There is a concept in Western Philosophy and Society that one should be able to consider a thought or philosophy in your head and understand it, without actually believing in it. I hate to claim it’s a lost art, but more and more these days evidence does lean towards the fact that said concept alone is lost, much less the actual ability to engage in it.
To most people these days, understanding equals agreement. I’ve seen this work out in several different ways, both in the “positive” and “negative” sense. By which I mean “positive” is “for” and “negative” is “against,” not in a positive/negative morality way.
A general example comes from when one is dealing with feminist or racial issues. You’ll often see those who disagree with the more “political left” side of the debate being accused of ignorance. The basic essence meaning: “If you really understood what I was saying, you would agree with me. Because you fail to agree with me, you must be ignorant and incapable of understanding.”
It’s not an leftist only attitude, I remember waaaaay back in the day you’d have that same issue with some branches of Christianity. “That you don’t accept the love of Christ means you’re ignorant and need to learn the truth.” You don’t see it much anymore, but it did happen.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is where you’re assigned beliefs and guilt based on those beliefs because you understand them. A small example is what happened to me this week. I wrote three posts giving some small details on the beliefs and “positives” that are in Nazi philosophy. As detailed in the fourth post of that series, I was then labeled a “nazi,” a “racist,” and an “anti-semite.” Why? Because even though I do not agree with Nazism, and I stated that several times, because I could hold understand the concepts of Nazism, therefore I must believe in Nazism. (I think the charge of antisemitism had more to do with the fact I showed pictorial proof that there are some Jews [not all Jews, just some] who are in fact racist towards Ethnic European Peoples. Apparently, pointing out that people are racists makes you a racist, at least if you’re “white” and the other party is “jewish”.)
The reason I’m writing this though is in part inspired by a reporter by the name of Lauren Southern getting her Patreon shut down.
The tl:dr version is Lauren Southern is a conservative free-lance reporter who is going to be going on a ship run by a group called “Generation Identitarian.” The goal of GI is to sail out into the Med, rescue ships of refugees, and take them back to the African coast. Their motive is they feel the constant influx of Millions of Refugees is directly harming Europe and threaten the continued existence of European Cultures. Based on the video by Tim Pool (a Journalist with an honorable reputation), Lauren is not a member of GI, and is acting as an “on-site” reporter for events that happens during the time at sea.
But Patreon shut down her account because they feel that the GI cruise will result in “loss of life” despite the stated goal being rescue operations. And they consider Lauren being around these people and understanding their cause…as evidence that she is part and parcel with them.
Because you can “understand” the views, you must therefore believe 100% in those views.
Let’s think about what this does to both discussion, and to news reporting in general. While I by no means consider myself a journalist, much less a trained reporter, and in fact do consider myself more of a commentator of things…the truth is that on a basic level, my “nazi posts” were a very basic form of reporting. I went to places that “nazis” hang out and gathered pictures they use to explain their beliefs. Hell, for some of it all I had to do was go to the Wikipedia page, and search a couple youtube videos. Lauren Southern is a journalist by trade though, and she goes on site with cameras to various different places and tries to get interviews.
Both of us report what we find.
Each of us, then, was labeled as guilty of believing and supporting the things we reported on as those we reported about.
Now, I am not trying to play the victim here. I don’t consider myself victimized by the names I was called. Lauren Southern, on the other hand, most certainly is a victim because she has just lost a large part of her livelihood, and her ability to go out and do her job, with the loss of her patreon. I do, however, think there are other victims out there, namely those who might lose valuable information by having those who report it silenced by being blacklisted for what are essentially “thoughtcrimes.”
But I want to take a moment and explain how stupid and asinine this attitude is. Imagine if, after hosting a few weeks of “To Catch a Predator,” Host Chris Henson was accused of supporting pedophilia because he had pedophiles on his show. Not because he was one, not because he believed in it, but simply because he had them on his show. Or lets say (because I’m sure this has happened) 60 Minutes interviewed some members of the KKK and allowed them to explain their views…and then 60 Minutes was accused of being Pro-KKK.
Because you allow, because you understand, therefore you must be.
And it’s an attitude I see only growing more powerful, and thusly more violent as well. That’s why we have the ever growing problem that anyone “to the Right” is automatically a Nazi. “If you understood our beliefs, you would agree with us. Since you do not, that must means you must be like everyone whose views must be wrong because we don’t understand them!”
I’m not sure where this situation of “understanding = truth” comes from either. Don’t get me wrong, I do on some level understand that people believe their beliefs are the “true and right ones” because of that natural bias people have. The one where they each believe they’re “good people” and since “good people can’t be good if they believe bad things, then the things I believe are clearly good because I’m a good person.” I just don’t know if that’s enough for the full equivalency.
But it’s what I see happening more and more. And it disturbed me to an extent, because I don’t work like that. I’m never entirely sure if any or all of my views are true or correct or right. I know they’re factual, because I make it a practice to try and keep to the facts as much as I can, but I never assume that’s all the facts to a particular case, just that they’re the ones I’ve found in greatest number. Now, I will admit, that does tend to put me in a place of having views a fair number of people find “disgusting,” and I’ll even admit some of them are conclusions and views I would rather not have…but I have them based on the facts I have at hand.
And if at anytime if more facts present themselves, I am willing to change my conclusions and views.*
But this means I must be able to consider all information. And if I have to live in fear that I shall be slandered for the knowledge I seek…while I know that will rarely ever make me hesitate, I know that others are not so fearless. Some will never expose themselves to new ideas, and others who do are potentially going to be “radicalized” because of the abuse they face for even considering without believing.
And that goes fundamentally against the Classical Liberalism, and the Heathenism, that I believe in.
Because how many good people who would be good Heathens have been kept from the faith because they would be called “nazis?” Even if it just one…that is too many. To paraphrase an old English Judged, “better that ten nazis go unmolested than one innocent man be punched in the face.”
Because this attitude to me really does violate so, so many of the ideals of Classical Liberalism and the USA where I live. Freedom of Speech cannot exist while threats against any speech exist. Innocent until proven Guilty cannot exist in a place where speaking without believing is the same as believing. Justice cannot exist given the cruel and/or unusual punishments given socially at the mere accusation of “ideological guilt.”
Humanity will only suffer worse and worse under this attitude of guilty by mere speech. Yes, allowing ideological liberty and non-believing consideration of ideas does mean you might have to find a tolerance for views you don’t like. But the only other alternative should we keep down this path has historically been war and death. It’s time to swallow our prides, and step back from the ledge, because I do think that based on the last time we got here, people will have learned the message that only total extermination is the solution.
*An example of this is lately I have been seeing information that indicates virtually 100% of all terrorist incidents since 9/11/01 have been caused by Sunni Muslims (the kind Saudi Arabians are). None to virtually none have been caused by Sufi Muslims (the kind Iranians are). While I’m still researching it, this has caused a shift in my view of Muslims and Islam. After all, if all terrorism comes from only one school/branch then that is the one that is a concern, where as the others may not be of any concern and are welcome to live in peace. Though I would welcome some religious reforms.