The politics of hate and division – It’s peddled by many mainstream politicians and is almost everyday language in our tribal society

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/17/language-public-social-media-politics-repercussions

The Guardian has this opinion piece on its web site – see link above

That we live in rather desperate and potentially dangerous political times is a given sadly, so this piece by James Graham is an interesting wake up call.

I have commented before about how Liberals were always looked upon with a fondness by the electorate generally but ever since Charles Kennedy stood out against the Iraq War, whilst Labour and Tories alike were on a war footing, attitudes have changed and some now have very negative attitudes to Liberals. At first I found this rather odd but I have come to rather enjoy being hated as a Liberal as to me it means that Liberal ideas are seen as a threat by the rich, by the powerful to the right and the left – we must be doing something right!

But ‘hate’ is an every day word these days and some point back to what the EU Referendum unleashed in terms of racism, intolerance and yes ‘hate’. There’s no doubt that Remainers and Brexiters have been pitched against each other and that there is little if any common ground between them. Do I act with intolerance towards Brexiters? Well yes, quite obviously I do if you care to read the many postings from me about Brexit. But is it right that a Liberal should be intolerant?

My brand of social Liberalism is all about radicalism, its about taking power from the rich and powerful so that the ordinary woman and man in the street has real control over their community and their futures. So hey a radical social Liberal is a threat and I expect to be disliked and indeed to be attacked (verbally of course) for my beliefs.

Ordinary people can only take power and use it if they are in full possession of facts. In the EU Referendum they were not, indeed they were lied to on an industrial scale. The referendum wasn’t an exercise in democracy it was an exercise in the abdication of responsibility by our leaders and of manipulating the electorate to do what the rich and powerful wanted them to do. It did not empower the people, as Brexit leaders claim, it cyclically used them in a way that shames our democratic credentials as a civilised country.

Am I angry with Brexiters? Hell yes. Do I feel my country has been had? Of course. Am I proud of my intolerance? No not really as I should not have had to find myself doing battle over such terrible lies and the consequences of them.

This radical Liberal and trade unionist is indeed angry and in no mood to compromise with people who are deliberately destroying my country and its way of life.

And on a different tack, since I have been using social media (Facebook in particular) I have noticed far too often the reach of huge levels of intolerance often about reasonably trivial matters. Swearing is now common and is almost expected as a social norm rather than the odd expression of shock and disbelief as it was once reserved for. I often ponder on whether folks use bad language on social media as they feel it is expected on them or that they will not be seen as fitting in if they decline to use it?

Yes our society has taken a turn towards anti-social behaviour being an every day thing, but how far will it go before the pendulum swings back towards a less racist, more intolerant and more inclusive society again? Or will we march ever further towards a hate filled fascist-type society?

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

Angry & Intolerant – A response from someone who knows me well

My recent posting regarding my own anger and intolerance over Brexit brought back this insightful response:-

Anger can be a useful tool if it can be directed, it can fuel difficult actions and hard campaigns. As long as you have control of it a little anger can take you a long way, sometimes further than you thought you could make it.

I don’t think Anger is an inherently bad thing, there are things that SHOULD make us angry. You are angry not because you got beaten but because you watched too many members of a generation who won’t be around to see the consequences of their vote to make life harder for their grandchildren, because you saw vulnerable people lied to and exploited, manipulated into voting for something that won’t benefit them in the least. In their case the anger they were entitled to feel at the neglect of the system got used by someone else, perhaps partly in fear of those people directing their anger towards the right targets and the people that had consistently failed to help them, or worse still failed to really try.

You are angry because there has been a backlash of hate, of racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia, the list of rising hate crimes is too long to go on with. You are angry because a young woman trying to work for her community got savagely murdered in the streets.

You SHOULD be angry, we should ALL be angry, but anger is only useful if we direct it into purpose. This may be the biggest threat to our country, to the liberal values you and I both hold dear, in a very long time. It should be fought. Tolerating other people’s views doesn’t mean you stop fighting them when you think they’re wrong. It means you fight them in the right way, that you don’t stoop to name-calling, to slurs and intimidation. You treat them with the respect owed to all human beings while fighting against the effects of their views and trying to convince them they are wrong. That’s where anger starts to get in the way, you don’t change anyone’s views by shouting at them.

We need to remember that more important than politics, than economies, than anything, is our relationships with our fellow human beings. Events like this make us want to retreat to the safety of those that agree with us, make us want to get behind a barricade and throw projectiles at the enemy but that isn’t really going to help anybody. Martin Luther King quite rightly said “hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”.

We need to be careful about indulging in some feeling of moral superiority and feelings of blame, how we got here is important but how we move forward is even more so. All far easier to say than to do, but I grew up with a good example of all this so somehow, occasional shouting aside, I think you’ll do just fine.

Well, it seems like I could consider an apology to those I have insulted over the Brexit vote following this advice. But, I will have to sit on that for a while as the anger is still very strong and the full consequences of that vote are unknown. Put it this way, if my genuine fears about the future of the UK prove to be unfounded and that Brexit ‘visionaries’ were right in saying leaving the EU will be the making of the UK then maybe I will apologise. However, based on the evidence that I saw before the referendum and what I have seen since I still can’t understand why Brexiters pressed what I see as the self-destruct button. Yes, still very angry indeed!

Me angry and intollerant?

The other day a friend, whom I appreciate the advice of, said to me that they had noticed how angry some of my postings had become since the EU Referendum result. They went on to say words to the effect that my usual tolerance of views differing from mine own seemed to be a little lacking presently.

Well I suppose that’s a reasonable assessment of me. I don’t think I have ever felt so angry about an issue of public policy as I do about the EU Referendum result and yes I have become very intolerant of people who promote leaving the EU. With tolerance being a fundamental tenet of being a liberal am I becoming illiberal? Makes you think doesn’t it.

I don’t think I have ever feared for the future of our country as I do now, we seem to be fundamentally unstable economically and socially. Hate is on the rise, some elements of the press are completely out of self-control, our economy is in a real mess and our attitude to minorities and refugees is utterly frightening. I would say that in a short space of time we have become fearful, inward-looking, mean spirited and intolerant as Country and it is this sea change that has in turn made be angry and intolerant.

It is not the country I grew up in and I want my tolerant, welcoming Country back.

But the other thing my wise friend had to say was that they feared I was venting some of my anger at a section of society whom I perceived had voted in a way that made them look foolish, irresponsible etc. The point being made, I think, was that the people I was angry with had been manipulated over many, many years to the point where the propaganda against the EU, refugees, the poor etc. had become the truth to them.

This later point is interesting in that what was being suggested to me was that just because I try to take an analytical approach to most issues many people don’t. I actually get that and my posting of a few days ago about being lied to addressed this. It is available via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/11/10/why-do-we-allow-ourselves-to-be-lied-to/

And the point of all this? Well I think the advice was stop shouting at folk who have been manipulated by the press, the wealthy and the powerful and try to convince them that hate and fear does not actually help society develop but instead corrupts it terribly. I wonder if I can rise to that challenge when the anger inside is so strong as we seemingly march towards becoming a fascist state?

Can’t promise I will not shout again as sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps me sane, but I do get that being a Liberal means I have to try to reach out to people who stand for things I really, really find distasteful.