RESOURCES AND REFLECTIONS
There are links here to a range of texts about hate and its opposites, most dating from 2018.
The authors include a historian, a rabbi, a journalist, a political theorist, a psychologist, a member of parliament, a team of teachers, some researchers, and several activists and campaigners.
Repairing our humanity
The Opposite of Hate is by the American commentator Sally Kohn. Published in April 2018, and subtitled A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity, it ranges widely from bullying in schools to voting for Donald Trump, from white supremacy to troublesome trolls, from terrorism to genocide. ‘Alongside the hateful history of the world,’ writes Kohn, ‘are stories of transcending hate: finding peace after genocide, granting liberty after oppression, even just inching toward equality in the wake of horrific injustice. Hate is no more hardwired into our world than it is into our brains. Change is possible.’
The book is available on the internet at much reduced prices, and its themes are attractively and vividly introduced by the author in two talks free of charge:
The Culture of Hate (18 minutes, 10 April 2018): HERE for You Tube ( 18 minutes)
Insiders and Outsiders (three minutes, 19 June 2018): HERE for You Tube (3 minutes)
The drivers of hope and hate‘The divisions exposed by the EU Referendum,’ writes Lisa Nandy MP in her introduction to Fear, Hope and Loss: understanding the drivers of hope and hate, ‘were stark. In cities, younger middle-class voters came out overwhelmingly for remain while in nearby towns and villages older, working-class voters turned out in similarly large numbers to leave. We are divided by more than just attitudes to Brexit. Over the last 40 years, as our towns have aged and our cities have grown younger, social attitudes on immigration, social security and civil rights have diverged. Steadily but increasingly there are now two Englands that sit unhappily side by side.’
Fear, Hope and Loss, written by Rosie Carter and published in October 2018 by the Hope Charitable Trust, contains a wide range of statistics and research findings about Nandy’s notion of two Englands, and aims to challenge and oppose narratives of hate by showing how stronger communities can be built. It is illustrated with many photographs, charts and maps, and can be read HERE
Hate in the media
History has shown us time and again, warns the Stop Funding Hate campaigning organisation, the dangers of demonising foreigners and minorities. The United Nations has accused certain British newspapers of publishing ‘decades of sustained and unrestrained anti-foreigner abuse, misinformation and distortion’, and many observers and commentators within Britain believe that hate crime is fuelled and legitimised by the media. The overwhelming majority of people in the UK don’t buy The Sun, Daily Mail or Daily Express. But indirectly, Stop Funding Hate points out, nearly all of us are funding them, since most of us probably shop with a company that advertises in these papers.
The campaigns that Stop Funding Hate organises are described on its website. The concerns underlying them are presented in a series of succinct and forceful video clips, including the following:
What if goodwill wasn’t only about Christmas – HERE
Cuteness and anger: cat videos and hate speech – HERE
Whipping up fear: a form of entertainment – HERE
People like you: what it’s like to be demonised – HERE
The impact of Islamophobia: talk by Baroness Warsi – HERE
Stop Funding Hate’s website is HERE – stopfundinghate.info
The ideas of Ernest Becker (1924—74) about what he called terror management theory (TMT) and the denial of death are applicable to understanding current trends in attitudes towards multiculturalism and immigration in western countries. They are especially helpful, declares the Ernest Becker Foundation created in his memory, for understanding current events in the United States such as the proposed wall on the Mexican border, the travel ban forbidding visas to be issued to people from predominantly Muslim countries, and the strong resistance to accepting refugees from war-ravaged countries in the Middle-East, most notably Syria.
For Becker, the main function of culture, including religion, is to help humans suppress the anxiety that comes from their unique human awareness that an individual’s life is not only fragile but also finite. Culture mitigates that anxiety by symbolically raising human beings above the merely physical realm and offering them hope that the individual self can transcend the impermanence of the mortal body in ways that manage the feeling that life, in Macbeth’s words, is ‘a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury yet signifying nothing’.
The most recent newsletter from the Foundation (November 2018) contains an interview with Jonathan Bassett about political, cultural and moral issues since the election of President Trump – HERE
Becker’s theories are explained at length with a wealth of research findings in The Worm at the Core: on the role of death in life by Sheldon Solomon and his co-authors, Allen Lane 2015. There’s an engaging and informative university lecture about them, given by Sheldon Solomon and published on 29 May 2018, HERE.
