At some point after 9/11 when things had calmed down just a bit, some progressive guest on a news show was the first to say, "We need to understand why these people hate us." This person was immediately drowned out by a chorus of flag-pin-wearing pundits screaming, "The only thing we need to 'understand' about these maniacs is where to aim our cruise missiles! Now is no time to coddle terrorists, hippie!" You get the same reaction if you say you want to "understand" the motives of a spree killer or rapist, as if understanding bad guys is the same as giving in to them.
Somehow the idea has taken hold that understanding somebody you hate only benefits them, as if the only end goal is to be more sympathetic to the racist or terrorist or Wall Street crook or Star Wars prequel fan. Some people think that it's really about giving the awful people a chance to convince us they're not so bad.
Let them run free and this happens.