I’m fairly insulated from this in France, it is beginning to migrate from across the pond first to the UK. And from the UK it is spreading along the tendrils of the Anglosphere to basically every country in Western Europe.
I am speaking of ‘triggering’ in particular and the phenomenon of ‘safe spaces’ in general.
I attended University in the Northeast in the USA, this is the epicenter of this new culture of ‘feelings first’ that has taken the nation by storm. And shockingly, this extremely dogmatic phenomenon has no religious base whatsoever. It is a strange dogma in and of itself that is the center of the political philosophy for a large part of the younger generation in America. And for a long time they ran unopposed in their demographic… that all changed when Trump entered the race.
Suddenly, it was ‘cool’ for young people to be conservative and loud about it. The way that young liberals have been since the 60s. They (I am treading on thin ice here for it is difficult to generalize such a large group of people) claim to be diametrically opposed to ‘SJWism’ or the system of ‘feelings first.’ They are against ‘safe spaces’ and mercilessly make fun of those that use the word ‘triggered’ in earnest. They think Black Lives Matter is racist and so forth.
And, for a time, I was excited about this. Finally, finally there was a counterweight to the de facto supremacy of a certain ideology in universities. Anything to even out the imbalance the US has been enjoying for the last 50 years.
But alas, I expected too much. This new generation of conservatives is still a product of the times. They constantly yell at the media for writing things with which they disagree, for supporting candidates they don’t like, etc. And, please, don’t try and have a conversation about immigration or BLM. The views are extreme, perhaps not racist, but certainly extreme.
And being extreme is not the problem. Yes there is a place for even more extreme opinions in discourse, however, it must occur in discourse.
And discourse is the thing that both sides are striving to kill off.
The left sits around making appeals to emotion (ironically this used to be the territory of the right) and the right sits around navel gazing and looking at the past saying ‘that was great, wasn’t it?’ Well maybe, but considering you can’t just undo 50 years of polity… Exactly what else do you have to off?
Even if you have an extreme opinion, there is no reason to fear a civil argument. If you fear a civil argument then you know, you already know that your side has a weak argument.
If you run away from discourse to your ‘safe spaces’ be they right or left, you are admitting your argument is weak. Talk to people. You might not change their mind but you’ll be better prepared to defend your stance the next time around. But, until ‘safe spaces’ cease to exist, each side will continue to live in its own echo chamber and get more and more extreme and less and less founded in fact.