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Ethereal Innocence

Jon Stewart, Formerly of The Daily Show

Jon Stewart, Formerly of The Daily Show

Intellectuals have this little problem: They just cannot understand those who aren’t intellectuals. Irony and sarcasm will not do the trick. When we think that Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert have produced some withering putdown of someone on the other side of the culture wars, the only response from the other side is, “Consider the source. Who cares what a libtard has to say?” After all, they have their own information sources which Liberals have disdained to meet head on.

It’s roughly equivalent to “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”

Looking back at the Presidential Election of 2016, it strikes me that humorous sallies are not a replacement for engaging with Red States. One has to confront, listen, and respond. Barack Obama did this in 2008 and 2012; Hillary in 2016 did not.

I am currently reading a book of essays on G. K. Chesterton by the Rev. James V. Schall, S.J. In a piece entitled “On Becoming Inhuman out of Sheer Humanitarianism,” Schall writes:

In the summer of 1926 (July 3 and 10), Chesterton wrote two essays in The Illustrated London News on literature and novels. He began with some advice that I recall my old professor Rudolf Allers had also given some years ago, namely, “read even bad novels.” Allers’s point was that you will likely find in lousy novels some rather accurate insight into how people are thinking or acting that you will not find in good literature or in your own experience. It is not easy to imagine all of the silly and wrong things that we might perpetrate on one another, yet we need to know this if only to save us from a certain naïveté or ethereal innocence. [Italics mine]

Maybe someone has to listen to what Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are saying if we are serious about countering it. Even if what they have to say is unadulterated horseshit.

The “Saturday Night Live” sketches about the last election were brilliant: Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon couldn’t have been better. Yet millions of voters weren’t listening. They were tuning in to Fox News or Jesus or Breitbart.

Because the Democrats have failed to engage all the voters, we are resigned to waiting for a new Reichstag fire to be set.