Abnormal Psychology

Coping with your MAGA Relatives during the Festivus Season


Regular readers may remember that I do in fact have a favorite drunk rage uncle, my Uncle Ingus. Anyone reading back in 2017 may remember that he wrote a post for us arguing that America wasn’t a racist country. Something of birthday present since we share the same date of birth. Because Uncle Ingus has played such a prominent role in our family, I’ve had to cope with his increasingly virulent aggressive representations bubbling up out of the mass psychosis that has overtaken MAGA Nation. Like many of us with Fox News-watching Big Lie-believing inner racist-having #COVID19-resisting CRT-hating gun toting relatives, I’ve struggled with how best to cope with his presence at family gatherings and interact with him without feeling like I’ve sold out completely and avoiding spittle ladened invective.

With Festivus coming up, I know most of us want to (a) renew the familial gatherings that we couldn’t hold last year and (b) worry about how the Feats of Strength will go if we’re too honest during the Airing of Grievances and everything gets tinged with accusations of treason, stolen elections, and various conspiracy theories. I also know that several readers have actually asked how they can help their friends, neighbors, and relatives that have fallen into the QAnon, Fox News, MAGA Nation rathole.

We’ll start with the basis of the problem because we all know that a good diagnosis will help us find a good treatment.

Diagnosis, Trauma

Part of living in the miasma of mass psychosis is being traumatized. In reality, we’ve all been traumatized by the Trump years and #COVID19, but layered on top of that for your favorite drunk rage uncle is the traumatic effects of being continually outraged by white grievance identity politics for the past forty years.

Because of the sheer continuous nature of the outrage, they get stuck in the trauma that is induced. In an episode of the podcast, On Being, the psychiatrist, Bassel van der Kolk, presents strong evidence that the over stimulation of the fight-or-flight response can get us to be permanently stuck in panic mode ready to defend ourselves. This is where MAGA Nation is now. They feel constantly under threat whether they really are or not. They perceive the world as an extraordinarily dangerous place to be in.

When you look at them through this lens, you can see some humanity in them. The politicians that are manipulating them have deliberately created this milieu of threat and victimhood that is interwoven with racist dog whistles to keep them stirred up and fighting back against the forces that are arrayed against them. Of course, there are no forces fighting them. It’s just us. Fellow Americans who want to earn a living and raise our families same as them.

Seeing the mass psychosis of MAGA Nation as trauma is helpful because it points us towards ways of dealing better with the individuals suffering from it in our lives. Because trauma exists deep within the somatic and emotional parts of the brain, it is not directly linked to the thinking, rational, speaking parts of it. This lack of communication between these two areas makes it difficult to articulate our deeper emotional responses like those we have when we suffer trauma.

This is why it does no good to try to present rational information to your favorite drunk rage uncle about why the conspiracy theory of the Big Lie is wrong or that masks really do work or that the vaccines really are trustworthy. He’s, literally, running on just his limbic system and rarely engages his prefrontal cortex where his thinking is controlled. He just won’t process that information. It will never be able to affect the way he sees the world.

Trauma rewires the brain so that it perceives the world as an inherently dangerous place. The person automatically responds to the world as dangerous. They are predisposed to seeing the world as threatening. Understanding these two things, that the rational part of the brain is disengaged and that they constantly feel threatened by the world, helps us understand better how to respond in a more effective way.

Responding to the Traumatized

To treat trauma, you have to engage the body and emotions, not the rational thinking part of the brain. You need physical activity, emotional engagement. Get your favorite drunk rage uncle to engage is physical activities with you like dancing? Playing catch? Walking the dog? Hikes in the country? Sing-a-longs? Whatever you can think of that your family would be willing to do together. Cut off talk of politics. Focus on a group activity.

Trauma doesn’t allow the body to relax because it feels constantly under threat, so re-engaging the body is one of the most important keys to working out trauma. Exercise will allow the body to relax after its done. Exhausted muscles aren’t capable of being in fight-or-flight mode, they’ll be in rest and digest mode.

Other Advice for the Festivus Season

Unfortunately, the Festivus comes but once a year and MAGA Nation’s white grievance identity outrage is year round. It means that you may have to engage a lot more often and a lot more closely with the members of MAGA Nation in your life if you really want to try to deprogram them.

Remain Engaged

As difficult as it is, we should seek to remain engaged with the MAGA folks in our lives. Many have lost touch with reality because they suckle at the teet of Fox News and conservative talk radio all day and night. Without some actual contact with the sane world of reality, they will have no hope of recovering from the spell of mass psychosis that has been cast over them. So, maybe think of a long-term project or problem that you could solve together even if it is just painting a house or helping with the lawn upkeep or starting a garden.

It really is that simple. You don’t want to argue with them and further inflame their intransigence, but you want to offer the quiet reality-based alternative. They know without you saying it outloud that you don’t agree, so arguing with them, as we’ll see, doesn’t actually help. Brief mentions of things from the news like the man in Utah who knowingly signed his dead wife’s name to her absentee ballot, filled it out, and sent it in was Republican and one of the only verified examples of voter fraud will do more as an earworm than a screaming red-faced rage fest of a confrontation.

