Groupthink causes more problems than it helps

This is a follow-up article from a conservative actress who “came out” to her Hollywood friends and associates. In the previous article, she discussed how many people de-friended her because she no longer fit within the worldview that is predominant in the film industry. 

In this article, she talks about the many, many conservatives who felt they have been in the same position. They feel ostracized, pressured, and persecuted. And they often feel like they are alone.

So let’s get beyond the politics of this. Let’s forget about the kind of person who feel ostracized. Instead, we should use this story to realize that there are lots of different kinds of people in our society who feel like they don’t fit in. It’s not just minorities or immigrants or whoever. 

And groupthink is a real culprit. We label people all the time and use those labels to separate ourselves from others. It’s important to look beyond simple categories and listen to individuals.


Taking the “Red Pill”

​In the cult sci-fi movie called “The Matrix”, the main character is presented with a choice. He could swallow a blue pill and continue to experience the world as a fantasy that has been imposed on him by others, or he could swallow a red pill and experience the world as it really is, without the superimposed “matrix” of fantasy. Recently, many people are writing that they are taking the red pill.

I don’t mean that they have actually entered the world of the Matrix. Instead, they have decided to stop interpreting the world through the groupthink that they have always known. One of the biggest inhibitors to actually thinking about an issue is groupthink. Groupthink is where individuals just adopt the beliefs and norms of a group without really understanding why. They don’t think things through. Since their friends and buds see things a certain way, then it seems okay to them, too. 

Some groupthink occurs simply because we’re just easily influenced. We’re all influenced by others to some degree. And when we’re young, we tend to be more easily influenced. Sometimes, groupthink occurs in reverse. For instance, teenagers often reject anything their parents might tell them and instead adopt beliefs of groups they admire, even beliefs their parents might reject. 

But other groupthink is forced. For instance, in totalitarian countries, you can be punished if you don’t adopt official beliefs. You could even go to prison or face execution. In other situations, your peers or coworkers will ostracize you or prevent you from working if you don’t parrot their beliefs. Many people rejected so-called “political correctness” because they did not want to conform to the beliefs of those of that mindset. 

It’s good to see many learning to think for themselves. They may not adopt the same beliefs as you or I, but as long as they are seeking truth and respecting those of differing beliefs, we’ve made progress.

Why So Much Violence?

One of the old adages of parenthood is that you check to see who your children’s friends are. That’s because their friends influence them a great deal. If your daughter has friends who have their head on straight, then your daughter will probably do the same. But if your daughter tends to hand out with people who “make bad life choices”, then chances are that your daughter will be tempted to do the same and may make similar choices. Our friends often have big influences on us, and bad friends will have bad influences on us. 

When we are young, we often don’t have the maturity to understand this, and we observe this in our kids. Son Jimmy has a friend Ryan who keeps coming over after school to play. At first, Ryan seems nice. But then, you start to notice that Ryan begins to do other things, like taking Jimmy’s toys home with him, or bossing Jimmy around, or even punching Jimmy when no one else is looking. Whatever it is, let’s just call it “bad behavior”. When Jimmy is young, as a parent you probably have to intervene. You may have to discourage or even discontinue letting Ryan come over. 

When Jimmy is a little older, when he gets around other kids with bad behavior, you may have to have a talk with him and help him to focus on healthy friendships and not those that move him in the wrong direction. You expect him to start making at least some of those decisions himself. He may even have to tell someone directly that he doesn’t want to be friends anymore. 

And when he is much older, he will have to make those decisions himself without your input. Hopefully, he learns to observe people beforehand and make proactive decisions about who he’d like to befriend without simply waiting for others to approach him. 

This often affects us as adults, too. The people we hang with are typically people who think the way we do. Although there are often exceptions to this rule, we do have a great affinity for those who are like us. But there often comes some event, some abrupt occurrence, that shows those differences in some stark way. And then, we have to make a choice. Should we still be friends? And then we have to deliver that message to them. 

We can also apply this to current events. When the Charlottesville white supremacist rally took place in August, followed by a violent conflict with an Antifa group, the white supremacists (KKK and others) were villified by all manner of other groups. This included not only liberal groups, but conservative groups as well. Although the white supremacists intended their rally as a way to “unite the right”, the right turned around and condemned the white supremacists. In addition to conservatives, an overwhelming number of churches and Christian groups spoke against the white supremacists as well.

