(The publisher of the Prairie Press in my hometown asked if I wanted to do a piece on this, so, lazy guy that I am, I added some bits from a piece back in October, which can’t be said enough.)
It may be hard for news junkies to believe, but some folks may not know about the kerfuffle surrounding the Covington Catholic boys, a drum-banging Native American, and a small group of racist and homophobic provocateurs belonging to the Black Hebrew Israelites.
In brief, the Kentucky boys were part of an anti-abortion rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, when they were drawn by the rants and taunts of the Black Hebrew Israelites preaching their gospel of race and religion baiting, during which a do-gooding Native American got between the boys and the baiters and banged his drum in the faces of the Catholic boys.
Free speech for all, right? Not so fast, Sparky. Those Catholic boys were wearing red MAGA hats, which, as everyone should know, are hate magnets for everyone who hates the current president and, apparently, free speech. You know the ones, the ones who believe you can say what you like as long as they like what you say.
Well, as expected, images of the event blew up social and mainstream media. Within hours, tweets and twits described the boys in the most unflattering terms (to be generous) with many demanding acts of physical violence, even death, against them, their families, and their school. One female TV person even offered to give oral sex to anyone who punched out one of the boys. In other words, she offered sex to any male of any age in exchange for violence against a juvenile.
The mainstream media added to these class acts by piling on and promoting the idea that the Catholic boys were young Ku Klux Klansmen who had shed their white sheets in favor of MAGA caps.
Within a day, however, various videos of the event emerged to show what really happened. The only hate and confrontation came from the foul-mouthed Black Hebrew Israelites who skated away unscathed because liberals, Hollywoodenheads, and their fellow travelers were ready (at the drop of a hat?) to twist and churn a non-event into a hateful targeting of white boys being boys.
What followed were apologies, retractions, sack cloth and ashes from some big media folks. But the damage was done, the snark was out of the bag, and the hate still lingered and permeated the air with the smell of objective and responsible journalism’s rotting corpse.
A woman I know frequently tells me many of the Facebook hate posts she sees come from people who do not have a religious foundation or simply do not believe in God. Politics is their religion, she says, and like all religious zealots, they will seek out and attack anyone who does not share their political belief.
It is hard to argue against that, especially when one considers the many outlets for these outbursts, from in-your-face media bias to vocal and angry crowds. This does not paint with the broad brush of blame only individuals or groups with liberal leanings; there are plenty of right-wing nuts to go around who share the hate trait with their left-wing counterparts.
As early as 2004, the editors of a southern Illinois newspaper saw the hate trend blossoming on their opinion page. “Just a casual view . . . is convincing evidence that the Bush-hating Democrats are hard at work vilifying President Bush! Most of the ‘hate’ letters are not on the issues but merely ugly ‘I hate Bush.’ Many don’t even make any sense, like comparing our president to Hitler . . .”
Is this like back to the future?
A Google search for online hate has President Trump easily outdistancing the last guy by more than 2-to-1 with 195 million returns. Journalists appear to be more hated (27.3 million) than priests (13.8 million), communism (11.6 million), and spammers (1.2 million) combined. And used-car sales people are surprisingly more hated (61.1 million) than Congress (58 million). Who knew?
Oh, and the Kardashians have more online sites with references to them and hate (37.6 million) than ISIS (22.4 million) and terrorists in general (13.5 million) combined.
This is political rhetoric not to be taken too seriously, just as one should not take seriously the rants of professional wrestlers. But pro-wrestling is very popular and lots of folks believe in their hearts that it is real.
The reality of all of this hate rhetoric is that some folks have embraced it by abandoning civil discourse, critical thinking, and common decency. Hate has become the new normal in our society, the inevitable result of exchanging religion for ideology, of exalting the created over the Creator.
Mundus vult decipi.