Monday, October 01, 2007

The words to the song

"We hate America."


"I can say nigga, but you can't."

"The 9/11 victims were Nazis."

"I am no longer a Christian."

"Bush is a fascist."

"We cheered during 9/11."

Before I go any further, let me preface this post by informing you that none of these statements are mine; nor do they reflect sentiments I hold.

Well, sort of.

When you hear rhetoric like this presented with such extremity, it's very easy to get your message lost in the translation. It's for this reason -- I would argue -- that there has been such a major disconnect between liberals and conservatives in what would otherwise be a civilized and lucid discussion.

From my analysis of debates between pundits, activists, and media, I've come to the conclusion that the possibility of profound and intelligible exchanges between liberals and conservatives are often twarted when extreme rhetoric is tossed into the mix. When I first heard that rapper and activist KRS-One went on Hannity and Colmes to justify his comments regarding 9/11 for example, I just knew what to expect. He would be on the show defending his statements, Sean Hannity would fccus on what he said WORD FOR WORD, rip into him, give him a second to explain himself, and then -- of course --KRS-One would fail to adequately do so. Not suprisingly, at the end KRS-One would be labeled as another liberal nutcase who thought that 9/11 was a good thing (since his comments were taken literally, 911 must've really been a joke).

Then, I saw the clip:



When I heard KRS-One's comments, I immediately knew what he meant. I immediately picked up on the fact that he wasn't "celebrating" Jane Doe (the $9/hr secretary working at Merrill Lynch to take care of her family) being killed during the horrendous attacks of September 11th. I get the idea that the "celebration" was indeed over the assault on corporate America that ensued during the attacks (let's face it, America's economic system is greedy and exploitative and did take a major blow during 9/11). But that's not what Hannity heard. All he heard was "we celebrated during 9/11". From there, the usual antics of talking over each other and falsely contextualizing took place.

KRS-One's comments, Ward Churchill's anti 9/11 sentiments, the Daily Kos (and other liberal outlets), and defendants for the n-word all fall into the same category. They all share legitimate thoughts and ideas that quickly get lost and dismissed by poor delivery. I'm sorry, but using a series of extreme and sometimes hyperbolic statements will not make your message acceptable to conservatives. Conservatives (as far as I can tell by those I've seen in action) tend to process information concretely. This certainly isn't a character flaw. It's just how they are. So when liberals try to convey a point using abstract and figurative language, they'll never get conservatives to see things their way. Hence the communication breakdown. This is why there will always be a great divide.

This discussion conveniently fits into a conversation I had with the Hippie Conservative regarding Bill O'Reilly's comments about Sylvia's restaurant. After hearing another version of this story, it appears that his comments were taken out of context. So, allow this to serve as my public apology for bashing Bill-O (if your only sources are Media Matters and Crooks & Liars, you might wanna double check the information before forming an opinion). But this also goes to show that if people don't say what they actually mean it makes it all the easier to twist and manipulate comments to satisfy an agenda against them. If you leave it up to other folks to make assumptions on what you mean, effective communication will never take place; least of all not with political and social relations.

-ACL

22 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Nic said...

"From my analysis of debates between pundits, activists, and media, I've come to the conclusion that the possibility of profound and intelligible exchanges between liberals and conservatives are often twarted when extreme rhetoric is tossed into the mix."

But Hannity is out for blood. It's the same thing w/ O'Reilly. As much as I hate to use the H.C. trademarked term "agenda", that's what it is, & their agenda is entertainment for the right to stroke their egos to. It's not debate, it's not discussion...and by the way...WHERE IS COLMES!?!? Watching this crap literally makes me sick, & if the left actually had somebody comparable on television or radio, I'd feel precisely the same way.

"Hence the communication breakdown. This is why there will always be a the great divide."

This has always been something that I've never been able to wrap my head around. The differences between Democrats & Republicans are slight @ best when you get right down to it. In fact, many of the very things that they disagree w/ their counterparts over are the same things that are debated within a single party in many other nations. Why are we, as a nation, so satisfied w/ a one-party system disguised as a two-party system?

"...serve as my public apology for bashing Bill-O"

Bill O'Reilly is the bloody devil. Never apologize. (sarcasm)

On a side-note, can we pleeeease go back to the hey-day of Hip-Hop where KRS-One reigned supreme?

-n

KC said...

Interesting post, Dre. Although I'm wondering why you're making it seem like liberals need to concede to conservative thought processes and not the other way around. Instead of asking liberals to basically "dumb down" their message, why not insist that conservatives have more of an open mind?

