Quote Of The Day: Kareem On Common Sense

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar receives the presidential medal of freedom in 2016.

One of the best Christmas gifts Dr. A has ever given me was a subscription to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Substack blog. Kareem is not only my all-time favorite basketball player, he’s  a fine writer.

I cannot express how pleased I am that Kareem has joined the ranks of bloggers. Oops, I just did. I’m thrilled to be able to call him a colleague. I may not have a sky hook, but I take a sly look at the news of the day.

Recently, Kareem wrote about Republicans and common sense:

“A phrase that irritates me more than “it is what it is” is “it’s plain common sense.” Common sense is used to convince someone that the arguer has the weight of reason and popularity behind them. To disagree with “common sense” is to announce yourself as an outsider to what most people believe. The implied threat behind that phrase is that there are dire consequences to going against the crowd.

But where did the crowd get these “common sense” beliefs? Most were handed down to them by parents and grandparents in a generational game of telephone that leaves all players ill-informed.

Here’s why the phrase is meaningless and immediately announces the user of the phrase as a lazy thinker unwilling to do their homework. Sure, there is such a thing as common sense when it comes to certain physical actions—don’t stick your hand into a running blender, don’t kiss a rattlesnake on the lips (yes, they have lips)—but everything else is up for grabs.

The history of common sense is a toxic dump site of wrong opinions: “Don’t go outside without a jacket. You’ll catch your death of cold.” While cold can lower your immune system a bit, you need virus germs to catch a cold, which you’ll probably find the moment you come in out of the cold at your destination. We don’t lose heat through our heads any faster than we do through our butts. Common sense once allowed husbands to beat their wives (it wasn’t made illegal in the U.S. until 1920).

The problem is that conservative politicians have been promoting “common sense” as a preferable way to form opinions. The reason for this is because they have no studies, no facts, no statistics, and no reputable experts to support many of their conclusions. They then pass laws that they say will fix what they also claim are ills of society. But they don’t prove there is a legitimate problem—nor that their legislation would fix the problem, even if it did exist. “Hey, it’s common sense!” they explain. “Oh, okay, go ahead,” we’re supposed to say.”

I agree with everything my distinguished colleague from Los Angeles said except for his use of the word conservative. Repeat after me: Don’t Call Them Conservatives.

Let’s review the state of common sense in the Republican party. I use the term ironically and even sarcastically. Sarcasm is my jam, after all.

It’s just common sense for Republicans to pose as the sensible alternative to wild eyed liberals. Pose is the operative word: just compare the 44th and 45th presidents. It’s obvious who’s wild eyed and it’s not Barack Obama whose middle name is sensible. The Impeached Insult Comedian’s middle name is erratic.

It’s just common sense for Republicans to make up shit to attack their opponents. Does anyone really believe that Hunter Biden matters? I remember when attacks on family members were out of bounds. That ended with Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and Donald Trump; all of whom had untidy private lives to say the least.

Those Republicans never learned this adage, which is as venerable as common sense, if you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones. Just ask the late, great Peter Tosh:

It’s just common sense for Republicans to scare the shit out of voters so they can pass retrograde legislation in the several states. Abortion restrictions are unpopular with most Americans as proven in the last election.

Republicans are in a race to the bottom to prove that they’re pure on this issue, especially with their bizarre comparisons of abortion and slavery. One is a health care procedure, the other is an abomination. The only things Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade have in common is that both cases have been overruled.

It’s just common sense for Republicans to pass massive tax cuts favoring the wealthy while pretending to be the party of white working class voters. They’re profligate with the public purse while holding power then fiscally penurious when in opposition.

It’s just common sense for Republicans to abase themselves to Trump while trash talking him behind his back. He’s a proven loser who’s likely to drag them down to defeat again in 2024. This is the only kind of Republican-style common sense I like.

The list could be much longer but I don’t want to write a 5000 word post and you don’t want to read one either. None of the above makes any sense whatsoever but it’s presented as common sense. It’s really nonsense.

The term common sense has been rendered meaningless by Republicans. In MAGA newspeak, common sense is a euphemism for lying to make a point. It’s also a synonym for hypocrisy.

Let’s circle back to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I hope he doesn’t object to my hijacking his thoughts on common sense. I feel an uncommon connection with his comments on common sense.

The last word goes to John Hiatt: