January 23, 2013

They hate us

Aaron Swartz taught me something yesterday. I think it might be something important.

I was keeping half an eye on his wikipedia page. It’s a waste of time and effort, but what can one do? You visit, have a chat, clean up the weeds, leave a pebble. We screwed up. I screwed up. It doesn’t help, but it can’t hurt.

I've read from some sources that Swartz was Jewish, but they're not sites I'd consider especially reliable. He does have a somewhat Jewish physiognomy, so it's not implausible. Is there any information on this? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:10, 13 January 2013 (UTC)

The wingnuts are attacking. Why are the right-wing zealots descending in force from their anonymous IP addresses and single-purpose accounts? What distracts them from their attacks on Obama and their super bowl plans? Why are they so eager to purge the page of what they sneeringly call “wailing geeks?” Because they hate us.

They’ve hated us since 3rd Grade Reading and 6th Grade Math. They beat us on the playground and they beat us on the street. They formed sex cartels in high school to punish us, they recruited gym teachers and coaches and every fourth-rate teacher they could find to taunt us.

We thought, some of us, that was all behind us. We went to good colleges. They didn’t. We can refactor polynomials and complex systems. They can’t. We can build a railroad, a program, a cathedral and a bazaar, and we can make them run. They can’t.

But they are numerous, and some of them have money, and they hate us all. They call us geeks and nerds and techies. And if you’d like some baseball scores or football analysis, even here in the bluest of blue states, you’d better be prepared to take it with a healthy dose of right-wing sneering at elite liberal pansies.

Every time we make an information appliance, we help them. Every time we make our systems simpler and dumber, we help them. Every time we sell out to people who say, “Don’t make me think!” in order to get some of their money, we help them.

Open systems, open wikis, open source: grand ideas. But they hate us. They will turn our work against us if they can, use the systems we built to mock everything we do and everyone we love. Wikis were our last best hope for something. They have failed. (I was once program chair of ACM Wikisym.)

We have the universities. We have the professions. We don’t have the churches, because the churches have become the refuge of greed and ignorance, lust and hate. We have ourselves. And perhaps we have each other.

They hate us. They fear us, too. There’s going to be a war someday. I still think it starts on the California border when the California National Guard tries to protect a pretty refugee gynecologist from charges of Capital Abortion. But maybe it’ll be the Nevada border — Nevada’s trending blue — or perhaps the border between Virginia and North Carolina.

And it will seem to be about sex and religion and schools and science and freedom. But it’s not that. They hate us, and they will never forgive us.

We will win. We won in 1865. We will again. We always do. And they will never forgive that, either.