My liberal outrage is being weaponised. What have I become?by Cathy Rentzenbrink / November 12, 2019 / Leave a comment
I’ve never been much of a hater. In any disagreement, I can usually see the opposing point of view. This aggravates my friends and family who want me to be on their side rather than putting myself in the shoes of the enemy. It can be wearying for me, too, because if I don’t get along with someone I’m inclined to think it is my fault and that I must make more effort. I once had a boss who thought I was too soft hearted. “Your problem is you think people can be changed for the better,” he said, “but some people are just cunts.”
I laughed but refused to toughen up. I’ve always believed in giving people the benefit of the doubt, that if you look hard enough at a person you’ll find something to like, and that even tricky customers have a good heart. The theory breaks down, of course, when it comes to serial killers and Donald Trump, but it has served me pretty well for most of my life, though I usually keep quiet about it so as not to come across as a boring Pollyanna.
I’m confessing it to you now, dear reader, because times have changed and so have I. If, four years ago, someone had told me that I would hate half my countrymen—52 per cent to be precise—I would not have believed it to be true. I cried the day after the referendum, but in the following months as the promises that secured the result turned out to be lies, as our politicians became increasingly and obviously obsessed with their personal power, as my Dutch husband was rebranded as an EU national, and as the whole sorry shebang became more and more the stuff of satire, my tears dried up and I succumbed, for the first time in my life, to anger. And it’s exhilarating! Much better than sadness. It’s more dynamic and gives me a bitter, brutal energy. I am a touchpaper that might cause an explosion.
I’m angry with everyone, by the way. I hate the 52 per cent, obviously, but I also hate my fellow Remainers for patronising or demonising Leave voters. I hate the politicians who stoke us…