Segal: Hate is all you need

Rabbi David Segal
Guest Column

America is the land of the free, but you know what’s not free? Hiring non-union labor to protest on your behalf. That’s what the Brooklyn-based Jewish Political Action Committee did — they enlisted Mexican workers to hold anti-homosexuality posters at the New York City Pride Parade while dressed as Orthodox Jews. Ironically, the hired hands pretended to be someone they’re not to protest people proudly being themselves. Also ironically, they dressed in ethnic drag to protest gay pride. The organizers could have paid them a little more to learn Hava Nagila and make it a package deal: Protest by day, bar mitzvah band by night.

It is touching to see people reach out across lines of faith, race and class. All it took was their hatred of another group. Isn’t that the American way? Persecute strangers until you join them in ostracizing the next group of strangers?

Hate can really bring people together. Americans hated the Irish until they saw the Germans coming. Then those Germans didn’t look so bad when the Eastern Europeans arrived. Americans hated Jews until they remembered there were still black people here. Most Jews look white anyway, so it’s hard to keep track. No doubt that the tide of Latinos and Muslims will change our tune again. We’ve got to band together with the folks who already overran the country to keep others from overrunning the country. Don’t take my word for it; ask a Native American.

One hero in Montana is taking a stand. John Abarr founded a new KKK chapter that won’t discriminate based on race, religion or sexual orientation. What kind of country are we living in when you can’t even count on the Klan to be racist and homophobic anymore? So much for the good old days. I’m sure Jews, blacks and gays are clamoring to sign up, but I don’t think I want to belong to a club that would have someone like me as a member. (Where is Groucho Marx when you need him?)

The imperial wizard of the United Klans of America said Abarr’s inclusive KKK is absurd. Ironically, the progressive Montana Human Rights Network agreed. And there you have it: Another bridge built by hate. (On a related note, I’m thinking of changing my title from “Rabbi” to “Imperial Wizard.” It’s more whimsical.)

But our hate is still small potatoes. It’s time to take it to the next level: Hate global, act local. What we need is something to inspire us to make common cause with our fellow humans, someone we can loathe together. That’s why I hope we find life on other planets. Imagine how it will expand our hate horizons. Picture all humanity locked arm in arm against the threat of illegal aliens from outer space. If we’ve learned anything from the movies, extraterrestrials are bloodthirsty conquerers. Don’t be fooled by E.T.’s charm — first he came for the Reese’s Pieces and I said nothing because I prefer M&Ms.

Does that mean we are doomed to perpetual war? Or could there yet be a higher level of hate, a universal contempt, to unite us across species and galaxies?

If we turn our thoughts to the creator of all, asking why in God’s name there is so much strife and suffering in the universe, then the spark of hate will begin to glow within each of us. When that hatred glows brightest, then at last the messiah will come. God’s anointed one will ascend the throne of glory to find all of creation in concerted resentment against him, wondering what took him so long, already. As Isaiah prophesied: “And the many peoples shall go and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the Mount of the Lord, to the House of God, and ask, “Why are you still in your house? Have you seen what’s going on out here?”’”

Rabbi David Segal of the Aspen Jewish Congregation can be reached at 970-925-8245 or He blogs at, and his column runs the first Saturday of each month.


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