Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Quote of the Year: On Human Ugliness

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gets it, a sample from her New Yorker piece:
"Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of 'healing' and 'not becoming the hate we hate' sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity."
She ends by noting that ugly ideas, gone unchallenged, start to "turn the color of normal."

Human cruelty has existed forever. But, I think about this quote, ugly ideas "turn[ing] the color of normal," and wonder how the Internet might have changed cruelty, or at least given us another avenue for the widespread expression of it.

[content note: ableism, bullying]

As an exercise in empathy (or something) a couple of weeks ago, I tried my hand at civil dialogue with a Trump supporter who was all over the place expressing glee that "Killary" was going to prison. Within minutes, without provocation, he began gloating about my "libtard tears."

I think of our soon-to-be Internet-Bully-In-Chief. I think of how cruelty and the expression of it on the Internet are perhaps enabled by (even well-intentioned) utterances of "don't feed the trolls."

And so the comments, full of human ugliness, sit there unchallenged, with other humans indifferent to it, hurt by it, enabled by it, accustomed to it, emboldened by it.

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