Monday, July 20, 2020
The closing of the open door. . .
Conservatives are fighting to hold on to the best of our past while, it seems, liberals and progressives are trying to erase most all of history except its victims. Conservatives are engaging the mind while liberals and progressives refuse to consider any truth but their own. Conservatives are open to a great conversation while liberals and progressives refuse to allow any voice in the public square but their own.
A while ago I had a Facebook conversation with a Trump antagonist and, although I am hardly a big fan of Trump, I had the nerve to suggest that the accusations being made against Trump were simply not true. In short order I was bombarded in this war of words and smeared as an unthinking Trumper, a racist, blind to the needs of the poor, and selfish in my white privilege. The conversation is typical, I believe, of many public conversations which conservatives and liberals have. In the end it was not a conversation. My friend did not allow me the privilege of a point of view other than the one he, a bona fide liberal, espoused. I did not challenge his right to have an opinion or to speak but he effectively shut me out of the conversation. I did not want to fight it out over social media, so then the conversation was over.
It has been my experience that conservatism loves to debate ideas but liberals tend to paint people with labels. There seems to be no desire to debate the idea but rather to control the conversation and the easiest way to do that is to paint your opponent with a label. Of course, liberals have no corner on this tactic and Trump, who was never a conservative in the classical sense of that term, loves to label his opponents. But in conversation after conversation on social media, it is the progressive who refuses to tolerate any other idea but the prevailing liberal consensus about gender, sexual orientation, abortion, race, prejudice, social justice, etc... So in this conversation, it is not possible for someone to be against the SCOTUS opinion, for example, and not be a homophobe or a bigot. In this conversation, it is not possible for someone to be against rioting and protests designed to tear down and defund and not be a racist. As I was told, white silence is white complicity. These are great slogans but they do not advance a cause. They chart out battle lines but they do not move the fight. Too many on both sides have effectively done this but the reality is that a liberal society presents a false image of openness. In reality, there is little tolerance for a different opinion. Conservatism holds more than anything else the right of every voice in the conversation. Some have not lived up to this but that is the nature of the cause. It should be the core value of liberalism as well. But we will see. So far I am not optimistic.
And, by the way, what is true of the public square is also true of churchly conversations. We have found those least tolerant are those who have traded theological orthodoxy for the prevailing mood of culture. That is its own problem and deserves its own post. Suffice it to say that there is little mood among the more liberal and progressive voices in Christianity to hear the voice of the Fathers or even give a listen to tradition.