Seizing the High Ground
"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory [...] will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." ~ Abraham Lincoln
I was hoping to get some work done for my new YouTube and BitChute channels and then start editing my next book, getting it ready for publication, which is why blog posts have been slow of late; but it seems the internet just won't let me get away from talking about a certain subject for very long.
There's been a lot of speculation recently that our country and our culture is on the brink of a civil war based around identity politics. I put it to you, we're already in a civil war, if by "civil" we mean "non-violent" and by "war" we mean any sort of conflict.
We're certainly in a war of words at the moment. We're already divided into two camps and are fighting in the streets, albeit still mostly with speech and protests and other as yet non-violent methods.
Censorship and de-platforming, for instance:
Make no mistake, though, it's definitely a civil war, thus far mercifully comprised mainly of battles in the realm of ideas. Indeed, as Aragorn says to King Theodin in The Two Towers: "Open war is upon you." We are presently gripped in a cultural civil war for the soul of humanity - one that I have been desperately been trying to stop for some time now. To help #HealTheDivide.
My biggest fear at the moment is that a failure to resolve this conflict through peaceful discourse will ultimately lead to an uncivil war based in violence and bloodshed. Were such a thing to happen, I can already tell you who would win.
I'll give you two guesses. You've a 50-50 chance.
As I said, though, I'm trying to help avoid that if at all possible. Whereas I'm Pisces, and thus a naturally-born pessimist, however, I'm not particularly hopeful.
Those of you who've been following me for a while know that my brand is that of political neutrality and ultra-centrism. That I consider myself the Switzerland of identity politics and am willing to talk to anyone from any point along the spectrum. Likewise, I am committed to non-violence and regard myself as a free speech absolutist. The idea being you have the right to say anything you want, no matter how offensive, so long as it falls short of inciting violence, fraud, or defamation.
At the same time, I also maintain that, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.
You may have a right to say hateful things, but as Tim Pool and Styxhexenhammer have noted, some things are just disgusting and beyond the pale such that even the Alt-Tech sites (and people and corporations in general) should pull them down for socio-cultural reasons even as they struggle legally to preserve their rights against the media-political complex, identitarians, and their competitors:
I consider myself a person of principle and I apply those principles consistently (as best I can, at least) to anyone and everyone. I build my worldview, my values, and my politics from the ground up rather than merely reacting to this or that incident. As a libertarian, I take a very hands-off approach, leaving people alone in their social, economic, religious, political, and intellectual spheres.
We still live in a free country. You can do what you want so long as it doesn't affect me or anyone else against their consent. Do I push back on bad arguments when I hear them? Of course. But as I have said in the past, I may not agree with you, but I am not against you unless you do something to violate other people's rights.
I was gonna talk about Red Cortez and her spat with Ben Shapiro, since it ties in well with this idea of having a civil war to prevent an uncivil war, but I think I'll save that for its own article.
Returning to the topic of live and let live, it's why I'm a libertarian and a free speech absolutist, because I start with first principles based on first-order logic and from that certain things follow. Case in point, you can talk about punching Nazis all day long, Tweet about it as a joke, wear t-shirts, but you can't then actually go up to someone and punch them, or incite others to do the same, even if they are Nazis, and worse still if - as happens so often these days - you're caught up in a moral panic hallucinating that everyone to the right of Bernie Sanders is a Nazi.
Just to show consistency, I hold the same for the other side. You can joke about throwing commies out of helicopters and ridicule SJWs, but they are human beings too and even far-left collectivists have their human rights that much be protected and respected.
"If you start to humanize your enemy, you in turn may be dehumanised by your community." ~ Cassie Jaye, The Red Pill
In such a divided world, people are quick to dehumanize, deperson, and otherize their opposition, cutting off all ties. They create insular bubbles for fear of being cast out into the cold by their own allies. This is how Orwellian States are formed, with people banding together to cast off dead weight in their own Two Minutes of Hate, whether such hatred is warranted or not. I, on the other hand, have no such tribe. I willfully walk around at night playing in the dark, among the shadows, a lone wolf, free to journey to any roof that will give me refuge in the moment, or to stand on my own like I do with this blog and my social media channels.
