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Hate in America
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My last post about the immorality that some conservatives engage in was mostly theoretical. I was sort of thinking about the appalling actions of the McCain/Palin campaign, but it was still a pretty general musing.

Now here is the face of conservative panic and immorality. It's shocking, disgusting, and it makes me despair for the goodness inside each person that is crushed when they let themselves think this way. This is exactly what I was talking about when I hypothesised that conservatism leads to denial of change, which then leads to adopting immorality as a defence.
Yesterday was a crisp clean October afternoon. [...] I forgot how beautiful it all is. How beautiful and powerful and overwhelming this particular reality can be. I'm on my way to the store and I'm driving through this great undeniable reality, and I am comforted by its immutability. [...] How could all this change? It is incomprehensible. [...] Without hate we are vulnerable to those who hate us. [...] These are the competing realities that are fighting for the dominance of my soul on this beautiful Saturday afternoon. I am in the world of the reality of the normal people for a little while, and sometimes I feel so out of place, my bleak alarmist pessimism seems as fantastic and incongruous here in this bright sunlight as that misplaced Transylvanian vampire. If only I could stay in this reality forever...
(Emphasis mine.)

All this, because of Obama signs in their neighbourhood. The passages describing their New England neighbourhood are poetic, and that makes it all the more disturbing. For fear that their little world might change, they throw Obama, Islam, socialism, terrorists, people who make "there is no room for hate" signs, and Transylvanian vampires into one big category of Awful Threats To My Comfortable Privileged Illusion.

The irony is that their neighbourhood is unlikely to change one whit should Obama be elected. Possibly their neighbourhood will change if the population includes more non-Whites, but that kind of White-privilege motivation is pitiful, and isn't really connected with the election, vampires, or anything else in their list of bugbears.

(Via Pandagon.)

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I'm unable to delve into my mind effectively enough to describe why I feel so worried, but reading that post did make me feel uncomfortable and anxious. Some people are terrifying.

I liked the post you linked to. Generally conservatives aren't so introspective in their writings. In fact, I might even call it deliberately vulnerable.

I got fascinated with this question back in 2004 and read a lot of conservative blogs. I think your analysis misses the mark a little. His behavior is only shocking when you think about Obama with your own perceptions. Obama = good, and to be revolted by good is incomprehensible.

I think it goes right down to biology. A lot of the conservative war bloggers describe a moment where, after 9/11, they realized that their civilization was under attack. And, perhaps they couldn't join the army for some reason, but they still had the feelings. War is here. We must be united under one banner.

We're hard-wired to think that way. I think even the most "liberal" of us. It's just that some of us got a little bit more of it than others. He literally does not perceive the world the same way that you do. There's a template in his mind, passed down through his genes, that switched on when he learned that America was under attack by foreigners.

When he sees that others are not only not as exercised as he is, but in fact embracing someone that seems to be the same kind of other, he is both disgusted and perplexed. Didn't you hear the trumpets sounding for war, total annihilation of those who were threatening us? He did.

We're just made to want to reject a threatening tribe. This was GOOD for us in the ancestral environment. People like him were necessary -- maybe are still necessary.

What makes me shudder when I read that is the endorsement of hate as a weapon in the preservation of something that, ostensibly, requires a lack of hate to exist. It's the utter hypocrisy of it.

The rejection of "recogniz[ing] our culpability in the evils that have beset mankind and this great green planet of ours, and [...] mak[ing] amends", and the White privilege that just drips off the page, are just icing.

Yeah. But he seems to be well aware of the way others view the USA. In fact, he may even accept that being "on top" requires brutality. In this way he's got a more clear-eyed view of the world than many liberals.

Another thing I've noticed is that people construct a model of evil based on themselves, at their worst. Southern racists secretly tremble that the blacks will "take over" and impose a regime just as bad, in reverse. And just think of how the evangelicals always characterize homosexuality as something one is "recruited" into at an early age.

I think this guy looks within himself and sees someone very fearful, someone who find solace in orthodoxy, who seethes with resentments against people who have more power. And he imagines that there are people like him on the other side.

Hence: it's mano a mano, to the death.

That's a useful insight. I've noticed it more overtly in the McCain campaign (most things they accuse Obama of, they're already doing), but hadn't made the connection on the personal level. It certainly explains a lot of what I perceive as paranoia.

That's a useful insight into my own model of evil, too.

Hello. I am surprised by some of the more thoughtful comments on this page. I would only like to respond to one of them. You are correct about 9/11 being a transformational event for me, but somehow you paint this reaction as being bizarre, a little too excessive. You somehow make me seem as though I am obsessed by the dangers we face. And I suppose this is a fair assessment. Since 9/11 I have tried my best to inform myself, to not have to rely on others to form my opinions as to what was really going on. I have read and made a statistical study of the Koran, I have read dozens and dozens of the Hadiths and Sira. I have studied the charters of Hezbollah and Hamas and read the translated speeches and documents from MEMRI. I have read what the al Qaeda leaders themselves have had to say about this present conflict, about us.
I work at this 12-13 hours a day, 7 days a week. I read and I write -- usually 3 or 4 articles a day. I have had many different articles published in many different venues. You can see the list at my site.
My opinions are formed by my studies and by my research -- not the other way around. The moment I begin to doubt the validity of an opinion I will drop it like a hot potato. Will you? Have you worked as hard to form your opinions as I have mine?

I do not live in fear, I am not filled with hatred, and I am not privileged. I am a proud veteran and my son is a proud veteran, an Army Ranger who fought in Desert Storm.

It is fair to say that 9/11 changed my life. It formed my political persona, perhaps my political awareness. I will vote for whomever most clearly sees the threats that we face, both internally and externally, and has the will to confront them. I truly believe that our national will is going to be tested in the near future in ways which we cannot now imagine.

I thank you again for you courtesy.
Roger W. Gardner

Your studies seem to lean heavily toward the avowed enemies of the West among Islam. Have you read non-extremist sources on Islam other than the Qur'an?

That our opinions are informed by the facts we research isn't controversial. What sources we select to study isn't necessarily representative, though. For example, I could develop three different, mutually-incompatible sets of opinions on Christianity if I read the Bible beside 1) Catholic literature, 2) Mormon literature, or 3) Dispensationalist literature.

For someone who thinks we're already great and don't need to change, seeing the agents of change showing up is frightening, because the change can never be good.

Although, ascribing the whirlwind forces of "change" merely to the shadowy figures behind the signs is giving them a bit too much credit, I think.

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