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Steve Benen linked to Paul Krugman's piece on right wing political correctness, in which Krugman writes:

Today, however, the big threat to our discourse is right-wing political correctness, which — unlike the liberal version — has lots of power and money behind it. And the goal is very much the kind of thing Orwell tried to convey with his notion of Newspeak: to make it impossible to talk, and possibly even think, about ideas that challenge the established order.


Actually, this reminds me of an essay I read a long time ago about Soviet science fiction. The author — if anyone remembers where this came from — noted that most science fiction is about one of two thoughts: “if only”, or “if this goes on”. Both were subversive, from the Soviet point of view: the first implied that things could be better, the second that there was something wrong with the way things are. So stories had to be written about “if only this goes on”, extolling the wonders of being wonderful Soviets.

And now that’s happening in America.

Benen notes how right wingers in North Carolina and Virginia are using right wing political correctness in the service of climate change denial:
So, "sea level rise" might give people the impression that climate change is dangerous -- in other words, it might convey accurate information -- which necessarily makes the phrase inconvenient to those who deny climate change.

We all remember the "Bush aide" who mocked "the reality based community." It seems that in order to hold right wing beliefs, in your day to day existence, you have to actively and pretty much constantly deny a lot of reality based empirical evidence right before your own eyes. So it's not really surprising then that so many people who cling to reactionary right wing worldviews are adept at doing the same at abstract and theoretical levels as well. Evolution via natural selection is obviously false and the different creation stories from the bible are simultaneously obviously and literally true. Climate change is obviously a vast left wing conspiracy. Even if you "take Obama at his word" that he might have been born in Hawaii, he's obviously not as American as right wing white christians.

An illustrative example occurred over the weekend at Redstate. A poster claimed that "people don't care" about privacy online:

You want more proof that every single private industry privacy debate in DC is completely wrong headed? MSIE 10′s do not track default is unpopular. People don’t care. They value cheap/free stuff and convenience over privacy protection.
A commenter noted that the linked article at Übergizmo does not make any claims about user preference but instead is about how various advertisers don't like Do Not Track and are not feeling particularly compelled to cooperate:
Do Not Track Unpopular
edintexas Sunday, June 10th at 7:40AM EDT (link)

Unless the linked article has changed since you included the link, or I missed an unstated/should be understood meaning, the article states that “Do Not Track” is unpopular with advertisers. It says nothing more about users of IE 10 than that future versions may put the burden on the users to turn it on. It also states that companies may claim to observe the standard while ignoring the flag and tracking users anyway.

I agree that people are both ignorant of privacy issues, and don’t really care about privacy. But I don’t see the linked article as being about people giving up privacy for “cheap/free stuff”.

The poster than asks why in the world that should matter:
I didn't say the link said that.
Neil Stevens (Diary) Sunday, June 10th at 3:56PM EDT (link)


The objecting commenter then wisely forgoes an attempt to explain the significance of the poster's error more plainly:
edintexas Monday, June 11th at 10:28AM EDT (link)

I thought of explaining why a contained link should support the content and conclusion of the paragraph, but I can see I’d be wasting my time.

As if to confirm the commenter's decision not to waste his time spelling it out, the poster retorts with what he no doubt thinks is a slam dunk:
I'm working at a higher level than that
Neil Stevens (Diary) Monday, June 11th at 1:52PM EDT (link)

If you’re looking for someone who blindly regurgitates mainstream press reporting, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

This is nothing unusual of course, but it does nicely illustrate the capacity to deny reality on several levels. First, he denies that Americans actually do value privacy online. Secondly, and more immediately, he denies his own intentionality in providing the link in the first place. The self abnegation on display here is actually somewhat astounding.

Why did he include the link? Did he think no one would follow it or read it and engage in the slightest amount of critical thinking? Did he somehow misread or misunderstand the article he linked to? Or did he, as he would have us believe in his last response to his critic, include the link merely because it had something to do with the internet and privacy, regardless of its relevance to supporting his claim that "people don't care about privacy"?

It doesn't really matter. He simply rejects the premise that online writers are obligated to include links to supporting evidence if they want to have any credibility. And he does so without embarrassment or any sense that he should at least engage in an argument for the rejection of the need for supporting evidence.

In this way, this little episode of reality denial captures the right wing rejection of evidence and reality. I'm more and more convinced that this is part of a larger right wing project to attack and eventually destroy support for evidence based argumentation and acceptance of a common reality.

If people are wrapped up in sky wizard creation stories, conspiracy theories about "enviro-nazis," and History Channel exposés of ancient aliens and bigfoots running loose, then it really will become "impossible to talk, and possibly even think, about ideas that challenge the established order."

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    "I'm not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was." M Romney May 17, 2012

    by polidiscoursor on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:49:09 PM PDT

  •  People do that a lot. (7+ / 0-)
    Why did he include the link? Did he think no one would follow it or read it and engage in the slightest amount of critical thinking?

    For that very reason, I believe.  I have received chain emails (the classic example being the Birther ones) that say "It's really true!  Check out this link to Snopes!" where the link provided was actually to Snopes' debunking the claim.  I think they feel that enough people will assume that since the link is provided, it "must be true", and never bother to click through.

