Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Today's News: May you live in interesting times

"May you live in interesting times" is the apocryphal curse that threatens trouble, war and chaos -- and our times are getting a little too interesting now, aren't they?  
In his The Atlantic newsletter tonight, Tom Nichols writes: 
Compared with the bizarre ideas and half-baked wackiness that now infest American political life, the arguments between the North and the South [in the Civil War] look like a deep treatise on government.
The United States now faces a different kind of violence, from people who believe in nothing—or at least, in nothing real. 
...[we face] random threats and unpredictable dangers from people among us who spend too much time watching television and plunging down internet rabbit holes. These people, acting individually or in small groups, will be led not by rebel generals but by narcissistic wannabe heroes, and they will be egged on by cowards and instigators who will inflame them from the safety of a television or radio studio—or from behind the shield of elected office. Occasionally, they will congeal into a mob, as they did on January 6, 2021. 
...They will tell you that they are for “liberty” and “freedom,” but these are merely code words for personal grudges, racial and class resentments, and a generalized paranoia that dark forces are manipulating their lives...their causes are a farrago of conspiracy theories and pulpy science-fiction plots. 
What makes this situation worse is that there is no remedy for it. When people are driven by fantasies, by resentment, by an internalized sense of inferiority, there is no redemption in anything. Winning elections, burning effigies, even shooting at other citizens does not soothe their anger but instead deepens the spiritual and moral void that haunts them. 
Nichols goes on to talk about what Trump means to these people. 
Now, I have been saying for years that Trump is really just a Golden Calf -- without any philosophy or principle himself, he can just reflect the greed, anger, fear and hatred of his followers, and they love him for it.  But Nichols writing today helps me understand how the Trump phenomenon in the US also relates to what Maxime Bernier is doing with the People's Party, and where Pierre Poilievre intends to take the Conservatives when he becomes their leader:
Donald Trump is central to this fraying of public sanity, because he has done one thing for such people that no one else could do: He has made their lives interesting. 
He has made them feel important. He has taken their itching frustrations about the unfairness of life and created a morality play around them, and cast himself as the central character. 
Trump, to his supporters, is the avenging angel who is going to lay waste to the “elites,” the smarty-pantses and do-gooders, the godless and the smug, the satisfied and the comfortable. 
I spoke with one of the original Never Trumpers over the weekend, a man who has lost friends and family because of his opposition to Trump, and he told me that one of the most unsettling things to him is that these same pro-Trump family and friends now say that they believe that Trump broke the law — but that they don’t care. They see Trump and his crusade — their crusade against evil, the drama that gives their lives meaning — as more important than the law. 
I have heard similar sentiments among people I know. 
Some of these people are ready to snap and to resort to violence. A Navy veteran in Ohio was killed in a standoff last week after he attacked the Cincinnati FBI office; a man in Pennsylvania was arrested and charged today for threatening to “slaughter” federal agents, whom he called “police state scum.” But that doesn’t stop charlatans and con artists from throwing matches at the fuses every day, because those hucksters, too, have decided that living a normal life and working a straight job is for saps. They will gladly risk the occasional explosion here and there if it means living the good life off of donations and purchases from their marks. 
When enough Americans decide that a cult of personality matters more than a commitment to democracy, we risk becoming a lawless autocracy. 
Finally, Nichols writes about what must happen with the Justice Department investigations, and how important it is to bring charges against Trump and his gang - not to quell the violence that he thinks will just get worse anyway, but to hold the line of what is right:
This is why we must continue to demand that Trump and his enablers face the consequences of their actions: To cave in the face of threats means the end of democracy. And it would not, in any event, mollify those among our fellow citizens who have chosen to discard the Constitution so that they can keep mainlining jolts of drama from morning ’til night. 
We are going to be living in this era of political violence for the foreseeable future. All any of us can do is continue, among our friends and family and neighbors, to say and defend what is right in the face of lies and delusions.
I have read a number of comments on twitter recently about how people are trying to push back against the fantasies they hear from former friends or families. Its not easy - there is a QAnon Casualties reddit group with 241K members who talk about how to deprogram family members sucked into conspiracy theories. I wish everyone could see Trump this way: In other news, Scrimshaw's latest Substack commentary on Sunday included a discussion about Canadian media disingenuousness: And then Lisa LaFlamme got fired today, and everybody took sides on that story -- Canada was furious. At first it appeared it was just because her hair is gray. But she is one of the Canadian media personalities who speaks up about what was newsworthy and demands that her network always do the best job it can - and now the story may be emerging that her bosses didn't like being told to do better:
And what a terrible position for the new anchor, Omar Sachedina: Here is another major media story in Canada that I hadn't heard about before:
Moving on, here's a tweet that got 400K likes and 4K comments. But I was surprised myself at the number of people who just did not get it - they thought it was just about doctor-patient communications, but they didn't understand that it actually reflects the destruction in doctor-patient relationships that the Dobbs decision is now causing for young women in America: Some funny ones: Hilarious thread: This is a beautiful story about a kind teacher who patiently taught a scared 7-year-old immigrant to read: Don't miss the other wonderful teacher stories that people have added to the comments in this thread.
One more great story: And finally, this:


Anonymous said...

Some one close to me whose career was in telecommunications could tell one that their would is full of frat boy brats like Mr. Melling. Banking and insurance as well. No room for uppity wimmin in those outfits. It's too bad Omar Sachedina has been smeared in a drive by like shooting. Aim at the target, critics.

mr perfect

Cathie from Canada said...

Yes I am afraid his new career has been tainted by this chaotic start. They will blame the ratings fall on him, too.