Why did Totem Taunt?

Well, I infuriated him (Priapus, mentioned in a previous posting) when I shared a speculation about why some people see things in black and white (villains-and-good-guys) terms, and why others don’t, so much. Priapus thought my speculation demonstrated “a special brand of arrogance.” There’s a good chance he was right. Here’s the entire speculation, with intro, published August 21:

Maybe this will explain the widespread moaning and gnashing of teeth over the supposedly “ubiquitous” villainy and worthlessness of our elected officials:

As kids, we were taught that George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, et al., were brave defenders of the Republic. And we assumed there were modern-day knights in shining armor who would carry on the glorious tradition. . . . Some of us experienced the inevitable disappointments that accompany growing up, and were able to absorb the pain in manageable doses, without becoming embittered. We realize that nobody’s perfect, that some are more corrupt or hypocritical or weak than others, but that sweeping generalizations (about political parties, bureacrats, teachers, union members, police, military personnel, clergy, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, or anyone else) are overreactions. That is, some of us get over our adolescent disappointments and learn to accept imperfection and nuance; others harden into habitual stereotyping, villainizing, and “Us good, them bad” simpletonism.

How’s that?

Priapus was probably on target in finding my arrogant rumination arrogant. Could the rumination also be valid?

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3 Responses to Why did Totem Taunt?

  1. Pingback: “Hey LLS, How’s that blog workin’ out for ya?” | Last Liberal Stand

  2. Old School Grump says:

    I might be missing some part of the story, but what’s with that photo? LLS, did you do cut and paste those two together? If not, did your source mean for it to be a joke? It’s pretty ham-handed. Reminds me of doctored up photos from the old USSR.

    • Yeah, the photo is obviously fake. I intended it to be absurd–but still pertinent to the topic. When I asked, “Why did Totem taunt?” I meant to raise the question, for the umpteenth time, of black-and-white thinking, the kind I’m hopelessly dissatisfied with: Person 1, a friend, is Good; Person 2, an enemy, is Bad. For instance, Is Rumsfeld a friend? Yes. He was, as Secretary of Defense, a high-ranking defender of the American Way. Ergo, Good Guy. Is Saddam an enemy? Yes. He was a brutal, genocidal tyrant and the target of Shock and Awe when we invaded Iraq in 2003. Ergo, Bad Guy. White vs. Black. Clear and simple.

      But it isn’t so clear when you look into it further. Rumsfeld once visited Saddam, shook hands with him, smiled at him, spoke with him. We and he were able to “work together,” even if not exactly friends. And the United States actually helped him in his war against Iran. This was back in the 1980s, when it was convenient for us to have Iraq and Iran at war with one another, keeping one another occupied, so to speak. Saddam’s worst human rights atrocities took place during this period–and what did the U.S. do to stop him? (Rhetorical question.)

      Fast forward through the ’90s, across 9-11-01, past the invasion of Afghanistan, and Saddam is portrayed as the epitome of Evil, though, as I said, his most heinous crimes had already been perpetrated, with our tacit consent and even our assistance, well over a decade earlier. But now he’s pure Evil.

      Black-and-white thinkers are somehow able to ignore the parts of the story that threaten their simplistic view of the world. The Rumsfeld-Saddam link is one of countless examples that run counter to b-w fairy tales. When I see the photo (phony as it is) with Rumsfeld and Saddam in black-and-white formalwear, I think, “Man, how can anybody fall for such nonsense?” By that I mean both the photo itself and the oversimplified picture of a “with us or against us” world that Bush’s administration was able to exploit after 9-11.

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