Rhetoric and the Morality of Hatred

Yesterday, I presented In Defense of Hatred to the Northwest Forum, run in absentia by Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents. My speech focused primarily on the importance of rhetoric in defending what we love and the moral legitimacy of hatred. You can listen to it above, or read the text below.

There are few things more hated today than hatred itself.

I read an article about two weeks ago from Psychology Today that a family member shared with me. The article was about Oxytocin, the hormone we associate with love and affection. It facilitates social bonding, especially between babies and mothers, and between partners during sex. It wards off depression. Sounds good, right? Well, it turns out that there’s also a dark side to oxytocin. Here’s a short excerpt:

“The same hormone that helps people feel warmth and camaraderie with friends and family is also implicated in the hatred and contempt they may feel for opponents. In recent years, researchers exploring the intricacies of oxytocin have revealed that it rouses envy as well as gloating over others’ misfortune. Psychologists conjecture that oxytocin plays a part in fueling ethnocentrism, xenophobia, and intergroup conflict.”

What I thought was truly impressive was the conclusion they came to. They did not consider whether hatred may have some benefit, or question why love and hate appear to be related at a neurochemical level. Instead, they decided to attenuate their appreciation for the “love hormone.” Since most scientists these days are materialists, this attenuated appreciation for oxytocin extends into a moral suspicion towards love itself. Maybe love isn’t so good after all.

This line of thinking might seem a little shocking, but it really is symptomatic of our culture’s collective opinion of love and hatred. And once you notice it, you begin to see it everywhere. Many in our society would rather not love at all than love something if that love carried ANY potential for hatred.

I wrote In Defense of Hatred because I noticed that this moral position had crept its way into the public consiousness, and was manifesting itself in attitudes so stupid it defied rational comprehension. One prescient example of this manifestation is the reaction we often see in the aftermath of Islamic attacks. As you all probably know, an injection of diversity explosively enriched Manchester at the end of last month. 22 were killed, and 59 injured. Then at the beginning of this month, another truck of peace brought the strength of multiculturalism to London Bridge, killing 8, and wounding dozens. These are just a few of the more recent episodes. I’m sure we can all think of dozens more. But it’s the responses to these sorts of attacks that reveal our society’s strange relationship with hatred, and it was a particular response to an incident that happened about a year and a half ago which really crystallized the matter for me personally.

In November of 2015, 9 otherwise totally ordinary Parisians led an attack against their countrymen with bombs and guns, focusing especially on the Bataclan theater. They killed 130 people, and wounded 368.

At this time, I was already beginning to get a little jaded to the novelty of terrorist attacks. However, as the flames and the blood and the bodies passed across the news headlines like white noise, the empty and unserious quality of the most prominent and public responses to the massacre came into sharp focus. I remember a video of a Parisian father and his son, of no more than five or six years old, being interviewed by a news channel in the aftermath of the attack. The young boy was quite concerned about what his family would do, now that there were clearly mean, bad men with guns in his city. His father, however, gently but firmly assured him that Paris was their home, and that in any case there were bad men everywhere. And then he told his son “they might have guns but we have flowers.”

“But flowers don’t do anything,” replies the boy. He flounders for a moment, trying to think of what flowers are actually for.

“Of course they do,” retorts the father. “Look, everyone is putting flowers. It’s to fight against the guns.”

“It’s to protect?” asks the young boy?

“Exactly,” assures the father.

Now, quick show of hands, does anyone present listen to that and think “what a good father?”

Who here actually feels their blood boil when they hear that kind of nonsense?

Alright, and who is so used to the banality of it that they aren’t even surprised or bothered anymore?

This father resonated with millions of people, who all thought that this was inspirational, and captured the soul of how a Western man ought to respond to concentrated and intentional violence like the Bataclan massacre.

At a biological level, there’s something deeply pathological about the desire to ignore or accept a threat against your family, your city, your nation, and yourself. We can all see that a father who tells his child that flowers will protect them from brutal, totalitarian theocrats with guns will leave the defenseless against threats that are very real. It is a pathology of unseriousness, and it is the same pathology that can compel scientifically-minded researchers to hedge their appreciation for love rather than accept that some degree of hatred or intergroup conflict may be necessary or good.

