When I was a Leftist, I thought I was compassionate. I thought I genuinely cared about others. But while I patted myself on the back for having so much empathy, I also lashed out at those who disagreed with me. I argued even when I made no sense. I argued even when I had no idea what I was talking about. I yelled and wondered how anyone could have a different perspective from my own. I viewed people as bigoted, racist, and homophobic just for expressing another viewpoint no matter how calmly and rationally they did so.
And now, I am on the receiving end of that self-proclaimed “compassion”. I am the Conservative who is shouted down and told I am a bigot for simply expressing factual statements like “men can’t get pregnant”, and “transwomen aren’t the same as women”. I will admit, it can be jarring at times. It’s been three years since I divorced myself from the political Left and people have only gotten more unhinged and volatile. Gender ideologists proclaim me to be a “hateful bigot who doesn’t want trans people to exist” just for stating that children shouldn’t be allowed to medically transition. And no matter how many times I clarify and say “Adults are free to do as they please, but we need to let kids just grow up and figure out who they are,” I am met with an onslaught of “YOU JUST HATE TRANS PEOPLE, YOU BIGOT.”
I’ve been going through my memories, trying to place myself back into my leftist shoes and it can be difficult at times. I think completely differently now. I try to be less reactive (which admittedly is something I’ve been working on for a number of years, old habits die hard, after all). I try to take the time to understand what someone is saying and avoid assuming their position. But I am constantly met with people who are much more volatile.
There are certain moments that stick out to me in the corners of my memory: being outraged someone dare suggest transgenderism is a mental health condition (which it is), being appalled someone said that a baker didn’t have to make a wedding cake for a gay couple (which he doesn’t), and just being perpetually offended by any off-colored joke at the expense of women (which now I tend to just laugh at).
It is strange to remember the person I used to be. It feels like it’s been much longer than three years since I departed from my former cult members and even longer still since I was completely entrenched. Being met with the hatred I used to spout is a surreal experience in many ways. On one hand, I sit and think “wow, this person is completely unhinged. How are they so far from reality?” And then I remember, oh yea…this would be me had I not deviated away from the groupthink.
I try so hard to approach online interactions genuinely. I refuse to sink down to name-calling, I disengage when I feel like a conversation isn’t productive, and I try to share my ideas as respectfully as possible. I am still called hateful, bigoted, transphobic, and homophobic. Someone recently told me “It is a fact you hate trans people to the bottom of your heart.” I believe people subscribing to the many ideologies amongst the left (gender ideology, feminist ideology, etc) want those who disagree with them to be full of hate so they can feel justified in hating them.
I used to think Conservatives were bigots. I used to hear people say “I disagree with the gay lifestyle but, not my life so whatever” and think to myself wow, they are homophobic. But, disagreement doesn’t mean hatred. Disapproval doesn’t mean hatred. Thinking that something may be morally wrong doesn’t mean you hate anyone partaking in a given lifestyle. And that’s the crux of the problem: those entrenched in the many cults of the left cannot understand the line between disagreement and hatred.
They openly hate anyone who disagrees with them without realizing their opposition doesn’t necessarily hate them. And the hatred is intense. It is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The vitriol that people will spew at me for simply acknowledging biological reality is unparalleled. People will hate message me multiple times a day to tell me what a horrible person I am. They will comment on all my videos calling me a liar, saying I hate women (which is odd, being a woman myself), and even going so far as to comment on my posts telling me to check my DMs where they have me been spamming me with the vilest things they can think of. I’m told I’m a rape apologist, a shill, a grifter, that I deserve to feel nothing but pain, that I am a waste of life and should just end myself.
And I’ve read these types of messages and comments for months now, deeply thinking about the types of people who do this. They have to be absolutely miserable.
These are the same types of people who probably pride themselves on how accepting, inclusive, and compassionate they are while sending me and, I’m sure, many others these types of sentiments. They have no care in the world how the recipient is doing mentally or if these types of statements might affect their mental health in negative ways. I look at them and tend to roll my eyes, recognizing how disconnected these people are from the real world, just internet trolls after all.
But, I do worry about other people who might not be in a great place. Who may feel isolated and alone? Who may be vulnerable and more sensitive than I am? Are they able to just take it? Are they able to just exit the screen and carry on with their lives?
How can one sit and scream online about how much trans people, gay people, women, people of color, etc, are harassed and treated poorly, yet turn around and send these messages filled with the meanest and cruelest things they can think of simply because of disagreement? You are doing the same thing you claim to fight against. You are just as hateful as the people who you want to rally against. You are just as bad as the evil figures your mind has created when conversing with people online.
Fighting fire with fire isn’t productive in my opinion. And the Left used to agree with that. They used to promote the idea that we need to spread love and acceptance. Promoted tolerance and inclusion. But now, people are so filled with hatred for anyone with an opposing viewpoint.
There is only tolerance if you agree. There is only acceptance if you are one of them. There is only room for love if you go along with the herd.
I think it’s easy to fall into a tribal mentality no matter where your political views lie. However, I believe it is vital not to stoop to their level. Be bold and say what you mean, but don’t lose your humanity in the process.
That was well written. It's really sad that so many people can't see that they are just as guilty of hatred (perhaps more so) as the people the are fighting against
This is a great essay Ashley! Thank you for your calm considered and rational voice!