IDEMA: A quick study on why we hate

The prevalence of hate in our society and through human history is one of those riddles yet to be explained.
Nov 6, 2013

You see hate in our political system, where hate gets you further politically than love. 

President Obama seems to be a special target — and the tea party, many of whom seem to be haters, is now learning what it feels like to be hated.

Sports rivalries are fueled by hate — which seems an egregious waste of energy, especially when we look at our academic institutions. If your mental health is dependent on your college football team crushing its rival, you are entrusting to teenagers a power over you that borders on the ludicrous. 

As a friend once said to me as I screamed at the TV on a football Saturday, "Get a life!" I am trying.

History offers the best illustrations of hate. Anne Applebaum, in her wonderful new book, "Iron Curtain," writes:

"The Germans considered Slavs to be subhumans, ranked not much higher than Jews ... and they thought nothing of ordering arbitrary street killings, mass public executions, or the burning of whole villages in revenge for one dead Nazi. The Soviet Union, meanwhile, considered its western neighbors to be capitalist and anti-Soviet strongholds whose very existence posted a challenge to the USSR."

We all know what Hitler and Stalin — the greatest haters in recent history — did to those they hated. They are only different in degree, not kind, from the bullies who strut around our schools.

So, why do we hate?

I thought I would consult "The Harvard Guide to Psychiatry," but the index failed to notate "hate," which says all I am going to say about where modern psychiatry is in terms of cultural analysis.

So, here is a theory not found in the above mentioned tome: 

Groups are held together by shared ideals and symbols — here, think of religions or rah-rah football factories such as the universities of the Big Ten or especially the SEC.

But there is a second part of this theory — and I am here influenced by the school of psychoanalysis, which argues that the real energy of a group comes from a shared hatred of another group, an "outgroup," such as the Jews in Germany in 1933. They only made up 1 percent of the German population, but look how Hitler mobilized hate against a small minority to grease the skids to his rise to power in that pivotal year.

Another factor in hate is envy, which is why Cain killed his brother, Abel. Some of Jesus' fellow Jews were jealous of his great popularity among the people, especially the poor. Hate and envy led to his demise at the hands of the Romans, who hated Jews.

Organized religion, instead of helping people overcome their hate, is often an instigator of hate. Some churches and religions think of themselves as God's only path to salvation or his unique instrument in history. What arrogance! Look at how preachers have stirred up hatred toward homosexuals, Muslims (and Muslim preachers have returned the favor far too often), and those who uphold Roe v. Wade.

What is the solution to our hate? I would like to argue for the power of reason and critical thinking, but I am not optimistic about our power of reason, because what has far more power over us is our emotions. However, in our churches and schools, we must try our best to foster critical thinking and sharpen our tools of reason.

But the best way to overcome hate is with a power that emotionally is equally strong, and that is the power of love.

Compassion, empathy, our depth of emotion that can be harnessed to human frailties and suffering — these are our most effective weapons to combat hate. This was the path Jesus took. And so must we.

— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune religion columnist



Can't wait for all the hateful comments...


I love everyone. Just some less than others. Even you ggravish. :) No Hate here.


The problem with Obama are his policies and ideas. I don't hate anyone, I strongly disagree with his viewpoint, so what does the other side say? I must be a racist.

I think those who label others as haters are very immature and not able to listen other people's opinions or views, whether it be a sports team, politics or religion.


I think it depends on how you disagree with the president. If you have helped spread any of the birth certificate, muslim crap or many of the other viral lies that make their way around facebook than you probably are a racist


It's BO who wouldn't release his birth certificate and Muslim isn't a race... I don't do facebook. Give me a break.


He actually did release it...


No kidding you don't do Facebook. You're a Rush man all the way. "Obama wouldn't release his birth certificate"? Under what rock in what alternate universe and where has your head been stuck to make such an ignorant, baseless, and idiotic statement?

Oh, I get it! Just funnin' around, right?