Seek Common Ground

Look for topics that you can agree on that are safe. Before my mother passed, one of the few things we could talk about was football and her team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even though I can’t be a football fan because of the gross mistreatment of retired players with chronic traumatic encephalitis, I followed it enough to be able to hold intelligent conversation with her about the season. Now and again, though, I’d talk about a player in the news who was suffering from the chronic traumatic encephalitis, like the great Pittsburgh center, Mike Webster, in order to address injustice in the world. She could hear it then.

Of course, I never brought her back from her Fox News-induced delusional thinking disorder syndrome, either, but I like to think that I made some inroads before she died a few years ago.

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Image Attribution

“PTSD Nation” by Truthout.org is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

123 replies »

    • Howdy Ten!

      That is one way to cope with the incivility that has infected our political intercourse. It seems to me that we should be calling something by the name Zuckerberg. Some disease or something.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Ali!

          Salmonella is a nasty thing to get, so that could work. Anal warts are, too, so maybe them. Other than Trump, I don’t know that there is a single person who can be attributed with having a greater deleterious effect on our democracy.

          Why does all the paths that greed walks seem to lead to authoritarianism?

          Huzzah!
          Jack

  1. At the moment, I suppose I could enjoy a moment of feeling lucky. My only uncle, Dad’s brother, died more than 20 years ago, but were he alive his Bipolar illness might have led him a wild manic chase down the popular rabbit holes. Dad’s sister has also passed on long since, no doubt expecting to be welcomed on the other side by her Evangelical Jesus. The last time I saw all of my four cousins (2 each from Dad’s siblings) was for our shared grandmother’s funeral in 1957. One of the cousins from the Evangelical Free Church side of the family (Aunt Mary married a graduate of Moody Bible Institute) did visit en-route to Florida after Dad died, and politics was not discussed. Most of my friends and acquaintances hereabouts are active in Indivisible. Those I know who might be Trump voters seem to keep it low key.

    Anyway, the first need in dealing with traumatized people is to find a way, an activity, a context, in which they can feel ( even if briefly), if not safe, then at least less unsafe. If your drunk rage uncle gets going on a rant, seeming to agree with him doesn’t help, it only stimulates him to go further. Directly challenging brings escalation. In dealing with someone like that, it is not about the facts of the outside world. It is about the relationship, the “I and Thou” being a safe place.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Howdy Bob!

      That makes it a tricky line to walk. Finding safe spaces to interact around and build relationship is difficult and fraught with areas where it can be easily derailed. But, at the same time, if we are to survive as a nation, muchless as a democracy, it has to be done. We have to find a way to not only co-exist but to interact and govern together. Right now, the GQP is refusing to do so, witness McCarthy’s threat that every minority Democrat will have to have majority approval to serve on a committee should the Republicans ever become the majority in the House again. They are not serious about working together to govern.

      Our only recourse is to try to shrink their base by rescuing people from the cult. Otherwise, we go the route of the Beatles and break-up the band. Personally, I’d rather be the Rolling Stones and keep us together well into our old age.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well, their base is now significantly over-represented in COVID deaths, Long COVID, and overdose deaths (we’ve hit 100,000 in 12 months and still going fast). Of course, the overdose rate is getting a lot of attention and calls for solutions because it includes a lot of rural white people.

        COVID + Fentanyl —- 750,000 + 100,000 — we are approaching a million deaths since this thing began.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          But how much do the Republican politicians really care about it? Back in 2017 the opioid crisis was all the rage and it got a lot of coverage. Trump even mumbled a few lines about it and referred to it vaguely and had some notion of solving the problem, but they never did, of course. Now that they’ve lost the better part of 850,000 lives, do they care any more?

          I don’t think so.

          Recently, I’ve been looking into what it would take to bring Trump and select governors before the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity. Their #COVID19 reactions seem to me to qualify. Of course, it would just inflame the nationalists even more and cause the next Republican president to pull out of the ICC. But, it would be some accountability.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

          • It has long been clear that the United States (along with a few other countries) does not want itself or its agents and citizens to be accountable to an international court like the ICC. We don’t mind Third World dictators and such being tried there, but not us or ours. As for pulling out of the ICC, we can’t, because we aren’t in it, never have been.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Howdy Bob!

              Good catch. I had forgotten that we had never joined the ICC. It seems odd, but it is true, we will not subjugate ourselves to their judgment. It may be the last avenue for holding Trump accountable for his crimes, though.

              Jack

              Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!

                  There are three ways: a state can make the referral, the UN Security Council, or the prosecutor can open a preliminary investigation under her own authority. I’m guessing that the UNSC won’t do it since it involves passing a resolution, which the US will veto. But, the other two are possible. Some self-respecting country or one that just wants to devil us more can do it.

                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • The words, “crime against humanity” or similar are being used more frequently with regard to Trump’s (and a few other leaders, like Bolsonaro) handling (if it can be called that) of the pandemic. It is difficult to imaging that somebody somewhere isn’t quietly building a case.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • I’m hoping that there is some ICC prosecutor who is looking to make a name for themselves that will take out such a case.

