“That particular combination of arrogance and timidity sets my teeth on edge.” (Orson Welles)
Late-modern Americanism is a solipsism of appointedness, combining the sociopath’s incapacity for empathy with high-flown moral rationale, the fluidity of the unindividuated narcissist’s imperviousness to critique with paternalistic, managerial hectoring in kitschy, motivational guise.
Jon Stewart is one of this epistemology’s more poignant exponents. Here he is this week with Charlie Rose, holding forth on the recent presidential election:
….America is not natural. Natural is tribal. We’re fighting against thousands of years of human behavior and history to create something that no one ever [has]. That is what is exceptional about America. This ain’t easy and that’s an incredible thing.
Did you catch that? We’re fighting against nature, human nature. Who among us can instruct men to transcend this mortal coil? Let he who is without humanity cast the first instruction. But the point Stewart wanted to make was that we (meaning, the appointed) should not stereotype Trump voters any more than “we” would Muslims or others. The earnest liberal’s moment of clarity is always another defense mechanism. Of course a figure like Stewart has something conciliatory to say all of the sudden. Ass-licker that he is, how could he stay relevant otherwise?
Obviously, “Trump voters”=Anglo-Saxon Christians, the erstwhile national stock—those of them who aren’t left-wing, anyway. In Stewart’s worldview we are to refrain with few exceptions from critical discussion of the group characteristics of every other category of people. But Stewart isn’t suggesting “we” admit whites to the illusory hearthside of this exemption, no no no: he’s merely calling for a tempering of the critique, a strategic retreat. Stewart’s snide diagnostician’s schtick has always been to call for dispassion and in this, he’s as wise as his admirers say. Indeed, the depths of the inmate’s psyche must be plumbed, its mysteries penetrated, so as to determine upon the proper course of further treatment.