EMBRACE OF HATE: Fels describes hate aimed at woman and blacks!


Part 3—Leaves other Others alone:
Is political hatred on the rise in the United States?

Professor Fels says it is. We're inclined to agree.

Professor Fels discussed this phenomenon in an intriguing if murky column in last Friday's New York Times. She built large parts of her discussion around the role evolution has and hasn't played in selecting for the impulse to hate in this manner.

Before long, Fels was discussing "altriusm punishments"—hate-fueled behaviors like suicide bombing, behaviors "that don’t provide a genetic benefit to the individual or even to his or her immediate gene pool." She says a wide array of eggheads "have all studied this puzzling impulse to extract revenge and have come up with a surprising theory: that such punitive actions may have evolved to protect the complex communities in which humans live."

Muddily, Fels proceeds to discuss the way political hatred can serve the interests of various "communities" and groups. She starts with the helpful role hatred can play at time of overt war:
FELS (4/14/17): In its most extreme form, hate motivates the altruistic punishment of organized warfare—a necessity for the defense of any society. In his trilogy on the Allies in World War II, the historian Rick Atkinson describes it as the emotional engine needed to drive troops into battle for that “just war.”

Allied officers were constantly fretting that the troops’ hate levels weren’t high enough. A memorandum urged commanders to “teach the men to hate the enemy—to want to kill them by any means.” George Patton’s aide praised him as “a great hate builder.” Dwight Eisenhower bragged, “I am not one who finds it difficult to hate my enemies.” In war, hate is celebrated.
In 1952, campaign buttons said "I Like Ike," and that candidate won. A few years earlier, at time of war, Ike had said he liked building hate!

It's obvious that hating The Others might be a boon during war. As she continued, Fels described a similar process which might obtain during peacetime:
FELS (continuing directly): But there is a more subtle aspect to the impulse for revenge. Researchers have found that it often arises to curb perceived infractions of cultural norms: It may help hold societies together by punishing those seen as breaking the social contract.

Altruistic punishment flares when there is an inequitable allocation of resources or a transgression of cultural traditions—all threats to social coherence. Such acts of retribution appear to activate the brain’s reward center, presumably generating a sense of satisfaction and even pleasure.
Fels writes a bit murkily here, but her prose can be dumbed down. Her stress on evolution has largely flown at this point, but she seems to be describing a fairly simple dynamic.

According to Fels, political hatred may serve to punish despised groups within a peacetime society. This political hatred inspires members of some aggrieved group to "punish those seen as breaking the social contract."

These acts of hatred may help hold the aggrieved group together. Such acts "appear to activate the brain’s reward center, presumably generating a sense of satisfaction and even pleasure."

This matter seems bone simple. For good or for ill, we humans are inclined toward hatred of other groups, even at times of peace and even within our own societies. According to Fels, hatred of this type is currently "on the rise."

As she continues, Fels is quick to state another obvious point. The fact that someone holds a hate-fueled sense of grievance doesn't mean that his or sense of grievance is justified or right.

Fels cites two examples of this type of misguided hatred drawn from our own recent history. The examples she cites are entirely obvious and perfectly right. We'll only suggest that you note the fact that other possible examples have maybe perhaps been left out:
FELS (continuing directly): This, of course, doesn’t mean the punishment is just or directed at any justified target. Dylann Roof, after opening fire on a group of African-Americans during Bible study, said, “I have to do this, because you’re raping our women and y’all taking over the world.” In his mind, his community was the one being victimized.

A feminist journalist I know sent me some of the hate mail she routinely receives. Here are a few of the printable lines: “If you try telling a man what to do you’ll get punched across the face.” “I’ll go house to house shooting feminists like you.” One characterized her as an “omni-reptile-doglizard-piranha kin.”

The point is to hurt and humiliate. Those who hate want to make the objects of their hate suffer as they have. It is this that makes the attacks so personal and lends them their crude, violent and often sexual nature. The intent is not to challenge opposing beliefs but to destroy those who hold them.

