Wednesday, January 18, 2006

How do we understand hate?

I have always been a bit of an underdog-supporting type. My friends have expressed many opinions on this trait over the years ranging from ‘too kind’, ‘mug’, ‘stupid’ to ‘woolly jumper wearing liberal’ and ‘Stoke Newington leftie’.

I confess I am all of these things (apart from stupid, or indeed woolly jumper wearing)) and I’m not in a hurry to change that.

I have engaged in various debates with people since 7th July, many of whom have found it hard to understand my lack of anger towards the bombers. I don’t hate them, I don’t know how to.

Watching the news last night, I realised that the bombings were just another manifestation of something I had been trying to understand all my life. Hate.

The seedy secret videos of BNP leader Nick Griffin froze my heart and sickened my soul. I have tried to understand Mohammed Sidique Khan and his compatriots. In my most ‘leftie liberal’ moments I have even tried to blame our society for allowing them to grow up in an environment which enabled such hatred to germinate and bloom.

I do not feel the same way about Nick Griffin, but should I? I do not have any urge to understand him. When I heard his words I felt the first early rumblings of hatred. What is the difference between these 2 men? One was prepared to die for his cause, but the fundamentals of their hatred are the same.

‘The court heard how Mr Griffin addressed a crowd at the Reservoir Tavern in Keighley on 19 January 2004 and told them that white society had turned into a multi-racial hell-hole as Asian Muslims aimed to conquer the country.’

Khan expresses similar sentiments in his video where he tries to justify and explain his actions. He claims that UK foreign policy is "oppressing" Muslims. These two extremes of society are fighting a common cause against each other. They are locked head to head, differentiated only by their chosen enemy.

In order to comprehend Khan, we need to understand Griffin. They are fuelling each others hatred.

I am currently reading ‘The Word and The Bomb’ by Hanif Kureishi. This morning I read a passage which helped me on my road to understanding:

‘At this time I found it difficult to get on with anyone. I was frightened and hostile. I suspected that my white friends were capable of racist insults. And many of them did taunt me, innocently. I reckoned that at least once every day since I was five years old I had been racially abused. I became incapable of distinguishing between remarks that were genuinely intended to hurt and those intended as ‘humour’.
I became cold and distant. I began to feel I was very violent. But I didn’t know how to be violent. If I had known, if that had come naturally to me, or if there’d been others I could follow, I would have made my constant fantasies of revenge into realities, I would have got into trouble, willingly hurt people, or set fire to things.’

I have much further to go in my quest, but each day I am learning that people DO hate. We are not all the same and some people do not deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt. Before I can accept this I need to truly understand.

I am not there yet.