Years ago when I started a teaching gig at a shitty community college in northwest Mississippi, two of my new colleagues took me to lunch as a welcome-to-the-shithole gesture. One of them was quite close to retirement and the other was about my age give-or-take, and somehow we got to talking about how the majority of black students in Mississippi struggle with passing writing courses, their literate abilities, studies indicate, locked-in at the 7-8th grade level. Lamenting this, and just out of my doctoral program's coursework leg, I mouthed some boilerplate about institutional racism, and my older colleague was having none of it. He said, and I'll never forget it, and I can still hear him in my mind: "What are you talking about? They are up there in Memphis killing each other about as fast as can be reasonably expected."
My blood pressure spiked and I saw a shade of red, and the reason for that is this colleague was supposed to agree with my assessment about blacks, and that was the real offense, I see now in retrospect. All of us academics are #1 presumed to be leftists, and #2, even then in 2010, everyone was supposed to be on board with the narratives of black victimhood. Clearly, with my fresh knowledge about critical pedagogies I had the duty to correct this old dinosaur, and I was about to tear into him when the other colleague sensed that things were about to get off on the wrong foot and diffused the situation by changing the subject.
Everything you ever really need to know about being a leftist is present in that anecdote:
1. Leftists have some form of education in critical theories. This could take a zillion different forms, and it may just be that they follow a group on facebook or something like that. Mine was pretty advanced as far as it goes, having read Freire and Shor and Stuckey and others. What you get out of that is that the world is oppressed and oppressors, and the rank and file people are stupid and possessed of a false consciousness. They are stupid and they are too stupid to know they are stupid (and sexist, and racist).
2. Naturally, you, the leftist, are not among the rank and file. You are more aware and therefore better than them.
3. Blacks are victims no matter what. No matter the metric, school performance, crime, teen pregnancy, doesn't matter. Any negative outcome for blacks is because of a system that works against them. "Systemic racism" or "institutional racism." Blacks bear no responsibility for themselves. Almost everyone on the left completely buys this no-questions-asked. It is worth repeating because it is such a key to understanding the left: Blacks are the perennial victims, no matter what.
4. Leftists assume that all of the world's intelligent people are also on the left. Academics assume this about each other, which offers special joys if you play along. Colleagues will tell you the weirdest shit when they assume you are on the same team. For example, leftists LOVED THE MASKS. I still find that the weirdest fucking thing ever. I had a colleague tell me that she wished the masks were permanent.
5. Anyone who is not on the left is either uninformed and ignorant, a stupid redneck rube, or evil. That's it.
6. Leftists are self-righteous and completely insufferable. Many, if not most, have some form of depression and/or mental illness. I can say for myself that I was in a shitty marriage working at a shitty community college and depression and alcoholism was a daily fight, fights that, having extricated myself from these bad scenes, I won (and consequently no longer identify as a leftist. These are correlated.)
7. You can't reason with a leftist in the moment. My colleague and I could have fought about it that day, but he was not about to convince me that the epidemic of black violence in Memphis was anything other than a manifestation of institutional racism. He did, however, plant that seed, and I give him credit for it. My thinking today is much more in line with is. So, I would say, don't talk to a leftist with the intent on winning an argument or convincing them of anything. Instead, take it as an opportunity to slide ideas into her brain. "Chicago has been under democratic control for 50 years. Imagine how much worst the murder rate would be if the republicans had been in charge." LOL.
8. Leftists do not actually care enough to structure their lives around their ideologies, for the most part. They believe what they are saying, don't get me wrong, but not enough to move into a black neighborhood or send their kids to an all-black public school.