OPINION: The Importance of Discussing Difficult Topics
There is a saying that tells us that two topics should not be discussed over dinner, religion and politics. Why are these two topics highlighted?
These are difficult topics that humanity has been attempting to come to grips with for our entire history. These are topics which we have killed each other for. Today, we cannot talk about tough ideas without slinging insults and demonizing those who even appear to disagree with us.
We see this with the liberal sect known on the internet as the anti-SJWs; this is a group of liberals who have ideas contrary to social justice culture so they are often looked down upon by those who are on the same side of the political spectrum as them. Liberal creators such as Sargon of Akkad, Chris Ray Gun, Dave Rubin, and more are thrown into the ‘alt-right’ basket in an attempt to discredit their views. While it is okay to dislike these figures due to their views, it is not their views that are criticized; it is often their character. Hordes of online commenters throw insults at these people and others. They try to assign blame where there is none.
This goes back to where PewDiePie’s use of Holocaust jokes were misread as him actually supporting the ideas behind the Holocaust. Some who had only made a few edgy jokes was being compared to a group of bigoted people with horrible ideas.
Context did not matter to many of the outlets reporting on this, and that was once again apparent when Lindsay Shepherd had the absolute audacity to show a clip of Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson. It did not matter that Peterson is one of the most cited modern college professors. And it also didn’t matter that Shepherd showed this clip of a Peterson debate in an objective manner. In the full recording of the confrontation of Shepherd, an administrator even compared showing clips of Peterson to showing Hitler Speeches.
Now there are many issues with this behavior towards someone whom you disagree with. First off, showing clips from Hitler speeches is not fundamentally wrong, as showing these clips is not inherently evil or bigoted. One may want more context into Hitler and his exact beliefs, or maybe they wish to analyze the rhetoric he uses. Just because someone has read Mein Kampf (German for ‘My Struggle’) does not mean they agree with Hitler’s conclusions or his ideology. A major issue in modern political discourse, is people see trying to understand a point of view as them endorsing that point of view. Open-mindedness, or even attempting to be informed for that matter, is discouraged. This is wrong-think.
The next issue is the very thought of even equating Jordan Peterson to Adolf Hitler. This is saying that this once-obscure Canadian clinical psychologist and professor is basically the same as one of the worst dictators in modern human history. This kind of logic completely trivializes what Adolf Hitler did. When you call everyone you disagree with a Nazi, it essentially waters down what it means to be a legitimate Nazi. Do Nazis still exist? Yes. Are there neo-Nazis in Modern America? Yes. But many of those who are labeled as Nazis simply do not fit the term.
Donald J. Trump for example. The media tried to say over and over that he was a Nazi without any substantial evidence to support that atrocious claim. After he condemned the events in Charlottesville and white supremacy, the media outlets changed their strategies. They claimed President Trump is a ‘Nazi sympathizer’ or they attacked the fact that he assigned blame on both sides of these political riots.
I do have my disagreements with President Trump, but he is not the monster that mainstream media wants him to be. They want to paint a picture of a horrible totalitarian right-winger so that they can convince a populace that does not seek information themselves to equate everyone on he right-wing to Nazis and racists. They wish to define us by our extremes. And this is not to claim that right-leaning people never attempt to do this on the left. I am just as critical of Fox as I am of CNN. Both news networks have the biases and issues.
What I want to see is average people realizing that should not boil complex individuals down to their politics or race of any of that. I know it is not realistic to think we can all just sing ‘kumbuya.’ I do believe, however, that it is possible to have civil and productive discussions about issues which we may disagree on. Arguing against the concept of white privilege doesn’t make you a racist. Arguing for abortion does not make you a murderer. I may have my personal reservations on these issues but I enjoy going into discussions and just learning about the other side. I may change your mind, you may change yours. Or we may both remain at the same point we started our discussion. What I do not want to see is this political demonization and this constant barrage of insults against one another. We need to realize that defining our side of the political spectrum by their extremes only causes there to be more extremists. No wonder, political polarization is up according to a Pew Research Poll that has been tracking polarization since 1994.
Have conversations rather than arguments. Fight ideas with ideas, not slander or misrepresentation. Try your best to be understand and open your worldview. Never feel as if you absolutely have to change your mind or go against your principle. I know that an intolerant sect of the left has kind of muddied the term ‘tolerance’ but I do think tolerance, to some extent, is a good virtue to possess.
Tolerance (n.): the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.