Sunday, September 26, 2010

Polarization: Is it fear or hatred?

Polarization on political and social issues has been around with us forever, but it seems increasingly intense in recent years. A lot of that is raw, naked opportunism, typically for political, social, and economic advantage (e.g., to sell books or other media), but so much of it recently seems based on outright hatred or fear. The question I have is whether it is simply fear or if there is something special that derives from a deeper and darker hatred. Or maybe hared is simply derived from fear and gains its intensity from the level of fear itself. The infamous so-called Ground Zero Mosque and talk of Koran burning in Florida are merely the latest in a long river of fear or hatred of all things Islam by Americans. And the same can be said for various other political, social, environmental, and economic "conflicts."

A lot of the fear stems simply from outright ignorance and can be "corrected" though education and outreach. To the extent that hatred is directly traceable back to fear, education and outreach can help on the hatred front as well. But to the extent that hatred of Islam, et al is based on anything other than simple fear, education and outreach are likely to have little positive impact.

These issues run deep and can be very tangled and even interrelated, so it may not be easy to get to the bottom of any of them, but they are worthy of some deeper thought nonetheless.

-- Jack Krupansky


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