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The intransigence of hate, 2021

(Previously published in 2017)

I first wrote about the intransigence of hate in our society back in 2009, and then again in 2010. And I’m sorry to see the topic is just as relevant today. Consider, for example, Iowa congressman Steve King’s comment on Sunday: “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

At some point, at someone’s knee, King must have been taught that America — “our civilization” — consists and should continue to consist primarily of white Christians. Probably middle or upper class, too, just to be on the safe side. But that’s just a recent example. We’re already familiar with Donald Trump’s determination to keep Mexicans out with a wall and Muslims out with a travel ban. Then there’s the animosity between political factions that has in some cases devolved into riots and hate crimes.

It all brings to mind the deceptively simple but profound little song “Carefully Taught” from the 1949 Broadway show South Pacific. The song, composed in the wake of WWII, is still appropriate because the world still hasn’t learned the lesson. Until we stop teaching our children to hate and mistrust, until we stop indoctrinating them with our own prejudices and beliefs and misconceptions, things aren’t going to change for the better. Until we stop teaching that violence is acceptable and that anyone not like us is inherently bad, we’ll never have peace. The cycle won’t end until the adults of the world are willing to re-examine their own beliefs, adjust their own thinking, and stop perpetuating the problem. And if Washington DC today is any example, it won’t be happening any time soon.

So consider carefully what others, especially children, are learning from you, from your words and actions.

Hate, distrust, and intolerance all begin at home. Someone’s home. Your home?

Each generation teaches the next. What are you teaching?

For those who’ve forgotten, here’s a video and the lyrics of “Carefully Taught”:

You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught
To be Afraid
Of people whose eyes
Are oddly made
And people whose skin
Is a different shade
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught
Before it’s too late
Before you are 6 or 7 or 8
To hate all the people
Your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught
You’ve got to be carefully taught

 

11 Comments »

    • Now I’m the one with goose bumps. I don’t recall hearing this song before, but it’s painfully to the point. And as always, the people “with God on their side” still don’t recognize themselves.

      (I’ve fond high school memories of Baez singing live at a local coffee house which was literally in a back alley.)

  1. Yes, thank you for this post. It’s a hard topic, but so important. The sanctioned hatreds presented by trump and his evil clown posse is the most heartbreaking of all the horrid shit he stirred up with his great America con. So many CINOs completely ignoring their messiah’s teachings to wonder at the beast.

    • Hi David!. Good to see you again. This particular topic continues to be frustrating and heartbreaking for me. I have no tolerance for willful ignorance, but that’s what it looks like over there on the right side of the aisle. Of course that makes me guilty of intolerance, too. I can’t even preach “look at the truth!” because it means different things to different people. Facts? Science? Can’t even get agreement there. Left and right are more deeply divided than ever and I don’t know how the nation is supposed to survive this.

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