What could we do?

We must reclaim the values of forgiveness, acceptance, discourse and inclusion.

Forgiveness, not retribution. There is a long progressive tradition speaking out against overly punitive incarceration. Progressives have long focused on preventing overcriminalization (eg. for minor offenses common in low-income and minority communities), rights for those imprisoned (eg voting), and rehabilitation and reintegration for past offenders. We should apply those same values to those that today break an element of woke orthodoxy.

Accept imperfection, and celebrate progress. No person or organization is perfect. Change will happen faster if we focus on celebrating and acknowledging positive steps forwards, rather than shooting down those that make progress because of past or present imperfections. 

Discourse, not dogma. Progressives have historically spoken out against religious dogma and advocated for scientific method and philosophy, Valuing discourse means we enter conversations with curiosity and humility: willing to genuinely consider where we might be wrong, or find validity in an alternative perspective. No one is above explaining their perspective. We retain a high bar for ‘harm’ in discourse, and avoid conflating it with discomfort. As one immediate example, we drafted an attempt to outline good-faith arguments for both sides of every question in the woke quiz.

Inclusive curiosity, not exclusion. If you can’t articulate the argument for the ‘other side’ of an issue in a way that is intellectually coherent and ethically sound, I want to suggest that you don’t yet understand the issue strongly enough to believe it strongly. For example, if you want to strongly believe that Brexit is a bad idea, you need to be able to articulate the (intellectually coherent and ethically sound) argument for the benefits of brexit. We’ll all be better at doing this, the more we seek out and embrace those that disagree with us.

FROM (Woke response)TO (Progressive response)
Publicly vilify Amy Cooper, pressure her employer to fire herOutline the implicit bias we see, explain the context, seek an apology.
It is unequivocal that our next CEO must be blackLets invest in understanding and minimizing the impacts of implicity bias in our org, and actively invest in improving diversity, with clear goals and resourcing
If you support Trump I will remove you from my FacebookIt’s important and good that I understand why people I know are voting for trump, and that I include them in my circles
Brexit voters are racistThere are ethically sound and intellectually coherent arguments why Brexit is a good idea
White people’s opinions don’t matter on this issueLets make sure we’ve deeply heard and understood from those with lived experience on this issue

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I pledge to reclaim the values of forgiveness, acceptance, discourse and inclusion.

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