The most dangerous aspect of the extreme left is that it functions as an immune disorder.
Immune systems are generally good for us. They see threats and they mobilize attacks them.
Immune disorders, however, are quite nasty. Allergies, for example, are basically hyperactive immune systems that cause the body to panic over things like pollen and dander. And on the extreme side, Lupus is a disease that turns the immune system’s weapons against one’s own body.
And that’s what is happening with many liberals today. Extreme liberalism has become infected with a Lupus of ideas that causes progressives to attack others for being progressive.
Here’s how Liberal-Lupus works:
Liberalism protects humanism and tolerance
Religion X supports intolerance Y
Humanist Z criticizes that intolerant behavior
Confused liberals attack humanist Z for being intolerant
Healthy liberalism is supposed to protect against intolerance and racism, so it rightly protects against people hating someone just because they are one religion or another.
But when someone claims that their religion gives them permission to violate humanism or tolerance, the immune system (liberalism) becomes confused. The belief is clearly intolerance itself, but because it’s shielded in a belief system liberals are trained to protect it.
So when a humanist attacks a specific intolerant belief—and by proxy the religion that holds it—the infected liberals turn on the humanist instead of of supporting their humanist position—because that would mean criticism of the religion.
More than anything, someone infected with Idea-Lupus is terrified of being intolerant themselves. And for this reason, they choose to be tolerant of everything—no matter how much it violates humanism.
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Happily, the way to avoid Idea-Lupus is simple: True liberals must learn that defending one idea (humanism) sometimes involves opposing others.
Acceptance of any behavior, no matter how counter it runs to humanist concepts, does not make one tolerant—it makes one confused about what it means to be liberal in the first place.
Here are a few concepts that may help one navigate these treacherous waters of cognitive dissonance:
Remember that humanism is the central concept of liberalism that must be defended
Tolerance should be used to protect different ways of achieving humanism, not to justify beliefs that oppose it
When two ideas are in conflict, start with the tenets of humanism and work outward
Religions and ideologies are collections of many values and beliefs—of varying levels of truth and moral quality. Containers are not the same as their contents
When you hear someone support or attack a given idea, behavior, or belief, remember the rules above
As an example, being intolerant of homosexuality and being intolerant of homophobia are not moral equivalents. We know this intuitively, but why is it true? If they’re both intolerant, aren’t they both the same and both bad?
Intolerance of homosexuals is bad because it’s an attack on humanism, and intolerance of homophobia is good because it opposes attacks on humanism.
Always keep clear in your mind exactly what you’re defending. Never allow people or ideologies that oppose humanism to marshall your intellect and passion in opposition to your fellow humanists.
This essay assumes the link between liberalism and humanism, which is a belief in itself. I do think this is defensible, however, and I welcome discussion on this point.
“Lupus Liberal” seems to have become a thing on Twitter. I’d be nice if we could use the term to help diagnose the destructive liberal-on-liberal violence we’re seeing in today’s rhetoric.
Note that it’s not usually accurate or productive to say that because religion X supports Y and Z bad ideas, it should be eradicated. The fact that religions are hundreds of beliefs, followed in vastly different ways by billions of people, means that this can never work as a head-on strategy. Only education and time can counter dogmatic belief systems embraced by that many people. If you want to affect change, stay focused on specific beliefs and behaviors, not entire ideologies.