The One-Sided View of Hate in Hate Studies
By Jay Knott
The Journal of Hate Studies asks for "cutting-edge essays, theory, and research that deepen the understanding of the development and expression of hate". The following submission for the 2012 issue of the journal (Call for Papers, Tsai, R.L., 2012) is all of the above. It argues that Zionism generates hate, and that hate studies writers have neglected it. Further, it produces evidence that hate studies researchers have exaggerated the amount of racism in white gentile America. In the process, it examines the methodologies which have led to this miscalculation, and suggests a more balanced approach.
In his paper Hate, Oppression, Repression, and the Apocalyptic Style, (2004), one of the founders of hate studies, Chip Berlet, defines the field as "inquiries into the human capacity to define, and then dehumanize or demonize, an ‘other,’ and the processes which inform and give expression to, or can curtail or combat, that capacity". The current paper argues that Zionism includes examples of the above "human capacity", but that no contributor to hate studies, until now, has noticed them.
Noel Ignatiev's contribution to the Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, (2007, pp. 240–244), describes the Zionist state of Israel as a "racial state, where rights are assigned on the basis of ascribed descent or the approval of the superior race". Ilan Pappe's The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, (2006), shows how Israel was initiated by the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from their homeland, because they were not Jewish. I therefore argue that Zionism is a valid subject of hate studies.
However, a survey of the current publications of hate studies reveals a lack of concern with Zionism, in contrast to an emphasis on anti-Semitism and white racism. I illustrate this below with citations from the major works of hate studies, analyzing examples of alleged hate incidents to suggest a more scientific approach to the evaluation of hate. I cite the recommended works which allege there is an "epidemic" of hate crimes, and the one book currently in print which directly falsifies this hypothesis, Hate Crimes - Criminal Law & Identity Politics (Jacobs, J.B. & Potter, K., 1998). I make use of Steven Pinker's recent work on the decline of violence, including hate crimes, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Pinker, S., 2011), and a number of newspaper and online reports of alleged hate crimes.
II. Inadequate attention to Zionism
The Zionist justification for expelling Palestinians has included expressions of "the human capacity to define, and then dehumanize or demonize, an ‘other,’" (Berlet, C., 2004). When Zionist leaders recognize the Palestinians' existence, they sometimes refer to them as "devil's spawn" (Rachel Abrams' weblog; 2011). Other representative epithets include "drugged cockroaches", "two-legged animals" and "Arab scum" (according to the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, 14 January 2002, citing The New Statesman, June 25, 1982). Some Zionists go so far as to say it would be justified to kill gentile babies "if they would grow up to harm us" – Rabbi Shapira, reported by Roi Sharon in Maariv, 2009. The evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, in a book about self-deception, The Folly of Fools, the logic of deceit and self-deception in human life, (2011), in a section entitled "False Historical Narratives", contrasts the Zionist myth with the reality:
a racialist (and then racist) country was shoehorned into the Middle East, so that Jewish people (half and quarter also) from around the world can immediately claim citizenship to this land but none of those who were so recently expelled could do so. (p. 236).
Nevertheless, only one of the papers for hate studies' most recent conference mentions Zionism, and not to criticize it for racism, but to ask at what point criticism of it becomes racist – "Not every criticism of Israel and Zionism was viewed as antisemitic, but on many occasions such comment served to mask antisemitism" – Michael Whine, The Community Security Trust – Best Practice in Combating Antisemitic Hate, (2011), Journal of Hate Studies (vol. 9, p. 114).
Kenneth Stern, a founder of the discipline of hate studies, vigorously defends Zionism against the "racism" charge. In his first pamphlet on anti-Semitism for the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Zionism, the Sophisticated Anti-Semitism, (1990), Stern wrote: "This anti-Semitic slander – that Zionism was racism – first appeared at the United Nations in the early 1960s" (p. 6). Even the Jewish Agency for Israel says, of the right of return for Jews, "It has been suggested that an immigration policy which explicitly gives priority to one ethnic or religious group cannot be justified in liberal democratic terms" (2004). But Stern has consistently argued that describing the Law of Return as racist, is itself racist (Stern 2006). In an extensive survey of the literature, I have been unable to find anything recommended by the hate studies department at Gonzaga University's Bibliography of Hate Studies Materials (Thweatt, E., 2002), which agrees with the United Nations that Zionism as a form of racism.
