Progressive and intersectional political activism has a certain way of assuming an irritating moral superiority complex on any given issue, while simultaneously elevating minority group social and political opinion as indisputably factual and thus fundamentally correct. Moreover, that same political and intersectional activism tends to dismiss disagreements others may have with that progressive worldview. What is worse, that dissenting worldview is often declared bigoted or heretical. Indeed, I do use the word heretical intentionally as I have in an article a few months ago specifically describing intersectionality as a religion. I will come back to that point later.
The opinion piece written by an Iowa State Daily staff member communicates what, in her view, makes a proper ally for the LGBTQA+ community and any other minority group. That opinion demonstrates the morally superior, holier than though attitude that forms the foundation for much of the “activism” and politicking that has become ever more ubiquitous within college campuses and across the social media sphere.
There is, “like much of the all or nothing” progressive politics, a simple dichotomy when it comes to being an ally or supporter of LGBTQA+ peoples, or any other minority group. This means there is a right and wrong way of thinking about certain issues, and only those who are a part of these communities or those who have been anointed by these communities get to affirm what beliefs are true, and which are heretical. There are tenets to becoming an ally or supporter, and you must engage in these tenets if you are to be confirmed.
The first tenet the author offers is to “listen and educate yourself.” The author suggests that you must first sit and listen to the stories of LGBTQA+ individuals and provide no push back. That’s a fair thing to ask initially; people do need to listen to others, especially in the socio-political sphere. However, I am not sure what the sentence, “It is not the job of the oppressed to educate you” means because that is exactly what the author is suggesting should transpire but I digress. What is not a fair point is to simply take what someone says in a political context and simply grant them inherent veracity because of their sexual orientation or any immutable characteristic. Being part of a minority group does not bequeath a higher moral superiority. It is not unfair for any person to disagree with aspects of another’s ideas regardless of immutable characteristics. The attitude and tone in the first tenet are akin to listening and accepting the true word of the gospel as it is, absent any critical thinking.
The second tenet the author suggests is to “confront your privilege.” This is the most troubling aspect of these tenets because of statements such as, “When listening to experiences of marginalized people, recognizing the role you play in that marginalization will likely be difficult.” The author also suggests that after recognizing your role, you may want to defend yourself, shut down, or feel uncomfortable, and that it will be difficult but necessary to relearn what you believe, “You also have to realize that you have done and said things that perpetuate the cycles that hurt certain communities.” These statements and charges are nothing more than a domineering approach designed to instill guilt in order to control a larger political narrative. These ideas exhibit the exact “oppressor vs. oppressed” dichotomy that I wrote about back in March. I will reiterate, no person must learn or relearn anything that they do not wish to. In the context of the article I am criticizing, disagreeing or dissenting from the author’s viewpoints or possessing certain immutable characteristics that would place you in an “oppressor” category according to an intersectional or progressive, does not equate to having perpetuated marginalization against anyone. A straight person, white person, or other “majority group” people are not born with some type of secular original sin. Do not let others control you through these methods; do not take blame for true or perceived faults that is not your own.
The third tenet the author suggests is that once you have “come to terms with your privilege” (i.e. have listened and accepted some secular hallowed truth and acknowledged you are a sinner) you must use your newly acquired knowledge and education to go out and start conversations with others that share your original sin, but may not be educated on their inherent depravity of being born an oppressor. “Start conversations with people who have your same privileges,” the author proclaims, “and make them uncomfortable-urge them to seriously think about it like you have.” The author is suggesting you must become a propagator and enforcer of morality by interjecting yourself in situations that do not directly involve you and by being intolerant of inexcusable behavior. Oh, and by the way, it is the moralizing progressive “prophets” that possess the singular decision as to what is considered intolerant and inexcusable, and those standards change as quickly as the weather. Indeed, simple innocuous disagreement is often conflated with intoleranceaccording to those standards of mercurial progressives and intersectionalists. In the end, you must either agree with a progressive worldview entirely or you are not only wrong, but a threat, who cannot be trusted to boot, so claims the author. No, in the end you must fully buy in andactively demonstrate and proselytize if you are to consider yourself to be just for all people, and truly on “their side.”
I will not spend too much on the fourth tenet presented by the author, which includes the call to donate time or money to a cause. There is not anything wrong with this per se, so long as a person willingly assents and feels giving time or money is important for themselves and for their cause, but I include the tenet only to tie up why I draw the comparison between traditional spiritual religious attitudes and what I would consider a secular religious belief system that the author holds. By all means, donate to your heart’s desire, but understand what all four of these tenets combined appear to resemble, that being a nearly religious belief system, complete with “sending around the money basket” like you may see at church.
No, this article is not a call to end Pride Month. No, this article is not anti-LGBTQIA+ or anything else of that nature. Pride Month is an important time for many people, and I certainly believe sexual orientation does not determine a person’s character one way or the other. My article is to further display a holier than thou attitude that is not exclusive to certain elements of spiritual evangelical religious types on the right side of the political spectrum, but is also present amongst progressives and intersectionals of the far left; a far left that is equally as zealous as any sect to proclaim their worldview as the word. However, the progressive “side” holds no intrinsic truth by which one may browbeat others.
As a side note, a moral superiority complex backfires in the end. For me personally, I have been reticent in my explicit political beliefs, save my thoughts on the Second Amendment, in the few letters I have sent in to the Daily. I will continue to do so, though on a political compass test I fall fairly centered. The words and behaviors expressed not only by this author (and I hold no ill will or feelings to the author, I simply strongly disagree with her positions) but of many that are much farther left are so off-putting and polarizing that moderates cannot read them without being convinced to move away from many other left wing ideas. Moderates are what is needed to win elections and secure popular support. Progressive and intersectional activists’ and political candidates’ best bet would be to stop referring to people as bigots, racists, xenophobes, ext. against anyone who disagrees politically with any element of progressive or intersectional politics. Unfortunately, that has not happened; that behavior has only accelerated. The 2016 election should have indicated that people are tired of that act. Do you honestly believe accusing large swaths of the country, people you do not truly know, as racists, xenophobes, sexists, homophobes, deplorables, oppressors, or untrustworthy, is best practice when it comes to requiring those same peoples’ support in the public square or at the polling booth? Condemning people rarely works to those ends.
As long as people are not actively intending harm or physically harming someone, leave them alone. Even if you feel like the ideas or thoughts of certain people are bad, let them be, so long as they are letting you be. That is the liberal thing to do, but unfortunately liberalism in its classical form seems to be a relic of the past.