Updated: Jan 11, 2021
I’ve spent some time in the very insular circles of militant and aggressive Social Justice Warrior ideologies, discussing prevalent issues through a lens, that at the time, I believed to be grounded. Having disengaged from this and now on the outside, I feel as if my contrasting experiences allow me to comment on what I have learned. I’ve organized here, a few of my thoughts, things I now believe to be the most important lessons.
Social Injustice Exists
Identifying as a Conservative, I’ve found that the political right, tends to be dismissive of the fact that racism towards minorities exists, sexism towards women, exists. And I find this dismissive attitude to be a terrible catalyst for issues within our society. At the same time, I acknowledge that the political and social Left can have the tendency to see problems where there are none, to try and fix things that are not broken, often resorting to exaggeration and emotional manipulation to meet their ends.
But, overreacting to these tactics would be a grave mistake for any conservative to make. I believe that there is a dire need for the social and political right to formulate an answer for real societal concerns, to not be unnecessarily dismissive and judgemental of a topic simply because of its origins or how it is commonly handled. Conservatism is in urgent need for voices that are bold enough to discuss injustice and not allow the Left to falsely hold the appearance of moral superiority. If Conservatives, especially those of the Millenial generation, wish to see more move to embrace right-wing ideology, Conservatives must accept these truths. Answers to social issues that are practical, rational, and most importantly empathetic, are needed from the right. Our goal: provide the voices and create space for those who seek to foster real and fruitful change.
Free Speech Is Important
This term is frequently thrown around, often used by both sides of the political aisle as a projectile against the other.
Free speech is important. Not only is it a necessary tool for communication and exposure to different beliefs, it helps foster relationships between people who may never have spoken to one another. To be clear, I’m not any kind of advocate for any kind of , “hate speech, ” though that tends to be vaguely defined nowadays. But free and open speech and dialogue allows the sharing of ideas, beliefs, and ideologies, none which are without critique, hate speech included. Well-founded criticism is important in this day where narratives are often built upon unstable foundations. The sharing of information encourages one to leave their bubble, as I once did. A proper discussion cannot be had when only one side is represented. A discussion cannot be had without respect for the idea of disagreement. The ploy in SJW circles is to, “shut down,” discussion in every form whenever there is a perceived threat from the person or ideology. This is unbecoming of a person, breeding complacency and overblown reactions in the face of disagreement. If your sole platform is to silence voices of opposition, you’re doing yourself, and others an injustice.
Personal Experiences Do Matter
Personal experiences do matter. Why? Our entire understanding of life is based upon the interpretation of our own lived experiences. Should these experiences be dismissed and ignored? Definitely not. Still, I conclude that lived experiences are not on the same level of validity as factual, presumably objective information. But, lived experiences contribute insights, providing context to facts and statistics. These experiences should be responded to with empathy, the act of putting one’s self in another’s shoes. A collective experience in an identity group can shape the way a group is seen and navigates throughout society, such nuances are not always tangible enough to grasp through quantitative measures. I say that lived experiences matter, as subjective as they are, anecdotal evidence can be eye-opening in many cases. On the other hand, I firmly disagree with the notion that if someone doesn’t take the experience of a minority or some other oppressed group as solid truth, that they are not to be considered. Your experience is yours, valid to its own degree yet it is not something to be held and used as a weapon to demonize those who do not kneel to your every opinion. We’re often blinded by our own personal interpretations. In every minority group, is a person that disagrees with their motto and banner of that group. Unfairly, minorities are seen to be monolithic in thought and action, often erasing their individuality for the sake of adherence to groupthink. In this way, dialogue is halted; lacking necessary and informative nuance. Again, discourse is not one-sided, handling unfamiliar subjects means there are levels to those who speak and those who are listening – none of which matters with only one voice.
I’m glad for what I learned about my journey in and out of the world of social justice was, I am still glad for the experience. As from it I’ve embraced the potential of being incorrect, of others having different opinions and the fact that I am always in dire need of learning something new.