Setting the record straight

What’s an American Muslim to say to Herman Cain?” Dilshad D. Ali asks, struggling with how best to respond to the nasty anti-Muslim rants of the Republican presidential candidate.

What makes this debate even trickier is that even though many American Muslims feel compelled to provide a sane, intelligent response when faced with anti-Islamic rhetoric, Cain and others like him are not interested in conversing with Muslims at all. They aren’t talking to us. They’re just talking about us, and if we talk back, they won’t listen.

… Are we left completely outside of the conversation about us?

Ali points to Sheila Musaji’s post, “Herman Cain Needs to Read the Constitution of the U.S.,” which includes a compilation of some of Cain’s more appalling statements.

Just as bad as Cain’s litany of bigoted ignorance there is this, from Christianity Today’s Trevor Persaud: “Is there anything else you’d like to say?”

That is the entirety of Persaud’s follow-up to Cain’s previous statement, which was this:

Based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion, you know, they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them.

Based upon the little knowledge that I have of Herman Cain’s knowledge of the Muslim religion, I’d say the man has no idea what he’s talking about. But CT didn’t feel the need either to correct Cain’s false assertions, or to press him further to force him to defend them.

Journalism 101: Allowing falsehoods to go unchallenged and uncorrected is not morally, ethically or professionally distinct from telling such falsehoods yourself.

At A Few Things Illconsidered, Coby Beck points to a recent study that helps explain why the above principle is such an important journalistic rule — albeit an often-violated one:

An article titled “Setting the record straight almost impossible” describes a new study from the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review by Ullrich Ecker and colleagues from the University of Western Australia that shows just how insidiously difficult it is to remove misinformation once it is planted in the mind.

From the abstract of the study:

Information that is presumed to be true at encoding but later on turns out to be false (i.e., misinformation) often continues to influence memory and reasoning. In the present study, we investigated how the strength of encoding and the strength of a later retraction of the misinformation affect this continued influence effect. … Results suggest that stronger retractions are effective in reducing the continued influence effects associated with strong misinformation encoding, but that even strong retractions fail to eliminate continued influence effects associated with relatively weak encoding.

Reacting to the finding that even a strong retraction will “fail to eliminate continued influence effects,” Beck says, “I don’t know if I have ever seen a strong retraction!”

In 10 years at a daily newspaper, I only saw one. An article on a local philanthropist reported her age. The article reported her age accurately, but the paper still issued a strong retraction and an apology. Flowers were sent. (No, really, our editor sent flowers.)

Beck also notes this, from the article, as grounds for some meager hope:

The researchers explain that this effect has implications for a number of real-world scenarios, such as the avoidance of MMR vaccine due to fears over autism, or when jurors are called upon to discount the last witness testimony or disregard evidence.

“If you make them [jurors] suspicious of why that information was presented in the first place, such as by saying it was a deliberate attempt to mislead you, then they can more readily dismiss it,” says Ecker.

“Also, if you explain to people that corrected misinformation will continue to influence their thinking to a larger extent than most of us are aware of, that can also help to reduce the effects of the misinformation.”

One other factor that seems to have been beyond the scope of this study is the effect of relationship and personal contact. When the source of an “encoded” bit of misinformation is an impersonal and abstract authority, but the source of the correction is someone you know, I would guess that the correction proves to be much more effective in countering those “continued influence effects” of the misinformation.

And that brings us back to a point Ali makes, that it is dangerous and destructive to talk about others without also talking with those others — without allowing them to be part of the conversation and thus to cease to be “those others.”

That’s another ingredient in the “recipe for perpetual ignorance” we discussed recently. “Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge,” that recipe said.

And, we could add, “Don’t ever listen to the people you’re talking about.”

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Chapter and verse
'Religious outreach'
Relitigating the Golden Rule
The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning
  • Erl137

    This is one of those failings that I’m actually pretty proud of, on the balance, in humanity. We’re trusting folk. Going back through and picking out the falsehoods is hard for us. Generally, we assume that without a pretty obvious reason not to do so, others tell us the truth. Obviously, at the macro level this creates all sorts of problems. But at the micro level, it suggests we’re better, more trusting people than we let on.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    The problem is, we’re also REALLY stubborn.  

    “Given the choice between changing our minds and proving we don’t need to, most people get straight to work on the proof.” 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7NB5FJ2VSINZPTPUGCJI6C24SU Kadia

    I agree with that in concept, but when someone admits that they were either lying or honestly mistaken, refusing to accept this correction sounds less like “trust” and willful gullibility, doesn’t it? We’re a lot better off — macro and micro — if we actively work to minimize the effects of earlier misinformation once we realize that we’re working with bad information.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    On the bright side, even some rightbloggers are backing away from Cain now.  Apparently, there IS such a thing as “too crazy and ignorant”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Blotzphoto Louis Doench

    It helps I suppose that Herman Cain is a black guy… much easier for a party of bigots to dismiss a bigot if they have an excuse.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I wonder if more Republicans would have supported this statement if it were made by a generic white guy.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Also, it is always worth pointing this out: “Muslim” and “Arab” aren’t synonyms. Nearly every islamophobe assumes they are. Muslims in the middle east aren’t a majority of all Muslims. They aren’t even a *plurality* of all Muslims. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Also, it is always worth pointing this out: “Muslim” and “Arab” aren’t synonyms. Nearly every islamophobe assumes they are. Muslims in the middle east aren’t a majority of all Muslims. They aren’t even a *plurality* of all Muslims.

    Yup. The Muslims I know are most commonly from South East Asia, followed by Pakistan, then the Middle East.

  • http://semperfiona.livejournal.com Semperfiona

    How about this for a head-splodey? Most of the Muslims I know are white.

    (The area where I live has a large population of immigrants from Bosnia.)

  • P J Evans

    One of the Muslims I know is from California. He isn’t Arab, either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Blotzphoto Louis Doench

    My favorite Muslim (which does sound like an SNL sketch) is Rany Jazayerli, Chicago area dermatologist and cofounder of Baseball Prospectus. He was born in  Syria and you could sit down next to him at an airport and talk about baseball for hours and never notice that he was Arabic at all. Here’s a link to a great piece he wrote for ESPN after 9-11 http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=1252520&type=package

  • Makarios

    Digby refers to it as “Cokie’s Law”: It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not; it’s out there.

  • Anonymous

    Honestly, best case for a lot of these older Xenophobic folk is just waiting for them to die off. You can’t reach people who write angry letters because the weatherman used an Arabic term for a dust storm. No really, http://ontd-political.livejournal.com/8476192.html

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I know, I know, I really should know better by now.  But I am continually, and I mean on a daily basis, taken by surprise at some people’s ignorance and their knee-jerk rage fueled by said ignorance. 

