Bigotry In Washington: What Does it Mean and What Must We Do

This weekend was a throwback to the days of the 1960s that we often have seen on television and could not have imagined we would ever see again. I suppose we have traveled back in time to the days when being racist, bigoted, and anti-semitic have returned. As a young black male I have read stories of behavior like this. Never in my wildest dreams would I expect this to occur in 2010. And its not because I don't believe that racism and bigoted feelings do not still exist, but because I assumed people had more decency to do it behind closed doors. I guess I was wrong.

What occured Saturday in Washington DC stands as one of the most disgusting forms of public behavior that this generation of Americans have ever seen. Young children, who live in a much more diverse and accepting world than any of their parents could ever dream of did not deserve to see this. Black and white kids who play with each other every day did not deserve to see this. GLBT people who have families and interact with others often and Jewish people who have fought so long and hard for equality did not deserve to see this. It goes to show that our work is never done.

It was shocking to see people calling lawmakers and icons in American history such vitriolic names. This touched a nerve that has not been touched in me in a long time. And frankly it was at that moment that I realized that Health Care Reform became much more than a simple bill and more of a moral imperative, much in the way the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts have become many years ago. Seeing the image of John Lewis, Nancy Pelosi and others walking hand in hand reminded me of many Civil Rights Era footage. The only thing missing was a black and white screen and strains of We Shall Overcome in the background. History never fails to repeat itself now does it?

I have no problem people speaking their minds and standing up for what they believe in. But hate speech stands no place in American political or daily discourse. It only alienates people and puts everyone farther away from the common goal of making this country better than it already is.

Those that practice hate speech need to be made examples of. We need to make a stand, speak out and call them out on their actions. Many like to say that people who make these comments are ignorant or naive. It is almost as if we are excusing their actions by making it seem that they know no better. I for one will not stand for that anymore. Hate speech is hate speech. Racists are racists. Bigots are bigots. If you have the audacity to be as insulting as you were on Saturday, then you should be able to own up to what you really are on this day.

From the day that President Obama won the election, hate speech was on the rise. I have said that much of the oppositions arguments have been steeped in racism and bigotry. I believe that Saturday was proof. For the longest while the entire debate that has gone on has not been about socialism. It hasnt been about communism. It has and will always be about conservative (mostly white people) being afraid of change. Afraid of change not because change is bad, but afraid of change because they fear the loss of their power and status in life. Funny thing about this is that often these same people are not rich or even afluent in society, just simply average people who understand and see the face of America changing and are unsure what to make of it. I believe that this ugliness will continue to bear its ugly head but as Obama showed this weekend, we must continue to try and shape our more perfect union. It is our moral imperative to continue to knock them down, call thruth to power and continue striving for the equality that we clearly need. And here is hoping that we do so with even a fraction of grace that John Lewis and others showed this weekend in the face of such hatred.


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