Serenity Now and Again

 

Dan Robbins, inventor of paint by numbers kits, died recently at the age of 93. The kits Mr. Robbins invented became wildly popular for children and adults in the decades after World War II, and while sales faded in the last decades of the twentieth century, the kits never disappeared altogether. Now with the aid of the internet, paint by numbers kits have regained some popularity, and reproductions of works by famous artists such as Vincent van Gogh are available, widening the scope of painting kits available to hobbyists.
CasinCaillebotte
Portraits in the Countryside, an 1876 painting by Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894), depicting the artist’s mother, aunt, cousin, and a family friend. With its large areas of uniform color and uncomplicated design, this painting would lend itself well to the paint by numbers treatment.

It hardly matters whether people consider themselves hobbyists or crafters when they pick up paint by numbers kits, or ship modeling, or knitting and crocheting, because the main thing is they are occupying themselves with a satisfying activity that often results in a useful or decorative object. The result doesn’t have to be art, nor does it have to be perfectly made. The value is as much to the maker as it is to the thing made, and possibly more. A person engaged in a hobby or craft gives himself or herself the gift of peaceful hours during which their mind and emotions can heal.

People who sneer at the dubious artistic value of a paint by numbers painting or a Bob Ross painting miss the point of those works. Hobby painters are as interested in the process as they are in the result, which often feels ancillary and even something of a let down because it means the end of the process. If they somehow produce great art, then that’s a bonus. Most of what they produce will be schmaltz, but so be it. They are helping themselves and not hurting anyone.

Take a few moments to relax as Bob Ross paints an imagined landscape and imparts his views on life.

Mr. Robbins did a great service providing at least momentary joy and well being for millions of people over the years with his paint by numbers kits, one of many hobbies and crafts contributing therapeutic benefits to those who took them up, and the gooey sentimentality of some of the subjects of those paintings hardly matters in the grander view. Losing oneself in a hobby or craft is better than watching television, or any of the numerous other electronic screens commanding everyone’s attention in today’s world.
— Vita

 

Facebooktwitterredditmail

The Ear of the Beholder

 

There are two phenomena related to hearing that have opposite reactions from listeners and that often originate from food ingestion noises, one called misophonia and the other ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). People with misophonia react angrily to certain sounds, and the peculiar thing is that people who are sensitive to ASMR can react with pleasure to the very same stimulus. In both cases, food noises are often the trigger, even though other noises, such as tapping, can serve as well.

 

Misophonia sufferers must cope with their condition using psychology and physical methods like earplugs or headphones with music. People who have tapped into how good ASMR can make them feel are watching YouTube videos, listening to audio tapes, and downloading applications to their phones which promise to give them the pleasant sensations they seek. In the case of the YouTube videos, there are ASMR performers who are making five or six figure incomes uploading content featuring themselves leisurely and noisily eating various items like raw honeycomb or ramen noodle soup.

Emily Shanks Scene in a Russian Hospital The Ear Inspection
Scene in a Russian Hospital: The Ear Inspection, an 1890s painting by Emily Shanks (1857-1936). The sources of misophonia and ASMR, while related to hearing, are most likely found in the brain, not in an overly sensitive ear.

There is no cure for misophonia, and for ASMR apparently no cure is necessary since it is relatively harmless. Some ASMR videos can make the activity seem more perverse and fetishistic than is probably healthy, but otherwise they usually fall under the category of “to each his own”. Since neither condition appears to be related to any hearing disorder, they both must be entirely psychological. No one knows precisely what adaptive purpose they might serve, although of the two it seems ASMR would be more useful because it encourages people’s understanding of what is good to eat. It would seem that people with misophonia are turned off from eating what others are eating because they are annoyed or even enraged by listening to them, regardless of how much the eaters appear to be enjoying their meal.

These two conditions appear to be opposite extremes on a spectrum, separated by a wide area of appreciation or disgust for food ingestion noises, none of which trigger significant emotional responses. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but it is interesting that visuals of extremes comparable to the auditory extremes in question here don’t appear to provoke as visceral a response. All the senses have particular areas of the brain devoted to them, and in the case of the older primary senses, it appears they bypass the evolutionary later overlay of reason and speak directly to core feelings.

A clip from an October 2012 episode of the animated TV show Family Guy, created by Seth MacFarlane, who was also the voice actor for the Peter Griffin character.

