I got the phrase “deliberate obtuseness” from this column. Those two words totally capture one of the Right’s favorite arguing tactics. After reciting the exact same simple-minded talking points over and over and over, their second favorite gimmick is to throw a wrench in the gears by playing Dumber Than Dirt. They’ll make a totally clueless statement, or ask a “Duh, I don’t get it” question, so that the other person has to stop and patiently explain — for the 800th time — “No, I don’t hate business” or “No, I don’t want Communist thugs to come in and nationalize American industries.”
The example that Ben Adler gives in this column is the numerous rightwing talking heads who act confused about the “99%” label: “So 99% of us are aging hippies who just left a Phish concert, huh huh huh huh uh uh uh uh.” Ben Adler says:
“This is deliberate obtuseness. Of course it’s true that the dreadlocked campers at Zuccotti Park do not represent the cultural values of 99 percent of Americans. But they do not clam to. They say they represent the economic interests of the 99 percent of Americans who have been left behind by growing inequality and plutocratic policies.”
There was an Occupy Wall Street rally in our town over the weekend; about 200 people showed up. Here’s a write-up from the local paper. If you want to see deliberate obtuseness, check out some of the comments at the end of the article. Several commenters have given very precise, articulate statements about what the protest means and why the public is furious at the financial robber barons who have the rest of the country by the shorthairs.
And the same tinfoil-duncecap-wearing teatards keep coming back and back and back with “What do you people want anyway?” “You just hate everybody who’s successful,” “You just want to get something for nothing.” Etc.
Some of the other “99%” commenters have clearly explained that they themselves have jobs and own their homes, but they’re scared to death of what’s happening around them. And again, the teatards’ only response is “Get a job!” or the sooo-funny “Why don’t you ‘occupy’ a job instead of the local park?”
Deliberate Obtuseness. Now that we have a name for it, you’ll be seeing it everywhere.