Hillbilly resistance

There is now a cottage industry that produces essays having the following form: the reason Trump got elected is because liberal snobs have long looked down their noses at regular folks and the regular folks were just plum tired of it so voted for Trump despite his evident shortcomings. I read the first one of these in the Chronicle or Higher Education or Inside Higher Ed within days of the election. They have followed at a steady trickle.

Here’s a variation the other day from someone in Philadelphia:

A lot of people out there are tired of being called stupid, whether directly to their faces or indirectly with the raised eyebrow of the highbrow. I almost think they can deal with being called racist, sexist or homophobic (which some are, some aren’t and who cares anyway, since liberals are exactly the same,) but cannot deal with being ridiculed for their allegedly inferior intellects.

When people do that, they just galvanize the Hillbilly Resistance to reject any notion that the press is in danger, that Trump is a beast, that Ivanka is a Stepford daughter, that Melania lives in a tower and lets down her hair on weekends, and that we are in danger of another revolution.

I have two comments. Before those, a confession. I hate being called stupid. I hate it because, to be honest, I fear that it may be true. When someone’s accusation is particularly well phrased, it costs me a lot of time (and maybe some money if I have to buy books or something) to consider the question. Back to my comment.

First, these people are snowflakes, apparently. They so bristle at the thought of having their beliefs questioned that the behave irrationally. I can’t think of much that’s more insulting than that claim.

Second, if someone knows a way you can disagree with someone without there being the very real implication that one of you is mistaken and has therefore failed in some kind of cognitive obligation (i.e., is stupid), then I’m all ears.  Your answer may make me feel bad because I currently think there isn’t one.

In closing, the implication that people with whom you disagree are deficient is not something that has suddenly just appeared, by the way:

Image result for liberalism is a mental disorder

2 thoughts on “Hillbilly resistance”

  1. On your first point, certainly, nobody likes to be called “stupid”, especially if they fear it might be true. But a lot of what is going on here is inference, with the commentary or criticism not actually stating, “You’re stupid”, but making the listener feel like he or she is stupid or ignorant for not agreeing with the position that they usually continue to reject. The Declaration of Independence tweets are an interesting example, as it was impossible for those who thought that NPR was advocating revolution against Trump to stick to that position once they were informed of their error — but in pretty much any other context, they would likely continue to insist that their misinterpretation were correct.

    As the book cover you post reflects, there is a right-wing industry devoted to condescension toward and the insulting of liberals, and many people have made $millions by writing books that a certain group of buyers is convinced make liberals crazy, even though next to nobody outside of that circle reads the books and most of the books probably aren’t even read by their buyers. Liberals don’t care if a columnist huffs at them, “Sniff, gawd, bring on the brie and Chablis”, as did Flowers, or if a right-wing radio hack calls them mentally ill, because those stereotypes and insults are just plain silly.

    You’re absolutely right that Flowers does herself no favors with her characterization of Trump supporters, along the lines of, “If they feel insulted by Liberals, they’re gonna get out their nose-hacking knives and start hacking off their noses to spite… liberals.” But worse, if that’s what Flowers thinks is happening, why is she lecturing liberals instead of telling her right-wing readers, “You’re only hurting yourself”?

    This is the second time today I’ve read a right-wing columnist complaining about “Mika and Joe”, as if Joe Scarborough is a life-long left-liberal, not a former Republican Member of Congress who was a consistent asset to Trump’s candidacy. It may be that anybody who suggests that Trump is misguided is discounted by her readership as part of a vast liberal conspiracy, but isn’t she trying to defend those Trump supporters?

  2. Hey Aaron,

    Thanks for the comment.

    It’s interesting to me how deftly people shift from first-order questions to second-order ones: “you say x is false, so I must be an idiot. Calling people idiots is not the way to manage discourse, win friends and influence people, etc. Also, only idiots who sip Chablis (I haven’t seen a bottle of this in years and I buy a lot of wine by the way) would say this sort of thing.”

    I wonder if this constant attempt to flank people means people don’t care for their reasons as we think they do. When you deal straightforwardly with peoples’ reasons, it often comes as a shock.

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