The greatest moment in the history of cable television happened Friday night, and I was privileged to witness it. My new hero, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies, gave unmitigated idiot Piers Morgan the humiliation he so richly deserves:
There's a deeper insight to be gained here, though, beyond the extremely satisfying spectacle of Piers Morgan having his ass handed to him, then having it sent back to the kitchen to achieve a harder sear, and handed back to him again.This clip of @jimjefferies dragging @piersmorgan is the best thing ever. I want to marry this clip, then cheat on it WITH THIS CLIP. pic.twitter.com/7Ncr8KtPLq— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) February 11, 2017
While Morgan is, I suspect, just being an asshole to get attention, his attitude reflects that of a lot of Trump apologists who tolerate so much of his onerous shit, while still managing to see themselves as "independent." Many of the white people who switched over to Trump from Obama, or who switched over from less-toxic Republicans to Trump, find themselves able to excuse Trump on the basis of the sort of "logic" that Piers uses, and to the rest of us, the reason seems obvious.
Someone like Piers Morgan can reason that there's no Muslim ban because there are lots of Muslim countries that aren't banned, and so everybody just needs to calm the fuck down, because Piers Morgan will never be affected by the ban, and will never know anyone who's affected by it. There are no stakes for him. If the ban were on 7 majority-white countries, with exceptions for racial and ethnic minorities, I suspect Morgan would be able to see that as a ban on white people.
At first blush, then, the argument appears to be that Piers Morgan lacks empathy, which is a common critique made by liberals. While this critique has some truth to it, I believe that this is a faulty and losing argument, mainly because of a fundamentally flawed human understanding of empathy.
empathy - noun - em·pa·thy \ˈem-pə-thē\ : the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for thisTo most people, empathy is about feelings, which does two things to your argument. It first marginalizes it as non-factual, and second, makes your opponent feel attacked as unfeeling or inhuman, notions that almost every human reflexively resists seeing in themselves.
In reality, though, it is the empathic argument that is the more logical, and the non-empathetic one that is emotional. Piers Morgan (assuming his ignorance were honest) is unable to see the Muslim ban for what it is for two reasons. The first is that he lacks the experiential wisdom to see it, as I indicated before. If this were a white people ban, he would see it. Morgan's emotional attachment to his own experiences and point of view blinds him to the logical conclusion that this is, in fact, a Muslim ban.
The second reason is that he, and other Trump apologists, have emotional incentives not to see it. For some, it's attraction to Trump's gaudy projection of success, for many others (like media types who help to normalize him), it is a fear of deviating from the status quo. To recognize Trump as a monster is more frightening than to report dispassionately on partisan rancor over his fangs and talons.
Empathy is, in fact, a logical and rational phenomenon, and the lack of it is not. That this is so poorly understood means we ought to abandon "empathy" as a trait to be discussed in politics. Nobody thinks they, themselves, lack it, and those who choose not to act on it do so because they believe it is irrational. Telling these people to have empathy will never produce results, because they already think they have it, and are better off ignoring it.
So I don't think Piers Morgan's problem is a lack of empathy, it is a defect in logic caused by his own emotional attachment to norms. And because he won The Apprentice.