Reviews | Are Trump supporters too gullible?

For the editor:

“An Assault on the Truth,” by Rebecca Solnit (guest essay in Opinion, Sunday Review, January 9), obscures the political reality facing our country. I object to Ms. Solnit’s emphasis on gullibility as a factor in right-wing denial of facts.

Donald Trump does not change his mind. The beliefs of right-wingers are immutable. They are the opposite of gullible.

Mr. Trump and others are simply creating practical stories that are readily acceptable to an existing psyche. It’s quite easy to do. Focus on white privilege and the demonization of “others” and stand up for individual rights to the exclusion of everything else. You will then have a very helpful electorate ready to hand over power to you.

Any notion that the right-wing psyche is malleable in any way must be dropped. Outvoting the right is the only way to preserve democracy – and, of course, that may not be enough.

Ned Garner
Apex, North Carolina

For the editor:

Rebecca Solnit does not discuss the media’s role in spreading lies among Republicans. There is Fox News, which has become a propaganda front for Donald Trump before, during and since his presidency. And there is the plethora of right-wing websites, whose most outrageous lies are often repeated and fed into the mainstream of political opinion by Republican office holders.

The flow of disinformation is ubiquitous. Democrats also participated, although not as much as Republicans. It takes motivation and effort to sort fact from fiction, and for many people it’s too difficult.

Michael E. Mahler
Los Angeles

For the editor:

As a clinical therapist who worked in addiction treatment centers, I was reminded daily of the basic human need for approval and acceptance. We all seek to feel part of our community, our family and our country. This promotes interdependence and solidarity, and generally strengthens our social bonds.

The need for approval, however, can be so great (even desperate) that we surrender to the group in exchange for the validation it offers. The group hug is very reassuring – especially if the self-image is a little fragile – and eliminates the need for reflection and self-reflection which takes time and effort, and insists that sometimes , we are alone in our ideals and beliefs.

An integral part of the addictive personality, the need for approval further explains the gullibility and cynicism that Rebecca Solnit so aptly describes.

Gary Golio
Briarcliff Mansion, New York

For the editor:

I thought this was a great opinion piece, along with other similar articles you’ve posted. At this point, however, the point has been more than adequately made. The next logical question: what do we do about it? For my part, I would like to have comments on this question.

I myself am completely stunned. How to reason and reach out to someone who only believes what he wants to believe, even hello?

Douglas Reeves
Raleigh, North Carolina

For the editor:

Re “What do you think you should be paid?” (Sunday Business, January 2):

Massachusetts was the first state to ban potential employers from asking about applicants’ compensation history before making a job offer. In response, we began asking potential employees what their compensation expectations were. We were initially surprised that it created new problems.

Some women expressed lower expectations than men for the same job. Others offered wages below average market value and clumsily tried to revise them afterwards. But refusing to engage in salary discussions is also not an optimal strategy, as potential employers want to make offers that are likely to be accepted and match expectations relatively closely.

First, prepare for this question. If you are taken by surprise, you have several options: candidates can ask for the salary range of the position, postpone until they have finished their research or quote the percentile of the market they are targeting.

For equal pay legislation to have the desired effect, education and resources are also needed to help women learn to expect these pay conversations and how to handle them skillfully.

Alexa B. Kimball
Boston
The author is President and CEO of Harvard Medical School Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School.

For the editor:

Regarding “Being homeless cost me $54,000”, by Lori Teresa Yearwood (opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, January 2):

Yes, homelessness causes deep issues for homeless people with regards to trauma, debt, mental health and much more. But the costs are not limited to the homeless. Society pays a lot for homelessness.

According to the Innovation for Justice program at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law, the cost of homelessness in Pima County (where Tucson is located) in 2018 was $64,740,105 for 9 984 families expelled that year. Costs of homelessness include increased child protection cases, medical and emergency room visits, shelter costs, involvement in the juvenile and adult criminal justice system, mental health crises and more.

Clearly, helping homeless people find housing, work, and pay off their debts so they can be productive, happier members of society costs a lot less. It is time for all of us to work to end this scourge.

Nancy Fahey Smith
Tucson, Arizona.
The writer works on social justice issues for Pima County Interfaith, a nonprofit organization.

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