Some Thoughts on Bigotry

Posted on 19/09/2015 by

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I recently received a letter from a person whom I don’t wish to have contact for various reasons. This person, with whom I share some genetic material, doesn’t quite seem to understand that. Due to a possibly life-threatening cancer, apparently my desire to be left alone can be ignored.

But that aside. This person, as I’ve been informed, underwent a double mastectomy to avoid death, although they didn’t tell me as such in this letter. However, for no particular reason, Caitlyn Jenner was brought up, and in a very transphobic manner. For one, her chosen name was not used, and further, her transition was referred to as mutilation. All of which affirmed my decision to avoid contact.

I’d assume that Ms Jenner was topical to this person, in that Ms Jenner was undergoing various changes she felt necessary to be more fully her, whilst this person who wrote me the letter was feeling ‘efeminated’, if you will, by the removal of socially-required biological gender markers. This was my springboard for some broader thinking on the matter of bigotry in general.

It should go without saying that bigotry goes hand in hand with real or imagined privilege. Typically in my observation, bigotry increases whenever said privileges decrease, but this probably needn’t be the case. I should hope this is a well-travelled line of thought.

Also obviously, bigotry can be rooted in a hearty, old-fashioned sense of hatred for the Other. In this way, bigotry springs from both ignorance and a sort of narcissism which only the truly self-centred can muster.

Expanding upon the above, bigotry seems to be connected to a sense of innate uniqueness or exclusivity; the notion of a trademark comes to mind. Bigotry increases when some sort of trademarked uniqueness is impinged upon, or “diluted” somehow by a broadening understanding of that ‘uniqueness’. Racial bigotry coming from White persons can be seen as a result of non-White persons ‘infringing’ upon the trademarks of White-ness. Transphobic bigotry from cis women toward trans women is perhaps rooted in the apparent ‘dilution’ of the ‘brand identity’ of female-ness.

Considering that we live in a completely corporatised society, with almost every second of our day saturated with legalised brainwashing (aka advertising), it is no stretch, I should think, to understand the source of bigotry as being part of a perverted ‘brand loyalty’ or ‘brand identity’. Attempts of an ‘off brand’ or ‘competing brand’ to be recognised as the ‘brand’ of choice is met with hostility, rejection, threats of legal action, et cetera.

As an aside, I suspect that the more bigoted a person is, the more they actually do have strong loyalties to certain corporate brands. A quick search for “do bigoted people have brand loyalty?” gave these two [1] [2] results about defining and creating brand loyalty. “A sense of belonging” is mentioned in the first one. Since creating brand loyalty is essentially to condition people to unconsciously reject all but The One True Product, that would seem to be to be a form of discrimination based upon rather arbitrary aspects. If one thinks in these sorts of patterns, it doesn’t seem to be a terribly large cognitive leap to sort human beings according to these same patterns.

To me, this suggests that brand loyalty is a very strong form of sentimentality. Corporate products are, as a rule, always getting shittier. Exceptions to this simply underscore the rule. So therefore, I would frame brand loyalty as a sentimental attachment to how a brand used to be, rather than what it is now. As such, it’s an irrational attachment, as sentimentality always is. Reality has been supplanted by a memory or memory-complex, either real or imagined or some combination thereof. Only sentimentality can explain why, for example, Pepsi and Coca-Cola have not merged to create the Really Big Soft Drink Company: both their namesake products are high fructose corn syrop injected into yak piss and coloured with bog water.

Bringing this back to bigotry.

A bigot is an apparently decent person until they realise (or imagine) that their ‘brand identity’ is getting diluted or undermined. Then they flip their lids and become rather vile and unlovely examples of the ugly side of humanity. In other words, a person possessing privilege bases their personal sense of identity on their purchasing or espousing a ‘brand identity’. It’s not so much “I own shares in Coca-Cola” but rather “I always drink Pepsi, I’m a Pepsi Man.”

Which is to say, they exemplify brand loyalty in a very perverted fashion. The ‘brand’ to which they are loyal is a particular tranche of privilege, real or imagined. Undermining or dilution of that ‘brand’ is an attack upon their very notion of self-identity; water does not remain within a shattered glass.

And so they attack those people whom they perceive as diluting their ‘brand’, not because of what the ‘brand’ is today, but because of what it used to be. As such, I opine that bigotry is often the dark, violent, ugly side of sentimentality. The same emotions which cause a given person to get weepy over their first puppy will cause them to exhibit viciously negative opinions toward an identified group of people whom they perceive as diluting their ‘brand’.

So when White straight men broadside (in no particular order) women in the workforce, immigrants, and The Homosexual, it’s very true they’re doing so out of ignorance and hatred. But I think more deeply they are feeling sentimental about the way things used to be: only White straight men mattered, and those were the “good old days”.

Which is also why people who are gung-ho pro-Umurikkka seem to be so damned sentimental about a country which never really was. The ‘brand’ is crumbling to bits (thank God) and it’s undermining their sense of identity.

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