A Derivative Post

The reactions to Trump Agonistes were interesting. First off, the post was read more than twice as many times than is usual with my posts; the only CH posts that have gotten more reads than it have been the few that were linked to by major websites – and they got twenty or thirty times as many. The number of times TA was read is mildly interesting (and to me, surprising); more interesting were the comments it elicited.

More than half of the comments that were made online were from the left and negative, generally harshly criticizing what the commenters saw as my having played down the seriousness of the riot. These, I left up.

I deleted several anonymous comments (from the left) of the ad hominem ‘you’re an idiot’ or ‘you’re deeply unethical’ variety. These I saw as both uninteresting and uncivil. It’s worth noting that such personal attacks are almost always made anonymously.

(I have a general policy of not replying to anonymous comments, ad hominem or otherwise – I figure, you all know who I am, why should respond to somebody who is hiding behind anonymity? Ironically, though, in some cases, I do know who’s trying to leave anonymous attacks on my character and/or intelligence, because in managing the site I see commenters’ IP addresses, which the site organizes to match ones on other comments – sometimes ones that the same people have made overtly).

So far, so normal whenever I am seen as having written anything at all sympathetic to Trump. One has to have a thick skin to put opinions out there – particularly opinions that conflict with perceived social norms – and I do.

This time, though, I received multiple offline comments, some of which took me by surprise. These came in the form of emails to info@civilhorizon.com or to my personal email address.

Three were from people I know who wrote to thank me for the post, noting at the same time that they didn’t dare post their thanks online for fear of negative professional repercussions, or even retribution. The tech oligopolies claim to be shutting down conservative sites to make their viewers feel ‘safer’, but I think it’s conservatives who legitimately fear being doxed. After all, a leftist can spout racist nonsense and still be nominated to run the Justice Department’s civil rights division (https://twitter.com/i/status/1348817652299530240), but if you even hint that you’re a Deplorable, you just might be cancelled.

The harshest non ad hominem critique of my post came via an email from a close friend who, on the matters I wrote about in Trump Agonistes, is to my right. He is also, FWIW, a hugely accomplished man.

The premise of his email was that the election was clearly stolen and that I was letting the Democrats off way too lightly. The broader context of the riot, he believes, was knowledge on the part of the rioting crowd that Democratic officeholders and (deep state) bureaucrats had, without serious repercussions, conspired, often illegally, to ruin Trump from day one.

Apart from anything else, and without opining further on the reasons for which this friend was criticizing my post, I think he did a much better job of actually reading what I had written than my critics on the left did. I find that my harshest critics on the left are so inclined to make ad hominem attacks – rather than engage with or dispute the ideas I have presented (which I would welcome) – that I sometimes wonder if they’ve even read beyond the word Trump.

The final critical email I received, also from a very close friend, included the text of an essay asserting that our cultural/political divide has grown past the point of no return, and that the two sides should look to effect an amicable divorce. I think this is a terrible idea. Not only has it been tried before, and caused the deaths of something like 2% of the then-existing US population, it flies in the face of one of the two big reasons that the Civil War was fought – to preserve the union, and with it the idea that democracy can’t be allowed to fail because the losing side in every big argument has the option of simply leaving.

Further, the geographic dividing line between red and blue Americans is nowhere near as clear today as was the Mason Dixon line, which was the demarcation between two very different economies and cultures. Today, there are many, many conservative people (like me, and, ironically, like the friend who sent me the email in question) who live in deep blue states, and vice versa. It’s not like we would up and leave for Texas if the country broke up – or like all of Austin would head to California or New York.

We’re all staying put, and we’ll just have to re-learn how to get along.

M.H. Johnston      

2 comments to A Derivative Post

  • Doug  says:

    On the matter of ‘civility’, I would ask your readers to reflect upon the personal descriptor of a ‘polished’ person. As in stone polishing, rough surfaces are made smooth
    by abrasion, constant friction and interaction. I am not sure that your angry contributors would agree with me that we are better for having counterarguments and counter positions (and yes opposing parties) to sharpen and polish our own. I fear with today’s left trying to cancel out the voice of the 85,000,000 Trump supporters, and with the Speaker seeking to prohibit Trump from running again, that they are seeking their own end — the One Party State. Ahhh Utopia! ps. John Fitton and Judicial Watch banned from Twitter as I write.

  • DP  says:

    It’s interesting to hear the reactions. Only thing I can add is that it’s a flawed argument that the events at the Capitol and the attempted nullification of President Trump’s 2016 election belong in the same discussion. Both happened and both were wrong. But moral equivalence, however tenuous, does not justify illegal and immoral acts by either side. If we are to recover as a country, the “Yes, but…” arguments need to stop and we need to all follow the rules. Law and order people should check themselves when expressing or even feeling sympathy for people who invaded the Capitol, and people who didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 should ask themselves if they would worry about the country if the same tactics had been applied against their candidate. We know what’s right and need to lead and remind those who have strayed.

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