You don’t have to look too far these days to spot familiar symbols of hatred or to get an earful of bigoted utterances from self-righteous separatists. From unprovoked attacks in which Muslims, gays and Blacks tend to be the desired targets to nooses dangling ominously in the wind right here in our nation’s capital or “alt-right” protests led by white Nationalists hell-bent on protecting iconic monuments of the Confederacy, hatred has gained a new life and energy in America.
But then, perhaps what we’re witnessing isn’t so much a resurgence of hatred but rather the belief that it’s now acceptable to express it without shame or remorse — like opening our closets after a very long winter so that our mothball-protected apparel can finally breathe again.
So when 50 members of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan donned their white hoods to lead a march in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, the event barely registered on the country’s “Richter Scale of Vitriol” — save for about 1,000 counter-protesters who peacefully confronted Robin Hood and his Merry Men, then quickly ushered them on their way amidst shouts of “racists go home.”
America, this centuries-old experimental melting pot of humanity — this alleged “land of the free and home of the brave,” has become a place where minorities, particularly Muslims and immigrant communities, fear for their safety, wonder if their rights as citizens are surreptitiously being taken back and whether they can truly trust the police when and if they need help.
In this philosophical surge of “us vs. them,” a growing number of white Americans lament over how the country has changed, saying it’s become a place they no longer recognize and promising that they’re going to hold on to the “old ways of life” no matter what it takes — or who gets hurt in the process.
But unlike some of my colleagues, I refuse to blame this new reality on Donald Trump although it’s clear that the deep divisions that exist in America were part and parcel of the recent presidential election, evident at nearly every campaign rally he attended. No, I cannot give Mr. Trump the credit for the way America has devolved into the “Divided States of America” — where the ugly spectrum of hatred has been consciously moved from its hiding place along the margins to prime seat within the mainstream. In fact, I wonder, if this fast-moving train can even be stopped — if indeed the president chose to engage its brakes.
I fear what appears to be looming on the horizon. I fear many of my fellow Americans and the hatred that has overtaken them.
And what’s worse is … “they” behave as if they fear the staccato in my gait, the vernacular which punctuates my words, the booming timber of my voice and the sun-kissed gleam of my skin.
They seem to fear me.