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“Be yourself” and other nonsense

by Greg Krehbiel on 6 February 2017

There is too much muddled-headed, feel-good nonsense in the world. Which would be perfectly fine if people had the sense to recognize it as such, smile politely and move on. It’s like that Paul McCartney song about silly love songs. They’re fun, so long as you realize they’re just silly love songs.

The trouble is that too many people regard the vapid memes from Bookface as arguments.

In response to disputes over immigration policy, the left sings “this land is your land, this land is my land.”

Okay. So who is included in “your”? Apparently some people think the U.S.A. is the patrimony of every human being on the planet. Or at least every human being who wants to come here. Otherwise, … what’s the relevance?

Isn’t there some limit to who gets to come here? Can’t we discuss that without resorting to idiotic slogans about how America is a land of immigrants?

Then there are the absurd appeals to Native Americans. E.g., if you’re against illegal immigration then, logically, you should want to give the country back to the Indians. Sure. And the modern residents of England should give the land back to the fairie folk.

You wonder if the people who employ such arguments have any capacity for self criticism. Do they even stop to consider “I wonder what someone with a brain would think about this”?

Something in the Super Bowl yesterday (a commercial or a song I think) said “Be true to yourself.” Ah. Deep magic from the dawn of time, that. It’s so thoughtful it ought to be in an Aerosmith song.

What if you’re a pedophile, or a rapist, or a cannibal?

“Oh, we clearly don’t mean those people. We mean normal people.”

You haven’t met enough of them, I think.

I am strongly of the opinion that people who believe they ought to be true to themselves haven’t peered inside very deeply, or at least they didn’t exercise much moral discernment while doing it. I, for one, definitely do not want to be true to myself.

I’m all for appeals to the “better angels of our nature” and such — things that recognize that the inner life is morally complicated — but “be yourself” is silly talk that justifies all kinds of foolishness. And, unfortunately, social media is reducing thought (and dialog) to that level.

This weekend I watched a few videos of debates and political discussions. (Yeah, I’m a wild and crazy guy.) The talking heads are dumb enough to make you despair, but when they take comments from the audience …. It makes you wonder how democracy can possibly work.

2017-02-06  »  Greg Krehbiel

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