The Situationist

Sarah Palin a Naive Cynic?

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 12, 2011

Situationist Contributors Adam Benforado and Jon Hanson have written extensively about a dynamic they call “naive cynicism.”

Their work explores how dispositionism maintains its dominance despite the fact that it misses so much of what actually moves us. It argues that the answer lies in a subordinate dynamic and discourse, naive cynicism: the basic subconscious mechanism by which dispositionists discredit and dismiss situationist insights and their proponents. Without it, the dominant person schema – dispositionism – would be far more vulnerable to challenge and change, and the more accurate person schema – situationism – less easily and effectively attacked. Naive cynicism is thus critically important to explaining how and why certain legal policies manage to carry the day.

Naive cynicism often takes the form of a backlash against situationism that involves an affirmation of existing dispositionist notions and an assault on (1) the situationist attributions themselves; (2) the individuals, institutions, and groups from which the situationist attributions appear to emanate; and (3) the individuals whose conduct has been situationalized. If one were to boil down those factors to one simple naive-cynicism-promoting frame for minimizing situationist ideas, it would be something like this: Unreasonable outgroup members are attacking us, our beliefs, and the things we value.

* * *

Is Sarah Palin exhibiting that dynamic?  Below the video of her remarks you can read some excerpts from the transcript.

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* * *

It’s inexcusable and incomprehensible why a single evil man took the lives of peaceful citizens that day.

There is a bittersweet irony that the strength of the American spirit shines brightest in times of tragedy. We saw that in Arizona. We saw the tenacity of those clinging to life, the compassion of those who kept the victims alive, and the heroism of those who overpowered a deranged gunman.

* * *

President Reagan said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.

The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future.

* * *

Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions.  And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

* * *

As I said while campaigning for others last March in Arizona during a very heated primary race, “We know violence isn’t the answer. When we ‘take up our arms’, we’re talking about our vote.” Yes, our debates are full of passion, but we settle our political differences respectfully at the ballot box – as we did just two months ago, and as our Republic enables us to do again in the next election, and the next. That’s who we are as Americans and how we were meant to be. Public discourse and debate isn’t a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional.

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No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.

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America must be stronger than the evil we saw displayed last week. We are better than the mindless finger-pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy.

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You can review a list of related Situationist links in the following post: “The Tragedy in Tucson: What Do You Think?.”

In addition, here are few more:

Finally, you can review all of the Situationist posts related to naive cynicism by clicking here.

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7 Responses to “Sarah Palin a Naive Cynic?”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CoertVisser and CoertVisser, CoertVisser. CoertVisser said: Naive cynicism: the basic subconscious mechanism by which dispositionists discredit & dismiss situationist insights http://bit.ly/gL7QPh [...]

  2. Robert said

    I don’t care for Palin’s politics, but she’s on right side of the story here. The media and the snearing sushi-eating elitists initially blamed the shooting on the “situation” of a “climate of hate” and inferred that it was related to Palin or the immigration debate. Then the dispositionist truth came out that the killer was insane. Palin called out her slanderers. Instead of showing contrition they are frothing at the mouth and doubling down on their open contempt for blue collar whites and their symbolic representative.

  3. Josh said

    Suggesting that Palin is a naive cynic may be giving her too much credit, at least in terms of ideological consistency. Consider her interview with the Today Show in which she takes a situationist perspective and blames David Letterman for contributing to a culture that systematically downgrades the confidence of and disparages young women. Attribution works in mysterious ways, it seems, as our unhinged political figures attempt to make sense of the world.

    http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/06/12/multimedia/1194840882228/exclusive-sarah-palin-on-today-show.html

  4. [...] Sarah Palin a Naive Cynic? [...]

  5. [...] after 2 years, just ask the businesspeople franchisees in IndFA for thousands and leave the naive cynic pseudo-employees to their [...]

  6. [...] Sarah Palin a Naive Cynic? [...]

  7. [...] The purpose of this post is simply to point out that The Economist article and the comments that follow it exhibit the naive cynicism dynamic that we have written about several times on this blog.  Here’s one recent description: [...]

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