Make America Great Again hat

MAGA hat by R. Nial Bradshaw, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original

Think Progress‘s LGBTQ writer Zack Ford wants you to know, that when it comes to politics versus friendships, he will choose politics every time.

Ford, who is also infamous for accusing women who don’t want men in their bathrooms of “bigotry” and “transphobia”, has a newsletter he sends out periodically. He shared the link to a recent one on his Twitter feed in which he talked about a longtime friend who he saw in a photo wearing a MAGA hat.

Here’s what Ford wrote in his newsletter (if you click on the link, scroll to the bottom in order to bypass the other random nonsense):

As I was browsing Facebook last night, I saw a picture of an old high school friend celebrating the Fourth of July with her daughter on her lap. She was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.

Now, this friend and her family are evangelical Christians, and I’ve definitely disagreed with them on many things. But we’ve had respectful conversations about many topics in the past, even on the very personal issue of their anti-gay beliefs, and I believed that there was still mutual respect despite these significant disagreements. I’ve even stayed in their home in the past. But seeing her proudly wearing a MAGA hat in public — and with her daughter no less — violated this accord deeply.

It’s not just a hat. It’s a symbol of all of the oppression and injustice the Trump administration is responsible for. It’s an endorsement of caging kids, banning Muslims, firing trans people, and dozens of other ways Trump has undermined our democracy — up to and including the fascist military display that graced the National Mall last night. More than anything, “MAGA” represents the idea that some human lives are worth more than others.

I explained all of this to my old friend. To those inclined to reject the humanity of any particular group, a MAGA hat is a symbol of affirmation — license and encouragement to continue holding those beliefs. To members of those many rejected groups, it’s a threat — a warning that such prejudice is welcome in that person’s vicinity (and may come from them directly). It’s unacceptable to me to be subjected to that symbol from someone with whom I hypothetically have mutual trust.

I gave my friend an ultimatum. I told her I wouldn’t unfriend her so long as she apologized for wearing the hat and promised me I wouldn’t have to see it in my feed again. When she claimed I was trying to police her beliefs, I corrected her, pointing out that my conditions only regarded the hat, not her position on any particular issue. When she claimed that she’s equally offended by the Pride flag, I corrected her again, explaining that objecting to a symbol of inclusion is in no way comparable to objecting to a symbol of exclusion and that she was making a false equivalency. When she said, “If I can’t have an opinion about something then I guess I don’t really live in a free country,” I knew there was no longer enough common ground for us to have a relationship.

He unfriended her. It sounds like she got the better end of the deal on that one:

I know it’s not totally uncommon for friendships to end over politics. Sometimes people just drift apart because they no longer share the same values. Or because there were misunderstandings about one or the other (or both’s) political beliefs. But I can’t imagine seeing a friend who wears merch that expresses political beliefs that are the opposite of mine and just assuming the worst about them because they’re wearing it.

If I’ve known them long enough, I have a pretty good idea what kind of heart they have, and am confident that their disagreements with me are in good faith. There wouldn’t need to be any “conversation”, as Ford initiated with his friend. And there would certainly not be any “ultimatums” issued.

But that’s not how politics-obsessed virtue signalers like Ford choose to view things. He chose to see the worst in his friend even after knowing her for so long because for the Zack Fords of the world (and there are plenty out there like him), everything, and I do mean everything must be viewed from the prism of politics. Government is god to them. If you dare stray from their worldviews, you’re committing a sacrilege. And, to them, you’ve struck out.

There are plenty of people who support Trump for completely legit reasons unrelated to any alleged bigotry, intolerance etc. Just as there are people on Ford’s side who support Democratic politicians for completely legit reasons unrelated to any alleged socialistic desires, love for abortion, or anti-religious bigotry, etc.

Simply put, it is okay to have friends who disagree with you politically. If your political discussions get too heated, you can agree to disagree and move on. You can suggest politics be an off-limit topic if need be.

Can you imagine how boring and closed off the world would be if people only associated with like-minded people? That’s how Zack Ford types want it to be, but that’s not how it should be.

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— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –