This Nation Needs a National Conversation — On How to Have Conversation

The smorgasbord of sub-cultures has created another dimension of delusion in America: Hardening minds not broadening them. The commentary in these communities speaks volumes about social media and the state of society:

Habitually hailing high praise for purveyors of virtue — virtues that vanish the second they’re called to put them to the test.

But we’re all here because we share some important things in common: a commitment to reason, curiosity, independence, decency, and a hunger for honest conversation. In our upside-down world, holding fast to these ideals can sometimes feel lonely. More than ever, we crave the company of people who share our core values.

It’s a nice gesture for Bari Weiss to bond with her audience. Unfortunately, it’s not true — in any audience.

What people crave is the company of those who see themselves as they do. Without “commitment” and “holding fast” — it’s just wishful thinking, and it shows! Decades of delight in the Gutter Games of Government has crippled this country. By being in bondage to baggage and baseless beliefs, painfully obvious lies become calcified as fact.

The complexity in explaining that is as apples and oranges as it gets when compared to the transactional nature of news and social-media norms.

Understanding how seemingly unrelated events impact one another takes time and effort to digest. But now information is so funneled in a fashion to your liking — anything that doesn’t fit the formula is foreign language. 

The.Deal.Is.That.We.Connect.These.Dots . . .

But with your motives in mind, you take one or two dots and draw your own picture. What’s worse, when someone tries to explain how things take shape in a way you don’t see, you won’t allow the discussion to breathe.

For instance, I’ve been blocked a few times on Twitter for just politely suggesting that Black Lives Matter is a counterproductive cause. Instead of considering how you could fight for justice more intelligently, you act like I’m saying you shouldn’t fight for it at all.

The other side is no different in derailing debate.

I can see that each side makes more sense on some things — why can’t you? Because you’ve all been conditioned to blindly defend your belief systems (doing enormous damage to your own interests and America to boot).

And then there are those who seem more reasonable on the surface — offering thoughtful commentary on Twitter, and I think:

Hey, here’s some people who seem interested in in-depth discussion.

Negative, Ghost Rider . . .

“The pattern is full” is so fitting — as some influencer fires off another Tweet and out comes the commentary that might as well be copied and pasted from the day before. These are intelligent and articulate people who could make a major impact if they were willing to do the work.

But why put the time and effort into discussing solutions when we can just Tweet about the problems?

And do it all over again tomorrow . . .

People really don’t listen. People are just either not that interested in what you’re saying, or they are too focused on their own agenda. It’s ridiculous to see two people acting like they can’t really hear each other — by choice.

In “The Significance Principle,” authors Les Carter and Jim Underwood posit that we should listen past where the other person has finished. We should even pause before answering. Let them get their point, their story, their compliment, and even their criticism out. Completely. . . .

The ability to hear is a gift. The willingness to listen is a choice.”

— Mike Greene, ​Why you should first seek to understand — before trying to be understood

Instead of genuinely listening to each other with our fine collection of communication tools — slinging snippets of certitude has become America’s pastime. We’ve created a knee-jerk nation where discernment is derided and negligence is in vogue. What was beyond the pale in the past is now perfectly acceptable.

There was a time when adults acted their age, but those days are long gone — as the internet and the cable clans paved the way for the onslaught of the utterly absurd.

We’re in perennial pursuit of ideologies — warfare waged with “opinions lightly adopted but firmly held . . . forged from a combination of ignorance, dishonesty, and fashion” (borrowing from Theodore Dalrymple’s Life at the Bottom).

Wars have begun that way.

The biggest and most costly lie in modern history can be debunked in a matter of minutes — with irrefutable evidence of mathematical certainty. But worshipping the word of professional know-it-alls make it impossible to have that conversation to do this day.

That same crowd wants the Left and the black community to get its act together on matters deeply woven into the fabric of America’s long history of brutality and disgrace:

Slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, murder, decades of civil rights violations, questionable shootings, and so on . . .

While the Right won’t even look at the material properties of a tube — the manipulation of which manufactured a war in the Middle East in the aftermath of 9/11. As the person who wrote and produced the most exhaustive documentary ever done on Iraq WMD, I would know.

