As T.E. Lawrence perfectly put it in Lawrence of Arabia
There may be honor among thieves but there’s none in politicians
If you want you impart some integrity onto your kids — not cheering “4 More Years!” for pathological liars is a pretty good place to start.
As I wrote in my documentary:
America has gone totally off the rails in its worship of the wildly undeserving
In 1939 reporters and politicians hastily walked out of a screening of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. According to Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies, “the film was attacked as anti-American, and several politicians suggested the film shouldn’t even be released at all — that showing it would be very bad for the country.” In keeping with American tradition of sloganeering, since the movie was deemed “anti-American,” naturally it was also assailed for its “pro-Communist” sentiment.
Over time Mr. Smith came to be revered as a cultural icon for truth and justice, but we carried on the legacy of assigning “anti” to anything we refuse to examine.
Just get up off the ground, that’s all I ask.
Get up there with that lady that’s up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something.
And you won’t just see scenery; you’ll see the whole parade of what Man’s carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting.
Fighting for something better than just jungle law . . .
fighting so’s he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed.
That’s what you’d see.
Probably the most powerful of these group cohesive forces is narcissism.
In its simplest and most benign form, this is manifested in group pride. As the members feel proud of their group, so the group feels proud of itself.
A less benign but practically universal form of group narcissism is what might be called “enemy creation,” or hatred of the “out-group.”
We can see this naturally occurring in children as they first learn to develop groups.
It is almost common knowledge that the best way to cement group cohesiveness is to ferment the group’s hatred of an external enemy.
Deficiencies within the group can be easily and painlessly overlooked by focusing attention on the deficiencies or sins of the out-group.
Tragically, instead of taking the time to think things through — smugly circulating invalid arguments is the way of the world now. When debating our views, we would do well to remember the wisdom of The Deer Hunter. This 5-second scene is the essence of arguing on the merits — which means to stay true to the topic at hand. More specifically, let’s look at the definition of “merits” — since not everyone understands it (and so few practice it). From The Free Dictionary.com:
Merits are the intrinsic rights and wrongs of an issue — as distinct from extraneous matters and technicalities. The factual content of a matter — apart from emotional considerations.
By design — the debauchery of platform politicking overlaps all that you seek — so when you think you’re arguing over one issue, you’re really arguing over them all. And ya wonder why this nation never solves anything?
Stanley, see this? This is this! This ain’t somethin’ else — THIS IS THIS!
It’s indefensible! Don’t you know that?
This 2:22 scene from Shattered Glass is a model of self-deception — how a reporter allows her friendship to severely cloud her judgment. What’s especially educational is the turnaround time to see what would be obvious to anyone without a personal stake in it. She repeatedly digs in to find a way to absolve her friend, but she can’t escape the envelope of arguments that cut off every avenue of evasion:
The screenplay was based on the Vanity Fair article with an except below:
What’s especially educational is the turnaround time to see the truth. She repeatedly digs in to find a way to absolve her friend, but she cannot escape the envelope of sheer sense in Chuck’s arguments:
Chuck Lane: This wasn’t an isolated incident, Caitlin. He cooked a dozen of them, maybe more.
Caitlin Avey: No, the only one was Hack Heaven. He told me that himself.
Chuck Lane: If he were a stranger to you, if he was a guy you were doing a piece about, pretend that guy told you he’d only did it once. Would you take his word for it? Of course not! You’d dig and you’d bury him! And you’d feel offended if anyone told you not to.
If only we could calculate the astronomical amount of waste we produce in our steadfast refusal to open our eyes as she did. No need to see the next scene — as the excellence in her acting shows that her curiosity has overcome her. As the swivel door swings a breeze her way, and she looks around to wonder — she is well on her way to reflection. She has lived up to what Columbia President Lee Bollinger described as intellectual inquiry in Anna Quindlen’s article: Life of the Closed Mind:
Is that true? Maybe there’s something to what she just said. Let me think about it. That’s interesting. Maybe I should change my mind. I changed my mind.
Alas, only in the movies. In the real world we are increasingly defending the indefensible as if it were a call of duty — rarely risking having to face the reality that is revealed with reflection.
She lived up to the intellectual inquiry described in Anna Quindlen’s article: Life of the Closed Mind:
“To learn to ask: ‘Is that true? Maybe there’s something to what she just said. Let me think about it. That’s interesting. Maybe I should change my mind. I changed my mind’.” When is the last time you can honestly remember a public dialogue — or even a private conversation — that followed that useful course?
On top of being far more fruitful, such conversation would be so much more interesting, don’t ya think?
Alas, only in the movies. In the real world we defend the indefensible as if it were a call of duty — avoiding any truth that has even a whiff of inconvenience.
Putting aside Bill Cosby’s fall from grace — he was a universal icon for goodness growing up. In just this 5-second scene from Picture Pages — a parallel can be drawn to everything I advocate on this site:
The.Deal.Is.That.We.Connect.These.Dots . . . You see