By Garrick Hoffman, Staff Writer
In last week’s installment, I began to describe how today’s secular left is not without religious parallels, and often in a hardline fashion. Although their religious parallels are becoming more and more recognized, I nonetheless explained how the left is prone to essentially believe in inherited sin; however, this is only a piece of the totality of their religious likeness.
Allow me to illustrate further.
The pious are known to be prone to feelings of guilt and shame if they begin to, say, feel doubt about God or stray from their church. They tend to fear judgment and ostracism from their fellow church-goers if they begin to have second thoughts about their faith, worrying that they’ll be rejected instead of accepted for their apostasy, their doubt, or for their leaving their church.
Indeed, the Church of the Left is not exempt from these feelings. An anonymous writer to the US edition of The Guardian, for example, submitted an opinion editorial in Nov. 2016 titled, “‘Alt-right’ online poison nearly turned me into a racist.”
“It started with Sam Harris, moved on to Milo Yiannopoulos and almost led to full-scale Islamophobia,” the subhead reads. “If it can happen to a lifelong liberal, it could happen to anyone.”
The writer goes on to describe his experience watching videos on YouTube featuring these two. As one reads the article, the author’s shame becomes more and more apparent – chiefly because he admits it – as if he was watching porn with his wife in the other room.
“I followed a lot of these people on Twitter, but never shared any of it,” he writes. “I just passively consumed it, because, deep down, I knew I was ashamed of what I was doing.”
He continues, “I’ve spent every day since feeling shameful for being so blind and so easily coerced . . . I haven’t yet told my wife that this happened, and I honestly don’t know how to. I need to apologize for what I said [about Islam] and tell her that I certainly don’t believe it. It is going to be a tough conversation and I’m not looking forward to it. I didn’t think this could happen to me. But it did and it will haunt me for a long time to come.”
The penitence, the humiliation and the haunted emotions rife in this person’s article are obviously quite undisguised, all stemming from simply exploring socio-political ideas that deter from his and his cohorts’ own (and his subsequent haunting beliefs, evidently). I suspect this person feared ostracism and could hear the voices of his politically like-minded friends shaming him. The voices that come from people who tell you that you’re essentially in allegiance with Satan if you abandon their cause and sympathize with “conservative” beliefs, telling you that you’re one of them.
If this person really did harbor secret feelings of scorn or antipathy toward an entire people after consuming that material – if he found himself transformed for the worse – there’s no doubt that’s alarming. And honestly, he should feel some shame for harboring those feelings. But if an individual consumes content from someone like Harris or Yiannopoulos and experiences something like that, it’s possible there’s something the individual is struggling with, not the content he or she is consuming. (It’s like when American parents blamed Marilyn Manson for the Columbine shootings.) Nonetheless, this person’s experience sounds like it borders on the ludicrous, and probably on the hyperbolic.
I also can’t help but think of all the people I’ve known who unfriend someone on Facebook because they’re open about their conservative or “controversial” beliefs. Or all the celebrities and public officials who have had to make public apologies for doing or saying something otherwise innocuous after exasperating the PC police. Or every time a black person is called an “Uncle Tom” if they don’t side with democrats or leftists in general. Even though these aren’t examples of people necessarily feeling guilt for “abandoning” their leftist peers, they’re examples of people being either ostracized or shamed for their beliefs.
Although there is plenty of poisonous propaganda out there (look no further than far-left, neo-Marxist propaganda in American universities, or the obviously despicable and racist beliefs of Richard Spencer), merely exploring alternative or “conservative” ideas shouldn’t by default make someone a monster. Yet leftists, with their borderline religious zeal, will make one feel as such, fomenting fear of expression, shame for the change of mind, and apprehension of alienation.