Friday, September 11, 2009

On hatred

Today is September 11, 2009, the anniversary of the terrorist attack on America that brought down the Twin Towers, damaged the Pentagon, and killed about 3,000 people. The terrorist murderers who brought this death and destruction on our nation were motivated, ultimately, by hatred--but what, exactly, is hate?

Hate is a word that gets thrown around entirely too often these days. People who oppose gay marriage, for instance, are told that they are displaying hate for same-sex attracted people. Republicans accuse Democrats of hate, and Democrats accuse Republicans of it. Increasingly, any sort of disagreement or disapproval with anyone is labeled "hate," as if the only reason to say, politely, to another person "I don't agree with you about this issue," is a deep-rooted hatred for the other person as a person, not merely an intellectual dispute about the matter at hand.

But hate has little to do with the act of disagreeing with another person's views or ideas. Hate goes much deeper than that. It is a total disassociation of the self from the hated other, such that the person who is filled with hate would prefer that the other not exist at all. It seeks death and destruction for the other person, and if eternal death is a possibility, the hate-filled person would like to cause that eternal destruction; he enjoys reflecting on the idea that his enemy is suffering eternal torment, and would angrily reject as unjust any idea of God in which God does not agree to provide that torment for his enemy. A God Who forgives, Who dispenses mercy as well as justice, is not a God worshiped by anyone who hates.

The September 11 terrorists were filled with that sort of hate. Believing that those who reject Islam are doomed to eternal death, they wished to unleash that death upon as many of their enemies as they could. Their hatred was truly diabolical, in that only the Devil seeks the eternal destruction of the souls of men.

Here in America we sometimes see true acts of hate, too. The difference is that in our secular society it is increasingly meaningless to talk of anyone's eternal destiny. The murderer in America doesn't necessarily think he is sending his enemy to Hell, but that's more because he doesn't believe in Hell, not that he wouldn't choose to send his enemy there if he thought that Hell were real. On this September 11 anniversary, the news is full of the story of this sort of hate, American-style:

OWOSSO, Mich. — A man carrying grudges against several people in town set off on a shooting spree Friday morning, authorities said, killing an abortion protester outside a school because he didn't like that the activist carried a sign with graphic images of a fetus in front of students.

Before he was done, the gunman drove to a gravel pit and shot and killed the owner, apparently for different reasons, police said. Authorities believe they stopped a third killing by catching up with him before he could pull the trigger.

"The defendant had ill will toward these three individuals — not for the same reason necessarily, but had a grudge," said Shiawassee County Prosecutor Randy Colbry.

It started around 7:20 a.m. across the street at the high school, where James Pouillon stood with a sign that pictured a chubby-cheeked baby with the word "LIFE" on one side and an image of an aborted fetus with the word "ABORTION" on the other. Pouillon was a well-known activist in the town of 15,000, who often had one-man demonstrations outside area schools and city hall.

Harlan James Drake, 33, drove by the school Friday and gunned Pouillon down in front of horrified students and parents, Colbry said.

The murderer in this story was also full of hate for his victims. He may or may not have believed in or cared about their eternal destinies, but he definitely wanted to remove them from the face of the earth. That total rejection, that total lack of the qualities of brotherhood, mercy, kindness, and compassion is the cornerstone of hate. From the heart filled with hate comes the murder of the innocent.

In terms of abortion, I think that many of the women who abort their unborn children do not actually hate their children. When I read stories of post-abortive women online, especially those who regret their abortions, I see the same root causes of abortion over and over: fear, confusion, self-doubt, weakness, hopelessness or depression, pressure from a boyfriend or family members, uncertainty about what abortion really is, immaturity that only realizes the horror of what was done much later (sometimes during a subsequent pregnancy).