                      Of course, the NYC prosecutor’s office just might could ladle out a dollop of justice on the Trump crime family, too.

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • And then there is the case in Georgia of Trump threatening and demanding votes “be found”.

                      Trump’s brand is “The Guy Who Never loses”. Once he does lose in a way he cannot deny, even if he can frame it as a conspiracy, that begins to crack. If the losses pile up, even in small matters, he and his brand will go into a spiral of narcissistic wounds and loss of credibility. If his executive privilege ploy fails his enablers will begin to realize he cannot protect them.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      From what I understand many of the lesser WH aides have requested a subpoena as cover for their testimony to the commission. Many want to come in and give their testimony. It will be interesting to see how much Bannon et al’s refusal to cooperate actually hurts their ability to uncover the truth given the testimony of others and phone records and other records that they can access.

                      Trump’s already in an extended fit driven by the narcissistic wound of losing the election. If he starts losing court cases, we may see some weirdly worded and sinisterly accusatory press releases and public statements being made by him. He might even start going on stadium tours so he can rant incoherently for hours at his supporters.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Those lower ranks from the Trump WH were living in a very abusive environment. They also know that Trump would not see them as important enough to pardon if he were to get back in the office. So, the committee (and any grand juries) are their refuge, and potential revenge.

                      Being handed the message, “Loser, loser, loser”, is probably the most intolerable possible narcissistic wound Trump could get. With a few rounds of that, he would be completely unhinged.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Once he would lose the focus to make his story about himself also about them, especially since he would turning on everyone (like all his lawyers and staff) he would blame for letting him down (a conspiracy of the world against him).

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I just don’t see this ending well for Trump. I don’t see him becoming president again in 2024. Whether he runs or not is immaterial, plenty of people keep running for office once their time has passed them by. And, that failure alone — his increasing isolation and irrelevance and its increasing obviousness — will drive him absolutely mad.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I have never really hoped for a president or other office holder to die… I’ve never really hoped for anyone to die, before Trump took office. I’m only a little ashamed to admit it.

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Of course, Trump is only one of a number of political celebrities whose death would produce a flood of conspiracy stories (some don’t qualify as theories) whatever the cause might actually be.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The ironic thing is that Trump the person and individual isn’t needed by MAGA Nation. He’s replaceable as long as the need is met. That could be the plot of your next dystopian novel, the three hundred year old narcissistic dictator who is just replaced by an actor when the old one dies and the political machine just keeps on rolling.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I’m remembering that in 1984, Big Brother was not seen in person, but on screens. So, in the now envisioned Metaverse on the internet, Trump or the dictator like him could be a virtual character, an avatar always present, and not an actual living breathing human being, almost a god, and his adversaries also virtual super villains – like living in the Marvel universe. The technology is already here.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • But only if he himself is there to appreciate it. The thought of being replaced by a deep faked copy managed and operated by others would enrage him. Then we could have Trump at war with Trump.2, and the general public confused about which is the real one. Actually, a well funded deep fake team could create that now.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I think he would only like it if he would still be present, experiencing it. If he could upload himself to a computer and become electronically immortal, that he might go for. As cor contemplating his own death, he might be able to do that to the extent of setting up his will to guarantee that his children would be fighting over it for the rest of their lives.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • He definitely would want his children fighting over his estate for the rest of their lives… and they probably will, too, except for Tiffany and Barron. Barron is probably taken care of in the pre-nup. Dreams of immortality, electronic or otherwise, sounds about right.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • There are those who say that Trump is showing signs of dementia now. It could be that in three years, he won’t be functional enough to run. In three years, a lot can happen, prison, heart attacks, strokes, prison. You know, the future is uncertain and doesn’t always turn out as we imagine.

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • He has such a loose relationship to facts and truth, that being able to tell if he’s slipping is a bit difficult.

                      Just thinking about the last three years can make one cautious about predicting even one year ahead, let alone three.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The world has been so topsy-turvy, I don’t know why anyone is entertaining thoughts of 2024.

                      There are other signs of dementia that are obvious. I’ve seen several speculative pieces on the signs of Trump’s emerging dementia in the past four years. It can be difficult to suss out without a close examination.

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Dementia can be very subtle for a long time, and Trump’s tendency to confabulate and his famous irritability make it even harder to identify. My dad’s dementia first began to show when he quit his job as secretary at the local Rotary Club because he couldn’t suffer the Republican fools quietly. And Trump’s enablers will cover for him as long as they can, just as Reagan’s did. Mark Meadows has already dropped the bomb of Trump being a COVID spreader. He would have been in a good position to notice, except that he wasn’t in the WH job that long to see significant changes. There are people in the GOP who would not have a problem electing a mentally incompetent President if they knew they could control and manage him, but if they know Trump, they know that won’t work as long as he can talk.

