Part 1—Sadly, the best we can do: The other tribe is full of very bad people. It isn’t clear that they’re human at all.
Tribal players have always known these truths, down through the annals of time. As our own political culture has become increasingly tribal, we liberals have increasingly learned to love those ancient truths too.
Last Friday, the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza acted on this prehistoric knowledge. Just for the record, he’s a “CNN contributor” too.
Lizza was present when one of The Others made a heinous remark about the shootings in Oregon. The excited scribe fumbled for his device—and no wonder!
According to Lizza, this is what he saw The Beast say about the latest killings:
CANDIDATE BUSH (10/2/15): And this president—the tendency when we have these tragedies that took place yesterday, it’s just heartbreaking to see these things, but this is the broader question of rule-making I think is an important point to make. That whenever you see a tragedy take place, the impulse in the political system, more often in the federal level, but also at the state level, is to “do something,” right?Say what? Can that be what the candidate said? Where’s the statement we've all loved and enjoyed in the past few days?
And what we end up doing lots of times is we create rules on the 99.999 percent of human activity that had nothing to do with the tragedy that forced the conversation about doing something.
And we’re taking people’s rights away each time we do that and we’re not necessarily focusing on the real challenge.
So if we have people that are mentally ill, to the point where they go into the vortex and they don’t come out, and they’re hateful, and they’re in isolation, and they kill people, the impulse in Washington is take personal rights away from the rest of us.
And it won’t solve the problem of this tragedy that is just heartbreaking to see. Maybe we ought to be more connected in our communities. Maybe we ought to have greater awareness of the mental health challenges that exist all across this country. Maybe there’s a better way to deal with this than taking people’s human, you know, personal liberty away every time we kind of require people to do something.
Don’t get us wrong! For our money, that was a very soft, somewhat store-bought response to last week’s killings, a point we’ll explain below.
But where’s the part of the statement we liberals got to enjoy inside our prehistoric souls? Where’s the part where The Very Bad Chieftain of The Others cruelly waved the killings away, heartlessly saying this:
In the statement posted above, The Other keeps referring to the shootings as a “tragedy” which is “heartbreaking.” Where’s the part where he showed the world how empty and evil he is?
Prehistorics, please! If you sift through the evildoer’s subsequent statement, you’ll finally come to the two-word fragment you love. Sadly but inevitably, that subsequent fragment was the only thing Lizza chose to tweet that day, after he excitedly fumbled for his device.
Sadly, Lizza can’t claim to be dumb, since he basically isn’t. But so what! Here you see his full initial tweet, the tweet which brought so much joy to us in our own tribal world:
LIZZA (10/2/15): In Greenville, South Carolina, Jeb Bush, arguing against calls for gun control after major tragedy, says, “stuff happens.”Heinous! All that talk about “heartbreaking tragedies” was now wiped away as we were pleasured by that!
Tribals, let's be fair! If you read the full transcript of what Candidate Bush later said in response to a follow-up question, you will see the longer subsequent statement from which Lizza pulled those two words. Stuff happens!
Lizza didn’t invent any words, as his colleagues sometimes have when they wanted to help us learn to loathe certain candidates. He didn’t conjure any words; Candidate Bush actually said the two words he excitedly tweeted.
Lizza invented no words! But for our money, the CNN star embarrassed himself when he offered that tweet—except embarrassment no longer exists when tribal feeling runs high within a society or culture.
Don’t get us wrong! We think Bush’s initial statement was “political,” less than obsessively honest—perhaps a bit store-bought. With respect to our endless mass shootings, everyone knows that there is at least one thing the federal government could and should do:
As everyone knows, the federal government could, and obviously should, eliminate the ludicrous “gun show loophole!” By very large majorities, voters in both major parties have agreed with that obvious proposition in the recent past.
That wouldn’t stop most mass shootings; presumably, it wouldn’t even stop many. But when a candidate can’t even bring himself to mention that obvious possibility, we’d have to say that he perhaps isn’t being obsessively honest.
Then again, neither was Lizza! Sadly, though, we liberals may have reached the point where this is the best we can do.
Where did that longer statement by Candidate Bush come from? The longer statement in which The Beast kept describing the killings as a “heartbreaking tragedy?”
Here’s where that statement came from:
After being criticized for perhaps over-simplifying matters a tad, Lizza managed to tweet that much of Bush’s initial, larger statement about the Oregon killings. Even at that, he didn’t bother transcribing the follow-up question to which The Beast was responding when he finally gave our tribe the two words we thoroughly loved.
We still haven’t seen a complete transcript of the discussion from which two glorious words were selected for tweeting. For a longer transcript of what The Beast said, we’ll offer this link to the Washington Post. Scroll all the way to the bottom.
For today, we’ll close with a few observations:
We think Lizza should be embarrassed by his initial tweet. We think he should be embarrassed by the silly follow-up question with which he then extended this wonderfully pleasing event—the wonderfully pleasing tribal use he found for the Oregon killings.
That said, we think we liberals should perhaps be embarrassed too by our familiar reactions. For all of us in Our Own Liberal Tribe, we’d be inclined to say this:
Our Own Stuff keeps happening too! It seems to happen more and more often. Given our love of loathing The Other, it may be the best we can do.
That said, our prehistoric love of loathing isn’t likely to help us attain our legitimate goals. Do we still have any such goals? Or are we now all about loathing?
Tomorrow: We've seen this movie before. What can this movie tell us?