Yet another stint on yet another online forum (the shortest yet) has drawn to a close for me, as this time I made the discovery that people who loudly proclaim their dislike of Social Justice Warriors often do so because they are, at heart, deeply racist. That is probably not very surprising to anyone but me; actually, it isn’t entirely surprising even to me.
My mistake was kidding myself that my fellow posters’ fairly obvious opinions were mostly an ironic thumbing of the nose at political correctness, instead of just mostly their opinions. I signed up for making fun of impossibly purist lefty loonies, not to get mixed up with an equal and opposite set of loonies who either genuinely do like the idea of a coming racial war and would defend the Confederate flag to the last, or have spent so long joking about it that it’s now impossible to tell the joke from the reality.
Of course, the internet’s tendency to bring out the jerk (and the extremist) in everyone is well documented. Talk is cheap enough at the best of times; it’s particularly cheap when you’re posting in anonymity without too much risk of anyone significant in your life finding out. However, all of this isn’t purely an internet phenomenon. From Iraq to Tunisia to Nigeria to the White House to the streets of London, the past decade and a half has been the age of the militant – the person with a cause, to be proclaimed as loudly, uncompromisingly and humourlessly as possible in the face of the unbeliever, with words to be followed by action, sometimes violent and horrifying, sometimes lawful if a bit embarrassing, sometimes genuinely hilarious and pathetic.
Of course, “militant” in English has negative overtones, so they don’t all call themselves that. But whether they’re jihadis or activists, soldiers of Christ or patriots, secularists or anti-abortionists, neo-cons or Marxists, like Lord Kitchener, they want you in their army. They want you to be their supporter, soldier or ally. If you don’t want to be, you’re their enemy and God help you. If you do, God help you anyway, because what will follow is going to run the gamut from silly to crazy to outright insane and you can bet that, as in the Radiohead song “Karma Police”, even if you give all you can, it’s not enough.
Personally, I’m not interested in being militant about anything, except not being militant, and I’ve never really aspired to stand for much beyond basic human decency. I’m not a pacifist by any means; self-defence is fine with me, but I don’t want to be part of someone’s war on something, even their purely metaphorical war. Come the revolution (any revolution), I will be hiding under my bed and praying for the shooting to stop, and I advise anyone with any common sense and any knowledge of history at all to be doing the same.