  • http://brandiweed.livejournal.com/ Brandi

    Don’t read the comments on the Norwegian bombing news threads, then. Just don’t.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I generally do not read the comments on most news threads.  I do read the comments on The Slactivist because they are an exception to the usual rule. 

  • Rikalous

    Honestly, best case for a lot of these older Xenophobic folk is just
    waiting for them to die off. You can’t reach people who write angry
    letters because the weatherman used an Arabic term for a dust storm. No
    really

    We should call them “justice storms” to go with our “freedom fries” and “liberty cabbage.” I bet those idjits are just fine with saying “alcohol” and “caliber,” though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LoneWolf343 Derek Laughlin

    What gets me is how Islamophobes state how Muslims attempts to convert non-believers is somehow bad. “They are trying to convert us!” “Well, yeah, duh. We’re trying to do the same thing to them.”

  • Lori

     What gets me is how Islamophobes state how Muslims attempts to convert non-believers is somehow bad. “They are trying to convert us!” “Well, yeah, duh. We’re trying to do the same thing to them.”  

     

    That’s completely different. Islam is false and Christianity is true. 

    Sorry for the snark. This is a major hot button for me. (Family stuff.)

  • http://worksofliterata.wordpress.com Literata

    On the non-snarky side, some religions actually seriously oppose efforts to convert others.

  • Lori

     On the non-snarky side, some religions actually seriously oppose efforts to convert others.  

    Yes, some do. Christianity is not among them and the people who I hear complaining bitterly about Muslim conversion attempts are Christian. 

  • http://worksofliterata.wordpress.com Literata

    That’s fine. I felt like the original post (“We’re trying to do the same thing to them.”) was inaccurate for some values of “we.” I don’t know what was intended; if it was intended to be a snarky parody of evangelizing Christians, I withdraw the comment.

    If it was meant as “America in general,” I just wanted to register my disagreement, even though I know that many Americans think that way, including about democracy and Christianity as some sort of religio-political package deal. (Buy now and we’ll throw in a spare monotheism free!)

  • Anonymous

     

    If it was meant as “America in general,” I just wanted to register my disagreement,

    I’m not sure what you mean by “America in general.” There’s not a lot that’s true of “Americans in general.” But, alas, America as a nation does seem to be trying to reorganize other folks’ political and economic practices. I call to witness Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cuba, Republic of the Congo, etc., etc., etc. And in many of these cases, the government actions are making smooth the way–not unintentionally–for Christian missionaries. As an American I find it abhorrent and would like to distance myself from it, but I don’t run the government.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Yes, some do. Christianity is not among them and the people who I hear complaining bitterly about Muslim conversion attempts are Christian.

    So they can dish the medicine out, but they balk at taking it themselves?  I would have hoped that such things would teach them some empathy, add some perspective to their worldview. 

  • http://feathertail.livejournal.com/ Tachyon Feathertail

    This is what irks me about nearly everything ever written about autistics.

  • Anna Koop

    It makes me think that rather than retractions (“We regret to have misreported this…” “The jury is to disregard to witness’s last statement…”) we insisted on re-narratives. It seems to me that as you’re hearing details for the first time you’re constructing your understanding. To go back later and say “Oh, no, the bus was from a day camp, not a senior centre” doesn’t change all the myriad of detail your brain filled in before. It is just another fact to layer on top of what’s already stored. 

  • Intersection Vic

    I have a confession to make: I’m “KJ”. Sorry to have sockpuppeted.

    And, in my experience when the people a disagreement is about do take part in the discussion, often (since they are never monolithic) they disagree with each other about it.

  • Intersection Vic

    That wasn’t meant to be an argument against anything anyone said, by the way.

  • Anonymous

    This is what I don’t understand (one of many such things):

    Based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion

    As soon as I read this my brain goes “BZZT! You’re done! Thanks for playing! Come back and talk to me when you do know something!” Why isn’t this universal? Why do people freely pontificate about things about which they admittedly know nothing and why do other people listen? Muslims have an obligation to convert or kill the infidel, but that was not intended to be a factual statement, and if you quote me saying what I just said you are lying. 

    These things make my mind hurt. Sorry these thoughts are not particularly novel or even cogent but — right, my mind hurts.

  • MaryKaye

    It’s not like Islam is a secretive religion.  You can buy all kind of excellent books–translations of the Koran, historical surveys, theology, devotional books, anything you like.  You can read decent documents on the Web.  It’s not that hard to be better informed.

    I will put in a plug for Michael Wolfe’s _One Thousand Roads to Mecca_, a history of the pilgrimage to Mecca through primary-source documents.  Very cool reading. 

  • Anonymous

    There will be at least some people who claim that there are “secret teachings” they don’t let outsiders know about. No point in letting a perfectly good libel go to waste now that they’re not allowed to say it about Jews.

    (…mostly. I’ve actually heard that one aimed at Jews a few times, each time in a context where I’d expected people to know better.)

  • Anonymous

    There will be at least some people who claim that there are “secret teachings” they don’t let outsiders know about. No point in letting a perfectly good libel go to waste now that they’re not allowed to say it about Jews.

    (…mostly. I’ve actually heard that one aimed at Jews a few times, each time in a context where I’d expected people to know better.)

  • Lori

     Based upon the little knowledge that I have of Herman Cain’s
    knowledge of the Muslim religion, I’d say the man has no idea what he’s talking
    about. But CT didn’t feel the need either to correct
    Cain’s false assertions, or to press him further to force him to defend them.

    Journalism 101:
    Allowing falsehoods to go unchallenged and uncorrected is not morally,
    ethically or professionally distinct from telling such falsehoods yourself   

    This is true, but it’s dependent on the guy from Christianity Today knowing more about Islam than Cain does, which may not actually be the case. I don’t know anyone who works for CT, but I know people who read it and they aren’t exactly committed to a broad and accurate understanding of other religions, especially not Islam. 

  • Twig

    “Based upon the little knowledge that I have”

    Man, there are really only a few times when you should start a sentence like this and actually bother to keep talking.

  • Anonymous

    Based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion, you
    know, they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them.

    This is such a great BS line.  I’m really going to have to keep it handy:

    “Based up the little knowledge I have of the Republican Party, they have an objective to convert all non-Republicans or kill them.”

    “Based up the little knowledge I have of Republican presidential candidates, they have an objective to remain eternally young by bathing each night in human blood.”