                      Predicting anything about 2024 is both very popular among the opinion creation class, and fraught with Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns from the climate, the economy, the 2022 elections (whatever SCOTUS does on abortion, they will piss off at least half the country just in time for campaign season), and so much else.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      There are those in the GOP who would prefer someone with dementia or other fatal flaw that they could control and manage. A Warren Harding. At first, I thought Trump would be like a trash-talking Harding. He was in a way, but far to vindictive. Harding knew he was incompetent and happy to be used. His price was cheap, prohibition liquor and hookers. Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t know he’s incompetent and has to have his ego stoked constantly. If the GQP had a Putin in their ranks, they could handle Trump. But, they don’t.

                      Right now, we’re failing the big man of history test. We have no one rising to the occasion. No one with the vision to lead us through these troubled times. Me may stagger through them and come out all right on the other side, but it will be more dumb luck than anything else. I had thought Obama was our visionary. Perhaps he was, but the Republicans successfully term-limited the presidency after FDR, so we’ll never know.

                      I really hate the prediction game that the pundits play. There is no penalty for being wrong. No one tracks the predictions and scores them after the fact. It just sets up us for disappointment, confusion, and frustration since we can’t really distinguish easily between prediction and fact. Once we’ve heard it, we start thinking of it as true.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Definitely, I don’t see anybody in the GOP who could either challenge Trump (or, Trumpism) with a grand vision (even a dark one) and charisma, or out Trump Trump, or control him. And, the Democrats don’t seem to have someone with both the vision and the ability to effectively communicate it. Biden mostly represents an idea of normality. That is both needed and a problem because normal is just over for at least the next several hundred years. And, they keep getting caught up in the details (and arguing about them) which obscures the grand vision.

                      I manage to avoid a lot of the punditry (no TV) but their un-accountability for getting it wrong, and often continuing to make the same wrong predictions and explanations is worse than useless.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I think Biden is a necessary and needed step towards a more visionary Democratic leader. I just don’t see any on the horizon. The best we’ve got so far are some fairly charismatic technocrats, Warren and Buttiegieg. And a somewhat charismatic person, O’Rourke. Few of the other also rans from 2020 strike me as being of the visionary timber.

                      Perhaps that is because before Trump, the Democrats were mostly concerned with technocratic ideas and very few with real abstract value-laden ideas… until Sanders came along.

                      I find Harris to be a very disappointing figure. She does not project the dynamic strong ideology that we need going forward. Biden is not grooming her to be his 2024 successor or in 2028, either.

                      The last few weeks or so, I’ve cut down on the punditry that I follow and I’m not the worse for it.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Sanders has been shouting in the wilderness of Democrat technocratism for a long time. I suspect that if a genuine visionary leader emerges on the Dem side, they will be a surprise, in the way that Obama was, but more so. They will not have been standard fare in the punditry universe for years, because the pundits’ cast of characters to watch and comment about is always the usual suspects. That’s why nobody took Trump seriously until it was too late.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Was Obama a visionary, though? I’m not sure. He was impressive. He was the person we needed at that time. He held the country together before it went over the edge of the Great Recession in a way that McCain just couldn’t match. Obamacare was the one neat trick that could get something approaching universal healthcare into America and once it got implemented, there was no going back.

                      Biden’s Build Back Better Bill will remake America, especially as it was originally written. If he can get it passed and even partially enacted, it will change everything. But, Biden doesn’t seem the visionary. He’s just adopted someone else’s plan, I imagine, for political expediency.

                      Stacy Abrams may be a visionary. She may be the person who pulls us out of the fire and the frying pan. I don’t see anyone even close anywhere on the radar on either side of the aisle.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Obama was almost a visionary, but mainly he was messaging better than most about the large liberal agenda. Biden is following the same path with less pizzazz, and more push from the progressive wing.

                      The Republicans in GA are setting up to fight hard about who will run against Stacy. They may just damage each other enough for her to win.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • If the legislature will seat her. Don’t they have to certify her win? I think that is one of the big questions we all have to face in 2022 and 2024, what are we going to do if GQP controlled legislatures refuse to certify Democratic winners? That’s going to be the acid test.

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • That would have to be the breaking point, especially when there is no (rationally) possible doubt about who won. But, since those same legislatures are also moving to take direct control of election processes and personnel, they may manage to not have a winner they don’t like.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      I’m imagining the white middle class of independent voters reacting to such a move with meh, there had to be something otherwise they wouldv’t’ve done it. Kinda like they did with voting for Trump and the GQP in 2020.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Obama had some pizzaz. He was an amazingly charismatic speaker. Had he wanted to go the autocratic route, he probably could’ve done it. He also had the organizational chops to pull it off. The only saving grace in Trump is that he never does any of the hard physical or intellectual work himself and only hires sycophants and other equally deficient people to do the intellectual and physical work for him.

                      Steve Bannon and Roger Stone for all the talent and threat that they embody have their fatal flaws, or they’d be the head of the movement and not the sidekicks. So far, it is the only thing that has saved the Republic.

                      We’ll see if we can survive the packing of election boards — as is happening right now in Georgia, for example — with Big Lie racist adherents.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Being a really good (as in effective) autocrat is a lot of work, as many lazy and incompetent dictators and kings have proved. The real strength of the GOP at this stage is in the takeover of the local levels of control in the states. They will find that many of the operatives they install will not know or understand their new jobs. Unfortunately, the more they screw up the elections process, the lower voters’ trust in the results will become.