Cynthia said...

Trying to get liberals and conservatives on the same page is like trying to get lions and lambs to coexist. It won't happen in our lifetime.

J. Alex said...

I'm with Cynthia on this one. The more you try to bridge the gap of understanding between Democrats and Republicans, the more you realize how pointless your efforts are. They will never understand each other simply beause they don't want to. No amount of carefully used rhetoric will ever change that fact.

HeiressChild said...

So when liberals try to convey a point using abstract and figurate language, they'll never get conservatives to see things their way. Hence the communication breakdown. This is why there will always be the great divide.

i agree.

Andre said...

@ Nic: "As much as I hate to use the H.C. trademarked term "agenda", that's what it is, & their agenda is entertainment for the right to stroke their egos to."

No argument there. But the best way to deflate the ego of a pundit is to break stuff down in a way where we can clearly see how they got their asses handed to them. As I said before, when some of their guests make valid and legitimate points, they deliver them incorrectly; ultimately giving pundits even more fodder.

*BTW: Alan Colmes is a shmuck*

"Why are we, as a nation, so satisfied w/ a one-party system disguised as a two-party system?"

Again, amen.

"On a side-note, can we pleeeease go back to the hey-day of Hip-Hop where KRS-One reigned supreme?"

I guess I just missed the day where Hip Hop in general was substantive. Though I'm sure that a reasonable degree of enlightenment can be found in songs like "Laffy Taffy" and "Hot in here".

*silence*

OK. But at least I tried. You just sat there.

@ KC: "I'm wondering why you're making it seem like liberals need to concede to conservative thought processes and not the other way around. Instead of asking liberals to basically "dumb down" their message, why not insist that conservatives have more of an open mind?"

I don't think it's necessarily about concession or "dumbing" things down. I just think it's easier to understand a clearcut message than it is to understand hyperbole. If an artist wants to paint a picture representing the conflict of the war, it's hard to accomplish that feat when paints a red line on canvas. To him, that red line might signify a thousand of things. But for his intended audience, it's just a red line. That's my ultimate point.

@ Cyn/J. Alex: True, getting these jokers to coexist is close to impossible. But I'm not thinking of them. Their minds are already fixed. I'm thinking about the next generation who still has the opportunity to truly have their minds shaped in a way less rigid than ours and our parents.

@ Sylv: Agreeing with me is always the best way to go. :)

HeiressChild said...

Sylv: Agreeing with me is always the best way to go. :)


LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The H.C. said...

@ Dre,
Dude, you did a great job in my opinion of covering the problem with communication betweeen liberals and conservatives. I sometimes find myself wondering how I could possibly arrange my wording in a way these people would understand. Truth be told Andre, I'm so discouraged by my attempts to reach some of these people I can't take it any more. Nic's comment is a good example, instead of considering your points on both sides he jumps right to attacking the right. It's not his fault, he's simply committed to the ideology that the right is inheirently evil and all coversations about the right's view will be reduced to who's MORE evil. This is all I get day in and day out. As the elections get closer, it's just getting worse.
@ Nic, Seriously, as much as you know I like you, I don't think you've really ever seriously listened to any of my views that leaned right. It's on your face and your mannerisms. The times you've stormed away from me on Gay Marriage, The War, or Universal Health Care, I couldn't even count on my hands. Do you ever even listen to Bill O'Reilly? Do you ever even consider that the left may be on a concerted mission to eliminate him? Or are vicious attacks the sole property of the right?

The H.C. said...

@ Dre,
Dude, you did a great job in my opinion of covering the problem with communication betweeen liberals and conservatives. I sometimes find myself wondering how I could possibly arrange my wording in a way these people would understand. Truth be told Andre, I'm so discouraged by my attempts to reach some of these people I can't take it any more. Nic's comment is a good example, instead of considering your points on both sides he jumps right to attacking the right. It's not his fault, he's simply committed to the ideology that the right is inheirently evil and all coversations about the right's view will be reduced to who's MORE evil. This is all I get day in and day out. As the elections get closer, it's just getting worse.
@ Nic, Seriously, as much as you know I like you, I don't think you've really ever seriously listened to any of my views that leaned right. It's on your face and your mannerisms. The times you've stormed away from me on Gay Marriage, The War, or Universal Health Care, I couldn't even count on my hands. Do you ever even listen to Bill O'Reilly? Do you ever even consider that the left may be on a concerted mission to eliminate him? Or are vicious attacks the sole property of the right?

