Tougaw: ‘Smashing Socialism’ protests show how emotions spark political divide

Ryan Tougaw

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

Charlie Kirk’s “Smashing Socialism” event was bound to bring an element of tension to Colorado State Universities campus. Political events at universities have been drawing crowds of protestors recently, and Charlie Kirks event did just that. 

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I had the opportunity to witness the events first hand, including the clash between Antifa and white supremacist Neo-Nazis. After asking members of every political affiliation the same questions, I found an interesting pattern in response. 

I asked groups of people the same questions in order to get a feel for what everyone was thinking on this very topic:

1. How is political culture in America?

2. Would you be open to dialogue with groups whose ideology differs from yours?

3. How do we go forward from here?

What blew my mind was that every answer was the same. From the socialists, to the MAGA hat-wearing Trump crowd to the TPUSA member.

The overall consensus was that a). politics were very polar, b). People said they more than willing to have dialogue with the other side (contrary to what some would think) and c).  people across the board agreed that the way to fix the partisanship in this country is to encourage more dialogue. 

I also noticed many interviewees refer to opposing ideologies as ‘echo chambers.’ They all believed that the other side only listens to similar views that uphold personal biases and didn’t make an effort to hear opinions of the other side.

It would seem that facts and statistics have been marginalized in favor of a more emotive style of politics that succeeds in motivating people in a way that facts don’t seem to anymore. Even when presented with facts and statistics that are objectively true, all of us are resistant to them because they don’t line up with our world view.

Kirk’s event was a prime example. Charlie Kirk, all thoughts on him aside, brought some very relevant and objectively accurate statistics. In turn, people in the Q&A also brought some relevant statistics that were equally true. Regardless, people’s opinions remained unchanged, if not fortified, simply by virtue of just hearing an opposing viewpoint

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Antifa and Neo-Nazis clash on CSU’s Plaza following the Charlie Kirk presentation in the LSC. The group was observed fighting and pushed out of campus by police. (Tony Villalobos May | Collegian)

This is relevant in many major news sites both on cable television and on the internet. Many of the stories are done in a way that appeals to the negative emotions of people, namely anger and frustration, in order to motivate them to feel a certain way or another. 

At ‘Smashing Socialism,’ people were reacting with emotion on both sides.  People outside the event were calling Kirk a Nazi because of his viewpoints, which is a wildly inappropriate accusation. Instead of questioning his argument, people are questioning his morality and integrity. 

The majority of the people outside didn’t even go to his event to hear what he had to say. They believe his character to be so flawed that he isn’t even worth listening to, only protested. Is it any wonder that politics are so polar if people can’t even stand to listen to a contrasting viewpoint? This obviously contradicts what they told me about their desire to entertain dialogue with the opposing side.It is imperative remember, with Kirk in mind, that people with differing viewpoints are not evil nor stupid nor dangerous, unless they happen to be members of organizations like Antifa or the TWP, in which case they are dangerous and should be dispensed with immediately. 

Kirk, an ardent conservative and Trump supporter, made it plainly obvious very early on in his speech that he was not associated with the TWP and that their positions were not something he condoned.

Kirk is certainly a very conservative person and he made it a point to dissociate himself with these organizations, showing that sensible politics needs to occur unencumbered by these violent groups. 

Politics is a realm where the efficient exchange of ideas is of utmost importance. It cannot be permissible for politics to be corrupted by thugs in masks or helmets, threatening to commit acts of violence against others because of their immutable characteristics or political ideology. 

Politics is a realm where the efficient exchange of ideas is of utmost importance. It cannot be permissible for politics to be corrupted by thugs in masks or helmets, threatening to commit acts of violence against others because of their immutable characteristics or political ideology. 

Allowing emotion to run unchecked in place of a rational and objective approach to policy making is what gives rise and credence to these fringe groups we should all detest.

Emotion is what allows the TWP to claim that they want an ethnostate, because they simply feel impinged upon. Needless to say, there is ZERO objective justification for this position and it serves as a great example of why we must reemphasize an objective approach to our political stances.

The melee that these two groups were involved in is the ultimate example of what the culmination of too much emotion in politics can lead to. In order to resort to violence over political disagreements, the emotions of either group must be through the roof. 

Letting emotion run our political views succeeds in nothing but polarizing us even further. 

Ryan Tougaw can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @rjtougaw