MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2021
But appearing today, Charles Blow: A troubling fact has become fairly clear within, let's say, the past decade:
Enlightenment values are extremely "last millennium" within our failing culture, even within our own blue tribe.
This fact becomes more and more evident as the days tick by. For one more example, consider Charles Blow's new column. Also, consider what two commenters said.
What should President Biden, and the Biden Administration, have done? What should they have done in response to the recent, rather sudden arrival of a large number of Haitian migrants at the Southwest border near Del Rio, Texas?
We can't answer that very good question. In our view, reporting of this sudden event has been remarkably fuzzy, even by prevailing norms.
We do know this:
At the start of the coverage of this incident. a photograph was widely misreported and misunderstood. This produced enormous amounts of outrage. For Kevin Drum's presentation of this matter, including the relevant videotape, you can just click here.
We also know this:
Once the misunderstanding was clarified, a wide range of liberal and progressive "thought leaders" cleaned the cupboard of slippery language as they worked, around the clock, to keep misperception and outrage alive.
Inevitably, Blow follows suit in this morning's column. His slippery, misleading, emotional language appears in this passage:
BLOW (9/27/21): Yes, there were the outrageous images of agents on horseback herding the migrants like cattle, and there was also the administration aggressively deporting the migrants back to Haiti.
In Blow's emotionally-charged rendition, immigration officers were "herding the migrants like cattle." In such ways, tribal beings—humans like us—strain to keep outrage alive.
We weren't shocked to learn that law enforcement officials on the Southwest border sometimes work on horseback.
Mounted police have routinely operated in northeastern cities. In our experience, this dates all the way to the street-fighting 1960s, when mounted police would be used to disperse crowds of (overwhelmingly "white") antiwar protesters.
It's hardly surprising to think that law enforcement would also work on horseback in the desert Southwest. To us, it doesn't seem like a "racial" play—but our tribe's various human beings have stripped the cupboard of emotionally-charged and deceptive language as they fight to perform their Storyline in the current circumstance.
In Blow's rendition, the mounted police were "herding the migrants like cattle." This is the sort of thing it may take to keep tribal outrage alive.
As for Blow, he's deeply upset, as he always is.
His headline says this: "Joe Biden's mendacity." Soon, he's offering this account of his reaction to those "outrageous images:":
BLOW: Yes, there were the outrageous images of agents on horseback herding the migrants like cattle, and there was also the administration aggressively deporting the migrants back to Haiti.
When I see those Black bodies at the border, I am unable to separate them from myself, or my family, or my friends. They are us. There is a collective consciousness in blackness, born of the white supremacist erasure of our individuality.
Your accomplishment is never your own, but a credit to the race. Your sins are never your own, but a stain on the race. In America, and throughout the diaspora, all Black people are linked together like a chain of paper dolls.
So it has been incredibly painful to witness the treatment of the Haitians, and it has been impossible not to recoil in disgust or burn with outrage. And to think, “This is happening on Joe Biden’s watch.”
When Blow sees those "outrageous images" of the "herding" of those "Black bodies" (Tribal Private Language alert!), he reports that he is "unable to separate [the Haitian migrants] from himself or from his family and friends."
We're supposed to admire this inability. We'll report a different reaction.
In fact, those unfortunate migrants aren't the deeply "privileged" Blow, his family or his friends. They're a very different group, a group of very unfortunate people, in a very different type of situation.
That said, Blow is "unable to" keep this distinction in mind. For this reason, he says "it has been impossible not to burn with outrage" at the images in question—images he isn't willing to describe in a reasonably straightforward way.
It isn't clear that those mounted police did anything wrong in the incident which was photographed and videotaped. If they did do something wrong, Blow doesn't explain what it was. At times like these, why bother!
One (highly selective) photograph inspired a great deal of rage. And, at times of tribal war, we burn to keep rage alive.
Even as he keeps pretending that those officers treated the migrants like cattle, Blow seems to blame Biden for their alleged offence. In the larger sense, what should the Biden administration have done with respect to this large group of migrants?
You're asking a very good question! Below, you see the outraged Blow's (lack of) response:
BLOW: It seems to me that Biden tried to simultaneously eliminate the horrible optics the migrants present, and to do so as quickly as possible, and at the same time blunt the already loud criticism from Republicans that he is mishandling immigration and has an open-borders policy. (No wonder, then, that the migrant encampment beneath the Del Rio bridge has already been cleared.)
But those Republicans cannot be appeased. No matter what direction Biden takes they will condemn it. So why not take the moral path, the righteous path, the ethical path?
According to Blow, Biden and his administration should have "take[n] the moral path, the righteous path, the ethical path."
That said, what was the moral, righteous and ethical path? Married to his sacred outrage, Blow never bothers to say!
At times like these, the center cannot hold. The worst are full of passionate intensity, but so is almost everyone else.
The deep emotions Blow reports are one of the many poisoned fruits of this nation's brutal racial history. That said, his self-reported fact—the fact that he can't see past his emotional reactions—explains why Enlightenment values have ceased to exist for him, as for almost everyone else.
Our own blue tribe has lost its way. There's no sign that we'll be finding our way back, or that the nation's center will be able to hold.
Inevitably, one early commenter to Blow's column said this. This is The Crazy on stilts:
COMMENTER FROM NEW YORK CITY: You know you are in trouble when a liberal progressive like Charles Blow is against you. Is Joe Biden now a friend or foe to black people? I would guess the latter. But, of course, only a black person can answer this honestly.
The highlighted statement is crazy. It's also a tribute to our tribe's sole surviving God—to the jealous god, Identity.
A second commenter offers this. Reactions like these have lost the war within our own blue tribe:
COMMENTER FROM CALIFORNIA: Perhaps Charles Blow needs to stop focusing so much on identity. We’ve been shipping non-black migrants home in their thousands for decades. But suddenly a bunch of black migrants, and he gets up in arms. The problem with this issue is, people don’t try to come here unless they think they can get in. If you let them think they’re getting in as long as they show up, what happened last week is inevitable. There’s no shortage of migrants—most seeking the same economic opportunities my great grandparents did—who would undertake this dangerous journey, with limited understanding of the risks and the ultimate (lack of) rewards, if the barrier for entry was dropped. I’m not sure what people want on the left—political suicide by just letting people in, encouraging more to come? I just don’t know how this could be dealt with other than how it was.
The commenter says he doesn’t know "how this could be dealt with other than how it was."
Nowhere in his column, as he flips out, does Blow attempt to address that obvious question. As is often true as we humans move to war, it's outrage all the way down.
The Times should have given Blow a rest a long time ago. His emotions may be understandable, but they defeat the journalistic purpose.
That said, Our Own Blue Tribe seems unable to grasp the danger of the moment. Starting tomorrow, we'll examine that problem all week. We'll focus on Rachel Maddow, plus a Donald and a Robert
The Donald will be Donald J. Trump, a deeply disordered figure. The Robert will be the man who wrote this widely cited essay, an essay which actually understates the problem we're all facing.
Tomorrow: We'll start last Thursday night