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From Cardinal Cañizares to Donald Trump to Brexit: The Objective of Othering.

“Social identities are relational; groups typically define themselves in relation to others. This is because identity has little meaning without the “other”. So, by defining itself a group defines others. Identity is rarely claimed or assigned for its own sake. These definitions of self and others have purposes and consequences. They are tied to rewards and punishment, which may be material or symbolic. There is usually an expectation of gain or loss as a consequence of identity claims. This is why identities are contested. Power is implicated here, and because groups do not have equal powers to define both self and the other, the consequences reflect these power differentials. Often notions of superiority and inferiority are embedded in particular identities.” Andrew Okolie

Interesting isn’t it? Incredibly important in the current socio-political climate. I thought it was worth posting because of a comment on the Cardinal Cañizares post:

“I suspect Canizares was formed by standard Catholic moral theology which teaches that some acts are always objectively sinful, but which has never taught that some persons are inherently evil. The accusation that the church teaches that “gays are evil” is caricature…”

That places the Cardinal’s statements in a vacuum. There’s no before, no after, no consequences. Except that’s not how logical progression works. When a speech, article or rhetoric are being devised- it’s with an objective in mind. A means to an end.

A good example is the history of attempts to establish race/intelligence correlations. This has always been done in the context of establishing a social/racial hierarchy. In Galton’s Hereditary Genius (1869) he said that ancient Attic Greeks had been the people with the highest average intelligence, followed by contemporary Englishmen, with black Africans at a lower level, and Australian Aborigines lower still. Half a century laterGeorge O. Ferguson wrote a thesis called The Psychology of the Negro (1916) in which he claimed people of African origin were “poor in abstract thought, but good in physical responses.” That same year the manual for the Stanford-Binet scale took the logical progression forward by stating: enormously significant racial differences in general intelligence could not be remedied by education.

And that is why there was such controversy after the publication of The Bell Curve- I’ll let you all mull on that before I continue tomorrow. Pregnant pause. But be warned I’ve got five skewers in each hand to take apart othering and I’m going to lay them all out.

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23 comments on “From Cardinal Cañizares to Donald Trump to Brexit: The Objective of Othering.

  1. Cara
    June 1, 2016

    The Cardinal is still a grown man in a dress who wants to talk about traditional masculinity, of all things. If he were talking about what shoes go with a floor-length muumuu, or Easter hats (y’know, things a lady KNOWS about), I might listen.

    As for “othering”, I believe it’s the practice where I end up the OTHER no matter where I am. Here in the States, I’m Italian (as opposed to American) because my last name ends in a vowel; when I went to Italy, I was American (as opposed to Italian) because I traveled with a US passport.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. theoccasionalman
    June 1, 2016

    As with any worldwide organization, Catholics aren’t always uniform in their beliefs and practices. While the papacy may never have insisted that homosexual people are pure evil, that doesn’t mean that most Catholics don’t believe it, or that most priests haven’t taught it. It’s more instructive to look at what most people in a church actually do or believe than to focus on the people at the top.

    I’m reading Derrida this week, so I’m looking forward to your social sciences discussion. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derrida- I’m thoroughly impressed.

      Like

      • theoccasionalman
        June 2, 2016

        I was really into his theories in undergrad. I read “Structure, Sign, and Play” until I understood it. It’s a bit more of a challenge this time around since I’m less steeped in this sort of thinking.

        Like

  3. acflory
    June 1, 2016

    I never thought I’d see the day I would end up defending anything to do with Catholicism but…condemning the act not the actor is a fundamental doctrine that’s at the heart of a heck of a lot of other stuff. And it does stick at a subliminal level. I know because it’s still with me, 40+ years of atheism later.

    Thus, a person can do ‘bad things’, but so long as they a) repent of their sins [confessional] and b) /try/ to do better, they cannot be considered a bad person.

    This doctrine gives Catholics the /possibility/ of redemption, and a sense of ‘it’s never too late’ and ‘no one is beyond the pale’.

    Applying the doctrine to gays, someone who ‘repents’ of the sin of gayness and tries to do better is okay. Only those gays who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that gayness is ‘wrong’ are sinners. BUT…even they still have the hope of redemption, right up to the last breath. 🙂

    As an aside, I think this partly explains the Church’s curious attitude to pedophilia within its ranks – a smart priest would confess and then try to do better…and continuously fail.

    But back to the Cardinal, he probably does think that the gay movement is terrible – because it is succeeding at taking the ‘sin’ out of gayness. Hence gays will not feel the need to repent, hence they will die as sinners. And the rest is obvious.

    In me, this doctrine continues to manifest as a belief that no one is truly evil, and that there are extenuating circumstances that explain bad acts, even if they do not excuse them. But then, I am big on tolerance and second chances.

