Don’t honor prejudice by labeling it as ‘free speech’

I see and read the news.  It is so easy to lose faith and patience.  But then I read the comments of an author who has compiled a guidebook for men and women who wish to attend a retreat at one of the nation’s monasteries and convents.

The monasteries and convents, she says, vary in terms of geography and religious practice. But “regardless of the differences, the men and women who pray there all had something in common: Every place was filled with human beings trying to be their very best selves.”

Compare that to the drive of the hatemongers who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia…or those in Utah who see nothing wrong in tearing families apart by expelling otherwise law-abiding, taxpaying men and women due to a broken immigration system…or those in our local neighborhoods who frown upon their children playing with or dating friends of another faith, race, or ethnicity.

I don’t believe Pres. Trump hates people of a different race of belief system. However, I do think he opened the door to hatred by appealing to “lost” Americans worst fears during the 2016 presidential campaign.  Prejudice has always found a root in the fears of the uneducated.  In the 2016 election, his “dog whistle” of bigotry helped him win a solid majority of uneducated white voters.

It’s easy to stir up hatred by telling someone his or her job or future is being taken by another person, especially another ethnic class.  It’s more challenging to get votes by explaining that his or her job loss is the result of automation and technology.  Better to blame a Mexican and IBM.

Hatred has found a rank fertilizer in the internet.  Instead of reading vetted information from the likes of Walter Cronkite or professional news sources, an increasing number of Americans are reading on-line nonsense that backs up their hatred.  There are still millions of Americans who believe that Donald Trump won the national popular vote.  This month several hundred thousands of Americans read (and probably believe) an on-line report that Vermont’s Sen. Warren Sherman was arrested for six felonies (though there is no Sen. Sherman from Vermont).  To this day, ultra-conservative websites are claiming that the earth is getting colder, not warmer.

Hatred finds fertile ground in false information.

Hatred and feeling that others around you feel a similar hatred comes with a high psychological price.  Such hate gives a person an emotional high but it doesn’t give him or her any peace.

Veering away from Pres. Trump’s advice, I’m not going to display a “deep affection” to all of my fellow Americans. In fact, those who parade with Nazi swastikas, white hoods, and racial sneers are not in my mind Americans at all.  They are merely walking venom.  There is a difference between a band of patriots and a band of thugs.

Fortunately, the visible “haters” are a sizeable minority.  Racism is still prevalent, but our country has generally moved on; author William Faulkner said, “To be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow.”  Like the monks and nuns, most of us sincerely try to be our best selves. We shouldn’t honor prejudice by labeling it “free speech.” 

The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of Iron County Today.

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