Also there’s also an audio interview with Solomon, published on 15 April 2018, HERE
Faith in Us
Produced and published by the Equaliteach consultancy, Faith in Us is a substantial handbook for teachers in both secondary schools and primary. There are over 20 lesson plans and activities, and also sections dealing with background information and starting points; frequently raised topics; the definition and nature of Islamophobia; and recognising and responding to Islamophobic incidents. It is introduced HERE
There are also two very watchable short videos, the one for use in primary schools and the other for secondary:
Faith in Us – primary HERE
Faith in Us – secondary HERE
‘Islam’ and ‘The West’: conflicting narratives
The Countering Islamophobia Toolkit, published in autumn 2018, arose from a European-wide two-year project covering Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and UK. It was led by the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies at the University of Leeds and had many practical implications for education systems, and for the work and training of journalists throughout the western world. It focused on (a) dominant Islamophobic narratives across Europe and (b) the corresponding counter-narratives that need to be developed in order to challenge and replace them. Its final report is authored by Ian Law, Amina Easat-Daas and Salman Sayeed, and can be accessed HERE
Us, Them and Anxiety
‘What are you looking at?’ asks the title of this lecture, published in autumn 2018. Human beings first started asking each other that question about 70,000 years ago. But the language in which it is formulated here – ‘what u lookin @?’ – is the language of tweeting and text-messaging, which is currently less than 25 years old. Young people have always grown up in an anxious world, and have always needed to learn how to stand there, take stock, look. But nowadays looking has certain distinctive new dimensions, symbolised by the international conventions of youth culture and social media.
The lecture was delivered by Robin Richardson in Leeds, London and Oslo to mark the twentieth anniversary of the publication in 1997 of the Runnymede Trust report entitled Islamophobia – a challenge for us all. Its themes were illustrated by a series of symbolic images and icons and it can be found HERE – www.insted.co.uk/lookin2018
Renewing and reaffirming true democracy
‘We will never build a progressive internationalism on the basis of a democratic fix,’ writes Neal Lawson. ‘We need democratic renewal at both UK and European level. When thinking about Brexit and Europe, we should remember the words of Hans Magnus Enzensberger: short term hopes are futile – long term resignation is suicidal.’
‘Over two years on from the vote,’ Lawson continues, ‘and now heading fast for the Brexit door, progressives are still in a mess when it comes to Europe and are in danger of turning a crisis into a terminal democratic and political catastrophe. How did we get here – and what do we need to consider before we make any future moves, in particular a second referendum? … More than anything the process that gets us there has to:
- examine fully the deep causes of the Brexit vote
- understand the deep and probably abiding cost of a second referendum
- build a deeper democratic path to that vote
- construct a reform agenda for the EU and not just press the rewind button
- put in place a domestic reform agenda which speaks to the causes of the explosive Brexit vote.
Homo Sapiens: a story-telling animal
Yuval Noah Harari (born 1976) is an Israeli historian and a professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of three international bestsellers: Sapiens –a brief history of humankind (2014), Homo Deus: a brief history of tomorrow (2016), and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018).
Harari’s publications are concerned with what he describes as the cognitive revolution occurring roughly 70,000 years ago, when Homo Sapiens developed language skills and structured societies and ascended as ‘apex predators’. This was consolidated by the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago and then more recently accelerated by a scientific revolution which amongst other things seems to threaten the fundamental principles of liberal democracy.
Harari’s thinking was well introduced during 2018 by a discussion conducted at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, chaired by Lord (William) Haig. RUSI is essentially concerned with issues of conflict, security and defence and Harari, said Lord Haig, is ‘one of the newest and deepest thinkers about what we human beings get up to’. The discussion is HERE
Fierce Love and Compassion
‘Anger,’ writes Rabbi Michael Lerner, ‘often masks deep sadness so acute that many people would rather blame some other than heal themselves. The more people feel inadequately respected and recognised, the more that childhood rejection hurts, the more they avoid feeling that sadness by directing their anger at whoever is the current demeaned other in their society.
‘If we are ever to reverse all this, it will require millions of us to approach these broken and hurting people with compassion and empathy that at the moment are in short supply on all sides of the political divide – even as we vigorously reject the racism, sexism, homophobia and antisemitism through which that pain gets expressed.
‘Our efforts to build a peaceful world require us to act peacefully now and always – to break down walls of separation with bridges of connection, to crack open aching hearts with fierce love and compassion, to critique and challenge evil behaviour without diminishing the humanity of the actor. We stand in solidarity with all the “others” of our society whose lives are threatened and endangered by acts of violence, and continue to commit to loving the stranger, the “other.” ‘