The contrast between the two political columns last week is striking. The Democratic column contains many verifiable facts about the increase in natural disasters in recent decades and makes a logical and thoughtful connection to the increase in people, of many nationalities, seeking refuge in the US from environmental, economic, and political hardships. He urges better communication as well as compassion in trying to find solutions to global problems that affect us all. The Republican column, on the other hand, seems obsessed with Alec Baldwin as a symbol of all the “liberals” that the author “hates” (can you guess why?). He blames these liberals for “making” him hate them, but then claims that it’s the liberals who always blame others. He insults the Bandera law enforcement agencies by suggesting that Baldwin committed a crime for which he would have been jailed and charged with “voluntary manslaughter” if it had happened in our county. Therefore, he concludes, all liberals think they are above the law.
Being a fact-checker, I looked up voluntary manslaughter and found that it is totally inapplicable to Baldwin’s situation. I’m certain that our law enforcement officers would be very aware of that fact as well. But the author claims he heard this from “reliable sources”. Who, and how qualified, these sources are, we’ll probably never know.
Emotions like those expressed in the Republican column, though not based on actual facts, unfortunately become more memorable because of how our brain is wired. Sadly, hate and misinformation worm their way into the memory banks of the reader more successfully that the more reasonable and fact-based (boring?!) Democratic column.
On a related note, I would have liked a brief description of the writers of the Guest column included at the end of the column, as is done for all the other columns. I tried to look up who the two writers were but found multiple possibilities based on just their names. Some details about the writer(s) of a column can aid in the reader’s search for insight into the facts behind the opinion. (In case you’ve read this far and you think it should apply to me as well, I’m a retired clinical psychologist who moved here from San Antonio two years ago after over forty years in clinical practice.)
Readers, use your whole brain, not just your emotional brain. Details matter; don’t just swallow opinions whole from other people without a little bit of chewing.
- Susan Hull