Life at № 42
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.