Figuring out what it is that you’re for can be a complicated task. Usually the things we like, desire, admire involve a list, and usually not all the goals on the list complement one another. Choices have to be made, values have to be weighed. It’s enough to make your head hurt, defining what you want.
Hating, on the other hand, is easy. It is simple. What do we hate? All too often the answer is simply “them!”
Defining who “they“ are and what about them makes them hateful usually resolves itself in a very short list. They’re Black. They’re White. They’re gay, they’re super-rich. One thing is usually enough to set a hater off.
Today’s trending haters come packaged in conveniently matched pairs: alt-left and alt-right; Neo-Nazis and Anti-fascists, Antifa for short.
I say packaged because these are dueling brands are made for and by tv news and its equally reductive competitor, social media. In media where choreographed conflict is a programming constant, hate versus hate is dynamite click-bait.
The question is – do we become what we click? Do we enjoy conflicts that are absolute and irreconcilable because they are easy to understand? And do we then, as we do for so many video-competitions, choose sides, and take up uncivil cudgels?
Criminologist attorney Brian Levin analyzes terrorism, hate crime and legal issues and directs The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino. Mr. Levin was previously an associate professor at New Jersey’s Stockton College and an adjunct lecturer in advanced constitutional law at Seton Hall Law School.
He is the author, co-author and editor of various books, scholarly articles, training manuals and studies on extremism and hate crime. He has written various U.S. Supreme Court friend of the court briefs including those in the landmark case of Wisconsin v. Mitchell, where he presented criminological data establishing the severity and characteristics of hate crime. His analysis has won various awards and his work has been referenced in numerous prominent social science journals and major law reviews.
Before entering academia in 1996, Professor Levin served as Associate Director-Legal Affairs of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Klanwatch/Militia Task Force in Montgomery, Alabama, and as a corporate litigator for the law firm of Irell & Manella. He was also a New York City Police Officer in Harlem and Washington Heights during the 1980s and received citations for academics and excellent police duty.