If anyone hasn’t seen the black mirror episode, Hate in The Nation, I beg you to watch it in light of this street art. That one episode inspired a sincere change of heart in regards to this very vein of rage activism.
I post this as someone utterly repulsed by the strong current of hatred toward Latino and Muslim immigrants. I intentionally highlight that issue over the standard string of “phobics” and “isms” casually thrown at the Trump crowd. That is because it is was the underlying drive of Trump’s popularity during the election. It is a credible accusation with repeated examples, all of which I will save for a later time.
Being left of center positions me to view this poster with a predisposed short lived dopamine filled rush of vindication. It is satisfying and leaves me craving more. I recognize that reality and am terrified. I’m terrified because I recognize that I have participated in that sort of futile tribalism. I use to think that this emboldened rage is what turned the tide of history. I use to think that it was instrumental in accomplishing a blue wave. When I objectively examine that philosophy, I see that it is not only useless, it actually perpetuates the vice that I am virtue signaling against. I unknowingly adopted a postmodern ethic in using the ends to justify the means. An ethic that does not see a difference between vengeance and justice. Justice necessitates an objective reality. A worldview that holds to relative truth only sees power – the groups that have it and the groups that don’t. So addressing wrong is not about ascribing the appropriate punishment, it is about hitting back harder and completely destroying your enemy. It is a worldview that produces Machiavellian politics and results in the current administration and this street art.
There are three values that I use to orient my political philosophy; justice, objective truth and love. All three of these things are absent in this art. It rejects the idea of objective truth by adhering to an inconsistent ethic. An ethic that opposes discrimination against its own group, but encourages discrimination of opposing groups. It has no concern for justice. It does not wish to execute the appropriate judgement against those who have marginalized and oppressed others. Rather they only seek to eradicate the group that currently holds power. An aim that has had disastrous results throughout the 20th century.
Lastly, this poster is completely void of love. This is seen twofold. First, it is seen in denying the humanity and inherent worth of the Trump supporter. It’s an obvious one – more bread crumbs left from the postmodern ethic. The implication of this blatant dehumanization of the Trump supporter is that the individual’s value and rights are derived from their utility and group identity. Equating a group of people to trash is justified by their negative contribution or lack thereof to society. The dehumanizing of the opponent is of course much older than postmodernism. It is genetic wiring that was inherited from our tribal ancestors. Postmodernism is the framework that intentionally harnesses that wiring to slaughter hundreds of millions of people who stand in the way of progress. I want to advocate for an ethic that sees the rights and value of an individual as inherent and immutable. Unlike postmodernism, this ethic applies restraints to our predisposition to tear each other apart. Secondly, this poster expresses zero empathy and advocacy for those that are hurt and threatened by a Trump presidency. This, I believe is most telling.
We forget that what we choose NOT to say can be just as loud as what we choose TO say.
In this case the artist is revealing the ugly truth that we all experience. That is, we enjoy having someone to hate more than we enjoy having someone to love and defend. In a world inundated with short lived instant gratification alerts from our phones, we are being conditioned and manipulated to seek out news and information that further satisfies this craving to hate. In a world full of #resistance it is ironically the path of least resistance.
That is why I have stopped caring about a blue wave. I refuse to be Pavlov’s dog salivating over every tweet, CNN alert and WAPO take down. I refuse to give a vengeance vote to remove one monster just so the one manipulating me can take its place. I understand that this poster does not speak for the whole left, but it is emblematic of the current tone that I hear from my friends and even myself. November 6th should not be about blue or red or winning. It is about advocating for justice, truth and love. I sincerely care about the caravan fleeing the threat of death and crime. I love my friends in Turkey that went through hell for the chance to find asylum in the west. I want justice for the countless unarmed black men shot by an institution that systematically threatens their existence. I want justice for the workers that are trapped and controlled by the absurd amass of wealth held by a select few. I also love, respect and am willing to listen to those who I disagree with and even oppose me. Let’s break the narrative that says politics is about two teams and two choices. Let’s move away from protest votes and calls for anarchy and let’s stand for something real. Figure out the values that matter to you and vote that. Don’t give party leaders power by letting them guilt you into a moral obligation of unquestioning allegiance.
Instead of letting the powers that be manipulate our emotions and hate, we need to put down our phones, look our neighbor in the eye and tell them that we love them. I ask this because I am terrified that millions of robotic bees will kill us.