I imagine that, by any estimation, 80 million views is a lot of views for a six minute video posted on the internet, not to mention 1,462,961 shares, 642,000 likes, and 105,000 comments.
But these are the numbers Jonathan Pie, the fictional news reporter created by British actor and comedian Tom Walker has been racking up since November 9, 2016 for his “This is who to blame for Trump” rant – (serious language warning): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLG9g7BcjKs
I wonder if Jonathan Pie realizes that “the same old sh*t” he accuses the Democrats of choosing in Hillary is Barack Obama. Obama after all has occupied the White House for the past eight years as a Democrat. Presumably he has exerted some influence over the state of the Democratic Party which Mr. Pie ravages and its nominee for President who Mr. Pie ridicules.
But, the implied stinging critique of Obama aside, I wonder if this kind of vicious attack is actually helpful in moving in a positive direction. Is this really the time to ramp up the rhetoric in public discourse?
I understand that Pie/Walker is trying to shock to make a point. But,
I would choose Lucifer over Donald Trump,
is not calculated to turn down the heat and facilitate the conversation Mr. Pie seems to be calling for.
Pie himself acknowledges that
our argument isn’t won by hurling labels and insults.
When will we learn that the key is discussion?
He goes on to explain that
If you are unwilling to discuss then you are creating the conditions in which Donald Trump and people like him can thrive.
But, the last time I checked, shouting into a camera, swearing, wild gesticulation, and raging anger are not the strategies most likely to nurture open respectful conversation.
But Mr. Pie’s style is not Tom Walker’s only problem. His call for conversation itself is naive. He is wrong, people are not refusing to express their opinion because,
when asked people can’t admit what they think; they can’t admit what they think; they’re not allowed to. The Left has made people unable to articulate their position for fear of being shut down. They’re embarrassed to say it.
This gives way too much credit and power to the Left. Those who voted for Trump are not afraid of balanced respectful open-minded dialogue. They are simply not interested.
The vote for Trump was a vote against change, change that has already taken place. The world has experienced a shift of almost unimaginable magnitude in the past few decades.
Imagine even ten years ago a discussion in the public sphere about whether public institutions should be required to provide non-gender-specific washroom facilities. Such a world is inconceivable to many people. And those for whom this is a threatening discussion are simply not inclined to sit down over a nice up of camomile tea and debate the virtues of the distasteful world they feel has been forced upon them.
They want their old world back. They long for the clarity, safety, and security they enjoyed before the centre shifted and everything fell apart.
It is hard work living in a world where the goal posts are constantly moving and nothing is predictable. The shifting sands of culture make it difficult to navigate the realities we face with any confidence or certainty.
The “liberals” Mr. Pie ravages in his commentary have embraced and welcomed the tectonic shifts that have taken place in society over the past decade; others have not.
The only way forward is for those who have embraced change to return more deeply than ever to the practices we espouse. We need to move towards non-judgmental, respectful, and careful listening. We need to acknowledge the genuine pain of people for whom the world has become a frightening place. Most of all, we need to practice the gentleness and openness we long to see born in our public life.
Spewing venom into a camera is unlikely to further the cause of helping people to embrace the uncertainty of a threatening and confusing world.
If “the medium is the message”, Mr. Pie’s pumped-up testosterone-driven adrenaline rush is not likely to help anyone find the open, respectful, gentle place that is the essential ground on which genuine conversation can be fostered.
If we hope to be the change we want to see, it will not be by identifying a new enemy to slay, but by opening more deeply to those with whom we may differ and living more lovingly with those we find it difficult to understand, be they Left or Right.