Do you remember when bigots were ashamed to be openly bigoted? When racists were too scared to say racist things? When it wasn’t okay to brag about grabbing women by the pussy? I do, and I’d like those days to return.
One of the reasons we’re in the mess we’re in is that far too many people are far too willing to make allowances for the ignorant, the intolerant and the downright dangerous.
I get particularly annoyed by the assertion, usually made by affluent middle-class conservative columnists, that we have an obligation to tolerate people with repellent beliefs. If we don’t invite our nazi uncle to dinner, we’re refusing to entertain alternative points of view.
I disagree. I think if you have nazis at your dinner party, you’re having a nazi dinner party.
Jessica Valenti clearly feels the same, and has articulated it with much less swearing than I have.
This week, as the president of the United States casually retweeted an account accusing Joe Biden of pedophilia and baselessly claimed that “it’ll start getting cooler” as smoke haze from California reached New York City, writers Bari Weiss and Johann Hari both waxed nostalgic for a time when friendships and romances blossomed across the aisle. “I don’t denounce my friends when I disagree with them,” Hari tweeted. “If you do, then you don’t actually have friends, you only have political alliances, and your life will be filled with anxiety and unhappiness.” (Never mind the anxiety that might come along with being “friends” with a person who doesn’t believe in your right to marry or control your own body.)
…These calls for bipartisan amicability in the face of unrelenting injustice are a reminder that the life-and-death issues so many Americans face are often just cocktail-hour talk for others. It’s easy to bemoan the lack of politeness in politics when you have no real skin in the game.
That’s why the conversation around civility and finding middle ground is almost never driven by marginalized people, but instead by the powerful.
My friends don’t make me anxious or unhappy; bigoted people do, which is why I’m not friends with any.
Like Johann Hari, I don’t want to denounce my friends. I find the easiest way to avoid that is not to be friends with assholes.