Hate . . . is NOT an American Value®


Why definitions?  Words are extremely powerful, and dictionaries are always very precise about what vocabulary they use in their definitions.  Look over the given definitions of hate.  What important phrases are constant, and what phrases change? Are the changes substantial or subtle?  Consider having the group make a list of the similarities and differences.  Also, have them consider various factors in the definition of hate:  is hate a feeling?  Is hate taught?  What other factors play a part in deciding what is considered hate?  As a group, come up with your own definition for hate, paying close attention to what words the group wishes to include or exclude.


1. To hold in very strong dislike; to detest; to bear malice to.
2. To dislike greatly, be extremely adverse.  (Oxford English Dictionary).

1. To dislike intensely. (The Oxford Essential Dictionary, American Edition. New York, 1998).

1. a. To feel hostility or animosity toward. b. To detest.
2. To feel dislike or distaste for. (Dictionary.com, 2005).

1. To feel extreme enmity toward.
2. To have a strong aversion to: find very distasteful (Merriam-Webster Online, 2005).

Hate Crime – n. any of various crimes (as assault or defacement of property) when motivated by hostility to the victim as a member of a group (as one based on color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation).  (Merriam-Webster Online, 2005).


Voices in History

Quotations can help to identify values that are important to American society, or in this case, to illustrate the habits which fall short of our expectations.  The following collection of quotes indicates that the issue of hate has long been a part of our country’s dialogue on government.  Many other quotes can be found by encouraging group members to explore the Internet.  Ask the group to discuss the interaction of hate and democracy in light of these quotes.

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.” -Hermann Hesse (1877 – 1962)

“In time we hate that which we often fear.” -William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

“Hate is the consequence of fear; we fear something before we hate it; a child who fears noises becomes a man who fears noises.” -Cyril Connolly

“We love without reason, and without reason we hate.”
-Jean-Francois Regnard

“I shall never permit myself to stoop so low as to hate any man.”
-Booker T. Washington

“You cannot hate other people without hating your self.”
-Oprah Winfrey

“Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated.”
-George Bernard Shaw

“Love, friendship, respect, do not unite people as much as a common hatred for something.”
-Anton Chekhov


Historical Sources and Study Questions

How does one decide what an American value might be?  The soundest approach is by using core historical documents.  Materials ingrained into American culture include the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, as well as famous speeches, Supreme Court cases, and other sources documenting events or ideas from American history.

Before moving on to the historical sources and study questions listed here, consider starting a group discussion by asking how the group might identify an American “value.”  Have the group make a list of what it considers to be “American habits” — behaviors that are often endured but are not values — and why.  See if these habits or sources they come up with are similar to those listed in these study guides.

The opinions about this particular topic are certain to differ within the group and be strongly held to. Experienced facilitators should be used and the guidelines on maintaining a successful dialogue published elsewhere or on this site should be consulted before moving forward with the dialogue below.

Slavery in America

Slavery has been present in many societies throughout history.  In the Ancient world, such as ancient Rome, slavery was often the result of a conquered people being taken by another controlling one.  Money and property were motivating factors, and freedom could many times be purchased.  In America, although monetary motivations and plantation economies certainly played a role in maintaining slavery, racial superiority—that of whites over blacks—was also used as a justification.

  1. Slavery as an institution in the United States was finally banned throughout the union following the end of the Civil War in 1865.  However, although the Civil War officially abolished slavery, have the group consider the many problems caused by the system of slavery and its justifications that continue in American society to this day.  To what extent do they think or feel racial discrimination is a legacy left to us today from slavery?  What other long-term effects (political, economic, others) can they come up with?
  2. Ask the group how American slavery is related to hate.  Does the group feel that hatred and slavery always go hand-in-hand?  Why or why not?  Does the group feel they are related?  In what ways?  What other factors are there to consider?  Once the group has begun a dialogue, consider including the following points.

Declaration of Independence
Link to text at the National Archives Online

In the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, there is the famous line: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” This line caused many problems in the minds of people when considering slavery. If slaves are to be considered “men,” then how can slavery be justified? Explore with the group their views on the juxtaposition of the existence of slavery and the ideal the “all men are created equal.”  The drafters of the Constitution struggled with the issue of how slaves were to be counted for representation in Congress – they did, after all, make up a large part of the southern population. Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution answers that:

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

  1. So, slaves, although noted ambiguously as “persons”, only counted as three-fifths of a person for census purposes. How do these statements conflict with one another? If all men “are created equal,” was there truly a place for slavery in the United States by law? What does the group think or feel about how the Constitution addressed slavery?

