Bigotry in our Leaders is not the answer

My heart goes out to the victims and their families in Orlando. Let’s keep them in our thoughts and prayers. And, as Frank Langella said at The Tony Awards last night, let us not let this tragedy define or diminish us. Let it strengthen us, as the reaction to Charleston’s terrible church shooting did last year.

Even before the horrific tragedy which claimed the lives of at least 50 Americans, we have allowed bigotry, racism and xenophobia to have too pervasive a place in our dialogue from so-called leaders. Whether they are political, business, governmental or religious so-called leaders or wanna-be leaders, we cannot allow bigotry to go without shining a spotlight on it. Political incorrectness does not mean we can be bigoted.

Conservative columnist Michael Gerson wrote last week about the toxic racism of one of our presidential candidates, saying loudly we cannot have our leaders being and saying racist things. Gerson has been a consistent voice for reason. He notes, historically over the last forty years, that being a racist is a non-starter for a national candidate. We need our leaders to be exemplars of treating folks fairly, not condemning folks for being different.

Yet, it goes well beyond that. One of my pet peeves is when I see bigotry from the pulpit regardless of the religion. Religious leaders should not be using their persuasive powers to divide. To me that is a significant dereliction of duty and is certainly not WWJD, at least in the bible I was taught from. There are no caveats to treating others like you want to be treated. People are listening to these comments and, in the words of Oscar Hammerstein, bigotry has to be carefully taught.

Further, we have too much attention paid to discriminating and even demonizing folks who are diverse. In our country, all freedoms are important, whether they be LGBT, Black, Hispanic, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, etc. citizens. No one’s freedoms should be more important or infringe on the rights of another’s. Our LGBT friends now have rights like other citizens in America, but there are efforts to restrict those rights, even taking away rights that are older than same-sex marriage. That is unconstitutional.

Our best defense against violence is to celebrate and promote our freedoms. The new Muslim mayor of London noted he is the best kind of argument against Islamic terrorists groups. He shows a Muslim visibly succeeding in the western world. This success counters the divisive narrative of groups like ISIS.

The same holds true in our country, with our elected officials and military members from diverse groups. Muslims are part of our fabric and that community has every right to be an American as any other. LGBT folks have every right as well. We defeat hate by being inclusive and standing up for each other. We defeat hate by all of our citizens being watchdogs for those who may want to perpetuate hate. We also defeat hate by not ostracizing groups of people such as those in the LGBT community.

There are over 1,000 hate groups in the United States that have nothing to do with Islam. These hate groups include folks who are disenfranchised. Yet, we also have Muslim folks who are disenfranchised and are being recruited on line. The Muslim and non-Muslim communities must be vigilant to watch for folks who may be so inclined. The enemy is those who would do violence, not broad groups of people who are trying to live their lives like all Americans.

What I don’t care for his posturing by folks, who say they are going to be tough, but who have made comments to demonize folks and make the world a less safe place before they take office – these are the concerns of our allied leaders and retired US military generals, not just mine. I don’t support the argument of those who do not see the freedom of gun acquisition as not playing a role in mass shooting deaths. With our gun access in the US, there is very little that can be done to stop a evil minded SOB from killing people.  I am tired of tough talk from folks who do not realize their words and resistance to change are part of the problem.

We must involve all Americans in the due diligence looking out for violent extremists, whether they are Muslim, Christian, or merely a hate group unrelated to religion. We must have serious conversations about better governance around guns. And, we must stand tall with our LGBT community and say demonizing this group is not right. And, in my bible, it is not the answer to WWJD. It certainly is not electing bigoted leaders.

40 thoughts on “Bigotry in our Leaders is not the answer

  1. Note to Readers: It should be noted, there are many wonderful religious leaders who are inclusive and have opened their houses of worship to all to memorialize and comfort. They have been a consistent support of the LGBT community. I wanted to point these wonderful leaders out in contrast to those who demonize the LGBT community.

  2. Reblogged this on So, I Read This Book Today and commented:
    As we were discussing in “I Was Wrong” (MusingsofanOldFart, June 8), “…he patted himself on the back in the same tweet he sent condolences, which reveals the lack of sincerity. Yet, he fails to realize his role in inflaming folks and his role in supporting easy access to guns,he patted himself on the back in the same tweet he sent condolences, which reveals the lack of sincerity. Yet, he fails to realize his role in inflaming folks and his role in supporting easy access to guns…”

    Yes, many wonderful religious leaders have be absolutely wonderful, opening their doors to friends and family of the victims. But people such as The Hairball and others are doing the exact opposite. And what frightens me beyond measure is that people are simply ignoring his hatred and viciousness.

