So You Think Liberals Aren’t Tolerant?
The anger of the election is fading, and the reality of an imminent Trump presidency is becoming a new inconvenient truth every day. An impassable schism has emerged, pitting everyday Americans against each other based on who they voted for, and in this heated environment, I’ve heard some things from the “other side” that have concerned me. I refer to the “other side” as anyone that identifies as a conservative to a Neo-Nazi since this is the spectrum that seems to have voted Trump. I don’t get it, so I decided to dig a little deeper.
First, I took it upon myself to read what was actually on Breitbart news, watch Tomi Lahren’s “Final Thoughts” segments, and this piece: Liberals Should Stop Ranting and Seek Out Silent Trump Voters Like Me. I shouldn’t be rallying against the other side unless I at least expose myself to their perspective, right? I did my due diligence, even if it was a lightweight tour of the “new conservatives”. Unfortunately, what I found just made me even more concerned about the future of our country. And my own safety.
Before I enumerate on the details, what has stood out to me the most about the “other side” was what I would call “parrot logic.” A huge criticism of liberals like me is how we are intolerant of other views, so how can we preach tolerance when we won’t legitimize the “other side’s” views? But, as long as I have been engaged in politics, it was exactly the liberal view that was never tolerated. The fundamental belief that all human beings are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and updating it to a 21st century definition to include: Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and more. I’ve never encountered this being a popular opinion, or one that people would ever listen to seriously. The only defense I had when people wouldn’t listen, from high school onward, was to identify someone as intolerant. Because it is! And conservative folks don’t like being called that. They even dislike more being called racist or bigoted. So they have taken on “parrot logic;” they use the world intolerant against us because it was the very thing we called them for years. It sunk into their consciousness, but it didn’t change their behavior. And now they use it against us. They don’t understand that an opinion is not the same as someone’s identity and oppression.
Beyond that, the truly remarkable thing is that they think this is a fight of the mind. They perceive that they are being policed for their words, actions, and thoughts by liberals. It never has been a fight of the mind. If conservatives feel liberals are intolerant because of what they think, they are sorely mistaken. It is a battle for the heart. We have, and always have, wanted you to feel the plight of oppressed people. To care. To understand that any move you make to oppress a minority group matters. And that if you feel that you aren’t being tolerated, sorry, but you are wrong. You are being mourned. Mourned by family and friends that understand your heart might be broken. You might not understand what love, compassion, empathy, and acceptance actually mean. This isn’t intolerance. It is bringing into fundamental question what being a human being is: is it selfish service to self or is to embrace and help others? Liberals identify with the latter. Conservatives seem to identify with the former.
Try existing in a world where you know people hate you, and could snuff out your life at any moment. Most of the silent, white Trump voters don’t know what this feels like. And they hijack the term tolerance to describe their discomfort at not being embraced by their liberal friends and family. Try a day in my shoes. It might be the easiest shoes to walk in as I am white and male. But I am gay. Nevertheless, I am always looking over my shoulder, always wondering if I am safe, and this uncertainty is not what American equality should ever be about. When you aren’t reading stories about how much people hate you, beat you, kill you, and organize to suppress your civil rights it MUST be very easy to vote for the guy that “speaks his mind.” Even when what he speaks incites violence against people like me.
What has disappointed me more than I can say is the people in my life that voted Trump and have taken no action to demonstrate they are on my side. To say that they will support me. That they will protect me. I have heard the platitude, more than once from Trump voters, that “everything will be okay.” Furthermore, that politics goes up and down, things change, but we always find common ground.
Not this time.
