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After going over it from every angle, it's impossible to interpret last night's excoriation of Jonathan on Survivor as anything other than anti-semitism.

Bad mouthing people in Survivor is normal, especially when, as it happened last week, an alliance that thought they were in control is suddenly reduced into underdogs. But the level of hatred and, in particular, the language used was notable. Jonathan's behaviour made Parvati "nauseous". She said it over and over again how she wanted to "throw up in his face". Then he was called "dirty rat" and finally a "cancer". The invective being thrown at him during tribal council was horrendous and the former Raro members on the jury were eating it up as if finally the ultimate evil had been exposed for what it is. The words used and the tone of them looked like nothing more than Nazi propoganda -- the Jew is the thing the thing that must be cut out for the good of the society. In fact, the remaining Raro three were talking about willingly being sacrificed if this cancer could be cut out first.

Compare Jonathan's behaviour with that of Candice. Jonathan feeds his tribe dilligently. He's a player, but he's also pretty straightforward in his dealings. Candice, on the other hand, turned on Jonathan behind his back the minute he made an alliance with her and, after Jonathan fucked himself over by joining her in the mutiny to support this alliance, immediately tried to blacken his name within the new tribe.

I identify with Jonathan (for some obvious reasons). I have a large personality that overwhelms some people (I can't have a conversation with [ profile] mentalmakeup without being told to stop interrupting at least twice). There are some people who just can't stand me (she's not one of them; that was just a handy example) and the level of their anger always catches me totally off guard. Like Jonathan, I perceive myself as mainly kind and giving.

Like me, Jonathan makes social miscues as he did during and after he dominated the food auction. He was perceived as being too greedy and arrogant about having won. In fact, his behaviour is no more aggressive and competitive than Jenny, Candice, Yul or Ozzy but the perception is that he is a DIRTY CANCER RAT.

I think the level of hatred finally made Yul sit up and notice that something was morally off and led to Aitu supporting Jonathan in the vote. But man, it was hard to watch and I applaud Jonathan for his restraint.

Part of me wanted him to name the anti-semitism for what it was, but in our culture which denies the existence of racism, classism, etc., you have to be very careful about saying things like that lest they boomerang back on you and you get called paranoid.

That is why we love jumping on people who use the wrong WORDS! Nigger! Kike! Fag! We can't really go after any underlying systemic hatred so we glom onto words. The whole Michael Richards scandal is moronic. An insecure comic gets heckled and calls the hecklers "niggers" as he has his onstage meltdown. This was some pretty bad judgement, but I believe him when he says, "I'm so sorry; I was upset and I didn't know where that came from." But NO! Jesse Jackson is on a campaign against him and against any use of THE WORD!

Change the words all you like, PC police; until we can look inside ourselves and recognize our own prejudices, we are not really acting for justice. It's not a horrible thing to harbour feelings of misogyny, homophobia, racism, etc. These are the cultural baggage of centuries and they are woven into the fabric of our society. It's really a question of whether we are willing to accept that we aren't WONDERFUL, PERFECT, NIIIIIIIICE BEINGS all the time. Because unless we accept that, we can't really act responsibly and make decisions that lead to justice and love.

We are racists. The question is whether we are going to act on these feelings or oppose them.

June 2012

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