Philosophy, Politics, recent

In Defense of Decency

Contemporary political discourse seems to be largely consumed, if not deranged, by our endless culture war. Many of us recoil at the daily skirmishes, even as we hunt for our next fix of outrage. Through our dismay, we might yearn for a distant future in which disagreements are more civilized and decent people of all stripes can work together to solve society’s challenges. It’s tempting to imagine that only zealots could disagree with such anodyne ideals. And indeed, nearly 80 percent of Americans are disturbed by the lack of civility in politics.

But a glance at Twitter paints a more dispiriting picture. Within this bizarre simulacrum of society, hostility towards high-minded ideals like civility is not limited to the fringe—at least not the fringe as we tend to conceive of it. Instead, for some mainstream journalists and activists, a politician’s history of civility with adversaries can amount to a stain on his record.

This mindset seems to be informed by a fear that engaging the “enemy” with decency betrays weakness or disloyalty to the cause. Such failures are therefore tantamount to empowering oppression, socialism, the alt-right, Islamists, or whatever bogeyman consumes the minds of the faithful. In the hope of warding off this kind of corruption, some on the Left have created a strawman known as “civility politics,” or “the politics of civility.” Though rarely defined, it is often deployed to evoke images of civil rights activists being chastised for rudeness. As a consequence, a principled opposition to violence and dehumanization can be conflated with a demand for deferential politeness.

A Daily Show clip, modestly titled “Trevor Noah EVISCERATES the civility argument” exemplifies this maneuver. “You know what really gets me?” he asks. “When these people come up to me and say, ‘But Trevor, why can’t we be polite? Why can’t we fight hate with love, just like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela?’ Never forget, in their time, people were not exactly happy with how they protested… The British called Gandhi an ‘agitator,’ countries around the world called Nelson Mandela a ‘terrorist.’”

A surface reading of this argument implies that we should discard the worldview of Gandhi and Mandela because their opponents despised them. This is circular, of course: a strategy for combating oppression can’t be refuted by the mere fact that oppression exists. The takeaway seems to be that moral principles should be abandoned if the other side is sufficiently wicked.

Of course, not all criticisms of civility are incoherent. As ZZ Packer argues in the New York Times, there are two ways in which to use and understand “civility.” The first can be thought of as “civility of manners,” which relates to “politeness, courtesy, [and] consideration.” While these niceties have value, Packer correctly argues that latching onto politeness above all else is dangerous. Doing so, she argues, creates a trap in which we risk, “conforming to unjust social arrangements” in deference to niceness.

It’s unsurprising that activists share this concern. A sanctimonious lecture about manners sounds insulting when others are suffering injustices. But this is to miss a deeper and more fundamental conception of the term, which Packer refers to as the “civility of morals.” The civility of morals is less about adhering to social conventions than to certain ideals, rooted in social contract theory, which ask us to “restrain certain impulses in exchange for peace.”

These two conceptions of civility are often in tension. While the civility of manners seeks to neutralize conflict, the civility of morals “obligates us to interrogate what it means to keep the peace, and at what cost. It requires us to be vigilant, finding ways to keep our civic commitments even when our opponents abandon them, refuse to play fair and act in bad faith.” These principles are antithetical to the moral flexibility espoused by many ideologues.

Tribalism is likely the greatest obstacle to such a civility of morals. As Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff argue in The Coddling of the American Mind, thousands of years of evolution have encouraged our minds to engage in “dichotomous, us-versus-them thinking.” Ideological frameworks that posit binary moral divides seem especially prone to “hyperactivating our ancient tribal tendencies.” These tribal attitudes often produce what Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks calls a “pathological dualism” where “humanity itself [is] radically…divided into the unimpeachably good and the irredeemably bad.”

This dualistic lens can be seen in dehumanizing descriptions of immigrants or Muslims from the far-Right. But dehumanizing rhetoric is also found in far-Left depictions of the cosmic battle between oppressor and oppressed. Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour expressed this plainly during a discussion about Palestine: “If you’re actually trying to humanize the oppressor, then that’s a problem, sisters and brothers.” Opponents in this light are not merely wrongheaded or ignorant, but irredeemable. They therefore forfeit their humanity—there can be no second chances. The tendency in social justice discourse to lump people into broad categories makes this all the more disturbing. One is left to wonder who exactly qualifies as an “oppressor” and who gets to decide.

This mindset also allows us to overlook the worst behavior of our own team. Moral analysis in this realm often begins and ends with a single question: who are the actors involved? It is no wonder, then, that Sarsour falls silent in response to Louis Farrakhan’s serial displays of antisemitism. The same can be said of the journalists equivocating over Antifa’s assault of Andy Ngo. While antisemitism or street violence may not be our cup of tea, they seem to say, empathy and outrage must be reserved for our allies, not for those they victimize. Actions that might otherwise be condemned are therefore excused because they are directed at an authorized target.

Vox journalist Matthew Yglesias’s response to an episode involving Tucker Carlson’s wife, Susie, offers another instructive case study. While some have cast doubt on the events as Carlson described them, this was subsequent to Yglesias’s commentary. Susie Carlson, or so the story goes, barricaded herself in a room after a group of aggressive protestors began hammering on her front door. In response, Yglesias confessed that he “honestly cannot empathize with Tucker Carlson’s wife at all—I agree that protesting at her house was tactically unwise and shouldn’t be done—but I am utterly unable to identify with her plight on any level.” The “idea behind terrorizing his family, like it or not as a strategy,” he hypothesized, “is to make them feel some fear that the victims of MAGA-inspired violence feel thanks to the non-strop racial incitement coming from Tucker, Trump, etc.” He went on: “I agree that this is probably not tactically sound, but if your instinct is to empathize with the fear of the Carlson family rather than with the fear of his victims then you should take a moment to reflect on why that is.”

Yglesias’s analysis implies that compassion is zero-sum; there is no suggestion that empathizing with both Susie Carlson and her husband’s “victims” is even possible. Even if we grant that Carlson’s rhetoric has contributed to the plight of minorities, the moral calculus remains unchanged. Tucker Carlson’s wife and children simply do not deserve to experience such an invasive level of harassment, no matter how objectionable Tucker’s views may be. For Yglesias, these very objections would seem to be a cause for reasonable suspicion, and those who raise them should “reflect” on their (presumably ignoble) motives for doing so. But doesn’t it seem strange that the burden of justification should first fall on those advocating for decency rather than cruelty?

Treating our political adversaries humanely can feel like a tall order. But we should notice how far our empathy can travel in other contexts. Many of us of a leftward persuasion call for reforms to our criminal justice system, even for violent criminals. Some of us even lose sleep over the treatment of terrorists. We consider ourselves more moral for doing so. But would we entertain a claim that our calls for humane incarceration and less retributive sentencing are proof that we lack compassion for crime victims? Not for a second.

We need not surrender to such doublethink. By appealing to ideals that expand our moral sphere to be more inclusive, we can fight for a better world and maintain a principled commitment to decency. Doing so requires an explicit repudiation of the sort of skin-deep, tribal dualism so familiar to our politics today. As Martin Luther King explained, the struggle is not “between people at all…resistance is not aimed against oppressors, but oppression. Under its banner consciences, not racial groups, are enlisted.”

It’s only fair to acknowledge that King is often cherry-picked like scripture. Progressives point to his criticism of white moderates in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” while those on the Right note his wariness toward Black Power. Yet King’s underlying philosophy was not a maze of contradictions; its essence was a sort of universal humanism.

