I used to be very conservative; it is not unexpected when one grew up as an Indonesian Muslim. I don’t have labels to describe my current social stances; leftists may find me too liberal and liberals may find me too left-wing. But, I can definitely say I am no longer conservative in that department.
Recently, I found myself baffled: why are there conservatives who used to be liberal or left-wing? Specifically, why do some pro-diversity people end up as anti-diversity?
I have my own hypothesis. I base it on observations of white westerners online – especially the so-called “progressives” – and moderate Indonesian Muslims, which include my former self.
Sidenote: Moderate Indonesian Muslims are not liberal or left-wing in the slightest; they are conservatives who fancy themselves as accepting and tolerant, even though they have badmouthed interfaith romance and are racist against Chinese-Indonesians. They appear “progressive” because they are romanticised by wide-eyed foreigners, they are often compared to Islamists and moderate religious tolerance is the tradition here.
Now, for my hypothesis.
Some people are pro-diversity because they want to feel good about themselves. They want to feel it so bad, they miss the point of it all. As a result, they face some snags in their embrace of diversity.
They learn that embracing it requires more than just eating exotic foods, supporting more diverse fictional characters, sleeping with people of different skin colours and not committing pogroms. They realise they also have to learn traversing human differences; never mind the consequential ones, they even don’t know how to deal with the trivial ones.
Not only they don’t understand the values and worldview of the “others”, they also have bad experiences interacting with them. For them, if something is indecipherable, it deserves to be hated. If they have bad experiences with people of certain backgrounds, they think it is acceptable or even a must to demonise the entire groups. They just can’t help themselves from doing those.
They love othering the “others”, whom they perceive as nothing but giant monoliths. They think Asian-Americans are not divided to different subgroups and are the same as Asians in Asia. They think every true queer person was born with rainbow imagery planted in their minds. They stereotype their fellow human beings… just like the bigots do.
They also don’t care about how the “others” think and feel. They only care about pushing their thoughts and feelings onto the narratives. They hate how they are not worshipped for doing the bare minimum. They hate how they cannot make everything about themselves.
Sooner or later, they will have the realisation: not only pro-diversity belief cannot be exploited for their own benefits, it is also against the actual worldview they have been clinging onto and were in denial about. As a result, the “woke” – who was never “woke” in the first place – becomes “anti-woke”.
Obviously, like any hypotheses, mine must be “tested” before it becomes a theory. I am also too lazy to find out if someone else has thought about it (someone probably has).
But, one thing I am very certain of: I have met people who claim to be progressive and yet, they are guilty of the sins I describe above.
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