    “Based up the little knowledge I have of Herman Cain, he has an objective to boil babies and the elderly alive in great cauldrons of poison.”

    Etc.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Based upon the little knowledge I have of aerodynamics, if I drive my car off a cliff fast enough if will become a plane.

  • Albanaeon

    Cain’s words are what puts my best friends in-laws in danger every single day and he has the gall to say THEY are the threat?  RAGE!

  • Mackrimin

    Interesting. According to Wikipedia, this Herman Cain is “gaining momentum” with Republicans, presumably meaning that they like what he’s saying. Yet what he’s saying is that, should he be elected, he’ll ignore the US Constitution (the Sixth Amendment at the very least, namely the “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States” part, which is unarguably violated by a refusal to take members of a certain religion into government or require special oaths from them, which you don’t require from others), which I’ve understood the US President is sworn to defend.

    So, what I’m wondering is if the Wikipedia page was correct: is this person actually gaining momentum within the Republicans? Does he have a realistic chance of winning? Because it seems to me that even people who don’t like muslims or fear them would hesitate to vote for someone who’s outright stated he’ll break his oath of office and the laws of the land as soon as he’s in charge, seeing how that makes him a far greater threat than the late bin Laden could ever had hoped to be. The recent Norwegian tragedy shows just what happens when people start thinking they’re above the law, and Cain (divine irony or just a coincidence?) certainly seems to think that he is.

    That Mr. Cain’s stated reason for requiring extra oaths from muslims, if he allows them into his government at all, is that he’s unsure if they’re entirely loyal to the Constitution, is… I dunno, “hypocritical” doesn’t seem to quite cut it.

  • Albanaeon

    Their position makes a lot more sense if you realize that he, like many other conservatives that I’ve encountered, don’t really see the Constitution as a document for how we govern, but more as a totem.  Actually reading it and how it applies isn’t the point.  It exists to justify their position no matter how contrary to the actual document their position it is.   Kinda like another book we all know…

  • Anonymous

    It’s actually quite similar to the way RTCs will try to out-Christian each other and say things like “She can’t be a real Christian” or “Or a real Christian wouldn’t do that”.  It’s pretty much the same concept, and just as hypocritical.

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

    So I’m having this mental image of Cain and his like as Rufus Scrimgeour, so anxious to round up as many ‘Death Eaters’ as possible without even bothering to check whether these people are actually, you know, Death Eaters. Innocence is irrelevant when people need someone to blame.

    And we all saw how well that worked.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Pelikan/100000903137143 Jonathan Pelikan

    I’m trying to stop getting hopping mad at Conservative and Republican bullshit; I mean, it’s going to be an endless stream and we might as well armor ourselves against it. That doesn’t mean we should stop caring; I’ll remember every little mini-atrocity the Right inflicts on our hearts and minds, and I’ll not forgive them for it, and I know exactly which way I’m going to vote until the world flips upside down, but… try not to let them get to you so much. It leads directly to burn-out, and we need everyone in this fight to stop the enemy.

  • Mackrimin

    It leads directly to burn-out, and we need everyone in this fight to stop the enemy.

    I am troubled by statements like this.  Thinking of someone as an “enemy” seems to open a path where “their rights need to be curtailed for the common good” is an ever-present temptation – it certainly has, for Cain and his ilk. I think this implies there must be something very badly wrong in such a notion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    The trick is to recognize that the enemy isn’t the other person.  It’s the other dog that we’re all carrying around inside us.

  • Rikalous

    What’s the atheist version of ‘Norway and her people are in my prayers’?

    In the words of Solzhenitsyn, “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil
    deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us
    and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the
    heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his
    own heart?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    The trick is to recognize that the enemy isn’t the other person.  It’s the other dog that we’re all carrying around inside us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Pelikan/100000903137143 Jonathan Pelikan

    My mother has told me the exact same thing many times, and I have to agree. It’s a dangerous path, eventually. Yet? Every other alternative is intolerable. I can’t sit down and pretend that the Right, as a movement, is just as concerned with America and freedom and the Constitution as the Left- that’s clearly not true. I can’t pretend Both Sides Do It Equally. Unless they are culturally and politically prevented, Conservatism will enact their agenda, just as they have been doing for decades. Liberalism is now engaged in a holding action for the most part, and the proof that confrontation is necessary is everywhere you look nowadays. 

    Army out of Iraq yet? Cheney in jail yet? Social security out of danger yet? Being loud and angry and insistent is the only thing that’s gotten us what victories it has. Everyday Republicans, Conservatives, etc, are just folks like everybody, but that’s not who I have the problem with. I honestly don’t know how we fight the enemy without becoming them, but I would prefer it to refusing the fight. (Not to imply that’s what you’re saying.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/LoneWolf343 Derek Laughlin

    It’s a little quirk of human nature: being in a healthy state of mind includes a lack of tenacity about things in general. Being able to let things go is simply being mature. You have to do something really really bad to get the general populace stirred up enough to do something about it.

  • Anonymous

    I am troubled by statements like this.  Thinking of someone as an “enemy” seems to open a path where “their rights need to be curtailed for the common good” is an ever-present temptation – it certainly has, for Cain and his ilk. I think this implies there must be something very badly wrong in such a notion.

    Ahh, but they are the enemy. There’s just no way around that fact. And that’s the sole source of their power. While liberals were attempting to work together, see from the other person’s perspective, compromise, being the better person, and rising above it, they were in attack mode. They fear mongered, they demonized, they stopped at nothing. Nothing was too low, too evil, too vile for them to stoop to. These are people who would put the country in recession for political gain. And that’s why they win election after election. That’s why with a 60% Democratic majority in the senate, they still were able to block all legislation. Sorry, but the only way it is possible to win is to quit all this idiocy of trying to be better than them, and start treating them like the enemies of America they are.

  • Tonio

    What does “treating someone like an enemy” entail? I hope it doesn’t entail assuming that one is justified in taking any measures to defeat the enemy. Many of the DC superheroes in their pre-Crisis incarnations acted unethically and rationalized it by claiming that they were acting toward a greater good, or worse, that they were entitled simply by being on the side of good. Your post sounds too much like American right-wingers who equate radical Muslims with mindless animals who need to be put down.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    What does “treating someone like an enemy” entail?

    In my tradition, loving and praying for them.  Which is, I think, of a piece with recognizing your commonality with them.

