The reality of 2018 is making me feel like I must be crazy. Rather — because I think quantum physics will ultimately be found to describe the structure by which we all literally exist in our own realities, linked through a sort of soul dimension — I feel like my reality is drifting away from those of many others.
This post would quickly grow too long if I attempted to list the multiple bits of evidence, just from today, but one that is conveniently impersonal is the scandal du jour (and de rigueur): President Trump’s reported use of a bad word to describe some (let’s say) economically challenged countries during a closed-door meeting.
On the merits, look, if accurate, this was coarse language from a coarse man. It isn’t good. It marks the continued deterioration of our culture. But it is not surprising. It is not news, but rather just an excuse to rev up the outrage machine one more time.
I would much prefer a society in which cultural standards of etiquette were upheld. However, inasmuch as my cultural preferences are not winning the day, I’m not inclined to be jerked around by the selective deployment of offense by the powerful interests who set the daily narrative. A quick Internet search will bring up multiple instances in which it was stated that President Obama was actually a fan of cursing. People in the news media actually told anecdotes about Obama swearing angrily at them. If they ever plastered their papers and news shows with headlines of Obama swearing in that way, however, I missed them. In other words, they kept his secrets, presumably because they didn’t want to give his opponents something to criticize. Perhaps they thought his use of language was actually kind of cool… getting down verbally, as it were.
Yet, in this case, the news media from national to local decided instantly that the American people must be informed of a specific word choice that the reporters were told by another reporter who heard it from somebody who heard it from somebody who may or may not have actually been in the room when the president said it. And they turned up the heat of their reporting to the temperature one would expect if the president used the word during a televised address, rather than in a somewhat casual, closed door meeting with people negotiating legislation.
However, it serves the narrative. The people in government and the news media who continue to feel offended that such a man as Donald Trump could be allowed…
on this boat … in this country club … in the White House get to look at each other and “tsk tsk” about “straight-up racism.”
That’s absurd, too. Look at a list of countries by per capita GDP. Now, I don’t agree with Trump’s general premise about allocating immigration by country (at least unless the idea has more nuance than is readily apparent), but it’s not a premise that’s beneath discussion. And if we are going to discuss it, the simple reality of the world today is that Haiti and various countries in Africa make up the bottom of the list while Norway is near the top. That the president had a specific reason to have Norway on his mind further insulates him from the charge that he picked examples out of bigotry.
Now, we could go on from there. Someone on the Left could say that the fact that the GDP list gets darker as the numbers go down proves that racism is intrinsic to the modern world order. Somebody on the Right could then take up history and propose that leveling the scales requires promotion, not vilification, of the values that drew countries toward the top. Then the person on the Left could reply that imposing values in that way is a sort of colonialism. And the person on the Right might suggest that the person on the Left is locked in an intellectual spiral that would drag the whole world into poverty.
Unfortunately, we can’t even get to that point of edification. We’re all just supposed to respond like dogs to the whistle of the press’s conspicuous asterisks and take to our political camps.
Me, I insist on living in a world in which the deeper discussions are the whole point of life… and in which people have more important things to worry about than anonymously sourced direct quotations presented by partisan reporters in the context most unfavorable to their political opponents.