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Bubbles and Foolishness

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The aftermath of the Georgia special election has mostly served as an illustration of the bubbles that people live in – bubbles that seemingly never intersect.  Way too many people are flummoxed about how it could have happened and those that like the outcome are a little too complacent about the fact that it should not have been nearly as close as it was.  Both sides are practically ignoring the other.  This is not good.

Consider this piece from the NYTimes this morning.  In it witnesses in front of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, there to testify about Islamism, tell how they were left unquestioned by four Senators, all women, Kamala Harris (D) CA among them.  The reason, as stated by Claire McCaskill was that, “Anyone who twist or distorts religion to a place of evil is an exception to the rule…,” and therefore they had basically concluded there was nothing to be learned in the hearing.  What?!  There is no such thing as an evil ideology, religious or otherwise?  Hence there are bubbles that never intersect.

It is the ultimate statement of relativism, dosed with such an immense volume of hubris that there is no information available that could result in a change to one’s personal, relative viewpoint.  Once one builds their bubble, information which might change the bubble in some fashion is not worth knowing and the behavior of all others is assumed simply to be a product of their bubble, as if everyone else is as unwilling to change their bubble as our Senators.

I used to tutor high school students, but I can’t do that anymore.  Every time they make a presentation, the words “I feel that,” invariably arise – as if their feelings on the subject matter a whit.  Particularly given that when I did tutor it was in math and chemistry and physics.  Nowadays I am accused of being abusive when my knee-jerk response of, “I don’t care what you ‘feel’ about it, tell me what is,” comes rolling out of my mouth.  How dare I have the audacity to not care about a students feelings?  How dare I disturb the students bubble?

If one looks at life this way everything is personal, and any disagreement become a personal attack.  How did we ever reach the point where such took hold in the the United States Senate?  Proverbs says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”  One is tempted to conclude that foolishness now has significant seat in the Senate.

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Eminent Practicality

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Jim Geraghty analyzed the Finsbury Park attacks yesterday by asking the question, “Is Running Down Pedestrians ‘an Eye for an Eye’?”  In his analysis is this most potent of thoughts:

Radical Islamists have committed several attacks using vans and other vehicles and hitting pedestrians; this hate-filled maniac decided to do the same to Muslims coming out of a mosque. In his mind, it didn’t matter that these were old men and women with no known connection to terrorism or extremism of any kind; all that mattered is that they were a group of “those people.”

He became, quite literally, what he thought he was fighting, the kind of murderous lunatic who tries to kill as many people as possible in the name of a cause.

That is extremely powerful insight.  People tend to think religious thought is pie-in-the-sky philosophical dreaming.  But with his Biblical reference (I assume most people know the “eye for an eye” is not just Biblical, but one of the mostly hotly discussed Biblical references ever) and his insight into becoming that which you oppose, Geraghty makes an extraordinarily strong case for the deep practicality of Christian thought and how much it underpins the American understanding of justice

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The Press and “Game of Thrones”

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As I peruse the news this morning I note that it does not take long after the Congressional baseball game for the headlines to return to the new normal of constant administration intrigue and unnamed sources mongering.  I felt a bit of bile start to rise and then I thought to myself, “Nah, they are just doing what they are supposed to do.”

There job is to tell stories.  Sure they are supposed to be reported, not made up, but stories involve conflict and if you want people to read your story you have to play up the conflict.  In my adult lifetime the news media have discovered that argument sells.  Whether its “Firing Line,”  “McLaughlin,” “Point Counterpoint,” “Crossfire,” or now every panel on every show on cable news, the idea is to spark up a fight.  (Notice that’s a bit of an historical progression and as you go through time the rhetoric heats up.)  Let’s be honest, we like “Game of Thrones,” so if they want viewers/readers for their advertisers they are going to tell us what is going on in a Game of Thrones fashion.  They are just doing their job.

My point is that the problem is, at a minimum, as much about us as it is about them.  We drink up this conflict-laden nonsense like thirsty desert travelers at an oasis.  What is it about us that desires conflict and intrigue?  Why do we enjoy that which tears down rather than that which builds up?  Like I said yesterday, we have a cultural problem, not a political problem and not really a press problem either

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In The Wake Of The Shooting

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Jim Geraghty did a fine job this morning of breaking down three discussions happening in the wake of yesterday’s heinous attack in Alexandria.  The arguments are about free speech, double standards and policing – all good things that need to be discussed.  But I resonate far more this morning with Victor Davis Hanson, who without mentioning Alexandria, speaks right to the heart of the matter:

The two Americas watch different news. They read very different books, listen to different music and watch different television shows. Increasingly, they now live lives according to two widely different traditions.

[…]

America barely survived the Civil War of 1861-65, the Great Depression of 1929-39, and the rioting and protests of the 1960s. But today’s growing divides are additionally supercharged by instant internet and social media communications, 24/7 cable news, partisan media and the denigration of America’s past traditions.

All Americans need to take a deep breath, step back and rein in their anger — and find more ways to connect rather than divide themselves.

They should assume their opponents are not all sinners, and that their supporters are not all saints.

Things are bad now. But our own history suggests that if we are not careful, they can get even worse. [emphasis added]

The problems that currently confront the nation lie in that phrase Hanson used “different traditions.”  Elsewhere in the piece he puts it well when he says, “History is not very kind to multicultural chaos — as opposed to a multiracial society united by a single national culture.”  Our problems are not political, legal or constitutional – they are cultural.  Rather than there being an American culture there is now a “gun culture,” an “academic culture,” an “urban culture, and a “rural culture.”  This phenomena is driven in part by a media and its advertising underwriters that seek to divide us into easy-to-handle and marketable groupings.  But that is succeeding in dividing in this fashion based on the regression from our culture of the string that has always bound us – religion.  No, the nation has never had a common faith expression but it has always had a common faith, and a belief in its accountability to the Almighty.  But nowadays even the faithful fear to mention it lest they be ridiculed for simpletons and dismissed as divisive.  Our single national culture was forged in the furnace of something greater than ourselves, even if we have never really agreed on just what that is or what it looks like.

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