There Is No Vaccine for Hate

To the Editor:

Four-plus years of compulsive viewing and reading of disturbing political news, commentary, tweets, and documents (looking at you, Mueller report)—more per day than I ever spent watching the Watergate hearings (yes, I am that old)—is good for neither soul nor psyche. But if you see scorpions in your home, it is impossible and even dangerous not to focus your attention on them.

There is some comfort in knowing I am far from alone in my feelings about the state our country is in. And there is some clever humor in cartoons and tweets that can still make me smile. But there is truth in that humor, and those truths are still painful, so the temporary relief they provide is no good balance. And, sadly, they are overwhelmed by a torrent of “humor” and tweets that are as hateful as that which they attack. If you play the game of Tit for Tat that those you oppose have laid out, following their rules by returning the hate in every Tat of theirs, well, Tat will always win.

While our determination to resist and defeat those who are traumatizing our country and shredding our democracy is essential, Booker T. Washington’s words can be a guide for us: “I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.” What I feel greatly myself is sadness, for I see a hole inside the President that could never be filled, not with any amount of praise, obeisance, or money; his need and greed are beyond measure, and I believe him mentally unwell.

The hatefulness, cruelty, and lack of compassion in Trump and so many who support him are horrific, but imitating the very name-calling deplored in them adds to, rather than diminishes, the vitriol that surrounds us. Hate is damaging whatever its source. To spew hate back at the haters in high places is to spread the virus of hate even more. And there is no vaccine for hate.

Donna D. Pistole

Durham, N.H.


Thank you for this extremely thoughtful message—so carefully measured that we were not certain whether or not you were writing about us. We do have a tendency towards the use of somewhat vigorous language in describing current events and the people driving them.

During the decade between being discharged from the Army and finally landing in a newsroom, we worked, among many other places, in a cabinet shop. An apprentice there once asked, as he was sanding a piece of furniture, “How can you tell you’ve gone far enough unless you go too far?” The question was so profound we all downed tools and discussed it for a while.

If our choice of words is occasionally too sharp, and our line of argument too robust, we like to think that those excesses are counterbalanced by our underlying intent.

We firmly believe that one of the primary reasons we are now in this harrowing predicament is that there has been a general tendency among supposedly responsible media in this country to be overly circumspect when discussing the actions of several generations of charlatans, mountebanks, schemers, chiselers, and grifters.

We would like to see built, on the ashes and rubble of the old system, a new one in which such frauds would find it harder to gain power: a system geared to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number.

In the quest for that goal, yes—we’re willing to occasionally hurt someone’s feelings.

The Editor

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