Such is the case with the sense of smell, which evokes memories to which we then struggle to add words. It could be that with hearing we understand at a distance what we need to either welcome or dread, and for a minority of people that understanding has gone off kilter for ill or good. For everybody else, besides the usual annoying food noises of too loud chewing or slurping, there is the screech of fingernails on a chalkboard or the squeak of styrofoam, and it’s baffling what may be the adaptive purpose of shuddering at those noises even though the actions creating them do not necessarily threaten us, but nearly everyone can attest how those noises pierce them to their core. We know only how unpleasant it is to hear them, and we are at a loss to express why.
— Izzy

 

Facebooktwitterredditmail

Alone for the Holidays

 

Being happily alone while encountering people in daily life who can’t imagine not being married or having family and friends around occasionally brings up conversations where the socially active people express concern for the ones who don’t share their interest in a busy social life. Those conversations are more frequent around the holidays at the end of the year, and it rarely seems to occur to social people that the others, the loners, are sincere when they say they don’t mind being alone. It’s even more tricky for a loner turning away an invitation without hurting the feelings of the social person extending the invitation.

 

It would all be simpler if socially active people understood that while they are in the majority and their attitudes appear to be the norm for human beings, loners who do not share their outlook are not morally or psychologically deficient, or acting superior, when they express asocial behavior. Asocial, not antisocial. There’s a difference. An asocial person, a loner, might be shy and reserved around others, or feel most comfortable in their own company, but such a person is not antisocial. An antisocial person can also be characterized as a loner, but one who may harbor hateful, vengeful, and possibly violent feelings toward the rest of humanity. An asocial loner is confident and happy being alone, and does not begrudge the rest of humanity in the way of an antisocial loner like Travis Bickle, the eponymous character played by Robert De Niro in the 1976 Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver.

Azerbajiani landscape - Another version
Landscape of Khinalug Valley in Azerbaijan. Photo by Matthew Hadley.

Around Christmas, the misunderstanding between social people and asocial people is heightened by the increase in social gatherings and invitations to same. It can be hard for concerned social people to discern the difference between a happy refusal of an invitation and a disinclination to be the cause of pity. Does “no” mean no? Well meaning people who don’t mistakenly judge well-adjusted asocial peers as antisocial loners in need of companionship nonetheless have difficulty taking no for an answer the first time. Sometimes the real need lies with the social person asking others about their holiday plans, in hopes of landing the companionship they want for themselves. They can even be desperate, like people flailing in deep water who climb on top of another swimmer. They are people who fear being alone, and though their sociability places them in the majority, they are not normal or healthy.

Perry Como’s 1954 rendition of “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays”.

This Christmas, don’t be afraid to turn down an invitation because that might seem unsociable, and therefore deviant. And don’t push for an invitation out of fear of spending the holiday alone. This Christmas, try to be happy with the situation as it is, and if that means flexing the definition of home for the holidays, then find comfort in that because there are far too many who cannot find a home, in any sense of the word.
— Ed.

 

Facebooktwitterredditmail

Many a Tear Has to Fall

 

“Many a tear has to fall,
But it’s all in the game;
All in the wonderful game
That we know as love.”
— The opening lines of the song “It’s All in the Game”, music written by Charles Gates Dawes in 1911, and lyrics written by Carl Sigman in 1951.

Charles Gates Dawes was vice president of the Calvin Coolidge administration between 1925 and 1929, and before that he had a multi-faceted career as a lawyer, banker, soldier, and diplomat. He was also an avid amateur musician who wrote a song in 1911 that he called “Melody in A Major”, a song that Carl Sigman, a qualified lawyer himself, would write lyrics for in 1951 and rename “It’s All in the Game”. The singer Tommy Edwards was one of many performers who recorded “It’s All in the Game” in 1951 and in the years since, but it was his 1958 rendition that reached number one on the record charts and has become the most familiar to listeners. Two other interesting items to note about Mr. Dawes before moving along: He was a descendant of William Dawes, the man who made the midnight ride with Paul Revere in 1775, and he shared the Nobel Peace Prize for 1925 for his work rearranging the German reparations payments for World War I which had been crippling its economy.


White Roses-1890-Vincent van Gogh
Roses, an 1890 painting by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890).

