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Irony Overload At The Grammys

This article was written on February 13th 2017, back when it was still vaguely relevant

 

Capping off another celebrity awards ceremony in which cossetted stars withdrew to their bubble to rend their designer garments at the state of the world – with the likes of Katy Perry, Busta Rhymes and James Corden running to their safe spaces this year – Recording Academy President Neil Portnow had this to say in his speech at the 2017 Grammy Awards:

We are constantly reminded about the things that divide us. Race, region and religion. Gender, sexual orientation, political party. But what we need so desperately are more reminders of all that binds us together — our shared history, our common values and our dedication to build for ourselves a more perfect union.

I’m sorry, but who has been constantly reminding us of the things that divide us? Who has been incessantly emphasising differences rather than commonalities at every turn? Who has been the loudest megaphone and amplifier for vicious, self-serving and corrosive identity politics throughout the culture over the past decades? Ah yes – it was that branch of the American Left which includes so much of the entertainment industry.

Often in ignorance more than malice, I’ll concede, but the nerve of a man like Portnow to stand before the kind of people who recorded Hillary Clinton’s “Fight Song” and complain that Americans are being deliberately divided by race, region, religion, gender, sexual orientation and political beliefs is almost beyond belief.

One does not have to be a MAGA-shouting Trump supporter to be drearily, expectantly depressed at the glib self-satisfaction, unawareness and utter banality that took place at the Grammy Awards – as well as at last night’s BAFTAs. This blog certainly abhors Donald Trump and all other ignorant, amoral, authoritarian would-be strongmen like him.

But the answer to a democratic outcome one opposes is not to bemoan democracy itself and ignore one’s own part in bringing about defeat. Hugging identity politics ever-tighter and going back before the American electorate with a leadership team comprising Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton 3.0 and the same vacuous, corporatist policy book will not put a Democrat back in the White House in 2020.

Introspection is not to be expected from the big egos of Hollywood, I think we have all learned that by now. But a large dose of it must appear from somewhere, and soon, or the opposition to Donald Trump will fall as flat as James Corden at his entrance to the 2017 Grammy Awards ceremony.

 

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When American Liberals Lose The Faith

Doesn’t this testimonial from a disaffected California liberal really speak volumes about just how far the American Left is going to lose friends and alienate people?

Rod Dreher shares an email from a reader:

So I was raised a secular liberal. My college professors were secular liberals. During my journalism phase, my newspaper colleagues were secular liberals. My law school professors and peers were – in the vast majority – secular liberals. Almost everyone at my corporate law firm was a secular liberal. My California neighbors and friends are secular liberals, as are my colleagues. My mother, siblings, and their spouses are all secular liberals.

By all rights, I should be a member in good standing of their tribe, “liking” their Facebook posts and joining their candlelight vigils against the evil Trump Administration. But November 8 and its aftermath revealed to me that I am just so tired of these people. I can’t be like them, and I don’t want my kids turning into them.

I am tired of their undisguised contempt for tens of millions of Americans, with no effort to temper their response to the election with humility or empathy.

I am tired of their unexamined snobbery and condescension.

I am tired of their name-calling and virtue-signaling as signs of supposedly high intelligence.

I am tired of their trendiness, jumping on every left-liberal bandwagon that comes along (transgender activism, anyone?) and then acting like anyone not on board is an idiot/hater.

I am tired of their shallowness. It’s hard to have a deep conversation with people who are obsessed with moving their kids’ pawns across the board (grades, sports, college, grad school, career) and, in their spare time, entertaining themselves and taking great vacations.

I am tired of their acceptance of vulgarity and sarcastic irreverence as the cultural ocean in which their kids swim. I like pop culture as much as the next person, but people who would never raise their kids on junk food seem to think nothing of letting then wallow in cultural junk, exposed to nothing ennobling, aspirational, or even earnest.

I am tired of watching them raise clueless kids (see above) who go off to college and within months are convinced they live in a rapey, racist patriarchy; “Make America Great Again” is hate speech; and Black Lives Matter agitators are their brothers-in-arms against White Privilege. If my kids are like that at nineteen, I’ll feel I’ve seriously failed them as a parent. Yet the general sentiment seems to be these are good, liberal kids who may have gotten a bit carried away.

