Hatred isn't only found on the fringe. It's also popular and mainstream. Exploring the canard of saving opposition to hate for the "real racists" to arrive.
The intentions part is incredibly frustrating to me. It somehow creeps into a broad range of conversations and it's always the final defense when there is no other leg to stand on. "Well they didn't mean to do that", is actually accepting someone's point and then excusing the result you've accepted.
When I was still on twitter, a lawyer, Jason Steed (?) described his thesis on the concept of "just joking," and I've not been able to think about that term the same way since. It's just what Andrew describes here - a way to push boundaries, to test resistance, to bully.
We need to be better at refusing to accept what they are handing out. Thank you, again, for your clear voice on our current time.
I love your writing, it has a voice of its own. Thank you for the generosity of your time to give words to thoughts.
I wonder what it would be like to have a political philosophy that you can't share openly, which always needs to be hidden behind "Just joking! Can't you take a joke?" I'm a socialist who thinks all health care and education should be free, and I just say that to people flat-out, in plain language. Am I doing it wrong? Should we come up with a secret hand-signal for "Single Payer"?
It might help if we started viewing dealing with bigotry as a health exercise. We build strength. We don’t just bide our time and then go deadlift a car off a victim. We build strength by exercising frequently. We push back on the “small” assaults on victims. And then maybe the car never traps anyone under it in the first place. Which is preferable. Especially for the victim.
(I’m murdering my analogy because I’m not a writer.)
Today's Reframe brought to mind two things for me.
One, that when I tried to warn my mother about who Trump was and what he stood for and what was due to be lost in the bargain, she accused me of being "an alarmist." And that's right... I was trying to sound the alarm BEFORE we inadvertently set the house on fire by embracing a malignant narcissist masquerading as a populist. My mom subsequently became an ardent Trump supporter and I eventually cut ties to save my sanity. If you'd ask her, I'm sure she'd say it's my fault we're estranged on account of "politics" and I will go ahead and carry that mantle. Though I think it's just as fair to say I reached a breaking point of how much I was willing to associate and spend emotional energy on people who are going to CHEER for the destruction of our society, economy, and humanity, even if it's borne of ignorance.
Second, that the reason I could see Trump for exactly who he is from the onset of his campaign, is that one of my siblings is similarly afflicted with charming, malignant narcissism. He bullied all of us as children, and of course my mother basically gave up in trying to defend any of us, or hold my brother to account.
I now live close to 1000 miles away from my family of origin, and it's been a relief that I no longer have to engage with my brother on any sort of regular basis. The other siblings seem to have decided to tolerate the constant emotional abuse and "jokes" meant to whittle down their self esteem in exchange for the fact that my brother can often be "generous" with gifts of sporting event tickets and other social frills. He offers just enough in the way of material benefit for them to ignore that he's kind of an asshole 95% of the time.
As full adults, my family met up in a third location for a brief vacation and to celebrate another sibling's accomplishment. At some point my mother who was still recovering from a knee surgery and has a thyroid issue decided to rent a mobility scooter to get off her feet for awhile.
My brother felt the need to comment, "why are you always so fat and lazy?"
I turned to him and said something to the effect of, "You know, not every shitty thing that pops into your head needs to be shared. Sometimes it's okay to be an asshole within the confines of your own mind and spare the rest of us."
Then, my mother tells ME that I should just let it go, so that we can keep the peace and have a nice time together.
Ahh yes, the problem is not the person who is constantly belittling and bullying everyone... it's the ONE person in the family with the audacity to state the obvious... that this shit shouldn't fly.
If people can't stand up to the person creating strife in their own immediate lives, then I guess we really can't expect them to stand up to a bully who is bullying someone else, especially all the myriad someone elses they've already slotted into being part of an "out group" to their own identity.
It takes a special kind of courage to extend your sense of "tribe" to humanity at large and to stand up against this constant erosion of our rights and collective humanity.
Thank you for this. One of the things I have found most frustrating the past several years is how eager people seem to be to dismiss comparisons of the US today to Hitler's rise to power. These comparisons are routinely rebuffed as hyperbolic and alarmist because, after all, the US is not currently anything like the Third Reich at its end. As if the Nazi war machine just sprang up out of nothing, aggressively enacting full-scale genocide and war. That's never how these things happen. They always start like A.R.'s schoolyard bully, just seeing what they can get away with. The worst of the violence - the part of their history that is memorialized in collective cultural knowledge - isn't where it starts. It's what happens when the bully is confident that not only has their behavior been normalized, but they've gained enough favor and power that they can no longer be stopped.
This is what happens when the fabric itself is dirty from the loom.