    GOP Agenda: Repeal 20th Century.

    by NormAl1792 on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 01:07:22 PM PDT

    •  'tis true - and if I had a link (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NormAl1792, JBL55

      I'd place it here - just to prove your point that everybody knew that was nowhere.

    •  Agreed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NormAl1792, trumpeter, New Rule

      I've gotten the same emails as you have, I'm sure. The people who send them know that a link strengthens their argument, but they don't care that their link proves the opposite of their belief since they're not interested in reality anyway and they assume the reader won't bother to follow link or is equally uninterested in the truth. They have an entire values system that's based on mutually-agreed upon but demonstrably false assertions, and they don't care. They'd rather be comfortable than right.

      The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

      by Korkenzieher on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 02:09:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  well done. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ItsSimpleSimon, marina

    I'm from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner Wing of the Democratic Party!

    by TomP on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 01:34:01 PM PDT

  •  I am really glad you wrote this diary because it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    New Rule, JBL55

    points out some very important issues. Anti-intellectualism in America is as old as the country itself. Running along side of it has been a strong intellectual tradition. So you have "The Great Awakening" and Benjamin Franklin's American Society of Philosophers. Henry Ford's "History is bunk" alongside the splitting of the atom, jazz music, and an American Literary golden age.

    But things could be very different now. The balance between anti-intellectualism and intellectualism is shrinking. And with a new sense of censoring certain words or phrases like "sea level rise" and "man made climate change" we see that the anti-intellectuals and the intellectuals are living in separate worlds. Consider also the attack on our education system. And the plethora of idiot programming on cable TV.

    Our gadgets mean that we are surrounded by "entertainment" 24 hours a day. If one wishes he could avoid reflection and thinking for the rest of his life.
    Public discourse has turned into shouting. The disappearance of the Fairness Doctrine means that the only voices that are heard are those that are popular, and they are popular not because they inform but rather that they shock or humiliate. The media companies have turned the "art" of appealing to the lowest common denominator into a highly profitable venture.

    Mass communication would be a better servant to the public good if it were run like a public utility. Radio, TV, and cable, as well as the internet are different from newspapers in that newspapers are privately run with no need of government licensing of bandwidth. You buy your press, your ink, and your paper and off you go.

    Radio and TV require the lease of a certain bandwidth and frequency from the government. Cable TV requires a contract with a local government because of the need to access the public parkway either underground or on utility poles. Satellites require a permit to launch. So it seems to me that they should be regulated for the public good because these media operators need the government to license their business.

    Orwell points out in 1984 that when you shrink the language you shrink people's capacity to think. The rightwing loved to bitch about political correctness, which was really about bringing precision to language not censorship. But the bullies on the right will try to shout you down first, then redefine your terms. and when all else fails they will try to ban your terminology completely.

    •  I think diarist also makes a good point including (0+ / 0-)

      History Channel in the stew of anti-empiricism.   History Channel has a huge right-wing audience, which is attracted not by any particular right-wing ideological content but by the conspiracy-mongering and pure, fact-free bullsh#t narrative-spinning masquerading as 'history'.  Terrible stuff...

      •  I remember have great hope for the History Channel (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        New Rule

        because I am a documentary junkie. The history channel is pure junk as is its fellow stations the Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, Animal Planet, NatGeo, etc.

        Do you remember the great PBS documentary series like Civilization, and The Ascent of Man. Or the Cousteau docs on CBS? Or the opera and dance performances. Or the War at Sea programs. Or even the ABC after school programs?

        We live in a society where we have diminished culture and education and discovery and this breaks my heart. And back to your specific point The History Channel is now just a cesspool. Do you remember the men's action magizines from the 50s through the 70s. The History Channel is the modern form of that.

  •  You See.....The Little People Just Don't Get It (0+ / 0-)

    The little people (99% of the country) just don't understand trickle down.  They (the little ones) keep referring to the Bush tax cuts of 2001, 2002, & 2010.  They didn't work, & the little one keep bringing it up.

    First of all, how dare they?  We (the 1%) know better, & we have the money to make it so.

    So, little people, shut up & go away.  We're running stuff now & have been for quite a while.


  •  Chris Mooney's new book (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polidiscoursor, New Rule

    "The Republican Brain" addresses some of these issues. I think tjhere"s. Review on DK somewhere.

    I know you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. -- S.I. Hayakawa

    by tapu dali on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 03:18:04 PM PDT

  •  Why? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    New Rule

    Did he think no one would follow it or read it and engage in the slightest amount of critical thinking?Exactly.  Wingers do this all the time.  They mostly read headlines and bumper stickers.

  •  Watching Ezra Klein on this story right now (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on TRMS on the DVR. I was thinking of diarying it, and I am glad you got to it first. Tipped, rec'ed, Tweeted, Liked.

    It is worth noting, as Ezra did, that Climate Change started out as a Republican euphemism, on the recommendation of professional Orwellist Frank Luntz, because Global Warming was too threatening, and Anthropogenic Global Warming is literally unspeakable. The problem with euphemisms is that they wear out, because they must, in the end, refer to whatever it is that some of us prefer not to have to think about. This one just wore out faster than usual.

    Cap and Trade, an originally Republican idea, is now to be known as Cap and Tax in the Political Correctness of the Right, and this goes on endlessly.

    Busting the Dog Whistle code.

    by Mokurai on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 08:20:37 PM PDT

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