Category Archives: Hate

The Shortest History of Israel and Palestine


When the war between Hamas and Israel began I decided I must read a book about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.  I read such a book quite a few years ago. I certainly needed a refresher. The read certainly was not refreshing however.

As a result, I read the book, The Shortest History of Israel and Palestine by Michael Scott-Baumann. From the blurbs on the cover it seemed to be an impartial view of that conflict. I think I made a good choice. Its a very good book.

What have I learned as a result of reading that book?  One main thing has become absolutely clear to me. That is that I have no idea who started the war or who started the current conflict either for that matter. So I had not learned who is right. But I am sure about one thing I am sure about Iwho is wrong.  Both sides are wrong! And they have been wrong over and over again.

 Mainly, they have been wrong because both sides have repeatedly acquiesced with what their extremists are doing in their name. And the result of that is clear. Turning over “your side” to your extremists is so ensure that peace has no chance. You can’t give peace a chance when you turn your case over to the extremists. And the same goes for the other side. No moderation; no peace. The extremists will make sure of that. Over and over again it seems that is exactly what they extremists want.

And if no side is right then the Buffalo Springfield are right when they sang:


“There’s battle lines being drawn

Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”


When Compromise is Heresy


People are calling for a cease fire in the war between Hamas and Israel. Israel says it won’t stop firing until all of its hostages are released.  Hamas has not offered to release the hostages it recently captured at great expense. It likely sees them as their only hope right now. Neither side seem inclined to compromise. I would love to see a ceasefire. How to get there?  I don’t know.

Here is what I do know. This bloody war is the consequence of turning states over to the extremists as both Gaza and Israel have done. Extremists, particularly when filled with religious zeal, even if they are not particularly religious, inevitably see compromise as heretical. Such groups are extremely unlikely to compromise. When two groups under the dominance or influence of extremists with such religious zeal, the end result is bound to be bloody. Don’t look for quick and easy ceasefires.

The tragedy of the Middle East is that both sides (or should I say all sides?) in this seemingly intractable dispute are chained to murderous theological ideologies that leave no room for compromise or resolution. Each side just wants to bludgeon the other side to death—to oblivion. How can you make a deal with the devil, both sides ask. The answer—of course—is that you can’t. Neither side can make a deal with the devil so they go on pummeling each other to death. That is the inevitable result when both sides have an unshakeable conviction that the other side is the side of the devil. Then your own side becomes the sole bearer of truth and justice for the only rightful god.

We can do better. To do that, murderous ideologies with their murderous certainties,  must be discarded.


Newt Gingerich Revolutionary


After the massive Republican victory in the American mid-term elections of 1994, Newt Gingerich  became the new Leader of the House, and he was obviously a firebrand. Nothing else would do. Moderates were scorned.  It was time for a new Tea Party.

The Atlantic magazine said that Gingrich “turned partisan battles into blood sport, wrecked Congress, and paved the way for Trump’s rise.” Polarization in American politics was jump started. American politics would not be the same for decades (or perhaps forever?). He called himself the “most serious systematic revolutionary of modern times.”

Here is one of his early incendiary remarks for which he became famous:

“You cannot make civilization with 12-year-olds having babies, 15-year-old shooting each other, 17- year-olds dying of AIDS, and 18-year-olds getting a diploma they can’t read.”


Interestingly, this also established Gingrich as part of the culture wars that have taken over American politics, both on the left and the right.

Justin Ling said this about Gingrich on The Flame Throwers podcast:


“What he really was, was a pugilistic bomb thrower who was willing to tear down the entire American political structure with his bare hands if he had to.”


These were the type of guys (usually they were all guys) that the American right-wing loved. And still love! They were bombastic; they were confident, and they mocked all the namby pambies of the liberal camp. Later they referred to them as “woke.” Gingrich was Rush Limbaugh’s kind of guy! This was a guy he could support, just like Donald Trump later was the kind of guy he could support.

Gingrich, again like Trump later, called Limbaugh for advice. They ascended together. They joined in hatred of  liberals, an in particular the Clintons, and dragged a nation of conservatives with them. According to Justin Ling, “together they remade the language of politics. Liberals are anti-flag, anti-child, traitors, thieves.” Together they helped create the astonishing polarization of American politics. Their extreme language helped establish extreme hatred for “the other party.” There was no room for moderation. This was a battle between Satan and Jesus. It was the beginning of a new age of extremism in which we are still living . Humility found no home in this new movement.

And it had American talk radio to thank.

Hooray for Our Side


Stephen Stills wrote and sang  a wonderful song when he was with the band Buffalo Springfield. It is a classic embodying a lot of the good from the 1960s which I still think of as my time.  The song is very appropriate for the current times.  Here are the lyrics:


For What It’s Worth

There’s something happening here

But what it is ain’t exactly lear

There’s a man with a gun over there

Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop

Children, what’s that sound?

