Opinion by James R Owens
The cauldron is boiling over with hate. The fire, lit long ago, has been burning hotter as the flames have been stoked with political rhetoric over the past two decades. Hate and intolerance are not something we are born with, but something learned and passed down from generation to generation. It takes a concerted effort to tame hate, and when the effort is not made it continues to grow.
We’ve seen this play out, most recently in Portland, Oregon and on a baseball field in Virginia. If there is one person most responsible for fanning the flames of hate, it would be Donald Trump. There were 900 incidents of probable hate crimes within 10 days of Trump’s election, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The incidents include vandals drawing swastikas on Synagogues, schools and on parked cars. White children on school buses ordering black children to sit in the back of the bus. An individual who attacked a gay man, seemingly without cause, who said, the “president says we can kill all you faggots now.”
All through his campaign Trump seemed to incite violence and intolerance. He refused to denounce white nationalist and former KKK leader David Duke, called Mexican immigrants “criminals and rapists” and condoned the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester. His hate speech served to embolden those who felt like him, but were forced to hide their feelings in a civilized society. Trump has had something hateful to say about everyone who isn’t a white conservative American, not to mention his disrespectful attitude toward women and misogynist behavior.
After his election, Trump surrounded himself by known hateful and divisive people like, Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions and Michael Flynn – people who supported his genocidal ideals to cleanse America of the scum and make it great again.
After Trump took the oath of office the violence didn’t take a recess, it heated up and continued to grow after his proposed Muslim ban, deportations and rhetoric about building a wall. His attitude and treatment of our allies in Europe has been deplorable. His early morning and late-night tweets have been detestable and embarrassing. He has sewn much hate, which includes a majority of Americans hating him. His disapproval rate this morning stands at 60 percent, which in my opinion should be much higher.
His pomposity has brought the country nothing but disarray, fear and loathing, of him and of each other. Last month and 35-year-old man, Jeremy Christian, murdered two men on a train in Portland, Oregon who were trying to defend two black women that Christian was harassing. This event stirred up great emotion from the left, when shortly after the attack Trump supporters held a demonstration that was countered by demonstrators who accused Trump of divisive political rhetoric that encouraged racial and ethnic hatred. Trump is very much part of the school that teaches divide and conquer, and so far he is succeeding in his efforts to pull America apart, much like the Civil War when brother fought against brother.
Yesterday, a man from Illinois with liberal leanings, James T. Hodgkinson began, what might be considered a war between the right and the left, when he took a rifle to a ball field where Republican congressmen and their aides were practicing for a baseball game and began shooting. He shot a top-ranked Republican who is in critical condition. Afterward it seemed everyone held an olive branch in their hand – for a short while – it seemed two sides may find something to talk about and agree about.
Former Senator Gabriele Giffords, who herself was a victim of our country’s division when she was shot in the head a couple years ago tweeted “My heart is with my former colleagues, their families & staff, and the US Capitol Police – public servants and heroes today and every day.” But even that was met with hatred from the right. Two examples of replies to Giffords’ tweet included “BS, you probably staged this for another gun-grab attempt. Sorry, TRAITOR, it’s NOT going to work,” and “People like you enable this by trying to ban legal firearms go F yourself.”
It appears some didn’t receive the idea of the olive branch well, they still have a war to fight, but what exactly are they fighting for? They are fighting for control they never felt they have had, and in doing so they are willing to blame anyone but themselves. These are mostly country, or country-like folks who feel they’ve been cheated out of the American dream. They are searching for, and fighting for their identity in an America they feel has left them behind. They vote against their own self-interest and don’t realize they are only making things worse for themselves, and as things get worse they become more angry, more radical and more likely to lash out at anyone or any institution they see as an enemy or a threat.
They cannot see through Trump’s smoke and mirrors and believe he is their savior. Some believe he has been sent to them by God himself to lift them up. And now, under attack, and also feeling threatened the other side is beginning to fight back.
This story won’t end well, and it won’t end at all until Trump and those who think like him are dethroned. It won’t end until more blood is spilled and more shots are fired. It won’t end until Congress is purged of bigots and racists and Americans, battered and beaten, finally come to the table and find a way to settle their differences through compromise. Violence is never the way out, it’s a way in, a way into a place we didn’t want to go, but it seems we are there.