"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Thursday, May 09, 2019

How to deal with a progressive bully

"As C.S. Lewis rightly observes in God in the Dock (1971): “Of all the tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

or many people, myself included, the first step in dealing with a progressive bully is to recognize that they exist. Just because someone’s committed to social justice doesn’t mean they’re socially just. Notorious bullies have been known to lead anti-bullying campaigns. I recently had to part ways with an old friend over this very issue. He was always a bit of a bully, even when we were kids. But his engagement with online progressive politics has brought those tendencies out like never before. He’s become an abusive asshole who thinks the fact that he’s right gives him the right to be nasty and disrespectful.

He’s alienated at least a dozen old friends and family members, and he’s clearly unhappy, maybe even depressed. Yet he keeps on this miserable path, in part, because he has a cloud of online sycophants who Facebook-like every stupid thing he says: the meaner the better. What he doesn’t seem to realize is that none of these people are real friends. He’s never met these people and they have no intention of meeting him. When he was in the hospital last year, none of them came to visit him. It was his real friends, the ones he keeps alienating with his zealotry, who came to see him.

I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my fraught interactions with this angry little man, and others of his stamp, lessons which may prove useful to you: namely, beware of kafkatrapping, avoid orgies of self-flagellation, prepare for charges of gaslighting and mansplaining, prepare to be told that you need to check your privilege, and know what kind of person you’re dealing with...

Progressive bullies seem to delight in kafkatrapping, as it’s their preferred strategy of attack in Social Media Land. So you should be prepared for it. Just as schoolyard bullies tell you to move your hands out of the way so they can punch you in the face, progressive bullies hurl abuse at you and then accuse you of “white fragility” if you refuse to passively accept it. The irony of an utterly offensive person telling the person they’re offending to stop being so defensive never seems to occur to them... the kafkatrapper’s circular argument is more or less absurd. Just as a net that catches the whole sea isn’t much of a net, an argument that explains everything isn’t much of an argument...

Progressive bullies will want you to cower and debase yourself in their presence. Do not comply with this demand... As Omar puts in The Wire: “If you act like a little bitch, people gonna treat you like a little bitch.”...

If you stand up to a progressive bully, you’ll eventually be accused of gaslighting... the circular reasoning employed by those who habitually accuse others of gaslighting makes it hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Accusing someone of gaslighting is like accusing someone of witchcraft. There’s no way for the accuser to be wrong. If the accused denies it, or attempts to defend themselves in any way, this is proof that they are guilty...

If you’re a dude, and you dare to stand up to a progressive bully, you’ll eventually be accused of mansplaining... “There is no problem with the idea of mansplaining but it requires an argument. You can’t just drop it and walk away from it like a fart in an elevator.” Dropping the mansplaining bomb in Social Media Land has become sort of like saying: “Hmm, that sounds just like something Hitler would say.” Those who wield this weapon no longer feel the need to justify their claims. What they want, what they’ve come to expect, is automatic deference. Calling people out for mansplaining has become little more than a progressive bullying technique, yet another convenient way to silence critics and shut down debate...

Check Your Privilege: This expression was once uttered in the spirit of John 8:7, wherein Jesus famously tells a group of men who are about to stone a woman to death: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” But it’s now uttered in precisely the kind of sanctimonious spirit Jesus despised: the self-righteous spirit of the Pharisees, who love to perform their good works “on the street corners to be seen by others.” These days, the person who says “check your privilege” is in all likelihood little more than a progressive bully who’s trying to silence you...

Rhetorical gerrymandering is a practice intended to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by unilaterally redefining the borders of a word’s meaning. Here’s how it’s done: (i) Begin with a word, phrase, or concept like “racism” or “hate speech” that (a) has a commonly understood meaning, and (b) is commonly understood to be good or evil. (ii) Sneak in a weird, atypical definition (e.g., racism is only racism when certain people do it, hate speech is only hate speech when it’s about certain people, etc.). (iii) Now claim that anyone who is against this thing that is commonly understood to be evil, or for this thing that is commonly understood to be good, must agree with your policy proposal, analysis, etc. It’s a clever hustle. Beware of it. [Ed: Aka Bait and Switch]...

If you want to know who’s going to be a tyrant in power, pay attention to who walks and talks like a tyrant out of power. If you want to know how a freedom fighter’s going to rule tomorrow, pay attention to how they deal with people who disagree with them today. As Maya Angelou wisely cautions: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Progressive bullies keep showing us who they really are. We need to listen to them. We need to believe them the first time. And we need to beware of them."


Ironically Angelou's quote rules out the possibility of change/growth, or simply of you being wrong.
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