In Defense of Hatred is an exploration of the nature and origins of this pathology. It also provides a framework for understanding how hatred is not merely a necessity, but a moral virtue in its own right, precisely because of its relation with love. If love means anything at all, it implies an elevation of worth, and for this reason love is inherently relative. We love some things more than other things, and our behavior should reflect this. Does your family matter more to you than a stranger? If so, what would you do to protect your family, if it was threatened? What wouldn’t you do?

If something that we do not value threatens something that we value very much, we must stop the threat as though we hate it. Failing to do so would be an active denial of the love that we claim to hold. If we don’t protect what we love from things we don’t care about, it tells the world—and worse, it tells ourselves—that we don’t really love it that much after all.

Hatred and love are inextricable, because they are both facets of care. A world without hate would be a world without love, because hatred is love’s final and best defense. Without hatred, the probability of loss would make love an intolerable risk, in a constantly shifting world of competing interests, decay, and death. Hatred is no guarantee of the survival of what we love, but it is an effective tool and a powerful deterrent, which helps to make hope in love possible. I think this is something that everyone understands intuitively.

And yet here we are, in a culture that condemns hatred as a moral evil. This contradiction between our stated beliefs and our behaviors means that we did not get here through philosophy, but through rhetoric. If we’re being totally honest, the rhetoric appears purpose-built to deny the legitimacy of the love we have for ourselves and ours; love is just the collateral damage in a narrative power-play. If we want to have any hope of advocating on behalf of what we love–hell, for love itself–we will have to use more effective rhetoric, and we will need to steel ourselves against the pressure of theirs.

Towards this end, it may help to go back to the basics. Aristotle held that there were three aspects of rhetoric: Ethos, what is usually translated as personal qualification; pathos, that which stirs people’s emotions; and logos, what we might think of as oral demonstration of truth.

Let me begin with ethos.

Ethos is usually translated as the qualifications that make you someone worth listening to, but it is far more than mere credentials. Aristotle said, of ethos, “Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech [is] so spoken as to make us think him credible.” In other words, ethos is about more than just the individual. In fact, as it’s used today, ethos is really best thought of as the characteristic spirit of a group. You may hear of the ethos of doctors, derived from the Hippocratic oath, or the ethos of the US Marines. It’s not a coincidence that our word “ethics” comes from ethos; you can’t have a systematic framework for judging right action without a group with shared goals and values. When Aristotle talks about ethos, he’s talking about the speaker’s demonstration that he holds and adheres to the values and characteristic spirit of the audience. He’s demonstrating that he’s on their side, and can be trusted because they share a common identity, if not a common interest. That’s what makes him qualified and trustworthy. That’s what makes him persuasive.

By contrast, what is the ethos of the anti-hatred culture we live in today? Is there one at all? Out of the one great law “thou shalt not hate,” we can identify a rough moral consensus that promotes universal love; the kind of Rawlsian love that holds no preference for the child in your home over the child in another country. But this kind of love carries little in the way of commitment. It is a compassion of whim and convenience, that gives no sense of validation or security to its recipient. There is no elevation, and there is no loyalty.

This means that anti-haters tacitly acknowledge that they have no loyalty to any meaningful ethos. Their ethos is the ethos of the jellyfish. They can sort of squirm and undulate around a little, provided they’re in a fluid and amorphous environment, but they mostly drift wherever the currents take them. This makes them inherently untrustworthy to anyone who believes in or cares about anything concrete, anything hard, anything real. They are liabilities, liars waiting for the moment to betray you, and the fact that there might be no malice in their amorality is irrelevant. Their love is jellyfish love: more a function of chance than intent, and it stings when you recognize its nature.

