Before becoming a Libertarian, I drastically misunderstood many arguments Libertarians and Conservatives were making. This caused me to view my political and ideological opponents erroneously.
I believe that the great political divide of today has little to do with disagreement and almost everything to do with misconception. People are perfectly capable of being reasonable with those they disagree with, but are not well-equipped to handle those they cannot understand.
Here are ten opinions and the misconstructions they are often and wrongly associated with:
- Anti-Israel =/= Anti-Semitic
When a negative opinion regarding the current state, history, or legitimacy of Israel is raised, supporters of Israel sometimes smear their detractors as being anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group. Since Israel is a nation, not a religious, ethnic, or racial group, the anti-Semitic label cannot logically follow.
Additionally, it is perfectly possible to be hostile towards the state of Israel (and even its people) without religion, ethnicity, or race ever coming to mind. Anti-Semitism has nothing to do with history or politics, and those and other factors may be the cause of a person’s negative view of Israel.
One can certainly hate Israel and be Anti-Semitic too.
- Anti-Illegal Immigration =/= Anti-Immigration
While it’s likely that some who take issue with illegal immigration have problems with immigration in general, it is possible to only be concerned with the former.
Arguing that illegal immigrants in America should be granted citizenship or that the world should be borderless altogether are perfectly fair opinions to hold. But refusing to acknowledge the difference between a legal and an illegal immigrant in regards to the status quo is blatant sophistry.
- Hatred of Government =/= Hatred of Country
In an ideal world, nations of people would be accurately portrayed and appropriately led by their representatives. But we do not live in an ideal world, and governments are often run by ignoramuses who don’t know their own countries from their elbows.
That being the case, it is possible for a person to be a loyal patriot and lover of his countrymen, traditions, culture, and land while also feeling disconnected from his government.
It is also possible to oppose a foreign regime while having only kind words to say about the people living under it.
Nothing about hating a government reveals what one thinks about the country itself.
- Anti-War =/= Anti-Solider
When an American criticizes US foreign policy, he is often shamed as a hater of those who defend his homeland. This should not be so.
Particularly in a country with a civilian-controlled military like the United States, servicemen and women do not choose what countries to invade or what missions to engage. Soldiers do not serve as geopolitical or tactical experts, and they are legally bound to obey legal orders from their superiors. Since macro military operations are not simply concocted and authorized by soldiers, tying those who serve to the decisions made by their civilian government is illogical.
One can simultaneously hate the war and love the solider without an ounce of hypocrisy.
- Acknowledgement of Unpleasant Group Differences =/= Bigotry
There are more black players than white players in the NBA. The average height of a Filipino is less than the average height of a Dane. The Middle East’s Muslim population is larger than its Mormon population.
Few take issue with any of these facts.
But when one mentions that homosexual males are more prone to HIV infection than heterosexuals, that young black men commit violent crimes at a greater rate than other groups in America, and that male IQ distribution falls on the high and low extremes of the spectrum more frequently than female IQ, some cry foul.
One might think that putting people into groups at all is an act of bigotry. And that opinion is perfectly fair. But if you acknowledge “groups,” those who observe their dissimilarities are not being racist, sexist, or the like for doing so.
Using these facts to justify unfair treatment of people is certainly bigoted, but it does not automatically come with the territory.
- Criticism of Speech =/= Desire to Silence Speech
Many people in America and the Western World are growing skeptical of mankind’s right to speak his mind.
However, criticizing or condemning a person’s words or expressions is not the same as wanting to punish him or forcibly silence him.
Disagreement is an act of free speech, not an act against it. It is only when one supports silencing another that free speech is being opposed.
- Opposition to Welfare Programs =/= Hatred of the Poor
On the surface, supporting public healthcare, social security, and other services for the poor seems like the compassionate thing to do. And you might be a compassionate person who supports these and ever more generous programs.
But just because one disagrees with social welfare does not mean one dislikes those who are expected to benefit from it.
Via economics, psychology, law, or human rights, one may draw the conclusion that welfare programs are not the best way to assist people in need and may actually do more to harm the poor than to help them.
Gutting welfare programs can even be an act of love.
- Opposition to Welfare Programs =/= Support for Corporate Welfare
Although there may be individuals who want to cut spending on social services and subsidize the private sector, plenty of people would like to see less spending on both.
- Opposition to Climate Measures =/= Climate Change Denial
For a moment, let’s assume you believe in Global Warming and that drastic measures must be taken to save the Earth from its effects. Let’s say that scientists are promoting a plan that they are absolutely positive will halt Global Warming immediately.
Their plan is to exterminate all human beings over the age of 50.
I imagine that you would not support this plan. Would your lack of support for this plan mean that you do not believe in Global Warming and that you do not see Global Warming as a problem?
If you answered ‘no’, you have proven that being opposed to measures to combat Global Warming has nothing to do with whether or not you believe in Global Warming.
- Pro-Choice =/= Pro-Abortion
Some say that life begins at conception. Others say that it begins at some point during the gestation period. Some say that a fetus has no rights until it exits the womb. Others say that human rights don’t exist at all.
None of these points of view tell us anyone’s position on abortion legality.
It is possible to have zero qualms with another person having an abortion of any kind at any stage in a pregnancy while also vowing to never terminate a life developing in your own body.
What people do in their own lives is not necessarily related to what they believe others should be legally allowed to do. The same goes for the legal standing of drug use, prostitution, MMA fighting, orca captivity, gun ownership, gambling, and so much more.