As well as the United Nations, Stern's complaints about "anti-Semitism" are directed at rural political movements, known as "militias", in the USA. In 1996, Stern wrote an article for USA Today entitled Militia Mania, a Growing Danger, and published a book called A Force Upon the Plain, subtitled The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate, claiming that anti-Jewish attitudes are central to these movements' ideologies (p. 246). Concern about militias is a recurrent theme in the hate studies literature (Dees, M., 1997; Berlet, C. & Lyons, M, 2000; Thweatt, E., 2002).
An example is Public Eye journal – "Researching the Right for Progressive Changemakers" – edited by hate studies pundit Chip Berlet. In her article for the journal, The Montana Human Rights Network, (2005), Abby Scher claims the following statement, from a leaflet produced by a militia in Montana, is an example of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory: "George Bush... cynically used the tragedy of September 11th to silence dissent and to launch the war for Israel his Zionist neocon handlers wanted." Arguments for the claims that the neoconservative movement is overwhelming Zionist, and that it was instrumental in persuading the US government to attack Iraq in 2003, include scholarly ones such as those of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (The Israel Lobby; 2007). Deciding how much truth there is in this view is beyond the scope of the present essay – my point is simply that classifying this analysis as "anti-Semitic" may tend to discourage us from asking legitimate questions.
III. The influence of pseudo-science
The field of hate studies has made use of the evolutionary approach in understanding ethnic conflict, for example in publishing Harold Fishbein's The Genetic/Evolutionary Basis of Prejudice and Hatred (2004), and James Waller's Our Ancestral Shadow: Hate and Human Nature in Evolutionary Psychology (2004). However, less scientific ideas have also been given credit. For example Jack Levin and Jack McDevitt's Hate Crimes, (1993), which is recommended in hate studies' bibliography (Thweatt, E., 2002), and referenced in several papers in the field, relied on a 1950 treatise on hate and prejudice, The Authoritarian Personality (Adorno, T., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J., & Stanford, R.N., 1950): "Decades ago, the authors of The Authoritarian Personality recognized that prejudice satisfies a deep-rooted psychological need to protect or enhance self-esteem" (p. 48).
In The Authoritarian Personality, Theodor Adorno and his colleagues claimed to have found "quantifiable relations" between conservatism and anti-Semitism via the "Politico-Economic Conservatism" scale, the "Ethnocentrism" scale and the "Anti-Semitism" scale (p. 49).
The above diagram illustrates the general principle. If person A believes P and Q, and person B believes P, the likelihood that person B also believes Q is greater than the occurrence of belief Q in the general population. This is as true of any one class of beliefs as of any other. Yet the Frankfurt School believed it could derive "the determination of the potential fascist in childhood" (Adorno et al. 1950, p. 56) from this statistical banality.
The authors claimed that a German who joined the Nazis "can apparently never quite establish his personal and masculine identity; he thus has to look for it in a collective system where there is opportunity both for submission to the powerful and for retaliation against the powerless" (page 370); they did not apply this psychological explanation to Communist Party recruits of the same period.
IV. An unscientific approach to hate crime claims
At the hate studies founding conference, in his paper Hate, Oppression, Repression, and the Apocalyptic Style, (2004), Chip Berlet claimed there was "chronic underreporting" of hate crimes. There is evidence for this hypothesis. As The Leadership Conference states in the introduction to its Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America, (2009), some victims fail to report hate crimes. For example, illegal immigrants are concerned about deportation. People of color may not trust the police. Lesbian and gay victims may not want to "come out" to family members and co-workers by publicizing a homophobic hate crime.
But the scientific approach looks for refutation as well as confirmation. There is also over-reporting of hate crimes, which, if uncritically accepted, exaggerates the amount of hate in our society. I identify five variants of this phenomenon, and give examples below:
1. protected speech is sometimes listed with violent crimes under the broad label "hate incidents";
2. the degree of hate involved in some actual crimes is exaggerated;
3. there are claims of hate crimes which didn't happen;
4. there are "hate crimes" committed by the alleged victims themselves;
5. there are unsubstantiated assertions that hate crimes are on the increase.
