Archives for posts with tag: politics

The Left often gets labeled as the sentimental side of the political spectrum. They are the bleeding hearts, after all – shedding tears over every little injustice, naïve about the realities of the world. The Left doesn’t even really deny this, either. They will often use far-off injustices to try to shame the Right, attempting to claim an emotional universality. It’s normal to weep over the corpses of strangers on the other side of the planet, and if the world doesn’t weep with you, it’s because there just isn’t enough empathy and compassion. If the world cared a teeny bit more, then we would have that world peace that everyone keeps talking about. So really, it’s unanimous – the Left is too emotional, and the Right isn’t emotional enough. Bipartisan agreement means it must be true, right?

Karl Rove, the Deputy Chief of Staff during the Bush Jr. years and one of the architects of the Iraq war, famously quipped, “Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said, We will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said, We must understand our enemies.” Now, it might be argued that the liberals here are more emotional because they are presumably caring about the terrorists and want a more compassionate response, whereas the badass conservatives are leaping into action to solve the problem. But like… even on its face, the liberals are being painted here as the more cautious and cerebral of the two groups, no? Regardless of the motivation, they want to spend some time thinking on it. The impulsive action is in most other cases derided as the more emotional of the two actions described by Rove. Our gut reaction is the emotional reaction, and particularly in heated situations, the more rational thing to do is slow down, breathe, and try to understand the situation before saying or doing anything.

Pictured: a typical leftist bear throwing a tantrum

The Right does this often. Don’t try to understand why crime happens, be tough on crime! Don’t bother figuring out the root causes of addiction, force the addict into treatment! The more cynical leftist might argue that the Right is suggesting these paths after Machiavellian deliberation, recognizing that capitalism requires an under-class, and freeing people from the bondage of trauma and poverty would free up the working class more broadly, lowering the profit margins of the wealthy. I think the simpler and more likely answer is that the Right is being driven by its emotions, and coming up with action movie policies based on horror movie fears. Crime is scary! Addicts are scary! We need to get rid of them fast before they get us! While it may appear that the Right is often angry at these things they’re actively choosing not to understand (anger obviously doesn’t count as an emotion, but more on that later), that anger is an obvious mask for the underlying fear of the bogeyman driving their political agenda.

Frankly, that is probably enough evidence that the Right is more emotional than the Left, but it actually goes much deeper than that. Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist who helped found the Moral Foundation Theory, which articulates that human beings have moral beliefs embedded in us that drive our moral perspectives. They are care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation. While the list fluctuates, we’ll stick with this version. According to Haidt, the Left prioritizes care/harm and fairness/cheating to the detriment of the others while the Right will accept them all about equally. We’re not going to explore the validity of Moral Foundation Theory today, but I think it’s safe enough to accept it on its own terms for our purposes in this article. The Right has a wider degree of moral options than the Left.

In order for this to be moral, she needs to be loyal to him as the patriarch of the family, otherwise this image is a sinful mess.

The thing about morals though, is that they’re emotionally driven. We are angry at injustice. We feel contempt for the socially disruptive. We are disgusted by the flagrant. There is no pool of objective morality that we draw from whenever we see some moral violation; we have an emotional response that we then define as moral based on our cultural upbringing. That’s how even though morality can shift quite radically across cultures, there is enough truth to the Moral Foundations Theory that some version of each appear pretty abundantly across the world – again, we’re not getting into the problems of the theory, and generalities are enough for today. All humans have basically the same emotions; therefore, all humans have basically the same bases for their morality (however it may develop within a local framework). The emotions line up quite nicely: love with care, fear/anger at harm, attachment with loyalty, indignation at cheating, reverence for authority, and disgust at degradation. Haidt is actually quite explicit in this as he develops the theory.

So if morals are emotionally driven, and the Right is driven by a wider set of morals, then the Right is inherently driven more by emotion. This makes a lot of sense. If you consider all the attempts to justify the existence of the LGBT community by the Left using facts and logic, they very rarely make any kind of impact on the Right. That’s because it’s not facts or logic driving the Right’s perspective: it’s disgust. They see LGBT people as degrading society. Same with drugs, same with sex work; pretty much all the things we might consider vice, the Right thinks is gross. That’s why they don’t want to find ways to live with these things, like through tolerance or harm reduction, they just want to get rid of them. If you saw a spider next to your plate at dinner time, you wouldn’t want to find a way to live harmoniously with that spider while you ate your meal, you would need to get rid of it. That’s the attitude the Right takes toward human beings with lifestyles alien to their own. It’s disgust. It’s emotional. It’s not driven by reason.

Maybe it would be more appealing if we knew for a fact that the spider identified as the gender it was assigned at birth

Same thing with authority. The Left isn’t actually against the idea of authority. Mikhail Bakunin, one of the founders of modern anarchism and thus not a huge proponent of authority as it is traditionally understood, said, “When it is a question of boots, I refer the matter to the authority of the cobbler; when it is a question of houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or engineer. For each special area of knowledge I speak to the appropriate expert. But I allow neither the cobbler nor the architect nor the scientist to impose upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and verification.” It’s the difference between Anthony Fauci and Donald Trump during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Americans on the Left listened to Fauci because he had decades of experience in public health and immunology. Fauci himself as a person was irrelevant – it could have been anyone saying what he was saying; the experience and expertise were what mattered. The Right listened to Donald Trump because he was their leader, a moral trait he leaned into hard. Whenever he got anything wrong, it was forgiven because emotional reverence supersedes worldly concerns. Not to say that Anthony Fauci is infallible, or that the experts can’t get it wrong, it’s just that the motivation for the Left to respect an authority isn’t as emotionally driven as it is for the Right. The Left doesn’t have the same moral component to their respect for authority, therefore they also lack the emotional component.

So, if the Right is far and away more emotional than the Left, why does the myth of their stoic resolve win in almost every instance? Why is there bipartisan agreement that the Left is a bunch of whiny babies? I don’t have a concrete answer, but my personal theory is that emotions have a branding problem. When we think of emotions, we think of a woman crying or throwing a hissy fit. We don’t think of a manly anger (likely masking a fear), or a righteous indignation, or a social disgust – we think of girly girls who can’t handle a hard reality. The perceived stoicism of the Right is driven by essentially an anti-feminist hyper-masculinity that demands a numbness to the things the Left might care about. When men get angry enough to punch a wall, that’s not being emotional – that’s being tough. When the Right thinks two dudes holding hands is gross, that’s not emotional, that’s Godly. The Right can’t be emotional because emotions are for girls, and the Left has already claimed feminism. The Left embraces this divide because it’s like, “Heck yeah! Emotions! We’re girly feminists who cry sometimes and that’s empowering!”

This must be that Critical Race Theory that everyone keeps talking about

So how do we rectify a situation where the political ideology that is actually the more rational denies that categorization in favour of leaning into the Bleeding Heart narrative? How do we convince another political ideology that has severed itself from any perception of emotional “weakness” that most of its talking points are actually based on those same emotions they’re trying to hide from? We need to be honest about our emotions, and have a greater understanding of how emotions are infused into many areas of our lives that we might not fully understand. And also, that it’s okay to have emotions! You can think gay sex is gross – I promise you, you won’t be canceled. Just don’t have gay sex! It’s easier than you think! But it becomes a lot harder to justify moral impositions on society when we know that those morals are only grounded in our wholly subjective emotional responses. If I think salmon is gross, how monstrous would I be to make sure no one is ever allowed to eat salmon again? As for the bizarre hypocrisy of the Left? I dunno man, the Left is just weird.

There’s a common conservative trope in America that responds to any demand for gun reform after a mass shooting with a disappointment in “the left” for making the tragedy “political.” In the most considerate light, this is the assertion that one ought to focus instead on processing grief rather than… what? What are politics? I mean… what am politics? I did a whole bit with my title; I should probably refer back to it for some degree of continuity. So what am politics?

Politics am the process by which a system functions and is successfully navigated. Think of office politics: if I want this report submitted, I know I have to get it in before noon because Pam in accounting has liquid lunches every day and is too sauced later in the afternoon to get any meaningful work done. If I want that promotion, I need to laugh at Scott’s jokes because he is the boss and has a fragile ego and holds a grudge. You have to recognize the power dynamics at play, understand everyone’s role and the eccentricities that inform their behaviour within that role, and perform your own role accordingly in order to meet your own needs within that system.

Politics!

Government isn’t politics; it’s an institution of politics for the functionality of the society that it governs. If I want any hope of a clean energy deal, I have to give Joe Manchin a rusty trombone in order to get it. This is no different than getting Pam to process your TPS reports quicker by buying her a nice vodka cran, if tasting slightly worse. It doesn’t even necessarily matter what the goals are; politics can just as easily gum up a system as it can loosen it. An obstructionist can use all sorts of political tools and rhetoric to achieve the self-interested goals of whatever lobby group is paying for their motivation: that’s also politics. It’s just that the system that it’s sustaining is plutocratic rather than serving the needs of the demos. Systems are legion and intersect in all sorts of ways.

My first example was an office because I specifically wanted to distance politics from government to make it clear that politics exists anywhere. Politics exists across the whole spectrum of governments, and if you think about the vast differences between a democracy and an autocracy, and the different maneuvers that would be required to function within each of them (e.g. how one goes about satisfying the needs of the many compared to satisfying the needs of the one), it’s obvious that politics can be everywhere, even when it’s defined by only its most overt form. Remember, it’s the process by which we function within a specific system. It doesn’t matter what the system is, whether a workplace, a nation, or a relationship, politics is there. When you successfully answer whether those pants make her ass look fat, you’ll likely be congratulated by being told that you provided a satisfactorily diplomatic response: a distinctly political term.

In short, dismissing gun reform by saying, “it’s easy to go to politics” is by definition, politics. If you are carefully considering your words in order to maintain the functionality that serves you within the system you’re navigating, you’re doing a politics. The far more interesting question is, I think, what is political?

What am political?

When something is political, it means that it is attached to a particular system’s functionality. Laughing at Scott’s jokes is a political act. It is conforming to a persona of flirtatiousness in order to succeed within a business dominated by men informed by a lecherous patriarchal worldview. This is why they say that the personal is political: our individual actions either conform to or rebel against the systems within which we function as our means of navigating them (see code-switching as another example). In Scott’s instance, we have to navigate the system of interpersonal relationships wherein we behave in a particular way to avoid ostracization, the system of a workplace wherein we need to perform in a certain way in order to pay for food and rent, and the system of patriarchy wherein I actually don’t have to worry about this part because I’ve been a dude this whole time.

It would actually be a much shorter list if we try to think of things that are not political. Come to think of it, even an act of God like Hurricane Katrina is still political because it showcased the failures and successes of a variety of systems. Similarly with Covid-19, it too stress-tested the functionality of our various systems. These supra-human events are just as political as, say, the Civil Rights movement because if we are paying attention, we can use politics to adjust our systems accordingly to prevent future failures. Or, alternatively, condemn the system as a whole if we see its successes as abhorrent when the veil is ripped away. Anything can be political if it highlights the (dis)functionality of a systemic response, so our short list is a list of zero. Who knew.

Remember when Kanye cared about black people?

All this boils down to a belief that guns, and all the deaths that inevitably accompany them, transcend literal acts of God in that they cannot be politicized. Right? Something that is embedded in the United States constitution, itself another institution of politics, would defy all reason if we approached it politically. It’s seemingly okay to politicize mental health, and I would genuinely love to see massive increases in expenditures to bolster social supports for those with mental illness, but somehow I don’t think that that governmental response is in the cards either. It would be fun to call the Republican bluff and table legislation that did exactly this to see how Republicans find a way to weasel their way out of it, but Democrats have their own systems they’re trying to protect.

