The False Dichotomy of Nice vs. Mean
The truth can be equally obscured by needless cruelty as it can by excessive politeness.
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In recent weeks a new mantra has emerged among many opposed to gender ideology—“I’m done with being nice!”
This appears to be a result of a new aggressive posture adopted by Matt Walsh, the notable personality behind The Daily Wire’s brilliant and groundbreaking documentary, “What Is a Woman?” Last month, Walsh deviated sharply from his usual persona characterized by deadpan frankness and wit when he addressed Dylan Mulvaney, a trans-identifying male known for his outrageous and mocking caricatures of women and girls, who recently underwent facial feminization surgery.
Walsh’s words were pointed and searing, telling Mulvaney: “You are weird and artificial, you are manufactured and lifeless, you are unearthly and eerie, you are like some kind of human deepfake,” adding that “everyone [who] looks at you will see something pitiable and bizarre.”
Following these remarks, Walsh received a torrent of criticism from many prominent figures in the “anti-woke” space, such as Triggernometry hosts Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foster, PragerU’s Amala Ekpunobi, podcaster Tim Pool, and a slew of others.
In response, Walsh defended his statements, saying that:
In the culture war, I don’t think it’s possible to go too far in speaking the truth. The truth is the truth, it is what it is. It’s the reality. Are we going to defend it, or are we going to conceal it? Are we going to embrace it or are we going to hide from it? You can’t have it both ways.
Walsh accused others of wanting to “soften the blow a little bit” and “dress the truth up to make it prettier and more palatable.” He said that his critics want him “to lie to protect the feelings of our enemies,” and that “we got into this position in our culture precisely by valuing politeness over truth.” The Left, according to Walsh, seized control of our society by “being bold and aggressive and by making their opposition’s arguments seem not only wrong, but utterly horrific and insane.” In the end, he says that “you don’t convince people by being nice.”
But is it true that Walsh’s critics want him “to lie to protect the feelings of our enemies”? Is it true that politeness got us here and that the Left’s cultural dominance is due to them embracing meanness? And are the options for discourse really reducible to meanness and truth versus kindness and lies as Walsh seems to suggest?
To all of these questions I believe the answer is no. But let’s address them one-by-one.