We must treat every individual with mutual respect and reject the overbearing scrutiny of the thought-police that monitors words according to a hyper-sensitive criteria that ultimately divides us into separate tribes rather than unites us.   


In the arts there must be the allowance for full free expression of viewpoints, even when offensive to some. Trigger warnings that protect the viewer from artistic works weaken the purpose of the arts to challenge and enlighten and even shock. At the same time, it is naive to suggest that an onslaught of violence and vulgarity has no effect on the consumer of violent media, and it is clear that commercial entertainment dumbs us down. 

Universities should welcome conservative thinkers in order to hear opposing viewpoints to the standard liberal arts perspective that began with the Enlightenment. Let it be known that much far left, environmental and indigenous thought falls to the left of most University agendas, and should also be debated and judged on merit. 

There should be a free expression of certain religious tenants with an understanding that to be exposed to someone's religious tenants is not oppression. Many moral, ethical and inspirational tenants are universal. We should understand where our codes of conduct come from historically. Martin Luther King spoke through a religious framework, as did Gahndi. Are we to banish their sentiments from school walls to protect ourselves from religious oppression? 

Context and forgiveness, not a rewriting of history, is the only way to deal with sins of the past. There should be a historical understanding of where certain traditions come from, reducing the potency of loaded symbols, such as the usurpation of First People's names for American sports teams. At the same time, certain symbols that remain harmful, like the southern flag, need to be acknowledged as inciting prejudice today, now, and should be banished. 

"Mutual Respect" demands an individual be engaged in the moment, not driven by stereotypes. "Mutual Respect" insists on personal and societal responsibility. "Political Correctness" divides us into identity camps, contorts language and breaks down our ability to find unity, creating "lifestyle enclaves", finger pointing and trigger warnings. It is no longer an effective defense against prejudice, because it inspires its own backlash.

The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics by Mark Lilla

updated 9.10.17