The Most Dangerous Four Letter Word

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Hate. Although most Americans are welcoming and tolerant, there is no question that a sizeable portion of the nation is engulfed in hate. There are two forms: the subtle variety and the all-out blatant prejudice we’ve seen during the recent Alabama election. A radio personality in a small town was using racial division in his programs to help build an audience. He would use phrases like, “those people” to express his displeasure with black people.

His boss asked me to talk to him. The bottom-line to my advice, “Remember one thing, many people in your town have prejudice, but, frankly they don’t want their neighbors to know. They feed on you, so cut it out.”

That hate, the subtle kind is more dangerous than the all-out blatant hatred expressed by white supremacists

In 2008, my wife and I were out to dinner with an enlightened, intellectually curious couple. The wife was chatting about the Obama-McCain campaigns, when she said, “Can you imagine Michelle Obama as the First Lady. I can’t imagine what that would look like.” We were stunned.

So, hate is among us. And when notions of it come from the very top, it emboldens many people on the way down.

The fact about hate is that once it starts with one group, it always spreads. In the mid 19th century, the target was African-Americans and the Irish immigrants. It spread to Italians, Jews from Europe, and ethnic groups from everywhere. From mid-20th century till now black people have endured the most, and now Latinos are a close second.

That’s the real nature of hate; it’s infectious. It spreads like a virus, destroying our nation in a slow-releasing poison.

You can write to Larry Kane, the dean of Philadelphia anchors, on Twitter @larrykane.