As we more extensively discussed Bell Hooks’s article “Postmodern Blackness” in class, we chose to focus our Cafe Discussion on “The Organization of Hate” by Sara Ahmed. I began the discussion by mentioning Ahmed’s use of the term bodies throughout the article and the rhetoric used related to bodies and touching. Sarah connected this to Audre Lorde’s account of experiencing racism and being ‘the hated’. Ahmed states, “Her body becomes an object of hate through ‘taking on’ the qualities already attached to the roach: dirty, contaminating, evil” (54). In this way, Lorde’s body stood in for all black bodies as a symbol of the ‘Other.’ This discussion on bodies is related to the quote Ahmed includes from Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen. He states, “‘Hate wants to get its hands on the other; it wants to touch even when it wants to destroy’” (51). I commented on the imagery this sentence uses, leading researchers to imagine the intrusive and personal affect hate has on individual bodies.
We then transitioned to connect the relationship of hate and bodies to immigration policy in the United States. I states that a body reflects a larger group or identity, thus hate is put on bodies based on their association with others. Sarah mentioned Ahmed’s bogey man discussion and the threat off bogus bodies entering the United States (47). Sarah stated that because these bodies do not have a fixed reference, the threat of bogusness is associated with all immigrant bodies. In other words, hate is often associated with these bodies because of their association with the stealing of jobs, and similar anti-immigration narratives. People link their love of the United States with justification for harsh immigration policies, positioning even asylum seekers as threats to national security and thieves of job opportunities. McKenzie added to this discussion, referencing when Ahmed compared a burglar with an immigrant and an empty shell of a house with the empty shell of a nation. McKenzie directed us to the quote that states, “The moral of the story becomes: if we let them in, they will turn the nation ‘into a shell’, and take the land on which ‘we have worked’” (48). This mentality leads people to then justify the “intrusion into the bodies of others,” believing it is their right or even duty to do so (47). We agreed that the rhetoric used by Trump and his administration frames immigration policy as a matter of loving and protecting the United States to mask the hate embedded in this rhetoric.
We concluded by discussing the interconnectedness of love and hate. Sarah noted Ahmed’s statement that “If the demand for love is the demand for presence, and frustration is the consequence of the necessary failure of that demand, then hate and love are intimately tied together, in the intensity of the negotiation between presence and absence” (50). Overall, this presentation of hate framed in the form of love complicates common understanding of this “organization of hate”.