Scapegoating

Some people continue to wonder why I won’t announce my probable 2020 vote for our Very Stable Genius (VSG), so terrible is the Democrat field.

I had a Facebook Messenger argument with one of them — an academic who was too intelligent and decent a few short years ago to mouth the kinds of semi-idolatrous stuff about VSG that he now does mouth. He thus demonstrates in his deterioration the toxic effects of standing too close to VSG.

So even were I open to voting for VSG, I wouldn’t admit it lest I find myself dangerously near the Minus Touch.

And why, 16 months in advance, would I announce my assessment that so-and-so is the lesser evil and I’m voting for him? If it ultimately comes to that, the less said about it, the better. I suspect a number of my friends were in that camp in 2016.

Anyway, I’m far from clear that, in his entire person, VSG (a very evil and toxic man) is the lesser evil. Consider:

[O]nce nationalists control the government, they feel tempted to insist that they have succeeded in restoring greatness long before any restoration is accomplished. In Trump’s case this temptation is a compulsion: In a little over two years we have gone from “American carnage” to yesterday’s tweeted proclamation that America “has never been stronger than it is now — rebuilt military, highest stock market ever, lowest unemployment and more people working than ever before. Keep America great!”

In other words, the problems that brought me to power can’t be problems any more now that I’m in charge — which requires, in turn, that anyone who insists that there actually are still problems must be the problem themselves. It’s in this spirit that nationalists-in-power often end up scapegoating some group of malcontents or critics within the nation, implying that they are saboteurs and wreckers, that their complaints are treasonous, that they should be expelled.

And it’s this spirit that infuses the strange-but-predictable spectacle of Trump, just over two years removed from a campaign that constantly emphasized his country’s failings, railing against a squad of left-wing congresswomen for their own criticisms of America and demanding that they go back to the foreign countries whence three of them did not in fact arrive.

Ross Douthat. Scapegoating, you may recall, can lead to the darkest places our history records.

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The 80-foot blackboard in the bomb shelter

Hiroko Tabuchi of the New York Times on Monday published an article on the Koch Brothers killing a public transit proposal in Nashville. I read it, expecting something revelatory, and came away thinking that the case against the proposal was plausible and that Tabuchi hadn’t really described the case for it. He just waved his hands and said “Koch” a lot.

National Review’s Kyle Smith now has a pitch-perfect send-up:

The half-awake citizen may be unaware just how dexterously the arms of the Kochtopus have reached into every precinct of American life. Not one mile from my home stands a particularly egregious example: the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, home to the New York City Ballet. Koch put up $100 million toward renovating the theater, but consider his ulterior motives. Theaters like this one use a lot of floor wax. At intermission they serve drinks in plastic cups. Their seats are covered with upholstery. These are all byproducts of petroleum. Get the picture?

Look deeper. Just a couple of miles east of the Koch Theater there’s an actual Koch hospital: the New York–Presbyterian David H. Koch Center, a 740,000-square-foot ambulatory-care center that opened its doors this year with the aid of another $100 million Koch gift. Charity? No. Bonanza! The Kochs sell all kinds of items used in hospitals — medical devices, electronic components, and even hands-free paper-towel dispensers and stuffing for pillows. In 2014, David and Charles Koch gave $25 million to the United Negro College Fund. Don’t see the connection? Educated black people read more. The Kochs own Flint Group, one of the world’s largest suppliers of printing ink.

Wake up sheeple! I have all of these connections diagrammed out on the 80-foot-wide blackboard I keep in the bomb shelter. You go unprepared for the Kochpocalypse if you choose. I won’t.

The latest dastardly Koch scheme was exposed on Monday, and for this we must thank Hiroko Tabuchi, a climate-change reporter for the New York Times. In classic 80-foot-blackboard fashion, Tabuchi laid out the devious conspiracy for us.

Using a front group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP), which deployed a sneaky election-rigging tactic known as “talking to people,” the Kochs destroyed a proposal for a light-rail system in Nashville, thus keeping commuters in their gas-guzzling cars and hastening the end of the world via global warming to protect the Kochs’ interests in the barbaric, malevolent seatbelt industry. Actual sentence from the piece: “One of the mainstay companies of Koch Industries, the Kochs’ conglomerate, is a major producer of gasoline and asphalt, and also makes seatbelts, tires and other automotive parts.”

The dots connect themselves! …

Koch. Scapegoat. But I repeat myself.

René Girard rocks!

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