Whether nonviolent resistance was sufficient to achieve all of the gains of the Civil Rights Movement has long been debated. There are no shortage of graves, King’s among them, to remind us that some racists were impervious to change. Clearly, an ideology of absolute pacifism can be morally bankrupt when it confronts absolute evil. As Orwell pointed out, such pacifism is predicated on a belief that evil “will somehow destroy itself. But why should it? What evidence is there that it does?”

Lectures about our shared humanity are no defense against the gestapo or gangs of Klansmen. But not every unfairness or wrong justifies violence. Living in a pluralistic society exposes us to numerous ideological perspectives, some of which will inevitably be an affront to our own. This is the price of living in a free society. It’s sometimes a high toll, but it’s surely less expensive than the alternative. Does this mean that we have to lay down and “take it”? It does not. Protest, expose wrongdoing, and criticize society’s failures. None of this requires us to dehumanize the unenlightened or be a bystander to cruelty.

Adopting common humanity politics is not just moral, it’s also effective. Although some are beyond the reach of persuasion, victory often depends on reaching a larger base of people—some conflicted, some fearful, some apathetic. Rather than regard all white people as the enemy, for example, King inspired this larger group to open their eyes to the suffering of their fellow citizens, and challenged them to do something about it. America did not heed the call overnight—and one can argue that it has yet to fully answer it—but substantial progress was nevertheless made.

Isn’t achieving progress the name of the game? Unfortunately, too few progressive activists today appear to be interested in changing minds. This is evident in their missionary efforts, where far more energy is spent trying to silence problematic ideas than actually engaging anyone. But stifling or even stigmatizing beliefs doesn’t vanquish them. Anyone blindsided by Brexit or Trump should have learned that people’s true beliefs have a way of revealing themselves at the ballot box. It’s simply not enough for activists to discourage and scold inappropriate behavior as if they staff society’s HR Department. To win, the Left needs to win minds.

Such work is not easy. But, as a pair of documentaries by Deeyah Khan and Daryl Davis show, it is possible. White Right: Meeting the Enemy and An Accidental Courtesy reveal some racists to be as cynical and heartless as expected. But these films also testify to the transcendent power of our common humanity. As we spend time with the racists in both films, the mask usually slips to reveal a familiar tragedy—many are unskilled, depressed, and afraid of a changing world. None of this excuses their espousal of a wicked ideology, but it helps us understand why people gravitate towards such movements, and how skilled recruiters are able to exploit them.

We don’t have to wax philosophical about free will to recognize that no human is fully autonomous. None of us has complete control over the experiences and genes that made us, our personality, our worldview, or our insecurities. This is true for everyone from a Doctors Without Borders volunteer to the ignoramus at the local pub. None of which means we shouldn’t incarcerate criminals, or criticize bad ideas and those who espouse them. But the recognition that we are shaped by forces beyond our control can dissolve genuine hatred, leaving a void that can be replaced with something more constructive.

Hatred may seduce us with feelings of righteousness, but it changes little for the better. Morality should certainly shape our political views, but our politics must never shape our morality. Adopting such an inversion, we may find ourselves defending the unconscionable.


Robert McLeod is a New England-based technology professional. You can follow him on Twitter @Robert_McLeod


  1. dirk says

    Again, without having read the article, except of the title: just look at these dogs, and at the background, a decent, peaceful country home, not of the gentry but of simple farmers, and then these gentry dogs fighting, for what ?, what was the reason ?? A bone, a hare (not very likely, look at all the trees around) or something, they are not even hunting. But, it looks like, the underdogs have the sympathy of the painter, or am I wrong??

    • Kauf Buch says

      Compare that painting to so-called “modern” art, and you’ve got the answer as to why “decency” per se is no longer possible with the degenerate (Leftist) side of discussions.

    • JamieM says

      I’m pretty sure it’s racist, -phobic, dogs oppressing innocent dogs of .

        • Kauf Buch says

          TO JamieM
          “Are you assuming their gender SPECIES?!?” (triggered outrage)

          • JamieM says

            Aw, geez. My bad. I’ll go commit seppuku in expiation of my guilt now. Wait, that’s appropriation, right? Dang. Guess I’ll just have to live with my evil.

    • Ivan Moore says

      This is not directed at you but at the author of this left wing screed. How any rational person can consider the commentary of Tucker Carlson to be intimidating to poor sad snowflakes is beyond comprehension. It is unfortunate this antifia outrage was not committed in a reasonable State where the attacked homeowner would have legally been able to react with deadly force.

  2. Asenath Waite says

    I used to love the Daily Show back in the Bush II epoch, but have not watched more than five minutes since Noah took over. I think that’s when I ceased really being able to identify with the left. TDS, John Oliver, and Samantha Bee just make me irritated now. I still can’t bring myself to dislike Colbert because he loves Tolkien so much, but I don’t watch his show.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Do you listen to Rush Limbaugh? Bill O’Reilly? Glenn Beck?

      Probably not because the right-wing equivalent to the people you named above are all insane and have been spewing hatred long before Noah came along. Too many people very conveniently forget that much of the today’s leftwing media is just a response to the right.

      • doug deeper says

        Nakatomi, perhaps you are too young to remember that the bigoted right was largely marginalized by the 1980s. The civil rights movement and the countercultural of the late 60s took care of that. However the late 60s introduced the bigoted new left into the US, and they went on to dominate our culture to the degree, that a centrist, much less a conservative, is no longer allowed in academia, media, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, or the public square of any metro city in America. (I exaggerate, but not so much.) By about 2015 the Obama admin cemented the power of the left to such a degree that we started to see the rise of a bigoted right once again. Of course their numbers are tiny in comparison to the armies of violent leftist extremists that patrol our cities and campuses.
        Thus, it is the extreme bigotry of the left that has given a rebirth to the extreme right. After all, reducing straight white people to second class citizens was bound to produce a backlash

      • Asenath Waite says


        No. Although even if they are crazy or disingenuous, those people seem like counterculture voices to the current overwhelmingly leftist media narrative, so I don’t find them to be as annoying at present.

        Sort of like how glam metal seemed so horrible in the ’80s when it was dominant and threatening to destroy music, but now that it’s no longer a threat it’s just fun. Of course music was ultimately destroyed in the end, but that’s another issue.

        • Devin says

          @Asenath Waite

          That’s the first time I’ve seen someone make reference to glam metal in the Quillette comment section. Kudos.

          • Asenath Waite says


            Rush Limbaugh is the Nikki Sixx of political discourse.

      • gda53 says

        No. Spewing whatever your latest leftist Media Matters talking points tell you to is not analysis.

        Your comments consistently show you are not someone to take seriously.

      • leveraction says

        “much of the today’s leftwing media is just a response to the right.”

        That may be so. Nevertheless, Limbaugh, O’Reilly,and Beck were all responses to the decades of one-sided left-leaning media. This is the reason they have had so much traction. They were serving and under-served market.

      • Sparkles And Rainbows says

        @Nakatomi Plaza

        One can criticize Trevor Noah without listening to the weirdos you cite. Political invective on the airwaves precedes him, right?

  3. Peter Crawford says

    I would add that a lot of the behavior betrays a lack of respect for the democratic process. In a democracy, differences are resolved and policies are determined at the ballot box primarily and secondarily by petitioning the government. Using threats or intimidation against elected office holders or their appointees (e.g. confronting someone in a public restaurant) shows a fundamental lack of respect for democracy. Violence and intimidation may have a place in totalitarian societies, but in a democracy, we have a very straightforward means of effecting change and that through exercise of the franchise.

    • Kauf Buch says

      A small clarification: in the USA, we have a Representative/Constitutional Republic. A Democracy would simply allow 50%+1 to rule over the rest.

