The Only Constant Is Tribalism.

A number of people, including John Cole, Digby and Jesse Taylor have already commented on Powerline's Scott Johnson engaging in an orgy of tribalism in response to the news that a Turkish-American, Furkan Dogan, was killed by Israeli troops during the raid on a flotilla bound for Gaza this week, but I wanted to add something else.

Here's Johnson:

If that is the case -- and, again, the facts are not yet entirely clear -- it is silly to call him an "American of Turkish descent." He, like the other members of his family, was a Turk. The idea that his presence among the dead raises a special diplomatic problem is absurd; if it does, it shouldn't.

Coincidentally, Scott Rasmussen published a poll this morning that found 58 percent of voters favor the abolition of birthright citizenship. I think the majority is right on this issue. Birthright citizenship is an anachronism, and in some respects a dangerous one, in an era when millions of people travel internationally and millions more enter the U.S. illegally, some for the specific purpose of having a baby here.

As for Dogan, it is reported that he was shot five times at close range, four times in the head. If that is correct, it is reasonable to infer that he was one of those attacking Israeli soldiers with a club, knife or other weapon and was shot in self-defense. The Times quotes his brother saying, on behalf of the family, "we were not sorry to hear that he fell like a martyr."

Johnson has managed to compile the ugliest tendencies of modern conservatism into three short paragraphs. Conservatives like Johnson are constitutional purists who reject foreign precedents, but when it comes to the 14th Amendment they cry "anachronism." They're all about individual rights, unless your family happens to come from a Muslim country. They want to limit the power of the state, except when states kill those whom conservatives have verbally excommunicated from humanity.

The only constant moral principle in this brand of conservatism is tribalism. There is an "us" and a "them," and there are simply no rules protecting those deemed outside the tribe that those inside are obligated to follow or respect. 


-- A. Serwer

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