NORMALIZED DEVIANCE CEASES TO BE DEVIANT

Sometimes I get lucky and by the time I can make words about something it turns out that other people already said what needs to be said. I found the widely circulated appearance of neo-fascist Barbie Tomi Lahren on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah deeply disturbing. Their exchange was not interesting and it went about as one might expect – imagine an internet comment section where someone tries over and over to get the head cheerleader from your high school to understand that maybe black and white people are not treated equally by society, without success, and you've seen everything the footage has to offer. Add in the predictably heavy emphasis on "dialogue" and "civility" and lots of laughs and smiles to show that we can all get along even if one of us thinks the other is subhuman and you end up with something out of a mushy centrist's wet dreams.

This is not OK. You can't have a civil Agree to Disagree conversation in that format with hardcore racists, or people who make their living making excuses for hardcore racism. Taking someone like Lahren, a troll from deep within the dark right wing internet thrust into the public eye because she's conventionally attractive, and presenting her in this way normalizes extreme beliefs in a way that is flatly dangerous. All this appearance did was offer free publicity to the smiley, perky face of white nationalism. This was a dream come true for Lahren, to be taken seriously and presented as a serious person with something useful to say. Neo-fascist cliques have been trying to find a way to attain that kind of mainstream legitimacy for decades, going to ridiculous extremes like trying to lure in kids with Nazi pop music. And now the mainstream media are doing it for them, for free, under false pretenses of objectivity. All Opinions Matter, right?

Here's Damon Young on why people need to stop playing along and giving right wing demagogues something they badly want – a black sidekick to legitimize how Not Racist they are. The title "It's time to stop allowing ourselves to be seduced by shitty white women" is my kind of title, too. Some random college undergrad, believe it or not, offers a great long take on the white liberal discourse fetish on, believe it or not, Huffington Post. And Vann Newkirk offers a similar but equally worth reading take on reordering our priorities and values so that we recognize that some things are more important than civility and Playing Nice, especially when doing so is exactly what the other side wants as they prepare to walk all over you.

All worth reading. Everything I have to add would be redundant on that.

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44 Responses to “NORMALIZED DEVIANCE CEASES TO BE DEVIANT”

  1. Deborah Says:

    I could not agree with this more.

  2. Mike Furlan Says:

    We need this sort of response:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CzDz3YxUUAASzRG.jpg

  3. Kelly Says:

    Can you please nickname her 'Klan Barbie'? Thanks.

  4. Khaled Says:

    That Huff Post piece nails it. It reminds me a tad of Ed's story about the Holocaust deniers wanting to debate one of the professors at Wisconsin. As I recall, the prof told our fearless blogger that even *debating* the subject was too much, that it allowed for a difference of opinion on facts.

    The fact that Noah was willing to speak to Klan Barbie legitimizes the hatred she spews, as if there could be a difference of opinion on the value of lives. It is like debating a comment section, since no matter how many actual facts you bring to the table, the other side is going to ignore them and just yell about "real racism" or repeat whatever stupid bullshit that the hate leaders are flogging on about.

    The media helped create Trump because they paid attention to his idiot wind, and they allowed his surrogates and the Klan speak of alt-right to get air time. The worse thing you could have done to Trump was not to call him a liar, because Trump fans BELIEVE that Iraq was behind 9/11 and that Obama was a secret Muslim so facts don't actually matter to these asssholes, but instead the only logical response to Trump's drivel was to ignore him completely.

    If the response to Trump's racist announcement speech was to pack up the cameras and ignore him, we'd be talking about Rubio's transition team right now. And we'd we better off as a nation, if not just slightly less fucked.

  5. geoff Says:

    @Khaled, shorter Matt Taibbi: when we allow the media to turn electoral politics into a reality tv show, we should not be surprised when a reality tv star wins the Presidency. Still sucks, though.

  6. Totoro Says:

    It is a similar problem for scientists who are asked to debate creationists. Merely admitting there is something to debate gives the creationists credibility they don't deserve.

  7. Pat Says:

    Ed, I love you—but c'mon, man.

    The "standard deviation" pun title was sitting. Right. There.

