Part 4—Learning to loathe by the millions: If we were running Essex University, we might be concerned about our young philosophy lecturer, if only for reasons of possible liability.
We'd guess that he's just an undergrown lad who has read too many books. That said, we'd be concerned by the eliminationist fervor which suffused his heartfelt piece about "my own personal hell," a personal hell caused by the existence of all other Britons.
At best, Tom Whyman is just overwrought; at worst, he could be disturbed. But that's the way a university administrator might react to his deeply peculiar essay in last Sunday's New York Times. On a journalistic basis, we'll stick with our initial assessment:
Only the New York Times would publish such ridiculous work--work designed, among other things, to help us learn to loathe our 80-something neighbors. No one but the New York Times would see the merit in ridiculous work like Whyman's.
That said, the New York Times adores the general sentiment which lay behind Whyman's piece. This morning, the paper is at it again, publishing this op-ed column in which an apparently 33-34-year-old assistant professor of creative writing describes the hate he observed at a recent Trump event.
To our ear, some of the events he describes sound perhaps a bit "creative." Having said that, we'll also quickly note that everything is possible.
Below, we'll link you to a pair of reports in which left-leaning writers described a very different tone at two other Trump events. Reports of this type don't find their way to the New York Times.
Without any doubt, a certain number of lost souls are supporting Candidate Trump. The trick is to make its seem like all Trump supporters are evil—all, or maybe just most!
Increasingly, we liberals seem to love the hate that's involved in this sick undertaking. How widely does this impulse toward pseudo-lib loathing extend?
Let's just state the problem this way—now they've even got Kevin Drum! We refer to the puzzling blog post which appeared on June 2. We've puzzled about it all month.
Drum's post was designed to help us learn to loathe the white working-class—rather, to loathe whites who lack college degrees.
Tens of millions of people fit that description. Reproducing an underwhelming graphic, Drum expressed his view of this large group in this indelicate way:
DRUM (6/2/16): Donald Trump's core support is, famously, concentrated among whites with high school degrees or less. Via Ronald Brownstein, here's how these folks feel about cultural change:For what it's worth, we keep reading that Trump's support isn't disproportionately based in the working class. Whatever the truth of that may be, that isn't the current point.
No surprise here. They're a little bit sexist, a little bit homophobic, a little bit racist, and a little bit xenophobic. In other words, perfect for Trump.
In the passage shown above, Drum dismissed the white working class with a series of our tribe's favorite bombs. Basically, he was helping us learn to think of millions of people as evil.
Upon what data did he base this ugly expression of loathing? Sad! Drum was working from a graphic presented by the Atlantic's Ron Brownstein. It showed responses to some fairly fuzzy questions about six social issues.
In Brownstein's graphic, responses from less educated whites were compared to responses from more educated white. (More specifically, we're discussing whites with a high school degree or less versus whites with a college degree.)
On all six questions, responses by the two groups were more much alike than different. Until you read Drum's post.
Let's be fair! In each case, less-educated whites gave the answer Drum prefers less often than their better-educated peers. But in no case did a majority of lower-educated whites give the "wrong" answer to the question. And in every case, a substantial number of better-educated whites gave the wrong answer too!
(Because someone died and made Drum God, he was able to define the official "wrong" answers, the answers which marked respondents as racist/sexist/xenophobic etcetera and so on.)
To what extent did responses from the two groups overlap? In the first question, respondents were asked if they think "society has become too soft and feminine," whatever that was supposed to mean.
Ignore the fuzziness of the question; most people offered an answer! Forty-seven percent of less educated whites gave the wrong answer to that question—but so did 31 percent of our own more laudable cohort!
To Drum, this seems to mean that less educated whites are sexist, more educated whites are not.
(You'll hide behind the words "a little bit." Needless to say, you'll be hiding.)
For another example, consider the sixth and final question, in which respondents were asked if they "favor banning Muslims entering the United States." On that question, 32 percent of Them gave the wrong answer—but so did 19 percent of Us!
On this question, the overlap between responses by the two groups was very strong. No matter! To Drum, those responses got Them tagged as "xenophobic," while nothing was said about Us. This is a perfect school for loathing, a textbook school of hate.
We've described this type of "thinking" before. In this type of thinking, we take a difference in degree and present it as a difference in kind. If 32 percent of The Others give the wrong answer to some question, that ends up meaning that all The Others did.
Did a whole bunch of Us give the wrong answer too? That's deftly disappeared.
This is textbook group loathing, in which a difference in degree becomes a difference in kind. In this particular case, please note what else got disappeared:
In Brownstein's original piece, he offered some words of caution. In the bulk of his text, he had compared responses by two groups—less educated whites and their more educated white peers.
There was more similarity than difference in the responses to all six questions. But uh-oh! Brownstein was straight enough to include this bit of nuance:
"[M]any African Americans and Hispanics also hold culturally traditional views on questions like these."
Interesting! It isn't just (a minority of) less-educated whites who give the wrong responses! According to Brownstein, many blacks and Hispanics hold the wrong views too!
Connecting this to Drum's mandate from God, this means that blacks and Hispanics are "a little bit sexist, a little bit homophobic, a little bit racist, and a little bit xenophobic" too! If you like to loathe, especially in groups!
Many blacks and Hispanics hold the wrong views too! But so what? Quite typically, Drum completely skipped this fact, and Brownstein offered no data about the way blacks and Hispanics responded to the six questions at issue. We got to drop bombs on the white working-class while giving our teammates a pass!
(Over the past dozen years, this sort of thing has been quite typical when we "liberals" bring The Others to heel in this way.)
The "liberal" world has run on this loathing for at least fifty years. On a political basis, it's massively self-defeating. Judged on the merits, it's a triumph of hate over smarts.
In part because of our tribal love for this kind of loathing, Trump may yet reach the White House. If he does, the Times will commission some fiery assistant professors to tell Us all about Them.
Currently semi-planned for tomorrow: A very-special Philosopher's Fourth!
Yet to come on some other bright day: Should we hate the working class of loathsome Sunderland, England?
They voted strongly in favor of Leave. Should we loathe Them too?
Our advice: Be sure to read the part of this Times report where we learn that they can't afford to swim in that EU-financed pool or to attend that college.
Are you sure we should loathe them too? If they sent their kids to Whyman's school, he'd call them his personal hell!