Haters gonna hate

by Chris Bertram on September 10, 2019

I spent a couple of hours the other afternoon reading Amia Srinivasan’s wonderful paper “The Aptness of Anger”. One theme of that paper is that anger can be a fitting response to a moral violation and that our evaluation of whether someone should be angry does not reduce to instrumental considerations about whether being angry does any good. I find Srinivasan’s argument persuasive but I also found myself wondering about a side-issue that is not really dealt with in the paper. If anger is an apt response to a moral violation, where that violation might be a betrayal by a friend or global injustice, we obviously need an independent theory of morality to anchor our judgements about when anger is appropriate. After all, people get angry all the time when they are denied something they believe themselves entitled to, but the anger is only a candidate for being justifiable when they are actually entitled to that thing. (Srinivasan has written eloquently about incels, who are very angry at being denied something they are not entitled to.)

Some of the angriest people around at the moment are supposed to be the so-called “left behinds”, althouth perhaps relatively prosperous people often perform “being angry” on their behalf. Insofar are they are angry about the neglect that they and their communities have suffered at the hands of central governments, the lack of regional and industrial policies, or the growth of inequality, then their anger does seem to be a reaction that is indeed an appropriate response to a moral violation, namely, social and economic injustice. But a lot of the anger that we’ve seen stoked up in recent years has been anger towards “immigrants”, where “immigrants” denotes both actual immigrants and non-white people perceived as such by those who resent them. The “moral violation” that this anger corresponds to is the sense that those people don’t belong in the bigot’s safe space. It is the mere presence of such “foreigners” in a space the haters think of as being theirs and reserved for them that constitutes the perceived outrage and generates the anger. (Similar anger at mere presence of unwanted others can be seen in other cases, such as, for example, gentrification.)

Progressive politicians are loathe to call this out for what it is and to confront it, so they adopt a strategy of displacement, according to which the anger tracks a real and legitimate grievance rather than this resentment at the mere presence of the other. Sometimes such politicians and pundits say that what peope are really concerned about it class sizes, the fact that teachers have to attend to children with native languages other than English, or the length of time it takes to get an appointment at the doctor. Even more right-wing justifications tend to focus on the immigrant as socially problematic (“they drink in the street”) or sexually threatening. But even these justifications, racist as they are, are couched in a spirit of objective interests that masks their status as a rationalization of this resentment at presence.

Occasionally this anger at the mere presence of the alien person as a moral violation is openly expressed. There is something of it in Nigel Farage’s expressed discomfort at hearing foreign languages spoken around him, in complaints from white people that “if you go to Leicester/Bradford/Brent you won’t see a white face” and even more directly in the abuse hurled at foreigners in the street who get asked “We voted to kick you out! Why are you still here?” A sensitivity to this source of anger also comes out in the insistence of some social scientists, notably Matthew Goodwin and Eric Kaufmann, that the rise of right-wing populism is about identity rather than economics. Since pretty much nobody admits to being a racist these days, disgust at mere presence is sometimes accompanied by a denial that the haters hate the offending foreigners as such: they are fine “in their own country”. Is anybody fooled by that?

If I’m right about this and the haters perceive the presence of foreigners in their own space as an outrageous contamination — “those people, here!” — then it is a mistake to engage with the spurious rationalizations about why the presence of the alien people has bad effects or presents risks and dangers, because those aren’t the real reasons, engaging makes the racist into a respectable interlocutor, and no amount of conclusive refutation will make a difference. New rationalizations will be found.

{ 58 comments }

1

Michael 09.10.19 at 12:55 pm

the wrinkle in this line of reasoning is that people couch their anger not in “a spirit of objective interests” but in what they take to be the most salient public idiom. it’s not only that racism and the like is taboo; it is also that no one’s personal feelings count as public justification of anything. in that sense, we are all, inevitably, hypocrites. the reason this hypocrisy “works” most of the time is that we all know and understand why it must be so. this is what makes our hypocrisy honest or sincere. but none of this has anything to do with any claim to objectivity; the only objective interest is the interest in keeping the collective project going. that is why we are compelled to take presumptively insincere claims about “problematic” others at face value, at least initially. the alternative is to deny the very viability of publicly shared norms of discourse. that is indeed what is happening today.

2

Phil 09.10.19 at 2:06 pm

Nigel Farage’s expressed discomfort at hearing foreign languages spoken around him

As immortalised by David Goodhart a couple of years ago:

There was no single moment when I realised I had left the liberal tribe. But one recent incident crystallised matters. I was chatting to a group of friends in a bar, including a few people I didn’t know, and I said I could understand the discomfort that Nigel Farage had recently expressed about not hearing a single English-speaker on a train in London. One of those I didn’t know loudly slammed their glass down and ostentatiously walked out.

This was in the context of his intellectual journey from being a rootless cosmopolitan ‘Anywhere’ type to identification with the more rooted, generally less well-educated people who see the world from “Somewhere” and prioritise group attachments and security. But, as I said at the time,

does the fact that [other passengers are] not speaking English tell you that you’re among people who don’t “prioritise group attachments and security”? Of course not. … Looking at the question another way, what if the ‘group attachment’ that you prioritise actually includes people who don’t look or sound like you; what if the ‘home’ group where you feel you belong consists of Manchester City supporters, Joss Whedon fans, fellow Christians, the workers of the world? … And all this is without even getting into the question of what conceivable harm it does you to share a train with people who think differently from you, if indeed they do.

