THE EMPATHY FILES: Giuliani feels sorry for the mayor!

MONDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2014

Part 3—Salon sells tribal hatred:
At highly tribal times, we the humans are strongly inclined toward tribal hatred.

Among us the liberals, the new Salon is actively involved in selling this righteous old brew. Consider what readers are being told about what Rudy said.

At the new, deeply tribal Salon, young Luke Brinker’s latest report appears beneath these exciting tribal headlines:
Conservatives’ sick reaction to NYPD officer killings: Blame Obama and de Blasio
Right-wingers politicize deaths of two officers to condemn liberals and protesters against police brutality
What “sick reactions” does Salon have in mind? And who is blaming Obama and de Blasio for these recent killings?

At the start of his report, young Brinker tells propagandized readers what Giuliani said. A large photo of Giuliani sits atop the report:
BRINKER (12/21/14): Conservatives seized on the shooting deaths of two New York City police officers on Saturday to attack President Obama, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and other figures who have spoken out on the fraught relationship between police and minority communities, with some going so far as to blame them for the killings of the two officers.

The two officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were shot at point-blank range in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon. The suspect, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, then killed himself. Brinsley, who had threatened to kill police officers on social media in response to the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, had traveled to New York from Baltimore, where authorities believe he also shot his ex-girlfriend.

Merely by voicing concerns about police treatment of black men like Garner and Brown, many conservatives asserted, figures like Obama, de Blasio, and Attorney General Eric Holder encouraged vigilantism against law enforcement. Appearing on “Fox News Sunday” this morning, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said, “They have created an atmosphere of severe, strong, anti-police hatred in certain communities. For that, they should be ashamed of themselves.”
Just for the record, the excited young Brinker didn’t seem to know which program he was discussing. In fact, Giuliani didn’t appear on yesterday morning’s Fox News Sunday. In fact, the young reporter was quoting from an appearance by Giuliani on Sunday’s Fox and Friends.

For ourselves, we aren’t fans of Giuliani. But did Giuliani “go so far as to blame [Obama and de Blasio] for the killings of the two officers?”

A reader could certainly get that impression from the quotation Brinker provided. But here’s another statement from that same TV show, a statement the fiery young Salon reporter omitted:
GIULIANI: (12/21/14): I feel bad for the mayor. I think the mayor must be heartbroken over the loss of these police officers. I can’t believe this is what he wanted. I don’t think he’s a bad man in any way. I think he’s a man who pursues the wrong policies.
To watch the full segment (from Fox and Friends), just click here. You’ll see the statement Brinker quoted—and the statements he left out.

Did Giuliani blame de Blasio for the killings of the two officers? In two appearances on Fox and Friends, he explicitly rejected the statement to that effect by police union spokesman Pat Lynch:
GIULIANI: I admire Pat Lynch very, very much. I think he’s a great union leader and I consider him a good friend. I think it goes too far to blame the mayor for the murders or to call for the mayor’s resignation.
In an earlier segment on Fox and Friends, Giuliani voiced the same judgment, specifically noting that other police officers have been killed under other mayors. To watch that earlier segment, click here.

At Salon, readers were told about the one remark by Giuliani. They weren’t told about the other statements—and Brinker didn’t even seem to know what program he was quoting. Had he actually watched these segments? Or did he simply take his cues and his information from this report at Think Progress, the report to which he linked?

These are difficult times. At times like these, the tribal mind will be strongly inclined to pump out the tribal perspectives.

As an inevitable part of this process, the tribal mind will want you to hate. The younger they are, the more easily they seem to fall into this well.

Reading the lazy work by young Brinker, we thought of one of our favorite literary passages. In The Iliad, the headstrong young Diomedes challenges Agamemnon, king of men, during a tribal council.

Diomedes has offered some lousy advice. Noble Nestor, the seasoned charioteer, quickly rises to offer good counsel:
HOMER: And all the Achaeans shouted their assent,
stirred by the stallion-breaking Diomedes' challenge.
But Nestor the old driver rose and spoke at once.
"Few can match your power in battle, Diomedes,
and in council you excel all men your age
But you don't press on and reach a useful end.

