The Othering

So here we are in 2017, we had a Brexit vote and Trump elected. Two results that shocked the establishment and left people crying and ranting like nothing I’ve seen before in politics. There are a number of things that can be taken away from these results:

The first being that mainstream media cannot be trusted in predicting results on important matters.

Secondly, those in positions of authority have become isolated from large swathes of the populace and have completely underestimated the anger and frustration some people experience on a day to day basis.

Thirdly and possibly most worryingly is what is known as ‘Othering.’

People have and will continue to talk at length about the first two and many others however I want to think about the third. So, what do I mean by ‘othering’? Basically, it means thinking of someone as something else, not like us or different. Obviously, everyone is different but this relates to a sort of tribal mentality of ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies.’

I’ll start with Brexit:

The country agreed to have a referendum on whether to remain or leave the EU. This was agreed beforehand to be based on the majority of votes being the winner. Then we had two groups form, each put forward their view, there were debates and discussions. The campaign was fought on three main points: immigration, money and freedom. There were clear statements about what Brexit meant and there were clear statements that remaining would mean remaining, there would be no renegotiation.

The Brexit side presented numbers which were challenged and in general the campaign could be accused of being a blue-sky vision that made the issue look simple. The issue being that everything on this side had to be estimated or predicted as the move was unprecedented.

The Remain side presented a dystopian result where everyone would be unemployed and wars would rage.

For me the decision was made before the campaigning started so watching the news felt a little like being trapped between a snake oil salesman and an abusive partner. One offering the world while the other threatened that nobody else would want me and I’d suffer and die in loneliness.

 

Next to Trump:

In what was possibly the harshest American election in history we saw two people who had strong supporters on each side with a group of people in the middle who wished there was a third party. Eventually Trump won and depending on which camp you sit in you either cheered or cried.

The same issues with polls and pundits came out to play and everyone was shocked.

So, within a couple of years we’ve had two huge political upsets that have divided countries more than before. The issue though came after the votes.

Anyone who voted Brexit was called anything from uneducated to racist or bigoted to selfish or if they were being nice someone who simply didn’t understand the vote. A Brexit voter faced everything from insults to ridicule, a Remoaner was simply viewed as boring and moaning.

After Trump things got more heated. We are at a point now where anyone who voted for Trump is called a White Supremacist, a non-white is called anything from an Uncle Tom to a Black White Supremacist and we have people being killed in the streets while a media ignores anything positive Trump has done.

To anyone sitting in the centre or doing their best to understand both sides is either reaching for popcorn to watch the end of the world or is being pushed into one camp or the other. To some, this might all sound harmless but it isn’t.

All it takes is a little research into history or crime to see why this is going to go wrong. Every dictator in history has in some way derogated the opposition before beginning killing them. Hitler never said ‘We must kill those humans of a different religion.’ You will find the same everywhere. ISIS do not call the victims of their bombs ‘Families having fun.’ They are likely called dogs or whatever the equivalent is. If you take a look at serial killers or rapists they all typically have a hatred for their victims, they are ‘Whores’ or ‘Sluts’ or ‘Teases’, they may even be doing society a favour by removing this ‘Scum’ from the streets. We see the very same logic used in the military, every step to dehumanise the opposition is taken and this is true from the early war propaganda to modern weapon sights which turn people into heat blobs.

Every victim must be turned into something less than human because it makes murder easier, this is why we see soldiers struggle when they come home and have flashbacks about what they saw and did.

This may seem dramatic by comparison however in America there are armed mobs of ‘Nazis’ fighting other armed mobs. The media has tried to pick sides and create the ‘Goodies’ and Baddies’ but this is false and dangerous. Anyone willing to physically attack another person for a political opinion is bad. There’s footage of violence from both sides but the result is civilians and Police being killed.

Perhaps the violence won’t spread, but labeling anyone who thinks differently to you is small minded and divisive and will do nothing to improve the situation. Someone who voted Leave did so because they probably have a different daily experience to someone who voted Remain, calling them an uneducated racist is ridiculous.

As for a solution, I don’t know but what I do know is the old saying of ‘Never judging a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes’ would be something people should consider before we have more deaths.

 

 

© 2017 David G Chambers. All rights reserved.

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