The men who wrote these emails undoubtedly feel threatened by the changing role of women, and their hatred of feminists provides an organizing principle and an outside focus.
In that passage, Fels describes political hatred as directed against African-Americans and against women.

She describes the killings in South Carolina, in which a person who was deranged murdered nine people who very much weren't. She describes the types of heinous conduct which is routinely directed at women on line.

(Fels says the people who behave in these ways "want to make the objects of their hate suffer as they have." We'll suggest that she should change that "as they think or claim they have.")

By now, this is blindingly obvious stuff. People who succumb to political hatred are likely to behave in heinous ways toward the groups they loathe.

Still, their behavior may provide internal rewards, Fels says. Their hate "converts a sense of helplessness into one of action," Fels writes. "It can even be the impetus for the formation of new communities in which people share grievances and plans for retribution, relieving their sense of isolation or powerlessness."

Fels also notes the psychic and intellectual downsides of their group hatred. "As a consequence, though, there’s a loss of empathy," she writes, "and beliefs become simplified and rigid."

By now, what started as a search for deep knowledge has become a recitation of the obvious. Hatred of Others can be a powerful force, not just during time of war, but also within a peacetime society.

We'll only ask you to notice one thing about Fels' formulation. She correctly identifies two targeted groups. Is it possible that there are other targeted groups she has neglected to name?

Everything Fels says about Dylann Roof is correct. So too for her comments about men who hate women on line.

That said, these examples form a powerful part of the current liberal worldview. Fels is describing political hatred which, at least within the liberal framework, comes from the "conservative" world, from Those People, the ones Over There.

We'll leave today with a set of questions:

Is it possible that political hatred is also being sytirred up within our own liberal world? With political hatred "on the rise," is it possible that liberals are being encouraged to "relieve their sense of isolation or powerlessness" by loathing some otherized groups?

Is it possible that we liberals are being encouraged to surrender our "sense of empathy" at the current time? Is it possible that we're being handed types of hatred as a way to "provide an organizing principle and an outside focus?" Is it possible that our sense of empathy left us a longtime ago?

Are we being given "a sense of satisfaction and even pleasure" by the hate-fueled things we're told? Can it happen Over Here?

We agree with Profesor Fels; political hatred seems to be on the rise. The loss of empathy is manifest too. Tomorrow, though, we'll return to that question:

Can this sort of unfortunate conduct also be found Over Here?

Tomorrow: Empathy abandoned


  1. I don't know if Bob Somerby is an idiot, but sadness certainly is the order of the day here, more than rancor but it is impossible to escape the fact ad hominem hurts.

    1. Tomorrow: Empathy abandoned

      So true Bob, so true. While you and your friends have been chatting here so enjoyably, one of the most epochal events in the history of our discourse has occurred. That great spewer of empathy, Bill O'reilly, has been relieved of command; the forces of empathy have lost their greatest general. I hope you will change the colors of your blog to from green to black in mourning over the loss your friend.

  2. You don't judge what is normal for human beings by using examples of abnormal behavior and clearly mentally ill people. For example, who punches women across the face for being bossy? Issuing a threat and carrying out that threat are two different behaviors.

    If you are going to argue evolutionary causes, you would need to specify what factors might be making political hatred increase and empathy decline. I just don't see any pressures either way and I find this whole discussion ridiculous.

    As Kevin Drum keeps pointing out, crime is at an all time low. If hatred were increasing you'd expect the opposite to be true, since hatred doesn't break itself into categories of political hatred versus interpersonal hatred. There is no evidence supporting Somerby's claim that there is a rise in anything. But he does like to shake his finger at us.

    There is no evidence empathy is declining either. There is plenty of evidence that people now have the ability to communicate in new ways via the internet and social media. Because of that, we have no baseline for how much people might have expressed hateful remarks toward others if access to an anonymous medium had been available to them in the past. So we don't know how much expression of hate may have increased or decreased, politically or otherwise. Somerby, of course, does not distinguish between the actions and words, easily conflating war with hate speech.

