The Importance of Nuance in Political Debate
Please, dear God, can we all take a second to think before saying stuff?
Two things where opinion has gotten ridiculously polarized and any attempt at nuance will get your head bitten off, especially in the U.S.: Russia and Israel.
If you've seen the absurd mentality on Twitter, it's verging on mass hysteria - someone can comment on how the U.S. has frequently meddled in global elections and as such, the outrage about Russia doing the same is a little comical, or even just point out that being suspicious of any Russian with a connection to anything is xenophobic, and be called a Kremlin agent or a Russian troll. It's absurd.
I'm not a Republican. I do not in any way, shape, or form support Donald Trump. But I think we're edging dangerously close to a new Red Scare with how we react to Russians - especially when we think about how people are dismissing completely valid concerns and objections by calling them Russian propaganda, designed to divide the Democratic Party and get Trump elected.
We can object to Russian election interference...but also think as individuals, not members of a mob, agreeing with whoever shouts the loudest.
On a somewhat similar note, we have the issue of Israel. Globally, Gal Gadot is the most recognizable Israeli actress. And as such, she's become a sort of lightning rod for all criticism of Israel and the IDF, regardless of whether or not it makes sense. It's an emotional issue. I get that. But the solution isn't to make wild accusations and false claims about the character of random people that happen to be from the region.
We're decades past the "should Israel exist" question. It does. The vast majority of people there now have never lived in a world where it didn't. They haven't lived anywhere other than Israel. The question now is how to live with it.
I think the Israeli response to rockets launched from Gaza in 2014 was massively disproportionate. I vehemently disapprove of actions taken by the Israeli government and IDF and the persecution of Palestinians. But the "Gal Gadot is a murderous Zionist that hates Palestinians and supports their violent oppression" stems from the country's mandatory military service and a long-deleted Facebook post from said time period where she called Hamas cowards. If that's the standard by which we judge who's an evil irredeemable monster, then we need some new standards. That crosses the line of what's fair criticism.
Gadot once posted a picture of herself and former United States President Jimmy Carter, captioning it with something along the lines of being starstruck meeting a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Carter won the Prize in 2002, ostensibly for his work over the years, but very likely mostly due to the Committee feeling he was overdue, thanks to him pushing through the Camp David Accords.
She deleted that picture, and while I don't want to speculate on her motives in doing so, I think it's plausible that it was because of the angry comments about him being an anti-Semite - just as false as the accusations of her being a child murderer. Out of all the U.S. presidents, Carter is the one that presented the most balanced approach to the conflict and the one that did the most to achieve an actual solution.
It is very much possible to support Palestine without supporting Hamas. Likewise, saying that it's stupid to baselessly call every Israeli a racist isn't the same thing as supporting Netanyahu, his party, or the IDF.
Qasim Rashid said it best in this Huffington Post article:
Simply open your mouth on Israel-Palestine, and faster than you can blink you’ll be labeled either a heartless Zionist or a Hamas terrorist. Both extreme labels are equally fruitless.
Oftentimes - to me, at least - these extreme labels seem more performative than anything. They're not a solution. They're someone wanting to stake out a position to prove how they're so much more woke than everyone else, how they're such a great activist. That's not constructive.
There are certainly issues that are black and white, right and wrong. Police brutality is wrong. Racism, sexism, and homophobia are bad. But there's no such thing as an easy solution.
We need more nuance in political debate. What we have now may be satisfying - after all, being convinced you're entirely right and fighting against evil, faceless monsters is much more fun than remembering nuance and compromise do and have to exist - but it's ineffective and unsustainable. We have to do better.