This short Instapundit post by Sarah Hoyt caught my attention for two reasons:
The Problem With Politics Today? The Opposition Must Be PUNISHED! This is what comes of confusing civil law and religion. When your politics are your religion, those who don’t agree are evil.
First, the Tom Knighton post on PJMedia to which she links is about a “small town of less than 20,000 people” in which residents recently “voted down a tax increase,” and the social media reaction of some who wanted to punish voters. If anything, Knighton’s example looks mild compared with the open, broad, and organized aggression we’ve seen in Tiverton after merely reducing a tax increase to 0.9%.
Second, the mention of “evil” brought to mind the reaction of RI Future writer Steve Ahlquist when I wondered why the Central Falls school district insists that substitute teachers have a “commitment to social justice”:
Because a commitment to social injustice is evil?
One can see the level of zealotry, here, by the assumption that a substitute teacher who would not claim to have an active “commitment to social justice” must therefore have an active “commitment to social injustice.” As I argued yesterday, progressives believe everything must be political all the time, whereas conservatives are comfortable with the idea that some areas of human activity can be distinct from other areas. A substitute teacher, for example, can keep the classroom safe and maybe even advance students’ learning without having to invoke the doctrine of “social justice.”
My ensuing discussion with Ahlquist became mired in his trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, he wanted to seem less like a zealot by implying that “social justice” isn’t a political ideology at all, but simply a term for such beliefs as all Americans agree are obvious and correct. On the other hand (and here he broke off conversation before we could really explore this inquiry), he clearly has a progressive’s concept of what “social justice” means, as does the Central Falls district, inasmuch as the job ad in question had other telling phrases, like “cultural pride.”
Honestly, I think there’s a real issue evident in progressives’ inability to structure their thoughts and beliefs logically as a step toward assessing and comparing contrary thoughts and beliefs. What they believe is simply correct… because it is… and in order to believe differently, one must be evil. And if you’re nice, or at least willing to engage in discourse, while being evil, then you are, as Ahlquist repeatedly accused me of being, “not an honest interlocutor.”
The attractiveness of this approach is obvious. One’s own beliefs are so plainly correct that none can legitimately argue against them. The opposition’s implicit evil justifies just about any strategy required to win political fights, and if the good guys should lose, they are further justified in lashing out to punish the maleficent victors.