A belief that guns are inevitable does not want the system to change; mass shootings are indeed emblematic of its success. Guns mean freedom! All those dead children are the broken eggs intrinsically linked to this omelet of ambiguous “freedom.” Unadulterated “freedom to” with no regard to “freedom from,” this is what the success of that system looks like. Those who use politics in order to hide the abhorrence of that success using the denunciation of “politics” to do so are the vilest of hypocrite.

Depending on who you ask, Critical Race Theory (CRT) is potentially one of the biggest threats to society that the West has ever faced. It’s being fed to our children and making them grow up to become beta cucks who are unable to properly defend their country against all the Alphas in China and Russia, or even worse, grow up to become women. With a nation of self-hating, over-educated snowflakes, the West is sure to crumble under the weight of its own wokeness. And this shit is starting in our schools! Our babies! If they start teaching our babies about CRT, what’s next? That gay people exist!?

If children are exposed to non-derogatory images of homosexuality at a young age, they might grow up thinking that it’s normal! Heavens to Betsy!

Of course, we all know about gay people because we’ve had such an thorough and well-balanced exploration of homosexuality in our publicly-funded sexual education previously to now. But what is CRT? How can a race be critical when it doesn’t even have a mouth? Unfortunately, I didn’t grow up in the United States so I didn’t have CRT shoved down my young throat when I went to elementary school. I had to wait until my Master’s degree to learn about it, so my education came much too late.

What I learned is that one can frame racism beyond personal prejudice. CRT asks us to imagine a world where interpersonal racism evaporated overnight, and wonder whether racial disparities would still exist. Given that it’s easy enough to see that they would, CRT opens up a conversation as to what contributes to racial disparities beyond subjective attitudes.

It turns out that holding hands was not enough to end the stratification created by centuries of injustice

CRT is a legal lens in that it focuses primarily on how laws that can appear neutral on their face represent a history of laws that originated in more overt forms of discrimination. The case I’m most familiar with, since that’s what I did my studies on, are drug laws that seemingly apply to everyone equally (they don’t use the n-word in the legal code, for instance), but in their history and implementation primarily target people of colour. Drug laws, in both the United States and Canada, were implemented entirely to control immigrant populations and prevent the mixing of races. Famously, in 1907, there was a massive race riot in Vancouver’s Chinatown because White people believed that Asian men were seducing White women using that sweet, sweet opium. Future Prime Ministry William Lyon Mackenzie King went and “investigated” the riot, and when he returned to Ottawa, criminalized opium because that was clearly the issue. Today, even though racial minorities are generally harassed by the legal system disproportionately to their White counterparts, the criminalization actually surges when the excuse being used for that harassment is drugs. Politicians will use the dog whistle “tough on crime” to stoke racialized fears without actually saying the n-word repeatedly, and that’s because crime and in particular drug crime have been so embedded into our cultural psyche as being linked to dangerous racial minorities that we can’t escape it. Therefore, the enforcement of drug laws is inherently racist even if there are a few good apples in the police force with open and progressive values.

And that, my friends, is what I learned CRT to be. It’s the deconstruction of seemingly neutral laws through a historical lens to ascertain why their outcome today disproportionately beleaguers people of colour. There’s more to it than that, such as a look at the impotence of current civil rights laws to address the so-called neutral laws adjacent to them in the legal code that are harming the people the civil rights laws are ostensibly there to protect, but that’s the most simplistic way of understanding CRT.

Ban the questioning of why things are the way they are! You were supposed to stop asking “why” when you turned three!

What does the historical deconstruction of laws have to do with elementary school kids? It would be bizarre to teach a postmodern philosophy of law to a child who doesn’t even have an understanding of how a bill becomes a law yet. In my ignorance, I only learned about CRT from the academic journals exploring the topic. Little did I know that social media and television pundits have different sources for their understanding of CRT; namely, from all the way up their own ass.

