Pretending the other side doesn’t exist is no way to live.
Ah, the holidays.
That time of year when we put our interests and disagreements aside to better commune with our fellow man.
Unless of course you’re a knee-jerk leftist in the vein of GQ’s Joe Berkowitz, a vocal proponent of the idea that the best way to cure America’s political infirmities is to essentially cut off half the country.
In a recent piece for the increasingly obsolete men’s magazine, Berkowitz encouraged readers to shun their Trump-supporting family over Thanksgiving or, in his words, “don’t show up.” Wrote Berkowitz:
For some parents, your absence will speak louder than any sodden arguments over the density of pumpkin pie. If you can’t even look them in the eye, they’ll know you mean business.
Ridiculous I know, but believe it or not Berkowitz and the editors at GQ aren’t alone in their belief that those of us who advocate for lower taxes and stronger borders are ideological lepers.
Justifications for ghosting those with political beliefs that fall outside the liberal mainstream have become alarmingly commonplace following the election of Donald Trump as President, threatening a society segregated not by the usual cliché identity politics of race, gender, or sexuality, but rather by politics itself.
Consider a recent New York Times editorial in which Yeshiva University Law Professor Ekow Yankah pats himself on the back for teaching his children to dislike white people. While it may sound racial on the surface, Yankah lays the blame squarely at the feet of Trump himself, conveniently shrouding his own political bigotry in faux moral righteousness.
Donald Trump’s election has made it clear that I will teach my boys the lesson generations old, one that I for the most part nearly escaped. I will teach them to be cautious, I will teach them suspicion, and I will teach them distrust. Much sooner than I thought I would, I will have to discuss with my boys whether they can truly be friends with white people.
Such calls to arms could be more easily ignored were they relegated solely to the left’s whiny online echo chambers, but they have become normalized to the point of manifesting themselves in real, physical outcomes.
Exhibit A is D.C.’s new, and patently absurd, “anti-Trump” hotel, an entire sanitarium dedicated to housing the millions of Americans incapable of accepting the reality that is President Trump.
According to Newsweek, “Guests won’t be able to escape the message, even in the tiny details of their rooms,” and future locations are slated for Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Good grief. The proprietors might as well be donating to Trump’s 2020 election campaign, as it is precisely this sort of self-absorbed teeth gnashing that Americans roundly rejected in 2016.
Such sentiments (and establishments) are little more than the logical conclusion of the left’s obsession with identity politics — an obsession that has repeatedly failed to produce political results. Having failed to remold America to accommodate their radical vision, angry leftists are now creating their own imaginary universes in which Trump supporters, no matter their motives, are simply not welcome.
While humorous on the surface, such ideological xenophobia harbors legitimate consequences for both individuals and society as a whole. For once we are comfortable segregating ourselves based purely on politics we have ceased to participate in the great experiment, and have elected instead to turn our backs to the trajectory of human progress.
Few would argue that America’s particular greatness is the result of its melting pot origins. But even more important to the nation’s development than the foods, languages, and skin tones so often referenced by tired histories were the numerous ideologies and political philosophies of America’s early immigrants. Such diversity of thought was critical to the formation of the republic that would in many ways usher in the modern age, the most prosperous (and most tolerant) in recorded history.
This cornucopia of beliefs was sufficiently varied by the origins of the independence movement, imparting in the country’s founders the importance of free speech and free expression and, by extension, the belief in a marketplace of ideas. Sadly, too many of today’s leftists prefer to shun ideological choice in favor of a marketplace with increasingly bare shelves, cloaking their cowardice in false claims of “tolerance” and “safety.”
Such stubbornness disguised as principle ignores one of history’s great lessons, namely that societies with uniform politics are insufficiently dynamic to propel humanity forward.
Consider, for instance, the static ideological cesspools of Cuba, the Soviet Union, North Korea, and once-Communist China whose singular, unbending politics prevented them from achieving the stratospheric advancement of their Western counterparts.
The stifling of debate and discussion, particularly in relation to politics, did much to stifle nearly everything else. As Ben Franklin once opined, “if everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.”
Franklin knew well that like it or not, we need each other. While my own views lie somewhere slightly to the right of Attila the Hun, I’m convinced that left completely to their own devices Republicans would eventually run the country into the ground.
I have even less faith in the Democrats, but I fully recognize their need to counteract the right’s most absurd extremes and keep the ship at least somewhat straight in times of Republican largesse. Such recognition of one’s own shortcomings should not be so easily abandoned.
Sure, accommodating one’s political adversaries comes with certain discomforts and annoyances — there will be arguments, heated at times, and plenty of eye rolls. But suffering the other side’s views from time to time, however distasteful they may seem, is far more preferable than the alternative.
One would think that the followers of an ideology that prides itself on logic and reason would seek to better understand their opponents, if not for future political success than for the sake of the knowledge itself. But alas, they seem to prefer segregating themselves entirely from the party in power, and by extension, reality.
I hope their hotel has padded walls.
Elvert Barnes/Creative Commons