    This is not a discussion worth anyone's time, in my opinion. And professors who use historians as experts in emotion are themselves ridiculous.

    1. "There is no evidence supporting Somerby's claim that there is a rise in anything. But he does like to shake his finger at us."

      There is a substantial rise in the murder rate among blacks, and its cause is sociopathology, even worse than hate. Leftist opposition to social stabilizers like law enforcement, adequate penalties for crime, religion, and family values are causes of the epidemic of socipathological violence.

    2. 3:52,
      Here's something interesting. That rise in the murder rate correlates with Ronald Reagan cutting the social safety nets, and Bill Clinton doing it further.
      OTOH, your diatribe about Leftists opposing law enforcement, as opposed to the inequitable way justice is meted, is nonsense.
      Black Lives Matter.

      And before you tell me All Lives Matter, go tell that to the 5-year old Syrian refugee rightists oppose (Right back at ya).

    3. 3:52,
      So you believe not charging, prosecuting, and imprisoning the bankers who committed fraud so bad the world's economy crashed, is causing this epidemic? Do you have anything to back-up that claim?

    4. "Leftist opposition to social stabilizers like law enforcement, adequate penalties for crime, religion, and family values"

      All of those are social DE-stabilizers though! Law enforcement selectively applied, penalties for crime incommensurate with the offense, religious persecution for not worshipping in approved ways, and intolerance for diversity in family values are the opposite of social stabilizers.

    5. "Diversity in family values" is called pre-civilization.

  3. I have never seen Somerby demonstrate any empathy toward the disappointed hopes of women who wanted to see the first female president elected. Not.one.bit.of.empathy.from.Somerby.

    Those with a Catholic upbringing might remember being told as a child not to use the word "hate" because it connotes a feeling so strong that it is un-Christian to feel it toward anyone, a sin.

    Maybe that is why Somerby thinks hate is increasing? Such restrictions now seem quaint. But he is foolish to confuse customs governing conversation with actual feelings. No one hates better than the Irish, who are taught to nurse a grudge on both a personal and a political level through the retelling of stories (even songs) about wrongs done to us that must be avenged. It is part of our cultural tradition. Other cultures not so much.

    I do believe the Irish are, as a result, more comfortable with conflict than other groups. WASPs confused raising one's voice with "violence" and many are intensely uncomfortable with conflict. They must surely believe that hatred is increasing, since the restraints on polite conversation have been removed across the board and they now rub elbows with all sorts of people, including those from cultures where everyone talks at once and incivility is the rule, not an indicator of any sort of internal passion. Some of these very polite WASPs may even become professors and write about how everyone seems to hate everyone these days.

    But has anything really changed except our modes of expression? Where is the evidence of that in a world that has seen more continuous peace than any previous century. Even terrorism has declined compared to 100 years ago. But you wouldn't know it to hear Somerby and his professor friends talk.

  4. Right up there with the White Alba Truffle in reputation and very nearly in price, Bottarga is one of the true gastronomic gems to hail from Italy. It is a very simple product born out of the need in prerefridgeration days to preserve foodstuffs using salt. Bottarga is the egg sack of certain marine fish. The roe is prepared by salting, pressing and drying for up to 6 months in cool well aired rooms. There are two types, Bottarga di Tonno (Tuna) and the more prized Bottarga di Muggine (Grey Mullet). Tuna bottarga is mostly produced in Sicily (it is sometimes referred to as Sicilian Caviar) where the now much declined Tuna fishery is based. It is grey in colour and has a stronger, saltier more robust flavour than that of the Grey Mullet. The best examples of mullet bottarga come from Sardinia.

