Curiosity is the path forward, not outrage

Avoid getting hijacked by the vortex of sociopolitical insanity without removing your voice from the conversation.

Post-Charlottesville, Obama tweeted a Nelson Mandela quote. The full quote is as follows:

“I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” — Nelson Mandela

However, love doesn’t come more naturally to the human heart. The neurological origins of hatred is not settled science, but it is clear it is as natural as any other complex emotion:

“But love seems to deactivate areas traditionally associated with judgment, whereas hatred activates areas in the frontal cortex that may be involved in evaluating another person and predicting their behavior,”…and… “The areas of the putamen and insula that are activated by individual hate are the same as those for romantic love.”

And even “love” isn’t a simple emotion. Check out the book (one of the better ones out there on the matter) “Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship” by Stan Tatkin (clinician, researcher, teacher, and developer of A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy …. )

“The no-fault view of conflict in this book encourages readers to move past a “warring brain” mentality and toward a more cooperative “loving brain” understanding of the relationship.”

And Tatkin, like any reputable therapist, neuroscientist, clinician, etc, understands that the spectrum of emotions is universal. Yes, this means that “hate” and “love” are complex, both evolutionarily selected for, and something we contend with. All of us. And when our complex brains interface with complex political, social, and tribal forces, it complicates things even further.

It is true that a person can move from love to hate, and hate to love. Take the example of two ex-radicals….Maajid Nawaz, an ex-Islamist extremist, and Christian Picciolini, an ex-Neo Nazi skinhead, who now both work to deradicalize others. One is a British-born Muslim man of Pakistani immigrant parents, one is an American-born man of Italian immigrant parents. Both acknowledge the complex milieu that fostered their radicalization.

About Charlottesville, extremism, and his meeting with Richard Spencer, Picciolini writes:

“It’s important here I fully acknowledge that my own reality and human connection were once broken, just like Richard Spencer and those demonstrating in Charlottesville. I also recognize that we must stand firm against those who foster hate and divisiveness. But, I wasn’t able to shed my own blinders until my “enemies” — those I had directed my hate towards — took it upon themselves to disarm me with empathy. Ultimately, receiving compassion from the people I least deserved it from, when I least deserved it, was what helped me reconnect with society. To be clear, I don’t shirk away the notion that we must defend ourselves and protect each other against those who wish to harm us, but we must also recognize that violence is rarely ever the place to begin or end a conflict.”

And science can corroborate the link between emotions and racial discrimination:

“Legitimating Racial Discrimination: Emotions, Not Beliefs, Best Predict Discrimination in a Meta-Analysis:
Investigations of racial bias have emphasized stereotypes and other beliefs as central explanatory mechanisms and as legitimating discrimination. In recent theory and research, emotional prejudices have emerged as another, more direct predictor of discrimination. A new comprehensive meta-analysis of 57 racial attitude-discrimination studies finds a moderate relationship between overall attitudes and discrimination. Emotional prejudices are twice as closely related to racial discrimination as stereotypes and beliefs are.”

Anybody can repost yet another stupid Occupy Democrats meme…..

( and please, when decrying fake news as one should…please be honest about the bullshit on both sides of the Red/Blue divide…We can thank the wonderful scientist/writer/bullshit detector Yvette D’Entremont 
for this list, and yes it includes Occupy Democrats… )

… make themselves feel better about what a good job they’re doing being “activists” and “standing up for what’s right”. But really, it’s empty.

“Several prominent social scientists who have begun studying the rise of the hard right said they, too, are seeing a significant uptick of participation in racist groups.One of those researchers is Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who wrote the book “iGen.” She said her research shows that a minority of people younger than 24 hold racist beliefs, but there has been an increase in those numbers….Twenge is unsure why this trend is happening. But she said anecdotally, there appears to be evidence that white nationalism is taking root among young men. Berkeley sociologist Arlie Hochschild agreed. During research for her book, “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right,” she ran across a hardening of views among young men, specifically about blacks and Muslims.
“There was a great anger, especially with regards to groups like Black Lives Matter or American-Islamic groups,” Hochschild said. “There is a deep-rooted belief that in the past eight years, those groups have somehow cut to the front of the line, that their needs are being placed ahead of whites, especially white men.”

I’m a woman who has identified with feminist causes, and I can see that feminism has been driving itself off a cliff.

A gay law professor and a specialist in anti-discrimination laws is (rightfully) filing a complaint against Austin’s Equal Employment and Fair Housing Office for the Alamo Drafthouse’s Woman Only Wonder Woman screening.

