This is why we don’t — can’t — dehumanize the Other.
You, like me, probably have not thought kindly of the Bundy Ranch people. You, like me, probably dismissed them as 2-dimensional caricatures of Nationalist, Racist, extremist right-wing Militia libertarians who do not recognize the federal government of the United States.
Each of those labels that we give them — emphasize we, emphasize them — turns them into the Other.
They become the Other. They are not like us.
The same way the Caravan becomes the Other to Them — to the President, to Fox News, and to all those aiding and abetting that agenda. To all those who now hate Mr. Bundy.
It is so easy to de-humanize The Other. We do that all the time with the right. At various times, we dehumanize Ann Coulter, Ms. Huckabee Sanders, Sean Hannity, the Trump sons, the Trump fathers, and so many others. We despise them. We condescend towards them. We caricature them. For good reason, of course.
And, yes, most of us have dehumanized, to some degree, the Bundy’s.
Bundy, to many of us, is part of the “Other,” the side we ourselves dehumanize. Yet his humanity is evident.
When we judge people, we lose the ability to influence them, as well as to appreciate their talents.
This is from a WaPo article, titled, “Ammon Bundy spoke kindly about the migrant caravan. The backlash has him reevaluating his supporters.”
I admit that any member of his family would be the last person I would expect to take this position:
“He has basically called them all criminals,” Bundy said of Trump in the video. “What about the fathers, the mothers, the children, who have come here and are willing to go through the process to apply for asylum so they can come into this country and benefit from not having to be oppressed continually by criminals?”
Bundy, whose family’s selective interpretation of Mormonism undergirds its members’ anti-government outlook, said his views on the migrants were motivated in part by his religious faith. He criticized partisan-inflected media coverage of the caravan from the right and left, and said assertions that the migrants were being paid by liberal philanthropist George Soros or had terrorists in their ranks were “a bunch of garbage.”
He and I don’t agree on everything. We disagree on most things. And, though he is “the enemy of my enemy,” so to speak, he is not necessarily my friend.
But he sees the humanity of the caravan and the nonsense of the Soros smear. And that makes him human, even if we disagree on the environment and many other issues.
Buzzfeed followed up with this article, “Ammon Bundy Is Quitting The Militia Movement After Breaking With Trump On Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric.”
“It’s like being in a room full of people in here, trying to teach, and no one is listening,” he said. “The vast majority seemed to hang on to what seemed like hate, and fear, and almost warmongering, and I don’t want to associate myself with warmongers.”
The Buzzfeed article continues:
The unequivocal support for the president by his followers was a big concern, Bundy said, and a factor in his decision to step away from the movement.
“Those on the right have been so fanatically loyal to him that any word of opposition to bring out light in what he might be doing that is incorrect draws hate,” Bundy said.
He then took it a step further, comparing the support of Trump’s base to that of Adolf Hitler’s.
“The time we find ourselves in now that is closest found in history is Germany in the 1930s, and they had a leader that was loved, and it was the same kind of following,” he said. “I don’t want to say there is that extreme similarity, but it very well could go that way, and people just give up their thinking, their rights, and they give up their government because they were so willing to follow him.”
So what do we learn from this? What can we learn from this if we are open to learning?
Perhaps, there is this:
- When we judge people, we lose all ability to influence them. We also lose all ability to appreciate their talents and perspective.
- Yes, the enemy of our enemy is not always our friend.
- And yes, also, when we turn those who disagree with us into the Other, we are not as different from them as we may want to believe.
- And, yes, also, we may not be as different from Mr. Bundy as we were led to believe.
There is, sometimes, common ground, where we least expect it.
There are lessons here if we can find them….
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.