There are those businesses we love to hate—and then there are those whose business is hate.
Have you ever fallen prey to a marketing message? Sure you have, whether you noticed it or not. Marketing, when it works, is the most persuasive, and pervasive, form of mass manipulation.
We think that marketing is used to sell a service or a product, but really it’s always used to sell belief in an idea. It’s the idea that one brand is better than another, it’s the idea that a certain shirt or cologne will make you irresistible, it’s the idea that something will make your life safer, your wallet fatter, your waistline slimmer —marketing doesn’t sell stuff, it sells beliefs.
For centuries there have been people, individuals and organizations, that sell the belief that hate is legitimate.
It’s a big business, hate. And highly profitable. That’s why so much is invested in the marketing that sells you on ideas of what and who you are entitled to hate.
And it’s a deadly business, because hate is the idea of violence and it is inevitable that it will be followed by physical, often deadly, violence.
When is violence ever legitimate?
Ask most people when it’s OK to kill a person, or even when it’s OK to hit or otherwise or harm a person, and they’ll say something along the lines of, “When you are protecting yourself or others from harm.”
That seems so black and white doesn’t it? We even have a “get out of jail card” for “justifiable homicide.” If you can show that you believed your life to be at risk then taking a life is a legitimate option.
So how is it legitimate to hate Muslims? Because they threaten our freedoms, indeed our very lives?
How is it legitimate to hate gays? Because they threaten our moral ground and the safety of our women and children?
How is it legitimate to hate Mexicans? Because they (at least the ones who come to the U.S.) are rapists, drug dealers, and murders?
You finish the list. Take any group that is hated by another group (men, women, whites, blacks, the 1%, the homeless, Republicans, Democrats, and so on) and ask yourself why they are hated.
No matter the group, or why the hatred exists, chances are that hatred is the product of a subtle and masterful marketing campaign.
And behind that marketing campaign you will find a person or organization with a great deal to gain from your participation in that hatred. They’re building a career, they’re amassing a fortune, they’re recruiting a following—and they’re able to do that because we buy the idea that hate is OK, it’s justified, it’s maybe even righteous. It’s legitimate to hate.
Corporations do it. Politicians do it. Churches do it. They always have, chances are they always will.
How do they do it?
Primarily through fear.
And fear can always be traced to a belief that there is something to lose.
They tell us we should be afraid of losing our right to bear arms. Gun sales spike, the CDC is banned from even studying gun violence, and common sense regulations are shot down. Who profits?
They tell us we should be afraid of losing our freedom. Wars are declared, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every day, thousands die (that’s just the U.S. military casualties not total body count), and we have a whole new generation of soldiers who will be battling PTSD for life. Who profits?
They tell us we should be afraid of losing the safety of our communities. Police are on high alert and equipped with military grade equipment, people of color are profiled, and a little black boy playing with a toy gun is killed. Who profits?
They tell us we should be afraid of losing our morality or even our place in heaven. Planned Parenthood is attacked with videos later proved to be false and their funding threatened, LGBTQ people are targeted with everything from refusal of services including legal marriages to laws controlling which public restrooms they are allowed to use, and 50 people die in Orlando. Who profits?
What do you fear?
Who do you hate?
Certainly there are things in this world that warrant a healthy amount of fear. But people of a certain religion, people of a certain country of origin, people of a certain skin tone, people of a certain gender identity or sexual orientation, people of a certain style of dress, people of a certain political affiliation—those people are not what we should fear.
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