The Unreliable Guide To… Hate
The Unreliable Guide has been thinking about hate. The first stage of professor Gregory Stanton’s paper on ‘The 8 Stages of Genocide’ is the division of people into “them and us”. Once you’ve decided who’s excluded you can define them with a symbol, discriminate against them and declare that they’re less human than you. Once you’ve got that in place all it takes is a bit of organisation, some media propaganda and, Adolf’s-your-uncle, you have mass extermination.
But what fuels and perpetuates this madness? It’s hate, that most destructive of emotions. The problem with hate is that it often stems from fear. Hate is easy to embrace because while fear makes us feel weak, hating feels powerful and controlled. But hate does not make us strong, it makes us vulnerable to manipulation because it’s an emotional reaction and not a rational analysis of facts. As the saying goes, haters always gonna hate, but you can be smarter. Open your heart and mind with some of these tips and tricks…
Racism is the most obvious example of “them and us”, because the belief that your race is superior to another creates an instant division. Fear of the unknown is a primal reaction, knowing how to categorise things keeps us alive – these berries are yummy, those are poisonous. If the first purple person you meet attacks you it’s easy to develop a lifelong aversion to all purple people, but overcoming these knee-jerk instincts is essential for social evolution.
Modern man must be more sophisticated. Superficial indicators like colour are simplistic and reductive classifiers, but they are powerful ways to define groups as “not us”. Trump’s controversial “send her back” statement last year about Congress member Ilhan Omar acted as a rallying cry to white supremacists and reinforced a growing trend of political divisionism. In the UK, the Windrush scandal persecuted citizens born in the West Indies, sending many ‘back home’ to a place they legitimately left forty years ago. As the world becomes more and more over-populated, we seem to be moving back towards this stance of ‘us vs them’ and it scares me.
Hate as a political tool
If you want to be manipulated, just start hating. I know I’m always quoting it, but Orwell’s novel, 1984, demonstrates this with his representation of the regime’s enforced “Two minutes of Hate”. Hate is a powerful emotion that unifies a crowd into an unthinking, obedient mass. First create an enemy and then focus the people’s hatred onto that enemy. They’ll follow you like sheep. The notion that our summer of bushfires was caused by greenies or arsonists is a classic example of this. Don’t be angry with me for not doing anything about the drought or climate change, hate them! Hate the ferals. Hate!
Finally, if you don’t hate anyone, good for you, but you should be aware that apathy is another symptom of the divisive power of ‘them and us’. I leave you with this rewrite of Martin Niemöller’s famous poem about the Nazis,‘First they came…’
First they came for the ABC
And I did not speak out
Because I watch Netflix.
Then they came for the climate protesters
And I did not speak out
Because Extinction Rebellion made me late for work.
Then they came for the
and I did not speak out
Because I can’t be arsed to read.
Then they came for me.
And there was no one left
To speak for me.