Hating the Hateful – A Vicious Cycle of Hate

vicious cycle of hate

As the upcoming elections have ramped up the hyperbole of our cultural dialogues, hate seems to be flying in all directions. Donald Trump, who is likely just using hate speech to get elected, has nonetheless created a situation through his troublesome rhetoric. His spoken racism, nationalism and xenophobia have stirred the pot of human emotions into a frenzy. Where the hateful sediment had been sinking to the bottom of our society for quite some time, it has been freshly stirred up and is making its rounds through the entire social strata again.

It would be tiresome to explain here why these hateful ideologies are wrong. Even bigots know at some level that their hatred is wrong, both intellectually and emotionally. This is why they usually hide it. What worries me is not the traditional small-minded prejudice of rural simpletons or organized hate groups. They are a known commodity that have mostly been tamed through disenfranchisement. What bothers me is the growing amounts of hate directed at these people by socially liberal people who consider their own hatred superior and justified.

A rabid and militant anti-hate movement is spreading across the country. Its flames are fanned by unrecognized irony and unexamined hypocrisies. It is itself a hate group, wearing a halo, while using the same notions of purity espoused by every hate group before it. It is comprised of people who consider themselves to be compassionate, understanding and accepting of others, yet who make threats of violence against their ideological opponents. Fighting hate with hate is not just unreasonable, it is creating a vicious cycle.

Most peoples latent racism is only dangerous in the sense that it breeds apathy for social issues. It mostly lies dormant where it can do no real harm. But when the rhetoric on race reaches the level of public screaming match, these folks often feel forced to pick a side. And unfortunately, this often leads them into a genuine deliberate racism they were not capable of before. Racism had become mostly taboo. Its death was predicated on the fact that even where it existed, it feared show its face. But when hates collide, and genuine racists come out of the woodwork, folks feel more emboldened to act on their own latent tendencies. The ironic hatred against bigots has given them a greater voice, and helps them to unite. Hate on hate breeds more hate.

To be clear, most of this hate of hate is happening to those who identify with liberal politics. These are the champions of equality. Yet in the last several years we have seen their camp ridden with a powerful prejudice in the form of Islamophobia. The talking heads of mainstream liberal politics like Bill Maher have gone out of their way to stir up hatred and xenophobia against Islam. And while this was all mostly tolerated by liberals, even if begrudgingly, the same folks are now coming out of their silent corners to attack the same hatred and xenophobia in their political opponents. And so we can see that the Us-vs-Them seems to have more bearing on this effect than does genuine concern about hatred. Yet that sort of thinking is precisely what every form of bigotry ever has been predicated upon. You cannot reserve your intolerance for hatred until the other team has the ball, and still be taken seriously as an advocate for tolerance.

Tolerance is a key concept. It is where the haters of haters have failed and fallen victim to the same instinctual urges of all bigots. The inability to tolerate bigots and to try to understand them has led to this. Yet that is precisely what we need. Hating the hateful just reinforces their hate, while validating and justifying hatred itself as an acceptable reaction to other kinds of people. Nobody became a racist, xenophobic nationalist in a vacuum. Nobody was born that way. That hatred has a genesis, and by looking for it we might be able to root it out in the individuals harboring it. First you must be compassionate enough to realize that hate is a painful burden to carry, and seek not to fight it, but to heal it.

Some people learned hate from their families. Some picked it up through negative experiences. Others have absorbed it through cultural dialogues. When we refuse or fail to understand a persons hatred, we are powerless to help them rid themselves of it, and understanding is not possible without some amount of acceptance. We must accept that the path to hatred was a meaningful experience to the individual. That is where we begin to tackle intolerance and wipe out hate. Dislodging hate will not happen through battles, but through therapeutic means. So if you really want to end hatred, do not adopt its techniques. Find someone who is full of hate. Listen to them. Accept them and try to understand them. And when doing so has earned you their trust and respect, take the opportunity to guide them using reason and compassion away from their own toxic hatreds.

This is how we conquer hatred, not with a bang, but with friendly conversations. It will not be a quick or easy process. Nothing worthwhile ever is. But it will be worthwhile. Let us expel hatred from the pool of humanity gently, without stirring the remaining parts back up in the process. Hate against hate is not just self-righteous hypocrisy, it is a producer of newer and ever-growing amounts of hatred. To stop the vicious cycle we must tame our response to hate and not be led by the same emotional/reactionary momentum that hate itself is predicated upon. Hate cannot destroy hate, only peaceful resolution through acceptance, tolerance, understanding and therapeutic removal can ever lead our species into harmony.

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