Emancipation in Massachusetts
Link to info at Slavery in the North

The Bill of Rights for the Massachusetts Constitution begins: “All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.”

The language in this statement is similar to that of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence. In Massachusetts, however, this statement was used to abolish slavery in 1783 after a series of cases known as the “Quock Walker cases” (see link for more information). The Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice, William Cushing, pointed out that this statement put forth in the state Constitution is “totally repugnant to the idea of being born slaves … the idea of slavery is inconsistent with our own conduct and Constitution.”

  1. Consider starting a dialogue by having the group think about the differences between the preambles of the Declaration of Independence and the Massachusetts Constitution. Are the differences in wording significant enough to merit such different interpretations? What other factors do they think were involved in the Massachusetts Supreme Court abolishing slavery? Consider having the group do some research through the link above, or by finding their own sources on slavery in the North. How did the situation differ from the South? How did hate play a role in all of this? What about other factors such as economic differences may have affected these outcomes?

Gettysburg Address
Link to text at Cornell University

Following the battle of Gettysburg, and almost a year after the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. Once again, the words of the speech look back to the words of the Declaration of Independence:

“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” He continues, observing that the war is a test if a “nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure,” and hopes that “this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

This speech was still far from the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment that would forever abolish slavery.  Lincoln, however, seems to have had in mind not only the preservation of the United States – the original purpose of the Civil War – but also the ideals of equality and freedom for all people. The group can begin another dialogue on these ideals and the historic aftermath of the Civil War. The war did end slavery, yet tension, and in many instances, hatred between the North and the South, and between whites and blacks would continue, and to a certain extent is present even today.

  1. Does the group feel that slavery, and all racial hatred associated with it, is in any way consistent with the founding documents and speeches of our country? What causes gaps between behaviors and ideals?  How might these be bridged?  This dialogue may be considered with one on the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century, which is discussed later in the guide.


Irish Immigration — Religious and Ethnic Persecution
Links to info at Boston.com (Link 1 , Link 2 ) and Historyplace.com



In 1845, disease struck the Irish potato crop, a crop upon which much of the population was dependent for food.  The result was a three year long famine which led over one million Irish to immigrate to the United States between 1845 and 1848.  These immigrants settled, for the most part, in the big cities along the Eastern seaboard: Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.  In these cities, the Irish faced extreme prejudice for their religion, language, and race.  It was hard to find work, as many business windows had signs saying “No Irish Need Apply.” Business that would employ them would offer little more than menial jobs.  Ethnic slurs were often used and games such as “Break the Pope’s Neck” became popular.

Irish-Catholic property, even churches, were vandalized or torched, and a political party – the Know-Nothing party – was established with a strong support of nativism, an anti-immigrant platform, to fight the growing Irish influence in politics. Ironically, many people were also lured to the Know-Nothing party for anti-slavery reasons, as many Irish-Catholics were influential in the Democratic party, and therefore pro-slavery. (More information on Irish discrimination and the Know-Nothing party can be found readily on the web. A good place to start is Wikipedia or Encyclopedia.com, or other online reference sites.)

  1. Much of the anti-Irish sentiment dealt with stereotyping – the Irish have been stereotyped for many things, but the most important one at the time was their loyalty to Rome and the Catholic Church over the United States. How are stereotypes related to hate? Consider having the group discuss why stereotypes are made, especially including the idea of fear of people that are different. How are fear and hatred related?
  2. In this case, a political party was even formed to help suppress Irish success and fuel bias and prejudice against Irish-Catholics. How can hate be used as a vehicle to suppress others, or even to unite people? Consider having the group think of a list of groups in history that unified around hatred. (Example: The Nazi party.)  Were any of these groups ultimately successful? Why or why not?
  3. What parallels and differences can the group identify between the treatment of the Irish and the hate and prejudice that arose out of the system of slavery?

Japanese Internment
Links to info at PBS.org (Link 1, Link 2 )

On December 7, 1941 the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, leading the United States to enter World War II. Several months later, on February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, authorizing the internment of people of Japanese ancestry living in the United States. This allowed the military to “circumvent the constitutional safeguards of American citizens in the name of national defense.” As a result, 120,000 people, many of whom were second and third generation U.S. citizens, and nearly half of whom were children, were placed in 10 internment camps, mostly in uninhabited areas in the western United States.

