Rationalizing Anything

I’ve done a little research in order to understand standard issue alt-right rationalizing behavior. Here’s a sampling from right wing politicians, pundits and the little folk on the far right (non-traditional Republicans – the ones whose sound bites make the news). See if this comports with your experience of your crazy Uncle Bob and now of the Mark Meadows texts just being made public.

They make sweeping accusations and assertions in the complete absence of evidence to support such claims. Usually done serially and at high speed in order to overwhelm challengers and not have to answer questions.

Asking for evidence to support their accusations and assertions elicits some version of, “Everybody knows” or a restatement of the accusation, but with amped up volume. The simple declaration of their claims is all they need for conviction and a subsequent hanging in the town square.

They project alt-right wrongdoing onto others. Whatever the far right is doing, they accuse the “socialist Democrats” of it, once again without any evidence. It’s always someone else who is the bad guy. Expect a world class performance every time.

Stand back, because they volcanically erupt focus-transferring what-about-isms. This is a bit like “throwing their voice” – ventriloquism – but they’re actually trying to throw reality.

Dismissing all news or evidence that counters their story is a requirement for membership in this club. For example, news stories they don’t like are eviscerated by calling them lies (“lame-stream media”) to make them go away. That seems to prove to themselves the truth and accuracy of their own counter-factual beliefs and reestablishes their power position.
They claim there is outrageous wrong being done to totally pure, patriotic righty extremists, like the horrible abuse being done to January 6 insurrectionists – oops, legitimate, peaceful protesters – by our illegitimate federal government.
They are adept at performance politics of any description done to “own the libs.” There’s really nothing quite as satisfying as demonizing others, especially if they are so weenie that they won’t march a Confederate battle flag through the Capitol Building or claim that an election was stolen.

All in all, it’s what you could call “aggressive ignorance” that seals off brain functioning from learning. Plus, there’s the anger attendant to these folks. Very dangerous.

Those things and more are what make it hard to have any conversation with a MAGA conspiracy theorist, alt-right extremist or pretty much anyone who self-identifies as a Republican. The question for the rest of us is, “How can we deal with people who rationalize and fervently believe their Through The Looking Glass alternate reality in order to prevent them from destroying our democracy?”

Ideas? Bueller? Bueller?

Here’s another example of rationalizing.

Prof. Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters From An American are always interesting and most often educational. After all, she is a teacher.

Her post of December 2 concerned the issue of treason and detailed John Brown’s attempt to launch a slave rebellion in 1859. He was captured and hanged, the first American to be executed for treason.

This behavior geek moment concerns the State of Virginia, which conducted the hanging.

Richardson wrote,

“The execution of John Brown for treason set a precedent.

“And in just over a year, Virginians themselves would take up arms against the federal government.”

Hmmm .  .  .

Humans are such a reliable source of entertainment, as we display our boundless ability to rationalize.

Indeed, here’s a 2024 pre-campaign tweet from Ron DeSantis’ wife, Casey:

Thanks go to Jim Nathan for this.

Nobody has a clue why she figures she’s speaking for millions of people. Really, that’s some impressive turf grabbing. Plus, the freedom to which she refers apparently only applies to those who are White, Christian, straight and probably male. How do they rationalize that? Click the tweet and read the comments.

And be sure to watch the black-and-white electioneering ad below the tweet. It mentions God 10 times in just 96 seconds, thus setting a new land speed record for attempted manipulation of the ignorant. Implied is, “A vote for ‘I love you, Ron’ is a vote for God.” That’s beyond rationalizing. It’s delusional and truly gag-able.

Worse is the rationalizing away of the cruelty DeSantis has inflicted on those who aren’t exactly like him and his bible thumping wife. Contrary to Casey DeSantis’ claim, “I love you Ron” actively and enthusiastically works to take away people’s freedom, like his “Don’t say gay” bill. That’s the opposite of “fighting for freedom” and is world class rationalizing.

I know nothing more about Casey DeSantis, but Ron DeSantis can be counted upon to rationalize all manner of extremist notions to penalize others in order to appeal to his extremist base and promote himself.

To Republican voters: Caveat emptor. What you see is what you get.

Sooner or later DeSantis will have you and your freedom in his sights. He’ll have a fabulous, rationalized justification for attacking you, but you won’t like it. Didn’t we learn this lesson when Trump failed to become “presidential?” Perhaps not.

Avoiding Rationalizing – Here’s How

Maureen Dowd’s column of December 3 is an appeal to support those combating child killing cancer and more. She details her friend, College Football Hall of Fame coach Lloyd Carr (University of Michigan) and the tragic story of his grandson. In her piece she offers a couple of Carr’s football mantras that apply to fighting cancer and, really, anything needing to be championed:

“You can’t do everything but you can do something.”

“Blame no one, expect nothing, do something.”

I strongly recommend that you write Carr’s directives in big, bold letters and post them where you see them every day.

  • ————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:

Fire the bastards!

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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