TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2022
Consider these braindead comments: Back in November 2020, after Biden had won the election, with Thanksgiving fast approaching, a fiery college kid wrote an opinion column in her student newspaper.
The student, a junior at UVa, wrote on the subject of pushing back against racism. Dual headlines included, here's the way her fiery column started:
Stand up to your racist family
This holiday season, white progressives must privilege their principles over personal comfort
As the holidays approach, the typical jokes about family political fights will no doubt abound—especially with a contentious presidential election marred by conspiracy theories, misinformation and threats of violence. While Biden’s win signals a return to basic decency at the presidential level, the nation remains very much divided. Worse, misinformation on the legitimacy of the election is spreading rapidly, further driving conspiratorial thinking and other alt-right messages to the fore of current political discourse. Thus, behind the jokes and the family feuds which inspire them are very real consequences for millions of people in the United States—something the recent election made incredibly clear. As such, this holiday season, white progressives need to remain consistent with their supposed commitment to social justice—they need to stand up to their racist loved ones.
While the results of the election spurred celebration across the country, white progressives must not be complacent. Yes, a proto-facist leader has been defeated, but the hateful rhetoric, conspiratorial thinking and virulent racism, xenophobia and sexism he espoused during his tenure remain deeply entrenched in American political discourse. Thus, not only is the fight for the rights of marginalized communities ongoing, but our new president—while better in a myriad of ways—must also be held accountable and face demands to execute a progressive agenda.
This holiday season, white progressives should not continue to favor their own comfort and familial peace over the tangible suffering of vulnerable people. In failing to stand up to their families and friends—whether their statements are “meant well” or not—white liberals show a distinct complacency with white supremacy, sexism, xenophobia and the countless other ways in which bigotry rears its ugly head.
As a general matter, we wouldn't agree with the overall thrust of that column. That said, it seems fairly clear that this UVa junior wasn't a brainwashed right-winger.
This student said that Candidate Biden had defeated "a proto-fascist leader" in Donald J. Trump. Despite that fact, she said, "alt-right messages" were still all around—and the "virulent racism, xenophobia and sexism" Trump had espoused during his tenure "remain deeply entrenched in American political discourse."
Looking ahead to the Thanksgiving break, this student said that white progressives should kick familial peace to the curb. If they don't stand up to their racist family and friends when they're home for Thanksgiving, white liberals would be showing "a distinct complacency with white supremacy, sexism, xenophobia and the countless other ways in which bigotry rears its ugly head."
Personally, we wouldn't agree with the overall thrust of that fiery column. That said, we feel fairly sure that the person who wrote the column isn't a crackpot right-winger or a tool of the right-wing machine.
That said, you can see this person described that way in one comment after another in response to this post by Kevin Drum. The reason for that lunacy would be this:
Yesterday, the New York Times published a guest essay by this same college student, who's now a senior at UVa. Her name is Emma Camp; in her essay, she complained about a stifling atmosphere on campus—an atmosphere which keeps students of all political persuasions from freely expressing their views, or at least so she says.
Camp's essay in the New York Times isn't the greatest essay ever written. That said, Drum challenged a snarky tweet Dave Roberts had posted about the column, and the hysterical meltdown proceeded from there.
Increasingly, we've been suggesting that we liberals need to understand how dumb we often are. Beyond that, we've been suggesting that we need to understand another point:
When we behave in ways which are transparently dumb, The Others are able to see us.
You'll rarely see a bunch of comments as dumb as the comments we liberals attached to Drum's post about Emma Camp. Most strikingly, the silly children of our own liberal / progressive tribe kept expressing the braindead belief that Camp must surely be a right-winger, based on her essay in the Times—an essay, it was quite clear, very few of these nitwits had read.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Our tribe can be very dumb.
We're also addicted to denial. In one comment after another, Drum's wounded readers expressed one key point—there's no possibility that our infallible tribe could ever lack perfect wisdom.
Camp's essay wasn't all that great, but it wasn't the dumbest thing ever written. By way of contrast, dozens of those comments were.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we humans were born to run. We're also wired to deny reality at times of tribal warfare.
If you ever doubted that point, just sift through those ludicrous comments. We humans are wired to stand with the tribe—to stand with the tribe unto death.
Back in November 2020, Camp said that her fellow students should tell off their racist family and friends; you can read her full column here. For the record, she linked to that column in the essay which appeared in yesterday's Times.
Drum's utterly vapid commenters were too dumb and too lazy to click the link and read the column. They were sure that Camp was one of The Others. Because of what they seemed to think she was saying, she had to be one of Them.
Even here in our own infallible tribe, our brains are wired to respond in such ways. Disconsolate experts have told us this again and again and again.
Tomorrow: One example from Camp's guest essay