Summary: The Tea Party movement provides a picture of the increasingly dysfunctional OODA-loop (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) of American society, where outlandish statements are accepted unquestioningly by true believers. In this environment we can work 24-7 correcting these misrepresentations (and often outright lies), to no avail. True believers, left and right, have been taught to screen out heterodox data (e.g., it’s just Economics 101 explained by Nobel-prize winner Princeton economist Paul Krugman). Basic social fault-correction and learning has become problematic, and dialog on key issues difficult. This post provides a small but clear example.
“The elephant is great and powerful, but prefers to be blind.”
— From David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest
Today Republican presidential candidate Michel Bachmann signed “The Marriage Vow — A declaration of Dependence upon MARRIAGE and FAMILY“, written by an organization called The Family Leader. The vow opens with five bullet points. This is the first:
“Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”
A powerful opening, with a footnote giving as a source “The Consequences of Marriage for African Americans” (2005), by four experts (3 professors) with relevant professional credentials. But the paper does not support the claim. It says nothing at all about the claim. The earliest data mentioned is in footnote #11:
“… Data from another study show that marriage rates increased among Blacks and decreased among Whites in Philadelphia after slavery, and were relatively similar in 1880 and 1890…”
Pennsylvania gradually abolished slavery after 1780, so Philadelphia in 1880 tells us nothing about children born as slaves in 1860.
On page 8 there is a broader datum, which also tells us nothing about children born as slaves in 1860.
“For example, in 1880 and 1910 about 56.3% of Black and 66.9% of White households were nuclear households, about 23.5% and 19.7% of White households were extended family households, and 20.3% of Black and 13.4% of White households were fragmented or ‘broken’ homes.”
Corrections, like this post, are useless except to illustrate our situation. In most such cases the authors of such propaganda do not issue corrections, instead replying with evasions or additional misinformation. Their followers have heard the truth and believe, still further distorting our collective ability to see, learn, and act. Most people will hear such claims and either question or disbelieve them.
These methods work because of who we are today. So they are used by both Left and Right, dominating the discussion of key public policy issues such finance and climate science. They are more aggressively and effectively used by the Right, and so the Right rapidly gains political influence.
A side note about The Marriage Vow
Note the many oddities in the Candidate Vow (page 2). The third and last items (obey the Constitution, especially the First Amendment right of Religious Liberty and Freedom) contract the “Rejection of Sharia Islam…” Sharia is the religious law of Islam, and this sweeping “rejection” as a matter of public policy shows that the signers of this vow have read the words of the Constitution, but do not hear its meaning.
Other posts about the Tea Party Movement
- Are the new “tea party” protests a grass roots rebellion or agitprop?, 1 March 2009
- Our ruling elites scamper and play while our world burns, 11 March 2009
- The weak link in America’s political regime, 16 September 2009
- More examples of Americans waking up – should we rejoice?, 10 October 2009
- Does the Tea Party movement remind you of the movie “Meet John Doe”?, 27 January 2010
- Listen to the crowds cheering Sarah Palin, hear the hammerblows of another nail in the Constitution’s coffin, 8 February 2010
- The Tea Party movement develops a platform. It’s the Underpants Gnomes Business Plan!, 8 March 2010
- About the Tea Party Movement: who they are and what they believe, 19 March 2010
- The Tea Party Movement disproves my recommendation for the path to reforming America, 20 April 2010
- At last we see a Tea Party political platform, 13 May 2010
- Kinsley – “My Country, Tis of Me – There’s nothing patriotic about the Tea Party Patriots”, 15 May 2010
- Why has wild man Mark Williams become a top leader of the Tea Party movement?, 13 June 2010
- More people participating in politics: is this good for America?, 20 June 2010
- Obama scores again against the Constitution. The Tea Party is right about the battle, but AWOL., 28 September 2010
- Today’s tea party propaganda, 8 July 2011