Screaming At The Hate

11 Jan

We’ve all been doing it.  Please, do me a favor, don’t act like it wasn’t all of us.

I know I had my oar in the Hate river.  Just a few weeks ago I wrote a post about members of the House booing at the prospect of working the week before Christmas.  I wrote about the disconnect that’s happening between Them and Us, the Haves and the Have Nots, the People and the millionaires who don’t tend to really Represent us at all.

We are growing to hate you, I told them.  It’s sweeping across the nation, this searing hate.     

And here it is.  Hate came to Arizona in the form of wild-eyed lunatic Jared Loughner, and the innocent died while his guilty ass went down in history, leering at us like a cartoon supervillain from all of our glowing screens.

I took that post down.  Because it’s disrespectful now, not because I was wrong.

No, the hate was real, and it’s still here all around us, and I’m growing fairly certain that screaming at it doesn’t help. 

It drinks the screams, you know.  The screams make it stronger.

Who’s to blame?  That’s what everyone wants to know, even as the man who pulled the trigger packs down three squares a day on our dime, pleased with himself. 

What made this man do this horrible thing, what made him choose it?

And that brings us to the heated political rhetoric, the anti-intellectual climate, the blustering, ratings-chomping media stars and their bully pulpits.  Their global megaphones and hyper-efficient spin factories.  Their gargantuan bank accounts buy them credibility, and then they use it to make more money, so they can talk louder, and make more. 

Change us – that’s what they want to do.  Change what we think – or if we already agree with them, keep us from thinking something else.

A sinister thing for them to want to do, isn’t it?  The question is, how much can they change us?  And why does it work so well?

You can tell me all about what Rush Limbaugh said or what Sarah Palin put on her website.  I’m a liberal, and there’s a good chance it will disgust me.

But look in the mirror, my fellow Americans.  No one’s cooking anything in this nationwide Hate Kitchen that we aren’t eating.

It’s supply and demand, plain and simple.  They keep the vitriolic assembly line rocking three shifts a day because we never get our fill.  You don’t really think Palin and Limbaugh are the only ones who spew hate, do you?

Sure, maybe they’re the best at it.  Maybe not.  And maybe it’s more their fault than anyone else’s.  What do you want to do about it?

Silence them?  Make it illegal to say certain things, illegal to put crosshairs on your Facebook page?

Kill them?  You don’t want to kill them, do you?

Listen – I can’t stand Sarah Palin.  She makes me ill just thinking about her.  But do you really believe that without her Facebook page, Jared Loughner would be sitting at home, watching Two and a Half Men with a smile on his face

It wasn’t any of them in particular.  If it was anyone other than the man who pulled the trigger, then it was all of them, on the right and on the left – the combined voices of everyone we have elevated to talking head stardom.  And it was us, too, sitting in our bar stools and in coffee shops and on our phones and computers, spraying hatred around our own country like cats who need to go to the vet. 

All over the web right now, that’s what I see – diatribes like The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter To The Far Right in which William Rivers Pitt seems to be fighting fire with fire.  He hates the hate so much that he posted a bunch of hate about it.

Pretty well-written hate, too, though it seems a little long and redundant, and it’s supported at the end by quotes so old, it’s hard to see how they had anything to do with this 22 year-old assassin.  The most recent quote is from 2002, when Jared Loughner was fourteen years old. 

And then there are hundreds of comments, about half of them agreeing with Pitt’s hate, the other half hating him for it.  A sort of Hate Contest ensues, where each side then tries to come up with as many quotes from the other side in which violence seems to be incited.

Your side hates so much that this was inevitable.  No way, man – your side does.  Well, you started it.  Nuh-uh, you did.

What if someone kills Palin next?  Is Pitt going to apologize for his diatribe?  Will he acknowledge having a hand in it when his words end up in quote marks at the end of someone else’s rant?

What if someone kills Pitt?  Do we pin that on the commenters?

All of this while Christina Green lies dead, a beautiful, innocent girl who probably never learned to hate, not for real, and never will. 

Certainly she’s not the only victim, but she’s the one who really stands out to most people, the innocent child born on actual 9/11, a staggering loss of such iconic significance that it has this godless blogger wondering – is she a message from our Creator?  The one I never managed to believe in? 

What are the odds that our hate would boil up into this horrible, festering volcano, swallowing up such a perfect symbol of what this nation used to be, this beautiful girl born on the day we stopped? 