But my scrutiny spares no side

I take Democrats to task for their role in rigging that war as well (and then some). For those of you outraged over Roe v. Wade — you rightly look to how ya got screwed when they stole that seat from Obama. And you got screwed again when their turned right around and rammed their own through on the eve of an election.

What was different in 2020 was we were of the same party as the president.

— Mitch McConnell

It just never ends with these people. If it weren’t that it would be “leap year” or some other ridiculous rationalization. Because of their shameless hypocrisy and bottomless lies, I call the Republican Party the Mariana Trench of Mendacity.

All that aside: You screwed yourselves long before they did.

We . . . want it now, and if it makes money now, it’s a good idea. But . . . if the things we’re doing are going to mess up the future, it wasn’t a good idea. Don’t deal on the moment. Take the long-term look at things.

The Dust Bowl

Biden beat Trump but he helped put him there in the first place —along with the rest of the Democratic Party.

Right on cue, they let Republicans steamroll ‘em on Iraq — playing it safe thereby helping to poison political discourse for generations to come (not to mention wasting mountains of money, untold lives lost, and unspeakable destruction in buildings, bodies, and families). Hillary threw away her first shot at the presidency the moment she voted for the Iraq War Resolution. How can you make the case for “good judgment” when you go along on something so dishonest and chock-full of folly?

Leaving aside her dealing on the moment — a Hillary/Obama ticket was still the smart move in 2008. He wasn’t ready (nor do I think he was presidential material anyway — but let’s leave that aside too). She’d most likely get 8 years — and in the meantime, Obama would be groomed for the next 8. That’s a high probability of 16 years of Democratic rule — and who knows from there.

You wanted a plant when you could have had a crop — and all you had to do was sacrifice a little longer.

But ya just had to have your “first black president” — instead of getting him as a seasoned candidate 8 years later. This ain’t Monday-morning quarterbacking — I said so at the time. But you weren’t done dealing on the moment. We’ve got the first black president sitting in the White House — and you’re marching to Black Lives Matter? There is no measure for how unwise that was.

You can pursue justice and be smart about it at the same time.

Has it ever occurred to anyone in that camp that simply calling it something else would have served your interests far better? “All Lives Matter”: How could you not see that tit for tat in taglines coming? You predictably damaged the debate on the name alone. Past is prologue — which is why I knew Obama wouldn’t be the candidate he claimed. Someone without a record of risk is not a catalyst for change.

Nevertheless, I gave him a shot in 2008. He blew it — and I don’t reward people for poor performance.

Right on cue, he caved on the Democratic Party playbook on race — putting Trump on the path to the presidency. With the tight margins, it’s quite possible that Comey’s cover-his-ass actions in the 11th hour tipped the scales. Given the possibility that a single event like that could alter the outcome of an election — what do you think pouring fuel on the fire for years did?

Had Obama said the following instead of Kobe, we’d be living in a very different world right now:

I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American. That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American, we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American.

For immovable conservatives who find comfort in that quote — take a good look in the mirror, because defending the indefensible is your M.O.

An unarmed teen in Florida was shot and killed today — he was black and the guy with the gun wasn’t.

At that moment — that’s all I know

Race relations, gun control, stand-your-ground laws, black, white, whatever — none of that even enters my mind. It instantly enters yours — because you got into the habit of letting people put it there (same goes for the Right and their ridiculous ways).

I don’t roll that way. When it comes to ascertaining the truth, I don’t care what your cause is, who’s in the White House, who controls Congress or the courts.

I learned early on in life that what you want gets in the way of what you see.

The road to reality is blocked by detours designed to keep you going in circles. Purveyors of poppycock reroute you with narratives that avoid detail like Black Death. The way out is to start with an inconsistency or two that’s narrow in scope — and take the trail where it leads.

Trayvon Martin was carrying a watermelon drink, not iced tea. To conform to fact, we must agree on that and consider what it means: Maybe nothing, maybe everything. But you pollute the debate when you won’t even acknowledge the irrefutable. Worse than that — you poison your purpose (on that front and all others) . . .

I recently watched Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s Legacy on Amazon. I’m not qualified to discuss climate change, but I can say with certainty that no number of Legacy docs would put a pinprick in the atmosphere of absurdity that’s suffocating our country. It’s easy to blame climate deniers — but you’ve done plenty of damage by denying reality of your own.

The Right is not always wrong, and the smart move is to agree with them when they’re making sense. It’s also the right thing to do.