Everybody look – what’s going down?


There’s battle lines being drawn

Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

Young people speaking’ their minds

Getting so much resistance from behind


It’s time we stop

Hey, what’s that sound?

Everybody look – what’s going down?


What a field day for the heat

A thousand people in the street

Singing songs and carrying signs

Mostly saying, “hooray for our side”


It’s time we stop

Hey, what’s that sound?

Everybody look – what’s going down?


Paranoia strikes deep

Into your life it will creep

It starts when you’re always afraid

Step out of line, the men come and take you away


We better stop

Hey, what’s that sound?

Everybody look – what’s going down?

I think this song written in the 1960s sums up a lot of what’s happening in the Middle East now.

Religion has declined in much of the world. In fact, I would argue it has declined most strongly in those areas where it appears to be most vociferously present. My wife Christiane used to have a pin that said something like this “When religion turns to hate, it is no longer religion.” When religion declined it transformed into politics and became hate it turns into the most ugly form of politics imaginable.  A long way from the holy. When that happens the “other side” is transformed from the other side to the devil. This is what demonization does. By definition it dehumanizes the other.

Sometimes this is done by ignoring the other. For example, when Israel ignores Hamas or treats them with disdain as it has done for more than 15 years, it dehumanizes them. Hamas of course, treated Israel with vicious hate when it attacked them on October 7th of this year.   Dehumanization again.

The first step in the process of dehumanization, as happened in Rwanda in the 1990s is to call the other side non-humans. Like pests as happened there. It happened again in Israel when their defense Minister called Hamas “human animals.” That gives them the license to kill.

This is what leads to the conflagration in the Middle East. Now we all have to live with it.

The Demon on the other Side



Both sides in the Hamas/Israeli war are governed by religious extremists. And both are doing a very bad job. When such leaders are in charge it is a near certainty that the “other side” will be demonized. That is what extreme religions are all about. After all, the other side is by definition “of the devil.”

 The other side becomes non-human when extremist leaders are in command, as they are on both sides in the Israeli/Hamas fight.

As Fintan O’Toole said in his article in the New York Review of Books,


“The Hamas incursion, in which more people died violently in Israel in a single day than ever before in the turbulent history of the state, is frightful. Even in the present state of the world, the murder, wounding, and kidnapping of so many defenseless civilians is shocking in its depravity. Hamas’s knowing provocation of Israel’s wrath against a Gazan population it cannot then defend, shows that it cares as little for its own civilians as it does for the enemy’s. The dehumanization of the whole population of Gaza by Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, who said that “we are fighting against human animals,” and his explicit threat to deprive civilians of food and electricity are also profoundly disturbing. Retaliation against noncombatants has been established as Israel’s equal and opposite reaction to Hamas’s crimes and it foreshadows horrors even greater than the many hundreds of Gazans already killed by Israeli air strikes. Yet none of this is truly surprising. Nothing justifies these assaults, but when violence has become the only means of communication, everyone knows that its language will be spoken—and not in whispers but in screams.”

 When you are on the side of God fighting,  the others are on the side of the Devil it is impossible to see anything other than black and white. There are no longer any colours, let alone grays.  All other vision is dimmed by blood and hate and certainty. All truth and right is on “our” side and all falsehood and evil on the this of “them.”

Both sides in this awful fight in the Middle East are making the same mistake because they are both led by the same type of people—religious extremists. As Bob Dylan said, and as I keep quoting, “You don’t count the dead with God on your side.” Both Hamas and Israel are convinced—absolutely convinced—that God is on their side.

Religion has declined in much of the world. In fact, I would argue it has declined most strongly in those areas where it appears to be vociferously present. My wife Christiane used to have a pin that said something like this “When religion turns to hate, it is no longer religion.” When religion declined it transformed into politics.  The most ugly form of politics imaginable. When that happens the “other side” is transformed from the other side to the devil. This is what demonization does. By definition it dehumanizes the other.


Sometimes this is done by ignoring the other. For example, when Israel ignores Hamas or treats them with disdain as it has done for more than 15 years, it dehumanizes them. Hamas of course, treated Israel with vicious hate when it attacked them on October 7th of this year.   Dehumanization again.


The first step in the process of dehumanization, as happened in Rwanda in the 1990s is to call the other side non-humans. Like pests as happened there. It happened again in Israel when their defense Minister called Hamas “human animals. That gives Israel the license to kill.  We should not be surprised when the license is used.

This is what leads to the conflagration in the Middle East.

A Safe Place to Hate.


There had been a lot of social change just before Rush Limbaugh arrived on the scene. There was gay liberation, women’s rights, and liberalism. Many felt they could no longer say what they wanted to say. Political correctness was seen as a stifling chain. They also thought no one was speaking like them or to them. They were ignored and invisible. As Justin Ling said in his CBC. Radio series , “In the universe of right-wing media compared to the Wall Street Journal and like the later Fox News Limbaugh’s listeners were older, whiter, more conservative, and more religious. For this slice of America Limbaugh created a safe space.” He created a safe place to hate.