The good thing is that, although many in today’s culture group will white supremacists with conservatives, there is a distinct difference. The former may want to hang around with the latter, but the latter do not want to hang around with the former. 

Getting back to the Charlottesville rally, I think the white supremacists got the message. The Right does not really see them as friends.  
But the Left also has their own problem: a violent group called Antifa. In this case, Antifa never got the message. 

Not long after Charlottesville, there were two rallies in California: one in San Francisco and one in Berkeley. These were held by a group called “Patriot Prayer”. Lots of people turned out to oppose the rally, including Antifa. As you can imagine, it was a liberal counterprotest against this group. In both cases, Patriot Prayer had to cancel their rally because the police were afraid a violent confrontation would occur. Actually, a few members of Patriot Prayer showed up anyway, and they were violently confronted and injured by Antifa. You would think that this was another victory against white supremacists, right?
But that was not the case. It was a completely different story. Patriot Prayer is a small group that focuses on freedom, unity, and First Amendment rights. They are a diverse group with no bent toward white supremacy at all. They showed up even after their rallies were canceled because they wanted to talk to the counter-protesters as individuals. They wanted to have a dialog with them. Nevertheless, Antifa gave them the beat-down. 

Of course, after this, many on the Left quickly denounced Antifa, right? Here’s a list of liberal groups that spoke against Antifa after those events:


That’s right. Crickets. Nada. 

I would like to say that a small number of people on the Left did denounce Antifa, but only after a number of days went past. And that was a woefully small number

The problem is that the Perpetually Offended have become the Left’s Ryan. And the Left’s Jimmy doesn’t want to tell Ryan not to hang around. In fact, Antifa seems to be welcome whenever the Left has any confrontation these days. 

I’ve written about the Perpetually Offended and their worldview in this blog. The Perpetually Offended are angry about some long-past offense and will never get over it. There are many groups who are Perpetually Offended these days. The Left seems to be running over with them these days. They are angry, really angry. And nothing seems to placate them. How did they get this way?

I believe it all boils down to the problem I mentioned earlier concerning who your friends are. If they aren’t the kind of people you want to be friends with, then you should let them know. Otherwise, they will influence you. 

The book of Proverbs has this to say: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” (Proverbs 24:25.)

I know a lot about anger. I have struggled with it. I have it largely under control these days, but I know I have a tendency to go back there if I’m not careful. I once had a good friend – we’ll call him Bill – who I had a lot in common with, but he also struggled with anger. In fact, he struggled much more than I did. I found that I had to separate myself from Bill because he tended to pull me in that direction. His friendship was toxic for me. 

The Left has a lot of important things to say, but they are associating too much with violent groups like Antifa. And the anger of those groups is overshadowing anything good the Left might be trying to say. Liberals have spent way too much time sitting in the hot tub of anger with those groups. 

It’s time to tell Ryan to go home. Here’s hoping someone on the Left has the maturity to do so. 

Trigger Warning: This is About Trigger Warnings

According to a new study, only about 31% of blacks said that they experienced discrimination “sometimes” or “often.” Comparatively, 27% of Hispanics, 23% of whites, and 18% of Asians were in the same category. That means that most minorities do not experience discrimination on a frequent basis. 


The actual question they asked was “In your day to day life, how often do you feel you have been treated with less respect or courtesy than other people?” The answers were “never”, “rarely”, “sometimes”, or “often”. That means 69% of black “never” or “rarely” experience discrimination. 

This was a scientific study that did not coach the respondents. They were free to interpret the question as they saw fit. 

The authors of the study said they were “surprised” by this finding because they expected the rate of discrimination to be much higher for blacks. 

Note that this study reported how each group felt they experienced discrimination. It did not identify whether there actually WAS discrimination. It was what they felt. Nor did it mention how strongly they felt discrimination. It was purely self-reported. 

Let me say here that I don’t want to minimize the experience of discrimination. Anyone who has felt discrimination can tell you how small and irrelevant it made them feel. And obviously there are different intensities of discrimination. The study does not address instensity. It only mentions frequency. 

Why does this surprise us? Because we are constantly receiving messages about racial discrimination, overwhelmingly against blacks. But the data does not back that up. 

