I have trouble
understanding why many of my
politically passionate friends (regardless of party affiliation)
hesitation describe their disagreement with particular politicians on
reasons to "hate" that person.
One institutionalized example of what I am talking about is whywehatebush.com which is dedicated to “exposing and
ridiculing” the President.
Now, while the rhetoric of the "reasons why we hate Bush" is pretty
overblown, in my opinion, the "reasons" do make a relatively cogent
case for disagreeing with President Bush’s policies and actions.
are they reasons to "hate" Bush? For example, one reason given
on the website to “hate” Bush is that he's "inarticulate.”
you think that this behavior is one-sided,
simply Google "hate kerry," and you'll find websites that opine I
"hate" Kerry because he "flip flops" or because he
"only wants to get elected."
this makes me want to ask, just what is
"hate?” It’s defined in the
dictionary as "obsessive dislike unaccompanied by restraint and
character" or as "a feeling of dislike so strong that it demands
of these definitions seem relatively mild given
that, all too often, “hate” provokes not just action but violence.
believe "hate" is a term that should be reserved for persons whose
actions are so antithetical to common decency and civility, such an
our common humanity, that they should provoke a visceral, unreasoned
among all people of good heart and right reason.
we not "hate" our captors if we were
Iraqi prisoners subjected to abuse and torture or the relatives of
civilians beheaded on video for worldwide consumption? Should we
not "hate" terrorists
who purposely kill civilians to make a political point? Should we
not "hate" bigots who
maim and kill solely because someone is of another race, religion or
troubles me about the almost routine use of the
term “hate” to describe people with whom we disagree in our daily
matters of public concern is that it desensitizes us to the real
meaning of the
term and the emotion and passion that it normally evokes.
leaders and parents teach tolerance or expect tolerance from our
when we are so ready to describe objects of mere political
people we "hate"?
the Teach Tolerance project of the Southern Poverty Law Center outlines
to fight hate. In the section about why
we must teach tolerance to our children, the website says:
Bias is learned in
childhood. By the
age of three, children are aware of racial differences and may have the
perception that "white" is desirable. By the age of 12, they hold
stereotypes about numerous ethnic, racial and religious groups,
according to the
Leadership Conference Education Fund. Because stereotypes underlie
almost half of all hate crimes are committed by young men under 20,
education is critical.
my understanding, however, that it is difficult
to lead others to tolerance or to teach tolerance to our children if we
practice it in our own daily lives even down to the level of banishing
word – “hate”-- from our casual vocabulary.
we continue to speak about our political opponents as people we
"hate", we should think about the message we are sending to our
children about when it is okay to "hate." We should not be
teaching our children that it is okay to “hate”
anyone just because they have different beliefs, unless those beliefs
abhorrent that they shock the conscience.
should consider the words of President George
Washington, and ask ourselves before we speak if our words will live up
expectation of the "demeanor" of "good citizens":
"Happily the government
of the United States, which gives to bigotry no
sanction and to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who
under its protection should demeanor themselves as good citizens."
We should give bigotry no
and persecution no assistance by sending the wrong messages to those we
nurture. As Max DePree says in his book
Leadership Jazz, “[w]e are dealing with God’s mix, people made in God’s
a compelling mystery. … We are all authentic in our own right; no
us authenticity; we are born with it.”
No one is worthy of hate,
assessment is made only because they
bring to that mix a different point of view, a different tradition of
faith or a different political position.