                      This past week there was some indication that Moscow Mitch may be in danger of falling out of favor with Trump. Lindsey The Spineless was leading a revolt (at Trump’s behest) because Mitch made a deal with the Dems to give them a way to pass a Debt Limit increase without relying on Budget Resolution or changing the filibuster. Mitch blinked when facing the actual possibility of default (He does have some functional reality contact.). For Trump, at some point, Mitch represents an independently powerful leader in the party. That can’t be tolerated if there is a sycophantic substitute available.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I’ve always wondered when the inevitable showdown between Trump and McConnell was going to occur. In 2017, I assumed that Trump would learn what political power meant when McConnell would stymie his legislative agenda to teach him a lesson or two. Joke was on me, though. Neither McConnell nor Trump nor anyone else in the GQP had a legislative agenda!

                      For all his faults McConnell is all about realpolitik. He may retire before any real showdown happens just because his work here is nearly done. He’s delivered the judiciary to the Republicans at least until 2050 or so.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • McConnell’s recent calling the 1/6 insurrection as “horrendous” and the House committee’s investigation as “important” for learning the truth of it is a sign that he expects there to be significant consequences for Trump’s enablers in and outside the legislature, and possibly for Trump himself. He might be seeing a possibility of getting his party back. If so, the GOP primary elections will be viscous in many places and some Trump endorsed candidates will lose if their opponents who are (marginally) more sane can get the independent votes.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      McConnell may be smelling blood in the water and figuring the time to make the break with Trump is nearing. Between his legal troubles, the “popularity” of Biden’s legislative agenda, and the damning revelations coming out of the 6 January Committee he probably sees Trump’s usefulness as being much more limited. His endorsements haven’t been panning out and the elections haven’t even occurred yet and his tour with what’shisname isn’t even selling a third of the available tickets suggest he may not be as influential as he preens himself to be.

                      There is no love lost between them, so I’m sure that McConnell is more than ready to move the fat bastard off the stage.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I agree. Mitch, the professional has considered Trump a useful, but obnoxious, amateur from the beginning, and that would have been his best assessment of the guy. I think that is something McConnell and Putin could easily agree about.

                      McConnell wasn’t happy when the TEA Party caucus in the House (led by Mark Meadows) ousted his friend Boehner. Mitch sees his job as managing his caucus, and is not fond of those who march to their own drummer or try to go on ideology rather than realpolitik.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Lucky for all of us that McConnell isn’t charismatic and a true visionary. If he were, we’d already have lost our democracy to him. He has a fundamental misunderstanding of democracy as a fight to the death.

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • He really does not get democracy at all, does he?

                      Many people have wondered about the courage of Republicans because they aren’t standing up for democracy. They’ve gotten wrong, though. The Republicans are very courageous, courageously openly attacking our democracy. Without that insight, you don’t understand how to counter the attack.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I was listening to the Sisters in Law podcast and they were discussing the death of feminist and racial equality activist Belle Hooks. They were saying that during the suffragist movement there were those who only wanted the vote for white women whom they assumed would vote the way of their husbands.

                      Racism is imbedded pretty deep in our culture.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I think there is something to that notion that some folks are more hardwired for prejudice, but it is the old diathesis model of mental illness all over again. Another reason to keep control of our school boards and legislative edicts on educational requirements.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Indeed, what is earliest learned is hardest to change.
                      “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.” ― Aristotle (also attributed to Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit Order)

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I remember a liberal professor-type friend of mine assuring me in 2017 that we didn’t have to worry about racism any more because the next generation didn’t see racism. They just didn’t get it. They had no race animus. With the passing of the older generation, it would be gone.

                      What’s clear now is that the racists have been passing their racism on to the next generation and now the people on the borders who would only be racist because the environment supports it are jumping in with both feet.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I guess I need to go back and watch the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals more closely. I totally missed that one. It really goes to show that we’ve always have had a segment of the country that is aware of the evils of racial discrimination and bigotry. I wonder if the actual per capita percentages have ever really changed, though.

                      Lately, I’ve been leaning to the one-third rule: a third of the country is racist; a third, isn’t; and a third malleable. You can fit whatever you want in there, conservative-liberal, pro-choice-forced birth; or any other issue and I figure it comes out about the same. It’s that malleable third that we need to reach and sustain our alliance with.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I got a copy of the album of South Pacific songs from the movie sound track when I was 10 or 12, whenever the movie came out (Christmas present). That song has been in my head since then. When R&H were getting the show ready for Broadway, the producers wanted that one taken out. R&H said no, they would cancel the whole thing before they would take it out. It stayed. The twist in the show is that it is Nelly Forbush, the nurse from Little Rock who ends up marrying the French planter with the mixed race kids. She just couldn’t wash that man out of her hair.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • That age old theme of love conquers all. If only it were true.