If each of the groups reporting discrimination actually reacted in the same way about their discrimination, then Hispanic, white, and Asian outrage would less than, but not tremendously less than, black outrage. But this is not what we see in the news. 

But let me emphasize here that the discrimination reported in the survey is whatever the respondent identifies as discrimination. One of the most egregious kinds of discrimination that has been in the news during the past few years is that of white policement reportedly targeting and killing black men.Let’s ignore for now whether that is valid or not and assume that at least some (whether a majority or a minority of cases) of it are actually occurring. That’s on one end of the spectrum. 

On the other end of the spectrum is a perceived discrimination about incidents that often seem ludicrous. Recently, there were blacks from Ole Miss who were “triggered” because someone threw a banana in a tree. NC State University black students were triggered when a toilet paper noose was found in a bathroom stall. And there are others. Individuals on a witch hunt for racists will see this type of behavior as indicative of widespread racism, but the vast majority of Americans just see this as silly. It is a shame that we have to treat these kinds of incidents with the same validity as significant cases of discrimination. 

Racisl protests are almost exclusively about black racism and discrimination. It is as if no other group of Americans experience discrimination. If we were all reacting to discrimination in the same way, we would find Hispanics protesting slightly less than blacks, white protesting slightly less than Hispanics, and Asians protesting slightly less than whites. But it’s not like that. 
Again, I know some will read this and think that I don’t think discrimination is taking place. No. I know discrimination occurs, that it is sometimes horrific, and I believe that blacks probably experience more discrimination than other groups. But I think there’s an assumption that blacks are triggered much, much more easily than other groups. And I think there’s an assumption that no other groups should feel discriminated against. 

I understand the fact that lynchings of blacks were a terrible part of our past, but they have almost completely disappeared. I doubt that there are many black Americans alive who actually witnessed a lynching. That doesn’t make it inoffensive, but I wonder about the concern for “triggering” when most black Americans never saw it occur.

There are other groups who could just as easily feel triggered:

  • Shouldn’t Christians who have witnessed their brethren around the world being slaughtered on camera by Islamists with large knives be triggered by hooded men, large kitchen knives, and Muslim symbols?
  • Shouldn’t Korean- and Vietname-era veterans who were POWs be offended by anything that reminded them of the tortures they experienced in their own lifetimes at the hands of Communists? Should anyone be allowed to speak of Communism in a good way based on how these men suffered terribly?
  • Shouldn’t women (and men) who were trapped by forced sex slavery be triggered by scenes of prostitution on television and the movies? 
  • Should anyone be allowed to show entertainment that involves illegal drugs based on the number of people whose lives have been actually ruined by the same? 

It’s time for us to move beyond hyping and trivializing the discrimination experienced by one group and focus on how to remove discrimination by all. And it’s time for the Perpetually Offended to begin focusing on what others have experienced. 

The best and the worst of America

There are no protests going on in Houston.

The people of Houston are currently too busy recovering from the hurricane, watching out for additional flooding, and helping their neighbor. There have been numerous reports of people going out of their way to help others they have never met before. There are blacks helping whites, whites helping blacks, and lots of self sacrifice. Obviously that doesn’t apply to everyone, but reaching out to help others in need is something that we all do in a crisis.

Most of us want to be compassionate toward others. We all know that we could be there one day, and we want someone to help us. For that reason most Americans try to pitch in. We could instead try to simply protect our own and laugh at the tragedies of others. But that’s not the way most of us have operated. And we should be thankful for that. This is the best of America.

Contrast that with the protests going on in other parts of the country. In a number of places recently, we have seen very little respect for one’s neighbor. There is little respect for expressing one’s beliefs. And there have been attempts to silence those who oppose us with violence is the worst of America.

Maybe America needs to learn from its crises.

Clinton Health Initiative Spent Only a Fraction of Expenditures Directly on Programs

We have all heard about the Clinton Foundation, which includes the Clinton Health Initiative. The CHI was supposed to help treat HIV/AIDS, and raised $129M. Unfortunately, only $23M actually went to treat people. A whopping $72M went toward “salaries”. 

So, let’s go beyond politics and outrage. What was in the mind of those who oversaw all of this? You would have to have a pretty seared conscience to let this happen. You would have to accept that lining people’s pockets was worth more than actually treating them. 

Then there are the donors. Without a large outcry from donors, it would seem that most of all were okay with how the money was spent. They must have known it wasn’t going to be used to treat people, but enrich people.

