TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2022
... her assailants were disappeared: It's very depressing to consider discussing The Disappeared.
What makes the prospect so daunting? Anthropologists explain the matter in the following way:
If we try to discuss The Disappeared, we're forced to confront the way our human minds tend to react at times of tribal war.
How "rational" are our human minds, especially at times of tribal dislocation? For starters, consider this passage from Paul Krugman's new column:
KRUGMAN (4/19/22): I’m not just talking about things like the panic over critical race theory, although this has come to mean just about any mention of the role that slavery and discrimination have played in U.S. history. Florida is even rejecting many math textbooks, claiming that they include prohibited topics.
That’s bad. But we’re seeing a growing focus on even more bizarre conspiracy theories, with frantic attacks on woke Disney, etc. And roughly half of self-identified Republicans believe that “top Democrats are involved in elite child sex-trafficking rings.”
It's true! In the YouGov survey to which Krugman links, 49% of self-identified Republicans said they think this statement is true:
"Top Democrats are involved in elite child sex-trafficking rings."
In a rational world, and based on current reporting and evidence, it would be hard to know why anyone would say they think that statement is true.
Yes, the statement is somewhat fuzzy. Presumably, there's some "top Democrat," somewhere in the country or somewhere around the world, who is involved in some sort of enterprise which could be so described.
That said, the question seems to imply a substantial degree of involvement. Aside from direct attraction to The Crazy, it's hard to know what would lead anyone to think that some such statement is true.
Belief in the statement seems to come to us live and direct from The Crazy. But as Krugman notes, 49% of self-identified Republicans told YouGov that they think the statement is true.
Having said that, those Republicans are hardly alone. As part of the YouGov survey, large numbers of other respondents said they think the statement is true.
You can check the numbers here. We offer these chastening examples:
Percentages who said they think the statement is true:
Hispanic Americans: 34%
College graduates (Bachelor's only): 32%
White Americans: 32%
People who get their news from liberal news websites: 28%
Black Americans: 21%
None of those groups believe that statement to the extent that Republicans do. Overall, though, 30% of U.S. citizens said they believe the statement.
Indeed, 21% of Democrats said they believe the statement! Twenty percent of people who said they think QAnon is nuts said they believe it too.
On what basis do these people say they believe that statement? YouGov conducted no follow-up interviews, exploring the basis on which people say they believe the statement.
Nor did YouGov conduct a parallel survey—a survey in which respondents were asked if they believe this statement:
"Top Republicans are involved in elite child sex-trafficking rings."
How many respondents would have agreed with that? Apparently, it didn't occur to the brainiacs at YouGov to ask.
Krugman reported the response rate by Republicans. His statement was perfectly accurate, but it seems to us that this presentation leaves a great deal out.
Left out is a very basic question:
In the end, just how "rational" is our widely self-impressed species? Just how rational is our allegedly "rational" human race?
As Art Linkletter first tried to tell us, we human beings are strongly inclined to believe the darndest things. According to major experts, our belief systems become especially skewed at time of highly partisan tribal war.
During such times, we humans are strongly inclined to pick a tribe and start fighting. We're strongly inclined to believe the best about our own infallible tribe, and to believe the worst about The Others.
So it has gone, it seems to us, during the course of the past ten years, the era Elizabeth Alexander was talking about in Sunday's Washington Post.
In yesterday's report, we offered a quick overview of what Alexander said.
Alexander was discussing a group she calls "The Trayvon Generation." We probably should have included more of her description.
That said, the young people to whom Alexander refers have seen a great deal of information taken "out of context" (Alexander's term) over the past ten years. And not only that:
Along the way, a lot of people, and a lot of facts, have been disappeared.
The young woman who was held up at gunpoint has been disappeared. So too with her assailants. So too with the gruesome criminal history, and the deeply horrible childhood, of the first person who was shot and killed at Kenosha that night.
Other people have been disappeared over the past ten years. So have boatloads of basic facts, all so we can happily believe the darndest things.
According to anthropologists, we humans are strongly inclined to believe the darndest things. Within our remarkably self-impressed liberal tribe, our journalists have been strongly inclined to help us believe such things.
People and facts have been disappeared. Inaccurate facts have been invented. Completely irrelevant facts have been very strongly stressed. Speculations have been widely accepted as fact.
It's very, very, very depressing even to think about reviving The Disappeared! A person with an inner ear can hear the howls of protest which result when we liberals are asked to understand how much information has been withheld from us by our most famous, most trusted news orgs.
Those howls emerge from our lizard brains. You see, we long to believe The Crazy too, and our "journalists"—many went to the finest schools!—have been astoundingly eager to serve The Crazy to us.
We have many "miles to go" before we meet The Disappeared. Tomorrow, we'll consider the latest shooting, along with a bit more of what Alexander said.
Tomorrow: The latest editorial about the latest shooting. Also, more of what Alexander said