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  • The Politics of Bullying

    I believe in the First Amendment, with freedom of speech and freedom of religion. I believe government should work for the people, not in spite of the people. I believe responsible citizens should have the right to bear arms if they so choose. And I believe in honest, forthright debate on platforms such as this one.

    I don’t believe in hate. And I’m exhausted by the vitriol.

    No more swastikas. No more torches. No more violence. No more trotting out the same old, same old statements about “the other side” who may be your neighbor, or God forbid, someone you call your friend. It’s not OK.

    Sadly, our leader thinks our fragile democracy is some kind of a schoolyard game, casting himself as chief bully in charge. He acts like a 2-year-old and screams at the top of his lungs (or fingertips) every time he doesn’t get what he wants, when he wants it.

    It’s what he knows how to do best. And a significant portion of the population, a portion that has been overlooked and ignored by politicians on both sides of the aisle for decades, is frothing at the mouth to join him.

    They rally behind him when he calls you:

    • “Damned dishonest” — the news media

    • “Obstructionists” — Democrats

    • “Weak” — the two GOP senators from Arizona, one of whom has brain cancer.

    • “Animals” — illegal immigrants

    All these quotes came occurred during a rally in Phoenix, when Trump went off script and on to a 75-minute rant that was all “us” (his base) vs. “them” (the rest of us). When the base was at its most boisterous, he used a familiar refrain to describe those in favor of removing Confederate monuments: “They are trying to take away our history and our heritage.”

    I get history and heritage. Members of my family have used language that would be considered racist or insensitive now.

    Were they products of their time? Yes.

    Should we overlook the fact that they had flaws, just like we all do? No.

    If they were living today, would the language they used 50 or 60 years ago be acceptable? Absolutely not.

    I have tried to teach my children about their history and their family heritage, both good and bad and always in context. I have tried to explain that the views of others are valid, even if you disagree with them.

    Hate is not valid.

    Does that level of sensitivity make me “politically correct”? Does the fact that I don’t want to go back to the days of coal, separate but equal schools, and the persecution of others simply because of their religion or skin color make me a “wimp,” an “obstructionist,” or “weak”?

    I don’t think so. You may think differently. And that’s what democracy is all about, even though the mess caused by the freedoms we have can show our worst sides.

    ••••••

    Two more thoughts from the ensuing discussion on Facebook:

    • Regarding Antifa (an alt-left group): I'm not in favor of political nihilism under any circumstances. My problem is that the elected leader of our country is failing to demonstrate leadership in any way, shape or form, and extremists are filling the void.

    • On the media’s reporting (or lack thereof) about Antifa: Extremists filling the void applies to news media as well. Fox News perfected that, and our country suffers for it because we can self select news according to our values and beliefs. (And BTW, my definition of a progressive is one who eschews violence.)