Join the Czar, the Mandarin, ‘Puter, Dr. J, and GorT as we kick of the second season of Radio Gormogon. We’ll highlight some ideas about what this season has in store for us and then talk about the Super Bowl, Olympics, and pandas, of course.
The Czar and family have returned from Marvel’s latest thousand-dollar-or-more-grossing movie Black Panther, which stars Jackie Robinson, Adonis Creed, and that frog from Star Wars. If you are reading this by way of the Internet, you are already connected enough to know that this is The Greatest Black Movie Ever Made in the History of Cinema!
Or is it? The Czar had a sneaking suspicion that there was something more going on.
Historically, there have been two types of “Black” movies: those which feature a couple of black actors inserted into an otherwise ordinary movie—so much so that the black actors could have been white without much of the story changing—or movies made by and almost exclusively for black people with the intent of discouraging non-black Americans from seeing them. Basically, this is intended for black audiences only.
In the first case, familiar or “safe” black actors are used—Denzell Washington, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Morgan Freeman, Bernie Mac, and so on—but not in any particularly exclusive manner. Most, maybe all, of these roles could have been performed by non-black actors. The Czar speculates, to no one’s surprise, that this is Hollywood’s way of ensuring financial success: these aren’t crossover movies as much as way to ensure white dollars don’t go elsewhere. “Make it black,” the Hollywood producer tells the director over capelli d’angelo and goat cheese, “but not too black.” It’s a Kevin Hart movie, sure, but the rest of the cast is white.
Our second example is even more obvious: Tyler Perry, Spike Lee, and F. Gary Gray. White audiences liked some of their movies, but you can bet they saw them on cable. And deep down, non-black audiences mostly pretended to get this hip-hop crap, and barely understood the inner city dialogue.
Perhaps the most notable exception to this paradigm is 1988’s Coming to America, which featured an almost exclusively black cast in both Africa and a black New York City-neighborhood. This, like 1985’s The Color Purple, seems to be a noteworthy exception until you look at the producers, directors, and crew—most of whom all went to temple together. These were really white movies for white audiences featuring black actors.
This is what makes Black Panther so different for a lot of Americans: this is an almost exclusively black-cast movie, set in southern Africa for the largest part, with a very, very, very black crew. Yeah, sure, Kevin Feige isn’t black, but the creative control for this movie was by Ryan Coogler. So while some of the headlines proclaiming this the Blackest Movie EVER are way over the top, they’re not exactly wrong.
But here’s the thing: this movie doesn’t care if the audience is black or not. The story is completely approachable, secretly based in the essential history of Civil Rights, that strives to be inclusive for all audiences. Bright, vibrant, and very unlike any of the Avengers-style entries, this movie elects to show and tell, rather than beat audiences over the head.
This was the Czar’s suspicion: that Ryan Coogler decided that only the cast and setting need, by the story’s setting, to be black. He decided the movie’s messages need to be universal.
You may have read some left-wing pundits praising the movie for its Black Liberation messages, its rejection of white supremacy, and its anti-Republican stance. This film, uh, really doesn’t have any of that in there. There is a passing reference of colonialism used in an overtly humorous way (the Czar thought it quite funny, actually), and African cultures are synthesized into a dignified, photogenic fashion.
But catch this: there is a formal expression, taken from Malcolm X’s earlier days, the blacks have been victimized by other cultures for too long, that injuries need to be repaid, that old grievances need to be settled—by the bad guy. The title character believes, and expresses, that people of all races have almost everything in common except small differences, and that it’s time to put subdivision and isolation behind us. Conservatives will watch this movie, and likely at several points look around the audience and think “I hope you’re all hearing this.” Multiculturalism, maybe—but the story goes to great lengths to show the Black Panther is very much a nationalist. He’s just a nationalist who believes that his country could do more to help others.
All this sounds a lot deeper than the goofiness of Thor: Ragnarök or teenage wit of Spider-Man: Homecoming, but this latest film from Marvel is quite apart from any of those that have gone before: nearly all the major characters (and there are quite a few!) get equal screen time and play very interesting, strongly focused roles. In fact, the Czar expects that this film has more detailed characters than any Marvel Studios film made before it, each of whom you really get to know. You rapidly forget the Greatest Black Film Ever, and instead focus on the actual story and very convincing acting.
Either way, it’s going to make billion dollars in less than 12 months, and while you may walk away from it thinking “That was a little different,” you won’t regret having seen it. Nor will your kids, who will find the costumes cool and the fight scenes quite imaginative. And if they learn a little something about Malcolm X and Martin Luther King’s opposing visions, well, it’ll be vastly more than they’ll get in school.
Once more, we are saddened to hear about the events in Florida. As social media again resorts to its default position of screaming in rage about everything, the Czar realizes there are a couple of questions not really being addressed anywhere.
