Spies and Saboteurs

Steven Barnes
5 min readApr 12, 2020

I had a conversation with Tananarive about dealing with political opponents on my page. My attitude is that I have to deal with them from a primarily philosophical position, and have no taste for banning them just because they vote for someone else. As I think these are extraordinary times, I do admit that there is greater pressure, and I have to take that seriously — but refuse to let it change me. I know that is part of what some of them want: to either exploit what they see as a loophole, or drag me down into a world where lies are better than the truth.

Is it true? No. Is it useful? You betcha.

So I know that there are people who try to take advantage of that, appealing to a sense of fair play in order to convey their message, or sow discord. And I have to deal with that. We must be who we are, and not allow the world to change us to something we are not.

For instance: some people will show up and point out a perceived flaw in your candidate or side. If this flaw is exclusive to him, or to your side, it is rational to point this out (“What is true?”) but if it is not, if they ignore equal or greater flaws on their own side, in their own candidate, then it is not philosophy, it is politics (“how can I win?”).

If wearing the colors of their team openly, that is honorable. But if they pretend to be neutral, or even on your side, they are in essence spies. Saboteurs.

So if I am a Y, and this is an X and presents himself as such, this person might be told a thread or gathering is private, and their input is not desired. I’ve had to do this on some racial and climate issues, for instance: people wanted to slow or distract or disrupt the discussion, masquerading as people who just need endless explanations because they genuinely do not understand. If they really, truly do not understand…they may have to stand aside. Not everyone is capable of understanding. They may even be correct, but the reality is that once you decide to act, you must ACT…but with integrity, remembering that you might be wrong, and it is best to be kind.

If this opposition openly wears the uniform of the opposition, I can admire them. I’ve had friends who are honest racists. BUT THEY WERE COURTEOUS, KIND, AND DIDN’T PRETEND TO BELIEVE IN EQUALITY. Liars here might as well be in blackface, pretending to be black and constantly trashing any leader you might try to align with, any plan you try to implement. Their goal is to maintain power, not to gain clarity or…

Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts. www.lifewritingpodcast.com.