Friday, November 11, 2016

Opposing Diversity of Opinion Amounts to Fascistic Ideological Bigotry

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Ellen K. Pao wrote an interesting piece (“Diversity, Inclusion and the Election” based on the view that “Diversity of Opinion (Ideological Diversity) is not a valid reason to support Donald Trump’s right to spew his purported bigotry."

Actually, THAT'S the very reason, the SOLE REASON we have a 1st Amendment in America. Popular, temperate, sweet and non-offensive speech requires no protections. NO ONE (except occasional contrarians like myself) objects to that. On the other hand, unpopular, rebellious, passionate, controversial, even bigoted speech DOES indeed require such protections precisely because it is so controversial and unpopular.

New ideas are also almost always unpopular as well, so those who’d naively seek to limit or infringe upon such unpopular speech would consign the world to being a place where only stale, old, safe, popular speech could be heard. A world devoid of both controversies AND new ideas.

Of course, such a world is unacceptable.

For one thing, we each PERCEIVE what we believe to be “right” and “wrong.” What appeals to us, or benefits us, is usually labeled “right,” and “good,” and what we find disquieting or not to our own personal benefit is labeled “wrong,” or “bad.” Humans (ALL humans) are self-centered beasts. In fact, the late Russian mystic, G. I. Gurdjieff was almost certainly right when just after World War I, he said, “Nearly all of us live our lives as machines. As machines we live and as machines we die. Even the most educated and ‘most advanced’ among us make our decisions robotically, in a reflexive and expected response to stimuli. That is how such ‘good men’ lead us into horrific wars.”

We DO, for the most part, live our lives as machines and the vast majority of us today, live our lives asleep...WILLFULLY asleep. Sadder still is that so much of our education system, as well as the media around us, encourage that, acting as veritable sleep aids.

TODAY, if you’re on a quest to find a person who lives life awake and aware and greets each day vibrantly, you're probably most likely to find such a person among the uneducated.

Admittedly, I am NOT one of those. I went through College, dual majored in math and biology and then took a Masters in Environmental Science and I got into all the smug, know-nothing habits of most of my peers, BUT I did not start as out that way. Early on, as a child, I had some spark within me that kept me fighting off sleep. I believe most of us do.

Early in my Catholic Grammar School education, I came to the conclusion that organized religion was...well, not for me. Perhaps it was the concept of “Limbo,” a dark, lonely place where souls are allegedly condemned and forever denied seeing or communing with God, the way souls that allegedly go to “heaven” do. That pretty much clinched it for me. An infant who died before being “Baptized in Christ,” or a person from some hinterland who never heard of Jesus were both, allegedly to be condemned to this “Limbo.”

Somehow, that tripped some kind of circuit-breaker within me. Those same Catholic School Nuns taught that “God was all loving and all forgiving.” Well, that just couldn’t be so!

How could it be that ME, a generally insensitive 10 y/o punk kid could and apparently WOULD be more forgiving than this “God?” Because even I wouldn’t consign such souls, who’d committed no sin and done nothing wrong, to such a place.

By age 11, I approached my father and stopped going to Church. I never went through a period of “hating religion,” nor did I run to replace one faith, with another by embracing yet another faith, like atheism...the BELIEF or faith that, “There is no God.” I remained happily agnostic, although open to the idea that the answers to the mysteries of the origin of, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, “life, the universe and everything,” is currently seemingly unknown to us.

So, for me, religion isn’t valid. It neither appeals to me, nor would it seem to be to my own personal benefit, but I’ve never been able to label it “bad,” or even “wrong.” Sure, religion has often been misused, to foment wars, usually for the personal benefit of various governments, but at least for me, it generally falls into the category of uselessness, while the mysteries of life and the spiritual realm remain, for me, part of the unknown. I can simply say, “I DON’T know.”

I spent nearly a decade working in environmental science, mostly office work...and hated the office environment. At the last possible moment, just months before my aging to ineligibility, I took the only Civil Service Exam I ever took and was fortunate to get on the FDNY, where I’d spend the next three decades, first as a “Ghetto firefighter,” mostly in the South Bronx, then as a HazMat Specialist in HazMat-1, that Department’s only fully dedicated, citywide HazMat response team.

In an ironic twist, just as I was aging out of the “young man’s job” of inner city firefighting, I was fortunate enough to get into HazMat-1 and start a new career as a HazMat Specialist in 2005.

Somewhere over all those long years, I began my real education, which has been accelerated with the advent of the E-Reader. I can read 3 or 4 books at once and immediately began compiling an online library that quickly came to rival my own personal library that STILL spans 9 large and very full book cases over two rooms, despite spending the past few years selling off as many print books as I could.

At any rate, I’ve read books on virtually every topic, many on very obscure topics like the purported involvement of the Catholic Church in the Lincoln assassination, the Hittite civilization, accounts of the first white settlers on the Western Plains (“Three Years Among the Comanches”), Steven Zweig’s accounts of his idyllic Jewish life in late 19th Century Austria (“The World Before Yesterday”), as well as books by the likes of Erich Fromm (“To Have or To Be”) and Thomas Szasz (“The Myth of Mental Illness”). It’s been an eclectic education.

While it’s been one without the guidance of “professional critique,” it also one without what too amounts to the censorship of “what is acceptable versus what is not.”

For that reason, I’ve come to see the abject ignorance of old, thankfully dead movements like the, “No free speech for fascists” movement of the late 1960's. The irony being that it was FASCISTS who were calling for the eradication of free speech...they always do and it is PRIMARILY fascistic people who find such calls appealing.

So, YES, the free speech protections accorded the Nazis, black supremacists, white supremacists, bigots, xenophobes, religious fanatics, etc. among us, must be upheld and protected. For one thing, they make us think. They challenge us to make arguments in favor of what we find “good,” and what appeals to us.

The fact that many who espouse “peace, love and tolerance” can’t seem to make affirmative arguments for their own views, thus seek to shut down speech they don’t like, speaks to how hopelessly naïve and dangerously vulnerable to hate they really are.

If you can be motivated to hate the Nazi of today, you can just as easily be motivated to hate the Gandhi of tomorrow. Of THAT, there is no doubt, as a hater (ESPECIALLY someone who hates “evil”) is someone who WANTS to hate, at heart.

That the bulk of the “Nazi-haters” of today are woefully ignorant is easy to prove, as most of those people DO NOT hold anything close to the SAME antipathy for Stalin, or Mao, or even Oliver Cromwell, or King Leopold of Belgium...ALL of them genocidal maniacs, many of them far more efficient and effective than Hitler was. Mao purged tens of millions of Chinese, with estimates as high as 100 MILLION! Stalin slaughtered as many as 50 MILLION civilians within the Soviet Union.

Such ignorance is almost always willful and it is also dangerous, for their hatred of “Nazis” and “fascists” is rooted in so profound a misunderstanding that they fail to even understand their own fascistic leanings.

THAT, in and of itself is stunning. Moreover, it makes such an ignorant person capable of being swayed, or more aptly conditioned to hate whomever the prevailing inputs direct them to hate.

For any of those who espouse the view that “Some views should be off limits,” this explanation of how things really are SHOULD BE vaguely disquieting to any of those with even a vestige of independent thought left.

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