  • Tonio

    What if one’s goal is defeating the agenda instead of defeating the person that one would label as the enemy? Loki’s post sounded like a description of the Terminator, essentially a dehumanizing of the opponent. The article below has some thoughts on Lincoln and how he tried every avenue to prevent a civil war in the face of intransigent slaveowning oligarchs. I honestly don’t know how to stop the agenda of the Tea Partyers in the House before it wrecks the economy. At least without, say, holding them captive so they can’t vote.

    http://mobile.salon.com/opinion/walsh/politics/2011/07/22/obama_liberal_support_slips/index.html

  • Tonio

    What if one’s goal is defeating the agenda instead of defeating the person that one would label as the enemy? Loki’s post sounded like a description of the Terminator, essentially a dehumanizing of the opponent. The article below has some thoughts on Lincoln and how he tried every avenue to prevent a civil war in the face of intransigent slaveowning oligarchs. I honestly don’t know how to stop the agenda of the Tea Partyers in the House before it wrecks the economy. At least without, say, holding them captive so they can’t vote.

    http://mobile.salon.com/opinion/walsh/politics/2011/07/22/obama_liberal_support_slips/index.html

  • Anonymous

    What does “treating someone like an enemy” entail?

    Exactly that. You treat them like the enemy.

    I hope it doesn’t entail assuming that one is justified in taking any measures to defeat the enemy.

    Uhh, when one takes any measures to defeat someone, you aren’t treating them like the enemy, you are committing war crimes. It’s what they do, it’s not what we do. In fact, it would be pretty much impossible for us to do so. What exactly “any measures” would we take? Seriously, I’m really curious as to what these “any measures” would be? We know, because they state it openly, repeatedly, and vote for it, that they wish to steal from the elderly and the poor in order to hand that money to the wealthy. What “any measures” do we want to take?

    We don’t even have to lie, like they do, because reality is on our side. They had to build the most sophisticated propaganda network the world has ever seen in order to convince millions of Americans to vote against their self-interest. We just need the media to do their actual jobs.

    Your post sounds too much like American right-wingers who equate radical Muslims with mindless animals who need to be put down.

    No, my post sounds like I am describing them exactly for what they are. Never make the mistake of not knowing your enemy. That is how campaigns are lost, and this is far too important to engage in deluded thinking out of a misplaced desire towards tolerance.

  • Tonio

    My point has nothing to do with a “misplaced desire towards tolerance.” I’m saying that if one thinks of a person as the problem instead of what the person advocates, one can easily slip into the war crimes mentality. “Enemy” implies a good/evil duality where one believes one is on the side of good.

  • Izzy

    And your stance is just as much of a false dichotomy, I think.

    There’s plenty of room to say that “person X is the enemy” while still a) recognizing a gradation in terms of enemies, with That Girl at the bottom and, I dunno, Darkseid at the top, and b) keeping in mind that there are some things it’s not okay to do to people lower on the spectrum, and some things it’s not okay to do at all.

    In all hot-and-cranky honesty, I’m a little tired of being equated with the let’s-torture-all-Muslims camp just because I’m willing to say that Rick Santorum is a shitty human being and yes, my enemy. It’s pretty offensive, thanks.

  • Tonio

    There’s plenty of room to say that “person X is the enemy” while still
    a) recognizing a gradation in terms of enemies, with That Girl at the
    bottom and, I dunno, Darkseid at the top, and b) keeping in mind that
    there are some things it’s not okay to do to people lower on the
    spectrum, and some things it’s not okay to do at all.

    I agree in principle. The agenda we oppose is being pushed by people with a holy war mentality, and I’m wary of any stance in response that would also resemble that mentality.  Santorum is a shitty human being but he’s not the devil.

  • Tonio

    There’s plenty of room to say that “person X is the enemy” while still
    a) recognizing a gradation in terms of enemies, with That Girl at the
    bottom and, I dunno, Darkseid at the top, and b) keeping in mind that
    there are some things it’s not okay to do to people lower on the
    spectrum, and some things it’s not okay to do at all.

    I agree in principle. The agenda we oppose is being pushed by people with a holy war mentality, and I’m wary of any stance in response that would also resemble that mentality.  Santorum is a shitty human being but he’s not the devil.

  • Izzy

    Right. And I…never said he was.

    I’m disinclined to give up a perfectly valid position just because it might in some light if you squint resemble the other side’s.

    Do I want to fuck over the poor for the sake of corporations?
    Do I want to prevent people from having civil rights?
    Do I want to ruin the environment because Jesus is coming tomorrow?

    Then I’m *not* going to be just as bad as they are, even if I oh-shock-and-horror say they’re bad people, point that out, and refuse to compromise with them. So if you could maybe stop implying that I am, that would be great. Because it’s pissing me off.

  • Tonio

    My apologies. Maybe the problem is that I hear in the word “enemy” not just moral absolutism but also tribalism, and I acknowledge that others can hear the word differently. Certainly the people whose agenda we oppose claim that we hate who they are, screaming nonsense about the media being anti-conservative and anti-Christian. I would never suggest that we refuse to point out the immorality of their agenda, or that we give in to what they want. My point is about how we describe them. When I hear “enemy” I hear, “We’re on the side of pure good and they’re on the side of pure evil,” and yes, I could be wrong about that.

  • hapax

    Tonio, I do not use the word “enemy” lightly.

    But right now, not only are the leaders of the Republican party actively pushing for real pain and suffering;  not only are those who claim to be “Republicans, but not like those crazy extremists” through their passive endorsement enabling the active seekers of evil;  but also all those who say “ooh, let us not fall into partisan divisiveness, let us not use the words “enemy” and “evil” lest we make people feel bad, let us seek compromise and tolerance and a ‘third way'” are choosing to let their own feelings of discomfort take precedence over the very real suffering, pain, and death that such a “compromise” will entail.

    Right now, the “compromise” being offered is between the Republican “gleefully throw the poor, the sick, and the elderly out to die in the street” and Obama’s “throw the poor, the sick, and the elderly out to die in the street, but shake our heads sadly at the regretful necessity.”

    Screw that.

    These folks are advocating evil.  To refuse to name evil when we see it is to act ashamed of the good.

  • P J Evans

    And some of those in the US congress who would be voting on this are trying to wash their hands of their own responsibility by setting up a special ‘supercommittee’ to do the actual deed – it’s planned as 12 members, six from each house and three from each party, with special powers. It isn’t being covered in the newspapers (or has very little coverage), and it’s way the heck unconstitutional. (It may also be illegal, immoral, and fattening.)

  • Tonio

    These folks are advocating evil.  To refuse to name evil when we see it is to act ashamed of the good.

    Excellent point. You’re right that it’s evil to actively push for real pain and suffering. And my points have nothing to do with protecting the feelings of the people who do the pushing. When they show that little concern for their fellow humans, respecting their feelings is not high on my priority list.

