With the onset of the Syrian refugee crisis, I’ve had the chance to talk to three liberals in three days about the subject. Catholics, of course, are neither liberal nor conservative, but Orthodox. Contemporary American political divisions will pass away, and Catholicism will live on.*
Nevertheless, each one was liberal – don’t worry ladies, I won’t share your names! – and each one was a lady. (While I do think liberalism is more suited to the female genius, the statement of their sex is neither here nor there).
What really stood out to me was that each one attributed an irrational fear or hatred to those who disagreed with their position. That is, an -ism or a -phobia.
Indeed, each chose their own flavor: Racism, Islamophobia, and Xenophobia.
Now, I think this is an issue on which reasonable people can disagree. On balance, I think integrating refugees into a foreign country and creating a safe zone near their own country is just about six of one, half-dozen of the other. I’m inclined toward the latter. (Feel free to disagree).
In my conversations, though, that was beside the point. I wasn’t trying to convince them of my policy decision. I was trying to convince them that the mere fact of disagreement did not indicate an irrational fear or hatred of anything.
Now the Right has its own problems, but the Left uses these terms in order to shut down conversation, not to foster it, and certainly not to persuade. The goal is to coerce via social pressure. (“You don’t want to be irrational, do you? You certainly don’t want to be made a pariah…”) But if you look around, that social pressure is losing steam.
That was my leading point to them. If you keep this up, sooner or later, the response will be “I don’t care.” Often enough, it already is.
Person A: But that’s racist!
Person B: I don’t care.
Once “racism” or any of the others enters the conversation, Person B realizes he cannot successfully defend himself against the charge. There is literally nothing he can say to get himself acquitted. (Again – prove. me. wrong). That is why this strategy has worked so well for the Left. But as I say, it’s not working as well anymore, and the other side is quickly learning to simply ignore them.**
So in each conversation, I challenged my interlocutor to define her term. Then, carefully, I set out to challenge the notion that irrationality was to blame for all opposing views.
For example: Is it always irrational for a nation with sufficient wealth to refuse to help the Syrian refugees in any way?
Or: If the Right is proposing a religious test rather than a race test, doesn’t that eliminate “racism” as a motivation? You should at least ridicule them accurately!
(Argument ad absurdum is not only a fallacy, but establishes the ground rules of a debate).
If you’re a Liberal, that’s fine. But this stuff is getting old. What’s worse: You’re making yourself irrelevant, even to President Obama.
Come make an argument, not an accusation.
*It strikes me that even my secular friends will acknowledge this is as true.
**Often enough, being called an “-ist” or a “-phobe” is seen as a badge of honor.