Educated Evangelicals, Academic Achievement, and Trumpism: On the Tensions in Valuing Education in an Anti-Intellectual Subculture

This is an excellent essay told from a personal perspective about why so many evangelicals reject science and the truth itself — and why they can embrace someone like Donald Trump.

Please leave comments under original post.

Not Your Mission Field

Authority First: The Enclave Strikes Back

“I sat in the waiting room wasting my time, and waiting for Judgment Day. I praise liberty, the freedom to obey.” – Green Day, “21st Century Breakdown,” 21st Century Breakdown (2009)

Fundamentalists force an inhumane choice on reflective, empathetic individuals who grow up in their enclave communities: assent that 2 + 2 = 5, or, if you can’t, shut up about it or leave. Conservative Evangelicalism is a variety of Christian fundamentalism, and, make no mistake, the data tells us with overwhelming clarity that (apart from the “special demographic” of Vladimir Putin, Mitch McConnell, and James Comey), white Evangelicals are the one demographic most responsible for electing the most patently unqualified and dangerously demagogic president in modern American history. I am often asked how they could vote for someone so impious, which is a question I’ve addressed multiple times, generally referring to white Evangelical subculture’s

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Why the Fairness Doctrine needs to return.

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I’m old enough to remember the days when the news was simply the news and the  various networks and other outlets didn’t differ much or at all in what they reported, only slightly in style.   Reporters were mostly emotionally detached and broadcasted the events of the day without much partisan opinion or editorializing.  When they did, an opposing viewpoint would always be presented.     Sure, mainstream news back then could be boring and dry.  Opinion is  based on emotion, and an emotional, sensationalized delivery of the news is more enticing and sells better than the reciting of facts.   Old-school reporters and anchors were well respected even though they never were considered celebrities.

Until the 1980s, American mainstream news was for the most part “fair and balanced,” with only actual facts delivered or both sides given airtime when an issue was politically controversial.   Sure, there were always tabloids that were more sensationalized or opinionated, but they weren’t taken very seriously by most people and even they didn’t usually descend into telling outright lies.   Highly partisan journalism was relegated to op-ed pieces, guest spots, and letters sections.    Opinions were clearly stated as such. There was good investigative journalism like 60 Minutes or Hard Copy if you liked a little more intrigue and excitement in your news, but it was still based on facts, not opinion and pure emotion.

Today, it’s very hard to find an American mainstream news outlet that isn’t partisan.   To do so, you almost have to rely on foreign news outlets like the BBC or public radio (which Trump has marked for elimination in his budget).   On the left, the most famous examples are MSNBC, CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times (the last being somewhat more centrist and less politically partisan than the others); on the right, there is Fox News, Breitbart News (which has become almost mainstream due to its enormous popularity) and many of the tabloid daily papers, both on- and offline.   Now we have Trump TV, an actual propaganda channel owned by the far-right Sinclair Broadcasting that veers dangerously close to state TV like they have in Russia or North Korea.

News outlets are not required to let you know if what they are reporting are facts or opinion, and it’s been this way for thirty years.   The problem has gotten so bad that Fox News can report outright lies — such as the Seth Rich story and denial of climate change — as facts.   On the left, the problem hasn’t gotten quite that bad (yet), but I have noticed the loaded and leading questions posed to right-wing politicians and guests, and a lot of liberal editorializing and opinions without opposing opinions providing a leavening agent.

Newscasters are now celebrities.  Market share and popularity has eclipsed factual, ethical reporting and responsible journalism.  Opinionated pundits (much like our president) rely on the force of their personalities over honesty and public service.   In so doing, they have won rabid followers and have influenced politics itself,  regardless of facts.   I’m not trying to be biased, but it seems this problem is especially prevalent on right-wing radio and on Fox News, where reactionary pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly need not stick with facts at all.  They can tell outright lies and spend the rest of their time building loyalty and vilifying “the other side” using name-calling and demonizing those with different views (that’s how “liberal” got to be a dirty word and “feminazi” Hillary Clinton got to be so vilified by conservatives), emotional rhetoric, and outright propaganda.   The problem exists on the left too, but not to the same degree as on the right.   In general, the mainstream news in 2017 is more entertainment than anything else, and yet people on both sides of the political spectrum take it more to heart than ever.

The problem seems to have started in 1987, with Reagan’s elimination of a little-known FCC policy called The Fairness Doctrine.  According to Wikipedia, The Fairness Doctrine, which was made into law in 1947, did the following:

It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented. The demise of this FCC rule has been considered by some to be a contributing factor for the rising level of party polarization in the United States.

The Fairness Doctrine was the reason why the news prior to 1987 seemed less compelling and more “boring” than it does today.   Sticking with facts or giving both sides equal time just didn’t sell as well, and networks wanted to make as much money as they could. The easiest way to do that was to turn the news into entertainment (“infotainment”) and appeal to pure emotion and their own greed instead of education and public service.  Removing the Fairness Doctrine allowed them to market the news the same way a new product or sitcom could be marketed, and not have to bother with presenting opposing viewpoints.   After all, a Ford commercial didn’t have to also present the advantages of buying a Chevrolet, so why should the news have give both sides a voice?

