In April of 2016, Sally Kohn publicly endorsed Bernie Sanders at a rally in Washington Square Park. As she spoke, her then 7-year-old daughter, Willa, a Hillary Clinton supporter, stood by her side. When Kohn mentioned that Willa is a Hillary fan, Bernie supporters in the crowd booed. Backstage, Kohn remembers her daughter asking, “Were they booing me?” Kohn came up with a white lie, telling Willa the crowd wasn’t booing, and that cheers can sometimes sound like boos.
But Kohn, who was the “lefty lesbian” (her term) on Fox News until 2013, and is now a commentator for CNN, knew better. She had experienced the vitriol of partisan politics as a talking head at a conservative network, and she’d seen the heightened emotions sparked by the 2016 presidential election. In her new book, The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity, Kohn addresses the role that hate plays in our lives and how anyone—even a former neo-Nazi-turned-Buddhist—can change.
Her book, out Tuesday, is already getting some high-profile praise. On Monday, she shared a photo of Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart reading a copy. On her Instagram story, she posted photos of everyone from Sophia Bush to a group of alpaca enjoying their books. Kohn spoke with Vanity Fair about the debut as an author, and why people are getting so excited to read something called The Opposite of Hate in the Trump era.