How young you are—why, you could be my son,
my youngest-born at that, though you urge our kings
with cool clear sense: what you've said is right.
But it's my turn now, Diomedes.
I think I can claim to have some years on you.
So I must speak up and drive the matter home.
And no one will heap contempt on what I say,
not even mighty Agamemnon. Lost to the clan,
lost to the hearth, lost to the old ways, that one
who lusts for the horror of war with his own people.
The sage old driver advised all the Argives: "Tonight's the night that rips our ranks to shreds or pulls us through.”

At the new Salon and in other locations, we liberals are being sold the world’s oldest and easiest product. We’re being told to hate the other tribe.

It isn’t a smart thing to do.

Giuliani has said some things we ourselves don’t agree with. But alas! Wanting to stir your tribal fury, headstrong youngsters like Brinker will only show you some of the things Giuliani and others have said.

We strongly advise you to turn these true believers aside. Tomorrow, we’ll explain the title of this series, a series which basically died in the crib.

Why did we call it “the empathy files?” Tomorrow, we ask you a basic question:

How far does your empathy spread? With how many groups can you empathize?


Depressing discourse watch: From the banana republic files!

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2014

The disintegration of the American discourse:
We don’t know when the American discourse has ever been so depressing.

In fact, we don’t know when it was ever depressing at all. We’ve covered a lot of journalistic misconduct since 1998, when this site began. Only now has our national discourse struck us as truly depressing.

Why do we find the current discourse depressing? Because the liberal world is playing an active role in its disintegration.

In 1998, the liberal world was largely asleep in the woods. A person could imagine that we liberals might turn out to be giants, if we were ever roused.

Now, the corporate world is building “liberal” news sites. As they do, an unfortunate fact becomes clear: our intellectual capital is no more impressive than that on the other side of the aisle.

This morning, three examples:

Professor Cooper’s response: As we noted yesterday, someone on a crowded commuter train touched Professor Cooper’s bag, which was occupying a seat.

At the new pseudo-liberal Salon, the professor staged her weekly rant about this fiendish act. Evoking Rosa Parks, she said the incident “encapsulates the breadth of the battle against racism we have to fight in this country.”

(The man who touched her bag was white.)

In comments, hundreds of readers ridiculed Professor Cooper’s reaction. As if to prove our point about the liberal world’s lack of intellectual capital, the professor replied with the following tweet:

“So during the protests in Ferguson, white folk were beside themselves abt their property. I get indignant about my property, and I'm a jerk?”

Are you able to follow the logic there? In Ferguson, business owners of various races were upset because their businesses were getting burned to the ground.

At Salon, the professor was upset because some guy on a train moved her bag six inches so he could sit down. Can you see the connection?

When our intellectual leaders “reason” this way, we’re lower than the ditto-heads. Salon is publishing work of this type every day of the week.

Rothkopf watches BillO: This morning, we finally went for the bait. We read yesterday’s post at the new Salon about a recent O’Reilly segment.

The piece was written by Joanna Rothkopf,
an “assistant editor at Salon, focusing on science, health and society.” Briefly but excitedly, Rothkopf discussed the appearance of Martin Luther King III on Wednesday night’s O’Reilly Factor.

Rothkopf prepped at Georgetown Day, graduated from Middlebury in 2012. She is very, very young—and her skill set and her judgment are both extremely limited.

Increasingly, our mainstream and our liberal news orgs feature writers like Rothkopf—writers who are very young and surprisingly unimpressive.

In this instance, Rothkopf wrote three paragraphs about the segment in question, then posted videotape of part of the segment. She introduced the videotape with this exciting blurb:

“Watch below for the most hateful segment in recent memory.”

What was supposed to be so “hateful” about the segment? In the context of the new Salon, there’s rarely a need to explain such things—and Rothkopf didn’t exactly try.

