A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Hate Meme

I made a somewhat... pointed? provocative?... I dunno the right word, but I commented on BP's blog the other day about the evil of hatred, in particular the rising visceral hatred of much of the Left towards George W. Bush. It wasn't innocent-- I knew that BP and most of his readers hated Bush and I knew most of their reasons-- and I admit I was curious to see the response.

Well, here it is.

I think BP has rather vividly made my point for me-- hatred is bad, end of story. Because if you hate something, there can be no forgiveness, no redemption, no acknowledgment that the hated entity has any redeeming values or is capable of anything good.

"And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

You don't have to be a Christian to appreciate the beauty and truth of Paul's writings in Corinthians. And if the greatest is love, the worst must be it's opposite, hate. Just as the warmth and joy and peace of love spreads from those who share it, so to does the anger, bitterness and inner turmoil of hate spread from those who embrace it.

Hate stresses the body-- it makes stomachs churn and muscles tighten up in the fight/flee response. It raises blood pressures and makes us more susceptible to taking paranoid feelings and perspectives as legitimate.

Hate clouds judgment, leading BP to lump such things as "I hate Bush because he has diluted and distorted the Constitution to benefit a single Political Party", which is a legitimately bad thing that Bush has done, with such things as "I hate Bush because he says 'nuculer'", which is rather petty and irrelevant.

Hate spreads. Anger, bitterness, short-tempers, snippy responses, over-reactions, paranoia, assuming the worst. All symptoms of hatred and all very contagious. The old saying is "All it takes is a few bad apples to spoil the whole barrel," right? Well, think about the various "bad apples" that you've known in your life and then think about how much of that negative energy comes from hating-- hating their job, hating their life, hating people that aren't like them, hating people that disagreed with them and hating themselves. And think about how coercive and insidious all that negative hateful energy was on you and others.

Pretty soon reasonable, intelligent and generally affable folks like BP are so caught up in their hatred of George Bush that their ill-will for the man starts to bleed into anything and everything he is connected to-- most or all Republicans become evil, the media becomes "Teh Mighty Wurlitzer of Right Wing Media", and things that anyone who supports or likes Bush says or does can are automatically assumed to be wrong, misguided or "canards".

Now, I don't believe that all of BP's vehemence at the Right is a product of hatred of George Bush-- clearly there's plenty of hatred of Anne Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and a variety of others. Nor do I mean to imply that folks on the Right hate any less and I do believe that much of the hate that Bush inspires is a direct result of his embrace of Karl Rove's dirty tricks, negative attacks and policies to marginalize the middle.

I also don't mean to pick on BP, who I still find to be an intelligent, rational and generally affable fellow, but I think the vehemence of his response to my rather mild rejoinder to be wary of casting stones while living in a glass house is a pretty vivid illustration of why I think hatred is bad. It blows things out of proportion. WAAAAYYY out of proportion oftentimes.

Getting back to an earlier point-- hate precludes redemption and forgiveness. Case in point:
In short, Nick, the "Hate comes from both sides" is useless here until someone from the Right repudiates and excommunicates Newt, Limbaugh, Coulter, and Pat Robertson from our public discourse. In reality, the premiers of the Republican Party have been using 'Civility' to distort and disrupt any objections from their counterparts while using terms of disparagement and denigration to turn Democrats into Demons for the last twenty five years.
In other words, the other guy is worse AND he started it so I am justified in my own hatreds, biases and disdain of the opinions of those that disagree with me. I ain't changing 'til he does. Which is, quite frankly, pretty lame.

"An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind." --Gandhi

There is a disturbing culture of fear, bias and hatred in our country these days. Much of it is due to George Bush, his appointees and his advisers and I understand why many hate him and his policies. But hating doesn't help-- it only feeds the beast.

Hating never helps.

Herein ends the sermon.

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I once said on this blog, Nick, that War never helps.

Glad to see you've come to my way of seeing things.

Hate, and anger are not ideal states. Can't argue it. Wouldn't try.

But in the presence of real danger, and people who actually do HATE what I stand for, the stress and fight or flee response is an useful response.

Steve Gilliard once said: "I don't want to debate with Republicans. I want to defeat them."

Maybe my attitude CAN be boiled down to 'the other guy started it'. But the Republicans have been playing the game thus since Nixon, and have shown that they won't stop until it stops working for them.

And since it doesn't show any signs of stopping (in fact, the vituperation from teh Right blowhards GOT WORSE after they controlled all three branches of Gov) it needs to be opposed.

I have no problems at all, with treating my opponents with respect and civility. The same respect and civility they demonstrate towards me (which is why I am perfectly willing to debate these things with you). But once they have demonstrated contempt, anger and - yes, hatred, - towards me, why should I continue to show them the courtesy?

More, of course, at my joint.
Actually, I don't agree that war never helps. Should we have not gone to war with the Nazis and the Japanese? War is a different subject than hate. They frequently co-exist and one often fuels the other, but war is not always to be opposed.

And I am not saying "don't stand up to hate and anger." I'm advocating not responding in kind. That's how the President and much of the country is currently justifying tossing out two centuries of U.S. honorable treatment of enemy combatants and allowing torture as acceptable. The other side does it, so we must do it ourselves.

It's just as lame when the Left does it as when the Right does it. It's lame when 6-year-olds do it, but at least understandable. Not so much with adults who should know better. I submit that you should know better BP.

There are times when war, violence and possibly even torture are necessary-- the "ticking timebomb" scenario we are bombarded with repeatedly by torture advocates-- but those things must be rare exceptions that are engaged in only when there is no other option. And with the understanding, in the case of torture, that the person using torture in an effort to save thousands or millions of others is still committing an evil and illegal act and will have to face legal ramifications for that act.

Torture must never be acceptable and it is absolutely appalling that some people believe that it should be standard operating procedure for the U.S.

But I digress. I don't expect anyone to treat haters with courtesy. Ignore them, marginalize them, belittle them, make fun of them. But don't become like them.

Don't you see BP that when you hate back at a hater you're justifying your own bad actions with somebody else's bad actions? Pity, dismissal, humor and even love can all be effective responses. Hate is not. It just fuels the fire. And makes you look just as intolerant and close-minded as those you despise.
War never helps Nick; but sometimes it is necessary.

Post WW2 the world was a mess. The only reason it came out relatively decent is because the West did not dominate and occupy as victors, but helped to rebuild as partners.

Blind irrational hatred and letting it dictate your actions would be a problem, I can see that.

But we're talking about garden variety hate here. Mike Rowe hates snakes. But he still went and caught 'em for the show.

I hate heights. Lousy with 'em - they make me freeze up and all the other bad physiological things you talked about. I still ride cherry pickers and swing stages up hundreds of feet when the job calls for it. Maybe I barf afterwards and maybe I don't, but that's my secret.

I hate Bush like I hate heights. I wish I didn't even have to think of 'em, and sometimes they make me barf; but it's not irrational and it's also a fact of life. (I am SO getting tagged by the NSA for this exchange - and that's part of the whole issue, you know?)

Hate's just an emotion. Everybody has 'em, and while they may inform and color your actions, they don't have to drive them.

If there are times when war and torture are appropriate (and I don't agree with the latter, barely with the former) then a little hate isn't the end of the world either.
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