Has anyone ever been called a snowflake, lol? I came across this summary of what liberalism is all about and thought I’d share it. There are five criticisms embedded in the quote below that relate to paternalism, meritocracy, callout culture, victimhood, and microaggressions. Oh, we cannot forget how fragile we are too. I think there is a reality to these criticisms albeit distorted a bit.
They have become accustomed to the paternalistic attitude that they must be shielded from all adversity and disappointment—a world where everyone gets a trophy and where university campuses train students to be victims rather than self-reliant, constantly on the lookout for “trigger words” and “microaggressions” that could damage their psychic serenity. We do truly have a generation of snowflakes now. [Sean Hannity]
Do not expect a detailed analysis of anything from Sean Hannity since he has to appeal to his tribe with a specific dialogue in mind. This dialogue must be easy to digest; otherwise, he would alienate his audience. He has to use keywords that elicit emotion in order to validate what conservatives stand for and are against. So when the reader sees “victim” they feel a sense of contempt for the liberal which reinforces that they are against wimps who blame their problems on others. But this misrepresents and conflates the concept of what it is to be a victim. There is a difference between being a legitimate victim of subordination and victimhood. Victimhood is a mentality where we most likely were victims at one point of unfair treatment, but we never seemed to get over it.
Marginalized groups, such as those relating to sexuality, identity, ethnicity, and those deemed as inadequate and undesirable, are at an increased risk of being bullied and rejected (v). When people are ridiculed and disparaged, then this affects the quality of their lives. In fact, those that are bullied and rejected are at risk for mood disorders, depression, and anxiety. This hostility and contempt can come from subtle insults to blatant hate speeches, which are acts of microaggression and aggression. To encourage civil relations, political correctness attempts to shield the marginalized from bigoted speech. Hannity mocks microaggressions by portraying them in an absurd way. But in the process, he undermines the marginalized groups’ efforts in seeking emotional refuge.
Hannity further mentions that we are taught to be victims rather than self-reliant (i). There is some truth to this because college campuses teach us to look for microaggressions, which are words or actions meant to inflict emotional harm on marginalized persons (iv). When we are looking for malintent, then we will be assuming the worst and priming ourselves to react. When primed for the worst, we may misinterpret the party’s intentions or meaning of the slight. When we get defensive, then that means we are threatened. The other party wins. If we can handle the slight with composure, then it will reduce their defenses and prevent conflict. In fact, the message will more likely be received than discarded. It then becomes a choice if we want to come back with a vicious defense or handle it in a constructive way by asserting with dignity and respect that we do not appreciate undermining comments.
I have justified bullies bullying the bullies. Although I did not endorse a militant style of politics, I came close to it. There are a few approaches to identity politics, which is when a class of people with shared characteristics mobilize in order to increase their status. We can appeal to our shared humanity as Martin Luther King Jr. did in his speeches which unites us, or we can appeal to our tribal instincts by demonizing a shared enemy, which is divisive. I do not claim to know which approach is more effective, but I do have some thoughts on callout culture, which conforms to the latter. If we are going to attack people for them failing to uphold our beliefs, then we better have evidence of a consistent pattern. Because we often can misinterpret their intentions and meaning (ii).
The only basis Hannity has for being against paternalism is that somehow our liberties are impeded when we have the state or institutions protecting us. I have always said to libertarians with their obsession with coercion and freedom that sometimes we have to give up something to get something. Putting aside the loss of freedom when mandates are implemented, a better question is how effective is it when colleges enforce certain social norms with an intent to protect their members? How effective are political correctness and callout culture in obtaining their goals of reducing emotional abuse? I just got done reading Jonathan Hadit’s book titled “The Coddling of the American Mind”, which I’m in about 50% agreement with him which I will critique in the next post.
