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Feelings Uber Alles

I really don't like stereotypes. They are a shorthand for lazy thinkers, they lump whole groups of people together in ways that are far too broad, they end up insulting those groups.

But sometimes I have to admit that there just may be a nugget of truth at the core of that stereotype, and it identifies a fundamental element of a certain group.

One such stereotype is that "liberals feel, conservatives think." It's a bit overly broad, but in the last week I've seen two shining examples that really, really put that first part in sharp relief.

The first is the Cindy Sheehan story. Ms. Sheehan has a demand (it's gone a bit beyond a "request" at this stage): she wants to meet, face-to-face, with the President and get him to explain exactly what our overall goals and strategy in Iraq are, and why they are worthy of pursuing. Setting aside that these questions have been answered ad nauseum, what makes Mrs. Sheehan different from numerous other critics of the president's Iraq policy?

Why, it's because she FEELS bad. Her credentials are that her son, Casey, who volunteered for service, volunteered a second time when he re-enlisted, and volunteered a third time to go on his last mission, was killed by terrorists in Iraq. Mrs. Sheehan, waving her son's bloody shirt, wants the president to look her in the eye and tell her why he died.

In the second example, earlier this week my colleague Rob brought up the rise in the number of illegal aliens who are dying while sneaking into the US. Rob's attitude boiled down to, in three simple letters, "BFD." For which he was thoroughly taken to task for being "cruel," "heartless," and various and sundry things. I thought Rob deserved a bit of support, so I wrote my own piece agreeing with him and expanding on a few aspects he hadn't covered (the main one being the absurdity of these people doing everything they can to avoid the attention of the US government right up until they're in desperate straits, at which point they should swoop in and save them), and got my own shellacking.

But logic doesn't matter, you see. These are human beings, and we should feel bad about their problems. And because we should feel bad, we should set aside stupid things like laws and policies and do everything we can to save them from the consequences of their own ignorance, stupidity, and willing violations of both the laws of the United States and self-preservation.

Because, in the end, all that matters is that we feel good about ourselves right now. Forget about whether or not those feelings are based in reality, or whether or not they'll last, or whether or not the actions that make us feel good will actually solve the problems.


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Comments (18)

I would love to see a left-... (Below threshold)

I would love to see a left-brain/right-brain study on this phenomenon. Do social/political conservatives express more brain activity in nerve centers considered to be "logical/analytical"? Do social/political liberals express more brain activity in nerve centers considered to be "artistic/sentimental"? Assuming one could define the proper parameters to pigeonhole the subjects, I think that would make a fascinating paper. I haven't searched the journals for such material. Maybe such a paper has already been produced and someone can recommend a citation.

Dead on about the Le... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

Dead on about the Left being overly emotional, as I got older that is the primary thing that started to drive me away. As I gained seperation and got a clearer view, it became apparent to me it was also a party being taken over by victims and losers. They have become eaten up with envy and hatred of success and productivity.

All of their various platforms: the environment/global warming, the middle east, health care, homeless, poor, children, etc..... it is the loser who elicits the emotional response and their support, and then that is used for an attack on the productive. They are locked into a zero-sum mindset where it is impossible to win without cheating, so the successful have to be evil.

Hmm. Now that I think of it... (Below threshold)

Hmm. Now that I think of it, that first post could be considered analytical. I must be a conservative. I could've sworn my left temple throbbed for a moment while I typed. Or I have a headache... one or the other.

I like the feel/think parad... (Below threshold)

I like the feel/think paradigm, but as far as the "good/evil" comparison I think we go to far. There's got to be at least one good Democrat out here. A Shirley Chisolm clone?

I agree with JayTea, as to ... (Below threshold)
don't need one:

I agree with JayTea, as to the ideas and emotions that are used to unite us. Philosophy and psychology all revolve around emotions, putting us in their place, see how we would feel, sympathy shown implies we are worth such sympathy if it happens to us. And in reference to startrek. Logic was associated to a race that had Mastery of their emotions.