 

“It’s All in the Game” outlined the ups and downs of courtship, and as such would seem to have no bearing on Father’s Day. When we were growing up, we generally caught mere glimpses of the affection shared between our parents. Some people may have seen frequent displays of fondness, others none at all. Seeing our fathers as authority figures, probably the last thing that would have popped into our heads was the understanding that these were men who were seen quite differently, at least at one time, by their partners in marriage. For most of us, the idea would have been difficult to reconcile with the fellow we knew. Later in life, having grown up and gotten a more rounded view of things, we might learn to perceive the side of him our mother knew, and thus understand better why she married him, even though he may have been an ogre or a gent, or most likely a little bit of both and a lot in between. Then if our parents lived long enough while we attained greater maturity, we might get the opportunity to understand them better as people rather than merely as the totems of varying degrees of nurturing and authority we looked up to as children, and realize that the first lines of “It’s All in the Game” embrace us well.
— Vita


Tommy Edwards sings his 1958 rendition of “It’s All in the Game.” The photo is from the set of the 1973 George Lucas film American Graffiti, a story about coming of age in the early 1960s.

 

Facebooktwitterredditmail

Zippity Doo Dah

 

In a perfect world where people are always well-behaved and courteous and the bluebird of happiness accompanies them throughout their day, the zipper merge would work as harmoniously as traffic engineers envision it working. In practice, the zipper merge rarely works well, and instead it becomes a place where jerks can take advantage of the polite behavior of others in order to cut in line. Everyone who drives is familiar with the traffic setup, but not everyone may be acquainted with the term “zipper merge”.

 

A zipper merge refers to the area of road where one or more lanes end, and all traffic must move into the remaining open lane or lanes, such as in a construction zone. A similar situation presents itself where one lane of a road becomes an exit, with warning signs posted that the lane is for exiting only. Traffic engineers refer to these areas as zipper merges because ideally that is how they want drivers to conduct themselves where a lane closes down or where an exit lane is about to leave the main roadway. Like a closing zipper, cars in adjacent lanes should politely alternate merging together into the one open lane, making use of the closing lane as much as possible.

Construction Barrels (14173532670)
Every driver recognizes these orange barrels as the lane markers in road construction zones, but not every driver reacts to them the same way, much as traffic engineers would like them to.

It’s a neat theory, and when it works as proposed it is a fine thing. “After you, sir.” “No, I insist, madam, you go first.” “Ah, very well, I shall do so then, and a fine day to you, sir.” “My pleasure, madam.” And a tip of the hat to you, too. Usually, however, most drivers who see the warning signs about a lane closure will move over to the through lane early, queuing up. The zipper merge happens in a sense, but farther back from the closure than engineers envisioned it. This polite behavior by most drivers is admirable because it invokes the manners ingrained in many people from early in life, but it has the effect of leaving a stretch of open road in the closing lane, and that is a temptation for jerks.

Not all drivers who take advantage of the open lane are jerks in their own eyes, because it is as hard for a jerk to recognize his own jerky behavior as it is for a fish to understand it is swimming in water. There are many rationalizations available to jerks, after all, the most prominent one provided by the traffic engineers who designed this scenario. The jerk reasons as he zips past everyone waiting patiently in line and then cuts in at the front “We’re supposed to use all of the closing lane up until the very end, but the idiot sheep lined up over there don’t understand that!” he would be more hesitant to try the same maneuver in a long store checkout line, but here in this situation traffic engineers have by default endorsed predatory driving, and therefore the jerk sees it as okay.

The exit lane situation is designed into the roadway, rather than being an ad hoc situation due to construction, but it promotes the same kind of selfish behavior. A multiple lane road in town loses one lane to an exit, and at times when the traffic is heavy there may be a long line of slowly moving cars in the lane which will eventually veer off the main road. The opportunistic jerk assesses the situation and, instead of dropping into line at the back, where cars are moving slowly and obviously intend to exit, continues at speed in the lane adjacent to the exit lane until he sees his opening near the front, shortly before the exit lane leaves the road, and swoops in, as often as not using his turn signal, as if that made his shark move alright. “Hey, I’m signaling! Let me in!”

There’s not much that can safely be done about zipper merge jerk behavior other than rage against it or hope that traffic engineers get their heads out of the clouds and figure out a better way to design merge zones, one that takes into account actual human behavior in the real world. Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the auto mechanic brothers who conducted the Car Talk call-in radio program on NPR until 2012, when elder brother Tom’s failing health forced them to discontinue the show, had a caller on one show that they reran in 2015 who had a question for them about using the open lane in a zipper merge. The show was Episode 1538: “Aberrant Behavior Syndrome”, and the caller was Brian, from Kentucky, who called in at about the 11:30 mark of the show. Brian wasn’t absolutely a jerk, even if he did rationalize using the open portion of a closing lane at the expense of his fellow drivers, but Tom and Ray – especially Tom – set him straight in a most definitive and entertaining manner, and their reasoning goes beyond the misconceptions of traffic engineers and the pushiness of jerks who look out only for themselves.
— Ed.

