Are we ending hate, or just silencing it?

Is progressive politics ending prejudice, or just shutting down its outlets? Lately I’ve come to suspect the latter. And I’m totally ok with that. It means the next generations are raised in a society that (outwardly) frowns on public bigotry. Of course, that doesn’t stop it at the dinner table, but it’s progress nonetheless. But I don’t think silencing prejudice is enough. Doing so turns prejudice into a game of don’t-get-caught-saying-what-you-really-think.

I’m starting to believe we need to address prejudice at the root rather than the branch, and that this requires a different approach: changing the minds of bigots. I believe silencing prejudice is ethically right, but is it tactically sufficient? I’m not sure. I don’t want an endless game of whack-a-bigot. I want to convert bigots, not bash them.

I don’t think ending hate is purely an ideological, structural or discursive issue. I think it’s also a human/interpersonal issue. In other words, I think ending hate comes from helping a bigot understand the radical humanity of their ‘Other‘. I’m talking about empathy.

I think prejudice is uprooted by making bigots think ‘oh, [group x] aren’t so bad’. I look back on my own personal growth and my successes at getting through to people, and I think more people were convinced by meeting/hearing the story of their Other than by ethical arguments.

I believe art and human interaction are crucial here. Good art (especially film/television) has the power to circumvent prejudice and make bigots empathise with their Other. Good stories draw us in and help us relate to a character. Our identity markers fall away, we move beyond our self and into the world of another/an Other. Good art can open minds and change opinions, and it’s a hell of a lot more entertaining than a 100 minute lecture on the analytical value of the many lenses in intersectional feminism. Watching Slumdog Millionaire with your racist uncle may not sound very radical, but I bet it’s more effective than arguments on Christmas Day.

I think our role as leftists is to facilitate these experiences by promoting the art, voices, and experiences of non-white/straight/able/cis/men. But to do so we have to step out of our echo chambers and engage with our Other. And who is our Other? Bigots.

I know this sounds like being extra-nice to abusers instead of survivors. Is this fair or right? No. Is it effective? In my experience, yes. Sometimes what’s right and what’s best are different things. I know this sounds like a shitty project. But I think we can win by being better people, and by being better to shitty people -not because it’s ‘right’, but because it is effective.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we should round them all up and send them to Siberia. Who knows? Not me, I’m still working this stuff out. What do you think?


This is how some journo talk to subjects

Bevan Chuang

A declaration. I don’t hate journalists and many are my friends. Many are decent people with great ethics who can still their job and tell their stories. I have a love-hate relationships with them.

I love those who actually spend time on a decent investigative work. I admire their language abilities and their abilities to keep asking questions. I admire those who can break a story that is both mind blowing and have an important impact.

Then you have those who are lazy and will only copy and paste your media releases. Any PR person out there will tell you they exist. Then you have those who, with their creative writing styles, write stories.

I don’t know if that is actually taught at journalist schools at all, but journalists who couldn’t even be bothered to build  a relationship with you, even if it was just to get you to speak…

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Article of the day: Kludge-ocracy

Here’s another interesting article courtesy of the browser, this time on ‘Kludgeocracy’.

Johns Hopkins political scientist Steven Teles describes a kludge as “an ill-assorted collection of parts assembled to fulfil a particular purpose… a clumsy but temporarily effective solution, … an inelegant patch put in place to solve an unexpected problem”. Teles claims that the US government is so ‘kludge-y’, that it is now effectively a ‘Kludgeocracy’.

Teles claims “the issues that will dominate American politics going forward will concern the complexity of government, rather than its sheer size.”

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Highlights: “The complexity and incoherence of our government often make it difficult for us to understand just what that government is doing… [This complexity] hides the growing tendency of public policy to redistribute resources upward to the wealthy and the organized”.

And: “Understanding, describing, and addressing this problem of complexity and incoherence is the next great American political challenge…  For lack of a better alternative, the problem of complexity might best be termed the challenge of ‘kludgeocracy’.”

And: “Conservatives over the last few years have increasingly worried that America is, in Friedrich Hayek’s ominous terms, on the road to serfdom. … If anything, we have arrived at a form of government with no ideological justification whatsoever.”