Why are we afraid to stand up to the haters?

Opinion: Columns

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Christine Vernon

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The Hater Culture is a sickness that is alive and well in the United States. There is evidence of this everywhere. The victimization and tragedy of the death of Ahmaud Arbery, just before his 26th birthday, and the subsequent victimization of his family — Ahmaud's execution by a father and son in Georgia — is just the most egregious and publicly viewable recent example of this sub-culture. 

Violence, one of the common characteristics of the Hater Culture, has, tragically, been tolerated by Americans for generations, and continues to be cultivated throughout the country and society while people turn a blind eye to it. Maybe, as with the phenomenon of organized crime, people feel powerless to a great extent to fight this sub-culture individually or even as a group for fear of retribution.

Decent people thought mistakenly that there had been progress made after Martin Luther King's leadership and the Civil Rights Movement, and most recently with the election of Barack Obama as president. But it was mistaken hope, wishful thinking, naively delusional. Sadly, progress was not accompanied by the necessary constant vigilance and improvements in society to move toward justice.

There was an otherwise forgettable article in a national publication a few years ago titled, "A Culture of Enmity" (enmity: the state or feeling of being actively opposed or hostile to someone or something, Oxford Dictionary). The subtitle was, "Hatred ought to be a side dish, but it's becoming the meal." When I read that, I was appalled. That statement reeked of thinking that normalizes hatred. A side dish?! Hatred is the spoiled, contaminated part of a meal that should be thrown out because it makes a person sick! It is what gives a person food poisoning.

Americans need to wake up to how pervasive and divisive the Hater Culture is that has overtaken America. It continues to bring a toxic sickness that permeates our society. Americans need to take a cold hard look at what they believe in; what they are perpetuating; what they are practicing; and what they want for our future as a nation. Americans need to take stock of their conceptual picture of themselves to see if it aligns with their operative actuality.

The divisive Hater Culture is contributing to our demise as a society, and as nation, whether it applies to race, ethnicity, gender, religion, politics, science, lies versus facts, and other aspects of what's going on in the U.S. and World. It feels overwhelming. We could never make America great if we don't address some of our most ingrained problems — like the blood lust of some people who need to kill for sport. We are failing on so many fronts, it is ominous for our survival as a nation worthy of the suffering, sacrifices and tireless generations of work by our ancestors.

We always hear people saying, "We can do better," but the way things are going ... here in Chicago we hear of gun violence every day, unchecked by law enforcement; a public health crisis unable to be cured by public health agencies enlisting the help of social workers, psychologists, and other social scientists; and career criminals, unable to be stopped and unmoved by the efforts of religious leaders.

No one seems to have the answers. And in the truest sense of the narcissistic anthropocentric nature of American thinking, nothing has been done to interfere with Americans who have an inordinate attachment to their weapons and lobby for protection of the rights of guns to kill people, rather than the rights of citizens to live. Those Second Amendment folks and their fierce need to own weapons, recently had the need to strut their guns and machine guns in a threatening fashion at state capitol buildings, seemingly bullying politicians and common people with their domination displays at the rallies which seemed to be a demonstration, an effort, to emotionally blackmail leaders and citizens to impress observers that everyone better submit to their demands because they are armed. This surely is a threatening and hateful way to operate a democracy.

We don't hear of valor and inspiration on a daily basis from many of the areas we depend on each day — not in business, not in politics, not in problem-solving during this pandemic. We are only seeing inspiration in the care the finest of America's medical professionals are admirably providing for their patients during the epidemic. They shouldn't have the burden of being the only heroes in American society at this difficult time. What good is it if we are the wealthiest nation in the world but we are not the most moral nation in the world? What an unforgiveable fail that would be!

There is a crisis going on in America, an emergency that has been going on for generations. It is more invisible than global warming, more invisible than unemployment, more invisible than housing or health care. 

It is seen glaringly in the words and actions of the Hater Culture. This is most visible when an innocent person lies dead at the hands of the haters. It remains to be seen if anyone is going to do anything about this state of affairs in the United States. 

That anyone is each and every one of us.

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