What your post clarifies is that “it isn’t doing you any harm” doesn’t engage when what’s at issue is a disgust reaction – like hoodies, beggars and Travellers, those people just shouldn’t be here.

On a side note, this is an interesting conclusion:

If I’m right about this … then it is a mistake to engage with the spurious rationalizations about why the presence of the alien people has bad effects or presents risks and dangers, because those aren’t the real reasons … and no amount of conclusive refutation will make a difference. New rationalizations will be found.

…not least because it suggests a way of distinguishing spurious rationalisations from potentially valid arguments (and distinguishing those who advance them). Refute X and your interlocutor concedes a point or otherwise engages with your refutation: could be someone worth arguing with or listening to. Refute X and they advance Y without missing a beat: move on.

3

nastywoman 09.10.19 at 2:43 pm

”Some of the angriest people around at the moment are supposed to be the so-called “left behinds”, althouth perhaps relatively prosperous people often perform “being angry” on their behalf”.

Perhaps there are two -or three -(or even more?) ways of being ”left behind”?

There is the ”being left behind” of all of these workers – who think – that ”nobody wants and need them anymore” – and then – there is the ”relatively prosperous” Trump – who understood these workers anger – because he thought it was exactly the same type of anger he felt – when a Golf Club – he wanted to join – didn’t let him?

And then there are all of these people – who are just very very envious – because ”what they can’t have” is currently being paraded around in such an exhibitionistic manner?
Which might even explains – why there are so many ”East Germans” – who are so much more angrier than the ”West Germans” – BE-cause they weren’t conditioned to the amount of conspicuous consumption they have to endure right now?

Or it’s just the same old – same old – if you are very busy with a satisfying purpose (Job) there is no (time for) being angry?

4

john burke 09.10.19 at 3:39 pm

I find myself recalling the WW@-era complaint of some Brits about American GIs who were “Overfed, overpaid, oversexed, and over here!”

5

bianca steele 09.10.19 at 4:36 pm

“If anger is an apt response to a moral violation, where that violation might be a betrayal by a friend or global injustice, we obviously need an independent theory of morality to anchor our judgements about when anger is appropriate.”

I used to think this was obvious, but after several years in various online spaces, realized that there are some (doubtless they believe themselves to be the majority or at least correct) who believe the opposite: that I am justified in believing that what is wrong is quite obviously what irritates me personally. People who believe this over a long period of time are obviously going to react badly when historical events occur that interfere with the frictionless fulfillment of their expectations. It’s natural to expect that they’ll see only two possibilities: fight to make their own will overcome, and concede the ground entirely and allow the other side complete victory. Those are just the only concepts they have for understanding the situation. It’s a bit Nietzschean, isn’t it?

“New rationalizations will be found”: exactly. It starts from misidentifying every slight discomfort as a sign of impending personal destruction. Not everyone does it. Most of us are taught that we have emotional reactions that don’t always track reality. But anyone who does is on the track to the perdition of the xenophobic reactions describes in the post.

6

Tom Slee 09.10.19 at 5:00 pm

Doesn’t this lead us into the following familiar pattern?

A: “I’m mad because X!”

B: “No you’re not, you’re really mad because Y, which is obviously offensive. I refuse to engage with you!”

Or, more verbose B: “You are part of the same group as C, who believes Y! So you are really mad because Y!”

How do you tell the difference between “really believes X” and “actually believes Y”? Because I see a lot of people using this manoeuvre as a convenient excuse not to deal with X.

7

Orange Watch 09.10.19 at 5:10 pm

nw@3:
And then there are all of these people – who are just very very envious – because ”what they can’t have” is currently being paraded around in such an exhibitionistic manner?

Let’s not forget the people who have what they consider to be flaunted when they worked hard for it but the exhibitionists are getting it without going through the same struggle, nor the relatively prosperous people who get outraged on behalf of people they think should be thinking like this – and/or try very hard to convince those people that their neighbors who are different enough that they don’t readily identify with them are flaunting ill-gotten gains they might not have. E.g. “welfare queens driving Cadillacs” or “illegal immigrants who have Medicare-For-All when their neighbors [somehow?!?!?!?] don’t”.

8

hix 09.10.19 at 6:22 pm

Not following here. Whats that incel thing? It seems to be some very crazy very american scene and there seem to be a lot issues at play besides sex. But basically not getting sex is a good reason to get angry as such. Now we can argue about whom one should be angry about, possibly oneself, still not wrong.

9

Tom Hurka 09.10.19 at 6:25 pm

Chris:

I don’t see why you find the Sreenivasan paper so wonderful. Many of its main points are familiar and even banal.

That emotions can be apt or fitting to their objects, and that when they are it can be right and good to feel them even if they don’t have further good effects — lots of people have said that. If another person is feeling pain, it’s virtuous and good to feel compassionate pain at their pain even if you can’t do anything to relieve their pain, and you’d be callous if you didn’t. Sreenivasan’s claims about anger are just another instance of this pattern, and many of her more specific claims about it, e.g. that anger must be for a normative violation, shouldn’t be disproportionate, etc., are also pretty familiar.

