Living on Hate Cove

How did I get here?!

Brent A. Mitchell
4 min readNov 1, 2020

I just realized that I live on Hate Cove, or at least very near it. We have lived in Newbury, Massachusetts, for 25 years but I only just noticed Hate Cove on a map of our local waterway, the Parker River. This is a bucolic spot, a bit of heaven on earth, where sunrises compete with sunsets for splendor, and a simple life does not seem to have fully receded into the past.

This is not a commentary on my observational skills, which clearly need some sharpening. But the timing of my discovery, on Halloween, just three days before a frightful 2020 election, has me thinking about the nature of hate.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary returns three definitions of hate, including intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury, and extreme dislike or disgust.

Poisonous enmity has always been with us, but the past four years have been a season of hate. My dictionary has a third definition for hate, a systematic and especially politically exploited expression of hatred. In my opinion, this could also stand as a tagline for the current administration.

It is nothing new for politicians to use fear, anger or sense of injury as wedges to divide people for their own advantage. But the incumbent President has honed his splitter through daily practice. Fear of the “other” drives his support, and his minions provide the show, especially the treatment of poor immigrants by the White House’s very own Lord Voldemort. I could provide a long list of how hate has been leveraged to divide us, but by now you are fully aware of what I mean. Either that, or you fear a violent socialist overthrow of Monday Night Football. We seem to have lost any middle ground.

“Middle Ground” happens to be the name of a place near Hate Cove. It is a salt marsh island in Plum Island Sound, protected by a larger barrier island of the same name, and popular with boaters. I can find Middle Ground on the water. We need to rediscover it in our politics.

We will never be entirely without hate. In our lives and our societies it ebbs and flows like the tide in the Parker River. This, just now, was a poetic line, but it is not accurate. We are not destined to be awash in hate. We can choose how much hate we have: in our hearts, in our children, in our societies.

The Parker River and Hate Cove are found in Newbury, Massachusetts, in the Old Town section where I live. People in the somewhat larger “city” of Newburyport split off in 1764, but we are learning to forgive them. Recently there have been episodes of racism in mostly-white Newburyport. They have been sporadic, fortunately, but still shocking for a place that boasts famous abolitionist William Loyd Garrison as a hometown hero, not to mention the Rev. Theodore Parker, of River fame. Our church organized the mayor’s office and other local and religious leaders in a campaign called Hate Has No Port Here. Their video communicates more than I can say in words. It’s a start.

We can choose to work against hate. With effort we can defuse it, redirect it and, if all else fails, contain it. Elie Wiesel said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” We must not be indifferent to hate. We must offer no port to hate, not even a cove.

We are hopeful that the hatemonger-in-chief will be removed from office soon, but we could be wrong. Win-or-lose, there will still be oceans of hate sloshing around our country. Beware the riptides. No matter which side you are on, you will encounter masses of people armed with animosity, if not AR-15s.

We cannot be indifferent, but we also cannot respond in kind. I, for one, am trying to learn how to understand my own antipathy towards people I cannot for the life of me fathom. I mean those who cheer for bigotry and chant “Lock her up”; whose support for right-to-life seems to end at parturition; who appear devilish when it is not Halloween. (Writing is helping, at least for me.) We must drive out hate, in ourselves and others, but we cannot defeat hate with more hate. It feels trite to quote Martin Luther King, Jr. here, but it is also unavoidable.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

I now have some work to do to learn how Hate Cove came to have its name. (Perhaps some reader knows the history and will save me the trouble; I hate doing my own research.) Until then I will look at the water a little differently, and I may come to regret my newfound local trivia if it always reminds me of this dark time.

Of course, I could run away. I don’t want to move from our community here on the beautiful Parker River. But if I did, I’d try to convince my wife that we should head Downeast to Southport, Maine, and find a little place on Love Cove.



Brent A. Mitchell

Still learning, and seeking sound stewardship of our shared Earth