One of the most frustrating things about interacting with people on social media — especially in mixed company of family, friends, former work acquaintances, et al — is the popular culture brainwashing involved. Every one of us is today awash in a relentless stream of popular culture conditioning. This conditioning takes the form of lies that, when they are repeated often enough, are believed by at least a plurality of the people you know.
These lies are many and varied, but they include nonsense like modern gender theory and the notion that sex and gender are “on a spectrum” (they aren’t), the notion that America is predominantly a “white supremacist” nation (it isn’t), the idea that there exists a gender gap in pay between men and women or among races (there’s an earnings gap, not a wage gap), and the idea that America’s “systems” are marked by innate injustice (they aren’t, at least not in the directions we’re told they are).
Another prominent lie repeated over and over again among adherents to popular culture is the idea that right-of-center ideas are innately wrong, unacceptable, hateful, or otherwise exist outside the “norm.” The political Left, which controls popular culture (it runs our schools, censors or media, dictates who may participate in social media and what they may say, and has held its grip on these institutions for decades), has been very successful in marginalizing conservatives and libertarians. In the eyes of those on the Left, you aren’t wrong; you’re bad. You haven’t reached a different conclusion; you’ve willfully decided to be mean.
Recently I expressed a political opinion that is utterly unremarkable among rational, reasonable people: the idea that there is a difference between overt acts of racial prejudice and the imagined, phantom problem of “unconscious” or “subconscious” racism. The Left delight in accusing all white people of possessing the latter, because this makes a convenient cudgel with which to beat white people into submission: “Stop having opinions, you monsters, because everybody knows you were born with “white privilege” and you are racist even if you don’t think you are. Through our psychic powers, we have judged you and found you wanting.”
All Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians have on their friends list various frenemies — people with whom we’d like to be friendly, and whom we generally like and respect, but who do not extend to us the same courtesy. They constantly snipe and heckle and make little jibes and insults when you express your opinion. Chances are good you’ve either unfollowed them already, in an attempt to maintain the peace. You know they regularly post opinions with which you disagree, and you typically let it go. Whenever you post an opinion, however, they are there to tell you what a horrible person you are.
(These same people delight in telling you how tired they are of your political posts… while ignoring their own statements of political opinion. For some reason, they are permitted to have and express opinions, but you are not.)
One such heckler made his voice known when I posted yesterday’s column about Dollar Shave Club. Why, how dare I, he informed me. I was “better than that,” he said, wringing his hands in feigned concern over my expression of opinion. The world is leaving me and people like me behind, he told me. That’s what you people who advocate boycotts don’t understand, he sneered.
Wait, did I miss something? “Cancel culture” is almost exclusively a phenomenon of the Left. Express any opinion in opposition to Leftist orthodoxy and you will lose your job, have your sponsors or advertisers threatened with boycotts, be told you are a terrible person for having a perfectly legitimate and perfectly honest opinion, and be shunned by polite society. It doesn’t even matter if the opinions in question were uttered years ago and subsequently deleted, disavowed, and apologized for. In the world of Leftist groupthink, no dissent, no variation, no disagreement is ever permitted. Step out of line and you will be crushed and reviled, spat on during tomorrow morning’s Two Minutes’ Hate.
I informed my heckler that I was about done being insulted by him — of persisting in treating him like a friend when I was being treated with disrespect in return. He seemed genuinely shocked. Why, I dared think that I was being insulted? What about him? What about how insulted he felt by my different opinion?
Strangely narcissistic as this may sound, it’s not the first time I’ve been confronted with this notion. Progressives believe any opinion you express, of which they do not approve, is a personal affront. They take it as a direct and intended insult if your opinion does not happen to coincide with theirs — and they accuse you of deliberately choosing to offend them.
This is not how belief works. This is not how friends are supposed to treat each other. Every one of us comes to his conclusions, his ideas, his opinions, through a process of thought. Some processes are more logical than others, but at the end of the day, you either give people credit for this or you do not. Either my friends acknowledge that I came to my conclusions based on a thought process with which they might or might not agree… or they indict and excoriate me for “choosing” to disagree with them. You do not have to agree with me, I tell them… but you do have to afford me the basic respect of acknowledging that I come by my opinions honestly.
Stated differently, we all can (and most of us do) have friends who do not agree with us on every matter. It would be strange to cull your friends, family, and acquaintances to create an ideologically pure echo chamber. But for people who disagree to coexist, they must afford each other basic respect. They must acknowledge that while their opinions conflict, those differing positions are equally valid. That does not mean all positions are equally, potentially true; it means that no one gets to marginalize and dismiss one set of opinions as illegitimate simply for being different.
You are not crazy for disagreeing. You are not a bad person for acknowledging reality. You are not a racist or a misogynist or a transphobe for disagreeing with modern politically correct orthodoxy. You are simply an American who is entitled to his opinions.
The political Left has tried very hard to paint all dissent as illegitimate on its face, and to marginalize, shun, and remove from polite society all dissenters. This must not be allowed. Whenever we encounter it, we must call it out and stand up to it. Your “frenemies” are not friends at all if they cannot afford you basic respect. You buy yourself nothing by allowing them to continue insulting you.