WEAKER APART: Professors and journalists, weaker together!

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16, 2017

Part 3—The Washington Post relents:
Inevitably, your DAILY HOWLER keeps cranking out those results.

We refer to the Washington Post's decision to change the headline we cited in yesterday's report. Below, you see the way the headline was, as compared to the way it is now:
The way it was:

White millennials are just as racist as their grandparents

The way it is today:

Trump’s lasting legacy is to embolden an entirely new generation of racists
Will that be Donald J. Trump's lasting legacy? As opposed, let us say, to the role he may yet play in producing the end of the world?

We don't know how to answer your question! But that eye-catching, original headline was ushered to the memory hole just as soon as your DAILY HOWLER noted how gongy it was.

Briefly, let's be fair. From the standpoint of the catching of eyes, that headline had it all!

It not only dropped an R-bomb, which is sure to get juices flowing. It also tossed a generational claim around!

A fiery R-bomb, linked to a G-bomb! Presumably, nothing grabs eyeballs so well!

Don't misunderstand! Imaginably, there would imaginably be a way to determine if, on average, tens of millions of people in one generation might be "just as racist" as the tens of millions of people who are, on average, their grandparents.

Imaginably, our professors and journalists could imaginably make such a finding. But that didn't happen in the column written by Catherine Rampell.

Sad! For starters, that exciting, eye-catching headline was an embellishment of what Rampell had actualy said in the column so bannered.

In our view, Rampell's actual claim was unwise and dumb on its own. But that headline ratcheted what she said, presumably yielding more clicks.

Here's what Rampell actually said. This came near the end of her column:
RAMPELL (8/15/17): More significantly, the presumption that millennials are uniformly more progressive than earlier generations is false.

Millennials overall are more racially tolerant than earlier generations—but that’s because young people today are less likely to be white. White millennials exhibit about as much racial prejudice, as measured by explicit bias, as white Gen Xers and boomers.
These white millennials today! Rampell nuancedly said that they "exhibit about as much racial prejudice, as measured by explicit bias, as white Gen Xers and boomers." The reader was left to imagine what "racial prejudice, as measured by explicit bias," might actually mean or be.

As written, Rampell's claim was rather murky. That said, the headline writer dropped all the qualifiers—and he or she turned "racial prejudice, as measured by explicit bias," into "racis[m]," the bomb that has launched a million clicks.

Yesterday, someone at the Washington Post decided to change that headline. For ourselves, we spent some time examining the data to which Rampell had semi-referred.

When we did, sad! Rampell's link took us tothis April 2015 report by the Post's Scott Clement. Just seven years out of Vanderbilt at the time, he was identified as "the polling manager at The Washington Post, specializing in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy."

Appendix aside, Clement's actual piece had been fairly short. Especially in its appendix ("General Social Survey methodology and question wording"), it was at various times strikingly incoherent.

That said, Clement's piece from April 2015 still bears an eye-catching headline. Here's what that headline says:
Millennials are just about as racist as their parents
Seven years out of Vanderbilt, the Washington Post's polling director, not unlike Santa of old, knew who was naughty and who was nice in at least two generations.

"Surely not all millennials are racist," Clement magnanimously said near the start of his piece. He went on to offer evidence in support of the implied claim which was fairly accurately captured in the headline atop his report.

As has been clear for a good long time, R-bombs are very good for our liberal world's tribal soul. Presumably, they're also good for clicks at newspapers like the Post.

That said, alas! Again and again, R-bombs turn out to be good for something else. They're often help us see how weak one modern alliance is.

We refer to the often unholy alliance between These College Professors Today and These High-End Journalists. We might all be better off if these two groups were kept apart!

Due to events in Charlottesvile, we may terminate the report we planned for this week—at least, we may terminate it for now.

Those events from Virginia are much more pressing this week. That said, the Washington Post's bomb-laden headlines almost surely play a part in that larger story.

