This column is an excerpt from my new book “The Illusion of Knowledge: Why So Many Educated Americans Embrace Marxism.” It will be available this Winter on Amazon.
Have you ever had a relationship with someone that displays contempt for your intelligence? They constantly ask you weird and loaded questions you know they already know the answer to? After asking you an inane question, you politely try to answer and they cut you off with another even more insulting and condescending platitude?
We all have had that experience, and if you are like me, you simply try to avoid those people in the future. It is just not worth the effort to hold a meaningful conversation with someone that shows little respect for your intelligence or experience.
Respect is a two way street. If I am getting nothing but grief from someone, friend or family, I just steer around them. Life is too short to spend an inordinate amount of it on playing polemic games with rude people. Where it gets sticky is when your relationship is centered on something like workplace environment, or professional services or in-laws. Or maybe you are in philosophical conflict with your spouse or your kids … Suddenly you are thrown into a situation you cannot, or perhaps choose not to avoid.
Let’s expand this concept to a national level, and the relationship to your country.
You are a patriotic and loyal American. You support our military, our first responders and our law enforcement. You want the best for all of our citizens and our kids and their kids. You have always tried to be a good citizen, stay engaged in civic issues and vote in every election. You work hard and provide for your family. When you rarely encounter a policeman you say “Yes sir! Thank you sir!”
You show respect for proper authority.
You have strong opinions about how government should work and you also understand not everyone agrees with your politics. You do not hate anyone except enemies of your homeland and cruel and vicious criminals that show no regard for human life.
And you fly your American flag high and proudly on a pole in your front yard.
But your neighbor has a different perspective. He thinks our military is dangerous to world peace and is used by big business to control poor nations, to rob them of resources and to support authoritarian regimes that abuse their citizens human rights. He thinks America represents white hegemony and has a history of genocide and human rights abuse.
OK, you may disagree, but you respect his right to have his opinion.
But, he has asked your homeowners association to have you remove your American flag because it triggers his anxiety about American hegemony and the red white and blue reminds him of war (even though he has never personally experienced war of any kind).
He hasn’t voted in many years and says he is suspicious of the police because they are paid to incarcerate people. He has no problem suggesting people who believe in God are superstitious, sanctimonious and dangerous. He “hates” hunters, SUV drivers and Coors Light drinkers.
If you even mention anything about being conservative, he will dismiss you as a redneck or white supremacist while noting his “advanced” education and how he has learned to be “inclusive” for the benefit of mankind. He proudly states that he is a Progressive, which implies you are regressive. And of course, he believes that climate change is the biggest threat to mankind because a “consensus of scientists” say so.
This neighbor has no respect for your opinion. He is taking action against you to serve his personal interests and anxieties. Then he characterizes you as a “threat to freedom.”
One time I was threatened with legal action by a Progressive lawyer, which can be just as dangerous as having your car hijacked. I was suddenly looking down the barrel of a lawsuit shotgun. I had to decide, do I fight or flight?
In a proverbial microcosm, this is the world we live in in America today. Those of us who are engaged and concerned about the future of our Constitutional Republic, our 240-plus year-old experiment in human civilization, are asking ourselves that same question. Do we stand up and be counted or just walk away quietly and ignore the consequences?
Rick Elkin is a cultural and media observer, author and columnist. His most recent book, “Trump’s Reckoning: Bulldozing Progressivism, Rebuilding Americanism,” is available through most online book sellers. He resides in Escondido, California. You can follow him at RickElkin.com or on Twitter @Rick_Elkin.