Rhetoric of pompous certitude: “You don’t get it.”

As promised in my last post, some thoughts on the concept of "getting it" …

Several jobs ago I worked for a corporate vice president who would sometimes suddenly end a discussion with subordinates by disdainfully declaring: "You don't get it!"

It was the ultimate put-down and one you couldn't argue against. If you didn't get it, what use were you?

Of course, there is no official arbiter of what it is exactly that we are to "get." So it is by the very act of shouting out the fact that we "get it" and others "don't get it" that demonstrates our moral or intellectual superiority.

Not a great system to determine right from wrong, if you ask me.

There appears to have been a dramatic uptick in the use of the various forms of "getting it." People from both ends of the political spectrum are quick to declare that they "get it" and those who oppose them don't. Four examples come quickly to mind:

  • Populist appeal, political variety – While campaigning for President, Barack Obama would often declare that John McCain "doesn't get it." More recently, in his speech to Congress Feb. 24, Obama stated: "So I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you — I get it."
  • Populist appeal, commercial variety — Saturn, the car brand, began running ads a couple of months ago with the tag line "At Saturn, we get it." A few weeks later, the Obama Administration sacked GM Chairman Rick Waggoner, because Waggoner wasn't acting with enough urgency to restructure the mammoth auto company that has been on the life support of billions in loans from us taxpayers. Wagonner's successor immediately announced an accelerated and more aggressive shake-up of GM, including the termination of the Saturn brand, proving that the only thing that Saturn (and Wagonner) got was the ax.
  • There is only one side of the argument that counts — A coalition of evangelical Christians and conservative influentials have banded together to launch "WeGetIt.org" dedicated to subservience to God and a deeply skeptical attitude toward claims of global warming. Obviously, this rhetoric is directed at Al Gore who famously dismisses criticism of global warming claims by saying: "The debate is over."
  • Your side is wrong because you don't get it — Fox TV's military analyst David Hunt's book They Just Don't Get It promises "The truth about what we can and must do to protect ourselves." The book's title takes clear aim at liberal media elites everywhere.

There are no shortage of other examples. All this self-righteous certitiude has gotten rather tedious. Get it?

- Jon Harmon


  1. neon_bikini@hotmail.com says:

    What to do about getting it?
    …only thing to do, google it.
    Get it? “Getting it” is commonly important,
    I believe “not getting it” is becoming
    the ultimate put down. The debate ender.
    You don’t get it. bye.
    See? and on the net it doesn’t
    cost me a thing to say that.

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