Addicted to Outraged With No Point

What could go wrong with drinking in a Beijing brewery and yelling about politics?

“There’s this part of me that believes that Trump supporters can and may see reason if presented with in the right way. So I decided to put on my best Joe Rogan conversational bro-jitsu… boy was I wrong”

I think that Republicans, 70’s and onward, have been misguided; the most lied to party in the United States. But now we have social media. Now we see the facade for what it is. But that doesn’t mean Republican’s see it the way we, Liberals/Progressives see it. I don’t know what can make them. But I know we still have to try.

Beijing has a wonderful brewery aptly named, Great Leap. It’s a rowdy place, people drinking the long workdays away, washing the taste of the pollution down with marginally overpriced beer.

I was there pitching an app to a developer and we were a few beers deep, excited about his reaction and feeling that peculiar synergy when your ideas and another person’s are harmonizing. (Which, never mistake that to mean you have a good idea.)

The table behind us was getting a bit drunker and louder as they poured the well brewed beers onto the fray of conversation they were laying out for anyone within earshot of the rooftop bar. The night falling warmly in Beijing’s late spring. The last of the flowers of trees having bloomed and fallen on the streets, making a mess for all the street cleaners.

I was finished with my pitch having hastily sketched out the idea to the developer and us agreeing to make a Notion sheet to put together the wireframe. And that’s when I started tuning in to the cacophony that was the other table drunkenly arguing amicably about George Floyd.

We are out here in China, far, far from all the nastiness going on in America, for some like myself, I desperately needed the distance from America’s most entrenched problems. For some people they stay just as tuned into the constant stream of outrage that’s become our media, sensationalized on the left and right, reducing complexity to spectacle.

Jeff was loudly exclaiming that a Guidelines poster that was put out at George Floyd Square was racist. Funny enough… the app I’m trying to build is for civilizing debate. So I guess I couldn’t help but jump in. I recognized the guy bloviating anyhow.

Beijing is a small place. I do stand-up comedy sometimes, this particular expat had heckled me and I’d heckled back. I knew he was a Trump supporter, but he’s a self-proclaimed “good-ones”. IE he won’t threaten you with violence just for having a difference of opinion.

George Floyd Square “Rules”

I asked if I could jump in on this one. As the table had talked to us before, and they invited myself and my friend on over. One thing I do love about our expat community is we may be nuts but we’re inclusive in our nuttery.

There’s this part of me that believes that Trump supporters can and may see reason if presented with in the right way. So I decided to put on my best Joe Rogan conversational bro-jitsu. I agreed with the guy outright. I said, “You know what, I also have a problem with the left being so focused on Identity.”

And I genuinely do. Definitely not in this instance but hey, something's gotta create some common ground.

“Yeah!” Jeff heartily agreed. “It’s like they’re trying to divide us up. We’re all Americans. And if they can’t acknowledge that then they’re the racists!”

“I do want to point out that they used the phrase, ‘In particular’ though. That does mean that this applies to everyone. It just applies to white people, especially.” I said, trying to get past the thick of the fog of absolute bullshit in that statement.

“If I wrote, ‘Black people in particular can’t do X’, I’d get dragged and called a racist by everyone!” Jeff said.

“Yeah, that’s because that would be racist.”

“Then why isn’t it racist to do the opposite?” Jeff asked.

I genuinely think it’s a fair question, why are some things pointed at white people, not racist. When if you did the reverse it would be racist. The Republican favorite, “That’s Reverse Racism!”

And the reason as I explained to Jeff is pretty simple, “You want to embrace a definition of racism that absolves you of the impact of slavery and the current reality and impact of racism today.” I paused and took a long pull from the beer to let that sink in. “You want the definition of racism without the history of racism in it so that you don’t have to bother with it.”

Jeff didn’t agree. He had further protestations. They aren’t worth engaging because at the end of the day some arguments are worth hearing. Some just make the listener worse off for being hit by.

I finished the conversation with Jeff by going through the rules with him.

“The first rule on here says ‘decenter yourself and come to listen, learn, mourn and witness.’ You’ve literally centered yourself to this issue. A man is dead, dead at the hand of a white man. And you’re not listening. You’re definitely not learning and you’re mad we aren’t seeing your point.”

Jeff wasn’t perturbed by this. He just said, “I am just saying it’s reverse racism. I’m not centering myself.”

“We aren’t talking about George here. Instead here we are talking about you. The second rule, ‘be mindful of your volume…’ we’ve all had to mention we’re on a rooftop and we can’t yell to you.”

“Fair enough. I’m not yelling, it’s just easy to talk too loud.” Jeff said with a visible shrug.

“The third rule is ‘Seek to contribute energy to the space…’ Jeff. We are all sitting here explaining to you why George Floyd’s death isn’t a time for you to take to get outraged and it’s exhausting.”

“I didn’t ask you to do that.” Jeff said.

But we’re Americans. We love engaging with outrage. And perhaps that’s part of our problem.

I quit hammering my head into the brick wall that was Jeff’s balding forehead. I just had some more drinks and enjoyed my night with some expats drinking in China and enjoying the fact that I live in a country like China that doesn’t have a police force that carries guns, that doesn’t kill people ALL THE TIME like they do in America. I enjoyed the fact that I’ve never had a bad interaction with police here because they aren’t the literal bully squad they’re allowed to be in the world’s “best” Democracy.

But as I drank, I realized something. Jeff didn’t care at all about arguments or the perception others have of him. He only enjoyed the outrage he was feeling. It was like a drug to him, his arms up, his hands raised to the sky like some shaman instead of calling rain summoning our collective censure at his lack of empathy. But he didn’t mind. He fed off that negative energy as well.

I don’t have the answer here but I know our country suffers from these unique ills that in many other places they just don’t give media the running room to get people addicted to this peculiar drug. White people in particular.

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Comedian, writer, programmer, Navy Veteran.

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Josh Oftenly

Josh Oftenly

Comedian, writer, programmer, Navy Veteran.

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