I hate this.
We say that all the time. I hate turnips. I hate the Lakers. I hate haters. I hate you.
I’ve been thinking a lot about hate lately, especially since that wacko in Wisconsin shot up a Sikh temple. Not so much about the emotion of hate, but how we use the word hate.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hate as “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.” But hate has become more of a catch-all phrase for things or people or ideas we merely dislike. You can say you hate turnips, but really, has a turnip ever provoked fear, anger or a sense of injury in you?
(Come to think of it, I am quite fearful of turnips and all other bulbous taproots. I think they’re really alien pods. Still, I don’t hate them.)
No doubt, hate is an appropriate term in many cases. White supremacists like the Wisconsin wacko are driven by fear of the proverbial “other,” so it’s fair to say they fear anyone who isn’t like themselves. And they are an angry bunch, that’s for sure. They feel injured and betrayed by shifts in America’s racial and ethnic makeup.
More than anything else, it’s fear that generates hate. Fear and anger blur the line between reality and fantasy. Hate demands to be fed, and it will wipe out all sense of reasoning, even in the face of hard truths, to get what it needs.
Look at all of the industries and vocations dedicated to feeding hate by creating unwarranted fear. “The Mexicans are swarming the border. I better get a gun!” The gun industry may not be pushing that message in so many words, but it certainly has no interest in dispelling the notion that no such swarming horde exists.
Same thing it politics. You can’t just disagree with the other side anymore. You have to see them as the enemy, a threat to your very existence. Every political operative everywhere, party notwithstanding, knows that there’s no greater motivator than fear. That’s not an Internet-age phenomenon. It’s always been that way. The difference now is that fear — and its subliminal partner, hate — can now spread at light speed.
That’s why I encourage more thoughtfulness in the use of the word hate. We drop the word so casually now that it’s beginning to lose its meaning. Inuring people to hate by making it commonplace leads to all kinds of injustice. The fearful cease to see the feared as people, and that makes it easier to violate their rights, or even their persons.
I’m not saying we can eliminate hate, nor should we try It’s a primal emotion, a part of what makes us human. It can be useful — abhorrence of slavery and bigotry and oppression has stirred passions that have freed countless millions, if not billions, of people for millenia. It’s also stirred a sense of martyrdom among those who believe in the “natural order of things,” but all hatred, even that which is justified, has a price.
The mere discussion of hate will undoubtedly bring criticism that I’m the hater. That’s a price I’m willing to pay. But whatever the reaction, I don’t hate those who disagree with me. I may think they’re mopes, momos, mofos, mutos, pendejos, shmos, fuckos, wackos or weirdos. But I don’t hate them.