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The Demise of civil discourse

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In 2012, Michael Shammas wrote for the Huffington Post regarding why it is a good idea to teach philosophy to High School kids. As he stated, “Anger is everywhere; understanding is nowhere.”

Here we are in 2017 and those words still ring true. You can log onto pretty much any social media platform and you’re inundated with vitriol. What’s more disturbing, is that you rarely see any effort from either party involved to understand the position of the other side. What you tend to see is a back-and-forth filled with generalizations, mischaracterizations, strawmen and outright insults.

What happened to us? What happened to civil discourse?

Shammas in his 2012 article suggests that we have lost the ability to be able to entertain an idea without accepting it. I would agree that is true for some of us. However, I’m going to suggest that for others, it’s simply hubris. Feeling “right” outweighs being “right” and sometimes, it outweighs truth itself.

Some of us feel that we are so “right” that we cannot be wrong. It’s an impossibility. In fact, if anyone suggests otherwise, that’s a slap to our pride. Certainly, we can’t be wrong! That’s blasphemy! Truly, if someone had the temerity to think differently or have a different perspective, they’re not only wrong, but they’re immoral. There’s something wrong with them. They’re evil. They’re the enemy.

If people who disagree with us are wrong, immoral, and the enemy, why would we actually take the time to get to know them? Why would we try to understand why they think they way they do? So, let’s just retreat to our respective echo chambers where we can pat each other on the back for being superior to those people. Let’s laugh and sneer at the knuckle-dragging rubes who think differently than we do. After all, we’re the enlightened ones, right?

So, if we can’t get to know someone who thinks differently than us, or worse yet, we don’t believe they are worth the time to get to know, what happens? There’s no way we can truly understand what they believe or why they believe it, in fact, most of the time, we don’t want to know. It’s stupid and wrong anyway so why waste our precious time? So we mischaracterize and generalize. Heck, even laugh at their apparent stupidity all the while being oblivious to the fact that mischaracterization often leads to demonization, which leads to passive and then active oppression.

It has been amazing to see how quickly so many who claimed to revile tribalism devolve into tribalism off of nothing more than their own arrogance.

There is a way out of his mess. It’s tough. It takes time and it requires becoming invested in people we may disagree with passionately. If we wish to wade into the battle of ideas, it is vitally important that we take the time to understand what the competing ideas are and accurately represent them. If we do not, we will quickly lose all credibility and we will lose traction in promoting our own ideas or philosophy because we’ve lost that credibility. We’ll only be adding to the background noise while other ideas and philosophies move forward with their agendas.

For example: if I started to criticize Islam, but it became apparent rather quickly that I have never studied the Quran, nor have I ever picked up the Hadith or talked to a Muslim, why should anyone take me seriously? If it’s made clear, once I exit my echo chamber, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, how can I expect to maintain any credibility whatsoever? I may be able to acquire some popularity with those who know less than I do, but it’s a transient popularity at best. My ill-gained popularity, as well as whatever philosophy or idea I was trying to promote, will simply be destined for the trash heap of history. Forgotten and impotent.

Plus, it’s important to learn about other perspectives because it’s just part of being a good neighbor. If I expect someone to treat my ideas fairly, and when criticizing them, accurately represent my position, I must do that for others. Well, I guess I don’t have to, but there’s a word for that kind of attitude and it starts with “hypo” and ends with “crite”.

So what do we do? I suggest there are two ways we can accomplish this: the first, we start to create and maintain relationships with those who disagree with us. Break bread with them. Pick their brains. Ask them about their beliefs and why they believe what they do. Take time to listen to them and really understand them so you can accurately represent their position. Again, you don’t have to agree with what they’re saying. But don’t rob them of their humanity by turning them and what they believe into a caricature. Second, study first; talk later. That’s right. Read books. Lots of them. YouTube and Google may be a good place to start, but it’s no substitute for actual research and study. Go to the sources. Read the documents that are central to a philosophy, political movement or a religion. Whatever you’re trying to criticize, you need to know it at least as well as anyone who adheres to what you’re attempting to criticize.

