THURSDAY, AUGUST 18, 2022
...C-Span viewers responded: We were called away from our campus this morning. For that reason, we're a bit disoriented, and we'll therefore be forced to be brief.
Last Sunday morning, C-Span's Washington Journal began accepting phone calls from viewers. For better or worse, the very first call to the heartbreaking show went like this (in part):
JOHN FROM NEW YORK (8/15/22): ...I think the American people have to wake up and they have to see gradually, maybe incrementally, that this government is moving in a direction where it is starting to use force, kind of like Gestapo tactics, something like Stasi of an East German nature, to intimidate and coerce the average American so that they won't, you know, object to their methods.
As that caller pondered the search of Mar-a-Lago, he thought of the Gestapo, the Stasi. In a somewhat similar vein, the third caller of the day offered this assessment:
BRAD FROM KENTUCKY: I want to talk about the unprecedented nature of what Biden has done here...He has sent us down a path that could spin out of control very quickly. Using federal troops on a former president is a pretty bad move. I mean, this is something that has gone--it's an attack on the peaceful transfer of power. Biden sending gun thugs on a former president is the insurrection that people find January 6 was...
This caller seemed to believe that President Biden had ordered the search. In this caller's assessment, Biden had turned a bunch of "gun thugs" loose on his predecessor.
A short while later, a woman calling from Wyoming had a different type of complaint. She wasn't the only caller this day who mentioned Melania's things:
JUNE FROM WYOMING: ...They all go down there. They were nine hours—nine hours!—in that place. They go through her negligees, her closet, they take everything...
They get in there and they go through her closet. They go there for nine hours.
We've now cited a few of the calls from just the first half hour. For the record, these people are fully sincere in the things they say and believe.
Donald J. Trump had been floating talk about the disrespect shown to Melania's things. Meanwhile, a wide array of Republican pols had been floating imagery about gun thugs—in the IRS, let's say:
GRASSLEY (8/11/22): Are they going to have a strike force that goes in with AK-15s [sic] already loaded, all ready to shoot some small-business person in Iowa with these? Because I think they’re going after middle-class and small-business people.
That was Senator Grassley (R-Iowa), last Thursday morning on Fox & Friends. He was behaving in a remarkable way concerning those new IRS employees.
Modern-day anthropology lessons can be painful and hard. They can also be instructive—and all three of those C-Span callers seemed to be completely sincere in the things they believed and said.
We now live in a complex media world. People hear all kinds of things said by all kinds of people.
The anthropology lessons are everywhere. These lessons can be painful and hard.
People like Grassley egg feelings on. Lessons which would have been hard to believe at one time are offered to us in this way.
In closing, we'll mention another reference made by that very first caller. He complained about "Hillary's 30,000 emails." It's one of the greatest hits of this failing political era.
Trump had been citing the emails too. We'll revisit that topic tomorrow.
Tomorrow: Formulations from two different worlds