A Lesson for Americans: Reaping the Consequences of Hate

We have all heard the old saying, “You reap what you sow.” This lesson was recently learned by an Arkansas school board district member, Clint McCance, vice-president of the Midland School District in Pleasant Plains. Posting on Facebook, McCance said, in response to a campaign sponsored by GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) that people should wear purple to honor suicide victims of anti-gay bullying,

“Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed therselves because of their sin.” (sic)

McCance now realizes he went too far.

“I’m reaping what I’ve sown,” he told CNN. “I’ve had a lot of hate speech thrown at me and my family on every level.”

But it’s not just what McCance said, it’s the underlying beliefs that led to those words he used, and more than that, it’s the underlying beliefs of the people to whom he directed those words: religious bigots.

Now it’s bad enough when somebody wishes ill on somebody else. None of us should do that no matter how much we disapprove of the person or their actions. A favored religion-inspired response is to say “we don’t hate the sinner; we hate the sin” as if that makes everything okay. It doesn’t. And McCance, to his credit, did not fall back on that to explain his own words.

The lesson that must be learned here, by everyone, but especially by Republicans from whom this hate is flowing, is that you do reap what you sow. Actions have consequences. The 2006 election should have taught them that; the 2008 elections should have driven that lesson home: most Americans do not agree with them.

Words spoken have consequences, but all too often people escape those consequences due to political cronyism.

For example, Juan Williams lost his job at NRP but he has a lucrative job with FOX News, which applauds his hate-mongering xenophobia and is now leading a conservative witch-hunt against NPR. And conservative Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of George W. Bush’s disastrous and bloody Iraq strategy, after his misdeeds at the World Bank had, in Paul Krugman’s words, “a chair waiting for him at the American Enterprise Institute,” a conservative think tank.

Sometimes, what is reaped is a reward by those for who hate mongering is a lucrative business. Sadly, that includes at this point in our nation’s history one of our two main political parties, the corporate-funded GOP, and the conservative billionaire-funded Astroturf movement known as the Tea Party. American politics have become all about hatred and xenophobia. With the aftermath of Katrina we learned that what was most important to Republicans was apportioning blame. What we have learned since is that what is most important is identifying the constructed Other and then blaming them.

For purposes of conservative rhetoric, the constructed Other is anything other than a white conservative Christian. This makes target acquisition easy: anyone can be a target, from liberals (Ann Coulter) to progressives (Glenn Beck) to feminists and pagans (Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell) to gays and lesbians (too many to count) to atheists (George H.W. Bush and many others), to immigrants (too many to count), to Muslims (Sharron Angle, Judson Phillips and others), to people who ask questions (Sarah Palin, Joe Miller). All these groups are somehow responsible for destroying the America these conservatives claim once existed and that they want back.

Never mind for a moment that this America never existed. Give it time. They will soon have school books reflecting an ideologically approved revision of history. What is important is that everyone is the enemy, everyone is a potential witch. And it is not only individuals, not even ordinary people like you and me (Lauren Valle, Tony Hopfinger). It is politicians (Vice President Al Gore, Senator John Kerry, Keith Ellison, Barack Obama); it is non-profit organizations (ACORN); it is NPR, which had the courage to take a stand against the hate-mongering and xenophobia; It is the government of the United States; it is the Constitution itself.

We have all been identified as the enemy. We have all of us, because we fail to support the conservative vision of an America that never existed, who have been accused of treason and labeled traitors. But you can’t be guilty of treason against something which does not exist.

Sometimes, as in the case of McCance, the guilty party recognizes he went too far. More often than not, when they are called out, they act like they never said it (Bachman, Angle); they are being persecuted unfairly (Palin, Angle, Bachman, O’Donnell, et al) and that they are the victims, just as it is the bullies in school who are the real victims, not the kids they force to commit suicide. You won’t see any of these people apologizing or recognizing consequences.

Others, like McCance, do, however sincere the apology may or may not be. For example there is Wisconsin GOP candidate for lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who in a recent radio interview said that gay marriage is to be compared to marrying clocks and dogs.

She has since apologized, saying,

“My comments were meant to relay my concern with redefining marriage. I never intended to sound insensitive, and have the utmost respect for all people. I apologize for my poor choice of words.”