 

Facebooktwitterredditmail

Talking Trash

 

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
— President Lyndon Johnson to staff member Bill Moyers, on observing racial epithets on signs during a visit to Tennessee.

The terms “white trash” and “rednecks” are probably the only remaining instances where derogatory epithets are more or less acceptable in general society. Privately, of course, people of all stripes can and do use epithets of all kinds to describe others they don’t like, and it often matters little how different are the beliefs they express in public. The reason the labels “white trash” and “rednecks” may still be acceptable has to do with how, now more than ever before, they designate a voluntary lifestyle choice rather than an inborn condition. 100 years ago there was speculation among scientists and others that the condition had a genetic dimension, but since then the argument has been discredited along with the practical applications of eugenics, such as forced sterilization.


The white working class has attracted renewed scrutiny from politicians, the media, and academics after the perception of the 2016 election results as a resounding announcement from those ignored voters that they wanted their concerns addressed. By no means are white trash or rednecks any more than a minority of the white working class, and their votes comprise an even smaller percentage than that, since most of them do not habitually vote, or even register to vote. It is also untrue that white working class voters were the primary constituency of the Republican candidate elected to the presidency. There were not enough of them to install the Republican in office, any more than ethnic and racial minority voters alone made up enough of Barack Obama’s constituency to install him in office in 2008 and 2012. Nonetheless, politicians, the media, and academics unhappy with the 2016 election results have seen fit to blame the white working class, and by extension white trash and rednecks, for inflicting the current presidential administration of Supreme Leader on the country.

Toward Los Angeles, CA 8b31801u edit
A 1937 photo by Dorothea Lange of two men walking toward Los Angeles, California. Ms. Lange took many photographs in her work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA), a New Deal agency.

There is no backlash to denigrating white working class people. Across the culture at the moment, it is a safe bet for people like academics who must otherwise be extremely careful in navigating the identity politics cultural minefield, lest they destroy the career in the bureaucracy. Certainly there are some people who deserve criticism, and perhaps as suggested earlier that would include people who have made a lifestyle choice to be vulgar and offensive. Making such a lifestyle choice now, when people have greater access to information than ever before, can be considered more than ever a conscious decision rather than a cultural or genetic backwater that a person cannot escape. But the information they seem to prefer is fake news over real news, and bolsters their apparent preference for ignorance over knowledge, bigotry over acceptance, and reality television over reality.

Near the end of A Face in the Crowd, a 1957 film directed by Elia Kazan, and starring Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal, the public gets a peek behind the mask of the demagogue, “Lonesome” Rhodes. There are many similarities between this film and today’s political and cultural environment, but there is one major difference in the ability of the public to register shock and disapproval for abysmal character flaws in its leaders. Some of the baser elements in today’s society would not only not be shocked by Rhodes’s revealing of his true character, but would approve of his remarks as a middle finger thrust upward on their behalf in defiance of elites.

 

Just about everyone seems to look down on someone else, to the point that it can be considered a universal human need. Elites are certainly not free from the need to look down on some other group, but in practice they have learned it is in their own interest to be circumspect about expressing their disdain, at least in public. Sneering at the white working class generally without first splitting off the subset of white trash and rednecks is a bad idea that serves to highlight the disconnected and arrogant nature of elites, and it is behavior that will serve to push white working class voters, once the foundation of the Democratic Party along with black working class voters, farther away from Democrats and more securely into the arms of Republicans, where they are given rhetoric they want to hear, but nothing of substance. Listening to people is the first step toward working with them, while loudly condemning them all as racist, misogynist white trash might demonstrate to everyone your purity for the satisfaction of your own smug self-righteousness, but it is hardly the way to win friends and influence people, a vocation otherwise known as politics.
— Vita

 

Facebooktwitterredditmail

The Tenor of Our Times

 

Schadenfreude, a German term for taking joy in the misfortunes of others, has unfortunately become a predominant emotion in the public spheres of politics and media. After the 2016 election, some Republicans took more joy in the losses experienced by Democrats than in their own victories. There’s a difference there of feeling something based in negative views or in positive views. The experience of Schadenfreude also has shades of feeling, depending on whether the person laughing at someone else slipping on a banana peel is also the one who threw the peel to the ground.

