MONDAY, MARCH 7, 2022
But first, what Mister Trump said: We humans tend to believe the things we're told by the sources we've come to trust.
This may not always produce good results.
For example, consider this news report in the Washington Post, "Ukrainians Find That Relatives in Russia Don’t Believe It’s a War."
Or for an example closer to home, consider what Mister Trump said.
We refer to something Mister Trump said ten days ago in an endless, generally ridiculous speech to the CPAC convention.
The rambling, generally ridiculous speech was delivered on Friday, February 26. Much of the address was the same old mess—but along the way, in two separate passages, Mister Trump also said this:
TRUMP (2/26/22): The Russian attack on Ukraine is appalling. It is an outrage and an atrocity that should never have been allowed to occur...We are praying for the brave people of Ukraine, God bless them all.
Thank you. They are indeed brave. As everyone understands, this horrific disaster would never have happened if our election was not rigged and if I was the president.
The problem is not that Putin is smart—which, of course he's smart. But the real problem is that our leaders are dumb. Dumb. So dumb.
They so far allowed him to get away with this travesty and assault on humanity. That's what it is. This is an assault on humanity. So sad. Putin is playing Biden like a drum...
In a remarkable flip from what had appeared to be his position, the former president described the attack on Ukraine as an outrage. He described it as an atrocity and as an assault on humanity. For the C-Span tape, click here.
This assessment was joined to the usual lunatic claims about the rigging and theft of the last election, along with an array of other ridiculous claims. But Trump's assessment of Russia's attack represented a basic change in the positioning of the former president—and perhaps in the basic positioning of the wider pro-Trump world.
The former president's statements struck us as highly newsworthy. But by our lights, Trump's remarks were followed by something even more remarkable:
We refer to the way the news orgs we liberals trust failed to report this change in the weather—the way they tended to obscure or disappear these new, anti-Putin remarks.
As a general matter, our news orgs stressed their horror at the way Mister Trump had once again said that "of course" Mister Putin was smart. They disappeared the former president's new, explicit claim that Putin's attack on Ukraine was in fact an assault on humanity—an atrocity.
To our eye and ear, it seemed to us that these favored news orgs were helping us enjoy our continued loathing of this ridiculous former president. In line with that service, it seemed to us that they were obscuring the fact that Mister Trump had stated a view with which we ourselves would agree.
Almost surely, your lizard brain won't let you believe that the news orgs we trust would ever behave in any such manner. For that reason, we won't waste our time showing you the way the Washington Post and (especially) the New York Times brushed past these new remarks in their reporting of Trump's CPAC address.
That said, it seemed to us that this conduct continued in Saturday's report in the Washington Post. Headline included, the report began as shown:
Pence says there’s no room in the GOP for ‘apologists for Putin’ in veiled swipe at Trump
Former vice president Mike Pence on Friday night said there is no room in the Republican Party for “apologists for Putin” in an apparent swipe at former president Donald Trump.
In a speech to GOP donors in New Orleans, Pence referenced the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As the United States and international community have responded with wide-ranging, extensive sanctions against Russia, Pence said now was not the time for conservatives to voice their support of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Ask yourself, where would our friends in Eastern Europe be today if they were not in NATO? Where would Russian tanks be today if NATO had not expanded the borders of freedom?” he said. “There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin.”
While Pence did not explicitly refer to the former president by name, Trump has been among the loudest, and only, Republican voices supporting Putin. Trump recently described Putin as “smart,” “savvy” and “a genius,” while insisting the attack on Ukraine never would have happened on his watch.
So cool! Former vice president Pence had taken a veiled or apparent swipe at former president Trump! It's the kind of thrilling claim our tribe is inclined to adore.
That said, Pence had actually stated the view of the Russian invasion which Trump had already expressed—but so what! In the final paragraph we've quoted, Dawsey et al. skipped past that part of what Trump had said at his CPAC address.
As with people in Russia, so too within our own tribe. We tend to believe the things we're told by the sources we think we can trust.
It may not occur to us that those sources may be telling us things which aren't especially accurate. It may not occur to us that the sources we trust may be withholding information which is highly relevant.
Alas! At times of ultimate tribal war, selective information flow may tend to reach a fever pitch. You can't necessarily believe the various things you're told by your comrades. Nor should you simply assume that the basic frameworks of tribal belief actually make good sense.
Within our own failing tribe, most of our tribal Storylines now involve issues of race. For that reason, we were struck by the guest essay by Professors Gates and Curran in Sunday's New York Times.
For our money, the essay was much too academicky in its language. In our view, it would have been a more valuable essay had editors dumbed it down.
That said, the essay appeared beneath his headline. So far, we agree with every word:
We Need a New Language for Talking About Race
Does our failing liberal / progressive tribe "need a new language for talking about race?"
In our view, we very much do. More specifically, we need a new language which returns us to older understandings.
For what it's worth, Professor Gates is better known than Professor Curran. Professor Gates is a Harvard professor; Professor Curran is at Wesleyan. But Gates is also the host of the long-running, popular PBS series, Knowing Your Roots.
According to the two professors, we need a new way of talking about race—but what do the professors have in mind? As a spoiler, we're willing to offer these tidbits:
According to Curran and Gates, "the idea of individual human races with different origins is as farcical as the medieval belief that elves cause hiccups."
On the other hand, "the social reality of race is undeniable...Its history is too long, its presence and usage too common, for it to magically disappear anytime soon."
What in the world do those two ideas mean? How might they help us create a new and possibly older language of race?
We'll be exploring such questions all week. For today, we'll only tell you this:
When tribal war starts among the humans, no nonsense is left behind. At various junctures, that nonsense may come from the people you've been trained to think of as "black" as well as from the people you've been trained to regard as "white."
"Race is too much with us," Curran and Gates say at one point. Within our tribe, we'd say that's plainly true. For the record, your lizard is already rising to tell you that this simply can't be the case.
People in Russia believe what they hear from the sources they trust. So do we, here in our self-assured tribe.
Should you trust and believe the things you hear? We need a new language for discussing race, Professor Gates has now said.
Tomorrow: Should this have been dumbed down a tad?