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2024 | OriginalPaper | Buchkapitel

Political Polarization and Tending the Flames of Hostility

verfasst von : Diana Fritz Cates

Erschienen in: Religion and Social Criticism

Verlag: Springer Nature Switzerland

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Abstract

An important role of social criticism is to call out social and political policies and actions that disrespect the dignity of persons, wrongfully constrain their liberties, violate their rights, or otherwise undermine the moral foundations of democratic society. Focusing on the Islamic terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001, Richard B. Miller argues that violence committed in the name of religion is intolerable and must be denounced. Moreover, such behavior justifies feelings of indignation. This chapter draws parallels between the 9/11 attacks and the violent takeover of the US Capitol on 1/6/2021. It argues that, in both cases, the behavior was intolerable and ought to be condemned. Yet when we reflect on 1/6, we can perhaps discern more easily some of the dangers of recommending indignation as a response to harmful political action. Indignation typically includes some hostility, and hostility rarely stays within reasonable bounds. This chapter examines the Capitol attack in the context of extreme political polarization. It argues that indignation and hostility, while understandable, threaten to undermine the basic respect that we owe each other as persons. It homes in on the hostility that many Americans feel toward the people who participated in the attack, toward other Americans who share many of the attackers’ conservative social values, and toward fellow citizens who continue to tolerate and even celebrate a political figure who allegedly helped to instigate the event, foments hostility, and continues to undermine public trust in governmental institutions that protect people’s rights and liberties.

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Fußnoten
1
“Here’s Every Word of the First Jan. 6 Committee Hearing on its Investigation.” NPR (June 10, 2022). https://​www.​npr.​org/​2022/​06/​10/​1104156949/​jan-6-committee-hearing-transcript (accessed June 27, 2022).
 
2
“Here’s Every Word of the Third Jan. 6 Committee Hearing on its Investigation.” NPR (June 16, 2022). Statement of J. Michael Luttig. https://​www.​npr.​org/​2022/​06/​16/​1105683634/​transcript-jan-6-committee (accessed June 27, 2022).
 
3
I am deeply grateful to my lifelong teacher, Jock Reeder, for comments on an earlier draft. Great thanks also to Bharat Ranganathan, Caroline Anglim, John Haman, Kaity Lindgren-Hansen, Wendelin Guentner, Lori Baldwin, Jan Schnell, Richard Miller, Nick and Kay Colangelo, and Art Spisak.
 
4
For a discussion of these differences (and similarities) in values, see Jonathan Haidt and Jesse Graham, “When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives have Moral Intuitions that Liberals may not Recognize.” Social Justice Research (2007). DOI: https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​11211-007-0034-z.
 
5
See, for example, Samuel L. Perry, “How Trump Stole Christmas—and Why Evangelicals Rally to Their Savior.” TIME, December 20, 2021. https://​time.​com/​6130228/​donald-trump-christmas-evangelicals/​ (accessed June 27, 2022).
 
6
MAGA stands for “make America great again,” a campaign slogan of Donald Trump, which implies, for many people, that recovering America’s greatness requires securing the dominance of historical white Christian patriarchy.
 
7
Hannah Arendt says, worrisomely, that “the ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exists.” The Origins of Totalitarianism. Harcourt: London, 1967, 474.
 
8
Beerbohm, Eric and Ryan Davis, “Gaslighting Citizens.” American Journal of Political Science 67 (2023): 867-879.
 
9
Terrence P. McGlynn, “How Does Social Behavior Evolve?” Nature Education Knowledge 3.10 (2012): 69. https://​www.​nature.​com/​scitable/​knowledge/​library/​how-does-social-behavior-evolve-13260245/​ (accessed 1-9-2023).
 
10
James Davison Hunter, Culture Wars. New York: Basic Books, 1991.
 
11
Zack Stanton, “How the ‘Culture War’ Could Break Democracy.” Interview with James Davison Hunter. Politico, May 20, 2021. https://​www.​politico.​com/​news/​magazine/​2021/​05/​20/​culture-war-politics-2021-democracy-analysis-489900 (accessed September 25, 2022). See also Jack Jenkins, “How Christian Nationalism Paved the Way for Jan. 6,” National Catholic Reporter (June 13, 2022). https://​www.​ncronline.​org/​news/​politics/​how-christian-nationalism-paved-way-jan-6 (accessed August 18, 2022).
 
