I have been reading on social media, even sadly, from former students, who in their dogged defense of Donald Trump, refuse to read, consult, or be influenced by documentary or other evidence that might be critical of the president. These include Robert Mueller’s FBI report, the New York Times, Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, Time, Newsweek, Pew Research, and other reliable national and local sources.
Many Americans have embraced the President’s alternative reality. As a teacher whose sole magisterium was, and is, science – the rule of evidence and logic, and the humane sensibility of great art – I am, of course, saddened by this. No matter how often in my dialogue with them I suggest consulting the evidence, (why not, for example, actually read Mueller’s report rather than listen to Barr), the response has been another talking point from Fox, Trump-twitting (from the president of 10,000 lies!), or other Alt-right or Russian sources.
Nearly 40 percent of Americans by recent voting patterns and polling have this mind-set.
I am not naïve. This has been going on for quite awhile.
As a boy in the 50s, I read Apostles of Discord: A Study of Organized Bigotry by Ralph Roy, a book I found in my father’s library, that this polarization reached back into the 20s and 30s of the last century, and before. I have encountered this kind of thinking since, as a teacher, as an alder, as a citizen. Some Americans, blinded by propaganda, are as close as they have ever been to embrace authoritarian nationalism, racism, anti-semitism, structural sexism (think Alabama). They believe in a tyrant’s claim that he is beyond all investigation by anyone. They ignore the disasters of accelerating climate change. We now hear reckless talk of war. Theirs is an evidence-free world.
I have concluded, as many have, that there is no point in arguing with them.
Reason and evidence mean nothing to them.
They will not, cannot, listen.
The only remedy is to challenge them in court and then out-campaign and out-vote them.
We may thank our stars that it happened in the House this year. And could very well happen in the Presidential and Senatorial elections in 2020.
The coming vote has never been more important.
At stake is not only the use of reason, the constitution, the rule of law – but the very existence of America’s humane democracy itself!
City of Stoughton