Cognitive Dissonance

So, it’s wrong to liken President Obama to Hitler. Maybe even racist. Certainly beyond the pale, regardless.

On the other hand, likening everyone who opposes Barack Obama to Nazis, stormtroopers, and Jew-killers is totally unproblematic.

Funny, that.

[Update 04/02]

Jeff Goldstein, linking to the same Reason article, hits on exactly the same idea that  I wrote about a few days ago (and which is also linked above):

In other words, Kiteley isn’t so much “alarmed” by the rhetoric of the “right wing”; instead, he is being alarmed by the anti-Tea Party propaganda his “intellectual” brethren have been peddling. And it is not America he fears for. It is himself. [emphasis in original]

The scare tactics on both sides (and I think Goldstein does himself a small disservice by not conceding that the right is just as susceptible as the left to this sort of rhetoric) are not meant to actually convince anyone. They’re intended to reinforce already-held opinions. Frank Rich doesn’t compare the Tea Parties to Kristallnacht (no, really) to sway independent voters or even to smear the right (though such side-effects are always welcome).

What he’s really trying to do is scare liberals and progressives by reinforcing the idea that “the right” really is a motley assortment of Brownshirt-wannabes, and is therefore frightening and intellectually illegitimate.


2 Responses to “Cognitive Dissonance”

  1. 1 cholm725
    April 2, 2010 at 1:37 pm


    I used to be a bit more dyed-in-the-wool, but over the last 9 years of the “real” world (read: not in high school or the Army), I’ve really seen this phenomenon occurring across a wide spectrum of the ‘media’. The worst I’ve seen, in terms of intellectual honesty, is the way that the actions of a small(ish) group of whoever is projected onto the whole. It’s not right to make out liberals as patchoulied-in-the-wool d-locked bong suckers, but it’s equally incorrect to make out conservatives as nazis, etc. The real confusion for me is:

    A) Why people let themselves get pulled in
    B) Why the alternatives seem to push BEYOND the fringe

    I know there are conservatives and liberals who are perfectly normal people, agree on 75-80% of policy (etc), and who could/should be finding ways to escape this sort of blanket policy politicking.

    What’s worse, is that relevant news actually gets washed out by the background noise of the manufactured crises. I guess this is nothing new, but it certainly seems like there are more centripetal forces these days than anything.

    Crazier, to me, is the way that ‘media’ outlets are now recruiting these lunatic asshats and giving them air time. It’s savvy in that they know that their shit sells right now, but it’s cynical as well.

    Essentially, I’m losing faith in Americans in general. I’m holding out some shreds of hope though. Most of us don’t fit these molds. Right?


    Please say I’m right.

  2. 2 Vincent
    April 2, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    The real confusion for me is:

    A) Why people let themselves get pulled in
    B) Why the alternatives seem to push BEYOND the fringe

    Go read the “Scare Tactics” post for my stab at explaining this phenomenon.

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