What made the Washington Post feel it could offer the eye-catching headline which topped that 2015 report? The eye-catching headline in which, like a god, some editor brandished a favorite bomb, spread across two generations?

In large part, the Post's polling director had been working from a particular question on "the General Social Survey conducted by NORC's 2010, 2012 and 2014 waves." He didn't bother explaining what that acronym meant, so we won't bother either.

For today, we'll only say this:

We think the use to which that question was put helps display the remarkable lack of skill which is often put on display by our professors and journalists, who often seem to be weaker together. Therein lies a ancillary tale:

We liberals! We tend to find it hard to believe that our professors are perhaps a bit weak in the head, especially when their deathless surveys lead to headlines which tickle our tribal scripts. Sadly, our willingness to bow to authority in this way makes us resemble, in ever so tiny a way. the long-derided ditto-headedness long declared Over There.

We've long ridiculed that trait when displayed by Those People. Over There, they've swallowed all manner of cant from Rush. We tend to get ours from our professors, especially as their work is channeled through columnists and "polling directors."

Had that youngish polling director really found a way to measure the "racism" of two generations? Yesterday, in an easy link, Rampell seemed to say that he had.

An exciting headline followed. Later, it was withdrawn.

We liberals have been highly skilled for many years at seeing how dumb The Others are. In truth, the pronouncements of Rush and Sean have routinely, though not always, been tremendously dumb.

But good God and holy smokes! The major pathetic unhelpful Big Dumb can also be found Over Here!

Today, the headline which sat atop Rampell's column is gone. Incomparably, your DAILY HOWLER keeps pounding out those results.

Elsewhere in today's Washington Post,
superb reporting describes the complaints of some of the nation's least discerning young men—young men who are found Over There.

We'll stick to that work for the rest of the week. But the dumbness is also quite thick Over Here, and the stories are not unrelated.

Charlottesville: There but for fortune, continued!

TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017

Two ways of seeing a life:
In this morning's Washington Post, the portrait of a life continues.

The life is that of James Fields, the 20-year-old man who seems to have committed a lunatic murder this weekend.

He seems to have done a crazy thing. According to the Post's front-page report, it didn't come out of the blue:
HERNANDEZ (8/15/17): Years before a 20-year-old Ohio man allegedly rammed his car into a panicked crowd of activists in Charlottesville, it was his disabled mother who was terrified.

James Alex Fields Jr. was barely a teenager in 2010 when his mother—who uses a wheelchair—locked herself in a bathroom, called 911 and said her son had struck her head and put his hands over her mouth when she told him to stop playing a video game, according to police records. On another occasion, records show, he brandished a 12-inch knife. Once, he spit in her face.

“Mom is scared he is going to become violent here,” a dispatcher wrote in a log of the November 2011 call
in which Fields’s mother, Samantha Bloom, requested police help in getting her son to a hospital for assessment.

The portrait of a violent teen emerged as Fields was denied bail Monday during his first court appearance in connection with the Charlottesville attack that killed one and injured 19 others...
In 2010, Fields was 13. It sounds like something was already terribly, horribly wrong:
HERNANDEZ: The 911 records indicating Fields’s teenage outbursts, first reported by the website TMZ, cover police calls made while Fields and his mother lived in Florence, Ky., about 20 minutes southwest of Cincinnati. In the past year, they moved near Toledo. The records seem to indicate that he was arrested and held in juvenile detention after the November 2011 call.

In the 2010 call, Bloom reported that her son had struck her in the head and threatened to beat her after she told him to stop playing video games. Bloom said her son was taking medication to control his temper and told authorities that she was locked in the bathroom.

In October of the following year, Bloom called 911 to say that her son was “being very threatening toward her” and that she didn’t feel “in control of the situation,”
according to a dispatcher’s notes.

And in November 2011, police were asked to come to the house because Bloom was said to want her son to be assessed at a hospital, according to the records. He had spat in her face, said the caller, whose connection to the family is not clear in the records.

