Part 5—Loss of our brains and our souls: In her column in last Friday's New York Times, Professor Fels described the varied effects of political hate.
What are the motives of "people who hate?" How are such people affected by their loathing of The Others? Today, we'll think about one possible motive, and about one effect:
FELS (4/14/17): The point is to hurt and humiliate. Those who hate want to make the objects of their hate suffer as they have. It is this that makes the attacks so personal and lends them their crude, violent and often sexual nature. The intent is not to challenge opposing beliefs but to destroy those who hold them.When we liberals swallow the type of stew served by Amanda Marcotte this week, we're being taught to hate. For background, see yesterday's award-winning report.
People who hate can blame others for their losses, reducing doubts about their own inadequacies.
Hate converts a sense of helplessness into one of action. It can even be the impetus for the formation of new communities in which people share grievances and plans for retribution, relieving their sense of isolation or powerlessness. As a consequence, though, there’s a loss of empathy, and beliefs become simplified and rigid.
Let's start with that one possible motive. Does our gulping of this stew allow us to "blame others for [our] losses, reducing doubts about [our] own inadequacies?"
It's hard to know how to answer. On the whole, we'd say that we liberals are too clueless, at this point in time, even to consider the possibility that Candidate Trump's win last year reflects in some way on Us—on "our own [massive] inadequacies."
We're just too dumb to see things that way. But good God! Our tribal inadequacies are comically endless. Consider another recent piece which appeared in the new, improved tribal Salon.
In the piece, David Masciotra reviewed an embarrassing new book. Masciotra's review appeared beneath these thrilling headlines:
Hillary hatred, exposed: What drives America’s never-ending case against ClintonCould the ineptitude of our tribe be put on more vivid display?
Susan Bordo's "The Destruction of Hillary Clinton" is a vital but incomplete look at her strange political life
Hillary Clinton has been demonized, in ludicrous ways, over the course of the past twenty-five years. Now that it's officially too late, our pitiful tribe has somehow managed to cough up a book which explores, or pretends to explore, these decades of demonization.
Could any political group or tribe be more hapless than this? Our biggest corporate stars—think TV's Rachel Maddow—have repeatedly run and hid in the woods rather than confront this phenomenon. Our biggest stars—think Rachel Maddow—report their admiration for their "dear friend," Chris Matthews, one the greatest and most misogynistic demonizers of Hillary Clinton over those many long years.
We liberals just sit there and take it! And now that it no longer matters, as if to amuse the gods on Olympus, a book has appeared which claims to discuss this phenomenon. In a similar vein, we liberals started our "resistance" against Trump on January 21, 2017—exactly one day too late.
We had twenty-five years to get off our ascots, stand on our hind legs and fight. We rose in opposition, and staged our march, exactly one day after Trump took office! (Because we can't stop praising ourselves, we've dubbed our pushback "the resistance.")
Truly, we must be the least competent bunch that ever drew breath on the earth. Despite this rather obvious fact, our tribal propaganda is replete with the claim—see Marcotte's report—that We are the very smart people, while The Others, the ones Over There, are "low information voters." Has any group, of any type, ever been more obnoxious than We?
On balance, The Others are low-information, of course—but We Over Here are worse. We're stupid and venal and nobody likes Us. We're also too dumb to understand these patterns. For that reason, there's no obvious way in which, in our gulping of hate, we're trying to cover the fact of our own inadequacies.
We liberals are tremendously dumb. But we're too dumb to know it.
On balance, how dumb are We in the end? Let's consider what Fels said about the "loss of empathy" which obtains among "people who hate."
At this point, lack of empathy for The Others is virtually our tribal calling card. We can't "feel the pain" of a 59-year-old woman who can't afford to go to the doctor. (Reason: she's rural, Southern and white.)
In a similar vein, consider a second book review, a piece by Jennifer Senior in yesterday's New York Times.
In our view, Senior has done tremendous work in this new role at the Times. In her review, she praises Amy Goldstein's new book, Janesville: An American Story.
Yay yay yay yay yay yay yay! Goldstein's book concerns Janesville, Wisconsin, Speaker Ryan's home town. As every good pseudo-liberal will know, this will likely let us smirk and snark about the ways of Those People, whose votes for Candidate Trump last November Marcotte so deftly "explained."
As we noted yesterday, Wisconsin was one of the midwestern states Marcotte sought to explain. Why did voters turn to Trump last fall, flipping these states from blue to red and sending Trump to the White House?
