SELLERS: Leftists In for a Rude Awakening amid Efforts to Redefine ‘Empathy’

'I think I've had discussions w/enough Boomer-tier Trump supporters who believe the 2020 election was fraudulent to extract a general theory about their perspective...'

While the outrage over Critical Race Theory has put renewed scrutiny on bias and indoctrination in the classroom, the issue is nothing new.

In fact, the educational component is central to the radical Left’s longtime effort to manipulate and control the populace by taking basic facts that undermine its agenda and reframing the terms in friendlier ways that serve its social-engineering objectives.

This has led leftists to misappropriate concepts like “justice,” “equity” and “science”—instead redefining them, in true Orwellian form, to denote the opposite of what they should mean.

Several years ago, I encountered this bizarre phenomenon firsthand while interviewing for an English position at a prestigious, private boarding school in Virginia.

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I was asked to teach a class as a guest lecturer—a standard request at such institutions. However, it later became clear that I was being evaluated on certain unstated criteria, such as my ability to improvise when the online presentation I had spent hours preparing ahead of time would not run properly on the technology they had provided.

It didn’t go well, but I already had expected the worst after receiving the topic of the lesson: empathy.


The term empathy—basically, the ability to recognize and relate to the perspective of another—is often misunderstood and confused with the more emotionally resonant sympathy.

There is an abundance of great literature that aptly conveys the concept, such as Eugenia Collier’s short story “Marigolds” and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

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As I prepared for my sample lesson, though, I immediately sensed a trap.

It was obvious from the lead teacher’s instructions that what she wanted me to promote was some other concept, entirely different from what she claimed to be promoting.

While an antonym for the word empathy might be solipsism or egoism, the school’s curriculum defined the term, rather, as being the opposite of “spiritual meanness.”

The students had read an article about Hurricane Katrina and were discussing the role of empathy in recognizing the plight of displaced minority residents from New Orleans.

In essence, it appeared that the true purpose of my guest lecture was to see how well I could virtue-signal while incorporating woke dogma such as climate change and white privilege.

After much soul-searching, I decided not to take the bait.

Instead, I spoke my truth and fumbled through the technical difficulties as best I could, including a YouTube clip that featured an actual Hurricane Katrina survivor.

I also made a point of explaining the difference between empathy and sympathy.

No sooner had the bell rung than I was informed it would not be necessary for me to proceed with the scheduled afternoon interviews.

But a year later, I would find myself relocating to southern Louisiana, where I was able to cultivate my own empathy for its poverty-stricken, hurricane-afflicted residents—the kind that can only be achieved by walking a mile in their shoes.


It strikes me as particularly fitting that leftists should wish to redefine empathy, forcing it through the usual prism of multiculturalism, as if only marginalized, minority communities are worthy of it.

Sean Penn Katrina
Actor Sean Penn bails water from his boat while on a Hurricane Katrina ‘rescue’ mission. / IMAGE: @caconservatives via Twitter

After all, the act of trying to put one’s self in the position of another, to truly understand the reasoning and mindset of an unfamiliar viewpoint, is inherently incompatible with their own adamant belief that they are intellectually and morally superior.

Understanding the Left’s sanctimony is key to realizing what motivates its adherents, as well as what informs its irrational worldview and generous application of hypocritical double-standards.

Those on the Right, meanwhile, have become empathic masters from having so often been on the receiving end of the Left’s projective tendencies.

Conservatives embrace it as a necessary skill in formulating effective counterarguments to defend their positions against an incessant barrage of assaults and insults—be it from teachers, politicians, celebrities or others who attempt to wield some form of personal advantage as a cultural and political bludgeon.

Learning how to articulate one’s conservative views while exploring every nuanced facet of criticism in order to justify them to the shrieking collectivist masses has become second nature.

For instance, it’s fairly easy for a conservative to grasp a concept like “systemic racism”—and also to dismiss it as nonsense—since most have spent their entire lives being speciously labeled as “racist” by the true practitioners of casual racism.

Similarly, a widely circulated Twitter thread last week may have evoked, for many on the Right, their own frustration in trying to explain to those unwilling to listen why serious doubts still linger about the outcome of last year’s presidential election.

Tucker Carlson even devoted several minutes to reading the thread on his Friday night Fox News show, which naturally invited the derision of leftist bloggers.

Yet, what made the series of posts from podcaster MartyrMade so noteworthy was that he sought to step outside his own perspective and to approach the abuses heaped on Trump supporters as would a dispassionate onlooker.


Sadly, there is little interest on the Left in reciprocating this sort of dialogue when it is so much easier to censor it and label it as “disinformation.”

The resulting groupthink is dangerous for the country—but it is even more risky for the Left as an ideology, since it makes believers incapable of learning from their past failures.

After all, every one-way street eventually hits a dead end.

Inevitably, leftists’ certitude in their own righteous infallibility results in something like the 2016 election catching them entirely off-guard, leaving them no choice but to double down on the same illogical thought processes that got them there to begin with.

More and more, something similar is occuring under the Biden administration, as Democrats become aware that the reality facing the country is entirely unaligned from the rhetoric that its leaders are feeding the nation.

The push-back on failed policies—including coronavirus lockdowns, the border crisis, the defund the police movement and the race-baiting culture war that Democrats spent the past year fomenting—threatens to come back on them in droves, even while many remain incapable of listing a single achievement of the Biden administration.

Some Democrat party mavericks—such as James Carville, Bill Maher and Jon Stewart—have begun taking note of the impending disaster and sending out the distress beacon prior to next year’s midterm election.

But in all likelihood, that train has left the station already, with the Left’s broken moral compass sending it straight on a collision course with fed-up citizens whose own empathy reserves are long depleted.

Follow Ben Sellers on GETTR at gettr.com/user/bensellers.

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