Hatred of Hatred of Hatred

March 23, 2010 at 8:27 pm (By Realpc)

I was at the coffee machine at work and somehow another liberal conversation broke out. There were the usual comments about the stupid Christian southerners and about the wonders of diversity, etc. I struggled to keep my mouth shut, while over-reacting inwardly. Why do I hate to hear this kind of conversation? I decided it’s because, in trying to be oh so tolerant and kind, they are actually expressing hatred for the Christian southerners. They are hating the hatred. And I felt myself hating their hatred of hatred.

And I got really confused.

It sort of reminds me of the folk music movement of the 1960s. The folk musicians expressed appreciation of the art of ordinary rural folk. The movement stood for protecting and respecting the ordinary person. But at the same time, the folk music movement’s values were at odds with rural folk values.

The rural folk are mostly traditional, conservative and family-oriented. They are not idealists or utopians or socialists. They are not Marxists or atheists. They are not overly tolerant of “weird” ideas or people.

My liberal co-workers congratulate themselves on their educated open-mindedness and their compassion. And who can disagree with all that? I hate intolerance and bigotry as much as they do. I belong to an ethnic minority so of course I have been a terrified target of hate.

At the same time I believe that hate, in one form or another, is inevitable, and becomes more so as our civilization grows ever more impossibly complex. Progressives see us marching toward ever-increasing tolerance and love, while I see us marching over a cliff.

Well maybe not. I don’t pretend to know where we’re marching to. I just know it isn’t Utopia. And I know we are not growing more loving. We are more tolerant of racial and ethnic differences, and of unconventional sexual orientations. But we have replaced these with other targets for our intolerance and hatred.

Looking down at, and even hating, the ignorant folk that you are supposedly trying to help is an old liberal tradition.

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14 Comments

  1. William O. B'Livion said,

    What causes you distress is knowing that these people, your cow-orkers, are wrong. Understanding that these associates of yours, maybe even people you consider friends or almost friends are the sort of narrow minded bigot that they complain about and you yourself claim to hate.

    And that you sort of want to say something, but you’re a bit afraid of their approbation. Which also bothers you, because you think better of yourself than that.

    Then again, I don’t know you, I’m not a psychologist, and the last time I had to listen to a bunch of dirtbags get all racist I drank half a bottle of whiskey and may have started a family schism.

  2. HKatz said,

    It’s in large part the complacency that frustrates me in such situations. They believe that there’s hatred and intolerance out there but that it somehow doesn’t color their thoughts; and if you point out to them that they are targeting certain groups, most of the time they won’t care – the groups they hate are beyond redeemable, are bigots, etc. so it’s ok to hate them.

    The human mind can rationalize and justify pretty much anything.

    And I agree it’s tough in such situations to call people out on their actions. Even if you do it gently, they tend to stare at you suspiciously, as if they never suspected there was someone among them who thinks this way.

  3. amba12 said,

    Cow-orkers? Don’t go orking any cows! Karen will get mad!

    No offense meant, William — just having fun with typos.

    When I was young and liberal we used to say, “I’m prejudiced against prejudice.” Were we dimly aware that there was a trap there?

    Liberals who wanted to be broad-minded romanticized minorities, loving those who had been despised (there was real curiosity there, but also patronizing and self-congratulation; Jewish liberals should know this if they’d ever been on the receiving end of philosemitism). In the process they found a whole new group of people to despise. Prejudices depend on estrangement; it’s hard to stereotype someone you know. Upper-middle-class liberals often had (and have) very little contact with “traditional” working-class and small-business people. And in large part it didn’t occur to them that they could learn something by cultivating such contact (an exception I remember being the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party, which compelled its members to work in factories and “organize” in working-class communities). Ever see the movie “Joe”? Hardhat vs. hippie? That same divide has hardened. The more the “hippies” stayed away from the “hardhats,” the less they saw any reason to go near them. They turned them into stereotypes and caricatures, exactly the behavior they despised in racists. They were classic classists.

    More and more I see the left-right divide as resting on tectonic plates of social and educational class. The irony is that the higher our education, often, the lower our sense of reality.

  4. amba12 said,

    If you are a lapsed liberal who still has ties in your old world, you can be shocked by the crudity and hostility of the contempt otherwise refined people express towards people they don’t even know, mostly on educational and religious (or antireligious) grounds. It is definitely groupthink and a performance for the approbation of an audience of “one’s own kind,” just like racism. realpc has commented on this before: we almost seem to need to hate someone to energize and define ourselves. And now here WE are, hating the haters of the haters.

  5. realpc920 said,

    “we almost seem to need to hate someone to energize and define ourselves.”

    Yes that is true. I actually believe that hate is just as necessary as love. Love brings different things together, and hate keeps different things apart. This is true on a subatomic level also — without repelling forces (“hate”), everything would merge into oneness. Which happens to be how mystics describe the ultimate mystical experience — all love, all oneness, no hate, no separateness.