  8. geoff Says:

    Actually, I guess this is really the ultimate outcome of what OG blogger Driftglass calls in the mainstream media "both-siderism", i.e. their saying that both parties are equally distant from the mythical "centrism" where we all get along and so forth, not pointing out the obvious: the GOP has gone insane over the past x years. So basically what has happened is that the Republican Party's craziness has been normalized over the years by treating say Paul Ryan as a policy wonk as opposed to the ideological extremist he really is. ("In order to save Medicare, we have to destroy it.")

    So now that an ignorant, overtly racist and misogynist Giant Evil Baby has been elected President (insert asterisk), along with a radically right-wing Congress, this sort of discourse will be normalized, and the fucking tv and newspaper coverage will just go along and at the very least publicize (more than ever) the "views" that climate change is a hoax, abortion is murder, locking up a significant number of black men for nonviolent drug charges makes us all safer, torture "works", war is peace, and on and on.

    JFC I need a drink and it's only 8am.

  9. quixote Says:

    Everyone here, including Ed, does realize that Klan Barbie is just a useful idiot, right? She's not the source of the rot, she's just trying to ride it.

    Women aren't the only crapped-on group who do that kind of thing. Ben Carson. Or go as far down the line as you can and there were prisoners in the extermination camps who worked for the guards in the hope that it might keep them alive.

    Sure, it's worth pointing out that being a useful idiot is a despicable thing. But when those people have no real power they're footnotes. The important thing is to stay focused on the actual drivers of the rot.

    A huge one was sexism. The invisibility of the accomplishments and resilience of a candidate who's running while female is due to sexism. The willingness to believe slurs against her about how she's boring and uninspiring comes from the same source.

    It's also sexist to talk about Klan Barbie as any more than a prop in this process.

    I know this is kind of coming over all Cultural Revolution, but time for a bit of self-examination.

  10. John Danley Says:

    Tila Tequila is another sidekick who advertises how progressive it is to be a Nazi. Making interpersonally intransigent white men feel secure about their antipathy-infused lifestyles.

  11. Mike Furlan Says:

    Well I love all the analysis. But this sh*t will only end when the right wing kooks are afraid. I hope is will require something less than "Sherman marching through Georgia". But they need to understand that we outnumber them, we are smarter, richer, and when pushed far enough much more effective at fighting than they are.

  12. Emerson Dameron Says:

    @John Danley:

    There's a special kind of rage I feel toward people who bullshit me in a way that assumes I am a complete idiot. Using people like Tila Tequila to play #NotYourShield games with identity politics is the perfect example of how to inspire that.

    @geoff:

    There's the lazy Left:Right::Coke:Pepsi false equivalency that sees politics through the lens of branding – that made a lot more sense in the '90s, when we were choosing between different flavors of neoliberalism. And then there's the sewer of cynicism inhabited by people like Jeff Zucker, who openly cashed in on the Trump phenomenon and are crying out to be separated from some of their power.

  13. Miles Bjornstam Says:

    Racially motivated fascist ideology never been "deviant" in America. Maybe it was deviant on The Daily Show…

  14. gromet Says:

    Part of the problem here is that I genuinely believe "sunlight is the best disinfectant." So I was raised to believe, anyway, by the culture generally — and by fairly Republican parents. So my instinct is to put Klan Barbie and Trump right in the spotlight. Let 'em talk, and they will expose themselves as awful. People will walk away. Every decent person will revile them.

    I was unprepared for people to love it and defend them. To chant "lock her up" and cheer the most insane bullshit. To see people who condemned Obama as arrogant because if you count how many times he says "I" in this speech… THOSE people are going to vote for the guy who puts his name in giant golden letters on buildings, steaks, shitty vodka, fraudulent universities? It would take an indecent, self-negating level of hypocrisy.

    I'm having a hard time with this because I don't really know what it says about the basic decency of a lot of people who probably think they did the right thing in voting for the blatantly unqualified and angry racist liar whose popularity alone makes them hypocrites. If sunlight is no disinfectant, I'm not convinced ignoring the problem is, either. So what do we do?

  15. Skepticalist Says:

    There's certainly nothing new here, Radio broadcast Father Coughlin's 1930s show every week to millions. When not being blatantly anti-semantic, he ranted about "International Bankers." (This phrase was used by a few in the Trump campaign as well). Sounds like Donald Trump's most trusted information source to me.