The H.C. said...

Sorry about the double post

Nic said...

@HC: Okay, I'll bite.

"Nic's comment is a good example, instead of considering your points on both sides he jumps right to attacking the right."

I concluded the paragraph you are referring to w/ statement that I'd feel the exact same way about the left. Did you miss that?

"I don't think you've really ever seriously listened to any of my views that leaned right."

Well, that's your opinion. More likely though, I simply don't agree w/ many of your right-leaning opinions.

"Nic's comment is a good example, instead of considering your points on both sides he jumps right to attacking the right."

Arguing w/ you in person is like attempting a conversation w/ a brick wall. You tend to block anybody attempting to make a statement out, but most times you don't even allow anybody to speak. I know this isn't the first time you've been told this, as there is fairly long list of people that have said this to both you & me on multiple occasions. While I can only recall one time where I "stormed away" (we were in a drunken conversation about race, remember? I do.) who can blame me for doing so?

"Do you ever even listen to Bill O'Reilly? Do you ever even consider that the left may be on a concerted mission to eliminate him?"

I catch Bill O'Reilly on the radio @ least a couple of times a week. Admittedly, his radio program is far less hostile than his television program. But, unless you're deaf & blind, you cannot deny the fact that many of his television interviews aren't really interviews @ all, but rather they are attacks where he sometimes doesn't even permit a response!

"Or are vicious attacks the sole property of the right?"

Again, I previously stated that I'd feel the same if the tactic was used by somebody on the left.

Nothing in my OP was off-base or even confrontational....to anybody. So, why come after me? Better question, what made you think that this, Andre's blog, was the appropriate forum to come @ me w/ the final 1/3 of your post?

-n

The H.C. said...

@Dre,
Once again, great post. Unfortunately me and Nic are using your forum to air some differences. This will be my last response to him on your site. (I know you didn't start your site for me and Nic to debate)
@ Nic,
"I concluded the paragraph you are referring to w/ statement that I'd feel the exact same way about the left. Did you miss that?"
Nope, I caught it. It was just absent the venom you used for the right. Example; "But Hannity is out for blood. It's the same thing w/ O'Reilly." Example 2; "Watching this crap literally makes me sick,"

"Well, that's your opinion. More likely though, I simply don't agree w/ many of your right-leaning opinions."
Fair enough, but I'm not asking you to agree.
"Arguing w/ you in person is like attempting a conversation w/ a brick wall."
Well, as you said, that's your opinion. But it's awful strange that I don't have a SINGLE conservative friend, but lot's of Liberals, Independents, and Liberatians.

"So, why come after me? Better question, what made you think that this, Andre's blog, was the appropriate forum to come @ me w/ the final 1/3 of your post?"
First off, I didn't "come after you" Andre's my friend and I'm here all the time. lot's of people here have conversations between each other. I've debated with Joslyn, K.C., Will, and probably everyone else. I didn't set out to attack you and never called you any names or was disrespectful. (Was I? If I was, then I apologize, it wasn't and never is my attempt.)

Andre said...

OK kids, break it up.

Hippie, when you said: "I sometimes find myself wondering how I could possibly arrange my wording in a way these people would understand."; and then went on to subsequently use Nic as your example (an example that I indeed understand, by the way) you did exactly what I argued people do. The validity of your argument was lost in the delivery. Only this time you weren't necessarily dealing with context or misquoting issues. Instead, the point you made came across as a personal attack; thus causing the persons to whom you were refering (whether directly or indirectly) to go on the defensive. That's the cause of just as many communications breakdowns as anything else we can come up with.

"It's not his fault, he's simply committed to the ideology that the right is inheirently evil and all coversations about the right's view will be reduced to who's MORE evil. This is all I get day in and day out. As the elections get closer, it's just getting worse."

This line, for example would've been a lot stronger had it not come immediately after you said something that Nic would consider a personal shot.

To use another example: I've recently started rethinking my stance on gay marriage. Though I was for it at one point, I've reconsidered it because I just don't think that the act of homosexuality is normal and should not therefore have the same rules applied to it as heterosexual marriage (much like how physically disabled people shouldn't be allowed to do "normal" things like drive. Instead they should have some alternative or some modifications that allow them to engage in those things). If I delivered that message, I can assure you that people would immediately label me as a homophobe.

I say all of this just to reiterate the ultimate theme of this post: it's not what you say, it's how you say it.

@ Nic: See the previous comments, only apply them to you.

