October 25, 2020

We are Done Tolerating Intolerance

Guest Opinion
By Amy Kerr Hardin | Oct. 4, 2020

Ask a Trump supporter to specify even one policy of the president’s that has directly benefitted them. They can’t, because other than his tax cuts that solely rewarded the ultra-rich, he’s failed to successfully implement a single policy from his 2016 platform that makes America “great again.” Closing borders, putting children in cages, and his ill-conceived trade wars actually damage average Americans. His turbo-charged xenophobia has robbed our nation of some of the best and brightest from other nations. Family separation is costing us all a fortune and will continue to do so for years, let alone the price of moral reckoning. The financial burden of his tariff boondoggle is being borne daily by the American consumer.

Why do they remain loyal?

They support Trump because he traffics in the currency of fear, intolerance, and conspiracy theories.

Meanwhile, liberals are instructed not to dehumanize those with whom they disagree – like racists, sexists, misogynists, and fascists.  But in truth, progressives didn’t dehumanize them at all – they’ve been doing it to themselves.

In Michael Cohen’s new book, Disloyal: A Memoir, the lawyer known as the “fixer” revealed that the president claimed Black and Latino voters were “too stupid” to vote for him. Additionally, Cohen writes that our president referred to South African apartheid as “beautiful.”

Multiple media outlets, including Fox News, reported that Trump called fallen soldiers “losers” and “suckers.” Many of his supporters claim this is a hoax, even though they all saw him publicly denigrate a Gold Star family.

Trump makes these inflammatory statements as carefully crafted dog whistles to provide his rabid base with the hateful red meat they crave. As they vehemently deny his repulsive words, they are secretly feeling stoked by his loathsome intent. His voters live in a world of cognitive dissonance in which they shield themselves behind false patriotism and a very wobbly deniability.

His un-American bombast is intentionally activating cells of white supremacists. Terrorists that feel empowered to attack and kill people for merely not supporting their dear leader. The Department of Homeland Security has identified these false patriot groups as our nation’s biggest terror threat.

Trump apologists are quick to absolve him of any blame for these armed vigilantes. In the case of Kyle Rittenhouse – the armed punk who shot-up a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Trump voters cheered-on the vigilante and raised a couple hundred thousand dollars for his legal defense fund. They called him a “hero.”

The Armed Conflict and Event Data Project (ACLED) analyzed data from nearly 8,000 Black Lives Matter protests across the nation and found that 93 percent were peaceful. Their definition of “violent” included defending against police brutality and blocking roads. ACLED is funded in part through the U.S. State Department’s Conflict Stabilization Operation.

There have been numerous credible reports of white nationalists engaging in violence at BLM demonstrations. Leaked chat logs on the GroupMe app show members of the right-wing group Patriot Coalition planned armed conflict with peaceful protestors in Portland. They were training for violence and stockpiling munitions. The group continues to spread conspiracy theories about the origins of the fires out west. Similarly, in Richmond, the police found that the riots at BLM protests were instigated by supremacists. 

There was no right-wing outrage when the Re-Open Michigan protest blocked traffic, including emergency vehicles in much of Lansing. When heavily armed intruders broke into the capitol building to intimidate elected officials, it was crickets from the right. That’s hypocrisy defined. There are two standards. Armed and petulant Trump supporters get to stomp around in their camo, while BLM protestors are scorned for kneeling. 

NPR recently reviewed the arrest records from BLM demonstrations and found that the vast majority of charges were for minor violations, completely unrelated to violence. Although Trump, accompanied by his cadre of white supremacists and with an assist from Fox News, would have us believe otherwise.

It’s made clear that our nation has come to an ideological impasse when a federal judge found it necessary to order the Detroit Police to stop using batons, teargas, and rubber bullets against demonstrators, medical support personnel, and legal observers. The judge further reminded cops that they may not purposely physically harm people or arrest without probable cause.

These are basic First and Fourth Amendment protections, yet we are seeing Trump supporters eager to suspend the Constitution — unless it’s protecting them.

Real heroes are stepping forward to call-out Trump and his cult-like followers. Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, a true American hero, said this of Trump: “He cannot understand selflessness because he is selfish. He cannot conceive of courage because he is a coward. He cannot feel duty because he is disloyal.” That observation easily applies to current Trump supporters by proxy.

It was signature Trump base-baiting when he pardoned and honored a convicted war criminal who had taken pictures of himself with his war kills, including a child, but fired a Naval aircraft carrier captain for attempting to save his crew during a COVID-19 outbreak.

It was a clear message to his fascist base. You can get away with murder, but don’t ever cross me.

Tacit bigotry is not a “political opinion” — it is an immoral act that demands to be called-out for what it is. A vote for Trump is to espouse hatred, ignorance, and intolerance — peddling in lazy stereotypes. It reeks of moral depravity.

The white hoods are off, only to be replaced by red hats.

Amy Kerr Hardin is a retired banker, regionally known artist, and public-policy wonk. You can hear and learn more about the state of Michigan politics on her podcast, www.MichiganPolicast.com.

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