Isn’t it interesting that the same people that would self-describe as loving, kind-hearted and tolerant are seemingly the most hateful and vicious. A good standard for evaluating people is to look at their actions, not their words. Or, as MLK put it content of character, not color of skin. Skin being a stand-in for outward virtue-signalling in this case. I was among those that thought that political hatred had reached a peak during the 2016 US presidential campaign. The vitriol and hatred for Donald Trump was remarkable to watch. People rushing the stages at several events, street brawls that left people bloody and massive protests shutting down highways and thoroughfares. A casual glance at what’s in the news currently leads me to the simple conclusion that I was wrong.
Following election day on November 8 2016 massive street protests mobilized against Trump. Whether these protests were organic or not is unclear (*cough, cough Soros*). A good example of non-spontaneous protest is the “Stop #” signs following Trump’s Supreme Court pick announcement. Paid protesters only had to write in the name of the nominee. Paying people to show up for political rallies or to protest is not something new or novel. It is remarkably widespread. One can easily understand why it is done. Those that followed last year’s election cycle clearly remember photographs of nearly empty event spaces for many candidates. Rubio has a tiny crowd prior to getting pummelled in the Florida primary. Kaine, Hillary’s Vice Presidential candidate drew a crowd of just 30 people at an event. Artificially boosting the optics regarding your support or antagonism against your opponent is money well spent by political operatives.
It is unsurprising that the people that rooted for a different candidate opposes the winner, Trump. What deserves closer scrutiny is their methods and the contents of their message. Violent street protests with arson, assaults on police, onlookers or political counterdemonstrators has almost become par for the course. The level of rhetoric is equivalently violent. “Kill Trump, Rape Melania, Fuck White People”. These are not outliers espoused by fringe, radical elements. These are increasingly becoming common and they’ve recently leapt from the streets to the pages of respectable news outlets (perhaps the “respectable” part is a bit of a stretch). The same verbal escalation can be found in the world of comedy. The recent #firecolbert uproar is a clear example of this. Colbert to name just one example has been anti-Trump for the entire campaign and presidency. His rhetoric however has dramatically escalated in meanness and viciousness.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with categorically disregarding arguments coming from people or institutions that don’t respect the lowest common denominator basic essence of civility and playing by the rules. Meaning that if someone doesn’t make coherent arguments, but instead physically attacks you in the street, I’m not going to pursue their viewpoint and enter the arena with an open mind. The same goes if they spew out profanity or if they’re wearing their partisanness on their sleeves. I therefore have watched less and less mainstream media coverage of Trump as time has passes. Back during the campaign, I watched quite a bit to gain a balanced perspective. Now, they’ve abandoned the last tiny slivers of objectivity they clung to in order to reveal themselves as partisan hacks. The same goes for late night comedy. Political comedy can be funny as hell, if it is done by even-handed people. Late night comedy in the US is anything but. Just imagine for a moment the same people going after Obama like they’ve attacked Trump. They would be taken off the air before you can say “advertiser boycott”.
Fundamentally, my problem with the demonstrators in the streets, the comedians, the news anchors and so on is their dishonesty. They proudly shroud themselves in certain labels. Diversity, tolerance, respect, kindness and so on. Their actions make it clear to even the casual observer that the labels don’t match reality. If they didn’t embrace inaccurate sentiments my “beef” with them would be greatly reduced. I don’t believe it is too much to ask for to demand simple honesty.