  16. Gerald McGrew Says:

    @Mark Furlan,

    "this sh*t will only end when the right wing kooks are afraid"

    To be more precise, this will only end (or slink back into the shadows…it'll never truly "end") when espousing such hate is politically costly.

    As long as conservatives can spew such hateful rhetoric AND maintain almost complete political control of the country, they'll keep doing it. After all…..

    ….it obviously works.

  17. Khaled Says:

    @gromet

    "Sunlight" to a media whore and charlatan like Trump is like cocaine, because the sunlight is fuel to the fire. The only way to stop him was to ignore him and treat it like a joke. While the whining of his "fans" would have reached a fever pitch, it wouldn't have allowed the bullshit "Bothersiderism" (h/t Driftglass and Krugman) to allow "debate" on his lies. We don't televise those hate-filled "preachers" shouting on college campuses unless they are getting their ass kicked by some pissed off bystander, and we certainly don't cover what they say. Why should the media cover Trump any other way.

  18. Mike Furlan Says:

    More like this Gerald:

    "The question is: how do you make the power elite frightened of you? Who was the last liberal president we had? It was Richard Nixon–not because he was a liberal, but because he was frightened of movements. And there's a scene–I think it's in Kissinger's memoirs, 1971, huge antiwar demonstration surrounding the White House, and Nixon has put empty buses, city buses end-to-end as a kind of barricade, and he's standing at the window wringing his hands, going, Henry, they're going to break through the barricades and get us. And that's just where you want power, people in power to be."

    http://www.truth-out.org/video/item/17674-chris-hedges-america-is-a-tinderbox-part-4

  19. Mo Says:

    And now for something completely different,

    Wrestling for Cabinet Appointments

  20. Ken maciver Says:

    Nixon begat Trump.

  21. Dave Says:

    I don't think its ever been "politically costly" to be a fascist rabble-rouser. Aside from Spain, has there ever been a peaceful transition of power out of fascism? Is there anything except exhaustion that burns it out of a country's politics? What about Lahren and the reaction to her is unattractive to young people? Sure her ideas are abhorrent, but we're talking about people who "like to sing along but don't know what it means."

    I think that's because fascism is what a friend of mine used to call a "self-sealing" argument. It survives in the oxygen of free speech, even though ultimately it consumes all of the oxygen. "Viral" is an overused word right now, but fascism is very much viral. People like Lahren thrive on the attention and wouldn't even exist but for normalization and both-siderism. But the incentive to be even more outrageous just escalates. Twenty years ago we thought letting Coulter speak would result in her getting shut down, but now Laura Ingraham – who's nothing but Coulter 3.0 – is in the running for presidential spokesperson. Clearly we've been wrong about our assumptions.

    I don't know what you do about that, and it pains me to say that if free speech is the oxygen for fascism then the implication is we need to cut it off. But I'm not sure what else makes sense.

  22. Miles Bjornstam Says:

    y'all maybe old without kids or something

    but nobody in Tomi Lahren's age cohort even know who she is
    not sure if she's shrewd or its an accident but she just sucking up to the old racist men who are into this nonsense

    all this american fascist stuff seem bigger than it really is cuz MSM keep giving them airtime and blogs like this write about them

    nobody under 30 even pay attention to MSM. they dont watch Trevor Noah, they don't even have cable

