This is my view. It is based upon fairly well established philosophical, and psychological principles, but also includes more recent material.
Human beings like to categorise things. We examine the world, find similarities and differences between things (and people) and then assign them to socially normalised categories that aid in future identification. So, for example, I can tell the difference between chairs and tables, and within these broad categories, discriminate between specific types of chairs (a throne versus a wing-armchair) and tables (an altar versus coffee table). Sometimes the categories overlap, and then much confusion results: “Is this a pond or a lake? Is that a hill or a mountain?”.
But when it comes to human beings, another element contributes to discriminatory categorisation. That is the evolutionary necessity of safety, which has a hereditary component, and provides automatic heuristics that alert us to differences in the environment that could be a threat to our survival.
So we have an in-built ‘System 1’ component that gives a warning light for anything that does not ‘fit’ the categorises we are accommodated to. In the distant past this was a vital tool for our survival. It helps to have a ‘red alert’ system that tells you that the movement in that tree might be a leopard or just the movement of dappled leafs in the wind. Whether you pass on your genes to a future generation will depend on the status of your ability to discriminate between danger and normalcy. The leopard gets you, and you’re not going to get past the mating age.
But though the System 1 component was an asset many (many) millenia ago, it is now often a liability. It still makes us feel uneasy when we come across people who don’t ‘fit’ the learned categorisations we have embedded in our non-accessible psychology. We react with full alert, screens-up, and in some cases, aggression in mind. We can’t help it. System 1 is built-in and can’t be turned off.
The problem with the HATE is that it is a phobia rooted in an atavistic instinct which is of little use to us in the 21st Century. We only need it to spot issue that might be a threat to life and limb, but it is also driving a fear (and resultant hatred) of anything that doesn’t fit it’s heuristic. This is more than enough to justify the reactions that some people feel. The existential threat for them is SO strong, that it overrides the rational capacity for empathy and produces violence (or at the very least, unreasonable prejudicial antipathy).
But here’s the good news: it can be educated, disciplined, and hence restrained for doing harm. The rational part of the human consciousness can override it’s urges.
Bot ONLY if we’re willing to admit we ALL suffer from it!
Racists and transphobes don’t, of course. They think they’re being rational, when in reality they’re being driven by a million-year-old faulty response system. Like a smoke alarm that always goes off when you make toast. Their fear, and resultant hatred, can be rationalised away by stories they tell themselves: ideologies, religions, racial myths, past-history narratives, etc. but in reality they’re telling themselves consoling lies.
In the depths of the human psyche, our worst prejudices are all just pure, animal fear.