PewDiePie though not my cup of tea, seems like a genuinely good person. He has a very wholesome vibe about him. But the recent debacle about his controversial antisemitic joke spread through the media like wildfire, courtesy of Wall Street Journal’s framing him as a decided anti-Semitic nazi-sympathizer.
To those who don’t know PewDiePie’s humour and context of his videos could very well come away with the conviction that he’s absolute scum. Context matters.
Thankfully, the YouTube community didn’t take the media’s bait and everyone came out in staunch support of Felix, his real name.
The slanted reportage backfired and elicited harsh criticism of the media’s exploitative approach. However, I couldn’t help but think about how everyone came out in support of PewDiePie in spite of his bad judgement, because of his good intentions.
But Adam Saleh was subjected to humiliation and islamophobia in being removed from the plane ( regardless of what the reality was, he was removed from the plane) because people were dissecting and analysing his intentions. The whole thing, while there have been undisputable cases of islamophobia in the public domain, was invalidated and people went as far as believing the accounts of anonymous passengers.
It’s not about Adam Saleh. It’s not about Felix. It’s about the narratives we accept and reject, based on our own prejudices and prejudgements, that may very well be subconscious and latent. It’s scary because it’s so easy for the wind in one’s sails that propels ships forward across oceans, to transform into a destructive hurricane that triggers tsunamis.
What’s more, the projections we take for granted shape the people we are judging.
We recreate the world in the images that run uninterrupted in our collective psyches. I’m not even talking about whites or blacks. We all deal with primordial evils and obstacles ingrained in our human psyche. The thing most would do, in critiquing this double standard, is that they would flip the conversation back on white supremacy, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle. One-upping one another in debates and flooring the opposition with logical arsenals won’t do anything but strengthen the enemy lines.
We all have biases and prejudices. This comes as no news. However,never before in history have we as mankind been this aware of each other’s evils and bigotry, and by extension, our very own latent evils. I derive much more benefit from watching my own reactions to things that piss me off, people I don’t like, things I reject, hateful comments. It’s like the observatory of my mind has had all the walls knocked down. Suddenly, I’m cognizant of every facade, every defense mechanism, every insecurity that I’ve been harbouring. And it’s so so tempting to get myself out of the hot seat by putting someone else under the microscope. Someone whose ills I have no qualms about exposing and parading because my ego isn’t threatened by it. If anything, my ego grows stronger.
I started to notice my own hypocrisy when the Orlando shooting happened and everyone was blaming Muslims. It was campaign period, and pouncing on Muslims meant automatic brownie points. Open season was declared. But the LGBT community, though in mourning and shock, made it clear that politicians weren’t going to use this tragedy to peddle hateful rhetoric against Muslims. They shut down the islamophobia real quick by saying that this was the actions of a lone horrible man.
It made me realize how I depend on others to do the right thing and stand up for me, even as they have no horse in the race, yet I’m often held back by prejudices that stem from being averse to the unfamiliar, and detachment from issues that don’t directly affect me in some way.
In that moment, I could very well have become a hardened radical, hell-bent on hating those who hate me. But the act of a group of people was the wedge that kept my heart from closing. And that’s when I realized that focusing on others ills and wrongdoings only exacerbates my own ills and wrongdoings. I realized that the best way to deal with injustices is to first remedy what’s in my heart and character, and then oppose the injustices from a place of effective altruism.
It’s not to ban people from saying certain things or shame them for holding prejudiced beliefs, but it is to teach them how to reform the inner corruption whence evil comes.
Reformation is extremely difficult. Not because people are extraordinarily stubborn in their ways but so often the ‘reformers’ try to change their reflection by breaking mirrors. There is no shortcut. We all see the effects of calling out people and ‘dragging’ them on Twitter. It does nothing but fan the fire.
Setting things you don’t like on fire might seem like a good solution until you realize that fire does not discriminate, and with a gust of the wind the fire will circle back around and burn you to ashes. At the very least, spending so much of your life inhaling smoke that singes your nose hairs and covers you in soot and grime aint no way to live.
Leave the evil behind, and go out into the open meadows where the breeze will cool your burns and the knee-high grass will cushion your fall.
Justice demands integrity. It’s to have a moral universe — not only know what is right or wrong but to put things in perspective, weigh things. Justice is different from violence and retribution; it requires complex accounting.
― bell hooks, (All About Love)