Thursday, January 10, 2019

Why don't you hate who I hate kill who I kill to be free?

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I've used those lines as a title before; they just seem so grimly apropos lately.

Maybe you've seen this article, where Trump supporters realize, hey, maybe there was a downside to this, hard as it is to believe. And maybe especially you've seen the final quote from one of them, a Crystal Minton: “I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.” I mean, not that it's any revelation that Trump supporters really just want to hurt people, but it's still sort of surprising to see it stated so explicitly. I have to wonder if she had a moment of self-awareness after being quoted as such: oops, did I really say that out loud...? But no, it's almost certainly not that conscious. And besides, it really needs to go further: who exactly do you want to hurt, Crystal Minton? Specificity is the soul of narrative!

It really goes to show the unbridgeable divide, though, because I will swear to you up and down: I have never voted for a political candidate with the anticipation that they've inflict suffering on people I don't like. I couldn't if I wanted to, because it's just not something that Democratic candidates offer. Some of them may do things that don't mitigate suffering as much as we might like, and yeah sometimes they adopt Republican framing to their detriment (though entirely too many people seem to have the idea that it's still the nineties and that Clintonesque triangulating is still the norm) but it's certainly not a selling point. I may think Crystal Minton is a hideous person (even if she was made that way by Republican policies in the first place), but I still espouse policies that would help her and people like her.

And, you know, it's not just a moral issue either. I would be freaked out if Democrats campaigned on causing suffering (this is the part where, if any right-wingers were reading this, they would be pointing out my ineffable hypocrisy of wanting to grievously wound billionaires by making them pay taxes. As a preemptive rebuttal to that, please know that I am rolling my eyes really hard right now). I don't want that shit, just speaking practically. Because--and this ought to but tragically apparently isn't incredibly obvious--they may start by hurting people you don't like, but eventually it's gonna blow back on you. It just is. Christ, that Niemöller poem is so engrained in the popular consciousness that I'm fairly sure even Crystal Minton could tell you the gist of it. But apparently, for some people, it's just a catchy tune with no actual meaning that could conceivably be taken to heart.  I think we're still sort of on the knife-edge between tragedy and farce here, but people like ol' Crystal-Blue Persuasion here are not helping.


Blogger Achille Talon pontificated to the effect that...

I think (he said as a long-time Slate Star Codex reader) that you're underestimating the place of "us-vs-them" tribal-style relationships in the right-vs-left dispute.

The Democrats aren't going to say they're going to actuall hurt people, and they're not going to do it in conspicuous, objective ways when they do — because "being aggressive to your enemies" is a Republican signal, not a Democratic one. But there's still a primal urge in a lot of Democrats to see Republicans undone and cackle as they kick helplessly at the dirt, their hopes crushed (in the same way that a lot of Republicans, for all that they also go out and say they want to oppress certain people, have these same deep-running inclinations towards Democrats).

e.g. a Democrat probably wouldn't actually punch a Republican in the face given impunity, in the way the reverse might happen. But ideological bullying can come from either side and is the sublimated form of this will to just triumph over the opponent and see them brought down, as opposed to mere ascetic dedication to one's ideals and sympathy for the poor unenlightened folks who champion wrong ideas out of ignorance and bias.

And though it's an extremely mild example unlikely to seriously hurt anyone or mean anything about you as a person, I think the reductio ad absurdum of Republican ideas you did right in this post of rich businessmen's complaints about taxes is kind of an example of that, from the way you phrased it. You didn't make a dispassionate argument of why it wasn't ethically wrong, or say you politely disagreed on this being a relevant example of "harm" to anyone; instead you wrote it up in a silly-sounding way and rolled your metaphorical eyes at the Republicans and told them "YOUR IDEA IS SO STUPID I WON'T EVEN DIGNIFY IT WITH AN ANSWER, BET YOU FEEL SILLY NOW".

Again, not accusing you of anything: we all do it (or nearly so). It's hardcoded in human nature to want to kick your rivals in the shins and snigger as you run past them and get to the choice mammoth meat first. But I don't think the Republicans are inherently different from the Democrats in this regard, it's just more fashionable for them to nurture and proclaim this attitude than it is for the Democrats.

4:52 AM  

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