“She’s a LIAR,” spits a woman I know well. A normal woman. A nice woman. She is talking about Hillary Clinton, except she can’t even bear to say her name. That’s how visceral her hatred is. We are discussing the US election and I just assumed this woman would be as repulsed by Trump as me. Isn’t everyone? No. Unbelievably, some people are more disgusted by Hillary.
“I cannot STAND that woman,” she insists. “She’s SUCH A LIAR.” She almost shudders when she says it, as if describing a serial killer or someone who harmed small children.
When I probe for details, for the reasons she hates Hillary so much that she would align herself with a racist, bigoted misogynist simply because he is running against this “LIAR”, she has none. She can’t even remotely articulate anything of substance that Hillary has done or said to inspire such an over-the-top reaction.
Listen to Mia discussing her obsession with American politics in full here. (Post continues after video.)
I can see she is overwhelmed by the force of her own hatred. As though Hillary has run over her dog and set fire to her house. As though she was personally enraged and seeking revenge.
It’s shocking to see this kind of venom coming from someone I consider otherwise mild-mannered and reasonable. And it’s an alarming up-close example of the kind of rhetoric we’ve heard again and again from Hillary’s opponents. The chants of “LOCK HER UP” at Trump rallies. The sneering, snide, aggression with which Trump and his surrogates speak about her at every opportunity. The sadistic glee with which they call her names and revile her as if she were not worthy of basic respect or decency — instead of someone who has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to public service and has worked her entire life to advance the causes of women and girls among others.
This unprecedented viciousness has lodged in my brain and niggled. It’s outside the spectrum of normal political or even social discourse. I’ve kept going back to it because there’s something familiar there.
And then suddenly I realised where I’ve heard that tone before: Julia Gillard.