10 Signs Hate Is Winning
Twelve years ago, a bunch of fanatics changed the course of history. Faced with the fallout from the worst-ever terrorist attack on American soil, our politicians, pundits, and leaders rallied—and swore that we wouldn’t let “hate” win the day.
Fast-forward a decade or so, and it’s becoming clear that they were wrong. Across the modern world, our global civilisation seems to be falling into a moral cesspit—a cesspit consisting of extremism, racism, and aimless violence. It may not be too late to turn back, but it’s going to take a heck of a lot of willpower, especially when you consider:
In the wake of any large-scale atrocity, our politicians like to step up and talk about things like ‘unity.’ But poll after poll suggests that this dream of a nation standing together in the face of violence is nothing more than that: a dream.
Last month, a British survey concluded that two thirds of UK citizens thought a clash between Western civilization and Islam was ‘inevitable.’ The same poll also found that thirty-four percent of those asked thought British Muslims posed a serious threat to democracy. Not ‘fundamentalist Muslims’ or—better yet—‘extremists’: the respondents thought that native citizens of their own country should be considered specifically a threat, just because they were of a different religion. Elsewhere the results are similar: around forty percent of French and Germans felt that Islam was a threat to their national identity, while half of all Americans believed the religion to be a ‘critical threat.’
But it’s not just on religious grounds that we’re turning against one another. A Newsweek poll last year found that the majority of Americans think the country is also divided on racial grounds, with nearly sixty percent saying that race-relations had worsened since 2008. On income, too, we appear to be drawing up battle lines: according to a 2012 Pew study, most of us believe that there are very strong conflicts between the rich and poor. Now, does that sound like the ‘United’ States to you?
The bombing of the Boston marathon by two home-grown psychopaths thrust extremism back into the media spotlight—and rightfully so. Anyone who thinks that innocent people ought to die to further their ‘cause’—whether it be religious oppression, freeing Chechnya, or driving England out of Ireland—deserves to be dropped naked into a cactus patch from a very great height. But most reports tend to focus only on the religious side of extremism, when the other varieties may pose an even bigger threat.
Earlier this year, a report by the Southern Poverty Law Centre found that ‘patriot’ extremist groups had reached ‘record levels’, with over 1,300 now thought to be active. Given that similar groups masterminded one of the deadliest terror attacks in American history, this should be cause for worry. Already, members of these groups have been arrested for shooting up a Sikh temple, and attempting to overthrow the US government. In other words, more and more Americans are turning toward violence—and we’re powerless to stop them.
Of course, things don’t just happen in a vacuum. One of the reasons people are turning towards violent anti-government groups is that the government is giving them ample reason to do so. Not only has the NSA has been unconstitutionally monitoring and storing all our internet activity since 2006; FBI agents have also been accused of murdering a terror suspect during a violent interrogation—one in which the accused had no access to a lawyer or anything else he was legally entitled to. In other words, the people who are meant to be protecting us have now become so paranoid that they’re trampling over our rights at a speed that would offend the leader of a banana republic.
Civilian assassinations, censorship of the press, and illegal monitoring of basically everyone, have all become standard tools used by our representatives against us—all in the name of ‘defeating extremism’. And they’ve also betrayed nearly every founding principle of the entire country while they’re at it.
Recently, two idiots carried out a terror attack in London of such pointless brutality I’m not going to go into any further detail, except to say that the victim was a British soldier, while the killers were Islamic. In an ideal world, the focus wouldn’t be on the last word of that sentence; but this world is far from ideal.
When the story broke, reprisals were swift and depressing. Far-right psychopaths targeted mosques and British Muslims with a level of sadism that should be unimaginable in 2013. One man threatened Muslim worshippers with a knife, while others petrol-bombed a mosque during prayers—an action equally as evil as the one it was responding to.
Overall, a fifteen-fold increase in attacks on Muslims was recorded—despite zero percent of them having anything to do with the original atrocity. The truly scary thought is not so much that people are angry at a couple of terrorist assholes; it’s that they’re directing their anger towards a bunch of innocent people. And this violence is showing no sign of abating.
As part of its ‘war on terror’, our government has made it pretty clear that it’s not above terrorizing other cultures. Using remote-controlled planes, shady black ops types have spent the last few years obliterating children, wedding parties, non-combatants, and entire villages in countries we’re not even at war with. But that’s not what this section is about. Rather, it’s about our reaction to this State-sponsored terrorism—or our lack of it.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that drones are massacring children and being used to target US citizens, we’re all apparently pretty indifferent to it. Earlier this year, a Gallup poll posed the question of whether or not we should continue to remotely blow up ‘suspected terrorists’ in faraway countries.
