"History" Failed Hillary Clinton

"History" Failed Hillary Clinton

Against "the moral arc of history."
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On November 7, a college friend posted a picture on Facebook of a beaming Hillary Clinton and captioned it with a quotation from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The implication was clear: the presumed victory of Hillary Clinton the next night would be a world-historical event bearing forth a new stage in history’s moral arc.

I commented that, for one, the idea of there being a “right side of history” is philosophically no good. As The Atlantic’s David Graham put it last year, “The problem with this kind of thinking is that it imputes an agency to history that doesn’t exist…history is not a moral force in and of itself, and it has no set course.” I told my friend that, as a philosophy major, he should be aware of this and not invoke faulty ideas like “the moral arc of the universe.”

He scoffed that the quotation was meant to be inspirational rather than philosophical, and that I was weird to criticize his post as though it had real philosophical content. I replied that he needed to grant (or somehow contest) Graham’s point about the quotation wrongly attributing agency to history itself, and that this error draws recognition away from the hard work involved in improving society.

Looking back, that last point is too sweeping. It’s possible to think about “the moral arc of history” this way: throughout history humans inevitably improve their understanding of societal justice, and this always-improving understanding forever translates into efforts that improve society. I think that this view is prone to what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery” – the tendency to assume that whatever comes later is inherently better than what came earlier – but at least this view recognizes people’s efforts as crucial to societal improvement.

It's also possible, though, to think that history itself – the simple passing of time in human societal existence – determines the improvement of society, and that the individual’s responsibility is basically just to not resist “history” as it steamrolls forward. Maybe this view isn’t so much explicitly believed or even really thought as it is felt; one feels certain societal developments as improvements and half-consciously attributes them to an inevitable unfolding of cosmic justice.

I get how this is a comforting feeling. I think people are right to feel anxious about the state of the world, and it’s nice to sense that the world just will get better despite human errors.

And I get how, for many people, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, and especially her prospective victory, symbolized certain important forms of societal improvement. I, for one, think that women have just as much place in high political office as men do and that someone who has logged nearly a quarter-century in high-level political situations is almost certainly more qualified for the U.S. presidency than Donald Trump. If you believe such things, of course you’d be tempted to see, in every development that seemingly favored Clinton, the providential hand of History. Through this intuitive lens, “grab them by the pussy” (for instance) was less a fortunate-but-fallible obstacle to Trump than the Universe’s way of confirming Clinton’s forthcoming victory. Did you hear what he did this time? Now there’s definitely no chance of him winning.

Yet he won. As a second contribution in this political post-mortem season, I’ll briefly point out two ways that “the right side of history” might actually have helped him.

First, as I pointed out above, the notion of “the right side of history” can make it easy to overlook the work involved in improving a society. And the easier it is to overlook that, the easier it is to neglect one’s own role in the larger task. I hardly doubt that, in the crucial states by which Clinton could’ve defeated Trump, there were more people who preferred Clinton to Trump than who voted for Trump. If a higher proportion of Clinton’s more lukewarm supporters had gone to vote for her, she would’ve won. And while many other factors contributed to the widespread sense of Clinton’s inevitability, I suspect that many of her supporters felt, deep down, that History would never inflict a Trump presidency on America. So why should they inconvenience themselves by actually going out to vote for Clinton? (Especially if they found Clinton pretty uninspiring in the first place.)

Second, it’s crucial to consider what it feels like to be on “the wrong side of history.” From a 2014 essay by Michael Hanby:

We must recognize first of all what this appeal to the inevitability of history is. It is not an argument but a 'conversation stopper' designed to put an end to argument by urging opponents of [“progress”] to resign themselves to a fate which they are powerless to resist and exempting advocates of [“progress”] from the burden of having to think about, much less defend, their position with depth or rigor. And by placing opponents of [“progress”] beyond the pale of progress and civilization, it encourages those who fancy themselves on the 'right side of history' to treat their opponents with contempt. The appeal to history is thus a nifty little piece of rhetorical violence, a ‘performative utterance’ that seeks to bring about the fate that it announces and to excuse the opposition’s loss of agency as the inevitable triumph of justice.

Hanby is right to emphasize the contempt and ‘violence’ felt by those who are said to be condemned by “history.” If you feel that culturally-dominant forces are out to wreck people like you, and that they’ll never turn from their smug sureness enough to bother actually arguing against your supposed errors or even really hear any argument at all sympathetic to your side of things, of course you’ll reach for any weapon that looks like it can protect you. (And this is true no matter how morally horrible your ideas may be.) This explains, for instance, much of evangelicals’ overwhelming electoral support for Donald Trump: though I think that Trump is at best deeply untrustworthy on religious liberty and that many on the religious right made total asses of themselves advocating for him, religious conservatives weren’t wrong to think that the Democratic Party has largely written them off as “deplorable” and unworthy of accommodation.

Ultimately, the notion of a “right side of history” weakens efforts toward societal improvement while energizing resistance. A “moral arc of history” can only weigh us down, so let’s carry forward without one.

Cover Image Credit: The New York Times

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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I Am Pro-Life, And I Am Tired Of Being Attacked For My Opinion

I am pro-life from a secular and logical standpoint.

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We live in a country based on free speech, so why are pro-lifers verbally and physically attacked for merely their stance on a controversial topic? Why is Instagram censoring pro-life voices? Social media users should be given both sides of the argument, then allowed to make an informed decision, but by showing them only pro-choice content, their opinion will be biased.

Harmless pro-life posts are being shadow-banned from popular hashtags, lowering reach and engagement. There is a problem when non-violent, non-hateful posts showcasing people holding up signs that say, "Voices for the Voiceless", are censored.

