Thursday, January 21, 2021

Flawed Leaders and their Devoted Followers

Many readers have written to me over the years to express their appreciation for my posts about how certain people blindly follow those that they revere as Gedolim, failing to see the flaws in their leadership, no matter what the consequences. These readers see it as being very important to try to dissuade people adhering to a tribalist, cult-like mentality in which they refuse to be open to the possibility that their leaders could be flawed and that their chosen ideological movement might have its problems, and in which dissidents are persecuted as heretics. 

The strange thing is that some of these readers seem completely unaware that this is also true of them.

Last week, I criticized Trump's role in causing the Capitol riot and the harm to US democracy. It's not so much due to any particular sentence that he said at the rally; rather, it's the cumulative effect of months of riling up his devotees that the election would be, and was, "rigged" and "stolen" by terrible people who want to destroy America, and that they must do something about it (and all because he's simply incapable of ever acknowledging that he could lose at something). Uttering a few sentences about how "we will peacefully protest" are rather beside the point. It's like standing in a crowded theater and screaming "A deadly fire has broken out! It will kill us all if we don't get out in time! Will everyone please proceed calmly to the exit!"

In response, some readers went apoplectic. "He didn't do anything wrong!" "It was Antifa!" "But BLM!" "But the Democrats!" Some went even further, accusing me of being an ingrate for all the good that Trump has done (which is a very strange charge; Jewish tradition has always maintained that even great people can do wrong and are called out for it). And some issued the ultimate disqualification: "You're a leftist!"

The last criticism is particularly fascinating. I'm not American, but I know of many, many Americans who are right-wing Republicans, who voted for Trump and even campaigned for him and in some cases were even hired by him, yet who are nevertheless highly critical of him for his role in the Capitol riot. We're talking about people such as White House Director of Communication Alyssa Farah and Nikki Haley. It's just absurd to condemn anyone criticizing Trump for this as being a "leftist."

But I guess it's like those who condemn people disobeying the rulings of charedi Gedolim as being heretics. When you're single-minded in your devotion to a person or a cause, you can't be open to any criticism at all, no matter how legitimate. The strange thing is how some people can recognize this problem in others, but not in themselves.

Here's a way to figure out whether you suffer from this problem. Do you get outraged when people criticize your leader? Do you attempt to utterly disqualify those who issue criticisms? Are you able to acknowledge the problems with your chosen "team" and the strengths of the opposition?

I've lost some supporters and donors due to these types of posts. But my mission involves encouraging people to be a little more open-minded, to be nuanced thinkers, to avoid black-and-white conceptions. I might be naive, but I hope that people can recognize where how they might need to grow in this area.


Coming soon: A very special announcement! If you'd like to subscribe to this blog via email, use the form on the right of the page, or send me an email and I will add you.

45 comments:

  1. Once again you fall victim to the Democrat party's propaganda wing, commonly known as "Mainstream Media."

    Those people for four years, day after day after day, insisted that the election (the 2016 election) was "hacked," that Russia colluded with Trump to get him elected, that Americans were somehow duped into voting for Trump by Russian propaganda, that the election was illegitimate, or in Nancy Pelosi's words it was "Hijacked." Several democrats in Congress objected to its certification. MANY of them discredited the legitimacy of what had taken place in the voting booth. And this was all fine because hey, it's freedom of speech isn't it?

    Now suddenly if Trump says that, and someone then does something violent, he is at fault for violence. As if there was no violence against trump supporters over the past 4 years, we can just ignore that. Suddenly saying an election wasn't legitimate is akin to "yelling fire in a movie theatre" as if this commentary is a master key that sets off a violent trigger in human beings making them unable to control violent animal urges, in a way that we don't consider any other non-violent talk to be doing so. You can no longer say an election was rigged because someone might do violence. Just ignore that we never had this rule in society before.

    What other nonviolent opinions are now going to be considered forbidden speech that sets off animal urges somewhere? Do we have a list? Oh that's right, it will be whatever republicans are saying in opposition to the Democrat agenda the moment before we can single out a violent act somewhere in the country and put the blame on those statements. When you speak against the Democrat agenda you are asking people to do violence.

    We watched for MONTHS this summer as BLM and antifa destroyed businesses in major US cities and got many people killed. Politicians like Maxine Waters and Pelosi (again) encouraged this rioting! Pelosi said at one point she didn't understand why there weren't riots all over the country. Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon got on CNN every day and were cheerleaders for the chaos.

    The literal incitement to violence, with words encouraging it and defending these actions, was NOT considered "riling up" and triggering the violent acts.

