If I speak
At one constant volume
At one constant pitch
At one constant rhythm
Right into your ear
You still won’t hear
You still won’t hear!
— Faith No More, “A Small Victory”
Yes, it is a bit ambiguous.
On the one hand, you have William Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, stating clearly and without qualification that the Trump Administration engaged in an unconstitutional quid pro quo, testimony so shocking that it “reportedly elicited sighs and gasps” from stunned congressmen.
And as anyone with a grasp of politics (or indeed, the English language) knows, this is about as definitive as it gets. So even though there is “no need for a smoking gun by now, because Trump has all but admitted to the crime … Taylor’s testimony delivered a still-warm pistol with Trump’s fingerprints all over it to congressional investigators.”
But on the other hand, you have Republicans saying, “I didn’t see it. I didn’t hear it.”
Really, that’s what they’re saying.
Now, you might expect some kind of complex refutation or logical argument from the GOP, which has tied its destiny to a sputtering man-child who is most likely spending his days plotting which Republican he can throw under the bus to save his own skin.
However, the GOP long ago ran out of logical arguments, or principled stances, or semi-coherent opinions. Having been reduced to the Party of Stupid, they are now in full-on toddler mode, denying Taylor said what we all heard. Or they are bum-rushing hearings that they have no right to interrupt, in some sort of pathetic stalling action that accomplishes nothing but possibly appeases Daddy a little bit.
Note to GOP: Looking like a band of angry lunatics, barging into rooms and shouting at people, is not convincing anyone that you have your shit together.
In any case, it is not really a surprise that Republicans can’t see or hear the perfectly obvious. And it’s not just because conservatives long ago surrendered their common sense and basic decency in a futile effort to charm a misogynistic sociopath.
No, this failure to acknowledge reality appears to be a long-time problem. Their denial of climate change, their belief that Iraq had WMDs, and their embrace of crackpot economic theories, are all fine examples of the conservative blind spot and deaf zone.
But for the most impressive proof of this disturbing phenomenon, let’s look at racism.
You see, for many conservatives, acknowledging the existence of widespread bigotry undermines their whole philosophy that everyone just needs to pick himself up by his bootstraps, without whining about institutional barriers and societal hindrances. This idea is as antiquated and nonsensical as, well, bootstraps themselves (seriously, who the hell wears bootstraps anymore?).
Also, dismissing racism means ignoring unpleasant historical facts like the GOP’s Southern Strategy or Reagan’s “welfare queens” or just about any other Republican approach that has succeeded in conjuring up racial anxiety among white voters. It all never happened, don’t you see?
Finally, throwing a blanket over the prevalence of prejudice allows white conservatives to feel O.K. about themselves for, say, voting for an overt bigot. It also allows conservatives to mock political correctness or “own the libs” or whatever stale terminology they use to excuse backward thinking.
As such, conservatives “have convinced themselves that actual racism is basically a thing of the past, and so any accusation of racism must be nothing but liberal claptrap.”
What does this look like? Well, it means the following:
Nothing is racist against black people (even slavery).
Nothing is racist against Latinos (even putting kids in cages).
Telling someone to go back to their own country is not racist (even though you can get fired for saying it).
The FBI stating that white supremacy is on the rise doesn’t prove that bigotry is a problem.
Now, anti-Semitism is a tricky one, in that conservatives believe that it doesn’t generally exist, even if we see guys with torches chanting, “Jews will not replace us!” The GOP caveat, however, is that any criticism of the Israeli government whatsoever is virulent anti-Semitism.
That sticky situation aside, conservatives cannot see racism anywhere — unless, of course, it is against white people. In that case, there is a shitload of racism. Like, wow, we can’t believe the oppression.
In fact, over half (i.e., a majority) of white Americans “think that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem in the United States as discrimination against blacks and other minority groups.”
Looking specifically at conservatives, we find that “a whopping 75 percent of registered Republican voters said that white Americans face discrimination.”
So what do we make of people who insist that only white people — and no one else — are the victims of bigotry?
For starters, we can be honest.
This is beyond mere denial or simple delusion. It is a life choice. And it is a mindset that has the power to provoke horrifying consequences.
After all, we see it every day.
Featured image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images