My cheesy “Dear John” letter to Matt Walsh became a surprise hit on this blog, I guess because I managed to say what was on a lot of people’s minds. It’s not uncommon for halfway-decent writers like Walsh (I’ll stand by what I said: the guy makes me laugh) to achieve fame based entirely on their ability to stir up the rabble and tell them what they want to hear, and it’s hard not to regard that fame as essentially undeserved. After all, it’s easy to become popular by telling people they’re right and that the people who disagree with them are evil and stupid.
That’s not to say I think Walsh is being disingenuous in his writing; I think he genuinely believes that all progressives are evil. It’s a comforting thought, after all, to think you’re right and everyone else is stupid. Unfortunately, though, it’s not a thought that holds up against the evidence.
Though my own political views are hard to pin down, most people peg me as liberal-ish. (Keep in mind, though, that I live in Tulsa, where being anywhere to the left of Ayn Rand makes you a pinko commie. If I lived in New Hampshire, they’d probably tell me I was a Bible-thumping right-winger.) Even a cursory glance, though, will tell me there are conservatives who are better-read, better-educated, and maybe even better-intentioned than I am. So what am I to do with them?
In the first place, those people are a reminder of the need for humility. It doesn’t matter which positions I take on important issues; there will always be smarter people who disagree with me, and there’s always a good chance that I’m wrong.
More importantly, though, even if my political positions are “right,” there’s mounting evidence that I can’t even take credit for that in the first place. A number of studies have found that political views are determined mostly by genetics, meaning that it doesn’t even matter how well-read, well-informed, or morally enlightened you are; whether you’re a conservative or a liberal was pretty much decided for you before you were even born. If you and I disagree on some issue, it’s not because you’re evil or because I’m smart; it’s just that our genes are different.
Kinda takes the wind out of the polemicist’s sails, doesn’t it?
In other words, if you’ll allow me an overly complicated metaphor: we’re all looking at reality from different angles, but those angles are decided for us at conception, and we’re not allowed to change them very much at all.
Now I know the metaphor’s a little tortured, but if you and I each have a different view of reality, and neither of us is able to move around and look at it from a different angle, the logical thing for me to do would be to ask you what you see from your vantage point — at the very least, I might learn something. It would not make sense for me to tell you that what you see is stupid and/or evil. Even if your perspective is somehow less clear than mine, you never asked for it.
And that is the problem with polemics. If political views are determined by genetics, then there are new little liberals and new little conservatives being born every minute, and you’re never going to be able to shame, or annoy, or belittle the other side out of existence. And at the end of the day, we all have to live and work together.
What we can do, though, is admit that none of us know everything, and try to learn as much from each other as we can.
Other stuff that’s fun and educational:
Radio, Rats, B.F. Skinner (Pandora): a descent into madness
Toward a Progressive Pro-Life Ethic
The real reason I won’t be buying a videogame system this week.
8 thoughts on “Matt Walsh, pt. 2: Your Political Views Were Genetically Determined, So Get Over Them”
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I thought you broke up with Matt Walsh?
It’s complicated. He keeps showing up outside my bedroom window, holding a boombox over his head.
Haha. I like your sarcasm.
And you try to drive traffic to your dick jokes blog by attacking someone well known.
I’ll stick with Matt.
Hey now. You say “dick jokes blog” like it’s a bad thing.
We think your performance here deserves an Oscar. How did this blog get overlooked? Maybe if you add some tongue and twerking you’ll get the recognition you deserve.
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