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Otherization Part II: of religion, race and sexual orientation

turtles-cutting-in-line

Otherization is not done casually or accidentally. It exists in one context and one context alone. It’s designed to afford one’s self privileges that were not earned. It’s an attack on meritocracy. It’s the sociocultural version of cutting in line.

Going back to my previous example: When Ferguson wrote The Psychology of the Negro, we have from the very title the presumption and implication, the statement, that people of African descent are a different category of animal- one with its very own psychology. By making blacks other the author first allows himself to claim superiority for his own self/group. Then he goes further by stating the people being studied are “poor in abstract thought, but good in physical responses. Combined with “enormously significant racial differences in general intelligence could not be remedied by education” we have not just the establishment of a social hierarchy, but one that has no chance of being altered. If blacks cannot be educated but are good at physical activities, that leaves them one role in society, the role of labouring and taking very simple instruction from “their betters.” It also justifies the exclusion and mistreatment of that entire class of people.

Another fascinating example of otherization is the Einstein case. In Serving the Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Physics under Hitler (the chapter in question is available free at Scientific American) Philip Ball describes the extraordinary efforts of a pair of Aryan Physicists to undermine Einstein. They go after the theory of relativity itself, at the same time they accuse him of stealing their ideas. And finally they resort to unabashed anti semitism:

“The fundamental problem lay with a foreign and degenerate approach to science itself. The popular notion that science has a universal nature and spirit, they said, is quite wrong. In an article titled “National Socialism and Science”, Stark wrote in 1934 that science, like any other creative activity, “is conditioned by the spiritual and characterological endowments of its practitioners”. Jews did science differently from true Germans. Echoing Lenard’s fantasy, Stark claimed that while Aryans preferred to pursue an experimental physics rooted in tangible reality, the Jews wove webs of abstruse theory disconnected from experience. “Respect for facts and aptitude for exact observation”, he wrote, reside in the Nordic race. The spirit of the German enables him to observe things outside himself exactly as they are, without the inter­polation of his own ideas and wishes, and his body does not shrink from the effort which the investigation of nature demands of him. The German’s love of nature and his aptitude for natural science are based on this endowment. Thus it is understandable that natural science is overwhelmingly a creation of the Nordic–Germanic blood compo­nent of the Aryan peoples.”

In the case of Cardinal Cañizares, the Catholic Church and various other religious groups, the otherization of LGBT people functions in exactly the same manner. If LGBT people are cast as a danger and a threat, the implications are many. The first is obviously that the identifier of the danger is maneuvering himself into position of (supposed) superiority. He is the judge. He is presumed better. Not on merit but by self-appointment to power. We on the other hand are presumed guilty and with that there are a range of negative characteristics arbitrarily attached to our identities. Does one invite dangerous threats into their home? Does one want to work side by side with them? Does one want a dangerous threat on the street where they live? Certainly not near children, right? And the obvious logical progression is: what is society to do about this threat? How do we stop it? How do we neutralize this danger?

And that’s why the “love the sinner but hate the sin” line (or St. Augustine’s original form: Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum) is nothing but a manipulation. It’s constructed to disguise an aggression.  It’s the equivalent to someone punching you and saying I don’t have a problem with you, just with your right eye. 

 

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20 comments on “Otherization Part II: of religion, race and sexual orientation

  1. Carl D'Agostino
    June 2, 2016

    Have never heard term”otherization” but it seems the perfect word for the social trends of today.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Carl D'Agostino
        June 2, 2016

        Another one is felonization. There are over a million and a half people in American prisons, most for non violent and most of those for simple possession of drugs. The draconian laws here are to create convicts (clients) for our criminal justice “industry” to create jobs for that industry. Now these people are marked as felons and almost impossible to get a job to support families when they get out.

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  2. Very well written, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    What Catholics, and many religions do is, they claim the *High Moral Ground.* And they do so based on religious dogma, not on any secular reasoning. On this high moral ground that THEY STAKE and claim for themselves, they are the arbitrators of right and wrong, good and bad; they look down on you, and they OTHER you to society. They make me sick, they revolt me, they really really do.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m just borrowing from Simone de Beauvoir. She saw othering in terms of feminism: “…Thus humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being… She is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her; she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute – she is the Other.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • tildeb
        June 2, 2016

        I learned a lot of principled thinking about identity and Otherness from de Beauvoir’s Second Sex. A first rate mind.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Linn
        June 3, 2016

        She was ahead of her times certainly. I recently saw an article mentioning her views on otherness. It was in relation to medical research on women. Even now, most research is done on men with women being “the other”. The male body and male patterns of disease are the basis for pretty much all medical practice. When it comes to heart infarction for instance, all medical students are taught how it presents in men ( chest pain radiating to the left arm as the most common example), but the symptoms are often completely different in women.
        It’s difficult for me to think about how many women have died because of this.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’m shocked. I’d never heard that before and I come from a family of doctors! What are the symptoms for women?

