by Dave Snelgrove
[Response to a friend, an expat in Thailand who writes of anti-Muslim sentiments common among a group of men like himself, ‘tho some of these have reached him there from Canada! Dave’s answer to him deserves wider attention, I think. RGS]
Anger is a secondary emotion. It follows fear. It is even so close that one can say “Anger is Fear”.
Conservatives are more fearful than progressives or liberals. Recent studies have shown the connection. For example, see… http://healthland.time.com/2011/04/08/liberal-vs-conservative-does-the-difference-lie-in-the-brain
Racism is common to all very conservative parties and states. It applies conservative philosophy and the anger/fear to the identifiable threat.
As we get older, we tend to be more conservative. Two factors are clearly at play. We have seen more things to be feared through having a more sizable history, and having moved through more journalistic interpretation of reality. Further, our personal protective resources (strength, reflexes, eyesight, etc.) have diminished, leaving us more vulnerable to physical attack, illness, etc.
Add a global economic crisis and the historical tendency for hard economic times to breed anxiety and doubt about a benign universe, it is not surprising that these are fearful times. That trend has been amplified by an expanding conservative media (e.g. Canada now has Sun TV News), building its rhetoric for years.
Where there is a healthy cultural diversity in a society, a balance may be maintained (although we see some M.P.’s labeling of tar-sands dissenters as “foreign provocateurs”, or those protesting the power given police to seize Internet user records as “pornographers”, plus recent cancelling of a play in Toronto critical of Harper). In areas that are more homogeneous, such as enclaves of Caucasian retirees in Asian countries, one hears of common opinion that seems racist and ultra conservative. But would not a pack of old white guys living away from their tribes be feeling afraid?
The present use of Muslims as the feared ‘other’ (which has arisen over and over again) might suggest this is not a racist response, but rather a religious one. However, a closer look shows xenophobia is the root.
Comment by Rosemary:
History is so interesting. Documentaries illuminating specific periods (the Civil War, Prohibition, many wartime and post-war stories) show us how hardship and change create not just fear, but the clinging together of people who find each other familiar and less frightening.
I think we’re in one of those periods, and are going to witness an increasing number of responses by groups and communities that depart from what we thought of as those of our civil and peaceful country. The opportunity to express conflicting opinions is a privilege and as long as we keep up the public arguments, we’re still a healthy society. What I think we really have to look out for is the stifling of divergent opinion and the labeling of dissenters as enemies.