Hatred – can we explain it, excuse it, defend against it?

Handing out candy in Gaza to celebrate deaths of Americans at the bombing of the Boston Marathon
Handing out candy in Gaza to celebrate deaths of Americans at the bombing of the Boston Marathon

In this blog on the psychology of evil, there is very little mention of raw emotion. To rectify this, I read a book called Hatred by a professor of psychiatry named Willard Gaylin. He says that real haters are different from you and me. They are obsessed with their enemies, “attached to them in a paranoid partnership.”

Does anyone hate us for no reason?
“We have been treated to pictures of jubilant Arab crowds cavorting in the streets and shouting their delight at the tragic deaths in the United States as a consequence of the World Trade Center massacres. Their palpable hatred of us leaps off the screen…”

Gaylin distinguishes between bigotry and hatred. Prejudice may dehumanize its object, but the hater demonizes its target. Gaylin says slavery was the result of dehumanizing – the slave was not loved or hated. At best, he was treated like a domesticated animal. “Prejudice turned to hatred in the United States with the liberation of the slaves…”

So what are the characteristics of hatred? it requires both a passion and a preoccupation with the disdained group. it is an intense emotion. Gaylin claims that it is a disorder of perception. It involves quasi-delusional thinking. Rage is a hot emotion, hatred is a cold passion. And it is more the characteristics of the hater that cause the hatred, than the characteristics of the hated. He adds that the opposite of hatred is not love, it is indifference.

Aristotle says about hatred “Whereas anger arises from offenses against oneself, enmity may arise even without that; we may hate people merely because of what we take to be their character…Moreover, anger can be cured by time; but hatred cannot..”

Sir Francis Bacon wrote: “A man that hath no virtue in himself ever envieth virtue in others…and whoso is out of hope to attain to another’s virtue will seek to come at even hand by depressing another’s fortune.”

Gaylin points out the bad logic in envy: “It is not just that we do not have that which they have, it is that we do not have it because they have it.”

One patient of his, an actress, was enraged and despondent when she heard a friend had been cast in a choice part in a movie. She explained to him that in order to be happy “it is not enough that I succeed. My friends have to fail.”

So to some, life is a “zero-sum game”. To win, others must lose. Even if you call them your friends.

Hate may arise when we feel that we have been denied that to which we are entitled – or we have been deprived – by some other person or persons. In reality we may have real grievances, but often the hatred is targeted to a scapegoat group- a group that is not responsible for our problems.
The Jew is often blamed for many problems, so it is interesting that in 1994 in Japan and Korea, it was found that there was a “mystifyingly positive response to the antisemitic stereotype of the Jew found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” (the Protocols is a forgery, and at the time was being circulated in Asia). And when China opened up to the West, antisemitism seemed to be one of the first Western ideas to be heartily embraced by the Chinese.
To me [the blogger] This suggests that certain ideas (such as  the idea of a small plotting group controlling us behind the scenes) fits certain patterns of thinking that many of us innately have.
In his diary for March 27, 1942, Joseph Goebbels wrote: “The Jews will destroy us if we do not defend ourselves against them. This is a war of life or death between the Aryan race and the Jewish virus.” Gaylin says this encapsulates various elements of a paranoid state since it identifies a life-threatening situation, it dehumanizes the enemy (a virus), and this sort of thinking can create satisfaction at the sight of a pile of Jewish corpses, or for a Jihadist, the sight the results of a suicide bombing.
Gaylin says that the typical anti-Semite is not an active Jew hater. the anti-Semite stereotypes the Jews, denigrates them, but for the most part ignores them. He is not preoccupied with them. He wants less involvement, not more.
But to a Muslim child, says former Muslim Wafa Sultan: “JEW must be one of the words they hear most frequently before the age of ten…in their imagination it conjures up visions of killing, depravity lies and corruption. When two people quarrel, each calls the other a Jew.”
She continues “We hold the Jews “responsible” for our military failures, our economic backwardness..We believe that Jews control the world…

In the west, Muslim immigrants face a conflict between Muslim religious law and the way of life around them. Islam forbids Muslims to accept a job where their boss may be a non-Muslim. But they do have to accept such jobs, and compromises such as this leave Muslims with a sense of frustration. Wafa talks to these people, and she says the frustration gives way to a terrible anger against everything around them in their new society..
So again, when we talk about hatred, many of the forces are internal, and in this case, not the fault of American society.
Obama administration representative Marie Harf attributed the attraction of ISIS partly to lack of jobs.  Obama’s administration puts a high priority on economic justice and redistribution and sometimes resorts to class-warfare rhetoric, and Gaylin would seem to back this idea up when he says:

The impoverished Afghans or Palestinian in refugee camps can view on television the good life that others enjoy…leading to feelings of unfairness..Such people can then be convinced that their misery is part of a zero-sum game that is necessary to support the indulgences of a rich society like the United States.

But there is  a big problem with the poverty-causing-hatred notion.  ISIS, for instance, has attracted at least 15,000 volunteers for martyrdom from almost all Western democracies. Indeed, more Western citizens are fighting for the “caliph” (of ISIS) than against him.

His army, including many women from the West, … all seem fairly well-fed and stylishly dressed, bearing smartphones and expensive Swiss watches and cruising in bullet-proof limos.

It is interesting that the hatred in the Muslim world is usually not directed at Russia or China, but at the U.S. It might seem reasonable to assume that Israel were to disappear, this hatred would too. And influential people have said as much. However, Gaylin argues that the US is hated, not “for the evil it has inflicted, but for its envied achievements, its seductive way of life.”

