I was reading Kurt Eichenwald’s Newsweek article - Right-Wing Extremists Are a Bigger Threat to America Than ISIS, and it felt like a reasonably objective and informative description of right wing extremists and their rise in the US – the racist groups (KKK, Skinhead, Neo-Nazis), the anti-government militias (in 2008, 42 militias; in 2016, 276!); the Christian Fundamentalists. Then I scrolled down to the comments and the first one I saw was “What a load of bullshit the story is.” Whoa! It struck me, not for the first time, how we live in very different bubbles. So I took a tour of a bubble other than my own. It was an alternative universe – very well done, replete with informative blogs, chat rooms, radio interviews, news feeds. It was like the x-ray image of my world, same formats, same people, just fundamentally different world views.
If I were a member of one of these groups I would also feel victimized by all the changes we’ve been made to endure. We used to keep Blacks under control, now they’re everywhere – in the arts, government, business, a president, for god’s sake. And women? They used to know their own place, now they’re in our place. And Jews? Everyone knows they’re still running the world. Gays. Transsexuals! I’m supposed to be good with that! What we all want (by “we” I mean us folks in our bubble) is a return to the good old days of white Christian America.
This is far from simply a US issue. It is the issue we have failed to cope with and often with disastrous consequences. How to deal with the “Other.” The arrival of the other, the presence of the other, invariably creates turbulence, both for the Other and for us. Seen through our dominant lens, the Other is seen as wrong, off, maybe dangerous, potentially polluting of our system. We are uncomfortable; inept at dealing with this turbulence. Some of us go tight: Keep them out, suppress them, marginalize them, keep them down, or worse. Others of us go loose I(like Saying YES because you’re uncomfortable in saying NO.) Loose or Tight, fundamentally it’s all the same. One is the Purity solution, the other the Tolerance solution. Neither really deals with the other.
More to come