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The Demise of civil discourse

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In 2012, Michael Shammas wrote for the Huffington Post regarding why it is a good idea to teach philosophy to High School kids. As he stated, “Anger is everywhere; understanding is nowhere.”

Here we are in 2017 and those words still ring true. You can log onto pretty much any social media platform and you’re inundated with vitriol. What’s more disturbing, is that you rarely see any effort from either party involved to understand the position of the other side. What you tend to see is a back-and-forth filled with generalizations, mischaracterizations, strawmen and outright insults.

What happened to us? What happened to civil discourse?

Shammas in his 2012 article suggests that we have lost the ability to be able to entertain an idea without accepting it. I would agree that is true for some of us. However, I’m going to suggest that for others, it’s simply hubris. Feeling “right” outweighs being “right” and sometimes, it outweighs truth itself.

Some of us feel that we are so “right” that we cannot be wrong. It’s an impossibility. In fact, if anyone suggests otherwise, that’s a slap to our pride. Certainly, we can’t be wrong! That’s blasphemy! Truly, if someone had the temerity to think differently or have a different perspective, they’re not only wrong, but they’re immoral. There’s something wrong with them. They’re evil. They’re the enemy.

If people who disagree with us are wrong, immoral, and the enemy, why would we actually take the time to get to know them? Why would we try to understand why they think they way they do? So, let’s just retreat to our respective echo chambers where we can pat each other on the back for being superior to those people. Let’s laugh and sneer at the knuckle-dragging rubes who think differently than we do. After all, we’re the enlightened ones, right?

So, if we can’t get to know someone who thinks differently than us, or worse yet, we don’t believe they are worth the time to get to know, what happens? There’s no way we can truly understand what they believe or why they believe it, in fact, most of the time, we don’t want to know. It’s stupid and wrong anyway so why waste our precious time? So we mischaracterize and generalize. Heck, even laugh at their apparent stupidity all the while being oblivious to the fact that mischaracterization often leads to demonization, which leads to passive and then active oppression.

It has been amazing to see how quickly so many who claimed to revile tribalism devolve into tribalism off of nothing more than their own arrogance.

There is a way out of his mess. It’s tough. It takes time and it requires becoming invested in people we may disagree with passionately. If we wish to wade into the battle of ideas, it is vitally important that we take the time to understand what the competing ideas are and accurately represent them. If we do not, we will quickly lose all credibility and we will lose traction in promoting our own ideas or philosophy because we’ve lost that credibility. We’ll only be adding to the background noise while other ideas and philosophies move forward with their agendas.

For example: if I started to criticize Islam, but it became apparent rather quickly that I have never studied the Quran, nor have I ever picked up the Hadith or talked to a Muslim, why should anyone take me seriously? If it’s made clear, once I exit my echo chamber, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, how can I expect to maintain any credibility whatsoever? I may be able to acquire some popularity with those who know less than I do, but it’s a transient popularity at best. My ill-gained popularity, as well as whatever philosophy or idea I was trying to promote, will simply be destined for the trash heap of history. Forgotten and impotent.

Plus, it’s important to learn about other perspectives because it’s just part of being a good neighbor. If I expect someone to treat my ideas fairly, and when criticizing them, accurately represent my position, I must do that for others. Well, I guess I don’t have to, but there’s a word for that kind of attitude and it starts with “hypo” and ends with “crite”.

So what do we do? I suggest there are two ways we can accomplish this: the first, we start to create and maintain relationships with those who disagree with us. Break bread with them. Pick their brains. Ask them about their beliefs and why they believe what they do. Take time to listen to them and really understand them so you can accurately represent their position. Again, you don’t have to agree with what they’re saying. But don’t rob them of their humanity by turning them and what they believe into a caricature. Second, study first; talk later. That’s right. Read books. Lots of them. YouTube and Google may be a good place to start, but it’s no substitute for actual research and study. Go to the sources. Read the documents that are central to a philosophy, political movement or a religion. Whatever you’re trying to criticize, you need to know it at least as well as anyone who adheres to what you’re attempting to criticize.

Also, we should read books that are critical of what we believe. To quote Christian apologist Andy Bannister, “…being willing to put what you currently believe to the test. For instance, what books have you read by those who disagree with you? If you’re an atheist and the very most you’ve ever read from a Christian is The Pop-up Book of Creationism, all the while lining your bookshelves with well-referenced works of atheism, I suggest you’re not really thinking, but living in an echo chamber.”

Let me ask you a question, dear reader; how do you expect your ideas or philosophy to win the “battle of ideas” if you don’t understand or care what the competing ideas or philosophies are to being with?

If we’re not prepared to take seriously the kinds of things that people believe in, then perhaps with all humility, we should simply stick to talking about TV shows, dating apps and celebrities. Because anything beyond that is just noise.

 

 

 

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Democrats

The real reason Scott Wallace yelled ‘f*** off’ in a synagogue during a debate

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The real reason Scott Wallace yelled f off in a synagogue during a debate

Democrats have been claiming every Republican in the nation wants to eliminate the pre-existing conditions requirement in health care laws. It doesn’t matter whether they actually do or don’t (most do not). Public polling shows if you can convince voters the Republican candidate is going to take away their healthcare, it’s a winning message.

