Bringing philosophers, writers and psychologists together to ponder the roots of hatred is not naive, it's a necessity in this era of plastic explosives, skinheads and the furor over "The Satanic Verses," organizers of a new program say.
"Anatomy of Hate," a three-day seminar scheduled to begin Sunday at Boston University, will tackle some tough questions and diverse subjects - from the threats against author Salman Rushdie for his novel to the January riots in Miami."That's a very strong word - hatred," said Nobel Prize-winning humanitarian Elie Wiesel, whose foundation organized the event. "Usually, all the conferences are for love and for compassion, and I wanted to name the disease.
"And the disease is simple, concrete and conjugal, and it's here, all around us. That's why I begin with the anatomy of hatred, to explore it, to analyze it, to dissect it."
The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity has tentative plans to hold other "Beyond Hate" gatherings this year and next year in Israel, the Soviet Union, Paris and San Francisco. A PBS series with Bill Moyers as host is also in the works.
The foundation cites several positive events last year, the cease-fire in the Iraq-Iran War, dialogue between the United States and the Soviets, the Palestinian Liberation Organization's recognition of Israel's right to exist, international cooperation in rushing aid to earthquake-torn Armenia.
But it also gives an example of violent hatred for every one of a good event:
-The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, four days before Christmas.
-Ethnic violence in Soviet Armenia and Azerbaijan.
-The escalation of assaults and vandalism by racist "skinhead" groups in the United States.
-Continuing strife between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
"To ask why hate continues in the face of humanitarian cooperation and political understanding is neither naive nor utopian," the foundation said in a statement. "It is a necessity."