I don’t see what’s so exciting here.

10

hix 09.10.19 at 6:54 pm

Now people who dont get sex can argue sort of ridiculous things like that they should be allowed to rape whomever they want, or that they “deserve” a relationship with some blond chearleader. In a broader sense – not just sex, instead a functioning relationship – society can be helpfull or non helpfull about enabling this for a part of the population as large as possible. In a narrower sense, some northern european nations with otherwise strict laws in that regard do have a rather liberal attitude towards prostitution when it comes to persons with phsycial or mental limitations that make it hard to get sex the conventional way.

11

bianca steele 09.10.19 at 9:09 pm

Srinivasan’s examples are quite old. The question Tom Slee asks suggests another question, whether it matters whether the “really this/no actually that” is thought of as political or psychological. Is it being suggested that the person needs to read some Marxism-Leninist tracts, or is it being suggested that the person needs to undergo a deep analysis? Or is it something else? I wonder if the answers to this may have changed over the years since Buckley so sincerely lamented he couldn’t offer full citizenship to James Baldwin at a debate at the Cambridge Union.

12

engels 09.10.19 at 9:22 pm

I don’t know what (if any) significance it has but isn’t ‘apt’ a really odd adjective to apply to anger? I don’t think I’ve ever heard that used anywhere else. I haven’t read the paper properly but my first reaction is this approach seems rather high-handed and rationalistic and I’m not sure it does justice to my sense that respecting other people requires taking their emotions seriously on their own terms (provided that’s possible). (I do agree there’s a quasi-veridical dimension to the grammar of emotions and I don’t think that’s a new idea.)

It is the mere presence of such “foreigners” in a space the haters think of as being theirs and reserved for them that constitutes the perceived outrage and generates the anger. (Similar anger at mere presence of unwanted others can be seen in other cases, such as, for example, gentrification.)

I think trespassing fits that definition just as well but I suspect you take a less sympathetic view of it. I don’t think that anti-gentrification protesters are really very similar to Brexiteers (I sympathise with the former and not the latter) and neither seem ostensibly primarily motivated by anger at the presence of specific people, however illegitimate their feelings may be (I’m sure some are).

Anti-gentrification protesters seen to be concerned with their own right to remain in the area and not be driven out or shaken down by rising rents. It seems to me most anti-immigration rhetoric in UK is also about material factors (pressure on wages, services, …) and identity stuff (maintaining a distinct national culture) whether or not that’s bigoted in itself. Maybe you think that’s all just cover for personal hate but I think some argument’s needed for that.

13

Gabriel 09.10.19 at 9:47 pm

Given that anger is an instinctive, personal, emotional reaction, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that any discussion about anger in a shared space, and whose is justified etc, is simply a way to distract from substantive social discourse, and when angry is publically claimed it is most often used to virtue-signal to the already converted, reactionary and woke alike. Umbrage and offense have been weaponized by both the right and the left at various points; currently we are in a phase where both are doing in some kind of sad game of brinksmanship. I’m a pretty regular critic of the ‘reasonable middle’ nonsense, but in this case, I wish everyone would just stop.

My response is in all cases: I don’t personally care how angry you are. While I am am abstractly sorry you find yourself in such and uncomfortable state, I don’t have any access to that space, and your angry does not grant you any special entitlements. Now perhaps let’s talk about cycles of poverty, racialized injustice, environmental degradation, and direct actions to combat same?

14

notGoodenough 09.10.19 at 10:44 pm

Tom Slee @6 asks

“How do you tell the difference between “really believes X” and “actually believes Y”? “

There is, likely, a better answer than my own, but of the top of my head my response would be:

If such a consideration must be made independent of any other information, I don’t see that you can tell the difference. However, if someone acts in accordance with believing Y, particularly should it conflict with X, then it would seem not unreasonable to conclude there is a conflict there which may be readily explained by them believing Y and not X.

Now, a common counterpoint is that someone may act in accordance with believing Y, but we cannot know for sure that that is the case as we cannot read their mind.

For example, “yes, it is true they have dedicated their entire lives to killing wombats, they have founded an organisation devoted to destroying wombats, they regularly say they would like to see every wombat eradicated, but since they haven’t said they hate wombats it is unfair to characterise them as a wombat-hater”.

This is true, but then you have set the bar to being a wombat-hater so high that it is functionally impossible to use the term. We can adress this by not saying “they are a wombat-hater”, but then saying “they act and behave like a wombat-hater would”. That makes things a little clumsy, but then perhaps we can all carry around cards with a disclaimer on them, so conversations would then go:

“I think the main problem is they hate wombats.”
“But, you can’t know they actually hate wombats..”
[holds up card saying “when I characterise someone as being bigoted in a certain way, I acknowledge this is not said with certainty but rather merely a high level of confidence based on their words, deeds, etc. However, since all judgements must be on the same basis (i.e. I am not aware of any solution to the problem of hard solipsism), I do not believe this is a significant problem but, in the interests of seeking a reasonable agreement, please take this as advanced notice that my use of the term bigot is a shorthand for acting like a bigot, saying things a bigot would say, etc.”]