On the other hand, there is Tony Perkins, who says that gay teens commit suicide because they know they are abnormal (and your bigoted words would have nothing to do with them coming to believe that, would it, Tony?).

And there is Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas who has somehow come to the belief (remember, he’s from Texas) that that Republicans “can’t compromise on principle.” What principles are Gohmert speaking of, you ask?

Right Wing Watch reports that,

Gohmert, who recently said that God has ordained Christians to run the country, sounded a similar theme on today’s call. He said God gives the sword to government to punish evil, and urged “true Romans 13-believing Christians” to understand that America’s founders set things up so that the people are the government. “We are given the sword in this country.” He told them that God had blessed American Christians and that they’re expected to use the sword of government and hire (elect) servants (public officials) “to do what we tell them.”

The politics of hate are all around us, fueled by right-wing religious fanatics, our own Taliban, and sad to say, it is us, far less often them, who will reap the consequences of what they have sown. But we too bare responsibility when we go to the polls on November 2. If you don’t want to be a victim, don’t be. Don’t put these people in power. Don’t worry about God doing the right thing for America. YOU do the right thing for America.

15 Replies to “A Lesson for Americans: Reaping the Consequences of Hate”

  1. The hatemongers exist because too many Americans enable them through such things as apathy, ignorance, racism, religious bigotry, xenophobia, jingoistic complacency, and a darwinian mindset of every man for himself. These hate merchants exacerbate divisions for their own benefit, playing on fear and paranoia not only to target specific groups but also to appeal to resentments among white conservative Christians. Their clear intent is to rule by division.

    I find it appalling that in the Information Age, anyone can still give them any credence especially when their lies are easily debunked. This has been going on for a while, but in 2010 it has never been more blatant. The only way to keep them from power is to vote against them and all they stand for.

  2. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately, as Christianity is losing adherents, they are getting desperate for control and are willing to take the country down with them.
    The worst part is they are so far off from what Jesus taught on every level and would kill him if he showed up. It seems though, that when they don’t control the conversation and conscience of America is when they bring out the hate. We as a nation are in serious trouble and these good Christians are the folks buying the guns and ammunition.

    Canada is looking more attractive every day. This is not the America I can live in.

    Nice article!

  3. We’ve always had hate. Fortunately we also had a fairly decent education system, and parents who had manners.
    It seems the Tbigots had neither – and want THEIR behaviors for our children’s future.
    I have two young grandbabies and I fear for THEIR future. Not so much financially, but for them to be allowed to have their own thoughts and opinions without getting physically assaulted by some dunce who believes violence is appropriate when you disagree.
    These TBigots are NOT Christians. They are outliers to society, racists and violent. Our world is changing and the ignorant cannot stand it. Pitiful.

  4. I have never seen hate at this level. I cannot imagine in all the years that this country has been in existence that it would lead to this type of society. This is hate no doubt about it, but it is controlled and managed. It is managed by the Fox news, by the upper-level conservatives and by the billionaires that run the Republican Party. It is controlled in that it is a process through which many people are complicit in decisions are made on exactly what should be said and in what direction it should go

    And as far as I’m concerned many Evangelical entities are involved in it. elements of religion are determined to run this country and I’m sure the free world. This is no different than an Islamic government. The word progress no longer is applicable. The 60s and 70s had many reasons to protest that you found very little hate between the groups. Unless you’re talking Richard Nixon and the rest of America. we are waiting for the final war between the Christians and the Muslims, started by our Christians.

    do we have a way to fight back? I do not think we will in the coming years if the religion is allowed to get a foothold.I think Inquisition comes to mind.

  5. I am a follower of Christ, a Christian, and proud of it. The Christ I follow had two biggies…1. Love of God, 2. Love of neighbor. Hate was not in his vocabulary, but he understood that people would come along and promote hate in his name. The people noted above who promote hate and package that in with their “christianity”, are using and abusing Christianity to further their own agendas. It is that simple. That is not too terribly shocking, but what is shocking is the number of true Christians that either buy into it or are too complacent and ignorant to speak out and say “no, that is not how we think”. I know many Christians who do not hate the LGBT community but embrace them in their suffering and speak out on their behalf. The mark of a true Christian is not in what they say, but in what they do. We need not be confrontational in our approach, nor engage in bickering and sarcasm…but we DO need to speak up when someone is promoting hatred in the name of Christianity and recognize it openly. We don’t just run away saying “oh Christianity sucks”‘ we speak up with love and respect, but we speak up!

