One of the things I’ve often wondered about modern evangelical Christians, is whether it gets tiring to be so hateful. Pick the current demon du jour, whether it be terrorists from another religion, or immigrants or women or gays or racial minorities, it must get exhausting to direct your distrust and hatred at so many people. And some of them — let’s face it — you might not even know if they’re a member of that group if you don’t talk to them first.
Of course, this hatred isn’t directed at any specific individuals; it’s directed at entire groups of people. It’s easier to demonize groups of people by convincing yourself that they’re not really people.
An ex of mine maintains a blog that I still read on occasion. Her most recent entry — which is now more than two months old — captures the exhaustion and fear she’s been feeling since the election of Donald Trump pretty nicely. But reading this and other entries of hers in the past two-plus years, you can see that the distrust is wearing her down.
And that’s just two years of it; imagine a lifetime of that degree of distrust and hatred. And that brings me back to the original question I posed at the start of this essay. How much do you have to delude yourself that your hatred isn’t really hatred, in order to sleep comfortably at night? How much cognitive dissonance is necessary to make it seem like hatred is actually caring?
Please note that I’m not trying to make an argument that you actually have to go out of your way to care for your fellow man. Casual disinterest — rather than actual antipathy — is all that’s really needed here, even if that disinterest doesn’t actually help anything but your own ability to get a restful sleep.
Say what you will about the hippies in the sixties. They were happy doing what they were doing. It’s what made Woodstock such a great experience for nearly all who attended, despite the rain and other downsides.
So I think about these things, especially as I look at right-wing sites that seek to sow divisions and animosity. Look at the Conservapedia entry on people who can be considered a Movement Conservative. The list includes people like Phyllis Schlafly, Pat Buchanan, Stephen Miller, Jerry Falwell, Clarence Thomas, Steve Bannon, and John Bolton. Each and every one of them wears (or wore, in the cases of Schlafly and Falwell) their prejudices proudly.
I’ll grant you that this list doesn’t evenly hate. Miller, for example, hates foreigners and Bolton hates middle easterners. Buchanan and Falwell hate gays and women. Schlafly and Bannon hate everyone.
Still, this isn’t exactly the picture of peace and love.
I think that a part of the answer to this question can be found in a blog entry posted last week by Daniel Greenfield. This is not the only article I’ve seen of this nature; indeed, conservative websites are constantly complaining of censorship of their “views”, trying to justify their hatred as little more than a difference in political opinion.
But therein lies a real problem, doesn’t it? Take the issue of climate change. There should be legitimate discussion and disagreement over how best to tackle the problem, and neither liberal nor conservative opinion has any claim to better ideas here. It shouldn’t be “it’s a problem and we need to do something pronto” against “it’s not a problem”.
And that’s just one aspect of what’s wrong with what people claim to be “conservative” thought. It gets worse when the conversation switches to the basic humanity of some people (either as individuals or groups of people). When we say “treat everyone with respect and as equals” in terms of their rights, that’s exactly what it means. But if your opinion is that someone who otherwise hasn’t done anything wrong, doesn’t deserve the same treatment for the same services because of who they are, then yes, you deserve to be punished in terms of the law.
If I were a baker and refused to bake a cake for a Christian wedding, the couple getting married would rightly be upset over that. What, then, is different about a mixed race wedding? Or a same sex wedding? Or (dare I suggest it since it’s technically not legal?) wedding that involves three or more people? The answer, quite simply, is nothing. (Although admittedly, the poly wedding wouldn’t be recognized as such in the eyes of the law; only the church that marries them.)
So that brings me back to the question of how they can be comfortable and happy despite their hatred. Surely some might argue that ignorance is bliss, but thanks to the ways in which our society is more interconnected now than it has been at any time in human history, they really can’t be all that ignorant any more.
I think there’s a very telling article over on Rapture Forums, written by Dan Boys, PhD, with the provocative headline Pete, Since You Brought it Up, How “Gay” Are You?
The article appears to be a sort of open letter to South Bend, IN, mayor, candidate for the Democratic Presidential Nominee, and the current incarnation of the boogeyman to many American conservatives, Pete Buttigieg. If you read through the article, it is replete with misrepresentations and questionable statistics that purport to define what it means to be gay in terms of anything other than a human being who just happens to be attracted to someone of the same gender.
Dr. Boys (whatever he’s a doctor of and from whichever institution) sure does spend a lot of time thinking about what two gay men might do in the privacy of their own homes, doesn’t he? Wouldn’t he be surprised to know that some straight people perform many of the same sex acts he describes in his article?
I get it: he’s disgusted by the thought of gay sex. And ya know something? He has the right to be disgusted by any sex act, between any two (or more) people. But just because he might find it disgusting, if the people involved in the act itself are all right with it and consented to it, that’s fine. Be as squicked out as you might want, Dr. Boys. I’m not going to argue with you, because it’s an honest feeling / emotion / reaction.
Just like any sexual orientation.
Which I think answers the greater thesis: they don’t get tired of their hatred, not because it’s not tiring, but rather they’re sufficiently motivated to not want to think about their hatred or the things they hate. And as long as they think of those things as concepts that need to be changed for the betterment of all involved, they’ll see it as “love” instead.
It’s a misguided kind of love, but if that’s how they can sleep at night, I guess that’s all I can really say about it.