Monday, January 21, 2019

Just say no to the two-minutes hate

When the media claimed that white Catholic Trump-supporting boys mocked an elderly American Indian at a demonstration, several of my fellow conservatives participated in the two-minutes hate against the boys, fanning the flames of Outrage Culture with over-the-top condemnations.

After the story collapsed, apologies of the “I shouldn’t have rushed to judgment” variety were issued. One could fairly ask why anyone would ever rush to judgment after so many similar reports have crumbled upon further review. But there’s an even larger problem here -- it’s that too many conservatives felt the urge to weigh in at all. Even if the initial reporting had been accurate, it should have been filed away in the vast folder labeled “people being rude at a political protest” and dismissed without comment. By contrast, accusing Catholic kids of having metaphorically “spit on the cross” is about the worst possible response. Joining the pile-on legitimizes the media’s elevation of this inconsequential event and encourages more hysteria in the future.

One might argue that it is “principled” for us to condemn all instances of conservatives behaving badly, while it would be “partisan” or “tribal” to ignore them. No. The principled response to a two-minutes hate is to reject it. Ridicule the idea that any lessons can be drawn from a single instance of some person being rude to another person in a country of 328 million. Oppose all manifestations of Outrage Culture.

Obviously, the media focused on the MAGA-hatted white Catholic boys to bolster the narrative that all four groups – Trump supporters, whites, Christians, and males – are menaces to society. By that standard, however, virtually any political narrative finds support during demonstrations. Indeed, the boys were apparently being harassed by a group of black protesters shouting epithets. In response, should we demand an apology from the NAACP? Conclude that black nationalism is a dire threat? Write think pieces about how whites are oppressed?

I’m not engaging in whataboutism. I’m rejecting the idea that any of these incidents say anything about the broader political situation. They do not deserve our attention, let alone our outrage.