Thursday, July 12, 2018

Minimum Requirements

     It’s occasionally been my lot to need the answer to a pressing question for which no “stock” answer seems applicable. One such question runs thus:

     “What’s the minimum I need to do or not do, to say or not say, if I’m to avoid an unacceptable deterioration to my current situation?”

     Questions of personal standards often play into the answer: specifically, how to avoid compromising them. Compromising one’s standards is “a short route to chaos.” (Cf. A Man for All Seasons.) It’s highly likely to bring sorrow at a later time. The twin constraints can be difficult to meet.

     Now, as it happens – this will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been a Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch for more than a few minutes – I’m a Catholic. I do have a few differences with the Church. Nevertheless, I’m serious about my faith. For a brief glimpse at how serious, read the vignette I provide here. It’s one of the things on which I refuse to compromise.

     But it’s seldom been required of anyone to compromise his personal faith, or his personal political opinions, or anything else that's his by right for the sake of public order. (Seldom, not “never.”) That is, until recently.


     Via the esteemed Mike Hendrix comes an article of which I’d not be aware except for his citation thereof:

     When I saw Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt in a tea house last week, I walked up to him and told him to resign. Three days later, he was gone. I obviously can’t claim credit for his departure, which was long in the making. But I would like to think I provided a helpful nudge....

     Some say it wasn’t “civil” of me to approach Pruitt at lunch and that it’s a sign of dark times ahead for our political climate. But these arguments are not genuine: The bogus “civility” argument has arisen because conservatives are losing on the content of the arguments....

     After I told Scott Pruitt that he was bad for the environment and that he was taking handouts from energy lobbyists, Pruitt’s office made sure to tell the press that he had said “thank you” to me. What they didn’t say is telling. They didn’t offer any substantive defense of his policies. They’d rather keep the focus on civility than the serious repercussions of their actions on our planet.

     Now this Kristin Mink person is plainly not honest. (Granted, the article’s provenance was reason to suspect that ab initio.) It’s the Left that has lost the battle of ideas, having no substantive arguments for its policy preferences in the face of the massive empirical evidence against them. It’s the Left that has resorted to harassment, intimidation, and street violence to suppress expressions of conservative or libertarian sentiment. It’s the Left that’s been issuing calls for “civility,” as they find themselves on the receiving end of tactics comparable to those.

     But dishonesty is normal on the Left. Anyone with enough functioning gray matter to graduate from middle school can’t accept the Left’s prescriptions on a rational or evidentiary basis. It takes the deliberate suppression of one’s rationality, coupled to a willful blindness toward the evidence, to remain firmly in the Left’s camp.

     Despite all that, there are many Leftists among us: in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces, in our schools, in the news and entertainment media, even in the businesses we patronize...though given their lunatic opinions about economics, how a Leftist could make a business work remains a conundrum. That makes it necessary to ask oneself the question I posed above, with slightly more specificity:

     “What’s the minimum I need to do or not do, to say or not say, if I’m to avoid unacceptable consequences stemming from my need to coexist with this person?”

     The answer can be elusive.


     Now that the Left, through its media handmaidens, has endorsed harassment, intimidation, and violence as “legitimate modes of protest,” the question has become more urgent than ever. Just about anyone known to be in the Right, or in the employ of the Trump Administration, can become a target, as the episodes involving Scott Pruitt, Stephen Miller, Kirstjen Nielsen, and Mitch McConnell should make plain. Yet it is painfully well known that to rise up on one’s hind legs and bellow back into the face of someone who behaves as Kristin Mink did generally reaps negative consequences. Even if there are no immediate repercussions, they’ll soon come along. The media make sure of it.

     What, then, must we do?

     It’s terribly unclear. No one wants to feel he’s a prisoner of his home and office. No one wants to be passive in the face of abuse. And no one wants the abuse to propagate to his loved ones, his neighbors, or his employer. But neither total passivity nor reciprocal pugnacity appear to solve the problems involved.

     In the comments to this piece, my commenters submitted a couple of suggestions: “[Tell] him that he was too stupid to argue with,” and “I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.” While these are clever, and also confer a certain satisfaction on the user, they haven’t proved themselves in practice. I don’t expect they would, given that argument is no longer on the Left’s agenda. (It’s certainly not on the agenda of someone who harasses you at dinner in a public place.)