    It is what Jesus did and he didn’t back down. He gave up his life for humankind so that we could have life and have it abundantly. If we simply do as he asks and love each other – even those who promote hate…love will win. Love always trumps hate.

  6. Notice how he uses the word SIN not once but twice. This is point in fact just how dangerous religion is – it breeds hate, fear and death. I think we should abolish religion, in all forms from being displayed or taught and by doing so we’ll save lives and prevent sorrow in the process. Prayer prevents violence in schools? My lilly white ass it does, it corrupts those seeking to use it to influence the weak and innocent and give reason to idiots who would do others harm in its name.


    <redneck>Git ur bump-her stick-hers whyle der hawt! </redneck>

  7. You know its more than just religious idiocracy though, its an American attacking other Americans (sounds like fox’s daily agenda) -fellow Human beings with the same rights as every other human being. Just makes me sick!

    I’m sick and damn tired of people forcing their religious views and beliefs on us, and having laws created to mimic these beliefs with no regard to those under those laws, as to if their own respective religions allow or deny the same acts – who cares, their man made book says so, so it must be law (like Sharia law perhaps? Another talking point that Fox likes to push, but those 3 fingers are pointing back at ya pricks!).

    The separation of religions and government may not have ever been written in those words in the constitution but we all know that the forefathers meant and they very often said so in letters they wrote and especially in things like when George Washington signed the treaty of Tripoli in 1797 (and was approved by the Senate of the United States) “The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian Religion.” – I don’t think you get more founding father than THE FOUNDING FATHER himself and you don’t get more clear than that in his and the countries beliefs during that period, written plain as day, in clear and precise English. So there, end of story, good night, so long, take your archaic caveman bullshit and go worship your floating deity somewhere else. a cave maybe. From what I’ve heard ole bin laden says the weather is nice there this time of year with winter setting in and all, you can reside there along with all his religious zealots, I bet you’ll get along famously! :P

  8. It downright confuses me as to why a public official would make such comments on a public forum such as Facebook or any social networking site for that matter. Regardless of whether his hateful comments are representative of his inner beliefs or not, why post anything on the subject in the first place? Even if his district is comprised of like-minded hatemongers, THIS IS THE INTERNET DUDE!!! I fail to see how one wouldn’t anticipate the kind of backlash that this man and his family have received. I guess he is just that close minded. It’s truly scary that this type of person is normally seen as a voice of reason in his community.

    As for abolishing religion, I disagree. I agree with what you’re generally saying, but abolishing religion is not the answer. It’s almost as bad as a Christian forcing you to be Christian. This country was founded on one’s ability to believe in who or what he/she wants to believe in. This does not mean kids who are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or atheist should be forced to say a Christian prayer every morning, but rather that they are entitled to their own personal belief system that should be free from public ridicule. Personally, it’s annoying to see the religious extreme get so much coverage. It makes the rest of us look ignorant and intolerant when we’re honestly not. Hopefully we will eventually have a system of reason, a system that’s free of idiots that get so upset when “thy neighbor” doesn’t believe what they believe. Coexist, already! It’s 2010.

  9. Abolish was a harsh term. I simply meant, you do your thing in your building and keep it out of mine and out of my face, out of school, out of government, etc. Thanks for keeping me honest :D

  10. OH and prayer in the school thing, I’d only be OK with it IF we were to do religion in schools, it has to be ALL or nothing though. cause. its only fair to teach all religions as in religious studies of course – could even do the prayer thing itself but only if all or at least the majority of religions were included but only as a lessons in how prayer is done for each religion etc.. but not in general practice IMHO, but in any case, prayer in school does not nor has it ever reduced violence – I dislike that statement, it can actually make me second guess my own reason for a moment, till reason itself catches up with me and I realize, duh, before 1950’s In God We Trust wasn’t even on the money.

