Confronting Hate

OPINIONS: Writer Yonatan Manor shares how we can use reason to fight hate. 

Recently, racism and anti-Semitism have taken center stage in America, sparking much controversy between both sides of the political spectrum, especially those on the far left and far right. This hatred, coming mainly from alt-right groups, has caused others to retaliate aggressively, elevating tension between people on both sides of the political spectrum.

Hate can be traced back to the first civilizations of human history, where inequalities in societies started to form between genders, ethnicities and religions. Not too long after these inequalities started to form, slavery became a common practice in civilizations, treating humans as property, dehumanizing them. This dehumanizing practice of slavery soon became racialized with the start of the Atlantic slave trade, solely relying on Africans for slave labor, associating slavery with “blackness.” Identifying slavery with black people, allowed Europeans to think of black people as lesser than them, especially in North America, where white European communities were strictly separate from native and black slave communities.

Jews were persecuted by the Roman Empire for centuries during the Classical Era for just having a different belief system, and when the Jews were accused of murdering Jesus by the Christians, persecution became more severe, especially when Christianity became the main religion of the Roman Empire. This persecution of Jews has lasted until today in the 21st century, as the small group of people to blame for all of the world’s problems, mainly because of events that happened thousands of years ago, that were not forgotten and turned into hatred by some people.

With these examples of the origins of hate of some groups of people, it is clear to see why some people today still hate these groups. One, because of past events in world history that shaped these groups as lesser and evil in people’s eyes, and two, because some people need to blame others for their downfall.

Hate is an ideology that can only be halted through action – not by violent and confrontational action – but through intellectual means. If the majority of people understood the reasons and thought processes of people who hate, instead of ostracizing them as horrible people who do not belong in society, people could come to a mutual understanding, and hate could be diminished.

For example? Charlottesville, Va. On August 11, 2017 Alt-right protestors, protesting for neo-Nazi policies and ideals, clashed with supporters of the left. This confrontation between two opposite sides of the political spectrum, led to violence quickly, with one person dying, and several injured. This is a clear example wear both sides ostracized each other instead of trying to be peaceful and hash out a solution. Left protestors bashed the alt-right rally that included people who were neo-Nazis and racists, calling them bigots, which escalated the conflict. I am in no way defending Neo-nazis and racists but, calling them bigots would not actually stop them from being racists and neo-Nazis. Instead of insulting hateful people, we need to converse with them peacefully and ask questions like, “Why do you hate Jews?” or, “Why do you hate black people?” to gain insight behind their hate.

Looking specifically at East High School, and how our school is dealing with hate, I see a problem. Sometime this past month, you may have signed a petition, created by No Place For Hate, to pledge to stop hate at our school. Now, obviously, this pledge makes students aware of hate taking place in our society, but does this pledge carry enough power to actually stop hate?

Whatever happens with the pledge signed by many students, it won’t stop racists, anti-Semites, or halt hate in general. As I watched students signing the petition, I noticed some neglected even to read the pledge first. The fact that students signed it blindly, without understanding what they were pledging to, shows their lack of engagement in a campaign such as No Place For Hate.

As a school, we need active engagement from the student body and faculty, by having forums and discussions, that can lead to meaningful conversations about hate, and how to reach and educate people who do hate, instead of passive petitions that do not do anything to actually stop neo-nazis and racists from being hateful.

I believe that if the majority of people, who aren’t hateful, understood the historical context of hate towards specific groups of people, they can educate those who hate in peaceful discussions, on how their hatred has no reasoning behind it. This practice would be an effective solution to stop hate in America, instead of aggressively and violently confronting one another and bashing each other’s beliefs.  Understanding and educating one another has been a fundamental practice to solve things in human history, and should be applied to the controversy of hate as well.