When The Raven In The Coal Mine During A Total Eclipse Calls The Kettle Black

I know. I could spend all of my time on Ethics Alarms finding absurd pieces of biased punditry and fisking the hell out of them. It’s amazing how many incompetently argued and badly reasoned pieces get published on the web, and how often their awfulness is rendered at the expense of basic ethical principles. I’m trying to cut down on fisking excercises, but now and then a column turns up that exemplifies a broader phenomenon. This column by Jennifer Finney Boylan,  a professor of English at Barnard College, was deemed worthy of publication in the New York Times op-ed page. It is called, despicably, but increasingly Times columns are headlines as flat-out ad hominem insults to the President, “Trump, the Monster Who Feeds on Fear.”

I read the column, which compares the President of the United States to a list of horror novel and movie monsters and villains, to see what the well-reasoned (well, at least it should be well-reasoned) and factually supported argument would be to justify such a hateful headline. There is literally neither. Read it: you’ll see. These are nothing but general and unsupported assertions. I don’t let comments on Ethics Alarms get out of moderation when they are like this. “Trump is an idiot,” “You’re wrong,” “Obama was a great President,” “Trump colluded with Russia”DING…DING…DING…DING. That kind of comment won’t make the cut, not without a substantive argument, not without some facts. Yet the New York Times deems Boylan’s fact-free attack on the President worthy of publication.

The piece is one more example of the Big Lie methodology that the Left has not just embraced of late, but is having sexual relations with. Just stating an assertion is enough. State it often enough, and people believe it.

“The only thing Mr. Trump has is fear itself,” she writes.  “He wants us to be afraid, for it is fear that divides us, that sets us one against the other. If there is anything frank and bold about this presidency, it is Mr. Trump’s ability to invent falsehoods out of fairy dust and marzipan, solely to make us afraid — of immigrants, of transgender people, of one another.”

Examples, please? I have never heard the President say anything to make us afraid of immigrants. He has, correctly, pointed out the intentional deception of those who for various cynical and political reasons pretend that the insufficiently unchecked flood illegal immigrants is nothing to be concerned about. It is something to be concerned about. A mob of thousands of would-be illegal immigrants marching to the border to force their way across is also something to be concerned about. Calling the use of the bully pulpit to focus the nation’s attention on a serious problem that the news media is trying to bury and minimize is not fear-mongering. It is responsible leadership.

I have not heard or read any statements by the President designed to “solely to make us afraid …of transgender people, of one another” either. Apparently, neither does she. If she did, presumably she would have cited some.

What the essay is most strikingly is massive projection. The entire approach of the “resistance” regarding President Trump from the very second he was elected was to try to frighten the country. He was Hitler. He was a Nazi. He was a monster. He would start a war. He would put political enemies and journalists in prison camps. The economy would collapse. I vividly remember a surreal conversation with a lawyer in Massachusetts, a single mother, who said she was terrified for her young son, and showed it. She was visibly shaking as she said that Trump’s election made her fear for the life of her young son. She is a friend, and I tried to calm her, as someone who has studied Presidential history, as someone who lives in Washington, D.C., as someone who knows something about how the government works, and as someone who had plenty of problems with Donald Trump, but who had not lost a grip on reality.  She was basing her fears on what she had read in the Boston Globe, and heard from prominent Democrats.

The Left has ramped up a non-stop campaign of fear for two years now. The evidence appears every day. “I do believe we’ll survive Trump,” said seasoned political commentator Bruce Springstein this weak. What? Who is it who has suggested that the nation wouldn’t survive President Trump? Democrats, the news media and fearmongers on the Left, that’s who, and only the historically ignorant and Trump-deranged could possibly believe them…except those categories encompass millions. We “survived” weak Presidents like  Buchanan, Harding, Carter and Obama, mentally ill Presidents like Teddy Roosevelt and Nixon, alcoholic and drug addicted Presidents like Pierce, Grant and Kennedy; sociopaths like FDR, Nixon and Clinton, really bad human beings like Woodrow Wilson, a British invasion, a bloody civil war, World War II, a Soviet pledge to “bury us,” but Donald Trump is going to bring it all down? Who has been spreading that nonsense? Those trying to undermine our institutions by spreading fear, and not Donald Trump. “He’s destroying the country!” shouted The View’s addled progressive Joy Behar a few days ago. Joe Biden told African Americans that Republicans wanted to put them back in chains. Hillary has compared the Russian shenanigans during the 2016 campaign to 9/11. New socialist “It” girl Ocasio-Cortez ( her nickname in the conservative media is “Occasional Cortex”—mean, but funny, because it’s true…) recently tweeted, “People are going to die if we don’t start addressing climate change ASAP.” If Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed, various Senate Democrats argued, civil rights, women’s rights, democracy itself was threatened.  “The right to choose” would definitely be struck down.

(It’s not going to be struck down.)

