I was on the Thom Hartmann show last night and got into it with conservatives Kris Ullman and Shelby Emmett and took part in what can mostly be described as a shouting match over marijuana laws in Washington state and the US education system (show starts around the 4.20 mark):
After the show, the debate continued backstage where Shelby Emmett proceeded to tell me that African Americans need to get over slavery, liberal white men have caused the break down in the African American family, and Barack Obama is a "Black, socialist Marxist" (I've reached out to her to see if she would like to debate these issues with me on the Banter, but have yet to hear back).
I find it harder and harder to grasp how seemingly intelligent people can live in a completely alternate universe, where facts mean nothing and blind ideology trumps reality. I left the studio feeling somewhat depressed that a country as wealthy as America churns out educated people who seem to be unable to participate sensibly in discussions due to a completely irrational belief system.
Traditionally in America conservatives haven't been crazy, but the modern Republican is a totally new breed. The toxic combination of underfunded public schools, relentless Fox News propaganda, and the cynical culture of anti-intellectualism has resulted in a truly terrifying generation of non-thinkers. Emmett, who dominated much of the discussion last night, isn't stupid by any means, but her critical thinking skills are so warped by the bizarre culture she has attached herself to that she ends up believing self evidently contradictory arguments. This isn't to single Emmett out, but to encounter someone who believes that:
a) The government shouldn't get involved with regulating the marijuana market because contrary to all evidence, government regulation will create more of a black market. (Because look at how successful bootleggers have been in comparison to Budweiser...)
b) African Americans aren't oppressed by white people, and slavery has no affect on their current predicament.
c) African Americans are oppressed by white liberal men through welfare and false history that paints them as victims, resulting in their current predicament,
is slightly alarming. I'd like to think mine and Hartmann's arguments had some sort of effect on Emmett and Ullman given they were based on actual facts, history and logic, but when you believe that Obama, who by international and historic standards would be classified as a slightly conservative centrist, is a closet communist, I'm not holding out much hope.