On the Transformative Power of Hate

Midway through college, I found myself (in part, I am sure, through my own fault) sucked into one of those interpersonal dramas of the sort that can only take place in an environment where lots of young adults with much time and little sense are living with each other in a small residential college 24/7. I had a falling out with my roommate, and since the room had become a rather difficult place to live, I arranged with the residence director to move into another room in the dorm. This was almost but not quite the end of it. For a few weeks longer there were random knocks on my door, anything I put on my bulletin board was slashed to ribbons, milkshakes had a way of happening to get spilled on my car, etc. And then all was forgotten.

But during that brief period during which the strife could not be let go, I developed a reflexive reaction to everything about the former roommate. Seeing a car on the highway the same color and model as his would make me angry. Just hearing the roommate’s name would cause a tightening feeling in my stomach. Even if one would be glad to be done with it all, being hated by someone else is something which cannot help but cause significant changes in you. Hatred is never a one-way relationship.

I think of this at the moment because our country looks increasingly like two camps that would really like to be warring, except for the fact that actual civil wars cut into work hours more than blogging does. When Representative Gabrielle Giffords was critically injured, and six bystanders were killed, by a gunman who was seriously disturbed, to say the least, it could have been a moment for the country to pull together in a sense of common sympathy for the dead and injured and outrage that violence had been brought into our civic life, where it has no place.

House Speaker John Boehner stepped forward and delivered standard unifying rhetoric for such occasions, “An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society… This is a sad day for our country.”

However, although it has become de rigueur for those on the left to say that President George Bush wasted the good will of the world after September 11th, 2001 by attacking Iraq a year and a half later, in this case any good will or unification was dispatched within five minutes as those on the left tripped over each other trying to see who could blame Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck first — as the founder of Daily Kos twittered, “Mission Accomplished, Sarah Palin.” and Paul Krugman insisted he’d been expecting the right to break into partisan violence since 2008.

Perhaps, isolated as we are from many of the troubles which have afflicted other countries in the world much more recently than they have us, too many people in our country fail to appreciate the fact that it is a good and valuable thing that in our country it is considered a grave crime by all when one of our elected representatives (even one we opposed in the last election) is attacked. In too many times and places, this kind of thing has people cheering in the streets. And so rather than appreciating the fact that — at times childish rhetoric from both sides aside — in our country everyone is willing to peacefully accept the outcomes of elections and the civic process, instead what we find is that those on the left are more eager to cash in on this atrocity by telling everyone, “See, my opponents are so wicked they cause political violence!” than they are to draw the country together in the unity they claim to be so eager for.

Needless to say, there is nothing more likely to make one feel enraged than to have someone unjustly accuse you of fomenting a shooting spree that killed six people, including a nine year old girl. I know some of my fellow conservatives feel I go overboard in the calmness department, but be assured, when some online punk who likes to talk about how people like me “hate the poor”, “hold legislation hostage”, have a health care policy of “if you get sick, die quickly”, am a “racist” and am moreover “just like the Taliban” because I’m religious, takes an opportunity like this to say that we conservatives are responsible for creating a “climate of hate” which causes crimes like what happened on Saturday, I feel like fomenting a little violence back right then and there.

Those on the left may not recognize that their movement has been seething with hate for all eight years of Bush’s administration, and somehow gone straight back into overdrive even after their candidate won in 2008. After all, it’s their movement, and they are sure that stoner guy with the beat-up Civic with the “Kill the President” and “Bush Is a Chimp-ass Punk” bumper stickers is just expressing himself and doesn’t mean anything by it. But those of who actually are on the right and get to hear about how we’re a “waste of oxygen” in online forums can assure them that they have been red in rhetorical tooth and claw for some time now.

One need only look at places like the Middle East to see how hard it is for people to step off the carousel once the cycle of hatred really gets going. Just the idea of working with one’s opponents becomes enough to make people angry. We’re a long way from that, though displays like this only bring us closer.

In an alternate reality, Democratic leaders and pundits took the sad opportunity of this shooting to join with Republican leaders in bringing the country together and reminding everyone that despite our differences all Americans share basic civic values. Instead, it was widely taken as an attempt to demonize their opponents after a hard fought election and to try to seriously hobble the new Republican majority in the House by waving the bloody shirt. I hope and pray there’s not another opportunity any time soon for our leaders and pundits to acquit themselves better. But either way, there are many who should be ashamed of themselves for trying to paint their fellow citizens with the blood of a crime that they are in fact united in abhorring.