Meritocracy is when we reward people based on their abilities. Again, Hannity is mocking the belief in economic equality when he says that “everyone gets a trophy”, which is absurd. Meritocracy is essential to our economic system because of the concept of incentives, which drives us to compete. We are claiming that there needs to be a reasonable safety net for those that cannot keep up with the rest of us. We have good reasons to believe that an equalizing force is essential. I have already written about how meritocracy leads to social hierarchies that, although inevitable in a capitalistic society, have consequences for our health and happiness. In fact, those that make $40,000 per year have a risk of death three times that of those that make $140,000 per year (iii).
i) It may not make sense to contrast self-reliance to that of victimhood. I think what Hannity is trying to say is that instead of forging ahead after an insult or criticism and taking responsibility for our end of a social interaction gone bad, we instead focus on the harm done to us. We are not using our own emotional resources, such as our confidence that we are still worthy regardless of the slight. There is a concept known as “internal locus” which is about believing we are the sources of change and influence versus others. Having an internal locus view has been shown to decrease feelings of victimization. Although people do influence our successes and failures, it may be a better strategy to focus on what we can change. Despite this, the marginalizing of certain groups is a very real phenomenon. I do not think Hannity is denying that marginalization exists but rather is saying focus on what we can change.
ii) A good example is when I argued that responsibilities to one another in a relationship often strive to be 50-50, which is a good thing, but it is best if we do not keep tabs on who did what. The problem with becoming an “accountant” is that things will often not be 50-50 because we are not consistent in our efforts. If we are keeping tabs, then we can become disappointed and resentful. Relationship experts believe that it is best to hold the belief that our partner is doing the best they can to meet their obligations.
Having stated this on a post, I was then attacked and shamed, which is what “callout culture” does, for being sexist because I was implying that one sex may have to do more work than the other. But that was not my intention nor the meaning of my argument. Although I quickly learned the rules of posting, this made me feel resentment, and it certainly did not unite me in our shared vision.
iii). See the study here and the explanation here.
iv) College campuses do not seem to distinguish between intentional microaggressions and unintentional. It has to do with how the target feels. I should be saying “perceived” slight because sometimes people will not mean it as an insult. Most insults are criticisms because they find fault, but they are done with an intent to inflict harm. That which is offensive is another route for being triggered. When I hear someone make a misogynist comment, it is a disturbing feeling that I get. So, first, we get offended when we hear strongly held beliefs that are contrary to our own. I used to get very offended when people would talk about their belief in God.
Second, we can get angry when the beliefs of others threaten our own beliefs. When I hear something that goes against my background knowledge, I find that I can get angry and irritated. Perhaps this has to do with cognitive dissonance. Lastly, if our beliefs ground our identity, then we should be very threatened. For example, Christians have a lot at stake if their beliefs turn out to be false. But that is not all because we oftentimes transfer our anger and hate to the person that holds differing beliefs.
The usual idea with paternalism is too much prevents real growth. People shielded from any challenge or any failure never learn to deal with adversity or to deal with reality. In some cases it’s true but when conservatives raise the issue it’s often because they want their ability to inflict extra adversity on certain people to go unhindered.
Conservatives are also very selective with paternalism. They typically fine with family and corporate power but the government stepping in to protect people is risky.
Yes, it means that too. That’s a good point because overprotection can prevent youth to learn how to face adversity when they go out in the world. Here I was talking about how power by mandating policies that are supposedly in our best interest, such as the practice of microaggression awareness, is interpreted as reducing our freedom and liberties. It is like parents telling their kids what to do because it is in their best interest despite them not liking the intrusion.
REBECCA WIESS says
On 50-50 relationships, I read a study many years ago on stability of marriages after the husband is injured (my brother-in-law had just been blinded and brain damaged in mid-life, I worried about his marriage). It categorized couples into two groups, with two subgroups each. The two groups were traditional male-led marriages, and equality based marriages. For traditional marriage, the two subgroups were 1) wife decorates the marriage, and 2) wife does whatever helps husband. For equality marriages, the two groups were 3) each must carry 50% of everything, and 4) both do whatever is necessary to get everything done. Categories 1 and 3 both led to divorce. In 1 husband can no longer provide the $ for her to be decorative, and in 3 he can no longer hold up his half. In 2 and 4 the marriage endures. In 2 the wife comes into her own, because that’s what injured husband needs, and this was the case with my relatives. In 4 they figure out together how to get it done. While my relative was in a rehab hospital, they were quick to warn us the marriage wouldn’t last. I was gratified to find out this was not necessarily true, and it gave me an expanded way to look at the partnership of couples.
That is an interesting study. Just to be clear, I was saying that we should strive to be as fair as possible, but life is messy and we are often inconsistent. I recall in my own marriage that I would feel resentment as soon as I felt like I was doing more. It created a lot of unnecessary tension and arguments. But once I stopped keeping tabs but believed that it will even out in the long run, then those feelings subsided. Thanks for the comment.