I was browsing through old files the other day, when I came across this text from 2017. It’s the first draft of a Facebook post that was never published, presumably because I wasn’t sure if people would respond well to it. I’m still not sure about that, actually, but since a lack of likes looks less embarrassing on WordPress than it does on Facebook (yes, it’s a little sad that I have this knowledge), I’m uploading it here now. The message is still one that I stand by. And, clunky as the writing may be, it displays a rudimentary understanding of the psychology behind extreme reactionary opinions, which is something I plan to discuss further on the blog. So consider this a taste of what’s to come! (I only hope it doesn’t taste too old!)
Few things scare me as much as intellectual hatred. You know, when instead of spewing n-words or sexist slurs, someone uses calm reasoning, well-phrased arguments, even scientific studies, to explain why white supremacy is legitimate or why men deserve more rights than women. These people are so obviously wrong, but they’re notoriously eloquent and excellent debaters. And they are part of a bigger problem: Intolerance has once again learned to defend itself intellectually. I call this phenomenon ”intellirance”.
Why is intellirance so scary then? Because it appeals to the young generation. Young, angry men (and quite a lot of women too) who feel alienated by the public and start to resent ”PC culture”, but are too intelligent to resort to violence – they love to find intellectual justification for their prejudice. They love to idolize alt-right gurus because they ”say it like it is” and aren’t afraid to be branded bigots for it. They love to feel smart and independent, to look down on feminists, anti-racists and other proponents of equality as ”sheep” and ”social justice warriors”.
What can we do, then? Well, this is going to sound very typical of me, but: Be nice. Like I said, I think that deep down, these intellerant people feel alienated. Showering our anger on them, calling them racist and sexist – though they deserve it – will only make them more convinced that mainstream discussion is dominated by sheep. They will search for people like them, who share their prejudice and help them justify it. Together they’ll become increasingly radicalized until we have a massive political block of bigots with mad debating skills. So, to keep that from happening, let’s talk to them, calmly and from a place of kindness. Maybe even listen a little. I mean, political correctness CAN be dumb and go too far sometimes.
I’m not saying we should for one second betray our cause. But we need to keep political discourse from collapsing into chaos. So, for the sake of the future, let’s show the intellirant that the PC police can be nice, and that the sheep can think.
P.S. I’m aware that being nice to bigots is a privilege. It’s easy for me as a straight, white man to advocate amicability towards haters, when I’m not a victim of their hatred. I won’t judge anyone who faces systematic discrimination and refuses to be nice about it.