Thursday, March 17, 2016

Buzzfeed Ludicrously Misses The Point

Let's talk politics for a second. As some of you may be aware (or not... or are painfully aware), I'm a Liberal. I'm still a Liberal, despite the last few years making it very difficult at times. A long time ago I gave up on any chance of debating gender politics rationally, so I no longer use the term feminist, and more recently I gave up the title of Progressive due to the antics of those flying that flag. I think that, if pressed, I would now call myself a “Problematic Liberal.” 

Speaking of problematic, Buzzfeed has just published a wonderful piece which discusses the term “Regressive Left” and its alleged origins, its definition, and who uses it. I'm going to link to the article, without archive, not because I think you should read the article (although you probably should), but because you should read the comments. The article is rubbish -- which the comments make plain -- and it misses the point so badly that it can only be called “Not Even Wrong.”

So, what is the Regressive Left anyway?
(Quotation marks officially retired because it is a thing, despite what Buzzfeed wants to believe.)

As Buzzfeed correctly explains, the term was coined by former Islamic extremist Maajid Nawaz. But as much as Buzzfeed wants to attribute its primary usage to the “alt-right” (whoever that is), it's mainly used by people like me: Liberals who realize that the Left/Right divide is rapidly becoming less important than the Libertarian/Authoritarian divide. People like me on the political Left who aren't afraid of having their opinions challenged, and in turn challenging the opinions of people they disagree with, without resorting to mud-slinging, name-calling, and silencing tactics. People who hesitate before throwing around words like bigot, racist, or misogynist.

The term's since gained popularity from people like Dave Rubin and David Pakman, formerly of The Young Turks, who aren't afraid to debate and interview people with wildly different views of their own. And yes, some people on the Right use the term: Milo Yiannoupoulos and Steven Crowder, for example, use the term quite liberally (no pun intended – and while I certainly don't agree with these gentlemen on... well, a lot... they are quite funny and say some very true things from time to time).

[The term Regressive Left] is mainly used by people like me: Liberals who realize that the Left/ Right divide is rapidly becoming less important than the Libertarian/ Authoritarian divide. 

As Buzzfeed notes, Regressive Left is used quite often these days in regards to college protesters who often try to bring about a strange, side-eyed sort of segregation, or who try to silence the press and no-platform speakers who don't align 100% with their own ridiculously far-Left beliefs. And it's not just conservatives or right-wing speakers: prominent feminists Germaine Greer and Julie Bindel have been hit with this, as has gay rights advocate Peter Tatchell. And it has been used in reference to people that compare Trump to Hitler, but not because anyone's concerned with Trump's feelings, but because we're tired of seeing Hitler comparisons. We're tired of seeing people shouted down because you don't agree with them. We're tired of strawman arguments and ad hominem attacks. Of Identity Politics and people using excuses to turn other people into acceptable targets so they can act like assholes with a clean conscience. We want to treat people like people, not like monolothic entities with identical experiences and opinions. 

The best part of the article
It's not the article itself; it's the comments. With very little exception, they are nothing but people calling them out for being wrong, for being disingenuous, and for a complete lack of self-awareness, given that Buzzfeed has been one of the mouthpieces of the Regressive Left. It's really a beautiful thing to see, and I've no doubt that the author (or one of the usual other suspects) has already created some kind of "law" similar to that one about articles concerning feminism being justified by the comments on them.
Pictured: Buzzfeed
Since I know I have more than a couple of conservative audience members (hello! You're very nice people, and I'm quite fond of you even if we don't agree on everything), I want you to know that there's a lot of us on the Left side of the fence who aren't all that bad, and we're getting pretty sick of the extremists on our side. The good news is that I think there's a lot of us, on both the Left and the Right side of the fence, that are on the southern end (Libertarian) as opposed to the northern end (Authoritarian), and I think if we can remember that, we can work together and get some stuff done.

At the very least, our fence will be shorter. And have gates. And maybe a nice water feature and some potted plants. You can defend them with your guns, and we can grow some weed for you.

And to those of you that feel I'm talking about you here, I've got one thing to say: Just because you're not a Conservative, it doesn't mean you're a Liberal. 

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