Friday, May 3, 2019

The Search For Someone To Hate

     The great problems are those that are insusceptible to complete and enduring solutions. One who confronts a great problem must disabuse himself of any nonsense notions about “solving it.” He cannot and will not. Rather, he must do, categorically, what others have done: he must cope.

     To cope is not to solve. To cope is to find a way around or through. Coping is what we do with nearly all the problems we face. It is, in some sense, the fundamental survival skill.

     But in this year of Our Lord 2019, it appears that coping has become despised.

     I know the title of this piece seems not to match the segment above. Bear with me. By now you should know how circuitous I am.

     The problem of hatred is one of the most severe in all of human experience. We’re inclined to “otherize,” and hatred follows rather naturally. Definition, you see, proceeds by stating first a genus — what the defined category includes, and second a differentia — what it excludes. Both parts are required. We define ourselves, as members of various categories, in exactly that fashion.

     When the exclusion comes close to our highest-priority values, the urge to hate what is excluded, to despise and condemn it and wish it ill, can be very strong. Regard one more time this passage from C. S. Lewis’s masterpiece That Hideous Strength:

     “Come in,” said Dimble in his rooms at Northumberland. “Oh, it’s you, Studdock,” he added as the door opened. “Come in.”
     “I’ve come to ask about Jane,” said Mark. “Do you know where she is ?”
     “I can’t give you her address, I’m afraid,” said Dimble.
     “Do you mean you don’t know it? “
     “I can’t give it,” said Dimble….
     “What do you mean?” he asked. “I don't understand.”
     “If you have any regard for your wife's safety you will not ask me to tell you where she has gone,” said Dimble.
     “Safety from what?”
     “Don't you know what has happened?”
     "What's happened?"
     “On the night of the riot the Institutional Police attempted to arrest her. She escaped, but not before they had tortured her.”
     “Tortured her? What do you mean? “
     “Burned her with cigars.”
     “That's what I've come about,” said Mark. “Jane- I'm afraid she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. That didn't really happen, you know.”
     “The doctor who dressed the burns thinks otherwise.”
     “Great Scott!” said Mark. “So they really did? But, look here ...”
     Under the quiet stare of Dimble he found it difficult to speak.
     “Why have I not been told about this outrage?” he shouted.
     “By your colleagues?” asked Dimble dryly. “It is an odd question to ask me. You ought to understand the workings of the N.I.C.E. better than I do.”
     “Why didn't you tell me? Why has nothing been done about it? Have you been to the police?”
     “The Institutional Police?”
     “No, the ordinary police.”
     “Do you really not know that there are no ordinary police left in Edgestow?”
     “I suppose there are some magistrates.”
     “There is the Emergency Commissioner, Lord Feverstone. You seem to misunderstand. This is a conquered and occupied city.”
     “Then why, in Heaven's name, didn't you get on to me?”
     “You?” said Dimble.
     For one moment Mark saw himself exactly as a man like Dimble saw him. It almost took his breath away.
     “Look here,” he said. “You don't . . . it's too fantastic! You don't imagine I knew about it! You don't really believe I send policemen about to man-handle my own wife!”
     Dimble said nothing and his face did not relax.
     “I know you've always disliked me," said Mark. “But I didn't know it was quite as bad as that.” And again Dimble was silent.
     “Well,” said Studdock, “there doesn't seem to be much more to say. I insist on being told where Jane is.”
     “Do you want her to be taken to Belbury?”
     “I don't see why I should be cross-questioned in this way. Where is my wife?”
     “I have no permission to tell you. She is not in my house nor under my care. If you still have the slightest regard for her happiness you will make no attempt to get into touch with her.”
     “Am I some sort of leper or criminal that I can't even be trusted to know her address?”
     “Excuse me. You are a member of the N.I.C.E. who have already insulted, tortured, and arrested her. Since her escape she has been left alone only because your colleagues do not know where she is.”
     “And if it really was the N.I.C.E. police, do you suppose I'm not going to have a very full explanation out of them ? Damn it, what do you take me for? “
     “I can only hope that you have no power in the N.I.C.E. at all. If you have no power, then you cannot protect her. If you have, then you are identified with its policy. In neither case will I help you to discover where Jane is.”
     “This is fantastic,” said Mark. “Even if I do happen to hold a job in the N.I.C.E. for the moment, you know me.
     “I do not know you,” said Dimble. “I have no conception of your aims or motives.”
     He seemed to Mark to be looking at him not with anger or contempt but with that degree of loathing which produces in those who feel it a kind of embarrassment. In reality Dimble was simply trying very hard not to hate, not to despise, and he had no idea of the fixed severity which this effort gave to his face.

     Imagine yourself as Mark Studdock in the above. You confront a man – Dimble – for whom you have a curious respect. Dimble is willing to speak and act according to his values. In other words, he has the courage of his convictions. You find that those values put the two of you on opposite sides of a moral boundary. Is it not supremely difficult to imagine that he doesn’t hate you? Is it not just as difficult not to hate him?

