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Opinion | We Are Starting to Enjoy Hatred

  
Via:  John Russell  •  2 months ago  •  5 comments


Opinion | We Are Starting to Enjoy Hatred
When was the last time you saw anyone try to address the other side with respect and understanding, and venture something like, “I think you’re seeing it this way, but I want to explain why I see it so differently, and that way we might both understand each other and proceed with respect.” Instead we accuse each other and put each other down and it doesn’t feel merry and high-spirited, like political business as usual, it feels cold. Both sides have an equal but different sense of...

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S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


I’m seeing something and maybe you are too.

We talk in our country about political polarization and it’s real: We’re split into a thousand pieces within two big camps of left and right. We decry the harshness of our political discourse, particularly online, where outrageous and dehumanizing things are said.


But what I’m seeing is that we don’t mind disliking each other now. We like it. That’s the new thing, that we’re enjoying the estrangement.

Nobody’s trying to win anybody over. The biggest recent example of this is the story about the Supreme Court justice’s wife who didn’t understand that flying the American flag upside down outside her home during a crisis might be experienced by others as unhappily weird and possibly alarming, and her neighbor who didn’t understand that when engaged in a political dispute it’s not really nice to spew lewd and ugly epithets unbidden, or put them on lawn signs.

That was a local and particular expression of a larger trend we’re all witnessing. Bill Maher wrote of it in an essay last month: “Would anyone ride the New York City subway wearing a MAGA hat, or go to a NASCAR race in a Biden T-shirt? That’s where we are now: Other parts of the country are seen as no-go zones.”


It’s shocking that that’s true, but it is.

When was the last time you saw anyone try to address the other side with respect and understanding, and venture something like, “I think you’re seeing it this way, but I want to explain why I see it so differently, and that way we might both understand each other and proceed with respect.” Instead we accuse each other and put each other down and it doesn’t feel merry and high-spirited, like political business as usual, it feels cold.

Both sides have an equal but different sense of superiority. Both sides enjoy looking down on the other.

The left leans toward condemnation. It is going from “Trump is a criminal” to “Trump supporters are criminal.” They understand things the other dopes don’t. Class is involved. I have quoted the friend who said recently, with no bitterness, that Democrats see Trump voters as toothless, smelly Walmart shoppers. The left does look down, sometimes from a privileged economic position, which makes it the more shameful.


Trump supporters lean toward manipulation. They charge the other side are bad human beings—selfish elites who have no feeling for, no affiliation with, the common man. They’re coastal elites who look down on flyover states as they sip martinis in first class. Some Trump voters say his foes oppose him to go to “Georgetown cocktail parties” or similar gatherings in New York and Los Angeles. This started about a quarter-century ago but sped up with Donald Trump, and I thought at the time: Are cocktail parties still going on? I knew they existed in the 1930s and 1940s, because they were featured in the old movies I watched on television as a child. Nick and Nora Charles threw them! In my town the elites who oppose Mr. Trump don’t have cocktail parties, they doggedly attend fundraisers for hospitals and libraries and go to professional events. The most establishment Trump foes are among the hardest-working people in America. They are earnest. They run the institutions you’ll rely on if you have a heart attack on the sidewalk or a story that needs exposing or a court case that needs taking. And they drink water. At least cocktail parties make them sound glamorous and carefree.


But it really is something that we’re so estranged we know nothing of the other side’s lives, and because we know nothing even our insults are lame and need updating.

The class aspect of the big estrangement portends nothing good. America has been navigating its way through issues of class since its beginning; it is text or subtext of the country’s great novels. Now it is emerging in a new way in our politics, one more laden with meaning and encouraging of unashamed judgment.

I said I sensed people are enjoying their political hatred now. Why would that be?

Some of it is human and has been around forever. People enjoy hating—it feels so vigorous. Some enjoy their hatred because they are by nature shallow and see the implications of nothing. Some enjoy it because they see politics as an extension of sports—booing the other team is part of the fun of being at the game. Some enjoy it because it lets them feel immersed in a warm bath of righteousness: I’m not immoral like a Trump supporter; I’m not a mindless snob who drove the country into a ditch like a Democrat.


But some enjoy their hatred—this is the new part, and I think pretty widespread—because it helps them avoid seeing that they are involved in a tragedy.

The tragedy is that one of two old men, neither of them great, neither of them distinguished in terms of character or intellect, who are each in his way an embarrassment, and whom two-thirds of voters do not want as presidential candidates, will be chosen, in this crucial historical moment in which the stakes could not be higher, to lead the most powerful nation on earth.

