The Ku Klux Klan Loves More Than It Hates
The Real Love/Hate Relationship Explained
Hate is a strong concept. To hate someone or something takes much more effort than simply being angry. Hate requires contemplation and in most cases, hate requires someone to project their beliefs onto another individual and or group of individuals. Above all, hate cannot exist without love. Love is the driving force to all hatred. Love is the reason why the KKK hates people who are not white.
Imagine if you had something that you put time, energy, and money into attaining. Now, imagine if someone were to take that away from you. How would you react and what would you do? Obviously, you would express anger towards that person. It is because of the love you have for what that person took that is driving the anger you feel towards them. In regards to the KKK, it is their love for white privilege and the white race that drives them to such hatred of those that are not under the category of white. Most of this love of white privilege is due to their sense of entitlement to the property and land they have acquired through labor and colonialism. But why is it so important to label the KKK’s actions and thoughts as hate and not anger? What is the difference between hate and anger?
According to Aristotle, “anger is customarily felt towards individuals only, whereas hatred may be felt towards whole classes of people”. In other words, you can be angry towards someone because they did something that bothered you, however, to hate someone, there has to be some underlying reasons. When you hate someone, it is usually because they belong to or remind you of a certain group of people and therefore they become the embodiment of that group. All the stereotypes of that group come rushing in and somehow that individual becomes that group. This brings us to the reason why hatred can ultimately become an investment. To hate someone because they are “this” or “that” means that you are investing your time and energy into reaffirming their socially constructed stereotype. Essentially, “violence against others is one way in which the other’s identity is fixed and sealed”. So when the KKK hates black people, they are justifying their hatred with the impurity of blackness and therefore they are implying that the stereotypes associated with that category of black already exists and are true. The problem with hate crimes is that they are defined as crimes BECAUSE of a group’s identity (race, sexuality, religion…etc). As a result, hate crimes end up affecting the group’s identity and ultimately solidifies it. A hate crime is an investment made not only by groups such as the KKK, but even individuals who give basic racist, classist, sexist…etc remarks.
So what does love have to do with hate and how can the KKK possibly love? Love has the power to spark movements and ideas such as hatred. Sarah Ahmed states in The Organisation of Hate that:
“What is so significant in hate stories is precisely the way in which they imagine a subject that is under threat by imagined others whose proximity threatens, not only to take something away from the subject (jobs, security, wealth and so on), but to take the place of the subject.”
In other words, many individuals who actively hate others feel threatened by the other. They feel as if the other will take their place, their home. Specifically, the imagined other is a threat to “the object of love”. The object of love for the KKK is whiteness. Those who are non-white are viewed to be a threat to the privilege of whites. After slavery and the civil rights movement, people of color were more inclined to participate in the economy, attain wealth, property, interracial marriages, and all the benefits that come with being a citizen in the United States. The country that white-Europeans have valued and claimed for themselves was under siege. Whites knew that they could no longer have such great privilege like they once did. The KKK’s love for “their country” and “whiteness” is so strong that they share a bonding through hatred for anyone who is a threat to what they love. So how can we love without hating?
We are all guilty of loving. The most important thing we have to recognize and remember is that love is what drives hatred and that hatred has the potential of essentializing another person’s life and experience while reaffirming the negative stereotypes that may be associated with their identity. So the next time you say to yourself “I hate xyz”, think of the real reasons why you are saying that. Think “what do I love so much that I feel threatened by this xyz?”. Finally, ask yourself “is this love really worth the hate?”. Proceed to love with caution.