‘I had been invited down to a literary event, the Lewes Speakers Festival, to talk about my recently published memoir of life as a prison doctor, The Knife Went In. I was to be the penultimate speaker, followed by a controversial conservative journalist, Katie Hopkins, who was to talk about her own recently published memoir, Rude.
The event ended in violence.’
If you’ve ever visited Cascadia (I’d count San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver B.C. as sufficiently Cascadian), and found yourself amidst the relaxed social mores and relative personal freedom there, you might also find deeper counter-cultural currents brimming with radicalism, radical chic and a general ‘whatever-they’re-for-I’m-against’ attitude. There’s general inculcation and tolerance of Left-Of-Center values, which is to say, lots of ’10-year-plans-to-solve-homelessness’ coming out of city governments.
Go to a coffee shop and you might well run into an old union wildcatter (who never sold his soul to the company store thank-you-very-much) or the occassional lonely conversationalist gentleman bewitched with the pregnant promise of those heady, early Soviet days.
These conversations can be genuinely illuminating and fascinating because I believe conversations can be both illuminating and fascinating. Such ideas don’t necessarily constitute the entirety of how any of us might like to be judged in our entirety (even if we suspect others would likely not permit us the same courtesy come judgment).
It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to witness actual violence break out at Portland State University as James Damore tried to speak. Faculty, staff and students are pretty invested (eye-deep) in such identity politics and knee-jerk, ritualistic protest. Such displays can be about a lot of things (group membership, rather utopian and unspoken ideals, imitation, tribal loyalty, purity, the pursuit of the transcendental, victimhood, hating oppenents enough to bind individuals to the group with collective identity and common purpose in a mob).
Obviously, for these people, if we reasonably judge them by their actions, this event wasn’t a chance to keep a reasonably open mind, think and listen, expand and engage in the deeper the pursuit of truth.
For that, we’ll have to go elsewhere…