15

Landru 09.10.19 at 11:05 pm

“because those aren’t the real reasons”

Arrogating to oneself, like an uncaring god, the ability to see and declare what everyone and anyone’s true intentions are, without appeal and regardless of what they say, usually does not end well, for either side.

I would have thought that all the people here with such superb humanities educations would already know this.

16

M Caswell 09.10.19 at 11:28 pm

Have you ever thought about an episode in your own life, “I wish I had been more angry?”

17

nastywoman 09.11.19 at 2:31 am

@13
”Now perhaps let’s talk about cycles of poverty, racialized injustice, environmental degradation, and direct actions to combat same”?

– and we can do that in a much more ”constructive” if we are not so angry at each other.
(as you hinted?)

18

nastywoman 09.11.19 at 2:55 am

@15
”I would have thought that all the people here with such superb humanities educations would already know this”.

but with just questioning ”what everyone and anyone’s true intentions are” I have found out that ”the people” got a lot angrier -(at least at the many Internet Joints I hang out) –
and also read – somewhere?- that even a ”scientific study” found out – that especially Americans have become sooo angry that around 40 percent of them want to ”burn the whole thing down to the ground”
-(which supports my theory that the American people might have erected the Clownstick in order to destroy the US government – AND the Brexiteers had a kind of similar plan?)
Out of a lot of anger?

19

ph 09.11.19 at 3:21 am

From my direct experience – the angriest people I meet – encounter are family members, friends (former in some cases), and colleagues who unhappy that Trump won the 2016 election, and that voters in the UK voted to Leave the EU.

The level of anger varies. Most get their news from their browsers, and from sources like NPR, the Guardian, and the NYT. They’ve been angry for a long time, at least three years, with little sign of their unhappiness abating. The fact I’m not angry and that I generally feel the arc of history is moving in the right direction: less violence, fewer wars, lower infant mortality rates, far fewer in poverty, rising literacy, connectivity etc. makes many of these folks angrier still.

The level of anger is not, however, as strong as that which followed 9/11, or the invasion of Iraq.

A truism of psychology is that emotional states are acts of choice – the classic example being the falling infant – who upon hitting the floor looks up at the parent to find out how to react – the fraught expression from the parent elicits tears and wails – the smile elicits nothing, and perhaps laughter.

So, I’m responsible for my emotions in the same way I’m responsible for my other decisions. I can choose to be as angry as I like. I’d be angrier at work, for example, if increased anger meant increased income, increased efficiency, or more time off with pay.

It doesn’t, hence. Anger is an extremely unhealthy state to operate in, clouds judgment, complicates relationships, and generally adds very little. Finally, another truism is that anger is a secondary emotion – a state we go to from fear, or sorrow – good for getting the heart pumping for the fight or flight response, but not for much else.

And getting angry over the news, or social media, or comments on a blog. That’s like getting angry with software, or rain, or cloudy skies. Most of my own days go well when I keep this in mind, and sink pretty quickly when I forget.

@16 gets it exactly right.

20

Chris Bertram 09.11.19 at 6:59 am

@Tom Slee asks how we can tell that a person is motivated by X (bigotry) rather than Y (some other set of reasons R) in the case where for R can function either as a reason for the belief or as a rationalization of it. And the answer is that we use the same fallible human interpretative skills that we generally use to form beliefs about other people’s beliefs, trying to guard against motivated thinking when we do. My answer in the present case is that a good guide, though again not an infallible one, is that when a person exhibits a strong disgust reaction to the presence of an offending other, perhaps coupled with slurs or offensive and degrading stereotypes of that kind of person, that is a good indication that the subsequent reasons they give – “those Latvians are exerting downward pressure on wages” – are not their motivating reasons.

21

Scratch 09.11.19 at 7:34 am

My answer in the present case is that a good guide, though again not an infallible one, is that when a person exhibits a strong disgust reaction to the presence of an offending other, perhaps coupled with slurs or offensive and degrading stereotypes of that kind of person, that is a good indication that the subsequent reasons they give… are not their motivating reasons.

Does this apply to you too?

22

Dipper 09.11.19 at 7:57 am

@ Chris Bertram “My answer in the present case is that a good guide, though again not an infallible one, is that when a person exhibits a strong disgust reaction to the presence of an offending other, perhaps coupled with slurs or offensive and degrading stereotypes of that kind of person, that is a good indication that the subsequent reasons they give – “those Latvians are exerting downward pressure on wages” – are not their motivating reasons.”

But you seem to be applying this logic in reverse, ie that when someone says “those Latvians are exerting downward pressure on wages” then they probably have strong disgust reactions hence this isn’t a real reason. Or at best that others who express the same view also exhibit strong disgust reactions, hence this argument, whilst not in itself racist, is actually part of a racist view.

23

Collin Street 09.11.19 at 8:11 am

(again: one of the things about my idea “everyone on the hard right has badly-managed autism” is that we get, essentially for free, an explanation for “why do right-wingers think that determining motive is impossible”. And “why do right-wingers make such a pig’s arse of predicting responses from others”, which a fortiori also gets us “why do right-wingers keep on getting caught in ever-stupider spiralling pretexts”. And also “why do they keep on narrowly focussing on small parts of texts (religious, legal, fictional) without looking at the context”. And even why misogyny and patriarchy are more common than the reverse, and literally everything about gamergate, and…

And, you know, visceral discomfort at cultural change and all that.)

