They Believe They’re At War: Why Talking to Conservatives Doesn’t Help A Fucking Thing

One of the most common experiences of my years of openly debating conservatives is being attacked for things I plainly didn’t say. Just yesterday, I contrasted the current rate of attacks on minorities versus that in the six months before the election and got accused of being an idiot by a guy who thought (or claimed he thought) I was blaming Trump for the entirety of the six months before the election.

The very worst I’ve seen was a friend of 20+ years who accused me of being IN FAVOR of shooting police after I pointed out that white people would have shot a lot more cops by now if they received the kind of treatment black people do. (And I supported it with historical incidents involving our area’s previous generations of white people.)

The unwillingness of right-wingers to read for understanding rather than ammunition has had an effectively chilling effect on public discourse almost as badly as their de-legitimization of all traditional sources of knowledge short of The Farmer’s Almanac. This is possible because the right has — as always, in its own eyes — delegitimized rational discourse.

In the recent incident, when the conservative fuckwit accused me of saying the opposite of what I’d plainly said, I pointed out his inability to read plain English and posited that, just maybe, I wasn’t the idiot in the equation. I did that with the full knowledge that he and any other conservatives who read the exchange will go home, smug and content in the knowledge that they’ve exposed the hypocrisy and moral corruption of yet another godless communist coastal elite who looks down upon them for their superior lifestyle.

Indeed, many of them will characterize that lifestyle as “Godly” or “righteous”.

Even they somehow discover that I’m a patriotic country and western fan, a proud hillbilly, a pentecostal Christian, a firm capitalist, even that I’ve been yammering for years that Democrats needed to pay more attention to destitute white people, they will tell me that my education means that I “drank the Kool-Aid,” became a “libtard,” embraced the “mental illness known as liberalism.”

Their shields are up and they are jamming all incoming transmissions. They have been at war with us, in their own minds, for years, and the primary failure of left-wing America has been a naive acceptance that somehow, despite everything they’ve said and done, that this is a normal state of being.

Because there is nothing normal or right or righteous about anything that conservative America is doing right now. Most of us have had a growing sense of unease at this over the years, because even as we did everything we could to spin it some other way, the right just keeps digging deeper and deeper and deeper.

One by one, they have abandoned the principles that has made our great experiment in representative government both possible and successful. They have abandoned even the pretense of basing their decisions on reality, because they deny themselves contact with it.

That they are now openly attacking women and minorities in the streets does not surprise me, and it should not shock anyone on the left. Conservatives have been working themselves into a frothing frenzy on all these subjects for years.

Not ignorant. Not wrong-headed. Certainly not mistaken. Rabid.

Those neo-confederates that I’ve enjoyed quoting for a couple of months who were so glad that “When Trump gets elected, we’ll burn all the n*ggers” are the happiest motherfuckers in America right now. The appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump’s chief presidential strategist is an even bigger watershed moment for them than the moment when Trump welcomed him into the inner circle of his campaign.

While the right has been de-legitimizing both rational discourse and the institutions and practices of our republic, it has spent its currency, instead, legitimizing the most excessive and extreme parts of the right. Not since the days of George Wallace have America’s avowed bigots had such a voice in America. One of the acknowledged leaders of the alt-right — perhaps its most influential — the neo-nazis and neo-confederates and anti-feminists know him, and they know he shares their values.

We can pretend that the Trump presidency is not a massive assault on logic, on knowledge, on our democracy itself, just as we can continue to pretend that it is not a massive assault on the bodies and lives of people of color and women. But if we do that, we will forever be complicit in the crimes that are ongoing and the crimes that will occur next.

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