Telling the Truth Can Blow People’s Minds

Tina Dupuy’s article, “The GOP Psyche: An Explanation” [3/1/14 TPP] was spot-on dynamite.

When Ms Dupuy quoted G.W. Bush as saying, “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system,” it sparked a flashback to “We had to destroy the village [and every living thing in it] in order to save it.” In short, the insanity of the Vietnam war was still alive in the person of Bush and his right-wing minions.

Now, there’s no question that right-wingers go berserk whenever they’re stuck in a moment of cognitive dissonance. Heck, let’s be honest, whenever any of us struggle with simultaneously holding diametrically opposed convictions about the same subject (another description of cognitive dissonance) and there’s only one way it can go, most of us will flip out, at least momentarily.

But not all right-wingers have a psychotic breakdown. Some of them claim (suspiciously) to be objective. And when that is true the objective ones face up to the facts — reality — and admit that the conviction that isn’t reality has to be the one that’s delusional. Unfortunately an objective right-winger is such a rare breed that I think we can eliminate them from this discussion. Now, a right-wing extremist is another matter altogether. For these ubiquitous specimens the term, “objective right-winger,” is an oxymoron. Or, in this case, another example of cognitive dissonance.

It was Janeane Garofalo who said: “You can tell these types of right wingers anything, and they’ll believe it — except the truth. You tell the truth and they become confused and angry and highly volatile.” Coincidently, my political naiveté ended shortly after Bush got elected. I needed to know, what the **** was going on with these right-wingers? After daily doses of indignation over right-wing extremism, I coined a medical term for their condition. I claim they suffer from a “subjective personality disorder“ (SPD) i.e. “The truth! You can’t handle the truth!” Or, they can’t be objective.

Although I have written extensively on examples of SPD, one of my problems, like Ms Dupuy’s I suppose, concerned why there seemed to be such an epidemic of it after Bush. I consider it a truism that anyone who believes any of the GOP’s propaganda has to either be ignorant, naive or gullible (aka a Fox News viewer), but why such a sudden outburst of those maladies after Bush? It seemed to me that instant communications makes it possible for a media blitz by the right-wing propaganda machine, only to confuse and agitate the SPD handicapped just as quickly by a media blitz of facts. But aside from that, there was a more pressing and age-old puzzle that I could never solve. Despite those three handicapping maladies, and hostility about the truth described by Ms Garofalo, the more pressing enigma is: Why do these people vote against their own self interests? There just can’t be that many ignorant, naive and gullible conservatives, or so I thought.

When Ms Dupuy described Dr. Festinger’s research, it suddenly hit me. Well of course, SPD is exacerbated by cognitive dissonance! Whenever the dissonance occurs, rather than being objective (the correct possible course of action), their SPD kicks in. Without exception, thousands of times, I have witnessed what history has also born out. Namely, that they will always go to the exact same extremes that Dr. Festinger described. They increase their [subjective] enthusiasm and activity over the irrational. They pour greater energy than ever before into obtaining new converts. They find ingenious defenses to protect their [subjective] convictions. But they will not be objective about it. Ever! “Yeah, it’s nuts.”

That said, I have two questions for Ms Dupuy. Do liberals lose their mind when they have to face things such as Obama agreeing to the sequester or reducing the food stamp budget? Are these examples of liberals having their own moment of cognitive dissonance? Just like liberals defending Republican policies to Republicans who’ve rejected them. We liberals ought not admit it, ‘cause, ya know, it’s nuts.

Frank Petranech
Wauwatosa, Wis.

Protest Music Sidelined

Don Rollins doesn’t seem to realize that all protest in the United States (tea baggers excepted) is ignored and marginalized by corporate media.

The reason we don’t hear protest music is that the music business and the media are controlled by a few huge corporations with many diversified interests (beyond music/entertainment) which must be protected in order to maintain profitability.

We don’t hear protest songs for the same reasons that we don’t hear news coverage about things like the Moral Monday protests that started in North Carolina and are spreading throughout the south, the continued bombardment of the Gulf Coast beaches by “tar balls” and gigantic “tar mats” that wash up out of the still contaminated Gulf of Mexico, or the radioactive contamination of the USS Reagan which now sits in the Port of San Diego after being denied access to ports in South Korea, Japan and Guam due to it’s contaminated status.