So what is CRT, really? Well, according to timeless sage and general polymath Tucker Carlson, CRT teaches us, “if you’re a straight White American, even if you’re a very small child, you’re guilty. It’s your fault. You’re a bad person.” This is the greatest threat to American society, and “everything’s at stake” because “[CRT is] civilization-ending poison.” The group Moms for Liberty, famous for putting out a $500 reward for catching teachers daring to educate their students on CRT, describe it as categorizing people into a binary of “oppressors” and “victim” based exclusively on the colour of that person’s skin. “That means the two million union soldiers who fought in the civil war to end slavery were also oppressors!” These people must be the experts to address it with such civilization-ending gravitas to put bounties on school teachers.

How do they know this is happening? Well they can point to facts like the National Education Association wanting to include in its curriculum the “truthful and age-appropriate accountings of unpleasant aspects of American history” and “the continued impact this history has on our current society.” Our Moms for Liberty heroines cite school assignments that ask their kids to reflect on what privileges they might have within their social standing.

If your university library didn’t have major budget cuts, that makes you an oppressor!

But hold on, my fancy university degree is tingling. How does acknowledging say, slavery, categorize White children today into an oppressor class? Should we not be teaching kids about slavery? Or do they disagree that history has an on-going influence on modern society, and perhaps have different beliefs as to why racial disparities still exist? Will acknowledging where we might have benefited from our station in life truly be the end of civilization as we know it? Seems pretty… hyperbolic, to say the least. It’s also not CRT. If you’ll recall, CRT is the postmodern deconstruction of laws to disentangle them from their colour-blind neutrality to show how racist origins influence the structure of society today. Very little to do with privilege, nor is there any categorization of people within that perspective. Its entire deal is to look away from people to look at the theory of law – remember how it said nobody had to be personally racist for these problems to continue? Frankly, it’s barely a history lesson and more of a lens through which to view a history lesson, and my guess is that school kids aren’t deconstructing drug laws in their grade 10 social studies classes even if they’re carrying forward historical events to see their influence today.

If CRT isn’t actually CRT, then what is CRT? Well, if we listen to how CRT is being described, it’s an attack on White children, bullying them into self-effacing beliefs. The threat isn’t to civilization, it’s a threat to White civilization. There does not appear to be any concern for Black children learning CRT. Presumably Black children are benefiting from this new narrative since they are now the social victors while their White peers exist only under their woke boots.

Bow before your new king!

You know how when a politician is asked a question they don’t want to answer, they don’t answer it, and respond instead to an imagined question that allows them to answer in the way they want? That’s what’s happening with CRT. No one is actually responding to CRT, they’re creating a strawman of CRT that allows them to tell susceptible White folks that they are under threat from the woke mob. What will never be discussed is the demographics of that mob: logically, in order for CRT to make sense as a threat, it has to be made up of people of colour and their allies, or, n______ and n_____-lovers. Truly a civilization-ending threat to put those people in charge!

The pandering to White Fright is not even subtle! It’s those coloureds and those coloured-lovers (that’s probably safer, right?) coming to brainwash our precious White darlings! It’s so obviously race-baiting that CRT literally has “race” in the name. Florida, known for being vociferously against censorship and cancel culture, is now banning math textbooks for things like CRT and social-emotional learning (because building a relationship toward a subject rather than embodying a stoic disinterest in rigorous scholarship at six years old is for pussies – and only pussies care about racial relations). It must only be the speech of certain types of people that is worth protecting.

Don’t worry, it’s only the books that talk about White Supremacy as a bad thing that are being burned because that’s divisive!

Racism never went away. The Southern Strategy may have changed racist language from repeatedly using the n-word to dog whistles with plausible deniability like “tough on crime”, but it was always there. The backlash to CRT shows a regression away from the dog whistle. Today’s Lee Atwater is probably out there now wondering whether political speech can start using the n-word again. If demagogues are already comfortable raising a racial panic over the threat to all of the White babies, and this becomes normalized, it’s not like racism is going to content itself with eliminating the discussion of race in schools.

Dog whistles exist for terrible people to raise the specter of what ought to be obsolete ideologies. As we see the dog whistles get put away to allow room for the more overt integration of those terrible ideologies into the mainstream, it really ought to be a wake-up call that something much worse is coming.