Self-Hating

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Eugene Volokh has a nice response to those who like to throw around the term 'self-hating' for those who criticize groups they belong to. People call Michelle Malkin a self-hater for her surprising defense of WWII Japanese interment camps. I can't agree with her stance on that issue, but Volokh is right. Nothing about this counts as self-hating. Clarence Thomas and other black conservatives frequently receive the same sort of criticism.

The argument for using such a label seems to me to go like this:

1. X person belongs to group G.
2. X says some things that are critical against G.
3. X must therefore hate G.
4. Therefore, X hates X's own group.
5. Therefore, X hates X.

This is such a poor argument that Volokh is right to take it apart piece by piece.

First, criticizing a group doesn't mean you hate the group or the people who are members of it. Did Martin Luther King hate white people? His speeches and behavior both indicate otherwise. So the inference to 3 is faulty. Second, criticizing a group you belong to is even further from hating oneself, even if it's criticism severe enough to count as hate. Isn't it possible to hate the large majority of a group because of their evil deeds but not hate oneself due to your own resistance to that sort of behavior? You can hate 99% of Muslims, for example, but not hate the one you know who lives next door who is peaceful. Even if you're so misled as to think all the others are evil, that doesn't mean you hate the one or two you find who aren't, including yourself if you're one. So even if 3 were true, 5 wouldn't have to be. Finally, he points out the lunacy in thinking any hatred against the Japanese (if she had any to begin with) would mean Michelle Malkin hates all Asians, including her own ethnic heritage as a Filipina.

This reminds me of the complaint a number of prominent Jewish organizations were making about Mel Gibson's film about Jesus. According to these groups, Jesus was being protrayed as anti-semitic because of his criticism of the Jewish people of his day. If that's right, then the prophets of old were also anti-semitic. Do they want to say that Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah were anti-semitic? They are, if the argument they have used is a good one, and it's pretty much the argument I gave above. Hey, by this argument I'm anti-Christian for saying in my last post that the large majority of evangelicals need to learn how much like Jonah they are. So why is it that Ward Connerly, when he criticized the majority support for affirmative action among black people, was self-hating? Why is it that Bill Cosby's criticism of black emphasis on getting whites to deal with racism, rather than encouraging people to succeed on their own despite whatever racism is there, is self-hating? I imagine there are people who are called self-hating women for taking a pro-life stance, though I can't think of any examples offhand.

3 Comments

I agree that this is pretty infantile reasoning (and I use the word "reasoning" liberally). There is just so much that goes on the media these days that pass for reasoning that we, as a whole, have lost much sense of what constitutes genuine reasoning and what does not.

The only instance in which I can categorically say that the person is a self-hater is in the following example:

1a) X says, "I hate myself" or very similarly phrased words, OR
1b) X performs actions which clearly harms X-self (such as smoking glue or using razor blades to cut X's arms).

In those cases, I would say that we have good evidences pointing to the assertion that X hates X-self. But here we have a Filipina (who, incidentally, may object being grouped into a generic "Asian" label) who has voiced opinions about a limited, historical group who is clearly not Filipino (i.e. Japanese during WWII - not even contemporary Japanese). That her opinions can be seen as "self-hating" is a stretch for me, at best.

It's not even clear that you should say her opinion is about Japanese people of the time. Her opinion is about Japanese spies, about how dangerous they could be, and about how likely it was that there were a number in the United States. She thought that was enough to jusfify interment camps, which she says were nothing like concentration camps and quite livable. Most people think racial profiling is wrong, but when it just raises the level of suspicion for some people who statistically really are more likely to be criminals in a certain location, I think it's just wise pursuit of justice. She's just taking that to a level beyond where I'd go in terms of what you can do about it, how many people you can make uncomfortable, and how uncomfortable you can make them if you don't know they have done anything.

I should accept who I am and I do sometimes feel bad that I am pure filipina but someday I'll get use to it.

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