February 10, 2010
A key component in any argument, in virtually every piece of writing, is the ability to not contradict yourself. You have to make your case and use facts, and occasionally emotion, to sway the reader to your side. These past few years, as I watch conservatives go on about how society is evil, how things are falling apart due to everything from the Democrats being in control, the acceptance of homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle, to violent video games, I can’t help but marvel at the utter set of contradictions I’ve been hearing.
The most recent is Palin’s apparent horror and shock at Rahm Emmanuel’s use of the word “retarded” as an insult, then her apparent joy and support for Rush Limbaugh for decried the incident and used the SAME word in the SAME context.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
Oh, I’m sorry. It’s the R-word now. Maybe I’m being simplistic. Or maybe I like picking on Palin because she’s what the military would refer to as a target-rich environment.
A lot of conservatives, not all of them, but enough, seem to hold on to various apparently conflicting ideas while believing a common cause. Another example I’ve heard a lot in the last several years is this phrase, said in one form or another: “Yes, gays are people too, but as a Christian, I don’t believe they should be allowed to get married.”
…Say what? Also, it’s apparently not fair to point out that Dick Cheney has a lesbian daughter. If you talk about her, she’s real…
How about this one? Conservatives want less government intervention in their lives, yet they also believe government should regulate things like prayer in schools and what gets taught using public money.
We should abolish the death tax because the children of the rich shouldn’t have to work if their parents already have money, but we shouldn’t give money to people who need it through government welfare programs.
Liberals hate the troops but conservatives love them, yet Republican presidents have made more cuts in wages and benefits for soldiers.
Abstinence is the only way to prevent teen pregnancies, yet pointing out that Sara Palin has a grandchild through her unmarried teenage daughter apparently doesn’t count. Not my fault Levi Johnston was doing exploratory drilling of his own.
Marriage is sacred, yet the states with the highest divorce rates are the ones with the highest concentration of admitted religious citizens.
The easy answer would be to just say that conservatives don’t want to flat-out say, for example, they believe all other faiths are false and theirs is the true one or that if they speak out against homosexuals, they’ll be branded as bigots if they don’t hide behind the sanctity of religion. It’s not me, they’ll say. It’s the rules. Follow the rules or Hall Monitor will tell the principal. They want something because of bigotry, ignorance, or whatever you want to cook up, but they want to look like the good guys.
That can’t be it because many conservatives will flat-out read the party line without caring who they hurt. They just believe the contradictions, heart, soul, and whatever they have that passes for a mind. It’s probably a nerf football in heavy syrup.
This idea of believing contradictions is familiar to anyone who’s read something beyond the Fox News ticker. In his novel 1984, George Orwell showed a dystopia where the population was taught to doublethink. Doublethink is more than just hypocrisy. It means the ability to not only see the contradiction, but to ignore it and forget it ever existed. You could erase a historical text, input a new one, and believe the new text was all that ever existed.
Conservatives will disregard facts when they do not fit the narrative they have created for themselves. Fox News, for example, has done a great job of creating this story where liberals are the evil foot-soldiers of the Morning Star and Glenn Beck is smart. It’s a bastardization of the scientific method. You’re supposed to first ask a question, do research, experiments, and whatnot, then see if the evidence backs up your hypothesis. Many conservatives have their conclusion first, then look up facts that will support it. Any evidence to the contrary is either a lie, from an unreliable source, or otherwise the result of liberal propaganda.
Damn liberals and their research.
Do many conservatives subscribe to doublethink? The internet, whatever its faults, is full of people ready to do the research. Much like the scientific community, it looks for new data, new things to process. Hoaxes, and they exist, are often uncovered in a short amount of time. Today, with millions of people connected to millions more and endless databases and resources, we can say, with certainty, that our president was born in the United States, comprehensive sex education works to prevent venereal diseases, and you can’t actually buy bonsai kittens.
How did doublethink occur? Are so many conservatives simply hell-bent on following an ideology to its end, no matter what is said and done? Maybe they all hate gays, Muslims, and non-Christians and their policies are designed to crush these groups while exalting Jesus and country.
Possible, but unlikely. People have never been shy about expressing hatred. I can’t help but think that this doublethink goes back to religion, though.
Many conservatives say, nay yell, from the mountaintops that God is the one true source of morality and goodness in the world. All things are possible through Him. When Jesus comes back during our lifetime, He’ll send the sinners to the hot place and the good little Christian boys and girls will grow angel wings and go to Heaven and play with unicorns.
That’s assuming he comes back after the last time.
Where does this morality come from? Christianity is built on the belief that all power and morality flows from God. He can do no wrong, and His wrong is absolute law. The Ten Commandments, an endless source of debate when someone places them in a public space, are the cornerstones of Judeo-Christian morality.
However, American law is very much counter-Biblical. We can worship whoever or whatever we want. If we so choose, we can use the name of God Himself to blaspheme. The Bible says not to covet my neighbor’s possessions, and yet wanting something is not a crime.
All this is true, so why do so many people still follow this or any other religion? Many in the 19th century saw science as the cure for religion. They would look at today’s world and argue that this borders on insanity, that believing something you know to be blatantly untrue is a sure sign of madness. Are conservatives insane? Many of the claims made over the past several years, from the reasoning for the invasion of Iraq, the health care fiasco this year, and even the belief that interfering with business is bad while decrying big business for taking away American jobs, hinge on believing mutually exclusive thoughts. What fuels this?
Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships. Faith moved religions. Most of us hold faith to a high ideal. We say that faith manages, faith will suffice, and faith is what lets us keep going when everything else seems lost. Some people mock it. Others live by it.
However, faith is also dependent on having an incomplete understanding. It means you believe in something without knowing all the facts. It’s the opposite of trust. People can earn and lose trust. Faith is blind.
Could this be the key to doublethink? Do some conservatives have so much faith in the ideals of their party, of their families and communities, that they can ignore facts and logic in favor of the narrative? It could be. I’d love to know the percentage of conservatives in this country that are active members of churches. Does having faith in the narrative, that liberals are evil, gays are abominations, and Obama an extremist Christian Kenyan fundamentalist Muslim, allow some people to ignore facts, to not hear the words coming out of their mouths?
Do these people need the facts spelled out for them?
Holding on to blatant contradictions is not strength. It’s stupidity. Ignorance is the absence of knowledge. Stupidity is the ignoring of gained knowledge. I reserve the right to call these people stupid. To their faces. Their stupid, stupid faces.