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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Claire Wolfe

It’s okay as long as you hate the right group

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012


I was just finishing up a head-banger of an assignment, watching my flat-fee dip to within a few dollars of minimum wage and thinking, “I can’t do this any more. This whole political thing.”

Then the email came in. The first thing I noticed was that it was a forward of a forward of a forward, and — standard with these things — my address was one of about 35 on an open cc list. I didn’t know the sender; he and I are merely involved in the same group and some of the others’ names were among those in the thrice-damnable open cc.

I scrolled down. That was my second mistake. After I scrolled below all the earlier open cc lists, I got to … a sewer full of foulness.

It was an article. It purported to be an English translation of something that had appeared in the Spanish media. Its message, which I’ll summarize in the briefest possible way, was: We (meaning Europeans) made a terrible mistake when we killed the Jews. Because the Jews are wonderful people — intelligent, cultured, refined. We wrecked Europe by killing them — because we traded them for Muslims who are, without exception, ignorant, dirty, vicious, violent, lazy, and all-around terrible. And they haven’t won anywhere near as many Nobel prizes!

I quit before getting to whatever “final solution” the writer might propose for the new okay-to-hate group and fired an angry response back at the sender.

Disclaimer for anyone who’s about to accuse me of being a damned liberal Muslim-lover who’s in denial about the world’s problems: Can immigration cause serious cultural disruption? Of course. Are there Muslims who hate everybody in the western world and want to harm us? Well, yeah. Am I fond of Islam? Let me tell you I’m not fond of any religion that preaches that its way is the only way and that everybody else deserves what they get. I’m not fond of true-believing fanatics, no matter what label they slap on themselves, and at this moment in history, yes, Islam has too many of those.

But having gotten that out of the way … why do people continually fail to understand (in the face of terrifying evidence) that once you start damning all members of any group, you’re going down a road the human race has traveled before — and the destination is a stinking, smoking desolation of bones and ashes?

It doesn’t matter whether the group you want to purge is the Jews, the Armenians, the Kulaks, gays, Arabs, Muslims (which, contrary to ignorant belief, are not synonymous), educated urbanites (ala Pol Pot), Catholics, Protestants … whoever. It doesn’t matter. It’s morally wrong and it turns out not just bad but inhumanly bad every, single time.

Why do they not understand that the claims they’re making about Group A have also been made about Group B at other times, in other places? “They’re dirty.” “They don’t think like us.” “They want to kill our babies.” “They cause disease.” “They think it’s okay to cheat everybody who isn’t like them.” On and on through the centuries. Familiar stuff. So easy to slap on some convenient “other.”

When will people get that the moment you cease to regard individuals as individuals and start regarding entire populations as nothing but verminous masses to be driven out or exterminated you have, right then, opened the gates of hell?


I’ve mentioned before that I lost a friend on 9/11. Not because she was on one of the planes or in one of the targeted buildings. But because she turned in an instant from being an individualist to being someone who wanted to throw every Arab (or every Muslim, she was never clear on that) out of the country and to force every other foreigner to wear special marks on their clothing. She saw neither the unfairness, nor the horror, nor the irony in that. She just feared and hated. What made it worse was that she kept expecting me to find her new views “reasonable.”

One thing that steams me about getting emails like the one that arrived today is that the senders imply, or at least assume, agreement. It’s one thing to watch some Fred Phelps type froth hatred; it’s another to get the wink-wink, nudge-nudge, “everybody knows” that “those people” are disgusting messages.

Having lived in immigrant neighborhoods for much of the last 25 years, I’ve gotten that wink-wink, nudge-nudge stuff before from people who “feel sorry” that I have to live around “those people” — whichever group it might be at any given time. I always want to say, “Buddy, you’re entitled to your opinions. But don’t slime me by assuming I share them.”

The ‘Net magnifies the worst of this. And the ‘Net, for all its otherwise blessedness, has a habit of dumping large piles of steaming … well, human verbal excrement onto our laps at the worst moments.

I wish with all my heart that I could get people to open their eyes and see that mass hatred leads to mass disaster — no matter what group you pick. But if history hasn’t gotten through, then my little voice isn’t going to penetrate, either. So let me just say, you bigots out there, that if you believe it’s okay to hate millions or billions of people you’ve never even met — don’t assume that decent individuals want your spewings to splatter all over them.


