With that in mind, Infinite Injury's defense of Ann Coulter is the single most admirable blog post I've read all month:
Ann Coulter generates a lot of controversy, mostly because she says some really stupid shit but I’m absolutely totally shocked and horrified at the latest kerfuffle she has spawned [re: "want[ing] Jews to be perfected"]. But this time, for a change, she was being perfectly reasonable (well except for believing in god) and it is her critics that are totally fucking nuts.
(Read on for the explanation.) In a later post, he asks, "what explains the outraged reactions we see in some cases [but not others]?"
I think the clear answer here is that people are parsing these statements as matters of identity an allegiance rather than actual factual claims. People aren’t so much interested in the actual content of the issue or even so much whether you have noble intents but whether you’re with us or with them.
This is exactly right and, moreover, completely intolerable. If we really care about what's right and good, then we should take greater care to work out what really is right and good, rather than just getting huffy at the opposing tribe whenever an opportunity presents itself. It's not a priori that our team is always right, after all. But too many moralists seems to assume exactly that -- casting doubt on the sincerity of their "moral concern".
Of broader concern is the fact that we get the democracy we deserve. So, to avoid screwing up the world too badly, we really ought to start acting like better citizens. Partisanship is simply evil, and so are we insofar as we enable and perpetuate it.
A sad illustration of this can be found in this comments thread at the Feminist Philosophers blog, where the inaptronymic 'Dove' starts yelling and swearing at another commenter for pointing out that there's an uncontroversial sense in which "there are too many abortions" is true. Shameful. I mean, what are the chances of coming to the right result if one cannot even think straight? Multiply that by a few million, and ta-da: welcome to our democracy.
It's noteworthy how tribalism precludes good-faith cooperation among diverse parties. Anyone who so appears to deviate from the accepted party line is immediately ostracized, labelled as the "enemy", and attacked accordingly. No longer can we question and inquire together towards an ideal of the common good that is recognized as potentially outstripping our present beliefs. Without the shared commitment to rationalism, we're left with a shallow and belligerent subjectivism: either you're with me, or you're against me. Now, where's my gun?