Social Question

mazingerz88's avatar

Can a person be a racist and not hateful?

Asked by mazingerz88 (20756points) October 20th, 2017 from iPhone

Not sure why and how the question came up in my head a day after Richard Spencer, a white nationalist spoke at the University of Florida yesterday.

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54 Answers

Mariah's avatar

I can’t imagine how a belief that entire categories of humans are less-than could be considered anything but hateful.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m not sure how @Mariah is choosing to use the word “hateful”, because an idea that someone else thinks me to be inferior in some way because of an accident of birth might be a hateful idea to me, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that the person with that idea also hates me.

I consider “hatefulness” to be in the mind of the holder of an idea to determine whether it is “a hateful idea” or not. Based on that assumption, it does not necessarily follow that the person holding racist or other bigoted ideas has to have hate in his heart.

I think I’m smarter than my dorg, but that doesn’t mean that I hate her at all.

I’m not defending any ideas or words that Richard Spencer promotes, only answering the generalized question.

Zaku's avatar

I know/knew a fair number of American people two generations before me (the generation that fought World War II) who seemed mostly to be quite nice and kind people, and most of them, if the subject came up, had quite a few ideas that would be considered very racist by modern American urban public society.

Thinking about the things they said, it seems to me they mostly were not about hate, but were sometimes about fear, how to get your way, and/or perhaps a tribal desire to have their tribe continue to be on top. They seemed often to relate to those ideas like “that’s just how things are”, sort of like the way people still resign themselves to ideas about how they thinks [have to] work, and specifically the way people still do categorize types of other people that they don’t expect to get along with. Such as criminals, police, lawyers, “gang bangers”, “rednecks”, “terrorists”, “in-laws”, “telemarketers”, “junkies” or whatever.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The question provokes some thinking. When you load up the scale, it’s a very good bet that ignorance trumps (no pun intended) hate.

funkdaddy's avatar

Hate takes a lot of energy. Racism can just be, it doesn’t require anything more than holding an opinion.

Lazy racists are not hateful.

kritiper's avatar

A racist cannot be a racist without prejudice.

flutherother's avatar

Racism may not begin with hatred but it usually ends in hatred.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Racism and hate are not synonyms. Racism is a subset of hate. Simply put, racism is a form of hate.

I disagree with @CWOTUS‘s statement that hatefulness is in the mind of the holder. It seems to me that such a notion erases the outcomes experienced by the victims. The recipient of the hatred is often in a better position to define the hatred than is the perpetrator. Keeping it in the mind of the holder is subjective. It is possible to objectively define hate. It’s been done in hate-crime laws.

I do not know for sure, but I would guess Richard Spencer probably doesn’t think he hates the many groups he wishes to see disappear. However, his words and actions are indeed hateful.

I’m not sure this is a gainful topic for discussion. Are we just arguing semantics? When I first started thinking about this question, I started looking up definitions. Does it really matter? Racism is hateful, because its outcomes are hateful.

Jeruba's avatar

If I’m interpreting your question correctly, yes, I think so. Judging from some of the thoughts and attitudes I see expressed in realistic fiction that’s a century or two old, I think it’s quite possible for some people to have had a sincere and benign conviction that God made some people superior to others and that the best thing to do was to accept and fill your place graciously and dutifully. I think people believed this with respect not only to race but to sex, class, and ancestry.

We may see things differently now, but that doesn’t require us to condemn people of the past for believing what they were taught or reflecting the accepted attitudes of their time, place, and position in society.

This does not mean that there was no animosity between groups, but I don’t think it was automatic, necessary, or untaught.

And there may still be places and settings in which a kind of racist thinking is practiced without animosity or harmful intent (which is not to deny the possibility of harmful effect). I don’t know that we are fit judges of all other societies, being a bit less than perfect ourselves.

