On a fundamental level, our political allegiances are formed and determined by our personality and temperament. Human personalities are partly inherent and partly socialized, but they will nevertheless lead us to our instinctive reactions to a wide array of political affairs. In the absence of thorough personal research on an issue, it is our temperament that guides us to an opinion. It’s no sin to have strong values that inform one on how to act. However, overarching values applied in frivolous manners don’t allow for much distinction to individual circumstances.
Kevin Doremus | United States
The United States has been involved in four military conflicts since the end of the Cold War: Serbia, Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Of course, this is not counting proxy wars. The U.S. has spent an enormous amount of money and blood in regions that are known to be unstable. There needs to be increased restraint in how the government involves itself in foreign affairs.
Over the past decade, the United States has engaged in a policy commonly referred to as primacy, or liberal hegemony. Its advocates argue that the U.S. needs to preserve its power advantage and defend Western values such as democracy, universal human rights, and open markets. In Washington D.C., it is a strategy that has bipartisan support. Yet, the American populace has seemingly rejected this policy at the polls.
America’s mainstream media was given an inch – and it took a mile. For years now the dominant left-wing cultural hegemony has reigned freely. From widespread social media bannings to promotion of blatant falsehoods by internet blogs, the mainstream has been quite successful in their actions. But in the case of Nick Sandmann and the Washington Post, this backfired.
Mark West | United States
Actress and activist Alyssa Milano’s tweet during the aftermath of the National Mall stare down has drawn fire from right-wing critics. She equivocated wearing red MAGA hats with wearing Klu Klux Klan hoods. As of yet, Milano has refused to apologize and instead doubled-down.
Her reasons for such are made clear in her Op-Ed titled, Red MAGA Hats Are The New White Hoods.
What did she tweet that gained so much attention?
The red MAGA hat is the new white hood.
Without white boys being able to empathize with other people, humanity will continue to destroy itself. #FirstThoughtsWhenIWakeUp
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) January 20, 2019
I felt her tweet went too far. My feelings haven’t changed, but I want to take a few minutes to give my own reasons. She almost drove me, a #neverTrump guy, to buying one of those ridiculous-looking hats.
Why? Because this tribal narrative, that the hats represent the KKK, is equally ridiculous.
I Do Agree With Alyssa
Before I move on, I do want to say that I agree with something Milano wrote in her Op-Ed. She wrote, “watching that video, each of us saw what we wanted to see.” I wrote a piece last week that essentially said the same thing. Our tribal nature is ripping us apart. We see everything the other tribes do as evil. We see our own tribes as the only ones doing right.
Unfortunately for Milano, she falls into similar group-think. She is being intentionally divisive. She is stirring the pot as much as she claims the Covington Catholic teens in DC were.
Milano’s words assume the worst about the teen boys, and the best about the indigenous peoples, while completely ignoring the actions of the Black Hebrew Israelites. Her Op-Ed protects her tribes while demonizing the teens. She creates an artificial division between Sandmann and Phillips that both have publicly stated doesn’t exist.
Both were engaged in a public misunderstanding. This misunderstanding was driven by the demagoguery hurled at the teens, and anyone else who disagreed with them, by the BHI group. Milano ignores the BHI group completely in her Op-Ed. She excuses them with her silence.
President Trump Is A Disaster
Milano and I do share a common view. We both believe that President Donald Trump is disastrous for our nation. My differences with our President stem from his authoritarian use of the office and with his politics of division. I plan to detail those differences in a mid-point “report card” following the State of the Union speech.
Well, that is if the SOTU really is back on.
She perceives President Trump’s threat to our nation on a vastly more bigoted, misogynistic level. Milano portrays the slogan, “Make America Great Again,” as being infested with racial tones. However, the phrase itself isn’t racist. Unless someone believes that President Bill Clinton was a racist. He used the slogan while running for office as well.
This tweet reveals the dangerous place we are in as a society. Purging forms of speech from our society for what WE feel they represent is a direct threat to the First Amendment. I’m curious as to how many MAGA hat bearers Milano has spoken to personally? I think it would be necessary, especially before dismissing all wearers of the hat as racists.
Understanding Is Essential
We can’t understand if we aren’t willing to listen. Milano’s Op-Ed displays a ton of opinion, but very little context. I would like to see her commentary from time spent in the trenches getting to know her opponents. Being from Arkansas I’ve spent a lot of time with the MAGA hat crowd and have gained a great deal of perspective. I think she might find some common ground if she were willing to make the effort.
