To my generation (and others in the US): stop assuming the worst about people with different beliefs. Just stop.

8 Nov

For the past two months I’ve been working through my first semester at college. I go to American University (AU) in Washington DC. So far, college has been a great experience that’s taught me a lot of things. I’ve had great experiences that have been very educational. I’ve met many people from places all over the US and the rest of the world. I’ve taken very interesting courses, and I’ve had a lot of interesting discussions. Interesting, in both good and bad ways.

Let’s start with some background: AU is one of the most politically active colleges in the nation. Generally, the college leans left-wing. My generation is seen as very liberal compared to previous American generations, but AU takes millennial style liberalism to a real extreme. Among the left-wing at AU, there is a vocal number of students who get called “SJWs” by other students.

The term “SJW” is not just used at AU, it is an abbreviation of “social justice warrior” that has become a mocking term for vocally left wing individuals. Many who get ridiculed with this insult are well-intentioned, well-meaning people who want to make the world a better place. But like in many demographics, there is a minority that has hurt the overall reputation.

I have personally heard of the more extreme “SJWs” say that it’s imperialistic and racist for white people to learn Spanish and eat Asian food. I think most people would agree that it’s nonsense. I think it is reasonable for people to call out the disrespectful behavior of dressing in a Native American costume for halloween. But it’s become a belief that many who criticize “cultural appropriation” are simply nasty people who are out to stop white hipsters from eating Asian food, traveling to non-western countries, or learning foreign languages. And then there are SJWs who assume that “fake white allies” are not really well intentioned, simply if they make one comment that they don’t realize is offensive.

This boils down to what I believe is a major problem in American political culture: people on both sides of many debates are quick to assume the worst in the other side. There are horrible, bigoted republicans and democrats out there. And there are those who aren’t overtly racist, but who will openly deny that white privilege exists. And there are those who know it exists, but see no problem with it. All of these types of people are wrong. There are also “SJW” types who insult white people. There are “SJW” types who think it is impossible to be a male feminist. And both of these types have dialogue are damaging. But if someone comes across as remotely resembling one of these, even through one “microaggression” people tend to jump to conclusions about who they are as a human being, and may assume that are a hateful person.

I used to think of this as being a solely tea party problem, involving the types who hate Obama more than they love America. And it’s a very big problem I have with some conservatives, that they will assume the worst in anyone who supports Obama. But if we, the left, assume that anyone who questions the Tumblr-influenced culture of political correctness is a hateful bigot, we are no better than they are. WE’VE ALL got to cut each other some slack, be polite and CHILL OUT. Society cannot function in a civil manner if we constantly call each other bigots or call each other “America haters”.

I’m a left-wing person. I think Donald Trump’s popularity among the GOP is a sickening manifestation of the worst of American culture. But I’m not going to assume that someone is a nasty, awful person simply because they say one thing that empathizes with any of his views. We’ve all got to be decent human beings, and get to know people before we judge if they are bad people or not.

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