Keeping Up with the Haters

So Kim Kardashian was robbed at gun point in Paris. You probably did not know because you live under a rock, do not follow Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and in fact do not even have internet. You are reading this through smoke signals.

Right, so now that we are past what everyone knows, why am I writing about it? I am not even a Kardashian fan.

When I first heard about it, I was reading through my Facebook timeline. A friend shared the article wondering “if this was real” or something to that effect. This is a question I almost always ask myself on Facebook because people share fake news stories all the time, often without knowing they are fake.

Apparently, the article was real. The sentiments that I saw shared in comments were real mean. Some highlights:

  1. Kim deserved to be robbed because she was posting pics of the jewelry and even mentioned she was without security that night.
  2. She’s Kim Kardashian. She will be over this in no time.
  3. Ha ha! Kim Kardashian got robbed. I think it’s funny because she is rich/I don’t like her politics.
  4. She was not really robbed. She just made this up for insurance/attention.

Frankly, it disgusted me to read the comments. It also … it kind of hurt. I will not say that I found the vitriol to be triggering. Of course, I would not be surprised if some did, especially anyone who is a survivor of sexual assault. It bothered me reading this because everything said, I had heard before. Only, I did not hear it about KK. I heard it about other people.

This Is Not about Kim Kardashian

What happened to KK is terrible and I hope she and her family work through it. From what I read about the incident, it sounds traumatic and I hope she gets the help she needs to work through it. That specific situation is very much all about her.

The hate is not about her.

The hate is about something else. I will unpack that in a few minutes. First, I am going to piss you right the hell off. Enjoy.

9/11 Was Our Own Fault

So, on 9/11/01 some terrorists got into some planes and hijacked them. Two crashed into the World Trade Center buildings. One crashed into the Pentagon. One crashed in the wilderness thanks to the bravery of the passengers. Though all aboard died, they saved other lives with their sacrifice.

It was a terrible day. Many people lost loved ones. Consider though, the causes. We built these tall skyscrapers that were just begging for a disaster (in fact, we had a bomb go off in the subway beneath about a decade prior). As a country we were all about nation building in places we did not really belong. We have all this freedom we happily wave about.

Typing that disgusts me and reading it ought to disgust you. I have seen people get angry about similar sentiments being shared about 9/11. While yes, we can argue how our nation’s foreign policy may have contributed to the atmosphere that bred the kind of radicalization that led to 9/11, the idea of blaming us for it is by nature of how we view our relationship to our nation is the same as blaming those victims for what happened.

Including the brave ones who made sure the 4th plane did not reach its target and cost even more innocent lives.

What Does That Have to Do with Kardashian?

As I said before, the hate is not about KK. I presented to you another scenario that has complexities beyond just the direct events. I talked about blaming the victims of the attack – the US – as well as the outrage to that kind of blaming and why we take that kind of blaming so personally. If you are like me, trying to blame us for the attack on us felt … disingenuous. Even if we wanted to sit down and talk about how we played a role in the creation of the Taliban, how our foreign policy possibly helped lead to radicalization, and how we even had areas of national security monitoring and seeing chatter about 9/11 but lacked the infrastructure to put together and stop what was about to happen …

Even if we want to sit and discuss all of that, doing so is not the same as blaming ourselves for the events. We still recognize that those men still took an action. They still made a choice. They were the ones who did this thing and ultimately they and the ones who helped them plan it were the ones responsible.

They were the ones to blame.

It Is an “Other” Problem

I could lay this at the feet of misogyny and say that it is just another case of a woman being blamed for the things that happen to her.  Every highlight I mentioned above is something I have heard and read about women being sexually assaulted.

  1. She was out alone/drinking.
  2. She was dressed provocatively.
  3. She deserved it because she lives a lifestyle I don’t approve of.
  4. She is just making it up because she wants attention/wants to get back at someone/regrets having sex that night.

Those were the things that I heard when I read the comments blasting KK about the assault on her person. I thought to myself how terrible it was for people to talk that way and wondered, how many of them spoke that way about women who were sexually assaulted. How many of them would be appalled to hear people speak that way about sexual assault?

I doubt that I am the only one who heard it, though. I think others heard similar echoes. Native Americans heard the people talking down to them about their history, about the misappropriation of that history, and about the violence currently taking place against their land and their people.

African Americans heard people saying, “he should have just held his hands up” or “he should not have been in that neighborhood” or “he should have just stayed still” or “he should have just let them arrest him” or anything else people say when an innocent and unarmed black man is shot and killed by police.

Someone trying to leave their country and entering ours or another country illegally fell victim to human trafficking? They should have gone to the Embassy and sought asylum or applied for a Visa to enter legally. A woman’s private sex video was leaked online? She should not have filmed it in the first place. Someone was doxxed? They should not have pissed people off. A sex worker was attacked and/or killed by her client or her pimp … an adult film star was assaulted on set? They should have chosen a better line of work.

I could go on.

We do this constantly when bad things happen to people who are not like us. It is not just a misogyny thing and it goes beyond bigotry and racism. I could go on with my list and I will find something that people who do not consider themselves to be misogynists, homo/bi/transphobic, bigots, or racists will have said at some point.

It is an empathy problem and at some point we have all faced it. Some of us grow from it and learn that such an attitude is corrosive and hurtful. It helps no one and alienates people who are going through something terrible.

Others do not. They sit in their bubble of “this is my life” and they pretend that anyone else can or even wants to emulate that life. They can point to the complexities of 9/11 or our country’s relationship to religion, free speech, and guns. They cannot, however, understand the complexities of the world outside of their own concerns. They do not understand why a woman may want to videotape and intimate moment with her partner. They cannot fathom how someone can strip or offer sex in exchange for money and respect themselves. They do not know what it is like to me in a minority, to have the world treat you differently because of your religion, skin tone, your gender expression, or the gender of your partner.

Because they do not understand those things, when something bad happens to someone they do not like, their reaction becomes not sympathy but venom. She had it coming. He should have acted more docile. What do they expect, looking like Muslims?

It is not right. It is not mature. It is not conducive to a stable, free, and just society. Until we admit to our empathy problem, however, it will not change and we will always find someone to continue bashing, whether she is a celebrity whose world is social media or an anonymous college student.


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