      • David of Kirkland says

        A republic is based on a democratic process, just not individual voting for laws, but for representatives. Today, we don’t get representatives of the people, but representatives of the winning party, giving just two views of factionalism rather than 100 senate and 435 house minds representing their constituents.

        The inability to accept the winner for their elected term does show a lack of respect for the democratic process. When the winner is blocked by lawsuits and all sorts of other nonsense, you find there’s little progress even for the winner.

        • Kauf Buch says

          TO DoK

          Unclear on your post.
          Agreed that Senators should once again be chosen by their State governments. BUT:
          The Representatives are selected by people in their districts, so what are you saying?

      • Kauf Buch says

        as a P.S. to Peter C.

        Hence, the “Four Boxes of Liberty” (related to Jefferson’s “Tree Of Liberty” quote):
        1) The Soap Box (freedom of speech)
        2) The Ballot Box (duty to vote)
        3) The Jury Box (Rule of Law)
        and, when all else fails
        4) The Ammo Box (our 2nd Amendment, Right to A) self-defense and B) overthrow an unjust tyranny)

    • E. Olson says

      Good point Peter, but of course the problem for the Left is that most people don’t agree with Leftist viewpoints. Most people think high taxes and redistribution from productive to lazy that the Left espouses hurts the economy and doesn’t help the lazy. Most people also think abortion is killing a human life, and that males should use male restrooms and females should use female restrooms. Most people want a clean environment, but they are unwilling to shut down the modern economy and the fossil energy that fuels it as the Left advocates to save a few polar bears (assuming they need to be saved). Most people also think that everyone deserves fair treatment and shouldn’t be punished because of gender, race, religion, or sexual interests, but they disagree strongly with affirmative action or reparation payments that the Left advocates.

      So of course most of the things the Left advocates don’t win at the ballot box if they are honestly presented, and hence frequently resorts to non-election strategies ranging from finding the most Leftist judges to block democratic preferences to getting violent to intimidate the other side from voting or expressing their opinions. And the ultimate danger from the Left is when and if they do manage to win elections and start to use the power of the state to violently shut down the other side as the Obama administration did with weaponizing the IRS, Justice, and FBI against political opponents.

      • Nakatomi Plaza says

        You’re delusional. Seriously, what the fuck, man? Have you paid any attention to the Supreme Court this century? It begins – literally – with them deciding the 2000 presidency and includes such gems as Citizens United and refusing to act on Gerrymandering. You really didn’t read any of the stories this year about the state legislatures that tried to prohibit the left from making changes AFTER they won elections? You are absolutely, dangerously uninformed about what is going on out there, and this is without even mentioning Trump and his bizarre behavior. Firing Justice officials who are investigating him? You didn’t hear about that either?

        It’s great to have opinions, but you are pathetically clueless. Read a fucking newspaper once in a while.

        • E. Olson says

          NP – Do you mean the 2000 election that a recount proved Bush won and Gore lost (and the story was buried by the mainstream media because it didn’t fit the narrative or a rogue court over-riding election results)? You mean the Gerrymandering named after Democrat Elbridge Gerry that has been most abused by Democrats ever since, but is part of the spoils of winning elections? Do you mean the Citizens United case that Obama and Hillary Clinton used to set record amounts of campaign funding raising?

          Of course all your examples are the Supreme Court taking conservative decisions that are in keeping with the US Constitution, unlike all the District courts that have unconstitutionally gone beyond their legal jurisdiction to stop Trump’s legal executive orders on immigration, the environment, and other issues the Left is unhappy about, which are always overturned in higher court.

          But I do appreciate your attempts at civil debate as I expect you are very busy and tired after beating down “Nazi” reporters and senior citizens in your Antifa activities.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @E. Olson

            “You mean the Gerrymandering named after Democrat Elbridge Gerry that has been most abused by Democrats ever since”

            I dare say that’s the very Gerrymandering that Nakatomi is talking about. Do we decide whether or not we like the disgrace that is Gerrymandering because of the political stripe of the person it was named after? Perhaps Nakatomi is opposed to it because it is disgraceful irrespective of who it is named after and perhaps SCOTUS should have stomped it dead by 9:0 once and for all irrespective of Republicrats and Democans? Only the US permits this abomination. Mugabe would weep. Stalin would shake his head in disbelief. In some ways the US of A is a 3d world country.

        • rferris says

          That is your problem Mr. Plaza, you read too much propaganda and it is making you disturbed and upset. The good news is most of your biggest concerns are phony or exaggerated to manipulate you and other caring , but not well informed, people to distract you from actual issues that we could and should be dealing with instead..
          If you thought hard or read up on the gerrymandering issue you might understand why the court did what it did.
          The right will try leftist tactics after having been attacked with them………shame on them both.
          You do not know the difference between wanting to fire the guy and actually doing it……….??
          Citizens United is very PRO FREE SPEECH and a great decision, probably not the way you meant it? It just does not give the left more ability to suppress others speech like they want to do. Leftist activists will benefit more than those on the right in the long run, because there are more activist groups on the left and it benefits equally.
          Get better sources and STOP reading those “f*cking newspapers” that do not inform you well.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @ E. Olson

        ” to save a few polar bears (assuming they need to be saved).”

        Maybe to save Miami, assuming that it needs to be saved. Not to mention — I can never remember the exact numbers — that billions of people are liable to be flooded out by GW. So whereas we sympathize with India’s need to belch black smoke to make electricity we should remember that Mumbai and Calcutta will soon be under water so they won’t be needing electricity at all. Also, part of the calculus should be the hundreds of thousands of person-years lost every year to the pollution caused by burning coal — I assume there is a monetary cost. Would it not be prudent to implement efforts to move away from coal? Even, yes, even if it was slightly more expensive? Is lowest cost per KwH the only possible metric? There is nothing but money, but human disease costs money. If the whole of Bangladesh has to move, surely that will be expensive?

        • E. Olson says

          Ray – there is zero evidence that oceans are rising at a faster rate than they have been for the last 200+ years. Miami is sinking due to a poor foundation – the ocean is not rising.

          There is no “slightly” more expensive “clean” alternative to coal that environmentalists are willing to use. Nuclear, natural gas, and hydro are all clean alternatives that in some cases can be cheaper than coal, and all are opposed by mainstream greenies. Solar and wind are crazy expensive because you still need coal, gas, or nuclear backup.

        • rferris says

          Ray, it is a HOAX, so you can relax. After 250 ppm CO2 has absorbed all the energy that there is to absorb in the 3 narrow bands that it absorbs,and adding more CO2 only makes EVERYTHING better, after 250 ppm CO2 is not a green house gas .
          2 recent studies claim there is NO detectable human influence in the climate. To think that all the natural warming for the last 10,000+ years, which was natural, suddenly stopped 30 years ago , and was all replaced by Human caused warming, which we can control, is to believe in witches and magic, and to be very gullible.
          We are almost 12,000 years into the current halcyon period. Past halcyon warm periods have lasted an average of 10,000 years. I think in the future we have a 80,000+ year ice age to face and all the hype by socialists to alarm people and grab power should not be mistaken for a genuine scientific issue. When an issue divide along partisan lines you know the issue is not about science.

  4. Kevin Herman says

    Tucker Carlson has done absolutely nothing to worsen the plight of minorities the false equivocation are annoying. I’m not saying he doesn’t say foolish or incorrect things at time anybody does that is an opinion host on for an hour every day of the week. But there is no universe or justification for that attack in his family and it was an attack this author’s weasel words aside.

    • Marguerite Snow says

      Thank you. I, too, am getting really tired of left leaning authors saying conservative positions are designed to harm minorities. We just disagree on what the best course to proceed is.

