The New Social Wave of Falling in Love With Hate

For a society that is focusing increasingly on tolerance, understanding and kindness, some people?including a lot of people on college campuses?certainly are in love with the word “hate.”

When University of Utah alumnus Matt Evans posted signs containing pro-life messages around the Harvard Law School campus, one university staff member confronted him and condemned his message as “one of hate.”

When Brown University?s daily newspaper ran David Horowitz?s dispassionate argument against reparations for slavery, Lewis Gordon, Brown?s director of Afro American studies, said the ad was “clearly hate speech.”

Often, when supporters of traditional families respectfully disagree with supporters of homosexual rights, anxious gay activists start their rebuttal by accusing those who disagree with them as “haters.”

Notice a pattern forming? Increasingly, those who lean left on the political or ideological continuum are saying that those with opposing viewpoints “hate,” regardless of the issue.

Granted, some Christian groups?those that typically oppose homosexual rights?are less than Christian in their approach to gays.

Similarly, some pro-life supporters not only protest, but also harass and threaten workers at abortion clinics. The actions of this zealous minority are hateful and inexcusable.

However, many accusations of hate target those who just believe differently and express those views civilly.

In these cases, the use of the word “hate” is at best incorrect?and at worst manipulative.

When such people are called “haters,” the finger pointing really becomes a misguided attempt at social branding.

Such indictments infer that simple disagreement equates to hate, and they cast an implied guilt upon those they target. This stigmatization is wrong.

Compellingly, some who cry “hate” use this language not just to stigmatize others? viewpoints. Some also seem to use it to relieve themselves of rationally defending their own opinions, or at least explaining how the differing viewpoint is “hateful.”

The aftermath of Horowitz?s advertisement, “10 Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks are a Bad Idea for Blacks, and Racist, Too” provides a good example of this phenomenon.

Most of the 34 schools to which Horowitz sent his paid advertisement considered its contents worthy of censoring, and they refused to print it.

When a few schools did print it, however, students and faculty at universities across the country exploded with indignation. They had a right to do so. Horowitz?s claims are certainly debatable.

But nobody debated.

Instead, offended objectors reacted with the sound and fury of the emotionally affluent but intellectually bankrupt.

Brown University students and faculty destroyed an entire day?s press run of The Brown Daily Herald to protest its decision to run the ad.

Other incensed individuals painted Internet message boards with colorful rhetoric. Others held protests and demonstrations. Some just wanted Horowitz?s head on a platter.

But for a month, nobody questioned Horowitz?s ad intellectually. The two scholars who finally offered rational responses to each of Horowitz?s claims admitted as much. “To our knowledge,” Ernest Allen Jr. and Robert Chrisman wrote, “only one of Horowitz?s 10 ?reasons? has been challenged by a black scholar as to source, accuracy and validity.”

Allen and Chrisman finally gave a rebuttal that Horowitz called “refreshingly intellectual and civil,” although the rebuttal?s introduction also included stingy accusations of “hate.”

But Allen and Chrisman at least put some rationale behind their reproof.

The most ironic aspect of the “hate” campaign is the sometimes-hollow support of a “diversity of ideas.”

Such diversity should seemingly include concepts like absolute truth, support of the traditional family structure and the belief that some actions are right?and some are wrong.

Many people exclude such ideas from their notion of inclusiveness. These individuals give credence to the axiom: “In American society, everything is tolerated except those who do not tolerate everything.”

On a personal level, most of these issues seem to solve themselves.

For a year I worked every day with a man named John.

Although he was almost twice my age and came from a totally different background, John and I became good friends.

We both genuinely enjoyed the 15 minutes he would spend in my company?s store each day. He teased me about being an unmarried 21-year-old in Utah. I made fun of 1980s-ish hair.

We joked around and laughed, but we also talked about a lot of life?s more important issues.

One day John surprised me with an unexpected admission: He was gay. Our relationship from that day on changed?not at all.

I continued playing racquetball each week with him and another heterosexual friend of ours. John wouldn?t play alone with me?he was afraid of what others might perceive of me.

A few weeks after his disclosure, my manager, her husband, my girlfriend and I went to John?s house to play board games and have dinner.

We continued being great friends until we both changed jobs and eventually lost contact.

All the while, though, he knew my beliefs, and he was well aware that I supported traditional families.

He understood that I disagreed in principle with his lifestyle. He knew that someday I might oppose him on legislation or social structures that he might support.

But if you ask me if John hated me, I will tell you no.

And if you asked John if I hated him, he would give you the same answer.

As a second-year medical student, Wayne Burton said in a simple but eloquent letter to the Daily Utah Chronicle on Oct. 12: “Disagreement is not synonymous with hate. It?s a shame when they are mistaken.”

Mike welcomes feedback at: [email protected] or send letters to the editor to: [email protected].