It is easy for us as news writers to live in a bubble. That bubble is created in part by our own personal perspectives on our topics, (sometimes these perspectives escalate to the points of view we call biases). However, some of this bubble is perhaps created by the nature of news-writing and journalism in its new 21st century role as entertainment, rather than dissemination of information about facts and incidents. The other component of the bubble is that the nature of news writing often utilizes secondary sources as primary, rather than direct contact with regular people. In the case of the United States, a major component of accurate journalism should be gained in encounters with average Americans.
Currently, as I travel this week and next through a fairly substantial part of the United States, this has become easy to see, especially after spending several years overseas with only short periodic visits back to the home turf. The common thread among all the variously confused narratives I have heard is the strength and confidence each person I have listened to has in whatever his or her own point of view is.
No matter what any given person states they believe, each is sure he is right.
In the matter of Russia, I observed a consistent sense that President Putin is seen as an exceedingly bad guy. Since I live in Moscow myself, the topic of President Putin is sure to come up in discussion, and it indeed has many times, so far. For some I discussed this matter with, the questions they asked were already “lost” questions, presuming that the answer was what they already wanted to believe anyway. Examples of this kind of phrasing went something like this:
- “How come the Church rubber-stamps everything Putin does?” – Assumptions: (1) Everything Putin does is bad, (2) the Russian Orthodox Church is the pawn of the President.
- “President Putin is a KGB thug.” – Assumption: people never change if they are (1) from Russia, and (2) involved in politics.
- “President Trump will / will not attack Syria… (multiple permutations)” – Assumption: The media network of choice understands the inner workings of US foreign policy, AND they assume that Bashar Al-Assad indeed gassed his own people.
- “You must be living dangerously in Russia” – Assumptions – see above.
And there will no doubt be more. These were assumptions and points of view I fielded in Florida. It will be interesting to hear what Coloradans think. It may be much the same or different – the Florida segment of population was mostly elderly people. Colorado offers a much younger crowd.
The really difficult part of this is that the assumptions that I heard were held so strongly that offering a real account of life in Russia (very safe, observation of freely expressed opinions both for and against President Putin, and both for and against the veracity of the Russian Orthodox Church, and a vastly more cautious take on the matters in Syria, for example) – these personal accounts were met with a response that said “this cannot possibly be true!”
This refusal to hear facts is one of the most peculiar aspects of a large number of American people. Even our best media people fall to this, as Mr. Tucker Carlson of Fox News did the other day, when he took a softly expressed thought from a US Senator that Carlson’s rightful questioning of the nature and motive of the alleged Syrian gas attack was like the very same (and also rightful) questioning of this incident by President Putin.
Tucker appeared to have had a flashback to an earlier interview with a liberal Democrat who crazily accused Mr. Carlson of being on Putin’s payroll. In this flashback, Mr. Carlson completely seemed to go off the rails and start defending himself against the perceived personal attack that never actually happened. After this point, the somewhat passionate, but still highly reasoned set of points that Tucker Carlson offered in his monologue were largely lost, in the insane reaction to the idea that President Putin’s skepticism and Tucker’s were the same.
And again, the assumption that something must be wrong if these two men’s thoughts are the same about this subject.
The key to understanding why this matter of passionate, defensive arrogance, sometimes to the level of meltdown, exists in the United States’ media and in the lives of private citizens has clear and defined roots, and the biggest root is also the least popular and least honestly faced.
What are the roots? Well, in my hopefully reasonable opinion (subject to change if I learn more, which I do try to do…)
- Rejection of the Christian (or Judeo-Christian) foundation of ethics and morality in society.
- More specifically manifested, a rejection of “in God we TRUST” (Emphasis mine), meaning that in the scheme of things in the world, we serve and submit to the will of God, and we do not presume that God is always on our side just because we are Americans.
- An assumed faith in the news media. “If they say something, it must be true, especially if delivered with a reasonable, calm cool voice, or if the network is ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, or Fox.” – In most cases of course, only Fox News offers a somewhat different analysis on some given situations, but there is a great deal that all these and the newspapers hold as common belief.
- Radical individualism – This is held to be the core of what it means to be free in America these days – the idea that I can do whatever I want and to H-e-double L with you if you disagree. In such a context, there is no sense of brotherhood (another distinctly Christian attribute) and there is also a hardening of society as its basis moves from “God, duty, country” to “me, myself and I.”
Most of these observations are, of course, metaphysical. Some might be led to call them simply “idealist philosophy.” And that, too, is the result of these four components being firmly in place.
They lead to a very disturbing set of patterns.
Instead of brotherhood, there is gossip. Instead of calmness in the face of adversity, there is immeasurably high luxury, yet the amount of complaining is enormous, about nearly everyone or everything. Yet when it comes to looking at one’s self first, only in very seriously God-centered groups does this happen at all, and even then it seems to be strongly affected by the sheer power of this prevailing world view that I observed.
World views are really difficult to crack. But in my hopefully humble opinion, the American world view is becoming increasingly unreasoned, stubborn, illogical and dangerously insane. As has been reported elsewhere throughout the Duran and other great sites, we see and hear the drumbeats of war and scandal and disruption, but not much of a call to reason.
If there is something to this that is genuinely worrisome to me, it is the ease by which the will of the influential and powerful can be manipulated by a press which wants to remain in control of the minds and hearts of the American people, including the minds and hearts of its political leaders. As a possible example, but a few days ago, President Donald Trump stated that the US needs to get out of Syria as soon as possible. And in this, as one might find in many articles here on the Duran and other opinion / news sites, there is a great deal of credence to the President’s thought on this. But immediately after this, an alleged gas attack happened. And without reason the US political / media establishment focused on Assad as the one responsible – without proof that the attack was indeed chemical or that it happened at all.
Just a few weeks ago the same sort of “collapse” happened with the poisoning of Sergey and Yulia Skripal, who thankfully both are apparently awake and recovering from what was reported as an “unrecoverable” poison in Novichok. This event, classed as an attempted murder by British police investigators, was attributed to President Putin and Russian government agencies with no proof whatsoever.
In 2017, Russian security software company Kaspersky Lab had its US contracts for the DHS taken away and a standing order to remove any installations of this software in US government computers was put in place. This and the corresponding press attacks and concurrent attacks by political figures, led to Best Buy pulling Kaspersky’s products from its retail shelves. Again, there was no proof of any kind offered.
A humble people that placed their trust in Christian tradition in the way most of us used to would have been a block to such crazy reactions. The US Constitution presents itself as existing on the basis of rights given by the Creator, and its founders rightly noted that without a social foundation whose basis was in line with at least a Christian moral worldview, this nation could not hope to succeed.
Sane people do not start wars. They engage in war to stop it. Insane people start conflicts, and they aggravate crisis in hopes of a flashpoint. I hate to say it, because I am an American and I love my country. But there are a lot of people that seem to want the sensationalism of a flashpoint with no appreciation for what that will cause.
One’s prayer might well be that God brings us to our senses.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.