Changing the topic

 

I have suddenly taken an intellectual interest in the phenomenon of gay people turning to the political far right. My interest arised when I realized that there are a million articles on the internet and in the newspapers I read which ask exactly about this phenomenon. They ask questions like “How can a lesbian woman be leader of a far right party?” – and then all they do is explain why this is an interesting question. They explain to the readers why it does not fit. Why gay people should not vote for far right parties. Why it is surprising that they do. Why the few comments they publicly make about it are not sufficient to explain what is going on. They speculate what might or might not be going on in their heads.  But not one of the ones I have seen makes an intellectually honest effort to answer the question.

Today, I asked my facebook friends for advice on books on articles that do better. So far I got two responses, and the most noticable thing about them is that they completely missed the topic. I suspect that we (meaning me and at least the people within facebook-reach for me, possible also people “like me” in a broader context) do actually have no clue about what’s going on right in front of our eyes. And worse than that, we do not even have an idea of where to look for an explanation. And so we are puzzled and a bit helpless in the face of people who naturally seem like they would have to be on our side.

I had a moment of a I might be on to something here feeling and came up with the following hypothesis:

Maybe the challenge is not to understand “them”. Maybe the challenge is to understand why we do not understand them.

What does it tell us about ourselves that we expect that some people just must be on one side or another? What does it tell us about our conception of identity or about other presuppositions with which we navigate the political space? What does it tell us about ourselves that people voting against their own interests seems paradoxical or stupid to us? What does this tell us about our picture of voting, of politics, of decision-making?

A second hypothesis in which I am less invested (but still very much) is that the answers to those questions are going to be ugly.

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