Alyssa Ahlgren: R.I.P Nuance

One thing I believe we can all agree on is that culture and politics have completely collided into one large contentious environment where common ground seems almost impossible to attain.

Alyssa Ahlgren

Nuance is dead and it’s buried right next to context in the cemetery of rhetoric. In my short career as a columnist (a little over a month to be exact) I’ve quickly learned that people who don’t agree with what you write deliberately throw out nuance and discretion towards the varying gradations of thought in order to dishonestly pick apart your ideas. I have received responses of outright mischaracterizations of my writing, false assumptions to my ideas, and deceitful interpretations of my character. All because of the intolerance to disagreement. This is nothing new. This is not exclusive to me or even conservatives in general, but it does lean more heavily against those on the right.

I wrote an article about my generation’s blindness to American prosperity. The most popular counter argument I received was that there are low income people in this country that struggle. This may come as a shock to some who disagree with me, but I know poor people exist. I never said they didn’t. In fact, my piece points out that we do indeed have a poverty line, which means there will inevitably be people below it. My entire point was that it’s extraordinarily better to be poor in this country than anywhere else in the world. However, it doesn’t matter, because I said that we live in the most prosperous time and place in human history then that means I said everyone is economically privileged and wealthy. Nuance is dead.

I wrote an article about the leftist abuse of the term ‘racist’ while we live in the least racist time in human history. I argued that disparities don’t automatically equal racism, but instead that culture, crime, and decisions are driving factors. I gave facts, statistics, and came from a place of objective realism when debunking the myth of a systemically racist America while also recognizing that individual racists unfortunately do exist. Yet, I was still attacked as a white privileged moron that protects racism and denies its existence. I’m still waiting for statistics and objective facts that counter my beliefs. Show them to me and I will gladly change my view.

Believing in or recognizing something is not a dismissal of the alternative to that thing. Christians that follow the moral code laid out in the text of the Bible do not hate those who choose not to. God created free-will for a reason. People who believe in the inherent binary biology of the sexes do not want to eradicate transgendered individuals or deny them fundamental human rights. Individual liberty allows you to live life how you please. Pro-lifers who want to preserve the life of unborn children do not despise those who get an abortion and they are not anti-woman. On the contrary, pro-life holds the view of protecting all females starting in the womb. Supporters of free-market capitalism are not unempathetic to economically disadvantaged people. Quite the opposite, as we support a system that promotes the most income mobility.

When distinctions like these are eliminated, conversation is eliminated. If in addressing a set of principles you take everything to its absolute literal extreme and do not allow for any nuance, you erase the need to back up your own set of principles. It’s evident in the lackluster use of derogatory terms used to describe right-wing positions. Being confident in your beliefs means never having to use character attacks, slurs, or attribute hateful ideals to someone’s position that were never stated. It means being able to use objective evidence to back up what you believe without calling someone a racist, bigoted, sexist, homophobe. It means being honest enough to apply nuance where it is clearly warranted.

One thing I believe we can all agree on is that culture and politics have completely collided into one large contentious environment where common ground seems almost impossible to attain. It’s because it’s easy to get rid of context, nuance, and good intentions. It’s easy to be dishonest when it benefits your ideological alignment. It has become second nature in our political climate. However, it’s intolerant, dishonest, and regressive rhetorical practice. We have reduced conversation and debate to a level of explanation that would be needed when talking to a five-year-old. We are not five years old. We don’t need to explain every degree of detail and exception to the rule. Our Creator gave us an incredible organ located in our skull that gives us the power to incorporate nuance when absorbing information. I don’t care what your beliefs are or how much we may disagree. We all need to dig out nuance from the rhetoric cemetery if we want even a sliver of hope in changing this deteriorating conversation that is our nation’s narrative.

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