The Perils of Being Right in the Wrong Way

Randall Anthony Schanze
Randall Anthony Schanze's picture

These are not original thoughts, I can't really take credit for deep thinking here, but something has been bothering me for a while.

There is a rather new phenomenon: it's this thing where you attack people who are for the same things you are for not being for them in the right way. So if you post something that's against racism, you're not against it in the right way, or you're naive, or thinking wrong. If you are against war, you're not against it for the right reasons. The list goes on and on.

I'm nonpartisan, and not a member of any party, but I note that this is more of a thing on the left, where politics has gotten so personal that every individual is a political party, everyone's personal beliefs are all that matter. again: This is not an original thought of mine. People have been writing about it and, of course, being attacked for saying it. It's political correctness on steroids.

My personal take is that it's infantilism. The Left has somehow, maybe through personalizing and customizing everything, by catering so long to the whims of individuals, a generation (or two) of infants, who cannot see beyond their own frustrations and discomforts which they mistake for injustice. The pomposity of these self-proclaimed intellectuals is stunning, and there is never an attempt in any discussion (argument) to even pretend to understand where the other person is coming from. I really got slapped in the face by this a month or so ago, and it has been uncharacteristically bugging me since.

For folks who sensibilities harken back to a more reasonable era, it leaves us dumbfounded. This is not the first time this has happened to me, and it's by no means the worst, but for some reason it was the final straw. I think I will simply never engage in substantive discussions again unless I know the person well and we have established mutual respect. Not on Facebook, anyway.

Anti-intellectualism on the right, infantilism on the left. I no longer have political opinions. I never had many to begin with, given my normal romantic pragmatism. My thinking is purely psychological now. I'm concerned more navigating the world without getting bashed about too much, which is sad, because I think I could - and did - contribute a lot to discussion if people hadn't become such assholes. I imagine most of us could.

There simply are very few true free-thinkers anymore. So I'll just keep writing my dumb little stories and publishing my dumb little books and posting my dumb little songs and hope no one will jump down my throat for believing something different then they do (God forfend!).

I've been thinking about this for a while, and another quality that is infantile is this know-it-all culture. I think some of it stems from an access to lots of primary info, virtual text books or whatever, without some experienced thinker to guide people through it. Couple this with low frustration levels and an inferiority complex among this generation of American males (a generation that feels like it's working jobs that are beneath their intellectual standing) and you create these 40 year olds with 9 year olds' temperaments. I can't have a conversation with anyone who talks down to me or discounts my knowledge no matter how meager.

I'm pretty lucky in life. I'm not dumb by any means, but I've been surrounded by people way smarter than me my whole life. doctors, Artists, Musicians, Philosophers, Scientists, Authors, Engineers, Veterans of popular and unpopular wars, on both the winning and losing sides, Teachers, Businessmen. My Cousin has a research building named after him at U.F. My dad helped build Skylab, for God's sake! Most of them are incredibly humble. Some are not. But the ones who are not are also demonstrably genius-y, so they get a pass. Harlan Ellison is even surprisingly humble if you get to know him, regardless of his public reputation.

But you know what? Even if he wasn't, he's earned it. He came from shit and built himself into the short list of the greatest English-language writers of the 20th century. if he's having a pissy day and decides to tear into someone , he's earned the right. His comments will have merit. Or my dad, who came from shit, starting out as a literally homeless kid in the Great Depression, and ended up building space stations. And when the space program died and we lost everything, he started over and built himself into a huge success AGAIN. If he had some criticism to make, he's earned the right.

Some asshole with a bachelors in philosophy working an I.T. job does not get a pass, though.