    So why do I object to labeling people as good and evil, while supporting such labeling for their actions? Because I see those concepts as fundamentally about actions and not about identity. Fred has written eloquently about how the LaHayes and Bachmanns of the world talk about good and evil as though they’re about identity and allegiance. I suspect such people have fallen prey to the moral danger in thinking of one’s self as being on the side of good, which can lead to a false sense of entitlement and in rarer cases to a messiah complex. From a religious standpoint, it’s the distinction between “We should be on God’s side” and “God is on our side.” My reading of Fred is that good and evil are what one does, not what one is. They’re not about being on the right team. LaHaye’s protagonists talk about being on the side of good but this doesn’t jibe with their attitudes and actions. One shouldn’t oppose the advocates for pain and suffering because they’re in a different party but because what they advocate makes the world a poorer place for everyone in it.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Well said. 

  • Anonymous

    Me being pedantic again, but I’d want to distinguish between calling someone an “enemy,” which simply describes their relationship to some other entity. Like “friend” and “ally,” it really says nothing about good or evil, or even good or bad. I’d like to think of myself as the enemy of everything John Boehner stands for–that certainly doesn’t mean I think of myself as bad.

  • Izzy

    Well, there’s a couple things here.

    1. Absolutely–as a friend pointed out re: game villains–nobody thinks “hey, I’m Evil”. (There are a few serial killers and similar who have said muahaha-I’m-evil things, but I doubt they seriously believed themselves.) And thinking of yourself as good doesn’t prevent you from doing evil things.

    However:

    2. I do hate who they are. Because:

    3. Who you (generic-you throughout this point) are is, basically, what you do. If you throw public tantrums at your SO, you’re the kind of person who throws public tantrums at your SO. If you’re an asshat to your waiter, you’re the kind of person who’s an asshat to your waiter. If you vote to cut Medicare so you can give corporations tax cuts, you’re the kind of person who does that.

    You are what you do. I don’t care how you see yourself or what kind of poetry you write in your secret diary. If you’re upset that I judge you by what you do because your shiny inner special unique soul is different…well, start behaving in a way that reflects that. Dipshit. 

    Yes, I’m anti-conservative, because conservative means “we think people should work eighty hours a week and have no benefits and women should stay in the kitchen and gay folks should stay in the closet and everyone should have automatic weapons.” And while I’m not anti-Christian, I am anti-fundie. Very much so.

    I’ve found that the proper response to emo douchebags screaming about how WE ALL HATE THEM OMG OMG is to say that yep, we do. Get over it. Be someone I shouldn’t hate, and I won’t hate you.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NYIMSCWWLA5XTAYXL3FXNCJZ7I Kiba

    You are what you do. I don’t care how you see yourself or what kind of poetry you write in your secret diary. If you’re upset that I judge you by what you do because your shiny inner special unique soul is different…well, start behaving in a way that reflects that.

    This. I often get that line “You hate X simply because they’re X” when it’s not true. I dislike them for what they do, not for who they are or what they believe. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Who you (generic-you throughout this point) are is, basically, what you do.

    A-freaking-men.

    Someone who knows more than me can hopefully fill out the details, but I remember hearing once that the mind/body differential that is part of our (Western) culture is just that–part of our culture, not universal. That there have been and are cultures where it is ludicrous to say “I am x” when your behaviour does not comply, because the idea that you can have some sort of identity that does not manifest in your actions is contradictory.

    A specific example that my friends and I have discussed is the repeated statement about a particular public figure–“he’s a good father”. This man is deeply disrepectful and at times abusive towards women, he repeatedly publicly humiliates the mother of his daughters, and his overall behaviour is of an immature, self-centred boor. Some people say, yes, these things are true, but he’s a good father so you have to credit him that. I’d say it appears that, no, he’s not. Having loving feelings towards a child is not sufficient to get to claim to be a good father.

    This concept stretches to almost every area of life I can think of, and I for one would like to see it argued more often (so, go Izzy).

  • Lori

     A specific example that my friends and I have discussed is the repeated statement about a particular public figure–“he’s a good father”. This man is deeply disrepectful and at times abusive towards women, he repeatedly publicly humiliates the mother of his daughters, and his overall behaviour is of an immature, self-centred boor. Some people say, yes, these things are true, but he’s a good father so you have to credit him that. I’d say it appears that, no, he’s not. Having loving feelings towards a child is not sufficient to get to claim to be a good father.  

    IMO it’s tough to claim to love a child while publicly humiliating that child’s other parent. 

    If this public figure has sons he’s teaching them by example to disrespect women in a way that’s unlikely to result in them having healthy adult relationships. 

    If this public figure has daughters he’s teaching them by example that women don’t deserve respect, which will very likely harm their ability to have healthy adult relationships. 

    There is no reasonable definition of “good father” that includes those things and it’s really disturbing that anyone would set the good dad bar that low. [Insert here Chris Rock’s routine about how you’re supposed to have a job and pay child support.]  

  • Matri

    Be someone I shouldn’t hate, and I won’t hate you.

    Unfortunately, they want to be hated, because it validates them and (in their minds) all but guarantees them a free Rapture pass.

  • Izzy

    Oh, sure. But at that point, there’s really nothing I can do to get through to them, so I might as well not waste the energy trying *not* to hate them. 

  • Izzy

    Oh, sure. But at that point, there’s really nothing I can do to get through to them, so I might as well not waste the energy trying *not* to hate them. 

  • Izzy

    Oh, sure. But at that point, there’s really nothing I can do to get through to them, so I might as well not waste the energy trying *not* to hate them. 

  • Izzy

    Oh, sure. But at that point, there’s really nothing I can do to get through to them, so I might as well not waste the energy trying *not* to hate them. 

  • Izzy

    Oh, sure. But at that point, there’s really nothing I can do to get through to them, so I might as well not waste the energy trying *not* to hate them. 

  • Izzy

    Oh, sure. But at that point, there’s really nothing I can do to get through to them, so I might as well not waste the energy trying *not* to hate them. 

  • Anonymous

    My point has nothing to do with a “misplaced desire towards tolerance.” I’m saying that if one thinks of a person as the problem instead of what the person advocates, one can easily slip into the war crimes mentality. “Enemy” implies a good/evil duality where one believes one is on the side of good

    First off, I’m not sure how any can not think of Rupert Murdock, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Bachmann, Anne Coulter, Rick Santorum, Glen Beck, Sarah Palin, Andrew Brietbart, Richard Mellon Scaife, John Kasich, Scott Walker, ect. as the problem. They quite litterally are the problem. There’s just no way around that fact.

