also has a puritanical streak,…Berry’s most pronounced discussion of sex in the book is an admonishment of male spectators for their “gaze” at provocatively dressed female tennis players. And this is supposed to be a book of “the people”!”

    In other words, he is a standard progressive of the 2020’s, who finds heterosexuality initiated by men distasteful.

  12. Between the Biden administration pulling the plug on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, cancelling the tariff exception Trump gave to the UAE on aluminum, and, now, the Biden administration declassifying a report that blames the Saudi Crown Prince personally for the Khashoggi murder, it looks like the Saudis, the UAE, and others are being trash binned as our allies in the region.

    I generally try not to attribute to nefarious motives what could be just as easily explained by simple stupidity, but if the Biden administration were trying to trash our alliance with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and others in the region, they couldn’t be doing a better job. It’s as if they want to go to war with the Iran, and they want us to do it directly, and there may be some logic to this if the Iranians performing a nuclear test is just a matter of time.

    Now comes news that the Iranians flat out turned down the offer of direct talks with the Biden administration–even after Biden single handedly withdrew the Trump administration’s assertion that the UN Security Council sanctions were still in effect. That’s basically a precursor to taking the sanctions away in exchange for Iran promising nothing, much less doing anything for the concession.

    If you wanted to interpret this as the neocons in the Biden administration fishing for a causus belli and a direct war with Iran, all the evidence is there. I’d like to think it’s just aimless stupidity on the Biden administration’s part, but this could just as easily be going according to the Biden administration’s (stupid) plan.

    1. Our allies that supplied 15 of the 9/11 hijackers? Our allies who hacked a U.S.-based journalist into little pieces? Those “allies”?

      Maybe not selling them advanced weapons is worth considering.

      1. Do you even understand WHY 15 of the 19 were Saudi? apparently you believe that they were acting on behalf of the Saudi government.

        It doesn’t matter what ‘side’ you people are on. Just stupid stupid stupid everywhere.

        1. No, they were not, but the goons who recently hacked up a journalist into little pieces worked for the prince.

          1. So what?

            Because they murdered a journalist, it isn’t in the best interests of the United States to be allied with them?

            Why is that?

            Just sound like cancel culture to me. Are you trying to set a perfect example for the world or something? They don’t want to be like us. We’re not even Muslim.

            1. “Just sound like cancel culture to me.”

              You’re putting me on, right? Literal bloody murder is not a “micro-aggression”.

              1. You’re trying to cancel someone because of their politically incorrect behavior, right?

                Right.

                Do you oppose having a strategic alliance with Israel because of the way they’ve treated the Palestinians, too?

                1. “Do you oppose having a strategic alliance with Israel because of the way they’ve treated the Palestinians, too?”

                  Yes.

                  1. If we abandoned our alliance with Israel, what do you think would happen? Do you imagine they would peacefully capitulate to Palestinian demand and calmly accept whatever their neighboring states did to them in the aftermath?

                    Has it ever occurred to you that if it weren’t for Israel’s relationship with the United States, the Israeli government might have driven the people of Gaza into the sea a long time ago?

                    Pinochet was a vicious dictator, but he held a referendum on his own rule, and respected the results and stepped down when he lost. Why do you think he did that?

                    Do you think it had anything to do with Chile’s relationship with the United States?

                    Do you imagine that China’s strategic relationship with the United States is completely divorced from the benefits of trading with the United States?

                  2. Do you oppose U.S. trade with China on the basis that the Chinese government is awful to the people of Xinjiang, Hong Kong, as well as all its other citizens? The primary beneficiaries of that trade is the People’s Liberation Army and members of the Chinese Communist Party.

          2. No, they were not, but the goons who recently hacked up a journalist into little pieces worked for the prince.

            And there is nothing about that murder that we should have excused at all. It goes against everything the US has advocated and stood for. Excusing it undermines all that and generates legitimate contempt and revulsion for the US.

            But Saudi Arabia is not the US and we are not them and one act by them is not necessarily linked to an entirely different act that isn’t even by them but is associated with them by us. At best that is profoundly lazy. And lazy at best produces far worse outcomes in the long run – by us and for us.

      2. “Our allies that supplied 15 of the 9/11 hijackers? Our allies who hacked a U.S.-based journalist into little pieces? Those “allies”?”

