by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“America is addicted to political contempt.”
I’m not sure I’ve ever read a more accurate diagnosis of what we’re looking at in the United States right now.
It’s from a new book by Arthur C. Brooks, Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt. And I had read it before going to sleep this past Thursday night. When I woke up, there it was again — contempt playing itself out.
Forty-nine people had been slaughtered in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. But when I checked Twitter very early in the morning, the first news I saw wasn’t directly about the bloodshed. The first tweets I saw were exchanges with and about New York Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She had tweeted, “What good are your thoughts & prayers when they don’t even keep the pews safe?” She went on to provide an ecumenical litany of mass shootings in places of worship in recent years: New Zealand, Charleston, Pittsburgh, Sutherland Springs.
Here’s what Brooks writes:
“While most of us hate what it is doing to our country and worry about how contempt coarsens our culture over the long term, many of us still compulsively consume the ideological equivalent of meth from elected officials, academics, entertainers, and some of the news media. We wish our national debates were nutritious and substantive, but we have an insatiable craving for insults to the other side. . . . We indulge our guilty urge to listen as our biases are confirmed that the other guys are not just wrong, but stupid and evil.”