Encounter in an echo chamber

Last week, I had a first-hand encounter in an echo chamber. Someone I know and am personally fond of happens to be a liberal. This, of course, is his privilege even if I happen to feel his views are Pollyannaish if not outright wrong. But diversity of opinion is an excellent thing. If nothing else, it enables us to sharpen our own arguments and hope that the right one will prevail over the long haul.

This fellow, a former practicing rabbi, currently a liberal newspaper editor, posted on Facebook regarding US Attorney General Sessions’ use of the New Testament in support of upholding the law with regard to separating illegal alien children from their parents who attempt to criminally enter the United States. As with all of the media barrage against Mr. Sessions’ use of the bible to support upholding civil law, my acquaintance’s posting was primarily targeting the Trump administration.

Sadly, the liberal media and the progressive camp in general are obsessed with bringing down the POTUS. They seize any and every opportunity to lob grenades against the current White House. When there are no such opportunities, they simply create them out of benign circumstances that would not merit the bat of a lash were anyone other than Trump in office. One need but look at any front page of the NY Times over the past year and a half to understand what I am talking about.

Regardless, I felt it was my right to respond to my acquaintance’s posting. After all, Facebook is an open forum and every posting provides an opportunity to then post a comment. Please note that ‘comment’ is a neutral term, and clearly such comments can be supportive, argumentative, complimentary or critical. Accordingly, I posted a talkback in which I articulated my concern that using Jeff Session’s biblical reference was a non-issue blown out of all proportion simply to further attack the POTUS. Furthermore the entire hue and cry against the separation of children from their criminal parents is ab initio a non issue, as none of the liberal critics cared about this issue when Obama was president, nor do they care about the millions of children of incarcerated Americans who are serving time for their crimes.

I was taken aback by the reaction of my Facebook friend. He very firmly demanded that I NOT post anything that disagrees with him on HIS page. I wondered why this could be. After all Facebook is an open forum, comments are invited, and friendly debate is what energizes and drives a democracy.

Of course I understood very well what was happening here. Tragically, we live in times when liberalism is defined by censorship. In the liberal media, and among liberal circles, the only opinions that may be articulated are those that conform to the prevailing diktats of political correctness. And by excluding any conflicting opinion they can convince themselves that liberal opinions are not only the only ones that are valid, but that they are the only ones, period.

This is the very definition of an echo chamber. The refusal to allow any alternative point of view. In this way those who gather around and into the echo chamber ultimately convince themselves that there really is no one out there who disagrees with them. Clearly my friend was of that mindset. If he could steer me clear of his sandbox he, and his groupies, might come to the conclusion that all is well from their perspective, because they have neither seen nor heard a dissenting voice anywhere.

The tragedy here — and I have encountered it more than once among otherwise perfectly decent liberals of my acquaintance and relation — is twofold. First, that so many minds have become both stunted and uncritical, particularly among college students, for lack of exposure to alternative POVs. Second, and far more important, is that it leaves the liberal-left totally unequipped to cope in the event that they suddenly discover – at the polls – that there are millions of people (perhaps even a majority) who exist outside the echo chamber, and who radically disagree with them.

It is a rude awakening. After all, based purely on the pronouncements of academics, the highly articulate four-letter word speeches of Hollywood icons, the overtly editorialized news coverage of the MSM — all of which comprise the biggest echo chamber of all — one would have no clue that there exists a critical mass of voters, the so-called ‘basket of deplorables’, that is able to think for itself, and capable of recognizing a self-serving, censoring and censorious, elitist, entitled collective for what it is. And they want no part of it.

This is how a Donald Trump gets elected. Expect to see many more of his type in office. Why? Because a lot of very decent people don’t like being brainwashed, do not enjoy being manipulated, and are still sufficiently American or western to detest censorship.

I, of course, am inviting any and all comments to this posting, including — especially — one from my liberal rabbi/editor friend.

So, if come November, we see more red states rather than fewer (and more European countries following the populist example of Italy) the credit goes at least as much to the hermetically sealed-in denizens of the liberal echo chamber as they do to the quality, or lack thereof, of liberal candidates. Yes, my liberal friend, you will have primarily yourself to blame.

About the Author
J.J Gross is a veteran creative director and copywriter, who made aliyah in 2007 from New York. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a lifelong student of Bible and Talmud. He is also the son of Holocaust survivors from Hungary and Slovakia.
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