“Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics” by Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski— Rethinking Hate and Violence

considering hate

Whitlock, Kay and Michael Bronski. “Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics”, Beacon Press, 2015.

Rethinking Hate and Violence

Amos Lassen

It is certainly not news to anyone that for centuries, America has had to deal with brutality that has been fed by the disregard for the humanity of others— the violence against native peoples, black people and immigrants and of late we have had the murders of Matthew Shepard, Jennifer Daugherty, Marcelo Lucero, and Trayvon Martin as well as the Steubenville rape case. We have come to think about these cases as being caused by hate but rethinking them we might consider something else. That is just what writers and activists Whitlock and Michael Bronski do as they tell us that “American society’s reliance on the framework of hate to explain these acts is wrongheaded, misleading, and ultimately harmful”.

It is very easy for us to choose to believe that cruelty ”is aberrant, caused primarily by “extremists” and misfits”. The remedy for this by the government is heavier government-based policing, intensified surveillance, and harsher punishments but this has never worked and it does not work today. We see that the remedies such as Stand-your-ground laws; the US prison system; police harassment of people of color, women, and LGBT people are themselves forms of institutionalized violence.

“Hate violence” reflects existing cultural norms. The authors look at social science, philosophy, theology, film, and literature to examine how hate and common, even ordinary, forms of individual and group violence are excused and normalized in popular culture and political discussion. And yes the word is normalized; a way of looking at this in a way we never thought would be accepted as normal. (But then we can try to define the word normal and see that there is no “normal” definition. We deny this kind of brutality and this is what hurts society’s ideas about goodness and justice. We are asked to

“radically reimagine the meaning and structures of justice within a new framework of community wholeness, collective responsibility, and civic goodness”. Reading this causes us to think about how hate works in out own lives. Cultural change can only happen when we transform our consciousness to understand that no structural challenge will happen. We have for so long been told that we are responsible for the actions of others something I have never understood. What I now take that to mean is that by helping to maintain what is here allows me to work toward other possibilities. By not doing so I help those who react violently know that their actions are socially acceptable.

The book inspires the reader to think again and find new ways of dealing with harassment, violence and bullying. This book introduced us to new thoughts and new ways of dealing with harassment, bullying, and violence and follows that up with a section on books, videos, and online articles for more information and continued study. We get an intellectual look at how a culture of hate has evolved across time and continues to persist.

Leave a Reply