I have an odd way of seeing myself in the world. How I fit in the larger picture, so to speak. I’d like to talk a bit about identity and circumstance, and how these two very separate ideas get confused.
I wish I could say an example of “self” hate like this was startling (David Neiwert, Orcinus):
I was on David Goldstein’s radio show last night and, in between segments, we wound up chatting briefly on the subject of anti-Semitic Jews. Not being Jewish, I’m not very comfortable wrestling with the issue — but Goldstein, being very Jewish, has no compunction about it at all. He said he’s looking forward to talking about them when the subject arises, and he thinks it will a lot in the coming year.
I share in David Goldstein’s enthusiasm. The very thought of so many inconsistent brick heads makes my rhetorical karate chops water in anticipation. But that’s not the only reason. This kind of hatred for one’s own group provides an excellent opportunity to take a peek into the logic behind affirmative action, immigration policy, hatred, peace, and a number of issues that revolve around how we see ourselves and others.
First there is the matter of my own identity. I was born into the culture and faith of Judaism. How I got to where I am now is a bit of a story, so I’ll be brief. A combination of exposure to various philosophical traditions and my own intellectual curiosity have left me something of a theist. That said, there is still this ingrained sense of identity with the Jewish tradition. A love of humor and stories as a way of understanding and interacting with the world, and a sense of familiar and comfortable logic when traveling through the words of those who came before me.
But that is not how I view myself. I see myself purely as a human being, and I understand my heritage in those terms more with each passing day. I am every bit the heir to Gandhi, hitler, pol pot, MLK, FDR and Rumi as I am to any other luminary or dark stain upon history. I share in the shame and guilt of the German people, and in the pain and suffering in Darfur. Every tyrant shares my blood, as does every revolutionary.
This view cuts at one of the core components of hatred. Exclusive Identity: Here is where we get into one of the driving misunderstandings of the right wing movement. I’ll start with an example: Affirmative Action.
Affirmative action is viewed on the right in terms of Identity. You have a certain identity, and you get certain privileges. Whereas on the left it is viewed as a response to circumstance. In other words Affirmative Action was a response towards inequality generated by identity based hate, to address the circumstances created. It was also a rhetorical slap towards that hatred. So in one sense, switching to a economic based set of criteria is entirely natural. On the other, we are losing that rhetorical punch packed by group based affirmative action.
What we have is a gulf in how we see each other. When it comes to immigration, we see individuals responding to circumstance. Conservatives see a group of “permanent criminals” or “invading hispanic hordes”, depending on how far down wing nut lane you traipse.
Which brings us back to the example of the Conservative Jew (not to be confused with religious conservatism within Judaism) who is so caught up in the culture of hate that she engages in a flimsy defense of her new friends on the far reich:
The rapid Islamisation of Europe must be fought. In order to fight it, political parties must be engaged. If not, how then to effect change?
I will make the case for the Europeans desperate to save their country(s). I did research (and continue to) and see the ghosts but VB or more particularly the Swedish Democrats have done nothing in recent years that I need to worry about. The Swedish Democrats have had their purge a few years ago and are now clean. I see a pattern of such transformations in several European countries. If they want to become respectable, pro-Israel, I am thrilled to be part of the process.
I can’t be held captive to past associations. That’s like the left repeatedly running the pic of Rumsfeld and Saddam back in the 80s. Every party, every person, everywhere has past associations that are irrelevant to what’s happening now. Hell, I was once a Democrat.
Hell, why not join the KKK? They had their purge years ago, and are now clean. This kind of convenient douche logic never holds up to even cursory examination. It fails in a spectacularly instructive way now.
Take another look (emphasis mine):
Every party, every person, everywhere has past associations that are irrelevant to what’s happening now.
This is absolutely the crux of the problem with the right wing today. They do not understand that the relationships and histories we built in the past are driving world events in the present. A group of neo-nazis that once attacked the Jews are now attacking Muslims. This is very relevant. The whole mess we call the Middle East is a hotbed of past grudges being played out day after day. Those “past associations” are what keep the Middle East burning.
We absolutely must understand and grapple with those associations, just as we must understand how the hatred in our own past has made efforts like affirmative action and the civil rights law necessary. What we must be careful of is falling into the trap of exclusive identity politics. In the Middle East, we are on the side of both the Israelis and Palestinians, the Sunni and the Shiite, Turk and Kurd. Here at home, that applies with the same urgency.
Our identity is shared. Our circumstances are not. If we want to make the world a better place, we can start by recognizing our shared past, and offering our help to those who are, quite literally, our people: humanity.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: Conservatives, Eliminationism, Hate, Identity, Immigration, Logic, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Violence | 7 Comments »