In an America where the majority claims to follow Jesus, why is there so much hate?
Hate, familiar in the South during the Jim Crow era and civil rights struggles, lately seems to have overshadowed what once masked it — hope for America and democracy. These days, there’s growing disappointment and concern for the future of America’s experiment with true liberty — not the venomous mantras spouted by extremists, political lemmings and do-nothing acolytes of the Make America Great Again nonsense.
Hate is in San Francisco, where an extremist broke into the home of the U.S. Speaker of the House and whacked her husband in the skull with a hammer.
Hate is rife in Washington where armed cowards stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Five police officers who served that day died.
Hate fuels angry mobs who turn up at rallies across the county where red-capped politicians spew the incendiary rhetoric of division.
Hate runs amok on the Internet, where armchair bandits too afraid to say nasty things in public have little problem with posting spiteful, vile comments online in the safety of their man caves. Online hate fueled a new breed of racist that led to 2015 murders like nine worshippers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
Hate is in South Carolina where the so-called South Carolina Freedom Caucus of some state legislators admitted to doctoring an audio recording that was used to attack a school district.
This list of hate can go on and on in an America polarized into political tribes as distortions of truth, misrepresentations of facts, and the use of rage and fear cause the country to sink lower and lower.
It has got to stop. As a country, we need to crush hate. We need to make it unacceptable in all forms. But what do we do?
A noted chef observed, “Part of the reason for the hate is fear. When threatened with losing things important to us, hate develops.”
A former senior Obama Administration official pointed to Republicans, who have long used fear and division to win elections: “The GOP made it OK to say and believe all these awful things out loud. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘both sides. The only way to shut this down is to win elections.”
Heidi Beirich, who worked for years at the Southern Poverty Law Center documenting hate groups across America, told us she believed leaders, particularly conservatives, needed to denounce hatred, anti-semitism and election denialism threatening our democracy.
“There is the usual hope that people will stand up against hate when they see it and vote it down at the ballot box,” said Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. “If decent people don’t speak up, this is never going to change.”
A noted college professor said much the same thing: “Ignoring the problem and staying silent are not options for those who are bothered by this. Decent people can’t be silent.”
So here’s the challenge for the vast majority of Americans who are decent people: Stand up for our democracy on Nov. 8. Use election day to send the clear message that’s not about your tribe, but about electing decent people to get into office to try to stem this hate that is growing like a summer algal bloom.
If you’re silent, it won’t get better. Use the ballot box to crush hate, defend democracy and suffocate the fear that too many political candidates and armchair bandits are spewing.
The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Andy Brack is editor and publisher of the Charleston City Paper and Statehouse Report. Have a comment? Send to: email@example.com.
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