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Breaking the Cycles of Hatred

Breaking the Cycles of Hatred: Memory, Law, and Repair

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Breaking the Cycles of Hatred
    Book Description:

    Violence so often begets violence. Victims respond with revenge only to inspire seemingly endless cycles of retaliation. Conflicts between nations, between ethnic groups, between strangers, and between family members differ in so many ways and yet often share this dynamic. In this powerful and timely book Martha Minow and others ask: What explains these cycles and what can break them? What lessons can we draw from one form of violence that might be relevant to other forms? Can legal responses to violence provide accountability but avoid escalating vengeance? If so, what kinds of legal institutions and practices can make a difference? What kinds risk failure?

    Breaking the Cycles of Hatredrepresents a unique blend of political and legal theory, one that focuses on the double-edged role of memory in fueling cycles of hatred and maintaining justice and personal integrity. Its centerpiece comprises three penetrating essays by Minow. She argues that innovative legal institutions and practices, such as truth commissions and civil damage actions against groups that sponsor hate, often work better than more conventional criminal proceedings and sanctions. Minow also calls for more sustained attention to the underlying dynamics of violence, the connections between intergroup and intrafamily violence, and the wide range of possible responses to violence beyond criminalization.

    A vibrant set of freestanding responses from experts in political theory, psychology, history, and law examines past and potential avenues for breaking cycles of violence and for deepening our capacity to avoid becoming what we hate. The topics include hate crimes and hate-crimes legislation, child sexual abuse and the statute of limitations, and the American kidnapping and internment of Japanese Latin Americans during World War II. Commissioned by Nancy Rosenblum, the essays are by Ross E. Cheit, Marc Galanter, Fredrick C. Harris, Judith Lewis Herman, Carey Jaros, Frederick M. Lawrence, Austin Sarat, Ayelet Shachar, Eric K. Yamamoto, and Iris Marion Young.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2538-7
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    Nancy L. Rosenblum
  4. INTRODUCTION: Memory, Law, and Repair
    (pp. 1-13)

    Every injustice arouses anger, or should. A capacity to understand and feel injustice is the mark of moral maturity; a taste for oppression is the mark of moral deformation. “To have no idea of what it means to be treated unjustly is to have no moral knowledge, no moral life.”¹ But of the many faces of injustice, violent hatred stands out. These crimes betray exceptional viciousness and inflict exceptional pain. They evoke especially strong feelings because they exhibit none of the randomness or misfortune of many forms of injury. The intent to terrorize, injure, and degrade is intensely personal. The...

  5. 1 Breaking the Cycles of Hatred
    (pp. 14-76)

    As we settle into this new century and this new millenium, it is time to take stock. I do not think this era will be remembered particularly for its wars, its mass atrocities, even its genocides. Sadly, these are not so distinctive in the history of humankind, although the emergence of technologies of destruction and mass media does seem to deepen the horror. What I think, and hope, is distinctive of this age is the mounting waves of objections and calls for collective responses to mass violence. Notably, people have turned to the language and instruments of law, casting genocides...

  6. 2 Justice and the Experience of Injustice
    (pp. 77-106)

    No natural law guarantees that time heals all wounds. The cycle of hatred is a destructive dynamic set in motion by the memory of past harms. To be sure, collective memories sometimes demoralize victims of injustice and dampen the desire for revenge. If past experiences are mainly ones of vulnerability and defeat, memories may inhibit action and weaken resolve—Tom Paine’s “fatal and unmanly slumbers.” But even “lost causes,” recalled in a certain spirit, can strengthen solidarity and arouse people to retaliate. Memories of domination, violence, and humiliation, and stories of a shared fate, are cultivated and sustained by groups....

  7. 3 Righting Old Wrongs
    (pp. 107-131)

    An urge to reform the past seems to be in the air. I cannot claim to have a representative sample of such undertakings, but my unsystematic canvass reveals a rising tide of interest in reforming the past. Indeed, it is a characteristic feature of our times.

    In 1972, 167 black soldiers who had been dishonorably discharged in the 1906 Brownsville Affair were exonerated; only one of the discharged soldiers was alive at the time of the exoneration.¹ In 1974, a class action lawsuit compensated the participants in the infamous 1930s Tuskegee syphilis study in which black subjects were not informed...

  8. 4 Reluctant Redress: The U.S. Kidnapping and Internment of Japanese Latin Americans
    (pp. 132-139)

    In July 1999, President Clinton signed an appropriations bill authorizing several billion dollars in aid for rebuilding Kosovo and keeping the peace. A news article cited the horrors there—the ethnic cleansing and the weeks of nonstop U.S./NATO bombing; it offered details of past and likely future U.S. involvement.