@ Both of you: I take no offense with you using my blog as a forum to have a battle royal. You bring the grudges, I'll bring the steel cage. That goes for anybody else. My playground is your playground.

There! Peace and harmony again. My work here is done.

KC said...

Dre,

"If I delivered that message, I can assure you that people would immediately label me as a homophobe.

I say all of this just to reiterate the ultimate theme of this post: it's not what you say, it's how you say it."

I disagree. No matter how delicately you try to phrase that, people are going to get in arms just by virtue of the fact that you called homosexualtiy abnormal. anything you say after that whether it's a lucid argument or not will not get received well at all.

KC said...

I should point out that I agree with your point. However I do not believe that advocates will say "I don't agree with him, but he makes a good point so I'll let him slide."

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
Blessed is the Peacemaker.
Upon rereading my comments with an open mind I see that you are indeed correct, that my using Nic as an example on another site of something negative would of course put him on the defense and rightly so. For that reason I apologize to Nic for that act....I guess I owe him a six of Becks. You are also correct that I could have handled that better as far as chosing my words. It's a disagreement that spilled over from a previous one. I went right from dealing with another commentor who was simply trying to rile me, to Nic and my attitude wasn't what it should have been. When given the choice of pride or honor, I think we chose pride when acting honorably would have been better. Have you ever thought of getting into counceling Dre? You show a bit of a nack at it.

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
"If I delivered that message, I can assure you that people would immediately label me as a homophobe."
There's an empty chair over here by me at Homophobes Anonymous if you want it. This is an example of the extremism of advocates. If you disagree with ANYTHING on their agenda, you become the enemy even though you agree with MOST of their mission. I think that pretty much explains why they lose at the polls, they alienate their supporters and then slap negative labels on them. Not a good plan.

Andre said...

@ KC: "No matter how delicately you try to phrase that, people are going to get in arms just by virtue of the fact that you called homosexualtiy abnormal. anything you say after that whether it's a lucid argument or not will not get received well at all."

Alright. I get that. I guess that my thinking to the contrary was done assuming a perfect world. But in reality, you're correct. No matter how I say what I say, it's gonna get attacked just because some folks don't find it pleasant to hear. That's the part of the free speech discussion that often gets excluded. Free speech allows you a forum to say stuff. What it does NOT do is protect you from the consequences of what you say.

@ Hippie: Trust me when I say I understand your predicament. I think that when people express an interest in administering/allowing free speech, they are often parenthetically saying "...as long as I like/agree with what they're saying..." God, how many times have we heard Fox News pundits blast some liberal for their comments or the Daily Kos skewer some conservative figure for comments? Ward Churchill gets canned, Don Imus loses his job. The cycle goes on through perpetruity. Saying "what's the point" and calling it quits may be the most logical thing to do (Lord knows I feel that way all the time), but it also takes you THAT MUCH FURTHER away from accomplishing said objective to enlighten others.

That's what I think anyway.

HeiressChild said...

hey andre, your other blog is gone. did you take it down or has blogger messed up?

just wanted to thank you for when you do your "news rants." there are usually 1-2 items either i'm not familiar with, or am somewhat familiar with and i get more info here. i do watch the news on t.v. and read it online, but there's so much that goes on in the world, sometimes i miss something, which i might pick up here.

beachgirl said...

Hi Andre
You would thrive in the DC area. It's so culturally diverse and so political. I lived there for 8 years. Then I moved to the Miami area. Also very culturally diverse but not political by any stretch. It's all fake, phony and bling down here. Very tough to get used to after so many years in the DC area.
I miss the educated atmosphere of the DC area the most. It's like what happens in the mixing bowl there really does matter. Tough to explain unless your really living it and breathing it.

Have an awesome day!
Carol

Andre said...

@ Sylv: I'm not sure why my other blog isn't showing up on my profile page. I can still access it by typing in the URL or clicking on the link under my blogroll. Odd.

I tell you: that Blogger!

I appreciate that you enjoy the news bits I do. But I'm working on trying to report stuff without adding my extra commentary. I'm thinking that I should leave it up the reader to draw their own conclusions rather than basing them on what input I have. Thanks all the same.

@ Carol: Honestly, the thought of moving to DC has crossed my mind before. It would be a great change of environment for me. I guess it remains to be seen.

Interestingly, my sister lives in Miami. In fact, she lives about a quarter mile from South Beach. I have to share in your sentiments. The area is definitely diverse (especially with the Latin women. *drools*), but it's only a visiting place for me. Settling there is a whole other ball of wax.

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