24

Chris Bertram 09.11.19 at 8:15 am

“Does this apply to you too?” Yes, of course.

“But you seem to be applying this logic in reverse”. Nope. I don’t say that whenever a person say that immigration should be controlled for economic reasons this masks their real, bigoted, reason. Of course people can have sincere non-bigoted reasons of this kind. But I do believe that strongly negative attitudes of outrage at unfitting mere presence are fairly common and persistent and that *for such people* the refutation of other arguments they might give (economic, security etc) would not make a difference to their attitudes.

25

Scratch 09.11.19 at 9:07 am

“Does this apply to you too?” Yes, of course.

Would it be fair, given your class and milieu to suspect your animus towards the “left behind” is rooted in the bourgeois liberal culture that say, within living memory advocated through eugenics a final solution to the frightfully déclassé?

It’s probably fair to wonder whether globalism has added an(other) ersatz ethical dimension to the ever-shifting narratives coughed up by liberals as to why the hoi polloi have too much (cash, time, space, carbon emissions, lifespan, security, autonomy, sex, latent power, credit, sugar and so on) for instance.

26

Chris Bertram 09.11.19 at 9:15 am

I think I’m reasonably tolerant of idiotic comments, “Scratch”, but you can fuck right off, and stay fucked off, and don’t come back.

27

J-D 09.11.19 at 9:28 am

Occasionally this anger at the mere presence of the alien person as a moral violation is openly expressed. There is something of it in Nigel Farage’s expressed discomfort at hearing foreign languages spoken around him, in complaints from white people that “if you go to Leicester/Bradford/Brent you won’t see a white face” and even more directly in the abuse hurled at foreigners in the street who get asked “We voted to kick you out! Why are you still here?” A sensitivity to this source of anger also comes out in the insistence of some social scientists, notably Matthew Goodwin and Eric Kaufmann, that the rise of right-wing populism is about identity rather than economics.

For some people (or so I strongly suspect), their sense of identity depends on being out on the cutting edge, leading fashion, setting trends, being early adopters, doing things before they’re cool. For such people, their identity is strengthened by having characteristics which most of the people around them don’t share. Nor are they (I strongly suspect) the only kind of people for which this is true. I strongly suspect there are many people for whom their sense of religious identity or ethnic identity or fan identity is strengthened by being decidedly in the minority.

On the other hand, I suspect equally strongly, there are people for whom their sense of identity is strengthened by being decidedly in the majority, when most of the people around them do share their identifying characteristics.

I would hazard a guess, for example–

Looking at the question another way, what if the ‘group attachment’ that you prioritise actually includes people who don’t look or sound like you; what if the ‘home’ group where you feel you belong consists of Manchester City supporters, Joss Whedon fans, fellow Christians, the workers of the world?

–that some Manchester City supporters feel affirmed in that identity when surrounded by other Manchester City supporters, and threatened in it when surrounded by supporters of another team, while other Manchester City supporters have the converse reactions; and likewise for people for whom it is important to identify themselves as Joss Whedon fans, Christians, workers of the world–or, for that matter, white people.

And then there would be yet other people for whom it doesn’t make much difference one way or the other, for whom their sense of their own gender identity or sexuality or religious identity or fan status is much the same regardless of whether the people around them share it; and those people are the ones most to be envied, because they are the ones in the enviable position of having a sense of their own identity, and their security in it, which is not hostage to the way other people choose to live their lives. Other people are under no moral obligation to treat the protection of your sense of your identity as a factor affecting their choices about how they live their own lives. They have their own identities, which have as much right to be respected at yours do. If your sense of your own identity as a white person, for example, is threatened by lots of people who aren’t white moving into your neighbourhood (as it may be, at least for some people), that’s not a reason why they shouldn’t. I don’t doubt that some people, in situations like that, feel their identities threatened; I’m sure that happens; for the people who feel their identities threatened, it could be a kind of loss, and potentially a tragic one; but it’s nobody else’s fault.

28

MisterMr 09.11.19 at 11:45 am

I did read part of the paper but, at the beginning of part 2, the author makes 3 claims that in my view are completely wrong:

1: she makes an example where one is angry just for the pleasure of being angry, and she uses it as an example of an instrumental reason. But having pleasure from being angry is the very definition of anger for the sake of anger, hence an end in itself, it is the complete opposite of instrumentality.

2: then she claim that anger implies a supposed normative violation, but this is not the case: I can well be angry if my boss fires me even if I don’t think that firing me is a normative violation.

3:The distinction she makes between anger and disappointment is wrong: the real distinction is that anger involves aggressivity, while dissppointment doesn’t.

Ultimately anger is an aggressive behavior meant to influence other people, IMHO.

29

bianca steele 09.11.19 at 12:50 pm

“Anger is a behavior” is wrong: anger is frequently read beneath the surface of seemingly neutral words and action. Detection of anger at times verges on apparently telepathy.

