I used to not take the Regressive Left very seriously because I felt that they were an insignificant minority of the Left in general. However, over the last year or so I have apparently stumble across a few pieces of Leftist doctrine that I am not allowed to disagree with and have been excommunicated from multiple groups. This has led me to re-evaluate the RL. I still see them as a minority, but they are a much larger and more powerful minority than I had previously believed.
It started with guns. I made statements about how both the Left and Right were wrong on the issue; that more guns doesn’t lead to more or less homicide. I made sure to point out that I still supported new “common sense” regulations and better enforcement of current gun laws regardless, but that was not enough to placate the Leftists. I got flooded with responses making it clear that anything short of accepting guns as the all-powerful one thing of any value on the topic would not be acceptable.
Before I go any further, let me point out I identify as liberal, feminist, an LGBTQ+ ally, and a supporter of social justice. All that should be obvious based on my existing writings and statements, but I have to point it out so as not to leave anything up to interpretation for those looking in bad faith to disseminate calumny and misrepresentation.
In a group called Libertarian Memes for Neoliberal Teens I made the faux pas of mentioning that I identified as a liberal in a similar vein to Sam Harris. Unfortunately, this “libertarian” page made a violent swing into regressive leftism based on the mere mention of Harris’ name (apparently a trigger-word for them). They knee-jerked with the statement that “Sam Harris is an Islamophobic piece of shit.” I responded (sadly lowering myself to their level) by uttering a few choice swear words and appropriately pointing out that they probably knew very little about Sam Harris not acquired through biased intermediaries. I was instantly called a bigot and banned from the group. They said that calling Christianity and Islam barbaric was bigotry. A position that couldn’t be more wrong.
I should not have to say this (my history should speak for itself), but I am not Islamophobic. Another article I wrote elaborates on this, but I’ll explain again.
I consider most of the main religions man-made creations ascribing magic and superstition to things they don’t understand. It doesn’t matter to me if you believe silly things as long as those silly things don’t lead to violence, they don’t create avoidable problems for the rest of society, and they aren’t forced on anybody.
Using what I have described as magical beliefs, people long ago organized them into structured doctrines and religions, often used to increase social cohesion or control the masses.
Within religions in general are many schools of thought—think of Baptist and Catholic Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims, or Theravada and Mahayana Buddhists. Even within those schools there are endlessly more subgroups. Some subgroups cherry-pick out the bad of the original doctrines and are better people for it. But other subgroups are fundamentalists who take scripture as the barbaric bronze age and/or medieval authors intended, and as a result like to persecute to degrees varying as a function of their level of fundamentalism.
I consider all religions’ supernatural claims to be mere superstition, but I do not pretend like all religions and sects are all equally violent or harmful. Acknowledging the groups that are violent and reprehensible, while also acknowledging the mother-religion it is a part of is not bigotry against that religion overall—it is admitting the facts.
To keep this from being too long of a tangent, I’ll simply point out that my position on religion has led me to vigorously denounce religious atrocities while equally vigorously defending religious rights and opposing religious bigotry. I have been very vocal in my opposition against European and American Right-wingers who try to fear-monger about Muslim immigrants and refugees as a raping and killing invasion. I confront conservative lies about Muslims supposedly ushering in Sharia Law in France, Germany, and Dearborn, Michigan. I also spoke against the bans on “burkinis” occurring in places in France.
Ultimately, I can reasonably criticize any religion just like I could Communism, Post-Modernism, ultra-nationalism, Anarcho-capitalism, or any other belief system. And just like with those things, such criticisms would not in the least imply calls for oppression or hate against the people who hold those ideologies. The ideologies not causing harm or calling for violence against other groups can safely be allowed to live and let live. However, it would be immoral not to challenge and criticize the religions not content to live and let live.
I have also been attacked by feminist brands of regressives despite identifying as a feminist myself and writing frequently in defense of feminism. One incident involves a woman named Sharon (I’ll only use her first name) who runs a group called Association of Libertarian Feminists and claims to have been affiliated with the Cato Institute.
Sharon decided that because the four inspirational quotes featured on the cover picture on the Against Unreason (then named Independent Thinking) Facebook page happened to be by men, I must be a misogynist who is uneducated on feminism. As a result, she suggested I read books by famous feminists I was already familiar with and respected (e.g., Simone de Beauvoir and Mary Wollstonecraft). After I informed her that I was already familiar with them and considered myself an active feminist, she doubled down and decided I was being too belligerent (I wasn’t), so I was still wrong.
Some of what she was referencing was a post on the page where she accused me of holding several positions of which I actually held the opposite positions (I provided links to previous posts as proof). Unfortunately, because she saw how belligerent and in-the-wrong she was going to look, Sharon deleted those posts before I thought to screenshot them.
All of this interaction was unprovoked. I suspect she was operating on libel other regressive-tinged people told her, then proceeded to barge into my sphere assuming she knew me. Considering how much she got wrong, I would say it didn’t work out so well. It is a shame too, since I followed, enjoyed, and respected her page previously.
Religion and Feminism
I eventually found a group called Feminists Without Religion. I thought, “hey, here’s some people whose name I can agree with.” Turns out, the “feminist” and “without religion” parts are limited to Christianity and misogyny within that religion. If you meander into criticizing any misogyny in Islam you will be swiftly assailed, straw-manned, and banned. I suggested hijabs may be a problematic misogynist tradition, and they interpreted that as me saying I hated people who wore them and that I supported oppression against women who continue to wear them (I believe quite the opposite actually, as I made clear in the article I linked to earlier).
I’m still a firmly center-left liberal, but you would not know it based on the opinions of the regressive I have encountered. Bizarrely, some of these RL people are ostensibly on the Right. They seem to believe that hitching a ride on a few regressive ideas will help pull their Right-wing reputation to the edgy hipster center. I, on the other hand, would not sacrifice reason simply to craft an image. I could be wrong though, about their motivation; I’m just speculating.
If you still don’t believe I am not alt-Right, let me give you a list of people often associated with the alt-Right I am definitely not fans of: Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Dave Rubin, Sargon (Carl Benjamin) of Akkad, Gregory Fluhrer (the Armored Skeptic), TJ Kirk (the Amazing Atheist), Phil Mason (Thunderf00t), and more.
I prefer people like Richard Carrier, Steve Pinker, Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, Andrew Yang, Matt Dillahunty, Richard Dawkins, and Peter Hadfield (Potholer54).