Soapbox: Citizens, don’t normalize governmental bigotry


“It doesn’t get any better than this,” wrote user “Confederate Bayou Oilman” on the website Stormfront after election night. On another site, users claimed they would now be able to “take back Europe and expell [sic] the Jews.” On a third site, users demanded opponents “get in the oven.”

All three posts contained racial slurs, which, out of basic decency, were removed from the quotes.

This amorphous connection of sites like r/altright, 4chan, Return of Kings and Stormfront, are part of the movement known as the “Alt-Right,” which openly proclaims hatred of non-whites, non-Christians, non-males and non-heterosexuals.

The websites are primarily known by this because of fears of death threats, specious charges of libel or a general torrent of hatred that comes from accurately calling these sites bigoted Neanderthals or white supremacists.

Unsurprisingly, these sites reacted with great elation at the results of our election and, in particular, Steve Bannon becoming a major figure in the new administration after receiving a senior White House position.

Bannon, former chairman of Breitbart News, has published articles such as “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy,” “Gay Marriage Is the Media’s Vehicle, Destination Is to Destroy the Church” and “Trannies [sic] Whine About Hilarious Bruce Jenner Billboard.”

A movement is already underway to normalize such behavior, pretending that open vitriol towards homosexuals, women and racial minorities is some triviality.

It’s the same movement that sought to downgrade talk of sexual assault as mere “locker room talk,” downgrade harassment of fellow students to a “political preference” and downgrade the comparison of blacks to animals as “probably not the nicest thing to say.”

It should shock and horrify any decent person that such comments are not vociferously condemned by all corners.

It should shock and horrify any decent person that the potential choice for the new attorney general, Kris Kobach, denigrated the NAACP, the ACLU and the National League of Women Voters as “communist” for opposing a plan to illegally suppress voters in Kansas, Georgia and Alabama.

It should shock and horrify any decent person that William Pryor, who argued that “Homosexual sodomy may have severe physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual consequences, which do not necessarily attend heterosexual sodomy, and from which Texas’s citizens need to be protected,” might be named to the Supreme Court.

It should shock and horrify any decent person that Frank Gaffney, who suggested that a United States representative is unfit to serve on the Intelligence Committee because he is a Muslim, will be formulating America’s foreign policy.

But it should not shock anyone that there is a movement to belittle these events to make them seem less shocking.

There is no surprise that the party that has fought against every major advancement of civil rights in the last several decades is now devoting itself to reversing every major advancement of civil rights in the last several decades.

There is no surprise that the KKK would march in celebration of a man who called an entire nationality “murders and rapists” and suggested unconstitutionally creating a registry of all Muslims (perhaps they can adopt the golden stars).

Calls for unity and acceptance must be viewed for what they are: calls for complacency and passivity as minority groups face unparalleled attacks.

It is our moral obligation to resist such attacks and stand in unity not with the aggressor but with the aggrieved.

We must send a clear and decisive message that bigotry, though certainly not the new normal in America, is still repudiated by all, regardless of political affiliation.

People might claim that they did not vote on grounds of racism, sexism or homophobia and that they personally are not racist, sexist or homophobic. If true, they then should have no issue condemning the nascent administration founded on racism, sexism and homophobia.

Discussion is certainly necessary for a deeply divided nation. But such a discussion must begin with acknowledging that bigotry in any location, in any form and from any ideology ought to be opposed by all.

It must begin with an affirmation that human dignity is shared by all.

And it must begin with a clear acknowledgement that bigotry is not a political position, not part of an “alt-right” and not merely “politically incorrect” but being simply bigotry. We cannot normalize these unacceptable acts.

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