The right thing tends to be the demanding thing — the difficult that can’t be captured in slogans, kneeling, and knocking down monuments. I don’t care if Kaepernick kneels — I care that you can’t solve multidimensional problems with one-dimensional gestures.

But what if Kaepernick kneeled and acknowledged that they need to do their part while asking the police to do theirs?

Hold the phone — you want us to share some responsibility?

You wanna solve the problem or protest about it?

All this over-the-top engineering of sensitivity has gotten totally out of hand. Excessive sensitivity breeds hypersensitivity. When you water things down to be politically correct, our nation’s ability to discern decreases right along with it:

Creating a culture that’s increasingly more easily offended and radically irrational — across the board.

GitHub to replace “master” with alternative term to avoid slavery reference.

That is not the mark of a serious-minded measure for problem solving — nor is renaming teams and pancake products, wiping Indians off boxes of butter, banning Dukes of Hazzard, or Microsoft’s Inclusiveness Checker to program you proper.

For those who would try to educate me by saying I don’t understand the feelings involved in such efforts.

No, you don’t understand . . .

At the core of our country’s decline is the unrelenting refusal to get to the bottom of anything.

Like this 1619 business: You wanna draw correlations from the past while flagrantly ignoring crystal-clear connections in the present. Even if you could miraculously get what you want — and you have a better chance of walking on water:

What’s it gonna take for you to see the unintended consequences that come with it?

Whatever problems existed on race relations — it all went off the rails on Trayvon. Obama had golden opportunities to take the country forward, but instead of leading the way — he followed his base and went backwards.

As my documentary is out to illustrate how both sides allow emotion to run roughshod over reason, part of it covers the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict. I’m not interested in defending him, I’m interested in how quickly you came to your conclusions and what you were willing to ignore to solidify them. As hard as I tried to get everything right, I made a mistake in my video montage that captures the essence of my doc. Years later, I was looking around and discovered I had used an image with the wrong Trayvon Martin in it.

At the time, I just grabbed the graphic without giving it much thought — which is precisely the problem.

My endless efforts to get it right on everything else doesn’t excuse my carelessness. It’s bad enough that it’s the wrong Trayvon, but big, bold letters of “The truth Should Not have an agenda!” is not my style. More importantly, I would never purposely paint anyone in an unfair light. I made a mistake and I’m embarrassed by it. That slip-up is nowhere near my standards. But it’s an opportunity to show how this can happen — even to those with the most unwavering commitment to truth.

And that when you make a mistake — you say so.

All that aside. To this day I doubt that most people know what Trayvon actually looked like. It’s not the kid on People magazine I assure you. In an altercation like that, the physical features of those involved are as critical as it gets.

The second you shun evidence that doesn’t fit the narrative you want — you have contaminated your judgment.

“Everybody believed Iraq had WMD” is not a valid argument any more than “armed only with Skittles.” If you’re not gonna abide by the rules of rational argument, why should anyone else?

  • When the Right came up empty on WMD — ya just bought more BS from the same people who sold you the first batch: Shrewd!
  • And the Left seeks to eradicate racism while refusing to recognize how they fuel it.

I’m up against armies of unreachables hiding behind a force field of fallacy.

Like many alternatives, however, it was psychologically impossible. Character is fate, as the Greeks believed. Germans were schooled in winning objectives by force, unschooled in adjustment. They could not bring themselves to forgo aggrandizement even at the risk of defeat.

— Barbara Tuchman, The March of Folly

America is “unschooled in adjustment”

With outrage industries just pounding away at problems without any examination of the efficacy of their efforts. They’re all blunt instruments (including those I agree with).

But if you’d stop rehashing the same tired issues and broaden the discussion to look at behavior across the board (including your own) — you could change the dynamic of debate.

And I’ve got an idea for exactly how to do it.

I recently came across a combination of Tweets that perfectly captures the concept:

How do we make people realize they’ve been lied to? You have to knock down one small pillar that’s easier to reach.

With what I have in mind: I don’t need to change policy, laws, or institutions — I just need to get to one man. Expose him and a domino effect will take care of the rest.

If we don’t right this ship, we will not see a return to some semblance of recognizing reality in our lifetime. Mark my words: Your ways will seal that fate.

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