This is a bit personal, but I needed to write it.
Recently I ran afoul of the type of leftist activist that, until that moment, I had always assumed was a ridiculous strawman constructed by racists. The kind you hear about in outrage-peddling articles about how awful “Social Justice Warriors” are. I understand that there really is a lunatic fringe on both sides, but I’d never been confronted with it before.
I mean, I’ve often been engaged by irrational, highly-emotive people. But in the past, they were always on the “other side.” The racists, the creationists, the sexists. It is easy to verbally joust with them, because I don’t care about their opinions of me. I don’t care about their friends’ opinions of me. I know they hate me, and I’m cool with that, I’m just here for the boxing match.
It was radically different when it was someone on “my” side of the issue. Because all of a sudden it felt like my place in the tribe was in jeopardy. I know that it wasn’t really in jeopardy. No one who knows me would care about some random troll’s yelling. But you can’t help feeling like… “this is how rumors get started”, ya know? And I don’t care about whatever rumors the racists may have… but when it’s my tribe, that’s actually a scary thing. It’s been two days, and I’m still processing my anxiety over this.
I’ve always been of the opinion that HOW one comes to their opinions is as important as WHAT their opinions are. But this incident really drove that home for me in an emotional way. It’s nice if someone has liberal democratic views, but I would rather someone be wrong for good reasons than be right for bad reasons, because one is self-correcting and the other is dumb luck (and can change). Epistemology is important.
I guess what it all comes down to, is that I now feel a distance between my “home” tribe of liberalism; and I feel a much greater appreciation of the growing tribe of rationalism. I still have a lot of processing to do, but this was eye-opening.