According to Marcotte, it was their "blatant racism" which led them to do it, full freaking tribal stop. When we liberals indulge our hate, this is the only answer we currently know. It's our answer to every question!
Before we look at Senior's review, a word about Janesville, Wisconsin. According to the leading authority, Janesville is "the county seat and largest city of Rock County and the principal municipality of the Janesville, Wisconsin Metropolitan Statistical Area."
As of 2010, Janesville's population (63,575) constituted about 40 percent of Rock County's population. And good lord! Rock County supported Clinton over Trump by a significant margin last year:
Rock County, Wisconsin, 2016 electionBy Marcottian analytical standards, this might mean that we can't blame Rock County, or presumably Janesville, for what happened last year. Except uh-oh! Clinton ran five points behind Senate candidate Russ Feingold in Rock County last November—and this is the way the county voted in 2012:
Clinton: 51.7 percent
Trump: 41.4 percent
Rock County, Wisconsin, 2012 electionOof! Clinton ran more than nine points behind Obama. As such, Janesville seems to have been part of the general pattern across Wisconsin in which Clinton significantly underperformed Obama, producing a narrow statewide loss.
Obama: 61.0 percent
Romney: 37.8 percent
According to Marcotte, voters supported the black Democrat in 2012, then dumped the white Democrat in 2016, because of their "blatant racism." As noted above, this has become the only story our own tribe knows how to tell.
This brings us back to Senior's review of Goldstein's new book. Why might people in Janesville have flipped to Trump last year?
In our view, a vote for Trump represented an act of bad political judgment. But why might other people have judged it differently, as they're allowed to do?
Goldstein's book examines what happened in Janesville after General Motors closed a plant in 2008. Massive dislocation ensued. We'll let Senior tell it:
SENIOR (4/20/17): “Janesville” joins a growing family of books about the evisceration of the working class in the United States. What sets it apart is the sophistication of its storytelling and analysis.As has been widely noted, Candidate Clinton never campaigned in Wisconsin. Candidate Trump kept telling the victims of such dislocations that he was aware of their plight, and that he would be able to help them as president.
The characters are especially memorable. This may be the first time since I began this job that I’ve wanted to send notes of admiration to three people in a work of nonfiction.
[P]erhaps the most powerful aspect of “Janesville” is its simple chronological structure, which allows Goldstein to show the chain reaction that something so calamitous as a plant closing can effect. Each falling domino becomes a headstone, signifying the death of the next thing.
Because the G.M. plant closes, so does the plant at the Lear Corporation, which supplied it with car seats and interiors. Because so many in Janesville are now out of work, nonprofits lose board members and contributions to local charities shrivel. Because their parents are out of work, students at Parker High start showing up for school both hungry and dirty. A social studies teacher starts the “Parker Closet,” which provides them with food and supplies. (Deri Wahlert: She’s one of the people to whom I’d like to write a fan note.)
The fabric of hundreds of families unravels, as an itinerant class of fathers—“Janesville Gypsies,” they call themselves—start commuting to G.M. factories in Texas, Indiana and Kansas, just so they can maintain their wage of $28 an hour. Those who stay home invariably see their paychecks shrink drastically. One of the men Goldstein follows, Jerad Whiteaker, cycles through a series of unsatisfying, low-paying jobs, finally settling in one that pays less than half his former wage and offers no health insurance. His twin teenage girls—to whom I’d also like to send awed notes—share five jobs between them, earning so much money for their family that they compromise their eligibility for student loans.
You will learn a lot about the arbitrary rules and idiosyncrasies of our government programs from this book. They have as many treacherous cracks and crevices as a glacier—and offer about as much warmth.
In our view, people who believed Trump's representations likely made a bad judgment. That said, they're nowhere near as dumb as we liberals are when we swallow ridiculous hate-driven essays such as Marcotte's latest.
Senior's review lets us examine our values. Are we able to empathize with people affected in the manner described? Are we able to understand that people can make judgments we consider faulty without necessarily being the most evil persons on earth?
Are we able to consider the lives of real people? Are we more than four years old?
We liberals get conned by our own big corporate stars every day. Are we able to live in a world where other people may get fooled by con men in different ways?
More and more, we liberals are unable to so such things. We're stupid and ugly and nobody likes us. But we're so sure of our manifest brilliance that we just keep pouring it on.
Tomorrow: The Maddow Show plays us again!