The validity of their arguments aside, it’s not uncommon for Beck and Palin to contradict themselves profusely in the space of a few sentences. Neither of these individuals is knowledgeable enough to discuss any subject with any degree of complexity in a public forum, and yet they have become wealthy doing so. Astronomer Phil Plait, who writes for Discover magazine, stated it perfectly in a recent blog when he said that, given Beck’s intellectual capacity, “he shouldn’t even be allowed to rant in public parks to passing squirrels.”
Both Palin and Beck have achieved their fame and notoriety, not by expressing a sound political philosophy, but by pushing people’s hot buttons. Indeed, they have perfected the technique of tribal relating to such degree that their very presence makes reasoned discourse unnecessary. They have become relational icons for a sector of society suffering a deeply disturbing form of existential anxiety. In an appearance on C-Span2’s Book TV, Zaitchik described Tea Party discourse as being sub-rational, which is precisely what it is. So, how do we get beyond discombobulated wingnuttery? How do we educate so that relational nonsense doesn’t substitute for democracy?
The sad but profound truth seldom discussed for fear of offending a significant percentage of our population is straightforward but so politically incorrect that it’s nearly unthinkable to mention. Still, it needs to be said. If a person is uneducated to such a degree that articulating their political views rationally and coherently is not possible, then emotion is all they can bring to the table. If a person knows little of history and little of the dynamics of human behavior and politics, then any and all arguments that they don’t fully understand are perceived as an assault on their identity. When this is the case, the only avenue they have for a defense is to demonstrate their loyalty to their kind by showing contempt and anger toward those who are viewed as the other.
My latest books:
September University: Summoning Passion for an Unfinished Life
Existential Aspirations: Reflections of a Self-Taught Philosopher
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