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 LeaveEngland and Wales look almost alike. But hold on! Not so fast!
England: 53.4% for Leave
Wales: 52.5% for Leave
Northern Ireland: 44.2% for Leave
Scotland: 38.0% for Leave
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?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?"
Scotland plots a course toward independence and Ireland ponders unity, while Wales voted "Leave" from the left
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.In our view, McGarry is giving good sound advice, though it's hard to know exactly what he may have said to O'Hehir.
“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.”
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 LeaveIn Cornwall, that 56% vote shows how stupid They are. As for Wales, it's a beautiful country with a rich cultural and linguistic heritage!
Cornwall: 56% for Leave
Wales: 52.5% for Leave
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