One consequence of today’s politically polarized climate is that many are unwilling to tolerate views outside the safety of their echo chamber.
The polarization has led some companies to align their brand with the left-wing side of the aisle.
The result — right-leaning or middle-of-the-road people often find themselves afraid to step out of line, lest they lose their jobs.
In an interview with The Western Journal, Oefelein said the news was “perplexing” and she had trouble understanding the logic behind the decision.
There was never any indication that her job was in peril. It was not as if politics permeated Olefein’s work life.
The Alaska-based literary agent said she has never enjoyed discussing politics, nor does she even follow many political topics.
“I consider myself more middle of the road, and I lean right on some things, and I lean left on some things,” Oefelein told The Western Journal. “And I’m a Christian, so I have some Christian values that flow into that, too.”
Her more left-wing colleagues often discussed politics during monthly work conferences. But Oefelein was not bothered that her coworkers held differing views.
She knew they advocated for things she did not always agree with — but rather than condemn them for their opinions, Oefelein merely declined to participate in such discussions.
The former literary agent was unsure if her lack of participation in political discussions factored into the decision to fire her.
“Yeah, you just try to be a good person,” Oefelein said. “You try to be a good listener. And, you know, it just seems like now — it used to be it was okay to not take a side, to just be, you know, blissfully in the middle. “
“But now it feels like a lot of people in my industry, in the mainstream American publishing industry, really want social activists — and they want them to be on a certain side.”
Oefelein noted the consequence of inserting tribal politics into the publishing industry is it creates a culture of “intimidation.” She disclosed that various people in the industry — some of them authors seeking representation — have confided in her that they’re afraid of what will happen if they post or follow the wrong person on social media.
“And then they [are] just ruined, financially ruined, and their dreams will just go up in smoke, and just instantly without having done anything,” Oefelein told The Western Journal. “And they’re scared to even say that they’re scared if that makes sense.”
One of the authors that Oefelein represented confided in her that she had such an experience.
After voicing support for Oefelein on Twitter, the unnamed author received hundreds of notes, warning her to delete the post or else she would be “ruined.”
“She deleted her post. And I just thought, well, how terrible that you can’t — you don’t feel safe saying, standing up to say you think something’s wrong,” Oefelein said.
“And that’s, that for me is scary because when you feel intimidated to the point that you can’t say ‘that’s wrong,’ then I really think it becomes very chilling.”
Oefelein then expressed concerns about big companies setting a “trend” for discriminating against people based on their political affiliation. She noted that, in today’s “feverish” political climate, many appear to have ascribed a religious sense of value to politics.
While she does not see anything wrong with people holding “deep convictions” about politics, Oefelein said that political views should not be grounds for discrimination.
Since employers must protect employees’ religious convictions, Oefelein suggested the possibility of bestowing similar protections toward people’s political affiliations.
“I really don’t know. I really don’t know where this is heading or what’s happening,” Oefelein said. “I do feel like there’s some, you know, that employers do have the right to work with the employees that they want to, I think, to a certain extent.”
“But whenever, you know, their personal beliefs, their convictions — whether they’re religious or political — come to a point that they want to silence people because they disagree, I think that’s probably the point at which, you know, maybe things need to change a little bit, because it does get scary.”
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