“Love trumps hate” — a Clinton-mantra that has been repurposed into a popular chant of anti-Trump protesters. I’ll admit that I’ve chanted it a few times. I’ve seen it on posters. It’s a clever line, because it is an obvious double meaning. One interpretation of the phrase uses “trumps” as the verb: love overcomes hate. The other uses the imperative form of ‘love,’ calling for you to love Donald Trump’s hate. At first, it comes across as a nice message. We’ll win them over with love! Except we won’t, and we can’t expect to. We need to stop saying this phrase.
“Love trumps hate” advocates for the acceptance Donald Trump and everything he stands for. “Love trumps hate” says that while we oppose Donald Trump and his message, we accept it. It says we are willing to look past the 13 women who have accused him of sexual assault. “Loving trumps hate” means that we are willing to look past his bigotry, his sexism, his racism, and his ignorance. So when you say “love trumps hate,” what are you really saying?
Not only does the mantra legitimize everything that Trump has said and done, it creates an environment in which hate is loved, and when hate is loved, hate grows. Hate does not cower in the face of love—it prospers. Saying “love trumps hate” is to say that you accept and allow the hatred of Trump to continue, and this is the antithesis of the anti-Trump protests.
Instead, we must tackle Trump and his supporters’ hate. We must simply recognize it and do everything in our power to remove it. We can poke holes in their argument (rest assured there are many). We can expose them to new ideas. We can challenge the assumptions they make. All these require listening, but they do not require love.
Do not be tolerant of intolerance. You must be willing to listen (to do anything else is to, in effect, be bigoted), but th at is different from loving. The only way to get rid of hate is to not be tolerant of it. We must differentiate between being willing to listen and being willing to accept. But we can’t be tolerant of intolerance.
I originally wrote this for The Huffington Post but they didn't publish it ("it is no longer timely"). So I published it myself.