The previous night, Fields had stood behind his mother with a 12-inch knife, the caller reported.

“Scared mom to death not knowing if he was going to do something,” the dispatcher’s report continued.
In 2011, Field was 14. It sounds like something was terribly wrong at that point.

There seem to be at least two ways you can respond to reporting like this. Over here, we tend to start by saying, "There but for fortune." (For background, see yesterday's post.) Whatever explains such disturbed behavior at such a young age, we ourselves were never so afflicted.

Perhaps we got better help at home. Perhaps this young person had organic medical problems of a type we never had.

If a young person if your own family started behaving this way, you'd probably want to try to get him help. In the case of this young person, such efforts—it sounds like he was on medication—don't seem to have worked in the end.

We'll be honest! When we read about young people like this, we tend to take the "bleeding-heart liberal" approach. We feel sorry for his lost life. We tend to say, "There but for fortune."

We'll make Josh the bad guy again. Yesterday afternoon, in this post, he linked to a report about this early disturbed behavior.

To our ear, his headline—"Fits The Pattern"—seems to signal or suggest our own tribe's tribal greatness. The "pattern" would seem to be that of Those People. We don't sense the presence of a heart mourning a second lost life.

When we saw that post by Josh, we thought of the speech from On the Waterfront, the speech by the Eva Marie Saint character. As she speaks with the Brando character, she affirms the values of bleeding heart liberals. In our view, the reaction of the Brando character forms the heart of the film.

Before the week is done, we'll post the text of that brief speech. Sixty-three years later, we'll recommend the worldview it espouses.

One final point. Last night, speaking with Anderson Cooper, Susan Bro continued to express her moral greatness.

Her 32-year-old daughter, Heather Heyer, was the person who was killed. But she said she had two feeling about the young man who killed her:
BRO (8/14/17): I have two feelings about this young man.

One is, he was extremely young, in my opinion. He's not a child. He's an adult. He made his decisions, and I believe that he thought hate was going to be the answer, and that hate is going to fix things.

But he was wrong, and he will some day come to see that, I hope. And I'm sorry for the pain he will go through when he sees that. I'm sorry for the pain he's putting his mother through right now.

I'm also extremely sorry that he chose to kill my child and to injure a bunch of other people. He didn't have the right to do that. And if you watch the tapes, you can tell he had that exactly in mind.
In our view, Bro just keeps expressing remarkable moral greatness. In our view, we could use a bit more of that within our liberal and corporate liberal tents, where the unwise, self-impressed virtue signalling is running quite high this week.

WEAKER APART: These (white) millennials today!

TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017

Part 2—Carol Leifer's joke:
In the past few days, we've found ourselves thinking about Carol Leifer's joke.

In our view, it wasn't one of her better jokes, but it did score with audiences. We're going back to the 1980s, when Carol—according to the leading authority on her life—was well on her way to her total of 25 Letterman spots.

Carol was a very nice person and a very successful comedian. We refer to her joke about throwing the ball for the dog—rather, about pretending to do so.

The protagonist of Carol's joke would pretend to throw the ball, then skillfully hide it. He or she would howl with laughter when the dog raced off, in complete confusion. We've been thinking about the punchline, which went something like this:

How far down the evolutionary scale do we have to go to find someone we can feel superior to?

We'll guess that Carol's wording was tighter. But we've been thinking of that joke—and of Tim Russert's interview.

The interview to which we refer took place in 1999. Four years later, writing for Slate, Jack Shafer said Russert got beaten:
SHAFER (7/2/03): One-time grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and permanent white-supremacist nut job David Duke beat Russert badly in March 1999, when he appeared on Meet the Press during his Louisiana campaign for a seat in the House of Representatives. Unable to stick it to Duke with his time-proven techniques, Russert sputtered, steamed, and almost boiled over.
In real time, other pundits didn't think that Russert had been beaten that day. In his selection of a guest, he'd gone all the way down the scale to Duke, who he proceeded to savage, pound, assail and slam for his abhorrent views.

