TUESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2021
The lack of human discernment: Has the problem caused by the lack of human discernment ever been quite so clear, Pizzagate and QAnon-wise?
On today's front page, the New York Times reports some of this lack of discernment. Sabrina Tavernise focuses on some regular people over there on the pro-Trump side:
TAVERNISE (1/18/21): Theda Kasner, 83, a retired medical worker from Marshfield, Wis., who was originally interviewed for a New York Times polling story before the election, has been in an R.V. park in Weslaco, Texas, near the border with Mexico, since December. She is spending the winter there with her husband...
When asked about the violence at the [Capitol building] riot, Ms. Kasner repeated the common conspiracy theory that antifa had infiltrated the crowd. These days, she is finding herself increasingly confused in a sea of information, much of it false.
She had heard on a video she was sent on Facebook that in the Biden administration, children could be taken away from their parents. “I am in a total state of, I don’t know what is happening,” Ms. Kasner said.
“I simply cannot fathom what my country is becoming,” she said, saying that she had been sitting in her home in tears.
In fairness, Kasner is 83. That said, Tavernise also quotes a 43-year-old man from Colorado:
TAVERNISE: For Mr. Scheerer, the fuel truck driver in Colorado, the multiple catastrophes of the past year—the coronavirus, the economic disruption that came with it, the political fear across the country—all fused into a kind of looming threat. The lockdowns infuriated him. He sees mask mandates not as public health but public control. Both, he believed, were signs of a coming tyranny.
“It’s way more than just being some kind of a Trump fanatic,” he said. He said he saw himself as “a guy up on the wall of a city seeing the enemy coming, and ringing the alarm bell.”
Force, he said, is only a last resort.
“Are you OK with internment camps if you refuse to wear a mask or take a vaccination?” he asked. “I believe in a world where force has to be used to stop evil or the wrong act.”
Scheerer has apparently heard, and apparently believes, that people who refuse to be vaccinated will end up in internment camps under a President Biden.
The rise of round-the-clock dis- and misinformation is eating away at our nation's unavoidable lack of human discernment. And no, this problem isn't limited to the "little people."
We recently had the misfortune to read this discouraging New York Times essay about Josh Hawley's kooky intellectual war with the deeply dangerous fourth-century theologian Pelagius. "Highly educated" graduates of Stanford and Yale Law School believe the most damn-fool things!
(To read Hawley's graduation address about Pelagius, you can just click here. Be prepared to come face-to-face with the endless supply of the lack of human discernment.)
Regular people don't know what to think; crackpots like Hawley don't seem to know how. But the vast breakdown in human discernment isn't limited to the people found Over There, be they humble or exalted.
These breakdowns are quite widespread right here in the streets of Our Town. For our money, the examples are more numerous, and more depressing, with each passing day.
For today, we'll send you to Vanessa Friedman's latest hiss-spitting attack on Melania Trump's wardrobe selections down through the past five years.
Friedman wrote it, the New York Times ran it. We humans have to be out of our minds to traffic in bullshit like this.
Then too, there are the unexplained flips among Our Town's intellectual leaders. Yesterday morning, on Morning Joe, Mika was bitterly attacking Sheryl Sandberg. Three years ago, Mika was among the masses who stood in line to recite the scripts about Facebook's feminist icon, praising her for her obvious spectacular human greatness.
We also read Peter Beinart's air-filled rumination in the New York Times concerning political courage. What follows makes perfect sense, except for the fact that it doesn't:
BEINART (1/16/21): Courage cannot be explained by a single variable. Politicians whose communities have suffered disproportionately from government tyranny may show disproportionate bravery in opposing it. Mr. Romney, like the Arizona Republican Jeff Flake—whose opposition to Mr. Trump likely ended his senatorial career—belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was once persecuted on American soil. In the fevered days after Sept. 11, the only member of Congress to oppose authorizing the “war on terror” was a Black woman, Barbara Lee.
But during that era, too, ambition undermined political courage, and stature fortified it. John Kerry, John Edwards and Joe Lieberman, Democratic senators who went on to run for president in 2004, voted for the Iraq war.
By contrast, Mr. Kerry’s Massachusetts colleague, Ted Kennedy, who had been elected to the Senate in 1962, voted against it...
There's more, but we'd like to hold onto our lunch. Consider:
For starters, Beinart forgot to say that Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden also "voted for the war," to the extent that anyone did.
(Senators voted on the so-called "war resolution," not on the war itself. The resolution was aggressively sold as the way to avoid a war. We described it as the worst vote in Senate history, but it wasn't "a vote on the war" in the traditional sense.)
That said, the courageous Romney also supported the war, despite his Mormon difference! And while he was sharing his plu-pompous thoughts, Beinart forgot to mention another fact:
Peter Beinart actively supported the war in Iraq! Here's one of his tweets on the subject:
I supported the Iraq War. A mentor died in it. My sister-in-law left her toddler to serve in it. I wrote 2 books grappling w/ how I got it so wrong. I never thought people like Bolton + Netanyahu could pull off a campaign of lies like that again. They have...
Beinart supported the war himself! Presumably, he did so from the noblest of motives, unlike the cowardly pols whose motives he decries in an essay so faux and so absurd it could only have appeared in the routinely ridiculous Times.
Trust us! It gets worse—much, much worse—over here in the streets of Our Town.
Over in the other towns, the little people are often extremely poorly informed. Here in Our Town, our elites are quite routinely full of the world's hottest and dumbest air, and the rest of us rarely notice.
Human discernment is widely AWOL. The state of play among us humans is horrible all the way down.