    Everything we see now days that is religious in government was a product of post WWII, when the extreme right rose to power and all our freedoms were suddenly a comfort at the convenience of the government and not an American right that belonged to the people. When blacks had the right to vote, but weren’t allowed into the polling centers. When women had to be “good little wives” and not disobey their husbands or be dealt with like a child, with corporal punishment to both women and children by their master husbands. I’m afraid this is where they want to take us again, seems to be their “glory days” or something. It’s some scary shit and I can see it gleaming and glistening in their eyes; with their arrogant shit eating grins as they salivate and talk about our founding fathers like they were close cousins that lived down the streets when they were growing up and how things “use” to be, etc. It’s a pure fantasy world they are living in, like someone slipped them a funny pill and filled their heads full of marshmallow cream and called it intelligence before they woke up.

    Whatever happened to the old saying (something like): “You should never discuss sex, politics or religion in polite company.” – These were wise words spoken by our ancestors, very wise indeed and possibly all of us breaking these rules is the reason we’re all so polarized and extreme in our opinions. Maybe there should be a law for required IQ tests before owning a PC or at least getting internet access. :P

  11. Given what I know, there don’t seem to be any negative consequence that have befallen this monster. Add to that the fact that there’s no demanding of him of some kind of penance to make amends. Add to that as well that although some people will decry his comments, don’t hold your breath that a majority of straight people will demand that their gay fellow citizens be treated equally. It doesn’t translate.

    Just earlier today I was listening to guests on the Diane Rehm’s Show talk about the repeal of DADT. The one guy said something like, “Look, ‘yes’ there’s been a review and a survey [there was never any need for one — military isn’t a democracy and the rights of citizens never depend on popularity], and ‘yes’ 70% don’t have a problem with serving with fellow gay soldier, but we need to be careful because 30% didn’t say that — they said they would ‘have a problem’ doing their job if someone else there was gay, and you don’t want them causing trouble.’ This said by a supposedly intelligent person. No one else on the panel remarked at just how offensive that perspective is. Offensive and wrong.

    To be blunt, that viewpoint — that care must be taken to not upset those who are irrationally rejecting and hateful towards gays — is really not all that different from the monster’s comment. All of it comes from the same place.

    The ‘difference’ is that the viewpoint defended by the report doesn’t say that the ‘solution’ would be for gay people to suicide themselves. Yet, the viewpoint the reporter thought that we must surely guard against challenging is one which regards gay people as disgusting, and, as such, properly given less-than status. It certainly doesn’t regard ‘gay’ as co-equal with ‘straight’ which is what is true.

    But, Mr. Author, you’re coming from a good place, and I appreciate that. You do mean well. I just wish to point out that, in truth, the difficulty of the whatever consequence or consequences it is that the monster might have to deal with is next to nothing compared to what the gay youth for whom the purple ribbon project was intended will have to go through to come out and be live as openly gay adults thereafter. Unless thing change radically for the better, the cost to them of that truthful and self-affirming decision will be paid in direct and indirect ways — some tangible, some not — thereafter, and the sum total of those costs will be greater than whatever consequences it is imagined that he will suffer. The only one that I can think of is that it might be harder for him to find a new job.

    Of course, none of us believe for a second that he doesn’t still think the same way today as he did when he spoke the terrible sentences. In fact, it too is offensive since not accompanied by any act of penance. Penance, in this case, would mean volunteering for gay youth — TimeOut Youth or something.

    I’m very likely writing in too critical way of your piece. I ought not. To be fair, the gay community’s response to this has been next to nothing, just as it often is in such cases. I mean, look, the guy basically said that all gays should suicide themselves. That we should take it upon ourselves to do the job for others. Better off dead. There should have been a tremendous uproar!

    A thought experiment: What if someone in the country had said, “I think that all blacks should kill themselves. If I were born black I would!”. What if someone had said, “I think that all Jews should kill themselves. If I discovered that I was Jewish, I would!”Let’s try to imagine what the response would have been in such cases, not just by representatives of the groups mentioned, but by all Americans. By journalists and commentators. By ministers around the country. By the President, even.

    You can easily see from this thought experiment just where gays stand in the scheme of things and just how pathetic the gay’s community has been to the ugliness which this specific episode provided an example, an instance of.

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