I saw these signs while I was walking the other day. I have seen variations before on the Internet, but seeing them so proudly displayed in the neighborhood motivated me to give a quick response to each of their points.
Nathan J. Robinson has defined a platitude as "a trite, meaningless, or prosaic statement, often used as a thought-terminating cliché, aimed at quelling social, emotional, or cognitive unease" ("The Use of Platitudes," Current Affairs). The signs pictured express leftist platitudes.
1) SCIENCE IS REAL
Of course science is real. Who exactly denies that the practice of understanding the empirical world is real? Yes, many philosophers of science are antirealist. That is, they do not believe science tells us anything about the world strictly speaking. Statements of science turn out to be useful fictions. A number hold this applies only to unobservable, theoretical entities like quarks. Nonetheless, no one denies the reality of the practice of science.
Further, as noted philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn famously demonstrated in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the history of science has had radically changed theories or as he referred to them, "paradigm shifts". Who today would be so obtuse to claim that Copernicus was a science denier when he offered his heliocentric view of the universe that went against the well-established Ptolemaic geocentric view of the universe? Keep in mind it is not simply a matter of refining a theory to get closer to the truth. There have been many whole replacements of one theory for another. For example, take the change from phlogiston based chemistry to oxygen based chemistry. Predominant theories may be in vogue one day, but that does not entail they will always be that way. When detractors arise, they are obviously still working within the scientific field.
The problem is that leftists think that when the majority of scientists agree with their position and this goes against a conservative or traditional position, then the latter are ignorant Neanderthals who are out of touch with reality. Nonetheless, it is not that the latter denies science. It is just that the latter disagrees with the former and at least some of that disagreement may in fact be on the basis of science itself.
Leftists need to be much more charitable here. Imagine if conservatives told leftists that science is real and they are science deniers because they refuse to acknowledge basic biology/embryology that once an egg is united with a sperm, a new human being forms with its own DNA. Of course leftists are denying the science here for obvious reasons. However, that is quite different from saying that leftists don't think science is real. Specificity in language should always be valued.
2) BLACK LIVES MATTER
Of course Black lives matter. Only a pigheaded racist would think otherwise. However, most conservatives are not racist and their hearts ache for Blacks when injustice is perpetrated against them.
A number of leftists now want to call all Whites systemic racists for upholding an oppressive, unfair system against Blacks. This is the basic position of Critical Race Theory (CRT). However, this generality is just not true. Obviously not all Whites are systemic racists. There are Woke Whites, for example.
Further, just because most non-Wokes (which includes many Blacks, by the way) don't see things the same as Wokes does not necessarily imply that the former are racists. The issue is a debate over the material content of the formal principle of racism. Some consider a certain action, law, or policy as racist while others don't see a certain action, law, or policy as necessarily racist. Many non-Wokes are open to a rational discussion on whether a certain action, law, or policy is in fact unfairly racist and would be willing to replace it with something better if an alternative is offered. They have no hatred for Blacks at all and want the best for them, but are not convinced that they should always submit to the most vocal members of the Black community in meeting all their demands. No one is perfect, and that includes these most vocal members. As such, the latter need to persuade the non-Woke, non-racists that a certain position should be accepted. The former also should charitably give the latter the benefit of the doubt concerning their hatred of racism and stop threatening violence if agreement is not met. Only a childish hater would threaten violence if one does not follow all the hater's wishes.
The basic problem with the "BLM" slogan is how it appears to many to be a front for a Marxist organization that hates traditional values. It is a bait and switch. Doubt me? Then why are only their specific problems addressed rather than all the Black on Black violence? I mean, if this organization really cared about Blacks, then why focus on a special problem of White cop violence against Blacks, which many a time turns out to be false? As a conservative, valuing the lives of Blacks, for example, entails pushing back against those who want to defund the police, against those who want to enslave Blacks as permanent welfare recipients and enslaving them to failing urban public schools, and against those who promote aborting Black children rather than supporting them being adopted. However, none of these values may be found within the BLM organization. Am I really in favor of systemic racism because I do not tow the BLM line on these particular issues? If that is the conclusion, then I claim it is myopic. It would be just as myopic if I began referring to leftists as systemic racists for promoting their positions that I find hurt Blacks. For more on all this, see Rev. Ben Johnson's "Explainer: What does 'Black Lives Matter' believe?".
