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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The inability of the Left to make important distinctions

MAGA hats are racist.  MAGA hats are divisive.  MAGA hats are a vehicle of white supremacy.

Here are a few recent examples.

"Why Trump's MAGA hats have become a potent symbol of racism" is the title of one article written in just the last few days.

"The MAGA hat, like the Confederate flag, wouldn't elicit outraged reactions if it were only a piece of cloth that harkened back to bygone days never to be relived. But it isn't. It is a signifier for those who believe America was great during some point in the past they dare not name, knowing if they do, it would reveal a time when it was worse for people of color. When was America "great"? When millions of black people were slaves? When hundreds of thousands of black men were sold to US companies via convict leasing? Maybe during the heart of Jim Crow, the height of lynching, or when black people struggling with drug addictions were viewed as criminals to be controlled, not fellow human beings needing help?"

"You can read the white rage in their MAGA hats"

"Alyssa Milano: 'The red MAGA hat is the new white hood'" 

Triggered over a MAGA hat.  by a CNN commentator!!

So what do I mean by the inability of the Left to make important distinctions?
  1. They can't see how America was ever great if it was flawed, such as in treatment of the indigenous peoples or in slavery.  By this measure, no one and no nation is ever great, nor could be.  Rome wasn't great.  Because only perfection is great, but nothing human is perfect.  They can't recognize that people and nations can be great and yet flawed.  Our Founding Fathers were great people for the most part.  But some of them supported slavery and others didn't but were slave owners.  The Greatest Generation was just that, but by today's standards we couldn't call them great because they didn't get rid of Jim Crow and racism.  Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, Jr. were great, but both deeply flawed.  The first was anti-Semitic, and the second an adulterer.  I would argue that the ability to make distinctions is the sign of maturity.  We should be able to recognize that Rome was great, but had serious flaws.  We can acknowledge the great good that MLK Jr. did, but not ignore the sins and flaws in his life.
  2. They can't see how people can wear a MAGA hat for different reasons.  There are undoubtedly racists and white supremacists who support Trump.  But those on the Left assume that anyone who wears such a hat or supports Trump is a racist or white supremacist, just because some of his supporters are.  But not all of his supporters are.  There are a lot of reasons why people supported Trump or would like to make America great again.  But the Left wants to associate all or most of his supporters with those groups.  This is utter nonsense and shows the lack of intellectual sophistication on the Left.  
  3. Anything that the Left disagrees with is reaaallllyyyy bad.  Like Hitler bad.  Or KKK bad.   Just because something is bad, doesn't mean it's totally, terribly, completely evil.  Really?  You can't make distinctions about how bad things relative to other things?  Everything is equally good or equally bad?
  4. The Left doesn't get that Trump doesn't care about words.  He uses them, but they don't mean that much to him.  What he cares about is getting things done, and words help him get there.  Results are what matter.  To the Left, results mean very little.  What does matter is words, and process, and feelings.  This is why Trump's gotten so much done.  If results mattered to the Left they would abandon many of their policies (such as the war on poverty) and try something else.
  5. The Left can't distinguish between legal and illegal immigration.  If you are against the latter, you be against all immigration.  And you are a racist.  Really?
  6. If I disagree with something, then I hate it.  Really?  You don't see the difference between hate (see my previous post) and disagreeing?  Hate means a strong dislike and a desire for bad things to someone or an idea. 
Is this an unwillingness or an inability?
  • Are those on the Left unwilling to make such distinctions?  If so, are they lazy, or evil?
  • Are they unable to?  If so, then are they mentally deficient, or merely uneducated?
Friends and others on the Left.  
Grow up.  
Develop some mental muscle and the ability to distinguish between things, ideas, and people.

