Dishonest loathing.

head-deskIt’s interesting to discover that you’re being hate-followed, hate-tweeted, hate-read. Bracing, even.

First of all, it’s a phenomenon that I genuinely don’t understand. Like, to a fault. When someone makes my head pound with anger, or consistently says things I find utterly untenable, I ignore that person as much as humanly possible. Which, when you’re in my business, can be a problem. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, settler leader Dani Dayan, Washington Post columnist Jen Rubin — love them or loathe them, I have to know what they’re saying. I often depend on people with steadier dispositions to keep me informed, and occasionally find myself an hour or a news cycle behind the curve. So there’s the “huh?” aspect.

And then there’s the fact that I thought I knew who hated me: The right. The Israeli right, the American right, the Jewish right — people who live on that side of the fence and who happen to have come across my work hate me. They call me the worst things they can think of, and feel they’ve righted some wrong in so doing, and I either ignore or block them (depending on the effort they’re making to inform me of said hatred), because engaging with all of that is genuinely pointless. If the person in question happens to be in a position of power (hi, Dani Dayan!), I engage for the sake of furthering my own cause, not because I think that we’re likely to come to a place of mutual understanding.

But late last night it was brought to my attention (and I foolishly went to where the information led) that my name has become shorthand for… something? among an entirely different set of people, who are located roughly speaking on the left. I think that the general, shared notion is that I’m not sufficiently pro-Palestinian, and (I imagine) that speaking from a position of Jewish/Israeli/American/white privilege, I get everything wrong and really should just shut up. In yesterday’s case, I’d made a Jewish mom joke involving Ramadan and the recently signed New York Jets player (and Palestinian-American) Oday Aboushi, who I’d been defending against the most egregious slander (click here), and, by dint of ignorance, stepped on a sensitive issue — but I’m given to understand that this is not the first time I’ve been terrible.

Everywhere you go in life, there are people who never read beyond the 140 characters in front of them. There are people who read with eyes already closed. There are people who build an identity and/or a community based on an idea and that identity/community is more important than… I’m not sure what the end of that sentence is. The truth? That seems too grand a conclusion though, because try as hard as I might to strike an honest and consistent balance between what I believe to be the legitimate rights of Palestinians and Israelis (or any other rights and issues), I certainly can’t know for sure that I have ahold of the truth and someone else doesn’t. All I can do is try.

And I suppose that’s the thing: Context matters. Nuance matters. Past behavior matters. And for my money, more than anything else, honesty matters. The people who make a principled point of hating “Emily Hauser,” on the right or left, aren’t being honest. It’s not about me. It’s about them. My name and the occasional disembodied line from my work are tools they use in a battle in which I have no part.

For what it’s worth, this is why I very rarely join the rampant online exchanges that amount to talking about someone behind their back. Unless I am absolutely, personally certain that the person in question is consistently, and influentially, a bane on the human or civil rights of living, breathing human beings, I’m just not going to go there. Aside from anything else, I only have so much time and energy, and I want to devote them to fighting for achievable ends. Name-calling and snark neither help nor convince anyone.

Now, of course, I presume that one of my hate-readers may very well read this, and present it as whiny, or an indication of my lack of fortitude, or hate-amusing, or I don’t know. Something. That has nothing to do with me. But I can’t do anything about that.

I can however continue to do the work I’ve done for 25 years, continue to struggle for and toward civil discourse, and continue to do my best to be honest and accountable. For the all the rest, as we say in Hebrew: אלוהים גדול — Elohim gadol. God is great.

PS Which is not to say that there aren’t reasonable arguments to be had with me. There most certainly are. But that’s something very different.

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15 Comments

  1. Sometimes people decide that, when anyone disagrees with them, it must be due them to being an evil bastard. I’m guilty of it myself sometimes.

  2. It’s a distinct imprint of freedom of speech, that those who disagree with you rarely make an effort to look beyond the thing they heard or read that enraged them. They paint a complete and total picture of you as a person by the one thing before them, never bothering to find the back story or delving deeper into your past to see where your opinion may have come from or how it may have evolved.The Internet is filled with what I call “water striders,” after the insects that use surface tension to glide across the surface of water. These people use the tension ingrained in their response to your words to hold themselves up above the actual issue, preferring to only see the surface, avoiding the deeper pools of reason and discussion.