  23. Rich S. Says:

    Man, this is so fucking depressing to think about. Like Dave, I don't know what to do about the current situation we are in. But, more than that, I don't think there is anything that can be done. This bullshit will run its course regardless of what "liberals" do to fight it. I tend to agree that having Klan Barbie on TDS was counterproductive. What did Trevor think he was trying to accomplish? I remember well Jon Stewart's interview with Cramer. That was useful because Cramer was outed as the lying sack of shit that he is. I think it's possible that many who were previously unfamiliar with him learned that about him. Same story with Stewart's interviews with Huckabee who got destroyed on TDS more than once. I learned something about Huckabee, I already knew Cramer was an asshole. Actually, I never heard of Klan Barbie before this, so I learned something from this interview. Fuck, I don't know if it was right to give that cunt a platform or not.
    But Klan Barbie is a different animal. You can't talk to her like a normal human. I learned that the hard way after years of trying to talk politics or any public policy issue with the many right-wing lunatics I know here in Brownbackistan. There is no mountain of evidence, scientific, historical, or otherwise, high enough to convince them of anything that doesn't dribble out of Rush Limbaugh's asshole.
    I think there are two choices. First, you can fight in the hope that we can minimize the damage that conservatives do to the country. I think that's a losing battle. I disagree with Mike Ferlan when he says "we outnumber them, we are smarter, richer, and when pushed far enough much more effective at fighting than they are." None of those things are true. That should be obvious by now.
    Second, leave. Americans have largely become assholes. Ignorant, intellectually lazy, arrogant and proud of it. Who would want to live with such people?
    I'm looking to retire in the next couple years, at least from my profession in corporate hell, and I won't be old enough for Medicare (assuming Ryan doesn't blow it up, which he will, and we won't be able to stop him, which is why Mike Ferlan is wrong.) And we are seriously considering leaving the country if for no other reason, than to obtain more affordable medical care somewhere else.
    Someone once said, "I love America, but I hate Americans." That's about where I'm at these days.

  24. Miles Bjornstam Says:

    @rich S
    check out Germany. it is very nice if you like peace and quiet and are into forests and lakes.

    Germany is not usually on the radar of Americans but most don't realize how easy it is to retire in Germany. Food and housing is much cheaper than in the USA. Day to day sundry items like toilet paper and toothpaste are the same cost. However, other things like electronics, vehicles and clothing are much more expensive.

    This summer I bought a small 400 year old home in a small town near Frieburg im Briesgau for the cost of living in a trailer park in Arizona. Additionally it is easy to get to France and Switzerland rather than… Tucson?

  25. mothra Says:

    Miles:
    Don't Americans retiring in Germany have to prove they are self-sufficient and won't be applying for any of Germany's social benefits (mainly healthcare)?

    Freiburg is a pretty sweet town….

  26. Miles Bjornstam Says:

    @mothra

    yeah

    but…

    if you are really 'retired' you are self sufficient and will have more than enough funds for retirement in Germany. Maybe not in a posh Munich suburb but definitely in any smaller city or town.

    Even if you are paying out of pocket for German care it will be cheaper than old person care here in America WITH insurance. I took care of my grandparents in old age and the bills are outrageous, and they had medicare, insurance from their former employer, and special veterans assistant. My dad is a doctor and had the best level of insurance offered through the HMO he worked for and his prostate surgery still cost him $12,000. In Germany the total cost for the same surgery an uninsured person would be $800.

    The bigger issue would be the German language barrier. But since you are retired you have a lot of spare time and can just take German class for migrants for free or 70 dollars a year.

    Now that medicare is about to disappear it is a no brainer to retire outside the country, simply for the reduced health care costs

  27. Miles Bjornstam Says:

    @mothra

    by the way i'm not retired, i just work in an industry where i have to spend a lot of time in Germany. maybe when I hit retirement age everything will be changed and this advice will be useless. However if you're retiring right now, I'd say Germany is a pretty chill place to do it.

    All this said, a lot of people aren't into Germany. It's cold, rainy, gloomy and very German. My sister is in the AF and lives there and doesn't really like it and hopes to be re-stationed back in Colorado asap.

  28. Mike Furlan Says:

    As many as 12,000 people were at Standing Rock to protest the pipeline, in winter.

    How many will be in the streets of DC if the current Administration starts to misbehave?

  29. democommie Says:

    @Mike Furlan:

    I'm hoping thato the Standing Rock event doesn'the turn into Wounded Knee 2.0.

  30. Mike Furlan Says:

    "I'm hoping thato the Standing Rock event doesn'the turn into Wounded Knee 2.0."

    Except that now, the whole world will be watching.

    Bush and Cheney are War criminals who cannot travel outside of the US without risking being arrested.

    Trump would get the same treatment if he started to slaughter protestors.

