Monday, March 18, 2019

It's Okay If It's Him

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella recently said: "Hate and violence have no place in our society." His post on LinkedIn garnered tens of thousands of Likes and hundreds of comments. It stuck me, however, that if you were to observe people's day-to-day actions, one could easily come away from that with the understanding that those words are something that people say, and that others support, because this is what is expected of them, and not because they actually believe it enough to work for it.

On Last Week Tonight recently, John Oliver did a segment on Public Shaming. And kudos to him for not simply coming out against the practice, but owning up to his own support of the tactic: "When it's well-directed," Mr. Oliver notes, "A lot of good can come out of it." (That good, apparently, being the opportunity to take pot shots at Tucker Carlson.)

But this strikes me as the way people tend to understand hate and violence; they're okay, so long as they are "well-directed." And few people see themselves as misdirecting their anger. An article in Slate magazine effectively holds up one Will Connelly, now known as "Eggboy" for smashing a raw egg into the back of an Australian lawmaker's head, as a hero. The reason for this is that his target, Queensland Senator Fraser Anning, is anti-Moslem.

“The real cause of the bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place,” Anning said in a statement. Anning also tweeted:  “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?”
Of course, a mass shooting, and a random egging are not the same thing. And the point here isn't to imply that they are. But here in Washington state, coming up to someone and hitting them on the back of the head is considered a form of assault, even if not a very serious one. (Other jurisdictions may consider it battery, instead.) "Hate and violence" aren't limited just to actions that are directed at people with sympathize with and reach some arbitrary threshold. And that's what tends to make denunciations ring hollow; a general willingness to be selective about what's bad and what isn't.

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