Hillary Kelly is a freelance writer. A recent article of hers, “Maybe You Should Talk To Someone,” reviews an episode of a current Amazon series.
But before she gets to that, she speaks about a traumatic incident she had over 10 years ago: SHE HAD TO STAND IN LINE BEHIND A GROUP OF SCIENTOLOGISTS AT A SALAD BAR AT WHOLE FOODS.
The Scientologists, incredibly, were actually consuming food.
This event has scarred Ms. Kelly for life, moving her to wring her hands about it in prose before even getting into her review.
Ms. Kelly’s harangue is a symptom of “othering”—a common MO of bigots. Show contempt for someone by assuming that “everyone” already agrees with you about the race, religion or nationality of the target, and that no further reason or rationale, other than the scornful look, the clucking tongue, the superiorly lifted eyebrow is needed, so blatantly obvious the “fact” that “those people” are ____ (fill in the blank with your favorite canard).
In Kelly’s piece the “tell” that she was actually breathing in the same oxygen as—gasp!—Scientologists was that they were wearing the distinguishing garb of Church of Scientology staff members. Perish! Forbid! How can they show themselves in public! Possibly there should have been a separate back entrance to the Whole Foods, labeled “Scientologists Only.” Possibly, too, separate bathrooms, separate water fountains, separate schools, separate neighborhoods to prevent them from polluting our pure non-Scientology selves. Someone call the manager!
Possibly there should have been a separate back entrance to the Whole Foods, labeled “Scientologists Only.”
Ms. Kelly has a problem—a big problem: she lives in the United States of America, not Nazi Germany. Due to this mistake of birth (Philadelphia—the cradle of democracy, no less) she finds herself exposed to many diverse “others”: Muslims, Jews, Vietnamese, Amish, and hundreds more—a veritable cornucopia of opportunities for disdainful sniffing and shocked close encounters.
I had an office near a Hasidic synagogue some years ago. Each Saturday morning a procession of black-garbed, black-hatted, bearded, ultra-Orthodox Jews made their way past my office on their way to prayer, accompanied by their wives, suitably attired with head coverings and dresses past ankle and wrist, and their children—the boys with their skullcaps and the girls dressed like their moms. Thank goodness Ms. Kelly was not there to witness that weekly procession! I doubt her heart could have taken it.
Bigots would like people to think they are sensitive, aware, even clever. They don’t want to be thought of as the pitiful, scared-to-pieces-of-anything-different individuals that they are. They cannot be educated or enlightened because they’ve long ago locked the door to their mind and thrown away the key.
So Hillary, maybe you should talk to someone.