Concerning the things we the people don't know!

TUESDAY, JUNE 1, 2021

Tim Miller / Birmingham Sunday: In an earlier life, Tim Miller was communications director for Jeb Bush.

In recent years, he became a never-Trump Republican. He's a regular guest on Deadline White House, and also on The Eleventh Hour, where we saw him last night.

He appeared with Caroline Randall Williams, a fairly standard liberal voice. At one point, Miller discussed some of the things we the people don't know.

In the passage below, he starts by discussing what the Republican rank and file knows and doesn't know about the January 6 Capitol riot. After that, he made a surprising statement about something he himself hadn't known.

He said his admission was embarrassing. We're going to call it instructive:

MILLER (5/31/21): You know, half of those Republican voters right now don't know what happened on 1/6. So they've convinced themselves that something completely separate has happened. And this is where education and raising awareness about this matters, to Caroline's point.

I'm about to admit something embarrassing. I think Caroline will look over at me and like, "Oh, my goodness, how could you not know about this?" But I think it's an important anecdote. 

David French, who's a conservative, wrote in The Dispatch today about "When Our Forefathers Fail." And he said in that article, in the lead, he said, I'm embarrassed to admit I learned about Tulsa in my forties.

I learned about the Tulsa massacre relatively recently. And it was just at lunch, a few months ago, I learned about the Birmingham church bombing by four members of the KKK.

I'm a fairly educated person. This was something that was completely new to me. We cannot raise awareness—we cannot get white America comfortable with the history of black America, the pain, and the reality of how we got here if people don't know what happened.

Tim Miller is perfectly bright. Also, he decided to take a hike when Donald J. Trump came along.

That said, Miller was born in in the early 1980s. He went to high school in Colorado. He wasn't alive when the bombing in question occurred. It's even imaginable that his parents were too young to know about that bombing in real time.

He said he'd never heard about that incident until fairly recently. We were quite surprised to hear that, but we found his statement instructive.

We come at that incident from a different point of view. We were just starting our junior year in high school, in the San Francisco Bay Area, when the bombing occurred. 

We grew up on Birmingham Sunday, Joan Baez's song about the iconic incident. Our public school teachers encouraged us to be aware of what was happening in the South.

(The song was written by Richard Farina, Baez's brother-in-law.)

It's surprising to think that Miller wasn't aware of this iconic incident. But no one knows about anything about anything until such time as he learns it. 

In the current environment, elaborate systems of tribal propaganda control the things that various people are encouraged to hear and to know. Depending on which cable channels we watch, we're also spared the need to learn about various things which may be embarrassing to those who live in Our Town.

Miller hadn't heard about Birmingham Sunday until some recent time. Especially over here in Our Town, our upper-end news orgs are currently pushing Tulsa very hard.

They're doing do to show the world how truly and deeply they care. Also, to make up for all the years when they said nothing about such matters. To take the place of all the things they still don't talk about now.

Our Town is highly performative. As he continued, Miller offered some fairly standard views on the need for education:

MILLER (continuing directly): And there's a big debate happening right now about how to discuss our history in schools. And I think that this is absolutely critical and it's a critical fight that in our schools, that young Americans are taught about the great things about America, the sacrifices—we're here on Memorial Day—that people have put forth for this country, but also our sins. 

And until people are fully aware of that, then, hopefully, we can move to this next step. 

We need to teach the children well. In our view, that may sound good, but it just isn't that simple. 

What should young Americans be taught about Tulsa and Birmingham in our public schools? Also, at what age should they be taught it?

At what age, and by whom? Those are not simple questions. Depending on who's doing the teaching, various kids are going to hear all kinds of crazy things, and there's no known way to avoid that.

Miller continued as shown. Brian then went to a break

MILLER (continuing directly) You know, you`re always going to have this portion of people that want to believe what they want to believe. You`re always going to have people that are bigoted. But to get a critical mass, as Caroline said, aware and comfortable, we need to educate folks about it. And so I think what Biden's doing tomorrow is a good step in that regard.

WILLIAMS: I can't thank our guests enough. Tough topic and an honest conversation. Caroline Randall Williams, Tim Miller, I greatly appreciate you spending part of your holiday Monday evening with us.

(It's always been a great discussion, if you let Brian tell it.)