                      I do need to go back and rewatch those old movies. There is much that we have forgotten about the early struggles in Civil Rights. Even Lucille Ball’s and Desi Arnaz’s struggles with their TV shows and careers are worth knowing about. There really is so much history there that we get such little exposure to nowadays. I’m sure it is chronicled in a book somewhere, and if it ain’t, it orta be.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • We have tended to dismiss the Broadway musicals as mere entertainment, but you don’t get large numbers of people lining up to watch the on stage or screen year after year (including revival productions) unless they key into our deep stories, myths, and currents of social change and resistance to change. Add to that the fact that song is a mnemonic device and you find the many ear-worms that we carry around shaping our perceptions.

                      Lucy and Desi were far more important than just making a funny show. Lucy was key to the creation of Star Trek and Mission Impossible.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Our ability to remember complex ideas and long extended pieces of information based solely on mnemonics is one of the mysteries of how the brain evolved. There is a dopamine reward for the way meter and rhyme scheme work, meaning that you’re predicting the next fall of the beat and the next rhyming word and when you’re right — not that you’ve guessed the right word but the right place for the beat and rhyme — you get that bit of dopamine in your reward system.

                      Star Trek and Mission Impossible laid the groundwork for accepting the civil rights legislation of their time, too. It is funny how TV influences what is acceptable. It is one reason why I never really understood why so many autistic people hate the Big Bang Theory, for example. Without a show like that there is no way the rest of the world will accept a minority group.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Another TV example is the possibility that Will And Grace helped prepare the way for acceptance of Gay Marriage. Maybe the conservatives are right to be suspicious of the entertainment media as subversive.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Will and Grace and every female rock and pop star kissing one another at every awards show for the past twenty years has helped normalize it all for most Americans. In an odd way, the AIDS crisis helped. As young gay men fell ill with AIDS, people began to realize how many gay men there were and that they had liked them, they were “normal.”

                      It is why representation is so important in the media. Seeing people like you, helps encourage those of us in the various groups, but it also helps to normalize their existence.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The keys to dehumanization, and the only way to prevent or resist the malicious effects of dehumanization is to understand the process and effect of caricatures and derogatory metaphors.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Just like with our leadership, I’m struck by how few “ground” breaking social norm challenging TV shows we have now compared to the past. Many of those shows were made either in response to the civil rights movement or laid the ground for it. Even “All in the Family” furthered the cause of civil rights by parodying bigotry. Do we have the equivalent now?

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I can recall when in the ’50s Playhouse 90 did No Exit and Waiting For Godot, and we had Ernie Kovacs on a major network. As for now, I gave up on TV a decade ago, but I haven’t heard of any that sound ground breaking or norm challenging, but if they are there, it is probably on streaming services where they can get a nitch audience.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I can’t speak for all of television or movies or anything, but I know that Netflix has mostly been about superheroes, zombies, and vampires. None of which I care for. In fact I find it difficult to find anything really worth watching on Netflix. That isn’t to say that there hasn’t been some really good shows or movies, though. There have been several that I’ve enjoyed quite a bit. None of them have had social issues themes that I could really discern. I mean, it wasn’t like when I was watching Star Trek, I realized the messages they were sending, so it could be that I’m just missing them for the entertainment, I suppose.

                      I think we’re in a very self-absorbed moment.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I know I am. The funny thing is, I can’t find anything to watch. I don’t remember ever having this problem when we had the three broadcast channels and PBS.

                      I guess it’s a good thing. I spend more time reading.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I gave up TV and pop culture through much of the ’80’s because I just couldn’t stomach it any more. I found it all pretty vapid. There was a lot more choice in reading. Once I moved abroad, my exposure to American TV and pop culture were much more limited. It wasn’t until we moved to Cambodia that I’ve had the time and the access. China had a firewall that made it all a pain in the ass, but we indulged there to the degree that we could.

                      My reaction is still pretty similar. It is vapid. I’ve even soured on the punditing political shows. They are pretty vapid, too. My guess is that anything more than vapid is taking a risk. Far better to play it safe than risk getting cancelled.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Very few books make me want to go out a secure a copy of them. Now and again, there comes a book that does. Usually it is non-fiction, though.

                      Since Edward Wilson’s death, I’ve been thinking of revisiting some of his work, especially his early books. Sociobiology and The Ants. Little known to most people, I’ve been enamored by the pro-social behavior of ants. Fascinating species.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The ants and termites have had a very, very long time to get it right, and to evolve multiple species with different specialties to make it through several mass extinctions and other changes, including our screw-ups.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob

                      Ants are the most populous species on the planet, and they are second to only human beings for living in the largest range of biomes. They never adapted to the cold.

                      I guess, ants are living proof of KISS. Maybe humankind is the cautionary tale of KISS.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • LOL! Yes, that does seem to capture the conservative agenda. Trust no one except them what agree with ya. Suspect all, especially those promising peace and prosperity because surely they are seeking to deceive, after all, that’s what I would do in similar circumstances.

                      The funny thing is, as you’ve pointed out many times, we need balance between the conservative and liberal mindsets, yet taken to its extreme, conservatives will brook no balance.

