Comments: Money & Power Score Again, Now Lead Politeness & Rationality 211,398,459-0

What is fascinating to me is the ability for people to arrange their brains into different compartments where each compartment ignores the other. There is something actually fascinating about that, it’s like this weird glitch in the way we are wired. For example, Gaddafi or whatever his name is is now the real bad guy, worse than Saddam, worse than el Kabong. But we see national leaders of the west now discussing invading Libya on the pretense of humanitarian concerns while the real concern is that our empire is crumbling, all of it made moot by the Arab rebellions. Their hypocrisy in this case is nothing less than astonishing as our bombs crush the life out of our victims on a far larger scale than anything kaddaffy can or could ever do. But that is the effect of compartments in the brain, it’s at once weird and fascinating but most of all frightening.

The other example of course is the way Obama apologists dismiss Obama’s hobby of slaughtering fellow human beans because it is just too uncomfortable to contemplate and might ruin their luncheon engagement, such nasty things, cadavers and body parts and guts and stuff. It really is heart rending to see the poor apologists suffer so under the awful bombardment of cynicisms. My heart understands their suffering and while I know Adolf Hitler was a real bad man I can still admire that he used to paint pictures.

Posted by Rob Payne at March 4, 2011 02:09 AM

I wonder if Alec Ross still believes the "cops did exactly what they ought to do."

Of course he does.

Posted by NomadUK at March 4, 2011 02:19 AM

Of course he does.

I know, dumb question.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at March 4, 2011 02:23 AM

It would be different if it happened to Ross, it's the beauty of compartments in the brain.

Posted by Rob Payne at March 4, 2011 02:33 AM

I agree with Rob Payne.

Posted by Alec Ross at March 4, 2011 02:47 AM

Rob Payne: Dehumanization makes the cognitive dissonance unnecessary.

Once you've decided that a group of human beings aren't people, changing your mind about what they represent to you is simpler than flipping a switch. This is why a person can sneer at a racist redneck caricature, have excellent relationships with minority co-workers, and then vote for a virulently racist candidate without skipping a beat.

Think of it this way. Load up any first person shooter where you can interact with NPCs (non-player characters) -- both through talking to them and shooting (and permanently, within the game world) killing them.

Find a NPC. Save the game. Kill him.
Reload the game. Talk to the NPC.

Is there a real-world moral difference? Nope. Your moral position doesn't change; you're interacting with pixels. Now take that pixel-mediated process and apply it to actual human beings and you a complete escape from morals in the real world. Complete freedom. You can do anything -- anything at all.

You can invade a country and say you're helping the population.

You can rape women and children in that country and then complain about their protests.

You can murder protestors and complain about the unrest.

And then you can demand that the country thanks you for all your work.

They aren't people; they're playthings. Hell, the majority of U.S. history consists of this attitude being the proper one to have to over 10% of the population -- that's before we get to foreigners. This isn't an anomaly, this is fucking tradition. When a rightwinger demands that black people be thankful for everything that this country has done for them, he honors that tradition in the same way that Clinton did when she (and others) called on the Iraqi people to "stand up" and take responsibility for themselves.

Note that you don't have to be white to do this. (Somewhat obviously: it's part of the price of admission to become white.)

So there's no actual hypocrisy because there's no principle being violated. The persons bouncing between positions are actually maintaining the same position: selfish whimsy.

Posted by No One of Consequence at March 4, 2011 03:12 AM

Maybe, Jonathan, you're just a decent guy who is always willing to give others a chance to be decent.

Posted by cemmcs at March 4, 2011 08:38 AM

@NOoC --

Never mind the foreigners, or even the blacks. How about the original inhabitants of this continent?

America: Home of the world's most successful genocide.

Posted by David in NYC at March 4, 2011 03:53 PM

No One of Consequence,

There is no doubt that the terror wars have the thread of racism all through them, how could they not? We are a racist country and anyone who claims they are not affected by this is not being honest. So it is easy to dehumanize the brown people we slaughter and of course that is where propaganda and conditioning come in. Much of the time propaganda merely consists of repeating the same lies over and over again, sometimes it's making stuff up. But in the end the empire is crumbling and Obama became prez after the American moment has passed. We are now on our way to the dust bin of has beens. This is only as it should be. It is obvious that people will put up with almost anything for a very long time but eventually they reach the point where they won't take it any longer. America is still very far from that point but it's coming. The ruling elite know this and are very afraid. But that is not new.

Posted by Rob Payne at March 4, 2011 07:50 PM