Marolt: By hating the haters, we pass their initiation
August 22, 2017
The recent flood of apologetic nonsense President Don Juan Trump has tapped to appease the Nazis (I don't differentiate between the new and the old ones), white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan, Islamaphobes, Confederates, Xenophobes, misogynists and all the other independent misanthropes that refuse to be pigeon-holed into any specific hate group has the rest of us scrambling up the slippery slope to higher moral ground.
It reminds me of climbing Grizzly Peak, where the summit is guarded by steep hillsides of pea-size scree. It's the equivalent of hiking on marbles. Every step towards the top results in a backslide of at least half the distance taken forward. In extreme sections a climber may find himself actually further from the summit on some steps that collapse under his weight.
As many have pointed out, contradicting the president whom only 30 percent of us approve, there are not "many decent people" present in the Take Our Country Back protests marching in step to the chant of "We won't be ruled by Jews." I would argue there are no decent people at those get-togethers, except I suppose there is the possibility of a non-English speaking tourist relying on Google Maps to find the Holiday Inn Express who accidentally ends up in the middle of one of those hate festivals, which somebody would point out and then use as evidence to prove CNN is fake news and the president, therefore, remains always correct. The problem with pointing out that there are very, very, very few decent people in these hate marches is that it is so easy to fall into the trap that says, if all the bad people are there, then all the good people must be here, including me.
I cannot count the times I have expressed disdain for tourists. It sounds like an innocuous thing. It is the mark of a local, the status we aspire, to come up with new names for and creative ways of identifying them. And besides, tourists are awfully irritating in everything from how they drive to how they dress to how they act in the supermarket. They can be exasperating.
I am not a racist. Those are dangerous words. I am not a racist, I know this for a fact, but I sometimes act as if that has given me a free pass to hate on tourists and others in my life, including the president.
It's OK, because the president was not born that way (although that point is arguable). Somehow, we convince ourselves that it is only wrong to despise people in groups who were born into those groups or because of the choice they made to be part of it has something to do with religion. Everyone else is fair game for derision.
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How many times have I made that leap from the right-brained feeling of it being wrong to hate anyone to the left-brained reasoning that it's okay to treat someone like crap because they are a tourist by choice? They didn't have to come here to spend their two weeks vacation, so they pretty much deserve what they get from the locals.
Don't get your dander up. I understand there is a difference between treating human beings as property and flipping the bird to a visitor that has clogged traffic on Main Street in Aspen looking for their hotel, which is actually in Snowmass Village. It's not a matter of moral equivalency. It is a moral spectrum that we move back and forth on every day. Hitler was not born an evil dictator. We are told Satan began his career as an angel.
But at the ends of that range between love and hatred, there is the clear delineation of right and wrong. It is always wrong to hate. It is never right to hate irritating tourists or even the president of the United States, for that matter, no matter how mildly.
I have leapt across that line of scorn many times, often times justifying it by reminding myself that I am not a racist. While I doubt anyone has been severely, or at least not permanently damaged by me calling them a "turkey," I'm pretty sure I haven't made any friends or spread any goodwill that way, either, except with other likeminded justifiers. Two groups. A little hatred cast by one on the other. It's a slippery slope of pea-sized scree.
Roger Marolt knows if we hate the haters, we are haters, too. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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