Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October 18, 2016--Hating the Haters

There's something that's been troubling me about the "haters" who are among Donald Trump's most vociferous supporters.

Not about their hating. That is clear and evident. He does attract and for many offers endorsement and legitimization. They specialize in invective and at times violence. It is obvious who they hate from their hand-scrawled signs and ugly epithets. Just looking at their images it's easy to see the depth of their rage.

To get closer to what's been troubling me I conduced a small, totally unscientific poll of all my local progressive friends and acquaintances that I randomly ran into during all of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Sixteen altogether.

It was a very simple poll. Just one question--

"When thinking about the upcoming election and I mention 'hater,' what comes to mind?" That's it. No follow ups.

Pretty much everyone came up with the same answer--

"They are the most vocal and outrageous of Donald Trump's supporters."

Most responses also included one or more descriptors such as "bigots," "racists," "misogynists," "homophobes," "perverts," "morons," "Islamophobe," and "Nazis."

Very few surprises here.

Getting closer to understanding what has been troubling me, Monday evening I called a few friends who I had surveyed and after sharing with them the results I had gathered asked a few followup questions--

"Does it seem strange that not one person among the 16 said something like, 'Haters are passionate supporters of both candidates who are so angry that what they feel and express comes across as hate.'"

"No it doesn't surprise," they said, "because it's Trump who attracts the haters. Not Hillary."

"And how would you characterize her most ardent followers?"

"They agree with her on the issues, she is totally committed to protecting the reproductive rights of women, respects women and people of color, would work hard to reduce economic equality, would expand healthcare, she would work day and night to improve public schools, she believe in science and climate change, she would . . ."

"That's basically her platform," I interrupted. "which I agree with. What I really want to pick your brain about has to do with our thinking that the only haters are Trump people but when we progressives characterize them as racists and Nazis and all the rest aren't we doing a version of the same thing his voters hatefully say about us?"

With that my friends were even more confused. So I said, "To accuse someone of all those things includes an element of hate, doesn't it? Especially if we define the majority of his supporters this way. When we attribute these views to more than a segment of his supporters. Even though it's a distressing and not insignificant segment?"

"It could be," one I spoke with said, "that what Hillary said about the deplorables--that they were bigots and homophobic, for example, and irredeemable--could be considered to be hateful."

"I think that's what I've been struggling with. I agree that Trump has many supporters who are filled with hatred, but it's also been my experience that more than a few Hillary people are also full of hate. They hate Trump as much as the Trump haters hate them. And on both sides they deny being haters since they contend that what they assert about their opponent is the truth."

I continued, "The Democratic Trump haters consider themselves to be issues-oriented and rational, but in some of their passionate support for Hillary, to me, they too cross the line of acceptable political behavior. Both sides need to do some act cleaning up. Otherwise, when the election is over and Hillary moves into the Oval Office, we may be in even more trouble than currently.  Democrats, progressives, Clinton herself can't expect to do much business with people they've deplored and looked down their noses at."

One or two of my liberal friends agreed. The rest, not so sure.

And then yesterday morning there was the news about the bombing in Hillsborough, NC, of the GOP office. What should one make of the fact that it went virtually unreported by the New York Times?

Hillsborough, NC

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