When we think of that interview, we think of Leifer's joke. If we recall correctly, Russert was widely praised by other pundits for the way he'd defeated Duke. But then, Russert was always widely praised, no matter what he did.

(Not necessarily his fault! Based on our own few interactions with Russert, he too was a very nice person.)

It isn't hard to pretend to throw a ball and get your dog confused. Similarly, it isn't hard to find the shortcomings in the worldview of someone like Duke, former top dog of the Klan.

Within the American context, it's amazingly easy to spot the flaws in his histories of 1) the Ku Klux Klan and 2) the German Third Reich. It's so easy to spot these flaws that even our pundits can do it.

This has led to several days of active "virtue signalling" on the part of this hardy band. As they take turns assuring us that they disapprove of Klansmen and Nazis, they also take turns assailing Donald J. Trump for the fact that he maybe, possibly, pretty much just perhaps doesn't feel the same way.

Our many pundits have stood in line to engage in this "virtue signalling." We aren't real impressed by their noble displays.
Here's why:

How far down the scale do you have to go to get to Donald J. Trump? It isn't hard to find the tiny small imperceptible flaws within the conduct of his life. But then, something else isn't hard to find:

It isn't hard to find the disgrace in the way our reporters and pundits, and their corporate owners, agreed to go easy on Trump, and make money off Trump, pretty much every step of the way.

The people who signal their virtue today rolled over and died in real time. There was lots of money to make from interviewing Candidate Trump—and from failing to make him angry, guaranteeing that he would come back for many future guest spots.

For these reasons, the reporters, pundits and TV stars largely rolled over and died. Why had this peculiar fellow made himself king of the birthers starting in 2011? Despite their signals of virtue today, these hustlers agreed not to ask.

In this and a hundred other ways, they helped smooth Trump's way to the Oval.

(Other ways? When Comey launched his first attack in July 2016, he was praised for two nights on the Maddow Show, then never mentioned again. When Trump's main birther enabler, Greta Van Susteren, got hired at MSNBC, a certain major cable star told her fans that they should watch Greta's new show because of her journalist greatness. She even said that she and Greta were regular drinking pals! Meanwhile, Susan Rice is still under the bus from 2012, when Benghazi scripts were being created, in part thanks to the total silence from These Corporate Liberals Today. The people who played the game this way are signalling virtue today.)

Today, these people are signalling virtue. They've found a message so simple and pleasing that even they can repeat it.

That said, we think you should be very unhappy with all this easy group virtue. You don't have to be very high on the scale to see that Nazis and Klansmen are perhaps a bit less than ideal. When our "thought leaders" signal their virtue this way, we're all very low on the scale.

In this, our main report for the week, we'd planned to engage in a largely technical venture. Tomorrow, we'll start to follow through with some of what we'd planned, but events in Charlottesville have taken a bit of precedence.

That said, the virtue signaling has been general in our press corps this week. And uh-oh! Aside from the Nazis and the Klansmen, no one is taking it on the chin quite like these (white) millennials today.

These millennials today! Last week, an analysis piece for the Washington Post appeared beneath this eye-catching headline:
Think millennials are woke? A new poll suggests some are still sleeping on racism.
Just this once, we'll be honest. As we reviewed the results of the survey in question, we didn't see any way to determine whether some, many, all or even a few millennials are still sleeping on racism, whatever that might turn out to mean.

That headline grabbed eyeballs, but it didn't seem smart. Then this morning, Bam! Here, readers—have another:
White millennials are just as racist as their grandparents
That headline appears above a new column by Catherine Rampell in that same Washington Post. These millennials today! They got hammered again!

We can't say that today's headline captures the overall gist of Rampell's column. That said, she does cite a survey, late in her piece, which is alleged to say something like that. Tomorrow, we'll examine what "survey says."

For today, we'll only say this: someone at the Washington Post seems to like eye-catching headlines. Those headlines excite our tired blood, and they may seem to signal virtue.

