A LICENSE TO HATE


1. It’s Thursday, August 4, 2016. It’s 96 days until the election.

2. There’s reason to cheer the result of a Kansas Republican primary.

A three-term Congressman who has been part of the shut-the-government-down faction of the party was soundly defeated. His opponent, while railing about unnecessary spending, also campaigned on the idea that you can’t be against everything and expect government to function.

In particular, the people of the district that covers the western half of Kansas want help for the farms that a lot of them tend. It’s a simple, understandable idea, much as I want my congresswoman to look out for my interests in gun control, infrastructure rebuilding and education.

There’s little chance a Democrat will win this district; it’s only happened once in more than 140 years. But to the extent that the people of western Kansas will no longer be represented by someone who thinks government is always the enemy is a step in the right direction. 

3. The best thing I’ve read in the past 24 hours is a blog post by my friend and former colleague, Cara Reedy.

On her Infamously Short blog, she describes a subway ride from Hell. She shared a seat with a man who was slurring her the entire time – who was so abusive that she feared she wouldn’t be able to get off the train because he was seated in a way that blocked her egress.

It’s a story that gives any sane person the creeps. That’s due largely to Cara’s talent as a writer, but also to the fact that it’s hard to believe such people as her demon seatmate exist.

The tendency is to dismiss someone like this as mentally unbalanced, which is an illness which he’s likely not to have a lot of control over. That’s countered by the fact that he rides the New York subway system unaccompanied by a mental health worker or family member who can calm his obsessive hatetalk.

But there’s another possibility.

4. The worst thing I’ve seen online in the past 24 hours is a video posted on The New York Times site.

It is a compilation of scenes from Trump campaign rallies this year. Warning: Watch this on an empty stomach. 

It is horrifying. It is raw, unadulterated hate. It comes from the mouths of people who claim to be American patriots.

They are not. They do more to hurt this country than any ayatollah in Iran or communist apparatchik in China has ever done.

African-Americans, Latin American immigrants, women (mainly in the form of Hillary Clinton) and Muslims are the main targets of their venom. Given the chance, it’s easy to imagine the other bogeymen of the ignorant – Jews, Asians and LGBTs – getting the same treatment.

And here’s the thing: Trump is the motor vehicle bureau of intolerance. He gives his supporters a license to hate. The only test they have to pass is unfettered allegiance to him. He’ll supply the fuel with his rants about what’s wrong with this country, in code so that he and his sycophants can deny they meant to slander anyone.

Because he’s a “successful” businessman, these people believe there’s an air of respectability that give them the ability to go out and spread the crap that they may have harbored for years.

Which brings me back to Cara’s tormenter. Is he merely mentally ill? Or is he an echo of the hatred that Trump has now given him and others permission to spread?

If you’re a white person, you’ve heard people mouth this stuff for as long as you can remember. There’s almost a pathological need to blame someone else for your troubles. They believe they get special breaks. They believe they demand special treatment.

They stew as individuals – people who include President Obama and Hillary Clinton – succeed as you don’t, and you think there must be something sinister or crooked about it. They weren’t really born here. They conspire with who knows who to keep you down.

All this garbage is out in the open in 2016. Maybe we should give Trump some credit – he has unveiled America’s ugly secret of almost subliminally spoken hatred.

It’s why Hillary Clinton can’t just win. She has to crush Trump, and make it clear that if you want to harbor unfettered, unreasonable hatred, you have to keep it to yourself. The only harm should be self-inflicted.

In that way, we can look at the guy on the train with Cara as the mentally ill person he is. He won’t be another member of society given a license to hate.

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