I’m sure that I was directed toward it to get my dander up, as they knew what I would find, but I could not resist that confirmation and I went there.
Big surprise! (sarcasm) – I read post after post that denigrated former President Obama, Hillary Clinton, immigrants, liberals, and Democrats, while conversely praising Donald Trump, gun proliferation, and anti-immigration laws.
There were several fair criticisms of government, and even links to prevent animal abuse, but over 90% exhibited hatred for any concept that even bordered on being progressive: Immigration reform, the environment, gay rights, public option health insurance, gun purchase regulations, religious diversity, and allowing for refugees.
One post said stated: “Speak English or get the (expletive) out!”
Another proclaimed: “This is one nation under God and if you don’t like that get out you(ethnic slur)!!!”
There was a meme with two bullets over an American flag, titled: “Two Tickets to Paradise” with “paradise” written to resemble Arabic.
Another post pointed out that the “KKK was formed by Democrats” and someone piled on: “Democrats are the real racists in this country.”
This is where I started to talk back to the page.
While there is historical accuracy in terms of the Democratic Party holding on to a founding ignorance, that is not the relevant point in today’s discrepancies. We must ask, “Why is it that today the KKK, Aryan Nations and other white supremacist organizations now identify as Republicans?
There is no shortcut answer and first we must must look at racism, itself. Racism is the result of adopting, or inheriting, beliefs born from ignorance and fear; it does not hold a political allegiance.
Let’s also get the history straight: Racist Southern Democrats, who were segregationists, formed the KKK. They were not “liberals” and they are not part of the Democratic Party today. In fact, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many Southern Democrats joined Republicans to form the Conservative Coalition.
It was the Republican Party during the Civil War that championed the Abolitionists, but it was not social conservatism that led them to embrace emancipation, rather it was a non-partisan, progressive ideology at the center of their movement.
On the “Press 1…” site there were countless endorsements from Tea Party factions, of NRA sites, and links to conservative blogs and websites. It was clear where most of the participant’s political ideologies were placed, and they reiterated the spectrum of xenophobia, segregation, and sexual stereotypes. I am not suggesting that Republicans or all conservatives support such things – not at all – but, I have to ask the question from above: “Why do those who do, find the right side of the aisle to be where they belong?”
This issue goes deep for me. I don’t want my children to inherit the country these people are fighting to establish. I want my children to embrace all cultures and religions. Not because they saw pictures in a book, but because they went to a friend’s house who is Jewish or Muslim. Or is from Mexico, Bosnia, Syria or Iran, and they saw how other cultures contribute to a free nation.
So I called a conservative Republican friend for a “lifeline.” I asked him: “If a growing part of your party shows the stripes of exclusionism, racism or sexism, don’t you have to evaluate why? Don’t you have an obligation to rid your party of such affiliations?”
He replied, thoughtfully: “There are as many extremists on the left, you’re simply more aware of those who disagree with you. But they are angry at growing government infringing on their rights, spending money and threatening their children’s future with debt. They have as much right to protest as you and I’ll bet they find your positions as repugnant.”
A well reasoned answer, but my question wasn’t answered.
“This site wasn’t created to discuss government overreach and debt,” I replied. “Where are those posts?”
He countered: “Look at the extremists who led your party in the 60′s and 70′s, like Jerry Rubin and Abby Hoffman. They were more dangerous than anything I see today.”
I conceded: “They were radicals, but they didn’t lead the Democratic Party! Democrats didn’t seek their endorsements. Yet today, the right-wing extreme; those crying for a one-language, one-religion nation with exclusionary civil rights, took the Republican Party to the edge…and won.”
I kept going: “Tom Hayden (one of those 60′s radicals) ran as a Democrat but he was running for ‘participatory democracy,’ for civil rights and policies centering around peace and social justice. You need to acknowledge the difference or this discussion can’t get anywhere.”
The discussion didn’t go any further.
I knew this would happen when I traipsed over to the site, and so I deserved my frustration. I didn’t get the answer to my question, but there is good news and hope for the conversation. I spent the evening with my family and friends and we talked about these issues.
And here’s what pleased me the most—-my “lifeline” friend was one of them.