My Blog Week: December 6 to December 12
A Word on the Week
Americans have become bad arguers, and bad processors of slow information (which, in the way of slow food, is the old school goodness of thought.) We’ve seen four years of a bogus balance of opinion, one side of which acts in utterly bad faith; the other side of which allows “opponents” (mouthpieces or advertisers) to speak without engagement. More is needed than just, that’s not true. If your truth can be dismissed unheard as fake, but for some reason you won’t apply this charge equally to the belligerent speaker, you tend to give belligerence the last word.
Buddhist teachers Jack Kornfield and Pema Chödrön have popularized the concept of the near enemy, a “feel’s-right” position that is close to, but not the same as the true position. A couple of weeks ago I talked about how trolls have hopelessly compromised certain behaviors of the scold, or Politically Correct Corrector at Large. What allows the checklist of Trump era wokeness to frighten and polarize, is that the arguments are good mimickers of real concerns. People feel the time has come for acknowledgement of their existence or suffering. Those who have been denied the backing of authority in their quest for justice, feel ready to push for full “statehood”, if you will. Quite a few things people bandy on social media, however, can be called near enemies. The true values are opportunity, autonomy, equality made mandatory (not offered as an encouraging future possibility). These are both needed and felt to be true.
Solid truths, though, are simple and widespread in their applications, not requiring special exceptions and hairsplitting.
The specious argument we see often in social media tussles follows a formula. It’s an old formula, and a boon to propagandists.
A thing you agree with is laid side by side with a purported victimhood. The premises are not connected. You are led to agree with a related thing, or a similar thing, to what you actually agree with. For example, that the disabled deserve respect…a premise few would deny. Also one associated for the well-meaning with a vague and quelling guilt. Follow up someone’s joke or poorly worded comment, with “I am the mother of an autistic child”, or any number of variations, and the commentator can be made to look as though she doesn’t believe in the first premise: decency to the disabled; while she is tacitly accused of harming the victim proposed in the second.
That the news media are unfair to Trump, has taken off from this basic fault of reasoning. While the “balanced press” is a relatively new concept historically, we have all internalized it. We all agree the press should be nonbiased and report the good along with the bad. Trump and his mob of support have done objectively, provably, bad things; the arguments, case by case, for why it is fair to say so, how his administration departs from American mores, are apparent and easily made—but making a well-crafted argument takes time. It takes the other side shutting up and listening. So the idea that a negative story makes a victim, that the victim is Trump, and that factual observations of negative consequences are against some journalistic norm, gains its hold on MAGA minds.
We can use more public examples of people who calmly explain, who are strong in counting themselves good and reliable, and don’t cave when threatened with the accusation of harming someone. The culture gets ugly when we start taking pushback as untouchable, an impetus to disappear, because our laudable wish to not hurt people is being exploited by a human-shielding tactic.
On Monday, a new Yoharie, with the gang’s outing compromised by an unexpected follower. Tuesday, a Jumping Off poem, “Steaming”; Wednesday, flash fiction, “Character” in which a philosophical outsider seeks an angel. Thursday, part twenty-one of Shine!, by Mathilde Alanic, Patrice launching a talk in the Luxembourg Garden with Annie. Friday, “Advice for Lightning”, a flash fiction where danger alters a failed relationship. Saturday, part twelve of “Celebrated”, Petra meeting Tom.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: December 6 to December 12