In an unusually honest commentary two days after the  election, CBS’s Will Rahn admitted that he and his colleagues “spent months mocking the people who had a better sense of what was going on.” This, said Rahn, was “symptomatic of modern journalism’s great moral and intellectual failing: its unbearable smugness,” a smugness he traced to a “profound failure of empathy in the service of endless posturing.” [From James O’Keefe’s “American Pravda: My Fight for Truth in the Era of Fake News”]
“Unbearable smugness” sums it up nicely. That’s the attitude of our government, media and academic culture toward the rest of the country. Especially anyone who does not agree with them.
The bad news is that most of us created this monster. Two terms of Obama probably didn’t happen because of voter fraud alone. CNN makes millions of dollars because many millions still watch it. The New York Times and The Washington Post are not federally subsidized, at least not yet.
The good news is that monsters only have power if decent people give it to them.
Donald Trump’s election was a major blow to the unbearable smugness those of us who don’t agree with the prevailing trends in government and society feel subjected to, all the time.
It’s not enough. There have to be many more victories like this. Not all of them political, either.
One way to attain victory is to come out of the closet, whenever your views are not the same as those of the elites. If people you encounter sneer and assume, “You certainly didn’t vote for Donald Trump, did you?” or, “You certainly don’t think that way, do you?” then tell them the truth. Or at least remain quiet. Say nothing and let them guess. Or exit the conversation. Do anything other than play along. Because doing so feeds their smugness and encourages them to feel you’re embarrassed for what you think.
I like how smugness is characterized in this quote as a “profound failure of empathy in the service of endless posturing.”
Honest people are generous. Even a brash and blunt honest person — who means what he says — is kinder than a phony who changes attitudes and positions the minute anyone turns their back.
Insecure and irrational people are not generous and kind. That’s why the smug elites who seem sure they know everything are so unkind and intolerant in their dealings with others, at least when it comes to matters like politics, ethics and culture. They cannot tolerate dissenting opinion because they’re not confident in their own.
Smug people need to posture, because deep down they do not know if they’re right or wrong about anything. So they posture in front of equally insecure people who claim to believe the same things, hoping for a few more moments of validation to prop up their fragile pseudo self-confidence.
The only way for them to remain “confident” and “serene” is never to hear that anyone around them thinks or feels differently from themselves. The moment they encounter dissension, of course — well, you see what has been happening since the election of 2016. It’s a nonstop meltdown, an invasion of unwelcome, one-sided political views into everything from late night comedy to once nonpolitical awards shows to the NFL and even the Super Bowl itself. “Taking a knee” is part of the nonstop meltdown that began late in 2016, after Donald Trump got elected.
The only way to fight smugness is with candor, truth, and integrity. Be who you are, and don’t let anyone intimidate you into being otherwise. Place the burden of proof on them to persuade you that you’re wrong. And make it clear they will never, ever do it with insults and smugness. The people you know are learning their smugness from the media elites they watch on the vast majority of our media outlets.
Their attitudes reveal their own intellectual impotence and emotional insecurity. Leave them to it.
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