Thursday, 19 May 2016
The biggest danger facing America now is thinking that Donald Trump cannot go the whole way. The 2nd biggest would be failing to recognise that he has tapped into some of the nations arterial concerns. Is he the answer to the issues? No. Should he be given a little credit for having the bravado to raise them? I think yes. We live in a world where to say the wrong thing at the wrong time is to risk swift retribution. I dislike this climate, because whilst it intends to make the world a gentler place it actually creates the kind of space where the Trump’s of this world can rise from mediocrity and command a level of attention otherwise unthinkable. People tend to play it safe, treading a line that ensures the horde does not dissent, and for me this breeds a social timidity, a culture of fear reminiscent of ages past. It was only a few hundred years ago that to speak against the church was to risk some unpleasant consequences, and whilst we may no longer burn dissenters at the stake I do sense a troubling drift towards a climate where to speak the unpopular aloud is to risk incurring a status of social pariah. In my vision we would create a climate where people understood that disagreement does not have to equal discord, where to speak in controversial tones is perfectly acceptable and just a consequence of living in a free and democratic society. I cannot honestly say that I feel as free as I would like to. I have some strong views on a number of social issues, many of which I have blogged about, but there are some topics that I have to step back from. For example, I have a raft of things that I would like to share on the behaviour of the Traveller community, but if I venture even commonly accepted statistics then I would expect my employees would take me into an office and censure me. Same goes with some of my attitudes towards Islam. To speak my mind here is to risk transgressing some unseen code. There appears to be a politically correct bubble expanding ever further into the public consciousness, choking the life out of free discourse and in some cases strangling the free exchange of ideas. Speaking as an atheist I am used to being perceived in derogatory terms in some religious communities. This is ok. I’m not offended by such opinions. I welcome living in a space where my detractors can speak freely and I want this to persist. And the reason why Donald Trump commands such a following, however ill judged, is that he speaks into people’s concerns. It doesn’t actually matter whether there is any validity to the concerns themselves, but at least he gives voice to them. Would I prefer that the public discourse was a little more refined? On a personal level yes. But would I ever wish to inhibit free speech, or render it difficult, or foster a culture of fear? No. Of course no. Always no.
Posted by Rob Barnes at 17:47