January 22, 2015

Michael Bronski

Harvard Book Store welcomes Professor of the Practice in Activism and Media in the Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University MICHAEL BRONSKI for a discussion of his latest book, Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics, co-authored with Kay Whitlock.


Over the centuries American society has been plagued by brutality fueled by disregard for the humanity of others: systemic violence against Native peoples, black people, and immigrants. More recent examples include the Steubenville rape case and the murders of Matthew Shepard, Jennifer Daugherty, Marcelo Lucero, and Trayvon Martin. Most Americans see such acts as driven by hate. But is this right? Longtime activists and political theorists Kay Whitlockand Michael Bronski boldly assert that American society’s reliance on the framework of hate to explain these acts is wrongheaded, misleading, and ultimately harmful.

All too often Americans choose to believe that terrible cruelty is aberrant, caused primarily by “extremists” and misfits. The inevitable remedy of intensified government-based policing, increased surveillance, and harsher punishments has never worked and does not work now. Stand-your-ground laws; the US prison system; police harassment of people of color, women, and LGBT people; and the so-called war on terror demonstrate that the remedies themselves are forms of institutionalized violence.

Considering Hate challenges easy assumptions and failed solutions, arguing that “hate violence” reflects existing cultural norms. Drawing upon social science, philosophy, theology, film, and literature, the authors examine how hate and common, even ordinary, forms of individual and group violence are excused and normalized in popular culture and political discussion. This massive denial of brutal reality profoundly warps society’s ideas about goodness and justice.

About Author(s)

Michael Bronski has been involved in gay liberation as a political organizer, writer, and editor for over four decades. He is the author of several award-winning books, including A Queer History of the United States, and most recently coauthored “You Can Tell Just by Looking”: And 20 Other Myths about LGBT Life and People. He is currently Professor of the Practice in Activism and Media in the Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.