If you are on the Right, you are probably agreeing with me at this point.  If you are a moderate Democrat, you are perhaps annoyed at my painting all Democrats with the same brush and not making any distinctions.  You might even accuse me of doing the same thing that I'm accusing the Left of doing.  And you would be mostly correct.  First, how do you like my doing what the Left does most of the time?  Second, please call out those on the Left when they are over top and when they fail to make distinctions.  Then we can make distinctions where they need to be made and begin to respect each other's views and each other.

thank you!

Monday, January 21, 2019

We are a hate filled nation, not a loving nation

Yesterday a story hit social media. 
"Teens in Make America Great Again Hats Taunted a Native American elder at the Lincoln Memorial"

and later in the day the other side. 
"Teen in confrontation with Native American elder says he was trying to defuse the situation"

and a summary and analysis.

The teens in question, students at a Catholic school in Kentucky, were in Washington DC for the Pro-Life March and were waiting for their bus to pick them up in the late afternoon.  Exactly who said and did what, and in what sequence, is still open to question.  Who was in the right or wrong isn't really my concern at this point.  I would instead like to make a different point.

This episode (and others like it such as those involving Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Henry Louis Gates Jr.) show that as a nation we are quick to judge and condemn and slow to forgive.  We don't want the whole story; we want the story that fits our narrative.  We want to feel righteous and condemn others. 

I was introduced to the story above yesterday by feeds on Facebook from two of my younger friends (both young enough to be my children).  In both cases the individuals who posted the story condemned the young man in the picture and his classmates.  I pointed out that this was a rush to judgement and that we should wait for the entire story to come out.  This morning there was much more on the second side, casting major doubts on the first narrative.  No doubt there will be more information that comes out, and who knows what the final verdict will be?   One of my two young friends is still inclined to believe the first narrative, and the second apologized for rushing to judgement so quickly.  (hooray for him!)

So how do love and hate fit in with this?  I think that the famous love passage from St. Paul will shed some light on this.

First Corinthians 13
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  8 Love never fails.   NIV, from on January 21, 2019

My two young friends (and a whole lot of other people) did not exhibit love in this situation.  They were easily angered, and kept a record of wrongs.  They seemed to delight in the "fact" that the young man was a racist and was disrespectful.  It didn't seem to occur to them that this was a sad thing, and might not even be true.  Lewis' comments below shed light on this. 

C S Lewis on 
“Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one's first feeling, 'Thank God, even they aren't quite so bad as that,' or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything -- God and our friends and ourselves included -- as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.”

― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity  found on on January 21, 2019

What do the Leftists and Progressives think of Trump supporters?  Do they think that MAGA supporters are as bad as possible?  Yes, I think that overall they do.  Are people on the Left frequently looking for reasons to be offended by those on the Right?  Yes.  Democrats think the worst of Republicans.  I don't think that the reverse is true, but it is rapidly become so.  As a nation we are increasingly acting out of hateful attitudes and motives.   We see the worst in the other side, and we only want to see the worst.  We want to be offended by the other side.

What's the remedy for this?  I'm reminded of Jesus' words of the second greatest commandment. 
"Love your neighbor as yourself."

Love is wishing the best for another person, and the best love is actively working toward that best.
Hate is wishing the worst for another person, and the worst hate is actively working toward that end.

By those definitions,

  • When we get angry at another motorist, are we acting in love?
  • When we react negatively toward people we disagree with, do we wish them the best in spite of our disagreement, or do we hope the worst for them?  Is this love, or hate?
  • When people threaten others professionally, or their lives, or in other ways because of disagreements, are we acting in love or hate?
  • When we look for reasons to be offended, are we acting in love?
What can you and I do about this situation?  
  • Practice thinking the best about others and giving them the benefit of the doubt.
  • Encourage others to wait for a more complete picture before rushing to judgement.
  • Call people out on truly hateful attitudes, words and actions.  
  • Differentiate between disagreement and real hate.
  • Pray for those we disagree with.
  • Actively do good things for others.
  • Stop looking for reasons to be offended by what others say and do

Our culture can be improved if we act more out of love, and less out of hate.