    But when Trump says "be peaceful" while at the same time using language that is NOT encouraging any violent acts, but simply saying an election was rigged, that is incitement and "riling up" violent riots. Right.
    And I'm supposed to believe this nonsense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Russian interference (not 'hacking') in the election was confirmed by trump's own DOJ in 2019 and we will see the repercussions of this in the coming years undoubtedly.

      https://www.justice.gov/storage/report.pdf

      As for the rest of your commentary - you need to start reading legitimate sources.

      Delete
    2. Nope. Even Dems admit there was no Russian interference in the 2016 election. But do you know what there was in the 202 election? Fraud. Lots and lots of fraud.

      Delete
    3. Not to mention that collusion isn't a crime.

      Delete
    4. Not only did BLM and antifa rioted all summer. Last night they were rioting again! Portland and Seattle burst into flame, and for what? Their man won. What more do they want? They don't know what they want. They just want free stuff.

      Delete
    5. Russian interference doesn't make the 2016 election "illegitimate" or "hijacked", something the opposition party has repeatedly alleged. And there is no evidence that said interference actually had an effect or swayed the election.

      I agree that the hypocrisy of the opposition party doesn't justify what the former President did. Although I would stop short of blaming him for the "insurrection", if there would have been proper security around the Capitol, none of that would have happened.

      Delete
    6. De Jure and De Facto it was not 'illegitimate' and no DNC stakeholder has argued otherwise or is questioning the process itself. The malignant influence on people's opinions through the manipulation of social and other media outlets however, is the thrust of the argument here. There are literally millions of people in the US who believe that the Democrats are cannibalistic pedophiles, that Biden is a literal Communist and that trump is a messiah character come to liberate enslaved Americans from a cabal of illuminati - and MANY Jews believe this too. The influence of Chabad in particular in spreading the idea that trump will presage messianic times and that he is Ahasverus to the yidden is but one example....

      Delete
    7. 'Legitimate sources' like Pelosi's own twitter account?
      You being ignorant of the facts does not make those facts no longer exist in reality.

      "Nancy Pelosi
      @SpeakerPelosi
      Our election was hijacked. There is no question. Congress has a duty to #ProtectOurDemocracy & #FollowTheFacts.
      12:44 PM May 16, 2017
      20.4K
      Retweets
      18.9K
      Quote Tweets
      20K
      Likes"

      It's not even deleted at this point https://twitter.com/SpeakerPelosi/status/864522009048494080

      I guess you will have to plan a new strategy now to combat my arguments

      Delete
    8. Meir Moses, you will have to figure out a way to combat Q conspiracy theories and irrational thought processes without censoring Republicans/conservatives, removing their freedom of speech, deplatforming them, falsely blaming political violence on them collectively, falsely declaring them national security/domestic terror threats as a ruse to violate their civil rights, and forcing people to accept false narratives that when one side says what the other side said freely for 4 years it is "incitement."

      Because aside from that being unfair and wrong, it doesn't work toward your ostensible goal anyway.

      How about a little bit of honesty, is that so much to ask?

      Delete
    9. MM, not sure what you're talking about, major Democratic stakeholders have in fact called Trump an "illegitimate" president and repeatedly called into question the 2016 election security.

      As for malignant influence, I agree that false propaganda is bad. But we should worry more about the malignant influence of the socialists who spread popular but perniciously false anti-capitalist messages. There are millions who believe that the rich provide no net benefit for society, and all their "excess" gains should be taxed out of existence. Or that prices are arbitrary, and we could simply mandate lower prices for everything from healthcare to rent. These beliefs are every bit as false, but far more destructive than Pizzagate.

      Delete
    10. Meir Moses, "Chabad in particular in spreading the idea that trump will presage messianic times"

      I'll do you one better. Conspiracy Channel, MSNBC contributor compared Biden to G-d Almighty. In other words, they called Biden a god! Yes— they want us to worship Biden. Yes, Biden, and especially Bernie Sanders are communist. And Bill Clinton is a pedophile. He's been to Epstein island at least 50 times a month! That's honesty. But they'll never admit it. A politician being honest?

      Delete
    11. The problem conservatives have is we feel a need to respond to idiocy of this kind, whereas leftist don't. It's in large part due to republicans, reading them only to argue with them, that left wing media sources are read at all. In reality, on this topic, opinions like R. Slifkin's and now this Meir Moses acolyte should simply be ignored, rather than be countenanced as if they had any weight at all. I myself feel prey to this already, but wont any further.

      Delete
    12. have you seen the pictures of Trump at Epstein's parties?