 

In the first instance, the person is merely an observer, though that person’s laughter at another person slipping on a banana peel may be tinged with additional shades of meaning based on whether the two had any kind of relationship or whether the laugher’s joy comes from a pathetic affirmation of scorn for the unfortunate and a consequent boost to the laugher’s own low self-esteem. It is laughing at someone else’s expense in order to feel better about oneself. Throwing down the banana peel of course adds agency to the scenario, and more if it was done with the intention of victimizing another. The nasty twist comes when the person throwing down the banana peel manages to feel justified by claiming victimization from the person who will slip on it, and therefore in their eyes the person who slips gets just desserts. That is the scenario playing out in public discourse every day now.

HK Sheung Wan mall interior Wet Floor sign n mirror Oct 2017 IX1
A “Wet Floor” sign shaped like a banana peel at a shopping mall in Hong Kong in October 2017. Photo by Zhungwinsumtz.

It’s not hard to find examples, from the fallout of mass killings to the investigation into Russian election meddling; from hateful rhetoric about immigrants to hate crimes against brown-skinned people; from disparagement of liberal attitudes to intimidation of groups and individuals associated with those attitudes, such as Black Lives Matter or Gay Pride; and all of this done with the justification of being the victim. Not everyone who claims to be a victim seeks to redress the wrong they feel through negativity, an example being the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, in which positive attitudes prevailed despite horrifying provocations. Many of the people claiming victim status now as justification for their Schadenfreude, for their trolling of others by tossing banana peels, do so with spurious reasoning springing from self pity over the degradation of their imagined superiority. Claiming their superiority came from God or some other vaunted source and that its erosion by societal forces is evidence of evil at work is magical thinking, and it is damaging everyone.
— Ed.

 

Facebooktwitterredditmail

What’s the Rush?

 

When a pedestrian comes to an intersection and presses the “walk” button, the pedestrian may feel frustrated that the button doesn’t seem to do anything. The pedestrian is correct. Usually, pressing the button accomplishes nothing, at least not at an intersection busy with vehicular traffic. Very early or very late in the day, when hardly anyone is around, pressing the button may interrupt the regular signal cycle. Some pedestrians know this and yet can’t resist pressing the button at all times of day. They can’t give up feeling in control. Most others aren’t aware of how the button works, or rather doesn’t work, and press it innocently expecting a favorable result. Depending on that person’s patience, or lack of it, they may feel pressing the button has some effect. Whatever the behavior of the person pressing the button, the button’s behavior doesn’t change.

 

Impatience is the modern disease. Oddly, some of the people exhibiting impatience by using their phone while walking or driving on busy city streets are impediments to other people who are in a hurry to get to their destination. Not waiting for a better moment to use their phone than being in traffic on the road, or walking on a crowded sidewalk, causes a phone user to slow down and speed up unpredictably and meander from side to side, acting not unlike a drunk. Such behavior is exasperating to others and dangerous for everyone, including the zombie phone user. The pedestrians hurrying past and around the zombie may not understand proper sidewalk etiquette themselves, often being brusque with people they feel are in their way, when sometimes those slower folks are only minding their own business at their own pace. The clashes can be especially testy at airports as people rush to make connecting flights or get through the security bottleneck.

Pedestrian walk signal device NY
An example of the sturdy Harbelite pedestrian walk signal device in Tuckahoe, New York. Photo by SteveStrummer.

Stay to the right when standing or walking slowly, and keep the left side clear for those wanting to pass. Pedestrian etiquette on sidewalks, the moving type or otherwise, is the same as the rules for motorists on the road. Groups of people out for a walk should not clog the sidewalk from side to side, but travel in single or double file. Teenagers and young adults, particularly males, may not understand there is such an unspoken rule, though more likely they do understand it, and they enjoy playing chicken with other pedestrians and intimidating them. That’s another subject for another day. For most reasonable people who want to do the right thing, it’s enough to politely point out the error of their ways.

