Hate is a Hot Commodity






“Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.” -Eric Hoffer

“Global warming” is double entendre. The more immediate kind of global warming is not about climate change, it’s about the heat of a future Hades that moves closer with every new shooting and renewed hostilities between nations, religious groups, racial groups, or social classes. Every day I peruse the headlines and stories of major online newspapers. Not since I was very young and witnessed the race and anti-war riots of the ‘60s, do I recall such a tense mood. But it’s different this time; humanity itself is hot under the collar. Needing explanations and causes, I make a list of possible inputs:

  • the stress of change: a converging (globalized) world with diverse groups thrust together at a great pace and thrust into competition by free-market systems
  • recession (mostly in the developing world) creating Darwinian competition between groups
  • aftershocks of the power displacements in Iraq, Syria, and North Africa spreading outward

And certainly, here in the US:

  • propaganda campaigns resulting in polarization, demonization, and animosity

Some who thrive on it don’t really care how it got here, but a good deal of today’s hate has been cooked, dried, powdered, and sprinkled on us like devil-dust over time.  It’s my opinion that most people are not even aware that they are under the influence.

Who would do such a thing?

Hate can be a very valuable commodity in the hands of those who know how to use it for political purposes– that is to say those who want to use it to maintain or increase their power. The simple explanation is that hate (along with its sibling, fear) exploits a fundamental human shortcoming: strong emotions overcome reason. If a party needs votes to gain or keep power and influence, they have to appeal to the emotions of the electorate.

dog whistle         noun: A coded message that appears harmless to the general public, but that has an implied meaning meant that will be interpreted by the target audience, for example, to racists or bigots.

If, for example, middle- and working-class voters, who do constitute the majority, were to apply reason in selecting the candidates who best represent their interests, they would vote for candidates who represented labor, higher wages, easier access to healthcare and education; and more consumer protection in banking, food production, and the environment.  They would care about the jails, the justice system, lobbying laws and practices, and voter suppression tactics.

But they don’t.

“Fox is a behemoth. Profits are staggering and it has unrivaled political influence, admittedly almost exclusively in one party.” –David Folkenflik, media correspondent for NPR and a longtime Foxologist

Thanks to some very well paid and highly skilled propagandists, a great percentage of the majority would rather support the goals of the minority who, for all their claims otherwise, only want more money and power. Roger Ailes, the man-behind-the-curtain at Fox News, was a political consultant since Nixon and remains among the most powerful of Republican ideologues. Ailes knows very well how to manipulate the emotions of his audience: suggestive imagery and language, innuendo, and insinuation.  These are often referred to as “dog whistle” messages.

dog whistle         noun: A coded message that appears harmless to the general public, but that has an implied meaning that will be interpreted by the target audience, for example, to racists or bigots.

And of course members of the working class who want more power (or want it back) aren’t innocent of using their own emotional tools to garner influence and votes.  I only just read how a CNN anchor will become the new DNC chair in the wake of the Wasserman-Schultz resignation.

So the economy, the stress of convergence in a diverse world, and power politics are to blame.

Probably; Yes.

Then I remember that are actually two worlds today, the physical world and the virtual one. One wonders: do the immediacy and the proximity of the virtual world—that hovers over humanity like an aura—help to globalize the prevailing sentiment, or perhaps reveal it?  –If so, the aura would be dark red now, signaling anger. Maybe, like Conrad’s Colonel Kurtz, our soul is mad. And why would it be mad? Because temperatures everywhere are rising? Can we excuse ourselves like Camus characters who are deranged by the sun?

Or perhaps we spend so much time straddling two worlds, the physical and the virtual, that we can’t function in either.

“A person with two lovers loses their soul, a person with two houses loses their head.”    –Proverb



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