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Reblogged:A Tribalist's Perspective on Tribalism

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The headline of a recent piece at The American Thinker echoes a thought I have had more than once since the start of the pandemic: "Covid-19 Is the New Global Warming."

The piece does -- sort of -- capture this, from a harshly conservative point-of-view, taking conservative in its new, post-Trumpian, no-longer-capitalist sense.

For example:
Image by Bessie Pease Gutmann, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
Mask mandates. This has two distinct sides. On one side are those who believe that wearing masks is essential to protect public health and anyone who opposes that viewpoint is ignorant and a danger to society. The other side is more skeptical of masks, pointing out inconvenient little facts like that the typical mask opening is four times larger than the COVID-19 particle (500 nanometers to 125 nanometers), so wearing a mask is like trying to stop a swarm of mosquitoes with a chain-link fence, as that cliché goes. Mask mandates in the public sphere and for kids in school divide the electorate sharply along ideological lines.
Count me as being on neither of these irrational, funhouse-mirror-image-of-each-other "sides." (This is a great analogy, but not my own. I'm pretty sure I got this from the philosopher Greg Salmieri.)

Regulars here will know that I oppose mask mandates, but regard masks as offering some protection to wearer and others nearby alike. And don't get me started on that asinine "fence vs. mosquito" analogy, which is rehashed above. (Check the link: I'm not re-litigating that here.)

Analogously to the debate over fuel rationing disguised as a "climate" debate, I oppose fuel rationing, and yet acknowledge that some "lukewarming" of the climate is happening, with good and bad effects. So am I a Green or a "denialist?" I'll be accused of either, depending on which of the former you ask. This is despite the fact that one can oppose environmental legislation without denying that some warming is occurring. (And I would oppose current political proposals even if there were a looming catastrophe.) Likewise, I oppose lockdowns and mask mandates, but think masking can be helpful and that vaccination is a good idea. The limited role of government in all of this is detailed here.

So, yes. The fiercely-opposed sides that are both wrong in very important ways (and so hold self-contradictory viewpoints) make the debates over the pandemic and whatever they're calling energy rationing these days seem quite similar to each other.

But the greatest similarity, shared by both sides, as this outsider to both can see, is that neither seems capable of asking itself, "How do I know this?" This scientist has been called a "science denier" simply because I oppose the Green New Deal, and has gotten nowhere with an anti-vaxxer relative despite (for example) my point-by-point rebuttal of a viral video of a quack doctor speaking to an Indiana school board.

If you doubt me, try talking to someone firmly within either camp and see how little time it will take before you notice that what you are saying simply doesn't register. I have, and all I can say is that I hope these people are merely a vocal minority, for they seem unreachable by rational argument.

The most disturbing thing about both of these struggles is that so many people see the issue in terms of a binary political choice between two inconsistent grab-bag sets of positions -- and not as a problem to be approached like any other in one's life, and with a suspicious eye cast on government, whose role is only how best to protect one's freedom to do so.

-- CAV

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