July 7, 2017


For many historians, the Polish-born pope’s Mass in Victory Square, more than anything else, set in motion the events that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall a decade later and the dissolution of the Soviet Union soon thereafter. The people in attendance knew exactly what President Trump meant when he spoke of how the millions of Poles attending that Mass “did not ask for wealth. They did not ask for privilege. Instead, one million Poles sang three simple words: ‘We want God.’”

But I wasn’t in the audience; I was watching it on TV and following Twitter’s response to the speech. It was remarkable how many people immediately assumed Trump was talking crazy or just making stuff up (I am paraphrasing very charitably here).

I understand that response. Trump often does say crazy things. He does make stuff up — but usually not in prepared texts at big events.

It struck me how a lot of our political polarization is fueled by plain old ignorance.

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It is a common human foible to think you know more than you do and to assume that when someone, particularly someone you don’t like, says something you don’t understand that the fault must be in the speaker, not the listener. “It’s a universal law — intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education,” observed Alexander Solzhenitsyn. “An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”

Read the whole thing.