If you know me (you probably don’t), you’d know that I am a huge believer in the individual. That doesn’t make me right, but it is the lens through which I observe the outside world. And it’s when I see stuff like this that I really get bothered.
In case the link doesn’t work for those that click on it, it’s a link to a Facebook post by a group. The picture is split into 2 pictures, one of a GoFundMe of a wounded veteran, the other of a GoFundMe to get Kanye West out of debt. Mr. West’s GoFundMe has almost double that of the wounded veteran. And the caption is as follows:
“THIS RIGHT HERE IS WHAT IS FRICKEN WRONG WITH PEOPLE! A Wounded Veteran can’t even get help building a handicapped accessible house, but people will donate to help this guy out of Debt!!!! Www.gofundme.com/williamhamlett Come on people one GUY went to WAR 4 times/fought for everyone and the other does not do squat! Horrible! Who ever donated to this should be ashamed of yourself. *mic down*”
(For the sake of argument, I will assume all assertions are true because their truth value does not change my argument)
The author clearly has some righteous indignation because they value the service of our veterans more than that of Kanye West’s contributions to society… whatever they might be. But the author forgets a few things. First of all, the people of the United States never asked for this person to serve the United States. These strangers applied no pressure, made no request, and don’t expect anything from this individual. They got wounded in their 4 wars Now it is the VETERAN who is asking for handouts from people that owe them nothing on an individual level. Now you can argue that we owe our veterans for their service, but I have to ask you… do we really? The United States spends so much money on defense, presumably some of it goes to paying for the upkeep of these soldiers. Similar to prison, only the soldiers get to vote. So for this soldier’s 4 wars, the United States people paid for their training, their upkeep, and presumably they continue to pay this vet as well as many others through a GI bill or something. The United States people have paid this soldier for their service. Now that we’ve established that the United States people owe this soldier nothing (in fact, they probably continue to support this veteran through taxes) we can say that the people of the United States have no obligation to support this veteran in their time of need. There is no obligation to spend YOUR money the way SOMEONE ELSE wants you to. And the author probably recognizes this, and that’s why they appeal to emotion, not logic.
And this isn’t the first instance of this. With the identity politics being played by ‘loud feminists’ the same principle is being applied. To these individuals if you are a woman and you do not identify with their movement, you are a traitor and you should be ashamed of yourselves. Madeline Albright herself recently made a similar appeal, (paraphrased) “There is a special place in Hell for women who do not support one another”. I’ve underlined ‘for women’ because it emphasizes the point that this is a shame campaign. It doesn’t matter who you are as an individual. All that matters is that you have two X chromosomes (or you identify as such?) You can see it on the internet among the United States current general election arguments. For those unaware, the argument goes like this.
Person A identifies Democrat or Independent. Person A really likes Bernie Sanders’s ideals and claims they will not vote democrat if Sanders does not get the nomination.
Person B points out that some Supreme Court appointments are probably going to be made this next Presidential term, and as such, it is the OBLIGATION of A to vote democrat, regardless of candidate in order to protect the United States from getting a conservative Justice to ‘undo decades of progress’.
Note how B does not recognize A as an individual. They recognize A as part of a collective that (ideally) aligns themselves with Democrat ideals. Therefore, if A votes Independent or Republican (or not at all), they will effectively be allowing a conservative to enter office who would then appoint a conservative Justice that will ‘undo decades of progress’. It doesn’t matter what A believes, all that matters is that they stay in line and do what’s best for the Democratic Party instead of what A believes is best for A.
It boggles my mind how all sense of agency is being removed from individuals. Recent topic: White cop violence. If a cop shoots an individual, and the cop happens to be white and the individual happens to be black, the media doesn’t care about the circumstances of the shooting. All that matters is that a white person shot a black person (again, I use labels for ease of reading, not because I approve of them) then the races of the people involved are all that matter. It’s a ploy that uses an identity instead of reason to convince people of a message’s truth value. After 9-11, (and even today with ISIS’s perceived threat) the United States is afraid of Muslims. My basis for this conclusion is a number of statistics on the perception of Muslims and some polls, one of which concerned the bombing of ‘Agrabah’ (notably the fictional city in Disney’s Alladin). What they forget is that 9-11 was a terrorist attack. It didn’t have to be Muslims. It could just as easily have been Christians, Jews, Nazis, KKK, Socialists, Communists, the list goes on. It could have been anyone with a particular grievance against the United States; it just happened to be individuals that identify as Muslims.
People are so busy trying to toss around labels and fit the narrative such that the side that they’re on is the ‘good side’ that they forget what really matters. A question of ‘what’ requires little to no thought. Jeopardy, a popular game show, is all about trivia. Knowing many pieces of unconnected data and the ability to recall them speedily is all you need to excel in it. It doesn’t matter how or why the printing press allowed a faster exchange of knowledge when it was invented, it just matters that you recognize that this device is the noun, the ‘what’. Truly useful knowledge will involve the ‘how’ or the ‘why’. ‘Why’ is your side the ‘good side’. What makes it ‘good’?
The next time you talk to someone, try to recognize them as an individual, and not part of a race, a gender, or a political party. Try to recognize them as someone with ideals, some of which may coincide with experiences that happen to align with those of a specific race, gender, or political party. By assigning them to a collective, you consciously (or unconsciously) assign an identity to them that will probably not fulfill. You will have preconceptions of their ideals before you even know what they are. Those that wear fedoras are not inherently misogynist. Those that play American football are not inherently stupid. Give people some goddamn credit as individuals.