The Weaponization of Hate

This is a particularly interesting week to be traveling across the French countryside, as news fills the papers and the airwaves of another assault weapon-of-war used in another mass shooting done by another frightened – and thus hate-filled – American.

The Europeans know well the wages of hate and fear. And it goes way back into the dim mists of history, well before the era of the names we all know so well from the 20th century.

“The Other” is the key.

Once a demagogue successfully turns a person, a group, a gender (or gender preference), a region, a nation, or a race into The Other, the consequences are terribly but consistently predictable.

The Other are, virtually by definition, less than fully human. They’re not “us.” They may be alive, they may be able to feel emotion, they may be able to communicate, but they’re not Us.

Therefore, what we do to Them isn’t as important or consequential as what we may do to Us. (See “slavery”; US history 101.)

And when this de-humanization is used by those with economic, religious, or political power (the lines between the three are often indistinguishable), it becomes weaponized.

It seems one of the most fatal flaws of the human race is that we keep forgetting this lesson – or that those elites lusting for wealth and power keep remembering and enthusiastically using it to rally their less-powerful, less-fortunate peers.

Yesterday, Louise and I visited a castle here in Brittany where Joan of Arc helped plan a history-changing battle against an Other of that day. Slaughter and looting ensued, and one group of elites ended up ceding power and land to another.

And while all the details of the elites and they’re fantastic lives are on display, both in the castle and in any history book, what is almost entirely missing from the narrative is how the use of wealth, religion, and ancestry to “other-ize” the defeated people impacted the lives of what the Bernie Sanders’ of that era would have called the “ordinary working people.”

While the elites marched into the history books, the “little people” were subject to rape, pillage, torture, murder, and a shift from the service of one elite group to another.

It’s a story you can find in the Bible over and over again (read the Book of Joshua for some particularly startling accounts of this phenomenon). The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the same story from millennia before Joshua. Every war in every part of the world in the 65 years of my lifetime tells the same story.

And so you’d think that people like Mitch McConnell would realize how powerful and dangerous it is to, as one of my elderly German friends once said, “Gently look the other way.”

Instead, so far, like so many of his mostly-Republican colleagues and much of the right-wing media, McConnell has so far refused to even acknowledge the role the systematic and even organized (both by Party and by religion) other-ization of LGBT people played in the Orlando gay nightclub massacre.

The peasants who fell victim to Joan of Arc’s visions and their exploitation by the political and economic elites of her day played no role in their own other-ization and subsequent misery and death. Similarly, the people partying at the Pulse had no idea that their own other-ization by both Muslim and Christian demagogues and so-called "conservative" political elites would lead to their specific grisly fate.

But we all should have known, If not specifically, in general.

If history teaches us no other lesson, it's that hate directed by elites, and the fear which that hate incites in the followers of those elites, always ends badly.

Over the short-term, the elites may think they’ve won.

Republicans who use hate of LGBT people as a political tool will see a bump in the polls.

Companies that make and aggressively sell weapons of war to civilians have already seen huge increases in the value of their stock and, thus, their fortunes.

And Christian and Muslim demagogues basking in the revenge fantasies of their acolytes are already promoting another round of hate and fear from the pulpit to the mosque to YouTube.

These people and their strategy is not new. And neither is the silence of those cowed or who simply think, “This is not my fight.” Pastor Niemoller told us of his tragic realization that he, himself, had become one of the silent ones – and eventually paid the ultimate price for his and his colleagues’ silence. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King told us, “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

It is all of one cloth.

Bigotry, intolerance, hate, and fear represent a historical arrow that points in only one direction.

And there are some brave voices, from groups like Muslims for Progressive Values calling for full rights for women and gays, to politicians like Bernie Sanders saying that, “My religion is that when you or your child hurts, I hurt,” regardless of who “you” are.

Silence and passivity are no longer options. History is filled with their consequences.

When the billionaire funders/owners of the Republican Party (and a few Democrats, tragically) smile while hate-promoting websites and radio/TV programs funnel ever-more-frightened people into their ranks; when hate-promoting pastors, priests, and imams jump forward to use hate and intolerance to increase their followings; when politicians use these most primal and easily-manipulated emotions to maintain and even build their own power; it’s time for all of us to say: No.


Too much, in fact.

We either stand together as a human family, or we die together in misery.

To paraphrase Woody Guthrie, it’s time to take account.

Which side are you on? And how much longer will you stay silent?


stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 8 years 1 week ago

Humanity will never be anything more than barbaric savages, until WE THE PEOPLE evolve beyond hatred, paranoia, greed and arrogance. Sadly, this may never happen.

Lloyd Lutterman's picture
Lloyd Lutterman 8 years 1 week ago

Was a CIA operative as Lee Harvey Oswald and cast of others

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 1 week ago

Many of us lust for social, economic, and environmental justice, and we by far out number the piggish elites who lust for unending wealth and arbitrary power. It's time for all of humanity to make these out of control elites, "the other"!

