I've been wanting to write a post on this subject, but haven't been able to get it right.
I have no comprehension of what may be going on in the heads of Glen Beck followers, Tea Partiers, Sarah Palin fans. I have tried, but I am so thoroughly put off by, for only one example, the idea that I and I alone am totally responsible for all the good things in my life, while the gummint is responsible for everything that has gone wrong, that my mental effort to get into their shoes just stops. I would say "aborts," but that would bring in a whole other set of problems.
And yes, I know I've loaded that paragraph in several ways. My attempts, I think, are of better faith than that paragraph; I tried to write it to get across some of my feelings during the process, which include earnestness followed by revulsion.
Today offers a couple of posts at least peripherally related to my failures to put myself in others' shoes. Michael Tomasky reminds us how important it is, and how utterly those I mentioned above reject it. This gives me a further excuse for my failure in this area, but Tomasky isn't about to let me get away with that.
It turns out that Helmut is not the only prescient blogger around. Stanley Fish cites his own earlier commentary on the changing frames for misdeeds by those in outgroups and ingroups. If it was done by someone belonging to a group we want to demonize, it's a symptom of the evil plans of that group. If it was done by one of our guys, it was just one bad apple. This too, of course, is a failure to get into someone else's shoes or to look at the evidence. It's bad faith, but it's also human psychology to make what we think and reality consistent. Unfortunately, it is sometimes too easy to bend reality rather than change what we think; the media share this psychology, although they are supposed to be more questioning of such things than the rest of us. So they wind up, all too often, reinforcing the idea that there is a terrible conspiracy by the bad guys against us good guys. And yes, it was the good guys who attended Beck's rally over the weekend.