Arguments and debate are a time honored tradition in America. This election season is one of the nastiest I can remember. There are a few things that I have noticed popping up online & in person; every time some one uses them it makes me what to punch them in the face. All of these drive me insane, and I couldn’t go another day without getting them off my chest. Here are the most useless points and things to say in a debate on politics and religion.
1. I’m just passionate
This one has come up a few times and it is used by people to cover up the horribly offensive things that have just been said. Usually it is a racist, sexist, or just downright tasteless remark. But it always boils down to treating another human being like they are scum for disagreeing with you. If you have to resort to using a stream of profanity and insults to describe someone and you don’t really give any reasons other than “I don’t like them”; that is indeed passion, but it’s also ignorance. You have also destroyed any chance of winning someone over to your point of view and made your own beliefs look childish. Actually take the time to think through you own beliefs before trashing someone else’s.
2. Stop being so Politically Correct
It is always, always, always Conservatives that bring this up and it always reeks of garbage. In 2008, Barack Obama was caught on an open mic telling supporters that many Americans won’t support him and will simply “cling to their guns and bibles.” It was hugely offensive and many Republicans attacked him for the remarks and he quickly apologized. You know what would’ve avoided that? Some cultural sensitivity, or being a bit more P.C. Now let’s take Ben Carson, who in March of last year said that people go into prison straight but come out gay. He sparked a firestorm and he was forced to apologize. Instead of actually learning from that though he simply stopped talking about gays entirely and fought against the P.C. culture. He never actually changed his language in any meaningful way or simply owned his beliefs that many find offensive. Being P.C. is how you learn to talk to people and treat them with a sense of empathy. Its why no one uses the N-word and its why we all understand some words are just out of bounds. So remember, the next time you think someone is being too P.C. ask yourself, would you be okay with someone offending all of your beliefs and how hard would you resist not jumping down their throat?
3. I keep my religious beliefs separate from my political beliefs.
This one makes me crazier and crazier the older I get. When someone tells me they keep those things separate it just screams “I live by a huge double standard!” Christianity, Islam and Judaism have massive belief structures that are meant to impact every aspect of your life, and while they might not apply to every situation they certainly create a set of principles that are meant to be followed at all times. So when someone says they keep those two aspects separate, what they are saying is that they have no place interacting.
Now before someone screams at their computer “They don’t!” consider this. Part of the reasoning on same sex marriage was a moral one. That people have a right to love whom they want and the state has no place in that equation. Or how about the idea of mandatory minimums? A legalistic system that even judges are helpless in and that sends people away for decades over minor drug offenses. A judge being able to make a moral decision in that situation would save a great many people a lot of heart ache.
The idea that one of the major foundations of someone’s morality should be left out of decision making and should be left out of elections is insane. A person can’t know what you’ll do in every situation but they have a much better chance of doing that when they can examine your beliefs. So when someone tries to leave that out it drives me insane. I don’t care if someone is an Atheist, or Christian, or Muslim, what I do care about is how those beliefs inform your decisions. History is peppered with wonderful people, and awful people who claimed to be to be every religion imaginable, but when you take speaking about the deeper beliefs of people out of politics, individuals lose accountability. The voters lose the ability to point to a betrayal of the values they claim to hold dear, or to celebrate what makes such values great.
4. That’s biased
It is the laziest thing in the world to simply call something biased and then disregard it. I love chicken, and it is an excellent source of protein. The statement is biased toward chicken but it doesn’t change the fact chicken is a great source of protein. Likewise, just because an article is biased doesn’t make it wrong. Now if you bring something that refutes a claim then you can call it untrue but simply throwing a claim of bias is lazy and changes exactly nothing. Be better than that! Don’t just disregard something that conflicts with your own beliefs because you don’t like how its presented or for that matter, can’t handle your own beliefs being criticized.
5. They weren’t really a Christian/Conservative, etc.
A lot of people will argue that George Bush wasn’t really a Conservative and to those people I have this to say, shut it. Conservatism has stood for a strong foreign policy, low taxes, and limiting the welfare state. Sure, Bush expanded medicare but he also launched two wars, and massive tax cuts. You can argue that SOME of the things he did weren’t Conservative but when you try to totally disavow a leader in your movement because of a minority of the things he did, you have missed the point. Lyndon Johnson was largely responsible for the Vietnam War, but he was responsible for both the great society and a ton of civil rights legislation. If Liberals tried not to claim him because of Vietnam the rest of the country would look at them like they were idiots. If claiming to follow an ideology means you follow Conservatism, Liberalism or a religion 100% of the time or else you aren’t actually what you claim to be, no one would be anything…ever. It is a shockingly immature thing to do and it is a great way to avoid accountability for your past votes and for supporting past leaders. It is especially infuriating because it allows members of that group to avoid the uncomfortable ideas that their own ideology may have caused such things. It is hilarious to watch Conservatives tell Muslims that radical Islam IS real Islam and then attack their own Conservative leaders for not being real Conservatives.
6. Stop calling Trump a Nazi and Sanders a Communist.
This one…my God this one drives me the most insane. Trump is a Right-Wing Populist, and while that has some things in common with Nazism, they aren’t the same thing. The Nazi’s were all about the party structure and making every facet of society work towards racial purity. Trump is a simple demagogue. If you want to compare him to someone look up Silvio Berlusconi. When you lump ideals and ideologies together unthinkingly you avoid the rather uncomfortable idea that your beliefs might overlap with his, even in a small way. The world isn’t that simple and some pretty awful ideologies overlap with harmless ones all the time. Socialism for its part DOESN’T advocate for government control over the economy but instead, pushes for workers to have control over production. For examples of real democratic Socialists states look at Germany and Norway. Oh, and for the love of all that’s holy don’t say “well they have capitalist economies!” No kidding! Germany has boards where the Unions and owners come together to set company policy. If that doesn’t sound like Communism well, it isn’t. It is intellectually lazy to simply lump these groups together. It also cheapens your own arguments and turns a lot of people off to whatever point you are making.
Just be better, that is all I am asking. So much debate is about talking past someone or about tearing down another ideology and we have to be better than that. A society and movement can’t survive by simply attacking what they don’t like but instead they must stand for something. Please, just stop thoughtlessly insulting people and please think through your own beliefs. That is how we create a more perfect Union.
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