Many public speeches that I have heard inspire the crowds by using the emotion. Nazi speeches condemming Jews, KK condeming black, even invoking fear during the 50's for the cold war start are all examples of how fear and emotions are inspiring people to do something.

Now Logical application of rules and even the courts are suppose to remove emotions down to simple consequences for actions. If you behave and act one way, within the rules, you are able to have certain consequences. The breaking of those rules has consequences, punishment and are the end result. Supposedly not based on emotions but on logical actions from set laws.

Of course the most ironic mix is when you combine both. To use logical facts and pepper them with emotions. Example ( and not a quote) ( 4,000 teenagers died behind the wheel of a car last year )_{{ I have no clue but that is an example of the facts}} The fact is just that . a fact, but add some emotions to it.. The moms left behind suffer the loss of their children. How can we let that happen .. |now the consequence| we must make the car industry more accountable for it

using emotions to season the facts and to guide the logic. This is where the human mind has great potential.. ( the problem with potential is that we must choose how to use it and no one always agrees with everyone else on the best way to use it.)

Welcome the consequence of free Thinking

Hmmm.I've had a pe... (Below threshold)


I've had a personal theory about this for some time now:

Liberals think Conservatives are evil.
Conservatives think Liberals are crazy.

It seems to explain pretty much everything.

Sterotypes might be for peo... (Below threshold)

Sterotypes might be for people too lazy to think, but like you said, there is usually a grain of truth in them...

For instance, you don't hear too many father-in-law jokes do you?

Ed, I've heard that one a l... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Ed, I've heard that one a lot, too, and that might be worth a whole separate posting.


I don't think being ... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

I don't think being emotional or unsuccessful is evil, I am both. I just think blaming others for your lack of success or holding them responsible for your emotional decisions is wrong.

I give money to bums and charities far too often, it is one of the reasons I am poor. But that doesn't give someone else the right to take my money by force to give to the needy of their choice. Government policies that apply to all of us shouldn't be based on arbitrary emotionalism.

As for stereotypes, I don't commit people to stereotypes, but it has proven to me to be a valid starting point when assessing a total stranger.

Whether or not liberals "fe... (Below threshold)

Whether or not liberals "feel" one thing is certain, they damn sure don't think.

Jay Tea:I think th... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

Jay Tea:

I think that a good balance of both logic and compassion goes a long way.

This case with illegal immigrants dying while trying to cross the desert is a tough example. On the one hand, the people know that they arent supposed to do what they are doing, and they know that they are risking their lives. They have certainly been forwarned. On the other hand, alot of them are coming from places that have very little economic opportunity, and they are willing to take that huge risk in order to better their lives, at least for a while.

What do we do? They are definitely in the wrong, but then the reasons that they are coming here are somewhat understandable. And when they do get here they are readily hired by American businesses and citizens. It sounds to me like the labor force is desired here, and that we have to work on making legal immigration for workers alot more efficient and effective. We dont want that demand to be continually filled by illegal immigration, period.

I dont condone illegal immigration, but I do understand why people do it. The answer to me is addressing the overall problem. I think its important to understand the motivations behind peoples actions, especially when seeking to alter their behaviors/actions.

They arent concerned about respecting our immigration laws because coming here illegally PAYS OFF. Thats the problem. People can go on and on about how they are breaking laws, but if the benefits continue to outweigh the risks/penalties then people are going to keep coming here. Of course, it doesnt pay off for everyone...but it pays for enough people for many more to try the same thing.

What we dont want is this large influx of unregulated people...which is obvious. It's dangerous for us and for them to have them sneaking into our country.

If speeding tickets cost us a nickel do you think that people would give a damn about going 65, regardless of what the law says? Sure we could lambast people for breaking the letter of the law, but you and I both know that if there was no enforcement of speeding laws, people would be breaking them all the time. Enforcement of our immigraiton laws is weak and inconsistent. Politicians are all over the place on the matter. Along with that we have plenty of businesses here that encourage illegal immigration.