The internment was supposedly to protect the United States from espionage, though no proof was ever found to show that espionage was a threat. The internment was instead “motivated largely by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership” (Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, at Children of the Camps website linked above).

  1. Once again the issue of hatred as related to race and ethnicity is central to the topic at hand. Consider having the group consider reasons why race is often the focus of politics in the United States.  Were there economic factors at issue here as well?  If so, what were they?
  2. How does the group feel war influences hatred or bias towards certain groups or individuals. Do they think hatred is a necessary component of war? Again, there is an element of fear intrinsic to wartime situations – fear of espionage in this example.  How are fear and hatred related to war?
  3. The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 awarded reparations to victims of the Japanese-American internment camps, and an apology was also signed by the President of the United States. What does the group think or feel about this?
  4. Again, what are the similarities and differences in the treatment of the Japanese in WWII and the other periods of history outlined above?

Civil Rights Movement

The Civil War and the abolishment of slavery did not end racial hatred or discrimination in the United States. For the next century the country, particularly the South, was plagued by laws enforcing segregation of races, and public discrimination of African-Americans. Examples of these acts of discrimination are numerous, and the group should be encouraged to do some of their own research on the Internet and present an example of these “Jim Crow” laws to the other members.

On the morning of September 15, 1963, a bomb exploded in the basement of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Bombs were not uncommon in the city, which had come to be nicknamed “Bombingham” as a result of the regular occurrences of racially-motivated bombings. This bombing, however, stood out, as the victims were four girls preparing for their Sunday school lessons.

The bomb had been planted by segregationists after growing tension over a federal order to desegregate Birmingham’s schools. The Governor of Alabama, George Wallace, actively opposed the order, and encouraged his supporters to do likewise. The bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was the most memorable of the results. Not only did the bomb take the lives of four children, but it also resulted in racial skirmishes during which more youths were killed. (Link to info at Wikipedia.org)

Despite the national attention that this crime received, it was not until 1977 that anyone was convicted in relation to it, and at that time only one of four suspects was convicted. In 1997, the investigation was reopened and convicted two more of the bombers, both members of the Ku Klux Klan in 2001.

  1. What does the group think about the national attention the bombing received? What does that say about public opinion in the nation as a whole towards hate crimes such as this bombing? Despite this, why do they think it took so long to bring the criminals to justice? Consider exploring the website about the bombings further, and researching more details about the later trials.  Also consider having the group again discuss whether or not they think or feel hate crimes such as these in the South are remnants of the hatred left from slavery. How do they think that discrimination such as segregation is related to hate?
  2. What has been the experience of the group with organizations that are formed or united because of hatred? Are they aware of such groups active in the country today?  If so, which ones?  Consider having the group do some research on the current activities of hate groups.  A good link for information on these groups is the Southern Poverty Law Center, which deals with current discrimination issues in the South and throughout the country. Why does the group believe that groups based on hatred continue to exist in America?
  3. The Civil Rights movement continued to grow throughout the early 1960s, with national leaders such as John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson, as well as civil rights activists like Martin Luther King, Jr. all advocating for a more equal America. All of these leaders called back to words found in our principal documents, such as the Declaration of Independence. Have the group explore sites that show speeches from leaders during the civil rights movement (such as the “I Have a Dream” speech), and again draw parallels to how the founding documents of our country are used as arguments against hatred and discrimination.
  4. The Civil Rights movement culminated in 1964 with the Civil Rights Act, which made illegal many forms of discrimination found throughout the South and the country. What rights are the group members familiar with?  Are they aware of times when those rights have been enforced?  To what extend has the law been adequate or inadequate in addressing hate and discrimination?


Contemporary Examples

Hate continues to be a focal point of our national dialogue. Nearly every day issues related to hate are reported, debated, and discussed in the media and government. As a group, go through a stack of newspapers or magazines, or browse the Internet and have group members point out articles provide examples of hateful conduct or statements, or that reflect concerns they have about hate. Discuss these in the context of the ideas and concepts already pointed out from the definitions and historical sources.

Ask them to consider if the article or report is promoting a particular point of view. What is being reported and what is not? Why? What additional information would the group like to have?  Also, ask the group members to think and talk about how their views were shaped by their own experiences with hate.

