There’s a new word being used both for critics of faiths and ideologies (for instance, antitheistic nonbelievers), and terrorists, like those who just blew up themselves and others in Istanbul:
Why is this word being used? In both cases it’s to dismiss substantive criticism or analysis. It’s much easier to dismiss critics of Islam or Catholicism, for instance, as “haters” than it is to defend the tenets of those faiths. If you can put your critic beyond the pale with a single word (“racist” will suffice as well), then you don’t have to do any work. As for terrorists, well, there are at least four causes of mass murder. In the case of attacks like that in Istanbul, which is likely connected with ISIS, the most frequently cited causes are religion, colonialism, mental illness, and disenfranchisement: poverty, lack of jobs, etc. (In the case of the Istanbul airport terrorism, I’m not sure how violence against Turks can be blamed on colonialism—but I’m sure the Apologists will find a way.)
But “hate”? Of all the factors contributing to terrorism, that is the most facile explanation. Why did someone “hate”? It could, for example, be because of religion or indoctrination (Arab youths taught to hate Jews from the time they’re in kindergarten, largely on grounds of religion), or mental illness, as in the case of the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. And, of course, the factors above can interact in toxic ways, as perhaps they did in the Orlando killer Omar Mateen.
Another reason “hatred” is so often used is that it seems to offer a simple solution to terrorism or criticism: love. All you need is love! So if you go out and hug Muslims or gays or members of any demonized group, that will solve the problem. And, indeed, I believed that during the Sixties, when Love seemed the solution to all the world’s problems? Remember the photo of the Vietnam war protestor sticking flowers into the muzzles of National Guard Rifles? That photo, by Bernie Boston, symbolized the whole “all you need is love” mentality.
Unfortunately—and we all know this—love is not enough. Love (or mutual support) can of course be a palliative in times of stress and misery, but it’s no solution to the political problems of the world—at least, not a solution that can be easily implemented. Yes, the world would be better if Sunnis loved Shias, and ISIS loved the West, but that won’t be solved with hugs and flowers. And those who bruit about the “hate versus love” solution know this in their hearts, as expressed in their other mantra: “Haters gonna hate.”
Finally, yes, there are some splenetic souls who really are haters: those who hate women or gays or Muslims or Westerners;—in other words, bigots. When that leads to personal harassment, it really is hate. But to apply the term to criticism of ideologies, or to complex problems like terrorism, well, that’s just evading hard thought and hard work.
Here’s a sample I found in about two minutes (click on the screenshot if you want to see the articles). They include “gun haters” like me. I don’t hate guns: a gun is just a piece of metal. I intensely dislike the mind-set that claims we have a right to own guns, including concealed ones and semiautomatic ones.