The cultural theme of this second decade of the 21st century seems to be the fracturing of consensus cultural norms, even of consensus reality, especially in the US. I’ve observed this in tandem with reading about advances in psychology, over the past decade or so, that identify various cognitive errors and mental biases that largely ‘explain’ these differences; these understandings have been filtering down into the consensus understanding among intellectuals, at least, if not ordinary people, hiding in their silos, or bubbles, of cultural identity. Yet examples among intellectual writers of op-ed essays keep mounting. Here’s another.
Timothy Egan: We’re With Stupid. (The print title was “Look in the Mirror: We’re With Stupid”>
But the problem is not the Russians — it’s us. We’re getting played because too many Americans are ill equipped to perform the basic functions of citizenship. If the point of the Russian campaign, aided domestically by right-wing media, was to get people to think there is no such thing as knowable truth, the bad guys have won.
As we crossed the 300-day mark of Donald Trump’s presidency on Thursday, fact-checkers noted that he has made more than 1,600 false or misleading claims. Good God. At least five times a day, on average, this president says something that isn’t true.
We have a White House of lies because a huge percentage of the population can’t tell fact from fiction. But a huge percentage is also clueless about the basic laws of the land. In a democracy, we the people are supposed to understand our role in this power-sharing thing.
Fake news is a real thing produced by active disseminators of falsehoods. Trump uses the term to describe anything he doesn’t like, a habit now picked up by political liars everywhere.
The essay matches Roy Moore’s Christian theocracy with that of Islamic Sharia law.
Lost in the news grind over Roy Moore, the lawbreaking Senate candidate from Alabama, is how often he has tried to violate the Constitution. As a judge, he was removed from the bench — twice — for lawless acts that follow his theocratic view of governance.
Shariah law has been justifiably criticized as a dangerous injection of religion into the public space. Now imagine if a judge insisted on keeping a monument to the Quran in a state judicial building. Or that he said “homosexual conduct” should be illegal because his sacred book tells him so. That is exactly what Moore has done, though he substitutes the Bible for the Quran.
The essay closes with examples of Americans’ historical ignorance — how one in three fail the citizenship test that legal immigrants are required to pass.
There’s hope — and there are many ways — to shed light on the cave of American democracy. More than a dozen states now require high school students to pass the immigrant citizenship test. We should also teach kids how to tell fake news from real, as some schools in Europe are doing.
But those initiatives will mean little if people still insist on believing what they want to believe, living in digital safe spaces closed off from anything that intrudes on their worldview.