I am tired of their lack of interest in any form of serious morality or self-betterment. These are decent, responsible people, many compassionate by temperament. Yet they seem two-dimensional, as if they believe that being a nice, well-socialized person who holds the correct political views is all there is, and there is nothing else to talk about. Isn’t there, though?

I am tired of being bored and exasperated by everybody. I feel like I have read this book a thousand times, and there are no surprises in it. Down with Trump! Trans Lives Matter! Climate deniers are destroying the planet! No cake, we’re gluten-free!

These are good people in a lot of ways. But there has got to be a better tribe.

It must be disturbing to “wake up” like this and realise that you are no longer fully in communion with your tribe, so kudos to Rod Dreher’s reader for putting into words something that cannot be easy to admit. With the wounds of the 2016 presidential election still raw, many on the American Left have little time for doubters, and admitting a heresy such as this would likely be met not with understanding (let alone introspection) but rather with intolerance and fury.

The scene that comes to my mind is from the film American History X, where protagonist Derek Vinyard, serving a jail sentence for the racist-motivated murder of a black car thief, realises the flaws of his white supremacist worldview while in prison and is then utterly unable to engage with that community – his only source of friendship and support – after his release. Eventually, Vinyard confronts the group’s leader and explicitly rejects their racist ideology, at which point they chase him out of their camp.

Increasingly, one has to either buy the whole regressive leftist agenda or none of it at all. Because it is couched in such explicitly moral terms, with any departure from orthodoxy seen as a moral failure, to question just one aspect of the worldview – the identity politics, the environmentalism, the statist paternalism – is to make oneself persona non grata within that community. Imagine the pain of realising that you no longer believe every article in the leftist gospel, and then being faced either with the prospect of admitting your heresy and being actively shunned by family, friends and colleagues, or else keeping your opposition quiet and living a lie.

The American Left has, with too few exceptions, given up on trying to win by persuasion, seeking instead to achieve victory by shaming and bullying dissenters into a sullen, resentful silence. That approach is no longer working and delivering benefits, to the extent that it ever did. When people like Rod Dreher’s reader are leaving the tribe in disgust at the sanctimonious echo chamber of questionable values then clearly something has gone wrong.

None of this is to say that American conservatism is in fine fettle – clearly not, as this blog has repeatedly warned. The fact that Republicans have closed ranks behind a profoundly authoritarian and un-conservative President-elect Donald Trump is evidence of the challenge faced by small-C conservatives in trying to maintain their influence and steer the Trump presidency away from endless pitfalls.

But it is the slow-burning revolution on the Left (particularly the growing elitism and the lethal embrace of identity politics) which fed the populist Right to the extent that Donald Trump won the White House. And until the American Left learns to moderate its many excesses and accept ideological diversity together with all the other kinds of diversity they champion, they will continue to alienate crucial allies and accelerate their march into irrelevance.

 

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Hugging Is Bad, Mmkay? Parenting, ‘Everyday Feminism’ Style

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Now the act of hugging is oppressive

If you are not already taking these important measures to ensure that your child turns into a psychologically frail victim-in-waiting and/or a raging second generation Social Justice Warrior, completely unable to function in the real world, then you should check your privilege and begin immediately:

Two of my good friends had their first baby late this past year.

From the get-go, Baby was a cuddly little girl. (Or, as her two moms say, “We assume she’s a girl, but we won’t know for sure until she tells us herself.”)

Sigh.

She was all about being held and being rocked – and crying her head off the moment anybody dared to put her down. She wanted contact with all the people ever.

But in the past couple of months, it seems she’s had a serious change of heart.

When some of us were over for a visit, Baby suddenly wanted none of it. Passed from one person to the next, she wailed like a banshee until finally given back to one of her moms, where she instantly quieted.

“Don’t take it personally,” Mama said to everyone, bouncing Baby. “She’s just entering that stage where she’s developing some healthy stranger danger.”

And so the new process emerged: One of us would attempt to hold Baby every once in a while. And if she cried for more than 20 seconds, we’d hand her back to one of her moms.

If Baby didn’t want to be held by certain people, Baby didn’t have to be held by certain people.

It was as simple as that – and something her moms are determined to keep in place as Baby gets older.

It took the brilliant minds at Everyday Feminism to make us realise just how tyrannical and oppressive the act of hugging really is:

We as a culture simply need to stop drilling into our own heads that there are only a select few ways to show love for another human being.

Families don’t need hugs in order to count as families, friendships don’t need high fives to pledge loyalty, and romantic relationships don’t need sex to be considered serious.

Are these things nice to give and receive? Sure. But only if both parties actually want them.

Such things only hold so much affection weight because we’ve given them that weight ourselves.

To someone who doesn’t want it, an affectionate action is rendered meaningless at best and damaging at worst.

Forcing hugging on a child tells them that 1) they’re expected to show affection toward this person, and 2) that this is exactly how they must show that affection.

Instead of being a hug tyrant, allow your child to be creative in how they show affection. Let them draw a picture or share a piece of their favorite food or read to you from their library book.

Those gestures count just as much as a hug. And your child needs to be validated in that fact.

In other news, parents should avoid unintentionally oppressing their children by bending over backwards to indulge an excuse their every passing whim and misbehaviour:

Don’t force them to eat everything on their plate, and remember that them needing to go to the bathroom as you leave the house, or saying they’re not cold and don’t need a jacket, are all examples of kids listening to their bodies.

That might be frustrating as a parent, but we should still do our best to respect that.

Yet parents should also take time to scare their children witless by discussing the “terrible things in the world” with them at every opportunity, even when they are patently too young to understand:

War, slavery, and corruption are all topics of conversation I’ve discussed with my five-year-old. Why? Because it is contextually important and sadly still relevant to our day-to-day life.

We watched the Disney/Pixar DVD with Frozen Fever on it, and the first short film up was John Henry. As a story about an African American folk hero, it got us started on talking about slavery.

We don’t idly consume media in our house.

If the book, movie or song is about a concept, person, or event that my daughter doesn’t understand yet, then we unpack it. Which can be a brutal process.

Trying to explain the concept of slavery to a five-year-old is no easy task. However, it needed to be done so that she could understand the context of the film (and the world she lives in). 

I’m all for encouraging curiosity and a desire for knowledge in children, as well as a sense of justice and the instinct to consider the needs of people who are less fortunate. I’m pretty sure that this just used to be called “good parenting”, and didn’t require an army of online social justice activists churning out earnest articles to encourage.

But if these educational top-ups for a five-year-old child can be described as a “brutal process” then it is safe to say that you are probably going too far. It should be possible to watch Aladdin with your kid without first making them sit through a 30-minute lecture on classism and forced marriages.

And seriously: so now hugs are tyrannical?

On this current trajectory I give Western civilisation another twenty-five, thirty years, tops.

 

Postscript: For a more scholarly critique of hugging, see The Oatmeal.

 

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How To Use Social Justice And Identity Politics To Ruin Your Unborn Child

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No, your child’s life does not depend on you teaching them to be an insufferable social justice activist or an artificially frail victim-in-waiting

Imagine being married to the kind of spouse who writes an open letter to her husband and publishes it in Everyday Feminism, insisting that she take the lead in all parenting decisions as you raise a mixed race child together because she is black while you are white.

Imagine being publicly instructed that it is your solemn duty to raise a social justice warrior child, the newest member of the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics, whether they want to follow down that dismal path or not.

Well, the poor husband of Adiba Nelson doesn’t have to imagine, for he is living the nightmare. For a start, Nelson addresses him as though she were an android, which cannot be pleasant (unless he happens to be one, too):

Husband, for the last few years, we’ve been very firm in our decision to not have a child of our own.

You have two sons from your previous marriage, I have my daughter, and that has seemed like plenty. I’ve been so firm in this decision that I’ve gone as far as telling friends that they’re wise to only have one, or none at all.

Then about two months ago, we had a change of heart, and lo and behold, we’re taking steps to prepare for pregnancy.

And so the scene is set.

However, there is no blood test you can take or vaginal swab I can provide that can prepare you, White husband, to raise our Black child.

Yes, our Black child. Because even though our child will technically be biracial, having a biracial child who is half Black means you have a black child (by social, legal, and sometimes medical standards), and that comes with a whole new set of rules.

While your oldest White child may be targeted for his mental illness, statistically speaking, our Black daughter is 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police. So yes, there are some things you need to know before we embark on this journey.

Because in the words of Aladdin, you are about to enter a whole new world.

A whole new world, yes. A whole new world of pained continual racial awareness at all times and a laser-like focus on what divides rather than unites us; a whole new world of corrosive victimhood culture, combined with an infantilising trend among adults to affirm one another (and their children) well in excess of their merits, setting them up for future failure.

And then comes the agenda:

1. We’re Raising a Social Justice Activist

Today, more than ever in our lifetime, this is crucial. Not just to the world that our child will grow up in, but also, to our child’s survival.

The world at large will see our child as Black when it comes to crime, academia, housing, and everything else, but it will question their loyalty to their Jewish heritage when they stand up for the rights of people that look like me.

It’s crucial that we remind our child that one identity and experience does not negate the other, but that as a Black individual living in this country, it’s our collective responsibility to ensure that everyone is entitled to (and receives) fair and just treatment.

By that same token, we also need to teach them how to leverage their access to Whiteness and all of the privileges that come with it to help achieve this goal.

We need to gird them with the confidence, wherewithal, and history of both our heritages so that they can not only speak out against all the -isms with knowledge, but also with empathy.

It’s critical to our child that they understand that while they are in fact, Jewish, Puerto Rican, Panamanian, and African American, the beautiful bouncy curls and caramel colored skin that earned them oohs and aahs as children can also earn them an all expenses paid trip to Rikers Island, or worse, the morgue.

We are raising a social justice activist. Their life depends on it.

Their life really does not depend on becoming a Social Justice Warrior; this cannot be emphasised enough. Using this kind of overwrought language may help to imbue the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics with a nobility that it would otherwise lack, but it does not make the statement true. In fact, while nobody should discourage political activism, it is probably true that becoming a social justice activist and involving oneself in various conflicts with an often militarised police force actually increases rather than lowers mortal risk.

More:

2. I Need You to Follow My Parenting Lead in Public

Black people are exonerated at an exponentially higher rate than other races (four times more than Latinx folks and 1.2 times more than White folks), which means that our child is more likely to be arrested, tried, and convicted for something they didn’t do – simply because of the color of their skin and the kink in their hair.

So if we’re out and about and I scold our child for touching things, or I preface every outing with “when we go in the store, you stay right by my side, and you don’t touch anything,” it’s not me being mean.

It’s me educating our child (as subtly as possible) in the ways of the world, so that we aren’t one day paying for court appeal after court appeal.

Adiba Nelson might call it “educating our child in the ways of the world”. Others might view it as constricting their curiosity and imbuing them with a paranoia and vulnerability which they ought never to possess, certainly not at such a formative age.

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3. If We Have a Daughter, Fill Up Her Cup of Self-Worth on the Daily

Yes, to the point of obnoxiously overflowing. I really mean that. Obnoxiously. Overflowing.

As Black women, our styles, beauty regimen, body shape, and facial features have historically been mocked, shunned, and in the case of Sarah Baartman, even put on display in a traveling circus.

When we’ve been nothing but ourselves, we’ve been told it is not good enough, not pretty enough, not right enough – simply not enough.

However, when these same looks, regimens, and shapes are worn, relished and co-opted by other races, it becomes socially acceptable, the hot new fad, and all the rage. But you know this. This is nothing new to you. What you may not know is how to counter this.

Well, I’ll tell you.

To proactively counter this, from minute one of her girlhood, she needs to hear the words “hello beautiful girl,” and every day from that day forward (unless she tells us otherwise).

From the moment we teach her her first anything – rolling over, holding her head up, tracking with her eyes – she needs to be told how fiercely intelligent and unstoppable she is.

Because what could go wrong with filling a child with so much unearned positive affirmation that entering adulthood (or, god forbid, the corporate workplace) is set up to become a traumatic event due to lack of continual praise?

