Patterico's Pontifications


An Academic’s Shocking View: “I Hate Republicans”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:54 pm

You didn’t see that one coming, did you? Here’s Professor Susan J. Douglas:

I hate Republicans. I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal “personhood.”

This loathing is a relatively recent phenomenon. Back
 in the 1970s, I worked for a Republican, Fred Lippitt, the senate minority leader in Rhode Island, and I loved him. He was a brand of Republican now extinct—a “moderate” who was fiscally conservative but progressive about women’s rights, racial justice and environmental preservation. Had he been closer to my age, I could have contemplated marrying someone like Fred. Today, marrying a Republican is unimaginable to me. And I’m
 not alone. Back in 1960, only 5 
percent of Republicans and 4
 percent of Democrats said they’d
 be “displeased” if their child married someone from the opposite
 party. Today? Forty-nine percent 
of Republicans and 33 percent of
 Democrats would be pissed.

According to a recent study 
by Stanford professor Shanto
 Iyengar and Princeton researcher 
Sean Westwood, such polarization has increased dramatically 
in recent years. What’s noteworthy 
is how entrenched this mutual animus is. It’s fine for me to use the word “hate” when referring to Republicans and for them to use the same word about me, but you would never use the word “hate” when referring to people of color, or women, or gays and lesbians.

It’s funny: I don’t hate Democrats. For one thing, I am married to one. But I also deal with Democrats on a day-to-day basis. If I “hated” all these people, my life would be pretty miserable. Instead, I disagree with their views, pretty much keep my disagreements to myself (unless discussion is invited and welcome), and simply enjoy them as people.

Douglas is “a professor of communications at the University of Michigan.” Does she teach classes? Are any of her students Republicans? Does she “hate” them? How do they feel about a professor who holds power over their grades and (to that extent) their futures, who “hates” them because of the party she identifies with?

Does she have colleagues? Are any of them Republicans? If so, do any of them dare talk about their political affiliation in front of her? I doubt it. And what does it say about the leftist academic bubble, that someone like Douglas can declare that they “hate” a party that pulls about half the vote in the entire country, and apparently feel confident that they will suffer no social repercussions whatsoever from this pronouncement?

A series of studies has found that political conservatives tend toward certain psychological characteristics. What are they? Dogmatism, rigidity and intolerance
 of ambiguity; a need to avoid uncertainty; support for authoritarianism; a heightened sense of threat from others; and a personal need for structure. How do these qualities influence political thinking?

According to researchers, the two core dimensions of conservative thought are resistance to change and support for inequality. These, in turn, are core elements of social intolerance. The need for certainty, the need to manage fear of social change, lead to black-and-white thinking and an embrace of stereotypes. Which could certainly lead to a desire to deride those not like you—whether people of color, LGBT people or Democrats. And, especially since the early 1990s, Republican politicians and pundits have been feeding these needs with a single-minded, uncomplicated, good-vs.-evil worldview that vilifies Democrats.

So now we hate them back. And for good reason. Which is too bad. I miss the Fred Lippitts of yore and the civilized discourse and political accomplishments they made possible. And so do millions of totally fed-up Americans.

It’s possible to confront a “single-minded, uncomplicated, good-vs.-evil worldview” and respond with something besides hate. That, in fact, is what I am doing in this very post — and it’s something Republicans (and Democrats less hateful than Ms. Douglas) do all the time in this country.

I have not read the “studies” Douglas cites, but it’s clear that the qualities she describes are derisive terms for a world view that Thomas Sowell describes as “constrained.” “Dogmatism, rigidity and intolerance
 of ambiguity” as well as “a need to avoid uncertainty” represent a philosophy that recognizes the importance of incentives, and favors order even if it potentially raises the chances of individual instances of injustice. (Of course, “dogmatism” is a loaded term, as are many of Douglas’s terms.) “Resistance to change” represents a support for traditions that reflect common wisdom over ages. “Support for inequality” is a nasty and unfair slur against a philosophy that prizes equality of opportunity over equality of result — and recognizes that efforts to equalize results often result in government creating power imbalances among groups, and in unintended consequences that decrease the quality of life for everyone, including the least fortunate.

In short, Ms. Douglas, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy. While I don’t hate you, and I try not to hate even your ugly thoughts — because hate is a negative emotion that corrodes the soul — I certainly reject your hatred. I feel sorry for those who have to deal with someone so hateful. I feel sorry for your students, for your colleagues, for your neighbors, and everyone else who crosses your path and feels the sting of your nasty worldview.

