Daily Bread for 3.19.23: Extreme Populism Presents as Trolling

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 39. Sunrise is 6:58 AM and sunset 7:06 PM for 12h 08m 02s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 6.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

There will be a candidate forum for Whitewater’s municipal judgeship at 1 PM at City Hall.

 On this day in 1918, the US Congress establishes time zones and approves daylight saving time.

There are times, and this is one, when one would rather be wrong than right. A careful and repeated discussion at FREE WHITEWATER of the excesses of populism must have seemed, to some, overwrought. When describing extremes from other places, residents in Whitewater could sincerely, if mistakenly, reply that those extremes would not — could not — appear in Whitewater.

For those who doubted: seeing is believing. A mere description of a hyena might seem exaggerated; to see that scavenger with one’s own eyes, however, is doubtless an unsettling sight to those who formerly doubted.  

At its most immoderate, populism presents as trolling, as writing and speech deliberately offensive or provocative. A few characteristics of these populist trolls appear below. 

Emotional. Tense, edgy, and thin-skinned, they’re vulnerable to slights real and imagined. How odd: all these supposedly big, bad, butch guys quickly screaming that they’ve been insulted. Our forefathers argued and debated acerbically as they built a civilization across a continent. These sorry populist types have conniptions after even mild criticism. 

The Most Talkative Are the Least Articulate. The ones who speak or write (as they have a right to do) are less skilled in their native language than those who sit behind the scenes. It’s the opposite of professional sports. Rather than the best among their number rising to the top, the worst of their ilk do so. 

Hypocritical and Projecting. They accuse others of what they habitually (and gleefully) do. 

Political Even When Avowedly Apolitical. Populism is a political movement, often with those of limited educational or moral formation. (If they knew more, they wouldn’t be populists, let alone trolls.) History, religion, law, economics are expressed, if at all, only though the populist’s feelings and desires. 

Unwilling to Accept Traditional Refutation (Even from Ideological Allies). If on the left, they’ll accept no criticism, even from others on the left. If on the right, they’ll accept no criticism even from others on the right. Populism is an emotional form of politics, and the extreme populist will not see to reason even from professionals (doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.) who are are otherwise ideologically similar. (Has someone done a study on how populists fare in long-term relationships? Supposition: they wind up in family court more frequently than non-populists,) 

(Added afternoon 3.19) An Inverted Burden of Proof.  While reasonable people respect the requirement that those who assert must prove, the populist turns this principle on its head by insisting that others must disprove his or her claims. The populist will insist that he or she represents a majority (usually a huge majority) while offering no proof of a majority position, or other numerical claims (biggest this, most that, everyone knows, etc.). This failure to adhere to a recognized burden of proof comes from ignorance (doesn’t know basic principles of evidence), indolence (too lazy to learn basic principles of evidence), or incompetency (rare cases evincing a lack of reasoning ability).   

Insatiable. Can’t stop, won’t stop. 

Feet or Throat. I’ve previously quoted Churchill’s use of an old expression to describe the disposition of the populists (especially the ones who descend into trolling):

Churchill, quoting a saying of others, once remarked to the U.S. Congress that

The proud German army has by its sudden collapse, sudden crumbling and breaking up, unexpected to all of us, the proud German army once again proves the truth of the saying “The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet.” 

So it is with populism: split in both outlook and in demeanor. 

Note well: When a hyena starts chewing on your throat, it does no good to offer that foul creature some ALPO® as a substitute. 

 Long overdue — International criminal court issues arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Putin:

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