I live in a bubble. I think nearly all of us do, surrounding ourselves with people similar to ourselves, who engage in cultural practices we approve of and often share. We forget so many people are fundamentally different from us.
I should probably get out more, because I’m afraid I’ve started to confuse my bubble with reality.
“There is nothing more important than the white family and the white child. To aim for their preservation and safety should be our ultimate goal.”
That’s a quote from a website I wandered onto today, looking for something entirely different. I haven’t linked to the source of the quote because I don’t want to generate more traffic for the site it came from. If you really want to know the source, it shouldn’t be so hard to locate. After all, I found it. And I wasn’t even looking for anything related to white power. It was just there.
And I want to think there is no such thing, and that the people who wrote that are not real. But they are. The world outside my bubble is real.
I remain shocked, although I should know better. And a little frightened.
I suppose it isn’t automatically dangerous to assume that one’s own particular race or ethnicity is better than another. Plenty of people seem to think it and manage to get through the day without violence or overt acts of hatred. Except it is dangerous.
After all, it isn’t that hard to see the contributions of a variety of different cultures to our modern world. It’s also not hard to see that there are good and bad people in every group–good and bad according to any standard you can think of. If you can’t see those things, it’s because you are deliberately shutting your eyes to reality.
The only way to maintain a view of one’s own group as superior to all others is to maintain a psychic blindness. I can almost understand that blindness, but not quite.
Almost, because I was raised in it. I wasn’t raised with a sense of racial or ethnic superiority, but a moral one. Let me tell you more about it. I’ve described it before in earlier posts: primarily, in Just as I Am: Why I Joined a Cult. and in Terrorism: and Why I Tore up My Bible. I want to hit on a slightly different aspect of it in this post: our sense of superiority.
We were the “one true way,” the “truth.” And we said things like “Jesus is the same, yesterday, and forever.” Meaning how we worshiped and believed was right, because it had never changed. (The fact that it had didn’t stop us from saying it.)
That sense of moral superiority is common to most religious cults–perhaps all of them. I don’t know that it’s a defining or necessary characteristic, but it’s so helpful to the proper functioning of controlling religious group that most of them have it.
Paranoia is useful, too. Most cults believe that they are uniquely persecuted in some way–either directly in the form of discrimination, criticism or humiliation on the part of the larger society, or by “tempting” members to leave the group.
Paranoia and superiority increase a sense of bondedness to others in the group. It creates an intense loyalty. This isn’t unique to religious cults or high-control groups, but it is shared by groups that may want to deliberately manipulate members into supporting each other despite behaviors they might otherwise find morally troubling..
In that regard, they are extremely similar to other kinds of supremacist groups. That’s not so hard to tease out even in a casual look at literature or other materials. They are better and they are also in some way in danger. Regardless of who “they” are. I don’t know, but I would imagine the function would be the same: to intensify feelings of loyalty toward the group. It also intensifies the sense of superiority: even our suffering is proof of our specialness.
And that, I think, is dangerous.
Because of our belief in our moral superiority, there could be no “bad” members in our group. People sinned. Of course, they did. Jesus, after all, came to save sinners. A certain degree of sin was expected and tolerated. But some types of sin could not be openly addressed–mean-spiritness, abuse, or even criminal behavior to name same. And these were often covered up and denied when possible. The behavior was excused. And sometimes, the offender was shunned.
You’ll see that in supremacist groups as well. Members of the supposedly superior group with questionable histories either don’t exist, are believed to have been driven to it by circumstance, or are associated in some way with hated groups: They are “Jew-lovers” or worse.
Evidence of certain kinds of diversity within the group is simply not allowed. It can’t be seen.
In the 2x2s, the group I grew up, members who had strayed from the moral standards of the group had “lost out.” Those who still believed in the primacy of the group–the main tenet, really–but had failed in some other, serious way (like pedophilia) were often protected by the group from outside scrutiny. Criminal acts were denied or minimized. The offender was seen as “struggling,” and “tempted.” But never evil. Evil was for outsiders.
That’s the dangerous belief. When evil can only be committed by “outsiders,” by people who are in some important way “not like us” we become unable to see it when it is there and unable to act against it.
The Massey Family. (2001). Our Story. http://www.anotherstep.net/ourstory/