12
See Samuel L. Perry and Andrew L. Whitehead, “Christian Nationalism Talks Religion, but Walks Fascism.” Religion in Public, February 5, 2020. https://​religioninpublic​.​blog/​2020/​02/​05/​christian-nationalism-talks-religion-but-walks-fascism/​ (accessed September 25, 2022). See also John Chadwick, “Christian Nationalism Explained: An Interview with Rutgers Professor Joseph Williams.” Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences. https://​sas.​rutgers.​edu/​news-a-events/​news/​newsroom/​faculty/​3406-religious-nationalism (accessed September 25, 2022).
 
13
“Far-Left Extremist Groups in the United States.” Counter Extremism Project, August 2022. https://​www.​counterextremism​.​com/​sites/​default/​files/​supremacy_​landing_​files/​U.​S.​%20​Far-Left%20​Extremist%20​Groups_​PDF_​083122.​pdf (accessed September 25, 2022).
 
14
Stanton, quoting Hunter.
 
15
Liz Hamel, Elise Sugarman, and Mollyann Brodie, “Kaiser Family Foundation/CNN Working-Class Whites Poll” (September 23, 2016). https://​www.​kff.​org/​other/​report/​kaiser-family-foundationcnn-working-class-whites-poll/​view/​print/​ (accessed September 25, 2022). See also Alan I. Abramowitz, “Can Democrats Win Back the White Working Class?” UVA Center for Politics, Sabato’s Crystal Ball (September 23, 2021). https://​centerforpolitic​s.​org/​crystalball/​articles/​can-democrats-win-back-the-white-working-class/​ (accessed September 25, 2022). Nicholas Carnes and Noam Lupu challenge various claims regarding the importance of white working-class voters for Trump’s 2016 election win. “The White Working Class and the 2016 Election.” Perspectives on Politics 9.1 (March 2021): 55–72.
 
16
Stanton, quoting Hunter. See also Nick Ryan, Into a World of Hate: A Journey Among the Extreme Right. New York: Routledge, 2003.
 
17
John Burnett, “Christian Nationalism is Still Thriving—and is a Force for Returning Trump to Power” NPR January 23, 2022. Quotation of Jim Willis. Available at https://​www.​npr.​org/​2022/​01/​14/​1073215412/​christian-nationalism-donald-trump (accessed September 25, 2022). See also Adam Maida, “The Forever Culture War.” The Atlantic (January 8, 2022). Available at https://​www.​theatlantic.​com/​ideas/​archive/​2022/​01/​republicans-democrats-forever-culture-war/​621184/​ (accessed September 25, 2022).
 
18
Stanton, quoting Hunter.
 
19
See, for example, Eli J. Finkel et al., “Political Sectarianism in America.” Science (Oct 2020) 370.6516: 533–536. Available at https://​www-science-org.​proxy.​lib.​uiowa.​edu/​doi/​10.​1126/​science.​abe1715 (accessed August 14, 2022); Christie Aschwanden, “Why Hatred and ‘Othering’ of Political Foes has Spiked to Extreme Levels.” Scientific American (October 29, 2020). https://​www.​scientificameric​an.​com/​article/​why-hatred-and-othering-of-political-foes-has-spiked-to-extreme-levels/​ (accessed August 15, 2022); Cathleen O’Grady, “In the Line of Fire.” Science 375.6587: 1338–1343. https://​www.​science.​org/​doi/​epdf/​10.​1126/​science.​abq1538 (accessed August 15, 2022). Tal Orian Harel, Jessica Katz Jameson, and Ifat Maoz, “The Normalization of Hatred: Identity, Affective Polarization, and Dehumanization on Facebook in the Context of Intractable Political Conflict.” Social Media + Society (April–June 2020): 1–10. https://​journals.​sagepub.​com/​doi/​full/​10.​1177/​2056305120913983​ (accessed September 25, 2022); Maria Giuseppina Pacilli, Michele Roccato, and Silvia Russo. “From Political Opponents to Enemies? The Role of Perceived moral distance in the animalistic dehumanization of the Political Outgroup.” Group Processes and Intergroup Relations 19.3 (2016): 360–373. https://​journals.​sagepub.​com/​doi/​10.​1177/​1368430215590490​ (accessed September 25, 2022).
 
