In the past， people who felt a visceral antagonism toward someone were said to be filled with “hatred” toward them. They might also be said to “hate” that other person. “Hatred”was a noun; “hate” was a verb. How is it， then， that we now use“hate” as a noun and talk about it as if it were a thing？ The terms are clearly in flux;the shift in usage tells us something about what is going on in our society today. What is happening？
The short answer is that inter-group enmity has sharpened， at the cost of a sense of a common “we” as the subject of our politics.
“Hate” got a big boost in the 1980s when the movement to designate certain crimes as “hate crimes” was in its heyday. Eventually， hate crime laws were widely adopted around the country， creating the possibility of longer sentences for those whose crimes were motivated by antagonism against the group to which the victim（s） belonged. According to the FBI， a “hate crime” is an act motivated by“bias” or “prejudice” against the members of a variety of groups.
The next step in the transformation of “hate” into a “thing” may well have been the attacks of September 11， 2001，or at least the government's reaction to them. President George W. Bush's response， famously， was to launch an open-ended “war on terror.”
We spent the next decade and more at war with a shadowy， diffuse enemy called“terror”—a war to which President Barack Obama declared an end only in 2013. During the interim， a term that had once referred to a specific kind of fear—namely， “terror”—became a “thing” that haunted the imaginations of airplane travelers， subway riders， and urban dwellers generally.
The transformation of “terror，” the emotion， into “terror，” the ubiquitous enemy，opened the door to an analogous move with “hate.” Groups and individuals allegedly motivated by “hate”are not simply “biased”or “prejudiced，” as the now quaint-seeming language of hate crimes suggests. Instead， they are said to be motivated by deep-seated， irremediable animus toward those they dislike， slander，criticize， or attack. People motivated by “hate” are obdurate，implacable， beyond the pale; they are not and cannot be “us.”
The only activist group I know of that includes “hate” in its title — although there may well be others — is Stop AAPI Hate， based in the San Francisco Bay Area These collectivities are or at least can be fonts of love—communities in which one can submerge oneself and find a larger meaning for one's own existence. Those communities must be rejuvenated if we are going to overcome the forces of hate and replace them with the power of love.