The Opposite of Hate

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 18 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

Very interesting, quick, and timely read on the political and social landscape in America right now. 1 star off for quick editing and incorrect quotations. But I think a lot of people should take the time to stop and read and think on the ideas in this book. They may not be completely original, but then again I bet a lot of people haven't actually stopped to think about the ideas presented here.
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When you are writing a book discussing hate, bias and prejudice, don't misuse other people's words to make yourself sound better. Especially if that person is black and you are white. In all honesty I don't think it was done maliciously, but instead illustrates how privilege blinds us. This in no way excuses Kohn from not checking her privilege and verifying her facts. 

I had hoped this book would break new ground or discuss in-depth methods for recognizing and dealing with our hate, but it reads like the "woke white woman realizing there are social issues around her and she has thoughts!!!!" stereotype. At times, it feels like the bare minimum of research into very complex issues went into this book. The controversy surrounding quotes from two authors makes the rest of the book's content, some of which involves interviews with people from backgrounds other than the author's, into question as to the validity of those engagements. Also, using the experiences of one or two interviewees to illustrate the experiences of their people seems to me to be an incredibly narrow way to accurately reflect those experiences. It doesn't help that half of the book reads like a memoir than an examination of the nature of hate.

Kohn had some good thoughts, especially about connection. However, she doesn't go deep enough into her idea to generate any conductive discussion, and her sloppy handling of her source material - her failure to check in with those she quotes or, dare I say, her failure to connect - overshadows any benefit this book may have had otherwise.
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I wholeheartedly agree with the author.  We need to bring civility back.  I don't care which side of the aisle you are on, you can disagree without being disagreeable.  A great and timely book that everyone should read.
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The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guild to Repairing our Humanity by Sally Kohn was a hard book to read, delving into the roots of hate, and yet I was given hope by stories of recovered haters and the offered toolkit of how to move beyond hate.

I was a freshman in high school in 1967 when my Civics teacher Mr. Warner taught us that there is no such thing as 'race', that we are all one 'race'--the human race. I was a sophomore in college when Dr. Sommers told my anthropology class the story of a community who believed they were God's Real People and across the hill lived sub-human others. Two stories that succinctly sum up social conflict: are we connected or are we disconnected?

In my late 20s, working in an all black office, I learned that, even raised in a home and school culture that did not teach hate towards perceived 'others', hate is so ingrained in our society that one cannot escape it. To rise above hate one must be on perpetual guard, thoughtful of our unvoiced thoughts and emotions as well as our spoken words and deeds. We all hate. It is a choice every day what we do with this knowledge.

Kohn reflects on her own childhood acts of bullying and her training as a community activist who found hate was a "useful tool in their civic-engagement tool belt." Catching herself in hateful hypocrisy made her reflect on hate--its universality, its manifestations from name calling to hate crimes, and how the dehumanization of  'others' creates a deadly climate.

Kohn sat down and talked to people who held beliefs that were diametrically her opposite, learning their story. We all know how hard this is to do. We cut off Facebook friends and even relatives, and avoid certain gatherings were we may run into people whose opinions we object to--even hate. Kohn shares a technique from Compelling People by Matt Kohut and John Neffinger. Instead of arguing or telling folk they are wrong, follow ABC. Affirm: find a mutual concern; Bridge with an 'and' statement and follow with Convince, in which you present your view. She calls it connection-speech, a friendly and respectful way of communicating.

Several times over the last year I have found myself fumed at something an acquaintance has said. I stated my case and apologized if they felt attacked, saying I feel passionate about the issue. Reading ABC makes me recall a professor, who when a student said something he did not agree with, calmly said, "that could be" or "that is interesting" and then stated his convincing argument. I have been forgetting to affirm. 

Each chapter addresses aspects of hate:Why We Hate, How We Hate, Hating Is Belonging, Unconscious Hate, When Hate Becomes Pandemic, Systems of Hate, and The Journey Forward. 

The opposite of hate, Kohn contends, is not love or even liking those we don't agree with. It is not giving up one's passionately held ideals. It is connection--treating others with respect as fellow human beings. 

I appreciated Kohn's honest confession, how she drew lessons from the people she interviewed, and especially for a blueprint of how to overcome America's most dangerous threat.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
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Interesting entry into the study of hate written in a manner that is likely to have broader appeal than more academically minded tomes but should, nonetheless, produce similar discussions and thoughtful contemplation.
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