If your default position on social media is to advocate banning firearms or confiscating them, you won’t win this argument. You won’t even score points: the Czar doesn’t mean you don’t take the problem of school shootings seriously—just that you don’t understand the issue deeply enough. You already know a ban or limit isn’t going to work—you’re going to need to confiscate all weapons in the country, legal, illegal, and those in the military and law enforcement’s hands. But you have the power to initiate legislation to do that right now, if you wanted. That’s in your power as a citizen. The Czar expects your proposal will go nowhere—not because of the NRA, or Donald Trump, or any other conspiracy theory. It will go nowhere because it’s not going to get support from your neighbors or be practical in any real-world way.
No, this essay is geared toward readers more interested in the causes of school shootings—in fact, today’s two questions are:
- Why are school shootings happening at an increased rate?
- Why can’t we stop them before they start?
You are not imagining things: school shootings are increasing. If you factor in all firearms hatefully discharged in schools, our country has suffered approximately one per week since the holidays. Whether these range from the wide-scale attack like in Florida or someone pulling a trigger in anger on a specific student, the result is the same: students wind up as victims.
The reader probably has a theory as to why this is, consisting of two, intertwined causes. And the reader’s likely theory is correct. School shootings are on the rise because (a) they are copycat crimes and (b) they are terrifyingly easy to do.
The Czar loves to bash the media for irresponsibility, and he really does take a twisted pleasure in doing so. But the reflex to blame the media for hyper-reporting school shootings—and thereby inspiring copycats to do the same—isn’t correct in this instance. The media certainly have a responsibility to report school shootings: they are major news. Parents, especially, want as many details as possible: who is the shooter, what was the cause, how was it done? The media should by all means reveal the shooter, show his face, his name, and reveal his age—and not, as some suggest, enforce a blackout of this information.*
Thanks to the speed at which news can disseminate, everybody hears about school shootings now. One may find this difficult to believe, but even 30 years ago, you might not have heard about a school shooting if only one or two students were victims—that was a local news story. Only the most spectacular shootings got coverage, and that coverage faded after a few days. Today, would-be shooters looking for inspiration are practically bathed in this information. Attempting to censor news stories will not prevent these kids from finding that inspiration in media coverage.
Blacking out new coverage of school shootings is as useful and worthwhile as the calls to ban all firearms in the country: well-intentioned, but utterly incapable of stopping anything. In fact, both ideas prevent useful results.
But why schools? As most people assume, correctly, schools are pathetically easy targets. Thousands of school buildings around the country were designed to be easily entered, wide open, and efficiently traveled. Florida’s shooter entered the school easily, pulled the fire alarm, and opened fire as students diligently filed out. The kids literally lined up for him.
Additionally, there is no denying the fact that schools are soft targets. Guns are prohibited around most** schools, and this means the shooter can expect no armed resistance. More so, firearms of any kind are actively denied in educational consciousness—if a kid chews a Pop-Tart into the shape of Oklahoma, he is suspended for creating the outline of a firearm. This is a neurosis that encourages paralysis among administrators and school boards: rather than schools addressing the reality that firearms exist and maybe ALICE drills should reflect that, the thinkers in education instantly resist any Platonic concept of firearms entering their imagination. This means many school districts themselves refuse to admit the reality, and therefore rely more on hope and a (non-religious) prayer to protect students. The way most individual school districts manage firearm responses is little more than ritual and superstition. That needs to change, or schools will remain forever soft.
Churches can be soft targets—as in North Carolina; lately, though—as in Texas—people can and do shoot back. You can bet that church shootings will decline for the near future. You should not wonder why.
Many schools are adapting: new schools are built with walled-in classrooms, doors that can deny entry, and exit-only doors in each classroom that allow students to rush out to safety without lining up in a fatal funnel. Mass notification systems can inform teachers and students—from multiple points—whether a fire alarm is legitimate, or if an incident has erupted inside one of the classrooms. You can’t enter these new buildings without visual identification (face and photo ID)—and when allowed in, you are directed immediately to a secure checkpoint where office staff can safely verify you before you even enter the office.
Still, that’s not enough. And that brings us to our second topic.
Stopping the Threat
School shootings can be prevented before they start. Not far from the Czar’s dacha, a nearby suburb’s police department arrested a high school student at his home. His confused parents were stunned to learn the boy had a small arsenal of firearms under his bed, and even had some home-made explosives of dubious efficacy. How did the police discover him? Fellow high-school students came forward to the school administration, using an established process, to warn that the kid was acting strangely, making chilling threats about killing others, and posting unhinged—almost incoherent—statements online about hurting other students. The school administration reassured the small group of students that their fears may be legitimate, and called the police to investigate. The arrest was made that afternoon, allegedly, since time is of the essence. There is no question among many locals that this was a definite, national tragedy averted, based on the statements made by the suspect after arrest.