Those headlines may suggest moral greatness. But again and again in the past few days, we've had the feeling that we are observing a great deal more signal than virtue.

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the survey Rampell cites. Thursday, we'll plan to return to the starting point we defined in yesterday's award-winning post.

Tomorrow: The professors posed a question. Did their question make sense?

North Korea hasn't ceased to exist!

MONDAY, AUGUST 14, 2017

Mike Mullen, asked and answered:
Events in Charlottesville have largely pushed North Korea off the center of the cable and broadcast news maps.

That said, North Korea hasn't ceased to exist. With that in mind, we call your attention to Mike Mullen's assesment on yesterday's Meet the Press.

From 2007 through 2011, Mullen was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Yesterday, he voiced concern about the rhetoric used by Donald J. Trump in the past week or so.

This led to a question about rationality. Presumably, Todd was discussing the rationality of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un, though he didn't explicitly say who he was asking about.

Our own supreme leader has been engaging in "fire and brimstone" rhetoric which "looks like brinksmanship," Mullen said. Here's what he went on to say about their supreme leader:
TODD (8/13/17): Jim Clapper, former director of national intelligence, he says essentially the notion of North Koreans denuclearizing is just—I think he called it a non-starter. And he essentially says it's time to accept the notion that they're going to be a nuclear regime, and we kind of have to move on from that. Do you accept that?

MULLEN: I don't accept that yet. I recognize that as an option or an outcome, and certainly there is a, there is a—one option is to accept that, and then contain him.

Obviously, the concern you would have with that is somehow, he has this weapon. And he is still somewhat of an unknown to us, and unpredictable, and someone that we can't in any way, shape or form predict.

TODD: Do you think he is rational? Do you think he's a rational actor?

MULLEN: No, I don't think he is rational.

TODD: You don't think he's rational.

MULLEN: No, he's got a— I don't think he's a rational actor. He's got a rich history in his family, the legacy to uphold. He is on a race to gain this capability. Much different from his father or his grandfather in terms of developing capability. He is on a flat-out sprint to develop this capability and then see what happens.
We're assuming that the highlighted exchange was about Kim Jong-un.

We don't know if Mullen is right in his assessment of Kim. But in Mullen's apparent view, our supreme leader has been engaged in "almost a fire and brimstone" type of "brinksmanship" in the rhetorical realm, while their supreme leader "may not be a rational actor."

This topic moved off center-stage this weekend. Perhaps our leader will get distracted. But the basic situation is still very much there.

Charlottesville: "Hate only engenders more hate!"

MONDAY, AUGUST 14, 2017

The mother and the thought leader:
Susan Bro's daughter was killed this weekend.

Her daughter's name was Heather Heyer. At the age of 32, she was killed in Charlottesville, apparently due to a lunatic act by James Fields, age 20.

In this morning's Washington Post, two reporters describe an interview with Bro about her daughter's killing. At one point, Bro joins the forces of moral greatness when she discusses Fields:
SILVERMAN AND LARIS (8/14/17): Every time Bro closed her eyes Saturday night, the tears would come. When she couldn't sleep, she tried busying herself doing laundry. "Who does laundry when their child's died? That's all I could do," she said.

Despite her pain, Bro said she doesn't want people to hate Fields. It isn't what her daughter would have wanted, she said.

"Our daughter did not live a life of hate, and hating this young man is not going to solve anything. . . . It's not that I think he should go unpunished for his crime. But hate only engenders more hate, and there's no purpose in hate," Bro said. "Heather's life was about—passionately about—fairness and equality and caring, and that's what we want people to take away from this."
"Heather's life was passionately about caring. That was the mother's reaction. It recalls the reactions of some of the Charleston families in the wake of the murders in 2015 by Dylann Roof, who had just turned 21.

The astounding reactions of those families produced amazement and admiration all over the world. In yesterday's interview, Heather Heyer's mother joined their number.

