The Clear and Present Dangers of ‘Marginalization’ Extremism
By Charles Rein – 3/2/21
Are Conservatives being marginalized? A strange question you might think, as this term is usually associated with minority or religious peoples, but it may have finally hit home in the Conservative community.
After the Washington D.C. January 6th demonstrations and occupation of the Capitol building, some of my Conservative friends have told me that “yep, they’re feeling about as popular as a one-legged man at a ballroom dance.”
In other words, they’re feeling marginalized.
According to CSN founder, Dennis Jamison, “This is what Marxists call marginalization – an isolation of specific targets is part of that process. It’s what happened to Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The Nazis didn’t start with marginalizing the Jews; they started with the mentally ill people and blamed them … for all the problems of society. Then, when that was accepted by the public, they moved to targeting the Jews.”
If you think Jewish people were only marginalized during World War II, think again. Jews were marginalized almost 600 years before the fiery ovens of the Holocaust. According to the book, “The Comparative Communal Response to the Black Death” by Michael W. Dols:
“During the 14th century black death pandemic, Jewish people were blamed with unprecedented ferocity. The first attacks on the Jews resulted from the accusation that this unassimilable community had caused the pestilence by poisoning … in September 1348 the forced confessions from 10 Jews in Chillon were adduced to support this fantasy and to implicate all European Jews.”
Is blaming Conservatives different?
Chauncey “Slim” Killens, who can’t wait to run for California governor next year wrote me, “When you marginalize any person they quickly become less human … then you can legally justify the purpose for destroying and killing people … we must stop being afraid to publicly speak out (work, home, restaurants, small businesses etc.) and expose the nonsense.”
Some Conservatives say they are unfairly being blamed for what happened in D.C. Others are feeling how they are being treated is beyond simply being marginalized. This was felt even before Washington D.C. Janelle Terry, a California Bay Area university student, and a Conservative, put it this way.
“Marginalization does not even come close to the experience of a Conservative at Stanford University – silenced, demonized and alienated are perhaps more fitting.”
While we should definitely be aware that some of our Conservative friends we admire and respect have been feeling marginalized, I believe it’s also important we don’t react like victims.
If we let others make us feel angry, and we create a radicalized, “us versus them” narrative running over and over in our mind like a hamster on a wheel – this may create a fearful downward spiral in which we feel hopeless. That is the opposite of Conservative’s traditional “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” thinking.
Maajid Nawaz had a victim mentality for six years as a teenager. He wrote in the book, “Radical,” how as a rebellious youth he found a group of extremist friends and over time took on their views. Finally though, he rethought this dangerous lifestyle after witnessing a violent knife attack, realizing that was not the way he wanted his life to end. As an adult, he founded Quilliam – a globally active think tank that today focuses on fighting extremism.
According to Nawaz, “Extremists believe in a black and white world, that they are engaged in a cosmic struggle – good against evil … I’ve argued that the motivation (for extremists) is ideological dogma …”
Caylen Hascall, a gifted songwriter for a popular Trump Train song shared her thoughts over email, “Labeling a group as marginalized is recognizing that there is prejudice against that group. It’s not the labeling that is dangerous … it’s not acting to stop it (violence) when it is being done.”
A very famous quote comes to mind, paraphrased, “Evil prospers when good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
When the mainstream media, the government or your next door neighbor are not willing to listen, let alone feel empathy, what are you to do? When your free speech is stifled, what are your options? How do Conservatives, or any group which feels marginalized challenge this one-sided perspective?
First, don’t allow others to define what you, as a Conservative stand for.
You can take the initiative and help someone with a different viewpoint who has labeled you to replace their one-dimensional view simply by letting them get to know you as an actual person.
Do this by “leading by example.”
Are you willing to treat a moderate Democrat friend to coffee? Talk and listen without judgment. You could invite your friends from church to meet with others who you’d never expect to see at any Sunday school. While some religious communities might be fearful of reaching out into unknown territories, some Christians reach out weekly.
Colorado Pastor Shane Bennett writes a weekly blog inviting Christians to reach out to others – including Muslims – and he has shared how his upbringing has helped him.
“I think I inherited a deep commitment from my mother. She’s uncomfortable with extremes … part of the result is that I have friends from a variety of political and religious perspectives. I think this helps me not to feel marginalized.”
Hascall echoes Pastor Bennett’s statement and recommends, “Listen to others and find common ground. Show others you value them, and then help them to see you are human, and perhaps we can break down the indoctrination of hate that has been taking hold in this nation. We need to regain our moral compass and get back to loving our neighbors as ourselves.”
That’s why it’s so important for Conservatives to stay involved in multiple communities. Volunteer or attend meetings that include people from other religions or other political parties. Let people from other communities get to know you personally, which breaks down unfair stereotypes. Let your “human side” become apparent. We need to stay active, leading our side, while at the same time listening to our fellow Americans on the other side too. If we listen to their grievances, they hopefully will listen to ours as well.
One the other hand, disaster looms on the horizon if Conservatives only focus on feeling marginalized and then retreat to their own echo chamber bubble. This brings up a frightening image out of a true story my father told once from when he was a young boy. He and his three sisters found a live rabbit and each wanted to claim the poor animal as their own. Without regard for their siblings or the rabbit, they each grabbed a leg and began tugging. Like that rabbit, our Republic too faces a horrifying end unless we stay active within multiple communities.
Hascall wrote, “My grandfather fought to defeat the Nazis. He then returned to Germany and helped rebuild … Our military did not just stop the Nazis, but they went back to help restore Germany … As George Santayana said, ‘If one does not know their history, they are bound to repeat it.'”