    And I’m reasonably certain that there is a good/evil duality here, and only if you go by Ayn Rand’s pseudo-philosophy, which she formulated as a justification for a serial killer, will you end up with the Republicans/Conservatives on the side of good. These are people who want to take medical care from people, take away the small payments that unemployed people require to live on in the middle of the highest unemployment since the ’80s, they want to take education from children, they want to do away with environmental protection. These are not issues such as say zoning where everyone’s view can be considered a personal preference, these are moral issues.

  • Tonio

    They quite litterally are the problem. There’s just no way around that fact.

    They’re the problem because of what they advocate, and of course what they advocate is immoral. I just see a difference between fighting for a moral position and fighting a holy war. I hesitate to use the “we’ll be just as bad as they are” argument, but part of what makes their agenda immoral is that it’s rooted in Us and Not Us absolutism.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I tend to think of the Republician party, as a platform, as being the “opposition” rather than “enemy”.  They hold positions which are, to varying degrees, mutually exclusive with the positions that I hold, and as such they are an obstacle to be overcome, and I prefer not to pass futher judgement beyond that. 

    I also tend to apply Hanlon’s Razor to the people who would hold such positions.  “Never blame malice for what can adequately be blamed on stupidity.”  I will not hate someone for acting stupidly, though I may find such actions uncondonally irritating.  The vast majority of the Fox News watchers who support these positions, for example, are guilty of being duped by voices to which they are sympathetic.  And as Fred said, being bigoted tends to make one stupider, and Fox plays off that because it makes it easier for the party leaders to dupe the masses into voting for them.

  • Izzy

    I agree with Hanlon’s razor.

    However, I think there’s a point where adults are responsible for their own stupidity, for their bigotry, and for their willingness to see themselves as victims. So I’m perfectly happy to hate them for it.

    Which doesn’t mean I advocate violence, or even that I don’t wish them well in a “healthy and have material needs met” kind of way. (Although I’d really be okay if all their relationships turned out badly and they could never find a parking space.)  If we’re supposed to be drawing a line between different types of bad person, I think we also need to draw a line between different types of hate.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I take kind of a “hate the sin, not the sinner” mentality.  Seguing from my post on Truthiness, I see Truthiness in politics and voting patterns as being the true “enemy”.  The abhorent positions that people subscribe to are just the symptoms of that core effect. 

    Sadly, Truthiness is promoted among such people by certain political strategists (not all of whom are directly employed by the associated movement but certainly have a stake in it) because creating certain perceptions that trump reality is politically and financially advantageous to them.  Those individuals I might be willing to consider evil and wish removed from the political process. 

  • Tonio

    My point has nothing to do with a “misplaced desire towards tolerance.” I’m saying that if one thinks of a person as the problem instead of what the person advocates, one can easily slip into the war crimes mentality. “Enemy” implies a good/evil duality where one believes one is on the side of good.

  • Christopher™

    When the source of an “encoded” bit of misinformation is an impersonal and abstract authority, but the source of the correction is someone you know, I would guess that the correction proves to be much more effective in countering those “continued influence effects” of the misinformation.
    I think this all comes down to a person’s view of God, even if they aren’t religious.  For some people, God is the Super Holy Deity Who Will Fry You If You Don’t Do What Pleases Him.  Because their understanding of God is rooted in fear and punishment, any deviations from the theological norm have eternally fatal consequences, so it doesn’t matter what their experience demonstrates, or how much evidence they are presented.  They simply won’t can’t afford to change their opinion, and any personal experience or objective fact is a Fiendish Plot From Satan to deceive them.  Even those who have rejected any notion of God due to such a negative religious upbringing are still locked into this view of God, so to present an alternate Scriptural point of view (e.g., gay positive) falls on deaf ears.

    If, however, a person has been raised with an understanding that God is Your Loving Best Friend Who Wants Only The Best For You, you have a much better chance at correcting misinformation with them.  The God Is Love group (including the non-religious who would prefer to see God this way) are not afraid of re-examining things in light of new information, because they either see “new revelation” as exciting evidence of God’s work in their lives, or because they know that grace covers them even when they may get a bit of their theology wrong.  It’s a non-fear based view of the universe.

    So, basically, people who see God As Punisher can’t risk changing their mind.  People who believe that God Is Love are always willing to consider another point of view and think about it.

  • Christopher™

    Sorry… I tried to block-quote Fred’s comment, and it didn’t work.

  • Rikalous

    Sorry… I tried to block-quote Fred’s comment, and it didn’t work.

    It’s

    (without the spaces, of course).

  • Christopher™

    Thank you. :-)

  • Sickofpalantirs

    Isn’t the objective of many major religions to convert all people of the earth?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eddy-Ohlms/1729860863 Eddy Ohlms

    Maybe. I think it’s mainly Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism that focus on universal conversion. Most of the other major religions, like Hinduism and Judaism, seem more contained within particular ethnic groups and don’t have much drive toward proselytizing.

  • Daughter

    I read somewhere in the last couple of days a quote from a major rightwing web site basically saying that Cain’s attitudes had gone too far and therefore should never be president.   I’m not sure from the quote whether their concern was his attitudes, or the fact that is so open in voicing them.

  • Daughter

    I read somewhere in the last couple of days a quote from a major rightwing web site basically saying that Cain’s attitudes had gone too far and therefore should never be president.   I’m not sure from the quote whether their concern was his attitudes, or the fact that is so open in voicing them.

  • Samantha C.

    I was shocked, absolutely shocked when I learned that the guy who’s now my best friend was a Republican. I met him online and, having grown up in a very liberal, Democratic area, just assumed that he’d think the same way I did since he was a good person in general. I was so used to thinking of Republicans as those nasty, social-conservative, right-wing, selfish people that it literally didn’t occur to me that someone could be both a geek, and a social liberal, and a Republican. For him, it’s almost all about economic philosophy, a strong belief in the power of minimally-regulated free market, and parts of a libertarian view that the government can only do a few jobs really well, and would do best not to spread itself so extremely thin by trying to do everything.

    We were talking just the other day about how awful the current presidential candidates are for him – because the “Republicans in Name Only” he was seeing were either a) not actually espousing Republican small-government views at all, or b) so totally off-the-wall in other areas (like Cain here) that he couldn’t in good conscience vote for him. But he can’t vote in good conscience for the Democratic candidates either, believing so little in their power to actually rule the country financially.

    Is that really “the enemy”? Or are we letting tiny, vocal minorities of pundits and self-proclaimed speakers for their side speak for everyone? Is this that different than assuming all Christians are Fred Phelps?