      Delete
    13. No, but I've seen Biden sniff hair: https://www.thecut.com/2019/12/joe-biden-poll-hair-sniffing-the-cut-yougov.html

      Delete
  2. Usually I agree with you but your logistical analysis is wrong. The protest permits, both right and left, were requested weeks in advance. The DC mayor, police and Nancy Pelosi's Capitol police were unprepared. The walk from the White House to the Capitol is 1.7 miles and would take 30 minutes to walk wothout a crowd. The Capitol violence started 20 minutes before Trump's speech/rally concluded. Those are facts. Your analysis that he ginned up the violence is speculative.

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    Replies
    1. "Those are facts. Your analysis that he ginned up the violence is speculative." In light of his continued incitement that the election was literally stolen from him this is disingenuous.

      Delete
    2. He can claim anything he wants so long as he doesn't incite violence. And according to your rules Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, et al should be in jail for promoting actual violence...

      Delete
  3. "You're a Leftist!" - honestly the -may I say this? - idiocy of this kind of statement is embarrassing. Herzl, Dayan, Ben Gurion - the people and pioneers / citizen-soldiers who visualized and then realized the State would be condemned & vilified if they were alive today under those terms. The Left as a political force in IL is all but extinguished and powerless - with remnants in the judiciary, media and civil society and a secular population too frazzled to fight the erosion of the State as a social-democratic institution that benefits all. IL as a secular state is over - the secular, highly educated are leaving in significant enough numbers (and the idea that the start-up ethos can sustain the nation is a mirage) and demographics and politics will do the rest. What remains will be a state that looks like Turkey, Poland or Russia - but for Jews. The whole idea that standing up or critiquing a demagogue like trump and attributing objective value to such a pathological authoritarian as a negative attribute of the 'Left' is...well...it is so ridiculous it is almost hard to critique, coming as it does from the inward looking nexus of conspiracy and social media. That so many Jews have fallen for this or made US policy on IL the sine qua non of trump is saddening and dangerous.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You've lost readers, not because of criticism, but because you've shown yourself to be a fool. You seen to think that you alone, in the entire universe, are capable of nuanced thinking. John Kerry made the exact same patronizing and witless comment about his opponents, just before he lost. It just never seems to occur to you that you're not smarter than anyone else, that everyone understands "nuance", but come to different conclusions for different reasons. That is especially true today, when the very facts upon which all opinions are based are disputed, and the concept of truth has all but disappeared. The same is true about Corona. You call thousands of other Jews by disgusting names (obnoxious in its own right), believe them to be actually cognizant of you (astonishing in its arrogance and naiveté) and fail to understand that they, and millions of other people, have a different perspective than you. Not that they don't understand "nuance", they just don't agree with you. In some areas you base your opinions that you are certain are right, that "are not matters of opinion", and yet fail to realize that that itself is merely your opinion. We have limited time, and would prefer to read intelligent articles from intelligent writers. That you have shown yourself incapable of comprehending the simple point above makes you a waste of time to read.

    Just as you say. Be open to criticism. Be open minded. You might learn you need to grow in this area.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree. Total loss of moral compass. Constantly claiming the moral high-ground.

      Delete
    2. Perspectives, opinions and 'alternative facts' are not the same as objective truth. Large swathes of the Hasidic and Haredi communities now rely on hearsay, social media and other untrustworthy sources to confirm their own bias.

      Delete
    3. Meir Moses, you're just repeating the same dumb thing over and over. Of course "alternative facts aren't the same as objective truth", the problem is that your version of "objective truth" is false. I already anticipated your comment, where I said that R. Slifkin claims the facts he relies on "are 'not matters of opinion', not realizing that that itself is just an opinion." The Chassidim think exactly the same thing about your opinion, they just don't bother writing blogs to say so.

      Delete
  5. Good point. What would you say are the biggest strengths of chareidi Judaism, areas in which they’re doing better than the modern orthodox and dati leumi communities?

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  6. The comments on this post are kind of hilarious...

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  7. “ and all because he's simply incapable of ever acknowledging that he could lose at something”

    You know this as a fact? because you spout it as one. You also seem to adhering to your own tribalism, cult like mentality. Pot meet kettle.

    Nana

    ReplyDelete
  8. For four years I supported Trump and I saw how the media and the Left demonised him. This only made me support him more. But his vehement refusal to accept the legal election results has made me do a lot of soul-searching. Was I perhaps blinded by his charisma for four years! After some serious thought, I have come to the conclusion that he was a great president and I am proud I supported him but he just went one fatal step too far - he cannot accept defeat. So yes we can support a great leader and at the same time recognise and criticise his/her faults.