“Another factor in hate is envy, which is why Cain killed his brother, Abel. Some of Jesus' fellow Jews were jealous of his great popularity among the people, especially the poor. Hate and envy led to his demise at the hands of the Romans, who hated Jews”

The Romans were afraid of Jesus causing an uprising within the Jewish population of Rome, the Jews were the labor force and craftsmen, and they didn’t hate them so much as afraid of them rioting or leaving Rome, no more taxes, no more laborers or craftsmen and the Romans sure didn’t want to do the work the Jews would do (sound familiar)? And to suggest that “Church or Religion is the path to salvation is just idiotic as saying “the best way to Milwaukee is to drive across the lake”. The T.E.A. party in the same article as Cain and able and Hitler, Stalin and other Leftist, Marxists and got the wrong people, that’s the progressives within the Democratic and Republican parties (progressive is the new word for socialist).
The crucifixion of Christ was not hate it was fulfillment of prophecy and the greatest act of love toward man that ever was, to put it in the same category as the impudent love felt by teenagers is insulting and ignorant. That love you speak of as so powerful toward the end of man hating is chemical based and not spirit based, it’s worthless titillations that do not last beyond 6 months. This article is filled with inaccuracies and ignorance especially about spiritual matters.


Maybe a little self -examination is in order: Does the Reverend hat the Tea Party because he considers them sub-human? because they abhor socialism? because they are the "outgroup"? because he is envious of them? because the are pro-life and not pro-abortion?

Follow your own nostrums, Rev - show the Tea Party some love, compassion and empathy!


a little sensitive are we? where did he condemn or say anything remotely negative about the tea party?


"and the tea party, many of whom seem to be haters," Good enough for you?


saying they are a hater of the president? is this untrue in any way?


I think it could have been worded better but I don't believe the intent was to call them "haters" like the gangster rap style of haters


The Reverend might be thinking of the following groups who have been pilloried, loathed, and feared by the Tea Party in the last five years through right-wing media, demonstrations, forwarding e-mails, legislation, filibusters, speeches, quotes, billboards, propaganda mailers, curriculums, and, so on :

Government workers
Women (unless they are supporting patriarchy)
Blacks (AfricanAmericans as well as African and Caribbean immigrants)
Latinos (especially those who are not Cuban-American anti-Fidelistias)
Asians and Asian-Pacific Islanders
Native Americans
LBGT’s (Log Cabin Republicans beware)
Union members
Immigrants (documented and undocumented, who are visibly non-white)
Sikhs and Hindus (because from a hater's perspective they are no different from Muslims)
The elderly
The disabled
Children in Head Start
Moms, infants and children on WIC
People with pre-existing health conditions
People who need food and food stamps (America's hungry)
People living from paycheck to paycheck
Active duty military, vets and their families
People who believe in climate change
People who believe in evolution
People whose income depends on tourism to national parks
Librarians and students (book bannings are being called for)
The media (unless it is Fox News or hate radio personalities)
Democrats—liberal, centrist or conservative
The incarcerated (all two million of them) and correction officers

In other words—the vast majority of folks in the U.S seem to fall into some group Teapublicans are taking out their ire upon.


You forgot the fillibuster against civil rights legislation and spitting on soliers returning from war....oh yeah that was progressives (Democrats).


The filibuster against civil rights legislation was done by white Southern racist Democrats who turned Republican as quick as you can say KKK. And spitting on soldiers is a hateful and extreme action of a very sick and twisted mind. Putting a political label on a person who would do such a thing is woefully inadequate.

I find it interesting that you don't seem to be able to dispute my comment, but only offer a canned response about things that took place 40 years ago.


Sort of the flip side of the white Northern racist Democrats who stole food stamp money to fund their other priorities? Or liberal Democrats (but I repeat myself) who constantly work to make minorities wards of the State? Sorry, but Democrats is Democrats and you can't obfuscate that Democrats started the KKK; that they filibustered civil rights legislation, or that Bull Connor was a member of the Democratic National Committee (kind of like the male Debbie Wasserman-Schultz).

Tri-cities realist

And who was the only former KKK member in the Senate until just a few years ago? Yep, a Democrat, he must have forgotten to switch parties.

And I'm not a hater, I LOVE pointing out the left's hypocrisy.


Bingo! That is exactly what I was pointing out! Only the right's hypocrisy....there is just so, so much to work with......

Tri-cities realist

Aww Lanny, have you no love for Robert Byrd?

And there is no hypocrisy on the left? Please.

The Guy

It seems to me if the Rev. were going to make a valid argument through identifying the 'hate groups' he has no idea how to convey his sermon. This was one of the most arrogant self-gratifying articles with no content I have read in quite some time. Through trying to play God and explain what hate is he very aptly portrayed his own hate. When he demonstrates how groups hate he demonstrated his own prejudiced hate. He actually created a hate from people by doing that which he said we should stop. What an embarrassing article. He accomplished not one modicum of unbiased non-political diatribe. I was embarrassed for the Tribune for accepting this article.


