A Deceptive Rationalism

The simplest way of expressing one’s feelings is to directly state them. If you are mad, you might say, “I’m mad,” for example. If only that were how things were said, the world would be a place much easier to understand than its actual state. But for numerous reasons, among which is we may not always take plain emotions seriously, stating emotion is forced to uncomfortably justify and stretch itself. Amid mainstream conspiracy theories, this stretching is glaringly evident, if it is to believed they are complex-nothings of expressing anger. They reveal a terrible habit of indirectness, ironically often stemming from the anti-PC community. They amplify silent frustrations by spewing ridiculous logic, but in the process, leave this toxic thinking in their audiences and so also amplify poor logic. It is frustrating and debilitating to logical debate; but while this indirectness is itself an issue, it is partly the blame of the receiver to dismiss direct feelings to encourage such indirect persuasion.

Pertinent to at least one aspect of the current political climate, it seems the general attraction to intellectual arguments and aversion from unintellectual ones is putting bad debaters in an uneasy place. These bad debaters, somewhat rightly, assume the world will not listen to them if all that is spewed is emotion, especially un-politically correct emotion. Even now, after the election, a racist cannot openly say “I dislike black people” and be taken seriously. Because most of the country refuses to take them seriously, they are forced into a hole from which they are forced to use indirectness to make their point. With indirectness, they must try to sustain an intellectually plausible argument, and not in any place reveal their core beliefs. It is usually nothing specific that is superficially argued for, but rather anything, which if championed, may indirectly help their case. For example, as minorities tend to be less likely to possess photo IDs, a racist may push for those laws, arguing we cannot allow voter fraud. The true test of finding such an indirect person is to disprove their argument and see if their mind changes. If you were to find that even without photo IDs, the proportion of voter fraud was marginal at best, or even nonexistent, and a photo ID proponent were unwilling to change his argument, it would be clear then that the argument to prevent fraud was only an intellectual veil over some deeper feeling.

The intellectual veil must be recognized to be an inadequate target for attack, because there is no limit to its thickness or width. It may be annoying at this point to showcase the obviously unsubstantiated case of Pizzagate, which alleged Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, among other democrats, of hosting a child sex ring in the basement (which is nonexistent, by the way) of a Pizzeria. But this example is necessary to see how far intellectual arguments, or at least arguments attempting to be intellectual, can be hidden behind. After an armed man walked into the shop only to find no captive children, just under half of Trump voters, and a fifth(!) of Clinton supporters still believed in Pizzagate, according to an Economist/YouGov poll. There is an infinite amount of space to remain skeptical, to believe there are just “too many coincidences” tying Clinton’s circle to child molestation, if only one chooses to. The desire to continue to choose, despite no actual evidence, stems from indirect feelings loosely associated to the argument; in the case of Pizzagate, paramount was likely dislike for Clinton. The target must be these indirect feelings, the origin of these intellectual diversions. Persuading conspiracy theorists to like Clinton would likely be much more effective at deflating Pizzagate than proving the basement it claims to have child hostages does not exist.

With realizing the extraordinary amount of effort required to defeat arguments which may not even be taken seriously by their arguers, it may seem indirect people are simply obnoxious. But we tie ourselves into having such a ridiculous number of people hiding behind purportedly rational arguments by refusing to take irrational arguments seriously. If only we would accept an “I’m mad” as it were, and not dismiss it in favor of something beyond feelings, we would be able to address issues at their core, and indirect people would not be forced to be so indirect. And the accepting of these feelings needs to go beyond what we prefer to hear. We need to also hear what we don’t enjoy: the I-hate-yous and the me-firsts. If not, we continue to entrench ourselves in an infinite loop of debate, because we are unable to argue what is truly desired to be argued, and so defeating one indirect argument only leads to some other form of it. On the other end, those being indirect will continue to feel oppressed by politically correct standards, finding new ways to indirectly rebel.

It may be uncomfortable, but the racists, xenophobes, and otherwise prejudiced people of the world deserve a voice too. We should hope to extract their true, unrevised feelings, and hope to convince from there—making the case of why they wouldn’t like different groups, after all, if only they had met enough of them. If not, we will never fix many social issues, except those existing in areas of people already like-minded. It must be acknowledged political correctness is indeed a problem. And, to a deeper extent, our tendency for rational arguments is a problem. Any argued form of logic is stemmed from emotion, no matter how distanced it may seem, and there is where seriousness should be lent—not on the basis of one having reason, but simply on the basis of one’s humanity.