Sunday, May 29, 2016

Flawed Rationale

The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf makes a good-faith attempt to engage a young (22-year-old) John Miller acolyte. To his credit, the acolyte attempts to respond in good faith as well, and actually answers with more depth and intelligence on a number of issues than his Oompa Loompa overlord.

The problem is that the kid's primary excuse for going full moron is that the country has simply gotten too PC for him:
In my first job, I mentioned that I enjoyed Hulk Hogan to a colleague who also liked the WWE. I was not aware at the time, but Hogan had recently made news for his use of some racial or homophobic slur. I was met with a horrified stare. By simply saying I liked his showmanship, I was lumped into saying I too was racist or homophobic.

I feel like I have to hide my beliefs.

I cannot say openly that I identify with Republicans, lest I see friendships and potential professional connections disappear with those words. When I see Hillary Clinton, I see the world becoming less and less tolerant of right-leaning views. When I see Facebook censoring conservative outlets and then see The Atlantic defending the practice, that worries me. When I see the fear that reddit users have about admins banning subreddits because of political beliefs, that worries me.
Oh, ferchrissake. Someone get this kid a jockstrap already, because he needs to sack up. Look, if someone calls you a racist because you say you like Hulk Hogan, tell them to go fuck themselves. Bokay? They're out of line. Now, if they preface their response with a "did you know" sort of thing, then maybe you have a civilized discussion. I dunno. This all sounds very "Tom Friedman's Wise Cab Driver" to me, but whatever.

The bottom line is that this guy is willing to cast his lot with a certifiable goofball, whose proposals are at best belligerent buffoonery, at worst likely to cause war or economic devastation, and almost entirely unworkable or unrealistic without subverting the current constitutional framework. And his main reason for this is because white conservatives are feeling oppressed by overweening political correctness.

To me this is especially hilarious, because as I've noted before, most of my Facebook friends are fairly to very conservative, and many of their posts reflect that bent. Many of them are insulting to "libtards" and such like, and make "jokes" about how stoopid Obammy voters were, to be willing dupes in turning 'murka into the flaming hellscape we currently see.

Now, my response -- or lack of -- to such nonsense is entirely predicated by whether I'm in the mood to tweak some noses, and how well I know them. Most of the time I don't give enough of a shit to respond. But I've never felt like I couldn't respond, or that I'd get shouted down.

Here's something they should teach in high-school civics class: whether you identify as liberal or conservative or a little both or something else entirely, you have the right to be wrong, and even to be an obnoxious asshole about it. Period. You have that inalienable right. But other people also have the right to point it out to you when your assertions are bullshit, or you're being a putz, or maybe they just don't fuckin' agree with what you said. And that's when the interesting part begins.

I don't know about you, but I feel like I learn more when I argue with people who disagree with me, than when I merely confer with like-minded individuals. I have conservative IRL friends who enjoy discussing politics the same way I do, and we talk shit and smack each other down the way friends do. But everyone tries to be as intellectually honest as possible, and keep their facts straight, we just land on different things.

The problem I have with the Drumpfkin's lame "anti-PC" defense is not so much the defense per se, but the unfortunate hunch that a significant portion -- perhaps even a majority -- of the Drumpfkins would list the same issue in at least their top three reasons for siding with the clown. This is pathetic for several reasons, not the least of which is the failure to recognize that "political correctness" is pervasive, and is not by any means the exclusive purview of liberals or lefties or bien pensant college students or whatever the caricature is that they need to feel better about their own shortcomings.

To be sure, those caricatures do exist, but they exist among self-styled conservatives and anti-establishment types as well, people toward the right side of the spectrum. What they might whine about as "PC oppression" frequently turns out to be "basic respect and decency" or "not being an asshole".

And that's where Deadbeat Donald comes in, liberating their inner assholes, making them feel good and righteous about it. He has done it to such an extent that not only do they feel liberated from the normal concerns of being perceived as an asshole, they also feel liberated from even knowing what the hell they're talking about, from even being accurate.

This is where anecdata meet anecdata, I suppose, but just like the Friedersdorf's Drumpfkin (surely the worst of all the Grimm's Fairy Tales) with his fearsome recollection of getting the stink-eye for saying something nice about Hulk Hogan, I too have tales to tell about the Drumpfkins I've encountered along my merry way through the enchanted electoral forest.

These are not necessarily conservatives, mind you, these Drumpf voters I know, but most of them identify as such, if not in the traditional, rigorously principled sense. None of them seem to know jack shit about even basic geopolitical or economic facts that an average college sophomore (in those majors) might be expected to know, which may be the root of the problem -- since they don't know that Drumpf is full of shit, but he's a master snake-oil salesman, when you try to point out to them that the snake oil is indeed that, they are naturally suspicious. After all, he's sharing a seductive truth, a truth the powers that be don't want you to know.

This is how most successful cults work, by the way, which is why I have been referring to Drumpfism as a cult. The cult leader starts by validating the grievances of the flock, whether or not they are valid or even true. The cult leader then creates a barrier with himself and the flock on one side, and everyone else on the other side. The beauty of the barrier is that the flock help build it; the cult leader simply loads a stock phrase, knowing that the flock will fill in the blanks for themselves.

So for an out-of-work coal miner in West Virginia, the problem is that he's lost his job, the truth is that the job is not coming back because of productivity gains and low oil and natural gas prices, but the cult leader leads him by the nose to the conclusion he wants to hear -- I'll bring your jobs back, she won't. He doesn't even have to propose how he'll bring the jobs back, the will and the want to believe is that strong. It's entirely understandable; the coal miner's concern is existential. It's probably the only decent job in the area, he may not be able to retrain, and besides, coal mining is obviously difficult, dangerous work. It's easy to understand why someone who does that sort of work might feel that their willingness to risk themselves should be sufficient, especially when they might be about to lose their house or their family.

But the guy in the dialogue has a much different story: twenty-two years old, lives in San Francisco, has a bachelor's degree, makes about $50k/year (not a lot in SF, but still) has a fiancée who makes several times that. He's on a gravy train with biscuit wheels, has his whole life ahead of him with plenty of options, and is just too young to see that. So his discontents are much more trivial in comparison to the coal miner, but no less important to him.

It would be nice to think that we could capture this bizarre cultural moment, this past year or so, when so many of these dopey issues suddenly became paramount, from the confederate flag to public restrooms to whether some kid gets a funny look for saying he likes Hulk Hogan. The idea that they could possibly culminate in promoting perhaps the most manifestly unqualified person imaginable to the most important office in the land is unthinkable, yet there it is.

Oh, and I'll tell you ONE WEIRD TRICK to shutting down even the shoutiest of Drumpfkins, especially when they start playing either the "libtard" card or the tu quoque "Hitlery does it toooooo!" card: I point out to them that Drumpf has never been identified as a conservative nor a Republican in the past, and in fact if he were running as a Democrat, there is still no fucking way I would ever vote for him. They don't have a comeback from that one.

(Also, too.)

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