20 Responses to “It’s okay as long as you hate the right group”

  1. Kent McManigal Says:

    I admit I hate some “others”. But it is based upon what they do, not who they are. Those who attack and steal, or think it is fine to elect someone to do it for them, prove by their actions that they are “others”; completely foreign to me.

    As for the “others” that “others” hate, it does seem to shift around a bit… But I did see a rather unbelievable admission a while back.

  2. Kent McManigal Says:

    Sorry, my first comment had too many links and got trapped in ModerationLand. LOL.

  3. clark Says:

    C.W. wrote, “Why do they not understand…

    When will people get that…”

    I saw a quote a awhile back, something like: “There are three types of People in the world:
    1.) Some People see.
    2.) Some People try to see when shown.
    3.) Others, refuse to look.

    C.W. wrote, “She saw neither the unfairness, nor the horror, nor the irony in that. She just feared and hated.”

    I give groups #2 and #3 about three trys before I stop trying to use reason.

    What can you do?

    Oh, one other thing, about the local beggars asking for money… Maybe say what I say at garage sales when the asking price is sooo high even *I* don’t want to offer a much lower price, “I’ll think about it.”
    Often followed by, “You going to be around later/what time do you close?”

    Gives them something to focus on/anticipate/… salivate?

    Anyway, it’s a way of saying “no” without saying “no” with the possibility of “yes” later even if there’s no way in heck you’ll say “yes” later. Add a dash of smile and you’re all set. Cherry on top-it by waving as you walk away?

    It teaches People about long term preferences, just a bit, too. … And, they can’t react un-neighborly-like because there is the possibility you might say yes, later?

    You increase your “later” and “maybe” value to them… vs. saying, “no”.

    It’s kind of like “mothering” only…

    Just my two very late Cents.

  4. Pat Says:

    Hate is a strange thing. It comes from a closed and shallow mind. It makes one feel superior over someone else. It serves as an impetus to direct one’s energy. It’s a hangover from the “our tribe is better than your tribe” days. It must gather compatriots to reinforce the hatred. (And the reason for “group-mail” is to convince the sender that in fact he’s right to feel this way – the more people on the list, the more secure his position. True no matter what is the subject of the group-mail.)

    Go pound some nails, have a long cold drink, and do get away from politics for awhile. But remember, it will still be here when you return.

  5. Kevin Wilmeth Says:

    Maybe it’s something in the air. I found myself with many of the same thoughts recently, with the mention of eugenicists.

    What I’m most afraid of, personally, is that I’ll get caught in the trap myself, when my patience with the willfully ignorant finally runs out. My bile for that shit is high these days.

    Hang in there. You’re an inspiration to people like me partly because you have a gift of perspective, but you never pretend to be above the impulses that demand it in the first place.

    That makes things seem possible, and sometimes that’s what a body really needs most. :-)

  6. Water Lily Says:

    “…why do people continually fail to understand (in the face of terrifying evidence) that once you start damning all members of any group, you’re going down a road the human race has traveled before — and the destination is a stinking, smoking desolation of bones and ashes?”

    So very true. Having lived in and among many cultures, I DETEST putting people into “groups.” FEAR is a powerful motivator, and ignorance fuels that fire. Sometimes, the ones who treat us the worst in life are “one of our own kind” – whatever that means…

    I have lost many friends on this issue. And you know what, I don’t care anymore. I refuse to condemn all for the actions of a few, even for the so-called sheeple, for that matter.

    There’s a StarGate episode that is classic. If you haven’t seen it already, you should. It’s called, “The Other Side.”

  7. MamaLiberty Says:

    For some unknown reason, an unknown person “subscribed” me to a fairly large number of email “newsletters,” all of them more or less rabid haters of something. I click to “unsubscribe” where that option is offered, and write to the sender if not. But it is really getting old. Turns out they are using my “editor@” address, and that will be history in another few weeks. Maybe I’ll get less junk email for a while anyway.

    I’ve only actually “hated” one person in my life, and that was only for a relatively short time. Once I’d overcome the worst of the abuse and went on with my life, I was able to look back on it calmly and simply pity that person for the fool he turned out to be. I received notice of his death from heart failure a while ago, and it gave me an excellent reason to revisit the whole thing. But I felt only regret that he wasted his entire life… and would have wasted mine if I’d let him.

    Too many people allow irrational fear to spur them to this group hate. It seems to be part of human nature. Not the best part.

