A good hearted young friend, working a phone bank for Biden, to gauge voter preferences, was very frightened by a disgustingly extremist reply. She sent me an email saying that the extremist reflected my voter preference and that, if I vote as I plan to, I was no better than that horrible person.
Hawk Newsome, the BLM leader of Greater New York, in a recent television interview, threatened to “burn the whole system down if we don’t get what we want”. In a heartbeat after Newsome made his crystal clear threat, he realized he’d stepped in his own…. let’s just say, intentions. Then, very quickly, in an attempt to soften the blow he’d just pounded home, Newsome added, “I could be speaking figuratively or literally.” That qualifier didn’t help matters. He didn’t say, “I’m clearly speaking figuratively”. And that’s what does matter.
Newsome’s gruesome warning is as terrifying to me, perhaps even more so because it threatens action, as her responder’s terribly ugly words are to her.
I sincerely believe that the only way to fight this kind of domestic terrorism is to clean up our own houses. I don’t have any power over a terrorist like Newsome and my friend has no power over the right wing extremist she called. An attempt by either of us to reach the other side’s potentially destructive people, will only bring about more misunderstandings, frustration and hatred.
Rather than for my friend to point to that disgusting excuse of a man she called and then claim that he speaks for my vote, or for me to point to Newsome and accuse her of harboring his hatred under her progressive banner, each of us needs to point to the ugliness on our own sides of the divide.
I’m not sure how much power either of us will really have against such terrorism, but our only hope is to speak as loudly as the extremists do, by getting to our politicians to demand that extremism will not be tolerated. In the face of extremism, silence of politicians, who choose to pander to everyone -even extremists- for a vote, is equivalent to silence of the lambs. If our politicians choose to trade their voices for extremists’ votes, we need to let them know they’ll lose ours.
We need to do whatever we can, write, email, text, call, and meet with extremists and politicians on our side of the political divide, who supposedly speak for us to let both know that extremism only hurts good causes. We need to let our politicians know that we expect them to speak out against extremism. We need to let the extremists know that what looks to them as justifiable eye for an eye responses to wrongs will cause the whole world to go blind.
Speaking of eyes, some might say that I’m a cockeyed optimist and that I won’t change the mind of the jerks on my voter preference side nor will she change the mind of the Hawk Newsomes on hers. Some might be right. But if we don’t try to speak out to say that those people don’t speak for us, then our silence is compliance with their views and she and I have a right to fear each other.