Even as she flips on surveillance: We live in a highly tribal time. Kevin Drum reports one way the tribes have flipped in a new post which is based on a survey by Pew.
Here's the basic rundown:
When Bush was in charge, Democrats thought NSA surveillance was unacceptable. On balance, Republicans held the other view.
Now that Obama is ruling the roost, the views of the two sides have flipped. On balance, Democrats support surveillance. GOP members do not.
This morning, a letter to the New York Times helped display the tribal feelings which may be occasioned by such events.
The letter is from the novelist Anne Bernays. Bernays, who is 82, has long since earned the right to the world’s respect. But even at that distance from the insecurities of youth, she seems to want one point to be clear:
Even as she changes her mind on surveillance, she still belongs to the tribe:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (6/11/13):We do not mean to criticize Bernays for changing her mind on this matter or for any part of that letter. But this morning, we were very much struck by the strength of her tribal insistence.
Re “Mining of Data Is Called Crucial to Fight Terror” (front page, June 8):
As a member of the American Civil Liberties Union and an ardent progressive, I never thought that I would be writing anything like this letter.
But your article about the capture of Najibullah Zazi, who was plotting to leave bombs in New York City subways, through tracing his e-mails, and thus thwarting what would have been a catastrophe, persuades me to shift my attitude toward the government’s monitoring of phone calls and other communications. I picture the mayhem on the IRT, the panic, the many dead and wounded, the disruption of a major transit system. It’s a terrible scene.
So, though it kills me to say so, I think the assault on privacy was probably worth it.
Even though she now supports surveillance, she is at pains to let everyone know that she is still an ardent progressive. It kills her to say what she thinks to be true, so strong is her tribal identity.
Bernays has long ago earned the world’s respect. That said, we were intrigued by her letter today—by the strong desire, in tribal times, to maintain one’s tribal allegiance.
Another way of conceiving such matters: There is of course another way of perceiving this change in point of view. A person could think something like this after changing her opinion:
“Maybe I was a bit too ardent in a few of my past views. Perhaps the other side had a germ of a point which my ardor kept me from seeing...”
In tribal times, our ardor often keeps us from spotting the presence of germs of truth. You don't have to think that the others are right.
Can you see that a germ may be there?