Three faces of hate

Hate was November’s hot topic in discussions on campus. Here are excerpts from three of them:

Class hatred in Japan

You probably look at me and wonder what makes me special as a Burakumin [a despised class in Japan]. The truth is the average person in Japan would not be able to look at me and see anything different either.

… I would like to give four concrete examples of different systems and lifestyles of the Burakumin.

The first example would be the living environment. You’ve probably heard Japanese living conditions referred to as rabbit hutches, but in fact the conditions of most Burakumin was much worse. It was not uncommon for a family of six to live in a one-room, 10-foot-by-13-foot apartment. And they got water from a faucet outside, centrally located. A feudal well and a single toilet would have to be shared by 15 families.

The next point … is that the Burakumin have not been able to obtain constant forms of employment. …

[Thirdly] at a time around the 1960’s where 70 percent of Japanese finished junior high school, less than 20 percent of the Buraku finished. …

The fourth point I’d like to discuss is marriage. It’s very difficult for Burakumin to marry non-Burakumin.

… In Japan, if you have any kind of mixed blood of Burakumin, like 1 percent, then you’re a hundred percent Burakumin. I feel that the biggest shame in all that is that the 1 million people living outside of the [areas reserved for the] Burakumin are unable to talk about the issue.

— Ichiro Sumida, born and raised in Osaka in a Burakumin community, writes, teaches and speaks about Buraku issues. He spoke Nov. 4 at a talk sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies.

Aggressors as victims

It turns out that everybody in every domain that I examined, wherever there was an aggressor, the aggressor always perceives himself as the victim.... Milosevic portrayed himself as a victim of the Bosnians and then later the Kosovars. The Hutu leaders [believed] they’d been victimized by the Tutsis. And even going back to Hitler, Hitler had long tirades as to how he’d been victimized by other countries and then more specifically by the Jews. So every aggressor sees himself as the victim. …

There’s also a polarization that takes place. If I’m in conflict with a person, first I see myself as right and the other person as wrong. Then as things start escalating, then I become good and the other person becomes bad. And then as it escalates even more, I become saintly, the other person becomes evil. I saw this beautifully in working with married couples. I read the scholarly literature. It turns out this is also true of nations.

— Aaron T. Beck, M.D., University Professor Emeritus at the School of Medicine and president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research; is author of the new book “Prisoners of Hate.” He spoke at a book signing at the University Bookstore Nov. 16.

Psychology of haters

From a psychoanalytical point of view I find it very useful to make distinctions between people of basically hysterical characterological type, who tend to make excellent racists; people of basically obsessive characterological type, who tend to make very good anti-Semites—financial competitiveness is one of the central things in their world. Narcissistic characterological types, who are in the business of erasing people’s marks of difference, make excellent sexists and excellent homophobes.

— Elizabeth Young-Bruehl, a psychoanalyst who spoke at “Seeking Common Ground: Town Meeting on Hate Crimes in the United States,” Nov. 18, sponsored by the Albert M. Greenfield Intercultural Center and 11 other campus organizations.

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Originally published on December 2, 1999