How many IQ points do you lose from Trump Derangement Syndrome or similar conditions of blind political rage?
I was asking myself that while listening to the stupefying question asked of Trump adviser Stephen Miller by CNN's Jim Acosta at Wednesday's White House press conference. Miller had been explaining -- with a level of clarity and specificity not often seen at these events -- the immigration proposal being proffered by Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue and now being backed by the president. The press audience appeared impatient with these details, however, waiting to pounce as it almost always does.
And the pounce came from Acosta, who was irked the proposal listed some level of facility with the English language as one of the new preference points for possible immigration applicants. Wasn't that de facto discrimination in favor of people from the UK and Australia (read: white skin privilege)?
Earth to Acosta: As of 2015, there were 54 sovereign states and 27 non-sovereign entities where English was an official language. These include India (population: 1,247,540,000), Pakistan (199,085,847), Nigeria (182,202,000), the Philippines (102,885,100), Tanzania (51,820,000) and Kenya (45,010,056) among, obviously, many others. In China (population 1.39 billion), almost all school children begin English in the third grade. In Japan, South Korea and Singapore, it's also mandatory beginning about the same time. Anyone who's been to Europe recently knows it's hard to find anyone under fifty in those countries now who doesn't speak some degree of English. I could go on, but it's pointless. English has become, for all intents and purposes, the world lingua franca. The number of possible immigrants from the UK and Australia is less than minuscule by comparison and the implication of racism (hidden in plain sight in Acosta's question) therefore ludicrous. It's the opposite.
So, assuming he didn't have a lobotomy on the way to the press conference, what made the CNN reporter so (to be blunt) catastrophically uninformed that he would ask such a thing?
Answer: a cocktail of blind rage, the overwhelming self-centered need for you and your side always to be right with (for bitters) a healthy splash of malignant moral narcissism. In 2017, that's called "The Trump," served neat or on-the-rocks and stronger even than Dorothy Parker's martini. Two glasses and the only word left in your vocabulary is "Russia," three and it's "impeachment" (slurred heavily). Rational discussion has gone out the window. It isn't even a possibility.
I could say it's unfair to Acosta to single him out, but it's really not. He has been especially bad, ensconced in a front-row seat at these events as if he were a wannabe starlet preening for a photo opportunity. ("Are you watching, Mr. DeMille?") He was also constitutionally incapable of letting Miller speak for fear, as is so often the case, he would have to deal with what Miller was actually saying.
But the real loser in all this is not Acosta or even CNN. It's the American people who learn less than zero from the press conferences, in fact are brutally misled by our media in a wanton and selfish matter. It's all about them and not one jot about informing their audience. In fact, there is an almost palpable rejection of the latter because then they (that unwashed audience) might see something, anything, good in what Trump or one of his minions might be proposing. That is not allowed to happen under any circumstances. Dialogue nyet!
The immigration question on the table Wednesday is an excellent case in point. Miller was treating the press (and the television audience) as adults, carefully explaining the administration's rationale for the proposal. It is their contention that some restriction on immigration is greatly for the benefit of the many unemployed American citizens already here -- particularly minorities. Blacks and Latinos have the most to gain from this.
There are clearly pros and cons to this argument, but the press refused to engage in a similarly adult manner on this significant issue that has not been seriously discussed in decades. They only attacked. And the attacks were almost as brainless as Acosta's, sometimes more. That's what happens where you're governed by rage and self-centeredness.
This attitude has been going on for a long time now. Too long really. Marx, in one of his more lucid moments, famously said history plays out the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. What's the third time? I nominate nausea.