Tish Harrison Warren at NYT:

Our tendency to adopt polarizing and moralistic patterns of speech is turbo-boosted by a social media architecture that encourages animosity toward outgroups.  But this hatred toward our opponents and the accompanying habit of moralism is destroying us as people. To be clear, I am not saying that I find all the brief arguments I’ve listed above equally valid or true. And I’m certainly not saying that they don’t really matter or have enormous cultural ramifications. I’m saying that we cannot flourish as individuals or as a society if we cast all those who differ from us as moral monsters. To do so is a self-defensive move, and one that is ultimately self-defeating. If others’ views are simply morally indefensible, we don’t have to defend our own. We don’t have to consider complex arguments or where we might be shortsighted or biased. We certainly don’t have to be open to persuasion, since to change one’s mind is to join “the dark side.”

One way to repair our social discourse is to begin with the assumption that we are not wildly better or worse than anyone else. Each person who disagrees with me (and each who doesn’t) is, like me, a complex blend of insight, neurosis and sin, pure and impure motives, right on some things, wrong on others. There are, of course, limits to this. Essays like this inevitably meet with a response of, “What about Hitler?” or “What about George Wallace?” Charity doesn’t consign us to relativism. There are clearly times when one side is entirely right and one side is entirely wrong. But these kinds of clear moral lines are the exception in history. If we endow every issue with the moral clarity and urgency of the Holocaust or Jim Crow, we will not be able to adjudicate those many issues that are far more complex, where people of good faith can strongly disagree yet remain good neighbors. If we refuse this kind of good-faith argument, we cannot practice democracy. If our opponents are simply moral monsters, we will assume that they cannot be persuaded — only shamed, silenced or dominated.