Sunday, August 24, 2014

Demonization is Bullying

I have gotten a lot of pushback on the accompanying statement.  I stand by it.

Case in point: I ask you what has been the response to the Michael Brown killing. Conservatives everywhere have had one focus: finding the proof that Michael Brown somehow deserved getting shot. He was supposedly a thug; he stole cigars; he liked rap music; he had marijuana in his system; he beat Darren Wilson in the face and broke his eye socket; he was one of those scary black hoodlums. They have demonized Michael Brown. That is the sum total of their response. And you know, it's exactly the same as was done to Trayvon Martin. It is the main content of conservative media in this time. It is their go-to tool.

Note that I say that while the 'signature gesture' of conservatism are these campaigns of demonization, the "mission" of liberal religion is to re-humanize this culture. Hear what I am saying and what I am not saying. I am not saying that no liberals ever demonizes the conservatives. I am not saying that no one has made unfounded, harsh, and conclusive judgements about Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Michael Brown. I am saying that the work we should do is to promote the understanding that each person has dignity and deserves respect. All of us are accountable human beings embedded in systems and structures that push and pull us toward certain behaviors.

I, however, specifically reject the idea that "both sides do it." The two sides are not equivalent entities.We are living in a system which is oppressive, and exploitative, and de-humanizing. There are the powerful and there are the powerless. So, watch the direction of the demonizing gesture, please. Not only does conservative media and ideology scapegoat and demonize, they usually demonize "down", toward the powerless. When the left makes harsh and unfair personal judgements, it is usually "up," at the powerful.

The mission of liberal religion to re-humanize this culture. I don't mean that our work is to create safe spaces where liberals and conservatives can get along. That degenerates into liberal religion trying to tone down "our" side. All those efforts will not be reciprocated. It betrays the victims.

I mean that our work is to stalwartly defend the victims of conservative demonization -- defending their humanity.

It means arguing that the young people of color are NOT an army of thugs out to pillage, steal and rape the rest of us. They are not the demons Fox News portrays them as. Michael Brown was a young man who was endangering no one when he was shot by a police officer. Young people of color are human beings.

It means reminding people that the refugee kids at the border are NOT an army of invaders, but children, for God's sake.

It means insisting that women who want birth control coverage in their insurance policy are NOT sluts who want to have recreational sex on other people's dime, but ordinary women doing ordinary things.

It means reminding people that the most of the residents of Gaza are ordinary people, NOT fighters.

The conservative movement is full of bullies. You don't talk bullies down from the thrill they get from being bullies. You stand up for the bullied, first, and always.














1 comment:

Steve LaBonne said...

Thank you for this. I agree completely.