Additional Thoughts On the New Hatred

My post on “The New Hatred” is essentially correct, I still think — but there is more to be said.  As I pointed out here last week, the dramatic increase in economic inequality in our society over the past 20 years was at first compensated for and then disguised by the availability of cheap credit.  The strapped middle class took out mortgages, home equity loans and maxed out their credit cards – while the financial industry extravagantly rewarded those who devised those products and marketed financial instruments based on them. Then the bubble burst.

People’s fears of losing their jobs, their homes, their savings, pensions, medical benefits, and so forth are the root causes for the hatred.  It is misdirected at government by the tea partiers, a cheap, easy, and ideologically driven target.  But events of the past few weeks make it clear that the most immediate targets for the hatred are minorities, those whose numbers and growing education make them true competitors for our dwindling white majority.

Charles Blow summed it up in Saturday’s New York Times:  “A woman (Nancy Pelosi) pushed the health care bill through the House. The bill’s most visible and vocal proponents included a gay man (Barney Frank) and a Jew (Anthony Weiner). And the black man in the White House signed the bill into law.”

These are the more prominent targets, the ones cursed out on the steps of the Capitol.  But Blow also cited a report recently released by the Southern Poverty Law Center:  “‘nativist extremist’ groups that confront and harass suspected immigrants have increased nearly 80 percent since President Obama took office, and antigovernment ‘patriot’ groups more than tripled over that period.”  (See, “Whose Country Is It?”)

On the other side, he noted a recent Quinnipiac University poll found that tea partiers, along with most members of the Republican Party, “were disproportionately white, evangelical Christian and ‘less educated … than the average Joe and Jane Six-Pack.’ This at a time when the country is becoming more diverse (some demographers believe that 2010 could be the first year that most children born in the country will be nonwhite).”

Behind the hatred, then, is fear, a fear rooted in real economic developments that will only get worse for those at the lower end of the economic ladder.  That, in turn, can easily lead to yet more desperation and hatred.

Blow summed it up:  “Welcome to America, The Remix.”