    My heart goes out to all those, no matter where they are in the world, who suffer from hatred – from women tortured in Afghanistan, Africa, and even in this and other “first world” countries, to those who suffer from poverty, racism, and xenophobia all over the world. Ignorance is the number one problem across the globe, for ignorance breeds hatred and contempt. But what is even worse are the people, like the Hairball and extremists everywhere, who utilize the ignorance of others to forward their agendas of hatred, isolationism, and power brokering of all kinds.

  3. My take on what happened in Orlando is that this is an example of the sort of scum Trump has freed up by kicking over so many rocks. The scum also rises. There have always been nut cases, but it is now acceptable social behavior to scream and engage in violence because the man in the expensive suit has made it acceptable behavior. There will be more of this — especially if Trump fails to win (as we all hope he does).

    • Hugh, the man has created an environment of hate and as you said has given more credence to hate groups. We must be involving to solve these problems and not divisive. Who knows what will happen with these groups if he wins or loses. But, this racist should be allowed nowhere near the White House. Keith

      • From what I have observed Trump didn’t create the environment of hate. He tapped into the existing anger and channeled it toward minority groups, and anyone he doesn’t agree with or who questions him. He has given more credence to hate groups. The media has played into it by giving him all of the free publicity and press.

      • Agreed. The hate was there, he just identified and used it to serve his purpose. His genius is his marketing skill, not his business acumen. He can sell it, but he has trouble managing it.

    • I totally agree Roseylinn. The hatred has always been there — from our earliest days on this earth. But civilization is an attempt to curb those tendencies and put them to creating and productive uses (as Freud knew so well). This man is telling everyone that those restraints are no longer necessary and suddenly, as it were, more Mosques are being burned and every act of terror is being blamed on the Muslims (who, he tells us, “come from Afghan.” The man truly is stupid). Hatred and violence are acceptable forms of behavior on this man’s watch. He seems to be aiming the weapon and all but pulling the trigger.

      • Hugh, your historical context provides great value. Fear sells and he is expert at pointing where we should hate. But, in this case, it could overwhelm us if not stopped. The NRA has made sure we have a heavily armed society, so some have and will take the law into their own hands.

  4. Note to Readers: What is not getting as much air time is a domestic terrorist was thwarted. James Wesley Howell, an Indiana man, was arrested in California with multiple firearms headed to do damage at a Gay Pride. He does not appear to be a Muslim nor was Dylan Roof last year who killed nine African-American church goers. The issues are hate and gun access, first and foremost.

      • Susan, I think most Americans are there, we just have a NRA controlled Congress who is scared to admit essential truths. One doctor from Orlando said they saw wounds that used to be reserved for military fights due to assault weapons. Keith

    • Thanks Rob. We are indeed. Your post is relevant and pertinent to the issues of identifying hate speech and groups and the need for better gun control.

      • They do indeed. With his words, Trump is doing the heavy lifting for ISIS making us less safe. That is the truth that is overlooked by his followers.

      • I believe that Trumpy’s followers hate the nation that we became after world war two. They represent throwbacks who long for the illusion of certainty that one can only have in a rigid class system based on a privilege system that rewards people of certain races and certain religions.

        In the 1600’s a Christian peasant was less likely to be burned at the stake than a Jewish merchant.

        This is the world they want: a world that executes teenage boys for being gay; a world that enslaves people and punishes them for becoming true individuals.

        I find the modern definition of ‘individualism’ ironic because one must conform to bland standards of beauty and wealth or to standards of such rigidly depraved ignorance that one is no longer capable
        of independent thought.

      • Rob, it is demographic, in that they see a changing landscape. But, because of technology, outsourcing, offshoring, downsizing, suppression of wages and forced decline of unions, many in the middle class have seen fewer good paying jobs. The big lie is it is people like a Trump who have taken advantage of the middle class. So, along comes this marketing genius and he says everyone else is to blame and I am your champion. This is the greatest con job.

      • I’m curious about how this can be a con job when there is so much evidence against Trump.

        The only way for me to cope with the abuse of my childhood was to learn as much as possible about as many subjects as possible.

        It’s difficult for me to empathize with who choose to live in entitled ignorance.

        Any man or woman from the working or marginally employed class who chooses to turn his future and the future of his children over to an abuser is repugnant to me.

        Unless Trumpy’s followers all suffer from some kind of trauma related repetition compulsion their support for him is inexcusable.

        And if they are their suffering from a trauma reaction their refusal to get help is inexcusable.

        Either way, they represent a sickness that destroys innocent lives as it tears our nation apart.