  5. Morgan Foster says

    “Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks”

    When I first scanned this, I could have sworn it said “Rabbit Lord Jonathan Sacks.

    On second reading, I wondered if this was a character from “Lord of the Rings”.

    Let’s not get too carried away with titles, shall we? I have longed passed the stage of life where I would presume that a title in itself is a guarantee of knowledge and wisdom.

    I would refer to him as “Rabbi” if he was my rabbi, and “Lord” if I were one of his employees.

    Otherwise, I think “Mr. Sacks, who is a rabbi, and although it is irrelevant to this article is also a lord” ought to be sufficient.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @Morgan Foster

      When a Rabbit Lord speaks, you would be wise to listen.

  6. Robin says

    A very long rant with little analysis. You point the finger at progressive activists and suggest they are not interested in changing minds. While true, you don’t explore the ‘why’? Are you just trying to be overly civil in your response because being specific might hurt someone’s feelings?? You think the correct answer to Andy Ngo’s beating is to tell Antifa that Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela would never do that!! Do you presume for a second that the perpetrators don’t know that what they did was wrong?? Why do you suppose they all wore masks while doing it?

    I think instead of just telling us it is wrong to be violent… because reasons, Jesus, etc., you might want to explore the source of it. Assess it’s legitimacy, then craft a response. Andy Ngo himself has been observing and reporting on Antifa and has his own opinion about them:

    The wrongness of violence isn’t the issue. The willingness of certain politicians to tolerate it is. There is absolutely no lack of resources to deal with it should they choose to confront it but they do not perceive it as being in their political interests to do so. At least not yet…

    It’s only a matter of time before the inevitable collision comes. When the State retreats from exercising justice then it loses legitimacy and competing groups will attack each other tossing a volley ball of self-righteousness between them while trading blows.

    • Kauf Buch says

      Yep! You’ll note Antifa carries out its antics only where they know they can “get away with it.” (Leftist Mayors/Governors/police, etc.). YOU’LL NEVER SEE THE COWARDS TRY IT in e.g. a State that has Concealed Carry.

    • Andras Kovacs says

      When the State retreats from exercising justice then it loses legitimacy and competing groups will attack each other tossing a volley ball of self-righteousness between them while trading blows.

      The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.

      ― Frédéric Bastiat

    • Geary Johansen says

      @ Robin

      Alright Robin. Intersectional feminism is a fundamentally incorrect way of looking at the world, as is socialism. They rely on society or groups to fix problems and not individuals. Also, whilst there are systemic and structural disparities baked into the system, in the modern context the reasons for these disparities are almost always perverse, rather than pernicious. The only way to truly eliminate the most significant eradicable source of privilege in the world would be to separate all children from their parents at birth. Like socialism before it, intersectionalism can only level incomes and wealth by acting as a fifth horsemen- by not only destroying all productivity, but also reducing all people in society to abject poverty.

  7. bumble bee says

    “Yet King’s underlying philosophy was not a maze of contradictions; its essence was a sort of universal humanism.”

    No it was not a “sort of universal humanism”. REVEREND Dr King (PhD in systematic theology) was a Christian preacher well versed in the Bible and Christianity as a whole. Everything he spoke about, every speech he gave, every action he created or participated, was born out of his faith.

    His “maze of contradictions” is evidence of his Christian faith and his scholarship of it as well. To the spiritually illiterate the Bible itself often presents itself as being contradictory, but to those who understand, the “contradictions” are actually complementary. He was not a humanist as we define humanist today. That is the dramatic difference between MLK and the self ordained false prophets we are inundated with today and exposed in this article.

    Since the rise of post-Christians in the US resulting in the rise of Humanism, we can plainly see and hear the dipole between the current manifestation of civil rights and that preached by King. Notice there is no empathy for the other (Carlsons) or any other target with this new incarnation of civil rights. There is no mercy, there is no forgiveness, there is no patients, there is no kindness, nothing noble in today’s “visions”. Unlike MLK who embodied those Christian tenets in everything he did or said. That is also why his speeches, his letters, his interviews all struck such a deep and powerful chord with people. That is why we still quote him today because when truths are spoken, when true righteousness is present, it changes people for the better.

    • Mrs. Reily says

      This struck me as well. It saddens me, both from an observantly religious perspective and a purely cultural one, that our republic is now attempting to survive in a post-Christian era. Not because I am a theocrat but because so many people are so truly, sadly ignorant of the social concepts embedded in Western civilization which grew from the Christian worldview. I agree with this essay and it’s well-written and so on, but I still thought: did you not spend one moment in Sunday school as a child? No one gave you a basic primary Bible to page through? Did you read any CS Lewis? Even with an entirely unchurched childhood did no one ever even bother to teach you the basic tenets of the most influential religion of the human experience? This reads as though the author is saying “Hey guys check out this awesome idea: every man is your brother, see the humanity even in your enemy and try to love him as best you can, each of us has equal value, and even though these are contrary concepts to our wiring, when we strive for them, we do our best work as humans. Neat, hunh?” The casual ignorance of it is breathtaking. And I extend that to the folks quoted in the article such as Matt Yglesias, both with his unawareness that it is literally not acceptable — there is never an acceptable justification — to unapologetically refuse to empathize with another human. He is poorly educated if he does not know that. This is a standard we cannot afford to reject.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Mrs R.
        No-one is truly educated unless he or she has a grounding in Christian teaching and the classics.
        I despair of most American commentators today, because it is clear that none of them has read a book written before 1970 and has no idea of the depth of Western civilisation. They waste so much time inventing new ways of seeing things, when a look at the past would show them that it is all so unnecessary.

        • Larry Siedentop wrote a wonderful book called Inventing the Individual in which he shows how liberalism grew directly out of Christianity. Reading his book, I am struck how the modern left is continuing a revolution began two millennia ago. “Socialism is the successor of Christianity,” as a great writer put it almost a century ago.

        • Geary Johansen says

          @ Peter from Oz

          Indeed, the Parable of the Sower could be used to create a far more powerful, not to mention effective, message for repatriated Social Justice, one which calls on our common humanity and the desire to see every child grow up to make the most of their natural gifts. But the Leftists won’t do it because its antithetical to their beliefs, in that they prefer nurtured grievance to plausible real world solutions- especially if it involves the need for fathers…

      • Farris says

        This reads as though the author is saying “Hey guys check out this awesome idea: every man is your brother, see the humanity even in your enemy and try to love him as best you can, each of us has equal value, and even though these are contrary concepts to our wiring, when we strive for them, we do our best work as humans. Neat, hunh?”

        Matthew 5:44 anyone?

  8. Farris says

    Good enjoyable article. Funny thing about zealots from any side; they agree on everything except who should execute the plan.
    Is the problem a lack of civility or an over abundance of faux civility, where words equate to violence and some facts no matter how true dare not be spoken lest they offend. Furthermore even politeness can be offensive. Is chivalry desirable or a sign of oppressive patriarchy? However I am unwavering in my belief that anyone who could advocate or tacitly support violence as an acceptable response to a political disagreement has lost his humanity or at least a serious hole in his humanity.

  9. Kauf Buch says

    Decency is predicated on the “reason, common sense or whatever else you want to call it” OF BOTH PARTIES.

    Today’s Left is – to be gentle – unhinged.
    Therefore, it is not possible to deal with such individuals in a “decent” manner;
    it ends up being like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      You didn’t learn a thing from the article, did you? Did you even bother to read it?

      It isn’t possible to “deal” with the left, so you aren’t even going to try. Great. Good luck with that.

      • Kauf Buch says

        TO NP
        Judging from your pattern of sadly deranged posts, there’s little point in engaging with you.
        Please take a long walk on a short plank.
        Sharks. Definitely with sharks.