Trump, however, is the Fear Monster. “It doesn’t matter to him that most of the things he urges us to be afraid of pose no danger,” writes  Boylan. “What matters is that his paranoid inventions suck up our attention and make us focus, week after week, upon him.” This is an exact description of Democratic tactics against Trump. It takes many things for the Times to publish this Bizarro World, looking glass argument–chutzpa, gall, contempt for reality, bias, dishonesty. Fear has been the unethical method of choice  carefully chosen to undermine President Trump.

The op-ed is a valuable, even clinical example of how bias turns reality inside out.

22 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

22 responses to “When The Raven In The Coal Mine During A Total Eclipse Calls The Kettle Black

  1. Cynical John

    In her column, the writer suggests that FDR’s New Deal pulled us out of the Great Depression, And here I was, thinking it was the Second World War.

    • The economy was worsening under the New Deal until the war. FDR’s optimism and the appearance that the New Deal was doing something did avoid a revolution, I’d say. But her statement has been thoroughly debunked.

    • Chris Marschner

      The only thing the New Deal did was to suppress a rapidly rising sentiment fostered by the Wobblies that capitalism was the enemy if the working class. Some think that without the WPA mass insurrection would have happened leading to the adoption of communism. It was this fear that led to our anti-communist stance that began following WW2.

  2. 77Zoomie

    “He would but political enemies and journalists”. I’m sure this is supposed to be “put enemies”. Not to nitpick but you asked for typo correction.

  3. I’m at a loss for words to properly express my absolute disgust for what Progressives, social justice warriors, and the more extreme political left is intentionally doing to our once relatively civil society by dragging it into the gutters of chaos and absolute hate. The silent moderate Liberals should heed the prophetic words of Martin Niemöller:

    First they came for the _________, and I did not speak out because I was not a _________.

    Then they came for the _________, and I did not speak out because I was not a _________.

    Then they came for the _________, and I did not speak out because I was not a _________.

    Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.

    It’s quite clear that the left leaning media doesn’t give a damn about truth or ethical journalism anymore, they are propaganda drug dealers trying to gin up more hate from the already addicted lefties and spike the media with more propaganda to attract more people that are easily susceptible to the suspicion surrounding propaganda drugs. Suspicion is like a magnet, it pulls you in the direction of your belief and fuels blind bias.

    • Pssstt… They have not in my lifetime

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      They already did, Zoltar, and twisted Niemoller’s words into the new meme “First they came for the Muslims, and we said “Not this time, fuckers!”” The left has such a ridiculously high opinion of themselves it isn’t even mildly funny.

  4. Other Bill

    Check this out: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6459243/Drake-University-student-charged-faking-racist-notes-campus-hoax.html

    Some of my favorite highlights:

    “I don’t think the fact that it’s bogus is going to take the wind out of the sail of the people who want to do the right thing and want to have the unity in our community,’ [the alleged hoaxer] Parizek said.

    It gets better:

    Jose Garcia-Fuerte, Drake student body president, said the notes caused students to fear for their safety.

    Those ‘fears should not be dismissed,’ he said. ‘People still feared for their lives even though it was a hoax.’

    Whatever happened to “We have nothing to fear but fear itself?” Is that ever apt?

    • Other Bill

      And by the way, all this BS is coming from the American academy. The Barnard Prof is foisting this crap on her students, as her teachers foisted it on her. These people are now escaping from campuses everywhere and running rampant through the general populous, including the media and think tanks and publishing houses. They’re even infecting businesses.

  5. Other Bill

    It’s not often Ethics Alarms and Marcel Proust cover the same topic on the same day. I stumbled across this passage from “In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower,” (formerly translated as “In a Budding Grove” when “Recapturing Lost Time” was translated/titled as “Remembrance of Things Past”) this morning. It’s right on point:

    When Bergotte’s [a then in vogue, very stylized writer] view on something differed in this way from my own, it never reduced me to silence, or deprived me of a possible rejoinder, as M. de Norpois’s [a preposterously verbose diplomat] opinion would have done. Not that Bergotte’s opinions were any less valid than the former ambassador’s. The fact is that a sound idea transmits some of its force even to its contradictor. With its share of the universal value of all mind, it takes root among other adjacent ideas, growing like a graft even in the mind of someone whose own idea it rebuts; and this latter person, drawing some advantage from the new juxtaposition, may round the idea out or adapt it, so that the final judgment on a matter is in some measure the work of the two people who were in disagreement. But the ideas that leave no possibility of a rejoinder are those that are not properly speaking ideas, those that, by being supported by nothing, find nothing to attach to in the other’s mind; on the one side, no brotherly branch is held out, and on the other, there is nothing but a vacuum. The arguments advanced by M. de Norpois (on questions of art) were indisputable because they were devoid of reality.

    But who knows, maybe Proust isn’t taught any more. He’s espousing some pretty “frightening” concepts here. Can people really think rather than regurgitate doctrine? Scary. And he’s dead and he was white. I doubt the fact he was gay would be sufficient to redeem him.

    It is hard to rebut an argument when it’s devoid of reality.

    • Other Bill

      Oops. Second paragraph should be in quotes. It’s Proust. The indent didn’t survive being copied into the comment box.

