Watch out for fake outrage!

About a week ago, a fake video popped up in which a person who opposed Trump verbally confronted a Trump supporter.  Almost immediately after this, a report appeared where Ivanka Trump was confronted on a JetBlue plane in a similar manner.  

In light of (1) the sheer amount of fake news out there, (2) the fake video, and (3) the fact that it was JetBlue, I was skeptical of this report.  

So when I saw someone on Facebook make a vaguely worded comment that could have been interpreted as the fake video, I commented “you know this is fake, right?” I talked about confirmation bias and how it feeds into fake news.  And then the following morning, when I realized that it wasn’t fake, I apologized for my error.  

That’s when things went downhill in the Facebook dialogue.  She asked me to make a post on my Facebook feed echoing her outrage at the actions of the man who was escorted off the plane.  After all, would the political left have sat idly by if it had been Chelsea Clinton who had been harassed like that?  And in the presence of her child no less!

I politely refused to do so, largely on the grounds that this isn’t something worth being outraged about.  She threw my confirmation bias statement back at me along with a few other things and I abandoned the dialogue. 

I’m not defending the actions of the man who confronted Ivanka Trump, but he was punished accordingly by being escorted off the plane.   Conservative news media continue to talk about this and how horrible the guy was.  Tucker Carlson called him a member of the intolerant left.  

I call it bullshit.  

Let’s start with the “think of the children” part.  What should it matter?  We hear that a lot when people want to give a comforting lie to children rather than expose them to uncomfortable truths about life.  I have no problem with being age appropriate to some of the more unpleasant aspects of life, but to outwardly lie to them and pretend that things aren’t the way they are?  No. 

I’m reminded of the scene in the movie Dragnet with Dan Aykroyd playing the very uptight Joe Friday and Tom Hanks playing the more iconoclastic Pep Streebek.   They’re investigating vandalism at the local zoo and find a lion whose mane had been shaved into a mohawk.  Friday goes on a long “think about the children” screed about this travesty and how will they recover from seeing this.   Streebek looks over at a group of children and says, “kids, it’ll grow back.”  They all cheer.  

Ivanka Trump may have one of the most unenviable positions in modern politics: she has her own business interests to tend to and she may be best positioned to temper her father’s nature.  If she intervenes too much, charges of corruption and nepotism will surely arise.   If she does too little, she may be questioned about why she allows her father to do the things he will inevitably do.  

Do you want real outrage?  How about Donald Trump’s attempts to redirect US policy during the transition, most glaringly with regard to the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory?  By comparison, then-president elect Bill Clinton didn’t even complain when still-president George H W Bush had an initial troop deployment to Somalia in December 1992.  If ever the outgoing president might have been in the right to refrain from acting until the new administration came in, it was here.  

How about a Secretary of State designate who has a personal vested interest in seeing the sanctions against Russia be lifted?  How about a Secretary of Energy designate who not only doesn’t accept the reality of climate change but who wants to pursue policies that will make it worse?  How about an Attorney General designate who thinks that racism only exists when it’s aimed at white people?  How about a Secretary of Health and Human Services designate who wants to make it harder for people to afford the health care they need?

How about a Secretary of Education designate who wants to dismantle our educational system, replacing scientific truths with lies that I’m not even sure I’d call comforting?  You want someone to think about the children?  Yeah, I’ll take that over a rude and inconsiderate person on an airplane.   

I suspect the fake outrage machine is only just getting started.  


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