We should all learn to identify this jellyfish love, and point it out. The anti-hater has no skin in your game; he openly says that he won’t help defend what is most precious and important to you… because that might be hateful. Nobody who gets on a soapbox about how terrible it is to hate can be trusted, because they do not share your identity, your interests, your ethos… because in condemning hatred, they condemn adherence to any identity; to any ethos.

How about pathos? What about the emotions?

Aristotle described pathos as “awakening emotion in the audience so as to induce them to make the judgment desired.”

When condemning hatred, anti-haters always reference the harms that follow from acting out in hate. They talk about lynchings, war, genocide, anything that can conjure a mental image of intense suffering, and this induces two responses. Can anyone guess them? Pity and fear; the tragic emotions. We naturally want to avoid these things. By tying hate to visually and symbolically significant violence, they persuade the typical person to avoid hate.

Like any good lie, it works because it captures half of the truth. Yes, violence, brutality, even cruelty, often follow from hatred. And in truth, there are inappropriate, weak, and self-defeating forms of hatred, just as there are inappropriate and even dangerous forms of fear, joy and love. Hope can be especially dangerous; just a few days ago, the british journalist Douglas Murray remarked that in Europe, a huge amount of damage has been, and is continuing to be done by “optimists.” We should all acknowledge that hatred which is not justified by good information, understanding, and the competence to act upon it, is almost always a bad thing, and that “hot” hatred tends to be ineffective because it makes the actor predictable and easily manipulable. For these reasons, I think the superiority of “cold” hatred is something we should all remember.

Of course, the anti-hater doesn’t want any hatred, cold or otherwise. They want to avoid the violence, and they correctly notice that violence can sometimes come from hatred. But they never answer–and sometimes seem unable to comprehend–the sorts of questions that follow from their stated position. For example, do they ever consider what motivates hatred in the first place, and if that motivation may in fact be worse than the hate itself? Have they considered, for example, why Vlad the Impaler erected his forest of Turks? Do they know where he learned this sort of barbarism from, and what probably would have happened to the people of his kingdom had he not deterred their would-be invaders by speaking to them in their own language?

Even if they were right, and contrary to all of the converging interests of evolution, haters are a bunch of Jokers who just want to watch the world burn, wouldn’t there be something both stupid and sinister about wanting to love everyone? Everyone? And isn’t there’s a paradox lurking in here somewhere?

The hardest question, of course, and the most important to ask is simply this: what, exactly, are we supposed to do with these hateful people? Where do we draw the line of distinction between the saints and sinners, the good people and the pure evil, and what sort of hell should we throw the latter into for their hatred? Can’t we all vividly imagine — in all the Orwellian details — how the cure is almost certain to be far worse than the disease?

They want a world that does not exist, one in which hatred not necessary, and for that reason, not tolerated. Their utopian vision cannot fathom its own contradiction with human nature, because all utopias are, to some degree, explicit attempts to overcome human nature. And since they cannot grasp the contradiction, they explain away all expressions of the contradiction as exceptions and anomalies, to be done away with, and forgotten. Anyone who has read a book like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago knows how fast the number of exceptions can add up. The body count of utopian idealism is infinitely greater in scope and often worse in its detached cruelty than the schemes of any petty dictator or warlord, even the most sadistic ones. The reasoning is explained by another great 20th century thinker, C.S. Lewis, who I think is worth quoting at length. He says:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

Aside from the murderous destruction of ideologies that defy human nature, those who oppose hatred wish, fundamentally, to cure us of being human. Beyond the gulags, the famines, the censorious oppression and the fear, there is the willingness to be condescended to like children, that should deeply offend everyone that has even a shred of pride, and should terrify anyone who understands the sorts of condescending people that will end up in charge of it all.

Is all of that really worth it, to avoid the possibility of an occasional violent conflict?

We all wish to avoid needless suffering, violence, death, and destruction, but denying the moral validity of hatred is not the way to minimize these. It is far more likely to generate the most destructive of all forms of hatred: the resentful hatred of the disappointed idealist, whose nihilistic justice will condemn you by default and destroy you, for failing to transcend your own humanity. So our pathos is this: If you want gulags, if you want purges, if you want genocide; if you want censorship, fear, and loneliness that defies comprehension, simply lay out an impossible foundation as a moral standard, like forbidding a natural human emotion, and watch what happens.