        • gda53 says

          Seconded. The ignorance and vitriol is astounding.

  10. Geary Johansen says

    Interesting article. But it doesn’t walk us through the fundamental friction that exists below warring sides.

    You see, there are many issues on which liberals grow incredibly frustrated with the conservative tendency to oversimplify. In the past conservatives, mouthed their platitudes on tough on crime, with their good guy, bad guy narratives, to such an extent that the liberals were forced to mouth it too- and it pushed ‘broken windows’ or pro-active policing into a zero tolerance mode, for which the prescribed solution in most circumstances was to put people in jail. This is despite the fact that ‘broken windows’ has been proven to reduce crime far more effectively in the long run, by partnering with communities, fixing problems and using diversion to redirect teenage boys and young men into more productive uses for their time- with incarceration, very much an ‘or else’.

    Unfortunately, immigration and the economy in general are subjects over which conservatives feel similar amounts of frustration (unless they happen to be very friendly with those who have a vested interest in seeing labour rates as low as possible). Because before one considers the wage dilution effect that having the lowest tier of wages with a labour surplus has on the next tier- which American blue collar workers do occupy- one really has to consider who’s going to pay for it all. Because only the top 20% of Americans are really net contributors to revenue. The next 20% are self-sufficient, and actually contribute a little, but only just and only very little. And you have to think about all those government services that people consume, in the form of schools, the courts, police and all the rest. If they are earning less than $40K a year they are going to be a significant drain on the revenue.

    Lets tax the rich- unfortunately they don’t exist in sufficient numbers to make a dent, even at very high tax rates. Lets tax their wealth- they would flee and take their wealth with them, leaving a substantial dent in revenue. Lets tax the corporations- errr, unfortunately investment would pull out, devalue the stock market and then the currency, as well as cutting off VCI, the single most important part of the whole financial system. The only ways to pay for services that a sustained influx of non-legal migrants would need is by raising taxes on the poor and middle-classes, or by significantly cutting welfare, social security, medicare and the pensions that the government has promised. Differing estimates put the total amount of money America owes in promises that it has yet to deliver on, at between $100 trillion and $180 trillion, and that doesn’t include the debt.

    A fair solution would be to say- all of you can stay for 5 years as guest workers, but only those who are earning $80K or more at the end of those 5 years can stay- with special provision made for the few that occupy jobs that just cant be filled at any wage. But of course they would have kids, entitled to birthright citizenship, which I don’t believe their parents would legally be able to sign away, so it wouldn’t work. So what’s the solution? Take the professional and the highly-skilled, give others access to a lottery, and allow every American to marry anyone they damn well choose. Take asylum-seekers and refugees who are fleeing war or political oppression. but just because your country in economically deprived, lawless and lacks opportunities it shouldn’t qualify you for an unlimited stay in America. But wait, doesn’t that sound like the system you’ve got?

    Americans might have a lot of stuff. It might seem easy to share some of that abundance with those who are less fortunate- if that’s the case then give to charity and lobby your congresswoman to increase the foreign aid budget. But the system that provides that abundance is a highly-calibrated machine, which can only operate certain loads, and, as history has proven all too recently, it’s incredibly vulnerable to shock or overload.

    • Kauf Buch says

      TO GearyJ

      “the conservative tendency to oversimplify” OH, PUH-LEASE!

      You (UK I assume: “labour”) repeatedly use stereotypes in your screed about Americans…and rather “simple” ones at that.

      That Leftists disguise their nefarious policies and objectives with jibber jabber in no way supports your idiotic suggestion that the conservatives tend to oversimplify.

      So, thanks for your smug, arrogant nonsense you posted above; it really does show all readers the brain blockage we’re up against…should “decency” ever become possible again.

      • Geary Johansen says

        @ Kauf Buch

        Not a liberal. Just a heterodox. Both sides are just as guilty of it. The difference is they simplify on different topics- and don’t really talk about the issues at the foundation of their disagreement. And that’s why the system stays so broke.

        • Kauf Buch says

          RE: your “vulnerable to shock or overload” remark.
          Look up Cloward-Piven Strategy; it’s what Leftists/Democrats have been doing for decades.

          Also, please remember: what seems a “fair solution” to YOU likely seems a “ripoff” of someone else’s hard-earned money (ye olde Marxist “redistribution of wealth”) to others.

          • Geary Johansen says

            @ Kauf Buch

            Thanks for the Cloward-Piven Strategy reference. Very informative.

      • Geary Johansen says

        @ Kauf Buch

        Plus I am half-american- even though I’ve lived in the UK for most of my life- my father was a serving NCO in the USAF, and I was born on an American Air Force Base.

    • Geary Johansen says

      @ myself

      I would like to apologise for my previous comment, regarding oversimplification and foundations of disagreements- it’s the second time I’ve tried the argument on Quillette and the second time I’ve got burned- and deservedly so. The problem is that I don’t see any hope for a return to a civility of manners or a civility of morals- and that’s just depressing. I deliberately wrote my previous comment to see whether by articulating concerns using framing that highlighted hot button issues for both liberals and conservatives (I am actually more liberal on the need to fix mass incarceration and more conservative on immigration), I was attempting to see whether sympathy for a position on one topic, might engender a more accepting look at another issue from the alternate perspective. I only succeeded at being both naive and manipulative at the same time.

      The reason why I think we are doomed to greater and greater polarisation, has to do with the nature of availability heuristics and confirmation bias. Very few people are moderate on climate change. My position tends to fall somewhere in the spectrum between Bjorn Lomberg and Simon Dietz (both argue positions from the point of view of climate economics, but articulate different approaches). My point is that very few people articulate a moderate view on climate change- in fact, an increasing number of people hold more extreme beliefs than they did 5 years ago- Greta Thunberg’s parents have affiliations with groups that want to use climate change to dismantle capitalism. I think that this is a result of the very human tendency to seek out new information to support beliefs that we hold, which in turn only polarises our positions further, by making the situation seem worse than we originally thought.

      A telling aspect of this relates to Brexit. Polls show that almost no-one has changed their mind. The reason why some remainers want to have a second referendum, is because the demographics have changed- there are now fewer older people who hold Brexit positions, and more young people who want to remain. This may seem like an oversimplification, but it’s broadly true. And making people aware of confirmation bias won’t help, because although it might help them understand the positions others hold and perhaps understand them, most people are wedded to their positions like faithful spouses.

      The most worrying thing of all, is that the violence is only likely to get worse- whether it’s the increasingly frequent and commonplace low-level violence of the far left, or the very rare, but far more lethal violence of the far right (which often cause similarly lethal levels of retaliatory violence). I do agree with the author of the article on the need to look at political disagreements on the basis of common humanity- from a left-wing activists framework, it’s the only thing proven to work, so it might be some incentive for them to try it! But broadly speaking I just don’t see how it can ever succeed at getting people out of their intellectual bunkers. The only thing that might help is media articulating more centrist and objective journalism- but they are hardly likely to do so either professionally (because it would hit their ratings) or personally (because they want to persuade their audience to their political perspective).

      • Kauf Buch says

        TO Geary

        Regarding your interest in so-called “climate change”:
        Since you mentioned Lomberg…
        …look into Patrick Moore, co-founder (now heretic!) of Greenpeace

        Here’s his twitter account:

      • Ray Andrews says

        @ Geary Johansen

        I don’t know what you’re apologizing for sir, your posts are invariably moderate, polite and reasonable (tho sometimes too long). There are right wing fanatics here who won’t like your attempt at seeing both sides of an issue, for them magnets should have only one pole and politics must only move in one direction and there should be no such thing as West, only East.

