MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2023
Still looking for what to call it: "Back out of all this now too much for us..."
That's the way a poet began a somewhat inscrutable poem. We often think of that opening line as we examine our perhaps unwinnable, rapidly devolving, embarrassing national politics.
Has our national politics created a place which is "now too much for us?" It seems to us that it has, and it seems to us that our self-impressed blue tribe is a self-defeating part of that growing problem.
These national politics today! We skip from silly dispute to silly dispute, with both major tribes embellishing freely. Just consider this morning's newspapers:
In the Washington Post, Jada Yuan devotes a long analysis piece to—get this—a sillysad series of flaps which grew out of—get this—some unusual behavior after the end of the NCAA women's championship basketball game.
To her credit, Yuan doesn't present the adjusted set of basic facts which were accepted as instant Storyline as soon as the flap broke out. That said, Jill Biden was quickly thrown into the stew, thereby becoming the focus of Yuan's snarky, unhelpful report.
"Back out of all this now too much for us!" That lyric came to mind as we read Yuan's long, largely silly piece.
That's what we found in this morning's Washington Post! In this morning's New York Times, we found this letter from a college student who's 100 percent well-intentioned:
A Disney Movie, Banned in a Florida School
Re “A Ban on a Film Is a Ban on American History,” by Charles M. Blow (column, March 30):
The censorship occurring in Florida schools is a dangerous attack on education and free speech. How can children receive an adequate education if anything that a parent objects to is banned?
When I was in elementary school, we were taught about history, even if it meant acknowledging racism or hardships faced by minority groups, and we were better informed growing up because of it. To ban a Disney movie—something completely appropriate for children—because it refers to racism does nothing but harm the child.
Perhaps Florida parents should start objecting from the other side, as Mr. Blow suggests. If media depicting racism is banned, where is the ban on Thanksgiving, or on the white founding fathers, or on any slave-owning historical figure? Of course, none of this should reasonably be banned from discussion in the classroom, but Florida rule makers should be forced to consider the implications of their actions.
We have a moral obligation to stand up against what is being done in Florida.
A— L—, Boston
The writer is well-intentioned and completely sincere. That said, where to begin?
This "ban on a film" was never a ban. No "censorship" was ever involved.
Beyond that, this non-event was quickly resolved, more than a week ago. The letter writer doesn't seem to have heard about that.
Presumably, the Letters editor isn't aware of the quick resolution either. Say hello to the leadership cadre at the New York Times!
As you may recall, this "ban" was such a non-event that the New York Times, to its credit, never published a news report about the trivial matter. Inevitably, the Opinion pages published two (2) opinion columns about the flap—a non-flap flap which still seems to exist on the newspaper's Letters page.
Within our flailing tribe, we love love love love love love love to talk about book and film bans. Within our tribe, we think "we have a moral obligation" to trumpet such claims far and wide, embellishing as we go.
Then too, along came this lengthy report from yesterday's Washington Post. Reviewing events in the Tennessee House, Gowen and Green let this slip about the way the white lady (Rep. Gloria Johnson) manages to escape expulsion:
GOWEN AND GREEN (4/9/23): Democratic lawmakers who spoke in Johnson’s defense Thursday noted that Johnson had not shouted or banged the podium during the March 30 protest, unlike [Reps.] Jones and Pearson, but merely stood beside them in a show of support.
Johnson ultimately avoided expulsion after a vote of 65 to 30 fell one short of the two-thirds majority needed to eject her.
(For the record, the Republicans voted 65-7 in favor of Johnson's expulsion. Five or six changed their votes from the way they'd voted with respect to her two colleagues.)
Sad! If that account by Gowen and Green is accurate, Tennessee Democrats urged their Republican colleagues to let Johnson escape expulsion because she hadn't done the various things her two black colleagues had done.
When a handful of Republican members actually voted the way their Democratic colleagues had urged, our blue tribe did what we now do best. We fanned out across the countryside, proclaiming that Johnson's narrow escape proved that the Republicans were just a gang of racists!
That is very, very much the way we now play the game.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we are now, very much, in a place grown "too much for us."
There's no way to win in the world we're inventing. Tomorrow, we'll start trying to take you down that unpopular conceptual path.