"You know, you`re always going to have this portion of people that want to believe what they want to believe," Miller said—and that is plainly true, especially at times like these. 

That's true Over There, but it's also true Over Here in Our Town. Here in Our Town, we have a very hard time understanding this fact about ourselves and about our brilliant thought leaders--about our cheerful cable news stars, about our highly principled academics.

The news gets sifted for us in Our Town too. We'll be offering examples all week.

According to an array of experts, this is helping to drive the demise of our failing nation. According to these credentialed scholars, it isn't just Them Over There, clueless though They may be.

Coming tomorrow: Recent examples of TownThink


25 comments:

  1. Oh dear. With all due respect, dear Bob, one really has to be insane to listen to any scumbag political consultant. Let alone finding deeeep meaning in his gum-flapping on teevee.

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  2. "Especially over here in Our Town, our upper-end news orgs are currently pushing Tulsa very hard."

    It only seems like our news orgs are pushing Tulsa because the news orgs on the right are suppressing all mention of it. The mainstream media are "pushing" the story because it is the 100th anniversary of the massacre.

    Somerby displays his oversensitivity to mentions of news affecting African Americans, as though focusing on such stories were propaganda instead of inclusion of all of our people in what gets covered.

    Yes, it is embarrassing that such a massacre took place. We have a racist past and we should all be working to have a less racist present. Pretending such events never happened isn't going to solve our racial issues.

    As mh pointed out, Miller is talking about what adults know, but Somerby shifts the focus to what kids should be told. When Somerby asks who should tell it, he implies that teachers should defer to parents about what is told to kids, but if the parents don't know (as Miller didn't), then that will be ineffective. This pandemic experiment with homeschooling among parents ill-equipped to do it should show the problems with leaving education on sensitive topics up to parents. Sex education by parents has also been a failure in most cases. So, leaving this up to the parents largely means not telling the kids what they need to know to function in a diverse community and vote intelligently.

    I find myself wondering why Somerby thinks we need a Johnny-come-lately Republican to lecture us liberals about the need to educate our kids about racial events.

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  3. In 2000, the news media pushed very hard the story of the Galveston hurricane, the 100th anniversary of the nation's largest natural disaster. What are we to take from that?

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  4. "They're doing do [sic] to show the world how truly and deeply they care."

    How about, they're doing it because it was an important event in our national history?

    When Somerby suggests that this is nothing more than virtue signaling by the liberal press, he implies that atrocities in which African American culture was demolished in Tulsa are insufficiently important to merit coverage in their own right, because it is the anniversary of an event that had a major impact on black lives.

    This is an example of Somerby's bigotry. He cannot conceive that this event has any significance to others because it means nothing to him.

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    Replies
    1. I’d like to know what Somerby thinks the 100 year silence about the Tulsa massacre meant. Did that mean the media cared or didn’t care?

      He won’t entertain the possibility that it is being mentioned now because there are reporters, many of them younger, who do care about this event. Not to mention black folks who would like their story told after years of neglect.

      His view is that if the media starts talking about it after years of not talking about it, then that must mean it’s all virtue signaling.

      Delete
    2. Somerby is grievance signaling.

      Delete
  5. "What should young Americans be taught about Tulsa and Birmingham in our public schools? Also, at what age should they be taught it?"

    Again, this meme seen on Facebook applies: If black kids are old enough to experience racism, white kids are old enough to learn about it.

    As with any subject, you adjust the information provided to meet the ability of the kids to absorb it, but you don't avoid subjects (sex, religion, war, conservation, health, death) because they are touchy to adults.

    When Somerby implies that such subjects should be avoided or left to parents (he asks who should teach it), he is catering to right wing sensibilities about content. It is the right who want to limit, edit, suppress, distort, and otherwise mangle information to make education more like indoctrination or propaganda. Of course, the right accuses the left of doing this very thing, when the left tries to teach facts and a truthful perspective.

    Yes, this is part of the culture wars, but Somerby appears afraid to say that one side is more right than the other when it comes to such wars over educational content. As evidence of this, there are schools in California run by religious organizations (or homeschooling) whose graduates cannot be admitted to the University of California or Cal State system because they have not learned the basic facts necessary to succeed in college level courses. The editing of curriculum at such schools (or by parents) prevents their graduates from participating in higher education because topics such as evolution are prerequisite to study in the sciences and social sciences. Courts have upheld the right of universities to exclude students whose knowledge base is deficient. But Somerby pretends that deferring to parental judgment is a possibility when it comes to history. He is pandering to the right wing with such suggestions.

