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A Clash of Two Cultures Revisited

A Clash of Two Cultures Revisited

By Dennis Loo (6/30/18)

Charles Blow, a NY Times columnist, wrote helpfully on June 24, 2018, of “White Extinction Anxiety,” and how Trump is a US herald of that ignominious trend.

I write my students, who have unprecedented access to data via the Internet, that there are those who would knowingly mislead you because they profit from your being kept uninformed, some of it literally in financial terms, some of it by spreading delusions and confusion. People generally are much brighter than they are given credit for, but they do not defeat that ignorance easily. They must work very hard for genuinely deep cognition, and, for instance, I have never seen such a bifurcated sample as the 174 students in Introduction to Sociology I had online last quarter: those who followed my advice and took me at my word did very well (and some of them were shocked at their new-found ability to think) and those who didn’t follow my advice, got C’s, Ds, and Fs.

Well-meaning people who want to help people along, through making this stuff easier, are also wrong. People don‘t need it made easier; they can and do learn how to actually think, if given that chance!

It all comes down to weighing competing claims and deciding what is credible and what is not as germane to what is in question. To begin with, you cannot get around with others doing the thinking for you. This is not a plea for individualism. But no one else but you have to do that thinking, so it does have an individual character to it. There is no getting around that.

There are essentially two kinds of people in the world. There are those who care more for themselves and those they identify with, more than anything else. If an injustice is done to them or someone they care about, then to them there is an injustice and they will try to do something about it. Then there are those, on the other hand, who make little or very little distinction between themselves and their loved ones and other people. If an injustice is being done to others, it is still an injustice to them.

The existence of a rule of law, for example, that everyone, including the highest official, is subject to the law, and no one is above the law, was won through struggle; it was not just granted or given away by an “enlightened” sovereign to the people. The rule of law must always be fought for because there are always those in positions of power who regard due process and the rule of law as nuisances and a barrier to even well-intentioned measures.

People of the first kind, when they get into serious discussion about something with someone of the second kind, often find that they can’t get a mutual understanding and an agreement about matters of principal is impossible. It isn’t a communication failure; it due to a difference in world outlook, a radical difference in what they think is important. I keep telling people this, but only some people take this advice seriously.

It is never easy to defend due process and it requires sometimes defending free speech rights for those you might disagree with or find objectionable. You cannot pick and choose only “good” people’s due process rights.

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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12