The reason is clear—there are always signs before a school shooting. Although the media coverage enjoys portraying the standard law enforcement line “We don’t yet know the motive,” the fellow students are never surprised who did it. Even in yesterday’s Florida shooting, a student told press that the other kids always suspected the shooter would come to school one day with guns. You read that right—at least one student claimed that a few classmates knew this shooting was going to happen.
There are always signs. And the signs are usually a template: the shooter is a loner, who attempts to draw attention to himself with oddball clothing, isolated behavior, and general social frustration. Drug abuse by the student is so common that in cases where it doesn’t seem to be case, it may just be that parents and classmates simply were unaware of the abuse.
What’s improved, though, is social media: increasingly, we see the shooters are moving away from quietly clutched, lined notebooks with scribbled messages and diagrams to equally incoherent tirades on social media—not because the shooter wants thousands of people to discover his plot, but because he really doesn’t expect people to read his crap, and he can access his material from anywhere. You will not be shocked to learn that the Florida shooter had an Instagram account that showed him with weapons and bizarre ravings. This was a big tipoff to fellow classmates that something was coming.
If the signs are always there, why is he emitting them?
The school shooter doesn’t come by his decision easily. He never wakes up one morning and elect to shoot children right after a hearty breakfast. Intricate plans are drawn up over weeks to maximize damage, scenarios envisioned about avoiding a response, and even a large variety of materials gathered, often from legal sources. In some cases, we know that trial runs are made to see how easily the school can be entered, what response time might be like, and more—just to ensure that the maximum casualty count can be maintained.
The school shooter feels trapped or imprisoned in a corrupt and, frankly, bullshit system…almost like a psychiatric patient in a ward. No one takes him seriously, no one pays attention to him, and no one worries about the pain he’s feeling. He feels powerless in this big machine, and even disrespected by the people pretending to care for him. Teachers, administrators, and fellow students are all caught up in this rigid, inflexible, and uncaring system: they are equally victims and equally complicit. Parents don’t care—they buy into how perfect the world of the school pretends to be.
You know what this school needs? An explosive, attention-getting act to show how horrible it all is. You can try a thousand different ways to fix the system from within, but it’s too powerful and fraudulent. However, one kid with a firearm—he could make a difference, right? Shoot his way in, shoot up the place, and then everyone would see how impotent the school really is. That’s how you do it—use violence as an agent of social change.
This may be difficult for most of us to imagine, but it’s pretty close—in one form or another—how his brain wiring sees it. Awkwardness turns to pain—drugs help for a while—but pain turns to frustration. Frustration increases the sense of entrapment, and then that turns to rage. Rage turns into a sense of potential empowerment, and that turns into violence. If you don’t follow this logic, skip Catcher in the Rye and go right to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
If you follow this, you understand that these kids follow a pattern so obvious that lots of classmates pick up on it. So why don’t they stop it, like they did in the Czar’s neighboring community?
Incredibly, it’s because that the shooters often kind-of have it right: the system is impotent to help.
In Florida, we discussed that one student claims a few of them knew the shooter was an imminent threat. But whom do the other students contact with concerns? Choices include a teacher, who doesn’t want anything to do with this—so the teacher refers them to the assistant principal. The assistant discusses their fears with the principal, but of course the two of them may not know even the student in question. They might talk to some of the weird kid’s teachers, and not get a real sense of concern from them, either. So they bring the kid in, maybe have him talk to the social worker—who isn’t trained for this sort of security risk—and drag the process out until, with luck, it all fades away as typical adolescent drama.
And most of the time, that is the case.
But until that process is completely revamped—as many school districts have recognized—the risk continues. What hurts about Florida is how preventable this was: the classmates recognized the risk, and the school almost certainly did everything they were allowed to, and it wasn’t enough.
Allowed to? If you aren’t related to an educator or someone on the school board, get ready for this: most school boards set the process for punishment and reward for students, and principals shall follow those requirements. Sexting? Three-day loss of phone privileges. Fighting? Two-day suspension. Throwing food in the cafeteria? Two-page report from Wikipedia on the cost of food production. These vary quite a bit: but the idea that principals have any real flexibility in doling out punishments or suspensions is a myth. It’s very often the school boards who set the levels of tolerance for misbehavior.
If you want to prevent more school shootings, you start with the school boards. Get them to understand that having the police department do an annual ALICE drill at the school isn’t effective prevention: it’s mitigation. Get them to see that the easy, open school layout is a soft target. Create a contact person, properly trained in identifying pre-violent behaviors, that students can come to with anonymous concerns about other students. Allow that person to work with the local police to do an immediate background check and quiet investigation without (a) embarrassing the wrongly suspected student or (b) political fallout from the board because “this sort of stuff doesn’t go on in our district.”