    Liked by 1 person

    • except if gays are a threat to humanity… -then what?

      Like

      • acflory
        June 1, 2016

        Ah…then people like the Cardinal would probably kickstart a New Inquisition…to save everyone’s soul.

        Like statistics, that doctrine can be used for all sorts of things. 😦

        Like

  4. Cara
    June 1, 2016

    The Catholic Church has this policy of “Repent your sins and go to heaven”, which implies a) pretty much everybody sins & b) those who don’t repent their sins will spend the afterlife in the OTHER place. I don’t particularly like this church policy…not because the church claims homosexuality is a sin (I flat out disagree with them on that one, I fail to see how two adults of the same sex engaging in a consensual sexual relationship is wrong/sinful). What I dislike is the idea that you can lead a life of sin (like, for example, if you’re a man who touches children inappropriately) & you make a deathbed confession, you repent your sin of pedophilia right before you die, you get to go to Catholic heaven as if you’re Mother Teresa.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory
      June 2, 2016

      Hey! It was so much worse when they sold Dispensations! Sry Cara, couldn’t resist.

      Like

    • Linn
      June 2, 2016

      I used to have a catholic friend that told me all sins are considered equal. Which leads to absolutely everyone being sinners all the time. This means that you’re damned unlucky if you die in a car accident before going to confess your sins for the day.
      She had to go and confess her sins regularly (her sins being cursing, eating hamburgers and the like). She said the priests harassing gays are idiots for not remembering that judging others is also a sin. And since all sins are considered equal, they are just as likely to go to hell as the homosexuals.

      I have no clue if she was right about that. Her beliefs were as strange in my ears as others. But she was a wonderful person , and had no problems with abortion or homosexuality. I wonder at the cognitive dissonance that led to her still being a catholic, but she wasn’t bothering anyone at least.

      (When I use the word “was” about here, I only mean that she is on the other side of the planet now, not that she’s dead).

      Liked by 2 people

      • Cara
        June 2, 2016

        It is a sin to judge others (and I doubt the priests who judge the homosexuals ever repent of that sin)

        Like

      • Making homosexuality an issue to the degree they have is pure religiopolitical manipulation. Single out a minority, condemn them and blame anything that goes wrong in the world on that group.

        Like

  5. inspiredbythedivine1
    June 2, 2016

    It isn’t the Catholic who’s evil, it’s the Catholicism. We must forgive the poor deluded fools who practice the pedophile-supporting religion of Catholicism. It isn’t their fault they’re supporters of such a foul, vile, disgusting religion. As Charles A. Murray, author of “The Bell Curve”, has so brilliantly pointed out, some people are born genetically inferior to others. Catholics, without question, are born with a “pedophile-supporting” gene which allows them to condemn others as immoral slobs whilst defending the little-boy fucking their priests do systematically and systemically. Yes, genetically speaking, the Catholic is an inferior human being, but we must remember, it isn’t his or her fault. They can’t help the abnormality of their genetic makeup. They’re to be pitied, and, perhaps, caged, but never are they to be scorned. Thus says Charles A. Murray, and thus says our Lord and savior, Donald Trump. $Amen$

    Liked by 2 people

  6. clubschadenfreude
    June 2, 2016

    I’ve never quite got the hate the act, not the actor claim of some Christians. The bible, supposedly the manual on how to recognize their god, and how to act, never says that this is the case AFAIK. Indeed, JC himself says that a mere thought is enough to damn someone.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s because it’s not really true. It’s wordplay designed to make prejudice look benign. Consider it in real terms: I have nothing against you, just against your right to freedom and personal autonomy. You do not have the right to choose who your life-partner is; You do not get to choose who you sleep with.

      Like

  7. Sirius Bizinus
    June 2, 2016

    Am I the only person wondering who got the pause pregnant? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. agrudzinsky
    June 2, 2016

    The quote is awesome. This is the essence of most political conflicts. As I read it, I was thinking how applicable it is to the Russian-Ukrainian mess. Ukraine has been in desperate search for its own identity for many centuries now. While Russia keeps claiming that Russians and Ukrainians are the same people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory
      June 2, 2016

      -grin- Except in Crimea where Putin believes the poor ‘ethnic’ Russians were being badly done by. 🙂

      Like

  9. Cassie & Sophie
    June 2, 2016

    I look forward to seeing where you stick your skewers! Cassie

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Cassie & Sophie
    June 3, 2016

    Reblogged this on Cassie & Sophie NSFW and commented:
    A very good article. We will publish part two here as well.

    Like

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This entry was posted on June 1, 2016 by in activism, writing and tagged , , , , , , , .
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