A few disclosures:
- I'm white.
- And male.
- And heterosexual.
- And old.
- And well-to-do.
- And Catholic.
- And a libertarian-conservative.
- And excessively intelligent.
And I associate, by uncoerced personal preference, with persons who share those characteristics.
- I don't hate non-whites.
- Or women.
- Or homosexuals.
- Or younger folks.
- Or the "impecunious."
- Or non-Catholics.
- Or political liberals or moderates.
- Or persons less intellectually gifted.
I just prefer, in the famous old phrase, "my own kind." Moreover, I prefer them in nearly every way:
- As neighbors.
- As friends.
- As casual company.
- As hired artisans.
- As co-workers.
- As business partners.
- As fellow explorers of the realm of ideas.
And I maintain that you will find that the above statement of preferences is shared by just about every recognizably human creature on this planet. (Probably on all the others, too.)
However, I am regularly accused of harboring such categorical hatreds because of my membership in the categories to which I belong. No, not by persons who actually know me; by activists of various stripes who seek to use hatred as a means of marshaling political power:
- Negro and Hispanic race-and-ethnicity-floggers.
- Feminist gender-warriors.
- Homosexual activists.
- "Youth power" rebels.
- Spokesmen for "the underprivileged."
- Persons who hate Christianity and the Church.
- Leftists of all sorts.
(Yes, yes, that last item was tongue-in-cheek.)
Yet it has been my experience that those who level such accusations have quite as definite a preference for "their own kind," and when challenged on it will usually launch a torrent of vitriol, or change the subject, or fall silent and depart.
The preference for those who share one's own major characteristics and convictions is perfectly natural:
- It fosters a sense of safety.
- It increases the chance that one will be understood.
- It reduces the chance that one will unintentionally give offense.
- It reduces the friction that arises from differences in priorities, outlooks, and styles.
It gives rise to sorting, of course, but it need not give rise to hatred, violence, or warfare. So why all the accusations? Am I off-axis for not harboring any categorical hatreds, or are the ranters off-base in their perceptions, or is the whole thing a giant con job?
Now, now, let's not always see the same hands!
Of course it's a con job. Of course the people flogging hateful rhetoric have an agenda. And of course we who are usually on the receiving end of their venom spewing have a right to be offended and to dismiss them with prejudice.
The deliberate inculcation of hatred is the oldest of all political tactics. It can be based on any categorical difference, including every one of the categories mentioned above. Ironically, the evils imputed to the target group tend to be of a single sort: the inclination to oppress. They hate us and want to keep us down.
The object, of course, is to create a militant group for political purposes. The imputation the hate-mongers do their best to nurture is that if the group marshals behind them and agrees to be led, then things will improve for that group, individually and severally.
That imputation is always a lie. The benefits, when there are any, flow to the leaders. Worse yet, hatred begets counter-hatred. There was damned little racial animosity in this country before the mid-Sixties, when the race militants got their act in gear. There was damned little animosity between the sexes before the professional feminist agitators started ranting about "patriarchal oppression." Though there was widespread disgust -- justified, in my view -- among heterosexuals for the practices of homosexuals, there was little or no hatred between them, before the ACT-UP and Queer Nation types started to foment it.
The hate parades of today were completely avoidable. They were organized by persons avid for public stature and political power. Such persons still beat the drums to which the paraders march. Some of them have used the tactic to attain high office.
I can think of nothing more contemptible than a deliberate attempt to foster hatred between groups that have no objective need to intermingle. They who do so are the only persons for whom I feel an active hostility -- a hostility that seeks overt expression. Yet they, too, are safe from me...as long as they keep their distance.
Trouble is, they're getting closer to me every day. Probably to you, too; the country isn't all that large.
There'll probably be nothing more from me today, sports fans. It's been a grueling week and I'm very tired. But do please reflect on the above -- and on what you think is the proper response to the words and deeds of the hate-mongers among us. I could use some new ideas.