Meet the Nazis Halfway? No

Thursday, 19th November 2020

Rebecca Solnit, as usual, talks sense. Our ability to have a public conversation about anything significant is so corrupted and compromised at this point that it’s hard to see how to move forward. But supposing that there’s some midway point between those who want education, health care and opportunity for all and those who just want it for some, is folly.

The problem is a more visceral one, I think, than the positions that people hold. Those on the right hate those on the left with a white-hot passion. That’s demonstrated at every turn. They will argue that that’s because they were first hated, in every public venue, and mocked and belittled by the establishment left. None of this is about positions or arguments or understanding. It’s about being in a group where one feels safe, and collectively opposing groups where one feels threatened.

But this isn’t a “both sides are the same” thing. The fact remains that the left and, yes, also the moderate middle, wants to make life better for everyone. The right wants to make life better for itself at the expense of those who are seen as the enemy and the cause of all the problems. The question on the left is, how do you get there? There are deep divisions on that.

The Trump right, though, basically agrees, because it agrees on who is hated and feared, and who is the cause of all problems. The fact that this analysis of the world is demonstrably wrong, and anti-American, and anti-Christian, and unworkable short of genocide (which is still unworkable, btw – it’s been tried many times, never ever works for those who think it will), doesn’t seem to matter.

So, Solnit is right about not making nice with the right. Her solution, telling better stories, connecting better with people, is a good start. Feels like too little, but where else can one start?

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