THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2021
Parker gets it right: What is it like to live in a world defined by silent secessions?
To live in a world where various groups have decided that they will live within a tribe, acknowledging nothing but tribal verities, affirming no one but tribal members?
What's it like to live in that world? The answer is all around us. With that in mind, you might consider a news report, and also an opinion column, from this week's editions of the Washington Post.
The news report was really a profile of a region. Beautifully composed by the Post's Lisa Rein, it appeared beneath this headline:
Montanans used to live and let live. Today bitter confrontations dim Big Sky Country.
According to Rein, Montana suffers from a new state of mind—animosity.
We once Fourth of Julyed high up in Glacier National Park, communing with the mountain goats, but we don't actually know the state. Rein says the state has taken a major turn for the worse. Live and direct from Kalispell, here's her nugget presentation:
REIN (10/25/21): It has been more than a year of discontent in the Flathead Valley, as national passions that erupted during the Trump presidency and its aftermath struck home in this expanse of crystalline lakes and Douglas firs at the base of the Rocky Mountains less than an hour drive from Glacier National Park in northwest Montana.
Hostility over the November election, the coronavirus and social movements have left a trail of bad blood among old-school Republicans, backers of the former president, increasingly vocal Democrats and out-of-state transplants, convulsing everything from the school district and the public library to daily interactions.
This is no longer the place people here felt they knew, with its pride in a civil style of independence, not just from Washington but from animosity. Local businesses, politicians and ordinary people now find themselves navigating angry confrontations, and a nuanced political tradition of splitting tickets on Election Day has given way to partisanship that propelled a Republican sweep of races for governor, president and Congress in November for the first time in two decades.
Even the Independence Day parade shifted this summer from a once-revered slice of Americana to another battle in a culture war...
Rein describes a type of silent civil war. So does Kathleen Parker, in this new column about some ugly reactions to the deadly shooting incident on the set of the movie, Rust.
Parker is no fan of Alec Baldwin, but she's able to feel empathy for him at this horrible time. She notes that certain others can't do so, or possibly won't. Here is her first example:
PARKER (10/28/21): We put ourselves in Baldwin’s shoes and try to imagine what he felt upon realizing what had happened. Seeing him so distraught and plainly grieving in photos snapped after the shooting should move anyone to empathy and pause our nation’s default cynicism. But not in our spiritually hollowed-out world, where meanness is a virtue and hatred is the coin of the realm.
Of all people, J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy” and a Republican Senate candidate in Ohio, tweeted the following to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey: “Dear @jack let Trump back on. We need Alec Baldwin tweets.” As is well known, Twitter banned Donald Trump from the platform after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
I can’t fathom how someone so apparently intelligent and empathic as Vance could resort to such callousness. This is the same man who wrote a critically acclaimed memoir of his White working-class upbringing that shed needed light on Trump’s rise to power. In so doing, he exposed his own family with a raw realism, coupled with humor. I loved both the book and the movie that was made from it. But Vance has squandered any good will toward him with his desperate grab for Trumpworld approval.
We join Parker in astonishment at the person Vance has chosen to become. As she continues, she cites a second demon:
PARKER: Trump [himself] has been a bystander to this story who, one can always hope, has discovered the interior rewards of the high road. He may well despise Baldwin for his wicked impersonations of him on “Saturday Night Live,” which were hilarious to anyone with a sense of humor. But contrary to Vance’s craven calculation, Trump has stayed silent on the tragedy.
Not so Donald Trump Jr., who has been hawking T-shirts with the slogan: “Guns don’t kill people, Alec Baldwin kills people.” Uncharmingly, he offered an unprintable defense to critics of the shirts that summed up his character.
As investigation into the shooting continues, two things seem true: What Baldwin did was a terrible accident. What Vance and the younger Trump have done were attacks not only on Baldwin but also on every American who values and strives for decency.
We think Parker's aim is true. Our question would be this:
To what extent are those in our own highly self-assured tribe surrendering to types of silent secession? To insistence on Mandated Tribal Storyline? To an insistence on loathing and denunciation aimed at everyone who is an Other?
We see that same sickness pervading our tribe. Such reactions are "human, all too human," despondent top experts all say.