  31. Rich S. Says:

    Do you really think Spain, for example, would have the balls to arrest Cheney if he were in Europe? I don't.
    Remember when the US, with Obama in the WH at the time, ordered the airplane of the president of Bolivia, I think it was, to divert and land as soon a possible to make them prove that Snowdon was not on board? EU ATC ordered the diversion and didn't have the balls to refuse, and for some reason, the guy in charge of the airplane felt he was in no position to respond to ATC with a "Tell Obama to go fuck himself. Snowdon is not on board this aircraft. And even if he was, it's none of your fucking business there being no warrant issued for his arrest. We will continue to our destination in accordance with our current flight plan. Have a nice day."
    There is now way in fucking hell anyone in Europe will arrest Bush, Cheney, or any of those douchebag war criminals. That's like thinking liberals have it in them to mount a sustained fight against Trump for the next four years. Squirrel!

  32. Mike Furlan Says:

    You may be right Rich. We'll know for sure if Trump or Cheney test your assumption by actually traveling to Europe.

  33. Rich S. Says:

    But I would love for Cheney die of a massive heart attack while sitting in Milosevic's old cell.

  34. Katydid Says:

    @Miles; Colorado?!? Your sister wants to go back to Colorado, that's been in drought for 20-some-odd years now and is overrun by the Kristyan Reich?!?

  35. Miles Bjornstam Says:

    @katydid

    Colorado is arid, but has not been in a drought for 20 consecutive years. It also ranks 39th on the list of most religious states. However, my sister is in the air force where it's hard to get away from the evangelical influence, even when deployed overseas.

  36. Katydid Says:

    @Miles; let me introduce myself; career USAF, retired about 8 years now. While the rightwing religious nuttery is throughtout the AF (some locations worse than others) thanks to the brainwashed officers coming out of the Academy in Colorado Springs, if you want overall sheer religious idiocy, you can certainly find it in Colorado. My main customer has business out there so it's one of my regular travels, and every time I go, it looks more and more like the town in A Handmaid's Tale. The big fundagelical outfits are out there and they have countless "leadership academies" for teenagers.

  37. Miles Bjornstam Says:

    @katydid

    I hope she doesn't get stuck in the evangelical handmaids tale.

    I guess if you are into Colorado theres not many (any?) other options. The rest of the intermountain west is even more evangelical, or mormon. With more right wingers and worse economy.

    I don't know any other places in the world 'like' Colorado. Although Boulder seems a lot like the yuppie neighborhoods of Los Angeles these days. Germany is sort of like the opposite of Colorado, at least weather wise. It is very gloomy, especially in winter.

  38. MolonLabia Says:

    The only good thing about White Power Barbie's inevitable rise is the sleepless nights it must be giving Ann Coulter—they've got all the same talking points but White Power Barbie is genetically female.

    It's the 21st century version of All About Eve, directed by Leni Riefenstahl:)

  39. Katydid Says:

    @Miles; I've been to some places in Germany for short periods of time. I thought it was very overcast, as well–so I'm shocked they're into solar power in such a big way. Good on them! This is also the season for kriskindlmarkts, gluwein, and all the other bright and happy festivities. I envy you getting to spend lots of time there.

    Colorado is always surprising to me when I visit. Lots of homeschooled girls with long straight hair and denim burkas around, but also lots of pot.

  40. Brian M Says:

    Molon: That is a lefty talking point/meme that makes me squeamish. Although I am a bit trans-skeptic in some ways, this meme really does involve a lot of trans-shaming, lookism, etc. Worthy of a church lady gossip session.

    Just like human rights concerned lefties who speculate avidly about how right wingers in prison are "going to be raped" chortle chortle giggle giggle.

    Should we be doing this kind of joking?

  41. jcdenton Says:

    Brian M,

    No, no we shouldn't. I think consistency with our own ideals is the last thing we'll have to hold on to, even as everything else is ripped away.

  42. geoff Says:

    @Brian, jcd, agreed. I don't see how that kind of stuff is any different than the "Hillary and Huma are lovers" (I don't believe that, but so what if they were?) or "Michelle Obama is a trans woman" bullshit we hear from the Right.

  43. The soft bigotry of low expectations and shit | Murica Derp Says:

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  44. Miles Bjornstam Says:

    @katydid
    the german solar power situation is pretty interesting. it turns out if you incentivize solar power for 30 years so that everyone has solar panels that feed into the main power grid, it eventually sort of works, even if it's cloudy most of the time.