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • When one side of the isle gets to, “There is good, and there is evil. We are Good. All not us are evil.” That position always fails at some point because it creates a shoot the messenger system in which error correction is impossible.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      That was today’s post. There are studies mathematically modeling our politics that suggest the GQP is past the tipping point of radicalization. It remains to be seen whether our entire society is.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      With five states explicitly rewarding people who lose their jobs for refusing to be vaccinated with unemployment benefits instead of denying them, they are definitely promoting radicalization. But, as the CAS article suggests, the individual politicians probably don’t realize it. They are probably just going with the flow of what is currently happening in the GQP because they know dissent is not tolerated. It is one of the most sobering findings yet because it suggests that the GQP may not be salvageable. They are probably too far past the tipping point.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I’ve been increasingly convinced of the UN-salvageablility of the GOP ever since the 2016 GOP primary debates, if not earlier (McConnell’s total opposition stance, for instance)

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howd Bob!

                      I’ve spent the week reading back over some of my earliest posts and thinking about some of how my thinking on the GQP evolved. I didn’t fully understand the implications of Reagan until Trump. Really, all of the evils that we confront today trace their roots back to Reagan. There were those who were trying to warn us. I can’t believe that Dubya has been rehabilitated.

                      Something that I didn’t realize until Trump: there’s always been an anti-democratic segment to the American electorate. They’ve been gunning for our democracy from the beginning. We’ve always been able to corral them but the Internet and social media have allowed them to join forces and coalesce and radicalize much more effectively.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Dubya got rehabilitated by staying out of politics once out of office. Maybe he really wanted to be a painter all along, but Poppy had other ideas.

                      I recall feeling trouble coming when Nixon got a pardon. The truth is that conservatives have never in history been comfortable with democracy unless it was of the pseudo variety, managed by the elite, and the more inclusive the franchise, the less they like it. “Men of property” has been the preferred definition of “citizen” since Athens, and definitely not “men who are property” or should be.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      The property rule of conservative democracy. I like it. I feel a meme coming on!

                      I don’t think Dubya ever really knew what he wanted to do, but he always knew what he didn’t want to do, which was work hard. I believe he accomplished that. Poppy, Chaney, and Texas Republicans had other ideas for him. He was even more of a front man than Trump was. Just going along to get along.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Isn’t that a striking finding? I’m thinking more of my rich kids who have nannies, mothers, and grandmothers who will do everything for them. They don’t even know how to wipe up water with a paper towel. We’ve had a series of collaborative projects for them to do and they struggle to achieve. I just keep going back to my childhood and wondering where we got it. Perhaps it was from parents requiring us to do more around the house, even though we’re clearly a European heritage family.

                      The more we abandon our kids to their electronic devices — the lament of every parent during conferences — the less likely they are to learn how to work with others in the real world. It makes you wonder about development of certain executive functions like tolerating delayed gratification.

                      It also suggests that today’s European heritage kids are going to need white privilege even more to keep them ahead of their better collaborating yet Browner peers in the white collar workforce.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The finding definitely relates to the “self-made man” and “rugged individualism”. Part of the lesson of not being required or encouraged to help the parent is that grownups don’t need help and, when you get to be a grownup you will magically know how to do all that stuff (like cooking and laundry). So, if grownups aren’t supposed to need help, then anything like welfare is both unnecessary and wrong.

                      I’m also betting that boys get the message stronger than girls, who are supposed to grow up to be caretakers.

                      Also, diverse teams have been shown to be less prone to group-think and produce more innovative results.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I’ve been mulling around the idea that when conservative values are taken to their logical extreme, they take you to a nihilistic self-destructive dead end alley. Refusing to change and adapt to the changes in the world will never end well. It only ends in extinction.

                      One of the things that may be of interest is how each culture comes up with broadly similar roles — especially the division of labor along gender lines — but takes different routes to get there. Having lived in a number of cultures they all have varying degrees of sexism and racism (both pretty high no matter which one you pick) and struggle with innovation.

                      The more we need to use teamwork, the more of our feminine ideals we need. It has been pretty well demonstrated that American women are far better at collaboration than American men are. Part of the demographic change that scares conservatives so much.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Yes, the data on the better performance of teams which include women is very strong.

                      Our brains are category making machines. We divide the world first into binaries and then sub-categories. Gender and Us-Them are basic and conservatives get deeply confused and terrified when categorical lines are blurred. Liberals do seem to tolerate that better, but even they have their limits.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      One of the things that I realized about living in South Korea is that Korean was not a categorizing language. For example, there is no word for meat as the West conceives of it as in the flesh of an animal. Since I was vegetarian at the time I lived there, I had to be able to order in restaurants. What I found was that you had to list everything you wouldn’t eat: beef, pork, chicken, fish, shellfish, and other animal sources of protein. Then you’d still get spam or ham in your meal. When you pointed out that spam and ham are from pigs, which the server knew if you asked them which animal it came from, they would be confused about why you wouldn’t eat it. The only time you knew they got it is when they’d ask if you’d eat an egg.

