Rabbi of Strasbourg inspects vandalized cemetery. Cover photo for Modern Political Dialogue Has Broken Down.
Culture and Society,  Politics,  Quick Read

The Breakdown of Modern Political Dialogue

Streicher’s Der Sturmer aroused fear with hundreds upon hundreds of unsubstantiated anecdotes (…) Streicher’s appeals, like most Nazi propaganda, were emotional, not logical. The appeals also gave clear, specific instructions on how to combat “the danger.”: They listed Jewish businesses so readers would avoid them, encouraged readers to submit for publication the names of Germans who patronized Jewish shops and professionals, and directed readers to compile lists of Jews in their area. This was vivid, hard-to-forget propaganda. – David G. Myers

Sound familiar? Social media has become the primary tool for doxing, a method of intimidation which involves releasing an individual’s personal information to the internet—usually paired with calls to shame or attack the person. People are creating lists of politicians who follow the “wrong” people on social media. Businesses that subscribe to the “wrong” political ideology are being boycotted or harassed out of business, (though this often backfires). And each side refers to the other only in terms of their most radical and dangerous manifestations. Every liberal becomes “Antifa” and every conservative “Alt-right.”

Finally, in response to the video evidence which largely exonerated the Covington kids of the accusations against them, The Guardian published an article which argued against the merits of video evidence. It stated that the complete, uncut version of the initial video had “shatter(ed) the public record” by “allow(ing) the discussion to be reframed.”

The insinuation was that incomplete evidence is somehow more conducive to truth. It was an appeal to forgo logic and to trust only the emotional, gut reaction provoked to their altered video.

Vivid, hard-to-forget propaganda indeed.

Increasing Hate Crimes and Rising Antisemitism

The state of modern political dialogue needs to be addressed. When people begin to assume the worst of any given outgroup – the rate of which is increasing between today’s political tribes – that group becomes subject to attacks by the ingroup. Its members are often perceived as vile or sub-human.

This designation can be used to justify even the most horrific acts against them. It is the catalyst which turns passionate hate to violent action. And it has.

According the New York Times, there had been 55 hate crimes in New York City by mid-February, up 72% from last year. Two-thirds of these were perpetrated against Jews, as a new wave of antisemitism has swept across both Europe and the U.S. This antisemitism has even begun to fester in U.S. and European governments.

Repairing Modern Political Dialogue

These echo chambers of hate must end.

Though the “other side” may frustrate us at times, it is important to remember that most people are trying to do the right thing. Most of us may be misguided, but our goals are aligned. We only differ in our methods.

When we open ourselves to calm and reasonable discussion with the “opposition,” even those may begin to align.

 

(Cover photo by REUTERS.)

 

Tyler Watkins graduated magna cum laude and with Honors with a BA in Psychology from the University of Iowa. He has since worked in the fields of medical and psychological research at Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the University of Iowa. Now pursuing a career as a writer, he's published in Quillette, Intellectual Conservative, and Areo Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @WatkinsDoOp

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