Richard Nixon said: “Always remember that others may hate you but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.”
Intuitively, most people agree, or want to agree, with this quote. But I see many problems with it.
First of all, if hating another is wrong, then what is the alternative? Love them? Like them? Be indifferent towards them? If you think of anyone at all, you have to think of them in some context, including an emotional one. It’s possible to be indifferent to somebody, but only if that person is of no importance or relevance to you. But once someone has a highly negative impact on your life, what’s the alternative to hate?
Let’s define hate. The Oxford Dictionary defines hate as “to feel intense dislike for” or “to have a strong aversion to.”
Psychology, in turn, teaches us that emotions have reasons. Implicit in an emotion of hatred is a standard of value. “I hate someone when they stand in total opposition to what I value.” For example: “I hate Hitler because he favored the extermination of innocent people for racial and other irrational reasons. He killed millions and was truly a monster.” If you’re a Nazi or a similar racist/collectivist, then you’ll probably like or even love Hitler. Emotions are not caused by biology; they’re caused by ideas, values and thoughts or beliefs implicit in the emotion. I hate Hitler because I view his brand of collectivism, including its derivative racism, to be some of the most horrible ideology under which mankind has ever suffered. The more efficient and determined the advocate of collectivism, the more I hate him (or her).
Is it irrational of me to hate Hitler? Do I become Hitler — do I lose to him — by hating him? Do I self-destruct because I hate Hitler?
I don’t think so.
If Hitler were alive today, and if he were seeking to attack what’s left of my faltering free country, would it be wrong for me to hate him, and therefore to fight him? Would it be wrong of me to say, “I hate Hitler and everything he stands for. I’m going to do whatever I can to fight him.”
I don’t think so.
And I don’t want to hear the response, “But Hitler is an extreme case!” So what? It’s the principle we’re talking about here.
If somebody I encounter does something deserving of my hate — if he harms or threatens to harm me, in some way, by attacking me in some way — then is it wrong to hate him for what he does? If so, what emotion am I supposed to feel, if not hatred? No answer is given, because there isn’t one. The closest to an answer comes from fundamentalist Christianity. Fundamentalist Christianity teaches that it’s wise and virtuous to love your enemies, to turn the other cheek when they attack you, and to understand that only God may judge, that no man may judge another.
All I have to say to that philosophy is, “Wow. What a good deal for the Hitlers of the world. What a good deal for all the petty frauds, cheats, bullies and more serious offenders of the world. What a good deal for the snide little twits who envy others’ success or happiness and seek to bring everyone else down to their miserable level, if they can.”
Love such people? I don’t think so. Hate them for what they do, and for what they are? You better believe it!
Opposition to hatred is a pernicious idea. It’s actually rooted in hatred itself: Hatred of your own well-being. If you despise yourself and your own well-being, then it logically follows that you would promote a view that “you become what you hate by hating it.” Love of your enemies, love of the petty and the despicable, is the exact opposite of self-preservation.
Hatred of hate is also a contradiction. You cannot be against hatred if you say only love is valid; you must love hatred, not hate it. The whole idea is self-refuting.
The whole reason for hating something, or someone, is because of what I’m FOR. I’m FOR freedom, romantic attitudes, life on earth and individual rights. Because I LOVE these things, it’s logical and reasonable that I would HATE anyone who attacks these things — a Hitler, for example, or a Stalin, or an Osama bin Laden.
The same principle applies to everyday life. If somebody stole my car, or threw eggs at my house, I would not like them. I would not love them. I would dislike them and seek to retaliate against them, in proportion to the crime, not because I have become like them — but because they’re against what’s valuable to me. If someone attacks me personally with lies or distortions, then they have assaulted my character and reputation. Those things are important to me, and I most definitely dislike (in proportion to the attack) the person who engages in these attacks. Wouldn’t you?
You cannot rationalize away the need for justice, and proper judgment of others for their actions, by saying, “Hate is mean and you become the enemy if you engage in it.” That’s beyond ridiculous.
If what you’re really trying to say is, “Don’t let those who hate you destroy you,” then that’s certainly good advice. But you don’t keep hateful people from destroying you by pretending that you love them, or by giving them back anything other than what they deserve.