Killing the pig du jour: According to several future experts, "narrative grievance" is currently a seminal concept in future anthropology.
According to these experts, the concept is being widely applied to the liberal "grievance politics" of the present age—the political era which preceded Mister Trump's Dispositive War.
In recent weeks, we've been trying to apply this anthropological concept to the rise of liberal "grievance expression" concerning female political candidates. Within this trending grievance expression, liberals complain that female candidates face unusually difficult odds concerning their "likability."
The claim is highly nebulous and extremely hard to prove. But according to Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), a disconsolate group of future scholars who report to us in nocturnal submissions from the years which follow Mister Trump's War, a second hard-wired human tendency helped vitiate this problem for the pre-war pseudo-liberal:
In the realm of human grievance expression of the late pre-war era, no basic skill levels needed to apply! So these mournful future scholars have now quite forcefully said.
"During that era, the journalist could write whatever he or she pleased, just so long as it furthered some pre-approved expression of tribal grievance," one such scholar sadly told us during a memorable recent visit. More specifically, the liberal could write any damn fool thing just so long as he or she was dropping bombs on the Others!
So the future scholar said. She cited the recent essay by Jay Newton-Small as an example of what she meant.
Newton-Small's essay appeared this past Sunday in the Washington Post's Outlook section. It started with the peculiar logic which has been sweeping the grievance movement concerning female candidates:
According to this fractured logic, the 2016 White House election, in which the female candidate decisively outpolled her male opponent, somehow showed that "Americans" (sometimes spelled with a "k") weren't ready to elect a female president in the era before Mister Trump's War!
As we showed you yesterday, Newton-Small's relentlessly bungled essay began with that peculiar claim. According to one overwrought future source, "Once a writer was permitted to start an essay with something like that, it was pretty much anything went!"
At any rate, given the way our tribal species was wired, no basic skill levels were required in the expression of tribal grievance! The pleasure of killing the latest pig overrode the slender desire to perform like "the rational animal."
In the case of Newton-Small's piece, the pigs du jour were "non-college-educated white women." The alleged sexism of this group was singled out for attack.
Sweeping denunciations of working-class whites typified the "liberal" thinking of this era, we've been convincingly told. As we showed you yesterday, Newton-Small dropped her bomb on the Others as shown below, right in her opening paragraph:
NEWTON-SMALL (5/19/19): There are already six women running for president in 2020, an unprecedented number, and two of them—Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.)—routinely poll in the top five among the nearly two dozen Democratic hopefuls. But it’s still not clear that America is ready to elect its first female president. For that to happen, the overachieving women in the race will have to surmount the sexism of other women—specifically, non-college-educated white women.In this way, the S-bomb was dropped on a very large group of women's heads. According to future experts, devotion to this type of grievance expression typified pseudo-liberal behavior in the years before Mister Trump's War.
"This was typical Homo sapiens stuff," our future anthropologist said. She then took us through the Newton-Small piece, noting the various ways the author had been allowed to proceed.
She started with a savage take-down of one bit of sleight-of-hand. Newton-Small accuses the Others of "sexism," our scholar correctly noted. But she spends her entire essay discussing "relatability."
If a certain voter "couldn't relate to" Candidate Clinton, how exactly did that show that the voter in question was exist? Newton-Small never quite gets around to explaining that point, our future expert said.
More on that basic point below. For now, consider Newton-Small's persistently failing small-bore logic. To cite one sad example:
In paragraph 6 of her report, Newton-Small is trying to finger non-college-educated white women as the demons of the piece. And it's true that this demographic group substantially favored Candidate Trump over Candidate Clinton.
Using exit polls, Newton-Small says that Trump won 61% of this group. A later, more reliable study by Pew—a study Newton-Small ignores—places the number at 56%. For Molly Ball's report, click this.
Whatever! For now, let's examine the quality of logic the Washington Post was willing to wave into print.
In paragraph 6, Newton-Small seems to be trying to support a rather innocuous claim about non-college-educated white women. But note the way she proceeds:
NEWTON-SMALL: In the 2016 election, most demographic groups were predictably committed: White men and older voters favored Trump. Minorities and college-educated voters went for Clinton. The only demographic that moved back and forth dramatically during the campaign was non-college-educated white women. After the uproar over Trump’s disparagement of Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan during the Democratic National Convention, Trump dropped from a statistical tie the day of Khan’s convention speech to around an eight-point deficit a little more than a week later, according to RealClearPolitics’ average of national polls. The most pronounced change was among women: A CNN/ORC poll taken right before Khan’s speech showed Clinton only four points ahead among women; the same poll taken immediately after the speech showed Clinton stretching her lead to 23 points.Note what happens there. We're told that non-college-educated white women "moved back and forth dramatically during the campaign." It isn't clear how any such fact could demonstrate anyone's sexism, but that's the basic claim which is made in that graf.
But sad! In support of that claim about non-college-educated white women, Newton-Small tells us: 1) that Trump's support dropped at one point among the electorate as a whole; and 2) that the most pronounced change at that point was among women as a whole.