He's a "RINO"...Reverend In Name Only, he is a rookie who hopes to join the ranks of his heroes like Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, Jeremiah Wright, Jim Jones, David Koresh and others that rose to power and prominence proclaiming themselves messengers or teachers of the Gospel (truth) but are deceptive wolves in sheep’s clothing set out to devour minds, hearts and souls. The gospel is, they come only to deceive and destroy as a means to satisfy their worldly appetites for possessions and power.
He would eagerly falsely accuse his brother broadcasting lies and fear among the uninformed and lost hoping you will choose to follow blindly never questioning his prejudice and hatred for those that do not agree, fear of being cast from the fold keeps people cowering in silence rather than standing boldly alone for their fellow man…seek the truth and then do what is good so you will love others as your creator loves you, not as a means to quench guilt or to feel “warm fuzziness” which edifies no one and is useless.


Idema, it wasn't very quick, or at least not quick enough. You don't have a clue, the education, the qualifications, the observational expertise, or common sense to broach this subject. Your article is so inane that a response or comment isn't needed; none-the-less, here we are.


Is this another one of your tongue-in-cheek remarks? If not, YOU don't have a clue. If you feel that a long-time pastor who holds two degrees from U of M (History and English Lit, and a Ph.D. from U of Chicago (Religion and Psychological Studies - and all of this public info can be found online) has no clue, education, qualifications, observational expertise, or common sense to write about love, hate, societal trends, emotions, lack of civility, political or otherwise - you must be kidding! (and I say this with kindness and humility)

I do like the way you wrapped up with your final sentence :)


Go with mocking, and not the pastor; you'll get it.


If he went with I'm a guy with a Ph.D. so listen to me rant my political agenda rather than from the prospective of Pastor it would a simple matter of dismissing his childish rants as that of a useful idiot dimly plodding his given course for the cause of progressive and socialism.
The conflict is the man has taken a lifetime to fill his head with the knowledge of the world but lacks the wisdom of God. He may be a Ph.D. but that will not avail you in the Kingdom of God as man’s wisdom and knowledge is foolish and futile as his intellect is not tempered by wisdom.
A Ph.D. does not qualify one to speak to spiritual matters in fact it is usually the opposite; in this case he’s wrong on so many levels about spiritual matters he is what the Bible warns as a false teacher/prophet, people look up to him for his academic prominence and his titles and he is using this cloak to deceive and push a political agenda. To call him Reverend insults the real Reverends who selflessly serve others to edify God, not self.


And who are you to judge the degree or quality of Rev Idema's spirituality, wisdom, or religious beliefs? Especially with such a hostile, dismissive, and hateful tone - in a very un-Jesus-like tone, I might add.

I wonder: Did you support the pastors who promoted and glorified George Bush's unilateral invasion of Iraq and the subsequent war where 100,000's of people - of all nationalities - were killed, maimed, and lives otherwise destroyed, all based on lies and false premises?

If you do not agree with Rev Idema's apparent political beliefs, fine. But your comment actually provides proof positive of the central premise of his article - the level of hate and lack of civility or understanding in current societal dialogues.

Tri-cities realist

Sorry Lanny, the Iraq invasion was not unilateral. And the intelligence may have been faulty or incomplete, but it was what he had to work with, even Hillary voted for the "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002." So was Hillary a part of some conspiracy to go to war based on lies? The truth is that Iraq had violated at least 14 UN resolutions which were a condition of ending the first Gulf War. Bush decided that it was time that we (and our allies) enforced those resolutions. What a cowboy, the nerve to actually hold saddam accountable.


I will choose to allow for the middle-of-the-night time frame to account for your fuzzy-headed comment.

TCR - why can you not admit Bush and his administration lied, repeatedly, to the American public, the UN, and the world, about WMD's; that these lies were the basis of a war that dragged on for 10 years, cost thousand's of lives and maimed futures, and added $6 Trillion to the US debt, and in the end, accomplished very little of lasting value.

Why can't you admit Bush LIED? Why? Just admit it!

He lied!

Tri-cities realist

Because he did not lie about WMD's. The intelligence at the time was that WMD's existed, we knew saddam had used them previously on the Kurd's. It would be foolish to think that saddam destroyed them, he obstructed the UN resolutions at every turn.

Just because WMD's were not found AT THAT TIME, does not mean they didn't exist. Some were moved out of Iraq, but a lot of them have been discovered. See:

Or if you really want to dive deep:

So since there were WMD's in Iraq, can you now admit that Bush was telling the TRUTH?

By the way, some of my clearest thinking happens at this hour, nice try at discrediting me though.


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