Posted in Virtue signal

How to have differences of opinion without getting nasty and hysterical

Below is a short interview between Stuart Varney and Douglas Macgregor on the Russia-Ukraine war.

Stuart is a television presenter on the Fox Business Network and Douglas is a retired colonel of the American army.

Their relevant exchange starts from 2:40 of the four-minute clip.

Stuart: “Colonel, it sounds like you don’t approve of Zalensky’s stand.”

Douglas: […] “quite frankly, most of what comes out from Ukraine is debunked as lies within 24 to 48 hours.” […]

Stuart: “He [President Zalensky] is not a hero? When he’s standing up for himself and his own people. You don’t think he’s a hero?”

Douglas: “No, I do not. I don’t see anything heroic about the man. And I think the most heroic thing he can do right now is to come to terms with reality. […]”

Stuart: “I’m inclined to disagree with you colonel but uhmm we’ll see how this works out. Douglas Macgregor, tough guy. Thanks for being with us, sir. I’ll see you again soon. Thank you.”

Stuart Varney clicks his tongue and raises his eyebrows when he disagrees with the ex-colonel but he does not raise his voice.

Neither does Stuart shout or constantly interrupt by talking over and curtly cutting off his guest.

A far different type of ‘interview’ was recorded between Channel 4’s Matt Frei and Russian former MP Natalya Narochnitskaya. I blogged two days ago about their exchanges, that is about the rare moments when the TV host actually allowed his guest to speak.

To briefly recap, the following were the ‘questions’ that Matt shot at Natalya.

“As a mother or perhaps a grandmother, I just ask you: Do you have any sympathy when a six-year-old girl is killed by shells?”

“Natalya, let’s not talk about Donetsk. Let me ask you this very simply — ‘Are there Ukrainian tanks in Moscow right now or St Petersburg, shelling Russian civilians, yes or no?”

“My final question to you, Natalya, is how does it feel to be a citizen of a pariah state?”

The Fox presenter managed to elicit content (views/opinions) from his guest that were controversial for the cable network’s core audience. Meaning, Fox’s American viewers, like Stuart Varney himself, likely disagreed with the ex-colonel.

Nonetheless, others – and that includes viewers from around the world like us – can nonetheless listen, process the info for ourselves and think more deeply about it because Stuart gave Douglas space to speak.

After all, the Ukraine situation is complex and we should allow for more nuance than simply one side good (“hero”) and one side bad.

The Channel 4 interview, by contrast, obtained nothing meaningful out of its Russian guest because all the host did was to harangue her.

Natalya is not from the military and nor – as a former MP – is she a member of the current Russian government. She was invited on the show merely to share her insight.

Yet Channel 4’s Matt Frei berated her as if she ought to be held personally responsible for the shelling of a six-year-old Ukrainian girl or for the Russian army’s advance on Kiev.

Liberals, such as these woke Western journalists, are tribalists who are dead set against a rival tribe — the conservatives. (Russia is a conservative orthodox Christian country.)

Matt’s salvo at Natalya – “how does it feel to be a citizen of a pariah state?” – is the virtue signalling of one self-righteous group treating an out group (Russians) as beyond the pale.

Matt was displaying war hysteria and a trajectory that would seek to make Russia – which he labelled “pariah state” – an outcast country.

Figuratively speaking, Matt fired a machine gun at Russian citizen Natalya because she had a different opinion from him.

Fox’s Stuart Varney too had a different opinion from Douglas Macgregor but he handled their disagreement with civility and thus got more value from their interview for the benefit of his TV audience.

If Matt were watching the war on the telly at his local pub, then his emotional hyper partisanship might be forgivable. But as ‘Europe Editor’ for a big British broadcaster, the over-the-top way he conducted his trainwreck interview was a disservice to the viewing public.


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3 thoughts on “How to have differences of opinion without getting nasty and hysterical

  1. the killer look masculine and the rapist look gentle might sometimes dont sound like a opinion. but thats fine if one insist.

  2. Those Malaysians who resort to verbal violence reflect their poor up-bringing when they were young. Some kids were mollycoddled by their doting parents from young/. In the Malls, we see many oversized kids wearing outsized clothes – a sign of no guidance or discipline by their parents. A proper school curriculum of sporting activities and other social interact societies will help the young to respect and consider the feelings of others, win or lose. Recently, someone commented on the loss of the moral compass by some Malaysians. I concur with the writer. This is inevitable in any society fi the mental space of the young is replaced by outsiders or robots from sci-fi. This aspect of how a child will behave in the future years to come must be filled by the parents themselves to prevent outsiders occupying this space in the minds of the young. I learnt this aspect through bitter experience. History is the finest arbiter of the Truth. With proper parental guidance and education compounded by experience, a person will grow up in Life normally and will not look upon a minor disagreement as an insult or something worse. I come from a family in which all my siblings without exception knew all, from ordering a fine steak to building an atomic bomb. They were always right and would turn aggressive if faced with a different opinion. But outside in the streets, they would be as quiet as mice. From them and those in the World at large, I learnt to keep quiet and my opinions to myself unless necessary. Yet, there are those who would put words in my mouth. In my Lifetime, I have been scolded for no good reason at least 13 times by Tengkus down to Datuks. But the plain Enciks never did and were courteous and polite. The recalcitrants did not know my background. But I knew all their backgrounds, Even with such treatment, I did not join the Rocket as I have always been a Constitutionalist, never a Communalist.

  3. The facts on a very Malaysian trait. First, I came across a very vulgar and abusive Blog ( apparently pro-Gerakan ) before the 14th GE which closed shop after the 14th GE. Second, the sub-continent types were the pro-genitor of foul language in Malaysia. Third, an Adun is permitted to possess a pistol or a revolver – There are 220 weapons when the Dewan Rakyat is in session ! Fourth, at one time, I was the legal owner of 7 handguns, rifles and shotguns.
    A long time ago when I was a MUDA, I discovered I could not shut a person’s mouth unless I shoot him dead which I will never do. What did I do ? I just walked away without being made a target.

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