LOATHING THE OTHERS WELL: Welshmen yes, Englishmen no!


Part 3—O'Hehir votes for contempt:
It's one of the oldest pre-human impulses.

It used to be a survival skill; now it's highly counterproductive. Despite that fact, it's been a basic part of "progressive" culture for the last fifty years. It helps explain why Donald J. Trump may end up in the White House.

We refer to the practice of inventing The Other, then showering Them with contempt. We pseudo-progressives have loved this game at least since the mid-1960s. For an example of how the game is played, consider this piece by Andrew O'Hehir at the new Salon.

First, an elementary fact. In last Thursday's Brexit vote, the constituent parts of the U.K. voted like this:
Percentages voting for Leave
England: 53.4% for Leave
Wales: 52.5% for Leave
Northern Ireland: 44.2% for Leave
Scotland: 38.0% for Leave
England and Wales look almost alike. But hold on! Not so fast!

O'Hehir's piece at the new Salon appears beneath the headlines shown below. Warning! Quite frequently, headlines at the new Salon misrepresent the article they top:
Brexit vs. Braveheart: Will the Celtic nations seek revenge on England for its historic blunder?
Scotland plots a course toward independence and Ireland ponders unity, while Wales voted "Leave" from the left
According to the headline, Wales "voted Leave from the left!" Does this mean we should admire Wales, while continuing to believe that "Hell is Other Britons?"

O'Hehir doesn't really seem to say that Wales "voted Leave from the left." But you can see why the headline writer may have struggled to capture his meaning.

In the passage shown below, O'Hehir begins expressing his contempt for the people who didn't vote the way he thinks they should have voted. Throughout this passage, O'Hehir is quoting Fearghal McGarry, "a historian at Queen’s University in Belfast."

O'Hehir seems to quote McGarry approvingly—but uh-oh! According to McGarry, progressives shouldn't feel contempt for people who voted for Leave:
O'HEHIR (6/29/16): Then there is the peculiar case of Wales, a beautiful country with a long tradition of working-class activism and a rich cultural and linguistic heritage, which once again finds itself Britain’s odd man out. If you look at the numbers, it appears that the Welsh voted to leave in virtually the same proportions as the rest of Britain did. But behind the raw vote totals lies a complicated tale of a small, struggling nation undergoing an identity crisis, well explained in this essay by Ellie Mae O’Hagan for the Independent. In brief, rural regions of the north and west, the home of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language, voted to remain in Europe, while depressed industrial regions of South Wales, which are largely English-speaking and dominated by English culture, voted to leave.

“Across England and Wales,” says McGarry, “you can see a strong pattern of economically depressed areas with relatively little immigration voting to leave.” Wales has long been a stronghold of the Labor Party, which was clearly unable to get its supporters to vote Remain in large enough numbers. So while the voting patterns appear irrational, you can’t assume that racism and xenophobia were the only important factors. “A lot of people were voting for things that are not directly connected to Europe,” McGarry continues. “They’re voting out of their sense of political disconnection, they’re voting because they feel that they’ve lost out through globalization. I don’t think the political elite anticipated that all these things would converge around this referendum.”

People on the left, McGarry says, should resist the temptation to express “contempt toward these people who are responding to the economic predicament of being left behind, feeling not represented, feeling that they don’t have much of a future. When you look at the spatial map of how people voted, there’s nothing irrational about people in areas that have been left behind for decades now rejecting the current economic and political status quo.”
In our view, McGarry is giving good sound advice, though it's hard to know exactly what he may have said to O'Hehir.

According to O'Hehir's account, McGarry says that "people on the left" should "resist the temptation to express contempt" toward working-class people who voted for Leave. If we ignore O'Hehir's asides, McGarry seems to be talking about working-class people "across England and Wales."

Note to McGarry! On the American pseudo-left, people will always rush to express their contempt for such working-class people. It's part of our pseudo-left DNA. It's our own greatest tribal tradition.

O'Hehir seems to help that process along in this typically jumbled passage. Magnanimously, he tells us that we "can’t assume that racism and xenophobia were the only important factors" in the voting patterns under review. But he seems to be talking about Wales alone, with its "rich cultural and linguistic heritage."

O'Hehir also seems to be saying that Welshmen in Wales voted for Remain while Englishmen in Wales voted for Leave, though he doesn't provide any data to let us assess the strength of this claim.