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    1. He went too far and made a mistake for sure. But to say that it was all just because "he cannot accept defeat" is conjecture and totally discounts any merit there might have been to having a 10-day audit. I don't think anyone claims there was zero fraud involved. The only question was was it enough to overturn an election. Sadly, there'll never be an audit and the flawed system will remain flawed which does not serve to strengthen democracy. And people have a lot of reason to have doubts about a system where there has been a coordinated effort of silencing and extreme bias. That will continue to fester and undermine all efforts to bring about unity.

      If Biden wants to have a shot at being a great president, he himself has to have the fortitude to step out of his own tribalism and cult-like mentality by taking on things that his own orthodoxy would revolt against. Like acknowledging that his party also held Trump to be illegitimate from the start, and speaking out against censorship. He had that opportunity last night. He'll have many more. But unfortunately, that will never happen. So sad to see a great country go to hell (I'm not American but love the American ideals).

      Nana

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    2. There have been multiple state audits. MULTIPLE. BY REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS in many cases. Where do you get your information from? I am genuinely curious. There is nothing 'tribal' or 'cult-like' about Biden, he is a middle of the road politician with a history of conservative action on police, military and state affairs. trump was and is a charlatan, a thief and a pathological liar who bears personal responsibility for the outrageously incompetent covid response. The next few years will undoubtedly show the levels of self-serving abuse that took place by him and his coterie if rasha and felons - most of whom he has disgracefully pardoned.

      Delete
    3. I get a lot of my information from Tucker Carlson, Hannity and Ingraham. You’ll no doubt dismiss those as propaganda which will be due to your own tribalist and cult like mentality.

      You don’t think there’s anything tribal or cult like about the Democratic Party, and the sycophant press that covers them? He belongs to that party and if he’s unable or unwilling to take up important real unifying issues - the one where the democratic tribalists would revolt against - then he’s part of that tribal system. Especially now as POTUS and if he wants to really unify the country rather than paying lip service.

      Nana

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    4. Wow, Tucker, Hannity, Ingraham, you must be SO informed!

      Yes, they ARE propaganda. Heck, even Carlson's lawyer used as a slander defense that "the general tenor of the show should then inform a viewer that [Carlson] is not 'stating actual facts' about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in 'exaggeration' and 'non-literal commentary.'"

      There is a world of information at your fingertips if you care - get out from your Fox bubble. And that doesn't mean changing the channel to OAN or Newsmax.

      Delete
    5. @zdub, Most people only watch CNN. Maybe they should switch the channel to Fox sometimes? I used to give fake news a chance. Now I don't leave Fox. Tucker and Hannity and Ingraham are too good. Why would I want to watch CNN and get depressed? If I want to be depressed I’ll watch Saving private Ryan. At least with Fox, you can laugh.

      And Meir, the Left is a tribal cult. When Alan Dershowitz defended Trump on the impeachment hoax, he was ostracized. If you don't check-mark every Democrat policy they place you on exile.

      Delete
    6. Firstly I rest my case.

      Second of all you need reading lessons. I said “a lot” all. I certainly watch other sources including CNN and even what’s probably your source of ultimate truth- MSNBC. The same sources that regularly bash Israel. Wow. You must be so informed (oh and smart no doubt)!

      In fact I’ve just finished reading 4 books by very liberal authors - Michael Eric Dyson, Ibram X Kendi and Bryan Stevenson.

      How about you? How are you stepping out of your tribalist echo chamber?

      Nana

      Delete
  9. Even Fox News criticized Trump was deserving. If your point was to say that Trump was responsible for raising the temperature to boiling point but not for the violence or "insurrection" at the Capitol riot, then I agree. Although, there is a lot of evidence that it was antifa. Why dismiss the evidence without an evaluation? It's true that he repeatedly stated that the election was "rigged," but it was! They just stool the election. There were most certainly huge massive amounts of fraud. I believe there was a lot of fraud. There is a lot of evidence. Again, why dismiss the evidence without analyzing it? My cousin in Britain posted on Facebook yesterday that he was glad to see Trump go. He called him a "nazi, white supremacist garbage," bad orange man, calling to "Lock him up!" But he's not American. He doesn't know the politics here. He’s not even in the country.

    Although I have my reservations, I agree with the broader picture. It is important to avoid confirmation bias and be open to constructive criticism. Yes, even Trump and the charedi Gedolim can have faults. King David had faults.

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    Replies
    1. Turk Hill, has anyone ever told you that you lack self-awareness?

