“You’re no better than anybody else!"

MONDAY, AUGUST 24, 2020

And yes, that includes the others:
We recommend Gene Lyons' recent column about Candidate Biden.

We've known Gene for many years now, though mostly by phone and by email. In his column, Gene says that Biden reminds him of his Irish-Catholic father, who "had been a first sergeant in the U.S. Army and played ball around North Jersey with guys of every ethnicity."

His father gained from those experiences, Lyons says. He ascribes a slogan to his father—a watchword Biden has often ascribed to his own working-class parents:
LYONS (8/20/20): Doing those things had done much to ameliorate the clannishness that’s a besetting Irish vice on both sides of the Atlantic. A man of strong opinions, my father had a personal slogan he’d often repeat. He came by it honestly, a bedrock statement of Irish American patriotism as he saw it. “You’re no better than anybody else,” he’d tell me. “And nobody’s better than you.”
Was that a standard working-class Irish Catholic watchword? We have no idea.

Lyons discusses the way this basic idea may have emerged from Irish and Irish-American history. He then quotes Biden in Pennsylvania, last year. Again, Lyons starts with his own father:
LYONS: It’s possible that Ronald Reagan seduced him late in life, but I can’t be sure. It wasn’t anything we talked about. But his fundamental outlook never changed.

And I suspect that for all Biden’s personal ambition
—no modest, unassuming person ever runs for the U.S. Senate, much less the presidency—he carries it, too. That’s what Biden means when he tells crowds, as he did last year campaigning for a Democratic congressional candidate in Pittsburgh: “I don’t know all of you personally, but I know you...I know this state. I know this region. I know what it’s made up of. I know the values that underpin all of what you believe in—family, community, again, not leaving anybody behind.”
In fact, a lot of people have been "left behind" in American history, in a wide array of ways. As Lyons explains in his column, Irish Americans were once routinely "left behind."

This leaves us with the saying of Lyons' father, and of Biden's parents. That saying begins with this clause:

"You're no better than anybody else."

You're no better than anybody else? No saying could more fully contradict the prevailing attitude within our own liberal / progressive tribe.

Are we really no better than "cops?" Are we really supposed to think that we're no better than Trump voters?

Are we no better than the people who believe all that QAnon lunacy—all those jaw-dropping claims from the realm of The Crazy? Are we really supposed to say that we're "no better than" them?

In our view, the ancient, deeply wise answer is yes. That said:

Our tribe has been extremely self-impressed for a very long time. In large part, this has always been a sneering artifact of class.

We've been this way for a very long time; it isn't a very good look. But it's very much the way we are, and it's not very likely to change.

We're no better than anyone else? In our view, yes—that does include the others, even the Trump-voter crowd.

In fact, our team has looked down on "people like that" dating a long way back. We think the attitude is dumb and self-defeating. We'd call it an unhealthy look.

Tomorrow: Perhaps, an ancient example

21 comments:

  1. Humanizing Rapist Joe, how touching.

    Sure, dear Bob, we're no better than anybody else.
    With one minor exception: corrupt career politicians who have never done an honest day's work in their lives.

    ReplyDelete
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    2. Пошел ты, дерьмо ест тролль

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  2. “You're no better than anybody else? No saying could more fully contradict the prevailing attitude within our own liberal / progressive tribe.”

    “In fact, our team has looked down on "people like that" dating a long way back. We think the attitude is dumb and self-defeating. We'd call it an unhealthy look.”

    But by choosing as their nominee the guy who says/believes “You're no better than anybody else”, liberals/progressives aren’t doing a terribly good job expressing their contempt for “people like that.” In fact, it seems to indicate the opposite of contempt.

    Of course, the second half of the lesson Lyons’ father taught his son was “And nobody’s better than you.”

    This is not a way forward in terms of political policy though. Liberals believe their policy ideas are better than the other guy’s, and there’s nothing about fighting for your point of view that contradicts Lyons’ father’s dictum.

    But fighting for their ideas gets turned into “liberals think they’re better than conservatives”, a ridiculous view espoused by conservatives and echoed by Somerby that is used to appeal to the fragile egos of conservative voters and gives them a pretense for rejecting debate on the merits of the issues.

    Indeed, presumably this is what Somerby means by “The Wrong”, the ultimate Sin of liberals: thinking they’re “better” than conservatives.

    Ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somerby says the deeply wise answer is yes. I do not believe Somerby believes his own claim. To do so would turn the other cheek to slavery, racism, sexism, xenophobia, the oppressiveness of capitalism, authoritarianism in general, police brutality. Somerby's game involves the notion that us "liberals" are moved by his nonsense. Is anybody moved? I think we are just mildly sad at how he has lost his way.

      Delete
  3. LYONS: "I know the values that underpin all of what you believe in—family, community, again, not leaving anybody behind.”

    SOMERBY: In fact, a lot of people have been "left behind" in American history, in a wide array of ways. As Lyons explains in his column, Irish Americans were once routinely "left behind.""

