A new president of the United States of America has just taken office, and this event seems to have caused some people to lose the plot. I can understand why many people are worried about the actions that President Trump may take and why many people don’t think him a terribly nice person. He’s not my president because I’m not an American so I’m also really not in much of a position to make judgement on his policies or anything else – so I’m not going to. I’ll wait and see what he actually does rather than what he said he’d do or what people thing he’ll do. On my social media I’ve seen many people who have previously complained about misinformation, fake-news and the like sharing easily debunked “news” stories and articles that are so low on information and so biased they can really only be called propaganda. Which is fine it’s their space they can share what they like, though I’ll maybe pay less attention next time they complain about other people doing the same thing. Likewise today many people have gone on women’s marches to protest against Donald Trump being president. Now if that makes them feel better it’s their time and they can do what they like, I’m not going to pretend that i think it’s effective or even worth while action though. The time to protest Trump was before he got elected, if the march was for Womens rights more generally there are better targets, why did it take a US president being elected and maybe perhaps threatening the rights of privileged* western women to cause people to get up and march, why aren’t there constant demonstrations outside the Saudi embassy for instance**? I’ve no intention of telling people what to do or how to protest but I reserve the right to draw conclusions about their revealed preferences from the actions they take.
This though is all rather by the by. What more concerns me is the violence seen in the US following the Presidential inauguration. People being blocked from attending the inauguration and people being attacked in an unprovoked manner because of their political beliefs. When this is is coming from and being cheered on by people that allegedly believe in love trumping hate and kinder gentler politics I do have to wonder what on earth they are thinking. I’ve seen people complaining that the right only gets upset when a member of the right gets attacked and ignore violence against other groups, which only makes me ask so what? Isn’t that what the people protesting expect from the right that they don’t care about others, but aren’t the people protesting meant to be better than that? Shouldn’t they be condemning any violence as they believe in peaceful protest and are better than the right? The think is though in terms of recent political events that I’ve both been at or seen reported in the news mass violence seems to be the exclusive preserve of the kinder gentler left. The right may have loud, hostile and threatening demos but actual violence is always from those that claim they oppose fascism and the right.
This opposition to other people political opinion by means of violence is troubling as history suggests it’s normally a precursor to totalitarian states. The people that allowed President Obama and other “good” people to get away with ignoring checks and balances and to give themselves more power were the ones that have given that power to President Trump, if President Obama hadn’t been quietly given the power President Trump wouldn’t have it now. As the trite meme goes the only way to stop people abusing power is to not to let them have it in the first place. Likewise the people “fighting fascism” with violence today are ensuring that fascism is what they’ll get. Either they’ll welcome it in, in the disguise of a saviour that will save them from all the bad people if only they give up their freedom, or the bad people will turn around and say “this violence is unacceptable and we can stop it”. Either way freedom is lost and a totalitarian state arrives. By constructing a bogeyman that doesn’t exist and fighting that rather than the real flawed individuals they face today they provide cover for the genuinely malevolent. When everyone is “literally Hitler” how can you recognize the real thing when it arrives?
I’m not saying stop protesting, I’ve no intention of telling you what you should or shouldn’t do – that as always is your choice. However I am saying I believe each and everyone of us can make a difference without suppressing other peoples points of views, without violence, without constructing bogeymen to fight. If you want to make a difference talk to people who hold different views to you find common points of ground, don’t condemn opposing view points with slurs – if all you have is slurs you have no argument and don’t lock yourself away in a bubble. If you really believe that our current leaders are “literally Hitler” then don’t give them the excuse of violence and don’t drive people to them by calling everyone a “Nazi”.
I don’t do enough to effect the change I want in the world, and it may not be the same change you want – but and this may be a shock to people most people just want to get by and generally want everyone else to be able to get by as well. So most of us have that common ground where we differ is in how we achieve this – which is a far better conversation to be having than hurling insults from inside cosy little echo chambers.Preventing discussions just allows resentment to fester and gives a breading ground for the genuinely less tolerant and the genuinely nasty. If we talk to each other, especially those with whom we seem at first to disagree then those poisons have left space to grow.
Not quite sure if I had a point there except maybe “be excellent to each other”.
* Compared to the rest of the world everyone in the west is privileged
** I’ve checked via Google and can find no report of a single mass women’s rights march outside a Saudi Embassy