Neither point supports the claim about dramatic shifts in support among non-college-educated white women. But when a liberal writer of the pre-war era was in the grip of some narrative grievance, even the simplest logic was rarely required, our future experts now say.
Frequently, no basic skills were required at all, these mournful experts tell us. Consider what happened when we spent a couple of hours this past Sunday clicking Newton-Small's persistently useless links.
Throughout her report, Newton-Small makes claims about the way various groups have voted in past elections. Generally, she includes links in support of her claims.
But alas! Again and again and again and again, the links she supplies are useless. They take the reader to source material which simply doesn't report or support the statistical claim in question.
We wasted hours this Sunday clicking Newton-Small's links, then clicking the links which were provided within the sources to which we'd been linked. The persistence of the bungling was remarkable—and maddening as well.
We found ourselves wondering if the Washington Post requires any competence from the writers it publishes in its high-profile Outlook section. We wondered if Adam Kushner checks any of the material he publishes there each week.
On one occasion, a Newton-Small link did open our eyes. At one point, she links to a column she herself wrote for Time magazine after the 2016 election.
As with so many other links, the column doesn't support the bulk of the factual claims at issue. But good God! The analysts screamed when they saw that the Newton-Small of November 2016 had actually written this:
NEWTON-SMALL (11/10/16): Clinton chose to focus her campaign on women...But in focusing so heavily on women, Clinton all but ceded much of the male vote, especially the white male vote, to Trump. And she failed to close her case with key groups of women: Millennials, Latinas and non-college-educated white women.Ugh. Today, Newton-Small complains about the alleged sexism of the working-class white women who serve as our tribe's latest Others. In real time, she said that Candidate Clinton had repeatedly come across as a "hectoring housewife."
Clinton herself talked about how she wasn’t a natural politician like her husband and President Obama. She’s never had the moving oratory skills they both possess. This isn’t uncommon amongst female leaders. Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meier, Angela Merkel—all are pragmatists known more for getting things done than for soaring inspiration. Clinton, though, ended up playing the hectoring housewife at times to Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, lecturing them on their pie-in-the-sky ideas. As one young woman before the New Hampshire primary put it to me: Going to a Hillary rally was like going on a date with an actuary. You knew what she was saying was important, but it was really boring.
"That was typical stuff before The War," one future anthropologist said. "This is the way the mainstream 'career liberal' played it during that era—and working-class white people noticed!"
Newton-Small made little attempt to support her sweeping claim of "sexism"—to justify the bomb she dropped on the heads of millions of Others. Her links were routinely useless, her logic routinely flawed.
Indeed, her own past behavior seemed to include the type of conduct she piously now abhors. Then too, there was the groaner. Near the end, obeying a rule, she managed to author this:
NEWTON-SMALL: Clearly, men also face a relatability test—it’s why John Kerry was mocked as elitist in 2003 for putting Swiss cheese on his Philly cheesesteak. Relatability, or the lack thereof, also hurt President George H.W. Bush’s reelection chances when he seemingly couldn’t come up with the typical price of milk during a debate. But for non-college white women, that relatability test is far more personal. It’s more about seeing themselves, or not seeing themselves, in the woman in front of them.Again, "relatability" is being discussed, with no attempt to link it to sexism, the aggressive bomb she dropped on the lower-class Others. But in this passage, as noted above, we see Newton-Small observing a rule of contemporary grievance expression:
Eventually, the female candidate grievance shouter must, in passing, note the fact that "likability" and "relatability" have routinely been used as weapons against male candidates too.
Newton-Small observed a rule in that paragraph, but she also authored a groaner. We're sorry, but at no point in the 1992 debates was President Bush asked about the price of milk.
Simply put, the incident described didn't happen. Anyone who follows modern presidential politics would likely suspect or know this.
Let's be fair! In this instance, Newton-Small did supply an apparently useful link. She linked to this report by the BBC—a report which made that mistaken claim about President Bush.
That said, the BBC report provided no link in support of its erroneous claim, and Newton-Small apparently looked no further. Along came Outlook editor Kushner, who waved this crap into print.
The essay by Newton-Small is full of bungled logic and useless links, along with the occasional groaner. That said, it expressed a viral tribal grievance, and it started by dropping a powerful bomb on the heads of the Others.
For those reasons, it was waved into print. This is the way the game was played in the decades before Mister Trump's War.
We'll make one last point about "relatability." Newton-Small's Others "couldn't relate to" Candidate Clinton, Newton-Small said. "At the heart of it was the perception that Clinton considered herself above it all."
Without ever quite explaining, Newton-Small attributed this reaction to the sexism of the working-class women who didn't prep where she did. That was good enough for the Post.
But is it possible that some of these working-class women couldn't relate to Candidate Clinton for perfectly sensible reasons? Did some of their votes move away from Clinton when she unwisely said this?
CLINTON (9/9/16): You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.To just be grossly generalistic! According to mournful future anthropologists, we humans were always hard-wired to think and behave in this way.
According to future anthropologists, everyone knew what liberals meant when liberals made sweeping statements like that. Borrowing from Hemingway, this is the way the game was played in the run-up to Mister Trump's War.
Tomorrow: Spotting the racists of Irvine!