6 April 2016

Demonising the Other

I saw something in my Facebook feed today. Someone I know reacted to something written by someone I don't know and had never heard of, but who is apparently a reporter or columnist of some sort with a significant following. So this is what I found in my feed:

"Anyone here who takes offense to my being a leftist who stands against fascism, imperialism, islamophobia --please unfollow me. Tired of battling reactionaries standing on the wrong side of history."

I never followed this person in the first place, so, no skin off my nose. However, curious to see if writer fit the pattern of others who say similar things, I clicked on comments, and promptly found her saying this in response to the accusation that the writer was trying to build an echo chamber/ safe space:

"If by "safe space" you mean banning neo nazis, misogynist and racist assholes from posting here, sure"


This is a pattern I run into all the time both on the left and the right: They call those who oppose them names, demonise them, and expel them for their preferred sort of people. And it is foolish to do so.
First, because no one is right about everything. No matter how great our conviction about being on the right side of history or whatnot, no one has a monopoly on truth.

Secondly, because of the trend of demonizing our fellow human beings. Those who oppose this person, for instance, are no longer quite human: they are racist, misogynist, neo Nazis and assholes. They deserve no consideration. I doubt the righter has sinister intentions, but such feelings are the origin of sinister intentions: "They are not us, they are them. They are not of the body." From that belief it is but a short step to "They must be stopped. They must be silenced. They should not be permitted to live her among us. They must be made to do as we say." Go far enough on that curve, and you reach the point of this: "They must be killed." We have seen too much in our history. We see too much of it now. We should be wary of seeing it in ourselves, and in the articles that come into our feed.

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