FRIDAY, JANUARY 28, 2022
Now also, The East Bumfuck Files: According to major anthropologists, when we humans believe that that we're seeing Others, things can get ugly real fast.
Indeed, things can get extremely ugly, even here in our own "liberal" tribe! Just consider The East Bumfuck Files.
Yesterday, Kevin Drum triggered the onslaught with this unfortunate post. In a string of ugly comments, delighted droogs fell into line.
Ugly and stupid, yet highly instructive? What can you say about this behavior—about behavior which has existed within our own self-impressed tribe down through the annals of time?
We expect to visit the "Bumfuck files" early and often next week. For today, we'll briefly return to yesterday's post, in which an array of commenters pounded away at a peculiar contention by Drum.
As you may recall, Drum had advanced a strange set of claims in this earlier post:
According to Drum in that earlier post, Fox News viewers are "victims" of the Fox "con game" too. According to Drum, Fox viewers don't understand that they're being conned. According to Drum's peculiar contention, the millions of people who watch Fox News don't deserve our contempt.
Repeat! According to Drum, Fox News viewers don't deserve our contempt! That was a very unusual claim. And then, after that, the deluge:
In 51 comments by Drum's readers, no one seemed to agree with Drum's bizarre contention. To those Drum readers, Fox viewers are Others—and Others exist to be loathed.
Others deserve our contempt.
According to major award-winning experts, what happens when human beings start seeing Others? To many such people, these experts say, the Others are all just alike:
COMMENT 6: Nope. They are not victims. They deserve all the scorn, ridicule, and contempt we can muster.
COMMENT 9: Fox viewers want to hear this stuff. If they didn't, Fox wouldn't be selling it.
COMMENT 19: Fox News viewers know exactly what they're buying (with their attention and ad dollars) and they want it. If it wasn't Fox, it would be someone else.
To Commenters 6, 9 and 19, Fox viewers are all just alike. There was no suggestion in these comments that some group of Fox viewers might differ, in some significant respect, from some other such group.
In fairness, Drum had also drawn no distinctions between different groups of Fox viewers. But when we humans start seeing Others, it will often seem that the Others are all just alike.
A few commenters did draw distinctions between different groups of Others. As we noted yesterday, this comment provides one example:
COMMENT 11: The reality is there's more than one type of Fox News viewer. Some are racist jerks who know, deep in their hearts, that the outcomes they want are profoundly wrong and unjust. But they support the things they do (and consume the news they consume) out of resentment and bitterness. They're like Gollum. I know one or two like these. And there are also Fox News viewers who genuinely are entirely bereft of the ability to analyze what's going on in the world. And they really do believe the stuff Murdoch pushes on them. Such people are profoundly ignorant.
The world is a complicated place.
Somewhat comically, this commenter identified two groups of Fox viewers. One group is profoundly ignorant. The other group is worse!
A few other commenters seemed willing to draw sweeping conclusions about Fox viewers based on their own experience—even though, inevitably, their experience seemed to be limited. The high-powered scholars with whom we've consulted pointed to comments like these:
COMMENT 3: In my experience, most Fox News types are also huge assholes. Sure, to some extent they're being conned, but the con is designed to appeal to selfish, racist, sexist, xenophobic jerks. AKA Republicans.
RESPONSE: In my experience, they also tend to be gun owners, so having sympathy while afraid of them is simply not possible...Where so many have multiple weapons & some give them to kids, I just cannot sympathize.
COMMENT 17: I work with many of these people. Hard to have sympathy for them. Maybe for their families, who, in several cases I see, disagree strongly with the Trump fan.
According to Commenter 3, most Fox viewers (in his experience) were huge assholes. In response, someone else said that, in his experience, Fox viewers tend to be gun owners.
Commenter 17 said he works with many Fox viewers (actually, with many of "these people"). That said, how many such people could he possibly know? Millions of people are watching Fox News at every hour of the day.
According to experts, when we humans start seeing Others, it may not occur to us that our personal experience is limited. We tend to plow ahead with our sweeping judgments based on the relative handful of people we do know.
Meanwhile, what about the Fox News viewers who aren't huge asshole and aren't gun owners? Do those Fox viewers deserve our contempt?
Inevitably, the answer will be yes. Experts tell us this:
When we humans identify a group of Others, we'll often say that the Others are all just alike. We may tend to draw sweeping conclusions based on our limited experiences.
When the Others are political Others, it will rarely cross our minds that there may be something some Others may think or may know which might explain their different inclinations from ours. It will never occur to us that the Others could even be right in some way.
These experts added one additional point:
When we humans start seeing Others, a lack of fundamental humanity will often reveal itself. Inevitably, these Others will deserve our contempt. Even if they truly can't see that they're being misinformed and misled, we'll extend no sympathy to them.
By definition, all Others are bad. No other viewpoint is possible. "There but for fortune" will not occur. As we saw in Drum's original post, empathy comes off the table when humans start to see Others.
Then we arrive at the Bumfuck files, the files which appeared yesterday. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but the Bumfuck comments are ugly.
We expect to look at those comments next week. We advise you to read those files.
Why do (some) Others vote as they do? Why are (some) Others inclined to side with the viewpoints they encounter on Fox?
Could it be because of what you can see in those files? The experts all say that's a yes.