Prejudice is racist when it involves distinctions based on race; but prejudgment, however invalid, does not necessarily mean hatred at all. Prejudice comes in a lot of flavors. Hate is just hate.

I have no doubt that some of the attitudes we think are so enlightened now will look very primitive to those a few generations after us.

canidmajor's avatar

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to sit by and do nothing”.
(The quote can’t be easily attributed, but here is an attempt)

In my mind, this idea includes @funkdaddy‘s “lazy racists”, as they do nothing to ameliorate the problems caused by racism, therefore they are just as evil, which in this case I believe can be equated with “hateful”.

canidmajor's avatar

And “being hateful” is not quite the same as “hating”.

CWOTUS's avatar

Contrary to @Hawaii_Jake‘s assertion, “hate” is nowhere defined in US law, at least that I’m aware of.

Even 18 USC§249. Hate crime acts only mentions the word “hate” twice, both times in the titling. It’s not defined; it’s not mentioned in the legislation; it’s not part of the law.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

It’s in the name of the act. It’s part of the law.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

With the way this question is framed, I’m still not sure this can be a fruitful discussion.

Can racism or hate or bigotry be divorced from its outcomes?

CWOTUS's avatar

Again, @Hawaii_Jake, while I agree with you completely that this isn’t a particularly fruitful discussion, the text of the Bill to which you refer, HR 2647 – which at least mentions the word “hate” – still fails to define it or clarify how it can be read into law. (I agree that most crime is based on hatred; that should be self-evident. But it’s not possible to objectively define how hate motivates a person, or how it can be an element of a crime.)

Let’s continue to be “a nation of laws and not of men” ... and know the laws.

I think @Jeruba‘s clarification is perfectly apt: “Hate” is not a necessary precondition for racism or any other kind of bigotry. It probably is part of most bigotry, chauvinism, jingoism, misogyny, nationalism and many other kinds of perceived slighting of one group by members of some other group/s, but responding strictly to the OP, it’s not a necessary element.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Racism itself is just a set of beliefs and does not automatically imply hate. It depends on how you define racism. Frankly racist beliefs usually stem from some insecurity, genuine gullibility or poor assumptions. Hate just is a reaction to those insecurities.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Not today.
Rick’s dad is thoughtlessly, mindlessly racist from habit, but he’s not hateful. He’s 95.
Pretty sure my folks were racist, but again, in a thoughtless way. They weren’t hateful.
^^^^ None of the above ever had to sit down and really examine their feelings, either.

NomoreY_A's avatar

It’s a Brave New World. Or had the potential of being so, pre – Chump. Not so sure now.

funkdaddy's avatar

@Jeruba as usual expressed my thoughts a lot more eloquently than I could.


Racism was the default for so long, there wasn’t even really a counter to it. Would we say that entire generations and entire cultures are therefor hateful?

And would you be ok with someone else labeling you or your culture “hateful” based on a few examples?

My grandma was undoubtedly racist, and ignorant, but I never saw her hate anyone.

DominicY's avatar

Public executions were the default for a long time across various cultures too. But we now mainly look back on that as backward and barbaric.

I’m not saying I agree that hate is a necessary aspect of racism, but I don’t think “it used to be normal” is much of an argument.

Berserker's avatar

One may be technical about a subject without much emotion being evolved. I believe that I am superior to insects but I do not hate them. Perhaps this is how some racists think about people.

funkdaddy's avatar

@DominicY – fair enough, but did everyone in favor of public execution hate?

ETA: I’m not arguing that racism is right, or that racism is forward thinking, I’m saying it doesn’t require hate. Hopefully by now on fluther it’s clear that I’m not pro-racism, or discrimination, or judging entire groups by a single ideal, but who knows.

flutherother's avatar

I think it’s almost impossible not to be aware that people from other parts of the world are different from us. This is OK, but if we concentrate on the differences rather than the far greater and more important similarities we can become blind to our shared humanity. Discrimination is not OK and never was.