Also, we should read books that are critical of what we believe. To quote Christian apologist Andy Bannister, “…being willing to put what you currently believe to the test. For instance, what books have you read by those who disagree with you? If you’re an atheist and the very most you’ve ever read from a Christian is The Pop-up Book of Creationism, all the while lining your bookshelves with well-referenced works of atheism, I suggest you’re not really thinking, but living in an echo chamber.”

Let me ask you a question, dear reader; how do you expect your ideas or philosophy to win the “battle of ideas” if you don’t understand or care what the competing ideas or philosophies are to being with?

If we’re not prepared to take seriously the kinds of things that people believe in, then perhaps with all humility, we should simply stick to talking about TV shows, dating apps and celebrities. Because anything beyond that is just noise.

 

 

 

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Culture and Religion

Acts 17:11 – ‘searched the scriptures daily’

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Acts 17:11 searched the scriptures daily

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. – Acts 17:11 (KJV)

We’ve talked before about doing daily Bible study, then we made sure to expand on what we were promoting by reminding people that Christianity itself should not be a task. Now, we’ll go to the source (as we should have done from the beginning) and point to scriptural backing that we are not only supposed to read the Bible, but to search it and use at as the ultimate reference.

This verse is often quoted out of contest. It points to the Bereans as true students of the Word. There are even ministries today who herald to the Bereans and continue in the works that were alluded to in this chapter. The reality is this: the Bereans were Jews who studied fervently and as a result they were easily converted to belief in Yeshua as the Messiah.

If there’s any one takeaway from this (other than the call to continuously study and find truth in the Bible by applying the teachings of the Bible itself), it’s that those who are the most steadfast in their studies, whether it’s of the Bible or of this world, are the ones who are easiest to bring to the truth. Christianity and all religions have gained an unfortunate label of being only for the “weak of mind” or gullible people. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s not necessarily about intelligence. It’s about discernment. Those who see the world through the lens of common sense and an unbiased intellect are the most likely to come to the faith. They simply need a little Biblical worldview prompting.

Petition Capitol Hill for Term Limits

Sign the petition. We demand Congress immediately put together legislation that spells out term limits for themselves. Americans need to know who is willing to suppress their own power for the sake of the nation. This can only happen by bringing legislation to the floor.

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Guns and Crime

Tom Fitton on Lou Dobbs discusses the ‘Clinton cover-up operation’

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Tom Fitton on Lou Dobbs discusses the Clinton cover-up operation

Government watchdog Judicial Watch uncovered FBI notes from the first “sham” investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email debacle from 2016. Included in the FBI notes were references made by Clinton’s IT team itself referring to their activities as the “Clinton cover-up operation.”

Let that sink in.

Now that Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian hacking of the 2016 presidential campaign has been wrapped up and the Mueller report has been released to the public, Judicial Watch is working overtime to uncover what they can about the real scandal from that election. What candidate Clinton and her team did was almost certainly illegal and we’re learning more about it every day. Is it possible a new investigation could commence? Tom Fitton believes it will and told Lou Dobbs as much today.

Watch this interview. If there’s any doubt that Hillary Clinton belongs in jail, you should check with Tom Fitton and Lou Dobbs before finalizing your opinion. Justice has not been served following the 2016 election and it’s not the President who should be worried.

Petition Capitol Hill for Term Limits

Sign the petition. We demand Congress immediately put together legislation that spells out term limits for themselves. Americans need to know who is willing to suppress their own power for the sake of the nation. This can only happen by bringing legislation to the floor.

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Conservatism

Demonetized: Steven Crowder has been tried and convicted by YouTube of being a conservative

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Demonetized Steven Crowder has been tried and convicted by YouTube of being a conservative

Conservatives fell for a trap. It’s been over a decade in the making and few of us saw it coming until it was too late. To be fair, this trap was actually so well executed and seemingly coordinated that it’s actually impressive how well it worked. Now, the walls that have been around us the whole time are finally starting to close in.