A major journalist reacted in a quite different way this weekend. He recommended this unwise twitter thread, in which a group of youngish people seemed to be applauding the possibility of violent revenge.

Before we link you to that thread, let's think about Fields for a minute. This front-page profile in today's Post describes his own family background.

His father was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 1997, five months before he was born. On his mother's side of the family, his grandfather murdered his grandmother, than committed suicide, in 1984. This murder-suicide occurred when Field's mother was 16 years old.

An uncle offers more information, and speculates a bit:
SHAPIRO (8/14/17): Fields, he said, grew up mostly in Northern Kentucky, where he had been raised by a single mother, Samantha Bloom, who is a paraplegic. The uncle, who saw Fields mostly at family gatherings, described his nephew as “not really friendly, more subdued.”

Fields joined the Army in late in the summer of 2015 but was on active duty for less than four months, according to online records from the Defense Department. It was unclear why he served so briefly.

“The what-ifs,” the uncle said. “What could’ve been—you can’t answer questions like that. There’s no way of knowing if his life would have been different if his father had been around.”
When we read about such matters, we tend to think of a song which was popular in certain circles when we ourselves were 20.

The song is There but for Fortune. It was written by Phil Ochs, most famously sung by Joan Baez.

When we read about stories like that, we often think of the fact that our grandparents didn't die in a murder/suicide when our mother was 16. Our father wasn't killed by a hit and run driver before we were born.

We don't know what might have made Fields commit the act of which he's accused. But we tend toward the old ways in such matters, toward the worldview called "bleeding-heart liberalism."

Heyer's mother tends toward the world of moral greatness. To borrow a phrase from Eugene Genovese, it's largely, within the American context, an artifact of "the world the [enslaved people] made."

Globally, it's largely an artifact of Mandela and Dr. King, by way of Ghandi—and by way of what the young Dr. King repeatedly referred to as "the love ethic of Jesus."

That love ethic was revolutionary because we humans don't instinctively function in the ways it recommended. This fact is being played out in various ways at this time.

Yesterday, we clicked a link in this post by Josh Marshall and perused that twitter thread. The twitter thread concerned a different 20-year-old who was present in Charlottesville this weekend.

We thought Josh showed very poor judgment in recommending its tweets, which he seemed to find heroic, fitting and just.

When we read that twitter thread, we thought of The Mortal Storm, the fascinating 1940 (fictional) film about the rise of Hitler youth. We thought about what happened to China when a large cadre of its younger, unwise people helped stage The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.

We thought about Lord of the Flies. We thought about the most remarkable passages in Dr. King's first book, Stride Toward Freedom.

We also thought about one of our favorite speeches from film—the speech in On the Waterfront in which the character played by Eva Marie Saint speaks to the Marlon Brando character on behalf of the basic tenets of bleeding-heart liberalism.

We'll review that speech, and that twitter thread, in the next few days. We thought the instincts on display in that thread were thoroughly "human, all too human" and also deeply unwise.

For today, we'll recommend Susan Bro to the world. We think Marshall gave his readers some amazingly poor advice. So it goes as the world continues to turn and we work, inevitably, to become more like the people we like to say we despise.

WEAKER APART: Seeing the glass a tiny bit empty!

MONDAY, AUGUST 14, 2017

Part 1—These alleged millennials today:
"Stronger together," Candidate Clinton repeatedly said.

In our view, it was a pretty good slogan. In some ways, it was a version of her husband's earlier campaign watchword:

"We don't have a person to waste."

One candidate won, one candidate lost. Each time, we agreed with the outlook.

That said, to what extent are we the people "together" at this juncture? More specifically, to what extent do we tend to share views on the most sensitive "social issues," on matters of gender and race?

Asking the question a gloomier way, to what extent have we been torn asunder on such issues? More specifically, to what extent do Those People hold retrograde views Over There, as opposed to the principled outlooks found in our own liberal tents?

