A number of different on- and off- line conversations recently have hit upon the same topic- "those people". In recent cases the "those people" referred to have been the under-educuated, white, angry right-wing who so often make it on the news because they are open about publically stating how much they hate "those people" (the liberals of the left). For those of you friended to both of us, I have in mind fdmts recent thread- as well some other interactions.
A number of things have sprung to mind. First, there's a lot of anger among non-conservatives who have grown up in mostly white conversative communities. There's enough bitterness that I've heard things like "waiting for them all to die off" and "fallen below a certain basic threshold". The feeling seems to run the gamut from seeing them as stupid overgrown honyacks to having a sub-human amount of intelligence and perception. "They" are outdated, outmoded, narrow minded and keep interfering with all the great things we could do as a nation. There is nothing to be done except wait for them to die off which they are supposed to be doing rapidly and, really, they deserve to be poor because they made bad, stupid choices about not going to college, working in factories, etc.
If the "they" in question were say...rural, un-educated, religious conservatives in another country I suspect that same people would argue that the best way forward would be to "engage" them, run education programs, increase access to health care, encourage sensitivity to other's beliefs, give them more economic opportunities, etc. In fact the one difference I can think of is that when we talk of similar groups in other countries we would add "bring them into the political process" while in this country we would like to reduce their access to political power.
So the poor and angry and religiously conservative of other countries get compassion and those in our country get scorn (or worse)?
It occurs to me that from our examples of similar situations in other countries the result of being poor, shunned and shut-out of economic opportunity is not that "they die off eventally" but that eventually they get fed up and start blowing up things.
Yes, to a certain extent issues like gay marriage *will be* resolved easier when older voters have died off but the underlying issues- poverty, lack of access to education, health care and jobs- will not and the kids and grandkids of those older voters will have other opinions about other things that we don't like or agree with.
Does no one else get the connection between despising them, being hard-hearted to them and their anger to us? Does no one else see the connection between despising them, vilifying them, "waiting for them to die", and what other people have said about Tutsis, Hutus, Serbs, Georgians, Armenians, etc, etc? Once you've decided that a group of other people are not worthy people then you've taken that first step to killing them- to being a person who kills people who don't agree with them or are different from them. Sure, it's a long road from random talk and LJ posts to mass murder but it is there.
I am not romanticing them. Being all sweetness and love doesn't mean that they will magically agree with us, change their minds about gay people, health care etc. The people I of speak of would almost certainly find me a devil worshipper and a traitor to my race. But offering the cold shoulder of my heart does not a bit of good and harms me and them. No one wakes up one morning and says "I know! I'll be narrow minded and hate gay people and beat my dog and work in a factory and shoot my wife! That sounds like a great life!" Meeting hard-hearted people with your own hard heart will just make both of you angrier and more hard-hearted.
Angry people are rarely reasonable. Happy people almost always are.