Sixty five percent of participants said ‘yes’. Think about that for a second: the question makes no reference to America being at war with these countries (where civilian casualties might be expected), and only says that the terrorists are ‘suspected’. And yet two thirds of the population is fine with the idea of destroying families and slaughtering children as part of a campaign that causes more problems for us than doing nothing at all. But perhaps it’s not surprising that public empathy is on the wane, when you consider:
Put simply, our politicians seem to have had a total empathy bypass. Hung up on appearing ‘strong’ and scoring points with the media, they seem to have completely forgotten that the decisions they make have an impact on real people’s lives. And I don’t just mean with flagrantly insane stuff like illegally wiretapping civilians—their problem goes deeper than that, to a fundamental ignorance of human suffering.
Right now, the UK is currently trying (and failing) to reduce its deficit. Part of this has involved politicians trying to shove people off long-term disability checks and into jobs—a great idea, if it wasn’t killing them in the process. Here’s the story of a disabled dad who killed himself when the government stopped his payments. And here’s the story of the terminal cancer patient who spent the last months of her life in near-poverty after being labelled ‘fit for work.’
But it’s not just the UK. Right now, the whole of Europe seems to be setting itself on a suicide course of spiraling youth unemployment, political extremism, and ruined lives. But their representatives don’t seem to be losing sleep at night, so what’s the problem?
Over the past decade, the West finally seems to have grasped the idea that gay people might indeed be people too. Starting with the Netherlands in 2000, and spreading via Belgium, Brazil, Spain, and (soon) the United States, the concept of gay marriage has gone from being the punchline to an unfunny joke to a legal reality. But not everyone has been decent enough to accept the change; instead, some assholes have taken the opportunity to unleash a wave of violence directed at LGBT people.
In Paris, a bunch of idiots nearly kicked a gay man to death after President Hollande legalized same-sex marriage. In a ridiculous twist, their victim turned out to be Dutch—meaning that their protest was over a decade out-of-date as far as he was concerned. Around the same time, homophobic attacks across France tripled—proving that even the cultured French can be as backward as everyone else. And we haven’t even mentioned the British priests who stoked prejudice by comparing gay campaigners to Nazis, or the persistent rise in homophobic hate crimes in America. However you look at it, it seems that some people aren’t at all pleased with the concept of basic human equality.
It’s no secret that our media has become polarized: just switch on Fox News or MSNBC, and you’ll be subjected to a tirade of nonsense so biased that it’ll make you want to punch someone. And that’s exactly my point; by spewing out ever-more extreme bile, our media are increasing our distrust for one another, at a time when we desperately need some help in standing together.
Last year, a gigantic study on the UK media’s reporting on Muslims found that nine out of ten stories mentioning Muslims were negative, with references to ‘radical Muslims’ outnumbering any other epithet by seventeen to one. In the words of the report’s author, their coverage was usually ‘false and racist’—helping to create even more of those divisions we talked about earlier.
In America, numerous studies have shown that anti-immigration channels like Fox News persistently shun pro-immigration voices; while devoting up to ninety-five percent of their screen time to topics supporting their various hard-line stances. Even on topics that shouldn’t be partisan, our media outlets are falling over one other in a pathetic attempt to score one for their ‘team’. Just look at MSNBC, which currently makes a living by supporting the very same Obama-approved policies they once attacked when Bush had dreamt them up.
Hate speech can be hard to quantify, because people should be able to say whatever the hell they want. But if what you say is inflammatory, it can have enormous consequences in the world of action.
Take Norwegian terrorist Anders Brevik. It’s now pretty clear that he was inspired to commit one of the worst atrocities in recent history by reading Islamophobic and far-right blogs. Similarly, the Woolwich terrorists in London are thought to have been influenced by radical hate preachers. These aren’t just cherry-picked examples, either: studies have suggested a strong link between widespread hate speech and racial or religiously-motivated attacks.
Should we ban views we find objectionable? Of course not—but it’s more than a little scary to consider, for a moment, how some people are using their right to free speech.
Back in September 2001, our politicians spoke to us from the horror and carnage on our screens, and assured us that they would do everything they could to protect our freedom. But in the years since, they’ve used this excuse to dismantle it completely.
Let’s be clear: thanks to wide-ranging anti-terror laws, we’re no longer free. It was revealed very recently that the US government has been systematically spying on all its citizens since 2006, storing their electronic communications for unknown purposes. A few weeks ago, it was officially announced that Obama had granted himself the power to execute US citizens without trial for simply being ‘suspected’ terrorists.
There are other examples out there, but it basically boils down to this: successive governments have signed our freedoms away. They’ve done so illegally, without asking us. The result is that we now live in a functioning police state—a state in which we are spied on, tracked, monitored, and subjected to things like infinite detention without even knowing what we’re accused of. If the terrorists who brought their own brand of hatred into our culture all those years ago had been asked what sort of outcome they wished for, it would probably be this: a world dominated by paranoia, where Western states are turning against their own people and driving themselves toward self-destruction—a world where hatred has won.