There are the HIV/AIDS activists. You would think they would be angry, but I haven’t heard of any outcry. Were they okay with this? 

What about the people who received this as their “salary”? Presumably this included lots of people working at the Clinton Foundation.  How do they live with themselves?

The sad thing is that so many people were okay with this. Is the American society really that corrupt?


This Chip On My Shoulder Is Too Heavy for Me to Lighten Up

In my blog, I chose not to write about the Charlottesville incident because I’m not trying to inflame anyone. I’m simply looking at how people think. Some ways of thinking make sense. Others don’t. We all fail at this at some time. I hope we can learn from the stories I write about.

One thing I find interesting is how people who aren’t from the South think about the South. Having been raised in the South, I have had an affinity for many of its charms. One thing I especially like is how they have moved on from their past. Southerners do not want to go back to the plantation days and slavery. Slavery is wrong. That war was fought, and the South lost. They get it.

Today, the South often likes to poke fun at itself. Nowhere is it more in evidence than at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. I attended it recently, and thoroughly enjoyed myself, even the part about eating without utensils.

But there is an air of seriousness that seems to exist today with anything remotely or indirectly referring to the Confederacy, and that was on display in a recent Slate article about the Dixie Stampede.  The author, Alisha Harris, went to the Dixie Stampede. She seemed curious about it and seemed to think that it would display all of the bad things people often assume about the South. Everything she saw at the Stampede went contrary to what she expected to see.

Her opening paragraph tells us that she thinks about the entire show: “It’s a lily-white kitsch extravaganza that play-acts the Civil War but never once mentions slavery.” This colors her entire evening. She expects to see the Civil War played again, with mistreatment and enslavement of blacks. She’s thinking too hard. Parton intended this entire show as a good-natured inclusive show that focuses on competition between the North and South. No one fires a shot. No one is whipped. It’s all fun competition.

When Harris arrived for the show, she expected to be ostracized because she was black:

I was surprised to see more people of color than I expected—an Asian family here, a Latino family there. There were smatterings of black people, though I didn’t spot any who appeared to be there by themselves. Some were one half of an interracial couple, while others appeared to be there with their white co-workers or friends.

Again, at the “saloon” (which sold no alcohol), she found: Somewhat to my surprise, a couple of black women were working behind the counter. How could someone who is black actually want to work here? Aren’t they all racists at this show? She ended up chatting with a few white couples near her. Wouldn’t that indicate that she could put down her defensive stance and just enjoy the evening? No. She’s here to prove a point.

Parton, “racist” that she is, even included a Native American segment. The segment emphasizes their place in American History and in no way degrades them, but Harris seems to ignore that.

When the show gets to the competition between the North and the South, they don’t mention the Civil War, but instead uses a horse race, pig race, and toilet seat horseshoes as competition. The competition is good-natured, with one side sometimes giving the other side a “do-over” to show it’s all in good fun. (I think they do that to prevent anyone from taking this too seriously.)

In the end, the announcer says that the score doesn’t matter because we are all Americans. It’s a unifying way to end the evening, since no one wants to actually return to those days. The show is trying to bring us all together at the end of the show.

Yet Harris is always trying to find a way to somehow be offended. When she went to the bathroom she found “‘Southerners Only’ on a light-colored placard and ‘Northerners Only’ on a dark-colored placard.” She calls this “horrifying tone-deaf“, yet goes in the Southern bathroom.

At the end of the show, she’s still working on finding that racism:

As the crowd began to disperse, I chatted up the white couple next to me. They happened to be from Staten Island, in my hometown New York City, and looked to be in their late 20s or early 30s. They were there as fans of Dolly. I asked, “What do you think of the fact that in the show they claim ‘we’re all winners’ and ‘there’s no North and South,’ considering everything that’s happening in the news lately?” 

But the couple just says it’s really nothing. Harris is determined to get people riled up, but everyone is just there to have a good time. No one’s trying to stoke anger. Except perhaps Harris. She ends the story by comparing it to Springtime For Hitler. There’s nothing like playing the Nazi card to show your contempt.

The South buried the Civil War a long, long time ago. Certainly, there are white supremacists, but that small group of individuals is all over the country, and it’s not limited to the South. Most Southerners just want to live their lives and let everyone else do the same.

Lighten up, y’all.