Yet the approximately 4,000 Americans killed by abortion every day die because of hate. Those who know perfectly well what abortion is but work for and agitate for more abortion, greater funding of abortion, greater access to abortion; those who have no excuse to deny the humanity of the unborn child but who scream every time someone suggests even the most mild restrictions or late-term regulations; those who insist that pregnant women seeking abortion must not be told about their child's stage of development, shown pictures, or made to view an ultrasound--these people truly do hate the unborn child. They hate the child, because they deny his or her humanity; they want nothing to do with him or her; they are happy and satisfied when more and more of them are removed from the face of the earth. And this hatred has contributed to and made possible the deaths of almost fifty million unborn Americans.

The same hatred that leads terrorists to try to kill their enemies leads pro-abortion advocates (who love to hide under that term, "pro-choice," the same way some news agencies love to call terrorists "Islamic militants") to seek the deaths of millions of unborn American children. Its source, like the source of all hatred, is Satan, whose hatred for all of humanity motivates his evil actions in our lives, and tempts us to view with complaisance or acceptance the destruction of other human beings.


j. christian said...

Reflecting on 9/11, I recall an essay by Lee Harris on the motivation for the terror attacks. His thesis is that they were not an act of war as we traditionally understand it, but that they were the enactment of a fantasy. As a way of introducing his idea, he describes an encounter with a college friend protesting the Vietnam War:

Thus, when he lay down in front of hapless commuters on the bridges over the Potomac, he had no interest in changing the minds of these commuters, no concern over whether they became angry at the protesters or not. They were there merely as props, as so many supernumeraries in his private psychodrama. The protest for him was not politics, but theater; and the significance of his role lay not in the political ends his actions might achieve, but rather in their symbolic value as ritual. In short, he was acting out a fantasy.

The victims of 9/11 were "supernumeraries in a private psychodrama." Props.

I have no special insight into evil or knowledge of whether an act is Satanic or not. Hate is a strong, strong word, but dehumanizing others to the point that they are props in one's fantasy -- that has to be a special kind of hatred.

Red Cardigan said...

J. Christian, I'm almost willing to bet that you would never label an act of terror or murder "hate," but would be perfectly comfortable labeling right-wing commentary as such.

Am I correct?

j. christian said...

I'll gladly take that bet, because I'm having a hard time figuring out how you came to that conclusion.

I said of the 9/11 terrorists:
dehumanizing others to the point that they are props in one's fantasy -- that has to be a special kind of hatred.

You said:
I'm almost willing to bet that you would never label an act of terror or murder "hate,"

But I just did!

Red Cardigan said...

Oh, wow, sorry. I've been battling a mild sinus infection all week and totally, completely misread your comment.

Apologies! :)

Lara said...

I'm pro-choice and I don't hate unborn babies; and most of my friends and family are pro-choice and they don't hate unborn babies either. In fact, most of them have kids.

I'm not offended or anything, I just think you're doing yourself a disservice by not really trying to understand the point of view of people who disagree with you.

j. christian said...

No, Lara, you don't hate unborn babies. You just support a legal framework that allows them to be killed at any time for any reason whatsoever.

Lara said...

Well, not exactly. But I do support a legal framework that allows them to be killed at some times for some reasons by some people. But the point of this post is supposed to be that I hate them. I don't.

Do you think that the people who support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan hate the civilians in those countries? I don't think they do. But the fact is that they support a policy that results in a lot of innocent civilians being killed.

Sure, you could argue that supporting policies that result in people being killed equals hating them by definition. But I think that does serious violence to the meaning of the word "hate" and also misses the real reasons that people support certain policies.

Red Cardigan said...

Lara, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton effectively make abortion legal for any reason at all through the ninth month of pregnancy; a woman only has to say she is depressed to trigger Bolton's medical reasons, and could literally have her child killed while she is in labor. Is this the legal framework you allow?

I don't support wars that unjustly target civilians or disproportionately kill them. Do you? Do you see the unborn child's death as "collateral damage" in his mother and father's egregiously selfish and irresponsible sexual behavior?