OK, so I took some serious liberties paraphrasing from Ben’s original quote. However, it doesn’t make my title any less true.
As with many of my posts, this one is probably going to piss off people on both sides of the political spectrum. Again, just because it pisses you off, doesn’t mean that what I am saying is false.
I have a rather eclectic group of individuals among my Facebook friends. The ONLY groups I refuse to accept a friend request from are those either on the Alt-Right or on the (not media named, but essentially means the same kind of people but on the opposite end of the spectrum) Alt-Left.
I’ll be just as blunt with my reasons for refusing them as I am with any other subject. It’s very simple — they are/ / — and I will have absolutely NONE of those who are on the fringe if EITHER the Left OR the Right.
Now let’s get back to the meat of the post.
One of those Facebook friends posted something I felt was EXTREMELY important for everyone, regardless of their political and/or social justice leanings, to read. That post was a link to: The Violent Clashes In Berkeley Weren’t ‘Pro-Trump’ Versus ‘Anti-Trump’ (dated: April 15, 2017). If you read the article, you will understand the title of it.
If you are thinking TL:DR on the article, let me give you a quick summary:
The VIOLENT clashes weren’t between your average Trump-supporter and your average Trump-protestor. They were between the
ALT-RIGHT (defined as: white supremacists; white nationalists; fanatic, über-conservative militias; anti-Semitics; and neo-Nazis) and the
ALT-LEFT (defined as: anarchists [including, but not limited to, socialist, primativist, Maoist, Trotskyite]; New-Age Fluffy Bunnies [example: people who believe everything in Nature is sweet, innocent and non-violent……EVEN the predators!]; certain types of radical feminism who have gone to the extremes [examples of this include, but are not limited to: self-proclaimed “RadFems” who believe that ANY penis-in-vagina sex can ONLY be rape; those who simply want to erase the “patriarchy” and replace it with a “PURE matriarchy”; those who mix their feminism with pure anarchist theory or pure Marxist theory; those who believe it is IMPOSSIBLE for any female prostitute or female porn actress to actively CHOOSE those situations; and those who insist that transgendered women CANNOT in any way be defined as a “woman”]). NOTE: The length of the “Alt-Left” definition is probably why the media hasn’t just gone ahead and created the “Alt-Left” moniker.
Articles like this show exactly the same thought process as I have had ever since President Trump won the election.
It is very easy for people on both sides of the political spectrum to want to paint the opposition with the characteristics of the opposition’s fringe elements. Personally, I’m seeing it (on Facebook) more from the left than I am from the right, but that is simply because while I have friends from all over the political spectrum, the trend is probably somewhere around 45% liberal / 25% centrist / 30% conservative overall.
Defining anyone opposing you down to a definition of “their side’s fringe” is exactly the same thing that nations have been telling their soldiers about the enemy —- that ANYONE who opposes them is automatically the worst kind of villain and ANY atrocity done to them is perfectly justified! Except, instead of government propaganda, our citizens are DOING IT TO THEMSELVES!
The ONLY thing this kind of simplistic thinking is doing is fracturing our country even further than it already is. It is telling our more centrist citizens that because they don’t believe in these moral absolutes the fringes on both sides are throwing around, they are precisely the “lazy, self-indulgent sheep” that the fringes are calling EVERYONE on the other side.
Centrists are NOT lazy, self-indulgent sheep.
Most of us (yes, I consider myself primarily a centrist) actually give a LOT OF THOUGHT about what is going on in our world. A centrist has to be realistic, even about social justice. We know damned well that in order to change a living culture, we MUST make smaller steps that require compromise. You can’t just make a sweeping change and expect EVERYONE to agree with it.
A perfect example of this is the whole whoo-haa about Obamacare/ACA. BOTH fringe types protested it. Why? Because it was either TOO MUCH of a change (fringe conservative) or NOT ENOUGH of a change (fringe liberal). Hell, while I have the medical insurance under the Obamacare/ACA label right now, BEFORE I was forced onto it I considered it horrible because of the fines applied to those who still didn’t have insurance (mostly because even with the subsidies there are STILL those who can’t afford the premiums). I felt it was essentially a sop to the liberals, while assuring the medical insurance industry excessive profits.
But I see no centrist replacement for it either. All I see is conservatives (who are not ALL Republicans) who are worshipping the conservative fringe because it will appeal to their corporate masters.
Our two party system used to work better than it does now, because the centrists of both parties not only COULD but DID actively work together to try to make the country better. That changed, sadly, in the 1980s. No, I’m not saying that the abortion issue polarized our country. That was JUST a cover to polarize the centrists…..because segregation was the REAL issue, and in the 1980s not only were we starting to get more women in the halls of government, we were ALSO getting more people of color as well. Using abortion meant that they didn’t have to try to run for office telling the truth – that they feared with more women and more people of color AND especially more WOMEN of color, their power bloc would disintegrate.
It worked. We as a country are polarized. EVERYTHING is considered binary in our current situation. It is ALWAYS yes/no and NOT a far more realistic matrix of decision that has to rely on real priorities, not made up ones.