After Sarah Huckabee Sanders was prevented from dining at the Red Hen on the grounds that she is a terrible human being, there’s been lots of faux outrage from people who think it’s perfectly okay to separate children from their parents. Some of Sarah’s supporters have gone as far as equating her “suffering” to black people oppressed by Jim Crow and the brave souls that fought for equal treatment under the law. Stand back MLK, your imprisonment in Birmingham is nothing compared to not being able to get a nice farm to table dish. I mean forget the fact that civil rights activists were fighting for human rights while Sarah and her puppet master are violating human rights, these moral subjectivists see no difference. Republicans are crying about the death of civility all while trying to strip the humanity from anyone who doesn’t share their “values”. Regular humans on the other hand have argued that civility in the face of cruelty is intolerable. To be very clear though, what happened to Sarah is a tactic that has been used throughout human evolution to prevent bad behavior. The name of the tactic is ostracism, which is collectively excluding or ignoring someone. So, I wouldn’t call what happened to Sarah as uncivil; I would call it being humane.
According to three people who are a lot smarter than me, “Groups of humans and non-human social animals use ostracism as a form of social control on problematic group members. Ostracism can strengthen the group by motivating problematic group members to obey social norms and contribute to group well-being, and ultimately removing members that do not conform” (Wesselmann, Nairne, & Williams, 2012). Ostracization is a powerful tool. Humans have evolved to do anything in their power to detect and avoid it because if you are completely rejected by society, that threatens your survival. I know what you are thinking; Sarah’s survival was not threatened, just her ego. Okay so even though Sarah won’t be starving anytime soon, people who are smarter than me also say that, “ostracism is painful and distressing psychologically to the person experiencing it, even when it is innocuous and brief” ( Wesselmann, Nairne, & Williams, 2012). Let it bring you some joy to know that Sarah did feel a teeny-weeny bit of anguish, enough to rail about it on twitter anyway.
However, whether ostracism leads to the greater good depends on what the group considers to be problematic. Like Regina George being excluded from the table because she didn’t wear pink is an example of when ostracism reinforces cruelty. Or if a group of humans is into genocide, misogyny, homophobia, and other things (see the history of America) they can also reinforce these horrible acts by ostracizing those who don’t get in line with their mentality like: “runaway” slaves, Harriet Tubman, the Black Panthers, Angela Davis, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Nat Turner, etc. However, when ostracization can be used as a tool for the greater good, like attacking those who violate human rights, it should be. There was a brief time when racists were terrified to be known as racists because of the fear of being treated like Regina George after she wore sweatpants instead of pink, which kept them at bay. Seriously this is the worst thing that will ever happen to a racist, shame.
Since 2017 though, being openly bigoted may cause rejection from some circles but that’s become “okay” because all three branches of government embrace bigots now. The bigots have a bubble created and supported by the president. This hate bubble strengthens these bigot, and keeps them going and going like the energizer bunny. That’s why Trump goes to rallies constantly: he needs his racist hype people to give him a sense of belonging. Since they have created a safe space for their bigotry, we need to make it extremely uncomfortable for hateful people to live outside their circles of hate. So, if it means kicking one of these bigots out of your restaurant, or bodega or your bed? Do what aunt Maxine Waters says. Evolution has made being widely disliked very painful. Just ask the Trump aides who can’t get a date in DC. The evolutionary urge for survival is so strong that they will break, just like when Trump reversed his Attorney General’s order to separate families at the border.