    The article ended with change of subject, a curious “by-the-way” tagalong—that the appropriations bill also authorized U.S. reparations money for Japanese Latin Americans. This tag-along reference caught my eye for four reasons. First, I worked on redress for American citizens of Japanese ancestry interned during World War II on account...

  9. 5 Memory, Hate, and the Criminalization of Bias-Motivated Violence: Lessons from Great Britain
    (pp. 140-153)

    Martha Minow reminds us that bias crimes exist within a context and within a culture.¹ Similarly, a polity’s bias crime law reveals context and provides insights into the society’s self-understanding. The past several years have witnessed developments in the treatment of bias-motivated violence under British law that are extraordinary both in their depth and their sheer velocity. This paper sketches the background of British bias crime law, along with the case for understanding recent developments as an instance of dramatic legal change. I also offer some tentative observations as to the reasons for these changes, and the implications of these...

  10. 6 Collective Memory, Collective Action, and Black Activism in the 1960s
    (pp. 154-169)

    The essays by Minow in this volume touch on a variety of themes that explore the consequences of memory and hate. Collective violence, trauma, forced forgetting, the call for reparations, efforts to curtail hate speech, truth commissions, and the like are all, in some way, linked to the role that collective memory plays in the political life of social groups. Without some sustained memory of past injustices and victories over past harms, social groups would not be able to map the courses of action to consider in their organized opposition against hate. Noting the positive and negative consequences of a...

  11. 7 Beyond Memory: Child Sexual Abuse and the Statute of Limitations
    (pp. 170-187)

    The sexual abuse of children in the United States has been widely recognized and condemned in the last twenty years. The problem has been transformed from something rarely acknowledged or discussed into something publicly acknowledged and abhorred. Child molestation is often described as “the most heinous crime other than murder.” But unlike murder, the legal responses to child sexual abuse have been ambivalent and inadequate. Prosecutions are rare (Gray, 1993) and a substantial percentage of those convicted of this “heinous” crime receive probation instead of prison (Cheit & Goldschmidt, 1997).

    Martha Minow describes the legal responses to violence against children...

  12. 8 Peace on Earth Begins at Home: Reflections from the Women’s Liberation Movement
    (pp. 188-199)

    How can we stop violence against women? This has been a central question facing the international women’s movement in the last three decades. As feminists have sought to name and understand the vast scope of this problem, we have also begun to think about political violence in new ways. Following Minow, I would like to expand on some of the commonalities of violence between nations and between intimates.

    First, a point that may seem obvious, but that is all too often overlooked, is that violence works. People often use violence to get what they want. In sexual and domestic life,...

  13. 9 The Thin Line between Imposition and Consent: A Critique of Birthright Membership Regimes and Their Implications
    (pp. 200-235)

    Martha Minow’s inspiring 1999 Gilbane Fund lectures challenge us to face our own tendencies to exclude, marginalize, oppress, and dehumanize certain of our fellow human beings because of their group identity. Rejecting the tendency to turn a blind eye to these most depressing aspects of cultural, religious, ethnic, and national diversity, Minow’s clear and passionate voice challenges us to think creatively about new ways to use law as a means to seek remedies for those who have been harmed, and to prevent, as far as possible, similar recurrences in the future. Minow, in short, encourages us to take responsibility and...

  14. 10 When Memory Speaks: Remembrance and Revenge in Unforgiven
    (pp. 236-259)

    What is the role of memory in vengeance and the violence it entails? What is the relationship among past, present, and future that vengeance creates? How are narrative connections made between those who are injured and those who use violence to reply to such injuries? Do certain kinds of memories sustain vengeance while others diminish it? In the typical revenge story the answers to these questions seem rather straightforward. Injury, so the story goes, demands redress and where redress is not forthcoming in the near term, injuries should not be forgotten.¹ For those looking for non–vengeance-based conceptions of justice,...

  15. 11 Power, Violence, and Legitimacy: A Reading of Hannah Arendt in an Age of Police Brutality and Humanitarian Intervention
    (pp. 260-288)

    In the spring of 1999 I was completing a book on democracy. Its arguments assume a basic commitment to democratic values—the rule of law, liberty, equal respect, and a desire to work out disagreement through discussion. Suddenly I was paralyzed in my work. With NATO bombs raining on Yugoslavia, reflection on the essentially nonviolent values of democracy felt irrelevant at best and arrogantly privileged at worst.

    While living in Vienna in 1998 I had followed with horror the escalating attacks by Serbian soldiers on both armed and unarmed Albanian Kosovars, which seemed more immediate there than they had in...

    (pp. 289-290)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 291-302)