3) LOVE IS LOVE
Really? Incestuous love is still love? Polygamist love is still love? Bestiality love is still love? Necrophilia love is love? Adulterous love is still love? Toby Dorr destroying her family and marriage by falling in love with a prison inmate and helping him to escape is still love?
The Bible defines love as not "self-seeking" and "rejoicing in the truth" (1 Corinthians 13:5-6). All other so-called love really is not love, but lust. The basic point of this third platitude is to legitimize LGBTQIA etc. lifestyles. However, homosexual love is a distortion of the truth of how the Creator intended marriage to function, and as such, homosexual love really is not love. Gay marriage is an abomination to the Originator of marriage.
4) WOMEN'S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS
This is code for women having the right to an abortion. The woman-child in the womb is not given any such human right. All that matters ultimately is the mother having a choice whether to give life to her unborn child or to take it. Why is that called a human right? An individual does not have that right outside of the womb where a child is still separate but equally dependent, so why should a mother have a right to stop the life of the separate, but dependent body growing inside her? A woman in the United States has been given that right by our government, but just because a government gives this right does not entail it is a human right. There is no human right for slavery, for example. However, the US government used to give that right to others. As a pro-lifer, I am arguing that there is no human right to murder an innocent child.
5) NO HUMAN BEING IS ILLEGAL
Really? Tell that to all those in prison. All of us have done illegal things (e.g., we have all defied speed limits). However, not all of us should be isolated from the rest of the public. Of course there are valid reasons for isolating or imprisoning. We don't want people who have a serious disregard for the law living with the rest of society because we value peace and relative safety, for example.
Where this fifth platitude is particularly relevant is the whole immigration controversy. Our society has deemed those who enter our country illegally as "illegal aliens." Many of them (probably most) pose no significant harm to others and many of these illegal aliens have found it important enough to be here despite their status. Many contribute in beneficial ways to society. Nonetheless, some still are a danger to society and that is why we have a vetting system in play. Regardless of one's view on how these aliens are to be treated, they are still illegal if they have not entered into and submitted to our legal system in order to become citizens.
6) KINDNESS IS EVERYTHING
The Bible says that love is kind (1 Cor. 13:4). However, the Bible does not teach that kindness is everything. As has been already pointed out, there are other features of love. Further, sometimes kindness demands correcting leftist platitudes.
Also, the leftists who displayed these signs recognize that kindness is not everything. Why? Because they took it upon themselves to upset others who do not share their view on these matters. Leftists may claim that the offense was justified due to kindness. If that is the case, then a conservative may also claim that stating their positions are also justified due to kindness.
What is really going on with this particular platitude? It seems that the leftist is really accusing the non-leftist of being unkind for simply not agreeing with them. However, this is myopic and simply begs the question in favor of the leftist's own material content for what counts as kindness. This is similar to what CRT does with labeling Whites as oppressors who do not buy the material content of what the most vocal CRT advocates deem racist.
Take the gay marriage issue again, for example. Leftists assume anyone who denies this pleasure must simply be unkind. But that does not necessarily follow. If the traditionalist is right, then one is not being unkind by standing against it. If the Creator exists and has a design for marriage, then anything that goes against this is going to be destructive in one way or another... even if the traditionalist is at a loss to explain how exactly that is the case. It is not that the traditionalist is wanting to be an insensitive jerk; it is simply that the traditionalists wants to uphold what is taken to be the truth. So if the leftist claims he or she is not being an insensitive jerk by sharing their ideas of gay marriage, then a traditionalists can also claim he or she is not being an insensitive jerk by sharing traditional ideas of marriage.
The basic problem is that the leftist thinks without much reflection that discrimination of any sort is an inherent evil. But why assume that? In fact, even the leftist discriminates. For example, the leftist typically sustains the legal system which discriminates every time a law is followed. A law by definition discriminates those who follow from those that don't. The type of equality that is really promoted is a Marxist notion of equity where classes are destroyed and the machine produces the same product. However, that is a miserable life of discontentment that just does not work in the real world. So the fundamental issue should not be discrimination; the fundamental issue ought to be what is the right thing to do... regardless of one's feelings on the matter. If gay marriage is not the right thing to do, then the kind thing is to rejoice in the truth and condemn gay marriage as sin. What this reveals is that kindness is not the prior issue; truth is. And this also reveals that kindness is not everything.
R. M. Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United
West Jordan, UT
September 2, 2021