We as a society must look ourselves in mirror

December 25, 2017

I’m writing in response to Brian Gillespie’s letter regarding a display of anti-Islam sentiment on a car that says: “Everything I ever needed to know about Islam I learned on 9/11.” I can’t imagine how anyone would be able to interpret that as a friendly message in support of Muslims, as Brian tries to spin it. He thinks I’m childish and mean-spirited for calling out this sign of hatred in our midst. I feel I have a right to respond.

I’ve been lucky to have been on this planet a bit longer than Brian, for what it’s worth, and I stand by my comment that there is an increase in racist, bigoted and Nazi sentiment in this country. I agree with Brian that most Americans are not bigots, and I never tarred everybody with that brush. I believe it’s way more than 1 percent, judging by the rise in neo-nazism, religious extremists and white supremacy across the U.S. But even Brian’s 1 percent is too much hatred in a country of 320 million people. That’s 3.2 million haters walking around our streets. That’s more than double the number of active-duty military and reserve members in the U.S. And they seem to be heavily armed. The undisputed fact is that the number of hate groups in the U.S. has grown at an increasingly rapid pace just over the past year. That is alarming. I’m not alone in my concerns; 82 percent of Americans believe race relations in the U.S. have worsened over the past year.

Of the more than 85 terrorist attacks in the U.S. by violent extremists since 9/11, most were carried out by the American far right. We need to own up to the facts and see things for what they are. Some people still freak out when they see a brown-skinned family move into the neighborhood or stroll down the Boardwalk. But it’s cute when the local white hoodlum drives around with hate messages, symbols and flags. That’s just Billy having some fun.

When are we going to stop calling these people “local yahoos,” as if they are just harmless dumdum good old boys who love their mamas? Let’s call them what they really are - racists, potential domestic terrorists and a real danger to our free and democratic society. They are not fine people, like Gomer Pyle. They are poison. They are itching for a reason to blow someone’s head off.

Brian Gillespie seems to want to give them a pass, but then look at what happened in Germany in the 1930s. It could happen here. Call me childish and mean-spirited, or any other name you want to call me, for pointing all of this out. But we as a society must look ourselves in the mirror.

As the sign says, if you see something, say something. If that good old yahoo in your family starts talking and acting kind of crazy, do something.

Ab Ream

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