Sunday, September 19, 2021

Op-Ed: Rejecting the bloody shirt

| September 10, 2021 1:00 AM

What qualifications are required to discuss the issues of the day? How far must one go to prove a level of purity worthy of participation? How many of us have been called racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobe, hater or denier because we held to traditional values? How many times have we been pressured to censor ourselves in the face of some utopian movement, lest we face the wrath of being personally singled out and canceled as a detestable thought criminal?

No flesh-and-blood human being who ever lived can claim personal perfection. In thought, word and deed we are all tainted by our complex human nature. No one is pure, and anyone who argues that only those stamped with some kind of woke imprimatur should speak out is looking to short-circuit the debate.

If I elect to call the Wuhan Flu by the traditional convention of naming an ailment for its point of origin, must I inevitably be deemed a racist? Logically, no one can prove a negative, so how does one demonstrate that one is not a thought criminal? Today’s ideological inquisitors have mastered this conundrum. Their accusations are purely tools of intimidation.

Since my adolescent political awakening I have been met by perspicacious Puritans who have claimed my words reveal a profound flaw in my character. As my word choices diverged from their community guidelines for politically correct dialogue, they ostracized me as unfit for any role in polite society. They demonized my views as coming from a toxic individual. This way they did not have to meet my ideas fairly in the arena of debate, because they could label me as a flawed person unworthy of their attention.

Shunning is not a new tactic. For 50 years after the Civil War, Republicans tied every Democrat to the proverbial “Bloody Shirt” that symbolized its miseries. Democrats in the North and the South had defended slavery before the war. Southern Democrats led the Confederacy during the war, and established Jim Crow Laws afterward. Republicans won many elections by blaming every Democrat, past and present, for all of that suffering.

Using character assassination to win arguments was sloppy and lazy, then and now. Today’s “Bloody Shirt” is the accusation that anyone who disagrees with an orthodoxy of the Left is guilty of racism, sexism, homophobia, misogyny and apostasy from “The Science.”

Instead of merely trying to win arguments on the merits of their ideas, today’s Woke Social Justice Warriors now characterize all opposition as being rooted in the personal ignorance and malice of their individual opponents.

Reflexive character assassination must be rejected by well-intentioned people of all political outlooks. We are all Americans. We all benefit from our Constitution and each of us in our own way wants to help build a more perfect Union.

Our society is damaged by the hyperbolic and ad hominem charges that the other side is wicked and stupid. This is simply not true and it has shredded the fabric of our Republic.

You on the Left, who once championed free speech and dissent as the highest form of patriotism, must now reject this new McCarthyism within your own ranks. Have the courage of your past convictions! Argue the ideas, not the impurity of your opponents. Stop defaming those who dissent. Aspire to be worthy stewards of your past ideals.

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In Maine and then Idaho, Ralph K. Ginorio has taught the history of Western Civilization to high school students for nearly a quarter century. He is an “out-of-the-closet” Conservative educator with experience in special education, public schools and charter schools, grades six-12. He has lived in Coeur d’Alene since 2014. Email: