I am a liberal, progressive Humanist. I used to be a conservative, evangelical Christian. The road to where I’m at is an interesting one. I’m not the only one who has been down this road. Some of us will see issues more objectively and others will not. When we lose our insight to tribalism, we are blind. It is okay to have a tribe and have your views shared with that tribe. There are some issues that go beyond tribalism and the us vs them mentality will have us betray our own values and stated goals.
The most jarring event that sparked this idea is also what left me frozen from writing this week. An atheist activist murdered his wife and then shot himself. The man who murdered his wife and I had quite a few mutual friends. Those who are closer to the family are going to have different reactions from those who are not personally connected. Your friend murdered his wife. Your friend was murdered by her husband. When you are close to something like this, the concentric circles of pain that ripple out will affect you. Outside of that, defense of inconsistent positions are not viable.
There is a different discussion being had by some of my secular peers that is troublesome to me. When it is a white conservative Christian with a gun that takes a victim, we scream “say her name”. We want the victim named more than the assailant. But there are too many people in my camp talking about him more than her and defend it. I even saw one humanist make a crass joke speculating she cheated on him.
The husband was an Armed Forces Veteran. He also suffered from PTSD. Additionally, he had a gun. The article I linked to above does what we need to do. It says that now IS the time to talk about mental health and gun laws. I would also say that we need to have a conversation about how we care for our veterans. There is virtually no excuse for us to position the conversation differently when it is one of “ours” than when it is one of “theirs”. We have a gun control issue that needs to be addressed. We have domestic violence and mental health issues in this nation that needs to be addressed. There’s a problem with how we care for our veterans and active military personnel.
The other one that is becoming more disturbing every day is how “my side” is treating the public discoveries we are learning about predatory behavior in the wake of the #metoo movement. When a high profile person on “my side” is accused of sexual misconduct or predatory behavior, our admiration of the celebrity or politician is clouding the approach we take.I have seen some of my peers posting for the crucifixion and removal of President Trump and Roy Moore. In the same day, they are posting defenses of Al Frankin or Matt Lauer. Some of these defenses put the victim’s motives and character under the microscope of assumed disbelief and even shaming. “Why did she agree to do the skit? What about that time she dressed provocatively?”
We know there is a problem with rape culture, slut shaming, and a power imbalance that leaves victims not believed. We cannot scream “believe the victims” but only live that out when we do not like the tribe the predator came from. Rape and sexual assault is not a liberal or conservative issue. The cause of this problem has been very bipartisan. The solutions will be too.
Why does this matter to the stuff I am writing as a TransParent?
2017 has been a wonderful year in Illinois legislatively for transgender people. Transgender people can change their birth certificates now. If someone were to murder a transgender person, that person could not use the “panic defense” anymore. This did not happen in a void. On the way to getting these laws passed, parents like me were asked to fill out affidavits stating how laws like these would positively impact our children. We were asked to schedule meetings with our state reps in both houses to have face to face meetings with them regardless their party affiliation. When the bills passed both houses, many of us made phone calls and sent postcards or letters to the republican governor asking him to sign these bills into law. He did.
I met with my local reps as requested. Not all of them are democrats. All the meetings were amicable and all of them voted in favor of the laws. I have to reconcile the fact that there are at least two democrat members of my state’s legislative branch that do not support gay or trans rights. Beyond that, what mattered is the law and my son’s rights. We needed republican conservative christians to vote yes to these important bills.
There are many things that the GOP and Christianity are doing right now that bother me, anger me and frustrate me. However, there are some issues that concern me that go beyond tribes and we cannot give our side a pass and say that issue matters. If a progressive, humanist democrat were to say something transphobic or in some way marginalize LGBTQIA people I would not give that person a pass. Unfortunately, some of my peers would and have.
Rape and sexual assault is committed by conservatives and liberals as well as Christians and atheists. The same is true of gun violence and irrational hatred of LGBTQIA people. The victims of all of these things are also conservative, liberal, Christian, atheist, and so much more.
Holding members of your tribe accountable for their actions does not betray your tribe. It honors the principles of the tribe you belong to.