My Facebook feed recently offered me one of those “red meat” posts intended to stoke outrage and mockery. In this instance, it was purportedly (and I stress purportedly – too many people have no qualms about making stuff up, and too many more have no qualms about sharing dubious stuff) a share of a trans person’s social media post that took cisgender folks who claim to be “allies” to task, chiding them that, if they’re not chipping in to pay for all the medical costs associated with transitioning, they’re not allies, and are as guilty of oppression as the bigots and haters.

Even if that post is real, it would be the words of a single person, and not necessarily representative of the trans community’s prevailing view. But, even if fabricated, the reason it stokes enough outrage to prompt shares and re-shares is that there’s a ring of truth to it. Not in the sense of Stephen Colbert’s truthiness, which is projecting one’s biases onto others, but rather a (potentially) fictitious anecdote born of reality.

That reality is the conflation of tolerance with activity, activism, and OPM (other people’s money). People react to the post because they’ve seen that position put forth many times and many ways.

Racism has been redefined by today’s social justice tastemakers. Now, if you are not actively engaging in behavior to counterweigh another’s (or society’s) racist actions, you, too, are racist. No longer can you simply view treat everyone equally, as individuals. The phrase “color-blind” is now not only not good enough, it’s actually declared by some to be a dog-whistle and/or its own form of racism. No, you have to put effort into being anti-racist. UCLA now has a requirement that any professors seeking tenure submit a “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” statement, essentially mandating that they do and show actual work in that direction or be denied tenure.

In the political realm, pay attention to the reparations debate that’s starting to gain prominence among the Democratic candidates for President. I doubt it’ll be long before failure to support reparations will itself be deemed racist. This reeks of the indulgences the Renaissance-era Church sold as atonement for sins (with the OPM twist): If you want to affirm your non-racism, you have to promise to use the force of government to give others’ money.

Abortion and reproductive rights have become synonymous with OPM. Even if you are pro-choice but don’t believe the government should fund abortion clinics, you’re part of the problem. If you believe that birth control should be freely available but not mandated for coverage by insurers, you’re part of the problem. Some might even take you to task for supporting the idea of making birth control over-the-counter, freeing women up from doctor visits and securing prescriptions, because that might undermine the goal of having it paid for by insurers or the government. “Reproductive Rights” has become conflated with “paid for by someone else.”

We witness the same attitude towards transgenderism. You could be wholly supportive of an individual’s right to pursue any path regarding sexuality, gender, orientation, or whatever, but if you don’t also support forcing third parties to fund that pursuit, you’ve failed the tolerance test. This is the germ of truth in the aforementioned possibly-fake social media post. It prompts outrage because it aligns with the current paradigm of demanding OPM.

This can turn many who’d otherwise be accepting, tolerant, and sympathetic to the challenges and difficulties that race, ethnic, and gender minorities face. When “accept me for who I am” morphs to “devote your efforts and your money to my needs and wants,” the expectation changes from one of equality to one of entitlement. That this creates alienation and reactionary push-back from people who genuinely and legitimately believe they’ve done no wrong should surprise no one.

If these demands were limited to “do for me as I demand,” without the coercive monetary angle that is espoused by the political Left (taxes, insurance mandates, etc,) it wouldn’t be that hard to simply disengage, to say “if treating you as an individual, with no differentiation based on your identity markers isn’t enough, then I’ll just keep to myself.” It’s the forcible imposition of rules and mandates that, ultimately, impact our wallets that keeps us from simply the time-honored tool of social shunning (as in I don’t care what your intersectionality is, I want nothing to do with you until you stop being a selfish, over-demanding asshole) to rein in excessive behavior. Worse, the sense of entitlement seems to be encouraged, by peers, by the social justice tastemakers, and by pandering politicians who gain the most by driving wedges between us.

That “tolerance” has become primarily about OPM, of cash, of “what can I demand that you give me,” seems crude and base, but it’s the inescapable conclusion. Even the endless fear-mongering about how, absent the accession of leftism/modern progressivism, the nation will devolve into a Handmaid’s Tale dystopia where oppression dominates society, is at its core, about nothing more than their coveting power and money.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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