During one of the Republican primary season debates Wolf Blitzer posed a question to the candidates about healthcare. He imagined a young fellow who was significantly ailing and was in the emergency room of a hospital where they determined that he would die if not treated immediately. Blitzer further said to imagine that his hypothetical subject was without financial means and did not have healthcare insurance. His question was about what the hospital staff should do.
After a couple of beats someone in the audience shouted, “Let him die.” There were cheers from others in the audience. And every one of the Republicans running to be the party nominee for the office of President of the United States went silent. Not a single one of them stood up to the hate, nor chastised the meanness of the shouted comment. Not one had the spine to display compassion for a fellow human being.
They displayed that same kind of spinelessness at another debate when a gay serviceman was shown on video with a question about gays serving openly in the military. Audience members booed him and once again these would-be leaders were silent. Be clear that this soldier is a man who puts his life on the line every day to protect those very same candidates and audience members, yet the candidates displayed neither spine nor compassion for him or for others like him.
Those yelling the loudest today are the far right radicals and they are not conservative. They are not even defenders of the Constitution. They are short sighted and closed-minded bullies masquerading as bible thumping Christians. America is suffering through an aggravated case of absolutist minds and it is killing our democracy.
In the early part of the last century one of the hateful signs hung on the doors of some companies read, “No Irish need apply.” There were signs all over the Jim Crow south that read, “Whites only.” And for decades and perhaps centuries there was and, in some places there still is, a “gentlemen’s agreement” to exclude Jews. That’s rapidly metastasizing to include Muslims. It’s more complicated than this, but at root it is a discrimination against anything that is not “us.”
We are seeing a willful brain numbing that says that anything that is not just like “us” is wrong, unpatriotic, godless and perhaps evil. How odd that is in a country that draws its strength from its diversity. We’ve always had that schizophrenic duality, but now the hateful side, the Mr. Hyde personality, is dominating the landscape in a razed earth war against everyone and everything that is not just like him. Worse, those who would be leaders are spineless against Mr. Hyde’s voice of hate and exclusion.
This is America, so the haters have the right to their hate and the candidates have the right to their cowardice. The key question is this: How long will you tolerate the hate?
Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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