FGF OP-ED
A Voice from Fly-Over Country
June 22, 2016

Robert L. Hale

Is There Hope?

by Robert L. Hale
fitzgerald griffin foundation

MINOT, ND — One thing is certain — the extent of people’s capacity for ignorance and hypersensitivity cannot be underestimated.

A harsh statement? I know. As one among billions on earth, I would like to offer my advice for the billions (I hope) of normal, rational, thoughtful, secure, and balanced humans who must live among the ignorant and hypersensitive.

These unfortunate people need cheering up. When you encounter them, do not attempt to counsel, mentor, or educate them. They have arrived at the apex of ignorance and hypersensitivity through the work of misguided but likely caring parents, teachers, and other enabling mentors. Just smile at them. Above all, do not try to enlighten them. Doing so could cause irreparable damage. It might subject you to a lawsuit for assaulting them or offending their sensibilities.

The extent of people’s capacity for ignorance and hypersensitivity cannot be underestimated.

 

Attempts at enlightenment will do nothing more than depress you. Like crack users, alcoholics, and those with irreversible brain injury, these poor cases are most often hopelessly lost, their minds irretrievable. While they may not deserve it, they need your sympathy. A pat on the shoulder or possibly a meaningful warm hug is the best you can do. Do it and flee.

Am I overstating my case? Am I being snide? Am I being extreme? Is it possible that I am being hateful? Not likely. Below are several recent cases that back up the sad conclusion penned.

According to an Associated Press story recently, Mr. Trump was credited with being responsible for stirring up “ugliness in politics amid Trump-driven chaos.” The cause of the chaos was unclear. It could have been his suggestion that America should vet Muslims before they are allowed to enter our country. Maybe it was his suggestion that in times of war with barbaric enemies, the use of waterboarding might be prudent. Maybe it was his “vulgar and divisive rhetoric,” as opined by President Obama. No specifics were offered. Maybe it was Mr. Trump’s observations that far too many people in America are “takers,” living on welfare at the expense of working families. Apparently, saying these things was insensitive, divisive, and spiteful. In the old days, this was called stating the facts.

Mr. Trump seems to be an exceptionally troubling person, at least when it comes to those who are ignorant and hypersensitive. Ignorance does not necessarily have anything to do with mental potential or aptitude. Ignorance is the intentional closing of one’s mind to anything that smacks of conflict with one’s point of view. It is generally a decision to close one’s mind to actual thought, education, exploration, research, or debate.

The case of Jim Hansen, the scientist who in 1988 predicted the greenhouse effect in testimony before Congress, illustrates this ignorance to a remarkable degree. Salon writer Suzy Hansen (no relation) interviewed Mr. Hansen in 1988 or 1989 in Manhattan. As they stood looking out of her office window at Broadway, she asked if anything would look different in 20 years. He said the West Side Highway will be underwater, windows will have tape to protect them from high winds, birds will be gone, trees will be changed, and there will be more police due to the higher crime rates caused by heat waves.

 

Ignorance is the intentional closing of one’s mind to anything that smacks of conflict with one’s point of view. It is generally a decision to close one’s mind to actual thought, education, exploration, research, or debate.

Ms. Hansen (the writer) contacted Mr. Hansen (the scientist) recently to ask about his predictions. Renowned scientist Hansen says he still believes everything he predicted nearly three decades ago. Some may say Mr. Hansen’s intransigence illustrates that hope springs eternal. A more reasonable observer would say that his intransigence illustrates that ignorance has no bounds.

As for those who are hypersensitive: Only in America, I suspect, are people, especially our youth, so historically and in such numbers likely to have their feelings hurt so easily — and hurt to the extent that those causing the “hurt” must be silenced.

It seems that some of our best and brightest college students have nothing worth doing, find nothing worth learning, and care for nothing beyond immediate gratification. Instead, they spend their time being scared, intimidated, physically pained, traumatized, and in need of counseling when their irrationalities are stimulated.

It seems that some of our best and brightest college students ...spend their time being scared, intimidated, physically pained, traumatized, and in need of counseling when their irrationalities are stimulated.

 

A recent event at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, provides a case in point. A graffiti artist took chalk and wrote on stairs, sidewalks, and handrailings the words, “Trump” and “Trump 2016.” This vile act of stair and sidewalk abuse so traumatized the students that the university president arranged a special meeting to address their fear, intimidation, and pain. President Wagner promised to track down the culprits and offered further counseling to suffering students who had witnessed the graffiti.

President Wagner proposed policy changes for repairing procedural deficiencies and opportunities for “difficult dialogue” to identify social justice opportunities and issues. He made a commitment to an annual retreat to renew these efforts.

The one saving voice in this farce played out by the university administration was provided by the student newspaper, The Wheel. The editors had the insensitivity to state the obvious by printing the comments of well-adjusted students, such as telling these traumatized students to “grow up” and calling them “cry babies.”

Maybe there is hope after all.

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A Voice from Fly-Over Country is copyright © 2016 by Robert L. Hale and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved.

Robert L. Hale received his J.D. in law from Gonzaga University Law School in Spokane, Washington. He is founder and director of a non-profit public interest law firm. For more than three decades he has been involved in drafting proposed laws and counseling elected officials in ways to remove burdensome and unnecessary rules and regulations.

See Mr. Hale's biographical sketch.

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