So China, which has killed Muslim Uighurs and sometimes transplanted the organs from the Uighur corpses into wealthy Chinese or Western “organ tourists”, is not hated anywhere near as much as the U.S. is.  Russia, which has waged a no-holds-barred war against Muslim separatists in Chechnya, is not hated as much either.
Now what about valid hatred? Did the Jews in the concentration camps have a valid reason to hate? And if so, to hate who? Nazis? Germans? For the most part, they did not take revenge, apart from killing some guards. So where was the hatred?

Michelle Knight was held lured into a house in Cleveland, Ohio, held captive for 11 years, and beaten and raped. She hated her captor, but after she got out she had therapy, and she now feels he had a disease.

It might be a mistake to call criminals “sick” though. Gaylin says:
One would have thought that the one community that would resist the conflation of evil into sickness would have been the world of theology…[but when priests in the Catholic church began molesting teenage boys]…it was astonishing to read the reports from the Boston archdiocese. The leaders indicated that whereas previously they had viewed sexual offenses of priests in terms of moral transgressions, in the past twenty years of so they were encourage to adopt a therapeutic approach to the problem. The “problem” being no less than pederasty, lying, violating a position of trust, and desecrating sacred vows.”

…I first became aware of this dangerous slippage…when I was examining the brutal slaying of a young Yale coed by her fellow student and former boyfriend (Richard Herrin)…the seat of the Catholic chaplaincy at Yale–chose to view Herrin, a poor Mexican-American boy from the barrio of Los Angeles, as a victim..[as if] we might all pulverize a loved one’s head.”

Michelle Knight’s desire not to hate is laudable. Most of us are not haters. Even when we have reason to be.

I also feel uncomfortable with the idea, embraced by some of our leaders that, for instance, a group such as ISIS recruits people with resentments caused by poverty. Without belief in Islam, there would be no ISIS. Beliefs can take existing hatreds and channel them, but they also cause them.

For instance, Glynn Harding sent mail bombs fulled with nails to people on the basis that they were cruel to animals. Was he really expressing an internal rage that was shaped by animal rights propaganda? That would seem to be the case, his victims were not always involved in any animal mistreatment, in face one victim was a six-year-old whose father made his living clearing wasp’s nests.

As far as the Palestinians go, Gaylin says, that without judging their claims relative to the Israelis, they have become a community of hatred and the Israelis have not.  They show this when they demonize the opposition.  They are told constantly to dedicate themselves to the destruction of the opposition.  They celebrate even when a few members of the opposition are blown up or stabbed.

I personally have good reason to hate.  But I have a total inability to defend myself from the “bad guys” or to achieve justice, and so I cope by seeing the perpetrators as defective human beings. I see them as people with a defective moral logic, and a defective moral makeup, and a defective view of the world. That is similar to the way Michelle Knight copes – by seeing Ariel Castro as sick.

A determined and long-lasting desire to defeat an enemy is necessary sometimes.  It is strange though, that often hate has a delusional component.

Hatred, by Willard Gaylin M.D.
A God Who Hates – Wafa Sultan 2009, St. Martin’s Press


2 thoughts on “Hatred – can we explain it, excuse it, defend against it?

  1. Muslims hate jews and christians because we are the infidels. This is in the koran. They aim to dominate, subjugate and exterminate. This is not a religion it is a death cult, a political force. Giving these cretins jobs is not going to stop their killing, raping and persecuting Jews or Americans. That Harf woman is incredibly arrogant and ignirant, in her little IVY league utopian world she lives in. Along with the other anti American pro Islam evildoers that have taken control of our government. I highly suggest you inform yourself by reading anyone of the excellent blogs that are focused on islamization of the West. Jihad watch and Gates of Vienna are two.

  2. Well yes, I think you are correct. I did quote a Taheri article after quoting Ms. Harf, and Taheri points out that many of these jihadists are not poor at all, which conflicts with Obama’s notion that we have to address underlying inequities to solve “radical extremism”.. I haven’t looked at Jihad-Watch and Gates-of-Vienna, but I have read Jamie Glazov’s book “United in Hate” on the romance between our radical left and radical Islam which in theory, is odd, because the left claims to be for free speech, for “gays” etc.. I quoted Gaylin’s theory on resentments based on relative poverty – not because I know that its true, but it has some plausibility, and may apply sometimes to some folks..
    There is a saying, “if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” If you are a Marxist, you see everything through class-warfare. If you are an American leftist, you explain ISIS by “income-inequality”.
    Likewise seeing all Arab hatred to us as due to the Arab-Israel conflict may be another “hammer”. A former Muslim said this: “I myself, as a teenager, might have cheered the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, and the Palestinian dispute was completely abstract to me in Nairobi. If the hijackers had been nineteen Palestinian men, then I might have given this argument more weight, but they weren’t. None of them was poor. None of them left a letter saying there would be more attacks until Palestine was liberated. This was belief, I thought. Not frustration, poverty, colonialism, or Israel: it was about…a one-way ticket to heaven.”
    So she (Ayaan Hirsi Ali), bears you out too.
    Bad guys can be hypocritical: who did Osama Bin Laden hate more – the Chinese, the Russians, or the Americans? Osama himself said he hated Americans from his early childhood. His hatred did not abate even though that the Americans aided Osama’s fellow Muslims in Afghanistan vs the Russians. Iran, which is also extreme Islamist, is happy to get help from Russian technicians for their nuclear program. Pakistan, another very Islamic country, pays heed when its ally China speaks. There is something hypocritical and delusional about this hatred.

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