The Odious Level of Homegrown Hate Must Be Addressed! Now!
It is probably safe to say that last week of October 22nd to October 27th 2018, was one of the most unsettling in recent American History. This past weekend, millions of Americans witnessed and heard about the 11 worshipers ranging in age from 54–97 years old who were murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh by a raging, sadistic, psychologically deluded, hate filled, anti-Semite, Robert Bowers, wielding a AR-15 assault style rifle and three handguns, spewing anti-Semitic slurs and espousing anti-immigrant rhetoric stating that “I just want to kill all Jews.” The carnage that Bowers left in his horrific, unspeakable aftermath resulted in the most deadly attack on the American Jewish community in our nation’s 242 year history.
Earlier in the week, a similarly mentally deluded hate filled racist, 51 year old Gregory Alan Bush , slaughtered two Black people. Maurice Stallard age 69 and Vickie Lee Jones, aged 67, at a Kroger supermarket in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. One witness to the tragedy who was feeling for his life stated that Bush made the comment “Whites don’t kill other Whites.” Think about that and let it sink in for a moment.
Just as shocking, yes shocking (however I our current climate not really all that surprising,) FBI officials announced that a one time male exotic dancer, searing anti- Semite numerous and rabid Trump supporter, Cesar Sayoc, mailed pipe bombs to the homes and offices of former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Former Vice President Joe Biden, academy award winning actor, Robert DeNiro and the CNN Newsroom in New York. As of today, we learned that even more bombs were labeled for Biden and DeNiro. What was even more bizarre was that he rerun addresses were labeled to former Democratic National Chairperson Deborah Wasserman Schulz.
Think about that for a moment. Why would any sane and rational person believe that the former head of the DNC (Wassserman-Schultz) would be sending lethal, homemade pipe bombs in US Mail to two former democratic presidents and a former Vice President and a major Hollywood celebrity? Sayoc is obviously not the most devious criminal. This fact in and of itself was/is a good thing.
While these incidents are indeed, very recent, I am certain that most of us both Americans and international viewers cannot forget the horrendous violence and drama that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. Much of the world watched somewhat perplexed with a combination of anger and dismay as hundreds of young White men (and some women), though overwhelmingly men, marched through the streets of the renowned university town with torches chanting “blood and soil,” “Jews will not replace us,” “You will not replace us.” The latter referring to non-White Christians. Such ominous rhetoric was eerily reminiscent of the Nuremberg marches in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. It was a dramatic spectacle to behold.
The violence that occurred on the weekend of at August 10th through 12th was even more harrowing. Viewers saw Klan sympathizers and Neo-Nazis battled it out with anti-racist activists in the streets. Racial epithets were espoused. Clergy members were attacked. Individuals People were pepper sprayed. People were trampled and thrown to the ground. Mayhem was the order the day. Such wanton violence culminated with the death of Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal and native of Charlottesville. James Fields, a 20 year old White supremacist was charged with her murder.
I guess we have to come to the stark realization that this is America in 2018. A nation where deranged individuals act out their hatred with little or no fear of the potential consequences for others or themselves. In the past, at times like this when previous tragedies occurred, Americans could almost always take solace in the fact that they could count on their elected public officials to step up to the plate, offer words of comfort and utilize their leadership skills.
We saw this with Bill Clinton after the Oklahoma City Bombings that took place on April 19, 1995. We saw this with Rudy Guliani who deeply inspired an understandably deeply shaken New York City with his leadership after the most deadly attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001. We were comforted when President Barack Obama compassionately and deftly spoke with the parents of the Newtown School District in Connecticut in December 2012 as well as African American congregants at the Emmanuel AME Church in June 2015 in Charleston South Carolina who lost nine (9) of their church members and loved ones to the antics of an enraged, misguided White supremacist, Dylan Storm Roof.
This has not been the case with President Trump. On the contrary, rather than adhere to his better angels (though it’s debatable if he has any) he almost always embraces his dark side and engages in the art of personal attacks and finger pointing and siding with those who have dark and sinister agendas. Remember his intellectually dishonest comments “there were very fine people on both sides,” in response to the Charlottesville tragedy? While he does engage in sensible and responsible rhetoric from time to time, such as his recent tragedy in Pittsburgh when he spoke at a rally in Illinois hours after the tragedy in Spring Hill when he remarked “this evil anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us. It is an assault on our Humanity.”
Humane and welcomed comments to be sure. However, no politically and culturally astute person can can deny or be ignorant of the fact that Donald Trump has created a climate where such poisonous and acidic rhetoric has been given the opportunity to flourish. From praising a Montana congressman for body slamming a journalist. To demonizing the mainstream media, in particular CNN as being “fake news” and labeling the media in general as the “enemy of the people.” To condoning violence at his political rallies. To engaging in devious and overt race baiting. To using twitter as a vehicle to attack anyone, celebrities, athletes, politicians or anyone he feels has offended him. This list goes on. Such retrograde behavior seems to be deeply imbedded in his DNA.;
To be sure, as many of his supporters love to so eagerly argue, Trump is not the only person who has engaged in such bombastic rhetoric. That being said, the undeniable truth is that as President of the United States of America, he has the largest platform in the world to express his message. His words, deeds and actions, for good or ill can have tremendous impact on our nation and the world at large. He is obviously unaware of this fact or just does not give a damn. Regardless, it is a tragic state of affairs.
The fact is that we are living in perilous times. The nation is passed a crossroads. Jews are facing unprecedented levels of Anti-Semitism. Latinos and other immigrants are under daily assault from bigots and xenophobes. Black Americans are experiencing blatant racist affronts (basically existing while Black) on an almost daily basis to their humanity. The LGBTQ community is still under siege from various conservative organizations. Women are seeing their standing in society potentially erode. It goes on and on.
America is becoming ever more politically polarized to a degree that we have not seen since the Civil War. In fact, there are some who argue that we are either in the midst of /or heading toward a second civil war. We can only hope to evade such a fate. Americans are being murdered in churches and synagogues. People are being murdered in our streets. America can ill afford to continue down such a dark tunnel of fear, hostility, resentment, hatred, and uncertainty.
Elwood Watson, Ph.D.. is a professor of history, African American Studies and Gender Studies at East Tennessee State University. He is also an author and public speaker.