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August 17, 2017

Charlottesville Escalation and our Drama Culture [Warden]

My wife took our two boys, one five and the other 11 years old, to the younger ones kindergarten open house on Monday. At the event, which was organized by the PTA, were several food trucks.

After showing our kindergartner-to-be his new classroom, my wife got into one of the food truck lines. This one was selling "gourmet sandwiches," whatever that is. I imagine the word artisanal appeared somewhere on the menu. Perhaps there were heirloom tomatoes as well.

While standing in line, my wife noticed that the truck was covered with political bumper stickers, all of them left wing and anti-Trump. As she moved closer her eye caught one that read, "The last time we let Christians run government, it was called the Dark Ages."

My wife turned to our older boy pointed to the sign and said, "I can't give this man my money." He took a look and said, "Okay, Mom. Let's try one over there."

When she told me this story, I responded that I would have probably waited in line until I was up front, then told the owner why I wouldn't be giving him my money. She looked at me and said something that's stuck with me all week:

"No, I don't think anything at all about someone like that. It didn't make me emotional. I just wasn't giving him my money. Any further thought isn't worth my time."

And of course she was right and my knee-jerk response would have been wrong. What a great example she is to our kids.

What would have been accomplished by confronting that food truck owner, especially in front of a bunch of kids? He's got some opinions I don't like. So what? It's not like I'm going to change his mind about anything. Most likely, a person who would put a sign like that on their place of business would welcome a bit of conflict and drama. Why else put it there when it can only cost you money?

Which leads us to Charlottesville...


Obviously, the focus of the country has been on the two extremist groups in conflict, Antifa and the White Nationalists/Nazis. But neither group is going to be what ultimately drives future escalation.

Antifa is the spark meant to inflame the country. But Antifa is small. The only way to build upon their initial is to create a raging bonfire fueled by the emotional responses of more moderate citizens.

It's the everyday people you see freaking out on Facebook that provide the momentum for further escalation, and it's primarily motivated by two things--in-group signalling and a need for drama.

If you use social media, you know what I'm talking about. "Nazis in America!" they shriek. "We can't have this! What have things come to?"

Here's what these emotionally driven people are missing. Literally nothing has to be done to stop Nazis in America except to ignore them. They are a marginalized and hated group. They have no money, no institutional backing, no power and no message capable of winning converts. People aren't going to decide that they want to be Nazis because they march down a few streets yelling slogans.

The escalation that we'll be seeing in the next few weeks couldn't happen if people just went about their business and allowed these goofs to wave their flags, say a few sig heils and give an idiotic speech or two. Without a response, they'll get bored and go home. It's the conflict that they crave--the attention and the drama that these losers don't get in everyday life. Let's face it, they're not in it for the intellectual stimulation.

The problem for the rest of us is that Antifa and their low-information supporters, including many on the #NeverTrump right, are motivated by the same thing. When you see a Facebook freak-out about Nazis, you know you're dealing with a bored, unfulfilled person--a victim of a dull, unadventurous existence and no sense of purpose in life.

There's a downside to how comfortable we've become. Once people have their needs met without an accompanying struggle, they get bored and create their own drama. And this one has the added advantage of allowing you to pretend you're fighting the same evil that our brave military men did during World War II.

Those on the left have convinced themselves that they're "fighting hate." They're doing nothing of the sort. What they're doing is empowering a group that would otherwise be insignificant to anyone's everyday life had they not had their sense of relevancy affirmed by the attention that they receive.

To give your time and emotion to someone who is doing nothing more than shouting irritating words at is to give them power over you. It validates their fantasies of being significant players on life's stage. After all, YOU care enough to yell and scream at them. They must matter, right?

This need for drama has become pathological on the left, including some even using their children as an excuse for their hysterical overreactions. "What am I supposed to tell my children when they see this kind of hate?" they lament self righteously as they drag their kids into their unnecessary, self-created drama.

The fact is you don't have to tell your kids anything except that those people are a bunch of big-mouthed losers who don't matter to anyone. I know that kids are accepting of this explanation because I've given it to mine. They intuitively grasp when someone is a fringe-y type outcast. There's no need to blow up a group of block-headed goofs into bigger than life boogie men.

But the left can't help it. This is their culture now.

Two days ago, I saw a man on the news who'd been hit by the car that was driven into the crowd of Charlottesville protesters/rioters. He'd driven all the way out of state to be a part of that mess, citing his own bi-racial upbringing as a reason for why he needed to get involved.

Whether the man knows it or not, he's lying about his motivations. He unknowingly put his own life at risk for a bit of thrill seeking and drama. I also noticed that they described the middle aged man as a "former EMT" so unemployed and on disability is a good bet-- a guy who's bored and has lots of time on his hands.

During the interview, I spotted the man's daughter behind him. She would have been fatherless if he'd been standing a few feet over. And for what? A stupid protest about someone else's stupid protest about a statue?

Theodore Dalyrymple describes man's unending frustration as the conflict between two irreconcilable needs--security and risk. A young woman lost her life in Charlottesville because that internal conflict put her unknowingly in harm's way.

I think that it's sad that someone would lose their life over something so stupid and trivial as all of this. And of course it's not her fault, but tragically she won't be the last to make the mistake of unnecessarily inserting oneself into a volatile and dangerous conflict, the very nature of which provides no hope for a positive outcome... and pay the ultimate price for it.

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posted by Open Blogger at 08:55 PM

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