However, although Williams is correct that ordinary morality forbids applying utilitarianism to the question of whether one may save one’s spouse, I don’t think Nussbaum is correct if she means to imply ordinary morality forbids one to feel anger (which I’m not sure Nussbaum does, from what I’ve read, she does suggest that science (psychology) indicates anger is harmful to the angry person). Ordinary morality forbids angry performances in some situations and mandates it in others. (And in some situations, such as genteel literature, calls for extreme measures to avoid even a suspicion of anger or any related opinion.)

30

Kiwanda 09.11.19 at 3:45 pm

…a person exhibits a strong disgust reaction to the presence of an offending other, perhaps coupled with slurs or offensive and degrading stereotypes of that kind of person, that is a good indication that the subsequent reasons they give – “those Latvians are exerting downward pressure on wages” – are not their motivating reasons.

I wonder if the person with the slurs is the same person with the “downward pressure” reasons, or a different person you are lumping together with the one doing the slurs. I imagine many different cases hold, and sometimes a general statement of the kind of inference you’re making is true (*most* people with “downward pressure” objections *also* just hate foreigners). But do you know that?

Some men who are “incels” kill people, and some of them think they are entitled to sex and hate women. Did the majority of participants in the incel reddit hate women and feel entitled to sex? It might be true, but I’d bet that it’s just more convenient to take a tiny highly visible minority as representative of a larger group: it’s too good to check.

Some staff at the New York Times hate white men (e.g. Sarah Jeong); should I infer that the “real” reason for the 1619 project is hatred of white men? (But maybe you think it’s a “without power” situation.) Some men are violent, most violent people are men; but it doesn’t follow that all men should be blamed for violence. A majority of white female voters in the U.S. voted for Trump, but the blame for Trump’s election doesn’t fall on “white women”, some of it falls (in part) on the white women who *voted for Trump*.

31

Orange Watch 09.11.19 at 4:35 pm

But I do believe that strongly negative attitudes of outrage at unfitting mere presence are fairly common and persistent and that *for such people* the refutation of other arguments they might give (economic, security etc) would not make a difference to their attitudes.

I’m led to wonder if this is true. The broadest swathes of vocal, active racism is heard at lower echelons of the economic class structure. This is where precarity is most prevalent – but it’s also been identified in middle tiers where perceived precarity is prevalent. This suggests that a lack of perceived security (be it social, economic, or personal) is an important (and perhaps in many cases necessary) catalyst in bringing the xenophobia – of whatever variety – into action.

32

Collin Street 09.11.19 at 8:48 pm

These days, people in lower orders go to state schools where their cognitive problems are picked up on and have parents who lack the social capital to get the diagnosis rejected. The prerequisites for active fascism are only found among the middle-aged or older and among young people the upper middle class.

Is what my hypothesis predicts.

(except in areas with low school mental health funding such as parts of the US)

33

J-D 09.11.19 at 9:30 pm

Some staff at the New York Times hate white men (e.g. Sarah Jeong)

Citation needed.

34

Kiwanda 09.11.19 at 10:57 pm

Citation needed.

Well, perhaps overstated: while it’s easy to find plenty of hateful statements from her,
it’s quite possible she’s only been trying to be fashionably woke and/or “defensively invertive”. Apparently saying a lot of bigoted things is OK, as long as you’re insincere about it, or punching up before and after joining the editorial board of the NY Times.

35

ph 09.12.19 at 6:07 am

Ms Jeong wrote in one tweet from July 2014: “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.” One online critic posted a selection of Ms Jeong’s other tweets, which contain obscenities.”Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins,” she said in December 2014.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45052534

Ms. Jeong, btw, is a board member for a newspaper comfortable employing Tom Wright-Piersanti. Mocking Jewish people and native Americans doesn’t actually get you fired at the NYT, just demoted, if…:

https://www.dailysignal.com/2019/08/23/new-york-times-demotes-editor-for-tweets-mocking-jews-native-americans/

Nor did homophobic hate slurs put Joy Reid on the breadline, not even after lying about being hacked: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/27/17286392/joy-reid-msnbc-lgbtq-gay-hack

The one NYT bigot who did lose his gig for anti-semitism just happened to be a foreigner António Moreira and kind of, well, Latin: https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/new-york-times-to-drop-political-cartoons-after-anti-semitic-depiction-of-netanyahu-1.7358019

“The Times issued an apology in April for the “anti-Semitic cartoon,” and called its publication “an error in judgement.” It also dropped the syndication service that provided the illustration.” And decided to end its tradition of publishing political cartoons.

Antonio, of course, blamed the Jews. Worth noting is the fact, the NYT at first didn’t actually apologize: “On Tuesday, the Times published a second apology for what it acknowledged was an “appalling” political cartoon, and said its own actions were “evidence of a profound danger — not only of anti-Semitism but of numbness to its creep.”
https://www.timesofisrael.com/ny-times-cartoonist-says-condemnation-comes-from-jewish-propaganda-machine/

See? Not hate, an error of judgment! We love everybody! Not to mention wall-to-wall Trump negative coverage from the NYT dating from 2015. And not one word of it hate!

