Monday, January 9, 2017

The proper amount of attention

You know those local artists who dedicate their lives to their art? Who work ceaselessly on their projects, utilizing all the time and resources at their disposal in a single-minded pursuit of doing the work. Who, at the end of the day, look back on what they have accomplished and deep within their souls know that the world needs more of it. Who live and breathe art as surely as everyone else breathes air.

You know the kind. Those who never actually succeed in getting anywhere, and at most impact the most immediate neighbors. Those who get chosen when the producers of local television scrapes the barrel for what to feature next, and whose daytime programs have audiences counted in double digits.

You have seen those shows. Right before you zap over to another channel, because who cares, right?

I want you to have this category of people as a template. They work hard, are earnest in their efforts, and get absolutely no recognition for it. They are, for all intents and purposes, literal nobodies.

This is the template for how to treat neo-nazis (and their alt right alter egos). This is the proper amount of attention to give them. This is the baseline.

If you are in tune with the current zeitgeist, you might instinctively think that there is some element of free speech at play here. Resist this instinct - the biggest problem with neo-nazis is not that people have not heard their arguments. To the contrary: an entire generation of a whole continent got to hear it point blank, and wrote extensively about why that particular ideology is a bad idea all around. The message has been heard; spreading it even further would not bring any additional insight into the present condition.

Ask instead why the issue of free speech actualized at the mention of neo-nazis rather than the ineffectual local artist. Examine the assumptions at work in that line of thinking, and put some critical distance between it and yourself.

Then go find one of those local artists. Chances are they actually do have useful insights into the present condition, in wait of someone to notice them. -

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