(He Gets Us) “Trust Jesus…” [3]

a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.  



A superpower regarding extremism?



The He Gets Us campaign seems to have a superpower. With seemingly irresistible power, it appears to  prompt extremists to react. Extremist conservatives say the campaign promotes a “woke Jesus.” Extremist progressives say the campaign offers “spiritually abusive, white supremacist, fascistic rhetoric.” Moral outrage is liberally applied to buttress their arguments. 

So, ‘extremism’ is a common feature on both sides.

Dogmatic kneejerk reaction?

There are those who will reflexively claim “bothsidesism” at this juncture; and, sadly, with that, they basically dismiss the point. Invoking “bothsidesism” at even the mention of any commonality across right/left skirmish lines has become a dogmatic kneejerk reaction for some/many. I’d suggest this falls under the umbrella of our conditioning to *political technologies* [PT]; well, the way I define and think about PT, anyway.

I liken what “bothsidesism” has largely become in ordinary discourse to what has been called Trump Derangement Syndrome [TDS]. You recall this, don’t you? Whenever someone would raise a criticism of DJT, MAGA-heads in the vicinity would immediately scream “TDS!”

Perfect! An easy (and largely effective) way to dismiss any criticism without even having to give it any thought.  

What happens?

So, through PT (over time), “false equivalency” gets imposed upon all “both-sides” claims.

How does this happen?

Well, first, someone fairly critiques a both-sides claim as a false equivalency. That argument becomes a “talking point” through its use in PT, e.g., DJT‘s infamous Charlottesville “good people on both sides” claim.”  Before we know it, people stop considering whether a both-sides claim is a false equivalency or not in a specific instance; it is just automatically presumed to be one. So, now, many times, when a ‘both-sides’ claim of some kind is made, it is thoughtlessly dismissed as “bothsidesism.”



Make no mistake, “bothsidesism” (as PT) functions as part of the systematic sorting and polarization process that we have been experiencing in the U.S. There are legion *political technologists* who are not-conscious of their function as such. This kind of “bothsidesism” serves to eliminate any middle ground, as it insists that the sides have no commonality, only false equivalencies. In many ways, PT has enabled and encouraged our communication to be mindless.  


Extremism‘ is a term that can be interpreted in many ways; e.g., over-zealousness, violence, terrorism. So, what do I mean when I use it?

Well, for me, it revolves around absolutism and its public face, i.e., certitude. I’d argue that over-zealousness, violence, and terrorism are animated by certitude — I am right, you are wrong! It’s an expression/form of a sense of superiority and a concomitant desire to control others. 

Extremism results from a hyper-confident certitude one professes/enacts regarding things that actually offer no certainty. It rests upon being absolutely certain regarding things that are intrinsically uncertain, e.g., the motives/intentions of others. I suggest that it is extremist (control overreach) to attribute certain motives and intentions to others. We can only speculate about others’ motives/intentions; certitude about them is unattainable. 

Extremism also depends on the context. It’s an amalgam of several things. 

A key feature of Deborah Leiter’s extremism in the article we’ve looked at (here) is her willingness to attribute intent; it’s an overreach. Additionally, that an argument depends on a heaping helping of moral outrage to preempt pushback is part of the extremism we’ve assimilated though PT.

If Leiter simply claimed that she see’s problematic images and language in the ads, that would be one thing. I would disagree with her interpretation; however, it would be a fair criticism. Sadly, Leiter goes on to major overreach (extremism) when she claims that the creators intended/designed the ads to expose the unsuspecting to “fascistic rhetoric.” 

Basically, Leiter makes a poor argument and then ladles an abundance of moral outrage on top to preempt any pushback. I mean, who wants to challenge her and open oneself to moral shaming? The extremist frame (coupled with moral outrage) hamstrings criticism. Thanks PT!

Not equating, just for comparison

I suggest that Leiter uses an extremist rhetorical approach in her argument regarding racism and the He Gets Us campaign. Leiter’s article here.

Conversely, an article by John Jackson uses a non-extremist approach in his argument regarding racism and libertarian philosophy. Jackson’s article here.

Jackson’s argument does not depend on reading minds, or moral outrage as preemptive shaming.

Leiter’s article is quite ironic. She uses an extremist rhetorical strategy to call out He Gets Us for the extremism she perceives there. 



I’ve been working here for a while now on making a point that is not readily/easily received. Namely, that extremism is toxic, dangerous and frequently harmful, no matter which ‘side’ is wielding it. Apparently, each side has little difficulty seeing the extremism of the other side; however, seeing the extremism of one’s own side appears rather more difficult for many (Matthew 7.3; Luke 6.41-42).

Next week: Part [4]. [this post ~825 words (3-min. read)] 


Your thoughts? 




2 thoughts on “(He Gets Us) “Trust Jesus…” [3]

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