      Delete
    2. So we can expect the evidence to these antifa rioters in the Capitol to come riding in on the kraken, right? All of the evidence will come soon, just wait for it.

      Did anyone else get that clip of the guy claiming that Trump has the evidence that Obama faked the Bin Laden killing, and the Benghazi people almost uncovered it, that is why they needed to be killed? And because of that, Trump can declare martial law, and somehow continue to be president.

      Delete
    3. 'Analyze the evidence' is code language for 'decide in my favor'.
      Because the regular translation of 'analyze' had actually been done for a large amount of the claims. And they have been shown to be absolutely bogus.

      Delete
    4. Rabbi Slifkin - has anyone ever told you that?

      Nana

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    5. @ZD, There is a lot of evidence. For one, that guy with the buffalo head, the barbarian, he's a well-known antifa guy. check out his Twitter and Facebook accounts. Second, BLM and antifa are used to rioting. They did it all summer. Conservatives are not. Third, BLM activist and journalist, John Sullivan, can be seen on camera celebrating with a woman, saying "We did it! we did it!" Did what? Infiltrate the crowd? If so, wouldn't that prove that antifa stormed the Capitol? Fourth, there are pictures of literal nazis in the crowd. I want this to be made very clear. Not all Leftists are nazis but all nazis are leftists. The word socialism is in the name Nazi. The National Socialist German Workers' Party. It was Nazis who burned the Reichstag Building and blamed it on the Jews and communists, so too, Nazis attempted to burn the Capitol Building of the United States and blame it on Conservatives. John Sullivan can be heard calling to "burn it down." A setup? Did Dems want to use it as a pretext to take away our rights? Whatever the verdict, this is certain: Conservatives don't attack cops. Antifa does.

      Winston Churchill said it best: "The fascists of the future will call themselves anti-fascists."

      Delete
    6. Turk Hill, do you realize that you are perfectly illustrating the point that I make in this post?

      Delete
    7. Turk Hill - wow! You are really behind. The buffalo head is not an antifa guy, in fact he is a well known white supremacist. That was debunked after half a day. On january 6 that claim had to be walked back.

      But you have more evidence that it was antifa who rioted in the capitol. Because antifa always riots, so it was probably them. Have you ever heard of the concept of 'round up the usual suspects'? That used to be a joke, now you are taing it to the next level.

      John Sullivan and a woman 'did it', and you decided that means what? Because my mind went somewhere else.

      And your Nazi claim is so absurd, I will leave it as is.

      But I guess you are pinned into a corner, the only way to support Trump and his huge accomplishment of moving an embassy sign is through believing nonsense like that. So what choice do you have?

      Delete
    8. @ZD, Antifa does always riot. All summer BLM and antifa were looting. Conservatives don't riot and Conservatives don't attack cops either. Antifa does. I read somewhere that the buffalo-head guy was antifa. It seems as though John Sullivan was celebrating in infiltrating the crowd into a riot. What else? If believing in Trump makes him do the right thing, like moving an embassy sign to Jerusalem, its worth it!

      Delete
  10. I love how the commenters cite all kinds of other stuff to distract from the fact that Trump lied again and again that he has won the election when he had lost and then never actually conceded. They also nitpick the incitement issue and avoid mentioning that *during* the insurrection Trump tweeted out how Pence had betrayed him putting Pence in danger. He also did nothing to tell people that they needed to stop and instead said after that he loved the protesters and that this would be a day to remember forever.

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    1. Can’t speak for others but I’ve said repeatedly that Trump made a big mistake. My issue however is with the author making non-factual statements as fact. And totally discounting any other reason for having questioned the election results other than trumps inability to accept defeat. The democrats did that themselves many times and never accepted Trump as a legitimate president. So my issue is with the lack of self-awareness, hypocrisy and of calling others tribalists and cult like when there’s plenty of that to go round with the Democrats and the sycophant media.

      Nana

      Delete
    2. They said he would never leave the White House. Tow days later... Biden in office. They were wrong, as usually....

      Delete
  11. Which kind of reaction can you expect from people biased for years by the mainstream media after the fair voting was stolen from them and the criminals who gained the power are going to make irreversible changes that might destroy their country?

    The famous statement that people from State Department like says: you shall not rebel so long you can vote. Great idea, indeed, that the democracy was invented for. And if you cannot vote? If there is no fair voting?

    I don't like violence, and the are plenty of evidences that the riot in White House was initiated by Antifa/BLM provocators. But, frankly, even if Trump supporters were killing some "liberals" I would not condemn them.

    ReplyDelete

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