Point of View Columns

Hate Begets Hate

Despite the lofty ideals set forth in founding documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the United States has always harbored hate as a very real part of its cultural DNA. So it should really not be a surprise that a particularly odious perversion of religious freedom has resulted in legislation in the state of Indiana that will make it legal to hate.

While there will always be those who argue that America is exceptional in every way, in one very way, the reality is that the United States is just like every other country in the world. Humans act out hatred of other humans for reasons ranging from race to gender to nationality to religion. And even a cursory overview of American history reveals organized and institutional hatred directed against Americans of African origin through slavery and beyond, Native Americans through genocide, Jews, Irish immigrants, Italian immigrants, women who wanted to vote or the right to choose control over their bodies, Chinese immigrants, Japanese Americans through concentration camps and gay men and women through continuing bigotry, discrimination and prejudice.

It would be nice to think that America has evolved to the point where hatred is no longer celebrated, much less legislated. But that thinking would not be fact based. Too many Americans hate President Obama because he is an American of African origin. Too many Americans, descendants of immigrants themselves, hate 21st century immigrants because they are not white. Too many Americans hate men and women simply because their gender preference does not conform to their own stated or presumed preference.

This hatred is sometimes celebrated with homophobic slurs or asinine racist songs on college campuses. This hatred is sometimes celebrated in dog whistle political rhetoric. But make no mistake, this hatred is indeed celebrated.

And now the state of Indiana joins twenty other states in legislating hate under the guise of protecting religious freedom. The Indiana “Restoration of Religious Freedom Act” is a politically inspired fig leaf covering the naked loins of homophobia and racism. The Act claims to protect “people of faith” (as distinguished from “people of no faith”?) from laws which prevent them from staying true to their religious principles.

Cutting through the verbiage and rhetorical prestidigitation, the Act will allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against individuals if their sexual preference, race or general appearance somehow offends their religious principles. What this Act does is continue to roll back the liberation of Americans that was brought about by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 along with the 14th Amendment of 1868. This brazen effort to deny Americans of their constitutional rights with the ruse of protecting constitutional rights is transparent and obvious.

What is troubling is that the outrage directed at Indiana, with Arkansas on deck, does not seem to focus on the fact that twenty other states have already passed similar legislation. What is troubling is the fact that almost half the states in this nation have already moved to restore the freedom to hate, not only celebrating hate but also legislating the free expression of hate.

It is ironic that the United States, the first nation on earth to codify principles of personal freedom, is becoming the first nation on earth to voluntarily withdraw those freedoms.

It has been said……the end will come with not with a bang…but with one last whimper.

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Point of View Columns

Biting the Hand……

The hypocrisy of the G.O.Tea Party gets to be more than a bit tiresome. But as long as right wing of the right wing wishes to drink hypocritical hemlock, it is important to point out the Grand Canyon between reality and the fairy tales that are peddled as public policy.

A common theme among the Noble Nine (soon to be the Terrible Ten if New Jersey Governor Chris Christie takes the plunge – an awesome thought) is that “government is the enemy”. From Herman Cain to Rodeo Rick Perry to Magic Mitt Romney to Michele Bachmann, the story line is consistent and unshakable – government is the problem in the lives of the American people and reducing the size of “big government” will be a huge step on the road to a better life for all of us. So let’s look at the facts, an act that is unfamiliar to the truth-averse G.O.Tea Party.

We can take the hypocrites in any order – Herman Cain, for example never misses an opportunity to dismiss the importance of the federal government and to rail against the “stupid people” who are running government. Please know that Mr. Cain graduated from Morehouse College and Purdue University, two institutions that have received millions of dollars in federal aid over the years. Mr. Cain also worked as a civilian employee for the United States Navy, presumably he was not one of the “stupid people” working in government.

As the Chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza he presumably benefited from the work of the Food and Drug Administration which gave his customers confidence to buy his pizza anywhere in the United States.

And, by the way, Purdue University is located in Indiana. Indiana used to have the largest membership of the Ku Klux Klan in the country. The efforts of the federal government, particularly the Department of Justice helped make it safe for the young Mr. Cain to attend an integrated university in the heart of what used to be Klan country.

Rodeo Rick Perry tells us in his “book”, “Fed Up” that government is the enemy. This would be the same Rick Perry who attended Texas A&M University. While he was busy earning a 2.5 G.P.A. and putting firecrackers in toilets, Governor Perry did get a degree and a commission in the United States Air Force. It is highly likely that getting a college degree helped him get that commission and it is absolutely true that his alma mater has received tens of millions of dollars of federal aid over the years.

In a masterful display of double jointed hypocrisy, Governor Perry criticized the Obama Administration for – you guessed it – not sending enough federal aid to Texas to help fight the wildfires that are consuming the state of Texas. Not that Rodeo Rick believes that the wildfires have anything to do with global warming since he doesn’t believe in global warming – or evolution.

Magic Mitt Romney is a little late to the party when he comes to attacking the federal government. We can assume that he hopes that his magical powers will help us forget that he attended Brigham Young and Harvard Universities, two institutions that receive millions of dollars from the federal government every year. We are also supposed to forget that the universal healthcare program that he introduced as governor of the state of Massachusetts was absolutely dependent upon the continuation of federal aid and assistance.

As president of the organization that ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah he was responsible for steering millions of federal dollars into that venture. Now his Olympic victory is put down on his presidential candidacy resume even as he claims that reducing the size of government is the holy grail that we all should seek.

Michele Bachmann is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to hypocrisy. Congresswoman Bachmann makes constant reference to her having over twenty foster children in addition to her five children. She conveniently omits telling us that her home was designated a treatment center for young girls most of whom stayed only a few months and very few of whom stayed for more than a year. And………you guessed it, the Bachmann “treatment center” received government payments for each child that crossed the threshold.

Michele Bachmann’s husband, Marcus Bachmann, runs a “controversial” counseling center which is said to be engaged in efforts to “cure” homosexuals. But the center can’t be that controversial as it has received over $137,000 in federal payments for treatments at the center.

The reality is that federal, state and local governments play a huge role in the lives of all Americans. The reality is that preaching that government is the “enemy” is simply false and misleading. This is reality that the G.O.Tea Party leaders know is truth from their own life narratives and yet they still seek to mislead. That is when hypocrisy turns to shame.

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