At first, the law’s removal seemed innocuous enough, even harmless.  No one really gave much thought to the way it could lead to democracy itself becoming endangered.   No one seriously considered how  such a little thing could lead to the dumbing-down of the population so they would no longer know how to think critically or consider any point of view outside their comfort zone.   Wasn’t it a good thing for everyone if the news could be made more exciting and entertaining to its consumers, while at the same time making the owners and sponsors more profitable?   It was a win-win, right?

Not by a long shot.   The dangers of removing the Fairness Doctrine were insidious.  Over time, the lines between facts and opinions (and later, outright lies and facts) became increasingly blurred, so that by 2017, most people no longer trust the mainstream media or can tell for certain what are facts and what’s fake news.  Such a distinction — where people know what’s real and what isn’t — is vital to retain a democratic system where an unethical or even dangerous “cult of personality” cannot arise easily or at all.    Another major problem was the way it led to the political polarization we see today.   Being required to present opposing opinions in reporting kept people from drifting to either the very far left or the very far right.  It may seem like a small thing, but it was the Reagan-era removal of this little FCC law that started us down the slippery slope to fake news and political propaganda reported as fact, which in turn led to the political extremism and hatred that divides our nation.

The removal of the Fairness Doctrine is only one example of how dangerously out of control deregulation has become.   It’s time for the FCC to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.  It might be the most important way the divisions between us can be bridged and our  democracy be saved.

Where I stand on “positive thinking.”

I was going through some old posts, and the last sentence of this one demanded my attention, because it looks like it has finally happened. Time for a reblog.

Lucky Otters Haven

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Positive thinking taken to extremes is deluded thinking.

I’ve seen several blog posts about the problem of forced positive thinking lately, and since this is an issue that has concerned me for a long time, I thought I’d add my own take on it.

In recent years, there’s been an increased societal pressure toward “positive thinking.” I think two factors have led to this trend–the New Age philosophy that we can “be as gods ourselves,” and the continued glorification of the Reaganistic optimism of the 1980s. The signs are everywhere, in self-help and pop psychology books, in countless popular slogans and memes that appear on bumper stickers and coffee mugs, on motivational posters, on calendars, on the political campaign trail, and all over social media such as Facebook. The forced positive thinking brigade has even infiltrated churches. Motivational speakers like Tony Robbins and preachers of the “Prosperity Gospel” like Joel…

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The war on truth (Facebook post)

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I just wrote this long post on Facebook and thought I should post it here too.  If you agree, please share it.   When I get my tax return, I’m getting a passport.   You should too.  #RESISTANCE

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The Current Political Situation (reblogged from Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole)

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I’m sure my friend Nyssa from the Hobbit Hole won’t mind me reblogging this post she wrote today.    I think politics is dominating many of our minds these days, especially  for those of us who are survivors of abusive families or marriages and are triggered to the point of hypervigilance and paranoia by the constitutional chaos and hatred that seems to have suddenly taken over ever since Trump came into office.  It’s as if the world has gone mad.

Every day since this president took office is more WTF than the last.   Staying glued to the legitimate media (oh wait, I mean ‘fake news’) is almost an unconscious reflex that has its roots in our C-PTSD.    But our morbid fascination and vigilance doesn’t have to be in vain.  It can and should be a call to take action and (peacefully) protest and expose the truth, instead of listening to the shitstorm of hatred, lies (oops, I mean alternative facts), and national-level gaslighting and projection this Hitlerian president and his army of brainwashed ‘deplorables’ is engaging in, while they gleefully gut democracy in their attempts to turn us into a banana republic with a cruel and dictatorial ruler who wants to silence the free press, dismantle all regulations, build walls, shut down the EPA, and run our nation as if it’s a religious cult.

All I know is this:  If I have to die under this new regime (and many probably will, either through acts of internal terrorism and violence, natural disasters due to unregulated plundering of our natural resources, disease caused by “mythical” global warming, or because they lost their health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or social security – those are all next on the table to be axed under this administration), I don’t want to die as a victim.  I almost did already and I’m never going there again.  I’d rather die fighting for truth and justice, whatever that might mean.   I’m not going to succumb and die as one of the scared sheep who did nothing.

So, here is Nyssa’s article.

The Current Political Situation.

Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole

So much is going on that I can barely keep up.  My friend Lucky Otter calls it hypervigilance, says that the abuse is now happening on a national scale…. We have the flying monkeys in large numbers….

I’m starting to burn out on news from the White House.  It’s nonstop crapstorm every day.  I spend hours just checking news feeds on Twitter. But I keep hearing that we should all be vigilant so we can protest through various channels and keep our voices heard.  But I do have other things to do….

Then I watch movies of the White Rose Society, and hear how Germans didn’t do enough to stop the Nazis, for various reasons.  We can keep the same thing from happening here, and it looks like we just might do so–but not if we stop watching.  But what about the other things I need to do?

I’m following not just American newspapers, but German and British ones as well, to get more global perspectives.  Der Spiegel is about to publish the English version of a scathing series on Trump.  That’s the magazine which also put a controversial picture on the front cover, of Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty.

It’s all maddening.  Those of us who have experienced narc abuse and other kinds of abuse, we can recognize what’s going on, but the flying monkeys call us “libtards” and laugh at us.

*****

Read the rest of Nyssa’s article here.