Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Stein's Tribal Mentality and Blindness to Irony 

Courtesy of the amazing and amusing James Lileks we learn that Joel Stein, the same guy who made a splash with his big column about not supporting the troops, is back with an absolutely hilarious discussion of how he refuses to display the Stars and Stripes:

So the reason I didn't want to put a flag outside wasn't because I disapprove of our international policies. It was because I didn't want to associate myself with the other people who put them up, and with their unquestioning, tribal, us-versus-them, arrogant mentality.
So let's get this straight if that's even possible: displaying the flag betrays a tribal, us-versus-them mentality -- in which presumably "us" is arbitrarily defined as the good guys -- and it is much, much better to keep oneself far, far away from such arrogant, unquestioning us-versus-them types, once that stark distinction is absolutely clear.

Aren't we lucky to have pundits like Stein around, with the moral clarity required to keep "us" from falling into such an arrogant trap?

Stein sagely wants no part of this "us" clique of flag-waving yahoos. He sticks with the moral high road, refusing to see the world in such primative "us-versus-them" terms. Well good for him. He has done a great service for the world by clearly identifying the characteristics of this horrible "us" group so that, behind his leadership, everyone can shun "us." Perhaps he will receive a great award from "them" for leading everyone to a more virtuous "them-versus-us" rather than "us-versus-them" worldview.

Of course you really should read Lileks' takedown to see how this sort of thing is done by the pros.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: