The drive to “otherize” Trump voters exposes no small measure of irony on the Left, and not all of it immediately apparent. Michael Smerconish interviewed one of an increasing number of people advertising for roommates with a particular exclusion for Trump supporters. Sahar Kian tells Smerconish that she wants to protect herself from “bigots” by, er, prejudging the motives of tens of millions of Americans who voted for her bête noire (via LawNewz):
— Law & Crime (@lawcrimenews) February 20, 2017
“Look at me, I’m brown. I’m a woman. I am somebody who is heavily reliant on Obama’s pre-existing condition clause,” Kian told Smerconish. Trump has said in the past that he hopes to sign a bill overturning Obamacare, though he has suggested he hopes to keep the pre-existing conditions clause.
Kian told Smerconish that allowing a Trump supporter as a roommate would result in her home becoming a “hostile environment” and a “political battlefield” because she believes a Trump supporter is “by all means a bigot.”
As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Kian’s explanation does indeed “break[ the] needle off [the] irony meter,” as Twitchy’s headline states for that reason. One can even argue with some justification that this hard-Left, broad-brush antipathy about any kind of heterodox position to the progressive norm du jour is precisely what caused voters outside of the urban-coastal enclaves to vote for Donald Trump. Kian and others refusing any engagement with Trump supporters have become so blinded by their progressive moral outrage that they see their own bigotry as a peculiar form of tolerance.
However, Kian should be allowed to indulge her political principles when it comes to commerce, regardless of how ridiculous those may or may not be. If she does not want to rent to Trump supporters, Republicans, or conservatives, no one should force her to do so, especially not government. She sees those interactions as hostile situations, and even though it’s certain that Kian is the source of those hostilities, she should be allowed to exercise her own poor judgment in her commercial choices.
But while we’re at it, that freedom should be extended to everyone — including the bakers, florists, and photographers who choose not to participate in events which conflict with their religious principles. We do not necessarily have to agree on whether we think that it crosses a line in religious faith, just as we do not have to agree with Kian’s prejudiced view of Trump voters. We should, however, agree that people have the right to associate freely, and to the free exercise of religious belief in all aspects of their lives, not just within the four walls of a church, temple, or mosque.
That’s tolerance, even if Kian doesn’t understand it.
Addendum: America Magazine had an outstanding editorial on Friday about the dangers of hyperpoliticization that seems quite apropos here:
C.E.O.s and shoppers alike have a right to vote with their dollars; indeed, from the food we eat to the cars we drive, what we buy can and sometimes should reflect our values. But like owning a Prius and eating organic, deciding whether or not to #deleteUber or to boycott Ivanka is a luxury most Americans cannot afford. Most people shopping at Walmart, one of the boycotted stores, are not trying to make a statement; they are trying to get by.
This unfortunate trend reveals the degree to which partisanship has infected nearly every aspect of American life. From the Super Bowl and the Grammys to the pulpit and the mall, the key feminist insight that “the personal is political” has been taken to an unhealthy extreme. When no area of our lives is fenced off from the rancor of hyperpolarized politics, it becomes increasingly difficult to build the solidarity needed to face today’s very real economic and social ills.
What is needed now is not for the personal to be more political but for the political to become personal. “Government” is not simply a distant, faceless oppressor or a blunt instrument with which to impose one’s will on others. It is a shared project of all citizens; its success depends less on the virtues conveyed in our spending decisions than in our commitment to seek the good of our neighbors, no matter their political persuasion.