PS I just heard there was a shooting following Richard Spencer’s controversial speech which may help answer the question.

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK, what about people who are overtly racist TODAY? Do you think they’re hateful? Is Trump hateful?

Yellowdog's avatar

Yes. A racist without hate simply believes some races, cultures, or ethnoi are better than others. This does not necessarily mean they dislike or hate individuals because of their race. Nor do they hate other races—they just hold the view that some are better than others. They don’t hate anyone because of it.

There are several “enlightened” cultures in the world who see others as undesirable in some way and don’t want in-migration..

There is also the view, held by most of the world, actually, that their land is for their own people. This is not to say that they hate others, just that what is theirs is theirs.

Soubresaut's avatar

Racism is hateful. Period.

Racism arises when one group of people needs to find a way to rationalize their desire to treat another group of people as lesser—that other group of people are inferior, or they’re only 3/5ths of a man, or they’re so barbaric they’re basically animals and we have to teach them hard work…. So everything we’re doing to subjugate them is okay, because we’re better than they are. That’s hateful.

Racism persists as long as people buy into the idea that they are inherently superior to others based on “race,” and therefore deserve more (in some form or other).

If someone is racist, then they are participating in a hateful ideology. If they don’t want to participate in a hateful ideology, then they need to go through the mental efforts of reworking their beliefs. And if it’s hard to do? If it’s uncomfortable? Tough. No one said it was supposed to be easy.

I’m not going to go through semantic gymnastics to find of a way of telling someone that no, they don’t have to feel bad, because their racist views are okay, because theirs are the “not hateful” kind. There may be people who harbor more hate than others, there may be people who act out on those feelings more than others—but just because you don’t do something as much as someone else doesn’t mean you don’t still participate in it.

I think people feel the need to find some forms of racism “benign” (or in this case, “not hateful”) because they see someone who’s racist but isn’t a “bad person”… but they’ve already bought into the idea that only “bad people” are racist. That misses the point. Someone can be racist and an excellent parent. Someone can be racist and charitable. Someone can be racist and an excellent scientist. Or whatever. People are complicated. We are not only one thing. Someone who’s racist is not only racist. What’s more, someone who’s racist can change their beliefs. But only if they see a reason to, and only if they’re given a chance to.

We’re not doing ourselves any favors by trying to find ways to excuse racism. People can handle a little bit of uncomfortable truth. People can handle a little bit of personal reflection and growth.

Soubresaut's avatar

It’s also probably relevant to remember that people are very good at hiding the parts of themselves they think others will find distasteful. I’m sure Richard Spencer is well practiced at trying to make his racist views seem as reasonable and even as dispassionate as possible. That doesn’t mean that’s what’s driving his behavior. If “reasonable” and “dispassionate” aren’t quite on the mark for Richard Spencer, sorry. I haven’t heard him speak before. But they sound at least close, based on the question.

For centuries people have tried to make seemingly credible pseudoscientific arguments to support their racist ideas. Didn’t make the base ideas any less hateful.

funkdaddy's avatar

Perhaps there are two conversations going on, one discussing racism and hatred in their absolute sense, and the other discussing people who have racist characteristics. That’s the nearest explanation I can find for some of what I’m reading here.

Because it’s simply incorrect that a complex person cannot be racist without hate and I’ve seen these same voices argue many times that there are no absolutes when people are involved for a variety of other characteristics.

When you start deciding that the definition of the words used do not matter, then I think we’re down the wrong path already. And I’m less concerned at this point with the belief that racists all hate than I am with the apparently popular view that history and definitions do not matter in a progressive view of judging those we don’t agree with.

That’s simply the wrong tactic to take.

Soubresaut's avatar

I hear your point, funkdaddy, and I agree that the definitions of words matter. But I would argue the opposite is happening. Part of racism’s definition is hate. It’s not pleasant, but it’s there.

People are very good at rationalizing the ugly out of sight. But the ugly is still there.