32 Responses to On the Transformative Power of Hate

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    This is it for me. This event has proven decisively that there will not be, and cannot be, any sort of mutual understanding and reconciliation. The left was waiting for this, the speed at which they pounced was matched only by the audacity of the lies they told.

    This is not going to end well.

  • Joe Green says:

    Alas, Man has proven that in 6,000 years of recorded history, hate is a more powerful emotion that love. Satan is winning. Then again, the Bible says he is the “god of this world.” Those of us who are in it, but not of it, send up cries of despair, only to wait for justice to prevail. Some days, like today and most others, I don’t think it will come in my lifetime.

  • Art Deco says:

    This event has proven decisively that there will not be, and cannot be, any sort of mutual understanding and reconciliation.

    Take a pill, Joe. It is Paul Krugman, Michael Moore, Markos Moulitsas, Keith Olbermann, Pinch Sulzberger’s editorial board, and Sheriff Doofus of Pima County, Arizona. The condition of the Democratic Party and affiliated subcultures is parlous but this crew do not comprehend the whole and much of what is done by the people on this list is asinine performance art.

  • Joe Green says:

    Art, if you are referring to me, the only pill I take is Ambien to try to get a good night’s sleep. Thankfully, nightmares aside (a common side effect), sleep brings the only reprieve from the daily drudgery of living. To respond to every silly attack from the Left is simply to feed the beast. Why dignify such tripe? Right now the public square is filled with jabbering idiots. By posting it, however, I risk inclusion. Paradoxically, by speaking out, we are drawn into an argument that will go on for as long as right and wrong divide us.

  • Good point Art. We should keep in mind that there have been some people on the Left who have refused to go along with this attempt to start a witchhunt sans witches. Those who have squandered all their credibility in an attempt to slander and muzzle those they oppose politically, might do well however to recall this quotation: “Ruthless people don’t understand how *mean* good folks can get when their codes are violated.”

    –From “The Prince” by Jerry Pournelle and S.M. Stirling, p. 926.

    Sowing the wind is a dangerous pastime and far too many people on the Left in this country have been doing precisely that for the past decade.

  • Joe Green says:

    Just to put this into context, there were about 16,000 homicides in the U.S. last year and more than 600,000 since 2000. Mass murder is the exception, not the rule. Where are the ‘moments of silence’ and the national headlines for those slain retail? The Columbines, Foot Hoods and Virginia Techs get all the ink, but represent but a handful of the thousands murdered every yearm which averages out to 40 per day in America — or nearly 2 every hour.

    One death a tragedy; a million a statistic, said Joe Stalin. Why suddenly this wringing of hands and national agony about man’s inhumanity to man. Thomas Hobbes said his biggest fear was that anyone might be his murderer. He was right.

  • RR says:

    I agree but as you said “Hatred is never a one-way relationship.” the left reacted to being hated by the right by blaming the right. If it was a Republican who was shot, do you really think the conservative blogosphere would be calm and plead for restraint while the facts come in? Or is it more likely that Joe would write a mirror piece to Krugman’s “Climate of Hate”? Today, it’s the left that is acting irrationally but that is not a credit to the right.

  • Art Deco says:

    If it was a Republican who was shot, do you really think the conservative blogosphere would be calm and plead for restraint while the facts come in? Or is it more likely that Joe would write a mirror piece to Krugman’s “Climate of Hate”?

    Why not review back issues of National Review and op-ed commentary by Wm. F. Buckley, James Jackson Kilpatrick, George Will, William Rusher, and Smith Hempstone? Draw your selections from around about March 1981 and from September 1975. Those are your data points. I do not think you will find anything untoward, even thought the attribution of crimes such as this to anything and everything other than the agency of the perpetrator has a history that antedates those events by half a generation.

  • “Or is it more likely that Joe would write a mirror piece to Krugman’s “Climate of Hate”?”

    To elaborate on something Art Deco hints at: for the most part, conservatives believe in individual responsibility and therefore they are not tempted to think along the lines of blaming society or the political climate in general, not before any real facts are even inm as the likes of Kos and Krugman did.