There are numerous methods to implementing such a plan—in fact, very competent consultants exist who do this sort of work for a small fee—but until the school boards realize they are first line of defense, and not the police, and not the kid’s clueless parents, and not the other students, schools will continue to be soft targets, and numerous warning signs will be dismissed.
Nobody wants school shootings to happen—not even the shooter himself—but the problem remains that schools themselves can do a lot more good in preventing them than any ignorant suggestions on social media about banning guns or arming teachers.
* It is sadly true, however, that the media unintentionally glorify the shooters by endless speculation of what motivated them, why their individual lives are so horrible, and why they needed to lash out. This is what tells the next shooter “This kid achieved the goal you want to achieve. People are now vividly aware of what he went through. They can be aware of what you’re going through.” The Czar might suggest the media report the story, provide the basic details, but not speculate on motive or provide a value judgment on the shooter. It’s doubtful this would have an obvious effect, but it could help downplay the attraction for the next shooter.
*Under-reported fact: the Sandy Hook shooter went by the middle school first, and sat in the parking lot waiting to see if a particular administrator was present. This administrator is a proponent of firearms, and when the shooter saw him exit the building and enter the parking lot, the shooter drove off and decided to switch to his fallback target—the elementary school—under the assumption he wouldn’t be able to out-shoot the administrator in question, if the latter was even armed at the moment (and evidently he wasn’t). Although other anecdotes support the idea that a mere possibility of an armed response from the school can deter a school shooting, the Sandy Hook shooter is a confirmation of this deterrence.
Another day, another school massacre. This one happened in Florida, though it could have been any school, anywhere.
Before yesterday’s corpses assumed room temperature, Super-Smart Media Elites with Pleasing Baritones began rounding up the usual strawman suspects. Brows properly furrowed, reproachful tone adopted, The Great Strawman Conflagration of 2018 immediately followed. Sadly, punch and pie were not served.
Rather than torching strawmen of his own or beating dead horses (including, but not limited to, the media), ‘Puter decided to do something he rarely does: think.
Anecdotally, ‘Puter doesn’t recall school shootings being much of a thing when he was growing up. ‘Puter’s ancient, to be sure, having been born in 1969. So ‘Puter went to the most reliable of all possible sources, Wikipedia, to see if his recollection was correct. It was.
Including suicides, police shootings, and accidental shootings, ‘Puter discovered rampant school shootings are a recent development. In the decades ‘Puter’s been alive, the number of school shootings are: 1960s, 18; 1970s, 30; 1980s, 39; 1990s, 62; 2000s, 60; 2010s, 143. The numbers ramped up a bit between the 1980s and 1990s, then exploded after 2010. ‘Puter sat for a while, sipping on a nice, cold tumbler of club soda* and pondered.
Were guns more prevalent now than in the past? No. Guns were at least as available when ‘Puter was growing up. ‘Puter’s grandfather and great-uncle were WW2 veterans, and he had uncles and cousins who were veterans of Vietnam. Many of these relatives had firearms in their homes. ‘Puter’s family was not unusual for the time. Most families had WW2 and Vietnam veterans.
Was mental illness more prevalent now than in the past? Maybe. But maybe mental illness is just more diagnosed, and that’s a good thing. In theory, early recognition and treatment of mental disorders should prevent school shootings, not cause more. There were plenty of disturbed kids in ‘Puter’s day. ‘Puter’s pretty sure the native incidence of mental illness shouldn’t be changing this rapidly.
Was culture responsible? Yes, at least in part. Our culture now accepts mental disorders to the point of requiring us to pretend the mentally ill are not mentally ill. Have you hugged a trannie today? Gender dysphoria (transgenderism) is defined as a mental disorder in the DSM-IV, the bible of mental health workers. And yet we are required to pretend transgenderism is normal or face the wrath of Those Who Know Better.
Are laws responsible? Yes, but not as you might think. Guns are more tightly regulated now than at any point in the past, yet school shootings are spiraling upward. ‘Puter posits special education laws have unintentionally caused some of the increase in school shootings. Requiring schools to make every attempt to mainstream a child who is suspected to be dangerous to himself or others puts kids who can’t handle rejection without reacting violently in situations where they’re sure to be rejected. You can claim this isn’t so, that special education laws are super-awesome, but they’re not. In some, if not many, cases, these laws set up mentally fragile kids to fail. Worse, if teachers dare say anything about the mainstreaming of these kids, they’re pounded by their administrators for WrongThink. And administrators? If they refuse to code a kid, or give her special accommodations, or mainstream him, they’re going to get sued by overzealous parents who are convinced that it’s the school’s lack of proper attention that created the monster with whom they’re living.** Which brings ‘Puter to his next point.
