Who made who?

Excerpted from Maureen Dowd’s  column in The New York Times, Sunday July 8, 2018:

Trump has certainly made political discourse more crude and belligerent. But is he making the whole country meaner, coarser, and less empathetic? Or was the pump primed for a political figure like him because the internet had already made America meaner, coarser and less empathetic?

Putting the blame on The Internet would seem to imply that we were always a vicious, self-centered people just waiting for the means to unleash our vitriol on the world.

I don’t believe that.

I don’t know what changed.

And I don’t know how to change it back.

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“We stoked each other’s anger. And it felt good.”

Via Humans of New York:

“I felt humiliated and suicidal in college. It seemed like my personal failings were on display for everyone to see. I’m not all that attractive. I have a speech impediment. I’m not good socially. I saw other guys having romantic success and I felt a lot of envy. I concluded that women owed me something. They owed me a chance. And I was angry they weren’t giving it to me. I’m ashamed of it now, but during that time I formed a lot of bad and hateful opinions. I joined ‘incel’ communities on 4chan and Reddit. I found a lot of men there who felt just like me. The community provided this pseudoscientific justification for hating women. It let us feel like it wasn’t our fault. We stoked each other’s anger. And it felt good. Honestly, anger is just very addictive. You want to feel angry when you’re suffering. It gives you adrenaline. It gets your endorphins going. It’s a release. It’s a substitute for what you’re missing.”

He’s not really so unusual.

Outrage is America’s drug of choice- and there’s a dealer on every news channel.

Unhealthy

I can remember a time that this image was everywhere; on patches, posters, stickers, graffiti.

It’s hard now to remember a time when war without end was considered an aberration, a time before a daily body count was just part of the background noise, like crickets in the country.

 

Trump Wants a Parade

We went to see John Conlee sing last week, and it was a very good concert– at the age of 71 his voice is as strong and clear as it was forty years ago– but there was a strange interlude in the middle.

For some reason he quit singing songs and went into a sermon in support of the troops. He put a 5-gallon bucket at the center of the stage, and invited the audience to contribute to a veteran’s charity he had taken a shine to. One at a time grim-faced men and women, their eyes glaring and focused, strutted, their bodies lurching from side to side with each step, to the front to add their money to the pile.  Several shook his hand.

Their intensity was unsettling.

The lady next to me noticed that I wasn’t cheering and applauding, and made a point of shouting and clapping even louder. She was clearly trying to make a point without actually confronting me.

I don’t think it’s healthy for a society to be as militarized as we have become.

I don’t see this ending well.

Spectrum

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” ~Noam Chomsky

Not just in politics, but in most fields there are possibilities that are immediately discarded without discussion.

It’s something to be on guard against.

Good job, Don.

Because of Donald Trump’s rants, standing for the national anthem now feels more like an endorsement of his policies than an act of patriotism.

I always thought it was kind of weird to have a national song that is only sung prior to sporting events, a song so difficult to sing that even professionals have a hard time hitting the notes, a song that’s really just a lyrical version of the fight scene in Cool Hand Luke.  I only stood up for it because the song seemed to mean something to the people around me, even if I didn’t quite get it myself.

But now I don’t feel like I can stand in good conscience.