Leaders Are Refusing To Hear Out Perspective, Causing Controversy Surrounding Crucial Global Matters
We seem to be suffering an outbreak of what I’ll call “tin ear” syndrome.
It’s when leaders just can’t help tripping, as they prove hard of hearing what both supporters and foes are telling them — reflecting an awareness of both audience and circumstances. The symbol came from the instrument that was used to make hearing easier but has become its own symbol for speaking without listening at all.
It could be that they don’t seek unwanted advice that may counter their own thinking — always a danger for losing control. Or it can reflect a real inability to criticism at all, and to simply continue to plow ahead towards whatever previous would-be solution had been suggested.
In any event, a tin ear is never a good sign for exploring compromise or towards finding a path that will work for anyone who does not readily accept that leader’s view. A “tin ear” — a failure to hear that something is not working right — is what precedes explosive rebellion, whether at home, in the workplace or across international borders.
If you can’t hear what’s wrong, you can’t fix it. If you refuse to fix it, you’re telling your critics they don’t know what they are talking about.
Since we’re neck deep in conflict everywhere, it’s a good idea towards success to check on whether it is the message, the delivery or the nature of the listening audience that seems out of synch.
Extending the Gaza War
In the name of security, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now is floating the idea that once the fighting in Gaza comes to an end, the Israeli government should remain in Gaza to oversee the territory for “an indefinite period.” While short of an extended view as “occupying power,” the proposal offered in a television interview this week is the first glimpse of what Israel sees coming after the end of the current retributive attacks on Hamas.
Netanyahu sees Israel’s aim as destroying Hamas to eliminate any possibility of repeating the brutality of the Oct. 7 explosive attacks by Hamas, presumably by an indefinite military presence. The likelihood is the opposite: Indeed, it feels almost a guarantee that another generation will arise with anti-Israel, anti-Jewish malevolence at heart.
In the simplest terms, Netanyahu has a tin ear to global concerns about negotiating for a separate, recognized Palestinian state.
By contrast, even U.S. officials who have backed Israel fully, have been pressing for the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to have a role in serving as the governing group for Gaza. Joe Biden has warned that it would be “a big mistake” for Israel to reoccupy Gaza, which it withdrew from in 2005. World leaders are lining up to back this position, though no one is certain that the PA can do the job and provide the necessary security.
If it were so, we would have seen it by now, Israel says, adding that any sense of trust was lost on Oct. 7 for living side by side with a formal state bent on its destruction.
After being censured by her free-speech-unless-I-disagree House colleagues, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., now likely rues her decision to use the Hamas motto “From the River to the Sea” in her objections to U.S. policies in the Israel-Gaza conflict. Tlaib insists she was trying to use the motto to reflect the aspirational hopes for Palestinian freedom and human rights, which is so much easier to understand that using a battle slogan meant to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth. Serious “tin ear.”
But then, we see a similar phenomenon in our own domestic politics. At base, the severity of polls showing the Biden reelection campaign facing difficulties is about a perceived “tin ear” to a wide set of concerns that may differ among groups that each holds Biden responsible for its unhappiness.
Reaction to the Israel-Palestinian conflict seen in campus and urban protests are just the latest expression that Biden presents a “tin ear” — in this case to a younger generation, to progressive-leaning groups and those supporting anti-racist efforts who see Israel’s long-term domineering over Palestinians as part of the problem in the Middle East.
Without scratching much deeper, and you hear bipartisan concerns across immigration issues, health, and economic matters, even government spending levels, each attracting opposition from separate groups. In total, however, the “tin ear” syndrome may do real political damage to a Biden campaign that relies on a commitment to coalition.
For his part, Donald Trump’s tin ear is presented as a feature rather than a bug. Daily, he strikes out with abandon at anyone who dares to criticize even passing remarks that prove offensive to many who hear it.
“Tin ear” syndrome affects how we hear experts so sure of themselves that too often insist that there is no other side, as well as explains the insane levels of partisanship that keep our Congress from being able to function.
The strangest thing about tin ears is that the solution is so simple: Just listen more.