FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2020
But also, that fake Southern drawl: Who is Wajahat Ali?
In the current context, we'll start by noting that Ali is a New York Times "contributing opinion writer." Beyond that, he's led a very impressive life, with a great deal more to come.
Ali was born in the Bay Area. He graduated from Berkeley. Later, he became a licensed attorney, but also a playwright and the father of two cute kids.
We've been quoting from the biographical profile found on Ali's own site. We assume that he's a good, decent person. A wide range of people are:
Wajahat Ali is a New York Times Contributing Op-Ed writer, public speaker, recovering attorney and tired dad of two cute kids. He believes in sharing stories that are by us, for everyone: universal narratives told through a culturally specific lens to entertain, educate and bridge the global divides.
He also enjoys writing about himself in the third person...
Whimsically, the headline on the bio refers to Ali as a "very fine writer" and a "well-spoken speaker." We'll suggest that you read the whole thing, stopping to note how strongly the profile advances the concept of bridging those global divides.
Still and all, like everyone else, the person with this impressive bio is a human being. As such, he's subject to the occasional errors our flesh is said to be heir to.
In mid-November, he wrote a column for the Times which urged us not to attempt to reason with Trump voters. The logic of the piece was remarkably daft.
The column's logic was remarkably daft. Inevitably, the New York Times put the column in print.
Everyone's logic will slip on occasion. On the other hand, soon after that column appeared, Ali published this piece for The Daily Beast.
Once again, the general drift may have seemed to suggest that we should stop talking to people who don't live in Our Town. In this case, though, the boundaries of Our Town may have seemed to be shrinking:
Ali used derogatory, racialized language to suggest that we should stop pursuing the votes of Those People, the "Karens" (and also the Amys).
Here in Our Town, we sometimes seem inclined to behave like the people in other towns whose conduct we hotly decry. According to major anthropologists, we humans are wired to react in such ways in our less "human" moments.
It isn't the best possible way to react. But everyone's human in Our Town, and we humans are wired that way.
Ali is extremely bright; he's also a good, decent person. When his column appeared in the Times, we were struck by the column's comically silly illogic.
Even more so, we were struck by the fact that the New York Times chose to put the column in print. In Our Town, we're extremely sure that we're the bright ones. This mandated tribal belief may not always be accurate.
What are we frequently like in Our Town? Brother Ali is very smart, but on at least one recent occasion, he fell in with the wrong crowd.
Online, the resulting behavior is widely described by pundits from Their Town. On our own sprawling campus, we may have seen the behavior in real time, but we aren't quite sure.
We refer to the time when Ali fell in with Republican strategist Rick Wilson, the entertaining critic of All Things Trump who tends to express himself in the rude language of rough men.
Wilson's uninhibited talk has endeared him to our own Brian Williams. On this night, he was speaking with CNN's Don Lemon, and he was mocking Trump voters.
Wilson adopted a mocking Southern drawl as he mocked the aforementioned goobers. Displaying the imperfect judgment to which our (human) flesh is heir, Ali briefly affected a mocking Southern drawl too.
Online, this outing is widely remembered by pundits in Their Town. (The behavior is used to tell Trump voters that they shouldn't listen to us!) In our view, the behavior clashed with the higher ideals expressed in Ali's bio. If so, we all make mistakes.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our country is in a real mess. The reigning commander-in-chief seems to be mentally ill (and he has a whole month to go). In Our Town, our routinely unimpressive elites have agreed that no one should ever discuss this possibility or the possible dangers therein.
The commander's behaviors are praised in Their Town. Many of the lesser beings can't see how crazy he is.
On the other hand, over here in our own town, one of our pundits gave thirteen (paid) speeches in four years in which he says he tried to reach out to Those People. At one point, he even shared his views with someone who gave him a ride to the airport!
When these thirteen attempts didn't part the Red Sea, he drew a comically silly conclusion:
No one in Our Town should ever try again!
We're extremely self-impressed in Our Town. We've been this way forever.
All too often, others can see the actual truth. And in Their Town, our shortcomings get embellished by their overpaid tribal stars.
All too often, we're silly and stupid and nobody likes us. Rachel enjoyed the two weeks of dick jokes she rained down on Tea Party heads. Years later, Ali briefly affected that drawl.
Beyond that, we often reason extremely poorly over here in Our Town. Our journalistic and intellectual leaders have often failed to deliver.
We'll continue to discuss these matters in the weeks ahead. In our view, our candidates should seek votes from people who live in Our Town, but from people in Their Town as well.
We humans are wired to be deeply, unhelpfully tribal. Or at least, that's what major top anthropologists have often despondently said.
The samizdat files: Ali has given up on reaching out to Those People. For a ridiculous alternate view, you can just click here
Our view? In our view, Ali is very bright. We'd suggest that he give a fourteenth speech, while trying to stifle the drawl.