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Commentary: Hate isn’t a four-letter word

One implication of this title is that hate is and has been a problem throughout human history. From that angle it’s a large, pressing issue not a small, insignificant word. The second relates to how four-letter words lack the negative significance they once held in our increasingly profane, impolite society. Lip read almost any sports figure, (long seen as role models), and you’ll find the f-bomb dropped routinely without an inkling of cultural shock or revulsion. Four-letter words aren’t seen as all that bad anymore.

Except for hate, which has become the vilest of words. People accused of hate seldom use the word, still their actions, beliefs and values are characterized that way. Opposing unrestricted immigration, defending free speech, or the unborn, cherishing natural and traditional marriage, endorsing two-gender biology, the discipline of children or importance of fathers in the home, or the recognition that every sports participant doesn’t deserve a trophy, is, in the eyes of our PC culture, equivalent with hatred, and hate must be stopped.

Stopping hate means embracing the path of love, but is it that simple? Can mere love solve our culture’s myriad problems? Think that over. Will sex traffickers release their lucrative 13-year-old captives through an assurance of love? Love from whom? Don’t drug dealers have loving friends and families? Haven’t some racists come from loving homes? Do they see defending their race as loving their ethnic distinctiveness? Are they justifying racism in the name of love? If so, then in that example love can be as great a motivation for evil as hate.

“Enthusiasm lasts for a few years, but deep love, once established, is indestructible and may endure for centuries. It is a strong, powerful light that never dims. Nowhere else in the world does one find such fanatic love on the part of millions of people for a person, a love that is not exaggerated or hasty, but rather grows from deep and great faith, the kind of lasting confidence children may have for a very good father.” Those words were written in 1936 by Dr. Otto Dietrich, Adolf Hitler’s press secretary. As propaganda, yes. Still it highlights how love can be misused to promote evil.

“Stop the hate” cries suggest love is the only option for community cohesion. In truth, another element exists that already threatens our cultural well-being that’s far deadlier than hate –  indifference. Through constantly demonizing hate, we may grow apathetic to community-based problems that indifference simply will not address. Can’t we find agreement on evil things we truly should detest? Human trafficking, for example. Or terrorism. Political corruption. Poverty. Gang violence. Spouse, child, and animal abuse. Homelessness. Starvation. Cancer. Bullying…

Honesty demands we admit that many who cry “stop the hate” already hate some of these things. Then why can’t we say so? But why call our response hate? Isn’t there a less inflammatory synonym? Perhaps, but our culture tends to redefine words. Hate is the word being misused, that is the word we must correct because allegations of hatred cloud the fact that disgust in its proper domain is superior to indifference.

In response to a Pennsylvania Grand Jury report that found more than a thousand cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests over seven decades, Bishop Morlino, of Madison, Wisconsin, called for a renewed hatred of sin. Vilified for labeling homosexuality a sin, he simply meant that indifference to child molestation has led to its continuation. Love for the victim demands loathing of the offence, regardless of the offender’s identity. Without society’s passionate repugnance toward the victimization of children, problems like child sex-trafficking will also continue.

Now we aren’t advocating hateful behavior. Fists raised, guns waving, vehicles set ablaze in angry protest. We are advocating a zealous opposition to evil once called righteous indignation. It’s greatly needed in our “whatever” culture of indifference that prefers looking through the rose-colored glasses of love.

We must also recapture an age-old understanding. We can hate a practice without hating the practitioner. We don’t hate addicts we hate addiction. We don’t despise racists we despise racism. We can have friends (and most of us do) that we passionately disagree with on multiple issues without resorting to the rhetoric of hater.

We clearly cannot love the vices listed earlier. The purest “love does not delight in evil…It always protects.” (1 Corinthians 13:6-7) But neither can we be indifferent to wickedness. Because there are some things we should despise, hate isn’t a four-letter word.

William Shifflett is an Edinburg resident.