                      There are some old studies of psycholinguistics comparing the use of language and how it affects reasoning. Some of the findings — if I recall them accurately, which may not be true — is that peoples from the Amazon rainforest categorized the animals and plants around them, but didn’t use the same features or factors as Westerners, and that there was a gender difference in how things were classified or grouped. Another finding was that Siberian somebody’s could answer logic questions but couldn’t understand why you’d be asking them.

                      When our categorical lines get blurred sufficiently, we all become uncomfortable. It fucks with our understanding of how the world works, the world loses its predictability.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I think that part of the function of the meditative traditions, like Zen, is in coping with those events that blur or categories by getting out of the linguistic categorical context for a while.

                      It is very revealing how different languages assign gender to various things and categories, and how English dropped a lot of the overt gendering. I suspect that that happened out of trying to meld the Germanic Anglo-Saxon with the Latin rooted French and remnants of Celtic British, all of which did it differently.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Language is a fascinating subject. One of the things I realized from living in Asia and learning smatterings of various languages is that are important to the people and the culture tend to retain their complexities and things that aren’t tend to get simplified. For example, most Asian languages don’t have gendered nouns, complex verb tenses, or a complex article system. Asian languages complicate the way that you express your social status in relationship to the person you’re talking to or about often with separate vocabulary to be used when talking to someone with a higher status.

                      One of the advantages that European languages have is that they are more precise with English being the most precise of all. In many ways Korean was an amazingly imprecise language. Because vegetarianism wasn’t very popular when I lived there, no one or few knew the Korean word for vegetarianism. Even if English didn’t have a word for vegetarianism, I could say that I didn’t eat anything that comes from an animal, but you couldn’t do that in Korean. It is that relative pronoun and relative clause that does it. You can modify nearly any idea using it.

                      With our complex tenses we can express more precisely when something happened relative to other events, Asian languages can’t do that. For most of them something happens in the past, future, or present and it is achieved by inserting.a syllable indicating the time frame it happened in. The article system allows us to communicate what we assume the other person knows. The car is different from a car. The car is the one that we both know we are talking about; a car is a car in general or one that is unknown.

                      I find having taught English as a second language for ten years, I’ve developed some insight into how and why English works the way it does.

                      The gendering of English nouns was probably discarded for the reasons you sight. It was just too difficult to work out and get everyone using the same gendering for the same nouns.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • One of my favorite examples of how language works if from a study of the Mbuti people, the Ituri pygmies. Their word which translates as “dead” covers a wide range of conditions with modifiers. “Dead” = asleep, “completely dead” = unconscious as in passed out, “totally dead” = comatose but likely to recover, “totally and completely dead” = comatose and not likely to recover, and “totally and completely dead forever” = deceased.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      One of my favorite books was “Pygmy Kitabu” by Belgian ethnologist Jean-Pierre Hallet about the history and culture of the Central African pygmies. They are an interesting group of people in the history of humankind. Two of his most interesting speculations or findings: (1) Pygmies may have been the source of Christianity given their religious beliefs, relationship with ancient Egyptians, and timings with regard to Moses and the fleeing of the Israelites. And (2) that pygmies could not interpret the effects of distance on perception since they lived in a dense jungle and had never experienced the horizon and objects moving closer from it. It seemed to them that the animals and objects grew in size rather than remained the same size and moved closer. I’m not sure whether this is entirely true or not, and I’m sure that after some experience with the horizon, they would quickly realize the true nature of things.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I’m sure you’ve seen the baby cliff experiments where they allow babies to crawl around on a glass top table half of it with a piece of cloth under it, the other half with nothing so it looks like you’ll tumble to the floor if you’re not careful. I forget the age that the babies start to avoid the cliff. I also forget the age when you’re likely to see a decline in memory, but apparently, I’m past that age now.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

  2. I so thoroughly failed to assist my TWO Magidiot brothers return to the land of rational thinking that I finally just gave up completely. No more interaction with them at all…they (of course) think I am the problem. After all, I believe in climate change, rational gun control laws and abortion rights. I am becoming more and more of the opinion that we should just let Texas secede from the states and let all of the morons move south where they can be happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Suze!

      I go back and forth with that line of thinking. We either go the route of the Beatles and break up going our separate ways and hope that we live in Paul McCarthy-land, or we go the way of the Rolling Stones and do what it takes to keep us together and periodically put out a platinum album. Either way has its advantages and disadvantages.

      On the advantage side, we’d be free of them and they of us! In the short history of the country, they’ve demonstrated that they are unwilling to let go of their chattel slavery view of the world and will just find ways around our laws preventing it spreading misery to all they come in contact with. So, maybe we should just give up the ghost of trying to build a more perfect union with them.

      On the disadvantage side, we’ll never be free of them even if we live in two separate and distinct countries. For their authoritarian government to work, it needs a scapegoat. Guess who that scapegoat will be in the immediate aftermath of separation? They will be sending in terrorists and creating other incidents to keep us engaged to further their authoritarian grip. Worse, their corporate overlords won’t want to give up on milking the richer states for their prosperity.

      I don’t really see a clear path forward. Either way, we’re exiting the superpower center stage. The world gets worser in terms of climate change and violence.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

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