Accuracy in Media

The Southern Poverty Law Center polled Americans and found the country is divided.

We have different views on equity, fairness, immigration, and many other things. The SPLC then makes two rather large mistakes about the polling findings. The first is to bemoan these differences – the rest of us think that’s the mark of a free country. The second is rather worse as it fails to understand the very basics of politics – and SPLC is about politics these days, nothing else.

That Americans differ over things – important things like immigration, redistribution, gender and sex – is hardly a surprise. But that’s also largely what SPLC’s survey finds, so that shouldn’t be a surprise, either. Various beliefs are held differently and to a great extent that maps over membership of the two main political parties.

This is where the first of SPLC’s mistakes comes in. They are insistent that one set of those views is wrong. Even, at times, evil. This is of course their privilege, but it’s an obvious sign of bias to think that way. Be partisan by all means, but don’t be surprised when people think you’re partisan when you are. SPLC’s views on these subjects are not – whatever they might think about it all – commandments that we must all agree with. That’s rather what being a free country means, differences of opinion exist and are allowed to do so.

The SPLC’s insistence then devolves down into how all those horrible Republicans must have their views altered. Not quite what we think is the right way to go about it really.

However, the much bigger mistake, problem, here is that SPLC thinks these views have been engendered. It’s the evil of Republican politicians that has led to people believing these things. No, really:

“These anti-LGBTQ, misogynistic and racist narratives have been promoted by many Republican politicians and other powerful right-wing figures, helping the ideas infiltrate the mainstream and contributing to an increasingly volatile and dangerous political environment,” according to the SPLC.

But that’s not how politics works. It’s not even how the media works. Rupert Murdoch didn’t create Fox News in order to convince Republicans of anything. He noted that TV stations didn’t reflect the views of tens of millions of Americans. So he created one that did. Politics works the same way. No one does listen to Mitch McConnell – or AOC – and think that they’d better now think that way. The politicians are trying to speak to what we already believe. Good ones are those who have the ability to divine what we do think and then relate their agreement in words that we believe.

Americans differ on these grand questions because Americans differ and disagree on these grand questions. Not because the Republican Party is gaslighting people, but because people differ. In this the SPLC is making the grand mistake that so many progressives do. They’re just not grasping that 70 million Americans of voting age just do not agree with them. Even when it’s all explained – what SPLC means by “equity” and “hostility to diversity” and so on – they simply do not agree with that worldview.

Which is, we think, an interesting insight into the basic progressive problem. They have a significant problem with diversity – when that means a diversity of views that is. The rest of us think that’s what a free country means.




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