I think, perhaps, that the historical fiction @Jeruba cited is an apt example of such rationalization. In a fictionalized reality, people get to define the rules. They get to idealize. They get to make the effects of oppression a natural hierarchy of the world, so that it doesn’t seem so distasteful. But that doesn’t make the rationalized version real.

In lived history, racism needs hate. It needs people to get angry when the artificially contrived “natural balance” of one superior race starts to slip. It needs people to get angry when those who are “beneath” them try and say, “No, I’m not. I’m your equal.” It needs people to dehumanize, to distance, to believe themselves superior.

Someone can benefit from racist systems, or the echoes of racist systems, without being racist them self. They got born lucky.

But someone can’t hold onto racist views without harboring some of the hate that goes along with them.

That doesn’t make them a lesser person. That doesn’t make them evil. But if they don’t want to hold onto the hate, they need to address those views in full. Rationalizing out of sight the bits they don’t like doesn’t actually address the problem. It might even make it worse, because it’s now harder to address.

Sorry for so many posts almost back to back. I’ll take a step back now.

ucme's avatar

Yes, someone can portray a willfully ignorant attitude toward people of colour without feeling hatred, you know…morons

stanleybmanly's avatar

So the question arises, can one be both a moron and a decent human being? It’s difficult to accept that anyone would knowingly choose to be a moron.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I think it is possible to be ignorant, moronic or both and still be a decent human. If that was not the case most of us would be shitty humans.

kritiper's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me ”...most of us would be shitty humans.” Would be?? Most of us ARE shitty humans!

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Even people who act shitty sometimes are perfectly fine humans when you really get down to it.

josie's avatar

Racism is the moral condemnation of a person based on the color of their skin.
Moral judgement is an evaluation of the reasoning that governs the actions of the person being judged.
Irrationality is immoral, since reasoning is the basis of moral choice.
Skin color is not a matter of choice, it simply happens in nature.
Therefore, racism is irrational since it has a basis beyond reasoned choice.
So the question is, is hateful the same as irrational, or immoral?

Aethelwine's avatar

If this were facebook I’d be loving @Soubresaut‘s answers.

I think this is an important question to ask those who are affected by racism. They would have a personal interest in the subject. I’ve dealt with bigotry due to LGBTQ issues. When you need to make changes in your life for the safety of yourself and your family because of something you can’t change, I don’t see how a person can deny that hate is involved.

ucme's avatar

Yeah my Blazing Saddles hint was no accident…

Sunshinegirl11's avatar

This is a really good question. I’ve met people who have said some remarks about different races that left me scratching my head. But these same people treat people of different races with kindness and respect, as an equal.

Also these people are the older generation who grew up in the ozarks. So they grew up with racism, but maybe they are starting to adjust with newer times but still have trouble letting go of their roots?

DominicY's avatar

Something I was thinking about last night:

In the past, racism was the default for many in the U.S. This was usually characterized by a deeply-held unquestioned belief that black people were inferior to white people. This doesn’t mean that all day long people who held this belief were just brimming with hatred. That said, what happened when someone challenged this deeply-held belief? What happened when a black student wanted to attend the white school? What happened when a black family moved into the neighborhood? Or any other way in which a black person didn’t know their place? This is when the hatred comes out. This is when the community could band together to hunt down and lynch people. This is when the “default”, which was primarily passive, was “activated” into its fully hateful, violent form.

So this suggests that racism, while not always expressed overtly as hate, certainly had the capacity for it. The hate could be “switched on” when racist structures were challenged.

Dutchess_III's avatar

We got Rick’s ancient father to watch American Idol while we were visiting few years back. A black woman took the stage. Man she’s good.
Rick’s dad said, “She’s very good, but her skin color is against her.”
To this day I don’t know if he just casually meant that, and it would have been true in decades past (the decades where he spent most of his 90+ years) or if he was saying it to watch me fall on the floor. I wouldn’t put it past him!

