Why it’s hard to think the thought ‘there was no protest’
October 24, 2012 1 Comment
Last night I did something I rarely do, which is that I had the TV tuned to Fox News (while reading a book). O’Reilly, evidently, is still on. He had that guy Allan Colmes, and some chick, at the table and they were talking about Chris Matthews’s ‘correction’ of an audience member of his that the Benghazi thing was ‘all about the video’.
Colmes defended this. O’Reilly, to his credit, was aghast in a sincere, not over-the-top way. (I mean it, he should get credit for that.) Colmes was saying stuff like “well it was partly about the video”. It is really surprising to someone who has seen the news (or in my case, who has read blog posts/tweets linking to the news) that there was no such protest in the first place and it was a planned assault.
But I think I’ve figured out what’s going on. Colmes, Matthews, maybe Susan Rice – these people are still stuck on ‘protest’ because of the following factor:
So you tell them there was not actually any protest, about any video or anything else and their eyes just glaze over. Because hey, there was an attack. The attack was confusingly and fog-of-warry and it was full of Arabs. Angry Arabs.
Isn’t that kinda like the same thing as a ‘protest’? Attack, assault, protest, demonstration – six of one, half dozen of the other. I mean what’s the diff? It’s all a bunch of undifferentiated nameless faceless Angry Arabs in a big mass, doing violent stuff, far away from us. And then once you approach these things thinking Angry Arabs + Violence = protest, it’s only natural that you think (1) well they must have been angry about something, and so (2) as far as we know, the ‘video’ must have figured into their anger somewhere.
Thus if you’re a pundit, like Colmes, you easily fall into the ‘how-do-we-know-otherwise?’ routine when an O’Reilly tells you it wasn’t about the video. You’ve already assumed it was (something like a) ‘protest’ and so the only question is how. But none of us can know for sure, because faraway ‘protests’ that we only learn about on the news or from CIA briefings are really really fuzzy vague things. So why couldn’t it have been about the video?, you punditize, to score a point for your team.
I really think something like this must be going on in these peoples’ minds when they try to process the events in Benghazi. If so, telling them there was no protest just rolls off their backs like water off a duck. Their brains can only process ‘Angry Arabs Being Violent’ as something like a ‘protest’ in the first place. They can neither see nor process any meaningful distinction between ‘protest’ and ‘planned assault’ – when it’s Arabs. So as long as they still think there was an attack of some kind, they’re just unable to think the thought there was no protest.
I know because it was shocking to me too. Remember how shocked and confused and disoriented I was the day it was revealed that there was no protest. It took a while for this to sink in, to me. That’s because to some extent I too suffer from the Angry Arabs Are Kinda All The Same disease. So I think I’m well qualified to recognize it in these other guys.
And they clearly have it in spades.