Part 4—But who gets to be in the club: A fascinating semi-discussion occurred on Tuesday's All In. The brief discussion was provoked by Chris Hayes. Essentially, the question was this:
Would liberals and Democrats ever support a candidate as crazy as Trump?
The discussion was quite brief. Inevitably, the conclusion tilted toward "of course not." We would never be as blind as The Others currently are.
Make no mistake! Even with recent drops in Trump's polling, Republican voters continue to support a candidate who is extremely strange—or so he seems to us.
It's natural to assume that our own tribe could never do something so foolish. That said, tribes have been reaching that happy conclusion ever since tribes began.
At the present time, many Republicans and conservatives seem to believe some very foolish things. Belief in Obama's foreign birth would be the craziest belief of them all. It's natural to assume that we liberals could never be so dumb.
Briefly, let's be fair. Disinformation and misinformation have become a very big business in the past three or four decades. Republicans and conservatives were targeted by these corporate hate and disinformation machines long before liberals were.
Sadly, we the people are able to believe a wide array of inaccurate and ridiculous things. Conservatives have made this fact quite clear. But what about us liberals? As our own corporate machines expand, how well are we going to fare?
Obviously, we're susceptible to false belief too. Consider two current examples. One example arises in a front-page report in today's Washington Post.
In our view, Paul Schwartzman's journalism is extremely poor in this front-page report. And no one can say it's because he's so young! Schwartzman has written for major newspapers for more than twenty years.
In hard copy, Schwartzman's report appears beneath this headline: "Police clashes kindle whites' awareness of racism in U.S."
On line, the current headline says this: "Why some whites are waking up to racism."
Are some whites "waking up to racism?" In theory, that would be a good thing, of course.
In this instance, Schwartzman is writing about people's reactions to news about fatal police shootings. In the past year, the Post has assembled a great deal of information on this important topic. In our view, its work has become a bit propagandistic at the same time.
Can we good-hearted liberals be misled by the things we're shown and told? Can we get conned by our purveyors, as has occurred with The Others?
As a general matter, the obvious answer is yes. In this particular instance, Schwartzman's piece is filled with comments by well-intentioned people who may be getting false impressions from the things they're shown and told.
Schwartzman quotes people whose levels of guilt may exceed their levels of clarity. Consider what two women tell him in this part of his report:
SCHWARTZMAN (8/4/16): As for the police, [a 68-year-old white] woman said she is “rethinking” her long-held belief that stories of misconduct were the result of a few bad officers. “You hear about so many you have to wonder if it’s more than a few,” she said.In principle, it's good that Mensing increasingly "thinks about what black children will face when they grow up." That said, why does Mensing feel "insanely guilty?"
A block away, Alanna Mensing, 34, who was walking with her 18-month-old son, said that when she takes the boy to play groups, she thinks about what black children will face when they grow up.
“A few years ago, that would never have occurred to me,” said Mensing, a music teacher. She said she becomes upset when she reads about racial incidents on social media.
“I feel insanely guilty about everything,” Mensing said. “I feel guilty that it’s not white people who are getting shot. It’s always black people.”
She says she feels insanely guilty because "it’s not white people who are getting shot. It’s always black people.” Despite all the data the Post has collected, Schwartzman doesn't bother correcting this blatant false statement.
Meanwhile, the older woman has begun to think that we have more than just a few bad police officers. Why is she now thinking that?
Because "you hear about so many," she says.
In theory, it's a good thing when these women wonder about the way their fellow citizens are treated. But by almost any conventional reckoning, it's not a good thing if they're getting false impressions about the way the world actually works, perhaps from selective presentations in major newspapers.
According to the Washington Post's statistical summary, police shoot and kill roughly twice as many whites as blacks. Given the way our purveyors now work, we doubt that either of these women know that. As quoted, their comments plainly suggest that they don't, and Schwartzman hurried ahead without citing his newspaper's data.
(The model, as we've noted before: Collect the data; get a Pulitzer. Never mention the data again!)
Schwartzman's front-page report is lengthy. It's also terrible journalism. We were also struck today by Amanda Marcotte's report for the new and improved Salon, a report about Candidate Jill Stein's handling of vaccine fears.
Are we the progressives getting conned into false beliefs about vaccines? We don't know what the answer is. But of course it's entirely possible.
In our view, conservatives are currently backing a very peculiar candidate. That said, many of those people think they're opposing a demonic figure.
They think that because they've been told that for decades. We the brilliant wonderful liberals sat on our hands and day-dreamed as journalistic and media lynch mobs worked their way all through the land.
Our journalistic leaders failed to warn us about this. They displayed no outrage; they refused to fight back; they continue to fail us to this very day.
On our own, we regular liberal weren't sharp enough, or righteous enough, to discern what was happening. In the absence of genuine intellectual leadership, we failed to be angered by this sort of thing, which went on, day after day, for the past twenty-four years:
KURTZ (3/31/96): Hey, did you hear what Don Imus said about Hillary Clinton? It's a song parody that ridicules how she "fornicates," "menstruates" and "urinates," and includes the refrain: "That's why the First Lady is a tramp."Our snivelling, careerist pseudo-leaders failed to rise against this. After that, they failed to fight back in the war against Gore. They failed to challenge the lunacy of Maureen Dowd, who is now plainly supporting Trump.
Dearest darlings, it just isn't done! Careers hung in the balance!
Many people who support Trump believe they're opposing a demon. Back in August 1999, they may have been watching Hardball when Chris Matthews gave Gennifer Flowers a full half-hour to discuss the long list of Clinton murders.
They may have believed Gary Aldrich, former FBI agent turned author, who said the heinous Hillary had decorated the White House Christmas tree with miniature crack pipes.
In 1996, his book went to #1 on the New York Times best-seller list.
In our view, conservative voters were very dumb to believe these disgraceful tales. That said, many liberals now believe that police shoot only black people.
It's not the same, we'll hotly insist. The tribal mind has always said that, and it always will.
Our friends and neighbors were very foolish to believe all those crazy claims. That said, Chris Hayes will never tell you about the way his colleague, Chris Matthews, drove this relentless jihad.
Hayes is paid many corporate dollars not to discuss such matters. Instead, he tells us what we humans always long to be told:
The Others think and do crazy things. We Liberals would never do that.
At the Democratic Convention, we were told that this country is "stronger together." In a remarkable example of what is possible, the Khans have been widely and warmly affirmed from all points on the spectrum.
In our own view, Donald Trump is history's craziest candidate. In our view, it ought to be an embarrassment to us liberals—to our ability at outreach and explanation—that he is still polling 40 percent after all the nonsense he's spawned.
That ought be an an embarrassment to us—to our lazy refusal to engage in outreach. But in truth, we enjoy calling The Others racists. It's really the only play we know. It's the one play we truly enjoy.
We laid around and slept in the woods while The Others were being propagandized by major corporate hustlers. Now, we're furious about the crazy things they believe.
Our leaders are faux; we ourselves are weak. And when we say we're "stronger together," let's make sure we all understand what we actually mean"
We mean that we're "stronger together" except for Them. When we say we're stronger together, we don't mean that we'll try to speak, and listen, to Them.
Neal Gabler knows who Those People all are. He told us this week at Salon. He seems to imagine no exceptions to the unflattering picture he paints.
But then, we all seem to know who Those People all are. We humans have known this ever since we first crawled up on the land.
We know that The Other aren't like us. We're stronger when we call them names—when we name-call them instead of denouncing the people who propagandized them.
Stronger together except for Them! It may be too long for a slogan.