Saturday, November 19, 2016

Times of hate, part 3

For the past week we have been reading the news about the increase of hate crimes in the USA (and in some other countries) and how the new president-elect continues making sure the White House will stay as white as possible after his (expected) inauguration.

Racism is once more a hot topic, and I'm glad it is. [Note: I'll use racism here as an example but the same applies to of all forms of acts of hatred.] However, I haven't seen the level of discussion going much deeper than that racism should not be tolerated. At it's worst, it is tweets about how every Trump voter is a racist or wants everyone else dead or deported. To me, they are not in an intellectual sense placed significantly higher than the statements of racists tweeting that every dark-skinned person should be dead or deported. This statement may cause some annoyance in some but please keep reading.

Any hate speech, and much less actions, should not be tolerated and should be called out. However, denouncing masses of people racist is not a solution to any problem. If you witness a racist action, even then calling out racism should be done rather diplomatically than aggressively to minimize further aggression. In most part truly derogatory comments emerge from arrogance or fear. I want to make the terms different because in terms of racism, only in the case of extreme hate or fear the racist actually wants to hurt the person in the other ethnic group. In the case of arrogance, the racist wants to feel superior because of a bad self-esteem or discontent to other issues. And yes, they need to realize it's wrong, but calling racist people racist will not bring all of them back to line.

All people are born arrogant and able to be afraid, but not all to commit acts of hate. Every person can hate. Every person has degraded others to feel more superior. Practically all children do that at some point; some more, some less. Depending on their parents, guardians, or teachers, the children are either raised out of it or not. At a later age also their friends or media will affect their feelings and ideologies. Especially children and the uneducated are easily intimidated by things they don't know about, which can lead to adapting harmful ideologies. It is the sad truth that once people adapt ideologies of hate, fear, or arrogance, it will be hard to snap them out of it. Many of the white ones of us are racist unknowingly. The most significant factor that can help a person to separate harmful ideologies from the good ones, and especially unnecessary fears, is education. For example Trump managed to feed the fears of people who didn't know better.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that economic equality correlates with how happy the citizens are and how much they trust each other. According to the OECD Better Life Index, the income gap between the highest and lowest earning 20 % of the population is 8-fold in the USA and 6-fold in the UK. Compared to the countries that are rated the happiest and the safest (such as the Nordic countries and Switzerland), the difference is approximately 4-fold, which is about as good as it can get. The worst case of the study was South Africa (19-fold), which is also known for racial clashes. The life satisfaction for these countries was rated 7.6 for Norway and Switzerland, 6.9 to the USA, 6.5 to the UK and 4.9 to South Africa. The feeling of safety correlates exactly as you'd expect.

This is why progressive tax system does not only keep the country economically more stable, but it also increases the safety and life-satisfaction rates (worth noting when choosing your political party/presidential candidate). If also education is tightly related to the economic status, as it is in the US and somewhat in the UK, this enhances the social inequality. Funding public schools in the US by local taxes is a cause of debate for a good reason: it feeds inequality, jealousy, and therefore hate. In addition, it's very likely one of the reasons why the US is not doing so well in the international education ratings.

What happened in this election in part was escalation of the social inequality. People knew that one of the candidates is a racist idiot, but voted for him because they wanted retaliation to the "elite". Of course he's elite as well, but the difference was that he was able to speak with the language of the working class. Everyone probably remembers Clinton's term "deplorable" (the word she used to generalize Trump voters). Despite the truth value, it gave "the deplorables" even more cause to hate her. Arrogance feeds hate, hate feeds arrogance, and both are weaknesses. And many people from the lower social class are just waiting to see any sign of weakness from the "elite". Unfortunately these voters mainly shot themselves in the foot by endorsing the candidate who promised to decrease the taxes benefiting mainly the rich, and thus increase the wealth gap.

In conclusion, there is more that you can do than post information about racism/hate/social inequality in the social media or support the different human rights organizations and movements. Concentrating efforts to the new generations could be more effective in the long run. So how about supporting uniform funding to all schools and affecting what will be taught in them? It is not the only solution. It will not bring equality to this world tomorrow or even next year. It will definitely not be as easy as tweeting. But in the long run it will benefit each and everyone of us, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or religion.

If you're bored and want more reading on the subject, here's an old (from ~1990) interview from the author of "Roots – The Saga of an American Family", Alex Haley.

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