I was talking politics with a right-wing friend recently when we got onto the subject of the U.S. Civil War. To support one of my points, I mentioned a book I was reading about Abraham Lincoln that was written by Eric Foner, a history professor at Columbia University.
Before I could make my point, he interrupted me.
“Oh,” he said with a dismissive snort, “some liberal East Coast college professor, eh?”
Just then, I heard a loud ‘CLICK.’ It wasn’t a series of sounds or anything. Just one loud, distinct ‘CLICK.’
“Did you hear that?” I asked.
“I didn’t hear nothin’.”
A few days later I was talking about universal health care with another conservative friend and I mentioned Michael Moore’s documentary, “Sicko.”
Before I could finish, he said, “Don’t quote Michael Moore to me. Don’t you know? He’s a George Soros puppet!”
As soon as he said it I heard the same loud ‘CLICK.’
I asked him if he had heard the ‘CLICK’ and again I learned I was the only one who noticed it.
Am I going crazy?
This has been happening a lot lately. Just the other day I was talking to someone about President Trump’s many broken promises, gaffes and outrageous statements. He dismissed them all with a wave of his hand, saying, “You mean to tell me you believe the lies of the liberal media?”
Again, that ‘CLICK.’
This phenomenon has puzzled me of late but, following an extended period of Deep and Profound Meditation, I think I’ve finally figured out the origin of the ‘CLICK.’
It’s the sound you hear when someone switches off their brain, their critical faculty.
It’s a handy tool, that switch. By flipping it, they save themselves the trouble of analyzing and refuting any arguments with which they disagree. All they have to do is label the argument as coming from a despised person or group and, Presto!, it vanishes. They’re Bad People, the reasoning goes, so everything they say is, by definition, untrue.
Full stop. End of story. Case closed.
Of course, use of that switch has its drawbacks. Nothing’s perfect. Chief among them is that it doesn’t really convince anybody but you. I mean, anyone with their critical faculties intact will see right through it. But it will soothe your fear of being wrong about something (or anything) without requiring any of that pesky thinking stuff. (So tiring!)
The greatest danger is that, if you throw the switch too often, it breaks. In other words, switch off your brain too many times and the switch will get stuck in the OFF position. By accepting only those arguments that support your preconceived notions and dismissing all others without bothering to examine the facts that support them, over time you become…
…um what’s that term again…
Ah yes! You become STUPID.