        • Kauf Buch says

          TO RayA
          Talk about clown-show caricatures about those on the Right!
          Thanks for confirming you don’t want anyone to take you seriously.

  11. David of Kirkland says

    While our common humanity should be the focus of liberty and equal protection, the idea that people are angry, shouting, fighting and organizing is done for the good of our common humanity is proven falsehood. Division creates organizations; division drives fundraising; division creates “leaders” who need the divisions to remain in power.
    It’s why newspapers carry more bad news than good news.
    It’s why government always suggests more money to fund it’s poorly working programs is needed for them to stop sucking.
    It’s why people hate corporations that are not monopolies and have zero power to force you to interact with them, but those same people want more government power, which of course is a true monopoly (and the source of all previous corporate monopolies and never-ending patent/copyright extensions) with full power over you.

  12. codadmin says

    It might be too late. Liberals have been silent for too long and conservatives have been too civil.

    Liberals could have detoxified their side and conservatives could have stopped apologising and running away. But neither did.

    Do moderates ( liberals and conservatives ) even have a say anymore? Is anyone really listening?

    • Kauf Buch says

      TO codadmin
      I’m more optimistic.
      In America, I sense the Left is going so far overboard that it is a sign of dying, last-gasps of 0bama-esque Leftism.

      And: with what I suspect is about to drop over the next few weeks/months, the American public is going to get an ice cold shower about the reality of the American Left…which might – just might – compel many to discard the (IMO) radical/extremist approach.

      It may get worse before it gets better,
      but I’m hopeful (but still keep my powder dry – literally: “insurance policy”).

      • Nakatomi Plaza says

        “0bama-esque Leftism” Please, define this. It can’t be his economic team – hardcore supply-siders and financiers. It can’t be his bail out of Wall Street while the recession raged. It can’t be his under-sized stimulus that extended the recession. It can’t be all the wars he started, the deportations, or the lack of regulation of oversaw.

        Stop getting your taking points from right-wing radio. You’re the picture-perfect example of what this article is talking about, and you don’t even fucking see it.

        • Kauf Buch says

          TO NP

          Your generous use of “f*ck” in a number of posts on this thread alone
          suggest you may not be “getting enough” at home.
          Try public bathroom stalls.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Kauf Buch

            Troll level comment. You presume to preach at Nakatomi for vulgarity do you?

          • gda53 says

            Sadly, NP is now in the majority. Remember when it was just children who used to use such words to shock the adults?

            Being into a bookstore recently? Every second book has the word “f–k” of “s–t” in the title.

            Grow up leftists. What will you think of yourself when you become an adult? Will you be embarrassed? I wonder.

          • Kauf Buch says

            TO Ray A
            Troll level comment…really?
            I’m merely showing him the level of respect his comment deserves…
            …in the only language he seems to understand.
            Too bad you can’t understand that. boo hoo

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Kauf Buch

        Isn’t it true that most fanatical fundamentalist movements do implode eventually? The woke are already eating each other. The Democan candidates are all tripping over each other to look the wokest. If they don’t offer something that ordinary folks actually support they’ll give Trump four more years.

        • Kauf Buch says

          TO RayA
          “If they don’t offer something that ordinary folks actually support they’ll give Trump four more years.”
          You say that like it’s a BAD thing!

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Kauf Buch

            In my view it borders on the catastrophic that such an ignorant narcissistic ass could even be permitted to visit the Whitehouse let alone occupy it. Yet I understand why millions of decent folks would vote for him given the alternative. Also why many genuinely evil people would vote for him, too.

          • Kauf Buch says

            To Ray Andrews
            Identity Politics – where you’re accused of being evil for no reason at all, and where intellectually lazy insults are used against you as a way to replace substantive debate of your argument or idea.
            Ray, thy name is I.P. (or, in full, I. P. Daily)

  13. northernobserver says

    Decency worked when Protestantism was socially dominant and controlling. Now that we are fracturing into a million little pieces I don’t see anything but war and hate. What binds Americans together? Absolutely nothing. The Pride parade and its presumptions can only carry the culture so far, it will not be sustained.

  14. the gardner says

    While Antifa smashes heads and intimidates others who have been labeled as neoNazi white supremacists, has anyone noticed that there has not been a single episode where these” neoNazis “brought guns? Surely if these groups are all about oppression and supremacy we would have seen guns in action by now.

    They are more about preservation of European, classical identity, culture and values at a moment in history when all this is being labeled as racist, white supremacist and ripe for the dustbin of history

    I rather like classical European values and its enormous contribution to the world. And I don’t like seeing it denigrated and snuffed out.

    If common ground is to be sought, we could start by the lefties backing off their attacks on classical European and American values. Betsy Ross flag as a symbol of racism? I suppose apple pie is racist too.

    I’m not holding my breath for any give on the lefties’ side.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      You’re cherry-picking extremist positions. It sounds like you’re getting worked over by the Fox news outrage machine and somehow imaging that more than a handful of people legitimately think that the flag is racist.

      Calm down, scared old white man. Nobody is going to take away your flag or your apple pie.

      • Asenath Waite says


        Nike is an extremist fringe group?

      • Asenath Waite says


        “Calm down, scared old white man.”

        Decency in action.

      • Canada Dan says

        @Nakatomi Plaza

        “Calm down scared old white man.”

        Just make sure you never become old yourself.

  15. “Tribalism is likely the greatest obstacle to such a civility of morals. As Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff argue in The Coddling of the American Mind, thousands of years of evolution have encouraged our minds to engage in “dichotomous, us-versus-them thinking.” Ideological frameworks that posit binary moral divides seem especially prone to “hyperactivating our ancient tribal tendencies.” These tribal attitudes often produce what Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks calls a ‘pathological dualism” where “humanity itself [is] radically…divided into the unimpeachably good and the irredeemably bad.’”

    Exactly. We’re talking about ingroup/outgroup behavior, as described by Sir Arthur Keith in his “A New Theory of Human Evolution.” As Keith pointed out back in 1948, and Haidt, Lukianoff and many others have repeated since then, we are dealing with a form of behavior that has powerful innate roots. In other words, it’s unlikely that this ubiquitous and destructive form of human behavior, that must have been strongly selected for long ago in a radically different environment, will disappear by virtue of an article in Quillette whose author says in so many words, “Tsk, tsk, don’t do that anymore.” We are intelligent creatures, and our behavior is not genetically determined. We may be capable of avoiding the existential danger posed by this aspect of our behavior. However, if we do it will be by virtue of our achieving a higher level of self-understanding as a species than we have now, and not by moralistic hand wringing.

  16. Martin28 says

    The breakdown in civility comes from a ideology that considers any challenge to the woke worldview to be hate speech, of one form or another. It defines opposition to itself as morally repugnant—racism, sexism, xenophobia, transphobia, right-wing, extremist, etc. And any speech of that kind is considered violence. That’s all basic social justice theory. This will not go away and it’s important for sane people to understand that this philosophy is utterly lacking in self-awareness and trapped in circular thinking. Opposition is hate, and hate must be attacked and isolated and discounted as argument, so no opposition can be met with anything but a fight. But if you can’t consider opposing points of view, how can you know you are on the right track? It’s also important for people to understand that social justice theory is not the same thing as justice, it’s not even in the same zip code.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Well said, Martin28.
      We who are not social justice warriors must labour on cooly and calmly saying no to the excesses of the folk marxist loonies.
      SOmetimes we will have to be a little less than civil, but only if provoked by uncivility on the part of the whacky left.

  17. derek says

    There is another factor that is driving the division and extremism. The collapse of media. They have stooped to clickbait journalism in the attempt to survive. It isn’t working but they will do it until they disappear.