The trap was to believe that even hyper-leftists in the tech industry would be fair when it came to the use of their platforms. By “fair,” I mean they would accept that there are views that differ from their preferred progressive standpoints and those views are worthy of being expressed on their platforms. For a time, this was true. But as the giants such as Google in search, Facebook and Twitter in social media, and YouTube for video grew to the point that they’re essentially unchallenged and virtually invincible, they’ve now changed their tune. The worst crime anyone who uses their services can commit is to be conservative.

Steven Crowder is learning it again and again with the most recent incident happening today.

Many of us make our living by creating and sharing content online. Unfortunately, the platforms that we work on, including YouTube, have revealed in recent years that there is a proper way of thinking in their eyes, and if you dare to offer a perspective that challenges this proper way of thinking, you’re a horrible human being who doesn’t deserve to live, let alone earn a penny from them.

Like I said, this was a brilliant trap, properly executed over the years to draw us in and then shut us down once we became dependent and their competition was suppressed. That’s where we are today.

The easy answer to all of this is to abandon the platforms that are unfriendly to conservatives and work only with those who truly appreciate free speech, cordial discourse, and the enterprising nature of Americans. That’s the easy answer, but it’s not an easy solution. You see, the sites that pay the best happen to be Google and their video spawn YouTube. To get the necessary eyeballs on this content, we often rely again on Google as well as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other progressive giants.

Where do we go from here?

Two options

For people like Crowder (and us), the easy days of “just make great content to make good money” are behind us. We can no longer just produce what we like and expect it to be respected by the traffic-drivers or revenue-drivers that literally hate us. We have to be careful. We are forced to bow before the politically correct leftist gods, also known as the “manual review” snowflakes who hold our fate in their hands.

But that won’t work. We won’t bow. Just as I can’t imagine Crowder toning down his “Change My Mind” series in any way, I know we would never start posting politically correct content that will appease the keyboard caretakers who reign over us. So that leaves us with two options.

Option 1: Fight for our right to be right

This is what most of us do today. We produce content and then fight tooth-and-nail to get it the traffic it needs. Once it gets the traffic, we then have to fight to keep it monetized. It’s a daily grind, but it’s effective to some extent. Nevertheless, it’s not only a waste of time but it’s a benefit to the people who are trying to suppress us in the first place. YouTube makes money off Crowder’s content whether they pay him for it or not. That’s the nature of YouTube. If he sucks people onto the platform to laugh as he “owns libs,” there’s a good chance those people he sucked in will then watch other videos with ads.

Just because they demonetize his content doesn’t mean they’re not making money off it.

So if option 1 sucks, then what’s the alternative?

Option 2: Pick up our balls and take them to a new playground

This is the option that invariably gets offered by scholarly Twitter users any time something like this happens. But it’s not that easy. I’ve tried multiple ad networks, affiliates, crowdfunding, and even outright begging and it doesn’t yield a fraction of what Google ads deliver. And frankly, that’s not enough either, but it’s more.

For Crowder, whose content thrives on YouTube, it’s not easy for him to become a Vimeo star and expect to reach the same people or get nearly enough money from it. Or any video platform for that matter. I’m not sure what BlazeTV or DailyWire pay, but outside of their paid services, much of there content goes on… YouTube.

But it’s more than just monetization. I’m sure Crowder and others like him are also like us in that our goal is to spread a proper message on the various topics that affect Americans on a daily basis. That means we want our content to be seen by a wide range of people, including progressives. Sometimes, especially progressives.

Working on a third option

I’ve been reaching out to conservatives about Proper Narrative, LLC. I hope this can help encourage conservative content producers to do what they’re doing by rewarding them beyond their standard revenue sources. It’s still early stage at this point, but one never knows when the right call will come in.

Final Thoughts

Until one of the two (or three) options becomes clearly the best choice, conservatives have to do what we can to support each other. To the digital media world, we’re the enemy. Nobody said being conservative in 2019 would be easy.

Petition Capitol Hill for Term Limits

Sign the petition. We demand Congress immediately put together legislation that spells out term limits for themselves. Americans need to know who is willing to suppress their own power for the sake of the nation. This can only happen by bringing legislation to the floor.

Will you help revive the American Conservative Movement?

 


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