Sunday, May 26, 2019

Why I Continue to Insist That It's About Racism, Misogyny, Xenophobia, and Homophobia: My Response to Your Responses

Thank you all for your thoughtful and valuable responses to my reflections about the wave of manufactured rage (racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic) now driving political movements in many places, in my view. I've read and considered them. My thoughts:

1. It's interesting to me that so many of us are inclined to buy into the exculpatory explanation that people succumb to manufactured rage because of their economic pain. Why that inclination, I wonder?

2. That economic pain is — how can anyone deny this? — real and palpable. It's understandable that people in pain seek to strike out, often blindly, when they experience such pain.

3. This explanation doesn't, however, in my view, explain why we're seeing a wave of manufactured rage right now from society to society to society, with predictable components including notably racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia. A perfect storm of rage on multiple fronts creating a tidal wave of rage sweeping across many societies at once….

4. I say that this rage is manufactured because it's to a great extent being injected into the bloodstream of one society after another by economic elites who need people divided, distracted, angry (at the wrong things, the wrong people) in order to accelerate their plundering of the economic and natural resources of the planet.

5. The people who deserve highest blame for the nightmarish situation into which the world seems to be moving right now are not the manipulated, but the manipulators. It's the people at the top of the world's global economic ladder who deserve most blame for what is happening to all of us right now. They are pulling the strings, doing the manipulating.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, "Europe’s Posh Populists Have Taken a Page From Trump,"Daily Beast, 24 May 1019 

6. Donald Trump is in office not primarily because working-class Americans chose him in 2016, but because he had and still has overweening support in the top echelons of corporate America. 

7. However, to explain away or excuse the willingness of many Americans (and others in other places in the world) to succumb to the campaigns of economic elites setting us against each other on grounds of race, gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation — to explain this away by saying that people predictably reach for such easy solutions when they're hurting — doesn't, in my view, adequately describe what's happening in our midst today.

8. Why do so many of us hunger to hear the speeches ginning up our rage, our hate? Why do so many "good" people find themselves powerfully swayed by all of this, willing to ride the wave of manufactured rage? Why are so many of us so eager to gobble up the fake news, so that websites have had to be set up in various European countries, for instance, to track false reports of immigrant males raping European women — to expose these as lies, because so many people want to believe them? If this is all about economic alienation, why are so many affluent people willing to hop onto this bandwagon?

9. Confronted by journalists, many voters will quite frequently claim that they don't have a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, or homophobic bone in their bodies, but look at the results when they enter the secret polling booth, and we see a very different picture in place after place in the world today: they told the media they were moderate; but they pulled the lever for racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia.

10. I think that if we do not avail ourselves of the lessons that the Nazi period should have taught us, then the Civil Rights movement in the American South — about how much potential for real darkness resides in our hearts, in our societies, including the "good" and "progressive" societies — we will not be prepared for what is brewing in the world in which we live right now. It's nice to think that only the Germans ever had the potential to murder the Other, or only white Southerners are racists, or only Trump-voting Americans are susceptible to manufactured rage, and that it can't happen among us, the enlightened and good.

But that's not the lesson the Nazi period and the Civil Rights period in the U.S. South show us — if we're willing to pay careful attention and stop allowing ourselves to be bamboozled by media and other forces that want to gloss over what's happening to us with bogus economic alienation explanations that are simply not verified by empirical data. Quite the contrary….

P.S. Why, I asked myself from the very day after Trump was elected, did I hear from so many Canadian readers of this blog and Canadian friends, all very good people whose commitments I admire — my nation has so much of value to learn from Canada — expressing jubilation that the common people in the U.S. had stuck it to the neoliberal establishment by voting for Trump? When I could see, as an LGBTQ American, exactly what would now be coming down the pike for me and others like me, for people of color, for immigrants, for women, for poor people…. How can good people get it so wrong? I ask myself. Trump never was a populist savior figure, and what he and his movement stand for is as far removed from populism as night is from day.

Please see the following addendum to the text above.

No comments: