In the wake of the three murders at a Kansas Jewish Center a troubling conversation is taking place regarding the political leanings of the murderer, Frazier Glenn Cross, and bigotry, in general.
A conservative blogger pointed out that “Cross once ran for Governor of North Carolina as a Democrat.”
A contributer pointed out that the “KKK was formed by Democrats.”
Another piled on: “Democrats are the real racists in this country.”
Ay yi yi yi….
Racism is the result of adopting, or inheriting, principles born from ignorance and fear; it does not hold a political allegiance. That being said, let’s get the history straight. A racist faction of Southern Democrats, who were segregationists, formed the KKK. They were not “liberals” and they do not resemble the face of the Democratic Party today. In fact, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Southern Democrats, all conservatives, joined the Republican Party and formed the Conservative Coalition.
It was the Republican Party during the Civil War that championed the Abolitionists, but it was not conservatism that led them to embrace emancipation, rather it was progressivism at the center of their movement.
Today, those who brandish the weaponry of racism are also the ones identifying themselves as the most patriotic Americans and they voice intolerant platitudes like “America, Love It Or Leave It.” They are claiming conservative values and predominately vote as Republicans against progressive liberalism.
I read post after post that denigrated the President, immigration, liberals, and Democrats, while conversely praising Fox News, gun proliferation and anti-immigration laws.
There were some reasonable posts and fair criticisms of government and the President, but over 90% exhibited hatred for any concept that even bordered on being progressive: Immigration, the environment, gay rights, health care, gun control, religious diversity, and foreign diplomacy.
One post said, “Speak English or get the (expletive) out!”
Another proclaimed, “This is one nation under God and if you don’t like that get out you(ethnic slur)!”
Another post was of two bullets over an American flag, titled, “Two Tickets to Paradise” with “paradise” written to resemble Arabic.
I tried to learn what I could about the people on this site, but mostly I was blocked since I’m not a friend. The few I did get to said, “Conservative.” (One called herself “a liberal wife” but that could just mean that she writes letters to Penthouse Forum)
But, there were countless endorsements from Tea Party factions, of NRA sites, and links to conservative blogs and websites and it was clear where most political ideologies were placed. A question then leapt from my occipital to my frontal lobe: “Why is it that this kind of ignorance and bigotry find a safer haven within conservatism?”
Hold on! Re-holster your pistols! I am not suggesting that all conservatives support such things, but why do those qualities; the lowest on the human spectrum, find the right side to be more comfortable?
This issue goes deep for me. I don’t want my children to inherit the country these people are fighting to establish. I want my children to embrace all cultures and religions. Not because they saw pictures in a book, but because they went to visit a friend who is Jewish, Muslim, or from Bosnia, Sudan or Iran, and they saw how other cultures can thrive within a free nation.
So I called a conservative (and Republican) friend for a “lifeline.” I asked him, “If part of your party shows these stripes, don’t you have to evaluate why? And why doesn’t your party aggressively distance itself?”
He replied, thoughtfully, “There are as many extremists on the left, you’re simply more aware of those who disagree with you. These people are angry at growing government infringing on their rights, spending money and threatening their children’s future with debt. They have as much right to protest as you and I’ll bet they find your positions as repugnant.”
Nice answer, but no go. “This site wasn’t created to discuss government overreach and debt, it was to share the opinion of anti-diversity!”
He countered: “Look at the extremists who led your party in the 60′s and 70′s, like Jerry Rubin and Abby Hoffman. They were more dangerous than anything I see today.”
“They were radicals,” I replied, “but they didn’t lead the Democratic Party! Democrats didn’t seek their endorsements. Yet today, the right-wing extremists; those crying for a one-language, one-religion nation with exclusionary civil rights, are heavily influencing the direction of the Republican Party. They are consulted, even embraced by Republican candidates who seek their endorsement.”
I kept going. “Tom Hayden (one of those 60′s radicals) ran as a Democrat but he was running for ‘participatory democracy,’ civil rights and policies centering around peace and social justice. You need to understand the difference or this discussion can’t get anywhere.”
The discussion didn’t get anywhere.
I knew this would happen when I traipsed over to the page, and so I deserved my frustration. I didn’t get an answer to my question, but there is good news and hope for the conversation. I spent the day with my sons and had friends over that night and we talked about the value of diversity.
And here’s what pleased me the most—-my conservative friend was one of them.