And ultimately, I feel sorry for you — because you’re clearly proud of your hatred, which means you are unlikely to change. Which means you’re trapped — you have trapped yourself, that is — in a situation I don’t envy: a life driven by negative emotions and ugliness.

Thanks to Simon Jester.

UPDATE: Added to the post the sentence: (Of course, “dogmatism” is a loaded term, as are many of Douglas’s terms.)

Reach Higher, Michelle!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:05 pm

Michelle and Barack hit People Magazine to give an interview about the unbearable racism they have experienced in their lives. (Gotta capitalize on the #blacklivesmatter thing, don’t you know.) The storytelling quickly culminates in a tale of the ultimate indignity: Michelle (despite her lofty, lofty status as the FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES) being asked to help another shopper at Target:

The protective bubble that comes with the presidency – the armored limo, the Secret Service detail, the White House – shields Barack and Michelle Obama from a lot of unpleasantness. But their encounters with racial prejudice aren’t as far in the past as one might expect. And they obviously still sting.

“I think people forget that we’ve lived in the White House for six years,” the first lady told PEOPLE, laughing wryly, along with her husband, at the assumption that the first family has been largely insulated from coming face-to-face with racism.

“Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs,” Mrs. Obama said in the Dec. 10 interview appearing in the new issue of PEOPLE.

“I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.

Michelle Obama is 5 feet 11 inches tall. And guess what, Michelle? I can testify from experience that taller people are sometimes asked for help reaching things. Sometimes the people asking for help aren’t even racists. Sometimes they’re just . . . short. Which, the woman was short — a fact that Michelle noted when she told the story to David Letterman a while back. And she didn’t even seem that upset about it, then. As Allahpundit asks:

When did she decide that that encounter wasn’t a rare, heartwarming slice of normalcy outside the presidential bubble but a depressing reminder that even First Ladies aren’t immune from racism in America?

I just have one thing to say to Michelle, and it comes from the White House Web site itself:

Reach higher, Michelle! Reach higher!!!

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 9.37.42 PM

P.S. I had this sneaking suspicion as I was composing this that it’s the type of story Dana would blog . . . and that I should check to see if she had already. Which she had. That’s OK. I’m still leaving this post up. I have my own take on it, so you get to see how would we each blog the same story, I guess. Her post has more detail on how Michelle has changed her narrative, which is useful information. But comment on her post, so that the comments all go in one place.

Mrs. Obama: Changing The Story To Fit Narrative

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:26 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Discussing personal experiences with racism, Mrs. Obama told this story during an interview. It’s one we’ve heard before:

“The only person who came up to me in the [Target] store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her,” Michelle Obama told People magazine, recalling a trip she made to Target, according to excerpts released Wednesday.

She continued, “Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.”

This was apparently an experience in racial prejudice for her. Obviously. Because it would be completely abnormal for a short person to ask a tall person like Mrs. Obama to help lift something down.

It seems the internet is indeed, forever, and as such sharp eyes noted this same story told by Mrs. Obama two-years ago – when it was nothing more than a charming, feel-good moment:

I thought I was undercover. I have to tell you something about this trip though. No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right? I was in the detergent aisle, and she said — I kid you not — she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, cover’s blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’ I kid you not…And the only thing she said — I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down — she said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good. … She had no idea who I was. I thought, as soon as she walked up — I was with my assistant, and I said, ‘This is it, it’s over. We’re going to have to leave.’ She just needed the detergent.

What the First Lady of the United States did by publicly claiming racism behind an innocuous moment between her and a private citizen needing help was to willfully malign and shame an innocent person in order to push a narrative that serves her own interests and justifies her beliefs. It is utterly selfish and she should be ashamed of herself.

Can’t you picture that woman who did not realize it was the First Lady who helped her, going home and later seeing the story on the internet and slowly realizing just who it was who helped her? She probably called up her friends and family and shouted into the phone that it was the First Lady of the United States who helped her in Target that day! That would have been followed by a description of just how incredibly nice that Mrs. Obama is in real life.


Theater Chains Cause Sony to Bow to Terrorists, Cancel Release of “The Interview”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:18 pm

I actually blame the theater chains more than Sony.

Under the threat of terrorist attacks from hackers and with the nation’s largest multiplex chains pulling the film from their screens, Sony Pictures Entertainment took the unprecedented step of canceling the Dec. 25 release of the Seth Rogen comedy “The Interview.”