At any rate:

As O'Hehir continues, he quickly starts expressing contempt for the stupid people in England who voted in favor of Leave. American pseudo-progressives always behave this way. This helps explain why Donald J. Trump may yet end up in the White House:
O'HEHIR (continuing directly): In the spirit of Celtic solidarity and to placate the ghost of my dad—who spoke both Irish and Welsh, and could probably fake Scots Gaelic and a little Breton as well—I would like to insist that we can’t overlook the true abandoned stepchildren of the Celtic world, the Cornish and the Manx. Except that there isn’t much to say about them. Cornwall, on the extreme southwestern toe of England, voted 56 percent “Leave,” significantly higher than the nation as a whole, even though it’s one of the U.K.’s poorest regions and receives about $82 million a year in direct E.U. subsidies for infrastructure, education and economic development. Which sums up the shortsightedness and stupidity of the whole Brexit phenomenon in one sentence.
There's little to say for Those People in Cornwall! Fifty-six percent voted to Leave. It just shows how "stupid" They are!

O'Hehir has just finished quoting McGarry saying we shouldn't express contempt for working-class people who voted for Leave. But so what! As a card-carrying pseudo-progressive, O'Hehir just couldn't seem to resist.

The concept lies at the heart of our pseudo-lib culture; Those People are so freaking "stupid." And while we're at it, let's be clear. This is O'Hehir's reaction to the following facts:
Percentages voting for Leave
Cornwall: 56% for Leave
Wales: 52.5% for Leave
In Cornwall, that 56% vote shows how stupid They are. As for Wales, it's a beautiful country with a rich cultural and linguistic heritage!

This represents the extent to which we liberals will go as we insist on inventing The Others, the group we proceed to loathe.

The O'Hehirs among us love to hate; it's bred in the pre-human bone. They'll always find a way to invent and loathe The Others. It's where their "identity" comes from.

On a political basis, it's a deeply destructive impulse. Judged on the merits, it's just profoundly stupid.

This afternoon, we'll link you to a news report about some of the working-class people McGarry said we shouldn't loathe. Warning!

The people in question live in England! In the spirit of Celtic solidarity, some among us would spill with contempt.

Tomorrow: Striving to hate the working-class Over Here


  1. The troll will easily disprove this premise.

    1. Maybe. Maybe not.

      But Mssr.Troll certainly is the sunrise and sunset of your commentary.

  2. This sort of contempt and loathing is nice for the lazy pundit. It takes no research to say that the other side are stupid racists. OTOH it would be hard work to learn and explain the various economic and political impacts of Brexit and analyze all the pro's and con's.

  3. Did I miss this blog's take on "Listen Liberal," Thomas Frank's new book on how the Democratic elite -- "pseudo left," or, as Orwell called it in Nineteen Eight-Four, the "inner party" -- has abandoned its unwashed working-class base ("the folks" -- O'Reilly; "the proles" -- Orwell again)?

    Considering that Frank's thesis seems to echo much of the recurring themes expressed here on a daily basis, it would be interesting to read what the blogger thinks is stupid and untrue about it.

    1. Do you read The Baffler magazine?

      A worthy addition to one's consumption of criticism...

    2. Thirtysome minute talk discussing Listen, Liberal! It takes about 4-5 minutes to introduce Frank and for him to warm up. Good book, good presentation.

  4. Inventing the Other has " been a basic part of 'progressive"'culture for the last fifty years?"

    Fifty years back would take us to 1966, prior to widespread campus protests and in the middle of the civil rights movement. How were naughty, naughty progressives "inventing the Other" back then?

    Good golly, Bob!

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  5. The Other Side is made up of stupid racists. Talk with any of those knuckle-dragging morons for 10 min and they'll start to spew the racism.

  6. Once racism was defined mostly by actions. A racist was someone who mistreated blacks or forced them to go to segregated schools, sit on the back of the bus, who prevented them from living in certain areas, who refused to serve them or hire them, etc.

    But, today racism is more often "proved" by words. Anon 9:38 takes this criterion for granted. S/he says the other side will "spew racism", not that they will "commit racist acts".

    This definition is convenient for liberals, because they can define which words show that one is a racist. E.g., a few days ago, a NJ third grader made a comment about the brownies being served at class party. Another student exclaimed that the remark was "racist." The school actually called the Police Department to deal with this "racism incident". http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20160629_Why_police_were_called_to_a_South_Jersey_third_grade_class_party.html

  7. O'Hehir is a tetchy guy. Odd relationship with facts. He wrote that Frances Bean Cobain, daughter of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, was born addicted to heroin. Which was something I had literally never heard before, and in comments at Salon I asked him to back that up. Well, he came down to the comments to excoriate me , but he didn't answer my question. He was just wrong. (Courtney told VF she was using heroin before she realized she was pregnant. She immediately stopped. Frances Bean was not born "addicted to heroin", as O'Hehir irresponsibly wrote.)

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