Thursday, July 15, 2021

Hatred Based on Stereotypes Weaken Social Justice Movements

This post talks about stereotypes, emotions, justice, etc from the point of view of a savarna, cis-het male who lives in a metropolitan city. Like the post claims, nobody can eliminate stereotype/bias from their worldview and therefore this post includes some stereotypes/biases too.

Trigger warning: Detached discussion of emotions that makes it sound like I'm judging the emotions.


Let's assume a few things as truth.

One: Individuals cannot completely avoid stereotypes/biases. The human brain is a pattern recognition machine. It thinks through mental models of the world. It thinks through patterns. It thinks through stereotypes. The best an individual can do is to have a fairly nuanced and complicated outlook.

Two: There is a strong component of stereotypes in various kinds of oppression that we see in the society. Stereotypes are reinforced by other cognitive biases and logical fallacies. Human beings are susceptible to all these things. They use anecdotal evidence to "refute" comprehensive statistics. They think through emotions.



I make three arguments in this post.

One: Hatred is sometimes/often used in social justice movements.

Two: Stereotypes and hatred are connected.
Three: Stereotypes that strengthen hatred makes the politics of social justice movements weaker.

In this post, I do not make a judgement on whether the hatred is justified or not (It is almost always justified). I also do not talk about whether hatred is used in oppression (Oppression thrives on hatred).

What I do talk about is how some of the hatred in social justice movements arises from stereotypes and how avoiding this component of stereotype/hatred maybe beneficial to social justice movements.


Hatred in social justice movements

This might be amplified by twitter, but the specific emotions of disgust and hatred is sometimes/often seen used by activists who engage in social justice movements.

It can manifest as angry rants, snap judgement, judgemental comments, monologues, etc.

Activists might be using hatred intentionally as a tool to evoke response/engagement. They might also be using it unintentionally as a result of being psychologically triggered. This can be due to stress, burn-out, and other discomforts. This can be due to the burden of lived experience and/or trauma. But I argue that stereotypes also contribute to this emotion.


Contribution of stereotypes to hatred

Like I posited, stereotypes are unavoidably human. Activists in social justice movements also accumulate stereotypes and biases.
The logical fallacy of false dichotomy also maybe involved. Some activists start seeing people as "either for our cause, or against our cause".

This can contribute to hatred.


When hatred is based majorly on stereotype, the politics is weakened

Hatred based majorly on stereotype is harder to justify than hatred not based majorly on stereotype.

If hatred is based on stereotype, it also opens the opportunity for political opponents to call it as hypocrisy.

Such hatred can evoke reactive emotions from others and cause weakening of the political cause.


Arguments against my arguments

One: This is tone policing.
This is about tone. But I don't intend to make a blanket judgement about whether hatred is justified or not. I am suggesting a sharper use of hatred such that hatred does not become counter-productive.

Two: This ignores the hatred spewed by the opponents.

Yes, my target audience is social justice activists who are already aware of the context of how debates happen in social media, etc.

Three: It is easy for the privileged to say these.

Yes. I acknowledge my privileges in saying these. It is a suggestion for people who have the privilege to consider this.

Four: Read up "righteous indignation"

I have. I am on your side. I'm talking to you about strengthening your own politics. I'm not saying don't use hatred. I'm talking only about a specific instance of hatred that is based on stereotypes. And I'm not saying I'm right. I'm saying, perhaps this can be considered.
Five: This is not empirically tested.
True. I have not tested this empirically. This is just a theory now.
Six: This is sealioning.

Consider whether any friendly, meta-level discussion should be labeled as sealioning.

Seven: This post can be used by our political opponents as fodder to strengthen their politics against us.

I suppose. I'm sorry for posting this. But it's a thought I had.

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