20
Richard B. Miller, Terror, Religion, and Liberal Thought. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012, 2–3. Unless otherwise noted, all references to Miller are to this text.
 
21
David Rodin argues that people can fairly be charged with terrorism even if the terrifying harm that they cause is not intentional, but merely negligent or reckless. “Terrorism without Intention.” Ethics 114 (July 2004): 755. Aspects of his argument have been challenged by Stephen N. Woodside, “Unintentional Terrorism? An Objection to David Rodin’s ‘Terrorism without Intention.’” Journal of Military Ethics 12.3 (2013): 252–262.
 
22
Tom Dreisbach and Tim Mak, “Yes, Capitol Rioters were Armed. Here are the Weapons Prosecutors Say they Used.” NPR (March 19, 2021). https://​www.​npr.​org/​2021/​03/​19/​977879589/​yes-capitol-rioters-were-armed-here-are-the-weapons-prosecutors-say-they-used (accessed August 22, 2022).
 
23
United States Congress. “Jan. 6 panel shows man from Loudermilk tour threatening lawmakers near Capitol on day of Riot. Roll Call. https://​rollcall.​com/​2022/​06/​15/​jan-6-panel-shows-man-from-loudermilk-tour-threatening-lawmakers-near-capitol-on-day-of-riot/​ (accessed August 22, 2022).
 
24
Susan B. Glasser, “The Third Hearing on the Attack on the Capitol revealed that the Proud Boys would have Killed the Vice-President if Given the Chance.” The New Yorker (June 16, 2022). Glasser reports further: “‘If Pence caved we’re going to drag motherfuckers through the streets,’ one rioter was captured on video saying. ‘He deserves to burn with the rest of them,’ another said. A man with a bullhorn agitated the crowd. ‘Mike Pence has betrayed the United States of America,’ he informed the already agitated mob. ‘Mike Pence has betrayed this President.’ He finished with a threat and a promise: ‘We will never, ever forget.’”
 
25
World Islamic Front, “Jihad against Jews and Crusaders.” http://​fas.​org/​world/​para/​docs/​980223-fatwa.​htm (accessed August 10, 2022).
 
26
Michelle Boorstein. “A Horn-Wearing ‘Shaman.’ A Cowboy Evangelist. For Some, the Capitol Attack was a kind of Christian Revolt.” Washington Post (July 6, 2021). https://​www.​washingtonpost.​com/​religion/​2021/​07/​06/​capitol-insurrection-trump-christian-nationalism-shaman/​ (accessed August 15, 2022).
 
27
Chauncey Devega, “Interview: Religion Scholar Anthea Butler on ‘White Christianity’ and its Role in Fueling Fascism.” Salon (October 19, 2021). https://​www.​salon.​com/​2021/​10/​19/​religion-scholar-anthea-butler-on-white-christianity-and-its-role-in-fueling-fascism/​ (accessed August 15, 2022).
 
28
Duke Kwon, “Proud Boys kneeling in prayer before assault on Capitol,” posted January 17, 2021. https://​twitter.​com/​i/​status/​1350913089747767​296 (accessed December 1, 2022).
 