        We’ll add the TDS-addled shit to the list of those too stupid to separate their fantasies from an objective reality.
        Hint, deranged piece of shit, 100% of those attempting to assassinate Truman were from Puerto Rico; does someone have to connect the dots for you, or will you do so yourself for out amusement?

        1. Whoke Knight is not very bright. Be kind and supply him with the coloring book version.

          1. I see. Bright people play deadly games where they set one theocratic nation against another, and tell themselves they have control over how that turns out.

            1. “…Bright people play deadly games where they set one theocratic nation against another, and tell themselves they have control over how that turns out…”

              I can easily see you are badly confused, but it’s not my job to educate you.
              Fuck off and die.

              1. I think he ate the crayons.

      3. If you’ve gotten this deep into the movie and still don’t know that Al Qaeda wanted to overthrow the royal family, I don’t know what to say. Did you know there are more than 15,000 people in the Saudi royal family? The chances of none of them sympathizing with the fundamentalists is pretty unlikely.

        Did you know that the Saudi Crown Prince, who’s running the government, told the religious police that they’re no longer allowed to stop women on the street, because of the way they’re dressed, or for any other reason, made it so women were allowed to drive, go to movie theaters, and attend sporting events in person–all for the first time? Doesn’t sound like much of a Wahabi to me. In fact, the Islamic fundamentalists completely the hate the Crown Prince–and that’s why. That and his push to normalize relations with Israel.

        Regardless of the Saudi government being the target, rather than progenitor, of anti-American terrorism, the idea that we shouldn’t do what’s in the best interests of the United States because of something you heard 20 years ago doesn’t make much sense, and the idea that we should go to war directly with Iran–because the Saudis are so icky–is profoundly stupid. And yet that’s the real concern here. The status quo doesn’t appear to be one of the options–not when Biden is treating the alliance like toilet paper.

        Do you have some argument to make that guaranteeing the security of Saudi Arabia is in the best interests of the United States, rather than selling them the hardware to defend themselves without us, or are you just applying some cancel culture standard to foreign policy where it doesn’t belong? Because refusing to do what’s in the best interests of the United States unless the Saudis are the truest and nicest people in the whole wide world is childish and stupid. If, on the other hand, it’s in the best interests of the United States to make common cause with Stalin, then that’s what we should do.

        1. Incidentally, this appears to be the “logic” of the Biden administration in regards to Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan, too. Their criticism is that there isn’t anything in Trump’s peace deal that guarantees the rights of women specifically! Of course, if we can’t leave Afghanistan until the Islamic fundamentalists that control the Taliban become feminists, then we’ll never leave Afghanistan–which is the whole point. They’re warmongers, and they justify building a road to hell with their good intentions.

          The people who regurgitate their propaganda are pathetic.

        2. “because of something you heard 20 years ago”

          Yeah, I kinda “heard” about “9/11”.

          1. And never learned a thing about it…
            That explains a lot.

          2. You heard about 9/11, and you still think Al Qaeda has the official support of the Saudi government?

            That’s really ignorant!

            Al Qaeda did their best to drive a wedge between the Saudi government and the United States, and Al Qaeda really seems to have done a number on you–if you don’t even realize that they wanted to overthrow the Saudi government.

            1. “… you still think Al Qaeda has the official support of the Saudi government?”

              I never said any such thing.

              1. “Our allies that supplied 15 of the 9/11 hijackers? Our allies who hacked a U.S.-based journalist into little pieces? Those “allies”?”

                —-The White Knight

                https://reason.com/2021/02/28/a-radical-history-of-tennis/#comment-8785503

                You do realize we can see what you wrote, don’t you?

                Do you think the Saudi government supplied 15 of the 9/11 hijackers or don’t you? Do you think that’s a good reason not to sell them weapons so we can escape the neocon responsibility to guarantee their security or don’t you?

                1. Why did you replace my wording, allies, with “the Saudi government”?

                  1. This is where White Excrement gets hyper-pedantic because he’s too stupid to remember what he posted earlier this afternoon.

                  2. Why do you post such stupid, dishonest shit?
                    Ken didn’t change your wording, he (correctly) assumed that by “allies” (your word) you implicated the Saudi government.
                    Did you really intend and “ally” of the US (government) to be other than the government of that country? Do you ‘think’ that the US (government) might “ally” with, oh, the Janitors Union of that country?
                    If you were of average intelligence, you’d be embarrassed.