That’s the liberal media I once supported. I cancelled my subscription in 2017 not over the lack of balance, but because the tried to sell me the same story every day of the Russia – Trump, guilty until proven innocent. It was like reading the comments section at the old Free Republic, and still is from what I can tell.

36

Hidari 09.12.19 at 8:15 am

@34

Your last sentence makes no grammatical sense, but mention of ‘punching up’ and ‘punching down’ should (but won’t) make you think about power dynamics. In a big, racist, misogynist country like the United States which is, and (with one exception) always has been, governed by white males, attacking white males is not at all the same as attacking (e.g.) African-American women.

@30
who, precisely, is claiming that ALL men are responsible for (presumably) ALL violence? I mean…who has explicitly said this?

37

SusanC 09.12.19 at 10:28 am

I think I’m reasonably tolerant of idiotic comments, “Scratch”, but you can fuck right off, and stay fucked off, and don’t come back

Well, that was a pretty angry response. As the whole discussion is about whose anger is justifiable, one does start to wonder…

38

J-D 09.12.19 at 12:35 pm

Kiwanda

If you were aiming at obscurity, you have succeeded; if you were aiming at clarity, you have failed. I cannot tell whether you adhere to the proposition previously advanced, that some staff at the New York Times hate white men.

39

Dipper 09.12.19 at 3:23 pm

A few threads back dbk said “The 1% (who, we can assume, are shorting the GBP” so I made a note and put a nominal short position on. The Cable (ie GBP/USD) rate at that time was 1.2185. It is now 1.175% higher at 1.233, so that is a loss of 1.175%

It’s not a lot, but I’m just making the point that people who think making money consistently from FX is easy are wrong.

40

Kiwanda 09.12.19 at 4:30 pm

J-D

Maybe follow the links, read the material a bit, that might help.

Also maybe this:
… punching up before and after …
is probably more readily parseable as
… punching up, before and after …
or
… “punching up”, before and after …

Hidari:

attacking white males is not at all the same as attacking (e.g.) African-American women.

Good to know, never heard of this distinction. By “white males”, I imagine you mean “white male human beings”, a.k.a. “white men”?

who, precisely, is claiming that ALL men are responsible for (presumably) ALL violence?

Since this was one of several examples of conclusions of a kind of faulty inference, I’d like to say “no one”. Although men claiming the negation (or nearly so) are widely viewed as exhibiting “male fragility” . #notallmen

41

J-D 09.13.19 at 8:52 am

Kiwanda

Maybe follow the links, read the material a bit, that might help.

I did; it didn’t; the position remains the same:

If you were aiming at obscurity, you have succeeded; if you were aiming at clarity, you have failed. I cannot tell whether you adhere to the proposition previously advanced, that some staff at the New York Times hate white men.

There is no reason to think that reading articles other people have written is going to tell me what position you adhere to. If you want to make clear to me what position you adhere to the obvious course of action is for you to make a plain direct straightforward statement of your position; if you don’t, it seems as if you don’t want to make your position clear to me. In this instance, specifically, the question whose answer is unclear is ‘Are you, Kiwanda, of the view that some staff at the New York Times hate white men?’; I can’t figure any obstacle to the question being resolved with a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, so long as the desire to resolve it is there. (I am aware that there are some instances in which a question cannot be answered with a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ without being misleading, but I can’t figure how this would be one of them.)

42

Witt 09.13.19 at 5:00 pm

(Similar anger at mere presence of unwanted others can be seen in other cases, such as, for example, gentrification.)

I don’t think this is generally accurate. At least in my experience, anger about gentrification is anger about the actual actions taken by those others, not their mere presence, and not usually even their perceived actions:

– Calling police on previously acceptable or even pro-social behaviors (e.g. white gentrifiers reporting their black neighbors for having a block party)
– Escalating normal interactions (per the above) to include potentially life-threatening encounters with law enforcement rather than having a simple conversation
– Discouraging or outright pushing out businesses that don’t match the perceived new “upscale” vibe of the neighborhood (see this story from DCabout a mobile-phone store that played go-go music)

…and so on. Basically, I don’t think it’s appropriate or accurate to equate the response of neighborhood residents to gentrifiers to the type of anti-immigrant sentiment epitomized by this white Minnesota woman quoted in the New York Times:

One woman, who declined to give her name after the group discussion, bemoaned the city’s so-called no-go zones, or the areas where white residents said they felt so uncomfortable with the Somali-American presence that they would not return — a shopping mall, a community housing center and Beaver Island Trail, a hiking area that borders the Mississippi River.

“They were just —” she said, searching for the words to describe the offending behavior of the Somali-Americans. “They were just walking around.”

43

Witt 09.13.19 at 5:01 pm

Not sure that NYT link showed up properly. Trying again.

44

Kiwanda 09.13.19 at 7:22 pm

J-D

I said “Some staff at the New York Times hate white men (e.g. Sarah Jeong)”, you said “Citation needed”, I gave three links, and modified my statement as follows: “Well, perhaps overstated: while it’s easy to find plenty of hateful statements from her,
it’s quite possible she’s only been trying to be fashionably woke and/or “defensively invertive”….”. The links gave bigoted, hateful statements by her, and articles that discussed the possibility that some of her bigoted statements were only being performatively woke, and/or were just defensive inversions of bigoted statements made to her. Having demanded and received citations, and the allowance by me that she was maybe only being performatively woke, and/or defensively inverting, you now want some kind of clarification: what do *I* think? Well, I think it’s quite possible she only was trying to be fashionably woke and/or “defensively invertive”. Noting of course the bigoted remarks she made, as linked, in response to your demand for evidence.