    I chalk it up to a fanatical devotion to being right. I love to be right — nothing pleases me more. But I’ve found that a couple of the most powerful phrases a person can utter regard not being right: “I don’t know” or “I had not thought of that.” When you cannot, in good conscience, ever find yourself uttering either of those phrases, you make it plain that you are too devoted to your point of view. Ask any scientist: no matter how well your theory works to explain something, you still question it, especially when evidence suggests it doesn’t solve every problem.

    Take heart, Emily. For every person who has decided to loathe you, there are hundreds of us who love and appreciate you.

    • Yes! “Water striders”! Can we make this a thing? I’d very much like to make this a thing.

      Thank you, good Newt. xo

      • Let it be recorded on the Internet for all posterity (or until the database servers crash) that the phrase “water striders” shall enter the Internet lexicon with aforementioned definition. So it is written, so it is done.

        I’d also like to claim the word “Zygotocracy” while we’re on the subject of things… but I suspect I may not have been the first to think of it.

        • Lise

           /  July 12, 2013

          Newt, I’ve scribbled “water striders” into all my dictionaries. Good work!

        • “Water striders” has to be the very best description I’ve heard, ever

  3. “Oho!” said the pot to the kettle;
“You are dirty and ugly and black!
 Sure no one would think you were metal, 
Except when you’re given a crack.”
    
“Not so! not so!” kettle said to the pot;
 “Tis your own dirty image you see;
 For I am so clean – without blemish or blot –
 That your blackness is mirrored in me.”
    “Maxwell’s “Elementary Grammar (1906)

    I see things you write we’d not agree on, but that is besides the point. It is those things we do agree on where one can see through a different lens and learn or develop a deeper insight. And where we would not agree, I do not see it as my business to bash someone with obvious courage. Maybe you’d come around to seeing some things in a light of how experience has shaped me, and vice-versa. But hate is the purview of people incapable of grasping the simple notion there are validated beings in this world able to see things differently to themselves. It is a form of cowardice which stems from fear.

    Some on the left look at me as though I were a viper, the right sees a devil. My view is they are birds of a feather in a sense, neo-liberals I find as dispicable as neo-conservatives. If you try to find any sane center, both will hate you.

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2013/06/23/if-the-left-are-sheep-the-right-are-fish/

    ^ I expect you’d find aspects in this piece offensive to left and right. It does not make it right or wrong, the idea is to get people to think. And that is what the hardcore ‘neos’ (left and right) do not want people to do. And almost certainly why your work is attacked.

  4. Lise

     /  July 12, 2013

    As we’ve discussed, you can always redirect them to your big sister.

    • Alas, I don’t think you’d scare them anymore than I do.

      • Lise

         /  July 15, 2013

        No! I am super scary when defending my little sister! (Only in my head. Leave me a few unshattered delusions…) GRRRRRR (((e)))

  5. Darth Thulhu

     /  July 14, 2013

    Anyone making it a point to hate on “Emily Hauser” has it all wrong.

    Everyone knows you have to hate on “Emily *L.* Hauser” because, I mean, really!

    Oh, wait, not hate. Appreciate. Adore. Absorb. Other words beginning with “A” … we have to positive-A-word Emily L. Hauser!

    • Re: the L – obvs! What are these people thinking!

      Re: the rest – thank you, sweetie xo!

  6. So what’s weird is that you don’t really do anything. You just talk and express your opinions. And yet that gets people very angry.

    Do I always understand you? No.

    Do I always agree with you? No.

    But do I listen to you and think about what you say? Yes.

    You’re the one that got me moved off my cool neutrality about the death penalty to become involved in doing what I could (notice the active verb “doing”). I didn’t do that because I wanted to like you, or for you to like me, but because I read what you wrote, thought about it, and then changed my behavior to match the change in my mind.

    Maybe people are scared you’ll do the same thing to them?

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