    And good riddance.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Media is not collapsing, it’s consolidating. As it consolidates it squashes competition and alternative points of view in favor of profitability. The media isn’t going anywhere.

      We’re all being exploited by this process. They want us to hate each other. They want us to be ignorant and afraid of each other. This article is an attempt to address this problem, though it is obvious by the comments that too many people here would much rather remain ignorant and demonize people they don’t like. It’s ironic, but probably more pathetic than ironic since we should know better by now. You people really don’t see what we’re doing to each other?

      • Andras Kovacs says

        You people really don’t see what we’re doing to each other?

        By writing the phrase under-sized stimulus you’ve shown that you don’t see it, either.

      • Kauf Buch says

        TO NP
        “…too many people here would much rather remain ignorant and demonize people they don’t like.”

        Read your own posts to others.
        Leftism IS a mental illness: Nakatomi Plaza … Q.E. f’ing D.

        • Andras Kovacs says

          Leftism IS a mental illness

          Not exactly. Being a True Believer is a mental state which can be triggered in certain people: Eric Hoffer studied the phenomena and he wrote up his results in The True Believer.

          • Kauf Buch says

            TO AndrasK

            Meh…so, what’s really the difference between Hoffer’s “fanatics” and the mentally ill conduct of today’s Leftists? Seems mostly sort of splitting hairs to me.

            I can’t agree it’s political fanaticism when they act less like a Whirling Dervish but more like a street crazy high on meth: their religious fervor still makes them act like nuts.

            So, if all you’re saying is “they may act like nuts, but they aren’t nuts,” I’d say: 6 of one, half dozen of another.

          • Andras Kovacs says

            if all you’re saying is

            Nope, I wasn’t saying anything like that. What I was saying is that people can become possessed by (SJW/identity/intersectionalist) Leftism and by some Christian sect (megachurch) pastorial BS &c. That the syndrome isn’t specific to a particular ideology (Leftism) but constitutes the essence of all mass movements. In this sense Mothers Against Drunk Driving is similar.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Kauf Buch

          And if Nakatomi is Tweedle-Dee, you are Tweedle-Dum. You are opposite but exactly equal in displaying the kind of thing that poisons us. Each of you sees it in the other with crystal clarity. Each of you should look in a mirror. But both of you are political monopoles and neither of you will be able to see this.

          • kauf Buch says

            TO RayA
            You forgot to end your commercial with, “Burma Shave.”
            Save your profound laundry for the crackpots; I was asking Andras a reasonable question.
            So buzz off, loser.

      • Asenath Waite says

        @Nakatomi Plaza

        Pretty much every comment I’ve ever seen you make is angry, confrontational, and insulting in tone. Moreover you never follow up on people’s responses. It’s just insult and run.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Nakatomi Plaza

        ” too many people here would much rather remain ignorant and demonize people they don’t like”

        Yes. And you say that without irony, don’t you?

  18. Christopher Chantrill says

    Well I think the problem is what I call “activism culture.” It experiences three kinds of people in the world. There are enlightened and principled activists, devoted to bending the arc of history towards justice. Then there are the helpless victims, oppressed and exploited since the dawn of time. Then there are the deplorables, racists, sexists, homophobes, that deserve what is coming to them.

    And this is what the kiddies are being taught in school.

    You can imagine that it would be difficult to have a fruitful “political discourse” with a believer in activism culture.

    • Andras Kovacs says

      And this is what the kiddies are being taught in school.

      A pithy summation of the situation with state-mandated & -coerced education.

    • Lightning Rose says

      So why do the 99.999% cave, instantly, to any lunatic “activist” and their fringe “ideas?” Are we SO insecure that the mere slur of “racist, thisnthataphobe,” etc. causes us to take leave of all our common sense? There are worse things in this world than being thought of as “not quite nice” by some crackpot nut. So WHY do we keep giving “activists,” (aka troublemakers) such traction?

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Lightning Rose

        Yes, why?

        ” Are we SO insecure”

        It seems so. Or maybe just spineless. Or maybe knocked off our feet, but ready to get up again. Or maybe it’s a Churchill said: America always does the right thing eventually, but not before trying everything else first.

  19. Lightning Rose says

    Everyone “deplores” the very thing they’re addicted to: Their morning dopamine hit of manufactured “Outrage.” Their brains being manipulated at the chemical level for the commercial gain of leftists as they normalize the cultural race to the bottom, which they’re now scraping. The MSM is now so understaffed, lazy, and low-common-denominator that they do most of the “research” for their so-called “reporting” on Twitter. Interviews have become provocation attempts.

    It is a vast mistake to conflate Twitter trolls, the Daily Show, or any other output of the elite media Matrix with objective Reality. Because Reality consists primarily of people who pay no attention to these things. Plus, we’re catching on to the fact that so many Big Stories are in fact 100% media creations, complete with media-created “celebrities.” I give you Megan Rapinoe (whom no one had ever heard of 15 days ago!) as Exhibit A. The Left loses all credibility when they denigrate Trump for his “incivility” and then put this foul-mouthed freak on a pedestal as a “role model” for children. Most of us just say “yuck!” and turn away. This “world” they want us to believe is real in fact only exists on TV and clickyland. You sure wouldn’t last long in a real job behaving like that, and we all know it.

    You want civility? First up, log off of Twitter. I mean permanently. Get your eyes off that stupid Borg-matrix 3″ screen and actually TALK to people in realtime–all kinds of people–both sexes, all colors–on the train, in the diner, at the bus stop, in your office. Leave that device on the table and walk away from your thought-silo full of single-minded trolls slavering like Pavlov’s dogs at whatever piece of faux meat is flung their way daily to mentally growl and chew on.

    You’ll find out that most people aren’t bad. Everybody’s working out their own problems, trying to keep up the side on their own patch. Few wake up every day twisting the sheets over whether someone in Afghanistan is oppressed, or whether or not it’s 1.5 degrees warmer now than it was in 1850, or how we can “take care of” sideshow cases. Most people can’t tell you who Andy Ngo, AOC, Greta Thunberg or Rashida Tlaib even are, and if you told them they’d just shrug. Y’know WHY? Because none of this made-for-TV commercially-produced “controversy” touches the lives of 99% of the populace.

    You “elites” really need to get a clue. CNN and MSNBC are down to 188,000 viewers now on the average day, that out of 337,000,000 people in the USA. The old-guard networks are dying too. People have tuned these shit-stirring machines OUT in large numbers. And I’m pretty damn sure we know which side our bread is buttered on. We don’t live in La-La-Land, and we aim to keep our butter!

    • Nicholas says

      Pretty much. I ditched Twitter the first time a stranger insulted me because I said something they disagreed with. I haven’t had cable in over 20 years and I only watch network TV when I’m visiting people, or occasionally at work. The news scrolls across the bottom of the screen as the newsreader prattles on, they have never been much on in-depth stuff anyway, it’s hard to tell if it’s worse. A friends son a few years ago decided he was a woman, he moved to Quebec and had an operation and now he’s a butt-ugly ‘woman’ who can’t get dates. Life goes on . .

    • Geary Johansen says

      @ Lightning Rose

      We’re not worthy!! Great comment though mate, sincerely. I once had a Jehovah’s witness come to my door. I invited him in for a coffee. His name was Clive, he was from Botswana and his was immediately taken with my fathers African masks- apparently the key to good maintenance is beeswax. It turned out he was a successful artist, living and working in the UK with his wife, whilst trying to get a set of children’s books he had illustrated himself published.