In this early scene from the 1980 parody film Airplane!, the announcements over an airport public address system go from maintaining order to getting emotional. Warning: foul language.
Realizing there are other people in the world and acting according to their interests as well as your own is a big step toward curing yourself of impatient behavior if that’s something you want to improve upon. People who act with impatience are often considering only their own interests, and some are incapable of seeing beyond that. So be it. They will always be impatient, forever cutting other people off in traffic, cutting in lines either in a car or in person, pushing everyone else out of the way on public transportation or elevators, stopping unexpectedly in the middle of a busy sidewalk to take a phone call or send a text message, and mashing the “walk” button multiple times at intersections, as if their imperious command should make any difference to a senseless button. On a particularly harried day, it would be tempting to give in and be like that yourself, even if behaving like an impatient jerk is not as satisfying a release as it might seem. Being aware and looking out for the other person is a good way to stay safe, besides being good manners.
― Ed.

 

Facebooktwitterredditmail

Soreheads

 

The recent controversy over Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent, and Kid Rock goofing in front of a portrait of Hillary Clinton at the White House tells us nothing new really about who these people are. Their immature actions were about what we would expect from a tour group of seventh-graders left unsupervised for a time, and were mild compared to the antics of two gay activists at a White House event in 2012 who flipped the bird at Ronald Reagan’s portrait. Joy Behar on The View accurately characterized the Palin trio as “sore winners”.

Behar’s phrase reveals the authoritarian character of many Trump supporters, and it tells us something about why they would goof in front of the portrait of a defeated political rival rather than merely tell us that they are childishly vindictive. The term “authoritarian” as used here refers to a personality type instead of only a political inclination. More authoritarian personalities are typically drawn to right-wing politics than to the left, but nonetheless there are authoritarians of the left. The Canadian psychologist Bob Altemeyer has studied and written about the authoritarian personality type, and developed a short test for the type, though he humorously suggests in his notes on the test that you not take the result too much to heart. His book on the subject, The Authoritarians, is available as a free Portable Document Format download, and is well worth reading.

We are accustomed to hearing about sore losers, and certainly the Clinton camp has come across as such with their eagerness to cast blame for their election loss on everything and everyone but their own miscalculations and hubris, but Behar’s clever turn of phrase shines an unusual light on the election winners. What do they have to be sore about? Because an examination of the authoritarian character shows they are perpetually aggrieved people who feel put upon by the larger society no matter how powerful and numerous they are within it. An authoritarian always needs a scapegoat, The Other, a straw man (or in the case of the Hillary Clinton portrait, a straw woman), to push against and to externalize their hostility and anger. Anger makes up a large part of the authoritarian character, and for their own well-being they need to turn it outward.

Hitler in Paris, 23 June 1940
Hitler in Paris, 23 June 1940; photo from the Heinrich Hoffman Collection. Albert Speer, architect, on the left, and Arno Breker, sculptor, on the right.
So we have a trio of winners who take time from their White House tour to gloat over the portrait of a loser; we have a president who continually dredges up his victory over that loser in a childish attempt to validate himself; we have the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who had been licking his chops in anticipation of a Clinton presidency because of the joy and headlines it would have given him in continuously investigating her, and who now appears to have been so deflated by her loss and the no-win prospect for him of investigating the new president that it could have affected his decision to not run for re-election in 2018.

 

Why then with all this winning are they not happy? True winners, after all, can be happy and generous in their victory. Because as authoritarians they cannot be happy for themselves with winning, but they can be happy with beating someone they have made into The Other. They will prop up a straw man or woman again and again in order to beat that straw person down again and again; they will repeatedly, with hollow enjoyment, revive the memory of The Other’s loss; and they will be disappointed and without purpose when they are deprived of the opportunity to badger a scapegoat and to build up their own esteem at the scapegoat’s expense.
Cheering crowds greet British troops in Paris, 26 August 1944. BU21
Cheering crowds greet British troops in Paris on Liberation Day, 26 August 1944; photo from the British Imperial War Museum.

 

Such are the actions of the authoritarians on the right in Washington, D.C., while over on the Left Coast, in Berkeley, California, the authoritarians on the left are not helping the cause of an open society, but are instead hurting it when they make martyrs of right-wing opportunists Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter. The old saying “sunshine is the best disinfectant” is beyond their ken. They don’t trust others to make their own adult decisions about what to hear and believe. What is within their ken is that they fervently believe they know what’s best for everybody. That they enlist the words and ideas of Martin Luther King, Jr., to validate their tactics is perverse. That the By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) and Antifa groups are authoritarian in nature is without doubt. They are certainly not sore winners, and don’t fit the profile of sore losers. They are nothing other than soreheads.
― Ed.

 

Facebooktwitterredditmail