Friday, August 24, 2007

dehumanization

I've noticed a trend lately that, although it's been going on for some time, it's increased in intensity to the point where it's causing problems. No, I'm not referring to the demonization of liberals, although I spend a lot of time talking about that. No, unfortunately I'm talking about dehumanization of conservatives by liberals.

I bring you some examples just from today. Here's the latest "Dear Abby"-type article by Salon's Cary Tennis. The letter he received reads:
How can I love my parents when they are supporters of the most corrupt, willfully ignorant, deceitful, lying administration in our nation's history?

If we were not related by blood, I would have nothing to do with these people. The Bush presidency has ruined our reputation in the world, destroyed many of our civil liberties and increased the divide between the rich and the poor. Plus they think torture is just dandy!

I don't have any Republican friends. I don't like to talk to Republicans mostly. I find them ignorant of other cultures, and smug -- feeling that our country is the best in the world -- period.
...
Why should I spend time with people I don't like and resent for helping to lead my country in the wrong direction? Will I ever enjoy spending time with them again? It doesn't feel like it's possible. They say that you miss your parents when they're gone, no matter what your relationship was like. That might be true but I don't miss them now when they live 2,500 miles away. Can I change my attitude? I doubt it. Maybe you can shed some light.

I imagine many of you have Republican/conservative parents. I have Republican parents. In fact, most of my family is Republican. I'm also pretty f**king partisan: I hang out primarily with liberals and I tend to feel more comfortable around them, and I generally have snide, mean-spirited things to say when I get into political conversations with GOP types. As you know, I also get pretty raucous on this site. But I cannot imagine stopping loving my parents, no matter how right-wing they get.

How could you?

This goes back to an old point on this site: you can't judge people's character by their politics. I know it sounds logical, I know it makes perfect sense in your head, but it doesn't work. In real life, some conservatives are selfish and some are not. Some liberals are effete bleeding-hearts and some are not. One of the most selfish motherfuckers I ever met in my life was as liberal as they come. Some of the most generous people I've ever met want to privatize Social Security. Some of the most intelligent and well-read people I know are die-hard supporters of the Iraq War. Pretty much every university in the country has conservative professors in their poli-sci depts, not to mention economics, biology, etc. Are they all morons who somehow still got Ph.D.'s from respectable institutions?

Get over yourself, people. Your ideology may be superior to someone else's, but it doesn't make you a better person.

This isn't merely some "can't we all just get along" tirade, either; this kind of thinking leads down a dark path. The letter above shows one of the repercussions of this thought process, wherein thinking less of someone because of their politics strains the bonds of friendship and family.

The comment section here shows another, more alarming response, one that occurs when people on opposite sides aren't bound by blood or friendship. The blog post relates to a Republican party strategist who was murdered in his own home, along with 2 other men. You can look at the comments yourself, if you have the stomach for it, but nearly all 90-something of them are various permutations of jokingly asking how the Republicans will blame Clinton for this and speculation as to whether the 3 men were gay or whether they were "whacked" because they "knew too much." Some of the most illustrative:
What more can you expect from a member of a party whose political philosophy matches the psychological profile of the BTK serial killer?

I find it hard to believe that any Republican is capable of ‘love’. Except, perhaps, self-love….

Not the kindest comment I’ve ever written; but, I believe it’s not far off the mark….

...The point is that core GOPers are a bunch of crazy people. Take your pick pedos, self-hating queers, power mongers by day and submissives visiting the dominatrix dungeon at night, religious fanatics by day and crack snorting salami sucking family type men at night. These are folks who have some serious mental issues...

name any person who will stands up to be counted as a supporter of this White House Administration’s agenda of fear hate and suffering and tell me again why such a person deserves compassion just for dying….?

Three less republicans means the world is a better place.

The number of posts expressing grief or compassion for the dead, on the other hand, can be counted on two hands.

The problem with demonization of a particular group is that it leads to dehumanization. Once you tread down the path from "Republicanism is morally decrepit" to "Republicans are all morally decrepit," the journey to "the world would be better off without Republicans" is surprisingly short. And once you're there, you're practically standing right next to "Republicans deserve to die."

The scenery there is remarkably similar to that of the right wing's darkest corners.

1 comment:

Cary Tennis said...

Thanks for your comment on that piece.
Best, Cary T.