“Let’s throw her in the lake-if she floats, she’s a witch. If she sinks, she’s not a witch!”
Yes, well, she is dead either way, no? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Such is our current political climate among the left; a totally irrational hysteria that is doing far more harm than good. And in the act of hysterical witch hunting, they fuel the very thing they oppose and drive further people to the right.
And, as Nietzsche said, “Madness is something rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, peoples, and ages, it is the rule.”
1) The first bullshit excuse is usually this: “I do not debate with fascists. I will not normalize them.” The one who forfeits is the one who loses. That is: “How can you triumph over an opposing ideology if you do not even have the spine nor calm demeanor to debate and discuss it?” This kind of fearful and cowardly pseudo ‘moral high ground’ is little more than that: a cowardly act. If one is an advocate of freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of civil discourse, then this should include even the most uncomfortable and taboo of topics. Being uncomfortable with an ideology or topic is fine, it is human, but one must have the emotional and mental maturity to stoically discuss it and confront it nonetheless. Running to the pseudo ‘high ground’ is not victory, nor it is not martyrdom—it is hiding under the blanket and hoping the opposition goes away. This trend of ‘moral self-righteousness’ is akin to the brown nose in Sunday School that tattles on his peer because he said a ‘bad word’. Has discourse truly regressed to that of children pretending to be the ‘goody two shoes’ who cannot be mature enough to debate and discuss ideologies one disagrees with or finds unethical? This results in ‘echo chambers’, or what the media has dubbed ‘political bubbles’. There is a figure of speech that says, “You are preaching to the choir.” That seems to be what the general left, be it libertarian left, progressives, or liberals, desire most: Run away from the opposing camp, shout ‘Bigot!’, smugly pretend to be morally superior, and preach to their own choir, as they pat one another on the back.
This is not discourse. This is using the internet to form ‘echo chambers’ and rationalize cowardliness in the guise of ‘moral superiority’.
2) The second hysterical response is to call anyone and everyone that one opposes a ‘nazi/fascist,/white nationalist/white supremacist, etc’ To use an example, whether one likes Milo Yiannopoulos or hates him, it is positively inaccurate and asinine to call a gay man of Jewish descent who has sexual relations with black men exclusively, a ‘white supremacist’ or ‘fascist’. It is further ignorance to say he is ‘entryism’ into such ‘boogeyman’ ideologies. Personally I am in a same-sex relationship, and my partner and I have been called ‘nazi’, ‘fascist’, and ‘white supremacist’ more times than I can count. Neither of us are, but we are on the populist right, and to the hysterical and irrational this makes one a brownshirt. Where is the line for these hysterical accusations? Must you throw anyone into the lake to see if they float?
Recently Samantha Bee accused a random stranger of being a ‘Nazi’ because he had a ‘fascist haircut’, when in fact the individual was not a Nazi and actually had cancer. This shows how absolutely idiotic and reckless the left has become with these senseless accusations. They have absolutely bankrupted the meaning of words by using them so flippantly and cheaply. Calling anyone ‘sexist/homophobe/transphobe/Nazi/fascist, etc.’ over the mildest things cheapens the very definition and meaning of the words. Do bigots and extremists exist? Yes they do, but when 90% of the accusations of these things are inaccurate and used nonchalantly, then people cease to care that they are accused of it. A decade ago I would have been disturbed to be called such a thing, but now it is used so often and so comically, people respond with a shrug. People simply stop caring that they are accused of these derogatory words when they are used like childish name-calling. They realize that they are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t, so they simply become desensitized to the accusations altogether.
When one bankrupts the meaning of a word by using it incessantly over the slightest whim, and usually inaccurately, people simply cease to care. If you ‘cry wolf’ enough times, people stop listening. And, if you go on a witch hunt long enough, people begin to sympathize with the supposed witches that are victims of the mass hysteria. The mass hysteria of endless asinine accusations only fuels what they oppose and drives people toward the right, due to the alienation. Perhaps the hysterical, leftist masses are okay with this, perhaps they are that extreme that they want to drive away anyone who is not as ‘pure’ as they consider themselves to be. That is fine and well, but do not cry over the results of your own irrational behavior.
3) The third point is the ‘Streisand Effect’. Anytime something is censored, banned or condemned, this only provokes people’s curiosity to find out what it is, and even spread it. Recently news articles have featured ‘horrible fascist books that Steve Bannon reads!’, and in return, the sales of that book skyrocket. Anytime one attempts to censor or condemn, rather than discuss and neutralize, it drives people to find out what it is. This religious and puritanical condemnation of anything that “goes against PC sentimentality” only drives people to that thing that is being condemned. Those driven to it may embrace it, or may not, but they will search it out. Again, the hysterical left fuels what it opposes due to its Inquisition-like behavior. One can look to the hysterical religious right of yesterday, in their condemnation of Elvis or rock’n’roll, metal music or piercings. Their condemnation only drove people to it, particularly young people. As Jim Goad observed, how sad it is that the liberal left is now the New Church Ladies! Again, perhaps they are fine with this pseudo-moral superiority, but do not be angry when the results turn against you.
4) The fourth point is academic and in value of the intellect: always study and engage with what you oppose. Never restrict your studying to ideologies you agree with. Always expand your mind and engage with those you disagree with. Do whatever you can to destroy your own ‘bubble’ or ‘echo chamber’. This can be difficult at times, but it is entirely worth it. Search out and study what society considers ‘taboo’, search out and study what the masses condemn. Not that one may embrace it, though they may, but so one can understand and know it. Aristotle once said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Has our discourse decayed so much that we are incapable of doing this? When I was younger and rebellious, I hated Christianity with an undying passion. Then, when I matured, I studied Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox, discussed it with people of those religions, and, while I did not convert, I learned so much and am glad I did this. I did the same with Islam, which is something I still oppose, but also now respect because I have studied and comprehended how powerful it is and can be.
Do NOT make a ‘boogeymen’ out of any ideology or subculture of people. This is the mark of a weak and fragile mind. Engage with them, discuss, debate, read the material, learn, understand. This doesn’t mean one will accept it or adopt it, it simply means one is capable of civilly exploring and discussing any subject, regardless of the mass hysteria regarding it. Whether it be the right or left who condemns, whether it be the right or left that behaves hysterically, never be swept up in its pseudo-moral crusades.
This is the primary point: Do not run away like a coward, do not hide under the blankets and claim to be ‘morally superior’, do not shout ‘fascist’ like a child and run to the Sunday School teacher in sanctimonious timidity. No. One must engage, study, debate, discuss, learn.
That is the essence of civil discourse, and absolutely no subject, nor ideology, should be off limits.