Why are pro-choicers allowed to share their opinions on social media and be praised, while pro-lifers lose followers for sharing a pro-life post? It is vital that people have different opinions, and shunning pro-lifers encourages homogeneity of political opinions. Pro-lifers should not lose friends. Pro-lifers should not be attacked. Pro-lifers should not be scared of speaking up for what they believe is right.

I am pro-life, but I respect everyone's opinion. Instead of shunning the opposite side, I try to hear them out and understand where they are coming from.

Instead of dismissing pro-lifers as being old white men trying to control women's bodies, why not hear them out and try to understand the reasoning behind their opinions?

I used to be neutral on the topic of abortion, until a month ago, when I saw something that completely changed my perspective. It was around the time Governor Kemp signed the fetal heartbeat bill in Georgia, and it was a hot topic, so I decided to do some research. I came across a sight called "Priests For Life". "Oh great", I thought, "This site is going to impose its Christian views of abortion on everyone." Once on the site, I clicked on a tab titled, "America Will Not Reject Abortion Until America Sees Abortion."

I clicked on the gallery, and was confronted with the cold hard truth. View the gallery with extreme caution, because the images/videos are VERY graphic.

From this site, I also discovered that planned parenthood harvests and sells the body parts of aborted babies. Keep in mind, Planned Parenthood, providing 1/3 of abortions in America, receives $500 million dollars yearly from taxpayers. Having taxpayers' money going toward reforming foster care would be a better idea in my opinion.

The Declaration of Independence states, "Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". The difference in opinion on whether the law should protect unborn children is a major factor that divides the pro-life and pro-choice movements.

In my humble opinion, I believe an unborn child should be protected by the law once a heartbeat is detected. We cannot dehumanize unborn children with euphemisms such as "clump of cells" or "potential life". We were all once "a clump of cells", and we still are. Can you name one non-living thing with a heartbeat? There is none.

The level of development of a human does not detract from his/her rights. All lives matter!

The most common pro-choice argument is "My body my choice." Yes, your body your choice, but when it's not your body, it's not your choice. The baby has its own unique set of DNA, its own organs, its own limbs, brain activity and a heartbeat. Just because a woman carries a baby does not give her a right to end his/her life.

Some may say the fetus cannot survive on its own, but a 1 month infant cannot either. A one month old infant depends on the care of a mother or guardian, and if it were to be left without food or water, it would not be able to fend for itself. Someone on life support cannot survive without the incubator. Elderly people with dementia depend on the care of staff in senior centers for survival.

The parasite argument is also a common one. Basic biology can refute this one. An unborn child in the womb is not a parasite, because for it to be a parasite it would have to be a different species than the mother, which would cause an adverse immune response.

"Everyone has the right to choose," is found on almost every pro-choice protest sign, and yes I agree. You have the right to choose to do whatever you want, but the second your actions harm another human's rights, a line must be drawn.

A women's right to choose ends when her baby's right to life begins.

Another common argument that is condescending towards pro-lifers is that they are pro-birth but not pro-life. Tell that to the thousands of pro-lifers adopting multiple children, giving them the best possible life. Tell that to the people outside of planned parenthood with signs that say "I will take your baby." Tell that to the numerous churches helping pregnant women. Tell that to the government who is giving single mothers tax breaks, food stamps and countless other resources.

The foster system may be flawed, but that is not justify ending the life of a child. More than 18,000 American families successfully adopt newborn babies in the United States every year.

Regardless, suffering is inevitable; you cannot end a child's life because he/she will live a difficult life. Instead, legislation should be passed to improve the foster care system and the adoption process. When a child is not aborted there is always hope, a chance, a possibility.

Some "pro-lifers" say, "I am pro-life for my body, but pro-choice for everyone else". This reasoning fails in many ways. You never hear anyone say, "I would never abuse my child, but I would never take away a parent's choice of if they want to abuse their child or not". Being pro-life means advocating for the defenseless, which means every single child, not just your own.

Women can do whatever they want with their lives, as long as their actions do not end the heartbeat of another human being.

All over social media, you see people sharing posts that say the women will be sentenced to 99 years of jail for having an abortion and 30 years for a miscarriage, but this is false. Often celebrities are the ones using their platforms to share these false statements. People should also fact-check the things they see on Instagram before believing them.

One line all pro-choicers say is "No uterus, no opinion". Let's not forget the people who made abortion legal were old, white men. This line is hypocrisy at its finest. If the line was "No prostate, no opinion", World War III would break out.

Most people are outraged by the fact that majority of the politicians who signed the heartbeat bill in Georgia were men, but let us not forget that Georgia residents vote for these representatives knowing the policies they advocate for. Around 40% of Americans are pro-life, and around 40% of women are pro-life, but these percentages are significantly greater in Conservative states, which explains the election of conservative representatives in Georgia and Alabama.

Pro-choicers often paint an image of pro-lifers as men who want to control the bodies of women, but that could not be any further from the truth. Abortion allows men to use women and not be held responsible for the consequences. Banning abortion teaches men responsibility and loyalty.

The purpose of the pro-life movement is not to control a woman's body but rather grant an innocent, unborn child the fundamental right to life.

Regardless of my pro-life stance, I do believe abortion should be allowed in RARE cases; for example, when the mother's health is in danger.

I agree these anti-abortion bills put a lot of stress on the mother, so I am all for increasing the involvement of the father. Whether it be increasing the amount and frequency of child support payments or making the father co-parent, it takes two to create a child, so the father should pull his weight.

Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. once said, "Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate."

This article is not meant to shun anyone who has had an abortion or is pro-choice. I respect your stance 100 percent. The purpose of this article is to address the social media bias towards liberal views of abortion and the stigma of leaning toward the right on abortion. There is no one right answer to this debate. It is not always black and white; that is why the abortion debate has been going on for decades.

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