    Grey Mullet is one of the staple fish harvests all over the Mediterranean. Looked down on by some due to its distasteful habit of congregating by sewage outlets to feed, it has a lovely delicate white flesh. The Sardinians claim to have the fattest most flavoursome examples in Italian waters and the best time to harvest them is in August and September, when the hen fish are full of roe. The egg sacks are removed with the utmost care to avoid piercing; they are then salted and pressed in to the characteristic oblong shapes before drying. The finished product is amber to dark brown in colour and firm and waxy in texture. They are delicately flavoured, unmistakeably fishy but more subtle than the Tuna bottarga.

    The best way to eat bottarga, which for most people is only affordable once in a blue moon, is raw. Sliced thinly and drizzled with good unfiltered extra virgin olive oil and lemon it makes a delicious, fresh and clean tasting antipasto. It also tastes, for the more profligate, wonderful with pasta. Crumble the bottarga and sauté lightly in olive oil, add chilli, parsley and lemon juice, this is then stirred into the al dente linguini. My favourite recipe however is listed in The Silver Spoon – Broccoli with Bottarga. This involves using a pestle and mortar to pound together bottarga, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, basil and tomatoes, it is then seasoned and drizzled with oil and poured over steamed broccoli (purple sprouting is best for this).

    Bottarga di Muggine should be available in good Italian delicatessens and one ought to expect to pay roughly £90 – £150 per kilo. It can be bought ready grated in jars but this is to be avoided, particularly if trying it for the first time – think jarred black truffles and ready grated parmesan.

  5. Prof. Fels examples of hatred were politically correct, even though they were less common than certain other examples. It's deplorable that a feminist journalist receives hate mail, but conservative journalists often face something more severe. E.g., just today UC Berkeley prohibited a speech by Anne Coulter, presumably because they feared the kind of violent rioting that met other conservative speakers on this campus..

    And, as pointed out, Dylan Roof's murders were horrible, but they were unusual. OTOH there are a great many examples of Muslims murdering non-Muslims and of blacks attacking whites and Asians. These more typical examples wouldn't be PC. I doubt if the Times would permit their use.

    1. go fuck yourself Comrade, Coulter is not a conservative, and she sure as fuck is not a journalist by any reality based definition. She's a fucking Nazi provocateur. Cry me a river you fucking troll.

      It's not hate to shun people who sell hate for a living, you fucking pussygrabbing pervert voter.

    2. We shunned Hillary Clinton for just that reason.

    3. From Kevin Drum on 4/20:

      "So we have the RISS plan. We have the email hacks, which were far more extensive than initially reported. We have the RT cable network and the Sputnik news agency, which specialized in anti-Clinton stories. We have the Russian troll factory in St. Petersburg writing pro-Trump tweets under hundreds of aliases. We have thousands of Russian Twitter bots to make sure the tweets went viral. We have Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear and dozens of other covert Russian operations. We have Guccifer 2.0. We have DCLeaks.com. And finally, Russia appears to have used Wikileaks—either wittingly or unwittingly—for maximum exposure of all its hacks."

      Hillary was torpedoed by the Russians. End of story.

    4. 11:35,

      tRump is literally being sued for inciting violence resulting in assaults at his campaign rallies. Never happened before in the history of our country until pussygrabber pervert lying bastard traitor tRump decided to unleash a plague on our country.

    5. We know from an undercover video that the violence was atually incited by Democrat Robert Creamer -- husband of Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky. You will recall that Creamer resigned from Hillary's campaign when this scandal hit.

    6. "Trump is literally being sued for inciting violence." Did you know accusations mean nothing in legal systems that require proof of an offense?

    7. No, I didn't know that anon 3:57.

      “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously,” Trump said. “Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”

      And then, true to form the lying bastard denied he ever said it.

      "No, I didn’t say that,” Trump said in a phone interview. “I never said I was going to pay for fees.”

      So how 'bout you kiss my ass, anon 3:37. I don't inhabit the alternate universe you do.

  6. Real Greg here. The more Bob identifies with the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own life and his own desires. TDH's estrangement from the acting subject is expressed by the fact that Bob's gestures are no longer his own; they are the gestures of someone else who represents them to him.

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