December 22, 2018

Laughing At Politicians We Like

Ocasio-Cortez Meme

Have you seen this meme yet? The woman pictured in it, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is now serving New York's 14th district in the U.S. House of Representatives. She's supposed to be one of the more progressive members of Congress elected in 2016. Some political conservatives are enjoying making fun of her for this odd statement (which does appear to be legit). More power to them. Those of us on the left were certainly willing to call attention to many of the dumber things said by paragons of right-wing thought such as Louie Gohmert or Michelle Bachmann. If this is one of the dumber things Ocasio-Cortez has said, she's going to have a hard time catching someone like Bachmann.

I'm not writing this post to talk about Rep. Ocasio-Cortez or even to share this meme. I'm writing it to share something interesting I recently observed on Facebook. Someone I follow there shared this meme without comment. He was promptly "called out" by someone who accused him of "spreading actual Republican talking points..." Yes, that's right. Accurately quoting someone is now spreading Republican talking points, and we certainly can't have that.

What is it atheists are so fond of saying in reference to religious believers? Something about how if one doesn't want one's beliefs to be ridiculed, one should hold (or at least express) such ridiculous beliefs. It seems like that might apply here too. If being able to recognize that someone said something stupid and have a good laugh over it has become a Republican talking point, I think we might be in real trouble.

People on the right are going to say stupid things from time-to-time, and people on the left are going to say stupid things from time-to-time. Nobody can be surprised by this. What's more, some of those who say stupid things are going to be people we generally like and who have some good ideas. Does that mean we should ignore it when they say stupid things? I hope not. Our tribalism has done enough damage already. I'd hate to see us allow it to prevent us from scrutinizing people we support. They deserve better.

The implication of this particular "call-out" was that nobody who wasn't a Republican would share this meme. I find that disturbing. What happened to humor? Aren't we supposed to be able to laugh at ourselves and those we support? What happened to wanting to avoid groupthink? And aren't those of us on the left constantly complaining about how Trump's supporters ignore his many flaws? How about we acknowledge that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is not perfect and stop trying to hold her to a standard none of us can meet? It seems like that would be better for her, and I have no question that it would be better for us.