Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Emotion

The Kavanaugh Hearings Encapsulate the Rampant Emotionalism of American Politics

The British have a visceral hatred for Donald Trump. It’s not because of his positions on immigration or tax policy–there are plenty of European politicians who are at least as far right as Trump is, substantively. No, it’s because of the way Trump presents himself. He’s combative, he gets angry, he makes flippant, emotional remarks. When British politicians show emotion it exposes them as weak, out of control, and unstable. If a British politician shouts or cries in public–especially in a formal setting–it’s embarrassing. It’s not proper behaviour. Everyone in Britain knows, from an early age, that this is just not how politicians are supposed to behave. They like their leaders calm, stoic, controlled. This is less true than it used to be–for a time, Tony Blair got away with wearing his heart on his sleeve. But there were always those who made fun of it, who thought it “un-British”. Whenever a British politician makes an emotional display and gets away with it, there is a chunk of British people who write nervous columns about creeping Americanisation. Having spent some years in the UK, I can spot the kind of American politics they hate a mile off. And it has never been so blatant, so in-your-face, as this senate hearing for Brett Kavanaugh.

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The Boston Bombing, Compassion, and Entertainment

It’s been a tough week for America. A few days ago, the Boston Marathon was bombed. Then, yesterday, a Texas fertilizer plant blew up. At the time of writing, we know the Boston bombing was deliberate, but we do not know who did it. It killed 3 people. We do not know the cause of the fertilizer plant explosion. It may have been an accident or it may have been deliberate. We know it killed 14. In both cases, over 100 were injured. A lot of people said that the stories of heroism and compassion in response to the Boston bombing reinforced a positive view of humanity. I have come away with the opposite impression, and it’s not directly due to any element of the response to the Boston bombing–so far, that response has been, as far as I can tell, quite good. No, this reinforces a negative view of humanity for me not because of the reaction to the Boston bombing itself, but because of the comparative lack of reaction to the Texas explosion. Let me explain further. Read the rest of this entry »