Above: The obligatory clip from that soon-to-be-banned comic classic, “Blazing Saddles.”
Periodically I get a drive by comment that informs me that it is unethical to engage in “name-calling,” as when I describe someone who advocates something truly moronic as “a moron.” I strongly disagree. It is unethical to allow those who infect society with their terrible reasoning, ignorant analysis and crippling biases to do so under the guise of being trustworthy, responsible and respectable citizens. We are not talking about mere disagreements. A statement or action has to be especially dim-witted to justify such a warning label. The criminals who post their crimes on social media, for example: morons. Advocates of abolishing the police: morons. Admittedly, sometimes a moronic position—trying to reconcile the attacks on Brett Kavanaugh with the determination to vote for Joe Biden, for example–is simply dishonest, and the individuals doing so know it. They are not morons; they are liars, or just bad people. Whether these categories are better or worse than morons is a matter of debate.
I rate three of today’s four items as meeting the “moronic” standard, and attention should be paid.
1. Those who do not learn the lessons of the Beatles are doomed to repeat them. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t believe that Joe Biden, even in his advancing senility, would be so foolish as to say that the killing of George Floyd in police custody last month is having a greater global impact than the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King. Even if that was true, which I doubt, certainly over the long term, you don’t compare an icon with a contemporary figure unless you want to infuriate the admirers of the icon. John Lennon learned this the hard way when he tossed off the observation that the Fab Four were more popular at that moment than Jesus. Lennon meant his remark ironically and self-deprecatingly, but it didn’t help: an international uproar was triggered. Biden didn’t mean his remark ironically or to point out that the reaction to Floyd’s death was excessive, which means it was just a stupid thing to say.
This is the second recent Biden gaffe likely to nettle black voters, and it’s a good bet that more are on the way. The fact that he keeps doing this and that the conventional wisdom remains that Obama’s reflex black support will automatically migrate to Biden shows the lack of respect Democrats have for African Americans.
2. Wait…what are the rules again?
This op-ed was just published in the Times—you know, that newspaper that said that a U.S. Senator’s op-ed about using troops to stop rioting in the cities was “dangerous,” and that made the editor who greenlighted the opinion piece resign?
Are there any other questions about the Times’ biases?
Meanwhile, what about all of those other opinion pieces about how defunding the police didn’t really mean defunding the police?
If you’re going to sell a lie to the American people, it’s wise to get everyone on the same page.
3. From Andrew Sullivan, another periodic truth-teller and iconoclast when he isn’t in the grip of his strongest ideological biases, in a New York Magazine essay:
The new orthodoxy — what the writer Wesley Yang has described as the “successor ideology” to liberalism — seems to be rooted in what journalist Wesley Lowery calls “moral clarity.” He told Times media columnist Ben Smith this week that journalism needs to be rebuilt around that moral clarity, which means ending its attempt to see all sides of a story, when there is only one, and dropping even an attempt at objectivity (however unattainable that ideal might be). And what is the foundational belief of such moral clarity? That America is systemically racist, and that, as Lowery put it in The Atlantic, “the justice system — in fact, the entire American experiment — was from its inception designed to perpetuate racial inequality.”…The crudeness and certainty of this analysis is quite something. It’s an obvious rebuke to Barack Obama’s story of America as an imperfect but inspiring work-in-progress, gradually including everyone in opportunity, and binding races together, rather than polarizing them. In fact, there is more dogmatism in this ideology than in most of contemporary American Catholicism. And more intolerance. Question any significant part of this, and your moral integrity as a human being is called into question. There is little or no liberal space in this revolutionary movement for genuine, respectful disagreement, regardless of one’s identity, or even open-minded exploration. In fact, there is an increasingly ferocious campaign to quell dissent, to chill debate, to purge those who ask questions, and to ruin people for their refusal to swallow this reductionist ideology whole. a white-supremacist project from the start,
Gee, what was your first clue, Andrew? I’d rank this sudden epiphany on Sullivan’s part as, oh, two to five years late.
Professor Reynolds comments that “It’s going to be painful for Andrew when he realizes that it’s vote for Trump or face an Orwellian nightmare.” Watching and reading Sullivan’s Hamlet-like equivocations over the years, I find it difficult to believe that Sullivan would be able to extract himself from the hypocrisy of his peers and colleagues.
4. From the Niggardly Principle files…Lynchburg, Virginia resident Daisy Howard has launched a petition to the Lynchburg City Council, arguing that “if black lives truly matter to the city, then such a word defining the hanging of people of color can and will be eliminated….I understand it was named after a man named John Lynch, but why do we insist on explaining that when people react to its name poorly (understandably so)? Why do we insist on defending it when, maybe we can just admit that lynch really shouldn’t be in the name of well, anything?”
The city’s Chief Public History Officer Ted Delaney points out that John Lynch was a progressive Quaker who fought against slavery and for the freedom of African Americans. Delaney told WSET-TV, “He believed in emancipating slaves. He had slaves but freed all of his. He’s supporting recolonization, which is sending slaves back to Africa. He did not believe in perpetuating the institution of slavery in this country.”
But never mind: Daisy has the oh-so-2020 progressive mindset that it’s foolish to require fealty to reality, and what matters is how ignorant people perceive the world, falsely or not. She’s not only a moron, she’s an idiocy activist.
First Democrats want to call acts that aren’t lynchings lynching, and now Daisy wants to ban perceived references to lynchings that really honor a human rights advocate. This is progress.