I take issue with people who get all high and mighty about these people breaking our immigration laws. Indeed, they are doing so, and thats a problem. But the other side of the equation is all the American businesses and citizens who are ignoring those very same laws and hiring these workers, thereby encouraging the behavior. Part of the problem is here, part there.

I do not look at these migrant populations and think of them as a stupid mass of law breaking morons, as some seem to. They are taking great risks, mainly because they dont have what we have here in the US. We live prett well here, and I know that. I understand that it isnt our responsibility, or our government's, to save the world, as they say. But I think that looking at this situation with a measure of compassion is really beneficial. If we understand why and how they are doing what they do, then maybe we can better find solutions that are humane and effective at the same time.

I do think that this whole thing can be successfully addressed, but we have to be willing to look at what we are doing on this side of the fence as well.

It's possible to both hold ... (Below threshold)

It's possible to both hold logical, well-thought beliefs, and at the same time feel compassion for those who suffer. That's not emotion uber alles, it's simply being nuanced enough to see the world as more than just black vs. white, thought vs. emotion, liberal vs. conservative, &c.

No serious person believes we should celebrate illegal immigration. Those arguing against you here, Jay Tea, are only admonishing you to step back and realize that people dying and suffering is never something to be celebrated or trivialized.

Those arguing against yo... (Below threshold)

Those arguing against you here, Jay Tea, are only admonishing you to step back and realize that people dying and suffering is never something to be celebrated or trivialized.

How they get there, though, is by reacting to Jay's argument by concluding that he is celebrating or trivializing human suffering.

If they had any sense, they would stop and think and maybe look beyond their simplistic emotional reaction.

McGehee:How the... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:


How they get there, though, is by reacting to Jay's argument by concluding that he is celebrating or trivializing human suffering.

Agreeing with the "BFD" sentiment regarding this issue IS trivializing human suffering, IMO.

Life is cause and effect. ... (Below threshold)

Life is cause and effect. You do X and Y happens - linear sequencing. Actions have consequences, but for some people it's more fun to pretend those consequences don't exist or that they are not responsible for the consequences.

Stupidity is the ultimate regulator in society. Act stupid, and sooner or later your actions will catch up with you, regardless of whether or not you choose to accept the consequences. Reality doesn't care about your feelings.

That's not to say that emotions are bad, but emotions are not meant to rule our lives. To do so is to ignore reality and attempt to forge our own reality out of what we want, thereby ignoring what is.

The left seems unable to grasp this concept of X producing Y. To them, it's as if there is some magical room full of everything bright and beautiful, and if they could only reach that room they could solve all the world's problems. Too bad for them such a room doesn't exist.

Well, I don't think Jay or ... (Below threshold)

Well, I don't think Jay or Rob were celebrating or trivializing the deaths, but if you take the time and energy to write something which boils down to "a bunch of people died, and here's why I don't care", no matter what you say it or how logical your reasoning, some people will think you're an asshole.

Hmmm.Of course the... (Below threshold)


Of course the hidden problem of Mexican illegal immigration is the effect it has on Mexico. With America as the handy-dandy pressure release valve, the social, economic and political problems never will get addressed. To fix problems requires a populace that is both desiring of a fix and a willingness to actually get it done. In Mexico's case people who want things fixed don't stick around, they head north.

Now I know this is bit over the top, but the reason why Mexico has problems is the vast amount of corruption in every level of government. If millions of Mexican citizens here in America were actually there, in Mexico, then there might be sufficient mass of people to get things done.

But as long as they escape to America, Mexico will continue to be morass.

Ed:You're right. ... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:


You're right. The corruption in Mexico is a major part of the problem...along with the corruption in other countries where people are leaving in larger numbers.

It's a good point that you bring up. Alot of people who are trying to make changes in their lives, and who are willing to work hard, are leaving countries like Mexico, Guatemala, etc. to do so. Thats pretty problematic for those nations, one would think.






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