The post-election reactionary landscape in America has been marked by a full-throated manifestation of what I would term, ‘Progressive Fundamentalism.’ While I share some of the concerns of many on the Left, I’m afraid the movement is fast becoming exactly that which it claims to despise.
The Progressive Left has every right to protest that which they oppose. And given their expectations, the disappointment–even fear–prompted by Trump’s victory is understandable. But Progressives’ increasing demands to alter the cultural landscape in ways that demand changes such as replacing the right of free speech with ‘safe speech zones,’ etc., to say nothing of their escalating penchant for violence are rapidly redefining them. Once claiming to be the herald of tolerance, civil rights and inclusivity, Progressivism is rapidly descending into a kind of boorish, intellectual/cultural totalitarianism that should give us all pause…including true Progressives themselves.
Fundamentalism is typically considered in a religious context. But if we simply substitute ‘ideology’ for ‘religion,’ the parallels become obvious:
- A strong motivation of fear
- Assumptions of certainty
- The world as a struggle against ‘The Other’
- A central source of leadership/authority
- Beliefs that must be encompass every area of life
- Delegitimatizing alternative perspectives
These characteristics should be familiar to us all. In every news cycle, hysterical students are wringing their hands in fear, protestors are zealously parroting their leaders’ claims, and anyone who disagrees is shouted down, slandered or worse. The recent muzzling of Milo Yiannopoulos–the gay, Jewish Conservative–is a case in point. So let me gently warn my Progressive friends to step back and consider who you are becoming.
But, lest my friends on the Right are feeling smug, it should be stated very plainly that the reactionary response of Conservatives all through the Obama years proves the point that Fundamentalism is not just a problem of the Left.
As per usual, the remedy is found in the words of Jesus. ‘Remove the log in your own eye first.’ A humble reassessment of our responses to situations we don’t like is always a good beginning…whether we are a Progressive or a Trumper, a Christian, a Jew or a Muslim.
The truth is, humility does not dilute conviction, it empowers it. And the good news is that a little humility goes a long way.