How do we stop the ignorance, hate, & violence directed against people just trying to live their lives in peace (& in theory, equality)? A simple question. One answer from a post on my Facebook wall:
We all have to start standing up to the everyday bigotry we see and hear in our lives. When you hear it, challenge it. Find a non-hateful way to respond to hate. We need to stop being tolerant of intolerance.
But the sad truth is that most people are too timid to challenge or call out bigotry we see/hear around us. That means stepping outside of our safety zone, and it forces us to deal with the reaction of the bigot in question – and that’s to be kind, an unpleasant thought. If we all did it though, we would have succeeded in cleansing most of the bigotry out of our society by now. But the bigotry is like kudzu – unwatched and not trimmed back, it grows wildly out of control, consuming everything in its wake.
Take the horrific incident in Wisconsin. Members of the Sikh community gather in what they believe is a safe, sacred space, only to have an alleged neo-Nazi blow away people – an act of domestic terror, as officials have declared it. Rmuse at PoliticusUSA:
It is too early to know if the shooter in Wisconsin mistook Sikhs for Muslims, or if he acted out of a twisted belief he was protecting America from an Islamic threat, but with the propaganda campaign and fear-mongering about the threat of Islam, it will not be surprising if he thought he was killing Muslims to stop Sharia Law. Although the anti-Islam movement began after 9/11, it gained traction when an African-American man ran for President, and since Barack Obama has been in office, there has been increasing vitriol targeting Muslim-Americans.
…This country is in jeopardy of erupting into sectarian violence based on race and religion, and in fact, among ultra-right wing fringe groups there is persistent talk of a coming race war. In the coming days Americans will learn what, if any, motivation caused a thirty-something white male to drive to a Sikh temple and begin shooting innocent Americans congregating to worship in the manner they see fit. One thing is clear, the man did not drive to the local Baptist or Assembly of God church and open fire on white congregants, and there were no anti-Catholic rallies in Wisconsin to incite protests against Vatican law leaving only one plausible conclusion; something drove a white man to gun down dark-skinned people with long beards and head coverings, and one can imagine that he confused peaceful Sikhs with equally peaceful Muslims he thought were plotting to replace the Constitution with Sharia Law and conquer America. If he had been paying attention, he would know America has already been conquered by right-wing hate and their propaganda machine at Fox News and the Republican National Committee.
As more information comes out about this domestic terrorist, it’s depressing to see just how much the above is affirmed.
Wade Michael Page, the alleged shooter who opened fire at a Sikh Temple near Milwaukee, has been identified as a neo-Nazi by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Page, 40, is accused of killing six people before a police officer shot and killed him.
“He has been in the neo-Nazi, white power music scene for more than a decade,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project…Page was a member of the band white power band End Apathy and had been a member other bands according to the SPLC. There is also evidence he attended white power concerts and events across the country.
And, of course, in the wake of the Aurora movie theatre shooting and this act of terrorism, the discussions will turn to gun control again. Really? Have folks been out to lunch? Neither political party is going to do jack about guns in an election year (or probably at any point in the near future) due to the NRA and fears on the Dem side that they are already seen as soft on guns. And Nancy Pelosi was immediately out of the gate after the Wisconsin tragedy to say no action is forthcoming on the Hill.
“The votes aren’t there for gun control,” she said. “We certainly aren’t going to be able to do it in this Congress, and I don’t know that we would be able to do it in a Democratic Congress because it takes a lot of votes to go down that path.”
Indeed, after the Colorado shootings, just four lawmakers held a press conference calling for better gun safety laws. Two of them, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), followed up with a bill that would make it significantly harder to buy unlimited amounts of ammunition on the Internet, which is how the Colorado shooter purchased his bullets. Congressional leaders have already signaled the bill isn’t likely to go anywhere.
Hell, the sale of ammo went up after Obama was elected in 2008 precisely because the wingers were stirred up that he was going to take their guns away. Good luck, folks on the gun control side — you’re going to get nowhere.
If we politically aren’t ready to deal with guns, and issues of access and safety, then how do you stop the ignorance, hate, & violence? For too many it seems they are A-OK with the “occasional” mass mow-downs of innocent people in order not to rock the political boat. And, of course, it’s pretty hard to have rational discussions with bigoted fearful of all stripes if they believe that they have their interpretation of the Bible, or belief system behind them. The rule of law is irrelevant.
So where does that leave us in terms of my question? Any suggestions?