Guest Post: The Hate that Lurks

Rafael R. Piñero lives in Puerto Rico and is a writer, alum of the University of Puerto Rico and have a Juris Doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Lansing, M.I.

Their favorite genres are science fiction, urban fantasy and high fantasy. They also enjoy games and Harry Potter and can be found on their blog at Neither Here nor There

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Memo to all of you who have watched, perhaps in horror or wry amusement, as a certain right wing radio host flounders about like a beached whale.

We are not living in a post-racial or post-feminist world.

We want to believe we do. But, you see, it in this case it is the bully with the radio microphone who got branded with the very scarlet letter he tried to pin on his victim. True, as far as the majority is concerned. But a significant minority still listen to this “man” (for a lack of a better term) in part because he serves to vent what they themselves believe but social graces prevent them from saying. Hate that tosses n-bombs is easy to recognize. We look at the example above and tell ourselves that it is the exception to the rule.

If only.

Definition time:

INSIDIOUS
1 a : awaiting a chance to entrap : treacherous b : harmful but enticing : seductive
2 a : having a gradual and cumulative effect : subtle

b of a disease : developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent

That is the word that the Supreme Court of the United States uses to catalog modern forms of prejudice based on race, gender, sexual identification, age or ethnicity. It is not the cross burnings or slurs; it is hiring decisions, payment ceilings and now laws to restrict reproductive rights. But what is truly insidious are not the measures, cloaked as they are in innocuous language, but the reactions they engender.

Case in point. During a novella writing workshop last year, a fellow student describes her project as the story of a middle age woman who leaves her life in New York city to live in the west side of Puerto Rico among surfers and beach bums. In short a story about a woman in search of her identity. When the professor points at the classic elements of a feminist story she replies, “Oh no, not at all. I am not a feminist.” Did I mention she is a lawyer? In her mind, a feminist is a retro-harpy, forever waiting to feast on the bones of unwary males and besmirching the good name of modern working women everywhere.

That is the insidious part. The way we placate the hate by distancing ourselves from the target of said hate. It is easy to see blatant racism/bigotry as a thing of the past, but history is not linear. Attitudes change all the time. For every move forward there will be a push back, just like there is today. Entrenched values persist every attempt to purge them from the social collective. Thus the hate lurks just below the surface. The good news is that it can be brought to the surface and fought.

5 comments

  1. J. Keep says:

    It’s always pained me to see people distance themselves from marginalized groups. Growing up, my mother was always terrified of being seen as poor. Despite being a single mother supporting two kids, going to night school so she could get a job as a secretary, living in a shabby home where the rain poured through my room day and night. Where we constantly worried about if we’d have money to keep our leaky roof over our heads.

    Yet to this day my mother balks at the idea of thinking of us as being poor. She even rankles at her union status a bit, not wanting to be seen as someone who “causes a fuss.”

    People just seem terrified of being seen as challenging the status quo these days.

    It seems the right has succeeded in changing the terms of public debate. We all live in a mythical free-market in a post-ism society blind to race, gender and class, where everyone can compete and win if they play by the rules, so complaining or trying to act in any way that’s not just “buckling down” and working harder at your job is somehow cheating.

    That’s the best guess I can make as to what’s happening.

    Thanks for the post. : )

    • Anjasa says:

      That’s what worries me – that the conversation has changed. I have to wonder, even, if all of these new laws about birth control and abortion in the United States aren’t an effort to simply stop people from talking about jobs and class.

      After all, most people don’t vote based on what type of medication their insurance will cover or if they need abortions (since most women don’t like to think of themselves as someone who might need an abortion), so I have to wonder if they’ll really be losing as much votes as if people were continuing the conversation on classism.

      • J. Keep says:

        It definitely does seem that certain sectors of the media and politics are absolutely dedicated to deflecting attention away from class issues such as poverty. It’s so ridiculous down south in the US, that they actually talk about a flat-tax as being “fair”.

        So even if the topic turns back to the horrible inequality and poverty, the discussion ends up going along these ridiculous terms. That, somehow, a person or entity that has far more disposable income should pay the same percentage, despite drawing from societies works (such as roads and infrastructure) more to make that mass wealth.

        I fear the discussion is changing again down south along these hardline, American style Libertarian views. Even should we get such topics, the new line of thinking is that the market should rule itself (i.e. the wealthiest amongst us), there is no role for the state in social programs or the economy, and a flat tax is something to shoot for.

  2. Rafael says:

    Thanks for the opportunity, apologies for the delays and I’m still available for more guest post in the future.

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