Comments reflecting racism and partisan blindness

Two years ago, my blog post titled “Why so many blacks in ads?” discussed this as a cultural phenomenon. It became my most visited post ever, with over 27,000 views, and far the most comments, over 250 and counting. Practically all are overtly racist; many in the crudest terms.

I was frankly shocked. I suspect Trump has opened a door for this. You can see those comments here:

More recently I posted an analysis about the 2020 Democratic presidential field. Some comments (on my blog’s Times-Union page) are similarly revealing, about the tribalistic partisan blindness which also sorely afflicts today’s America.

One prolific commenter (“Albert”) predictably dredged up old crap about Obama and, especially, Hillary (not a 2020 candidate). A constant theme for these people is how Democrat “sore losers” supposedly can’t get over 2016; yet it’s they themselves who can’t stop obsessing about Hillary. Albert starts with Benghazi (!) and proceeds to a lengthy hyperbolic rant scorching Hillary’s “character, or lack thereof.”

In reply I asked his take on Trump’s character. He responded with 366 weasel words, all excuses to avoid any negative judgment of Trump and to wave away his misdeeds. What a stunning disconnect in Albert’s brain functioning between Trump and Hillary.

Then someone mentioned Charlottesville, and Albert spun another 356 words saying the problem was not with Trump’s “very fine people” statement, but his critics (“mind reading idiots competing to out-stupid and exaggerate”). And when another commenter simply listed other Trump travesties, Albert went to town witheringly mocking at length his “righteous moral authority to judge everyone else’s behavior.”

I’ve copied those four Albert comments here: A window into how people can twist their brains, blind themselves to reality, and demonize anyone saying the Emperor has no clothes. What’s especially disturbing is that Albert is obviously not unintelligent; indeed, quite a glib (if overly verbose) word slinger. When it comes to confirmation bias, smarter people are actually better at confabulating rationales to convince themselves of what they want to believe, and to dismiss any conflicting information. Albert’s case is sufficiently extreme that it’s literal insanity. If he were a one-off, I’d ignore him. But this frightening pathology is a raging epidemic in Trumpland. It’s wrecking our civic culture.

I was a Republican for 53 years; considered myself very conservative; highly critical of Hillary on my blog. As 2016 began, I hoped for her defeat, and even contributed to one Republican candidate. Trump changed everything, and the party of my lifelong allegiance destroyed its legitimacy. His totally depraved character, amply documented by a mountain of facts in the public record, makes Hillary a saint in comparison.

John Maynard Keynes reportedly said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” In googling to verify the quote, I found this labeled “a rather minimal standard of intellectual honesty.”

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