Nancy Pelosi Could Use a Little Hate
Last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was asked a question by a reporter: “Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?”
Pelosi, visibly upset, returned to the podium and responded with reflexive speed: “I don’t hate anybody.”
She then got heated, and began to draw on her faith: “As a Catholic, I resent your using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is a heart full of love and always pray for the president. So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”
This wasn’t the first time this kind of thing has come up. Back during the 2016 election, Senator Cory Booker claimed that he “loved” Donald Trump half-a-dozen times on live TV. While I’m not here to verify the authenticity of Pelosi’s non-hate or Booker’s superior love for the President, I must ask a simple question:
Why are we always hating on hate?
Today, most of us regard hatred as some sort internal problem that people have — an emotional illness — which, if not tempered by active love, can become dangerous and corrosive. Far from seeing it as something useful, we decry hatred as the emotion most likely to tear everything we have apart.
That’s not entirely wrong. Hatred can be a dangerous emotion, and there’s no doubt about the role hatred has played in the countless persecutions, massacres, and genocides that have plagued our world for thousands of years. The Jews, of course, know this better than most.
Likewise, Pelosi is right that she has no right to hate the President just as the President has no right to hate her. These are political opponents. Their differences are substantive and policy-driven and perhaps even very personal. But neither is deserving of hate as neither is wicked or evil. Indeed, I have long expressed gratitude to Pelosi for her amazing father, Thomas Ludwig John D’Alesandro Jr., who as a Catholic Congressman from Maryland was a righteous gentile who fought to save Jewish lives during the Holocaust, bucking his Democratic party and President, Franklin Roosevelt, to join the Bergson group and protest American inaction during the genocide of the Jews.
Likewise, I have immense gratitude to President Trump as the greatest friend that Israel has ever had in the Oval Office and for standing up for innocent Muslim life in Syria when he fired cruise missiles at arch-killer Bashar Assad after he gassed Arab children.
But terrorists, murderers, rapists, and tyrant-dictators like Assad of Syria and Khamenei of Iran absolutely deserve our hatred.
Indeed, the problem arises when we refuse to hate. I’ve heard countless Christians say that they love the unequivocally evil — even those as bad as Hitler and Osama bin Laden, and even as they admit the need to fight them — because Jesus expects from them unconditional love.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus did tell his followers, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” and enjoined his followers to love their enemies. But the “evil” in question there is both mild and interpersonal. These are our own enemies — the kind of people that take your parking spot or your promotion at work.
Jesus, however, said nothing of mass-murderers or those who seek to make life unlivable for the million-fold subjects of their random malice. Such do not qualify as our enemies. On the contrary, those who choose to hate, harm, and persecute entire quadrants of humanity are not our adversaries, but God’s enemies.
By asking that we turn the other cheek, Jesus did not mean that if Jeremy Corbyn comes to power in Britain, we should allow Louis Farrakhan to become a Senator in Illinois. Instead, he asked that if someone offends you in a personal way, forgive them and transcend the provocation. Any other understanding would make a mockery of one of the great moral teachers of all time.
To be sure, God enjoins us to repel the baseless hatred we feel toward personal enemies. When it comes to His enemies, however, the Creator demands we respond to their baseless hatred with a righteous version of our own.
In the Bible, God says it clearly: “Those who love the Lord, hate evil!” When facing enemies of unique brutality, the Psalmist King David claimed to “hate them with an infinite loathing.” His son, King Solomon, eternalized the approach in his timeless book of Ecclesiastes: “There is a time to love, and a time to hate.”
Historically too, hatred has proven itself a driving force for justice. Abraham Lincoln said, “I cannot but hate slavery. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself.” Winston Churchill confessed openly, “I hate no man but Hitler.” Alight with righteous hatred, each of these men left a brighter and more just world in their wake.
Today, we must draw on their example and begin feeling a bit more hatred toward those who truly deserve it, like the putrid evil of ISIS and the Mullahs in Iran who over the past two weeks have murdered some 1,000 innocent protesters of their brutal regime. Because what we do not hate we are bound tolerate, and it is the global tolerance for these evil regimes — especially in Europe, where nine governments recently formed an economic Iron Dome to protect Iran — that is most responsible for perpetuating them.
On the topic of tolerating evil regimes, Speaker Pelosi, who is a friend of Israel and the Jewish people, should express remorse for her support of the Iran nuclear agreement.
Pelosi spent months campaigning for Obama’s disastrous deal with Iran, in which America gave the mullahs an international facelift and $150 billion cash even as they shot protesters, hanged gays, developed intercontinental ballistic missiles, continued nuclear research and development, blackballed atomic agency inspectors, threatened a second Jewish Holocaust, and tore apart the Middle East. When the deal passed in 2015, Pelosi reportedly spent “weeks” penning “handwritten, personalized thank you notes” to every single House Democrat who backed the deal. She would tell Politico, “All I was looking for was winning.” The millions of Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Yemeni, Palestinian, and Israeli citizens being terrorized by Iranian violence surely wanted more than a Democratic “win” in Washington. Unfortunately, they weren’t the ones Obama and Europe were trying to appease.
What’s more important is that Iran got the message. The violence the regime perpetrated over the last few weeks was monstrous, and aside from mowing down about 1,000 in the streets they imprisoned some 7,000 more. At the very least, this time around there’s an administration looking to hold them accountable.
During the protests, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a hero when it comes to human liberty and freedom, asked Iranians to forward videos of the protests to the State Department so that Iran could be held responsible for the crimes committed against its people. Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, described one, which I feel the need to include in its entirety, to depict just how evil this regime is:
“Without warning, the IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] opened fire on the protesters, killing several people,” Hook said. “Many of the protesters fled to nearby marshlands to escape. The IRGC tracked them down and surrounded them with machine guns mounted on trucks. They then sprayed the protesters with bullets. Between the rounds of machine gun fire, the screams of the victims can be heard. When it was over, the regime loaded the bodies on trucks. We do not yet know where these bodies went.”
Despite the video, and 31,999 more, Speaker Pelosi still hasn’t changed her tune on Iran.
So, Madam Speaker, perhaps the time has come for you to let go of loving Trump and embrace some righteous hatred of Iran.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the author of the forthcoming Holocaust Holiday: One Family’s Descent into Genocide Memory Hell and the founder of The World Values Network. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @RabbiShmuley.