I’ve been tempted to write something political recently, but I kind of feel that I’ve already said most of what I have to say, and it’s hard to keep up with current events in an administration where things change by the day. Take the travel ban, for instance. It’s obviously a stupid idea, because even if Donald Trump could make a case for the countries he singled out being dangerous, the ban largely affected people who wanted to get OUT of those countries. Sure, terrorists could potentially sneak in that way, but have there really been statistics proving that’s any more likely than any other way they manage to evade the authorities? From what I hear, vetting is already pretty extreme. But even beyond that, I’m just puzzled by how this went into effect immediately after Trump signed the executive order. Since when does the government move that quickly? Then, a couple days later, judges declared the ban illegal, but Trump then started fighting to get it reinstated, so I guess it’s still up in the air.
And I’d wanted to say a bit about the Dakota Access Pipeline, but it was discontinued before I got around to it. Now Trump wants to bring it back, because no bad idea is truly dead when people like him are involved.
It fits his general method of favoring big business over anything, except when a business wants to discontinue his daughter’s clothing line. Then it’s personal. And really, maybe it’s just my paranoia, but I kind of get the impression that Trump is doing some of these things just to piss people off. Sure, the pipeline would be a boon to the oil companies, but it’s also a way for Trump to prove he doesn’t give a crap about public opinion, tribal sovereignty, or the environment. What’s odd is that the guy also seems to really want to be popular. Maybe he wants to be a worthy adversary, or someone who’s funny enough that they can get away with being insulting. Hey, I’ll admit that I often envy the latter. But it’s probably more likely that he’s just a hypocrite.
Speaking of hypocrites, there was a lot of backlash to Milo Yiannopoulos being a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher, to the point that Jeremy Scahill (who had been booked first, I believe) flat-out refused to appear in the same episode. I watched it, and it was a total softball interview, with Maher trying to find common ground with the guy. Now, I watch the show pretty often, and it generally seems to be the case that Maher will freely argue with and call out members of the panel, but takes it easier during his initial one-on-one interview, which was the position Yiannopoulos was in. I remember him being pretty friendly with Mike Huckabee, too. Maher is trying to turn the whole Yiannopoulos thing into a free speech issue, but since when does the First Amendment guarantee you a platform? It means people like Yiannopoulos can say hateful things and not get arrested, which he hasn’t been. But why book him for television shows and addresses at colleges? The main argument for it seems to be that people need to hear from those with differing viewpoints, and not just like-minded people. I agree, but only when the people with differing viewpoints have valid points to make. This “alt-right” thing is just a bunch of people saying the same long-discredited things about how white males deserve more power than anyone else. And people like Yiannopoulos don’t appear to have any real goal other than offending as many people as possible. Many great speakers are provocative, but that doesn’t make everyone provocative a great speaker. Some are just mean to be mean. We don’t need to give them national platforms on mainstream media any more than we do people who think the Earth is flat, although that at least would probably be more entertaining. Why would colleges want to book these jackasses in the first place? I guess I feel the protests against such speakers are pointless, because no one is making you go, and I doubt the hatemongers are going to recruit any college students to their cause. But at the same time, you can’t claim the protesters are trying to silence free speech by advocating THEIR right to free speech. I have heard that there were riots against Yiannopoulos, and that’s going too far, but I seriously doubt the people who rioted are at all reflective of left-wing college culture in general. I wonder if another reason the media are so eager to interview such dumbasses is that they seem to be so full of contradictions. I mean, Yiannopoulos is a non-American who apparently favors Trump’s America First rhetoric, a gay man who’s opposed to gay rights, and an anti-Semite with Jewish heritage. Even his Greek ancestry is probably too close to the Middle East for some white supremacists. Presumably interviewers think they’ll be able to make some kind of sense of this, but I doubt he’s thought this out in any rational way at all. Getting back to Maher, I know he’s also booked S.E. Cupp, who claims to be an atheist but says she thinks religious people are more moral. Sometimes a person’s positions just don’t make sense. Still, I was a bit puzzled by Yiannopoulos calling out Lena Dunham in particular, considering that she also seems to be someone who makes a lot of stupid, offensive off-the-cuff statements, although I don’t think she MEANS to be offensive. I really know next to nothing about Dunham. I have a largely negative attitude toward her after hearing about the baffling statement in the book she wrote (and that I’ve seen on multiple bestseller and recommendation lists) that she molested her baby sister. I’ll admit I don’t know the context, but is there ANY context in which that’s okay? Then there was her recent statement about wishing she’d had an abortion, although maybe she was just misquoting Female Trouble. But I know some people who like Dunham and hate Amanda Palmer, who’s also been known to make offensive comments that she might well not intend as offensive, and I’m kind of the opposite. I think a lot of it comes down to how you were first exposed to the person, as I loved Amanda’s music before I knew anything about her as a person, but I’ve never watched Girls. Also, as someone who puts my foot in my mouth pretty often, I can’t say it’s entirely fair to judge anyone based on a few offhand comments. At the same time, though, that’s often all we get with celebrities. I recently read in this article that Sarah Silverman defended a magazine that endorsed bigotry, but I know she’s been prone to making stupid offhand remarks. It’s actually one reason I identify with her.
Yesterday, I read two articles I found on Twitter, one asking whether liberals are helping Trump (the answer is no, with perhaps a few exceptions, but that’s not what the writer thinks), and another on 4chan and its contribution to Trump’s popularity. The former is about how Trump supporters feel that they’re being marginalized by mean liberals, and that’s driving them more to Trump’s side. Highlights include a comparison of Trump voters to people coming out as gay in the 1950s, and a complaint that women won’t date guys who support Trump. Quite frankly, I’m not sure why anyone would WANT to date someone who finds their politics abhorrent (we can’t all be James Carville and Mary Matalin), but these guys are probably just looking for casual sex anyway. So you’re supporting a truly awful person who wants to take away people’s rights, and you’re upset because people are calling you out for it? As I’ve seen pointed out multiple times, these are the same people who think liberals are whiny and too obsessed with hurt feelings.
You can’t have it both ways, you know. I’m all for understanding and reasoning with opponents, but it’s not always possible. It’s like when people insisted that middle and working class people who voted for Trump will eventually realize he’s not on their side. I think some have, but it’s a rarity. Trump has been in the public eye for decades, and has constantly bragged about how much of a rich asshole he is. If you actually thought he’d be a champion for the working man, I’m not sure anything could convince you otherwise, because you’re already going against every shred of observable evidence. So no, if you voted for the guy who bragged about sexual assault, said Mexicans were rapists, and advocated a ban on all Muslims, I don’t think it matters much if your feelings are hurt. Betsy DeVos recently said people were making her life a living hell. You know that wouldn’t be the case anymore if you would resign, right?
As for the 4chan article, I’d heard of the site before, but really didn’t know much about it. What’s interesting is that I can understand these people a lot more than I can the Trump voters in the other article. You feel utterly powerless and out of place in society, and have hence retreated into fantasy and heavy Internet usage? I’m the same way! What I don’t get is the misogyny, because in my own experience, a lot of women are in the same basic position. In fact, they’re often MORE marginalized by society than men are.
I didn’t date until I was twenty-two, and I had a rather bizarre and confused attitude toward relationships. I was jealous of couples, but I don’t think it was so much that I wanted a girlfriend so much as that I just wanted people to pay attention to me, and that tended to be less common when everyone else was busy with their partners. But at the same time, I didn’t blame the people who paired up; I just felt lonely. When a woman was actually interested in me, I had no clue what to do, although I guess we eventually worked it out all right as we’re now married. But the real point I’m making is that I don’t understand why you’d use women in general as scapegoats. If no one will date you, maybe it’s you more than them. And maybe you should stop looking at women as potential partners and more as friends, and maybe then something could develop into a relationship. I’m no expert in this matter, but it makes sense to me. I’ve written about GamerGate before, but couldn’t make any sense of it whatsoever. I think the conclusion might be that it was never supposed to make sense; it was just misogynists saying whatever crap came to their minds. Why anyone wants their escapist entertainment tainted with the same patriarchal garbage we have to put up with in real life, I couldn’t say. I guess it’s a failing on my part that, while I don’t always think or behave rationally myself, I tend to expect other people to do so. If an appeal to logic doesn’t work, I get incredibly frustrated, but probably others have felt that way about me. I try to always respect reason even if I’m not always reasonable, but that isn’t to say I always succeed. Still, I feel I’ve too often become involved in a situation where I was at least trying to make rational points and the other person was just ignoring me and arguing based only on what they wanted to be true. With the Trump presidency, such people are now more prominent than ever. And it makes sense that people who just want, as Alfred Pennyworth said, to watch the world burn would vote for Trump. What I think they don’t get is that, as much as their lives might suck already, they can always get worse. You think society deserves to collapse because of how much it’s ostracized you? I understand, but I don’t think you’re going to fare too well in some kind of free-for-all post-apocalyptic world. For one thing, you probably won’t have Internet access anymore.