The Space that Divides Us


History is the autobiography of a mad man – Alexander Herzen

divisive

2016 is proving to be quite the divisive year.  With Donald Trump’s far right pandering and Bernie Sander’s constant democratic socialist message there is quite a bit of space between the leading Republican nominee and an insurgent, but clear #2 on the Democratic side. The 2016 race aside, other sociopolitical groups have popped up like Black Lives Matter, Social Justice Warriors, and 3rd wave feminists that have found a home on many college campuses to combat injustices (real or imagined) they see in society.

With that as a backdrop, the University of Massachusetts’s college Republicans hosted a panel session several months ago about how far political correctness has gone and whether or not it hurts the freedom of speech. The panel included feminist author and philosophy professor Christina Hoff Sommers (whom I’m a huge fan of) Britbart (a conservative publication) editor Milo Yiannopoulos who is also a British, flamboyant homosexual, and Trump supporter, and conservative comedian Steven Crowder. While Sommers is an academic, Yiannopoulos and Crowder are professional provocateurs and were heavy with the insults. The video was dubbed “The Triggering” so that may give you a hint of what happened.

With “PC (political correct) culture” as the topic Yiannopoulos and Crowder where aggressive in their examples of how PC culture hurts the freedom of speech and Sommers took a more scholarly route. Their discussion proved infinitely more interesting by the constant interrupting and insult throwing from the crowd, which ironically was the problem they were addressing. They were being shouted down by people who were not part of the College Republican organization and insulted because their views differed from the social justice warrior crowd. While I detested many of their views, particularly Yiannopoulos and Crowder’s I certainly supported their right to say them and present them, they were invited after all to do this. They could have just sat their and said nothing and proved their point that many of the protesters were blocking their free speech in an attempt to make everything politically correct, but it actually was a fairly interesting video.

This event, and the reaction to it is a small microcosm of what you see played out in a grand stage in America, and it’s only happened on a large scale in the past 5 years or so. Terms like “cis-gendered” “white male privilege” “the patriarchy” “Trigger Warnings” and “Safe Spaces” were not terms in the common vernacular in 2010. Now they are common place in some different groups, mainly on college campuses. I don’t want to parrot the video too much but I agree with the panelists and say the main reason for this are ultra-liberal views are being coddled and reinforced by certain professors instead of being challenged, which is what is supposed to happen to your views in college. But I digress, this post isn’t about the video.

The folks who perpetuate these views are not doing so because they are bad people, in fact they are doing it out of a seemingly noble cause. They want people to not be hurt. They want to eliminate racism, and sexism, and otherisms, which is a great. However, instead of debating ideologies or ideas that perpetuate those discrimination they simply wish to silence them, becoming regressive instead of progressive. This is harmful on 2 fronts:
1. Being silenced doesn’t make anything go away or change anyone’s mind it only entrenches people more and have the silenced side gain more sympathetic ears because they are the ones who were wronged.
2. It hurts your view. People who may have been interested in learning more from a debate have been robbed of that chance. People who share your views may start to abhor your tactics and your “side” suddenly shrinks

#2 is certainly what happened to me. As I’ve said many times on here I’m a progressive person, I certainly want to eliminate racism, and sexism, and anything else that divides people, but the thing I see dividing people the most is this massive attempt at censorship over anything that may hurt people’s feelings. The TV show South Park may hurt other people’s feelings but if people like watching it, it should exist. People who don’t can simply change the channel and I will always hold freedom of expression and speech over someone being offended, and will forever hold myself to the notion that “While I may detest what you say, I will defend to my death for your right to say it”

But of course the social justice crowd is not without their foils. On the other side you have actual bigots, and sexists and with the rise of Donald Trump, and they are all coming out of the woodwork. Some of his rhetoric includes banning the immigration of Muslims, walling off Mexico and making Mexicans pay for it, calling many of the former terrorists, and the later rapists… And this is the guy that beat 16 other challengers for the nomination of a major political party.

It’s a stark and almost comical contrast when you have on one side a large group of people who’s number 1 interest is protecting the rights of women and minorities and people of the LGBT community, who want people to check their privilege and really think about what they say as to not to offend anyone. While on the other you have people attending massive rallies to see what casually sexist, off the cuff remark a presidential candidate is going to make next. This is a man who is not only loved for saying offensive and aggressive things but advocates his followers “beat the crap” out of those who protest and have a different point of view than him. This is the same type of censorship you see with the social justice warriors, who on occasion have threatened and actually assaulted people who have attended events where the speaker is conservative.

While there are still people who don’t belong to either extreme, these people are shrinking as each side grows louder. Sometimes tribe mentality is too strong. But these too sides are obviously incorrigible. One side wants everyone to be sensitive to the emotions of everyone else and the other goes out of its way to offend people. If there was a neutral person, each side may be able to get them to understand their point of view. However, if a social justice warrior tried to get a Trump supporter to understand what a trans-gendered person is would be a major hurdle, and even if they were successful explaining that, going to the next level of explaining why the trans-gendered bathroom laws are bad would be more than they could take. In contrast a social justice warrior will stick their fingers in their ears until a Trump supporter finished his rationale about how immigrants are mostly criminals. It has reached a point past debate.

The divide first started with President Obama when congressional Republicans wanted him to fail and be a 1 term president because (depending on which side your on) “he didn’t want to work with Republicans” or “he’s black” and it’s only gotten worse from there. From having leaders openly rooting for our leader to fail, to shutting down the government, and the rise of the tea party and PC culture we’ve become more of a divisive nation that any time in recent memory. With Donald Trump heading into the GOP convention and colleges that are now graduating pro PC college students the space that divides us is bigger than ever.