Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Indie Dumping and Scapegoating

A guest blog for Sign for Scotland by Hilary Christie.

My teenage years in the fifties were clouded over with anti-communist outpourings from my step-mother who was otherwise a great person. There were reds under every bed and she spouted fire in the direction of any labour politician. I met some of them and thought they were ordinary, pleasant enough human beings. How many evening meals were spoiled by these rantings. My father would leave the room. Then came the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. There was a call put out on the BBC for families to give a temporary home to a refugee. I was delighted. At last an opportunity to show real solidarity with those who had suffered the hated communist  oppression that had benighted our evenings.
I asked ,’Can we have a refugee?’ The answer was a tremendous disappointment and at the same time an eye opener: ‘My dear, you are sweet. No, we couldn’t possibly’.  ‘Why not?’  ‘My dear, he would smell so!’  This is theatre. People don’t say such things. But it was said. So we had no refugee. We did not welcome the stranger and I saw that politics was very often not about real life and changing wrongs but about having someone or something to hate. That’s very useful for the hater. Something inside you growls and snarls and conveniently you, subconsciously, choose somebody to hammer and that makes you feel a lot lighter, a lot better for a while, superficially at least. It doesn’t of course rid you of your anger – in fact it almost certainly fuels it and keeps the pot cooking and it most definitely alienates other people by its sheer virulence.
So I avoided politics scrupulously for decades while Harold Wilson  ruined our meals; Mrs Thatcher ruined our meals and Tony Blair ruined our meals. And then came the Referendum and it all changed.
Now I go around the streets and houses and chap on doors and meet with friendliness, enquiries and blind hatred. One big guy screams, ‘You’re all a load of paedophiles!’
An other elderly woman hates Alec Salmond and says ‘If I had a gun I’d shoot him’. I ask what he has done to her that she feels this way. She says, ‘I think he’s out for himself’. That’s a small reason for capital murder.
A third person sees me coming, spots my badge and bag and greets me with ‘I’d like to ask you a question.’ I am interested. ‘What are the two most poisonous fish in Scotland?’  I begin to run through jelly fish and so on in my mind. Fool! It dawns on me. Our First and Deputy leaders. I found this so disgusting that I couldn’t speak  about for it a fair while.
All these distressed people have the same thing in common, namely a great need to dump, i.e. a need to find a scapegoat to blame and on to whom they can  pour out their anger, frustration and spite. An interesting ‘Dilemmas’ column in the Independent by Virginia Ironside, (30 July 2014) explores scapegoating. She says that one person is selected by someone or a family and those around them learn to despise this victim as well. This person is blamed for all manner of ills. The cause of this hate can be a similarity to someone remembered and disliked from the past. Or, which is more likely, the hater may see in the scapegoat traits that he or she has  personally and is ashamed of . By dumping this hate and rejection of bad traits on to this person then that gets rid of them for a while and they don’t have to be faced or dealt with for the time being.
These powerful subconscious feelings have to be avoided. Run from them if you can. Arguing and reasoning are useless. ‘Get the hell out of there,’ she says. Keep clear of the situation.  And then she says a thought stirring thing – in order to survive the hater badly needs you to be around. Take away the prop and the bad feelings will come home to roost. It seems that people are unaware of what they are doing when they are scapegoating. They think it is justified and their hatred deserved. They do not want to listen to moderate arguments.  These take away from them their great weapon. This is dysfunctional behaviour and it stems from deep hurt from the past, buried but living unhealthily inside.
So our poor but sturdy First Minister has the unfortunate distinction of being of some use to these unhappy individuals whether they like it or not. It would be good if politics could be free from fly tipping.  May all scapegoats be protected from spite and evil thoughts and come through unscathed.
We at Sign for Scotland would like to say a big thank you to Hilary for writing this blog for us!
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