      • Rob, you choose to be informed. As a whole, we are an uninformed public and many who limit their news to getting it from folks who watch conservative news, do not know our country is doing pretty well. All they hear are the president is awful and everything is terrible. My own libertarian brother would not believe me when I said that unemployment was below 5%, e.g. Keith

      • This baffles me. I don’t understand why they don’t examine the evidence. Why are they so afraid to admit that they are not correct about absolutely everything. What you describe is the obstinate reasoning of a child that doesn’t know it’s OK to be wrong.

        I can understand the ignorance you describe in a people who live in an isolated jungle but not in Americans in the 21st Century; not among people who are citizens of a military power capable of destroying all human life. There is something decadent about refusing to use reason when other people’s lives are at stake.

      • Rob, it is baffling. But, the truth is now fluid due to biased pseudo-news sources like Fox and to a lesser extent, MSNBC. Fox is at best, spin-doctored news and at its worst disinformation. Then, you have shallow and conflicted main stream news. They err on entertainment and won’t deep dive on an issue. Then, you have folks who get their news from Facebook friends and biased web sources. Finally, there are those who do not watch or read any news beyond sports or entertainment gossip.

        We are the United States of Entertainment, so we have folks who are upset for no reason or for the wrong reason. I don’t mind folks having conservative or liberal views, but we are not working off the same song sheet of facts, which disturbs me greatly. It is how an unhinged candidate like Trump can get away with his endless lying, contradictory statements and divisive comments. It is still baffling, though. Keith

  5. Note to Readers: if you have not seen it, I suggest you watch President Obama’s speech today. It is the most critical repudiation of the GOP presumptive nominee I have witnessed. He calls him on the carpet on a number of fronts for his indictment of a religion, feeding into what ISIL wants us to do and doing their work for them, going against our ideals and freedoms, and making simplistic references to the President not saying radical Islam as if we don’t know who we are fighting. He also calls GOP leadership on the carpet saying do you believe this? He asks for tougher gun laws regarding not selling guns to people on our no fly list and banning assault weapons.

    I must confess I have never witnessed a better dressing down of a poor candidate than what Obama did today. Trump will retaliate, but fellow GOP leaders are already concerned over Trump’s poor reaction to the Orlando shooting.

    • It should be noted that many Republican leaders are not in support of Trump’s Muslim ban and have condemned his remarks about the President being a co-conspirator.

    • We must not ever lose sight of those impacted. On John Oliver’s Last a Week Tonight, he started out before the music and show started to speak to the tragedy. He highlighted the long line of blood donors as truly what represents the best of America.

    • Thanks Lisa. The Islamaphobia painted by this presidential candidate feeds into the fear. Most GOP leaders do not support Trump’s comments on the Muslim immigrant ban or attacks on the president as a conspirator. Fans of this man are not listening, they are just cheering bumper sticker slogans. The president’s repudiation of Trump yesterday was one of most critical put downs of a candidate I have witnessed, showing Trump as shallow and making the problem worse.

      • Last night a neighbor, that I thought was semi normal, was trying to convince me that Obama was a hidden Muslim. He kept saying “say his name…say it” No christmas card for him this year.

      • Lisa, the animosity toward this man is surprisingly unrelenting, especially when idiotic smear campaigns are being recycled by poorly informed people. There is a percentage of the Republican electorate that hate him for being Black. That number is not large, but is consequential. On this specific smear item, I have had the same people tell me he is a Muslim, then say he was associating with unusual folks at his church, which is Christian. Which is it, is he Muslim or Christian? – the person just contradicted themselves.

        Trump is recycling Republican smear campaigns of Hillary Clinton from the 1990s, which have been disproved. Yet, they are out there on the Internet to be found. Neither Obama or Clinton are perfect, far from it, but they are much more credible than given credit for by the smear-listeners.

        Thanks, Keith

    • Kendall, many thanks. Many more need to see this to help curtail bigotry. It is even a sub-context in the Brexit vote today, with a far right party demonizing folks and getting others to believe leaving the Euro would be the right path forward. Here in the states, the US fell to 103rd out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index. Thanks, Keith

  6. Thank you for your insightful and persuasive words. I had pretty much made peace with a Donald Trump presidency on the basis of how easily the humor would flow… but you made me remember the likelihood he will start lining fools like me up against the wall for the firing squads. So I am determined now to do everything in my power to make sure the humanoid bottle of tainted orange Koolaid does not win… although, beyond voting I have incredibly little power.

    • Trump would be apocalyptically bad. Just think of how he would react to a real crisis. Or, how he would give license to the zealots that support him to harm others who are not considered mainstream Americans in their view.

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