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June 09, 2016

Sean Trende: The Groupthink of Rightist Commentary Has Become Unbearable and Frightening Lately

Actually he makes this point of all the different camps of political thought, but the other camps aren't my problem.

The right is.

Or was. I'm not sure it's my problem, either, any longer.

This is why I began trolling the "righties" on twitter: because they'd lost their damned minds and had begun quavering with Holy Horror like the most microaggressed campus Adult Baby SJWs.

The beauty of Twitter and aggregators is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

But that's the good news. Let’s turn to the bad.

To be blunt, everyone has lost their damned minds lately. Twitter, and commentary in general, has become a giant echo chamber. My Twitter feed has devolved into a melange of undifferentiated opinions explaining not only why Donald Trump shouldn’t win this election, but also how and why it can't possibly happen. I don't just mean an overall take that he's likely to lose. I mean a complete and utter rejection of any evidence proffered that might point in a direction that is favorable to Trump. Oh, and by the way, he might also be the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse.

By the way: I agree he will almost certainly lose. But that doesn't mean people should start throwing garlic and holy water at those who suggest otherwise.

Nor does it mean the entire "right-leaning" commentariat should embrace the worst kind of Political Correctness Outrage Brigadeering to advance their political agenda and puff up their own Virtue Reserves.

This isn't just unfortunate. It's dangerous. I'm not worried about media influencing the election; media has less influence than it (and its critics) believe. I'm talking about pundits' credibility. If the entire chattering class finds itself in the grips of a massive epistemic closure, if every bit of analysis is actually nothing more than a conclusion in search of an argument, if all we hear (as in the old apocryphal Pauline Kael story) are the voices of other people telling us that Trump is awful and that he can't possibly win, then we’re like pilots flying without instruments. Maybe we’ll land safely, but the chances of a crash are much larger. Having just witnessed (and to some degree, participated in) just such a crash in the Republican primaries, I'm particularly on edge about this general election.


...

Now we’re getting to the nut of the problem. One of the Internet's flaws has always been that for all its diversity, it is unrepresentative in important ways. Even left-leaning blogs and websites have tended to be disproportionately white. It's an ongoing topic of conversation and source of controversy on these sites.

What makes this cycle so tricky is that the re-emergence of strong class and cultural divides in the election has brought new cleavages to the fore, which are likewise underrepresented among commentators. Not only do you have a whole lot of white folk on Twitter, but you have a whole lot of white professionals with college degrees, disproportionately granted from elite universities. Most of them live in cities and neighborhoods dominated by white professionals with college degrees, disproportionately granted from elite universities, and go to workplaces with similar makeups. Somehow, the pundits look even less like America this cycle than in the past.

I believe that most people in my Twitter feed, left and right, don't know many genuine Trump supporters, if any.

I think much of the grassroots of the right would be shocked to turn to see that their alleged thought-leaders are no longer attempting to push back against political correctness, but impose it every bit as vindictively and self-servingly as the Permissible Opinion Patrol brigades of the left.

The people already have a group of smug people with good grades but little experience in real-world achievement to bully them and call them bigots: we call this "the left."

I don't think they're shopping for a new group of smug, over-educated-but-under-accomplished bullies to hector them at every turn.

Meanwhile, not to speak of Unspeakable Unmentionables, but we're a week out from law-abiding citizens being attacked in wolf-pack-style attacks -- first separating them from their fellows, putting them into flight, then attacking them as they run -- and the police stood by and watched because the Mayor thinks Trump supporters deserve this.

In fact, some "right-leaning" commentators have expressed agreement with the mayor: they did deserve it. They're Unpeople of Jesusland.

The rest of the right seems happy to not talk about this.

I have long accused the left of selectively ignoring major stories which damage their narrative.

I am now witnessing the right media doing the exact same thing -- because Trump voters, while nominally "on the right," really aren't their sort of people.

Ergo, they sat on their hands about the story, largely, and continue to natter about Trump's comments about Judge Curiel.

Just like the left.

And for the exact same reasons: A sense of class-based distaste for the people under assault, and a realization that this story harms their preferred narratives.

Self-Segregation Breeds Stupidity in Micro Monocultures: A commenter writes:

I don't think there is a lack of diversity of thought, it's that we segregate into groups where there is conformity of thought. Then we burn the witches.

Yes, in any clutch of like-minded people, shared assumptions quickly become Unquestionable Dogmas, and a social-signalling competition arises, where each person's value vis-a-vis the other members of the group is established by how thoroughly he agrees with the koine of the microculture.

Then what happens is that male competition begins within the microculture, with each new would-be alpha leader of the pack showing his fitness to lead by offering an even more strident and dogmatic -- less nuanced and less caveated -- restatement of the cult dogma, until the competition simply devolves into "who can shout the most extreme version of this stupid cult creed that no one thought about for more than two minutes before accepting as God's Transmitted Truth"?

It happens in every inbred pool of thinkers. You won't have leftists in a group talking for more than three hours before someone decides to play the High Trump Card and declare, "I agree with this dogma so much we should plant bombs in the buildings of our enemies who deny it!!!"

No, the right isn't that far yet. Not quite. But they're definitely in the Raving and Casting Out the Disbelievers phase.

Genetically homogenous thought-lines, unmixed with any genes of thought from outside the family, eventually become inbred, deformed, retarded, and monstrous.


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posted by Ace at 02:05 PM

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