The problem isn't the demagogues, it’s their audiences.
I think it's fine that defamation suits generally do not see a meeting of the minds on court day. I would imagine that those defendants with the most knowledge of the court are the ones who are most likely to be evasive to begin with. The court has to try and penetrate the defendant's use of language to communicate what it has decided.
'I think they are voting on hating other Americans' ... I read years ago these so-called nationalist patriots love America and hate everyone in it.
There is a reason why Jewish (and later Christian) scripture always talks about loving your NEIGHBOR--because the faults and differences and irritations that your neighbor provides are there every day in your face--making it very easy to hate your neighbor.
Those guys on the other side of the ocean? Who cares? They aren't really REAL to the average person. That bastard next door is. His dog barked all night last night Ima kill that thing.
Heretics (or apparent heretics) get shorter shrift than people of a different faith. It is the people that are most like us (but not quite) that are often the most feared and hated. They are seen as traitors or fools.
Ken White identifies the core problem we face. As has been said many times here by JVL, myself, and others, it isn't the politicians, it isn't Trump--they are symptoms, bootlickers, panderers. It is the people who want what they have to sell--the people who were there, waiting for that product, that are the problem.
They are the reason that all of this will end badly... because what do you do about them? You could jail or silence all the politicians and media people and new ones selling the same thing would spring up from the ground. Because there is money to be made. Because there is power to gathered. It is like trying to fight a War on Drugs by targeting the suppliers while ignoring the demand that exists.
In the end, all you do is drive up the stakes and the costs.
I thoroughly enjoyed all three Newsletters today. In fact, despite the fact that I’m now living under a time crunch (3000 unread emails! Yikes!) I enjoyed the first Newsletter so much that I am now a subscriber to The Popehat. Thank you, JVL.
Quite right to recommend Malcolm Gladwell's Substack posts. He's both pithy and humorous and very much in touch with reality. Thanks.
Russia, China, and Iran are very happy about the hate that divides Americans. They use every means possible to foment that hate and we Americans fall for it.
I found Gladwell’s essay very shallow. He has no idea what motivates a person to stay physical active. It could be dancing, swimming, yoga, walking etc. He completely ignores women, disabled or even slightly disabled kids as an important factor for inclusion. Coaches do not make sports fun. Gym teachers do not make movement fun. Kids do not go outside and play enough. The idiotic quest to produce “winners” hurts the vast majority of students. I hated his thesis as being extremely narrow.
You and Charlie Pierce at Esquire are on the same page today. He quoted JFK’s planned speech in Dallas:
“But today other voices are heard in the land — voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the Sixties, doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness. At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its burden on our economy, they see that debt as the greatest single threat to our security. At a time when we are steadily reducing the number of Federal employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.
“Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country’s security…We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will ‘talk sense to the American people.’ But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense.”
Interesting how Gladwell calls it a modest proposal to fix high school sports, then goes on to admit that his proposal really only applies to Cross Country and can't be applied to other high school sports. Perhaps he should've called it a modest proposal to fix cross country running.
To the point with Saletan, I have a personal reminiscence that I think is telling. I grew up with a very conservative father who in the early 1990s listened to Rush Limbaugh. So I was exposed to a steady diet of conservative discourse (although even then I thought Rush was an a** and couldn't stand him). And I remember thinking at some point as a pre-teen, probably '91 or '92 or so, that the libs were ruining America and the situation was so desperate, maybe a dictatorship was justified as at least a temporary solution. I also knew this wasn't something you could say publicly.
Obviously, since I'm reading the Bulwark, my views evolved as I grew older and, at least in a few respects, more mature intellectually and emotionally. But I suspect, strongly, that I'm not the only one who had that thought. And that was thirty years ago, and many minds have been marinating in that propaganda sewage for decades at this point, the rhetoric has gotten more extreme, and now the conservative propaganda ecosystem is so well-developed you can stay there and get your existing opinions validated non-stop.
For those who live in that world, in which your political opponents are implacable, hate-filled monsters coming after you because of what you are, it's a lot like living in a sectarian failed state like Lebanon. No matter how corrupt, incompetent, or personally vile your sect's leader is, you have to vote for him because it's zero-sum, and the other sects hate you and will rob you and oppress you because of what you are. Your sect's worst leader is infinitely preferable to another sect's virtuous, best leader. You don't feel like a bad person or an aggressor because you're just acting in self-defense. That's why Fox and co. spend such immense amounts of time creating a sense of victimization and portraying their opponents as relentlessly and mercilessly attacking. Al Qaida and ISIL propaganda was very similar in tone and filled with images of purported Muslim victims of Crusader atrocities, and that's because it works. If you want to convince someone to hate someone they can't be a well-meaning but misguided loyal opposition, they have to be a vessel of evil and malice. If the Dems are eating babies and working for the ChiComs, then what's corruptly monetizing the presidency? It's not like he's a cannibalistic murderer!
I've been known to say that if centuries of democracy ends in America, it will be because Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch are truly world-historical individuals, just like Genghis Khan. No, they weren't sufficient, but they were necessary and the years their platforms spent grooming a big chunk of Americans to accept lies and half-truths, to dehumanize and delegitimize their opponents, paved the road we're on today.
I am lucky that back in the day --- a half century ago --- kids could enter high school without playing organized sports other than CYO basketball and Little League that had no championships, just a win/loss record, and be taught a sport.
I learned how to play organized football and lacrosse positions, and run the high hurdles in my sophomore year and became proficient enough in track to be offered a scholie.
I realize that track is the "easiest" sport in which natural ability has a great advantage over technique compared to FB and Lax (a term that didn't exist in the 1960s).
There was an innocence then that is impossible for kids to experience today...playing for the sheer enjoyment of using one's body with skill and being part of a team with others having the same feelings.
By the time my daughter was playing soccer in the early 2000s, I saw how our sports culture had changed. From intra-town teams, to inter-town teams, to travel teams, to elite summer camps.
She was good enough to be offered college placement, but hung up her spikes after her senior year and never played again...until after serving in the Navy, attaining a M.S. degree, and a role in a start-up company. She now plays on a adult-woman's team in her 30s and says she feels the sheer enjoyment of running, kicking, and jostling other players, as in her youth.
Great suggestions this week! I love Ken White's writing. Malcolm Gladwell's idea is FANTASTIC.
Recommending another piece today by Matt Labash who JVL has had in the Triad before and is also a friend of his I believe-
Today's Triad hits it out of the park. I read every linked newsletter and subscribed to two. I am happier for having read these pieces; it is a start on getting over the unrelenting frustration I've experienced all week which led to shouting at podcasts, drafting and then deleting most comments/replies in the comment threads, etc.
Okay. What exactly is a substack, and how is it any different from, say, blogspot, wordpress or any other blogging platform?