Losing friends because of politics is something that happens often in today’s world. More often than not, I suppose. Disagreements in politics is to be expected, that’s understandable. But taking them to a level where one misrepresents the policy positions of others and providing mere generalizations are not the actions of a friend.
Yet, that’s exactly what a group of some now-former friends did. There was at least one other reason, tied to a specific faction I made in a role play group that we had all been a part of, but now that I think about it, that ultimately was because of politics too.
“You’re a coward, Carsten,” one of them told me in a letter that the group “agree[s] with every word… You hold these views but lack the conviction to admit it; you’re a racist bigot.” They say this without providing any evidence, that is often how these “friends” of yours will justify the severing of ties. In the best cases, they would provide misrepresentations of what you believe, although in my experience, defending yourself in the face of such opposition is very rewarding when it comes to the realm of debate.
Although it’s absolutely not the best platform to start political discussion, Facebook has been the go-to arena in the conversations that myself and former friends had. I routinely share things that I find interesting, or post some of my own articles from my blog, some of which would get a good amount of attention in the comments section.
For example, in June 2017, after the attack in London by the Islamic State, I shared this post by Occupy Democrats Logic. One of the group members said “[and] you say only Muslim extremists kill this much?” before listing off atrocities supposedly done by Christians, including the usual IRA, Hitler, and the creme of the crop, the Crusades. I proceeded to give my response with a multitude of academic and primary sources listed, mostly pertaining to the complexity of the motivations for the Crusades and Hitler’s ambivalence for Christianity, along with outlining the religious beliefs of the Islamic State in comparison, using the works of the famed Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah.
Immediately, I was accused of saying “that both [the friend in question] and this evil extremist group follow the same religion.” I replied that I was just giving an opinion from a well-known Islamic scholar that explained the linguistic meaning of the word “Islam” and that if they “have anything to provide to the contrary of the claim that Ibn Taymiyyah makes, [I’d be] happy to see it.”
At this point, I was open to reading some opposing information, should they have some, but instead they continued with their assertions, until we reached a stopping point. Some of you may feel that it’s hopeless to argue and debate with people when they use these sort of tactics, all the strawman and red herrings, in poorly executed attempts to discredit your arguments.
Indeed, statistics show that liberals are “are more likely than those in other ideological groups to block or ‘defriend’ someone on a social network, as well as to end a personal friendship, because of politics.” Although this uses solely an American audience, this data can be extrapolated to this particular group of “friends,” who have undoubtedly espoused liberal beliefs when we would discuss politics. You may even be physically threatened, like I was when one person from the group said “if [Carsten] brings up politics when we meet, I will punch him in the mouth and you will have to stop me,” with several others saying that they won’t stop that from happening.
To conclude my own story, I was blocked by several of the people in the group, and I was removed from different venues that we also used; Skype, Telegram, and Google Hangouts, all of which I haven’t touched for months. They just removed me from these groups for no reason. Since then, I have written a 70 page point-by-point rebuttal to their claims and accusations, to which I have not yet seen a response.
Don’t let any of this discourage you, however. People, even if you’ve known them for years, will defriend you at one point or another, no matter how reasonable or solid your arguments may be. “I never considered,” penned Thomas Jefferson in 1800, “a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”
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