Grasping for Humanity in Trump’s America

Grasping for Humanity in Trump’s America

Can Conservatives Reclaim Their Status as Humans? 

Originally published on Iron Ladies.

Part Two of Three part series.  Read part one: "I Don't Want to Write About Politics"

The media narrative has recently turned away from reporting the news and instead has become some sort of social shaming and intimidation tool to categorize people by groups and then dismiss or insult certain groups until their identities as individuals are erased. In so doing they make anyone with a different opinion a monster. This dehumanization of massive populations of our country is not only horrific but also dangerous. When we no longer see each other as people deserving dignity and respect, despite our differences, we feel justified and compelled to treat them without dignity and respect. Add anger to the mix and you get violence.

Conservatives are Monsters not Individuals

The narrative on Charlottesville is one example where even the suggestion that conservatives are not all monsters is met with horror and outrage. This horror and outrage is matched only when one suggests that all the left is not virtuous and good.

A few intolerant and angry white supremacists have become — according to the Left and the media — the spokespersons and representatives of all conservatives. It doesn’t matter we didn’t elect them. It doesn’t matter we don’t agree with them. It doesn’t matter that a few weeks ago we didn’t know they existed. They are us; we are them; there are no distinctions. Our individuality is erased and with it our dignity and humanity because not only are we labeled part of a group we didn’t choose and which doesn’t reflect us, but that group is made up of evil monsters. We have been demonized.

To any balanced observer, it is not hard to see that there was violence on both sides. Numerous pictures of Antifa are available showing Leftist anarchists wearing face masks carrying makeshift weapons. There are also numerous reports that they were throwing bottles and balloons of urine, some of which even hit reporters, including Katie Couric’s photographers.

And of course, the violence on the Right is burned into all our brains with the tragic, horrific car crash barreling into a group of people walking down the street. But to point out the violence on the left is unacceptable and so is pointing out the humanity on the right.

When Trump said, there were “very fine people on both sides,” at the rally, you would have to be completely blind to the humanity of conservatives to believe that every single attendee who went to a protest about a historic statue was a violent Nazi or white supremacists.

You would have to believe the narrative so completely that the only reason for the event was to threaten and intimidate others to think that there were not also regular people, history aficionados, free speech defenders and regular citizens who attended in the hopes of “uniting the right” around conservative values and were just as shocked as anyone else to see Nazi flags and violence erupting.

According to Scott Adams, you would have to be in a mass hysteria bubble.

“A mass hysteria happens when the public gets a wrong idea about something that has strong emotional content and it triggers cognitive dissonance that is often supported by confirmation bias. In other words, people spontaneously hallucinate a whole new (and usually crazy-sounding) reality and believe they see plenty of evidence for it.”

I would say that it seems unbelievable that the side that professes tolerance and individuality and acceptance would be openly expressing such bigotry. And yet, I’m not surprised because I’ve been witnessing it since last year. I am surprised by the new intensity of it. The message is getting stronger. There are more converts. And unlike the soft attacks from a year ago, the left has adopted a narrative that violence against conservatives is acceptable and necessary.

It started with Trump as Hitler, then all his supporters as Nazis. Now he is a monster and all the supporters are too.

You would have to have completely dehumanized conservatives to deny that there is any nuance in the political views on the right and to lump ever conservative into the most despicable category.

Remember when Hillary had to apologize for lumping “half” the country in with the deplorables? I expect she would get lambasted today for lumping “only half.”

 

To see the press and the reactions of the citizens, there was one side that was bad and anyone remotely linked to them — even if only by political association — was one of them. No exceptions.

There are few opinion pieces telling the perspectives of Trump voters. But there are many opinion pieces attempting to shame and intimidate Trump voters into denouncing Trump. They are essentially asking Trump voters to turn in their right to decide for themselves, turn in their dignity and concede to the left after Charlottesville, as if the actions of one unhinged individual erase every rational, level headed, principled reason to support a conservative agenda.

“In sum, there is no non-deplorable rationale for continuing to defend this president, his rhetoric and his moral obtuseness.”

The Anger, Animosity and Demonizing of Conservatives Has Reached a New Level

How do I know it’s reached a new level?

Where once my Democrat associates may have seen me as someone with a difference of opinion, they now treated me as a despicable enemy.