Could parents be to blame? Sure. We always are. But this time, ‘Puter thinks there’s some merit to the claim. We laugh about snowflakes, but snowflakes don’t just appear. They’re created by parents who shelter them from every perceived harm, every potential negative consequence of their actions. We’ve created a generation of nominal adults ill-equipped to handle most adult responsibilities. We’ve also failed to adequately parent, pretending our kids are equipped to handle the fire hose of deviancy that comes from the internet without proper supervision and guidance.
What about technology? Could that be it? Again, yes, at least in part. The rapid rise in computers, the internet, and social media have radically changed America. Everyone today is plugged in at all times, and young people more than any other group. This allows people to compare themselves to others, leaving many anxious or saddened that they’re not keeping up with perceptions of how others live, most of which perceptions are skewed of false. It also allows disturbed people to access other people with similar pathologies, retreat into echo chambers, and reinforce their disorders. Technology seems to both exacerbate mental illness and enable the dangerously mentally ill.
Tech also creates nearly risk-free opportunities to bully others, whether over politics, appearance, race, gender, sexuality, whatever. Doesn’t matter. There’s a group of bullies just waiting to beat every one of us up online for something we’ve done or failed to do. No one is immune. Now think back to your high school experience. Were you insecure, even a little? Did you worry about how you looked? We all did. And we were all bullied to some extent. Now imagine if it weren’t just the kids at your school you had to worry about. Your school was *every* school. Not only that, but most of the kids at your school were now anonymous, free to pound on you daily without showing their faces. How do you think you’d fare? ‘Puter knows he’d not have fared well.
So where does this leave America? What should be done? Well, ‘Puter doesn’t have all the answers, but he’s going to offer a few suggestions anyway.
Perhaps we are overly concerned with the tool used by school shooters and too little concerned with why the school shooter kills. ‘Puter’s betting many times it’s a combination of mental illness and being bullied, emotionally or physically. These shooters are almost always students or recent attendees of the school or school district which they attack. The shooters are looking to hurt those they perceive as having hurt them.
Perhaps parents need to start parenting. Be involved with your kids. Don’t be afraid to make your kids mad by setting rules or punishing them appropriately. Limit their screen time. Go with your gut. If you think something’s up with your kid, something’s up with your kid. Don’t pretend your kid’s messed up primarily or only because of the schools. In all likelihood, schools didn’t cause your kid’s issues, nor can schools solve your kid’s issues.
Perhaps tech companies should consider limiting access to sites and forums for minors. Mind you, ‘Puter’s not calling on *government* to require this, ‘Puter’s asking tech companies to look at the damage they do even as they rightly promote all the good technological improvements have brought us. There’s gray in every technological advance, sometimes more dark than light, and pretending there’s not doesn’t do anyone any good. And, as a businessdude, ‘Puter would simply say it’s better to diagnose and attack a business issue on your own rather than have government “help” you do so. Be proactive.
And if Congress wants to do something, how about reforming education laws that prevent schools from removing kids from general population until the damage is done? By all accounts, it appears that the most recent school shooter had serious mental health issues and was well known as a potential threat by fellow students and likely school staff. ‘Puter’s bet is the school had to exhaust every potential accommodation before kicking him out, which probably just gave him additional time to build grudges. If you want to help, make schools err on the side of excluding the potentially dangerous, or at least don’t harshly penalize them for doing so.
‘Puter’s done. He’s had about all he can stomach of thinking about another school shooting. He’s finished with media trotting out the same old complaints about how the government trots out the same old arguments.
It’s time to come at solving the problem of school shooting from a different perspective because our traditional responses have had no impact.
Let’s get started.
* Yes, club soda. It’s Lent, and ‘Puter always stops boozing in Lent. So, (1) suck it and (2) stay away from ‘Puter until the shakes and hallucinations wear off, usually by Easter.
** ‘Puter could go on for days about how special education laws have normalized deviant behavior by mainstreaming the aberrant. Before you lose your ever-loving mind, ‘Puter’s not talking about Down’s kids, the cognitively disabled, or the profoundly physically disabled. ‘Puter’s not talking about kids with learning disabilities. He’s talking about the behaviorally disordered population, which overlaps with some of the foregoing.
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▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰ running ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ dingus ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ children's author. ▰▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰▰▰ ▰▰▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ melons ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ closed at 5. ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰ ▰▰? ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰ ▰▰▰ ▰▰▰ ▰ an entire Fleetwood Mac album, which was not available on CD until A▰ril of that month. Even so, ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ but ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ could say “Madame President,” which would be ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ing believeable. ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰▰ especially with her husband's history. But, ▰▰▰▰▰▰ ▰▰ until further notice.