Milano puts the blame entirely on the teens. She is upset that “white boys” can’t empathize. But her Op-Ed has a complete lack of empathy toward anyone not of her tribe. The real instigators that day were not “white boys” or “indigenous peoples” but a hateful and racist group of “black guys”. But “black guys” are one of the labels that belong to her tribe so she fails to mention them.
Maybe Milano can provide some context. How does she feel when white people claim that Black Lives Matter hats are racist? I know that the BLM hats aren’t racist. Racism is not in the goals of the movement. I took the time to get the context behind the hat. I encourage her to do the same.
We Must Find Common Ground
If we fail to have conversations about our differences, we will never see our similarities. I’ve found common ground with people of all political persuasions by simply having conversations. We must stop excusing our tribes. We must stop demonizing everyone from other tribes. The United States of America is too beautiful and grand for us to not try harder to understand each other.
Now, I don’t think Milano should apologize. She is firm in her beliefs, and coercing anyone to do anything against their will is wrong. Plus, I’m certain I’ll be in trouble for toxic masculinity in my perceived mansplaining in this column.
But that doesn’t change the fact that I do think that she is completely wrong to make a hat racist. Comparing folks wearing a MAGA hat in support of a Presidential candidate with those who used fear and intimidation to put down people of minority races is a stretch.
Even if some of the President’s policies seem overtly racist and xenophobic, we can confront those policies. It is unnecessary to paint well-intentioned people with such a divisively broad brush.
We can’t rob symbols of their context. But part of that context is understanding why someone would wear the symbol. We also can’t delude ourselves into believing that only our own context should matter when defining the views of others.
We can all do better. Our union deserves it.
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Glenn Verasco | United States
It was perfect: white, male, MAGA-hat-wearing, pro-life, Catholic school teenagers mocking and harassing an elderly, Native American veteran. The Gods of grievance studies and the Democratic Party had combined their omnipotence to deliver the video exemplifying toxic masculinity and white supremacy in Trump’s America to end all videos exemplifying toxic masculinity and white supremacy in Trump’s America. The Donald and freedom of association would now see defeat in one fell swoop.
Unfortunately for some, the initial video in question, like most videos, neglects crucial and extenuating context.
Nathan Phillips and the MAGA Kid
In the viral Twitter video, a lone Native American man is banging on a drum and chanting a Native American hymn. Directly in front of him stands a white teenager in a MAGA hat. The teenager, whose face is terribly punchable, remains still with an irritating grin plastered on his mug. Surrounding these two are dozens of other teenagers bouncing, cheering, laughing, and clapping to the rhythm as well as some individuals who appear to be with the Native American man.
I've seen that look before — on the MAGA boy's face as he taunts a participant from the Indigenous Peoples March. Fueled by ideology and a desire to dehumanize, it frightens me and reminds me of other cruel youth groups from history.
(anyone know original source of video?) pic.twitter.com/Ka6t5HKmCz
— Melissa Chan (@melissakchan) January 19, 2019
The clip spread online with captions and explanations suggesting that the boys had instigated the situation. Sources identified the man as Nathan Phillips, a veteran, and the boys as pupils of Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky.
It was at this point that an NPC hate mob was born and all the usual suspects latched on. Obviously, left-wing identitarians, woke celebrities, blue check marks, and anti-Trump radicals pushed the hardest. However, cowardly conservative pundits and journalists joined in too.
A Reality Too Convenient to Question
Next came doxxing and explicit threats of violence towards the boys and platitudes of admiration for Mr. Phillips. What never came, at least out of the burgeoning mob, was skepticism. I guess some realities are just too convenient to question.
More video of the situation then began to emerge. To anyone willing to open their eyes, it was clear that the situation was far more complicated than the mob would permit for consideration.
One video shows that it was Phillips who approached the boys, not the other way around. As the boys shout their alma mater wildly, something teenage boys do, Phillips walks towards them with his drum:
As one present student explains, the boys’ initial thought was that Nathan Phillips was making “a cultural display”, so they decided to join his chant. They then grew “confused” after sensing hostility on Phillips’ part:
— Adam Clements (@AClementsWKRC) January 20, 2019