  • Tonio

    For him, it’s almost all about economic philosophy, a strong belief in
    the power of minimally-regulated free market, and parts of a libertarian
    view that the government can only do a few jobs really well, and would
    do best not to spread itself so extremely thin by trying to do
    everything.

    While you have a point about generalizing, I question how much of the “small government” philosophy is actually a rationalization of other beliefs. For many decades, the advocates of small government seemed to focus primarily on regulations preventing powerful corporations from doing pretty much anything they wanted. The Tea Party movement seems to focus primarily on public assistance rewarding the alleged indolence of dark-skinned people, claiming among other things that illegal immigrants are getting free welfare and health care. Even people who complain that “the government is too big” without any agenda behind this are missing the overall point. And this goes also for the people whose sole complaint is that their taxes are too high. Anyone who insists that the government should be smaller should, at a minimum, be expected to produce a list of exactly the types of programs that should be cut. Or at least enter into a honest discussion of exactly the things government should and shouldn’t be doing.

  • Izzy

    Mmm. I used to think that way, all “social politics are important but I can agree to disagree with economic Republicans.” And then people who identified as “small-government Republicans” started equating “small government” and “free market” with “nobody gets welfare, corporations are the most awesome thing ever, and everyone should be able to use lead paint on their houses without having to warn subsequent buyers”.

    So…yeah, I’m pretty comfortable with calling those people the enemy too.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I used to think that way, all “social politics are important but I can agree to disagree with economic Republicans.” And then people who identified as “small-government Republicans” started equating “small government” and “free market” with “nobody gets welfare, corporations are the most awesome thing ever, and everyone should be able to use lead paint on their houses without having to warn subsequent buyers”.

    In my experience, people who are a lot less fussed about right wing economics than they are conservative social policy are not poor. Economic justice should be front and centre of consistent progressivism. Without it, you’re just another person who cares about people like yourself.

    (you=one here, not you=Izzy)

  • Izzy

    No, I agree.

    As one of my friends pointed out today, it doesn’t matter how equal your rights are when you’re starving. That’s something I feel I only really appreciated after college.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    As one of my friends pointed out today, it doesn’t matter how equal your rights are when you’re starving.

    Exactly. If people of all races, cultures, nationalities, genders, sexualities and ages are equally likely to be destitute, purely social progressives would consider the job finished. Lefties, on the other hand…

  • Anonymous

    As one of my friends pointed out today, it doesn’t matter how equal your rights are when you’re starving.

    Dead on.  This is why I think it’s time to amend the US Constitution.  People should have the right to a safe, clean place to sleep at night.  People should have the right to the best level of health that can be achieved between modern medicine and their own bodies’ abilities.  People should have the right to clean air and drinking water.  People should have the right to eat.  (Personally, I also think people should have the right to meaningful employment but YMMV on that one.)

    Right now, these things are privileges and, as either Fred or one of the other brilliant posters around here said (I can’t remember who, sorry), a privilege can be taken away.  When one is talking about those things needed for survival and even the most simple quality of life, well, that’s just wrong.

    Edit: I can’t spell today.

  • Anonymous

    “For him, it’s almost all about economic philosophy, a strong belief in
    the power of minimally-regulated free market, and parts of a libertarian
    view that the government can only do a few jobs really well, and would
    do best not to spread itself so extremely thin by trying to do
    everything”

    That sounds nice in theory, but I don’t really know that it’s that much better than the other things Republicans believe.  In many ways, the invisible hand of the free market has become a god-like idol that libertarians and conservatives like to worship.  It doesn’t matter to them that it doesn’t actually work particularly well in practice, because it’s just a magical entity that can’t ever be wrong.  It’s tautologically right because whoever suffers under the almighty invisible free hand is being punished for not working hard/smart enough.  I’ve only seen this argument used by privileged people as an excuse to not care about poor people.  It’s easier to think they earned their place while everyone else deserves whatever they get.  If they really were good, hard-working people, then why would the free market let them fail?

    And there’s also no rational reason to believe that the government will fail at most things while private business where excel.  Does he think that business owners are less corrupt than politicians?

  • Lori

     We were talking just the other day about how awful the current presidential candidates are for him – because the “Republicans in Name Only” he was seeing were either a) not actually espousing Republican small-government views at all, or b) so totally off-the-wall in other areas (like Cain here) that he couldn’t in good conscience vote for him. But he can’t vote in good conscience for the Democratic candidates either, believing so little in their power to actually rule the country financially. 

    Is that really “the enemy”? Or are we letting tiny, vocal minorities of pundits and self-proclaimed speakers for their side speak for everyone? Is this that different than assuming all Christians are Fred Phelps?  

    Is that really “the enemy”? In the sense that ignorance is the enemy then, yes it is. Your friend has swallowed a false construct—that true Republicans keep the government small and do a good job running the country financially while “tax & spend” Dems harm the country financially. 

    That’s not actually true. Or at least it’s only true if one defines “doing a good job running the country’s finances” as “transferring money from the poor and the middle class to the very wealthy via regressive tax policies.” That’s pretty much the only economic measure on which the Republicans consistently do “better” than the Democrats. The other things so-called true Republicans (and their supposed fellows in the Tea Party) claim to care about, like smaller government and reduced deficits, aren’t nearly so clear cut. The fact that your friend deals in ideology and sound bites instead of facts is not good for the country and it’s probably not doing him any favors either.

  • Samantha C.

    I was shocked, absolutely shocked when I learned that the guy who’s now my best friend was a Republican. I met him online and, having grown up in a very liberal, Democratic area, just assumed that he’d think the same way I did since he was a good person in general. I was so used to thinking of Republicans as those nasty, social-conservative, right-wing, selfish people that it literally didn’t occur to me that someone could be both a geek, and a social liberal, and a Republican. For him, it’s almost all about economic philosophy, a strong belief in the power of minimally-regulated free market, and parts of a libertarian view that the government can only do a few jobs really well, and would do best not to spread itself so extremely thin by trying to do everything.

    We were talking just the other day about how awful the current presidential candidates are for him – because the “Republicans in Name Only” he was seeing were either a) not actually espousing Republican small-government views at all, or b) so totally off-the-wall in other areas (like Cain here) that he couldn’t in good conscience vote for him. But he can’t vote in good conscience for the Democratic candidates either, believing so little in their power to actually rule the country financially.

    Is that really “the enemy”? Or are we letting tiny, vocal minorities of pundits and self-proclaimed speakers for their side speak for everyone? Is this that different than assuming all Christians are Fred Phelps?

