First today, I am struck by this graphic reposted by David Gerrold and others on Facebook the other day. It has no provenance — I can’t tell who originally created it, nor what data might back it up — but I have heard things like this before, concerning European views of America. I know this is very weak tea sourcing, hardly better than “people are saying,” but if nothing else it is a reminder that, while Americans think themselves the center of the universe (or at least of the world) and the measure of all things, other countries (you know, like those happiest nations discussed in this post) see the US very differently.
A few links along these lines.
Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 29 March 2022: Florida’s “don’t say gay” bill is just the beginning: Republicans want to claw back all gay rights, subtitled, “Having conquered the Supreme Court, the GOP take aim at same-sex marriage, anti-discrimination laws, and even Pride.”
Obergefell was a 5-4 decision in favor of gay rights. Since then, two of the justices who supported it have been replaced by Federalist Society-linked justices, who were picked in no small part to issue anti-LGBTQ decisions. For those who are counting, that means that if Republicans can find some way to relitigate the question, they likely have a 5-4 majority to overturn the legalization of same-sex marriage, or at least gut it significantly.
The Week, Damon Linker, 25 March 2022: How far to the right can Republicans go?, subtitled “Abortion bans are testing Americans’ tolerance for far-right policies.”
Echoing that graphic above, the piece ends,
Whatever the case, a country in which the center-left party must hew closely to the center in order to win, but the center-right party isn’t penalized for lurching ever further to the right, is not a country especially hospitable to liberal politics. One might even call it a country predisposed toward a harshly cruel form of conservatism.
Washington Post, Michael Gerson, 28 March 2022: What the Ginni Thomas text furor warns about an outsize role of faith in politics
There is an air of absurdity in attributing a win to God only when Donald Trump is victorious. But Thomas and Meadows were deadly earnest. It is not enough to exercise power in their attempt to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election. Their efforts must be covered in a thick goo of spirituality. The conspirators believed they were doing God’s work. But really, they were attempting to make the Creator of the universe into a partisan hack who favored their (half-baked) political ambitions. In the process, they demonstrated the manifold dangers of the religious impulse in the public realm.
Washington Post, Dana Milbank, 28 March 2022: Why do smart Republicans say stupid things?
Surely a well-informed, well-educated person such as [Ginni] Thomas couldn’t actually believe the nutty ideas her thumbs texted?
But here’s the truly crazy thing: She probably does. Recent advances in cognitive science suggest that highly intelligent people are more susceptible to “identity-protective cognition,” an unconscious process in which they use their intellect to justify rejecting facts inconsistent with their partisan identity.
Of course the revelations about Ginni Thomas’ support for the January 6th insurrection don’t bother Republicans at all. This is an example of the skew in US politics, per the graphic.
The real question is: why is this happening in the United States? Why are the most regressive, anti-intellectual, anti-democratic forces — and there are always people of such sway in every society, even the most liberal (happy) European societies — becoming so prominent and influential, in the US? I don’t have a quick answer for that. Perhaps something to do with America’s vaunted idea of exceptionalism. Except that most if not all countries feel they are exception, *special*, in some way.
A quiet day at home. We *finally* finished the last of the Oscar nominated best films, Drive My Car, this afternoon; weekend events kept us from finishing the 3-hour movie, which we began on Saturday. This may be the first years in many when we’ve seen all the best picture nominees. I admired The Power of the Dog and this one, Drive My Car, over all the others. Perhaps I’ll extend this discussion next post.
Thought for the day, to be developed later. I recall a psychological study in which people will go along with a crowd. (I need to find where I read this.) A subject would be put into a room with others, all given a question, to which most of the others — collaborators with the experimenter — would deliberately give a wrong answer. The subject, knowing the right answer, would often feel compelled to doubt his own thinking, wondering if perhaps he’s made a mistake or misunderstood the question, and give the answer everyone else does. This happens more often than you would think.
I’m thinking this is a crucial part of the perpetuation of religion.