What if Adiba Nelson’s daughter isn’t “fiercely intelligent and unstoppable”? That is not to speculate that she will be ugly and dim (though both are a possibility). But she may be dreamy and artistic, have street smarts rather than book smarts or be known for her empathy and sensitivity rather than as an indefatigable warrior queen. All parents probably project something of themselves onto their young or unborn children, but Nelson seems to have predetermined that her child must become SJW 2.0 or else consider her life a failure.

And what’s all this about the husband having to defer to the wife when it comes to parenting techniques? As the social justice warriors would say: Um, doesn’t that, like, totally reinforce existing harmful gender role stereotypes?

Nelson then leaves her husband with this motivating pep talk:

Husband, being the father of a Black child will not be easy, because by nature (and history), it forces us to confront the fact that the world we thought we knew is not the world we know at all.

There will be times you will feel a rage you didn’t know existed because of someone’s “innocent” microaggression towards our child. However, those moments will be countered with earth-shattering bliss as you watch our child break through every ceiling with ease.

And when those moments come, I’ll turn to you, give you some dap and whisper in your ear, “Congratulations, husband. We did that.”

But today, as we prepare ourselves to bring a beautiful Black child into this world, I only have one thing to say to you.

You got this.

How incredibly condescending. How arrogant, to assume that a fully grown man and existing parent of two children (not to mention somebody Nelson presumably loves and respects enough to have willingly married) requires public guidance and cajoling in the art of raising their new daughter, simply because she will emerge into the world with slightly darker skin than his own.

What chance does this child stand if it isn’t merely exposed to infantilising victimhood culture through the education system but is marinated in that culture from birth at home? How much harm stands to be done to this child as she is raised to view the world entirely through the intersectional prisms (or should that be prisons?) of race and gender theory?

Thank heavens that I didn’t have to put up with any of this nonsense growing up as a biracial child myself. Thanks heavens that I was raised to relate to people as fellow humans rather than members of separately siloed racial identity groups, and not to see colour (I know, I know, how triggering to hear such a thought expressed today).

I fear for the child that Adiba Nelson and “husband” are about to raise together. But then I remember that children do love to rebel against the faith and values of their parents, and that gives me hope. May Adiba Jr. grow up to be a huge ideological frustration to her mother and a thorn in the side of the social justice and identity politics movement.

 

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Ann Widdecombe Is Right To Encourage Rebellion Against Political Correctness

18-year-old Sam would be horrified to hear 33-year-old Sam admit it*, but Ann Widdecombe is actually right more often than she is wrong – and never more right than when she recently gave an interview to BBC Parliament and veered onto the topic of political correctness.

(* As a 19-year-old lefty student at Cambridge, full of self-righteous assurance and moral superiority, I once accosted Ann Widdecombe in the bar of the Cambridge Union after the annual “This House Has No Confidence In Her Majesty’s Government” debate and no doubt made a complete idiot of myself in the process, though for some time afterwards it pleased me to brag about having supposedly confounded Widdecombe with my impeccable logic and well-rehearsed diatribe against the Evil Tor-ees.)

The BBC reports:

Political correctness is “silencing a great body of thought”, the 69-year old says, to the point where she wonders if we can still claim to live in a free society.

She worries that almost everyone is under pressure to keep their views to themselves, not just those with strongly-held political or ethical convictions

“You actually get bright, intelligent people that could hold their own anyway, saying to you: ‘Well, of course you can’t say that these days’. And I think: ‘Yes you can’.

“This is not the Soviet Union. You should not be constrained by state orthodoxy.

“You should be able to say what you individually think and if it is unpopular, you should stand your ground.”

And continues:

In such a climate, she says it is doubly important that politicians speak out.

“The only people who don’t have to (keep quiet) are the parliamentarians. We can say what we like. We can be against gay marriage, we can be against abortion, we can want to limit immigration – we can say what we like.

“The ordinary citizen is much less blessed these days. I’ve always said if you hold a view what is the point of holding it if you don’t stick by it.”

Widdecombe is absolutely right to emphasise the special responsibility which falls upon those with unpopular or minority views to actually air their beliefs so that unpopular ideas can be tested and either be found wanting and discarded or be acclaimed and more widely adopted based on their merits.

