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