Wednesday, February 8, 2017

- Dangerously Close To Self-Reflection

Slate is great for the yuks. Take today's example from Jess Zimmerman where she argues that Liberals should give up on facts and speak strictly to emotions. No, this isn't a rare moment of honest introspection from a liberal and an honest and frank assessment of their past political tactics, it's just more of the same myopia, and delusion from the people that have practically made it into it's own brand:

Figuring out how, exactly, to do that will be an ongoing process. And no matter what, you’ll probably hate doing it.

You’ll hate it because we liberals tend to pride ourselves on caring about evidence, science, and accuracy. Being factually right, or at least grounded in reality, is something we value, something meaningful to our self-concept. But if we’re going to avoid the worst effects of this administration’s parade of whoppers—which is more important than defeating the whoppers themselves—then some of us, sometimes, are going to have to engage with voters and representatives who are mired in pernicious misinformation.

I think it would be fine for liberals to engage this way if they could tell the difference between facts and feelings or cause and effect. But they can't. To them (I imagine from her description) a fact is an opinion that contains an element of self-congratulation so it makes them feel good about themselves, and a feeling is something that someone else feels that has no direct bearing on their self opinion.

In fact, she goes further than that. She comes perilously close to accurately describing the tactics of the alt-right have been using against the SJW left since Gamergate, but in a stunning example of projection, manages to do so without ever looking in the mirror:

Figuring out how to counter falsehoods is going to mean assessing how lies benefit the people telling them. Do the things they believe without evidence make them feel safe? Do they make them feel moral? Do these beliefs contribute to a sense of being superior and unassailable? At the one-on-one level, figuring that out is going to help you more than issuing a verbal correction. Writer Alexandra Erin recommends focusing on feelings—not just any feelings, of course, since in our current climate, any grief or anger that's not wearing a Make America Great Again hat is liable to garner hostility, ridicule, and a “snowflake” accusation—but specifically the feeling of safety.

This may be encouraging though. If we just assume this is a liberal who is asking that oh so dangerous liberal question of "What would convince me if I were them?" then it's simply the same old sophomoric error that everyone else makes, in assuming that everyone thinks about things the same way they do.

In that respect, maybe it's a big liberal step forward. Instead of simply using their own feelings to shut down any debate that challenges their self image, maybe she's really thinking about the feelings of others. My bet is that this will stop just prior to her realizing that every word she's saying could be even more easily (and accurately) applied to liberals. But you never know.

This is a little poetic, but it makes me think that it must be a very odd thing to be as consumed with vanity as most liberals, but live in a universe with no accurate mirrors in it.

The good news is, any liberal who actually takes up her advice will doing a practical and good thing. They'll be actually engaging and looking at the issues from another perfectly reasonable perspective. So I doubt it's going to catch on.

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