     Ponder that for a moment.

     Do you recall this episode from last year?

     Kyle Kashuv is going to prom. With a girl he doesn’t know. Who lives in another state. Kashuv is one of the few survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting who publicly supports the Second Amendment. He has gained a substantial Twitter following based largely on his refusal to toe the party line on gun control, or engage in the negative rhetoric of his classmates on the left. But now Twitter has gained him something else: a date.

     Last week a girl from Nebraska, who goes by Fidan on Twitter, sent Kyle a direct message asking, “How many retweets for prom?!!” Kyle responded, “5K,” adding “Also I don’t have a tux.” Fidan tweeted out this exchange with the caption, “PLEASE HELP ME OUT. A DREAM COME TRUE.” And Twitter leapt to the challenge.

     Within a day Fidan had her 5,000 retweets. To tackle Kyle’s other dilemma — the lack of a tux — Fidan set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $1,700 to cover the cost of the tuxedo and Kyle’s plane travel to and from Nebraska. She met her goal within six days. But what about Kyle? Would he actually go?

     Kyle’s answer came as a result of an unfortunate plot twist in this little romance. In amongst all the well-wishers and retweeters came Planned Parenthood senior advisor Elizabeth Thorp, like some kind of anti-fairy godmother, telling Fidan: “Hard pass, sweet girl. You can do better.”

     Elizabeth Thorp, an executive of the institution that, among “non-state actors” in the First World, holds the world record for killing innocents, hates Kyle Kashuv. It’s as plain as print. Yet she hasn’t met him and probably never will. So why does she hate him? For the same reason Mark Studdock believed that Dimble hated him: Kashuv’s values, which Thorp has inferred are morally opposed to hers.

     Erick Erickson wrote at the time:

     The secular left in America has its own religion -- the state. Worship of the state and the self cannot tolerate dissent or competition, and therefore is moving aggressively to shut down, silence, and drive from the town square any competing ideas. Evil has been preaching tolerance, but now that it is dominate, it seeks to silence good. [Erick Erickson]

     I must disagree, albeit mildly. The Left does not worship The State; it worships itself. The State is merely its chosen instrument for the propagation of its faith. In any case, as I wrote at the time, theirs is a faith that tolerates no dissent, however mildly expressed.

     Christians are forbidden to hate. It’s a proscription that many misunderstand. Hatred in this context involves the active desire to see someone come to harm. That’s not the same as holding him in contempt and praying that he will fail of his aims. I’ve felt contempt for many persons prominent in the public eye. I’ve prayed nightly for them to fail of their aims. I bear no guilt for those emotions and prayers, nor would you.

     But for some, there is no firebreak. They perceive the moral boundary that divides them from another, and they hate. They wish for the hated one to come to harm. They don’t resist the desire; perhaps they cannot. Whether they would act on it, given the opportunity, we can seldom know.

     He who deems himself morally superior to others is forever in danger from this progression. It doesn’t matter whether the superiority has any basis in fact. Yet the very best persons of my acquaintance, those I would deem unquestionably morally superior to me, have all exhibited a depth of humility, a sincere willingness to call themselves sinners, that armors them against both vanity and hatred. It destroys any suggestion that they would hold themselves superior to anyone.

     It is one of our great contemporary tragedies that such persons are generally not held up to our young as models to be emulated. Perhaps the adulation showered upon entertainers and sports celebrities consumes all the available bandwidth.

     Forgive me, Gentle Readers. I’m in one of those moods again. No doubt it will pass, or I will. Have a nice day.

1 comment:


A few things:

I've read "Out of the Silent Planet" and "Perelandra". Looks like I'll have to pick up the third one. Dammit. Not like I don't already have a pile of to-be-read books.

"The Left does not worship The State; it worships itself." And hence, violates the First Commandment. And this, I think, is the deep meaning - the "deep magic" if you'll permit the reference - of the First Commandment: when you push G-d out, we're hardwired for something greater than ourselves, so we replace it with something else, i.e., our own selves. And thus, when we start to view ourselves as worthy of worship, what we do becomes innately divine in our estimation. And divinity cannot be questioned. And it's fascinating to me that I'm starting to have an essay form in my mind, soon to start sketching it out in text, and one of the key elements is a vision of Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments looking at the massed Israelites ready to leave Egypt: "Lord, there are so many..." he prays with abject humility - and probably not a little fear - at being up to the task.

Lastly, regarding those who feel themselves morally (and ethically and intellectually) superior; i.e., rising to the definition of Thomas Sowell's "Anointed", consider this woman:

I was going to reply, but realistically, there's no point.

The level of doublethink delusion this woman, and stereotypically most Leftists, hold - let alone nuclear-grade hypocrisy in almost every plaint against Trump that her side does tenfold - staggers the mind. But I will also note it is living proof of my contention:

A liberal discussing dignity, honor, truth, ethics, morality, reverence for the Constitution, or love of America is like a still-turning-tricks hooker touting the importance of chastity and fidelity.