Mark Shea wrote a post on his blog some time back where he basically disavowed any involvement with Catholic Tribe Right. Knowing Mark as I do, I knew it was not that he was becoming any sort of lefty, per se – he is by temperament and sensibility more righty than lefty – it was more that he could no longer abide the contortions the Catholic Right had to do to justify their tribal priorities. During the Bush administration, Mark became increasingly frustrated having to argue with fellow Catholics that torture was evil, the use of nuclear weapons against civilian targets (Hiroshima) can never be condoned, that “death penalty maximalism” is incompatible with Catholic teaching, and so on.
I find myself having feelings about Tribe Left that are somewhat parallel. While I have political preferences that are compatible with Tribe Left, there are significant areas where I disagree. I like universal, no-premiums, tax-funded healthcare for all. Daycare too. I think racism is a pervasive problem in the United States (and not just for Those Rednecks In [insert stereotypically backward region of the United States here]). I live in very liberal, very “woke” Berkeley, California. Rich white liberals who live in elegant homes overlooking the Bay and San Francisco all agree that racism is terrible, while sending their kids to private schools because the (black and brown) public schools in the flatlands have a reputation of being lower quality, poorly funded schools which are likely to have many more obstacles to their children’s success than the private schools they use. I wonder how many of those folks ponder the fact that the reason those schools are poorly funded is because people with very little political power send their kids to those schools, and that those people would have more political power if richer, whiter children’s parents were advocating for improvement beside them because their children go to those schools too.
I listen to a lot of the stuff being said within the Two Tribes, and across the gap separating them, and I see wickedness and abomination. Each side describes the other in terms that ring with the belief that They are absolute evil, and We are the remnant of good in the world. Anyone who strays even one millimeter from tribal orthodoxy is made anathema by the Tribe and subject to appalling ostracism and abuse.
These stories are so commonplace that I would bet that everyone reading this knows what I mean, likely from personal experience.
In economics,unions and healthcare I’m probably further left than the current center of gravity of the Democratic party, but I don’t talk about my misgivings about abortion or gay marriage with my online lefty friends because to do so would be to invite heaps of abuse. A similar situation obtains with righty Catholic conservatives – Mark Shea has been (sometimes literally) demonized for his previously-mentioned straying from Tribe Right orthodoxy.
I’ve come to believe that participating in any way in the War of the Tribes is soul destroying and ought to be utterly disavowed by both lefties and righties that care about their souls.