Monday, October 24, 2022

Humility vs. Hate

When it comes right down to it, we're not sure how to fight hate and hateful ideologies.

Should it be called out loudly, wherever and whenever its seen? Or does that mean giving oxygen to cranks, amplifying their influence to places they could not reach on their own?

Should bigots be deplatformed? Or does that simply make them more alluring? Should we debate them? Or does that only give them credibility? Should we rally forces against them? Or does that give sustenance to the notion that they are resisting the dreaded establishment? 

Should we punch Nazis? Or are they thereby converted into martyrs? Should haters be ostracized, wholly excluded from all elements of social life as demonstration that their views will not be tolerated? Or should we reach out to them, trying to pull them back from the abyss and convert them to the side of right?

Figuring these questions out is tremendously important. Indeed, there may be little more important than figuring out which interventions against hate are most effective.

But the fact is, we don't seem yet to know what works and what doesn't. So perhaps we can all stand to show a little more humility on the subject. I see so often people very confidently declare their answers to the above questions as if anyone who acts otherwise is a Nazi sympathizer, and I simply do not know where that confidence stems from. Because the fact is, we don't know yet which tactics work and which do not. And so while I'm fine debating the tactics, I'd rather not treat tactical disagreement under conditions of extreme uncertainty as tantamount to be a Fifth Column.