One will likely fail physically in coming years—he’s failing now—and be replaced by a vice president who is wholly unsuited for the presidency because she is wholly unserious, who has had four years to prove herself in a baseline way and failed to meet even the modest standards by which vice presidents are judged. The other may, on being elected or even before then, be thrown into the slammer for one of the felony charges against him, including those connected to attempting to overthrow a democratic national election.


This is a tragedy—that this is what we’ve got, these are our choices.

When you’ve got a major hate on, you don’t have to notice.

What we should be doing is asking each other: How are we going to make our way through this constructively?

Instead, people prattle about a coming civil war. But what are they talking about? Neither side is going to raise an army and fight in the streets, the most Trump-supporting state in the country is not going to fire on a Fort Sumter, and even if anything like that happened, who gets custody of the nuclear arsenal? Who’s left sending out the Social Security checks?

Normally in a column like this you give a suggestion or two on how to turn things around. I don’t know, but I suppose it at least starts with understanding that the people we’re so harshly judging are our countrymen. They share the country with you. We have to go forward into the future together, because if we don’t we won’t have a future.

We have to ease up, we have to slow down our desire to look down, we have to be a little more generous, we have to stop enjoying our hate so much. And we’ll have to come up with thoughts that are better than that, because we can’t go on indefinitely like this.


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JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1  seeder  JohnRussell    2 months ago

I dont expect this article to get many comments but I am seeding it anyway, as an example of one of the greatest public afflictions in America today -  rampant bothsides ism. 

Peggy Noonan has never met an issue she cant pablum-ize. 

In her mind people who want to overthrow elections are no worse than people who work for universities,  and all Democrats are elitists  (one of the most idiotic things one can say.) The Democratic candidate has won the popular vote in every election in the past 30 years with the exception of George W Bush in 2004. 

The idea that elitists is a large enough group to produce 80 million votes is beyond absurd. 

Will someone please buy Peggy Noonan a drink. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 months ago

I'm with you John, the day when one side plays nice while the other plays for keeps is over.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
2  CB    2 months ago
Both sides have an equal but different sense of superiority. Both sides enjoy looking down on the other. The left leans toward condemnation. It is going from “Trump is a criminal” to “Trump supporters are criminal.” They understand things the other dopes don’t. Class is involved. I have quoted the friend who said recently, with no bitterness, that Democrats see Trump voters as toothless, smelly Walmart shoppers. The left does look down, sometimes from a privileged economic position, which makes it the more shameful.

I don't enjoy any of this. I am at a loss. Even being. . .here. . .has changed my easy-spirit attitude. I am less patient with others who ply conversation that is delusional, willful, and long-winded. That said, I come back for more. . . in the small hope that it helps the truth spread itself 'evenly' across readers. 

This is mentally hurting me. It really is. Seeing my country fighting against itself just because some republicans can't be happy that their fellow citizens who had and have little struggle in the land of plenty of everything. . . is angering and foremost DEPRESSING.

Thus, all of this political fighting is terrible for adults and especially for children; they have to wonder what the 'hell' is up with the adults!

And I am a liberal. . .I shop at Walmart on many occasions. . . and I have a Walmart/Capital One credit card too. And I ain't "smelly."  I wear Versace—honey!

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Senior Expert
2.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  CB @2    2 months ago

Thank you for your sacrifices.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
3  Buzz of the Orient    2 months ago

Didn't EVERYONE see this coming?  It wasn't necessary for me to be an American to have seen some things happening as never before (that is, as least since the civil rights movement), a restaurant turning away a potential customer because they were of a different political party, or family reunions on holidays like Thanksgiving having to have a rule that no politics are to be spoken in order to prevent a family fight.  Or a person turning their car around in someone's driveway getting shot.  Hey, all you've got to do is read some of the comments here on NT to see how hot the hatred can be.  I really would not normally give a shit if a civil war took place in America but for the fact that my son and his young family live there, and I'm scared for them.  I'm scared because of the guns, the many guns, the many people who have guns, the many people who have guns and are itching to use them, the many people whose hatred of others, not just limited to being a political hatred, but a hatred of those of differing religions as well, the many people with guns who really need help for their mental health issues, the many people with guns and mental health issues whose families that KNOW about what that combination can mean who still keep silent about it.  Yes, I'm scared about the well-being of that part of my family that is in America, and I'm scared about the well-being of my friends on NT. 

 
 

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