Wednesday, February 07, 2018

The Moral Wrong of Hate-Mongering Bigotry

No decent, just person would endorse the sentiment expressed in this Trump tweet:

So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed @Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson. This is just one of many such preventable tragedies. We must get the Dems to get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!

Social media has tended to be a platform for outrage without explanation or justification. To begin to counter this, let me explain why morally decent people would hold anybody who expressed or endorsed such a statement with condemnation and contempt.

In simple terms, people who say these types of things are trying to promote unjustified hatred of innocent people belonging to a group they hate in order to make harming the members of that group appear justified.

It is true that the driver of the vehicle who killed Jackson and the Uber driver Jeffrey Monroe deserves condemnation. Trump seeks to use this to “sell” hatred of people in the country illegally. This is in spite of the fact that there are many people in the country illegally who are not drunk drivers, and many people who are drunk drivers who are not in the country illegally.

Trump does not want us to be angry at drunk drivers and, thereby, take steps to combat drunk driving. He wants to use this to sell hatred of people in the country illegally, and thus, motivated by this hatred, endorse or demand actions harmful to all such people.

These attitudes are unjust on two accounts.

First, they are used to promote hatred of and harm to innocent people. While some may argue that those who are in the country illegally are not innocent, almost all of them are, in fact, innocent of the charge of drunk driving or vehicular homicide. Yet, Trump’s motives in writing such a tweet is to promote a hatred of others as if they were all guilty of these crimes.

Second, these types of tactics let other people who are guilty off of the hook. If a citizen had driven drunk and killed Jackson and Monroe, Trump would not have thought it worth mentioning. A drunk citizen killing other citizens is not “disgraceful” or a “preventable tragedy” worthy of government action. It is only despicable when a non-citizen causes such a death.

The two injustices – the injustices that no morally decent person would accept or condone – are the injusticies of promoting a hatred of people who are innocent of the crime in question and the injustice of ignoring others who commit the same wrong. The basis of this injustice is the speaker’s desire to “sell” the hatred of a target group so as to appear to justify treating the members of that group as sub-human creatures rather than human beings.

This is the type of argument Hitler used to promote hatred of the Jews to make his “final solution” appear justified. By associating Jews with activities deserving contempt, Hitler successfully sold such a hatred of Jews that he was able to arrange the slaughter of over 6 million of them.

NOTE: There are some who think that as soon as Hitler gets mentioned, they have a moral permission to ignore the argument. This makes things quite easy for somebody advocating Hitler-like policies. I once considered writing a short story in which Hitler steps into a time machine and appears 100 years in the future. He advocates the same policies in the same way yet, whenever anybody says “This sounds like something Hitler would do,” he declares that it is inappropriate to compare somebody to Hitler and, thereby, shuts down all objections. To the degree that we have an interst in preventing Hitler-like policies, we need to have a permission to say, “This is a Hitler-like policy, and we should prevent it.”

Setting Hitler aside, this type of hate-mongering was also used in defense of chattel slavery, Jim Crow laws and other forms of segregation, Japanese internment, and the slaughter is “savages” (a.k.a. Native Americans). Earlier in history, this type of thinking was the root cause of inquisitions, crusades, violent jihads, civil and international wars of “us” against “them”.

Morally decent people refuse to be a party to these types harms and injustices. They see these as morally wrong, and as something that no good person would participate in or contribute to. To prevent them, a morally decent person recognizes the need to condemn those who have such attitudes where they appear and view such people with contempt. The morally decent person certainly will not give hate-mongering bigots political, police, or military power. They keep these institutions out of the hands of such people.

Trump is speaking in the way that hate-mongering bigots have always spoke. Is goal is to promote a hatred of a target group in order to “justify” policies that are harmful to them – to get others to embrace those policies by getting others to absorb the bigoted hatred that he feels. No morally decent person would make or embrace hate-mongering bigotry. In fact, a morally decent person would condemn hate-mongering bigotry and any who practice that particular form of reasoning. Trump, and anybody who endorses the sentiments he wrote into this tweet, qualifies as the type of person deserving of this type of contempt and condemnation.

No comments: