Where is your line, past which you will not go, when it comes to what’s being called “woke culture?” What has to be destroyed or torn down, or worse, who has to be killed before you say, “Enough! I will no longer support this cause!” Where is that line? What has to happen for you? I read a piece by James Lindsay at New Discourses that addresses this question, and it got me thinking. Where is my line? What makes me back away and disavow an idea or movement or goal?
I am not a big joiner; I don’t go to protests, marches, or rallies. In college, I went to a few rallies. One of them was when Reagan came to campus on the campaign trail prior to his first term. A large number of students stood in the back and raised our hands in the Nazi “heil Hitler” salute. We thought we were so clever to be calling out the candidate for his “Nazi” leanings. We were dumbasses. My only excuse is that I was a sophomore and as a (now former) faculty member, I know that sophomores can be a particular type of dumbass…no longer scared freshmen, so they think they now have a handle on everything, but still trying to prove that they are smarter than seniors. Dumbassery abounds. I still cringe at the thought of that rally.
As an aside, as an actual adult, I have discovered I have a form of claustrophobia that hits when I cannot see where I can leave the crowd. I’m short. I can never see over a crowd. So, in crowd situations, I look for a landmark that’s near the exit or gate. Something like a tree, light pole, sign…that sort of thing. If I can’t see where to leave the crowd, I start to panic. So, no marches or rallies for me.
My other reason for not going to rallies etc. is that I know too much about political theories and other forms of government. As an undergrad I was a government major. I also hold an MA and a PhD in political science. I have spent my entire post-high school educational career studying politics. I took an entire, semester-long class on Marx (don’t do that…trust me). I say all of this to demonstrate that I really have spent most of a lifetime studying politics and more importantly, I specialize in emerging democracies, what makes them succeed, why do some fail… I believe that I can say with some authority that whatever its faults, our system is light years ahead of any Marxist/socialist government system. Light. Years. Just remember one basic idea: Whatever government gives to you, it can take away. And the corollary: Rest assured, government will always take things away if it thinks it can get away with it.
All of this is a long way to say, my line was crossed at the violent looting and protests. Actually, my line was when Antifa became a thing and proudly announced their socialist/Marxist goals. But Lindsay continues…if your line has been crossed, or when it’s crossed, what will you do? Will you speak up? Will you write? Will you say anything? When your line is crossed, what do you do?
I’ve decided that I will write, and to the extent it doesn’t drive me crazy, I will post articles and comments on Facebook. That is the venue where I keep in touch with the majority of my friends. 99% of my FB friends are also real life friends from college, high school, and my professional life. So, there is an element of risk. Risk that people will cut me off or that I will cut them off because they become insulting. But, I know that I do have many friends who, while we may sharply disagree on how to address problems this country faces, we share many more points in common. And, we can and do argue, yes loudly and strongly, but in the end, we can go have a beer and figure out why cats and dogs act like they do or solve all the other problems in the world. The caveat for this is we’re face to face or on the phone. FB does not allow for nuance, facial expressions, and allows you to forget that you actually do know the person on the other end of that comment or post. In the end, I will keep posting. I like to think that maybe, just maybe, somebody will take in what I write, and it will sit in the back of their brain forcing them to give the idea at least some attention.
And, why do this? Well, as Lindsey points out, if you don’t know where your line is and don’t actually articulate it, you will likely cross it without noticing, or with some vague rationale. Then you will be on a rapidly descending slope and well into the area where you will now support a multitude of horrific actions by groups you claim to find credible.
You have to find your line before you cross it.
This simple act of getting people to commit to their principles before they let them slip is of tremendous importance and use because of how we process our moral reasoning. We do this by post-hoc rationalization, meaning that we lawyer ourselves into believing we acted morally after act, which often means after we’ve already crossed the line. Drawing a clear line ahead of time, especially in a social context where accountability weighs in, makes it that much easier to see the line, bright and clear, and that much harder to cross first and rationalize after.James Lindsay, The Woke Breaking Point
We all need to pay attention to the stated aims, and the fine print in the groups we support. We need to learn their history, even that of the political parties. (How many people are surprised that the Democratic Party created the KKK to be their militant arm? Or that the Republican party was the last third party to become a major party through their single-issue platform of abolition in the 1860 election?) Pay attention. Read a variety of sources with a variety viewpoints. Believe it or not, you won’t die if you read something you disagree with.
What will it take for you to say “That’s it. I’m out.”? Vandalizing statues? Tearing them down? Tearing down every statue they decide they don’t like? Burning churches? White people screaming insults at black cops? Cities losing control of a neighborhood for weeks? People getting raped and murdered in those autonomous zones? Rioting every single night for over 50 nights? Mayors who do not stop such excesses?
Figure out where your line is and then figure out what you will do when it’s crossed. Yes, it is that important.
Image by andreas N from Pixabay