Surprisingly, because there was a Republican in the White House, as Ling said, “he convinced these old, white, conservative, and religious Americans that they were disenfranchised!” Even though they were in the majority! It was pure alchemy. He told them they were looked down on. He milked them for their resentment—the elixir of devils. As Ling said, “He formed a kind of counterculture; a resistance against the liberals, and the progressives, and the feminists.”

In the mid-80s he syndicated to about 50 stations across the country but by 1990 he got 450 affiliates. He was the rock star of talk radio and the conservative movement. He led a Rush to Excellence Tour to various stadiums around the country with as many as 10,000 people.  As Justin Ling said, “Limbaugh declared a culture war”. Limbaugh put it this way:

“We are in the midst of a culture war. What are rights? This culture war illustrates precisely what is going on. We in America are in the midst—it’s an exciting time to be alive—we are in the midst of a redefinition of who is going to define right and wrong, what the punishment is going to be for those who violate the limits that we place on our behavior. We are arguing about who has the right to tell us what is right and what is wrong. We’re arguing over what censorship is And to me its pretty scary.”


And there it is again—fear—the secret sauce of paranoia and right-wing hysteria.

Like Trump later, Limbaugh went from being a spoiled rich kid to a champion of the working class. People all over America were starting to take notice of Limbaugh. I remember at the time hearing about him from a friend of mine, a trucker. Truckers loved Limbaugh, just like they later loved Trump and basically for the same reasons. They liked to have a wrecking ball in their corner as did my friend the trucker, and much later the truckers convoy in Ottawa in 2022. They got a rush from Rush Limbaugh.

As Justin Ling said, “On his radio show he was the voice of God on a one way street. And he loved nothing better than to run over liberal women. On his radio show he said, “this is a show devoted to what I think.” On the Dave Lettermen show he said people were bugged by him because “I have almost a monopoly on the truth.” No one could ever accuse Limbaugh of humility. Humility was a liberal vice. And his fans loved it.  He also said “This is a benevolent dictatorship. I am the dictator. There is no first amendment here except for me.”

Now he was entitled to be the dictator of his own show. If we don’t like it, we don’t have to listen to it.


Good People Can Get It wrong


A lot of people—good people—are excited about Manitoba electing an indigenous person ad premier.  I admit it. I am excited about that too. I think Wab Kinew is bright, likeable, and filled with empathy. Those are good qualities  for a leader to have that will serve him well.

I just want to pour some cold water on the expectations.  Many seem to suggest that the fact that an indigenous man has been elected proves that Manitoba is not racist. I wish that were true.  But I don’t think it is that simple.

I am reminded about the election of Barack Obama to the American presidency. That also raised many hopes, not all of which were fulfilled. Many thought too that this proved America is not a racist society.  Many events since that memorable election have proved that to be wildly over optimistic.

Racism in the US, as in Canada, runs deep. Very deep.  The same goes for hate. That does not mean that racism is forever embedded in our societies. I don’t think it is in our DNA as some have suggested.  It does mean we must be modest in our expectations and humble in our assumptions. Eradicating racism will be a big job, over a long haul.

In the US after Obama was elected that supercharged the extreme racist fringes of American society. Many of them could not bear the image of a black man and his black family living in the White House. The racists found this intolerable. This was part of the reason for the amplification of the Tea Party in the US. Racism erupted. It was not pretty. I remember seeing disturbing posters and bumper stickers in the US. It was ugly.

The same thing could happen in Manitoba. Images of Wab Kinew and his family could trigger a new political faction here as well. How about the Beer Party?

We must remember the obvious: Good people can get it wrong.

Hysteria Rides (and falls) Again



It is hardly surprising, but hysteria has failed again. That is because hysteria rarely leads to encouraging solutions to real problems. Hysteria interferes with critical thinking.

Many Winnipeggers learned this lesson on Friday. As Maggie Macintosh reported in the Winnipeg Free Press,

More than 1,000 students — including nearly half of one elementary school’s population — were absent from classes in one Winnipeg school district Wednesday as misinformation spread online about its teachers distributing graphic sexual content.


Many Winnipeggers believed the nonsense they read about on social media that teachers planned to suddenly expose children to explicit and inappropriate information. That is typical of the stuff social media spreads, and unfortunately, many parents are inclined to believe such claims. People who are addicted to conspiracy theories believe stuff like this no matter how incredible it is. People living in what Kurt Anderson called “FantasyLand” are addicted to such absurdities.

 Superintendent Brian O’Leary said We had a lot of information circulating on social media, particularly within the South Asian community, telling parents that the schools were planning to hand out books with graphic sexual material to all students.”

