July 24th, 2024

Untitled:Hurling insults from the sidelines helps no one

By Medicine Hat News on August 15, 2017.

I accidentally interrupted a conversation a few months ago. One gentleman was remarking to another about the disadvantaged state of white people nowadays. His body language changed when I walked up, but he continued — now to both of us. “I’m white and a minority. No offence. That’s how I feel. I know other people may have a different view, but that’s my opinion.”

He was apologetic, defensive and defiant at the same time. I’m not sure he would’ve said these things had I been there from the start, but I’m glad he had a chance to say them. I felt sorry for him. Not because I agree with his comment, but because no one should feel defensive about sharing the views that they believe in — even if their views are not politically correct or offensive to some. The mistake so many of us make today is to immediately dismiss any view we don’t agree with. Worse we typically insult. I have been guilty of this too.

Immediately insulting or shaming people for their political views simply hardens people. You have to give people the room to talk, to learn, to change. Not every liberal stays a liberal. Not every conservative stays a conservative. Not every view held is held forever. I hear new arguments that persuade me to change my mind. People grow. People change. That’s the wonderful thing about humanity.

Earlier this year Tomi Lahren, an up-and-coming American conservative pundit, posted this image of herself on Twitter. Instead of using this as a moment to begin a conversation liberals instead began insulting her. Susan Hennessey, the editor of Lawfare and Brooking Fellow, dutifully played her part and tweeted, ‘I know Syrians with more courage in their pinky than you have demonstrated in your life.’ A clever retort to demonstrate Ms. Lahren’s insensitivity (while displaying her own) that her followers applauded.

No one bothered to take the content of Ms. Lahren’s tweet seriously. If any news outlet covered this, they covered the controversy as if covering some celebrity feud instead of an opportunity for a substantive discussion.

Syria is in the midst of a civil war. The war has caused the greatest refugee migration since the Second World War with almost 5 million people fleeing Syria. On the face of things Ms. Lahren’s statement isn’t unreasonable. If your countrymen and countrywomen are at war with each other shouldn’t you stay and fight for your homeland, for the side you believe is right?

Maybe, but there are some important factors to consider. When we think of a civil war we think of an internal war between two sides roughly equal in strength. But the Syrian war is different. Bashar al-Assad has full control of the state military including the air force. Imagine if Canadian soldiers from CFB Suffield decided to turn their might against Medicine Hat. Bringing their armoured carriers, their military grade weapons and trained soldiers against us. No matter how well organized our militias they would cut through us like butter. Now imagine that they also called in the F-18s from CFB Cold Lake to bomb us?

The only thing that can stop a modern state military is another state military. Military weapons have become too powerful. The West has resisted arming Bashar al-Assad’s opponents with weapons capable of stopping him wary of adding more weapons to the powderkeg of the Middle East and unsure of which rebel faction would replace Assad. That’s reasonable, but it also leaves all Syrians rebels (good and bad) to be slaughtered. Not to mention the civilians al-Assad has deliberately targeted. In addition Syria is being aided by Russian jets and missiles, who have used their missiles and bombs recklessly. It’s a miracle that any resistance has lasted this long.

Now is it reasonable for Syrians to stay and fight Assad in this war? Maybe, but just as easily you can make the case that to fight a man like Assad is, who will use the power of the state against his own people, is not reasonable.

However, to die for a lost cause is noble and courageous. But is it reasonable to ask your children to also die? To allow your children to be killed by Russian bombs, who give no target to fight back against? To allow al-Assad to forcibly conscript yourself and your sons for his army for this immoral war? Or should leave your homeland?

Democracy is a contest of ideas and depends on absolute free speech. But to immediately insult each other helps no one and makes no progress. Everyone should feel free to share their views, but both sides better be prepared to defend them with coherent arguments.

@KrisSamraj is a writer. He’s going to favour us with some words from time to time.

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