The Czar was perusing the latest quarterly issue of the alumni magazine from his alma mater, which—being a Jesuit institution—is a crap-shoot whether or not it will cause us to slap our forehead. This month, however, it contained an article about perceived media bias, and concluded very much as you should hope it would: yes, Americans largely believe the media lie to them. About everything.
Each time a study or poll comes out about the media and our wise, communal distrust of them, some voices among the guilty offer dumbfounded sputterings about this. “How can they not trust us? Don’t they understand how important we are?” Or better, when the poll mentions fake news, the distancing begins: “Well, you can’t include us in that social-media, right-wing, bot-blogger crap…we are a real news organization.”
What a shame the Prosecco-sipping, Jersey-blue-licking elites in their Manhattan experimental gastrobars no longer invite the Czar and his axe collection to their shindigs, as he would be happy to explain the disconnect.
The average person, unlike the average journalist, has a much broader definition of Fake News. Whereas the latter considers anything by Fox News to be more anti-Hillary sophistry, the former accepts any of the following as candidates:
- Stories that are without any credible source, or stories that rely on unnamed sources.
- Stories about Russian meddling, former Trump assistants, scandals involving cabinet under-secretaries, or Republican internecine warfare.
- Puff pieces about how great the Obama years were.
- Anything that contradicts the individual viewer’s personal experiences, particularly about how great healthcare reform has been, how the tax cut is hurting you, how homeless have suddenly appeared, and why the economy is the worst ever.
- Stories about Trump is edging us closer to war with any nation you can mention.
Why bother continuing? There’s a fundamental disconnect between the media’s definition of Fake News and the public’s much broader, encompassing understanding of it. Today, for example, we are being offered countless explanations about how terrible the State of the Union speech was, and how utterly disappointing we should feel as Americans; although, anecdotes from the streets seem to correspond perfectly with the CBS News poll of SOTU viewers: people were overwhelmingly jazzed by the optimism, including 43% of Democrats. That’s almost half of Democrats, and—no small feat—72% of independents. Add those numbers up, and the media’s insistence that we live in an age of doom and despair is swept easily into the public’s definition of (you guessed it!) Fake News.
Although much of the public is suffering from the fatigue of this constant anti-Trump bombardment, the result of which is that anything not overtly positive about the President is being ignored or (as Charles C. W. Cooke puts it) compartmentalized, the reality is that the media are overly restrictive in their approach to this problem. Look, the media are basically splitting hairs over the wording, whereas the public are dismissing swaths of stories. And given a choice, the Czar thinks the public has got it entirely correct: it doesn’t matter if the stories are probably true; if they aren’t 100% perfectly true, they no longer count.
A recent example is illustrative: did President Trump refer to numerous countries as “shitholes?” The media certainly think so, and they have a confirmed source: Senator Dick Durbin. Is this believeable? Certainly. Is this probably true? With Trump, very much so. Is it likely the case? The Czar would say, all things being equal, yes.
But did it happen? The problem is that the only source of this story is Dick Durbin, who—if you know him—is a frequent liar. Plus, numerous people present at the alleged event concur—with some consistency—that the President said no such thing, and that Senator Durbin clearly heard something else.
Interesting; however, the public have already dismissed the entire thing as Fake News. Why? Because at least one person here is lying, and the media can’t seem to seem to explain why. Instead, the media favor the more colorful version, the one they like better. And so Americans stop caring because the media have stopped caring.
Democracy can indeed die in darkness; but if you want a more enlightening phrase, get out your Latin texts and consider the age-old question of quis custodiet ipsos custodes.
The Czar understands the Grammys are nothing more than a show of money and power; music is merely the means by which the power manipulates the money. He has steadfastly avoided them since 1988, but did catch a portion of the 2018 broadcast wherein he saw Camila Cabello deliver this speech, a complete musical non sequitur about the Dreamers:
Today, in this room full of music’s dreamers, we remember that this country was built by dreams, for dreams, chasing the American dream. My parents brought me to this country with nothing in their pockets but hope. They showed me what it means to work twice as hard, and never give up. And honestly no part of my journey is any different from theirs. I’m a proud Cuban-Mexican immigrant, born in Eastern Havana, standing in front of you on the Grammy stage in New York City, and all I know is, just like dreams, these kids can’t be forgotten and are worth fighting for.
Well, here’s the thing. Her parents did not arrive here illegally by sneaking over from Mexico: they came legally through normal means. She’s not a Dreamer. And honestly, her entire journey is about 180° apart from theirs. But why screw up a good embarrassed-applause line with details, right?
