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Caring About Another Person Shouldn't Be Political
We shouldn't have to explain empathy to you
With the disgraceful rise of hateful rhetoric in every facet of both personal and political discourse, it begs the question, “What happened to empathy?”. For as long as we have ever been told, it’s a constant barrage of personal responsibility for how you treat your fellow human:
"Treat others how you want to be treated.”
“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
"Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Those are just the common ones; if you delve into the Christian bible verses, there are countless preachings about kindness to others, kindness to folks who have less, kindness to your neighbor, and kindness to those you don’t like.
Yet when presented with an opportunity to provide those kindnesses, that empathy for your fellow human, across the board from a rather vocal number of citizens, politicians, and especially the former president Donald Trump, that compassion for others is scorned.
The idea of helping others, of accepting others, is instead replaced with hate, violent, dangerous hatred. And so often from the very people who told us to be kind! To have empathy!
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Often, the standard trope is that if someone elderly says something racist or bigoted, you will hear a quick dismissive defense along the lines of “they are old.” “It was a different time!”. But that’s not an excuse; being old isn’t an excuse to be hateful, and we shouldn’t tolerate it. However, it’s not just the elderly; we see this disdain for fellow man across generations. Condemning the existence of entire people for the simple act of being born in the wrong place, like with the citizens of Gaza, wishing harm on members of the LGBTQIA+ community for not loving or acting the way you expect people to love or act, shaming or even trying to jail women for choosing an abortion, even wishing harm to your fellow Americans for not agreeing with your idea of governing.
The nuance of any given situation is lost on a population desperate for simple answers and clarity in an unclear world. These problems don’t have simple answers or simple solutions, and to close your mind to the nuance is to close your mind to basic humanity.
You can condemn an act of violence like the attacks on Israel and also condemn the correlating response. It doesn’t make you a bad person to want peace. It might make you naive to some, but it’s an idealistic goal, not a realized potential.
It’s okay not to understand the struggles of the average queer person. No one is asking you to step into the shoes of someone who experiences gender dysphoria. No one is telling you that in order to accept gay marriage, you, too, have to become gay. All anyone asks is that you support them by letting them live, allowing them the freedom to exist, accepting them for who they are, and leaving them alone. If your personal beliefs are inherent or religious, they do not permit you to determine the lives of anyone but yourself. If your doctrine compels you to assert control over those outside of yourself, you are placing yourself above others, inferring that you yourself are that higher power; but you are not entitled to that throne. You are not the judge; you are not anything but yourself, and how you carry your life alone is how you are judged by your god or otherwise.
Despite what you may think or have been told, abortion isn’t something treated lightly by anyone who needs to consider it. You can break down the various reasons someone may want an abortion: victim of abuse, age, danger to the one giving birth, financial stability, etc. It doesn’t really matter because, at the end of the day, the decision is between you and your doctor. If you think it’s right for you, then it is right for you. Why should the government get any sort of say in what you do with or to your body? Mind you’re business.
How did we get here?
There are quite a few ways we have found ourselves in this predicament of dehumanized vitriol. One specific example is what has funneled our youth into this same hatred spiral.
The “alt-right pipeline” is a concept that encourages huge swaths of our community into right-wing radicalization, which allows them to no longer consider their fellow citizens as human. It’s easy to no longer care about others when you don’t consider them to be of any value in the first place.
“What is the alt-right pipeline?” I hear you cry. The alt-right pipeline predominantly targets white men harboring resentment towards the world, including those who initially identified as “involuntarily celibate,” coining the term “incel.” This demographic, most frequently associated with websites like 4Chan, is frequently exploited by the alt-right's deeply misogynistic narratives, which serve as a fundamental step toward radicalization. The prevalent interpretation is that the alt-right capitalizes on ingrained misogyny and sexual frustration, twisting male camaraderie into a destructive force.
However, this narrative does not universally apply to all forms of alt-right online radicalization. There are various examples of how the pipeline is able to radicalize people into destructive behavior or social outcasts. The more modern interpretation builds on the principles of the originally siphoned population of “Incels” and now targets any level of insecurity. Shifting the blame for social inadequacy onto women for not being “worthy” of their attention. Then further, not just women but all of society has enemies of this new brand of toxic masculinity. Men who are seen as too affectionate towards women are labeled “cucks” or “simps” because they may place their partners’ values above their own. Something this new breed of weirdos sees as unacceptable and incompatible with a perfect relationship.
In a society that often equates masculinity with dominance and power, vulnerable young men can be drawn to extremist ideologies that promise a sense of control and identity. These ideologies exploit grievances, real or perceived, channeling them into a vitriolic narrative that scapegoats minorities, with Jewish communities being a historical target. This toxic masculinity fuels a dangerous echo chamber where anti-Semitic tropes are repackaged and disseminated, painting Jewish people as the architects of men's disenfranchisement and hardship.
The radicalization of youth, particularly through online platforms, has served as a catalyst for the spread of such hateful ideologies. The internet has become a petri dish for radical thought, where impressionable minds are bombarded with revisionist histories and conspiracy theories that lay the groundwork for anti-Semitism. As social media algorithms create echo chambers, amplifying extreme content, young individuals find themselves in a funnel that progressively normalizes hate speech and anti-Semitic rhetoric. This normalization does not exist in a vacuum; it often manifests in the physical world as acts of violence and vandalism, demonstrating the tangible consequences of a virtual descent into hate. It is a stark reminder that the ideologies perpetuating toxic masculinity and the radicalization of the young can lead not only to the corrosion of individual values but also to the resurgence of some of the darkest elements of human prejudice.
We shouldn’t tolerate intolerance. Presenting someone else’s dangerous mentality as an equally valid perspective is not unbiased. Highlighting and giving these ideas room to grow and fester only continues the cycle of hatred and violence against vulnerable populations.