Time to take off the gloves, as the man says.
Having spent more than 40 years in the incubators of today’s leftist nonsense, universities, I am skeptical about the power of reasoned argument among today’s ill-educated students. Most of their teachers, like most progressives, are pretty much immune to reason, evidence, and coherent argument, little of which makes it into their courses. As the old gag goes, arguing with a leftist is like playing chess with a pigeon: It knocks over the pieces, craps on the board, then struts around like it won the game. Reasoned argument cuts no ice when confronted with the irrational caprices and gratifying passions of human beings.
The history of modernity is crammed with other examples of the futility of reasoned persuasion and argument in the face of the passionate beliefs spawned by modern political religions. Actually, “cults” is a better word, for most religions accept a transcendent reality, while a cult is a human creation. And what is more cult-like than the level of irrationality we have witnessed since Donald Trump won the election? It does not bespeak a coherent, well-reasoned dissent, but the hysterical anger of those whose passionate beliefs and justifying ideologies have been attacked. And since for the left “the personal is the political,” challenging their beliefs is a challenge not just to their ideals, but to their very being, a wound to their identity, to what makes them the kind of superior person they imagine themselves to be. In the absence of faith in the transcendent, these ideologies that promise the better world of social justice also provide, as baptism once did, the sign of one’s salvation.
We also have to remember that the beliefs, ideas, and fake history embraced by the progressive cult have been drilled into students from kindergarten to university, and reinforced in popular and highbrow culture alike. They now comprise the unthinking default belief system one never questions, any more than one questions the heliocentric planetary system. And if some heretic does question them, the faithful will unite in condemning and ostracizing him, the way cults like Scientology do. Like Popper’s young Nazi, they don’t want to debate and reason together and search for the truth. They want to shut you up.
Of course they do. You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into in the first place.
Telling conservatives that they should go forth and “persuade” leftist to change their minds is a fool’s errand. Arguments didn’t keep Socrates from being executed by an Athenian jury, and conservatives are unlikely to change many minds among evangelical progressives. In the rough and tumble of the democratic public square, scorn, satire, and humiliation are often more effective than well-reasoned arguments.
And if poking serious fun fails, there’s always the good ol’ reliable swift belt in the mouth to fall back on.