    We really owe it to ourselves, and to the universe in general, to hate as well as love. At least when we aren’t in the midst of a mystical experience.

    Another irony I have noticed with “liberals” is their political correctness only applies to race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. It definitely does not apply to age, and they always feel free to make insensitive age-ist remarks.

    And they have no sensitivity regarding religion. I have been religious since I was born (in spite of being raised in a secular jewish utterly liberal family).

    When these “liberals” were laughing about religion, did they ever consider that I could possibly be a devout follower of judaism? I actually don’t belong to any organized religion, but what if I did?

    Did they worry for one second that someone in the room might feel offended by their insensitive remarks? No, never. But if I were black or homosexual they would be oh so careful and sensitive.

  6. Danny said,

    Oy, oy, oy, I am suffocating under the weight of all these gross generalizations about liberals. They, they, they, they, they…always do this…have no sensitivity about that. Age-ist remarks? Laughing openly about religious people? What buffoons is realpc observing? Certainly not any of the self-described liberals I know. And why is all concern for issues of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation ascribed to political correctness? Is it possible there are people who feel strongly about discrimination in these areas and feel compelled to work against it? But let’s agree that there are obnoxious, self-righteous boobs on both sides of the political spectrum. If I saw so-called liberals acting the way you described (and I know they’re out there), I’d be horrified, as I frequently am at the appalling antics of the so-called “tea party” folks.

  7. realpc920 said,

    ” If I saw so-called liberals acting the way you described (and I know they’re out there), I’d be horrified”

    If you are one of their crowd, you might never notice. It is so utterly normal for leftists (whatever that word means this minute) to despise and ridicule religion, it is almost impossible that you haven’t ever seen it. And just about EVERYONE in contemporary America is age-ist. Especially people who are old or middle-aged themselves. You can’t possibly have a good memory if you’re over 40. THAT is a generalization and unfair and can ruin people’s lives. But we have no politically correct tabu against it.

  8. Danny said,

    Well, maybe because I’m 50 myself no one is saying those ageist things around me. But I still have to disagree with the liberals-hate-religion argument. Obviously you’re seeing it, but I’m not at all in my circles. Many of my liberal friends have a deep faith (including me) and mucho respect for religious practices and people. Not for the bat-shit-crazy Westboro type of “religious” fanatics, of course, or anyone else who uses the name of God to hate and persecute. Where are you located? I’m in the liberal bastion of the world (Los Angeles) and I truly don’t experience this…at least not in MY lefty enclave! And I WOULD notice it because it would so repulse me. I’m not saying I’ve never heard the smug condescension of the left because I have, but I still think your generalizations are over the top.

  9. Icepick said,

    I’m not saying I’ve never heard the smug condescension of the left because I have, but I still think your generalizations are over the top.

    And

    If I saw so-called liberals acting the way you described (and I know they’re out there), I’d be horrified, as I frequently am at the appalling antics of the so-called “tea party” folks.

    Hmm.

  10. Danny said,

    Touché, Icepick. Will we ever be able to shake our tendency to make generalizations about certain groups to fit our world view? I will say that on Annie Gottlieb’s sites, and to a lesser extent on my own blog, I’ve been able to engage in true dialogue (sometimes) with people who have wildly different points of view than my own. Long live the Internet!

  11. realpc said,

    “Will we ever be able to shake our tendency to make generalizations about certain groups to fit our world view?”

    No. We must have a world view and we must make generalizations. My generalizations might seem wrong to you, but the fact that I made them means they seem right to me.

  12. Danny said,

    Okay…but I think such generalizations should always be questioned or we will end up even more polarized than we already are.

  13. William O. B'Livion said,

    Ambia:

    It’s not a typo–I’ve been using that for about a decade. When you’re two or more standard deviations to the right side of the bell curve, your parents raised you to work hard and earn your living, and you are at best borderline Aspergers, it does seem like most of the people around you are indeed orking cows instead of working.

    As to being prejudice against prejudice, as a rather inane afterschool show pointed out years ago prejudice comes from pre-judge.

    Prejudice is just a function of being human. Anyone who didn’t realize that by the time they finished college really just didn’t want to. The important part is to understand and accept this, and to work to make sure your prejudices map to viable and realistic characteristics.

    Bigotry is another matter all together. It’s still a human trait, but it must be ruthlessly suppressed.

  14. realpc said,

    “it does seem like most of the people around you are indeed orking cows instead of working.”

    I think this is an affirmation of the fact that we can’t escape being judgmental.

    “Bigotry is another matter all together. It’s still a human trait, but it must be ruthlessly suppressed.”

    It would be hard to decide in each case what is bigotry and what is prejudice and what is common sense or wisdom.

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