Stalwarts and Progressives: Notes from the (Fringe)

  • Reconsidering how to characterize what I’ve been calling the “fringe”;
  • Taylor Swift and MAGA;
  • Bobby Azarian on why Trump’s supporters don’t believe evidence;
  • Applying the Jack Smith rule to statements from the National Prayer Breakfast.

Here’s the thing: I shouldn’t be referring to the “fringe” as if the people I’ve described being there are outliers. Their sheer numbers indicate they are not outliers, though they are likely still in the minority. (Trump never won a majority of the vote.) What’s changed in the past decade or two isn’t that the number of ignorant, irresponsible, amoral people has ballooned; it’s that we’re hearing more about them, via social media, and see their exacerbating effect on public consciousness and politics.

Still, there should be a term to differentiate the kind of people who vote for Trump, the kind of people who reject modern science and morality (not necessarily the same of course), the racists and misogynists, the believers in woo, and so on, from the relatively more sophisticated, worldly people, including the philosophers and scientists and engineers who have built our modern world, and the artists including musicians and writers and painters who try to honestly interpret our modern world.

Tribalists versus free-thinkers? Maybe… Or maybe not, since those are accurate yet loaded terms. Be nicer and call them Traditionalists? (Of course that implies that progressives disavow tradition, which is hardly the case.) Whatever the first group might be called, here are several items about them today. As I’ve said, I’m fascinated by them not to rag on Republicans or conservatives, but in genuine curiosity about the limitations of human intelligence, and thus the potential of the human race. (In my standard science fiction perspective.) (I noted a few days ago a distinction on some TV show between “stalwarts” and progressives; that word stalwart has a nice flavor to connote the dedication of conservatives to what they feel are immutable truths. Though it has an unfortunate historical connotation…)

NY Times, David French, 4 Feb 2024: Taylor Swift and the Profound Weirdness of MAGA

Hatred makes people gullible and foolish. That’s a key lesson of the MAGA right’s deeply strange turn against Taylor Swift and her boyfriend, the Kansas City Chiefs’ star tight end Travis Kelce. In fact, that’s a key lesson from this entire sorry era in American political and cultural life.


AlterNet, Bobby Azarian, 4 Feb 2024: Opinion | Scientist explains why Trump’s supporters won’t believe any evidence

Azarian is a cognitive neuroscientist and the author of the June 2022 book The Romance of Reality: How the Universe Organizes Itself to Create Life, Consciousness, and Cosmic Complexity, a book I have but have not yet read.

A nice piece but with nothing we haven’t already seen before, yet with a good discussion of cognitive biases and the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Now, let’s consider the unique predicament faced by individuals who staunchly support Trump and want him to again become president. From the moment Trump began his political career and his social engineering career, his supporters have been exposed to narratives — Trump doesn’t lie, Democrats are communists, the media is an enemy of the people — that emphasize loyalty and trust in their political idol. These narratives often steer away from critical examination and instead encourage blind faith. When coupled with the brain’s inherent tendency to accept rather than question, it creates an ideal environment for unwavering allegiance. No matter that Trump, time and again, has been revealed to be a serial liar, habitually misrepresenting matters of great consequence, from elections to economics to public health.


Cuing the Jack Smith Rule.

Right Wing Watch, 2 Feb 2024: Highlights From The National Gathering For Prayer And Repentance

Setting aside the extraordinary inappropriateness of a National Prayer Breakfast — inevitably Christian-oriented — in a nation whose founders explicitly renounced a connection between church and state — I’m fascinated to read the predictions by attendees there. I’ll quote a couple.

Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida used her time on stage to proclaim that “each person, regardless of their race, nationality, language will serve you and praise you as Lord, and we will preserve this country the way you formed it and the way you envisioned it.”

No, we won’t. She is addle-minded, on so many counts. (God? Jesus? Envisioned this country? But not all the other countries? Sometimes you have to spell this out.)

Jon Hamill of Lamplighter Ministries … warned that this nation has been “making deals with our enemies through idolatry, witchcraft, false religions, and secret orders, secret societies” and prayed that God will “annul all covenants with Baal, Moloch, Ashtoreth which have bound us.”

Nope. This person is living in a fantasy world.

Prophetic intercessor Lou Engle later took to the stage to pray fervently for “a hundred thousand LGBT to be saved and transformed.”

“Loose a new revolution that the LGBT will be saved,” Engle thundered.

Nope. Reality will proceed along its course despite your fantasies. As it always has.

This entry was posted in conservatives, Lunacy, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.