Monday, October 29, 2018

Extremism Example

I first raised this specter shortly after Trump's election, but my alarm bells have clanged harder over the past few weeks, warning y'all that splashback from the incensed radicalized Left could prove even worse than Trumpism.

Want an example? I put up my last posting (minus the two paragraph italicized footer) on Facebook, where it was shared by a FB friend. Here's how that went. First: understand that these are not random loons with mental health issues. The main character is a mutual friend of two of my smarter Facebook friends. And, FYI, a "kapo" was the term for Jews who assisted Nazis in the concentration camps. Finally, a warning: Don't read this if you have an aversion to seriously toxic and profane language and imagery.

As I've said: to an extremist, moderation seems extreme (here are some other strange flips of perspective).

The extreme Right loves to viciously snarl. But the impulse for full-on dehumanization - not just "I loathe you", but "You can crawl up and die" - seems to come easier to the extreme Left.

It's not the savage belligerence I find most troubling. It's the cartoon-ization. I'm not only the-worst-possible-thing-in-the-world, but I must be metaphorically chucked in the head with an axe again and again and again until I'm extra dead. I'm an inhuman, not a hated human. MAGAs, for all their ignorant, toxic raging loudmouth bellicosity, don't often show quite that hair-trigger eagerness for utter dehumanization. Of course, in the end this is like comparing strains of terminal cancer.

Are you among the sane? Do you prefer no one crawling up and dying? Are you finding yourself exasperated by extremism, period, regardless of label? If so, consider acknowledging the extreme radicalization of both sides and joining me in the Center.

At a deeper level, I believe I can account for the wildly inappropriate flip-out thus:

Nothing perturbs an extremist more than sane moderation amid outrage. The real problem is that it appeals at some level, much as acrophobics fear not the height itself but the faint temptation to jump.

I have 
a talent for reframing  and framings can be contagious. On a good day, it can be really helpful. For example, it can rouse a person from depression. But if you deeply identify with a certain rigid framing, anything that might loosen the tight grip - thaw a frozen stance and create some pliability - feels like an existential attack.

Reframing has always been a dangerous pursuit. It's not "the truth", in and of itself, that gets folks crucified; it's the audacity of reframing (when amplified by the contagious power of truth).

For some reason, humans have always equated unwavering framing with virtue and heroism. Our rigidity - our backbone - has always been touted as our best aspect. It's a problem. I once wrote
"Since the dawn of history, our heroes have been the staunchest of the staunch. People of unwavering conviction, adhering faithfully to a rigid code. The central problem of humanity is the intrinsic and bloody connection between our noblest quality and our most barbaric one. The connection is not often discussed, because a clear-eyed view unravels the fabric of what humanity most admires about itself."
Also, it's a simple matter of pattern matching. The extreme Left maintains a constantly-updated database of labels that, when affixed to a person, make them a non-person, plus various words and phrases correlating with that label. That's how my posting on Pittsburgh made me a Nazi collaborator. Some patterns matched - so long as you're not reading carefully or sensitively, and you're primed to jump on the button because you deem yourself a frontline defender of all that's Good.

Sanctimonious hordes pour over discourse, and when they spot a verbal construction currently deemed to correlate with a trendy label, they sound the loudest, screechiest possible alarm, and don't rest until the offender's bullied, bloodied, fired from their job, unable to make a living or contribute to society, permanently silenced and shunned. It's exactly like a video game. No, it is a video game.

If you feel a coldness in your blood seeing me saying uncomfortable things that could rile up the wrong kind of people and make trouble, and you feel an instinctual reaction to take a step away and go along with The Program (which you haven't quite found time to carefully examine): that's what tyranny feels like, folks. Left and Right have both radicalized right up to their respective ultimate forms of tyranny. No bueno.


Display Name said...

Saw all that on your fb Jim. I'm a gardener and I volunteer at a local library. The politics at the library are vicious. I've become a bit of a pariah at the library for now. Volunteers are like the governess, fair game because of their weird status. Every time a story gets back to me of someone being unfairly crucified, not always moi, I alway think those seeds were planted in fertile ground. Being offended is a hobby for some. Funny not funny that you should mention video games because I was thinking just that before I got to your apt reference. One of the most amazing times of my life was when I played dark age of camelot side by side on two computers with a friend. People bring their issues to massive multiplayer video games. For example I get lost easily when driving and also in these games. In Doac there were three realms. Albion was the good guys midgard was the evil realm and hibernia was the moderates. Albion was the most vicious cruel and nasty in all ways possible. They were the good guys so they had right on their side. /gulp

Jim Leff said...

Offense is the cheapest ticket to superiority.

Unknown said...

I would take it very kindly if you could smudge out my wife's name, and Patty's name too. I typically use fb in friends-only mode and I'd like to extend that courtesy to my wife and my non-peudonymous frined(s). Marcus can take care of himself, he is using a pseudfonym and plus he is probably in the CIA

Jim Leff said...

Hi, John, would you mind shooting me an email at ? Thanks!

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