Hope and Hate


Purveyors of hatred


The purveyors of hatred seem to be a feature of modern life. Maybe it was always the way and it is only the framework and the excuses that change. Christianity was no excuse for the crusades of the inquisition. Islam is no excuse for the atrocities being carried out in its name today. All those who espouse violence in the name of a faith are working to destroy that faith not to observe it.


The responses to this week’s attack in Westminster are instructive. We saw politicians who normally argue ferociously and criticise each other strongly, standing together in unity, showing a common resolve, a shared desire to stand up for decency, tolerance and an open society. True, there are platitudes but where horror strikes they are forgivable. Equally, we would benefit from a little more attention to decency, tolerance and an open society from day to day but these events are a salutary reminder, a call to remember those core values.


And it is those values which we are in danger of forgetting, with the constant stream of fear and hatred fed to us by the Daily Mail, the pernicious lies of the far right fringe which are leaking into the mainstream, and the spread of trolling and abuse. Maybe this is the moment when we can return to tolerance and decency. There have been other moments when we wished the same – when Jo Cox was murdered for example many of us hoped that at least it would be a wake up call. Maybe tyhis time the message will get home?

A wake up call?

So we need the wake up call. To what? To the fact that spending vast sums on military intervention and seeking to reduce the paltry amount allocated to support through the aid budget creates the environment in which extremism flourishes . To the fact that we will only reduce the relentless flow of refugees when we help sort the problems which are causing them to flee their home lands. Putting up more barriers is no answer. And to the fact that the language of violence and hatred, as espoused by Katie Hopkins, Paul Nuttall and others, is itself a primer for more hatred and for violence.


Only when we have absorbed this can we move on, or back, to a tolerant and free society. Of course, we will never completely eradicate violence. No society can. But what we can do is stand up for a society in which both bystanders and paramedics seek to treat the man who just tried to kill them, in which unarmed policemen are prepared to face down killers with knives, and in which we resolve our differences through debate, not killing.

Tony Earnshaw

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