      I’ll admit that I was somewhat uncomfortable when he explained to me that homosexuals acted the way they did because they were possessed by demons, but other than that it was a great friendship. Unfortunately, he had to move back to Botswana because the winters were a killer on his sickle cell. His vivid and colourful picture of a swan still hangs in the Acle Medical Centre and I still miss him.

      I say all this because what you say is absolutely true. Most people have the option to enrich their lives by simply engaging more with the perfect strangers they meet on a daily basis, but they miss opportunity after opportunity, because they are so wrapped up in their own obsession and neurosis, they miss the world around them. There’s a bloke called Trevor in the village from the North of England. When his granddaughter first came to visit him, she was amazed at how many friends he had made, so quickly- not realising of course, that in Norfolk we always wave and smile at everyone.

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  21. Man with the Axe says

    What I observe is a simple failure to understand the golden rule. None of these antifa assholes or racist assholes would want to be beaten up by a bunch of thugs, but they are willing to form a mob and beat up a stranger with whom they have a political disagreement. The same with students who disrupt speakers on campus. They don’t want their own speakers to be disrupted, but they won’t extend that courtesy to those who don’t share their politics.

    The refuse to abide by the most fundamental and easiest to understand moral rule.

  22. Cardinal Newman said it was the definition of a gentleman not to willingly cause pain. This may be a tough standard at times, but it’s worth shooting for. Certainly we should not cause pain in a spirit of triumph, or self-righteousness, or indifference, and “Being hated, don’t give way to hating, and yet don’t look too good nor talk too wise.”

    • Asenath Waite says


      I like that definition.

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  24. TofeldianSage says

    This may be the reason St. Thomas Aquinas fought so hard against the Manichean heresy. Once you conceive the world as made up of good versus evil, maybe it just follows that there is no middle ground. Everyone in such a world would of course position themselves on the side of good, and naturally the people you don’t like must be on the side of evil.

    The Thomistic view of evil as not being a thing of it’s own, but rather a privation of good, may have been the very thing that steered our civilization out of these waters so effectively. In this view, nobody is irredeemable. Everyone has the ability to turn back toward the good.

    I can’t help but think that in throwing over the Christian faith, with its rich intellectual tradition, we’ve simply fallen prey to the same Manichean hazard that has dogged us for millenia. We’re not a clever as we think we are.

  25. Kevin Currier says

    Great comments, in particular E Olson and Geary Johansen. I for one no longer believe that altruism and fairness is the norm. In the U.S. it is the product of the protestant Puritan community over individual norm. I have lived most of my life in 3rd world countries, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru etc. The West and their low corruption-high trust countries expect everyone in the world to think like them, share, reciprocity, fifty-fifty etc. That is not the case. In the so-called ultimatum game, for instance, Player A is given an amount of money—say, $100—and is told to offer some of the cash, anywhere from $1 to $100, to Player B, who can accept the payout or reject it, in which case both players leave empty-handed. In Western countries subjects typically agreed on something close to a 50-50 split. When they were in the role of Player B, they were more likely to reject offers that were significantly less than a rough split of the money, even though accepting any offer above zero would have improved their financial situation. In most less developed societies, China, and Latin America, those in the Player A position were far less charitable, yet their Player B counterparts rarely refused even much lower amounts. They will take anything what the naive ‘decent’ givers are willing to give. This is because there is little cultural concepts of altruism and reciprocity. In other countries such as in Africa, those on the receiving end at times refused the money even when offered more than half the cash. Zero trust. The lesson is that the West needs to be very careful to let in a significant minority of low trust, takers, who at some point will overwhelm the givers and cooperative society as we know it will disappear. I may be wrong but a major way to Defend Decency is simply not let the ones who do not understand the concept in to begin with.

  26. Urusigh says

    One of my favorite things about is that it’s quite possibly the only site on the internet I’ve been to where the comments section is usually more polite, interesting, and well-researched than the articles themselves (which are generally good to begin with). This is disappointing, both the article itself for being a largely incoherent rambling, and many of the comments under it for descending to the sort of vulgarity and personal attacks more characteristic of a YouTube comment section.

    The author wastes a great many words to utterly miss both common biblical wisdom (as already noted by other commentators) but also common military wisdom: If you want peace, prepare for war. A politics of decency and discourse is not the norm for civilization, it is the only survivor of a culture that tore itself apart by war within and without again and again until it finally tired of it so deeply that all alternatives to decency and discourse were put down or driven out forcibly by firm majorities in the public and private spheres alike. It survives only so long as those majorities remain willing to continue enforcing it, which has not been happening of late.

    In short, our problem is not and never has been that we are tribal (which is both unavoidable and generally beneficial), it is that we no longer see each other as part of the same tribe (semi-accurately, as some of our ideologies truly are too far apart and mutually opposed to coexist peacefully in proximity). Our tribes have split. No meandering pontificating about “the widening circle of humanity” is going to fix that because it utterly misses that widening the circle is an output, not an input, that can only be achieved by working within the tribal instinct, not by any doomed attempt to reduce or overcome it.

    To that end, tribes have certain features, including shared customs, rituals, hierarchies, a shared unifying myth, and most importantly sacred features (which can be actual objects, locations, people, or even ideas) to which the whole tribe orient themselves and defend against all attack. Modern democracies are built on the fact that our unifying myths and sacred features are not exclusive immutable characteristics like blood or particular historical events, but rather ideas and values.

    The not-so-modern fringe right are largely shunned and exiled, but permitted to exist on the margins of society because they embrace most of these things, but cannot gain much traction because they reject some essential elements of the sacred which define the American national tribe (such as “All men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…”). They’re like a blood relative with whom you do not get along: you share common history, but not a common vision of the future. The radical new Left however, reject and attack all of these things, rendering them outside the tribe entirely, deliberate traitors rather than misguided heretics, and therefore an invasive other tribe seeking to conquer, dominate, and ultimately replace the existing tribe.

    There can be peace with those within the tribe who disagree on the “How” of persuing a shared goal, but to have peace with those outside the tribe who attempt to force an entirely different vision upon it of “What” goal shall be held in common? That can be achieved only by utter surrender and absorption into the invading tribe or by utter opposition forcibly driving the invaders out and holding them at bay (or conquering and then absorbing them).

    So the civility of manners certainly doesn’t apply, “manners” are culture-specific and the “woke” invader does not share our Judeo-Christian Western culture. At best, we might apply the golden rule and treat them according to their own culture of manners (protest, intimidation, deplatforming, Censorship). What then though of civility of morals? If we resort to their manners (or lack thereof), do we not take one step closer to being absorbed and becoming them? Well, yes, but far better to do so only so far as necessary under our own choice than wait until we no longer have choices, with victory comes the opportunity to step back from the abyss and say “no more”. Rules of engagement must always recognize that the threat may escalate and a proportionate escalation of response be permitted. Politeness met with politeness, incivility met with incivility, and violence met with violence. Civility of morals should extend no further than the refusal to escalate first, not to a refusal to escalate at all.

    America is a cultural and economic superpower largely because it is also a military superpower. The same principle applies to the culture wars: if you cannot punish aggression against you and destroy its means, neither your property nor your freedom to live according to your own culture are safe. This is what much of the debates about “French-ism” hinge on, whether or not Conservatives are willing to push back and dismantle the structures set against us, or if we must merely stand firm on rhetoric and law, but cede the field in the public square whenever fighting escalates beyond the bounds of civility.

  27. Steve Bowden says

    I really wish the term “culture war” would stop. The whole world is being stress tested by overpopulation, environmental degradation, and a technoligical rate of change that far exceeds the average person’s ability to adapt. This level of stress tends to bring out the worst in people, and that we just can not afford to let happen. We have become way to lethal to allow a rerun of the 20th century extremes.

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