  8. BusyPoorDad Says:

    In the late 80’s I went to basic training. On the second day our First Sergeant stood before us at the Base Chapel and “explained” his stand on bigotry.

    “I only hate two kinds of people: First is bigots. You are in the United States Army! The United States is made up of all sorts of people. YOU represent those people, you may be white, black, brown, yellow or mauve before you joined. You are not now, you are GREEN! Skin color no longer applies here, and it should not apply outside the Army but it does. Take this with you when you leave.

    “The second kind of people I hate are those G–D—- Homosexuals!” (at this point I lost it and started laughing. Gays were the “ok to hate” group of the 80’s hand no one could see the contradictions to what he just said and his second group.

    The human mind is amazing in that it can hold as true contradictory information and ideas.

    (now those ignorant, dirty, vicious, violent, lazy, and all-around terrible left handed filk singers…)

  9. Kent McManigal Says:

    Even if it were true that “Most terrorists are Muslim”, it doesn’t mean that “most Muslims are terrorists”, and that difference is one that it seems most people don’t understand.

  10. furrydoc Says:

    Isn’t hate just a way to try to place blame for a problem we haven’t been able to solve? Why do some people think that placing blame and lashing out at a particular group will somehow solve the problem? It won’t. History tells us it usually only makes it worse. As intelligent people we should focus more on finding solutions and working together to eliminate barriers to problems.

    I saw this yesterday. Ridiculous as this is, it almost makes sense. From Larry the Cable Guy
    “Everyone concentrates on the problems we’re having in Our Country lately: Illegal immigration, hurricane recovery, alligators attacking people in Florida … Not me — I concentrate on solutions for the problems — it’s a win-win situation. Dig a moat the length of the Mexican border. Send the dirt to New Orleans to raise the level of the levees. Put the Florida alligators in the moat along the Mexican border.”

  11. Scott Says:

    I’ve worked at two colleges, and one benefit is meeting people from all over the planet-the proportion of decent people to jerks is pretty consistent. About 2% jerks, planetwide. If you listen to other people, you’ll hear a lot of great stories..Scott

  12. just waiting Says:

    I usually reply back to the effect of:
    “You should really read your emails before you just fw them to everyone on your mailing list. Sending hateful, racist mail to your friends and family wastes their time and generally diminishes their opinion of you, unless they are hateful racists themselves. But most of us are positive people, with little or no time to bother with such negative drivel and the thoughts it is looking to compel. If you really believe the bs in this email and support the position of the writer, I ask you to remove my name from your address list and to refrain from contacting me by any method in the future”

  13. mike Says:

    De-humanization of a group is a necessary step to provide justification for the subjugation, internment and/or removal of the target group.

    Research some of the history of forced servitude, war and conquest. The process is quite evident and brutally efficient.

    And it’s a continued practice, almost everywhere in the world.


  14. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit Says:

    Hate. I’m not interested in being negatively emotionally attached to something.

    Despise. Now THAT is a nice negative rational thought I can get behind.

    I don’t hate statists. I despise them.

    Great article, as always, Claire!

  15. water lily Says:

    I despise animal abusers.

  16. Ellendra Says:

    I’m no historian, but from what I’ve read, for most of human history people have viewed things as “Us vs Them”. Just as most people tend to see, well, just about everything as either-or. I know several people who freeze up if they’re faced with more than 2 options, even if it’s for something as simple as a sandwich. I think it’s ingrained in the human mind.

    Maybe the fact that some of us are able to contemplate this, is itself a sign of progress?

  17. Mary Lou Says:

    Great article. When I get bigoted spewings from people, I write them back and tell them ‘the only people I HATE are bigots’ and then blacklist them. Water Lily, I also HATE animal abusers, and child abusers …. the problem is, when you HATE, even if you are hating evil … it diminishes you, somehow …
    “And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.- Nietzsche ‘

  18. LarryA Says:

    And even if I agreeed with you, there’s this thing called “BCC.”

  19. winston Says:

    I don’t like Islam or Christianity, I don’t like immigration, I don’t like political correctness in matters of race and sex. But I HATE black and white generalizations.

    Bigotry is a crutch for simple minds who can’t comprehend shades of grey. It’s so much easier to just classify an entire group as less than human than it is to intelligently examine a real and complicated issue.

  20. Hanza Says:

    Finally! Veil lifted on Muslim rape epidemic

    ‘They are simply living by the 7th century rules of a desert warrior’

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