The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

When Bigots Get Permission to Act

Things have turned ugly in America. Consider these incidents as illustrations of the point.

In Colorado Natasha Fross and her sister Shala are both facing assault charges.

The sisters attack a neighbor screaming racist comments at the Hispanic family at the house across the street. The one sister, who sounds drunk, screams “Look at me, who are you compared to me.” The sisters physically assaulted individuals and screamed at them demanding to know how the family could afford a home like the sisters live in — presumably the bigoted twins think only “white” people can afford to live on their block. Police arrested the rather trashy twins.

In Illinois a woman rents a part of a public park for a birthday party. An old drunken white guy comes staggering alone and starts screaming at her for wearing a t-shirt that said Puerto Rico — apparently he was ignorant of the fact that Puerto Rico is part of the United States. He berated her and kept sticking his face right up into her face while insulting her. The victim pleads with the drunk to leave her alone, but he won’t. Meanwhile a police officer is standing nearby watching but refusing to lift a finger to help her.

However, when the woman’s brothers tried to get the drunk to leave her alone the cop ordered them to leave the drunk alone.

In Chicago, a CVS manager, Morry Matson, who prided himself on being a Trump delegate at the GOP Party rally in Munich…. I mean Cleveland, called the police on a black woman for using a coupon in the store.

The victim was Camilla Hudson, 53, who had a product coupon to replace a defective product she had purchased. The company that produced the product issued it. She couldn’t get the coupon to work properly at the automated check out — a problem we’ll run into more and more stores automate.

The whole issue was because Matson didn’t recognize the coupon, so he assumed the customer was trying to steal the product. After all, what other excuse could a black woman have for using a coupon — in other words Matson let his own prejudices carry him off. Hudson waited for the police saying she had no reason to run, she didn’t do anything wrong. And she didn’t.

CVS apologized to Hudson for the way Matson treated her.

In Oakland, California a white woman picks up her phone and calls police to have a black family arrested for using a BBQ in an area of a public park where it was allowed to be used.

Aaron Schlossberg was another one of those pro-Trump people who got all bent out of shape because an employee at a coffee shop spoke Spanish to a customer who also spoke Spanish. Schlossberg goes into a racist rant that the people must be illegal immigrants and he’s going to have them arrested. He even claims the employed individuals were there living off the welfare he paid for.

We are seeing more and more incidents like this over the last few years.

What’s changed?

Whatever you hear as the possible cause of this epidemic of hate is probably not it. Crime in general is down, not up. Immigrants aren’t hurting America and very few legitimate economists think they are. But we do have a man in the White House who has used his aptly named “bully pulpit” to insult, harass, and attack people. He has promoted open bigotry towards Hispanics, blacks and all Muslims.

Bigotry is an imperialistic emotion. It is never satisfied and seeks more victims, it rarely stays confined to speech but spills over into actions especially when the social taboos around hate are removed.

Remember that prior to the rise of Hitler Germany was tolerant toward Jews and LGBT individuals. It was the home of the most developed gay rights movement in the world, with publications for the gay market sold openly. In just a period of a couple decades a hate movement took control of the country and it’s spokesman openly attacked Jews, non-Aryans and others.

He gave his verbal permission to attack these people on the streets and drive them out of Germany. He even grabbed their children and separated them from parents, both to be sent off to camps where they were held — camps which eventually evolved into death camps, but which did NOT start out that way.

When hate wins the soul of a country, it doesn’t start with a Holocaust, that is a final step — or as the Nazis liked to call it, “the final solution.” It starts when one bigot gave permission to his followers to act like thugs. It began with individual incidents, not with rounding people up and taking them away in cattle cars. It started with individual bigots attacking individual victims.

The reality is that Trump is setting an example for his fans and it’s a very ugly example indeed.

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James Peron

James Peron is the president of the Moorfield Storey Institute, was the founding editor of Esteem a LGBT publication in South Africa under apartheid.