Slippery slope of hate and intolerance

On the Other Hand

Ignorance is not bliss, ignorance is  dangerous.  And one of the most dangerous forms of ignorance is not thinking for oneself and letting others determine your world view and values—the herd mentality.

With the “yet another” massive murder in the United States, by an American citizen, using legally purchased weapons of war, ignorance concluded that his ethnic background was the cause.

Rightfully, it can be argued that the last two mass murders were committed by young men influenced by the propaganda of ISIS, yet the years of mass killings in the U.S. all have different characters, colours, reasons and beliefs. But they all come down to one outcome, angry people killing innocent people because of hate and ignorance.

I heard President Obama answering questions at a town hall meeting on the Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) two weeks before the latest mass shooting.

A participant asked, “Why are we bringing in so many Syrian refugees who will take away American jobs and cost the Treasury money we can’t afford?”

Of course, the President had to gently set the questioner straight. “In fact, America has done very little”, said the President, “we have brought in less than 2,500 Syrians refugees. It’s Canada, one tenth our size that has brought in 25,000 Syrians.”

But what he went on to say was worth repeating. “It’s not refugees that are the dangerous ones, they are vetted extensively before they arrive.

The real problem is any ‘not yet known’ terrorists with a valid passport who can just fly into this country and roam free.”

It brings us back to 9-11, where to this day most Americans believe the hijackers came through Canada’s porous border. Nothing is further from the truth. All the 9-11 hijackers were legally in the U.S. on student visas and ironically studying the art of flying aircrafts.

We also learned this week the extent of the NRA’s extreme interpretation of the Fourth Amendment (right to bear arms). Only in the U.S. can individuals listed on the terrorist watch list and the no-fly list legally purchase weapons of war without so much as a background check.

For the far-right, this latest mass shooting certainly gave their man, Donald Trump, even more fodder to rile up the masses against immigration.  And he didn’t disappoint. “He (the gunman) shouldn’t be here,” shouted Trump, “that’s exactly why we have to change our immigration laws.”

Well, Mr. Trump you have to do more than change your immigration laws, you will need to change your classification of American citizens; one for pure citizens and a second-class citizenship for immigrants or Americans born Mexicans, Muslims and anyone else who is deemed not American enough.

The AR-15 gunman who killed 49 in Orlando was American born.

Timothy Snyder, in his recently released book, Black Earth attempts to explain how Hitler was able to turn ordinary Germans, and I would also add Austrians, voluntarily into hate and killing machines.

Three points he makes are particularly relevant to today’s America.

First, laws were passed by Hitler making Jews second-class citizens unable to participate in society as doctors, lawyers, merchants or own property and businesses.

Second, the Nazis’ aggressive, propaganda machine labelled the German Jews as part of the international Jewish conspiracy. Then to further encourage ordinary Germans to treat their once-Jewish neighbours and friends horribly, people were led astray by well-crafted messaging to project Jews, not as individuals, but as a collective singular group responsible for the nation and their personal economic woes.

Third, the Nazis did everything possible, including the mandatory yellow stars, to get Germans to notice Jews as different and inferior and to see themselves as “Aryans”, the legitimate, superior peoples of Germany.

One does not lightly compare anyone to Adolf Hitler but unfortunately after listening to Donald Trump rage against Syrians, Muslims, Mexicans, women, immigration and homosexuals for far too many months, should he become President, his win will be based on the promises of a Hitler-like agenda.

If Trump thinks he’s only spouting this vile rhetoric to win an election, he is greatly under-estimating the people who are supporting him. If elected, they expect him to deliver on all his promises of hate and intolerance.

Unfortunately Trump’s campaign is not about making America great again, it’s about making America white again!

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