    Somerby misreads Lyons. He quotes Biden as saying he knows the VALUES of everyone, not leaving anyone behind. He is NOT saying that no one is left behind. Of course people are. But the topic of the sentence is VALUES not PEOPLE. He says he is not leaving anyone out when he says he knows their values.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wait
    Wait
    Of course progressive ideas and better
    Especially since the Republicans have NO governing philosophy now.
    However I would add that there never was a philosophy at all.
    They formally talked about small government and strong military and a small sliver mentioned Edmund Burke from time to time to
    Keep the intellectuals happy but that has been shown to just be talk for the rubes.
    Republicans and conservatives should drop the identity politics and go back to their real core beliefs which are gather power and cronyism.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm better than all of you!

    Including God, Jesus and those other sh!those deities!

    1000 more years
    1000 more years

    ReplyDelete
  6. "You're no better than anybody else? No saying could more fully contradict the prevailing attitude within our own liberal / progressive tribe."

    This is Somerby's version of the Republican talking point that Democrats are elitists. Elitist is an interesting term, since it has evolved from the "polite" word for Jews among conspiracy theorists.

    Who is more vocal in criticizing those with education, those who teach, those who write books about difficult subjects, than Somerby? Somerby has a huge chip on his shoulder about educated people (among whom there are as many Republicans as Democrats).

    You could as easily argue that those with a great deal of money, those who run corporations, are elitists. They don't mix with the poor or even the middle class very often. They have their own subculture consisting of a power elite based on wealth. The most elitist insist that wealth must be inherited, not new money. These people are mostly Republicans, but apparently they are not included in Somerby's definition, despite their tendency to look down on everyone less wealthy than they are. Arguably, there are more elitists of this sort among Republicans than Democrats. And it was Trump's main criterion for appointment to a position within his administration. Because wealth = personal worth in his own elitist thinking.

    How do Democrats manage to meld the diverse people included in its party while maintaining an elitist view? People would surely sense it and be offended, if this were true. And yet they don't. So, what is the evidence for this widespread elitism Somerby thinks exists among liberals? His say so? I don't accept that. I need proof that tolerance is greater among Republicans than Democrats. So far, he has provided none. David will be along soon to tell us that Ivanka married a Jewish tycoon, so that makes her non-elitist, because she had to convert and everything.

    The Republican sense that Democrats are looking down on them actually comes from being factually incorrect and ethically out-of-step with their own morality. Their discomfort is their own conscience speaking to them, but they don't want to hear it. Democrats are not focused on chastising Republicans because there is too much work to do to make the world a better place. (Perhaps Republicans feel like if they were good enough, why would anyone want to change things? But that is not elitism.)

    ReplyDelete
  7. This all goes back to Somerby's time at Harvard. He never felt like he was good enough, like he measured up. So he adopted his own snobbery about the uselessness of all knowledge-seeking, based on a misreading of Wittgenstein, and pretended to be smarter than he felt, ultimately adopting that same stance as a stand-up comedian.

    His sourness in his old age is due to a lifetime of mocking others. But now he is projecting that characteristic onto all liberals and progressives, as if we (not him) were the world's anointed critics. But we don't think or behave that way, and neither do most liberals and progressives.

    In this case, this is not a valid criticism. Try to be a better person, Somerby. You'll be amazed how improved everyone else will seem to be.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, we are better people because we actually use our brains.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Here's what I learned growing up in my Irish working class family: Everyone in management is a bastard.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Here is some media criticism:

    "“When two of the major broadcast networks—CBS and ABC—broke into their regular programming Monday to carry live portions of President Trump’s largely false musings after his official nomination, departing from their announced policy of giving only a hour of daily airtime to each party’s political convention, the Biden-Harris campaign was not amused, the Daily Beast reports.

    “Indeed, operatives for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were fuming Monday about a perceived lack of fairness in which the nation’s major television outlets permitted Trump—in an ominous echo of the 2016 campaign in which the former reality-TV star received an estimated $2 billion of free airtime—to manipulate the media to his advantage.”

    From Political Wire (Taegan Goddard)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What?
      How could that be, after I've been told by people who know absolutely nothing that the corporate-owned media, who love the HUGE tax breaks they get from Republicans, are most definitely "liberal"?

      Delete
  11. "On Night 1 of the 2020 Republican National Convention, acolyte after high-profile acolyte lined up to lavish praise on President Donald Trump for standing tall between the American people and a Marxist, politically correct hellscape."

    Somerby seems to fear that same "politically correct hellscape" but he perhaps doesn't mind the Marxist part.

    Somerby doesn't understand that political correctness is a right-wing invention that is unsupported by facts, except random anecdotal incidents that are blown up into memes. Somerby grabs those memes and represents them as typical of liberals, much as the Republicans are doing in their convention.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you want Republicans to support political correctness, tell the truth about Republicans.

      Delete
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