Perhaps not the greatest idea: Andrew Sullivan was brought up to believe that you shouldn't make sweeping negative generalizations about whole classes of people.
We know that because Sullivan says so in his latest end-of-week essay for New York magazine. Scroll down to his second topic:
SULLIVAN (11/2/18): At what point is it legitimate to make sweeping negative generalizations about whole classes of people? I was brought up to believe the answer to that was never. But I’m beginning to feel painfully naïve about that.In a way, we were brought up to believe that too. We recall being taught, as a high school freshman, that you should avoid "glittering generalizations," and especially negative generalizations, about groups of people.
This was especially true, we suspect we were told, concerning matters of "race," a unit of thought our brutal history dumps on our pitiful heads.
We'll augment the language in Sullivan's rule. People should avoid sweeping invidious statements concerning whole classes of people. It's a lazy, unhelpful way to play. Sully continues from there:
SULLIVAN (continuing directly): It’s endemic on the Trump right and in Trump’s own diseased psyche. Generalizations about immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos … well, you know the list by now. But it’s also percolating on the left. This week, CNN’s Don Lemon went there. He said we need to “realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them. There is no travel ban on them. There is no ban—you know, they had the Muslim ban. There is no white-guy ban. So what do we do about that?”Sad. "There is no white-guy ban. So what do we do about that?”
Challenged on this, he doubled down. On the facts, he insisted, he is not wrong about domestic terrorism...
(The sound you hear is Fox News anchors knocking over tables and chairs as they scramble to air this tape.)
Sullivan continues from there. That said, we happened to see that casual presentation by Lemon in real time. Sadly, Lemon now casually plays it this way a fair amount of the time.
This seems to represent a bit of a flip on Lemon's part. In past years, as a weekend anchor on CNN, he was routinely criticized for taking the kinder, gentler approach in dust-ups concerning race.
By now, performing in prime time, he seems to have made himself over. We can't tell you why this is, but we don't think his new pattern is smart or helpful, except perhaps in the approaches to marketing preferred by his channel's suits.
(By the way, how much is Lemon paid by those profit-seeking corporate suits? Given our ballyhooed love of transparency, why can't we pitiful rubes be trusted with such information?)
Sullivan goes on to describe the problem with Lemon's "deliberately provocative" comments. In our mind, the principal problem lies in the fact that such remarks are destructive and transparently dumb.
Sully explains his own point of view. We'll suggest you review what he says. Then he offers this:
SULLIVAN: This impulse to generalize is human and I don’t want to beat up on Don Lemon for an off-the-cuff riff. But it seems to me important to keep the denigration of entire classes of people in check. It’s morally wrong, and it’s politically counterproductive. The issue is not the far-right terrorists’ whiteness or their maleness, but their extremism and psychology.Indeed! This impulse to generate versions of Us and Them is indeed deeply human. All over the world, it's what our warlike species has always been inclined to do.
If there's a way to create an Us and Them, our "human" impulses let us find it. We find ways to build Us and Them out of every conceivable type of soil.
We humans! We find ways to split ourselves into tribes around race, religion, ethnicity, language, gender, region, age and class. On contemporary corporate cable, anchors and pundits are all too happy to toss off casual remarks which casually play on such distinctions.
Given the foolishness of the age, this casual conduct is now seen as brave. Cable stars who explore no issues of race impress us with their casual comments. Everyone's learning to do it.
Sullivan says he "doesn’t want to beat up on Don Lemon for an off-the-cuff riff." Ideally, we shouldn't want to beat up on anybody at all.
That said, Lemon's latest "off-the-cuff riff" was merely the latest of many. The man who used to play it one way now casually plays it another.
Our warlike species loves this game. Just a quick guess:
On corporate cable, it sells.
Also this: Last night, Anderson Cooper's minutes (roughly) 6-10 struck us as transparently and insultingly phony.
It was interrupt, interrupt, interrupt, interrupt, apparently with the intention of posing as bold and defiant. On the journalistic merits, we'd call it a "cable news" disgrace. On the brighter side, we'll guess that this type of performance art sells.
CNN hasn't posted a transcript yet, nor do we find any videotape of this transparently phony behavior. That said, how much is Cooper paid to do this?
By established rule of law, we gullible rubes can't be told!