Boiling every political argument down as being either conservative or liberal is a limiting critique—a binary straightjacket, so to speak. This kind of posturing has poisoned the current political well for sure.
What it’s also done very well is to create an undeserved smugness on one side, or the other. Where this smugness often gets exhibited in these heady digital days is on social media platforms—Twitter and Facebook, mainly.
Like the other day.
There’s been a lot of what some might call “news” swirling about via the mainstream news cycle. News and what was once journalism tends to get filtered left or right, depending on where you get your news from. But even so-called “neutral” sources, places like NPR and the New York Times, with “all the news that’s fit to print,” slant stories that promote a bias and rarely expand the narrative beyond the most narrow of parameters.
What I find frustrating and it even sometimes makes me angry is when someone coming from a particular persuasion posts something like what I read on one of my social media feeds the other night.
It’s been a bad week for racists, homophobes, right-wing preachers and GOP presidential candidates. But it’s been a great week for America and humanity. The rest of you should get out of the way.
I read it a couple of times. It really hit hard.
This certainly wasn’t the first time someone I know (or someone I don’t know, for that matter) has posted something so smug, condescending, and marginalizing of those not holding their views on a particular topic. What really hit hard is the recognition that if you don’t accept the Supreme Court’s new view on marriage, or are “thumbs up” with the Confederate Battle Flag being lowered (or worse, vandalized), then you are a homophobe and a racist. Better, you are not an American, or even human. Then, on top of all of that, you should just get the (fuck) out of the way! Nice. Being reduced to less than human, or 3/5ths of a human is a technique utilized to later inflict savagery on those deemed “less than human.”
Interestingly, some of this is coming from people that at one time seemed capable of nuance and at least were willing to sort the facts and not simply throw their lot in with the mob. Not any longer, apparently.
In light of what’s happening in California with what’s being called microaggressions, I can see the day coming when if you don’t hold the views of the majority, or what’s “true” at that moment—whatever those views happen to be at the time—then you will become marginalized, shouted down, or even worse. At the very least, you’re less likely than ever to want to share your opinions on any topic. It doesn’t matter if you have taken the time to dig a little deeper, hoping to arrive at a nuanced understanding, and can even make your case based on history, or science, or other more rational means than pure emotion. None of that matters any more. “This is what democracy looks like.”
John Michael Greer had another well-written and studied post on his blog last week. Touching on a host of issues related to how we nationalize (and internationalize) our delusional capabilities on a host of things, like climate, foreign policy, and economics, he touched down on how our education continues to promote a limited binary way of seeing everything.
In the same way, if you memorize a set of disconnected factoids about history, you haven’t learned history. This is something of a loaded topic right now in the US, because recent “reforms” in the American public school system have replaced learning with rote memorization of disconnected factoids that are then regurgitated for multiple choice tests. This way of handling education penalizes those children who figure out how to learn, since they might well come up with answers that differ from the ones the test expects. That’s one of many ways that US education these days actively discourages learning—but that’s a subject for another post.
As I’ve written many times before, there are “accepted” narratives, and then, there are those alternative narratives that diverge from the well-paved superhighways populated with groupthink. Not all of the latter are valid, but most of what’s accepted on almost any topic benefits those in power and the corporate overlords in charge. These hallowed (but narrowed) storylines make us all like putty in their hands, dividing people, keeping them stupid and ignorant, even if they are allowed to think they are operating with “the truth.”
If you read any history at all, you’ll know that the majority has been wrong countless times before. In fact, we often smugly think, looking back at “those people” that we’d never have done that. Of course not. You would have had the backbone and spine and risked personal injury or death, and have been the outlier. Right!