Assorted Opinions: Hate for You, Hate for Me
Hate for You, Hate for Me
I had the wrong idea about gossip.
I thought people sowed hatefulness by putting a bad name on someone; accusing another of having done something:
“Look out, Ben steals people’s stuff.”
“Maggie smokes in the bathroom.”
“Jack’s resume is a joke. He was never a Navy SEAL.”
“Shawna got her job because her father’s a big shareholder.”
Mild enough examples. But even serious charges…
“The new guy has a criminal record.”
“Lorraine’s wacko. I mean, for real!”
“Fred in accounting is a pervert. Don’t let him get you alone.”
“Judy just came out and called Ron a you-know-what!”
…are not quite it. Yes, people accept, and repeat, such statements, and feel comfortable with themselves doing so, while having never approached the accused for balance. However, the worst, truly divisive attacks come from the opposite flank. Not, “that person is hateful”; but “he (or she) hates you”.
For me at least it’s true, that if someone had told me any of the above (possibly, I would avoid being alone with Fred), I would still work with that person, engage him/her in a business-related exchange, with no wish to radiate suspicion and judgment. I wouldn’t feel judgment, in several instances. Why hate someone who’s starting a new life, or someone mentally ill…or even a pizza thief?
But suppose I’m told, “She can’t stand you. She rolled her eyes when she found out you were the one sent to help. She said you mess everything up, and why don’t they fire you?”
There’s a big difference between indignation on behalf of others, and indignation on your own behalf. Now, if she smiles, I may think, “Oh, that’s so phony.” If she asks me, “How long will this take?”; or, “Do you think you can figure out what’s wrong?”, I may see snark, veiled belittlement.
And if the accusation is true, if she has this attitude, these manifestations may even be deliberate offenses. If false, my own standoffishness and unforthcoming communication will make it true. She’ll either begin disliking me because she finds me rude…or dislike me more, because she feels her opinion confirmed. Her uncooperativeness, unwillingness to help me help her, will make my work seem incompetent. I’ll dislike her in turn, because I find her rude, because I worry she’ll defame me to others.
How did assaulting strangers, for the color of their skin, or their clothing, or the language they speak to each other, become a line to cross? The message, since the upheaval of post-2016 began, is that evidence doesn’t matter, facts don’t matter. They don’t matter because the “opponent” is not accused of anything specific. A charge against Jill the Liberal that she has stolen something, or physically harmed someone, is a charge that under the rule of law she has the right to know of, and defend herself against…a charge which ever after, if she obtains a verdict in her favor, the rule requires that her accusers, “drop it”.
But Joe the Conservative, under these mechanisms of propaganda, never has to relax his attitude towards Jill, because she is accused, merely, of being his enemy: “Jill doesn’t like you, Joe.”
By extension, all people similar to Jill, affiliated with Jill, roughly represented by Jill, don’t like you, Joe. They are all your enemies.
And Jill, Joe hates you in turn. Everyone similar to Joe, affiliated with Joe, roughly represented by Joe, hates you. They are all your enemies.
Rod Liddle, commenter for Britain’s “The Spectator” magazine, wrote (2 July 2016) a sarcastic assessment of mutual hate between Brexiteers and Remainers. Intended humor or not, these notions that old people hate young people, that all Leavers are racists, all Remainers spoiled urbanites, are the essence of the modern political disjunction. If debate were a matter of making your points, answering the opposition’s, hashing out a middle ground, no one would seek to make policy with elections. Elections are popularity contests. Or footraces. Debate and resolution are the very practice of parliaments and legislatures…but of late, governing bodies have tended to stack the deck first, in their own favor, wanting then to rubber stamp their agenda.
In America, the idea anyone would even raise the simple argument, “the other side disagrees with your positions” seems laughable. It is all reaction, all cultivated myth; the elites, a group which flexibly can be made to encompass the free press and every left-leaning political candidate, while excluding the very wealthy, hate you…if (flexibly again) you rate yourself a “regular American”.
Hillary Clinton hates you most of all. During a speech in India, while promoting What Happened, her book on the 2016 election, she referred to the Deplorables (that coinage forewarningly coopted by Republicans), saying in imitation of Trump, “You know, you didn’t like black people getting rights; you don’t like women…”
How easily such statements can be filtered down to their corollary. She (read: all Democrats) doesn’t like you. One reason, then, that her email contretemps (not wholly a scandal, since what this is, exactly—other than next to nothing, as evidence suggests—hasn’t been brought to a verdict) can’t be dropped, is because Hillary-as-enemy fills this role to a T for the far right. She’s against you…look, she says so.
At a basic level, enemy-making works for propagandists because the human race has an existing language for veiled hostility, one often employed by those whose dislike for its target is genuine. We’ve seen the phony smile; we’ve heard polite words uttered in a sarcastic tone of voice; been damned with faint praise; marveled at, conversely, over tiny achievements. We’ve come across scads of passive-aggressive “accidents”, designed to make us feel bad.
Primed, or coached, to believe someone hates us; that she thinks we aren’t as good as she is, doesn’t want to work with or live with our kind, we can teach ourselves also to readily spot signs and wonders. We can grow so reactive that all the other person says seems untrustworthy; we can, influenced by propaganda, be made paranoid enough to feel hate at the other person’s walking into a room. Look at the way she goes around! What she wears! How she talks! We can offer her a cup of coffee and be outraged she dares accept it.
Thus, this spate of fearful Whites attacking Blacks and Spanish-speakers, can burgeon even while the speed-dialer may insist, “I’m not a racist”. In the enemy-seeking mindset lies reward…and a sense of reward not hard to come by, if consultation is contained within an insular group. The person with the cell phone is not, among her particular “us”, a racist; she is an innocent threatened by inimical moves, almost a glamorous role…the stuff of books and movies. She is a model citizen, being safe rather than sorry, heroic, misunderstood—by “haters”.
Hate for You, Hate for Me
(2018, Stephanie Foster)