29
Jack Jenkins, “The Insurrectionists’ Senate Floor Prayer Highlights a Curious Trumpian Ecumenism.” Religion News Service (February 25, 2021). https://​religionnews.​com/​2021/​02/​25/​the-insurrectionists​-senate-floor-prayer-highlights-a-curious-trumpian-ecumenism/​ (accessed August 19, 2022). These are but a few of many examples of Christian symbolism evident at the insurrection. See also Marie Griffith et al. “Scholars of Religion and Politics Respond to the Capitol Insurrection. The Source. Washington University in St. Louis (January 15, 2021). https://​source.​wustl.​edu/​2021/​01/​scholars-of-religion-and-politics-respond-to-the-capitol-insurrection/​ (accessed August 19, 2022).
 
30
Boorstein, “A Horn-Wearing ‘Shaman.’”
 
31
Brian Naylor, “Read Trump’s Jan. 6 Speech, A Key Part of Impeachment Trial.” NPR (February 10, 2021). https://​www.​npr.​org/​2021/​02/​10/​966396848/​read-trumps-jan-6-speech-a-key-part-of-impeachment-trial (accessed August 25, 2022).
 
32
Tom Gjelten, “A ‘Scary’ Survey Finding: 4 in 10 Republicans Say Political Violence May be Necessary.” NPR (February 11, 2021). https://​www.​npr.​org/​2021/​02/​11/​966498544/​a-scary-survey-finding-4-in-10-republicans-say-political-violence-may-be-necessa (accessed August 25, 2022).
 
35
Miller, 60.
 
36
World Islamic Front Statement, “Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders.” https://​irp.​fas.​org/​world/​para/​docs/​980223-fatwa.​htm (accessed September 26, 2022).
 
37
Miller, 6–8.
 
38
An example of non-hostile indignation is described by Martha Nussbaum in Anger and Forgiveness (New York: Oxford, 2016), 14–56. See also Jan Rippentropp Schnell and Diana Fritz Cates, “Rethinking Anger as a Desire for Payback: A Modified Thomistic View.” Religions 10 (2019): 618. Doi: https://​doi.​org/​10.​3390/​rel10110518; Diana Fritz Cates, “You Deserve to Suffer for What you Did.” Journal of Religious Ethics 46.4: 771–782.
 
39
I leave it to others to examine more closely the moral status of the hostility that flows from the political right.
 
40
Clearly, not all conservatives who evoke the hostility of the left share all these values; part of our problem is that, when it comes to political hostility, we are often not relating to individuals, but rather to offensive ideas that we associate with an amorphous group of mostly unknown people.
 
41
Miller makes the case that it is not possible to deny this thin ethic without denying moral subjectivity as such; to deny moral subjectivity is to “deny the terms according to which we can have any expectation of genuine moral responsibility” (125).
 
42
Miller, 68.
 
43
Miller, 82.
 
44
To avoid setting the bar for moral subjectivity too high, I would add that this capacity has physiological, developmental, and social bases that make it meaningful to presuppose it of all beings of roughly human form who live in community with other humans. One can take into consideration, for example, the capacity that a baby with a healthy brain will likely develop in the future, the capacity that a person with permanent brain damage exercised in the past, and the capacity that persons with severe cognitive disability may exercise partly through the advocacy of others.
 
45
Stephen Darwall, “Two Kinds of Respect.” Ethics 88.1 (October 1977): 36–49.
 
46
Miller, 86. For a subtle analysis of toleration as a virtue, which distinguishes virtuous tolerance from various forms that express a lack of virtue, see John R. Bowlin, Tolerance among the Virtues. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016.
 
47
Miller, 65.
 
48
Miller, 88.
 
49
Miller, 46, 57, 126.
 
50
Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals. Second Edition. Translated by Lewis White Beck. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1990, #401.
 
51
Maria Borges, Emotion, Reason, and Action in Kant. London: Bloomsbury, 2019. See also Melissa Merritt, “Review of Emotion, Reason, and Action in Kant.” Notre Dame Philosophical Review (January 11, 2020). Kant characterizes emotions as “pathological”—not because they are inherently problematic, but because they ought never to serve as motives for moral action. I do not agree with him on the role of emotion in human morality. See Cates, Aquinas on the Emotions (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2009).
 
52
See Richard McCarty, “Kantian Moral Motivation and the Feeling of Respect.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 31.3 (July 1993).
 
