This morning, Phillip DeVoe sat in for Jim Geraghty writing the Jolt and looked at a NR piece by Jonathon Tobin on fake news. They both conclude that in the news business, particularly the TV news business, “that the line between opinion and fact has been blurred in today’s journalism, which leads to opinions being considered as facts.” It put me in mind of the post I wrote yesterday about how the rule of law seems to be fading currently, that agenda matters more than legalities. The examples just keep piling up.
Yesterday Senator Dianne Feinstein questioned the religious faith of a judicial nominee in complete defiance of Article VI of the constitution. Back in the day, when I spent a lot of time looking into and thinking about Article VI, I was stunned by how little case law there was on that particular article of the constitution. The constitutional scholars I consulted as to why that was the situation were unanimous in saying that such was the case because the article was plain in its meaning and held most sacred by all Americans. Apparently that is not true anymore – at least for one Senator from California.
By all accounts Hillary Clinton is blaming everyone, including her teammates, for her loss last year. Clearly Clinton’s agenda was to win the election and policy issues were at best secondary. If policy mattered would she be dumping all over those who now carry that policy forward? As I said yesterday, “If there are no values, there is only the personal.”
In point of fact, the confusion we are seeing evidenced here results in a disappearance of all sorts of lines, not just reporting and opinion or legalities and agendas – people cannot tell the difference between the public and the personal, the spiritual and the secular, themselves and their culture.
The Atlantic released a piece this morning from its October issue that attempts to make the case Donald Trump is inherently and deeply racist, and that his base is likewise. I have a hard time following the argument because frankly everything said or that has happened is washed through some sort of race filter the effects of which seem solely dedicated to inciting a race war. The author’s photo tells me he is African-American and it seems clear that he is unable to see or hear anything without checking it against the fact that he is black. Policies, actions, utterances, even those that have nothing to do with race, are somehow all about race. Nothing can be understood as standing apart from his personal perspective.
As a final example consider this interview of Mark Silk from Trinity College. Of the rise of the so-called religious “nones” Silk says:
What this suggests is that some of this rise of the Nones is less about changes of belief and behavior religiously than it is about a different way in which the question is understood. So, the question once was understood, “Well, I’ve got to be in some religion, so I’d better pick the one that is sort of in my past,” and now it’s “what’s in my present practice.”
Apparently people now choose a religious identity not based on family history or occasional attendance, but instead solely on the basis of personal preference. Religion is a matter of “the heart,” not affiliation, belief, theology or practice.
All that matters, it seems, is the immediate and the personal – what is happening now, how I perceive it, and what I want to happen next. There are no other perspectives, there is no communal – let alone greater – good and there certainly is no strategic objective. Dianne Feinstein wants abortion to remain legal, constitution be damned. Hillary Clinton is disappointed she lost and needs to vent that disappointment, the policies and issues she ran to support be damned. An author thinks everything that happens is about his race. People think religion is mostly about how they feel.
I think we are coming close to defining what the great divide in the nation actually is – it is between the self-absorbed and those who understand there are things beyond the personal – laws, religion, even government. There are those that want to turn the world into a “safe space” and those who want to tackle the world on its own terms. After all isn’t a “safe space” a place where everything is constructed around the person that needs to feel safe?
The forces behind this cultural phenomena are legion, from bad parenting to bad religion to the internet and beyond. Thus the fixes are equally legion and well beyond the scope of this post. But I think it is important to get a handle on what is happening. The self-absorbed think us evil because we make them feel less than safe. We simply find them confusing, almost beyond understanding. But if we are ever to reach them we have to try and understand them. We can start by knowing they are completely self-absorbed, deeply frightened of anything they cannot control and hyper-aggressive in pursuit of the safety they think they need.
That is a difficult bubble to burst.
Addendum – 36 hours later – Have you seen the hosts Washington Post column this week?
Journalists are losing the full scope of our collective vision, coming to see every story through the lens of Trump, often through a lens colored by hostility toward him. Detachment about the president and his actions — genuine objectivity — is rare and getting rarer.
A specific example in a specific field of what I am talking about here. Trump IS the president – dealing with that journalistically is tackling the world on its own terms. But rather than that, as the host notes in the column, we are given “virtue signalling,” a rhetorical effort to build a space “safe” from Trump.
I think the near religious devotion that was heaped upon President Obama is a big part of this. The former president, because of his race, was a bit of a talisman for many. They thought that electing an African-American was a major accomplishment and that with it would come the ideal United States of which they had always dreamed. But alas, as historic as electing President Obama was, of itself it accomplished nothing of lasting substance.
What is happening around President Trump now probably would be happening with any president to follow Obama that was not of an identifiable minority and liberal, for it is simply an effort to deny the obvious fact that President Obama did not usher in a Utopian nirvana, but rather was just another president, in an ever increasing line of presidents – and only history can judge the lasting impact of his administration.