By Capt. Fogg
Well, if you told me you were drowning
I would not lend a hand
I've seen your face before my friend
But I don't know if you know who I am
Well, I was there and I saw what you did
I saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off that grin,
I know where you've been
It's all been a pack of lies
is an observation without a frame of reference? We like to think we
can observe facts and make rational deductions, but we can't. Anyone
with training in psychology as it pertains to law enforcement is likely
to tell you that eye witness accounts of the same occurrence will vary
markedly and it's been clearly demonstrated that observers concentrating
on one thing will be completely unaware of important people and
objects in their direct view.
When I read about an
unarmed African American "child" kneeling with his hands up being shot
multiple times, I was truly irate, I was ready to write off reports of
his just having perpetrated a class B felony and his having charged a
policeman who had ordered him to stop as racism. It fits with my
habitual beliefs about the police and racism. I may well have been
totally wrong and it may not be the first time, but if it turns out that
the 6 foot 4 200 pound "Child" did in fact charge the officer, things
might just be other than I was primed to believe.
might relate it to the halo effect: the tendency to have a view of
people and things because of, in this case, his being a member of a
traditionally disadvantaged class We do after all read about all sorts
of injustice based on race and racism seems to explain a lot. But
sometimes, of course we're wrong. Sometimes we fail to see things
through the eyes of people who run stores and gas stations in "bad"
areas whose lives are in danger every day. Is it too easy for me to
condemn it from the safety of my gated community and the comfort of my
air conditioned office? It depends on your viewpoint, your frame of
reference, the things you associate with other things because your human
and you have a memory.
For most of my life, I was
firmly convinced that Julius and Ethyl Rosenberg were framed. I galled
me that they were Jews and their trial and execution would reflect on
me. I found it easy to find detailed opinions as to their having been
innocent. There were lots of people who agreed, lots of signs and
protests from lots of convinced people. People I despised were convinced
of their guilt. I was ready to see the whole sad affair as yet another
example of the persecution of liberals and most of all Jews. In fact I
was passionate about it. I was wrong.
But we see
connections between things, relationships, reminders and all the things
that lumped together are called bias and prejudice. Watching the
endless coverage of the gruesome and heartbreaking killing of Stephen
Sotloff -- the tall dark man with the knife condemning Obama, blaming
Obama for what he was about to do and threatening to do it again and
again, in the name of peace and freedom My rage and loathing must
surely have been augmented by the years and years of hearing similar
rhetoric from Republicans of all sorts, from Fox News to barber shop
conversations. It's going to be hard to temper my rage at the endless
Obama bashing and ceaseless hatred of human values. These things are
inexorably linked in my mind.
And what do we think of
Vlad the Invader? Putin is an arrogant, dishonest, power hungry
autocrat, contmptuous of Democracy, decency, human rights and Liberty.
Contemptuous of us
. Have you been listening to how Fox and its
followers have been praising him as the kind of bold, confident leader
American needs? If you're a Republican you will have forgotten this
instantly, but you'll still be contemptuous of Obama and blame him for
being weak, for not waving our nuclear penis around. I still remember
though and every time I hear you barking about strength, I will
associate it with your fascination with tyrants. Evey time you call
Obama a tyrant I will remember. Every time I hear you call him weak and
indecisiveness, I will associate it with your praise of ruthless
aggression. I will never, ever trust you to tell us the time of day
even if my watch confirms it. I know who you are and what you've done
and it's all been a pack of lies.
So, yes, I'm
human. Yes, I know there is wisdom and enlightenment in trying to see
things through other eyes, but there is discomfort in equal amounts from
remembering, from associating or correlating one thing with another. I
suffer from rage and closed mindedness and prejudice like everyone else
does, so when I see bloody handed monsters I will think of Republicans.
When I hear the word "conservative" I think of hate, of tyranny, of
arrogance -- of evil. the camera can't show it, but I know that face behind the black mask and I see him everywhere.
Labels: associative reasoning, framing effect, prejudice