Labelling. Name-calling. Bullying. When did liberals become as knee-jerk intolerant as Donald Trump?
I am a racist. I know this because a black lady told me. On a bus. After I asked her to stop shrieking so loudly into her phone. First she said she was there before me. Which wasn’t true. And I don’t mean because I am white English born in London while she was from the West Indies; I mean she got on the bus at a later stop. Anyway, she got off at the next. As she neared the doors she boomed back at me, “You’re a racist.”
I am homophobic. I know this because the fashion editor at my first magazine told me. Reckon it was pulling a face when he talked about personally greasing up the young male models on his photo shoots. Anyway, he scored a big job on a gay publication and went around the guys in the office. “I’m going to give you freelance work. I’m going to give you freelance work. And I’m not giving you work because you’re homophobic.”
Calling someone racist is not a get-out-of-jail-free card that excuses anti-social behaviour. Calling someone homophobic is not funny workplace banter. Using serious words in non-serious situations devalues those words, devalues their importance and devalues the hard-won right to say them. Using them crushes the life out of debate. If every time someone mentions “immigration” you scream “racist!”, guess what? They are going to stop talking to you about that thing and form alt-right clubs and win the Brexit vote and elect Donald Trump. Because fuck you, that’s why. Because liberalism has become a kind of fascism that No Platforms dissenting voices, that denies opposition the right to opinion and the right to speak. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic: heavy words too lightly thrown.
Extreme language has gone epidemic. Everything is amazing… or the worst piece of shit imaginable. Brought doughnuts to work? You’re a genius. Like something I don’t? You’re a fucktard. You’re a dick. You’re the scruffiest nerf herder in the galaxy. Call it black-and-white thinking. Call it anti-intellectual, sick-of-experts propaganda. Call it how we got into this mess.
Millennials, the most educated generation ever - throw a bottle and you hit someone with a degree - habitually regurgitate self-satisfied, reflexively leftist, thinkalike opinions. Social media perpetuates righteous un-reality (but the Likes on my Instagram are Star Wars and your mum in a bikini). Education should mean curiosity, not know-it-all. How about asking why someone has different ideas before tagging them an idiot? “He’s a bad man because he said ‘pussy’.” You’re a pussy. Turn off The Guardian and follow Breitbart. Learn how the other half thinks. Here’s a joke borrowed from The Times: What’s the opposite of diversity? University.
Don’t get me wrong: I will lay my head under a tank for your right to be you. But not knowing whether l, g, b, t or q is the appropriate nomenclature this week just means I was busy watching Game of Thrones, not that I want you seared from the good clean Earth by God’s fiery wrath. And what’s with the need to self-label anyway? It’s creepy. It’s concentration camp creepy. Tiptoe around the nailbed of potential insult because challenging someone’s dyslexia or veganism or religion or genitals carries the perception of being an armed bigot in a pointy hat. Call them Native Americans please - but thump them off their Dakotas because oil talks and Red Indians walk. Hypocrisy, yeah.
The glue-and-sawdust demagogue who’s now President of the United States has no ideology, only ego. Like the eponymous killing machine in The Terminator, “It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity or remorse or fear.” This is not just a POTUS thing. This is a people-in-2017 thing. One person’s perception is that same person’s unswerving worldview; the rest is alternative fact and fake news. Narcissism rules. But there remain conversations too vital to shout down, too important not to explore. Like, are the Police prejudiced or thinly stretched? Like, how to stop young men being drawn into violence, and how to bridge cultural division. Like, how to dismantle the banking system and free us all from taxation and debt. Like, who owns the places where we spend our money? Like, what is the mark-up on coffee?
There is no gold in the Bank of England. The Federal Reserve is run by giant lizards. Our institutions are as illusory as the constructs in The Matrix. Yes the progress of the civil rights movement is awesome, and by the way London is a paradise of enlightenment and tolerance, but meanwhile we are all financial slaves. Focus some energy on that nightmare rather than pick on some imaginary old Northern bloke who voted Brexit because he’s spooked by the pace of change. The enemy walks into a nightclub with a machine gun or glides up, up, out of reach in a private jet, the wealthiest one percent out-earning his average worker by 360 to dollar one. Barrack Obama, so handsome and charming, so smooth and intelligent: dude drone-bombed like it was going out of style.
Fighting Trump Trump’s way, by shouting people down, has produced a schism - and schism needs to be cleaned up, preferably with a Wet One. Getting reactionary ain’t the answer (this article excepted). Listen. Be curious. Find out about the lives of others. Find some middle ground. Not everything is love or hate. Sometimes things are meh. Remember meh? Let the Trumps and the Piers Morgans sling slander. Be better than 140 characters.