Diane Mufson: President gives bigotry, hate the green light
It’s obvious that bigotry and hate are alive and well in our nation. Despite efforts of past American leaders to minimize these, President Trump spews out animosity and vilification about his opponents, Muslims, Hispanics, immigrants, women and LBGTQ+ people, giving a green light for extremists to express their true feelings.
President Trump may deny it, but his years of negative and often vicious comments about minorities and opponents are linked to recent hate crimes.
Last year’s Charlottesville protest march made it clear that Nazi supporters feel free to display their hateful rhetoric. All our president could do was to comment that there were bad people on both sides. But, this past week has been a banner one for the results of hate politics. Surely, President Trump never intended such tragedies, but one reaps what is sown.
Fortunately, the pipe bomb packages sent to more than a dozen Democratic supporters by a Florida man, living in a van plastered with Trump support signs, caused no physical damage.
The Kroger shooter, while allegedly making racist comments, killed two African American shoppers near Louisville, Kentucky. The murderous rampage at a Pittsburgh synagogue resulting in 11 deaths and many injuries by a man saying and posting anti-Semitic rants is insane, tragic and heartbreaking.
President Trump responded that there should have been armed guards at the synagogue. Four heavily armed police officers were wounded in the attack, pointing out that security guards are not a simple fix. If our country needs armed guards at all our synagogues, churches, mosques and supermarkets, we are no longer free.
While many people have some prejudices, most Americans have learned to accept that people of different racial, religious, ethnic identities are entitled to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Back in 1790, George Washington said, “We have abundant reason to rejoice, that in this land, the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition.” “Bigotry is the disease of ignorance” is attributed to Thomas Jefferson.
During World War II, Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps, despite their citizenship and loyalty.
For a while it looked as though competence and pragmatism had trumped American bigotry. President Kennedy proved that a Catholic could be elected to our highest office, and President Obama did the same for African Americans. President Reagan insisted, “We must never remain silent in the face of bigotry. We have no place for haters in America - none, whatsoever.”
With all that America has endured, and despite our booming economy, bigotry is increasing. We Americans have sent men to the moon, a probe to Mars, eliminated polio, suffered through 9/11 and connected the world through the internet. Our scientific skills are legend; our tolerance has been smothered.
Prejudice is not new, but when our president sanctions toxic intolerance, bigotry is given a green light.
For our nation’s sake, President Trump must cease his poisonous negative tirades against minorities and those with opposing viewpoints. We desperately need a leader who can unite our country.
We must make America sane again.
Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org