Harping on Hate
by J. Roger Wilson, ©April, 2006
Most normal people agree that hatred is a bad thing. Good parents try to drill the idea into their children. In fact, one boy from a Sunday School class I taught even reacted to the words “Hate the sin but love the sinner” (an idea most Christians support, contrary to anti-Christian rhetoric!). Admittedly, many of us are a bit too casual with words. We “hate” broccoli” or “could just kill the boss!” The sad thing is that many people are confused about hatred, and the hype only increases the misunderstanding.
Most of us would be happy if Neo-Nazis and “skin-heads” would go away. As a Christian, I feel much the same about the “God Hates Fags” Church. Their prejudiced rhetoric is painful to hear. The best way to deal with them, when they plan one of their rallies, is simply to ignore them. They want to stir up an angry response because that gives them free publicity; and, frankly, the bad behavior of counter-demonstrators sometimes makes the bad look good. Contrary to the hype, “hate-speech” shouldn’t be a crime. In a nation that has made free speech a basic right of every citizen, we cannot afford to distinguish acceptable from unacceptable speech. The boundary, rightly so, has always been defined by when those words cause crime—libel or slander, inciting a riot, conspiracy to cause bodily harm, or treason. The simplest way to deal with people who say unpleasant things is simply to ignore them—turn off the radio or TV, walk away from boors and boneheads, and stay away from Nazi rallies. At one counter-demonstration, to keep hateful picketers from disrupting a funeral, I noted they did so with their backs to the disrupters.
The effort, especially on university campuses, to enforce “political correctness” is a chilling trend. The intent, I believe, is ultimately mind control. It definitely threatens free speech as well as the free exchange of ideas for which universities once were known. Indeed, a “liberal education” once meant learning to understand various perspectives in order that students might make well-informed choices; today, a liberal education merely describes the results of politically correct indoctrination in the latest liberal ideology. For another kind of “hate speech,” one only needs to listen to the strident reactions to anyone who dares to disagree with enforcers of right thinking. Worse, these enforcers demand severe punishment for anyone who crosses the lines they establish—coaches fired, teachers humiliated, civic leaders forced from office, businesses driven out of business, and most recently scientists who dispute human caused climate change prosecuted!
Those who “harp on hate” take this one step further. They have declared the so-called “hate-crime” (implying the existence, one might imagine, of “love-crimes!”). Again, the intent, I believe, is mind control. The implication is that a hate-crime is somehow worse than a crime not motivated by hate, a tenuous inference at best. How is murdering a black or a gay worse than simply killing someone. Hatred is perhaps the most common motivation for murder; the source of the hatred really doesn’t matter. It is the crime itself, the taking of life, that matters. It is the actual damage that comes from beating, theft, destruction of property, or harassment that is wrong, and they are just as harmful if they arise out of an attitude of self-centered indifference. In fact, at the heart, hatred and apathy are both expressions of extreme selfishness, which is the root cause.
People who want to control how other people think trouble me. Their attitude is, perhaps, the ultimate kind of self-centeredness, a supreme arrogance not unlike that of those they want to change. Both are rooted in polarized disengagement, through which they despise others whom they have never met or tried to understand. From that position, they easily begin to doubt the humanity of others. Nazis want to remove anyone who is different—black, Jewish, Latino, or gay; the politically correct want to remove the right to think and speak of anyone who disagrees with them—Christian, conservative, as well as Nazi, and others.
Besides, mind control doesn’t work. Tyrants have tried throughout human history, and the result has been oppression followed by rebellion. The only way to destroy thought is to destroy the mind that thinks. Killing works. Massive culture-wide brainwashing can deaden the thoughts of some. Like schools under Nazism and Communism, unthinking minds seem to be the result, if not the intent, of the American educational establishment. Why else have American public schools managed to take more money and better resources than schools just about anywhere and yet produce students who are falling behind much of the civilized world? Government schools aren’t teaching students the basics; they are indoctrinating them.
Of course, people aren’t confused only about hatred; they have trouble with compassion, too. I recall one lady who used to close her radio show with “I love you.” I’m sure she meant well, but she didn’t love me. She didn’t even know me! Liberals do the same with their phony compassion, trying to establish that their ideas are superior because they care. Compassionate intent does not make political ideas, conservative or liberal, good or viable; they must stand or fail on their quality and effectiveness: Are they right? Will they work? Again, the United States has spent billions of dollars to help the poor. Our compassion created a dependent class of perpetual victims, who often know more about entitlements than about earning a living. Furthermore, with respect to both education and welfare, it is easy to suspect that motives have more to do with winning votes than with either compassion or ending hatred.
So then, can we do anything about hate? That is a critical question, today, because the threat of terrorists and radical Muslims is a much greater menace than Nazis, although dealing with hatred is the ultimate problem in both. Unfortunately, destruction is the only solution for some who hate. Often it is self-destruction. Those who feed on hate corrupt themselves and everyone and everything around them. It will destroy their endeavors, their relationships, and ultimately their souls. Their hatred may inspire crimes for which they may themselves pay dearly, after they have made others suffer. In a just and civil society, they may escape execution but live out their lives in prisons both physical and psychological; in a war, they may simply die.
Some who hate may respond to genuine love. Acts of kindness, generosity, patience, goodness, and human understanding may break through the isolation and the pain that often produces hatred. Those who have experienced nothing but anger, cruelty, and oppression may not realize anything else exists. Child abuse is a good example, and those who have been abused may heal in an experience of genuine love. The same applies to religious hatred. For love to conquer hate, the younger and less corrupted are most likely to respond, but never underestimate the power of love.
Arguing doesn’t work. Many, who have failed to understand Christianity, inside and outside the community of genuine believers, think Christians want to control the actions of others. This can cause people to hate Christians and what they assume they represent, and it can cause Christians to hate those who commit what they believe to be sin. Jesus died painfully on a cross to demonstrate another way, a way of love, and a way that works. He said not only, “Love one another,” but also “Love your enemies” and “Do good to those who despitefully use you.” As I tried to teach my young student, hate the sin but love the sinner.
Those focused on hate, both the haters and those who hate them, are scary and dangerous. Theirs is the way of restriction, control, and enslavement. The price for their solutions is the loss of liberty, free speech, freedom of religion, even freedom to think, to question, to make up your own mind. Fortunately, we not only have the freedom to assemble but the freedom to walk away. We have the freedom to speak our mind and the freedom not to listen. We have the freedom to make up our own minds, even as we decide to disagree with what others think. I feel sorry for people, and it seems there must be a lot of them, whose minds are so weak that they must silence those with different views rather than risk hearing what they have to say.
(Revised August 3, 2012)