An interesting essay by Bulldog at Maggie's Farm - a site which should be a daily read for you - on empathy and whether people can use it as a weapon to shame you into agreeing with somebody else's, um, stupidity: Has Lack of Empathy Been Pathologized?
I posted the following comment there (copied here with a slight edit for style):
Empathy is important, but it cannot be used to disallow all disagreement with someone else's opinions. That's um, crazy and ridiculous.
A person's opinions exist independently of who they are as a person. The fact that those opinions are "theirs" is true enough, but they can also change their opinions over time (let's hope so!) so while today you might disagree with their opinion on Trump or whatever, someday their opinion might change and at that time you might agree with them. So ... we agree and disagree not with the emotional center of a person, via empathy, but with the opinions they express, their rational side.
I'm with you Bulldog - people who so strongly tie their entire identity to their opinions and insist that any disagreement with any of their opinions is automatically an affront to them *personally*, well, sorry, that's 7th grade. I've moved on from 7th grade.