Part 3—Phrenology’s return: Who will Malala Yousafzai turn out to be?
We can’t tell you that. We were so pleased when we watched the tape of her U.N. address that we seem to have misheard one part of what she said.
We were thrilled to hear this very unusual person make this declaration, emphasis hers:
“Dear brothers and sisters! I am not against anyone.”
We were thrilled by that declaration. We were so thrilled that, a bit later one, we thought we heard her say this:
MALALA, AS HEARD: We call upon all the communities to be tolerant—to reject prejudice based on cast, creed, sect, color, religion or agenda.It still sounds to us like she said “agenda.” (Her English is accented, as is everyone else's.) But according to the text of the speech as released, it seems that she may have said “gender” instead.
To ensure freedom and equality for women, so that they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.
Since the bulk of the speech concerns the rights of women and girls, we like it better the way we heard it. We’d love to see a fresh new voice condemn intolerance based on agenda—to suggest that we should stop being against other people on that familiar old basis.
It isn’t that you can’t oppose the agenda, whatever that agenda might be. The suggestion would be that you ought to stop being against the person who holds it, just as “Gandhiji” suggested in his “eleven vows.”
You can listen to the address to determine what was said. The statement in question occurs right around the 14:40 mark of that tape.
For ourselves, as we watched that tape, we were instantly struck by a contrast: the contrast between what was being said and the steady diet of being against we now get at our “liberal” organs.
In what sorts of ways are we trained to be against? Let’s run through a few examples, featuring the shameless lengths to which we will go in our desire to loathe.
First example: On Monday night, October 21, Chris and Lawrence were certainly shameless in their desire to loathe. (For background, see yesterday's post.) Ted Cruz had told a stale old joke about the status of governmental Washington. But by the time our ranters were done, Cruz had said that all our cities, and everyone who isn’t white, simply aren’t part of America.
What kind of person has to embellish that way to make a case against Cruz? Before they were done, the ranters were dropping all manner of ugly bombs and blaming people in Texas today for a war which started in 1861.
Did the ranters really believe that Cruz made that racial declaration? We note that others on The One True Channel refused to play that card.
Chris Hayes played tape of Cruz’s remark; it may have been part of the corporate playlist. But he didn’t take that remark to the ugly places favored by Chris and Lawrence:
HAYES (10/21/13): Any moment, Senator Ted Cruz will take the stage at his big homecoming party in Houston, Texas. You see a live shot of that right there.To Hayes' credit, that was as far as he went. He snarked a bit about Cruz's remark, but he didn’t play race cards.
Just two days ago, Senator Cruz received a standing ovation from Texas Federation of Republican Women’s State Convention in San Antonio, Texas.
CRUZ (videotape): Thank you. That is a slightly different reception than I get in Washington, D.C. And having spent the past month up in D.C., it is really great to be back in America.
HAYES: Get it? Earlier the same day, Cruz spoke to the Texas Medical Association in Austin, Texas.
Just a quick recap, in case you found that confusing. Senator Cruz, having flown in from the foreign country of Washington, D.C. to his home state of Texas, is right now celebrating his great big homecoming in his home state of Texas.
The Houston Tea Party is more than willing to offer up its adoration, but Cruz has become one of the most polarizing figures in national politics...
Later, a guest from Texas, Evan Smith, tried to introduce the secession card. Hayes took a pass on that too. We are glad he did.
Did Cruz make an ugly racial remark when he offered that lame old quip? Actually no, he didn’t. But various “liberals” are eager to train you in the ways of being against:
Remember the disgraceful ways Olbermann slimed Carrie Prejean? (Liberal leaders attacked his misogyny in private, refused to speak up in public.)
Remember the ways Rachel directed dick jokes at the tea-baggers night after night, for more than a week, while pretending to be embarrassed? (When Jon Stewart told her she shouldn’t have done it, she still wouldn’t say she wrong. Instead, she disputed the length of time involved in this sad episode.)
More recently, do you remember the way Alan Grayson dropped the KKK-bomb on millions of heads? (DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said she was “disappointed” by his remarkable conduct.)
Actually, there’s a good chance you don’t remember that! The repellent conduct was widely discussed—on Fox. But the Nexis archives record no instance in which it was mentioned on MSNBC.
On The One True Channel, we liberals are trained to be against, even to hate. And when The Hate goes crazily over the line, we’re shielded from such knowledge!
Didn’t we always say it was wrong when Fox played the game that way?
How pitifully dumb can our conduct become as we seek ways to be against? Consider the sad, pathetic piece they recently ran at Salon.
The piece was written by Lynn Stuart Parramore. Originally, it appeared at Alternet.
