FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2023
And also, concerning our tribe: Yesterday morning, on Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough voiced his puzzlement over one part of Wednesday night's town hall.
SCARBOROUGH (5/11/23): I've got to say, the most shocking part was an audience who cheered on a president who tried to overturn democracy, an audience who mocked and ridiculed the woman who a jury of her peers, of Donald Trump's peers, found had been sexually assaulted. Those Americans there last night turned that into a punchline...
I could go on—I just could go on and on...On every front, you could go piece by piece by piece to talk about how breathtakingly dangerous what we saw was last night, this virus of lies that has been loosed on the American people.
But what we saw last night was—it was a propagandist, and it was a propagandist spewing lies repeatedly, over and over and over again, and an audience, an American audience, lapping it up.
We agree with the bulk of what Scarborough said. That said, it might be worthwhile to get clear about what lies behind some of that behavior.
For starters, we'll take a guess:
The audience laughed it up about E. Jean Carroll because they don't believe that the sexual assault ever took place. Trump has told them the whole thing's a hoax, a lie, and we'll guess that they believe that.
Also, they don't believe that the New York City jury was "a jury of his peers." They think the jury was composed of blue tribe Trump-haters. (There is, of course, an element of truth to the supposition that it's easier to get a verdict about some particular public figure in one locale rather than in some other.)
The dangerous state of affairs to which Scarborough refers has been in development for decades. It isn't derived from the crazily disordered behavior of Donald J. Trump alone.
The behavior of that audience surprised many observers. But that's the kind of thing which results from the creation of a public discourse in which we all retreat to our own tribe's silos to hear only the stories we like, with very large profits and salaries resulting when news orgs can keep tribals happy.
Our invention of 24-hour, partisan media is a dangerous type of invention. That audience struck us as extremely unwise, but they're also our neighbors and friends.
Also, they're our fellow citizens, and our highly self-impressed blue tribe has reams of blind spots too.
No single individual created our current array of heavily partisan "news orgs." But it's hard to run a large, diverse nation under such an epistemic burden. The wages of that "democratization" were on display Wednesday night.
Along somewhat similar lines: Last week, in the Washington Post, Meckler and Clement reported on an extensive survey concerning Americans' views on various transgender issues.
Headline included, their report began like this:
Most Americans support anti-trans policies favored by GOP, poll shows
Clear majorities of Americans support restrictions affecting transgender children, a Washington Post-KFF poll finds, offering political jet fuel for Republicans in state legislatures and Congress who are pushing measures restricting curriculum, sports participation and medical care.
Most Americans don’t believe it’s even possible to be a gender that differs from that assigned at birth. A 57 percent majority of adults said a person’s gender is determined from the start, with 43 percent saying it can differ.
That's the way the report began. Later, the reporters discussed a topic concerning which we've cited survey data before:
There is also wide support for limits on classroom conversation about gender identity with younger children. More than 3 in 4 adults said it was inappropriate to discuss trans identity with students in kindergarten through third grade, and nearly as many said the same for fourth and fifth grades.
It was a different story, though, for older students. People were roughly divided when asked about middle-schoolers, and nearly 2 in 3 supported discussion of trans identity in high school.
"More than 3 in 4 adults said it was inappropriate to discuss trans identity with students in kindergarten through third grade?"
Our own occasionally feckless tribe has spent a lot of time, within the past year, using this issue as a way to say that Ron DeSantis is a hideous demon transphobe. Wrapped up in our own delusions and in our vastly high self-regard, we may be just a trifle clueless about the way Others think.
For ourselves, we'd say such discussions in grades K-3 aren't inappropriate, assuming we decided to answer so fuzzy a question at all. (We have no idea what kinds of "discussions" are at issue here.)
That said, huddled together inside our silos, listening to the corporate scribes who are paid to please us on cable TV, many people in our tribe may be a trifle clueless about what's actually going on in the wider world, where more than 3 in 4 adults said they agree with DeSantis' original stance.
We like to call such Others names, and it's everyone's right to do that. That said, we're often extremely sure of ourselves. Also, we're often somewhat clueless, and our tribunes are sometimes a bit dishonest, or perhaps just dishonest-adjacent.
Many people just don't like us much. We rarely show any real sign of wanting to find out why.
(We could be wrong, but Claire McCaskill recently seemed to flip on this particular K-3 question. It seemed to us that our tribe's basic stance had possibly taken a 90-degree turn. We'll explain what we mean next week.)