There is strength in numbers, but there is also a certain strength in isolation.
Yes, there's a practical limit to what you can do by yourself, but it also means you aren't beholden to anyone or anything and can thus rise about the din of the crowd to see your way clearly, being detached from the opinions of the group that can cause willful blindness.
Those who follow my #HealTheDivide campaign know I'm equally a fan of Sargon of Akkad and Anita Sarkeesian. That I've written several articles defending her character while at the same time criticizing Feminist Frequency, even as I support them financially. I really do respect and admire them both on equal footing and I push back on them from time to time as a form of tough love, the same as I imagine anyone would do for people they care about.
Fans of Sargon - or at least critics of Anita - often ask why I defend her. It's because I was once like her in many ways and now I'm not. I know from my own experience that people can be good people while still having shitty ideas; and more importantly, that they can be led out of those shitty ideas towards a better place, which is why, in the midst of this cultural civil war, I am out there calling for peace and forgiveness, because that is the world I would rather live in.
One where people have a path to redemption, because I've lived among the forlorn and the cold. I know what it's like to be alone and so, whereas I have no allegiances but to the Spirit and the truth, I can form my own makeshift tribe and invite people in on an individual basis.
There's a reason I chose that Cassie Jaye quote and why she's in my hall of fame. It's because she is another example of someone who proves change is possible:
In many ways, she was a lot like Anita is now, a radical feminist who was often hated and scorned for the side she had taken in the culture war. By her own admission, she scoffed at the problems of men and Men's Rights Activists, believing women had it so much worse. Like many social justice warriors, she competed in the victim Olympics until eventually she started making The Red Pill and then began to realize that war claims casualties on both sides, not just her own.
That there is pain and suffering on both sides. That we are all reluctant soldiers in a battle which has been waged since before any of us was born, and which only we have the power to end, but that it requires us to put down our weapons and actually listen to the other side, not to win but to understand their pain; and in doing so, realize that we all share the same pain.
If I can change and she can change, then anyone can change, even those whom you currently think are irredeemable. I see in Anita the same potential to move towards the center and I'm willing to throw her, or anyone else for that matter, a lifeline in order to help get there.
To you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who persecute you.
Admittedly, it's been a while since I rebutted Sargon on anything, apart from the subject of Anita, and which I find myself having to do yet again.
It's somewhat strange, really, because as far as the macro-context is concerned, he's in the right (as I'll explain in just a minute); but his own prejudices, both towards her and towards SJWs in general, creates a huge blindspot for him which, coupled with his yet unfamiliarity with the Persuasion Filter leads to him creating unwitting collateral damage. Thus, I find myself having to take a lesson from Anita and criticize the more pernicious aspect of someone whom I love.
So, Sargon made the following video yesterday entitled, "The Quartering Assaulted by Anita Sarkeesian Fan at GenCon," in which, well ... the title is accurate in its description if nothing else:
Accurate as it may be, however, it's still deeply problematic. This is actually a perfect example of when facts should care about people's feelings, because even though facts matter to outcomes, they don't matter to persuasion - which any student of Scott Adams, or of cognitive science and persuasion, knows full well - and the optics of this are really bad ... for Anita, but not because of anything she did or might have done to contribute to it.
That's not to downplay the violence already done by any means. Obviously, assault is a crime and whoever did this should pay dearly for their insane, ideologically-driven brutality.
Now, I don't know Jeremy Hambly the way Sargon does. I don't follow him, but I at least know of him by his username The Quartering from my research in trying to find proof of Anita's malfeasance and he is a known critic of hers. Again, for the purposes of justice, that shouldn't matter. Obviously this is a terrible crime and I wish him speedy recovery.
As a show of solidarity, because we should all be on the same side as far as this is concerned, I'll be donating to Jeremy Hambly's recovery fund, and I encourage you to do so as well.
Much like Tommy Robinson and Count Dankula, I don't have to know someone to see justice done.