     Bear always in mind that the need is not to make converts, or to win an argument, or to humiliate the oppressor. It’s to be left alone in peace. And it is becoming a need ever more widely felt, including by private citizens of conservative inclinations who might choose to express them by wearing a hat.

     Thoughts, Gentle Readers?

5 comments:

jabrwok said...

I'm not confident that a peaceful solution exists currently. Emigration to a sane polity is not really an option on the national scale (most other countries have comparable or worse environments). I truly hope we don't have to water the Tree of Liberty, though I see more and more online (and offline) behavior trending in that direction.

Given my druthers I'd emigrate to a space colony (preferably something comfortably larger than an O'Neill cylinder), but there aren't yet any available.

So I don't know. Carry and be ready to defend yourself if one lives in an area where these confrontations are likely, while not advertising one's politics on one's sleeve.

Or just avoid the public as much as possible, but that's not easy, or even possible, for many people.

Paul Bonneau said...

A couple of suggestions:

1) Recognize that shunning behavior, though ugly, is legitimate in any free society. Many a small town in the West has remained Mormon because any non-Mormons who move there are shunned by all. There is nothing wrong with that. Non-Mormons should have enough sense to refrain from moving to small Mormon towns.

2) Panarchy helps. It becomes easier to coexist with obnoxious people, if you tell them, "I hope you get what you want. Pardon me for not joining in or paying for it, and for preferring a different solution for myself - which I won't require you to join in or to pay for." Any disagreement with that, is an admission that looting and oppression is what they are about, something not very easy to justify.

Glenda T Goode said...

Somewhere in the huge pile of rhetoric we see is the truth. It may have been said accidentally but it is there I assure you. To me this is the issue at hand.

The left deals in lies and hyperbole. Facts tend to derail their agenda so they avoid them like the plague. Sadly, the media reinforces the left and echos everything the left says without question. This calls their ethics into question at a minimum.

There is no minimum position you can take that allows you to be true to your beliefs and values and acceptable to your political opposition and to seek such a position is to surrender to the enemy. Faced with this reality there is but one course of action that would allow you to be true and honest and also faithful.

Stand up for your beliefs. Do not back down. If you are confronted by an operative of the left, stand your ground. Chances are they will make an ass of themselves and especially if you remain calm and coherent.

This requires a sound knowledge of the issues you care for. You have to do your homework. You are required to have a command of the issues in order to withstand the hysterics of the left wing activist you are confronted with.

We cannot scurry away trying to avoid these people. We need to use every opportunity to promote our message clearly and succinctly.

It is necessary to also deal with the core issues effectively and compassionately. Our positions are not designed to do harm but are to preserve rights and freedoms. Do not allow the activist you are facing the opportunity to steer the discussion away from facts and into fancy.

This is very hard to do and I am more than aware how difficult it is to discuss anything with a person who is invested solely in hyperbole. Even so remember we are the adults in the room in this political arena. We are burdened with the task of educating every last one of the left who have drunk the cool aid and are convinced we are the devil on earth.

We choose to do this not because it is easy but because it is hard. (JFK). To do any less is to abandon our core principles.

Butch DuCote said...

Aggressive behavior requires an aggressive response. That’s the only way to make those folks go away and leave you alone. They are not expecting an aggressive response and you will destroy their OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop. For example: Several months ago I was taking a Force on Force class at my favorite training facility. As part of the exercise I was approached by four aggressive males from a distance while walking to my car. I stopped and faced them. At full volume and an aggressive posture I yelled “Stop! I’m off my meds. If you come any closer I can’t be responsible for what I will do! Leave me alone!” At “STOP” the group froze in place then turned around and left. The look on their faces was priceless. At the debriefing after the exercise the four men said they were shocked at my response and it was very unexpected. They briefed that it scared the crap out of them and they wanted nothing more to do with me. Even the instructor was taken off guard.

This action tells all around you that you are threatened and the victim. If violence ensues the folks around you can testify you were not the aggressor. I’m betting the cat ladies and the coutch warriors will scatter.

Andrew Pryzant said...

With rabidly progressive friends and relatives, I would avoid discussing my opinions to avoid conflict. With enemies like this Mink character, Pruitt should stand up, yell back at the bitch and put his fists up if she did not back off.