Yesterday, I listened to a woman passionately defend the U.S. administration and vehemently denounce all Muslims. Clearly, she had caught a contagious illness. She had listened to the rants of a man holding the presidential office, which in turn ignited her own rants.

     She felt justified because she was agreeing with the top dog. For her, it was like agreeing with god. Yes, god was on her side, because she was out of work, because her father was a drunk, because her mother was an invalid, and because she never got what she deserved. Any excuse supported her self-righteousness and dissolved her intelligence.

     Self-righteousness: I am right; you are wrong; I hate you and I want you dead.  Or at least I want you to disappear unless you change as I demand.

     The self-righteous bug feeds itself, because it feels so good to be better than others and to be RIGHT. We are all susceptible to this bug. The contagion is not a new phenomenon in human history.

     In the 19th and 20th centuries, licenses were printed and sold: “FEDERAL NIGGER HUNTING LICENSE” which specified “[name] having paid the license fee is hereby licensed to hunt & kill NIGGERS during the open search hereof in the U.S. This license must be carried on person when hunting NIGGERS and gives the holder permission to hunt day or night, with or without dogs.” Lynchings were accepted in certain circles, and today they continue in the imagination and plans of some.


     Replace racist America’s language with “Jews,” and we hear the Nazi message. Or substitute Japanese, Mexican, Catholic, Feminist, LGBT, Muslim, Planned Parenthood, or any number of other groups, and voila, there is the hatred du jour, self-righteousness gone viral.

     The passionate rage against blacks in the 19th and 20th centuries is equaled by the passionate rage against immigrants now. I do not understand it. No matter how much someone explains why we must protect ourselves, why we must cleanse our borders, why we must take action to exterminate the threats, the words seem to me less an explanation than a confession of self-righteousness.

     When people hear insane rage, they grab onto it, as onto a life-preserver that will keep them afloat in the swamp of hatred. Even if one agrees with a leader’s politics, it is a mistake to support a leader with unhinged rage. It is better to follow anyone other than a maniac.

     It is clear how NOT to solve our world problems. Over-reactions, perversions, greed, manipulations, misogyny, stereotyping, and lies – these are not solutions. They are the worst representation of human capacity, and they are dangerous, igniting more and more self-righteousness, reversing our progress toward tolerance and respect, draining our energy for creating a safer and saner environment for future generations.

     Bright people may find solutions despite today’s contagion of hatred. Let us all be leaders who think, analyze, confer, and act with wisdom.

One response to “Contagion

  1. You’ll have to explain to me at the Café International, slowly, word by word, because I didn’t understand all the words. But I agree of course. Friendly yours JL

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