As Macintosh reported, the Superintendent  said,

 “false and malicious fearmongering” on social media prompted hundreds of families in the Seven Oaks School Division to keep their elementary-aged children home from classes Sept. 20.


He also said the posts in Punjabi, Hindi and Arabic were “deliberately concocted to scare parents,” and were circulating on Facebook. The problem is that far too many parents, and others, believe everything they hear on social media, particularly if it aligns with their anti-government ideology. The problem is not gender ideology, it is the ideology of automatic distrust in government. Adherents to this ideology would much rather believe nonsense on the internet than government sources.  And this is a big problem for society.

As Macintosh said,

“About 50 per cent of students enrolled at Arthur E. Wright Community School did not show up Wednesday. The absenteeism rate dropped to five per cent Thursday. The abnormal attendance levels were recorded on the same day as the “1MillionMarch4Children” — a protest organized by a conservative group that is “against gender ideology” and claims schools are sharing “sexually explicit content” with students — played out across the country.”


When hysterical parents hear lies this, particularly if they have a sexual element,  they immediately move into high gear before they have a chance to think things through rationally. Hysteria is the mortal enemy of critical thinking.

I don’t think it is a coincidence either that this happened as hundreds of protesters showed up at the Manitoba Legislative Building the day before to call for more parental rights, even though they already have ample parental rights they rarely use.  When parents are haunted by fantastical visions of children being sexually abused, their reactions are on hair-trigger mode.

The president of the Manitoba Teacher’s Society Nathanial Martindale was disappointed that parents had believed such nonsense that  Manitoba teachers are out to harm children. As he said, “nothing could be further from the truth… Educators want the best for all learners and will never be onside with homophobic or transphobic hate.” But reasonable ordinary truth like that  just does not cut it on the Internet when there are salacious lies instead.

Lies and Hate travel at warp speed on the internet compared to dull truth.




I have heard friends, good friends, say they wished the LGBTQ* community were less flamboyant. Particularly they think trans queens are outrageously over the top. Why do they have to be so ‘in your face’ all the time they ask? Or they say,’ Don’t they know they are not winning support with their actions?’ Or, “Why do they act so we see them all the time?’


I used to feel that way. I think it was the residue of homophobia that makes the straight community feel that way. This is our liberation fatigue speaking and we must dissolve it. Members of the LGBTQ* community have always been forced into the dark cracks of society where they could hide.  They had no choice, they thought, because they would be hit hard when they ‘came out.’


Naturally, they don’t want to be forced back into those dark societal cracks. They want to be out in the open as they are entitled to be. I think flamboyance is their way of saying, ‘I am not going back into those cracks again. I am out and I am staying out, get used to it.’ And that is exactly what we should do—get used to it. Let then be. If they want to be flamboyant, so be it.


I think the LGBTQ* community is entitled to do exactly that. The rest of us just have to get used to it. Our discomfort with the flamboyance is only disguised homophobia and we in the dominant group need to get rid of all of that phobia. we don’t even recognize what it is. We need to get rid of it, not just for the sake of the LGBTQ*, but for ourselves. We must cleanse ourselves of all homophobia.  None of it does us well. That is our job in the face of injustice. This will liberate us! Flamboyance fatigue, or justice fatigue, or reconciliation fatigue are all unbecoming. We can do better.

Why do Christians Hate so many Vulnerable People?


It seems odd to me—very odd—that Christians seem to be spearheading every charge against every minority group: women, blacks, lesbians, gays, trans, queer, Muslims, immigrants, and others? Is this what the party of Christ has come to?

Is it because there is something nasty about their religion?  After all the Bible, their Holy Book, does seem to have a lot of hatred for minority groups, particularly sexual minorities.

Yet Christians cheerfully without fuss or muss, easily discard inconvenient Bible prescriptions when they choose to. They don’t think being rich will prevent them from entering heaven no matter what the Bible says. They don’t stone adulterers like the Bible orders. So why do they pick on vulnerable lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and queer?  Why do they religiously follow the prescriptions against these vulnerable people while ignoring so many other divine orders?

I think the answer lies in the word I have been repeating: “vulnerable.”  There seems to be something about the vulnerable that attracts the attention  of  Christians, at least evangelical Christians, and their will to dominate.  It even attracts their hate, though often they deny it. In fact, now that gays and lesbians seem to be increasing in numbers or at least visibility, and hence power,  it seems to me they have eased up on their harassment of them.  Instead,  evangelical Christians are now concentrating more on bi-sexuals and trans. In my view, they are attracted to the easier and less powerful targets! They want to trample on the weak. And are fearful of the stronger.

If this is true it does not speak well of Christians.  If any readers feel I am being unfair to Christians, I ask them to speak up and set me straight. I don’t want to slander Christians if I am wrong.