Protest music is not recorded or promoted by the corrupt industry that is the corporate music business. Protest music opens eyes to corruption, unfairness, and greed. When your business is based on those principles, you quash protest.

Protest music is not broadcast by stations owned and operated by corporations that promote right wing and/or religious talk, or that are owned in part by Mitt Romney or other right wingers.

One might hear current protest music on a college or a community owned station, depending on the community. Pacifica Radio plays protest music and there may be others I don’t know about. But as far as protest music being promoted as commercially viable and marketed to the masses, those days are gone. The protest song writers are out there. No doubt they feel frustrated as they try to get their music heard and their message out. And perhaps angry about being accused of not existing at all, when the real problem is corporate controlled media.

Paula M. Wilson
Portland, Ore.

Children Left Behind to Tests

Jason Stanford’s column in the 3/1/14 TPP [“Holding Arne Duncan to a Higher Standard”] was right on the (taxpayers’) money. No Child Left Behind has grown into a hydra-headed monster that gobbles up money and spits out disillusionment.

What all these standardized-test gurus fail to grasp is that children themselves are not standardized, nor should they be. The requirement that all students must master algebra is particularly asinine.

Once upon a time, only those who maintained high grades in elementary-school math and geometry were accepted into algebra classes. Others did very well with general or business math curricula. Today, no matter that one student’s history papers are top of the class, or another’s artworks are the most beautifully rendered, or yet another is an outstanding musician, writer or chef. Without that passing grade in algebra, none of them will graduate from high school.

We have seen what a decade and a half of No Child Left Behind has done for American education. It’s time to admit that it doesn’t work and scrap it. Only then will teachers be able to teach again, and students to learn.

Betty Crowder
Honeydew, Calif.

Lyons Warming to Snowden?

Waddaya know? A few weeks ago Gene Lyons labeled Edward Snowden a traitor, but as of 3/1/14 TPP (“Big Brother Is Not Retreating to 18th Century”), Lyons concedes that NSA reform is desirable. What’s next? Perhaps Mr. Lyons will also concede that reforms were impossible without public discussion, and that discussion was impossible without Snowden’s revelations. Could it be that Snowden, rather than having his traitorous head served up on a platter, deserves a public service award pinned to his chest? I await further developments.

Felix Braendel
San Rafael, Calif.

Long Time Coming

This is in response to the headline “Vatican Surveying the World’s Catholics” by Mary Sanchez [12/15/13 TPP], telling us about the Vatican questionnaire “asking a series of questions about Catholic teaching.” One question refers to “Humane Vitae,” the encyclical promulgated by Pope Paul VI, prohibiting contraception by artificial means. I have, at age 78, a selective memory. I can remember what happened in the 1960s, but not what I just went upstairs to retrieve. And my recollection of the front page of the Boston Globe sometime in the late 1960s is that of several faculty members of Pope John XXIII National Seminary pictured with the subtitle (in big bold print): “BAD THEOLOGY.” It was their assessment of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical.

This issue was important only to Catholics and those concerned with an exploding world population. Protestants et al. had resolved this as a non-issue long before Pius XI’s encyclical, “Casti Connubii” of 1932. Paul VI, having called a conclave in Rome, and inviting the cognoscenti of Catholic psychiatry, psychology, Canon Law, moral theology, obstetrics, gynecology, etc. was “re-examining” the Church’s teaching on birth control. There is a principle in Canon Law, “probabilism”, which holds that an obligation that is not certain, does not bind. That is, if there is doubt about what the Church teaches, there is NO doubt. NO such obligation exists. This was the chink in the dam and many frustrated Catholic couples were using this to ignore the ban on artificial birth control taught by the Church since Pius XI’s encyclical.

During Paul VI’s conclave a question was asked by a reporter:  Does this gathering to “re-examine” the Church’s teaching on birth control mean that the Church is in a state of doubt? The Vatican spokesman saw the trap. His response is NOT a confabulation of my 78 y/o brain. He answered the question with “No. It merely means that the Church will have moved from one state of certainty to another.” And somewhere around 58,000 priests left the Church. I was one of the first class of Pope John XXIII National Seminary to be ordained by Cardinal Cushing, and one of the 58,000.

Bernard J. Berg
Easton, Pa.

From The Progressive Populist, April 1, 2014


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