                    1. By “allies” I meant every aspect of the Saudi nation not just its government. If I had meant the Saudi government I would have said that.

                    2. When you marry someone you marry into their whole family, with all its problems. Same with allying with a country.

                    3. “By “allies” I meant every aspect of the Saudi nation not just its government. If I had meant the Saudi government I would have said that.”
                      So the US government could “ally” with the Janitors Union and thereby the Saudi nation would be an “ally” of the US? Do you REALLY want to keep digging that hole? I’m more than happy to provide the shovels…

                      “When you marry someone you marry into their whole family, with all its problems. Same with allying with a country.”
                      Again, do you really want to keep digging that hole? Here’s a new shovel.
                      Bullshit. Rather than identify your idiocy here, it’ll be more enjoyable to allow others to do so.
                      Have fun, TDS-addled lefty shit!

                    4. “By “allies” I meant every aspect of the Saudi nation”

                      Holy shit you keep proving your dumber than I thought.

                      This could seriously be the dumbest statement that’s ever been posted on this site.

                      Is this where you pretend you have a good understanding of “every aspect” of Saudi Arabia?

                    5. By “allies” I meant every aspect of the Saudi nation not just its government.

                      You’re such a fucking liar.

                  3. “Why did you replace my wording, allies, with “the Saudi government”?

                    Dude, do yourself a favor and stop digging.

                    This is typically what happens to people when they pick a side before they pick a principle. They decide to be anti-Trump and pro-Biden, for instance, before they decide what they think is in the best interests of U.S. security and why. Then everything Biden does becomes their side in the argument–just like they were against everything Trump did regardless of whether he was right.

                    People here will tell you, I argued against Trump’s immigration goals, against his trade wars, and against his position on Section 230 from the day he was elected. Trump was also right about the Green New Deal, better than Biden on gun rights, fantastic compared to Biden on foreign policy, etc., etc. Sometimes I’m wrong. I was wrong about the reaction we should have expected when Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and I was wrong about Iran’s reaction when Trump targeted Soleimani.

                    There’s a term for a group of people who can’t think of anything good to say about their enemies and can’t think of anything bad to say about their hero. That word is “cult”. The Moonies can’t think of anything bad to say about the Reverend. The Scientologists can’t think of anything good to say about psychiatry. Their heroes are always right, and their enemies are always wrong. It’s a sickness.

                    At best, picking a position before you pick a principle is what lawyers and politicians do, and that’s why even people who don’t know exactly why they seem dishonest sense their dishonesty. Wouldn’t you rather be persuasive than fashionable. Wouldn’t you rather be serious than ridiculous?

                    Biden is awful on the issue of foreign policy in the Middle East, and that makes him about average as far as Bush Jr., Obama, and him go. Trump was fantastic on this issue, and if you can’t think of anything good to say about Trump in that regard, then there’s probably something fundamentally wrong with the way you’re looking at the world.

                    If it leads you to strange, ugly, and stupid places–like denying what you said earlier in the day or maintaining that killing unarmed protesters is justified if they’re trespassing on public property, you gotta fix that. Start with principles first.

                    If principles make you say something good about Trump sometimes, that’s okay. If you’re forced to admit that Hitler was sweet to his grandmother at Christmas, you can still hate Hitler for other honest and principled reasons. Stick with principles first, and you’ll never be forced to make a ridiculous argument defending some hideous stance just because you like or don’t like somebody again. And you walk into it over and over.

                2. Sevo, Red Rocks, Nardz, John (wherever the hell he went), and plenty of others, they all completely disagree with me and each other on like 20 different issues at least.

                  Why do you think you get so much static around here? I don’t get that static, so it’s probably not because I disagree with them on the issues.

                  I suspect we get along so well, despite disagreeing with each other about various things, because we’re all highly sensitive to fashionable bullshit. You seem to swim in fashionable bullshit.

        3. “applying some cancel culture standard to foreign policy”

          I am applying the very traditional libertarian standard against foreign entanglements, including not getting mixed up in the palace intrigue of royal families and conflicts between religious sects. (For Pete’s sake, we are a secular nation. Our involvement in trying to manipulate the politics of the Middle East has been one disaster after another.

