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The Political Economy of Hatred

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The Political Economy of Hatred 


In his paper, “The Political Economy of Hatred,” Edward Glaeser creates a formal economic model demonstrating that the supply of hatred in a society goes up when political entrepreneurs have the resources and incentives to crack into the underlying demand to listen to hate-creating stories, although such stories may carry little resemblance to reality. Out-groups who are apparent along politically relevant scales are particularly likely to become scapegoats for entrepreneurs of hate. Glaeser states in his paper that “hatred is almost always internally consistent: people say that they hate because the object of their hatred is evil.” This influences some observers to believe that hatred is caused by the crimes of the object of hatred.

In his paper, Glaeser refers to Chomsky who argues that American behavior is the cause of anti-Americanism, however, the connection between hatred and the criminality of the hated group is often minimal. Glaeser uses Islamic anti-Americanism as a prime example to depict his theory. In his explanation, the United States is the innocent victim of Islamic fundamentalists who are the entrepreneurs of hate. Americans, from the perspective of the average Muslim, are a convenient but politically relevant out-group against whom hate-creating stories can easily be told even though such stories bear little resemblance to reality. In fact, he says that “anti-semitism, anti-black hatred, and anti-Americanism all have been fostered by false stories manufactured and spread by ‘entreprenuers of hate.’”

Transitioning from Glaeser’s example of Islamic anti-Americanism, the current Syrian refugee crisis has been a frequent topic of conversation and illustrates Glaeser’s theory through a broader context of our study abroad. While traveling through Europe, the refugee crisis has generated much discussion and it has been interesting to gather both similar and differeing viewpoints on the matter within different countries. The upsurge of asylum-seekers to Europe from nations consumed by poverty and conflict has become the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Thousands are now arriving in Europe daily, while many others die trying to follow them. The crisis now threatens to tear apart the EU and is driving deep cultural tensions across Europe. On the evening of November 13th, 2015, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in Paris. Three suicide bombers struck near the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, followed by suicide bombings and mass shootings at cafés, restaurants and a music venue in central Paris. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) allege responsibility for the attacks saying that it was in retaliation for the French airstrikes on ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq. In the wake of the Paris attacks, politicians in Europe and the United States are claiming that the movement of refugees and migrants across Europe's borders made it possible for Islamic State (ISIS) militants to infiltrate the continent.

In response, Europe is tightening its borders, and the refugee crisis has become an unlikely subject in next year's U.S. election. The terrorist attacks in Paris have resulted in a renewed focus on the Obama administration’s previously announced plan to relocate 10,000

refugees from Syria to the U.S. U.S. lawmakers are pushing legislation to narrow screening requirements for Syrian refugees; some Republican presidential candidates want to halt their entry to the country entirely. Various Republican candidates and many state governors have expressed concern over the policy in the wake of the attacks, announcing that their states will not accept Syrian refugees -- although their legal or practical ability to prevent the refugees from coming to their state is unclear. But while investigators are still unravelling the plot, one fact is clear at this point: Not one Paris attacker has been officially identified as a Syrian refugee. 


According to Glaeser’s theory, hatred is “fostered with stories of an out-group's crimes, but the impact of these stories comes from repetition not truth.” Speculation that led

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