My colleague and friend James L. posted this on his FB page. He is a lot smarter than me and really did a good job finding the right words.
I’m going to try to phrase this very carefully. I’m probably going to fail, since I don’t find it easy to write coherently on a cellphone.
I enjoy a certain measure of debate on FB. I also acknowledge that much of what passes for debate is simply people talking past each other.
Perhaps the hardest part of this concerns the tendency towards polarization in political discourse. The left and the right become shortcut descriptions for an umbrella of monolithic opinions. If you are on the left, you support A,B,C; on the right you support X,Y,Z.
I think that’s bunk, and is a lazy appeal to non-cognitive tribalism or some variant of sports fandom. A poor excuse for rational debate.
What spurred this reflection is the realization that what I personally detest in these online rant fests is the sheer hypocrisy. And this is raised to a high art by politicians themselves.
I can think of no clearer example than this: I have seen endless frothing at the mouth from people saying, “Where are the moderate Muslims condemning the violence of ISIS?” (it’s everywhere if you’re not blind or deaf) but I have yet to see these self-same folks call for pro-life activists to condemn the shooting up, and murder, by whacko pro-life activists at abortion clinics.
Didn’t misunderstand me, there are hypocrites everywhere, but this one glaring example is so clear right now. Understand, I’m not saying no-one is condemning this: they are. I’m not saying no pro-life activists are condemning this: I’m sure they are.
I’m saying the hypocrites who know that moderate Muslims constantly condemn the violence of salafist/wahabbist Muslims, but scream “Where are they, these moderate Muslims?” would never, in a million years, apply the same standard to the condemnation a “Christian” terrorist.
If you are a hypocrite in your political discourse, your “opinions” are irrelevant, because you show your arguments are insincere.