53
Miller 68; 72–75.
 
54
Miller, 60–61.
 
55
See Nadine Strossen, Hate: Why we should Resist it with Free Speech, not Censorship (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2018).
 
56
Tarlach McGonagle, “Wresting (Racial) Equality from Tolerance of Hate Speech.” Dublin University Law Journal 21 (2001): 21–54.
 
57
Michael Walzer, Arguing about War (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006), 140–141. Quoted by Miller, 4–5.
 
58
Hannah Hartig and Carroll Doherty, “Two Decades Later, the Enduring Legacy of 9/11” (September 2, 2021). https://​www.​pewresearch.​org/​politics/​2021/​09/​02/​two-decades-later-the-enduring-legacy-of-9-11/​ (accessed September 26, 2022). Kiara Alfonseca, “20 Years after 9/11, Islamophobia Continues to Haunt Muslims.” ABC News (September 11, 2021). https://​abcnews.​go.​com/​US/​20-years-911-islamophobia-continues-haunt-muslims/​story?​id=​79732049 (accessed January 4, 2023).
 
59
Miller, Friends and Other Strangers. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016, 135–148.
 
60
Owen Jones, “The Right Thrives on Bullying ‘Snowflakes.’ But Who will Vote for It when They Grow Old?” (January 4, 2023). https://​apple.​news/​AkdXA7LR0RU6WulK​YUTvrsw (accessed January 4, 2023).
 
61
Seneca is a brilliant resource on the moral and political dangers of anger and hatred. De Ira. In Seneca: Moral Essays, Vol. 1. Translated by John W. Basore, 106–355. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.
 
62
Schnell and Cates, “Rethinking Anger as a Desire for Payback.”
 
63
See, for example, Tovia Smith, “‘Dude, I’m Done’: When Politics Tears Families and Friendships Apart.” NPR. All things Considered (October 27, 2020). https://​www.​npr.​org/​2020/​10/​27/​928209548/​dude-i-m-done-when-politics-tears-families-and-friendships-apart (accessed October 4, 2022). See also Joshua Coleman, “What Estranged Families Can Teach Us about the Political Divide.” Behavioral Scientist (April 5, 2021). https://​behavioralscient​ist.​org/​it-feels-like-were-more-divided-than-ever-an-expert-on-estrangement-has-advice/​ (accessed October 4, 2022).
 
64
See, for example, Gretchen Frazee and Dorothy Hastings. “Their Loved Ones are ‘Obsessed’ with QAnon Conspiracies. It’s Tearing their families Apart.” PBS News Hour (May 28, 2021). https://​www.​pbs.​org/​newshour/​show/​their-loved-ones-are-obsessed-with-qanon-conspiracies-its-tearing-their-families-apart (accessed August 16, 2022); Ashitha Nagesh. “The Moment QAnon Took the Person I Love Most.” BBC News (Sept 17, 2021). https://​www.​bbc.​com/​news/​world-us-canada-57369349 (accessed August 16, 2022).
 
65
Philip R. Shaver and Mario Mikulincer, eds. Human Aggression and Violence: Causes, Manifestations, and Consequences. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association (2011).
 
66
Peter Strawson, “Freedom and Resentment.” In Free Will, ed. by Gary Watson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.
 
67
Miller, 7
 
68
Miller, 6.
 
69
Miller, Friends and Other Strangers, 141–144.
 
70
Miller, Terror, 51.
 
71
Miller, 6.
 
72
This is a fact of American history that has been well substantiated and should always be kept in mind when thinking normatively about emotions. See, for example, Daniel M. Gross, The Secret History of Emotion: From Aristotle’s Rhetoric to Modern Brain Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
 
73
See Rachel Chason and Samantha Schmidt, “Lafayette Square, Capitol Rallies Met Starkly Different Policing Response.” Washington Post (January 14, 2021); see also Rob Boddice, The History of Emotions. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 2018.
 
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Metadaten
Titel
Political Polarization and Tending the Flames of Hostility
verfasst von
Diana Fritz Cates
Copyright-Jahr
2024
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-48659-3_10

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