The “Do Something”(TM) Brigade

On Wednesday CNN did an interview with a former democrat congressman who was petitioning Obama to Do Something(TM) about the refugee crisis. I’ve written in the comments at the HQ about the perils of “Do Something”(TM) before but thought now might be a good time to rehash those arguments in a more visible (and more permanent fashion.)

The CNN anchor asked the congressman “Would you open your house to [a refugee]?” He started by replying to another question then said (more or less) “Yes, and many people are saying ‘we’ll open our spare bedrooms, churches and synagogues to these people.” (Curious what building is missing there….)

A noble sentiment indeed, especially in light of my previous post on charity. But that doesn’t make it any less ill-conceived. The tragedy in Syria and Northern Africa is horrific, and due in part, to America receding from the world stage. And I’m probably more amiable to increasing refugee numbers than many. (Although I have reservations on multiple fronts including the economic conditions at home.) But the idea that we should just start housing refugees in spare bedrooms and churches is absurd to say the least. It is, the epitome of “Do Something.”(TM)

The problem with Do Something(TM) is that it’s a purely emotional response that never stops to consider any actual implications, be they long term or short term. It is content to merely say that action was taken (even if that action ends up being ultimately counterproductive.)

Consider this former congressman’s suggestion, what’s the short or even long term play here? Even if we taken on just a couple thousand refugees (a drop in the bucket compared to the 55-70k refuges we already take every year) and put them in church basements…then what? How long will they live there until we figure out step 2? How will we integrate them into an economy that is already faltering, especially at the low wage level? Sure it’s better than Syria (I guess unless you end up in Detroit, East St. Louis, or the like), but it’s hardly long term solution to anything. That and it doesn’t solve any of the real problem (unless we intend to take the entire population of Syria leaving it empty.) It does, however, satisfy that visceral response to be seen as “helping.”

The end result is always the same, regardless of outcome (if they even wait to see what it is) the “Do Something”(TM) brigade will pat itself on the back for having “Done Something”(R) and in a short while the problem will be forgotten or ignored again until it resurfaces in some catastrophic event.

I’ve seen this play out all to often on a smaller scale in personal matters.

It was the Washington Post of all places that noted that perhaps Obama’s signature achievement was convincing Americans to completely ignore the Syrian mess, yet like all of Obama’s “achievements”, this one is crashing down around him before he even leaves office. Suddenly, people content to ignore the situation to shore up their idol want to “Do Something”(TM). Inevitably it won’t be the right thing.

18 comments on “The “Do Something”(TM) Brigade
  1. Pingback: Cut. Jib. Newsletter. | Insert Fancy “US AT WAR” Graphic Here

  2. Well this is because intervention in the middle east (while likely the rational choice) didn’t make them get the warm fuzzies.

    “Helping” refugees makes them feel better.
    As I said (without being too specific) I see this all the time on a smaller scale. Catastrophe X happens, family member Y (who’s help has been lackluster before this) screams “WE MUST DO SOMETHING” and jumps up and down until something that is counterproductive is done, but it makes him feel better.
    Nevermind that Catastrophe X has multiple systemic causes, of which the “something” addresses none of.
    Then having “Done Something” they return to mostly being a hindrance.

    • I’ve seen this wrt lab safety. Lab accident occurs, Research Prevention Office mandates a bunch of silliness, none of which would have prevented the original accident, but which will hinder research efforts henceforth.

      Which, I suspect, is the whole idea: the more time we spend on paperwork and other bureaucratic nonsense, the less time we spend actually in the lab, and hence the less likely a lab accident is.

    • Ah my days in a lab.
      But that’s another story.
      I think the CYA element is an aspect of this to be sure.
      Some day over drinks I’ll be sure to tell y’all the whole story and you’ll be like “OMGWTFBBQ?!”

  3. Why must we own every problem, and view it as our charge to redress it?

    Reds agitate only for intervening in problems where the involvement will weaken and divide us (the dreaded “quagmire”), but oppose intervention that might have the opposite effect, and/or where our fundamental interests are involved. So, for example, they opposed intervention in the Middle East, but were gung ho for intervening in Rwanda.

    I get it: the Reds want us to step on a rake. But why do ordinary Americans subscribe to this? And how do they rationalize the fact that those peoples and countries closest to the problem – geographically, ethnically, and culturally – obviously don’t care enough to lift a finger?

  4. In the long long ago, when Reason Magazine was true to it’s masthead, Virginia Postrel published a similar story. She called it the lethal center.

  5. “Do Something” is code only for taking in the refugees. It doesn’t mean give the refugees provisions and turn them around, and it doesn’t mean US take control of Syria and restore order (that one made me laugh). I’m not advocating any of these; I’m simply pointing out that the non-specific “something” is a very definite response.

    • Well “Do Something”(TM) is code for “this thing that makes me feel better.”
      In this case that’s taking in refugees.
      In some other case it might be something else.

  6. If we’re going to go full-SJW and “Do Something!” about the refugees, I submit that Shrillery Clinton, Matt Lauer and Lester Holt can provide much more in the way of direct aid, living space and amenities for the fleeing Syrians than I — and I suspect everyone reading this — ever could.

    These days, it’s considered noble and selfless to compel others to sacrifice for the good of the whole freekin’ world. Easy, too; you don’t have to give up a single thing yourself.

    Memo to the Washington Post: Choom Boy’s “signature achievement” will be the destruction of the Western World unless this country wakes the hell up and brooms him, pronto.

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