The Czar also understands that Dreamers didn’t choose to be born to illegal parents, and that their parents loved them so much that they wanted these kids to have a better shot in America—even illegally—than endure the crushing poverty of rural Mexico. Got it. The Czar might make the same move in those circumstances.
But the Czar has little sympathy for today’s Dreamers…because this all happened decades ago, and these kids grew up from being little, tiny Dreamers into adults with no interest in doing the right thing for themselves or their families.
By the book, it takes five years to become a U.S. citizen; the average time is a bit longer than that, and there are thousands of people waiting in line to do just that—many from shithole countries, and many from nice countries. These folks are working hard to safeguard their families for as much of the American dream as they want to taste.
Meanwhile, we’re supposed to feel sorry for people—some of whom have been here for 30 years—because they couldn’t participate in a process that’s free and would legalize them immediately? The Czar was particularly set off by a television news interview with a woman being deported after 31 years of illegal residency, who was holding down an IT job and spoke with no trace of accent. Look, the Czar gets the idea was to show “just how American she is,” but it came off as “I’ve been able to become a citizen six times over and just didn’t love the benefits of this country enough.”
Enough. The Dreamers have been profiting from intense public relations, and the truth is that most of them—maybe even almost all—have failed to legalize themselves despite having a ridiculous amount of time to do so.
Picture your sister and her live-in boyfriend, who never seems to get work, has little interest in getting married, and spends all day living it up on her money. At some point, she needs to realize that he’s a parasite, and she needs to get rid of him. He doesn’t love her: he just knows a free ride when he sees it. People like that probably make your skin crawl: he has the power to change his life—and hers—for the better, but doesn’t see the point when the food is good and the bed is warm and dry.
At least that’s how the Czar pictures your sister. Anyway, see if you can connect the dots. If so, you can grasp our annoyance with this whole Dreamers thing.
Sorry, Ms. Cabello—they’re not you, and they’re not your parents. The Czar has so many other people to feel sorry for, so he’ll pass on a bunch of free-loaders. But we’re certainly glad your parents and you are citizens! It’s the coolest club in the world, and so easy to join.
The Gormogons have put our heads together and started planning season 2 of Radio Gormogons. We’re excited about all the decapitations, cruelty, and…no, Czar, stop that. We’re excited about some new features and material we have planned. Hopefully, we’ll be able to apply some of the lessons we learned from season 1.
In preparation for our
World Domination Season 2, take a listen since we tortured the movie voice guy into helping.
To borrow from the greatest philosopher of our age, “‘Puter may not be a smart man, but he knows what dysfunction is.”*
‘Puter’s family thinks he’s losing his marbles since he’s been yelling at the television and radio for weeks. Every stinking media outlet has sob story after sob story about deportations of sympathetic illegal aliens. Media tugs its chin and sheds a theatrical tear, tut-tutting the ruffians who would date deport people for violating our laws.
After his third transient ischemic attack induced by biased media coverage of immigration, ‘Puter had an epiphany. On second thought, maybe it should be “because of his third transient ischemic attack.” Whatever. That’s not important right now. What’s important is ‘Puter’s epiglottis. Wait, no. Epiphany.**
‘Puter realized Democrats and Republicans will never agree on immigration because Democrats view the issue at the micro level while Republicans view it at the macro level.
Democrats view immigration as a million tiny, one-off stories, completely unconnected to some larger picture. That is, if a guy who snuck in illegally, has a felony conviction from long ago, was ordered deported, was granted leniency from deportation from prior administrations, is married, has kids, and has worked (illegally) for years is deported, this is the worst thing ever.
You can see this attitude in every media story. Media either agrees with this “micro” view of immigration or is cynically writing stories to reinforce it in other liberals. Or both, but ‘Puter’s kind and won’t automatically attribute malevolence to media, even though it’s richly deserved.
You can see it in your friends and family, who, when asked about immigration will respond with some version of, “OMG, those evil Trump people really hate all the poor brown people! We have plenty of everything, and we’re good, loving people, so we should keep them all!”
Republicans view immigration as a monolithic process, and one that is, on balance (as currently operating) harmful to America and Americans. That is, the guy who snuck in and has been working illegally is part of an integrated web of illegal immigrants and their employers who, on the whole, inflict damage to American workers, American culture, and American life.
You can see this “macro” view in conservative media pundits who charge ignoring immigration law, even for sympathetic cases, damages rule of law and respect for our institutions. We hear arguments from politicians that every job an illegal immigrant holds illegally is a job not available to American citizens. You see the outlays for illegal immigrants and their kids, such as welfare (for kids of illegals born here) and in-state college tuition for Dreamers.
Your friends and family may even say such things as, “They knew they were breaking the law when they came here. Why is it unjust to punish them when they are caught? They knew the potential consequences of their acts. Let the illegal immigrants and their families suffer them. They have no one to blame but themselves.”
