La haine attire la haine, hate attracts hate in English, is a saying spoken in the 1995 French movie La haine. The movie put a magnifying glass to the Parisian lower cost housing projects, the French government’s over policing of the neighbourhood and the resulting chaos from the poverty and crime that sprung up due to less access to economic opportunities.
I grew up in a family with siblings. Often we had moments when the siblings closest in age would have passionate shows of sibling rivalry and jealousy, those moments only cooled down when a parent mediated and set the wrong sibling right through a punishment or a stern talking to. If you have had a sibling, you have an idea of those times when you felt like your sibling was the worst thing in your world due to conflict. While if you are like most people, you were not allowed to harbour those feelings until they developed into a hatred that would follow you into adulthood. In some families, the feelings of jealousy and dislike are given a fertile ground to grow into by parents and other adults who seem to take the side of one child, even if that child is the wrong one in many instances, or parents who mete out equal punishments no matter who was wrong. This results in adult siblings who cannot be seen in a place together, an uncle and aunt who are placed at different tables for family occasions and so forth.
Hatred comes from a place where people are not willing to address a wrong and to seek resolution after. Like a chain reaction, hatred can go on and on like in the case of siblings, through their children and children’s children. The parents or adults might not have thought of it as favouring a child when they took a side, they might not even have consciously chosen a side, they might have been too tired to notice that the quiet child was constantly punished for the actions of the more verbal child without finding out if the more verbal child was telling the truth or vice versa.
La haine is a movie that depicts the lives of three young males who have witnessed the worst violence in their own community and the violence that comes from the government. This turns them into disillusioned young men, with no where to turn to. They choose the violence of their streets to counter the violence of their government when one of their own is brutalised by the police. The government is like the parent in my first point, and the siblings are the people/factions in La haine, the opposing gangs and police. The government being like the parents, are not at all interested in resolution but they want peace and quiet and if they have to pick a side or use violence to maintain that peace and quiet, they will. This leaves the siblings/groups in a battle for dominance and the hatred multiplies more each day.
On Friday the 15th of March 2019, a heavily armed man, a self-proclaimed white supremacist walked into two mosques in the city of Christchurch in New Zealand and killed forty-nine worshipers and wounded countless others. The aftermath of the terrorist attack left people speechless and an outpouring of well wishes followed. One viral statement made by a journalist in the neighbouring Australia put things in perspective. Waleed Aly, the Australian journalist who was reluctant at first to address the attacks, had this to say, “While I appreciate the words our leaders have said today… I have something to ask. Don’t change your tune now because the terrorism seems to be coming from a white supremacist. If you’ve been talking about being tough on terrorism for years and the communities that allegedly support it, then show us how tough you are now,” he said. He went on to list the several cases of anti-Islam statements made by officials. He went on to say, “Now we understand that this is not a game, terrorism doesn’t choose its victims selectively, that we are one community and everything we say to try and tear people apart, demonize particular groups, set them against each other— that all has consequences, even if we’re not the ones with our fingers on the trigger.”
Waleed Ally’s statement spoke of how leaders, be it religious, political or traditional, often are the ones who have fuelled hatred on a mass scale by what they say and through their actions or inaction. This can be done subtly at first by favouring one group (often the one they belong to) through policies and laws and end up with them making official statements that dehumanize the other groups. We are just like two young siblings at the end of the day, we have misunderstandings and instead of the people who are in charge to treat the misunderstanding fairly, there has been a favoured child. The child who is unfairly treated takes this as any child would, they will start to hate their favoured sibling. The favoured child will know that they can do anything without punishment, so they will get away with all manner of misbehaviour, their hate attracts hate.
The character of Hubert in La haine has a moment of clarity when he makes the statement la haine attire la haine. It is almost like he wants to change his life around because every side is going to ensure his demise; this is proven when he sees his friend Vinz gunned down in front of him. The scene, though not a good end to the characters’ story in my opinion, brings forth the point of la haine attire la haine, the one who suffers the most in this case is the person who is caught between the fighting. The police and gang fighting have real casualties and how all the hatred that is churned out daily into communities will not stay contained in one area, it will always be taken in by the ones who are watching, the impressionable minds, the younger generation who inherit this hatred and they will take it a step further.
Hatred attracts hatred, is a factual statement. From history to pop cultural moments like the movies ‘La haine’ and ‘The hate you give’, it is clear to see and follow the points that artists are making in the fight against hate. It is also easy to find solutions that put a Band-Aid on hate, and it is easier to spread more hate in the process. Understanding that we are in this together like Waleed Aly said, will get us to a place where we watch how we latch on to politicians who are quick to generalise entire populations based on individuals in that population. It will help us to curb hatred. Hatred will attract hatred until the wise parent in our leaders and us correct a wrong or divisive statement before it snowballs into an uncontrollable fire.