Brad R. Torgersen

Hoarders of rectitude

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Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) wrote some interesting commentary this week. How familiar it all sounds, given the SF/F storm of 2015. I agree with Scott. It’s a disheartening thing when any Presidential candidate excommunicates half the country from the human equation. That’s basically what Hillary Clinton did, with her quip about “deplorables.” She’s reading from the 21st century progressive playbook. I call it Moral Majority 2.0, which has taken all the worst qualities of the so-called Moral Majority of the 1970s and 1980s, and valorized them — with a progressive flavoring. It’s now perfectly okay to hate, despise, lie about, abuse, bully, browbeat (or physically beat!) people who are “bad” — because the “bad” people deserve it.

And who are these “bad” people, and how can we know them?

Why, they’re everyone who’s not voting for Hillary, of course.

I know, I know, it’s unconscionable — to not support Hillary. I mean, are we crazy? How can we not vote for Hillary? Even if she is a serial liar who evades accountability by buying off and/or intimidating people who might call her on the carpet? She’s going to be the first woman President in U.S. history! Why do we want to be on the wrong side?

I’ve seen and heard a lot of that kind of talk — about people being on the wrong side of history — during both the Obama years, and now the (soon to come) Hillary years. Usually issuing from the keyboards of so-called liberal opinionators who believe human civilization is on some kind of straight-line “ramp” ascending ever-upward to an idealized nirvana of economic, political, and social perfection.

To the liberal opinionators, they and theirs are on the ramp, while all the rest of us are merely hapless ideological road kill. We didn’t (or don’t) pick the right “team” therefore the choo-choo of inevitability is going to leave us behind — or run us over.

Like Moral Majority 1.0, there is a smug certainty to the declarations of Moral Majority 2.0, and Hillary’s “deplorables” comment was made precisely so as to tap into that smugness. For Hillary — and her ardent fans — the country is theirs, and theirs alone. The rest of us are just squatters. We’re going to be run off, or burned out. If not literally, at least figuratively. We didn’t pick the correct “side” so we will not be given a place at the table. We have been made “bad” according to the doctrines of Moral Majority 2.0 and there will be no redemption for us.

In other words, we are blocked from having moral validity, as well as virtue. The river of moral worth has been dammed up at Hillary Clinton. If you’re downstream, forget it. No moral worth for you. Either get with the program and be on the reservoir with the rest of the “right thinking, right voting” Hillary supporters — even the ones holding their noses — or you’re an outcast. You are cut off from the light of righteousness. Banished from the circle of humanity.

“Either you’re voting for Hillary, or you’re with those Nazi racist Trump voters!”

I’ve said in this space (before) that I am taking a Treebeard approach to the 2016 election: Side? I am on nobody’s side, because nobody is on my side. Forced to swallow Fish Hook #1 or Fish Hook #2, I choose a third option.

But that doesn’t mean I think the people voting for Trump are awful. I also don’t think the people voting for Hillary are awful, even if I think Hillary herself is an awful choice, in an awful election year. I fully respect the personhood of both voting blocks, even if I think neither of them is going to get anything like what they’re hoping for — from either of the two main, miserable candidates. So, I try to be careful to distinguish between my dislike of the candidates, and the voters supporting same. I’ve got good friends and even family who are voting for both Hillary and Trump. I don’t think this makes them awful people.

But there does seem to be a significant number of Hillary supporters who aren’t willing to accord me and mine — to say nothing of the Trump supporters — similar courtesy. To them, if you’re not standing with Hillary, you’re scum.

Remember how Bush (last decade) was excoriated for declaring, “Either you’re with us, or you’re with the terrorists”?

Progressives and liberals loathed, derided, and detested that sentence. They considered it proof of Bush’s retrograde, one-dimensional policy. Zero nuance.

Do any of Hillary’s proponents think twice, in our current election, before sneering about misogynist, racist, homophobic, Trump voters and independents?

If not, they probably should.

Frankly, if your first instinct is to label anyone who doesn’t behave or believe the way you do — racist, misogynist, homophobe, Nazi, etc. — I think the problem is far more on your side of the table, than not. You’re neither caring, nor compassionate. You’re merely impressed with your own moral and political rightness.

You’ve become a hoarder of rectitude. All for you, none for us. Nobody else is allowed to have any goodness. Only you — and everyone you deem worthy — gets to be good. Meaning, your monocultural opinions and ideas are the only ideas given any standing in a given conversation. Everyone else who isn’t “smart” enough to believe and think just like you, is a moral monster.

And we all know that monsters are fair game. You can vandalize their property, call them bad names, call their family and their children bad names, lie about them and spread lies to defame and undermine them, threaten their jobs, stage repeated on-line mob sessions or street protests resembling 1984’s infamous Two Minute Hate, and much worse. Because monsters deserve what they have coming to them.

Monsters aren’t on the “team” pushing this country up the “ramp” leading to the perfection of the human condition.

Therefore, anything done to or said about a monster, is perfectly okay. Even terrible, hate-filled untruths, designed to evict decent folk from the human condition. It’s all good. They’re only monsters.

When Hillary called us “deplorables” she was saying we not only do not matter, but that we’re terrible people who do not exist in the realm of individual dignity. In true Hillary fashion, everyone who is not useful to her, is deemed an outlander. We’re off the chart of civilization. We are just in the way of Hillary’s vision of progress.

This kind of thing has happened regularly throughout history. The many Moral Majorities — and their bold leaders — which have marched brazenly across every continent. How or why we don’t learn from the past, is probably explained by the fact that self-righteousness is a hell of a drug. Convince a man that he’s got the moral “right” to be terrible to another human being, and that man will do all manner of atrocity — in the name of what he believes to be correct. Or true. Or virtuous. Because he’s been given an excuse.

The various Marxist movements of the 20th century were all certain that their “way” was the inevitable — indeed, scientific — path forward. Hundreds of millions of human beings suffered and /or were killed, for the sake of the Marxist certainty that their ramp to societal perfection, was so just and so absolute, that nobody could deviate without being an obviously amoral and pernicious individual. Worthy of jail. Torture. Execution. And other heinousness.

Of course, the Marxist road to a perfect society, predictably crumbled beneath them. Because history is not a straight line. It is an oscillating waveform. Depending on your view, the present time may be a peak, or a trough; or maybe somewhere in between? The “inevitable” course of history has an uncanny tendency to swerve sharply from expected trajector(ies).

Thus it may be that the finger-pointers of 2016 — those who happily mock and abuse us “deplorables” — will learn a little humility.

Or not?

Again, self-righteousness is a hell of a drug.

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