War propaganda during World War II:
War propaganda today:
Notice the generalization and dehumanization. All Japs are rats. All cops are pigs (and bastards—over half a billion views of TikTok videos with the hashtag #ACAB). Nothing new under the sun. Politics is holy war. Always has been, always will be.
Cops have done a lot of awful things. (So had the Japanese.) Cops have done awful things to people I know and love. I’m not interested in defending them across the board. There are many problems with the American criminal justice system (police union privileges and “overprisoning” come to mind), and people continue to die because those problems haven’t been fixed.
But this blog post isn’t about policy. It’s about casual hatred.
I read this Facebook post recently. (This one, too.) The whole thing is worth a read. It’s a Seattle cop describing the hatred he’s seen at recent protests. Black cops “called traitors, Uncle Toms, and the N word, by white people.” “I don’t know how to reckon with the fact that I could lose my life trying to protect a city that will protest my funeral and cheer when I’m laid in the ground.” (Police suicides shot up 33% from 2018 to 2019. I wonder how much more they’ll go up in 2020.)
I’m not in Seattle, but I see the same hatred on my social media feeds, mostly from white Millennials. #ACAB, “f— the police,” “pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.” It’s a casual hatred (even lighthearted), and it’s rationalized in all kinds of ways. War has a way of doing that, rationalizing hatred. The Nazis rationalized their hatred, too.
The chances you or I can bring about meaningful policy changes are roughly 0%. The chances we can bring about meaningful heart changes—in ourselves, in our families and friends—are higher. And heart changes, Jesus teaches us, involve more than loving our neighbors. They involve loving our enemies, too.
The easiest way to rationalize hatred for our enemies is to recast it as love for our neighbors. War has a way of getting us to lie to ourselves like that. The solution isn’t to stop loving our neighbors. It is to start loving our enemies.
You know who your enemies are. If you’re on the Left, your enemies are most likely cops, Trump supporters, “white supremacists.” If you’re on the Right, most likely illegal immigrants, “SJWs,” the Blue Establishment. It’s all hatred, it’s all spiritual poison, none of it can be justified.
Love your enemies. That doesn’t mean empower them or let them act unjustly with impunity. It does mean pray for them, don’t demonize them, try to understand them, forgive them. Not because they’re good (though many of them are). Because “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”