Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Where — and why — Erick Erickson misses the boat

Some of the howls of rage concerning what some have referred to as a miscarriage of justice in the Philando Castile case, during which a police officer shot him to death but found innocent of murder, have come from unlikely places. One of those came from activist Erick Erickson, who on the blog “The Resurgent” went through a litany of examples of what might be called “microaggressions” that social-justice warriors would have applauded.

But the most jarring part of his piece was this bit of naïveté: “But I am a conservative and I oppose judging any person based on a group. Each man is entitled to his own dignity, not the dignity he gets by virtue of being a part of some group. To think otherwise is not conservative.”

It’s naïve because everyone belongs to some “group” — and yes, I mean everyone. In fact, we all belong to several groups, whether racial, ethnic or cultural and all with some kind of history (which often includes some social injustice in which the wounds have yet to heal). I have to admit that I didn’t appreciate that myself until I was a teen because I’ve been crossing racial and cultural lines since I was 6.

And it’s that history that Erickson ignores. Indeed, the vast majority of Americans have ancestors who emigrated from other countries and in many cases, especially in major cities, have kept those respective heritages alive.

Of course, when you don’t acknowledge someone’s heritage you don’t get an idea of his or her thought process, which might differ from yours — which is why we’ve needed a “diversity” movement in the first place but that, I suspect, Erickson fears. In other words, the basic message is that “We don’t want or intend to change our views,” which is a major issue.

During my first year of college I read an article in the now-defunct HIS magazine, published by the Christian missions-focused ministry InterVarsity. The article’s subject was racial and cultural diversity in South Africa, and one white South African student was quoted as saying, “You must have your own culture — and love the other one, too.” I didn’t appreciate it at the time but certainly do today, and I hope Erickson gets that someday.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hating the 'left'

If you’re wondering why worshippers of President Donald Trump are really encouraging the rollback of environmental protections, the repeal of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and other things since Trump’s inauguration, Brian Beutler of The New Republic and Paul Krugman of The New York Times have both summed it up nicely.

This clause by Beutler about the ACA should explain it: “Republicans simply stapled together whatever set of measures they needed to pass a bill in the House, because the claim to having dismantled something important to Obama and liberals matters more to them than the underlying state of the U.S. health care system.”

Krugman has written that the opposition to the Paris Accord in particular and climate change in general “is largely driven by sheer spite.  [M]uch of today’s right seems driven above all by animus toward liberals rather than specific issues. If liberals are for it, they’re against it. If liberals hate it, it’s good.”

This is the reason our country is so divided — the contempt those on the right have for those perceived as left-leaning.

It started as far back as 1980, with the negative advertising against Democrats resulting in the first “Republican Revolution” and even some evangelicals referring to those more on the left as dangerous; since-disgraced evangelist Jimmy Swaggart once referred to liberal politics as “akin to Communism.” Later on conservatives did their best to have President Bill Clinton — who really wasn’t all that liberal, truth be told — removed from office, activists during the 1992 presidential campaign filing suit in Federal court to have him removed from the ballot and, failing that, setting him up for a failed impeachment.

Some years ago the evangelical ministry Sojourners that has always focused on social justice set up a blog, “God’s Politics,” after a 2004 book by the same name by founder Jim Wallis. Almost immediately conservatives started denouncing it, some of them making snide comments and others personally attacking folks who dared to disagree with them. Sojo tried everything to lower the temperature, even going to a Facebook-based commenting system so that people simply couldn’t anonymously flame others for disagreeing.

Not even that worked, as I suspected that it wouldn’t. The hate proved to be just too deep.

Recently I read an article online about narcissists, who exhibit the symptoms of “gaslighting,” projection, changing the subject and desiring control, and recognized that such typify many Trump supporters. They simply refuse to be confronted on their behavior, just like the object of their worship (and I don’t think I’m exaggerating, either). I don’t see liberals acting the same way; the few that do are basically on the margins and have little, if any, power.

All this flies in the face of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is at heart about reconciliation — with God through His cross but also with each other. That in America the Christian faith is often considered synonymous with right-wing politics thus should be problematic, and some churches I wouldn’t even attend if it displayed conservative literature.

I would hope that those of us who are followers of Christ develop the humility to learn what any opponent is thinking and how he or she comes to his or her convictions. Perhaps we all could learn something.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

One difference between right and "left"

A couple of days ago, comedian Kathy Griffin displayed a fake severed head of President Donald Trump on TV. A lot of liberals condemned her in the process, and she lost her job at CNN as a result.

Over the past few years, right-wing rock musician Ted Nugent has said that both President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should both be executed. Not only did Nugent face no similar fallout from conservatives but he was also invited to the White House after Trump's inauguration. 

Please don’t even try to tell me that the "left" is merely a mirror image of the right, because it isn’t and never has been. What we're seeing is the result of a long-standing double standard in that a conservative taking shots at someone perceived as more liberal is "truth" but even mild criticism of conservatives is "politically correct," "biased" or a personal attack. The only thing that seems to matter to that side of the political fence is that "liberals" are humiliated or destroyed, in the words of Malcolm X, "by any means necessary." That's the real reason our country is so divided.

This has been going on for decades; I first began to notice it in the 1980s, but it became obvious with what the political right was doing to President Bill Clinton to try to drive him from power. What was his real crime? Getting elected.

During the last presidential campaign, a T-shirt with a vulgar reference to Hillary Clinton was being sold at the Republican National Convention, and no conservative to my knowledge displayed similar disgust. Indeed, eight years ago GOP presidential candidate John McCain was criticized for refusing to denounce Democrat then-candidate Barack Obama as a “Kenyan socialist” or "closet Muslim," among other things. 

But at some point people get tired of being bullied and will eventually lash out, and I won't blame them one bit for doing so. We're already seeing this on certain college campuses, where conservative firebrands such as Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos and even Charles Murray have been shouted down because the students are smart enough to recognize their true purpose — sliming opponents. (No, it's not about "exposing people to different views" because the speakers themselves, there specifically to cause trouble and well paid in the process, don't offer anything constructive or are even attempting to.)

Why am I not similarly criticizing the left? Primarily because it doesn't operate the same way — remember that Griffin lost her job as a result — and I refuse to engage in false equivalence. They're just not the same.