January 24, 2005

Hate: A Mass Movement Unifying Agent

David Neiwert's post about what is really behind the attack on SpongeBob had some great insights. The goal of Dobson is to destroy the American value of tolerance and he wants to undermine the work being done by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Otherwise, making an exception for one kind of intolerance -- to condone it, for example, in our schools -- simply opens the floodgates for all the other kinds of hatred that are out there making the same kinds of rationalizations. There is, after all, only the thinnest of veneers between one kind of hatred and another. If we go down that road, we begin heading for the morass.

And what morass is that? It was the morass that Eric Hoffer discussed in his book, The True Believer. It was the morass that created the Khmer Rouge. (emphasis mine)

Among the other unifying factors, hatred and coercion were clearly the dominant elements for the members of the Khmer Rouge. Coercion existed in the form of the Khmer Rouge's intolerance for dissent of any kind: Khmer Rouge executioners believed, probably correctly, that if they did not kill, they themselves would become their own movement's next victims. But coercion became a significant motivator only after the Khmer Rouge had already gained power. For the Khmer Rouge, the most vital unifying agent was always hatred. That hatred was directed at different targets at different phases of the Khmer Rouge's existence: at Lon Nol personally, at the Americans, at the urban elite, at the Vietnamese. The enemy changed; the hatred itself did not.

What creates these intense feelings of hatred? "They are an expression of a desperate effort to suppress an awareness of our inadequacy, worthlessness, guilt, and other shortcomings of the self. Self-contempt is here transmuted into hatred of others.... Even in the case of a just grievance, our hatred comes less from a wrong done to us than from the consciousness of our helplessness, inadequacy and cowardice - in other words from self-contempt. When we feel superior to our tormentors, we are likely to despise them, even pity them, but not hate them...there is no surer way of infecting ourselves with virulent hatred toward a person than by doing him a grave injustice.... To wrong those we hate is to add fuel to our hatred." And, as Hoffer observes, "We do not look for allies when we love. Indeed, we often look on those who love with us as rivals and trespassers. But we always look for allies when we hate." Members of the Khmer Rouge found, among their brethren, others who harbored the same hatred toward the priveleged classes.

I believe that the most dangerous thing we face today, is the insidious acceptance of hatred of the other and increasing acceptance that if someone is "evil" then it is okay to attack them. This is why it is so important to stand against the nomination of Alberto Gonzales, the man who believes torture is okay.

Posted by Mary at January 24, 2005 07:20 AM | Philosophy | Technorati links |