• January 4, 2022

Opinion: Americans must challenge today’s obstinance with intelligence

Opinion: Americans must challenge today’s obstinance with intelligence

How we can confront people who insist on sticking their heads in the sand

RESOLUTION Flag

Halfway along on my exercise routine, I spied a banner high up a flagpole: 6-inch-tall letters that spelled out, “Let’s go, Brandon,” red and white on a blue background.

I was sure it was new since I frequently pass this house with the circular driveway at the corner, and there was no flag the day before.

The saying, as most people know by now, is code for “(Expletive) Joe Biden,” which a crowd was actually chanting at a NASCAR race, but which an NBC Sports reporter interpreted as fans cheering on race winner Brandon Brown.

The next morning, while I was passing by, a man was exiting a car in the curving driveway.

Why not, I thought.

“Hey, bud,” I said.

He turned and smiled. “How you doing?”

He appeared to be in his 50s, with a military-style haircut. Possibly a former offensive lineman in college or high school.

“I wanted to ask about your flag,” I said.

“Sure,” and he looked up at it and chuckled.

I asked if he really meant to display it at Christmas, the season of peace and goodwill.

“I don’t know,” he said, smiling. “Yeah, I guess.”

Although the obscenity is directed at the president, I continued, isn’t it an attack against at least half the population?

“Well,” and now the smile was gone, “we’re coming back anyway,” he said. By which, I assumed, he meant Donald Trump was coming back.

I went home, and I told my wife, Marianne, about my conversation. She said I had wasted my time.

“I wanted to give him something to think about,” I said.

The following morning, when the flag was still flying, Marianne’s contention that such people are immutable appeared to be right.

Which got me thinking: Maybe I need to change my behavior. Maybe for the new year, I needed a resolution for dealing with politically and profanely recalcitrant people.

Previously, I deemed it a responsibility to confront anti-vaxxers, climate change deniers, Jan. 6 supporters or voter suppression advocates, to compel them to see the illogical or nonfactual basis of their views.

So I have tried, both in opinion pieces and in person. But Marianne’s claim that it’s a waste of ink or breath has been borne out. Several friends and relatives with whom I used to have normal conversations now shun and ignore fact-checking. One said that in matters such as the coronavirus, they would rather listen to Trump than Dr. Anthony Fauci.

I resolve in 2022, therefore, to fight fire with judo. To parry with the American obstinocracy by reversing the momentum of their thrusts back in their direction. To call them out on their posturing at every turn, since faux strength and machismo, not reason, seem to be the impetus for their views.

For example, those who falsely claim that elections have been crooked say we must have tougher voting restrictions. But their real reason is their fear of sharing democratic power with African Americans, Hispanics and Asians.

Therefore, in 2022, when someone tells me, for instance, that global warming is a natural occurrence and that we are wimps to heed scientists (all 97% of them), I will suggest that they toughen up and fight the calamity head on instead of burying their head in the sand.

I resolve to similarly challenge others, whether it’s homophobes with fear of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans; white supremacists with the fear of being replaced; or the political officeholders who betray the public good out of fear of Trump.

And after Jan. 2, when I return to that street corner and suggest to my neighbor that he is clearly too brave a man to hide behind a timid euphemism, we’ll see how it goes.

Source: https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/01/04/opinion-americans-must-challenge-todays-obstinance-with-intelligence/

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