America’s need to transcend tribalism

Self-appointed censors: a group agitates on Sproul Plaza to "Shut Down Milo Yiannopoulos,"

Andrew Sullivan writes a must-read essay about growing tribalism in American politics. And how damaging it is to our democracy and our planet.

“Over the past couple of decades in America, the enduring, complicated divides of ideology, geography, party, class, religion, and race have mutated into something deeper, simpler to map, and therefore much more ominous…. two coherent tribes, eerily balanced in political power, fighting not just to advance their own side but to provoke, condemn, and defeat the other.

“I mean two tribes whose mutual incomprehension and loathing can drown out their love of country …”

Sullivan repeatedly quotes Orwell, who nailed tribalism a half century ago. “George Orwell famously defined this mind-set as identifying yourself with a movement, “placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.” It’s typified, he noted, by self-contradiction and indifference to reality.”

Also demonization of other tribes. Now look at this photo of right-wing “provocateur” (a euphemism, in my opinion, for an intellectually vacuous fraud) Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulous held a free speech event at UC Berkeley. The signs he is holding aloft read “Feminism is a cancer” and “Liberalism is a mental disorder.”

Protecting Yiannopoulos’s right to express such a caricature of thoughtful conservatism cost UC Berkeley at least $800,000.

But what’s the alternative? A country censored by snowflakes such as the UC professor who tells the New York Times in this story, “Words can be like rape–they can destroy you”?

The NYT: “According to a survey conducted in August and made public on the Brookings Institution website, a plurality of college students polled, 44 percent, believed that hate speech was not protected by the First Amendment.

“Today’s students tend to believe in a narrower interpretation of the First Amendment than is actually true,” said the author of the study, John Villasenor, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “There is this idea that what is permissible to say should be judged in large part on its impact on a listener.”

I’ll be the “word rape” professor has no problem with harsh words used against conservatives.

Small wonder academe is turning out graduates with no appreciation for the First Amendment. But then our president is dissing it as another chunk of red meat thrown to his base.

Read Sullivan’s essay.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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