      • PennAgain

        Damn. I thought you’d sprouted tendrils of erudition, OB. What a nice surprise.

        Some time last year I had occasion to quote one of my favorite lines, and one of the few I remember well enough, (I think from “Swann’s Way) to someone who had become nearly hysterical on the subject of climate change. I thought it would calm him and bring a spot of joy into his bleak universe:

        A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.

        He was too far gone. His response was “Yes Yes. That’s exactly what I was saying. Isn’t it horrible?”

  6. Sarah B.

    I was unaware that Teddy Roosevelt was mentally ill. Can you give me further reading on this? He’s the hero of most of my family, so I really want to learn more about him. The only stuff I’ve read has been glowing, and that’s never the whole story.

    • It should be glowing: he’s probably my favorite POTUS too. Most biographies mention his clinical depression; he had an uncle who was crippled by mental illness, and like Churchill, was aware of the problem. The Burns documentary The Roosevelts covers this quite a bit.

  7. Steve-O-in-NJ

    You know, I do some fantasy writing myself, and I can get VERY creative with villainy. One day I hope audiences will shudder in fear at the name of Paros, the sorcerer-king who merged man and beast to create armies of troglodytes, shark-men and worse, and sacrificed humans to bring demons into the mundane world, Nyctos, the even more ancient sorcerer who sacrificed his humanity and soul in the hopes of cheating death and raised up legions from the world’s war dead, Noctana, the vampire queen who transforms from seductive beauty to flesh-rending beast in a second, and Lord Malin Ferrius, holy knight gone wrong, dark saint who brings other knights to ruin when he isn’t destroying peaceful people out of bitterness over his own tortured mortal life.

    Maybe you think that’s creative. Maybe you think it’s dumb. One thing I am very clear on, though, is that none of these beings are any more real than Dracula or Voldemort or Sauron, dragons or boggarts. This world’s produced enough very real villains without comparing them to monsters that only exist in novels and legends. Those real villains have also done stuff that would make you wonder if they were human: torture, mass murder, democide, genocide. Trump may be a loudmouth whose values don’t align with the current trendy left, but he is no Caligula, dreaming of making love to goddesses and reveling in the fact that he can have anyone killed at any time. He is no Torquemada, torturing and burning all who dare use a different name when they pray. He is no Francisco Lopez, with neither friends nor enemies because he has shot them all, taking on every other nation within reach in the hopes of ruling a continent. He is definitely no Hitler or Stalin, destroying whole races who stand in the way of his vision of the perfect world.

    It isn’t a crime to make boastful speeches, in fact the left is known for those who make them. It isn’t a crime to enforce the laws as written, as to immigration or anything else. It isn’t a crime to say no more soft-pedaling because of race or gender. It isn’t a crime to appoint like-minded judges. It’s definitely NOT a crime to not toe the lefty line in all things. This no more makes Trump a tyrant or a fearmonger any more than it makes him a zombie or a vampire.

    Funny, another line I often hear from the left, usually when someone on the right expresses disgust with homosexuality or weird behavior, is that what a person hates, and what a person tries to suppress hardest, is usually what a person is under the surface. So…

  8. That article is a masterpiece. Yes, it is. Truly worthy of a Pulitzer, a Nobel, and a Mr. Peabody (not a Sherman, though). If you want to amuse yourself, check out the comments. Mind numbing. Of the 15 or so featured comments, only one had the temerity to criticize the author. Poor ehillesum from Michigan, a lone voice of reason an ocean of despair, despondency, and delusion

    Oh, but this comment from BKT is whopper (but not with cheese):

    “No rational person could believe it’s illegal for someone to be in this country illegally. They’ve all be duped by Trump.” I am . . . I don’t know what I am. My Dr Pepper-infused brain simply can’t wrap itself around that statement. Haven’t immigration laws been around for about 100 years or so?

    I have finally realized that there are two versions of the US: Everything Pre-Trump (Garden of Allah) and everything Post-Trump (simply the incarnation of Baphomet, the Great Satan hisself). (I guess we can ignore the Trail of Tears, Japanese internment camps, the slave trade, and Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.)

    jvb.

  9. It’s that Cathy Newman meme: “So what you’re saying is…”

    If Trump said, “We should give every child in America a puppy.”
    The media et al would go, “So what you’re saying is that we need to kill cats.”

  10. Willem Reese

    From general observations, it seems that the left has a peculiar, sort of dichotomous, relationship with the concept of fear.

    On the one hand, they are the ones who most frequently actually express a “fear” of one (sometimes trifling) thing or another, often hysterically (e.g.: your attorney friend who said who said she “…was terrified for her young son“, or the student, noted above by Other Bill, who claimed “…people still feared for their lives…” after a “racist note” hoax).

    Contrarily, they’re the quickest to accuse others of some sort of “_____phobia”, when a more accurate assessment would often be that those so labeled merely express concern, disagreement, or disapproval, rather than a real fear of the thing in question.

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