Finally, we have logos: the “speech itself.” Logos is the etymological origin of the word “logic,” and refers to proving the truth of the claim through reason.

I’ve already gone over most of the logical substance of the argument for hatred, but in short form it is this:

Real value is expressed through actions, not through words, and any expression of “love” that is not backed up by some willingness to fight for what you love is essentially meaningless. The call to end hatred, therefore, is the call to end love itself. The kill-shot to the anti-haters is this: anti-hate is nihilism.

Like oxytocin, hatred is an intrinsic part of human nature, and a natural response to a threat against what we love. And there will always be possible threats against what we love. So we should all cultivate the capacity and willingness to hate, and to hate effectively, if we are to be moral and loving human beings.

Let me close with one final point on rhetoric.

It may be tempting to at times grant the liberal premise and run with it. We can see the hypocrisy so clearly, and yet they don’t seem to care that the real feminists would be protesting Islam and Saudi Arabia, et al. We should all be careful about accepting too much in the name of irony and memes. We become what we repeatedly do, and no matter how much we think we can separate our beliefs from what we say, we eventually become invested in the premises of our own rabbit-hole arguments with liberals. “Democrats are the real racists” began as a flippant rhetorical jab at liberal hypocrisy, but has since morphed into a core conservative premise. In some circles of the Alt-Right, “White Sharia,” which began as an ironic observation of the tolerance liberals are willing to extend to conservative Muslims, is beginning to take on the trappings of an unironic position.

I think that we on the Alt-Right should avoid making the same mistake with hatred. It may sometimes look convenient to say “we aren’t the haters, the progressives and globalists are the REAL haters!” But that grants the premise that hatred is bad. We are ALL the real haters, or at least we should be.

The prevailing anti-hatred ‘ethos’ of our age — the jellyfish ethos — has put our movement in a unique position. We have a real opportunity to actually speak truth to power. If we want to attract people and hold them, memes, humor, and wit are certainly important, but so is being serious and courageous about things that truly matter. Our friend Jack Donovan spoke at the National Policy Institute, and said that genuine culture is the product of love and hate, even if it’s not about hate. People are yearning for genuine culture, for feeling alive, and not separated from the world by screens, drugs, and protective bubble-wrap. We can be that beacon of courage, hope, and life, but only if we disentangle ourselves from the web of ironic premises that everyone else uses to hide from the world.

Let me close with a short quote from the book itself.

“The answer is not trying to manufacture hatred in ourselves. That is empty hatred, or at best unjustified hatred. Rather, it is to love, deeper and more passionately and more honestly. Let sincerity and joy drive out your fear. Any hate that you may require will arise organically and naturally from the unfettered love that you hold.”

Towards these goals—of love and of life—we should all embrace hatred, and we should not be afraid to say so.

Thank you.

In Defense of Hatred

The concept that began as a short video just over 14 months ago (a gut-response to the terror attacks in Paris), is finally published and up for sale.

You can purchase it in paperback here. Kindle version should be up soon.

The deracination of hatred is a subtle, insidious thing; more a function of mindset and programmed associations than anything else. Yet I still believe that most people, deep down, know that hatred is a moral, righteous emotion, and response. It is right to feel “disgust towards mind,” and to flee, face, or fight the existential threat which induces it.

I hold no illusions about my book single-handedly knocking down the moral superstructure that modernity has built up around hatred. But it should be a start.

If my work provides readers with the confidence in their own convictions, and the ability to laugh away–rather than explain away–the people who criticize their ideology for being “hateful,” than I think the book will have served its purpose.

Read it, and if you enjoy it, please leave a review. Even professionally-published books depend on good reviews, and us self-published authors need it more than them.

Media, Loyalty, and Dylann Roof’s Truth


“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment that I love them… I destroy them.”