Regular readers know ‘Puter, and while he plays a cold hearted schlub on Twitter, he’s actually a caring person who doesn’t want to harm anyone.* However, ‘Puter’s also a firm believer in the importance of rule of law. ‘Puter is sympathetic to the individual stories of illegal aliens forced out of the country, away from friends and family, and back to countries in which they may not have lived in decades. But the critical importance of rule of law and the readily foreseeable consequences of unfettered immigration trump any sympathy for individual cases ‘Puter may have.
At base, Democrats argument boils down to “ALL TEH FEELZ.” Republicans have the better of the argument on the merit, but it won’t ultimately matter. America’s been corrupted since the 1960s by Boomers, academia, public schools, crypto-Marxists, and media to eschew logic and reason and let your feelz flag fly. Each entity has its own reason for destroying America’s ability to reason. Some view it as an end in itself, some as an acceptable loss in pursuit of a greater goal. ‘Puter views it as a crying shame.
As such, ‘Puter expects the current lean towards immigration reform along Republican lines to be the high water mark for controlled immigration supporters. In large groups, logic and reason nearly always fall before raw emotion and rage. Welcome back to the mobs of the French Revolution.
America will get immigration reform now, with tighter laws, but it is a momentary win. An increasing plurality of Americans has given up on reason and rule of law. This group is content to sit idly by as the nation is irreparably harmed in service to their feelz.
If people on either side want to stop the conflagration over immigration, they need to learn to phrase their arguments in terms the other side will understand. As noted, because the “all teh feelz” junta is numerically larger, it’s far more critical for the “rule of law” side to learn to do so.
‘Puter has no hope either side will learn. ‘Puter knows it is America which will suffer.
* Yes, that’s Forrest Gump. Don’t @ me. Also, yeah, “may not be” is generous to ‘Puter.
** Maybe ‘Puter should’ve listened to Dr. J, taken the clot-busting drugs, stopped drinking more than 13 liters of vodka a day, and forsworn Popeye’s fried chicken. But what would a life without those things be?
*** Unless said person or persons truly deserve to be hurt. For example, people who play “Africa” on loop when he’s around. I’m looking at you, Kaiju and Meaux.
Say the word and normal, sane people lose their minds.
On one side, we have people screaming “THEY TOOK R JERBZ!!!” and “BILD TEH WAL!!” On the other side, we see people ranting without open borders, America’s the moral equivalent of Hitler. Once again, America’s allowed its politicians and media to divide us. Ordinary Americans (i.e., those not making money off sowing discord and strife) are a lot closer policy-wise than we think.
The vast majority of Americans (if polls are to be believed) support a pathway to legal status of some sort for so-called Dreamers. The vast majority of Americans also support increased border enforcement, as well as better, stricter enforcement of our immigration laws generally.
Trump, assuming today’s policy position is his true position, understands this. He supports both notions, legalizing the Dreamers and tight borders coupled with strict enforcement of law. This seems to ‘Puter to be the correct position. Or, at least, the position best suited to satisfy both sides of the immigration debate (while providing grist for extremists’ grievance mills for the decade to come).
To Trump’s credit, he is not making the mistake Republicans made in the 1980s when they agreed to amnesty first, then increased enforcement later, which conveniently (for Democrats) never materialized. Trump is insisting on a package deal, which is the smart play.
Media and Democrats can blame Trump all they want if Dreamers are deported, but if Trump and Republicans are on record with an offer for a pathway to legal status for Dreamers in return for the Trump Taj Ma-Wall and tighter enforcement, Republicans are in pretty good shape because that’s where Americans seem to be.
Democrats found out the hard way the importance of at least appearing reasonable when they shut the government down, thus breaking the first rule of government shutdowns: Don’t shut the government down. Worse, no amount of spinning by Democrats and media could change the inescapable conclusion that Democrats were willing to punish American citizens to gain benefits for illegally present aliens, even sympathetic ones. This, to put it mildly, is not a winning look.
So, as the immigration saga plays out, here are my predictions, for whatever they’re worth.
- Trump gets his beloved wall and increased enforcement.
- Dreamers get some sort of pathway to legal status, though I fervently hope not citizenship.
- These two items are part of larger immigration reform which will include at a minimum an end to the diversity visa lottery and sharp curtailment of family related visas (except for spouses and minor children, who will not then get to bring their relatives in).
- The entire mess will be rolled into a consolidated two-year budget which will pass before August, allowing both Republicans and Democrats to claim victory prior to November’s mid-term elections.
You may disagree. You may think this solution is wrong and bad and proof positive that Democrats/Republicans are ruining our once great nation. My take? It’s America returning to bare knuckled, hard fought compromise.
And that, whatever the policy outcome, is a good thing for America.