Having said that, however, Sargon probably doesn't realize it, but he is actually helping to amplify the violence, giving casus belli to the two competing factions to each retaliate against the other over this issue. The Persuasion Filter teaches that what you say is only half the battle. It also matters how you say it because people aren't persuaded by facts, they're persuaded by emotion and people tend to look for scalps in the face of injustice and they get defensive when wrongfully attacked.
If Sargon doesn't get ahead of this, I predict the fallout from his video will be really bad and further contribute to an unjustified escalation of the feud that already exists between him and Anita, and that could actually lead to more of this kind of violence in the future.
Now, that's a provocative statement, so allow me to explain what I mean.
For starters, let's note the word "alleged" is used frequently throughout this article, which Sargon appears to ignore. So there may in fact be no ties at all between Anita and this incident if it turns out this isn't the same guy who assaulted Jeremy.
It would in fact be fake news.
However, even assuming it's the same guy, there is still a very good reason why - maliciously intended or not - Sargon's inclusion of Anita in this is highly irresponsible. The simple fact is, she had nothing to do with this crime and I at least know her well enough to know she would most likely denounce the man if she caught wind of what happened; yet he's still roping her in via guilt by association. The very thing he complains about when people label him Alt-Right for debating Richard Spencer or for defending Tommy Robinson and Count Dankula, or even for the Jess Philips incident.
I know Sargon knows better, or at least he should, since it's been done to him before. It's frankly irresponsible yellow journalism to draw a connection between Feminist Frequency and what this crazed lunatic did.
The fact is, Anita is not responsible for what this guy did anymore than it's Trump's fault for some of his supporters being white supremacists. People aren't liable for the actions of their fans unless they directly incite them to action. As I write this, Anita is likely not aware of what happened, but knowing her as I do, I believe she would of course denounce it since she has been consistently against violence of all kinds, even if done in the name of feminism.
As I've mentioned in previous articles, she is on record as having denounced TERF patrons and even took issue with me upon learning I was a Trump supporter because of her belief that Trump condoned racism, sexism, and violence.
Interestingly, for as much as she believes Trump is a fascist white supremacist, she has never called for violence against him - just reform or removal from office for being an awful person. I've also yet to hear her mention anything about Russia Collusion, which means she's probably smart enough to know it's irrelevant bullshit. Ironically, that in turn would make her more intelligent, more compassionate, and less crazy than the average Never Trumper radical hyped up on Trump Derangement Syndrome.
It's just further proof she's willing and able to deal in reasonable, peaceful discourse with people, so long as she believes them to be honestly acting in good faith.
Something to think about.
Anyways, titling his video the way he did and drawing attention to the professor's connection to Feminist Frequency is irresponsible, as I've said. Again, I love Sargon like a brother and would defend him to the death, but being neutral as I am, I have to call balls and strikes when I see them, which means I can't afford the luxury of partisanship in this. He doesn't get a pass for being a friend.
If anything, I'd be a terrible friend if I didn't point this out.
People wonder why Anita won't talk to him. This is why. Because, even after I've spoken with him, even after I've given him the book on persuasion, he still continues to passive aggressively harass her. I've tried to sow the seeds of peace between them and their supporters, to act as an interpreter and a mediator, but there's only so much I can do from afar.
If Sargon wants to keep tripping himself up like this, there's not much I can do about it besides be there to point it out and continue to warn him and others to not be like that. To instead take the high road and not blame people for shit they didn't do or to fall into the partisan trap of guilt by association.
Again, I don't wanna minimize the fact that Jeremy was clearly wrongfully assaulted and that Sargon bringing that aspect of it to public attention is a very good thing. My only contention is with him dragging Anita and Feminist Frequency into this; and again, I say that as someone who has plenty of their own criticisms of Anita and Feminist Frequency.
This is what a high ground maneuver looks like, appealing to people's common humanity, and what applying principles consistently across tribal lines looks like.