—Orson Scott Card, “Ender’s Game”

Dylann Storm Roof’s manifesto is interesting for a number of reasons. It is articulate for a person his age, in spite of the typos and grammatical errors he apologizes for at the end. It demonstrates a serious independence of conscious fueled equally by the author’s independent observations and by serious research. It shows sincerity and honesty, while simultaneously underlining the cynical dishonesty of the mainstream media, particularly in the Trayvon Martin case.

Dare we ask if his claims are true? Many of them are, a few of them are not, and most of them are half-true. But merely asking the question is scary. “If I agree with someone who just killed nine people about something, does that make me guilty by association? Will that scare people?”

It probably will. Who knows. Hitler was an environmentalist, after all.

One thing that everyone seems in strange agreement on however is that his murder, killing the nine gracious black men and women who accepted him into their church for an hour, is not the story. Murders happen every day, after all, and as Dylan himself pointed out, “how could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?”

Yes, Dylann Roof is evil. His actions are reprehensible. Believe it or not, everyone is really in agreement about that. But if we really care about avoiding future incidents of a similar nature, emoting together (and punishing those who don’t emote with sufficiently enthusiastic vigor) won’t be enough. We have to understand the why.

Given the disregard for the why—everyone seems already to know the cause, before they know details of the story, and to know the minds of those who disagree with them too—we have reason to believe that preventing more crimes like this is perhaps not the primary reason for spouting out their view. After all, it is cognitively very difficult to actually sympathize with people we’ve never met who live hundreds or thousands of miles away. Voicing one’s opinion in this pre-factual, righteous, emotional manner is not, in function, participation in a search for truth, but a display of loyalty.

Loyalty to whom? It depends on one’s posited explanation.

Fox News was quick to (hilariously) attribute the crime to anti-Christian bigotry. This may sound idiotic to the lay person—and it is—but why would they posit such an incredibly stupid explanation for the crime, let alone posit any explanation for it with the conviction they did so early on? It appeals to the beliefs and values of their viewers, of course.

The more political, rather than religious, conservative base posited that the problem was mental health, then psychotropic drugs. This was initially the most convincing theory to me.

Some elements of the left predictably made it an issue of gun control (as it happens, it was already illegal for Dylann to own the gun that he had, with several drug charges on his record). For others, it was racially-motivated. This last one can be misleading because it is true; we all can see that the evidence, as it now stands, indicates that a racial-supremacist ideology was the primary impetus of his behavior. He wasn’t stupid, appears not to have suffered the kinds of mental illness and drug-induced insanity of many other similar mass-shooters over the years, and (trigger warning to you Fox News viewers) had no apparent issue with Christianity, or religion generally. His manifesto makes his views not only explicitly clear, but does so with calm, clarity, and intelligence. This was a sober mind at work.

But the ones making these claims initially had not seen his manifesto, if they had even read the facts at all. As Dylann himself observed, the media has consistently lied about virtually every crime related to race that has crossed the headlines in the last decade. They exaggerate, obfuscate, omit, and sometimes even fabricate information to fit with their narrative. There was no “rational” reason to believe the initial reports of the news. Not if truth, rather than an expression of loyalty to ones’ group, was the goal.

Because academia and the media is dominated by the progressive left, the narrative comes across as anti-white, anti-male, anti-Christian, and broadly anti-Western. It happens in the news, it happens in schools, and it even happens in larger corporations.

“The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?[…]

“I wish with a passion that niggers were treated terribly throughout history by Whites, that every White person had an ancestor who owned slaves, that segregation was an evil an oppressive institution, and so on. Because if it was all it true, it would make it so much easier for me to accept our current situation. But it isnt true. None of it is. We are told to accept what is happening to us because of ancestors wrong doing, but it is all based on historical lies, exaggerations and myths. I have tried endlessly to think of reasons we deserve this, and I have only came back more irritated because there are no reasons.