In fact, King and O’Reilly agreed on a wide array of points that night. Rothkopf edited her videotape so you wouldn’t see King semi-agree with the point O’Reilly had just expressed at the point where the hateful tape cuts off.

(King’s immediate reaction to O’Reilly presentation: “Well, I think that's a part of it, but that's not the entirety.”)

King and O’Reilly agreed on an array of points that night. Neither man speaks for us on the racial matters they discussed. But if this full segment was the most hateful thing this child has seen, she needs to get out much more.

Rothkopf’s post is very unimpressive. This dumbness was once the hallmark of the ditto-headed right. Increasingly, it’s our liberal hallmark too.

Back to Kristof’s perfect story: We keep trying to get back to Nicholas Kristof’s perfect story of forgiveness and redemption.

We think that column was fairly dumb too—and that it was designed to drive the kinds of wedges which keep us divided and conquered.

That said, the new Salon is actively trafficking The Dumb. We find it hard to believe that any good is going to come from this cynical corporate practice.

Salon is stunning every day. We can’t say that MSNBC’s work is gigantically better.

Postscript—omitted at Salon: Some of the comments by O'Reilly we weren't allowed to see:

“The cold truth is African-Americans have it harder than other ethnic groups in the USA. That is a fact. And anyone who denies it is not living in the real world.”

“It is certainly valid for President Obama to tell People magazine that he has experienced racism in his life. He and the first lady tell stories about white folks talking down to them. I believe every single African-American has experienced that.”

“A bad decision by a grand jury, such as the one in the Eric Garner case, does not mean the entire justice system is rigged.”

“Again, African-Americans do have it much tougher than whites. It's true some cops don't like blacks. It's true historical injustice has affected the black experience in America.”

Progressives can build on comments like those. At cynically tribal sites like Salon, such comments must be disappeared.

Intellectual capital: Professor Cooper and Rosa Parks!

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2014

Our tribe’s self-defeating dumbness:
For many years, we liberals laughed at the dumbness of the ditto-heads.

They’d call Rush Limbaugh and echo reams of pseudo-conservative cant. No claim was too dumb for them to swallow, too tortured for them to repeat.

At the time, our tribe was asleep in the woods. But for liberals who wanted to feel superior, it was a wonderful time.

In the past ten years, our liberal world has roused itself from its slumber. As corporate liberal news orgs have formed, an unfortunate fact has emerged:

As a group, we liberals are every bit as limited as the conservatives are. From our academic and journalistic elites down through our true-believing foot soldiers, our tribe’s intellectual capital is extremely limited too.

As with the ditto-heads, so too with us. We liberals just aren’t very sharp.

Examples? Over at the Washington Post, Sally Kohn offers the latest multiply-bungled piece about the gender pay gap. Her analysis is bad in so many ways that it ought to make liberals weep.

(Kohn’s piece appears at the Post’s aptly-named “PostEverything” site. Was the Post trying to tell us something when it adopted that name?)

That said, we’re going to skip Kohn’s piece and consider work that’s even worse. We refer to Brittney Cooper’s latest piece at Salon, where she posts a weekly essay, generally on matters of race.

Cooper is a 30-something assistant professor of women’s and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers. Her latest essay concerns a personal incident on a commuter train.

Race is a very important topic. For that reason, we’re sad to show you the way her column starts.

As she starts, Cooper describes a trivial incident which occurred when someone wanted a seat on that crowded train. In the trivial interaction the overwrought professor describes, she says she can see “the breadth of the battle against racism we have to fight in this country:”
COOPER (12/17/14): On Friday, I was on the train to New York to do a teach-in on Ferguson at NYU. Beats headphones on, lost in thought, peering out the window, I suddenly saw a white hand shoving my work carry-on toward me. Startled, I looked up to see the hand belonged to a white guy, who was haphazardly handling my open bag, with my laptop perched just inside to make space for himself on the seat next to me.

That he wanted the seat on the now full train was not the problem. That he assumed the prerogative to place his hands on my bag, grab it, shove it at me, all while my computer was unsecured and peeking out, infuriated me. I said to him, “Never put your hands on my property.”