45

engels 09.14.19 at 11:20 am

she claim that anger implies a supposed normative violation, but this is not the case: I can well be angry if my boss fires me even if I don’t think that firing me is a normative violation

This seems right to me. People get angry when they feel injured, thwarted, slighted, … Ime the moral reasoning usually comes after and it’s often really a rationalisation for that aggression. Think of pedestrian collisions, traffic jams or angry customers.

There is a venerable tradition of Oxford professors declaring that most of the things the masses are worked up about are, as a

46

engels 09.14.19 at 11:27 am

Sorry, feel free to delete that as you wish as it got scrambled on my phone and I don’t have any time to improve it now.

47

casmilus 09.14.19 at 11:28 am

You also need a moral theory to ground any judgements of “selfishness”, since you are relying on notions of what the self is and is not entitled to. Social conventions have shifted over time, with regard to eg. What children owe to parents and vice versa.

48

J-D 09.14.19 at 12:46 pm

That Kiwanda offers no defence of the previously uttered statement ‘Some staff at the New York Times hate white men’ suggests to me that none is available.

49

steven t johnson 09.14.19 at 4:13 pm

A paper on anger that doesn’t discuss its relationship to fear doesn’t seem worth talking to me.

50

Jonah Thomas 09.14.19 at 7:53 pm

“I was chatting to a group of friends in a bar, including a few people I didn’t know, and I said I could understand the discomfort that Nigel Farage had recently expressed about not hearing a single English-speaker on a train in London. One of those I didn’t know loudly slammed their glass down and ostentatiously walked out.”

There’s a difference between being racist and not wanting to accept the presence of members of a despised race, and being anti-racist and not wanting to accept the presence of despised racists.

There is also considerable similarity.

I’m not sure I know how to analyze the differences and the similarities.

I’m pretty sure I’m not up to analyzing that without offending people. There’s something going on there that’s worth understanding. But it isn’t worth just trying to offend people, calling them hypocrites, etc. That is not a useful approach at all.

51

engels 09.15.19 at 9:40 am

52

hix 09.15.19 at 12:17 pm

“– Calling police on previously acceptable or even pro-social behaviors (e.g. white gentrifiers reporting their black neighbors for having a block party)
– Escalating normal interactions (per the above) to include potentially life-threatening encounters with law enforcement rather than having a simple conversation
– Discouraging or outright pushing out businesses that don’t match the perceived new “upscale” vibe of the neighborhood (see this story from DCabout a mobile-phone store that played go-go music)”

The most favourable (and most unlikely) interpretation towards those black block partiers is that the police that got involved consists of people who should be on the other side of a cell. That is really not a reasonable basline assumption one should expect people to make before they call the police on someone. Thus at best, blame the police not the “white gentrifiers”. More likely: If the situation escalated towards life threatening after the police arrives, trying to have a conversation would have been crazy in the first place. Also most likely: The vast majority of the black population did not consider the party very pro social but was rather just scared to call the police. But then of course, there is always the option that the police officers are such evil monsters that they escalate a noise call into a life threatening situation on a regular basis once a black person is involved.

53

Kiwanda 09.15.19 at 6:15 pm

J-D
Of course, I have given a defense (and partial retraction), and then pointed out that I have, and now, taking your bait yet again, am now pointing out that I have pointed out that I have given a defense. I can continue with you along these lines, but it’s boring. I have to conclude that you are not discussing in good faith. It’s a pity.

54

J-D 09.15.19 at 10:09 pm

Kiwanda

Of course, I have given a defense (and partial retraction)

Defence of the statement and retraction of the statement are incompatible. Either it’s true or it isn’t.

55

Kiwanda 09.16.19 at 3:39 pm

J-D
We’re getting into “What color is the sky on your world?” territory. Sarah Jeong made a number of bigoted, hateful remarks about white and/or male people, as you know. The simplest explanation is that she hates white men, but of course we don’t know what is in her heart. Arguably, it doesn’t matter: hate is as hate does. As you know, the NY Times “defense” was that she was just giving as good as she got, that is, two wrongs make a right. As you know, another view is that she was insincere in her expressions of hatred for white men: she didn’t really mean it, it’s like the “jokes” about “drinking male tears”. What is it about this situation that makes it all-or-nothing for you?

56

J-D 09.17.19 at 11:07 am

Kiwanda

Sarah Jeong made a number of bigoted, hateful remarks about white and/or male people, as you know.

But no, I do not know that.

57

Jonah E Thomas 09.17.19 at 11:12 am

“That Kiwanda offers no defence of the previously uttered statement ‘Some staff at the New York Times hate white men’ suggests to me that none is available.”

Why would this opinion need a defense?

58

J-D 09.17.19 at 10:02 pm

Jonah E Thomas

If the statement’s indefensible, I think that’s worth pointing out.

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