In recent years, we liberals have tended to develop a gloomy, and perhaps misleading, reflexive approach in these areas. We're strongly inclined to see the glass a few percentage points empty, even when the glass in question seems to be largely full.

Did Clinton say we're "stronger together?" Again and again, it seems we liberals may be inclined to prefer "weaker apart." We seem inclined to stress relatively small amounts of difference, as opposed to larger degrees of agreement. We especially tend to adopt this stance when it lets us denigrate The Others, the lesser folk found Over There.

Alas! Even when The Others largely agree with our own spectacular views, we're inclined to focus on much smaller degrees of difference. In our view, this impulse was played out last week in a pair of intriguing pieces, one at the New York Times, one at the Washington Post.

To what analysis pieces do we refer? One was written by Nicole Lewis, a member of the Washington Post's Intern Class of 2017. The other was written by Professor Vavreck, a contributor at the New York Times' brainiac Upshot blog.

In our view, a familiar type of alarmism seemed to guide each effort. We think our tribe could improve its game by reviewing the preconceptions which seemed to be in play at each piece.

For today, let's start at the Washington Post, where Nicole Lewis, the intern in question, discussed These Millennials Today. We thought our tribe's instinct toward gloom was on display right in the eye-catching headline, which Lewis orobably didn't write:
Think millennials are woke? A new poll suggests some are still sleeping on racism.
Are some millennials "still sleeping on racism?" Depending on how you make your assessment, "some" almost certainly are! Presumably, some always will be!

Presumably, there will never be a time when someone fails to be completely "woke" in such complex and difficult areas. An analysis of such matters becomes helpful only when it tells us how many such people we're talking about, and when it tells us to what degree such people remain un-woke.

No doubt, that headline was meant to grab the eyeballs of Post readers. We're assuming the headline was written by a Post editor, not by the intern who wrote the actual piece.

That headline was meant to startle us with a suggestion about These Racist Millennials Today! It did so in the reflexively gloomy way our tribe prefers in these areas.

That said, to what extent are different groups of millennials fully "woke" on race? As we'll note tomorrow, we thought Lewis betrayed a strong instinct to see the glass a tiny bit empty, rather than largely full.

Specifically, she seemed to say that different groups of millennials differed substantially on matters of race. As she engaged in this familiar reflex, we thought she skipped past the most intriguing data in the survey she reviewed.

Meanwhile, we saw no evidence that any group was less than substantially "woke." We saw nothing which would explain that eye-catching, pleasing headline.

Over at the New York Times, Professor Vavreck was exploring a slightly different question. In these highly partisan times, she wanted to know if we the people even agree on what it means to be an American!

"[T]he 2016 election made clear that there isn’t universal agreement on what it means to be an American," she somewhat vaguely, and rather gloomily, said. (Her piece appeared in Saturday's hard-copy Times.) She went on to frisk the views expressed by members of various groups concerning the importance of immigration status, knowledge of English, ancestry and religion.

In our view, the professor's analysis seemed a bit gloomy—and she seemed inclined to place her thumbs on familiar scales. Almost as if by rule of law, she found that Those People, the ones who voted for Donald J. Trump, hold "exclusionary conceptions of American identity" on the basis of their answers to a set of survey questions.

She focused on the (relatively minor) degree to which responses by Trump voters differed from responses by other groups. She referred to the "stark differences" between Trump voters and these various groups, downplaying the fact that their answers agreed with those of the other groups in much larger measure.

Lewis is a Washington Post intern; Vavreck is a professor at UCLA. Despite their differences, we were struck by the degree to which each seemed inclined to overlook substantial points of agreement between different groups among us, the people.

The instinctive creation of Us and Them! It has always been one of our strongest human inclinations. Again and again, we liberals tend to picture the world in this gloomy manner.

We liberals! Are we disinclined, at this point in time, to take yes for an answer? Are we inclined to shun stronger together in favor of weaker apart?

Tomorrow: The data on these sleeping and woke millennials today!