    Now, that doesn’t mean that conservatives shy from blaming the left for violence — “ideas having consequences” and all that. But take one example of lefty violence that conservatives have made some ideological hay on — the Unabomber. They waited until the guy had his manifesto actually published and then was arrested (shortly after, as I recall) before claiming any link between the bombing and the environmentalist movement. Once you read the manifesto, however, it IS rather obvious — Kaczynski was an intelligent, lucid man who was acting out on the basis of ideas widely held if not-so-widely acted on this way.

  • RR says:

    Art, I don’t have to go go back to the pre-culture-war days. In 2009, Joe blamed Planned Parenthood and the pro-abort left for the murder of Jim Pouillon. Kudos to DarwinCatholic for a more measured reaction at the time. He can credibly say that he wouldn’t act as irrationally as Krugman and others have. Joe, on the other hand…

  • Austin Ruse,

    Who ever you are. I don’t give a rat’s patootie whether you approve of me and my “ranting”.

    Bully for you. Have fun with that.


    This is it for me. This event has proven decisively that there will not be, and cannot be, any sort of mutual understanding and reconciliation. The left was waiting for this, the speed at which they pounced was matched only by the audacity of the lies they told.

    I would tend to see it not so much that the left was waiting for us, but rather that during the Bush administration they learned to hate us so totally that nothing seemed below us, and with Obama’s victory they became convinced that conservatives would simply go away and they could proceed into the brave new world which would be allowed by total progressive rule. When the Amercian people handed them a thorough drubbing at the mid-terms, the only explanation was that it was because we had lied and cheated and stolen the country from them. Because, you know, we could never win on the issues. Only through lies.

    So when this happened, right after they’d lost so badly, in part because of the Tea Party folks, they instinctively leaped to the attack. At last, this would prove the tea party was evil.


    I agree but as you said “Hatred is never a one-way relationship.” the left reacted to being hated by the right by blaming the right.

    I was more thinking along the lines of: Given the loud and excessive extent to which the Left has hated the Right over the last ten years, they will eventually succeed in inspiring return hatred. Though one can always take it back further. The right rather unhinged under Clinton. The left was certainly very unhinged under Reagan. (I still know people who will only refer to him as “That alzheimer’s patient you elected”.) I’m not sure anyone could muster enough feeling through the malaise to hate Carter, but certainly people absolutely hated Nixon — despite the fact he looks more like a modern day Democrat than Republican. I’m not really sure where it stops.

    If it was a Republican who was shot, do you really think the conservative blogosphere would be calm and plead for restraint while the facts come in?

    I think it would mostly be a more passive aggressive form of attack: “If we were the left, we would blame leftist rhetoric, and then how would they feel. Here are ten examples. But as it is, we’ll wait for the trail and hang ‘im high.”

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Oh please. When did I “blame the left”? I pointed out that a Planned Parenthood director called pro-life protesters “terrorists.”

    But the left does promote a Culture of Death, this is indisputable.

    I haven’t said anything that is “irrational.” I challenge you to define that word and show how it applies to me. Put up or shut up.

  • Art Deco says:


    1. You said, when a ‘Republican gets shot’. The late Mr. Pouillion was not an elected official or a public figure of any kind. He may not have been registered to vote, for all we know. Your parameters, not mine.

    2. No clue how you got the idea that struggles over cultural questions post-date 1981.

    3. The offending passage consists of just two sentences and is as follows:

    Jim Pouillon may well be the victim of “pro-choice”, anti-abortion rhetoric, not only of the kind one would find in a street protest but by in the outrageous public statements made by supposed professionals and leaders in the abortion industry. A vigilante, obsessed with the idea of ridding America of a pro-life “terrorist”, inspired by the hateful rhetoric of the abortionists, decided to strike a pre-emptive blow against domestic terrorism.

    No cigar, really. He uses the subjunctive, does not defame any discrete individual, and suggests no vague or occult causal pathways. He does say when you call ordinary and inoffensive people ‘terrorists’ (and, keep in mind, the usage was not metaphorical), you encourage others with motives congruent with your own to view them that way.

    4. When our friend Hargrave gets rent-free space at the New York Times op-ed page, get back to me.

  • T. Shaw says:

    “If it was a Republican who was shot . . . ” IF?!

    The Federal Judge that is DEAD, DEAD, DEAD was a Republican appointed by President George H. W. Bush. At least they never made a movie nor wrote a book about assassinating the elder Bush, like they did his son.

    left-Liberals are truly [fill in the blank] . . .

