Like a lot of rational people I’m continually baffled by the far right and especially the complete lack of reality they display: Lower taxes are always better for the economy! Sharia law in Detroit and Paris! Women can shut down pregnancy from legitimate rape!
Facts simply do not matter.
Paul Krugman, a man who has put in more time in the trenches than most, recently wrote in the NYT about this issue:
And the list goes on. On issues that range from monetary policy to the control of infectious disease, a big chunk of America’s body politic holds views that are completely at odds with, and completely unmovable by, actual experience. And no matter the issue, it’s the same chunk. If you’ve gotten involved in any of these debates, you know that these people aren’t happy warriors; they’re red-faced angry, with special rage directed at know-it-alls who snootily point out that the facts don’t support their position.
The rage is especially interesting. Go watch pictures from any Tea Party rally and you’ll see a lot of older white people who are spectacularly angry.
As they should be, if they were correct. If the things they believe were actually based in reality, their entire way of life would be under constant siege from gays, queers, hippies, immigrants and Muslims who have all joined in a slavering zombie horde with the sole purpose of eradicating God-fearing real Americans.
Visit snopes.com and you’ll see an endless parade of debunkings of far-right Facebook posts and mass emails about Sharia law being enacted, troops denied service, and on and on.
The big question, though, when reading the stories and seeing the videos is why anybody would choose to live that way? It must be a terrible way to live. Always angry, always looking over your shoulder, always afraid, always convinced of the near-collapse of civilization.
And it is a choice, make no mistake. No matter where you live and what circles you travel, it’s your choice if you want to spend your time eating TV-dinners in front of Fox News, never ever googling any outré statements they make. Your choice to scowl at the guy with the turban behind the counter at the Circle K, watching his hands for any sudden Muslim moves as he rings up your slurpee. Your choice to look at a newspaper and smugly dismiss what it says as “lamestream media” without even glancing down at your phone long enough to do a casual search for the validity of the claim.
You have the same Internet as everybody else and you have access to most of the written history of Western civilization.
For whatever reason, and it’s one I have a hard time fathoming, a large fringe of Americans are making the choice to live in a mental state of siege, convinced disaster is looming and only hyper-vigilance will save society from ruin.
Why would you do that? Why would you choose to doom yourself to a life of anger, frustration, fear and futility?
There are so many real issues we should be coming together as a society to address, but instead … rage.
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