Only a fourth to a third of people in the South owned even one slave. Yet every White person is treated as if they had a slave owning ancestor[…]

“In a modern history class it is always emphasized that, when talking about “bad” things Whites have done in history, they were White. But when we lern about the numerous, almost countless wonderful things Whites have done, it is never pointed out that these people were White. Yet when we learn about anything important done by a black person in history, it is always pointed out repeatedly that they were black.”

—Dylann Roof

Read these quotes carefully. There is not a single drop of untruth in it (except maybe the premise that ancestral crime could vicariously extend to us). We are lectured endlessly about “what it means to be black in America,” and about listening and believing “the lived experiences of women.” These are all well and good. But what about the experiences of men? What about whites? These are not only ignored, but denied outright. Laughed at even. Hath not a white man eyes? If you prick us, do we not bleed?

Not according to the mainstream media. Not only have their sensationalist tendencies been linked by mainstream psychology to other shootings by promising attention and glory (however infamous in nature that glory may be), but their ideological deception seems to have been directly responsible for Charleston. Not that they mind, of course. I’ll bet their numbers are through the roof right now (thanks to Roof). And if it ain’t broke, why fix it? The mainstream media is now running all over the place, dutifully talking about “toxic masculinity,” “white supremacy,” “gun culture,” “the patriarchy” and all the other usual suspects.

Charleston didn’t happen because masculinity and white separatism are pervasive. They are the opposite of pervasive: taboo. Concepts like those are so politically incorrect and impossible to hold in public that white men often feel like they’re being gas-lighted when their lived experiences contradict what they are told what their lived experiences actually are. They’re told that they are too afraid of commitment, of intimacy, that they aren’t emotional. But if they do open up about how they really feel, they’re promptly told that they’re wrong, that they’re being entitled, that they are in fact “privileged.” They might even be fired. And so underground neo-Nazi groups and insular internet communities, free from the correcting influence of intellectual daylight and the forge of rigorous debate, are the only place where intellectually curious young white men can go and find worldviews that actually match what they themselves see, all while watching the political powers that be pander to everyone other themselves. “White-male privilege.”

This isn’t a recipe for a cohesive and peaceful future society. But it is a recipe for a good news story.

There is, fortunately, a very simple solution to problems like Charleston: respect freedom of inquiry.

In a scientific and argumentative environment, bad ideas cannot withstand the assault of good ones, at least not for very long. Also, in such an environment, there is no need for insecurity or fear about the views that one holds. Good ideas, after all, do not need the protection of the law, or of social standards of “political correctness.” They can stand quite well for themselves. Only bad ideas, (and lazy thinkers; the two are often hand-in-hand) need extra protection. But as it stands, this is not the case. Just last week, Tim Hunt was eviscerated for making an offhand observation about men and women doing science together. Jerry Seinfeld quite reasonably refused to do stand-up at Universities for fear of accidentally becoming a bigot in the eyes of students who have been trained as Warriors—Social Justice Warriors—to hunt down and destroy anything that could be construed as racism, sexism, or homophobia. And god help the biologist who might want to do a more serious investigation of heredity, intelligence, and race. The thought-police of progressivism have made it so that the only people who can say that the emperor has no clothes are crazies who have a lot of other things to say, and can now say them safely beyond the pale and beyond the reach of rational criticism.

Predictably, the media’s reaction to Dylann’s murder-spree has been to double-down. Their dutiful loyalty shines through as they point to all of sorts of associations with different views that that most hateful of groups—the Southern Poverty Law Center—has labeled as “hate groups,” depending more on ideology than on the hateful quality of the targeted group’s beliefs. They point out that Dylann frequently made racist jokes (what a sly, plausibly-deniable insinuation that is…). They emphasize over and over again how he is right-wing, and holds conservative beliefs. And, of course, that he is another straight-white male. Dissenters are not people who disagree on the facts, but are evil, apologists for the crime and excusers of the criminal, rather than merely people trying to get to the bottom of the actual cause. It doesn’t matter that even while critically, fatally flawed, Roof’s truth is a far more accurate worldview to a very large part of the population than the “official” one being offered as the only acceptable one.