Centrists and Other Status Quo Warriors: The Brave Men and Women Who Keep Us Chained

My tolerance for centrism and the live and let live mentality is at an all-time low. I spent the better part of last week engaging in debates with centrists regarding the death of shitlord-commander Rush Limbaugh (and just so you’re clear where I stand: may his grave be a toilet and his legacy promptly forgotten) and even what they consider to be fair in a capitalist system i.e. they defended child labour to pay off lunch debts because Socialism would be worse…somehow. I’ve had it with the “reach across the aisle” crowd in a world ripe with inequity, hate, and human misery. Centrism is a weak position born from a combination of fear and a misguided idea of civility. So-called civil discourse and respect between differing political opinions is simply not an option when my side wants mutual aid and social equity and the other preaches genocide and white supremacy. Liberals and centrists both seek a fabled middle ground where everyone’s opinions are valid no matter how deplorable and, sorry to say, folks, it’s fabled for a reason. The center always skews right and there’s no fighting it or finding a balance. Not to mention that fascists/fascist sympathizers depend on these dutiful defenders of the status quo to let their actions and language go unchecked under the guise of free speech and tolerance in the free market of ideas. I am here to argue that a weak position only serves as a boon to the hateful and the ignorant. Nobody is entitled to respect or to go without consequence and centrism works against that to the detriment of us all.

Let’s use Rush Limbaugh as a quick example for what I mean. Upon his death (70 years too late), virtually every pundit, politician, and celebrity decided to step in and offer their condolences to a man who used his giant platform to spread fear and evil for decades. People like me who offered nothing but spit were inundated with pleas of mercy or condemnation of our callousness. Right wingers, centrists, and shaky liberals stepped up to defend the legacy of a man who mocked dying AIDS patients, denigrated women, stoked fear of immigrants/BIPOC/LGBTQ2S+ and they did this all in the name of tolerance. I do not tolerate bigotry nor the shitheads who sow it. Respect should be reserved for those who didn’t spend decades making life worse for millions of people. Centrists believe that courtesy should be given to both sides of the political spectrum from anarchist to straight up Nazis and that is simply not possible if people want to be truly safe and free. Sure, Rush did a lot of damage in his life and was unapologetic to those he harmed, but hey “he was a human being too” and as such we’re just going to casually disregard the pain he caused in this time of mourning. That’s a pathetic hill to die on and a slap in the face to the vulnerable populations he’s mocked and propagandized. Let the right mourn their fallen bigot and ignore their cries for attention. Join the rest of us who serve the common good instead of allying yourself with enemies of justice. This isn’t simply a political difference for which I am being unreasonable and cold. We are fighting a war for the future and centrism keeps enemies like Rush warm and alert…I mean when worms weren’t eating him. Centrist ideals simply serve to keep his memory and legacy fresh and make his fans wet themselves with delight.

I must live in an echo chamber, right? An echo chamber just full of my Fascist Commie Socialist Maoist LGBTQ2S+ polyamorous fuck buddies who hate capitalism and free speech but love Starbucks and cancelling all the conservatives. At least centrists and right-leaning liberals have open minds and aren’t so cynical about everything. Heard it all before and sure, Jan. Honestly, my view is pretty clear and simple. I hate speech and actions that are free from consequence. Fascists being allowed to spit their poison without the majority of people defending the targeted populations (or them getting decked in the head) is how we’ve gotten fucked in the past, present, and will probably be fucked in the future. The Nazis weren’t viewed as a serious threat by many until they were. People mocked Trump, his rhetoric, and his fans until he was friggin’ elected. When people hold these moderate and apathetic views and don’t scare away the wolves at the gate, everyone will suffer when the beasts inevitably break down that flimsy barrier. These metaphorical wolves aren’t going to pause and give you the same fair treatment you offered them, but they’ll probably call you a slur before they rip you limb from limb. Hey, at least you didn’t “cancel” them like those leftist snowflakes wanted to so you’re clearly morally superior. Dead, but morally superior to coddled SJWs like good ol’ me.

It’s not even just language, but also actions that I fear being haphazardly balanced to preserve the status quo. Centrists see “very fine people on both sides” despite clear differences that should be pointed out. Let’s talk some examples, shall we? Trump’s cult stormed the Capitol with the full intention of capturing and/or killing government employees, but the George Floyd protests had property damage so Black Lives Matter is equally bad. Yeah cops are executing black folks and turning off their body cams, but there was looting of some goddamn Target so both sides are to blame really. Sure Marjorie Taylor Greene endorsed the execution of Democrats and believes the Jews have space lasers, but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants healthcare and a Green New Deal so she’s just as radical and unhinged. Like fuck…these aren’t comparable. Even if you think property rights are the most valuable thing we have in society (I don’t. Human lives over property any day), you shouldn’t be balancing them against civil rights. You either choose to stand with the oppressed or you indirectly serve the oppressors. You being quiet or trying to see the good in some KKK rally isn’t helping.

The YouTube channel Thought Slime made a great video detailing centrist comedy and how they try to balance arguments from both sides to make them seem equivalent. A lot of the points presented by Matt really illustrate how I feel on this topic so I recommend watching if you’ve got 30 minutes to spare. I’ll link the video above for anyone interested, but to sum it up, the sketches don’t do a great job. The videos focus on DnD campaigns where the players play either “liberals” or “conservatives” as they navigate conversations with an NPC of the opposite political view. These sketches rely on tired stereotypes of either liberalism or conservatism and the NPC is essentially always right wing. For example, the liberal NPC is an NRA supporter, against illegal immigration, and against welfare. The conservative is a conservative, but they just disagree on things (like affordable/accessible healthcare and pronouns) so turns out he’s actually okay. The videos also have some weird arguments against immigration, welfare, healthcare, and claims of social equality that ignore the systemic disadvantages faced by LGBTQ2S+, BIPOC, and the impoverished. The “reasonable” path is the conservative one for these centrists especially our dungeon master. Funny how that works despite wanting to appear fair and balanced. Anywho, I won’t give away the whole video, but the thesis of each sketch is that all politics is just a series of disagreements regarding minor stuff and everyone has good points if we could just learn to listen. Simplistic conclusion to arrive at, but I shouldn’t be expecting much depth from sketch comedy videos to begin with.

I want to end this piece before I start rambling. The main point I wanted to make is that centrism is meritless when the world collapsing around us. Status Quo Warriors and centrist principles serve no purpose other than maintaining the current social order without taking accountability. Peace and justice cannot be achieved by shaking hands with the Devil. No common ground exists between white supremacists and anti-fascists that doesn’t result in gains for them and severe losses for us. Am I immovable to a persuasive argument? Not necessarily. Does that persuasive argument of yours involve racism, sexism, ableism, classism, xenophobia, or homophobia? Well then I ain’t gonna just stand around and let you run your mouth. We will never agree to disagree on the subject of human/animal/environmental rights. It should be simple, but centrist ideas make it hard by offering up “whatboutisms” and mistaking caving into pressure for positive reforms. Centrism asks us to wait it out, hope for change, and open our hearts to all sides of a conversation whether the words come from an activist on the front lines or from fucking Richard Spencer. Here, have a poignant excerpt from a 1963 speech by Martin Luther King, Jr “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season. Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” Convincing ourselves that purveyors of injustice can be reasoned with is a recipe for failure. It always has been futile and it always will be. Thanks as always for reading and I hope to see you again. Solidarity, my friends.

X.S.

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