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  6. "That's true Over There, but it's also true Over Here in Our Town."

    Today Somerby raises the example of news media discussions of the Tulsa massacre. What exactly is untrue about press coverage of that event? Somerby never says. He just posits an equivalence between the factual ignorance on the right and the left's discussion of Tulsa. But unless he tells us which facts about that event are made up, it is an unsubstantiated claim that the left enjoys believing untrue things, just as the right does. There is demonstrably less lying on the left compared to the right. Somerby assertion of equivalence is wrong. The Tulsa massacre is not made up and there is no equivalent major historical event that the right knows about but the left does not.

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  7. Somerby keeps complaining that our nation is in demise. In demise from what? The time when an event like Tulsa occurred and was immediately covered up? From when it was taken for granted that non-whites had fewer rights than whites? Was news coverage much better in those times?

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    Replies
    1. 'Somerby keeps complaining that our nation is in demise. In demise from what?'

      Since Somerby is a Trumptard, he considers our nation to be in demise because of Trump's loss.

      Delete
  8. I graduated from high school in the 1980’s in the South. I never heard about the Birmingham church bombing. I took a couple of American History courses in college-also never mentioned. If Tim Miller, who is significantly younger than me and thought of himself as educated , also hadn’t heard about it, that is troubling, but not surprising.

    I first heard about it from watching Eyes on the Prize on PBS.

    I believe Somerby is giving support to the Republican attempts around the country to enforce a particular view of history by mandating what can and can’t be taught in history classes in school. “America is the greatest country on earth. It is God’s shining city on a hill.” etc. It’s similar to their attempts to mandate the Biblical creation story in science classes. He stands with those who wish to whitewash history.

    Perhaps second graders ought to be shielded from the full horrors of racism or Native American genocide, and the Holocaust for that matter.

    But by high school, kids are able to process a fair amount of truth. Certainly high schoolers are capable of reading on their own to learn about the atrocities committed by the US, and would probably wonder why their parents and teachers tried to cover up the truth.

    But Somerby says:
    “At what age, and by whom? Those are not simple questions.”

    By which he intends to avoid actually discussing it himself, and as an added bonus, he implies that liberals in “Our Town” think these are simple questions, which is far from the truth.

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  9. I also think the argument about “school choice” is part of this discussion. Parents (and our society in general) want to view school as another item of consumer choice, where everyone but the teachers (of course!) gets to dictate what children learn and who they learn it with. Schools become factories of indoctrination rather than places where children learn to think for themselves.

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  10. 'In recent years, he became a never-Trump Republican.'

    That explains Somerby's bashing him. Since Somerby is a hardcore Trumptard, he cannot conceive that a Republican and not devote his life to the worship of Trump and the defense of Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Matt Gaetz and Devin Nunes the way Somerby himself has.

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  11. Is Somerby saying that most adults know about the Birmingham church bombing, or the Tulsa massacre? If so, that is hooey.

    Is he saying, yeah, we all know this bad stuff, but it should never be reported? That is unconscionable.

    Is he saying that the 100 year silence from the media about the Tulsa massacre was desirable, and the current reporting on it and commemoration of it in the media shows virtue signaling by the media and is reprehensible? That is pernicious.

    Is he saying there is never a reason to report on atrocities like Tulsa because it makes people feel bad? That is too damn bad.

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  12. Digby talks about Republican ignorance and their ignorance about their own ignorance:

    https://digbysblog.net/2021/06/individuals-who-are-least-equipped-to-identify-false-news-content-are-also-the-least-aware-of-their-own-limitations/

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  13. “What should children be taught about Tulsa and Birmingham in our schools?” Bobby, Bobby, Bobby. I’m sure you can come up with something.

    ReplyDelete
  14. “What should children be taught about Tulsa and Birmingham in our schools?” Bobby, Bobby, Bobby. I’m sure you can come up with something.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I first knew about Tulsa at least 10 years ago when PBS did a documentary on it. I kept wondering why they never repeated it since they rerun everything else to death.

    ReplyDelete
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