Type 2 is ... illustrated by the one alleged anti-Semitic lynching in US history, which occurred in Georgia in 1915. It resulted in a boost in membership for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which had been founded two years earlier. The victim, Leo Frank, had been convicted of child-murder, but his death sentence had been commuted to life imprisonment; a mob abducted him from prison and hanged him from a tree. His conviction allowed the other suspect, who was black, to walk. The Anti-Defamation League's evidence for the theory that it was an anti-Semitic lynching, in its People v. Leo Frank Teacher's Guide, (2009), such as shouts of "Hang the Jew" from the mob, is necessary, but insufficient, to prove it. If a convicted child-killer who was not Jewish would also have been murdered, anti-Semitism had no part to play.
The Anti-Defamation League is consulted by the federal Departments of Education and Justice, the California Probation, Parole and Correctional Association, and other government bodies, according to Hate Crimes (Jacobs, J.B. & Potter, K., chapter 4; 1998). An example can be found on the Department of Justice's web page about the Sacramento "Hate Crimes Task Force" (2010). Some years ago, the ADL was found by the San Francisco DA to have spied illegally on dozens of people and organizations, fed information about South African dissidents to the apartheid regime, and committed numerous other violations of trust (Blankfort, J., 2002).
V. Conclusion: a consistent and rigorous approach to understanding hate
"Whenever an ideology justifies baby-killing – even at the fringes of the fringes – that is an especially strong danger signal" – Kenneth Stern, A Force Upon the Plain. (1996, p. 249).
"There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us" – "The complete guide to killing non-Jews" – Yitzhak Shapira and Yossi Elitzur, rabbis in the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva, Yitzhar, near Nablus, reported by Roi Sharon in Maariv (2009).
The influence of Zionism extends beyond Israel. Consider Rachel Abrams, who is married to Elliot Abrams, an influential advisor to the US government, who served under presidents George Bush Senior and Ronald Reagan, describing, in her weblog, the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from captivity by Hamas in October 2011:
Celebrate, Israel, with all the joyous gratitude that fills your hearts, as we all do along with you. Then round up his captors, the slaughtering, death-worshipping, innocent-butchering, child-sacrificing savages who dip their hands in blood and use women — those who aren’t strapping bombs to their own devils’ spawn and sending them out to meet their seventy-two virgins by taking the lives of the school-bus-riding, heart-drawing, Transformer-doodling, homework-losing children of Others — and their offspring — those who haven’t already been pimped out by their mothers to the murder god — as shields, hiding behind their burkas and cradles like the unmanned animals they are, and throw them not into your prisons, where they can bide until they’re traded by the thousands for another child of Israel, but into the sea, to float there, food for sharks, stargazers, and whatever other oceanic carnivores God has put there for the purpose. (2011).
Hate studies would be enriched by studying how the influence of Zionism can produce this kind of hate. It would have more credibility if claims of the prevalence of white racism were evaluated more scientifically. It would also benefit by examining examples of hoaxes by which resentful members of minorities, encouraged by academic exaggerations of the extent of white privilege, contributed to a positive feedback loop, which appeared to confirm the hypothesis that the USA is suffering from a rising tide of bigotry and hate.
King of the Hate Business, by Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch, May 15-7, 2009: "...As of October 2008 the net assets of the SPLC were $170,240,129, The merchant of hate himself, Mr. Dees, was paid an annual $273,132 as chief trial counsel, and the SPLC’s president and CEO, Richard Cohen, $290,193. Total revenue in 2007 was $44,727,257 and program expenses $20,804,536. In other words, the Southern Poverty Law Center was raising twice as much as it was spending on its proclaimed mission..." Read more
An Open Letter to the Southern Poverty Law Clinic: Do You Equate Anti-Zionism with Anti-Semitism? by Felice Pace, CounterPunch, Nov. 1, 2007.
In 1995 the Montgomery Advertiser was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for its expose on the Southern Poverty Law Center.