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      • Linn
        June 4, 2016

        Women can get headaches, sleep issues, dyspnoea, fatigue etc, even days before the infarction. The typical chest pains are demonstrated in only 50% of women, but more than 70% of men. I’m a doctor and this discrepancy was mentioned briefly during our studies but all our books and lectures still focused on male symptoms of disease.

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  3. Cara
    June 2, 2016

    Well yeah, Einstein did science differently than the Nazi scientists…his research led to the theory of relativity, while theirs led them to put one twin into a freezer, keep the other twin at room temperature (these were LIVE HUMANS they did this with) and then measure & record the results for I don’t even know what. The theory of relativity is still RELEVANT today, while the practice of putting one of a set of twins into a freezer is just sadistic & will get you a life sentence.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hariod Brawn
    June 2, 2016

    All good stuff, Pink, but I disagree with your extrapolation from St. Augustine’s maxim – “With love for humankind and hatred of sins”. You say that “it’s constructed to disguise an aggression”; but who would care to perform ‘an aggression’ towards a thought, or to an action following from that thought and which is now in the past? Does it make sense to act aggressively to an idea, to a past action? How does that really look to any sense of reason? He was explicitly not conflating personhood with illness of idea and immoral behaviour, condemning only the latter. Were he to have done so, then he would be saying humankind is forever and in totality irredeemable in respect to its past ill thinking. And we’ve all done some of that.

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    • I included the original version because it’s slightly different in meaning to the current line. He said hatred of sin, love for mankind- on its face that’s reasonable. Hate the sin and love the sinner, however, is highly problematic. Problematic because sexuality is a normal and natural part of life, and also because people can’t/don’t change their sexuality.
      That means the line as voiced by Catholics and applied to LGBT individuals is misleading. The invitation they’re making is still to exclude and reject gay people, but to make it look like that’s not what they’re doing.
      Not to mention the wordplay angle. In what practical cases is that distinction actually made? He is not a thief, he’s a person who steals? He’s not a commentator, he’s a person who comments?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hariod Brawn
        June 2, 2016

        As I understand the phrase, it was originally written as part of a letter on monastic law, and contextually directed towards the nuns formerly under the authority of his sister, who previously was prioress of the monastery. A dissatisfaction had arisen as to the nuns wanton behaviour under his sister’s successor – flashing their fannies at monks, basically – and he was attempting to establish guidelines for future usage.

        “Moreover, what I have now said in regard to abstaining from wanton looks should be carefully observed, with due love for the persons and hatred of the sin (cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum), in observing, forbidding, reporting, proving, and punishing of all other faults.”.

        The phrase you quote then gets rendered in proverbial form some thirteen centuries thereafter e.g. Charles Wesley’s hymn ‘Equip Me for the War’ says, “O may I learn the art / With meekness to reprove; / To hate the sin with all my heart, / But still the sinner love.” It was then later popularised by Ghandhi in his autobiography.

        Anyway, you’re saying the proverbial form is now used to alienate LGBT individuals, yet the original words you quote of St. Augustine were contextually attempting the precise opposite in bringing together, and harmonising, groups of individuals – monks and nuns under the auspices of the church.

        I don’t doubt for one minute the hypocrisy you allude to within the church; but still, the more important point seems to be philosophical, not (gender) political. Is it logical to reason that an individual’s any one thought or deed is identified as the individual themselves? Is a thought or deed synonymous with the person? Surely not.

        At the certain risk of sounding pathologically contrarian (I am!), then on your wordplay thoughts I would say this: I have told lies in the past, I have stolen in the past; yet I am now neither a liar nor a thief.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I agree with most of that; except, of course, there’s the issue that I am gay. It is an integral part of my identity. I didn’t have a gay fling whilst drunk at university- my partner of the past 16 years is of the same gender as me. If anything were to happen to him, and I found myself in another relationship, that person too would most probably be male. And so it is not a deed.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hariod Brawn
        June 2, 2016

        Then we both agree that to apply St. Augustine’s words accusatorily toward any LGBT individual is a non-sequitur.

        Liked by 2 people

      • 100% 😉

        Liked by 2 people

  5. inspiredbythedivine1
    June 2, 2016

    Excellent piece.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. clubschadenfreude
    June 3, 2016

    to echo Insp, excellent piece.

    the actions of the religious who wish to claim that they are the better e.g. the judges, are those of a bucket of crabs. each trying to clamber over the other, and well, they still are just crabs.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cassie & Sophie
    June 3, 2016

    Reblogged this on Cassie & Sophie NSFW and commented:
    Part two of the article we have reblogged below. Another intelligent read.

    Like

  8. Pingback: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech | Just Merveilleux

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