For decades, we have seen the decline of the outward racism and hate in polite society that once permeated the middle part of the 20th century. Cultures blended and acceptance spread throughout our country, so much so that our first African-American President was elected twice. I want to say that at the beginning of Obama’s first term, was when you started to see a blatant disregard for social norms, and the racists that have been hiding out began to rise up and show themselves for who and what they really were. Due in no small part to the further use of social media and it’s ability to mask those who would never say hateful things in polite society, being able to say them behind the comfort of anonymity at a computer screen allows these small minds to unleash their rage and hatred towards all things different. Social media has steamrolled hatred and ignorance into the new millennium, you had racists before the advent of social media, you just weren’t subjected to it on a daily basis like you are now. They couldn’t unite in the way that they are now. They couldn’t find a voice to amplify that rage like they have now. That voice couldn’t capitalize on that hatred like it has and will continue to do so, not without social media and the fact that everyone has a voice, no matter how ignorant they are.
Ladies and gentlemen, for many people, that voice is Donald Trump. I was at his rally here in Jacksonville a few weeks back, and I have ruminated on that experience since then. It was important to sit down with those thoughts and be sure of what I wanted to say about it. Before I go into that, I need to address something. I had unintentionally stirred up a storm on Facebook after posting something mildly vague and nondescript. The post went something like this, “So, the Trump rally….I am genuinely afraid for the future of our country. Try to post some video and thoughts soon.”
It wasn’t long before the post turned my family and friends against each other, and allowed others to cowardly post things to my messenger, saying things they would never say to my face. I shared no opinion on what I saw or what I felt about the experience, before everyone started losing their minds. I don’t use social media for debating politics or engaging in arguments with random people. I have a select group of people who I connect with on social media, I don’t feel the urge to apprise strangers of my world views or have existential breakdowns for the entire world to see. There is an outlet for that and to me, it isn’t Facebook. Facebook is for posting photos of your family, connecting with loved ones or meeting new people. That is what I believe. Now back to my point, I wasn’t trying to debate anyone, I just wanted to share my feelings, that is all. I guess I expected to much of others to respect my outlook and just share a moment I had. Not everyone thinks the way I do and that’s ok.
So I set into deep thought for many weeks. What happened to the world that I thought existed? Was it always just a facade, or a mirage that I had constructed in my own mind to deal with the harsher realities of our time? Was I trying to convince myself that the world isn’t jammed pack with deplorable human beings who just want to spread their hatred and vitriol to anyone they think is reading or listening? It was a bit of all of it. It only takes a moment to go to the talkbacks on any major news site, or better yet, the TMZ talkbacks and you can find all of the ugliest thoughts a human being can have packed into just a few sentences. A total disregard for anything resembling human decency is readily available to those willing to look, which leads me to the appeal of Donald Trump.
The majority of Americans who engage in hate speak and the trolls we have in social media have longed for a person to step into the national spotlight. Someone who appeals to their basest nature, someone who walks over the line in the sand and says whatever they please without fear or reprieve. That is the role model for which they have found in Donald Trump. People who don’t rely on facts and eagerly swallow whatever is fed to them these are the bulk of people who support Trump.
The people who have given unwavering support to this man and his quest for money and power are the ones who have also bitterly resented their lot in life. They have been angry for a long time and now their guy is giving them their time in the sun. These people have come out of the woodwork to show their true colors, the downside to this is that, now it will be difficult to have them retreat back to where they came from. Everything is immortalized for everyone to see and for future generations to see. That will be their downfall, when their guy abandons them in November, they will be alone and easy targets for shame to be cast back onto them. Unless they organize and continue their movement. That is also if anyone remembers to do it, the attention span of people these days is atrocious.
The 24 hour media cycle is one of the issues with holding anyone accountable for the things they say and do. That is why Donald Trump has skated by this far, if he controls the media cycle, he can do anything he wants, all he has to do is do something equally reprehensible or turn the script onto some other target to escape scrutiny. There isn’t any consequence to his actions, at least not yet. That is the problem I had at the rally, the only things he said were outright lies. It didn’t matter to the thousands in attendance, they ate it right up like it was the gospel. The crowd was a mob and the ring leader flipped them to his will. It was horrifying. I had never seen anything like it before.
Although maybe I had, when I was younger I used to watch professional wrestling. It reminded me of the spectacle of that experience. The drama, the audience, the performers ability to engage the spectators with ease. Wrestling was an act though, it was pure entertainment. Except this time, this wasn’t entertainment. It could have been, I wanted it to be, I wanted this to be a bad reality show. I wanted to turn it off and change the channel, hoping that the show would eventually be cancelled. It was unrelenting. The suppression of protest, the free display of hateful rhetoric, it was all on display. There would be no relenting. I thought it couldn’t get worse, but I was wrong. It appalled me that there were children there. It made me incredibly sad and fearful for the little ones who had no idea what was going on. They were surrounded in the most uncaring and confusing situation that I’ve ever seen children subjected to.
I am a father and I don’t want my children living in a world like that. I don’t want to live in a world like that, nor do I want anyone to live in a world like that. This sickness is permeating throughout our collective consciousness and corrupting our hearts and minds. We need voices speaking to the greater humanity of our species. We need hearts willing to embrace everyone for our unique differences. The cynicism, ignorance and hate that we face in our world today has no place here. That may sound like I’m a bleeding heart or a relic of some forgotten time, but it is simply that I adhere to a different set of standards. I follow an ideology that allows acceptance, adaptation and mind expansion.
The disease that we face is one that affects empathy, morality, conscience, spirit and heart. It is most definitely attributed to some form of mental disease. Trying to figure out how it came to be this way, how to prevent and how to cure it should be a priority in this country. Once the person with hate in their heart passes it on to the next susceptible host, it spreads within seconds. The speed of online transmission is faster than direct exposure. It takes less than a second to hit the nerve in someone’s brain when they read someone’s vile contribution to social media. That precise thought that clicks in the reader’s mind is all it takes to convert the passive racist into an active racist. Until we can learn how to treat others in a respectful way, people need to have their internet access taken away. They should be held accountable in the way that we are held accountable in society. If someone posts something hateful, they get it taken away and treated like the irresponsible outcasts that they are. Not unlike the idea of prison, where the outcast is removed from our society to gain a better grasp on how to behave in it, before they are allowed back in. Wishful thinking, I know.
The “Alt-Right” movement that has infected our Right Wing Politics, is nothing more than the underground white supremacist movement gaining a foothold in the mainstream. This has been gaining traction for many years now, they are getting a chance to spread their maladjusted mentality and hate speech to many more people now than they had before. All thanks to a man who plays to their sensibilities and allows for hateful rhetoric to propel himself into the media spotlight. Donald Trump is the worst kind of racist, he is one who still tries to convince everyone that he is not a racist, all while catering to racists as a champion of their beliefs.
This is a tidal wave of social and religious fervor that has culminated in a build up to a civil war. That is what the hate groups want, they want to find an excuse to go out and hurt those who they hate. We can’t let it come to that. With terrorism at home, threats from abroad, police executions, general discourse between large groups of Americans and outright accepted racism in our country, we have to fight for our human and civil rights, now more than ever.