Early post-war studies of prejudice and violence—particularly the most ambitious and influential of them, the massive study of the fascist mind done by Theodor W. Adorno and his associates—inherited these traditions. They worked in a milieu where there was much tiredness with cruelty, hate and gratuitous violence. By studying the authoritarian personality as a clinical case, they avoided being trapped by the paranoiac, hate-filled world of European fascism itself. The fascist did not become a term of abuse for them or fascism a demonic possession.
There has been a reversal in recent years; hate has become respectable, especially when directed against the hateful, whether the target is Osama bin Laden or George Bush. While ethno-religious extremism demands a one-dimensional, heroic picture of sacrifice and martyrdom, those fighting it fear that any humane treatment of the subjectivities of the extremists will only legitimise the enemy. Both fear that the enemy may not turn out to be an alien infra-human species, but a dangerous human potentiality within each of us. The recent proliferation of Partition studies is caught in this fear. The more we re-examine the heroes and the villains of Partition and discover shades of grey, the more anxious become those who cope with the pain of Partition by setting up rigid borders between the angelic and the demonic.