Whither Positivity?

Late notes on hate... should have been posted in June as part of the whole Sonic Youth brouhaha... more thoughts on the below and race specifically perhaps forthcoming...

Arguments, of course, are based on assumptions, and, having staked out the position I have, the responsibility of further explication rests on my shoulders, and yet I don't want to explain my hate further.

Let me explain why I don't want to explain.

Commenter (on Blissblog) Kevin H says "most of the stuff we 'hate' we don't engage with thoroughly enough to be able to intelligently take down or understand what others see", and I can't help but seeing this sentiment as a relic of an earlier era. You see, for elementary school I attended what could only be considered the apotheosis of the liberal school. It was a private school, mostly filled with privileged kids, and yet the school was rightfully proud of its past, as it was, the first non-segregated school in the Southern state where I grew up, and its voluntary desegregation preceded by years any court orders that would have compelled it to do so. We studied slavery, the Civil War, African geography, and, especially, the Civil Rights movement (and we studied them heavily, for years, not as "units" within a larger narrative, but as THE narrative itself). This being the 80s, multiculturalism as a Leftist intellectual movement was still young, and our teachers took it to heart.

Rather than discuss the complex social and historical forces that could help us understand how racism as an idea came about, rather than understand those sort of viewpoints as flawed logic, and certainly not innate to humanity biologically speaking (whatever tendencies we have towards grouping ourselves, there is nothing inevitable about the specifics, the agency involved in choosing those groups), racism, hate in its worst form, was always dismissed with the kind of sentiment Kevin H expressed in the quote above. Racism, however, is not a lack of understanding but a tragic misunderstanding, and my own personal abhorrence of those sorts of beliefs does not stem from open-mindedness, but from my own logic based on vastly superior assumptions. Literally, I can't see a reason for racism because my assumptions won’t allow it. The idea of being open-minded about this sort of thing doesn't make any sense, because I never had to pass from the stage of being closed-minded in a socially unacceptable way (racism) to "opening" my mind to something more socially acceptable (anti-racism), which, as mentioned, is another form of closed-mindedness.

This process is, in a way, one type of received narrative of the last few decades. Closed-minded America seemingly came to accept and tolerate difference. Homosexuality, for instance, went, in thirty years or so, from a "disease" to a strategy for making hit TV shows. And while there are certainly still people out there who have yet to make the leap from the 1950s into our current world of improved tolerance and acceptance (and vigilance towards these people is still important!), my concern, at least in this essay, is not with those who have yet to join the new consensus, but with the consensus itself. Every solution creates a problem, and so worthy ideas meant to challenge older social consensus, when they become consensus, need to be challenged.

So what needs to change is the call for tolerance that is predicated on the assumption of intolerance. What if, instead, we are to assume tolerance and problematize that? For isn't that what so many of us have been discussing, in a way? This open-minded, tolerant world of art and music that it is talented but inconsequential? That fails to deliver the sort of social flux that we have come to expect? It is not that that I hate because of a lack of understanding, but because of it.

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