The Divided States of America
I'm rather overdue in mentioning this. I've gotten sidetracked by things in my personal life, some nice and some positively hellish. Anyway, this guy some months ago added me on Facebook for something clever I wrote on a Salt Lake Tribune article. I don't remember what; I write so many clever things on Salt Lake Tribune articles. And I'm cool with friending people I've never met as long as they're not obviously fake profiles inviting me to look at nudes on another site, which this guy wasn't. And he laughed at my funny posts and praised me for being a genius and it seemed we would coexist in harmony despite him turning out to be a Trump supporter and me being obviously not one.
But it was not to last.
One day he shared a post from a conservative page listing several infringements on the civil rights of Muslims by the government of Japan:
It was just the list with no commentary, but seeing as this was a conservative page, the intention was pretty obvious. The last time a conservative page said something positive about Muslims was, well, never. And if it hadn't been obvious, the comments on the page itself and on my friend's share of the post would have made it so. They more or less unanimously felt that Japan was doing a good job that the United States would do well to emulate. Now of course, being that this was a conservative page, I suspected that most or all of the post was bullcrap, and I was right. Japan does not treat Muslims the way American conservatives think it treats Muslims. I have to wonder what it is in the psychology of so many American conservatives that compels them to swallow and repeat easily debunked lies over and over and over and over and over and over again. Here's a hint: when the makers of these memes don't cite a source it's usually because the source is one of their own orifices.
But unfortunately, the falsity of these claims doesn't change the issue that American conservatives want their government to persecute an unpopular religious minority. That's one of the reasons they elected Trump instead of jeering him out of the 2016 presidential race after he called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States". I jumped in on my friend's post and rhetorically asked if the Founding Fathers made a mistake when they didn't exclude Islam from the First Amendment. I said something about the hypocrisy of people claiming to revere the Constitution while supporting abuses of government power and civil rights like this. I said I love my Muslim friends and would stick up for their rights against any asshole (and I shouldn't have said "asshole", but I'm only human) who tried to take them away. I thought it was a compelling argument, but this guy proved me wrong and preserved the sanctity of his echo chamber by unfriending me. Ah well. It's nice when the trash takes itself out. You know what really makes me sick though? He was a member of my church.
Right-wing hatred of Muslims is not rare. It is not a loud minority. On my more cynical days, I would go so far as to call it one of the chief defining traits of conservatism. It's possibly the single biggest factor in my decision to distance myself from that ideology, and has prompted me to unlike dozens of its pages over the years, up to and including this past week, though admittedly there were a few that I unliked for science denial first. Islamophobia is a cancer, though that's an imperfect metaphor because real cancer doesn't know better. And it's a cancer that more than a few right-wing American members of my church have chosen to infect themselves with, and yes, I hold them to a higher standard and get even more disgusted at their hypocrisy. I don't consider myself a judgmental person for the most part. If you get involved in drugs, prostitution, gambling, armed robbery, or listening to Nickelback, I will with you the best. If, however, you are directly responsible for perpetuating prejudice against the most hated demographic in America, I'll tell you to your face that if heaven is full of people like you, I would rather go to hell.
All other forms of right-wing prejudice take a backseat to that one, but there is an astounding lack of empathy at play. Migrant children being separated from their families and abused by the government? Their parents shouldn't have broken the law. White police officers scream and swear and threaten to murder a pregnant black woman in front of her child? She shouldn't have stolen underwear if she wanted them to be nice to her. High school students removed from the football team for posting a video of a burning rainbow flag and saying "all gays die"? That's a violation of their free speech, and also they wouldn't have gotten in trouble if it had been an American flag, and also why isn't there a Straight Pride Month? God forbid we have a shred of compassion for anyone who doesn't worship, speak, look, or love exactly like us. That's not the American way. Also, addiction is a choice and addicts deserve to have their lives ruined.
Look, this crap just depresses me, all the more so because I don't see it getting better anytime soon. Lord help us all.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.