Matthew Shepard
Link to info at NYTimes.com

Matthew Shepard was an openly gay 22-year-old freshman at the University of Wyoming when he was beaten to death in 1998. According to published reports, the two men convicted of the crime, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, had lured him from the popular Fireside bar in Laramie, Wyoming, telling him that they were gay. Once inside their truck, the two men revealed to Shepard that they were not gay, but rather intended to rob him. They tied their victim to a fence and beat him with their pistol, saying, “It’s gay awareness week,” as they did so. The men then left Shepard tied to the fence, where he was found covered in blood by a bicyclist some 18 hours later. He died in the hospital as a result of the beating.

  1. Have the group discuss the relationship between alternative lifestyles, such as homosexuality, and hatred. Why do they think people hate what they do not understand or agree with?
  2. In the 2004 general election, many states had amendment proposals on their ballot to ban gay marriage. Have the group explore the Internet for news articles related to these amendments, or amendments currently being proposed across the country. Are these related to hatred in some way? Why or why not?  What other factors if any, come into play?
  3. The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, disagreeing so much with the lifestyle of the young man despite the brutal manner of his death. The same church has also nationally picketed funerals of dead soldiers from the War in Iraq and Afghanistan, stating God is punishing America for its toleration of homosexuals. These protests have provoked a great deal of backlash towards the church, and many states across the country are beginning to pass laws to forbid the practice. (By searching with Google or another online search engine for ‘funeral picketing’ or ‘Westboro Baptist Church,’ several articles may be found on the topic.) Consider having the group consider two angles to this situation: first of all, to what degree to they think or feel hate motivates groups like the Westboro Baptist Church? Do they think they are taking their religious message to a degree that lies outside of normal religious practice? Why or why not? Second, what does the situation say about public opinion? The protests at funerals for soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan have garnered much more attention than those at the funeral for Matthew Shepard – particularly legislative attention. What does the group think or feel about this?

Anti-Immigration Movements
Links to info, articles, and related websites at ABC News , Minutemanproject.com, Minutemanhq.com , G.W.B. White House Archives, and NYTimes.com.

  1. Illegal immigration has dominated the news in the election year of 2006. Have the group search for articles online that deal with illegal immigration reforms, illegal immigrant issues, protests, and rallies. How does the group think this is related to problems in the past such as those addressed above? Do they think race, ethnicity, or politics are the main issues or are there other underlying factors? How are hate or fear related to the current immigration debates?

Anti-Muslim / Arab Sentiments Post-9/11
Links to info, articles, and related websites at Arabnews.com, Pluralism.org, Amnesty International Online, US Navy Guantanamo Bay official website, and NYTimes.com

On September 11, 2001, terrorists claiming to be part of a group known as Al-Qaeda flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center Towers in New York City and into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Nearly 3,000 people died in the New York attacks alone. Following this terrible event, a “War on Terror” was launched by the Bush Administration, which began with a War in Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime that was known to support and harbor Al-Qaeda, as well as the War in Iraq and several other military and civilian investigations and missions.

  1. There can be little dispute that terrorists pose a great threat to our country’s safety, and the group can even start a dialogue on the relationship between terrorists and hatred. However, many other important questions may be raised. Following 9/11, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab discrimination and hate crimes have risen throughout the United States. Again the group should discuss how fear and hatred go hand-in-hand, and perhaps consider asking them to discuss various options of how to help ease anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States.
  2. Furthermore, there have been many other related articles in the news, only a few of which have been listed above. These include the holding of detainees at military bases such as Guantanamo Bay without normal constitutional privileges such as trial or even official charges, or warrant-less searches of people considered to be a threat to national security.  How does the group feel all of these issues are related? Do they see parallels their discussion on anti-Japanese sentiment and reactions during World War II? Are all of these related purely to national security and the well-being of all Americans, or are there elements of fear and hatred involved as well? What does the group think? Do they feel that anything can be done to help the situation?


Secondary Sources

As the Internet continues to grow throughout the world, so too do the number of hate sites posted on the Internet. With its largely open and unregulated format, the Internet  provides a platform that many hate groups previously did not have. American Values Are, LLC. has chosen not to include pro-hate websites in our list of links, so as not to give them the  attention that they try to achieve. Instead, we have included links to websites for organizations and groups that report on hate or fight to stop hate.

Programs for dealing with hate and how to engage in beneficial dialogue are available through The Communications Center at http://www.buildingdialogue.com.

Southern Poverty Law Center’s
Tolerance.org web project


Anti-Defamation League’s Combating Hate pages

Stop Hate 2000

Partners Against Hate

Equal Justice Initiative

African American Intellectual History Society

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