One of the more curious attitudes where political opinions are concerned is the notion that people can or should be blamed for those opinions. By this I mean that there are two ways you can interpret a person’s political position.
You can believe they came to their conclusions based on an intellectual process of discovery, one you might or might not agree with. Alternatively, you can believe they woke up that morning and merely decided to take that position, then impute to them some motive (usually unflattering) for having made that allegedly arbitrary choice.
I think this is one of the reasons that conservatives and libertarians are so much less quick to cut people from their lives for disagreeing. There has been actual statistical research devoted to this. On social media, someone who identifies as a leftist, a progressive, is much more likely to unfriend and block you than is a conservative or libertarian. I believe this is because conservatives and libertarians — right wingers, natch — are convinced that the facts of reality support their positions. They therefore believe that in an argument, they are more than capable of defending their positions and confident in their ability to “win” the exchange.
Progressives, by contrast, seem to conclude that any opinion with which they disagree is a personal attack. When confronted with any post, any shared link, any sentence that expresses an idea to which they object, they do not merely disagree. Instead, they attack. They impugn the character of the person sharing that opinion. They make accusations of racism, sexism, transphobia, or other bigotries. They claim the target of their ire lacks compassion, lacks sympathy, lacks tolerance, or is full of “hate.”
When told these attacks are unwelcome, they then project their lack of tolerance on the object of their tirade. They accuse the other person of being “unable to handle them,” of being “able to dish it out but not take it,” of having a “thin skin,” or of being a “snowflake.” This last is an attempt by progressives — whose fragile sensibilities have led them to demand “safe spaces” in which they are free from exposure to dissenting opinions or objectionable presences — to coopt an insult frequently used against them.
(The meaning of the insult has become a bit distorted over the years; it was originally a reference to the fact that weak people are not, in fact, “special, unique snowflakes.” These days it seems to be taken to mean people who melt at the slightest heat and light. Either definition will work.)
One of the favorite tactics of such progressives is to take as completely serious any joke made by conservatives and libertarians — and thus excoriate them for these — while excusing as “jokes” many unfunny, offensive things progressives say that were offered in any spirit but humor originally. Simultaneously, progressives are masters of projection, of accusing their enemies of the very crimes they themselves regularly commit.
Still another is an almost total lack of self-awareness; they will accuse you of being a racist, then throw up their hands and wonder how you could possibly have come to that conclusion when you call them out for having made the accusation. (This only occurs if the progressive in question is engaged in the masquerade of being your friendly acquaintance. Those who consider you an overt enemy don’t bother to deny that they’ve attacked your character when redefining all opinions they don’t like as “hate” or “racism.”)
Another progressive tactic that has become very popular in the last few years is to accuse conservatives, libertarians, and Republicans of “lying” whenever someone on the right expresses an opinion with which progressives disagree. Because progressives believe they hold the patent on what is true, they regularly attempt to marginalize all dissenting opinion as “lies,” as “hate,” as “divisive,” and as otherwise undesirable. To the progressive, it cannot be that you have viewed the same data and come to a different conclusion; it must be that you have deliberately, ignorantly, or stupidly chosen wrong.
This is how people who believe there are more than two genders can claim people who do “deny science.” This is how people who believe it is acceptable to punch people for having objectionable opinions accuse right-wingers of being “violent.” This is how people who have almost no knowledge of firearms rationalize telling the tallest of tales when trying to ban firearms. This is how people whose candidate colluded with foreign powers to interfere with a presidential election spent years accusing Trump of doing the same. This is how people who have cornered the market on voter fraud justify repeatedly and falsely accusing Republicans of “voter suppression.”
In light of all this, we must ask ourselves a question: Does the average progressive arrive at his or her opinions arbitrarily? If not, by what thought process does a person conclude things that are not supported by the facts of objective reality? Do progressives merely lack self-awareness? Or is it that they are such humorless scolds that they truly enjoy, or at the very least feel justified in, wagging their fingers at others and telling them what bad people they are for disagreeing?
The answer might well be some combination of all of the above… or something else entirely. I know only that I, as a conservative libertarian, have held the same fundamental political beliefs for my entire adult life. I came to those conclusions, not because I wanted to, but because they corresponded to reality. I am therefore at a loss to explain the hate, the contempt, the anger, and the outrage of those who believe my opinions constitute a personal affront. But I am not alone. If you, too, are on the “right wing,” you have experienced this, too.
We can only be patient. Our patience will not be rewarded. But we are still right, and they are still wrong, and no amount of their whining and shrieking and screaming will ever change that.