In the days after Charlottesville, old associates and friends who knew I supported Trump at the election felt so emboldened to send me insulting, condescending and mean-spirited messages. Charlottesville was horrific. I have publicly stated what a tragedy that was and how terrible it was for the country and my hopes that justice is brought on the lunatic who drove the car as well as anyone else who was violent. There is no place for violence where we can use rhetoric. I do not support political violence in any way.

It didn’t matter what I thought or stood for, in the minds of Democrats, I was as much to blame for the death of Heather Hayes as the driver.

I hadn’t heard these friends — at all — in over a year. When I showed my public support for Trump in 2016 they stopped talking to me, stopped including me, stopped being my friend. Their silence sent a message that I understood clearly, but it wasn’t hostile.

Unbeknownst to me, over the last year, their indifference has turned to loathing. And after the tragedy at Charlottesville they felt emboldened to reach out to me for no reason other than to insult, verbally attack and attempt to humiliate me.

It wasn’t just former friends who felt emboldened to confront me in a hostile fashion. Strangers also feel emboldened to approach Trump supporters in public. It’s not just the protesters at rally's or events but strangers on the street who will attempt to intimidate conservatives.

During the election, I frequently wore my Trump hat in public. I might get stares and dirty looks but mostly I was ignored. Sometimes someone would come ask me a question. Mostly, other Trump supporters gave me a thumbs up.

Last week, I went to Best Buy and in the parking lot, someone who saw me get out of my car with a Make America Great Again bumper sticker approached me and demanded I tell this person if I still supported Donald Trump. As you can imagine I felt very threatened being approached in such a confrontational way by a stranger.

Monsters Don’t Have Rights

Is this why conservatives feel our rights are being stripped away? As Google de-platforms publications and censors YouTube channels, protesters prevent conservatives and others from speaking in colleges, cities remove statues, organizers cancel rallies and citizens attack citizens, it seems less that conservative views are the problem, and more that mutual respect is the problem.

With a few extreme examples, most of us are pretty reasonable. When given an opportunity to calmly and fairly discuss our positions we not only can make a solid case to why we have our beliefs but can even find agreement and areas of consensus with Democrats.

It seems to me that the problem is no longer our platform or position but that we have lost respect as human beings. We are being seen as monsters without any distinction among us for the diversity of our opinions, backgrounds, experiences or hopes and dreams.

The left sees themselves as superior to such an extent that they barely consider us to be human. Disregard and contempt for any views different from theirs has fueled their hatred and discrimination.

How do we remind fellow Americans that we are individuals and humans? How do we get back to differences of opinions, discussion, and compassion for people who are not like us but are still human with fears, wants, visions and goals of their own?


For a related, alternative take see Leslie Loftis on Conservative traitors.

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4 thoughts on “Grasping for Humanity in Trump’s America”

  • ‘Dehumanising’ is melodramatic, but you’re right that in the age of Trump, the left and many in the centre have lost respect for conservatives. Many famous Republicans, including members of former Republican administrations, have little respect for Trump supporters.

    When you read the comment section of Breitbart and it’s filled with anti-Semitic comments, it’s little surprise why they should think that way. Sort out your own side if you want people to respect you as a movement or as people.

  • I am not sure how many on the Left actually believe such vitriolic things (could just be a very vocal minority that is propagated by media outlets who have their own agendas), but I think your writing based on the posts I’ve read is very enjoyable to read regardless :)!

    “How do we remind fellow Americans that we are individuals and humans? How do we get back to differences of opinions, discussion, and compassion for people who are not like us but are still human with fears, wants, visions and goals of their own?”

    IMO, the answer is rooted in the phrase, ‘seek first to understand, then to be understood.’ Changing someone’s opinion about something that they are emotionally invested in requires vulnerability and compassion.

    • Unfortunately I’ve seen enough on the left who believe it that it’s a real concern. I tend to not pay much attention to the random outliers, but there are enough insane lefties spewing really vile hate and acting very erratically that I think it’s real enough to counteract.

    • Unfortunately, I’ve seen enough on the left who believe it that it’s a real concern. I tend to not pay much attention to the random outliers, but there are enough insane lefties spewing really vile hate and acting very erratically that I think it’s real enough to counteract.

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