On Sept. 11, 2001, I was riding my exercise bike in my Woodward apartment living room and watching The Today Show when the planes started flying into the World Trade Center and then The Pentagon. As shocked as everyone else, I sat glued to the developing news for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon. Necessities of some variety sent me into town later in the day. There were two notable developments from Sept. 10. There were gas lines extending into the streets at nearly every location, and gas prices were about twice as much as the previous day. The goal of the cowardly murderers was to spread panic and terror. The greed of the gas sellers was spreading panic and fear. They abetted the terrorists’ agenda.

Twice in April, the president of these United States asked rallies, “Are there any Hispanics in the room?” Once he answered himself, “No, I don’t think so.” The other time he remarked, “Naw, not so many? That’s OK.”

Is it really OK for an American president to dismiss about 17 percent of our population from political consideration – except as bogeymen murderers, rapists and “animals?”

Before becoming an enabler, Paul Ryan called such behavior, “textbook racism.” Now, by embracing the racist, he becomes one himself. Sure, the president has a klanazi base that he can unleash against respectable Republicans in primaries – which has driven many GOP cowards out of politics, Ryan included. Worse, his constant stream of venom encourages and emboldens other haters to spread anti-American values. His bigotry carries consequences.

The Anti-Defamation League reported a 60 percent increase in anti-Semitic hate incidents from 2016 to 2017. (Remember those “fine folks” nazis and klansmen?) President Trump’s xenophobic hate speech has encouraged such recent situations as: a student at Yale calling the police on an African-American student asleep in her own dorm; a lawyer screaming at Spanish speakers in a New York delicatessen; two Philadelphia black men arrested for waiting for an appointment at a coffee shop; two Native American students pulled from a college tour in Colorado after a woman claims their quiet ways made her nervous; three black women getting a visit from San Francisco area police while packing up after a stay at an Airbnb; two Spanish-speaking Texas transplants harassed for more than a half hour by a Montana Border Patrol agent while making a late-night milk run.

I’m sure the “see something, say something” snitches who provoked these incidents think themselves to be brave watchdogs. All that they saw was someone different than themselves. What they said was that they were scared.

Their president has made it clear that the different are dangerous. Once dehumanized, these “others” are not entitled to the same rights as the rest of us. This becomes the social manifestation of the right-wing mantra, more visible on the economic front: We’ve got ours; you don’t get yours.

“Let me see your papers. Please!”

(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)

Spreading hatred by spreading fear

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