In some sense, it's not Sargon's fault. I know firsthand from my conversation with him that he believe there is a certain degree of pressure put upon him as a cultural leader to "rally the troops" in the midst of an attack so as to prevent devolving into further chaos. I get that. Civil war is messy business, and uncivil war is messier. He's not a bad person, clearly, since in the same video he's defending and financing a man who was the legitimate victim of assault, he's just blinded by confirmation bias.
Somewhat ironically, Jeremy's series is called "This is what real harassment looks like," and both sides are facing legitimate harassment at the moment.
In before someone accuses me of making a moral equivalence
between assault and blaming else someone for it.
People ask why it's important to engage with your adversaries. This is why, because if you don't, it will lead to something far worse than a war of words.
I'm sure Sargon himself can probably see his way clear to realizing that Anita would not knowingly or willfully support this man's actions, and I'm sure she'd denounce him and take pity on Jeremy; but would any of his followers look at this video and reach a different conclusion? Would they apply their own mental gymnastics to see this as her ordering a hit on an opponent? Just another example of one media outlet trying to take down a competitor in the wake of other forms of censorship, such as Alex Jones and Gavin McInnes?
Sadly, I can't rule it out.
Likewise, would some of them then use it as justification to target and harass her? They might. And then this feeds back into the same vicious cycle of confirmation bias wherein they reject her claims of legitimate victimhood based on a strawman they created. The same hallucinations people on the left have seeing Nazis everywhere and telling themselves it's justified to go punch them, like this one professor [allegedly] did.
And this is how you get things like Gamer Gate.
I do think GenCon should have taken action against this professor, just as I think VidCon should have taken action against Anita back in the day for violating their rules; and I say that even as later went on to defend her underlying motivations for reacting as she did. Again, as much as I love her, she doesn't get a pass either for being a friend.
That's because rules must have consequences or else they mean nothing.
But again, the odds that she had anything to do with this attack or would even endorse it are basically zero. And yet, Sargon has framed the situation in such a way that it will have negative blowback to her and her organization, not to mention setting back all the hard work I've put in these past months in trying to humanize them in the eyes of one another and to bring them to the table for an honest, good faith conversation.
In a world where everyone is taking sides, the most radical thing you can do is to remain centered.
You wanna know why you should reach across the aisle and engage with your enemies? Because it makes you stronger. It sharpens your arguments. You can weed out the flaws and replace them with better information, better arguments, better principles and ideas. Moreover, it makes you look stronger in that you're confident enough in your own convictions to put them to the test. This inspires hope and courage in others. What doesn't kill you really does make you stronger and no one died form ever sitting down to a conversation, even a nasty and heated one.
I hear all the time from people on either side that the people "over there" are unrepentant sinners, beyond saving, will never listen. But listen to me now for just a moment:
You are both saying the same thing about each other.
Obviously, you don't believe the things they say about you are true, so what makes you think the things you're saying about them are true? Are you really that confident in your convictions, in your worldview, in your ability to assess reality that you'd be willing to engage in physical force to prove it? That seems like a good way to quickly lose the moral high ground.
Who lives by the sword dies by the sword. As you judge others, so shall you be judged.
Funny how I can engage with either side just fine.
Maybe the issue's on your end?
Human nature is such that none of us sees clearly. We all use filters based on confirmation bias so no one has a full picture of what's really going on; but even if we did, it doesn't necessarily follow that violence is the answer. Indeed, if you must resort to violence, you've already lost. We aren't mind readers. The only way to convey our ideas and our truth as we see it is to communicate with others to try and settle on some mutual agreement.
Why should you engage with those you despise? Because the alternative is violence and bloodshed. If you don't use your words, eventually, someone will use their fists, and then eventually someone will use their fists against you!
As Littlefinger said to Ned Stark in Game of Thrones: "We only make peace with our enemies. That's why it's called making people."
Make peace with your enemies or prepare for war. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.
Conflict sucks in real life, but is an essential part of fiction. It's what distinguishes it from mere history. If you enjoy a good story filled with action and drama, you might like my book. Also, if you like the work I do in helping to end the culture war, consider supporting me on Patreon. It really helps a lot.
May you each find love, peace, purpose, happiness, and will in your lives.