TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2020
The arson fire this time: Yesterday, we commented on a slightly peculiar report about Henderson, Nebraska—a rural farming community—in the New York Times.
The report was built around an apparent act of arson—an apparent act of arson which may or may not have actually been what it seems to have been. Leaving that hint of oddity to the side, we thought the profile was interesting.
Kevin Drum commented on the profile too. Without saying much about the specifics of the piece, he began explaining why people in rural Nebraska overwhelmingly support Trump.
DRUM (11/2/20): So what accounts for this sense of abandonment by Democrats? Partly it’s simple policy differences on things like guns, abortion, the death penalty, and so forth: the usual rural-urban divide. But it goes well beyond that. We’ve all read dozens of pieces like this one over the past few months, and the residents often express abject fear of what might happen if Joe Biden wins the presidency. This puzzles most of us. Afraid of Bernie Sanders? Sure, maybe. But afraid of Joe Biden? Mr. Mainstream? That’s crazy.
But if you watch Fox News or listen to conservative talk radio, you’d be scared too. Think about what they’re told every single day:
Liberals despise you and think that people like you are “deplorables.”
For what it's worth, the article in the Times didn't say anything about anyone in Henderson watching Fox or listening to talk radio, though we're sure that some or many do. No one expresses abject fear of what might happen if Biden wins, though the Times reporter offers a colorful paraphrase of what the people all allegedly think.
At any rate, Drum went on to offer a list of things people are told if they watch Fox News. We were struck by that first item on the list.
If people in Henderson watch Fox, are they told that liberals despise them and think of them as “deplorables?” We'll guess that they are, on occasion.
That said, they don't have to waste their time watching Fox to hear such talk. If they read the comments to Kevin's piece, they'll find a long list of actual liberals actually saying such things.
The Times seized upon an apparent arson fire which may have been, or may not have been, what it supposedly seems to have been. Yesterday, we did a bit of Nebraska-based background reading, and the event kept sounding perhaps a bit stranger.
That said, we also read through the comments to Kevin's post. Our conclusion:
You don't have to spend your time watching Fox to learn that people on our team loathe and despise the others.
In our view, this is one of the oldest, most intractable human stories. First, we humans split into tribes. Then we start our wars.
This morning, Eric Holder has co-written an op-ed column with one of the others. The column appears in the Washington Post. On this, the longest day of the year, we'll quote this one passage:
HOLDER AND MUKASEY (11/3/20): The most devastating event in our history came from a refusal to accept the election results in 1860. Abraham Lincoln’s plaintive plea in his inaugural speech—“We are not enemies. … We must not be enemies.”—went unheeded; 11 states refused to accept Lincoln’s election and formed the Confederacy. The result was the Civil War. That the United States survived the enormous death toll—750,000 lives lost—and the attendant destruction, and even prospered eventually, is no recommendation that we pursue this disastrous course.
We do not mean to suggest that the extreme rhetoric that characterizes today’s political divide risks the trauma and destruction that would result from another Civil War. However, neither do we wish to emulate those societies where political disputes are resolved outside the political process.
Lincoln! What did he know? For one thing, he was self-taught!
According to credentialed anthropologists, loathing the others is part of our species' natural history. In the current circumstance, we liberals don't need the chimps at Fox to name-call the others on our behalf. As has been true for a very long time, we're more than ready to get up in public and do that all by ourselves.
Loathing the others is bred in the bone. Lincoln had a better idea. Booth knew what to do.
Full disclosure: We're going to keep checking in on that arson fire. It's being investigated by Nebraska state officials.
It made a good hook for the New York Times' report. The paper has a history of buying such stories, at first glance, from various sides of the aisle.