The woman was Jordan Sparks, who wound up winning American Idol that year.

Assuming he was serious, he didn’t sound unkind, just rueful, like, “It’s too bad she doesn’t have a chance.”

Yellowdog's avatar

Racism is NOT moral judgement of a person.

Racism is not prejudice or pre-judgement of people or groups you don’t know, based on their race or ethnicity.

It has to do with characteristics of races themselves, and believing one is more suited for something than another.

It is not “hate” if a Korean church wants a Korean church and not merge with another,

As far as views towards minorities and smaller ethnic groups, each should be who they really are but all should assimilate towards harmonious values.

seawulf575's avatar

I think to hate, you have to care about the person/thing/issue you are addressing. I think most racists are just closed-minded. They were taught somewhere along the way that different people are bad in some way. They aren’t opened to the idea that they could be wrong. But that doesn’t mean they hate those different people. I think there are plenty of hateful people out there that aren’t racists and I have met a few racists over the years that were very sweet.

rockfan's avatar

I visited my great uncle for the first time in many years and during a basketball game, every time there was a personal foul he made numerous references to black people being amazing at sports and not much else. And when his team scored a crucial point, he yelled “Look at that nigger!”

Point is, he genuinely thinks white people are better than black people. But according to my dad, he hasn’t seen him raise his voice once or get upset.

So I think someone can be genuinely racist and have deplorable views on race but not be overtly hateful.

johnpowell's avatar

Fucking shit. Racism is Hate…. Fullstop.

I hate all that shit about sugar-coating the word hate. You see it a lot on reality TV… Hate is a strong word but I would like to knock you the fuck out.. But hate is a strong word. So I don’t hate you. You hate this person.

Here is a fact… I hate a few people in this thread. Like I really hate you and hope there is a hell so you can chill there for eternity.

I really don’t get how the hate word is some magical metric. I hate broccoli as much as your grandpa hates the blacks.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

In reality, racism can sometimes mingle with working rule of conduct. An Asian woman entering fashion model interview can be told by the interviewers that they can’t accept her because her Asian eyes look too small and unattractive, yet it doesn’t necessarily mean that they hate her ethnicity, it could mean that they simply looking for what the business want or what’s good for the business.

This question parallels with question that ask if having preference for certain race as partner is considered as racism. No one can say if it’s purely based on personal hate or because it’s just a matter of preference/taste. To be fair one needs to be given the benefit of doubt unless their behavior shows that they tendency for hateful racism.

I’m not defending racism here but I feel that to be fair racism issue needs to inspected case by case instead of being generalized.

Berserker's avatar

@johnpowell Like when people say, I’m not racist, but…I have nothing against gays, but…

Yellowdog's avatar

The qualifier “I am not racist, but… ” does not indicate the opposite to be true.

I am not racist, but… 51 percent of the violent crimes are committed by blacks, who constitute 13 percent of the population” is a fact that might be touted by racists, but is not racist in itself, and may underscore the experience of many crime victims and law enforcement, who deal with this reality daily. But ANY unarmed criminal might have a weapon or prove deadly, regardless of their race or appearance

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why would you even preface that statistic with whether or not you’re racist?

flutherother's avatar

@Yellowdog Be careful with statistics. Statistics aren’t racist but they can be used selectively to promote a racist point of view. I could say with equal truth that black people have consistently accounted for close to half the country’s homicide victims, making up more than 50 percent of the broader pool of those killed overall every year since 2010 despite constituting just 13% of the population.

There are reasons behind such statistics but skin colour isn’t one of them.

seawulf575's avatar

@flutherother However, digging into that same stat, per the FBI statistics from 2013, 90% of the murders of black people were by black people.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Why do you suppose that is?

stanleybmanly's avatar

I wonder if 90% of the murders in Sinaloa were committed by Mexicans?

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