          You say the Crown Prince doesn’t sound like a Wahabi. So, if we take his side, we are now on the Wahabi’s hit list. What could go wrong there.

          It’s great if the Crown Prince has been promoting the rights of women. But you know what else he did — he hacked Jamal Khashoggi into little pieces.

          1. There isn’t anything libertarian or traditional about refusing to do what’s in the best interests of American security because prudes get their panties in a bunch.

            And so, you’re both against selling them arms because they’re religious fanatics and you’re against selling them arms because they aren’t religious fanatics, too?

            Pick one.

            If you’re saying that we shouldn’t guarantee their security or sell them arms, you need to explain why we should assume that’s one of the options Biden is considering. By everything Biden is doing, it seems quite obvious that he’s embracing our responsibility to guarantee Saudi security–something we’ve been doing since before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

            In fact, selling the Saudis the arms to defend themselves is the means by which we could escape that responsibility. If you’re interpreting Biden’s intentions otherwise, that’s your case to make.

            The things you’re saying make little sense.

            I suspect this is like that time you painted yourself into a corner by claiming that shooting an unarmed protester was justified because she was trespassing on public property. The idea that Biden is pursuing some kind of libertarian foreign policy with this is equally absurd. But if that’s the case you want to make, you need to make that case with facts and logic–not just claim that it’s traditional and libertarian.

            There isn’t anything libertarian about Biden making the U.S. responsible for guaranteeing the security of Saudi Arabia–and certainly not because the leaders of Saudi Arabia are insufficiently woke.

            1. “…The things you’re saying make little sense…”

              You misspelled “no”.

            2. “For Pete’s sake, we are a secular nation.”

              This is the level of thought you’re arguing with Ken.

          2. I have to admit to amusement in taking TDS-addled shits ‘arguments’ apart, and this TDS-added shit is especially enjoyable given the target-rich field WK offers:

            “I am applying the very traditional libertarian standard against foreign entanglements, including not getting mixed up in the palace intrigue of royal families and conflicts between religious sects. (For Pete’s sake, we are a secular nation. Our involvement in trying to manipulate the politics of the Middle East has been one disaster after another.”
            Where to start?
            Well, “the very traditional libertarian standard against foreign entanglements” simply doesn’t exist; it’s an invention of those promoting an agenda; strike one.
            —————————-
            “You say the Crown Prince doesn’t sound like a Wahabi. So, if we take his side, we are now on the Wahabi’s hit list. What could go wrong there.”
            Did you need help to drag that strawman here?
            —————————–
            “It’s great if the Crown Prince has been promoting the rights of women. But you know what else he did — he hacked Jamal Khashoggi into little pieces.”
            First, no he didn’t, so no great surprise, you start off with a lie; it’s your common approach, given that you’re a lying piece of lefty shit.
            Beyond that, I’d suggest you read some history beyond what seems to be your 6th-grade level.
            And, no, I won’t waste my time educating some fucking TDS-addled lefty shit.
            Learn to read and quit making a public ass of yourself.

            1. Oh, and, strike three, asshole.

            2. If we take the crown prince’s side, the Wahabi’s might not like us! Lol. Dee really is this stupid, and it’s becoming increasingly entertaining.

            3. On the one hand, he’s not arguing against the Saudi government but against associating with Saudi society as a whole. On the other hand, we can’t do what’s in the best interests of the United States because of what the Crown Prince did to Jamal Khashoggi?!

              None of this is really about the issue at hand. He’s seeing everything through the lens of his hatred for Trump–including us. If we are insufficient in our universal condemnation of Trump, everything from leading us to war with Iran to shooting unarmed protesters is a good thing.

              Beware the little Eichmanns.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Eichmanns

              Anything can be rationalized when we start with issues rather than principles, and principles regularly go out the window in this guy’s rationalizations. If opposing what Trump did is wrong, he doesn’t want to be right. And it makes him paint himself into the most ridiculous corners.

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  15. When historians speak of “the people,” I cringe. Do they mean the industrial working classes? Do they mean historically disadvantaged groups in a broader sense? Do they mean the kind of checklist diversity one sees in contemporary advertising? Or do they actually mean everyone? I never know what to think.

    They mean fans of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

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