The cancellation announced Wednesday was a startling blow to the Hollywood studio that has been shaken by hacker leaks and intimidations over the last several weeks by an anonymous group calling itself Guardians of Peace.

Those of us who share the constrained vision (Thomas Sowell’s conception; see my ongoing series here, here, and here so far) are very much concerned with incentives, and are less concerned with isolated bad events. I am very concerned about the precedent this sets, and my first reaction upon hearing the news was to wonder how I could punish the theater chains.

There’s not much I can do right now other than criticize them as craven sissies on my blog, and point out the horrible precedent they are setting.

The whole episode is reminiscent of the refusal to show Mohammed cartoons on the part of spineless media outlets. Teach thugs that their thuggery can control speech, and you get more thuggery.

This is also why you don’t settle with Brett Kimberlin, by the way. Theater chains, The American Spectator, and the Franklin Center share a willingness to avoid (very small) risks, at the price of encouraging bad behavior by bullies. They all deserve to be punished and called out.

I will continue to do so here.

UPDATE: Wow. They have completely scrapped it. No streaming, no DVD, no Blu-Ray, no nothing. It’s like it never happened.

Why would anyone ever make a movie for Sony again.

UPDATE x2: This is reportedly the scene where Dear Leader is killed in the film:

UPDATE x3: Wow. Steve Carell’s upcoming film Pyongyang has been cancelled. It is no exaggeration to say: we now live in a world where Kim Jong Un calls the shots as to what movies Hollywood will make.

The Washington Post on Films About Assassinations of Heads of State: Bad If It’s Kim Jong Un, Good If It’s Bush

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:27 am

Washington Post writer Justin Moyer: Why North Korea has every reason to be upset about Sony’s ‘The Interview’

It’s impossible to summon much sympathy for Kim Jong Un. But now imagine this assassination farce was made not in Hollywood, but in North Korea or Moscow, and the leader assassinated in the film was a president of the United States. Or imagine the film was made by Iran, and the leader assassinated in the film was the prime minister of Israel. Where “The Interview” draws on stereotypes about North Korea’s ridiculous, yet terrifying isolationism, this hypothetical film makes jokes about African Americans and Jews — perhaps about the incompetence of a black man in the White House, or about Israel’s right to exist.

Not so funny, is it? The North Korean, Russian or Iranian version of “The Interview” would be called racist. It would be called anti-Semitic. And some might even say it encourages psychopaths.

This is a good example of moral equivalence. No, people would not view the assassination of a truly bad man like Kim Jong Un the same way they would view the assassination of someone the media sees as a good guy. Every time travel fantasy includes a stop to kill Hitler in his youth. Moyer confronts the Hitler example, and says we didn’t even dream of showing Hitler’s death on screen when he was alive:

[T]he annals of film history include few examples of movies gleefully imagining the demise of living foreign leaders — even Hitler. Movies like “The Great Dictator” took on fictional versions of the Fuhrer, but he didn’t die onscreen until after his death. “Inglorious Basterds” couldn’t have been made in 1942.

Of course, those America deems evildoers are humiliated in movies all the time.

. . . .

[I]f a future North Korean missile test, naval exercise, trip across the DMZ or future act of terror is blamed on “The Interview,” Rogen can’t say he didn’t have fair warning.

Indeed. Rogen needs to understand that he was warned that people would absurdly and unfairly blame acts of terror on his movie! And note the “those America deems evildoers” line. Kim Jong Un is not actually evil, you see; he is just deemed so.

Yes, imagining the death of a world leader during his life is certainly unthinkable to the Washington Post . . . unless the world leader whose death is imagined is George W. Bush. In which case the Washington Post critic may cluck her tongue a bit, but still praise the film’s “dexterity” and realism. Yes, when a documentary imagined the assassination of Bush, here is what the WaPo critic had to say:

Is it politically provocative agitprop or merely a cynical, exploitative stunt?

Probably the latter, but one that has been performed with unusual dexterity. Structured like an installment of “Frontline,” “DOAP” often has the taut urgency of that PBS series, with witnesses providing a detailed tick-tock of events as they unfolded. Indeed, “DOAP” is so convincing that, like most he-said, he-said documentaries, it eventually suffers from a fatal, talking-head inertness.

Still, “DOAP” gets off to a riveting start . . .

“DOAP” is “Death of a President.” And the “riveting start” was Bush getting assassinated.

Seems like a double standard, yes. But then, those whom Big Media deems evildoers are humiliated by our betters all the time . . .

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