    Here are more incitements to violence which need to be addressed by the Thought Police.

    “Some times peace comes at too high a price.” Ben Franklin

    “Do I not hate them, Lord, that hate thee.
    Am I not aggrieved with those that rise up against thee.”

    Iliad, Book XXI, “Strong hatred , defender of peoples.”

  • Mark Noonan says:

    We are a house divided and we will become all one thing, or all the other…all left, or all right. There is no bridging the gap – one side or the other will have to prevail. Does this mean, for certain, a violent civil war? No, but the stakes are just as high and it is possible.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    I am reminded of this passage from the Screwtape Letters concerning the demonic strategy at different times in human history:

    “Some ages are lukewarm and complacent, and it is our task to soothe them yet faster asleep. Other ages such as the present one (World War II) are unbalanced and prone to faction, and it is our task to inflame them…. The trick is to have them (humans) all running about with fire extinguishers when there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is nearly gunwale under.”

  • Henry Karlson says:


    People can note when there are unstable opponents and point out that, with a continued rhetoric which leads to desperation and talks revolution, something will happen. To be able to see it will happen, and warn people to stop before it does, now makes them to be at fault?

    Just remember, Joe. YOU ARE THE ONE who has a history of praising the DEATH of people. The reason it does not end good is because YOU don’t want it to end good. You are a part of the problem.

  • Aaron B. says:

    It does seem like liberals went off the rails with hate during the GWB presidency, and have never come back. They’ve dehumanized the right to the point where they feel no need to engage with it, but only to deride and destroy it. In fact, engaging with it would legitimize it to an extent they can’t accept. If you really believe someone is a hateful killer of the poor and sick and an earth-destroyer, you don’t negotiate with him and look for areas of compromise; you try to end him. That’s where the left’s view of the right is today.

    Yes, some on the right got pretty loopy during the Clinton presidency. But they tended to be on the fringe, people running conspiracy web sites and the like, not the well-known spokesman of the movement. There was no equivalent of the NY Times/Olbermann/Krugman responding like those organs of the left have in this case. In this case, the few exceptions on the left who didn’t jump on the hate bandwagon only prove the rule.

    The claim that the same thing would happen in the other direction is simply a lie. A conservative judge in Arizona was shot by a guy with Communist sympathies, and will now be replaced by an Obama appointee. So why haven’t we seen all the major figures of the right claiming this was all setup by Obama’s people, and the congresswoman was shot for cover? (Note that I’m not claiming that, because it’s stupid; but that’s the sort of thing we get from the left now.) When Reagan was shot, did the right immediately blame the entire left? There’s no equivalence here, not matter how above-the-fray it makes people feel to say there is.

  • Henry,

    In the spirit of the post, allow me to point out that when you accuse people (indeed ALL IN CAPS) of praising the death of others, and say that they are “part of the problem” when it comes to random mass killings in this country, you are bringing more hate to the table than anyone else has shown in this thread. This is a perfect example of allowing your strong dislike for a person’s views and tone turn into a dislike for the person which is so strong that it apparantly interferes with your ability to construct coherant sentences.

    If you really care about reducing the violence of political rhetoric, ceasing to accuse your opponents of advocating for death would be a really good start.

  • Mark,

    We are a house divided and we will become all one thing, or all the other…all left, or all right. There is no bridging the gap – one side or the other will have to prevail.

    I’m not aware of any other periods in our history where one side of the political debate has simply vanished and the other has completely prevailed. Even the civil war did not result in that — far from it, indeed. Why should we expect to see that now?

  • The Tories come closest to being a side that completely lost a political debate in this country during the Revolution. Many of them left the country and went to Canada where they were known as United Empire Loyalists. A fair number of them eventually did return to the US. Other than that I agree with you Darwin that complete victories in US politics are almost non-existent. We see even apparently defeated political factions like the Federalists emerging later under new guises.

  • RL says:

    Be thankful that no one side wins completely. Balance can be a great thing. I think the compromise of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists serves as a premier example of how it can make for a better product. Of course, both parties were very forward thinking and concerned about ensuring that their decisions would not lead to tyranny generations down the road. Can’t really say that these days.

  • T. Shaw says:

    Mac, 8:19AM:

    Never happen. I become viscerally ill when I come in close proximity to pure evil. In fact in 1992, I walked past Bryant Park when Clinton was bloviating there and I nearly had a seizure.

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .