outrage-1280

Trump, Brexit & A New Freedom

BY JAMIE FOSTER

For the past 25 years the left wing intelligentsia, who the Americans have so badly misnamed ‘liberal’, carved the rules for public discourse in tablets of stone. Political correctness became both a hackneyed cliché and a powerful orthodoxy. That was until Brexit and the election of Trump shattered that new zeitgeist and left fragments of it strewn across the sand like shards of a low rent Ozymandias. Free speech is breaking its bounds much to the consternation of its gaolers. Does this mark the end of civilisation or the dawn of a new age of political debate?

The reaction to it has been as violent as it has been predictable. On both sides of the Atlantic the still discordant wavering multitude came together in silence to freely vote for freedom. Pollsters, journalists and assorted ‘experts’ smugly predicted victory for the losing sides.  They counselled restraint to the Neanderthal dissenters in the inevitable event we Remained in Europe or St Hillary acquired her birthright.

When the hob nailed boot was on the other foot they lost their corporate minds. Wailing and gnashing of teeth has become prime time viewing on media that was once ‘mainstream’ but is now trailing in the wake of the new ‘social’ interloper. What was it that upset them so?

The answer is simple. Their vice like grip on the rule book had slipped. The social norms they had worked so hard to enforce had lost their magic. Something had gone wrong.

So is the new Dark Age upon us? Have we decided to allow evildoers free rein to express their most base desires?

The answer to this question is more complicated. Even the dullest pencils in the box have realised that familiarity has bred contempt for the screeches of ‘racist, sexist, homophobe’ that anyone who inadvertently stepped on a taboo has been subjected to for decades. The sharper pencils wonder whether these labels meant much in the first place.

The mischief that they all point to is the same. Discriminating against individuals on the basis of a prejudicial reaction to a characteristic common to a group is wrong. It is wrong to dislike someone you have never met because they are black, gay, female; or for any other reason that is not associated with the inner workings of their mind.  It is wrong because it dehumanises them. It casts them out before they have had a chance to prove their worth. It makes them irredeemable, untouchable, a pariah.

Guess what? So does labelling people you have never met as ‘racist, sexist or homophobic’ on the basis of words that you don’t like. It is the same mischief. It is a prejudicial discrimination where a human being is branded as unworthy because they have dared to say something wrong. Any chance of persuading them to a different view is lost. They have been expelled from the discourse.

It is the prejudice that is important, not the target. It is no worse to prejudge a black person than a white person. Terms like ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’ exist only to allow the user their own prejudices while condemning those of others. Challenge prejudice but don’t dehumanise those guilty of it. We all are from time to time.

Tolerance, Dear Readers, is the willingness to put up with things you do not like. You are not tolerant if you welcome things you do like. Tolerance is a virtue up to the point that it is a weakness. Tolerate that which is lawful and refuse to tolerate that which isn’t and you won’t go far wrong. Prejudice should be discriminated against not tolerated, in whatever guise it arises.

Discrimination is a valuable tool that allows us to distinguish between that which is good and useful and that which isn’t. Being ‘indiscriminate’ used to be frowned upon. Don’t confuse discrimination with prejudice. Prejudicial discrimination is wrong. Rational discrimination is what separates us from sheep. Remember to discriminate between the responses to words and actions.

We are learning that we do not have to be cowed or silenced when the gatekeepers shout anymore. This may lead to some people experiencing unpleasant conversations they might otherwise be protected from. In this regard they will be achieving the equality those protecting them claimed to have desired. Whoever you are and whatever you look like you have the same opportunity to join the conversation now. It will cover uncomfortable topics and the rhetoric may be undesirable. The hurt will pass. If we talk rather than shunning discussion it is just possible that we really can come together. Just don’t think that your knee-jerk reaction is morally purer than anyone else’s. It isn’t. Put down your labels and your sanctimony. As the late great Bob Hoskins assured us. “It’s good to talk.”

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13 thoughts on “Trump, Brexit & A New Freedom

  1. I’m glad I read that. I’ve been watching the PC truncheon grow over several decades… mighty difficult for people born when ‘Fanny’ was a girls name. I could go on but I doubt people would understand, especially those born in and after the ’60s.

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  2. That Brexit dissenters were talking of wanting to have “Remained in Europe” speaks of volumes (especially about misappropriate of language).

    The referendum result was to leave the EU: For the UK to leave Europe would require a major tectonic event depositing the UK onto another continent. The EU of course would like us to think EU = Europe, even though it only covers ~42% of the continent’s land area and a third of Europe’s population lives outside it.

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  3. “Political correctness became both a hackneyed cliché and a powerful orthodoxy”

    yeah, you’re right, the Daily Mail has been the minority opinion for so long… what you had in the last decades is minorities not willing to keep their heads down when the right was attacking them… now the right has won the elections and it dominates the political discourse again… but it’s an authoritarian right… you’ll miss your effette liberal intelligentsia when the new masters show their muscle…

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  4. Very well said Jamie. I’m reviewing my interactions with people on the left, and I’m ashamed to say that I’ve labeled them probably as much as they’ve labeled me. Good wake up call to talk about the issues instead of trying to think up clever names.

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  5. Superlative Jamie. But.
    I am getting quite weary of your keen insights, intelligent discourse and sound advice. I can see that I must retreat to my “safe space” and contemplate my navel for a few months whilst you get it out of your system.
    Truth is I am exceeding jealous and wish I could do it.
    Keep ’em coming.

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  6. Great piece.
    It seems that it is the so called liberals that enjoy labelling people . Belittling and patronising their targets may be what it takes to help them feel better and shift some of their guilt. This could be why celebrities; particularly those that belong to the BBC school of further indoctrination feel they need to do the same.
    Like most in the political and media mainstream, they contemplate social issues in the same small circles coming up with the same insular answers; one of which is education.
    Brexiteers and Trump supporters are, of course, thick. Surely education is experience, being a graduate of studying beetle dung doesn’t make you educated in social issues and being a football pundit doesn’t give you the right to bully and ridicule those productive people struggling in the real working world.
    Realisation is setting in and it’s making those in mainstream media feel insecure, their reactions are predictable and in turn will only feed what they think they are oppose to.
    Those of us that edge on the conservative side see people for their ambitions, skills and knowledge as well as a will to join in and be apart of the community, these are the qualities needed to sustain our future and with effort are available to anyone.
    Dragging nations down to an equally low level is the product of a left wing narrative, foresight and a belief in raising standards across the globe is what is needed.
    While most are getting in with it, it’s the intolerant liberals that are hell bent on making people victims.

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  7. The problem with radical change is that it can cripple comfortable establishments. We need to be sure we don’t end up like Egypt or Libya and that we land on our feet in the current storm.

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  8. Excellent piece, Jamie. Challenge prejudice but don’t dehumanise those guilty of it. You’ve put into words what a lot of decent people think. Time for healing and love. Less hate. More logic. We’ll all be fine

    Liked by 1 person

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