Sweeper: Polarization

In our in class discussion, one aspect of the readings we brought up centered specifically around the idea that Gloria Wekker put forward in her discussion on Black Pete.  In her piece, Wekker discussed how the tone of response to criticism of Black Pete had shifted since 1998.  She identified 10 themes of both set of responses and in 1998, people were dismissive but not nearly as aggressive as they are now.

In class we discussed why this might be the case and what about this issue had changed to make this more aggressive.  One idea we came up with is that with the rise of social media and the recent rise of populism in the west, political discourse was becoming much more focused on personal attacks rather than disputing other people’s ideas.  We can see this in the responses Wekker describes.  In response to the criticism of Black Pete, the artists who spoke out against it were often mocked for being women and ‘leftists’ these attacks on a person’s personal character rather than their arguments have become increasingly common in our political climate.

Throughout the course we have discussed the implications of populism on a population and a countries approach to political critique.  All of the countries and regimes we have discussed responded harshly to any deviation from their own ideas and we can see similarities to this in the response to criticisms of Black Pete.  Regardless of whether or not Black Pete is racist seems to be irrelevant to these people as they feel more that their traditions are being attacked directly.



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