Guilt By Association



We live in a hypersensitive society where just using the wrong pronoun for someone may lead a person to be publicly denounced. Never mind that someone may associate with the wrong people, those ideologically impure. It may even come down to the information someone consumes. Watch Fox News? You’re a right-wing, Nazi. MSNBC? A communist, anarchy supporter. The online sites a person may occasionally peruse would also be suspect. We’ve decided, well not all of us, but a vocal number of people, that what you read, who a person may occasionally associate with, is what defines that person.

Several months ago I was invited to a small dinner party of good friends. In my friends home, out for everyone to see, was a small, bookcase. Being nosey, I walked over to glance at the books collected. Seeing what a person reads sometimes tells me a lot about that person. Are they interested in science, or history, or mysteries? Maybe some of all. What I happened to notice on one shelf was a copy of Mein Kampf. Extraordinary. He must be a neo-Nazi, or a supporter of Nazism, or a White Supremacist. No, I actually didn’t think that, but I did find it interesting, if for nothing else than that our host was black.

Had the host been white, would there have been an argument that he was a fan or supporter of Hitler or the noxious ideas within that book? For some today, the answer would probably be a definite yes.  Some may say we are at a crossroad today where anything a person says, or writes comes under extreme scrutiny and that care needs to be taken in all aspects of life, simply because it will not only affect someone’s social status, but their livelihood as well.  That may be true but I think the evidence right now is mostly anecdotal. Have there been those that have been shunned by their peers or lost an employment opportunity based, for instance, their activity on social media? I’ve seem some instances of those claims, but what I’d find more interesting is if there were an actual study (more than one preferably) that might show a correlation. There may be some, but I’ve yet to see one cited anywhere that I’ve read of instances of discrimination due to social media presence.

Although I said I think that what someone reads or writes can tell me something about the person, that doesn’t mean that it defines who that person is or what they believe. I’m a curious type, where I read a lot of different authors and topics that I may or may not agree with because I’m interested in what people think or believe. I often learn from those that I may have no ideological sympathy with and there have been occasions where I’ve actually changed my mind based on a better argument. those same books or articles may be considered anathema to others, but I have always found that trying to keep an open mind, even towards an argument I may initially be vehemently opposed to, is worth the effort. too many times, as I have learned from experience, those arguments have been used out of context to attack the author, and usually, most of the time in fact, those same have never actually read that same work, article or book, context included.

It’s too easy to judge someone by what they are believed to have said instead of what they actually articulated. The attack may come due to an unfortunate phrasing and instead of asking for a clarification, the decision is that this person must be that which otherwise, would never be considered. The mob, arises based on a few (possibly just a single) critiques. It goes viral, and suddenly there are hundreds or thousands denouncing what may be an innocent error, or more so, a simple disagreement.  Most of those that pile on have never read or listened to anything of the accused. They know this person, who knows the other person, that has made the accusation and that’s good enough to trample someone’s life.

It’s too easy today to condemn someone of racism, or sexism, or any other -ism, even phobia simply because there may be someone that disagrees with the idea(s) presented. It’s become so common that real issues are often overlooked, or dismissed. In the same way a person may be labeled due to their associations, aren’t those that perpetuate the allegations guilty of the same? Think about it.

It’s time that instead of judging by emotion, arguments are made using reason. I’m actually old enough to remember the time when that was the regular order, and when there was a idea that may be offensive, instead of making assumptions, that people investigated instead of believing what they were told.  Instead of making a counter argument to refute what we may disagree with we attack the person that made the initial claim, smearing their character, and ruining what may be an otherwise impeccable reputation. All based on ideology.



4 thoughts on “Guilt By Association

  1. That is a book that I need to add to my library. It is a part of human history. If you would know your enemy…

    I honestly do not know if we will ever regain a sense of civility in our nation. Anyone who isn’t a bit frightened by our times is simply not paying attention.

    It has been a long, long game that Communists have played and it appears that their patience has paid off.

    I do believe there are segments of the country that are so steeped in Progressivism that they don’t recognize that their lives are teetering on the edge of the total control of Communism. The nudging of Progressivism has worked well, as bit by bit it seemed all so sensible to give up individual liberty and responsibility to the State.

    Our former civil discourse ruled by manners is no longer allowed in many places, certainly not online in the popular social media.

    I was talking with my daughter the other day about her 2 and a half year old Boy, with a capital B. Will he be able to play good guys and bad guys, cowboys and indjans, aliens and space cadets, cops and robbers? Can he use sticks for guns and knives and pine cones for grenades? If he points a stick at a classmate and pretends to shoot, when he gets into kindergarten, will you comply with his punishment and agree that such activity is wrong for boys and dangerous to others and society?

    She said she always thinks wistfully about home-schooling… I said we should go for it.

    Can a white person read “Huckleberry Finn” or enjoy “Gone With The Wind” book or movie? I collect books for the future and recently bought “The Complete Stories of Uncle Remus” with dialect intact. Get your books before they are banned.

    What does that make me?

    Better, what does that make those who would take these books away?

    Our history, as Barry knew it must, is being changed by those who would wipe out America, both past and present and present us with a future that anyone with a memory of what it was will no longer recognize.

    A bit ago, I re-read “1984” and man-oh-man it scared me as it never did when I was in high school.

    I am shuddering in my chair, which is in my library, which is full of incriminating books.

    What did Archie Bunker say, something like, “Why can’t I hate a man if he is black.” We have been there a long, long time. Our emotions and thoughts have been and are being regulated and they won’t be done with us until we all comply.

    Or…refuse to comply. That works best for me and it works best for America.

    Again, I believe there are more who will refuse to comply, then who will comply. I think the nudge has become a shove and the other side should start worrying about the backward strike.


  2. If I were to encounter a copy of Mein Kampf on the bookshelf of someone I didn’t know well, I might ask them about it. “Mein Kampf, huh? What’s up with that?” Assuming they said pretty much anything that sounded reasonable and didn’t launch into the Holocaust denial or something, I’d be satisfied and move on. I suspect that most people will approach this similarly in real life. The problem is that social media isn’t real life and far too many people seem to be looking for excuses to destroy others for perceived offenses.


    • Curious. Which is a point I think I failed to make. In my recounting, the host was black. Would you have asked him? If the host were white I think most people would be shocked and just assumed the worst.Just having a copy of a book makes one suspect. That’s guilt by association. At one time I owned a copy of ‘Catcher in the Rye’.


      • Well, the larger point, Jim, is not that your host was black, but that this was a small book case and prominently displayed, I assume. Many people with library collections might have this book, but it would be among the other historically famous or infamous books they believe ought to be preserved.

        What other interesting books were on this small book case? Did he have MLK’s “A Testament Of Hope” or a collection of Langston Hughes or Shakespeare? Did he display other masterpieces by maniacs that call for world domination? Was there a Koran or “Emily Post’s Etiquette”?

        I guess you have to consider the whole bookcase…


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