Scott Wallace, a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 1st district, has been participating in spreading the leftist lies about healthcare. Specifically, he’s been running ads claiming Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) attempted to vote down the pre-existing conditions clause.

He didn’t. Even left-leaning Washington Post had to acknowledge that Wallace’s claims were a lie, giving him four Pinocchios for the outrageous claim.

Democratic attack ad falsely knocks Republican on preexisting conditions

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/15/democratic-attack-ad-falsely-knocks-republican-preexisting-conditions/The DCCC really crosses the line here. Fitzpatrick bucked his party to vote against one of the president’s top priorities, the repeal of Obamacare, specifically because he was concerned about the impact on people with preexisting conditions. His reward? Being attacked for selling his constituents out on the issue because of his minor procedural votes, when just about every member of Congress sticks to party lines.

The vote that really counted on preexisting conditions was the tough one — on the proposed law itself. You would think the Democrats would at least applaud him for his courage, but apparently that’s not how the game is played these days. The DCCC earns Four Pinocchios.

When Fitzpatrick tried to question Wallace about the blatantly false ad and the continued claims by his campaign that Fitzpatrick tried to vote down pre-existing conditions, Wallace erupted. In the middle of debate. In a synagogue.

Dem Congressional Candidate Tells Republican Opponent To ‘F*** off’ During Debate

https://freebeacon.com/politics/dem-congressional-candidate-tells-republican-opponent-f-off-during-debate/Scott Wallace, a Democratic congressional candidate in Pennsylvania, lost his composure and told his Republican opponent to “Fuck off” during a debate on Sunday. Wallace, who is running against Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), unleashed the expletive during an event at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

The candidates were standing on the synagogue’s bimah, an elevated platform used for reading the Torah during services, when Wallace made the remark, according to WBCB News. The outburst silenced the room and left Fitzpatrick “stunned.”

My Take

Wallace is a proud man who doesn’t like the fact that his entire campaign is built around a blatant lie. How would you feel if you had to destroy another person’s reputation by pretending they did something they did not do? His frustration over the lies his campaign is built upon are the real reason his frustration came out.

Wallace realizes he cannot win based on his ideologies or his accomplishments. His only path to victory is by continuing to lie in hopes the people of Pennsylvania are as stupid as he thinks they are.

Voters in Pennsylvania need to get this unhinged guy as far away from weapons, synagogues, and political office as possible. He’s a liar and a loose cannon. Keep Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in there to continue working for the state and the nation.

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Democrats

Beto O’Rourke’s accomplishments through the eyes of his educated supporters

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Beto ORourkes accomplishments through the eyes of his educated supporters

Texas A&M is one of the most prestigious universities in the state. Its criteria for entry are stricter than other state schools and it has built a reputation of churning out some of the brightest minds in the Longhorn State.

They love their football, steaks, and politicians. Many of them love Beto O’Rourke.

Unfortunately, they don’t really know why they like him.

He’s charming, attractive, funny, and down to earth. He’s inclusive. They can gather all of this information from his smile and his political party. Beyond that, they seem to know very little about the Senate candidate. They definitely don’t know much about what he’s done in his adult life, the majority of which has been in politics.

This video by Campus Reform yields predictable responses. We have grown accustomed to the brightest minds of our future, particularly those on the left, knowing next to nothing about the people who “lead” our nation.

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Foreign Affairs

Saudi Arabia is stalling for themselves, not because of midterm elections

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Saudi Arabia is stalling for themselves not because of midterm elections

Saudi Arabia is extending their investigation into the murder Jamal Khashoggi by at least a month. This has brought further condemnation on the Kingdom from the press and some world leaders, including President Trump.

President Trump says he’s ‘not satisfied’ with Saudi response on journalist’s death

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/10/22/donald-trump-khashoggi-response-saudis-am-not-satisfied/1731094002/As he departed the White House for a campaign rally in Texas, the president said he had spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about Khashoggi’s disappearance after he entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey this month.

“I am not satisfied with what I’ve heard,” Trump said. “We’re going to get to the bottom of it.”

The president specifically reacted to Saudi requests to extend the Khashoggi investigation for another month. That would mean most of the investigation’s findings would be released well after the November midterm election.

“I think it’s a long time,” Trump told reporters. “There’s no reason for that.”

My Take

Talking heads on mainstream media bug the tar out of me, as do activist news reporters passing of biased stories as factual reports. It took a while to find this story on USA Today. Most tried to tilt the story to claim Saudi Arabia was acting on behalf of President Trump to extend the investigation until after the election. USA Today only implied it.

The sad part is that it’s far from the truth. Saudi Arabia hasn’t taken the timing of our elections into account at all with anything associated with the mess they created. They have much more important issues of their own to deal with and the inconvenience of this all happening around American election time is no concern of theirs.

If anything, the President would love for this to get resolved sooner rather than later. The beginning of October would have been nice. He could have scolded them, slapped sanctions on them, and made it a non-issue during the election. Now, the actions of a foreign government are going to have a minor impact because of the association between the two governments. Voters won’t recall that President Obama was cozier with the Saudis than just about any American President. That’s ancient history to mainstream media.

If the left tries to make this an election issue, the American people should rebuke them. The press is already doing it for them. We’ll see if it has any impact at all. I doubt it.

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