A public hating

In a 1955 story by the remarkable Steve Allen, “The Public Hating” (which you can hear here, starting about 10:45 into the file), a condemned political prisoner is executed by the sheer force of hatred. Alone in the center of a packed sports stadium, with the event televised throughout the nation, Professor Arthur Ketteridge is literally burned to death by the concentrated hatred of millions, all focused on despising this man.

Allen mentions the para-psychological experiments of Dr. J. B. Rhine of Duke University, well-known in the popular culture of the time, and suggests that the mechanism was some sort of psychokinesis.

But we all know that mass, hysterical hatred can burn its object spiritually if not physically.

I felt a little of it myself a few weeks ago when I was one of about 15 counter-protesters facing at least 300 anti-Israel demonstrators chanting, shrieking, roaring with hatred. While Fresno is much more civilized than London or San Francisco and there was no actual violence, it’s an experience that I won’t forget.

I felt it a few months back when I attended an academic conference of the Fresno State Middle East Studies Program, when Sasan Fayazmanesh displayed a slide of Neturei Karta members with Ahmadinejad and said “You see, he cannot be an anti-Semite. These are Jews. They are his friends” and the audience laughed.

Howard Jacobson has had the same feeling in the UK:

I was once in Melbourne when bush fires were raging 20 or 30 miles north of the city. Even from that distance you could smell the burning. Fine fragments of ash, like slivers of charcoal confetti, covered the pavements. The very air was charred. It has been the same here these past couple of months with the fighting in Gaza. Only the air has been charred not with devastation but with hatred. And I don’t mean the hatred of the warring parties for each other. I mean the hatred of Israel expressed in our streets, on our campuses, in our newspapers, on our radios and televisions, and now in our theatres.

A discriminatory, over-and-above hatred, inexplicable in its hysteria and virulence whatever justification is adduced for it; an unreasoning, deranged and as far as I can see irreversible revulsion that is poisoning everything we are supposed to believe in here – the free exchange of opinions, the clear-headedness of thinkers and teachers, the fine tracery of social interdependence we call community relations, modernity of outlook, tolerance, truth. You can taste the toxins on your tongue.

It’s becoming a familiar taste.

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One Response to “A public hating”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    It is frightening enough to know that the street has been taken over in Europe by the anti- Semitic haters. But to see this happen in the United States is more terrifying. In response to the Gaza operation we saw the unholy alliance of the Jihadi Muslims and the Left take to the American streets, and intimidate all who oppose them. Over against them are smaller groups, usually of Jews alone.
    By the way the intimidation also happens, although not to the same degree, at certain times and places in Israel itself. It seems the worst are truly full of ‘passionate intensity’ almost everywhere- these days.
    I would point out too that the kinds of cries such as ‘Kill the Jews’ or ‘ Hamas Hamas Jews to the gas’ or ‘Jews to the ovens’ the hysterical genocidal hatred behind these cries point to an abandonment on the part of responsible authorities of control over the ‘public square’. Jews chant for peace and their enemies chant for Jews to be burned. This is the assymetry, and this indicates why appeasement will not work.
    The question of how to involve more non- Jews in opposing such anti- human activity is a real question I do not know if anyone has the answer to. Most people are naturally indifferent but one would hope that there would be more decent people who would have the courage to stand up. After all these Islamic bigots not only intend to destroy the Jews they intend to bring down the United States, and the democratic world as a whole.