“Their attitude was really off-putting to me … the suggestion that anybody who pointed out to them that this was illegal was misogynistic or insecure,” added Clarke. “Granted, a number of the men posting were nasty, but if you’re the one hosting the event and you’re already teetering on the edge of illegality, you might dial back the rhetoric…. “If they were trying to do a gay-only ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ I would feel the same way.”
“We have to deal with the bachelorette parties that come to the gay bar,” he added. “They’re terribly disruptive, but if you forbid women from coming to a gay bar, you’re starting down a slippery slope. It’s discrimination.”

Let that sink in. A gay law professor in New York.

Meanwhile, in Australia, a Melbourne cafe charges men an 18% premium and grants women priority seating to address the gender pay gap. Are you fucking kidding me? Not only is the gender pay gap not settled science, but how do you morally explain this kind of action? It is repugnant and sexist, but many things like this happen in the name of “social justice”.

It’s a poisonous cultural marxism. It’s the authoritarian Left that disguises itself as Salon articles, Everyday Feminism articles, etc. Poor journalism. Poor scholarship. Empty rhetoric.
Check out this gem: “Should Light-Skinned People of Color Voluntarily Exclude Ourselves from People of Color Spaces?”

It’s an infinite regression into an infinite asymptote of who is the most oppressed, who has the most badges and should get the most attention. The premise being: all people hate being neglected, not represented, left out, ostracized, marginalized.

All people hate being neglected, not represented, left out, ostracized, marginalized. Remember that.

A liberal friend in Seattle recently told me this story:

In the Seattle primary mayor race, the 2 leading candidates competing for slot #2 after the leading contender (an establishment Democrat named Jenny Durkan), were Cary Moon (a Civil Engineer with much experience in urban planning who happens to be white) and Nikkita Oliver (an activist and community organizer who happens to be black). When it became clear that Cary Moon was probably going to edge out Nikkita Oliver for the #2 slot, people began seriously telling Cary Moon that she should DROP OUT of the race to give the “woman of color a chance”. An “open letter” was circulated around Facebook promoting this idea.

UPDATE: Nikkita Oliver has conceded the mayoral race, but will not endorse either candidate because…..

“The two candidates in the general election are two wealthy white women who regularly in forums would say things like, ‘What Nikkita said, and…,” Oliver said. “It’s important that those ideas that the party and myself brought to this election are birthed out of our lived experiences. Those are not lived experiences those two candidates share.”

…And yet another example of the Left learning nothing and continuing its rampage of eating itself.

Speaking of Seattle…Have you read “Excommunicate Me from the Church of Social Justice” by Cultural Studies Scholar Frances Lee who identifies as a QTPOC (queer, trans person of color)?

“There is a particularly aggressive strand of social justice activism weaving in and out of my Seattle community that has troubled me, silenced my loved ones, and turned away potential allies. I believe in justice. I believe in liberation. I believe it is our duty to obliterate white supremacy, anti-blackness, cisheteropatriarchy, ableism, capitalism, and imperialism. And I also believe there should be openness around the tactics we use and ways our commitments are manifested over time. Beliefs and actions are too often conflated with each other, yet questioning the latter should not renege the former.”

Let that sink in. Even someone who uses terms like cisheteropatriarchy with a straight face thinks there’s a problem with the left.

The fabric of a healthy society is not built upon thin statements or identity politics built upon identities we can do nothing about, such as skin color or biological sex. We are all bound by immutable “identities”, and we are all bound to feel trapped by those identities.

But the world of ideas is where we have movement, agency, freedom. Ideas and conceptions and the experiences that introduce them can change our thoughts, our feelings, our perceptions, our loyalties. Ideas and conceptions and experiences that can move us from “love” to “hate” or “hate” to “love”. This is the individual’s area of control, sphere of influence, and opportunity for impact.

The loudest voices should not be the hysterical, the irrational, the reactionary. Challenging in-group calcification of bad and faulty ideas often seems to take much more courage than pointing out the other side’s shortcomings and failings because there are friendships, networks, and associations at stake. But not doing it means that the extremes of each tribe will set the tone and pace for how it interfaces with the rest of the world. And that’s on each of us.

So to the people who have accused me of being a Russian Jewish immigrant who has learned nothing from the annihilation of my family and community in WW2; to the people who have wondered in panic if I am “right-wing” (as if being politically conservative equates you with being either a total moron or the root of all evil) when I criticize That Which Cannot Be Criticized because for some, criticizing the Left is akin to Heresy; to the people who are confused and horrified by the trajectory of individuals whose path, alliances, and belief structures haven’t landed them at the gates of the social justice utopian dream, I encourage you to read more history and science, to ask more questions of people you don’t understand, to investigate, to not be intellectually and emotionally lazy about this whole endeavor we call America that you claim to care so deeply about, and that you should care about. Curiosity will lead us to much better places than outrage.