Everybody needs to hate somebody

Prajwal Ciryam

In this world, hate is sweet, sweet succor. Islamic fundamentalists draw masses who hope to soften the blow of desperate circumstances with the fires of hatred. We, in turn, carpet-bomb them and everyone who looks like them back to the Stone Age in a patriotic fervor of jingoisitic hate.

The bottom line is: We hate. All of us. Some of us hate people out of prejudice. Some of us hate prejudiced people. When there are hate crimes on campus, the loudest response is our revulsion toward those who commit them. The message we send is, if you express your hate, we’ll show you how much more we hate you. Even those who hate hate can’t help, but hate the haters.

We have trouble coming to terms with this. A wise old man once told me, “Don’t hate the sinner, hate the sin.” But let’s be honest with ourselves – we all despise the people we consider “sinners.” That’s why we destroy them in the Middle East, ruin them politically in Washington and try to have them fired, expelled and arrested on our campus. Liberals hate and Conservatives hate, atheists hate and zealots hate. Our debate on capital punishment seriously considers the satisfaction of victims’ families. We don’t mete our punishment with the solemn gravity of impartiality. We feast on retribution.

And it brings us together to do it. Finding a target of hate makes us more cohesive as a group. We “build” community by excluding others. Even in the act of celebrating who we are, we highlight who we are not. And that process is frequently, if not always, one of hate.

Schools with successful sports programs have great communities because they have rivals to hate. All college students build their circles of friends around hating – classes, classmates, professors and anything else under the sun.

Why does hate play a starring role in our society? Probably because it helps us construct close ties with some people in opposition to others. Survival of the fittest means competition, but collaboration can help – to an extent. If you love and help everyone, you can’t compete effectively. But if you work with a few people to crush the rest, you trade in only a little personal competitiveness for a big boost in combined capability. Hate is a fundamental of human behavior. It’s ingrained in us. It’s who we are.

So we must stop dividing our debate between the hateful and the loving. We don’t combat hate with love and we probably never will. With the rare exception, we fight malice with malice, violence with violence and hate with hate. But maybe it’s OK to hate sometimes. I hate racists. I hate terrorists. I hate those who spurn the poor and the weak. But there are degrees of hate. We can hate the viciously oppressive and the discriminatory. We can even debate what to hate and what not to hate.

But what we cannot do is say that there is “No Place for Hate.” Even the campaign that pasted that message all over our campus proved that. We can be horribly intolerant – and sometimes, that can be the right thing. There is always a place for hate, whether we like it or not.

Prajwal Ciryam is a Weinberg senior. He can be reached at [email protected]