2017-04-24 – Is it really so hard to stop hating people? I’m beginning to think so.
Thirty years ago, I used to go folk dancing. One day I walked into the community center for the regular Thursday evening event and there was a table set up to direct people to a public forum on “How to Recognize Extremists.” I took a look at the agenda and asked one of the people at the table if anyone was going to talk about how to recognize the extremist who looks at you every morning when you look into the mirror. They referred me to the agenda.
It’s no trick to see your political opponents as haters. The trick is recognizing hateful tendencies in yourself and your allies.
Earlier this week, Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin, and Kid Rock visited President Trump in the White House. A photo soon circulated with the three mugging in front of a portrait of former First Lady Hillary Clinton. Liberals recognize the hatred implicit in the photos.
But it didn’t take long for someone to photoshop a nude photo of Melania Trump into the scene in place of Hillary Clinton and now I see that photo circulating in social media. C’mon people. Is this really necessary?
I have been talking for some time about the destructive attitude of liberals—my allies—in trash talking white working class people. My grounds for this are two. First and most important is the fact that the white working class suffers the brunt of many right-wing policies in this country along with people of color. Second is the strategic possibility, given the first point, of forming a political alliance with at least some of them (don’t laugh, this once was not just a possibility but a reality).
When I post stuff like this, I often get pushback from my liberal friends. They don’t want to hear about problems of the white working class. And that is a problem. (BTW, if you are one of my liberal friends who thinks I may be talking about you, don’t worry. You are far from the only one.)
Because there is a divide within white America. There are lots of people with white privilege. Some of them are liberals and they like to talk about the oppression of people of color. And I agree with what they say.
But there is another part of white America that is not so privileged. They live in run-down neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities. They live in depressed towns in rural areas across the country. My liberal friends, who are mostly white, assume white is white and, based on that assumption, believe that rural and working class whites must be slackers if they can’t turn their white privilege into financial success.
But white is not white.
And I don’t believe it is a distraction from the struggles of blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities to look with sympathy at the struggles of similarly situated whites. Bernie Sanders seems to agree with this point. He’s kicked off a campaign to embrace all working class people with what he calls a 50-state campaign. And when you talk 50-states (and not just the coastal states), you are, of necessity, seeking to embrace working class people of all races. Not just Wall Street, professional, and Silicon Valley liberals.
Unfortunately, a sizeable fraction of liberal America, including Bernie supporters, seem to have a hard time with this. Is it really so hard to stop hating people?
The answer is: yes. It really is hard.
The target of your hatred is pretty unattractive. They do all sorts of things that are nasty and even contrary to their own real interests: [fill in the blank].
But, you know, we’re pretty unattractive too. We are: [fill in the blank] even when these traits are contrary to our own real interests.
Now, the reason I wrote “[fill in the blank]” rather than list all the horribles that make them (and us) deplorable is that they are fairly interchangeable. If we focus on the things that make us (and them) hateful, there will never be peace.
But did you know that we (and them) have a lot in common?
[Yes, but, why don’t you tell them to stop hating us?]
[I will when I talk to them, but I’m talking to you now.]
[If they start behaving reasonably, then I’ll think about it.]
[But what if they ask you to go first?]
[I always go first. Where does it get me?]
[Maybe it will only be a few, at first. You know. They are suspicious of you, too.]
[See, I told you it wouldn’t make any difference.]