On Post-War Hatred

With today being Pearl Harbor Day, a quandary I have had many times came up. The issue is this – for how long after a war/attack/persecution is a people allowed to hate the other party?

The examples are many, and yet perhaps somewhat inconsistent. People would look at me like I was insane if I started cursing out British tourists for their treatment of the colonials 240 years ago, but would you be shocked if a Native American expressed anger towards the U.S. government for the terrible treatment of their people? Across much of the southern part of the United States you will see people flying Confederate flags, with slogans like “The South will rise again”. Is this merely misplaced anger from 150 years ago? Does it even matter? Is it odd that many Brits are still wary of the French after all the years of fighting? So many examples, and there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer.

Would it change anything if both sides of the war were angry? Americans had (have) spent a long time being angry at the Japanese for World War II, Pearl Harbor, etc., and I’m sure there have to be many Japanese who are upset with the U.S. over the use of the atomic bomb. If one started to be less upset, should that cue the end of the other side’s hatred? Clearly this is not the case.

Does it matter if our former enemies are now our allies? Does time heal the wounds? I would think that you could argue that in both cases the answer could be no, absolutely not. If time does play a role, how much time must elapse? One generation? 100 years? It all seems rather incongruous to me.

In some regions of the world I am sure that the wounds from thousands of years ago still sting as though they were fresh. I imagine that in the Western world it’s much harder for a people to hate the people of a nation, or to refuse to purchase their products, than it used to be. Society is much more liberal; everybody is expected to get along with everybody, and every kid gets a participation trophy so they don’t feel badly about themselves. Nobody is allowed to hate, or even resent, people in public anymore. On the flip side, there are many regions of the world, and subsets of people who VERY much still harbor hatred for their former antagonists and live their lives according to this ethos.

I’m not totally sure I have an answer to this question. It was just something on my mind, and I decided to share. Your thoughts are welcome.


3 comments on “On Post-War Hatred

  1. Dazzle Rebel says:

    The English are wary of the French? Nah, we just hate* them because they’re so damn Nationalistic, we’re more wary that the US will elect another nut-job President that will declare war on Russia which means our rubber-backed government will continue to honour the “special relationship”.
    But oh I jest. The English hate many of the countrymen of the nations that they’ve been at war with since colonial times (you could even move a little further back and stick the Scots in with that. My good do we hate each other). So therefore the English hate the French, Argentines and the Germans something chronic. However, this hatred can be made up for if:
    A) The country in question is a soppy forgivable type, say in the same way as a naughty puppy dog, so Italy is struck off the list because it’s so damn laidback.
    B) The country has contributed to the modern English food (because our cuisine is so damn dull). So the China, Turkey, Italy (again) and India are in because they have contributed to English takeaways and helped expand our waste lines since the 1950’s.
    C) The country has provided us with cool cinema and improved our leisure time. So USA and Japan are alright in our book having provided us with great cinema, technology and computer games.
    D) The country is a place we like to visit on vacation. We love Spain for a cheap holiday in the sun and Holland for Amsterdam!
    Of course you could argue that Germany redeems itself by providing the world with brilliantly engineered automobiles but this is not a redeemable feature in the eyes of a Cartoon Englishman because we still mourn the loss of our motor industry.
    France has no redeeming qualities because it’s full of French people. It’s just a place you have to drive through to get to the rest of Europe.
    There is an argument that Argentina could be forgiven for trying to steal the Falklands because they produced Diego Maradona and can play some beautiful football, but this is why we hate them even more. Which brings me to…?
    Things get complicated when you factor football (soccer) into the equation but basically the rule is if you beat us at football then we hate you, especially if it’s by penalty shootout (unless you are Brazil in which case we expect it anyway). Though you can be forgiven once we’ve subsequently beat you back.
    To seriously answer your question though you could ask is it ever right to condemn and entire nation? It probably all comes down to being human and the deep seated instinct to protect your tribe. It’s why local sports clubs often have intense rivalries with their neighbours. But it also comes down to culture and education; if you grow up being taught to ‘hate’ a certain people as happened in Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s and in the South African Apartheid era then chances are you will pass that hatred on to subsequent generations too.
    *I use “hate” and “we” but that’s a general term and it is only representative of the ‘Cartoon’ Englishman.

  2. joy says:

    It depends on how greatly one has been affected by such a war. For example, my parents and grand parents HATE the Germans, only b/c of what the previous generation of Germans had done during the Holocaust.

    In addition to that, my mother was nearly attacked 1x by an Arab, and now she hates them all.

    I think it is due to a lack of trust in one or in a group of people that causes these post-war hatreds.

    Hope that shed some light on part of, if not all of your questions!

  3. perrie nordlicht says:

    and we jews who pride ourselves on being ‘rachmanim b’nei rachmanim’, are told to hate amalek forever, to destroy even their memory.
    good points well taken.
    i always enjoyed the makings of your mind.
    good shabbos.

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