With the explosion of hate crimes, incidents of bullying in schools on the rise, and reports of mental health breakdowns from all minority groups in the wake of a Trump presidency, there is no evidence that everything will be okay. If anything, any oppressed or discriminated against minority group is at risk. And frankly, I feel like I have to clean up your fucking mess. All of you silent Trump voters that see crime perpetrated in his name and do nothing to counteract it. Better still, you fall for conservative lies like how Black Lives Matter is somehow the Black version of the KKK. The KKK have systematically terrorized, oppressed, and executed Black people for over 150 years. Non-violent protesters demanding that Black people not be executed in the streets by police officers is not the same thing. And this lack of education and knowledge is exactly why it is so hard for us to talk with you. Your complacency, lack of education, and attitude that “everything will be okay” is going to cost people their lives. And I don’t want it to come to that. So I have to go be on the front lines because, in my mind, you are a broken human being. The only explanation I have for your vote is me, and people like me, don’t matter to you. This isn’t an issue of the mind. It is an issue of the heart. And clearly your heart doesn’t work.
For instance, to quote from the Liberals Should Stop Ranting and Seek Out Silent Trump Voters Like Me, “Many of my left-leaning friends don’t see how other people could have valid rational reasons for opposing gay marriage, abortion, or open-border immigration policies, and still be good people. This is not tolerance.” You’re right. It isn’t, and nothing should force me to tolerate someone that doesn’t want to let me have equal, civil rights. Because I am a gay man and I want to get married. And as an American citizen, there will never be an argument you can present to me that will make me believe you can oppose my civil rights and expect me to view you as a decent or good human being. Opposing gay marriage, as one small example, is oppression. Is affecting the quality of my life. And when these issues don’t affect your day-to-day, it is easy to philosophize them away with, “Everyone is entitled to their opinion.” Because people organize to take away my civil rights, I in turn empathize with other oppressed people, and recognize that all our plights must be taken seriously.
I think for many Trump voters, many shades of identity politics do not affect them. Politics are not personal for many white voters. As such, they fail to enact empathy to give a shit about anyone else. They, like Tomi Lahren, start angrily ranting, thinking they are on equal footing. Instead of being mad about injustice, they turn their anger towards those fighting to end injustice. That somehow their ignorance is equal to other people’s education. Or even worse, that their opinion is superior to someone else’s identity. Cause that is the state we find ourselves in today. White ladies like Tomi rallying against Blacks, indigenous people, and more; and claiming they are victims of a liberal double-standard is silly. It isn’t a double-standard. You are just being racist.
Per the request of conservatives political correctness is now dead. But with it also goes civility. So when we call you racist, just own it, don’t make liberals the enemy that are enacting a double-standard. Cause to us, the politics are personal. You can yell and be as red in the face as you want, you can steal our language and our terms, and you can make us the villains. But frankly, this is what you asked for: the end of political correctness. And with it comes the end of us silently ignoring you. Now we will call you out. And that quickly gets ugly. And there goes all civility. Wave goodbye because it ain’t coming back.
In the past, we have been polite. We have sat silently at the table while family members regurgitated the latest conservative propaganda. We didn’t call you out. Now we are. And it comes as not surprise that you can’t take the heat. From Liberals Should Stop Ranting and Seek Out Silent Trump Voters Like Me, “We want to stop feeling silenced and condemned for having alternative viewpoints.” Share away all you want. Say what you want to say. No one has duct-taped your mouth. But don’t complain about the ramifications. Because oftentimes what you say is unresearched, uneducated, and directly or indirectly smacks of discrimination, prejudice, and hate. We can talk about that. I’ll educate you on why, but just like Tomi, you are usually yelling so loud that you can’t hear anything else but the sound of your own hate, which you conveniently call your opinion.
So here is the deal. Based on the article I’ve shared throughout this article, people I’ve unfriended, and conversations I’ve had with friends and family: you want me to seek you out and have a conversation. Here’s the reality: that isn’t my responsibility. You may be annoyed or dismayed by what you see on your Facebook feed about liberals organizing against Trump. But I fear for my safety when I walk down the street. You have the responsibility to come to me because the burden I bear is heavier than your own. You need to tell me you are on my side. Explore with me why certain opinions you hold may be oppressive and offensive.
But please, never tell me it is going to be okay. Because I don’t believe it, can’t believe it, and must be vigilant against all forces attempting to normalize oppression. You’re damn right liberals aren’t tolerant. We will never tolerate oppression.