Bouncing Around with the Bubble People

Bubble HouseI wondered, while drafting the last post, why anyone on the planet — much less in the litigious United States — would propose a robust defense of exactly the same arguments is his defense of the ridiculous (Bundy) that were all tossed out of court in a previous case (Gardner)?  Why continual dismissal of the repeated talking points wouldn’t deter someone from appealing to them once more as revealed wisdom?

A person would have to inhabit a very tightly enclosed bubble to have missed the point that these arguments wouldn’t be any more successful than they had been in prior litigation.  But then, when an individual comes to assume that his or her beliefs are, in se, facts, indeed articles of faith, it stands to reason they’d be repeated.   The Bubble People are impervious to the rest of the world and its reality.

They have their very own self-sustaining history.  A history, for example, in which “faith” not “government” freed the enslaved people in the American south. [Salon]  Let’s grant that some of the most ardent Abolitionists were people of faith, but had we waited for the efforts of the Underground Railroad to rescue all the 3,950,528 people enslaved in the Confederacy we’d still be discussing the issue.

Lincoln may not have started his presidency as an enthusiastic adherent to the abolitionist cause, but his Gettysburg Address calls for a “new birth of freedom,” not merely the reinstitution of the status quo ante bellum.  Besides which it’s rather difficult to forget the approximately 750,000 men who died in that war, and to ignore the fact that some 364,000 were fighting for a government seeking to end human slavery.

And if the actual story of America doesn’t support the atmosphere in the bubble — rewrite it — the Jamestown Settlers were socialists, Alexander Hamilton has been misinterpreted by pointy headed liberals as espousing a theory of strong central government, Franklin D. Roosevelt caused the Great Depression, Senator Joesph McCarthy was no raving opportunistic radical — he was a hero!  At least that’s the story had it been written by a Texas school board member: “We are adding balance,” Texas school board member Don McLeroy said. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.” [McClatchy]

If they don’t accept commonly accepted historical narratives and themes why would we expect them to adopt the uncertainties of science and scientific inquiry?

Global climate change is a hoax.  Except for the 9136 scientists who agree that global climate change is a reality. The Bubble People would prefer to hear from the one who doesn’t agree. [SAm]  Disagreement on how much is anthropogenic or on the extent of warming is taken as “proof” there is no consensus.  Evidently unable to accept the intrinsic skepticism of science, the Bubble People don’t want anything that isn’t 100% certain — like their articles of faith. [Salon]  Not only do they not “believe,” they really don’t want any more information which might test their tenets. Witness Congress in 2011:

“House Republicans, led by Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), killed the budget-neutral provision to create a climate service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA’s proposed Climate Service, or NCS, would have consolidated NOAA’s existing, widely dispersed, climate-monitoring capabilities under a single management structure to meet Americans’ rising demand for authoritative and timely climate information. [Think Progress]

And, it’s not just climate science they don’t want to know about — they’ve opposed research into gun violence as a public health issue.  Republicans in Congress have opposed funding for research in this area for the past twenty years, and the current Congress is no exception.  [ProPublica]  The Gun Lobby response — there’s no way to be pro-gun and also pro-research as if the two were mutually exclusive, and a dismissive “we don’t need more research  we need more prosecution.” [ProPublica]

It’s easy to imagine a robust “LA LA LA LA LA  I can’t hear you!” coming from inside the Bubble.  They’ll make up their own history, their own science, their own political science, their own medical conclusions, their own jurisprudence … they’ll repeat it even if it’s only among themselves.

“One hundred repetitions three nights a week for four years, thought Bernard Marx, who was a specialist on hypnopædia. Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth. Idiots!” –Brave New World

Ignorance becomes a comfort zone, one from which the Bubble People are loathe to emerge.  Even though ignorance is definitely not bliss, and curiosity is closer to satisfaction, they’ll stick with their thoroughly absorbed notions of truth — protected from the discomfort of having to accept and then function from a new set of information or concepts.

They will prefer short term comfort to long term prosperity, and see the world as a zero sum game in which every change they must make means something taken from them rather than a new opportunity for self discovery.

For some, they will be the man in the cave who has depended on lightning strikes for his fire, and is lost when the embers die.  Sad.

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