Vilifying & shunning in politics: a method to silence dissent

Vilifying those who disagree with you is common in politics & in religion. It actually has ancient roots in human society, according to cultural anthropologists, & became quite ritualized. In religions, it usually begins with ostracism & shaming practices & ends with excommunication. Ritualized or not, abuse is always involved either to correct or to punish the apostate.

You see the very same thing in politics, whether you’re conservative or radical, but without the ritual. Social media has made it possible to skip all the paraphernalia of ritual & go straight for the jugular. The purpose is not shunning so much as discrediting; the method is bullying, ganging up, wild accusations of being fascist or fake & having nefarious connections to the CIA.

You can’t make this vitriol go away by engaging with it or running around frantically trying to redeem your reputation. You can’t run fast enough. Sometimes the criticisms are because your politics stink & you’ll just have to live with the consequences of that.

Sometimes you get throttled because you hold a minority point of view. You can either hold your ground & look for allies or conform to achieve false harmony. Don’t get caught in pissing contests because you won’t win but will expend a lot of energy trying.

The one thing you cannot do is begin to think the political differences are all about you & salvaging your honor, that the wars in Syria & Iraq are 7,000 miles from your ego or your belly button. If you come under siege by bullies on social media, if you get denounced for something or other, let off a little steam or ridicule & just keep stepping because to committed activists the issues of justice & war are never about them but only about the oppressed.
If you get caught up in this stuff, if your take it too personally, it will wear you out & demoralize you. Let it roll like water off a duck’s ass.