I known what side I'm on, and I'm never silent about it.

Queenbeethatsme's picture
Queenbeethatsme 8 years 1 week ago

What is this collective "we" stuff? By and large the simple term of "American" is a euphemism for a white person with former European ancestry. To not hyphenate or preface with a color presupposes a white person.

Rampage and serial killing within the US is always assumed to be done by a white perp with every now and then a ringer of a black or Asian or Hispanic or SubCaucasian* thrown in just to not make every person of color go completely paranoid about crazy whites going off the rails.

Whites have always felt besieged by everyone else, paranoid of everyone else and since they remain unrepentant about the harm they have done to other races..including the export of guns and bombs to Asia, Africa and elsewhere on the globe..many whites have a sneaking fear that :

1. Retribution is nigh
2. A comeuppance is due
3. If they don't prepare and strike first, they will be overrun

ALL of this stems from white certainty that every other race views the world in the same bigoted way many whites do, and since whites can't even stand criticism much less the type of oppression they routinely practice against others...they are scared indeed.

There is that karmic,/Judeo Christian/Asian law of reaping what one sows or what comes around goes around and deep in the heart of whoredom is the fear that there just might be something to the idea of a higher power and unpaid debts.

Silly Americans think it will be in the form of Muslim terrorists but that is not karma. Karma is when you get back what you gave out.

KARMA is the detonation/destruction, sabotage/immolation of a society from within..anarchy, war and mayhem.

Let's see Amerikkka, that would be genocide, racial rape and appropriation, slavery, institutionalized racism, apathy, finger pointing, attacking others without provocation, fomenting and selling wars...yikes..this is really going to hurt...and most of the world will just think it is about time we got our due.

We are indeed on the slow slide to karmic comeuppance but not by the hands of Muslims which whites see as terrorists when a Muslim commits a rampage shooting but fail to see all the white terrorists who mail bombs, rage kill, politically assassinate, send out poisons, bomb government and church buildings and yet we don't profile young, angry white men...

was this a hate crime? Yes it was..a terrorist act? In that it has caused present society to reel and fomented distrust and anger..yes it is..but not due to Islam..Dylan Storm committed a terrorist act, Timothy McVeigh committed a terrorist act the unibomber,mailboxbomber, Boston marathon bomber, shoe bomber, ricin mailers, anthrax mailers, sandy hook shooter,columbine shooter, Aurora movie theater shooter ALL COMMITTED terrorist acts but when did we stand up to demand the profile of those bombers be watched, or monitored, or foreign males be limited? NEVER.

Because they were all white perps and whites whine Lou and long about the stench of everyone's mess but their own.

*SubCaucasian are all the other ethnicities redesignate by whites to also be Caucasian (mostly done in the 1970s) to pre empt their coming racial minority status and diminishing fertility.

Heck maybe such hatred and savagery IS genetic..vestiges of the latent misanthropy of the Neanderthal gene.

ragingdemo's picture
ragingdemo 8 years 1 week ago

Dear Thom. What I found most troubling is the fact that down through time it appear's at first glance as if the "Elite" are passive warm loving great humanitarians who War NOT or at least they don't seem to suffer the brutality or the horror's of War in the slightest while at the exact same time those "little people" shoulder the brunt of ALL War namely the destruction of entire community's and death often time's entire family's being killed but these horror's of War seem to be limited to the little people ONLY and I would be willing to bet the farm that those very little people didn't play ANY part in the starting of these Wars . I bet if you go back as far as you can you will find that those Elite bloodlines have been at the center of ALL the hardship the War and the profit's of said wars while the little people paid the tab in blood and oppression the Elite don't seem to suffer ANY of the consequences of War . I almost think it's by design and NOT by chance just like you will never read or hear about any member of an Elite bloodline who suffer's the ravages of cancer in fact they seem to exist just below the radar and completely free of ANY Law enforcement scrutiny while we little people are under constant 24 /7 law enforcement scrutiny the very moment we step out our front door and again I don't think it's by accident but rather careful design I also believe for good reason that the majority of these so-called mass murder's are poorly done B movie scripted & directed attempt's at directing an agenda that we will see clearly later . all anyone with a 5th grade education need do is just go back and carefully scrutinize the alledged eye witness accounts and some of the oh so timnely statem,ents made . from 9/11 to Sandy hook to the Oklahoma city bombing it feed's the PNAC agenda that will make itself known completely ..

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 1 week ago

I've often thought it inconsistent that Joan of Arc's God would tell her, " thou shall kill the Engish occupiers, or that the same God would tell crusaders to go kill Seljuks, Jews, and anyone else along the way, or the same God would tell Mahomet's followers to kill all infidels.

We'd be much better off if the Iroquois had been able to convert the Jesuits!

anothergreenbus 8 years 1 week ago

Hate politics flourish in a time of falsity. So called moderates like Clinton are responsible for creating a truth vacuum where people like trump can succeed.

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