Back to the ’80s, because we never left them (part 2)


Any skeptical questions about the reality of these alleged horrors was reinterpreted — and fiercely condemned — as a defense of those same horrors. Questions such as “How did they have time to fly the children to Mexico?” or “Why are there no records of such a flight?” wouldn’t be answered directly because answering them would threaten the fantasy. Instead, anyone asking such questions would be recast as a defender of Satanic ritual abuse by Mexican soldiers. [Read more...]

Back to the ’80s, because we never left them


The D&D backlash of the 1980s wasn’t sustainable because the unreality of the imagined threat eventually became impossible to deny. But while this particular form of symptom spiked and dissipated, the disease remains — with the moral entrepreneurs continuing their role-playing fantasy by concocting and warring against ever-new sets of imaginary monsters. [Read more...]

Nationals’ reliever shows us how to organize GOP presidential debates

Screen shot 2015-05-23 at 3.53.01 PM

So here’s my plan: Invite all two dozen of the 2016 Republican presidential candidates to Nationals Park for a post-anthem stand-off. The last four still standing — still on the field, caps held over their hearts — qualify for the televised debates on Fox and CNN. It would be silly and stupid, but it might still be an improvement over the current process — which is, itself, a goofy parody of macho posturing and performative patriotism. [Read more...]

‘We must be careful about what we pretend to be’: How tribal cheerleading creates new tribal dogma and changes the tribe to conform to it


Over time, these kinds of tribal-cheerleading responses to pollsters and other catechists eventually become required responses. And thus, over time, the things that people pretend to believe as a “way of showing that they’re members in good standing” of their political faction become the things that members of that faction actually believe. The fluff becomes substance — becomes dogma. And the tribe is transformed to conform to this new dogma. [Read more...]

Harriet Tubman stole from the rich and gave to the poor

The real-life American Robin Hood.

Harriet Tubman was Robin Hood. Later in her life, after the law had been changed and the Constitution rewritten, Tubman was praised and honored as a war hero and a humanitarian. But make no mistake, during her years as a “conductor on the Underground Railroad,” Harriet Tubman was an outlaw and a thief who regularly stole the property of wealthy Maryland farmers. [Read more...]

White privilege: An illustration

This photo is the product of a string of poor decisions.

For those keeping score at home, if you’re white, you can apparently refuse to take your hands out of your pockets and threaten to kill a cop while sporting a tattoo of the Number of the Beast on your forehead. But Freddie Gray is dead because he “made eye contact” with a police officer. [Read more...]

James Dobson cannot really believe what he says about legal abortion and the Holocaust

If you're living under the Third Reich, your first moral obligation might not be to make a fortune peddling books about how to spank your children.

James Dobson isn’t alone in making this claim. The legal-abortion-is-worse-than-the-Holocaust line is so frequently repeated by anti-abortion white evangelicals that Dobson’s remark is really just a bit of “pro-life” boilerplate. But repetition hasn’t made this claim any less outrageous or any more credible as something anyone could possibly say in good faith. If you try — really try — to imagine the implications of someone saying such a thing whole-heartedly and in good faith, you’ll be forced to conclude that can’t be what Dobson is doing. [Read more...]

A sallow-eyed look at the slow descent of David Brooks


David Brooks expects poor people to learn moral lessons from people like him. It has never occurred to him that people like him might need to learn moral lessons from the poor. Thus when he writes for himself and for people like himself, his columns read like a knock-off of Ecclesiastes, but when he writes about other (non-wealthy, non-white) people, his columns read like a glib, ignorant knock-off of Proverbs. [Read more...]