In recent years, we’ve heard a lot of people, such as fans of Jon Stewart, or promoters of Americans Elect, call for unity. We all ought to just join together as “moderates” or “centrists”, to support common sense policies that everyone can agree upon. When asked what those common sense policies are, the promoters of unity either say that the details don’t matter, or they begin to describe policies that aren’t necessarily common sense, and aren’t something that everyone can agree upon.
What’s the big deal? Why can’t we just let unity be unity, and stop picking at the details? We have a couple good reasons:
1. We here at Irregular Times care about the details, and we especially care about the details of the promises that politicians make to us.
2. There’s a long history of extremism in the name of unity.
One episode in the long history of unity extremism began in Amsterdam 487 years ago today. King Charles the Fifth of the Netherlands decided to finally enforce laws prohibiting heresy, leading to 43 years of religious violence, in which over 1,300 “heretics” were killed. In this persecution, people could be executed merely for reading banned texts.
The justification for the killings was the desire for unity, which the monarchy said was essential for healthy communities, which were “injured by discord and feuds”.
Unity isn’t a product of peace. Respect for the free and vigorous expression of disagreements can be.