Saturday, April 30, 2011

When truth is futile

Often when I find myself reeling about political/social events, especially those related to racism, I take some time to read writers of color that I admire in order to get some perspective. One of those is usually Leonard Pitts. Since we seemed to have reached carnival barking peak this week, I decided to take a look at what he has had to say, and I wasn't disappointed.

Pitts isn't writing about the current birther mania, but he might as well be. He starts off with this quote from George Orwell.

Then the lie passed into history and became truth.

His example is the lie we've all been trained to believe about the propensity of African Americans to be criminals. And he uses examples of people being provided with facts, only to dismiss them out of hand in favor of their assumptions.

But then, that’s the state of critical thinking these days: Ignore any inconvenient truth, any unsettling information that might force you to think or even look with new eyes upon, say, the edifice of justice. Accept only those “facts” that support what you already believe.

I wrote about this propensity for truthiness last week. Little did I know that in the coming days we would be met with a barrage of it over this birther issue.

The release of Obama's second birth certificate, which again shows facts and evidence of his birth 49 years ago in Hawaii, is irrefutable. And what is the Republican response? Its all Obama's fault.

There's a great example of the futility of truth. Instead of saying..."ok, I guess that settles that argument, we were wrong," we make it the truthtellers fault that the lies have been spread.

I have to say that given this reality, I'm tending to go with Pitts' response to the birthers:

Donald Trump doesn’t like “birthers.” He calls the word “unfair’’ to people who don’t believe President Obama was born in the USA.

Very well, then. If not birthers, how about if we call them “morons?’’ How about ‘‘jackasses,” “imbeciles,” “idiots’’ or “doofuses?” How about “pinheads’’— or would that require a royalty to Bill O’Reilly?

I’m sorry, dear reader. Forgive me. Generally speaking, I am not much for name calling.
It lowers the level of discourse, it forestalls thoughtful response and it does not suggest an excess of class. Where the birthers are concerned, however, the level of discourse is already lower than Neptune’s basement, a thoughtful response is about as likely as Miami snow on the Fourth of July, and I will just have to chance the loss of class.

As mama used to say, enough is enough and too much stinks...

Frankly, I wish Trump and his fellow birthers would just go ahead and call Obama an N-word. Yes, it would be reprehensible and offensive.

But it would be a damn sight more honest, too.

7 comments:

  1. Pitt made me laugh! I love his honesty. It's like those people (no need to mention specific names) on MT who, when called an ass, whine that the "name-caller" resorts to insult because they can't refute the argument. As if their idiotic droolings merit the word "argument," and as if anyone in their right mind would want to waste time debating anything with someone whose mental capacity is below that of crash test dummy.

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  2. I knew you'd like Pitt. He's got it all...heart, intelligence, creativity and humor.

    How bout that cliche..."enough is enough and too much stinks?"

    But then, I have to give it to you on this one: "someone whose mental capacity is below that of a crash test dummy." Shoot..rim...score!!!!!

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  3. Not sure "enough is enough and too much stinks" counts as a cliche. My mama sure never said it and I don't think I've heard it before, so it sounds fresh (no pun intended) to me. I like it.

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  4. I like it too, Robbie, though I've never heard the second part before. SP, Pitts is a new read for me - thank you. It's a pleasure to read journalists who make their points with class. I'll be adding him to my favourites so that I can visit from time to time.

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  5. I had never heard of Pitt. I read some of what he had to say, and I found anger and the accompanying frustration of not being able to respond cogently to the arguments being put to him, something of which he accused his accusers. I got little indication of intelligence or insight. It is difficult to understand that he has received awards; and I conclude that either he has written some other good pieces, or that the usual mixture of fear and charity, that potent mix from the PC bar was taken.

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  6. I don't expect you to "get" Pitts Anonymous. Remember my title..."When Truth is Futile."

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  7. RE clichés:
    Some years ago a writers group I attended invited the author of the Morse detective books to give us a general talk on writing.
    I remember someone asked him about using cliches. I can't remember exactly how he put it, but it was something like, when you create a character then you must write your dialogue in the language his/her background suggests even if it means including them.

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