I have just come back from a friend’s Christmas party in a very fashionable part of London, a lovely evening, but one in which I was (for the second time this month) presented with the situation in which a fellow party-goer and friend-of-a-friend casually disparaged Brexit and Brexiteers to my face, automatically assuming that I would agree with their stance.

As happened last time, a virtual decision tree flickered to life in my mind. Do I do what the political blogger and ardent Brexiteer in me wants most, and dramatically out myself as a Leave voter before going on to deliver some barbed and witty put-downs of smug London-dwelling Remainers? If I do so, will it escalate into an argument which might be embarrassing for the hosts? Will it embarrass my wife? Is there a genuine opportunity to change minds, or is this just an opportunity to invite social ostracisation with no realistic potential upside?

On different days and in different scenarios and moods, I opt to go down different branches of the decision tree. On this occasion, knowing my audience, I deemed that there was no realistic opportunity to change minds or even plant the seeds of doubt, and so I changed the subject and ended up having a very pleasant conversation with the chap about other matters.

It is important to note that this friend-of-a-friend is a good guy in every respect – he is just lost to reason on one particular, highly important topic. And while I may not have been afforded the same courtesy had the situation been reversed, I think it is important for Brexiteers to hold themselves to higher standards of behaviour than some Remainers seem to be displaying in their sneering contempt of those who dared to vote their principles rather than their wallets.

On other occasions, I have taken the opposite approach and confronted idiotic EU-worship and criticism of Brexit with the immediate revelation that I am a eurosceptic Brexiteer and that anybody intending to insult Brexiteers in my presence had better be packing something more powerful than smug, idiotic, failed talking points from Stronger In. The last time I took this approach, a couple of weeks ago, the person concerned physically moved her seat a couple of inches further away from me, and frosty silence reigned throughout dinner.

Aside from casual interactions with friends (who no doubt feel duty-bound not to dismiss me out of hand because of our shared history) I have had zero success talking to Remainers in social settings with any degree of success, regardless of the approach I choose. But I am increasingly coming to the opinion that on this subject, as Ann Widdecombe says, “you should be able to say what you individually think and if it is unpopular, you should stand your ground”.

Of course there will always be times when getting into a heated political debate at somebody’s wedding reception is not the right course of action. But having now witnessed how a fairly representative sample of professional young Londoners feel about Brexit and Brexiteers, I think that these people urgently need to hear dissenting voices – if not to change their minds (for such a feat seems impossible) then at least to make the point that there are intelligent young professional Londoners out there who do support Brexit and whose political philosophy consists of something more than vacuous, superficial internationalism and a readiness to believe pro-EU propaganda and apologetics.

And whether the subject is Brexit or any of the issues falling under the suffocating blanket of social justice and identity politics, now is not the time for Brexiteers, conservatives, free speech supporters or other modern day heretics to stay hidden in the closet. Not with so much at stake.

Some of the most illiberal movements in society right now – the establishment’s rearguard fight against Brexit, the trampling of free speech under the jackboots of the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics – are fuelled by ignorance of and antipathy toward those who dissent from the leftist orthodoxy. Those dissenters such as myself, living deep behind enemy lines in places like central London, almost have a duty to show that Brexiteers, anti-SJWs and other latter-day thought criminals are more than the two-dimensional caricatures painted by screeching left-wing propaganda outlets like the Guardian and Independent.

95 percent of the time, this may be a lost cause. But once in awhile it may lead to a conversation, and even to a changed mind. Was swallowing my tongue and changing the subject in the face of lazy Brexit criticism the right decision this evening, given that the payoff for me was an hour of pleasant small talk and the knowledge that I helped perpetuate ignorance on such an important subject? Probably not.

Next time I am confronted with the Brexit/Social Justice-in-a-social-situation decision tree, I shall hold my ground unapologetically. Henceforth, the price of airily expressing half-baked political opinions in my presence, in the arrogant expectation that everyone present will concur, will be a thundering response from me which might make even Ann Widdecombe proud. Not only when I am feeling particularly up for a debate, but every single time, even when I would rather have a quiet, conflict-free evening.

That much is the least that I can do – that we all should be doing – for the causes in which we believe.

 

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