In your favorite place for online opinion you’re bound to find a thinkpiece about Civil War 2.0: we’ve become so divided as a nation that the only logical next step is civil war. When a sitting Congresswoman, aided and abetted by an advocacy news media, tells American citizens to harass members of the current administration wherever they find them in public, there’s nowhere else to go but war. When a teenage kid wearing a Trump hat is physically attacked for it by a violent ex-con, and the violence is excused by media figures who refer to the kid as a Nazi, what’s next but armed conflict? When you can get financially ruined and personally destroyed for expressing basic truths like men and women having innate skill sets, or that a country has a right to determine who’s allowed to enter it and who isn’t, or that a man who merely puts on a dress isn’t a biological woman no matter how often he claims to be, where else do you go but war? Civil war is imminent, the Civil War 2.0 doomsayers tell us.
The doomsayers are too late. Civil War 2.0 started decades ago, and the battlefield is our culture. What else is the Culture War but a struggle for the domination of one set of ideas over another? We are already in a state of civil war, and if you want the right side to win, you need to acknowledge that and behave accordingly. It’s only your right to live as a free person at stake.
Part of accepting that you’re in a war is determining who the enemy is. The enemy is not just anyone who disagrees with you, voted for the other candidate, or otherwise has a different ideological outlook. (Except for socialists and communists, who are immediate enemies.) Tolerance means accepting that other people have different opinions. It doesn’t mean that you have to take those opinions seriously, but you should make an attempt to understand that a political opponent isn’t necessarily an enemy. If you voted Clinton and I voted Trump, we can still be good friends. You can hate Trump like poison, and I don’t care. It’s okay if you like pineapple on pizza, think we should have more common sense gun laws, or believe in a woman’s right to choose to abort her baby. And it’s okay if I think you have disgusting tastes, are the kind of person who makes other men risk their lives to protect your family, and have extremely shaky morals. But we’re not enemies. Yet.
We become enemies when you call me a Nazi. Or a racist. Or a fascist. When you try to ruin my career over our difference of opinion. When you try to destroy my reputation because I think differently from you. When you deny me opportunity because of my sexuality, skin color, ethnicity, religion, gender, or political outlook. Even though I’m a straight white man. Not only that, but we become enemies when you provide cover for the people who do those things. We’re enemies because once you take that step, we no longer have anything in common. We don’t have shared ethics. We simply have opposing purposes: you want to destroy me and I don’t want to be destroyed. That’s a state of war.
The enemy includes advocacy journalists who operate under the false cover of objectivity, the majority of entertainment media figures, a number of educators, and probably some of your colleagues, relatives, and acquaintances. What you do with the enemy is fight them. You don’t hang out with them, enrich them, help them, or give them cover to attack you. Until this Civil War 2.0 becomes an actual shooting war, which is unlikely, the first way to fight them is to ghost them. You withdraw all contact.
It’s tough. I get it. But when J.J. Abrams calls everyone who didn’t like The Last Jedi sexists who are threatened by women, why are you giving this asshole your money? Don’t you have anything better to do with your cash and time? Why would you do business with a publisher that accepts manuscripts based on the ethnicity of the writers, not the quality of their writing? (Any publisher that advertises its preference for people of color, LGBTQIA to Z, etc. is telling you that if you don’t possess those qualities, your work isn’t welcome. That’s the essence of bigotry.) When someone tells you that you’re the enemy because of who you voted for, shouldn’t you take him seriously? That feeling you have that something’s wrong, that what the self-appointed elites call good is actually the opposite: you have to listen to that feeling. And, as difficult as it is, you have to act on it. You have to separate yourself from those people and what they do. Anything less is giving them tacit support, and they’ve had that for decades to our culture’s great cost. You need to decide what’s more important: Star Wars or your ethics. Unfortunately, you can’t have both. They’ve politicized everything. Made you the enemy. Your entertainment choices are now fodder for character assassination. Opt out.
It’s even harder on a more personal level. Are you still Facebook friends with the guy who posts Trump swastika memes? Why? He is calling you a Nazi. Once he’s dehumanized you to that point, there’s no more relationship to save. Your tolerance for that isn’t a virtue. That’s not just a difference of opinion.
It means you’ll be leaving that dinner party before the dessert course when the friend of a friend goes on about the “concentration camps” on our border with Mexico. Or you’re going to have to pull your kid out of the class (or even the school) with the teacher who insists on brooming “dead white males” from the curriculum in favor of “writers of color” with a “more authentic voice.” You can’t break bread with Social Justice Warriors, socialists, or communists. They’re the enemy and they’re already working to destroy you. Don’t help them by giving them your attention. Ghost them.
I don’t like this kind of voluntary segregation either, but the alternative, the status quo, is far worse.