We’ll say this for Salon: they gave fair warning to readers, right in their headlines. This is the way the piece began, twin headlines included:
PARRAMORE (10/21/13) Inside the conservative brain: Tea Partyers are afraid/You’re right! Those first two paragraphs are rather fuzzy. But the warning lights were flashing red in those headlines.
To understand their worldview you have to know how they see themselves
As America is torn apart by extremists, maybe a deep dive into our individual and collective psychology is a good way to start figuring out what’s happening to us.
The problem, as it turns out, may be the difference in the way people view individuals and collectives; whether you’ve got a “me” or a “we” focus; and how big those categories happen to be.
At Salon, we were going inside the other tribe’s brain to find out how “they” see themselves! But then, this is the way it’s always been framed by the world’s least enlightened souls:
“They” (Those People) are all alike! Something is wrong inside their brain!
Phrenology alert! It’s one short step to the oldest way of being against:
Those People aren’t fully human!
Go ahead—read the Parramore piece. Yes, Salon actually published this mess. The devolving journal was helping us learn how to be against:
PARRAMORE (continuing directly): john a. powell (his name is spelled without capitals) leads the UC Berkeley Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and is considered a leading thinker on race and ethnicity. He spoke Wednesday evening in Manhattan at the Union Theological Seminary as part of a joint series on Economics & Theology put on by UTS and the Institute of New Economic Thinking. INET’s executive director Rob Johnson, along with UTS president Serene Jones and Rachel Godsil of the American Values Institute, joined powell in a lively panel focused on how issues of race and belonging inform what’s happening in America today.We’d have to say that approaches “hate speech” of a familiar kind.
powell thinks a lot about meaning and being—what philosophers call ontology. He pays attention to the multiple levels at which humans exist and our struggle to make meaning of our lives, both as individuals and as groups. Along with Godsil, he studies how biases operate in our unconscious, with profound consequences for how we react to the world and each other.
The Tea Party is a fascinating case study for how these questions and ideas play out. Its members are bonded in anxiety and terror—a very powerful glue—over what America is becoming: something other than the “real America” they wish to belong to. Their America is white, Protestant and Anglo-Saxon (it’s no accident that the right’s leading think tank is called the Heritage Foundation).
powell notes that while Tea Party members will tolerate a bit of diversity—the occasional Catholic or Jew—they primarily wish to protect the distinctiveness of their chosen group in the past, present and future. For them, someone like Obama represents the ultimate threat to maintaining this distinctiveness, the thing that makes them feel special. With his black/Muslim/immigrant associations he becomes the “trifecta of Otherness”—an unholy trinity that must be resisted at all costs. The Tea Partyer perceives the president as the incarnation of a malevolent force that will take from them and give to Others. He is both the incarnation and the welcoming committee for the Stranger who doesn’t belong in America.
Powell “thinks a lot about meaning and being?” Try to pretend no one ever said that! Focus on the familiar old structure in which we are told these things:
“Biases operate in our unconscious, with profound consequences for how we react to the world and each other.” And those biases are found in the other tribe, not so much in ours!
There you see the classic formula by which we’re trained to hate. At no point does Parramore feel the need to offer evidence for her sweeping claims about the very unpleasant things The Other Tribe thinks.
Do all Tea Partyers have the unpleasant thoughts she confidently describes? So all Tea Partyers think that, “with his black/Muslim/immigrant associations, Obama becomes the ‘trifecta of Otherness’—an unholy trinity that must be resisted at all costs?”
At no point does Parramore feel the need to support or qualify her sweeping statements. As she continues, she tells us what Those People think about Social Security:
PARRAMORE (continuing directly): As an illustration, powell looks at how Tea Partyers feel about Social Security, which is coming under vigorous attack just as default has been avoided. When asked individually, powell finds that the Tea Partyer likes the program a lot. But she only likes it for her own group—for people who have, in her view, “worked for it.” She doesn’t want the Others to have it because she doesn’t want to be connected to “Them.” “They” don’t work the way she does. “They” don’t care about America as she does. “They” don’t belong in America. This divide between the small group and the larger community can be leveraged by politicians who wish to sway them.Do all Tea Partyers feel those ways about Social Security? And by the way:
How does powell know that anyone feels that way? Parramore never says. When we’re in training to be against, there’s no need to explain!
We shouldn’t even mention Malala in connection with this horrible mess. But when we saw her tell the U.N. that she isn’t against anyone, this is what we thought about—this growing, embarrassing mess, variants of which are being advanced all over the “liberal” world.
Tomorrow: Rachel Maddow, against
A basic point of fairness: We don't know what powell said. This is all Parramore’s account. She enters forty million minds, tells us what They are thinking.