I thought I was waiting for some cataclysmic event that would legitimately shake the country and make people realize “This is what we’ve come to”. It’d be massive national tragedy committed by a non-white, non-muslim lunatic driven by politics and nothing else; I wanted a big sign saying “This is where extremism gets you”
Then I saw CNN run a bit that all but said “We don’t -hope- this happens, but if it does, here’s an idea”. It was akin to that OJ Simpson memoir called “If I did it”. It was at this point that I realized there were infact people waiting for a cataclysmic event like I was, but not in the sense that it would shake people up, but in the sense that the person they disagreed with was killed. There’d be people who would justify the shooting. That’s tragic. That’s nearly justifying terrorism. It’s bad enough that -I’m- considering, waiting, and near expecting a tragedy as the only means of evoking a national return to rational thought and objective truth. I’d argue however it is infinitely worse that someone else is actively hoping for the same thing, as long as the other guy suffered and died. Interestingly, the reaction from the Left on the CNN bit was pretty muted.
So, let’s be more direct about this. Where DID all that unfriending, blocking, yelling, screaming, insulting and everything else really get us? Your choices are “nowhere” or “further from where we want to be”. Thing is, nobody can defined where “where we want to be” is. It’s a commonly held delusion that society is on some inexorable, progressive path to an undefined utopia. It is also apparently, in style to use words and phrases without respect for what they really mean. We’ve been hearing for the last few months about how the election of a President means the nation has “regressed” in some way. That the country is more racist now than it was even eight years ago. So racist in fact that, to hear some say it, we’ve regressed 100 years. It implies, of course, that the judges of our progress can only contribute -to- this progress, as we become a more tolerant nation.
Look at what you see, we’ve seen the exact same protests that we’ve seen since November. And it’s actually a change of pace that nobody has started throwing punches and is instead hurling just insults. Critics of these self-appointed judges are still racist, hateful, bigoted, homophobic, backwards idiots who aren’t “educated”. Our judges have brought us the microagression, the safe space, and the violent protests we see outside events like a Milo or Ben Shapiro speaking engagement. All of this under the guise that because the judges lost, we are regressing as a country.
The idea that A) We are on an inexorable straight line of progress and B) That one President from one side of the country will destroy a century’s worth of that progress, is insane. To Point A, it’s amazing this idea has survived into the 21st century considering how bloody the 20th was. To point B, the President, despite Obama’s best efforts to consolidate power into the Executive branch, does not have the power, nor the political capital (thank God) to take away a citizens right to vote, for instance. By the way, you can’t even prove that was ever a goal, you were just -told- it was and ran with it. Regardless, like the Electoral College, I might add, the right of all citizens to vote is thankfully enshrined in the Constitution, it would take an act of God to pull that off and that’s before we get to the fact that’s a really stupid idea practically and suicide politically.
Look at the damage both sides have done to the objective idea that we’re any closer to a more tolerant, rational society over this election cycle and indeed after the election. The country has destroyed the meaning of the words “racist”, “bigot”, “tolerance”, “respect”, “fascist”, “hate”, “police state”, “oppression” and others like it through overuse at times, improper use at others, and sometimes using it too often in the wrong way. Debate has essentially been building up a wall and trying to yell insults through it, walking away feeling like we “won”.
Note also the relativism and the dehumanization birthed over the last year. To the relativism, people who said Trump was a bad person had nothing to say about Clinton, and the reverse is true. So y’all accepted the sins of your candidate, but judged the other very harshly. If you hold other people and other opinions to a logic you wouldn’t dare allow yours to be held to, there’s either a problem with you, your opinion or both. To the dehumanization, we had silence from most of the left over the hate crime in Chicago, but a lot was made over reports of hate crimes without evidence after Trump’s election. More universally, every time there’s a shooting, people hope the shooter fits their narrative. The Left generally hopes for a white, conservative, Christian, NRA member, and the Right for a Muslim or a black guy. It’s not that it’s too simple to say evil is colorless, we want to be able to say evil “mostly” looks like that and the only way to deal with it is through our side’s supported policy (immigration restrictions on the right, gun control on the left.) The victims are just means to an end. Lastly, a mention on how some thought the Chicago hate-crime “wasn’t evil”. It’s scary to think what the criteria for that is.
On a less violent point, the lament about some people losing health insurance because of the repeal of Obamacare fails to acknowledge that millions lost their insurance BECAUSE of Obamacare. Is it only a bad thing when it happens to you?
In three hours, your life will be functionally identical, even as the new era begins. The screaming, smugness, hateful rhetoric, and lamentations on how the death of the republic is all the other guy’s fault will not have changed the fact that a new President won by the rules of the game and that he is about to be sworn in. So there are two options: change the approach, begin a slow waddle back to rational debate in search of objective truth, or continue the way things are, pull the country further apart, and for some of you that actually means showing why Trump won and why he may not be going anywhere anytime soon. Don’t “call it like it is” unless you can prove that’s how “it is”, and for the love of God, don’t “call it as you see it” and walk away proud of yourself. The idea that you don’t have to prove anything to anyone is a dangerous mindset to take to the voting booth, and hasn’t done much good to the culture or debate as a whole.
I don’t like this guy, I don’t think he’s going to part the seas (although he does seem to have a similar cult following as Obama did, without the Messianic allusions), but the truth is he -is- our President. Holding on to the past with rose-colored glasses is inaccurate and unhelpful. A lot of damage has been done, and I don’t believe in some inexorable road to some perfect world, not in the strictly human sense. I do know what a good world should look like, and it includes the free, open exchange of ideas without fear of seeing hatred in disagreement. I’ve had this with Bri, Zhannah, Zach, EJ, hell even Joe and Jord and I disagree on things, so I know it’s possible.
Finally, evil has many forms. What we’ve seen here in the form of hatred and anger are two. It is a human problem, it’s omnipresent and we’re not getting rid of it and we may have contributed to it’s spread. The only way to fight an omnipresent problem is to act in opposition to it. This means fighting propaganda with research (accepting that the research may disagree with us on some things), seeing disagreement as merely disagreement, and to that end, being able to distinguish passionate disagreement with actual hatred. The beginning of a new era is likely the best opportunity to begin this new approach. If nothing else, it has to happen before we can objectively begin to talk about what “progress” is.
Eyes minds and hearts open, people.
Evidence over emotion.
Evil exists. Prepare for it, fight it, defeat it.