I was introduced to Bo Didley’s song, “Who Do You Love,” via George Thorogood and the (Delaware) Destroyers circa 1978. It is a catchy, repetitive song that, with every stanza, asks, “Who do you love?” Who we love is a very important question but I want to know who we hate.
We are encouraged to hate. We are encouraged to hate what is different from us, to hate the unknown, to divide ourselves into good guys and bad guys, (Of course we’re always the good guys.) and to castigate, quarantine and quite possibly eviscerate the dreadful, hated other. We are good, they are bad.
Interestingly the “They” is amorphous and malleable. There are some perennial favorites but our enemies can become our friends and vice-versa. The Destroyers released their version of “Who Do You Love” in 1978 when Iran was a friend and ally to the United States. Late the next year we became The Great Satan while they became #2 in the Axis of Evil. (Here in the USA North Korea has rated the #1 spot for over half a century.)
Great Britain, aka The United Kingdom, was public enemy #1 back in the late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries but is now one of our closest allies. And the hatred certainly isn’t limited to foreign countries. We love to hate religious groups as well.
In the West hating Jews has been enshrined in law. In medieval times “good Christians” had to go to “dirty, hook-nosed Jews” to borrow money for the Crusades, a “Holy War” against Islam. (Money lenders in medieval Europe were Jewish because Christians were not allowed to charge interest on a loan. “Usury” was a sin and a crime and the work-around was to borrow money from non-Christians.) Jews get the all-time prize for being downtrodden and vilified for the longest reign and the specter of violence and repression against them is ever present. As a child in church I remember Palm Sunday services where the congregation ritually and annually cried out against the “Christ Killers,” ignoring the fact that both Jesus, his mother and all his band of merry-men were also Jewish.
Africans brought over as slaves? Go ahead and hate ‘em. Hate ‘em so much that it was legal to rape, torture and brutally kill them. (Kill, not “murder” because one can only murder a human being; one kills animals.) Irish during the Potato Famine? Hate ‘em. Starve ‘em. Deny them work and then call them shiftless and lazy. Chinese immigrants, Native Americans, Mormons, Vietnamese? The list goes on and on but in modern America the group that currently holds the #1 spot in vilification?
Well we all know it’s those crazy, intolerant, Muslims. Hell, those boys are gonna force Sharia Law down the throats of good, hard-working Americans. (Despite the fact that Muslims make up less than 1% of the US population. How they gonna accomplish that?) If you really want to openly hate somebody in the USA the go to group is Muslims. Forget about hating liberal snowflakes, they’re too hard to pick out in a crowd! Go for hating Muslims. I mean, they might as well wear big crescents armbands on their sleeves what with the men sporting telling beards and the women wearing hijab head scarves.
Why is Hate and Fear such an easy sell? Why do we chomp down on the bait infused hook that is rampant, ignorant hate? Why do we refuse to see humanity in “other” and insist that “they” are here to ruin “us”?
Divide and conquer is a strategy as old as civilization. We’re all we’ve got on this earth and if you think that hating and denying rights to people that are different than we are will make the world a better place then you should go grab a mirror and some dental floss because it’s likely that you have that hatred hook stuck between your teeth.
Shalom, Salam, Peace. We’re never going to get there if we believe that the other guy isn’t even human.