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Welcome to project Worldview's Worldview Watch
periodic commentary and analysis on news items from a worldview perspective

 previous issue                                          issue #18,  posted 5 / 13 / 2011                       archive of all  issues

 Categorizing, Name Calling, Scapegoats, Obama and Soros

in the newsGiven President Obama's recent production of his birth certificate and his performance as Commander in Chief in avenging the attacks of September 11, 2001 and killing Osama bin Laden, one might think that his political and ideological opponents would back off with respect certain categorizations and name-calling. Thus, in a 5/7/2011 article "It's Been a Bad Week for GOP Lies About Obama" on the left leaning Huffington Post, Mitchell Bard argued that those who continued to refer to him as "not an American," a "Muslim sympathizer", or a "socialist" would be ignoring evidence to the contrary.  Recent events have apparently had no effect on at least one web page attacking Obama from the right.  The categorization "COMMIE OBAMA, Radical Communist, Islamic Terrorist-Supporting, POTUS Usurper" heads the CommieBlaster.com page devoted to President Obama, last updated today.  Another of their pages goes after George Soros. 

commentary and analysis (by Stephen P. Cook, founder and manager, project Worldview, www.projectworldview.org): At times, all of us are guilty of categorizing and labeling. In attempting to make sense of the world, find patterns and make predictions, one sometimes necessarily overlooks complexities and employs certain simplifications.  Certainly scientists, in constructing models to explain certain aspects of reality, do this. In its characterizing and analyzing worldviews, so does Project Worldview.  In defending this seemingly "black and white" practice, I point out that it is done after recognizing the "shades of gray" complexities involved. It is done after fully defining the words, terminology, and categories involved--hopefully making the necessary distinctions. Above all, it is done in a constructive effort to faithfully describe and model reality so as to provide some useful understanding.

At times, many of us are guilty of name calling--after all, we are human and thus imperfect creatures. Despite our efforts to be rational adults, there are still children inside us. To me, name calling has childish connotations. I try to avoid it, having (perhaps self deceivingly!) long liked to think of myself as having fully grown up,  (For evidence buttressing this assertion, see my 1990 book Coming of Age in the Global Village.)  And I like it when other people encourage thoughtful, adult behavior, as in then candidate Obama's suggestion during the 2008 presidential campaign that, given the dangerous economic situation, the country was in need of "some adult supervision."       

I generally do not like it when I see grownups engaged in childish behavior.  I put over simplifying into this category: painting the world in black and white, when shades of gray are needed. Not surprisingly I don't like the top of the CommieBlaster.com web page I referred to, with its banner: PROGRESSIVES = SOCIALISTS = COMMUNISTS = LEFT-WING RADICALS = ANTI-CAPITALISTS = UNAMERICAN.  My instant categorization of it, and what follows on the rest of that web page, as "childish oversimplistic name calling" is  undoubtedly incomplete. For starters, this page and others on their website, with all sorts of articles and places to click, do give the reader an opportunity to explore in depth.  The problem is that the viewpoint presented is extremely one-sided. And  by selectively ignoring important facts (like Obama's birth certificate, his ordering the killing of an Islamic terrorist, etc.) it provides such a distorted picture of reality that one suspects its authors do not value making a "constructive effort to faithfully describe and model reality." 

No doubt out there among the "wing nuts" are those who go beyond one-sidedly promoting their ideological agenda.  They are not only angry with the way things are and are working for change (see worldview theme #35B), but they are looking for someone to blame: a scapegoat (see worldview theme #39B). Sometimes blame is rightfully assigned and efforts to right the wrong are justifiable. Many would put blaming bin laden for 3,000 + deaths and the havoc of 9/11/2001 and thus killing him into this category; some valuing the Sanctity and Dignity of Life (see worldview theme #44) might disagree.  But often complexities are such that there is no one around who really deserves blame for some unfortunate event or situation. Under such circumstances, when others select some person or group to blame, and find a scapegoat, their childishness can accompanied by hate. 

While name calling and childishness simplicity can be forgiven, hatefully targeting public servants can not. One can argue that use of terms like "blaster" can inspire violent deeds like the gunshots aimed at US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others that day a few months ago in Tucson. After, browsing the CommieBlaster.com website, besides all  the paranoid conspiracism (see worldview theme #36B), what stands out is hate directed at a few individuals.  

Along with President Obama and many others, these folks don't like George Soros.  First looking over the CommieBlaster.com page, where Soros is characterized as "the most evil man in the world," and then the Wikipedia entry devoted to him, is quite an experience! It's like the difference between night and day!  In Wikipedia, Soros, despite accounts of his exercising power like many ultra-rich capitalists, with his philanthropic impulses and past assisting Eastern European countries throw off communist domination, comes off as a pretty good guy. While the reality of this complex man named George Soros is no doubt a challenge to describe, you can guess which account I find more believable!  

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