His reply: “Well, you should listen when I talk to you.” That line there, the command that when he, whoever he was, spoke, I should automatically listen encapsulates the breadth of the battle against racism we have to fight in this country.

Buoyed by his own entitlement, his own sense of white male somebodiness, this passenger never even considered that he might simply try harder to get my attention before putting his hands on my stuff. His own need to control space, his own sense of entitlement to move anything in his way even if it held something of value to another person, his belief that he had the right to do whatever he needed to do to make the environment conform to his will are all hallmarks of white privilege.
Remember when we used to roll our eyes at things the ditto-heads said?

Cooper’s piece goes on from there, at considerable length. It’s the type of piece which displays a sad fact:

Increasingly, we liberals are matching the ditto-heads in our lack of intellectual capital.

Needless to say, there is no way of knowing whether this minor incident occurred in the way Cooper describes. We have no videotape of the event. We don’t know exactly what was said and done.

We don’t know the tone of voice in which words were said, or the manner in which this man moved the professor’s bag. We only know this:

Someone moved the professor’s bag so he could sit down on a crowded train. In this utterly trivial matter, Cooper is somehow able to see the breadth of that battle against racism.

As third parties who weren’t present, we can’t asses Cooper’s claim that the fellow in question was rude. But we can assess the sheer absurdity of Cooper’s reasoning process.

Let’s assume that the person who angered Cooper really was rude and abrupt. It's stunning to see the sweep of the vision Cooper is willing to draw from one such incident.

Can we talk? Millions of people are rude and abrupt, in various ways, every day of the week.

People are sometimes rude and abrupt to people of the same race. People are sometimes rude and abrupt to people of other races.

In this case, Cooper says a white man was rude and abrupt toward a woman who is black. In this incident—an incident her readers can’t assess—she somehow thinks she sees the breadth of the nation’s racism.

Soon, she’s mentioning Rosa Parks. When liberal elites say things like this, the wider world starts thinking, correctly, that we liberals should be disregarded:
COOPER: Some will argue that I cannot generalize ideas about white entitlement from the action of one jerk on the train. After all, people get into petty squabbles on the train all the time. Let us not forget, however, that the civil rights movement was catalyzed by a squabble over a seat on a bus. I’m no Rosa Parks, of course. But what these connected histories teach us is that the right to occupy public accommodations unharassed is a right black people fought for. Died for. Endured centuries of indignity and white entitlement for. Battles over how we share public space are foundational to the narrative of race in this country.
People squabble all the time! Yes, but Rosa Parks!

We’re sure that Cooper is well intentioned. Her work has become more unbalanced as incidents like the one in Ferguson have gained the nation’s attention.

That said, serious progressives of all “races” need to take professors like Cooper and throw them from the front of the bus. Whatever its motivation, work of this type seems to come from a liberal clown car—and the broader electorate will always see it that way.

It’s hard to capture the dumbness of this essay. It’s hard to capture the small-mindedness and the self-involvement of its overwrought author.

If you can't see how dumb it is, face it—you're part of the problem! However well-intentioned it may be, nonsense like this will never serve progressive interests.

(I'm no Rosa Parks? Truer words were never spoken. Civil rights leaders like Mrs. Parks and Dr. King were morally and intellectually brilliant. Increasingly, highly privileged assistant professors evoke their names as they betray their astonishing legacy—as they rage about the fact that someone moved their bag as they zoned out to their high-priced name-brand ear phones.)

Alas! The ditto-heads of the liberal left are emerging on an array of fronts. A horrible fact is clearly emerging: Our tribe is just as irrational as theirs.

Speaking with Rush, they announced their own limitations first. The rise of corporate “liberal” news sites is letting us answer in kind.

This is a very serious issue. It raises the most serious possible question: Now that our gatekeepers are gone, are we the people bright enough to conduct a real democracy?

Go ahead—read that piece. As monster dumbness arrives on the left, our future is put in peril.