It's all anthropology now: Recently, we made a major announcement:
"It's all anthropology now."
By that, we meant the following:
Especially at times like these, there's no point in trying to offer facts, information or analysis to our floundering species. Especially when our species is in the grip of moral panics, our species will have no use for such proffers.
Our current moral panics mainly involve issues of "race" and gender. All you can do, at a time like this, is observe and describe the way our floundering species behaves—the way we're programmed to act.
Still, we'll try to be helpful:
In the general area of "race," we would advise our floundering species to stop believing in the concept, which is such a prominent part of "the world the slaveholders made." We expect to explore this award-winning idea this year, building from Professor Gates' question last fall:
"What difference does it make?"
In the general area of gender, we compliment the Washington Post for the three letters it ran today. The letters concern a gruesome opinion piece the paper ran in last Sunday's Outlook section—a piece which shows how horrific the "reasoning" gets at times of moral panic and cultural stampede.
Last Sunday's piece was written by Richard Morgan. In hard copy, the Post identified Morgan as "a journalist" and as "a writer in New York." Online, the Post identifies him like this:
"Richard Morgan, a freelance writer in New York, is the author of 'Born in Bedlam,' a memoir."
Morgan's piece concerned the alleged contents of Woody Allen's mind. Whatever a person may think or imagine about the contents of Allen's mind, Morgan's journalism on the topic was just horrifically awful.
It showed the instincts of our species at its most incompetent. According to experts and anthropologists, work this bad only appears at times of moral panic and cultural stampede.
We researched several of Morgan's claims, but we'll link you to the three letters and pretty much leave it at that. As a piece of analysis, Morgan's piece is amazingly bad. The fact that the Post chose to publish the piece is the most striking fact of all.
And by the way, did the Post ever choose to publish the piece! In hard copy, it ate about 80 percent of Outlook's front page. Inside the section, it ate the top two-thirds of page B4.
In short, the Post devoted gigantic space to work which is horrifically poor. According to an assortment of experts, those are the judgments our species makes when panics and stampedes are on.
What is a moral panic? you ask. You're asking a very good question. For today, we'll answer in circular fashion:
A moral panic is a time which gives way to work like Morgan's—to horrible, horrific work about important topics.
For what it'd worth, Morgan's essay wasn't his first for the Post. In June 2015, he penned another lengthy, front-page piece for Outlook. Hard-copy headlines included, that Father's Day essay started off like this:
MORGAN (6/21/15): When 'dad' is a four-letter word/ How Richard Morgan learned to love the idea of fatherhood despite his own awful dadIt sounds like Morgan, and his younger siblings, received some truly horrible parenting. In payment, Post readers have received some truly horrible journalism, on perhaps two occasions.
Not everyone celebrates their father on Father's Day. I recently Googled mine for the first time—to double-check that he was still alive. He was not a good dad; we are not close. He taught me one crucial lesson, though: that fatherhood is not about his way of being a dad.
During a trip to Disney World when I was 13, one night I decided to sleep in my swim trunks at the hotel. I hadn't gotten them wet because I didn't know how to swim (still don't). He scolded me at bedtime, then he yelled at me, then, when I didn't remove the suit, he beat me on my arms and legs. Finally, he stripped me. All in front of my younger siblings and our mom. The youngest, my brother, was 8.
In the dark of that room, naked and bleeding, only the sound of my sobs filled the silence—until I began putting my trunks back on. My father heard the hushed rustles, got out of bed, pulled me up by my hair until he could lift me by my neck and dragged me to the parking lot, throwing me against the car door and telling me to get in. He drove so furiously as he swerved onto the main road that I tried, unsuccessfully, to open the door and roll out. I saw my mother, in tears, chasing after the car and pictured the taillights glaring at her like the taunting eyes of a fleeing demon.
"Bastard," my father muttered. He was enraged that night, as he often was, at me more than my siblings, because I, the firstborn, had made my father a father. I was the proverbial 98-pound weakling, so I hurled words over fists, mostly half-plagiarized takedowns from trashy soaps like "Days of Our Lives" and "Melrose Place."
"Man [sic] is the rational animal?" So sacred Aristotle is widely said to have said.
Despite his alleged brilliance, Aristotle didn't speak any English. Whatever he actually may have meant by whatever it was he actually said, it seems to us that he might have misfired in this instance.
"Man [sic] is the animal which can't fashion an argument?" All over cable, all through the opinion pages, our species seems to be fulfilling that alternate claim at this highly fraught juncture.
Man [sic] seems to have a very hard time with "race" and sex. Especially with topics so fraught, the wiring of our misfiring species just isn't especially strong.
One recent application: It seemed to us that Professor Miles and some audience members were having a fairly hard time handling the concept of "race." (The concept is a large part of the deeply noxious "world the slaveholders made.")
This difficulty seems to be leading them to seek their "identity" in the stories of a small number of people numbered among the honored dead. As they engage in this overwrought search, they and everyone else in our tribe ignore the 48,000, who are found among the living.
"Man [sic] is the rational animal?" Tell that to the 48,000, whose "chances at life" crash and burn as cable stars entertain us with talk about Trump and the porn star.
Was Morgan mistreated as a child? So are the 48,000! They live in a world whose misfiring adults continue to "walk on by."