What The Left Can Learn From Steven Crowder
By Mansi Garneni
A genre of YouTube videos that has been gaining traction lately contains titles such as “Social Justice Warriors Getting Owned!” and “SJW Fail Compilations.” Once you get past the rather crude, clickbaity-nature of the titles, we begin to notice an interesting trend. These videos rake in millions and millions of views from people who think that liberals are ridiculous, misguided, and uninformed. After scrolling through just a couple of these videos, it’s easy to understand why.
Of course, some of it involves “gotcha” journalism-esque fishing for content (for which we must exercise discretion), but there are numerous clips of people representing feminists and Democrats on news shows and activists on college campuses that are comical in their apparent hypocrisy. An argument that one can decipher from the videos is that liberals, who preach tolerance and sympathy, are actually intolerant of opposing beliefs. College students are protesting conservative guest speakers because “they’re all racist,” and anti-Trump protesters seem to be unable to cite a fact, statistic, or quote to justify their vehement opposition of the president. Clearly, there are answers to the questions posed by conservative interviewers to justify one’s dislike of Trump and distaste for some members of the conservative party, but being unable to discuss and debate those reasons in a civil fashion makes it seem like they are not substantial enough to do so.
A popular face of this content is Steven Crowder, maker of the “Change my Mind” series, where he sets up a table and chairs on college campuses or public parks with a banner presenting a conservative viewpoint such as “there are only two genders” and asks people to “change my mind.” He invites people to come talk to him, and those who do so are typically liberals. There is a level of “gotcha” journalism here, as he comes prepared to these discussions, armed with studies and statistics that support his opinion, but he allows people to say what they have to say in support or against his argument. He presents these videos to be minimally edited, leaving in rude comments from hecklers in the inevitable crowd that his table draws in. In his “There are Only Two Genders: Change my Mind” video, there were two categories of people he spoke to. The first were the people who acted respectfully towards Crowder and tried to explain their point of view, only to have Crowder ask for definitive answers based on proven evidence and the respondent coming up blank. The second were people who came in guns blazing, offended by the premise of having the conversation, and exhibiting an overall distaste towards Crowder and generalizing that attitude towards people who agree with him. These people are quickly dismissed by Crowder’s bank of evidence, appearing to be completely uninformed on the issue by their contrasting lack of statistical support.
By no means are these videos by Crowder representative of journalism in its purest form, but they do reveal why so many conservatives, not just the alt-right, have such a paternalistic attitude towards liberals. They see them as naive for not having concrete answers of how far we can change society’s restrictions, and as childish for letting their emotions get in the way of a conversation. They see hypocrisy - if liberals want everyone to feel included, then why do they protest conservative groups on college campuses?
Here lies the heart of the issue. When people are not taken seriously, there is no way that the issues associated with them will be. There are hours of footage of protesters scoffing angrily at interview questions that ask them to support their beliefs. If this is how feminists, activists, and liberals as a whole are represented in conservative-oriented media, an echo chamber of intolerance towards the party across the aisle has been created. It is easy to feel indignant towards the results of the 2016 election, to feel injustice for the way people of color are treated in America, but now more than ever, it is more important to be able to explain why in a logical, cohesive manner. In this divisive, polarized, emotionally charged contemporary political climate, the way some liberals present themselves is extrapolated to the entire party. Instead of simply cursing at conservatives on Twitter and angrily writing hate comments to Crowder, we should use the holes that they poke in the liberal viewpoint to find out where our knowledge is lacking. Fund research in these areas; read studies. Changing the way the opposing party sees us is the only way to convince them to compromise. Otherwise, debates are just two people that are staunchly opposed to one another talking at walls. The next presidential election is going to come soon, regardless of the way liberals and conservatives see each other. It’s just a matter of whether or not we’ll be ready to answer their questions this time.