  • Erl137

    I don’t know if your friend is “the enemy,” or whether that formulation is a beneficial one. (My instinct is that there are better ways to describe the same phenomenon–disputant, perhaps?)

    I’d take issue with his complaint about the proliferation of “Republicans in Name Only,” though. If you’ve come to a point where the entire slate of Presidential candidates for your party do not represent even a reasonable approximation of your views, but instead differ strongly from you on key points, you can’t complain that they’re all “Party-in-Name-Only.” 

    His party has left him. It may have never been meaningfully his since Hoover. (Ike built the highways, and though Nixon shrunk the gov’t, he won on the back of substantial racism and not the thoughtful economic arguments your friend supports.) But the formulation “Republican in Name Only” allows him to continue to count himself for a party that, collectively, wants to do wicked things to our country. (Consider, e.g., the “double Gitmo” responses from the 2008 debates, or the anti-gay marriage activism.)

    I sympathize with your friend. I too struggle to find someone to represent me well and faithfully at the ballot box. But I dispute that it’s intellectually self-consistent for him to espouse the views he espouses, and call himself a Republican. 

  • Erl137

    Exactly that. You treat them like the enemy.

    But you haven’t actually said anything. I could show up at Boehner’s office and shout “You and your like are my enemies, worthless blaggarts that thou art!” and it would be fun as all get out, but ineffective. And I doubt that’s what your recommendation signified. So what do you mean? Surely, as we’re not your enemies, it’s possible to discuss and explain with us.

    If you meant things like “don’t assume that the Republican members of Congress are ever willing to compromise in good faith,” I’d be right there with you. If you mean “make your case forcefully rather than trying to be a centrist,” I’m with you. If you mean “tell the truth about rightist objectives and their consequences,” I’m with you. If you mean tactics employing either Karl Rove or car bombs, then we’ve reached a parting of the ways.

    So I ask again, what do you mean? 

    Uhh, when one takes any measures to defeat someone, you aren’t treating them like the enemy, you are committing war crimes.

    Well, that’s the point, innit? (sorry, watched too much Lauren Cooper.) If I shoot my enemy in wartime, that’s certainly not a war crime. If I were to show up at the floor of the Congress and shoot Republican congresspeople, that would be a crime crime. (NOTE TO READERS: I do not intend to ever offer violence to any elected representative, nor should you.) Clearly, “treat them like the enemy” doesn’t mean “treat them like the enemy in wartime.” So what does it mean? (he said, repetitively.)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You know, looking at the things Cain has said, as well as several other things said by the people in the associated movement, it brings me back to Stephen Colbert’s idea of “Truthiness.”  People like Cain are making assertions about the U.S. constitution on the basis of what they believe it should be, rather than on the basis of what it actually is.  A huge part of it is that, like during the Bush administration, Truthiness has come to be more important to these people than objective reality. 

    Hell, I would say that the entire Tea Party movement is based on Truthiness.  Taxes for most Americans went down shortly after Obama took office, and the Tea Partiers were already protesting about big government taking too much of their money.  The facts of the issue did not matter because it felt to them like the government was getting too “uppity” into their lives, and that was more important to them than the objective truth. 

    Fred’s comments about the religious-right in America being persecuted hegemons is another example of this.  They hold the idea that America is a Christian nation based on Christian laws (not true) and that American Christians are a persecuted minority (also not true and mutually exclusive with the first idea.)  Though such beliefs are absurd (and contradictory) they still feel those to be intuitive truths, and they will act on those “truths” accordingly.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NYIMSCWWLA5XTAYXL3FXNCJZ7I Kiba

    A professor of religion at Emory University is arguing that the Republican Party has turned into a religious movement.  http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4844/%E2%80%98republicanity%E2%80%99%E2%80%94the_gop_transformation_is_nearly_complete/

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Not so much becoming a religon but certainly aping its style.  They seem to be just going with what they know to work.  It certainly explains why their base is more “solid” than it has any rational right to be, the members of that base are already used to thinking in those terms. 

    I think that Fred should link that on the main page and offer his commentary.  I would be interested in his take. 

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Not so much becoming a religon but certainly aping its style.  They seem to be just going with what they know to work.  It certainly explains why their base is more “solid” than it has any rational right to be, the members of that base are already used to thinking in those terms. 

    I think that Fred should link that on the main page and offer his commentary.  I would be interested in his take. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Pelikan/100000903137143 Jonathan Pelikan

    First off, I’m sorry for not being more actively involved in something I helped start, but I want to say again that I really understand the fear of essentially becoming the Teabaggers and the Left Behind-ers (new word FTW) that comes with labeling them as our enemy. Izzy and Sgt. Pepper and others helped give words to a concept I was struggling to even grasp, much less explain with any eloquence or sense at all. Thanks.

    Here’s what I can try to explain. Teabaggers are organized and mobilized and determined. Conservative Christians(TM) are a force, and unless it and other such forces are stood against, things are only going to get worse. You can’t have a reasonable debate with somebody who thinks the Health Care Law was Sooshulism and Obama was born in Kenya and that it is possible to be a committed Muslim Atheist. These are the horrifying, Lovecraft go-mad-at-the-realization facts on the ground in America; our national dialogue is broken, and Teabaggers may represent a tiny sliver of Republicans, but they are running the movement. We can rally to stop them and gain victory, but it must be in these terms. Winning the national debate requires that we say helping poor people is good and leaving them to die in the streets is evil and that Teabaggers advocate for one of those two positions.

    I’m an absolutist sort of person, or at least one with such tendencies, which may seem odd in a liberal but that’s life for you. I am a socialist, after all. Order and stuff, doncha know. I tend to simplify and whatnot. Where this trait serves me more than hinders me is in becoming somebody who fights the Right, working to ensure that people who can condemn me for being absolutist have somewhere to stand that isn’t conquered yet by the the conservative insanity. All we have and all we’ve managed to defend thus far has been won by confrontation and argument, not by asking the Right to please stop destroying the country.

    I know, or will assume, everybody here has generally good intentions and motivations, which is why I don’t react more strongly to moral condemnations against me. Even so, my intention to protect people from what happens, what has happened, and what must happen if conservatives keep running this country doesn’t render me immune to judgement about my words and actions, and I would argue that applies to everyone just as well. I’m not Hitler, and I’m not even the Soup Nazi. I’m not arguing for any of those things that lie far, far down the slippery slope. Not violence, not oppression, not torture. I believe, like almost all Americans, in politics free of violence and force, either by mob or state.

    (EDIT: How do I get this chat thing to stop removing the space between my paragraphs? It often decides my post looks much better smooshed into an enormous brick.)


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