It’s almost like Someone’s reminding us of all of what we stand to lose if we can’t stay united as a People, the way we swore we would that day – remember that?  How we all looked each other in the eye and promised to stand together, despite our differences and our talk show hosts and their sexiest, hate-filled quotes?

Republicans and Democrats, fellow Americans, for the love of God and the sake of our children and the future of our nation – we have to stop.  We have to stop insisting that this brand new slaughter means once again that one side was wrong and the other was right.  We cannot put a saddle on it, and ride it around like mule.

The world is shrinking.  There isn’t room to do this anymore.  This tide of hatred is a living thing, and all we’re doing is feeding it our souls.

We can screw around with the past like a great cosmic Rubik’s cube, struggling to match it up with our own ideologies, or we can pick up our ideologies instead, try to get them to match the future we all desire.  But the witch hunt needs to stop, because we’re all in this together, and either this lunatic killed these people on his own, or we all did, together.

Spewing hate at the people spewing hate is not the answer.  It is merely the same problem with a swank new hat. 

These two dogs fighting in the soul of this nation are not named Democrats and Republicans, but Good and Evil.  Love and Hate.  The one we feed the most will be the one that wins, so what’s it going to be?  Who are we, America, for real?

Be careful, my powerful friends.  I know I’m going to be.


Earlier:  Taking The Ground Zero Mosque Bait
And: Consider Blaming America First


Posted by on January 11, 2011 in Arizona Shootings, News/Commentary


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

6 responses to “Screaming At The Hate

  1. ecossie possie

    January 12, 2011 at 2:34 am

    Brave an Heartfelt genuine words ,,,Ditto ditto ditto to all youve expressed Tom ….This young man was not idealogical or driven to act by rhetoric..He is simply a deranged sad incomplete broken human.Another John Hinkley or Mark Chapman,,,Columbine School killers James Earl Ray….the list could go on an on…….He has Judy Clarke defending him the same defence lawer Susan Smith had an the Uni Bomber Also Tim Mc Vey….She is probably the best defence Lawer in America…..He is going to need her,,,,So Sad………………My thoughts are with the innocent victims that wee girl an her poor parents ….I hope at least some reconsilation can emerge from this tragic event.

    • Tom Chalfant

      January 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks ecossie, good to see you again. I was thinking specifically of the Columbine School killers – a bunch of people like to blame video games and heavy metal music when that sort of thing happens.

      I actually think that this event will cause a lot of change and reconciliation, but the question is, will it last? Usually, it doesn’t over here. If it does, it’s not going to be caused by screaming at half the country that they’ve been complicit in murder and then expecting them to be quiet from then on and look at their feet. All that’s going to do is intensify the rhetoric.

  2. Brian

    January 12, 2011 at 3:23 am

    I’m only 35, so I don’t know the answer to this question. Was winning an election ever just about winning? It seems that it is now not enough to simply win, one must embarrass and destroy one’s opponent. Was winning with debate and discourse ever enough in the past? Or has it always been so venomous? If this much hate has always been spewed, I have no hope of it ever changing.

    Hate seems to be the only thing that voters respond to… or is that just because that is all we are being given…

    • Tom Chalfant

      January 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm

      On a much more general level, I think public education is key to getting past this sort of thing. The spin machines would never work so well if there weren’t so many undereducated people running around. The problem is there’s always going to be a bottom third, intellectually, and it’s always going to be easy to play to them

  3. Chip

    January 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Is it hate to disagree? Different folks take disagreement with their points of view um, differently. Some laugh it off, some sulk, some get really pissed-off. I love the Seinfeld episode where Elaine keeps changing Putty’s Christian radio channels in his car and remove his Jesus fish. He doesn’t even bat an eye. SHE gets mad at him for not getting mad at her. He says “Hey, I’m not the one going to Hell.” Then you see the folks in Mecca hang people for drawing a pic of their guy.

    Is is wrong to debate? I think some would benefit from reading history. It is amazing how it has NOT changed at all in the political arena. Look at Adams and Jefferson for all they said against each other. And the papers of the day!

    Put killers in jail. Watch out for bad eggs (like the Sheriff in Tucson should have done). Did Rush Limbaugh types influence Stalin or Bonnie and Clyde? Crazies are just crazy.


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