Did America Just Suddenly Become More Racist and Hateful?

In the aftermath of Trump’s election to the office of President, we have seen a rise in the number of acts of hate, some racist, some discriminatory against the LGBT community or Muslims, others against supporters of various candidates. Suddenly it seems as if we have more racists and haters everywhere, or at least their sympathizers. But did American actually vote for more racism? That’s actually a complicated and controversial question.

It’s gotten so bad that even President-Elect Donald Trump, in his interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes, said he was saddened by this and said it needs to stop.

Are all Trump supporters racist?

Some are, but most aren’t. Most voted for him for economic reasons, or because they felt Hillary was corrupt, or for other reasons.

Doesn’t supporting a racist candidate mean you condone racism?

Well, that’s a hot potato question with a different answer depending on who you ask. The prevailing view from the left, as expressed on social media, seems to be that they are condoning racism by voting for Trump. The pro-Trump supporters counter that they voted for him because of what he promised to do (bring back jobs, rebuild America, etc.), and most will tell you that don’t condone or support hate. I’ll let you decide which is true.

But instead of getting distracted by that, let’s look at some bigger issues.

So where did all these hateful and racist people come from?

The answer to that question is that they were always there. The minorities have been telling us this for some time now, while the non-racist whites believed that we were close to beating racism and prejudice. They believed that we’ve almost solved this because none of their friends were racist, except perhaps for that black sheep of the family who they never really liked. They believed it because it was socially unacceptable to say anything even remotely racist or offensive in public or mixed company, so they rarely heard someone being racist in person. They believed it because they thought everyone else was just like them. If they were non-racist, then others were as well. After all, everyone except the fringe knows racism and hate is wrong, right?

Boy were they wrong.

The reality is political correctness only suppressed racist words and actions. It never did anything to actually combat racism and hate. It just pushed it underground. It was like sweeping the mess under the rug. Well, this election moved the rug, and we see what was always there.

Racism and prejudice and bigotry is caused by a mixture of ignorance and arrogance.

There are actually things that cause and promote racism, discrimination and hate.

  1. Some racism and hate and discrimination is because people make assumptions about other social groups, or they had a bad experience or heard of a bad experience, and they made generalizations about everyone else.
  2. For others it is about arrogance and pride, claiming that their social group (whites, blacks, aryans, liberals, conservatives, whatever) are actually better than other social groups and/or believe that their view of the world is superior to everyone else’s.
  3. And yet others it is economic racism, where they resent another race or social group because they appear to have it better economically. The poor and former-middle class whites resenting immigrants and foreigners who they think are taking their jobs; blacks resenting the whites since they seem to be better off economically; the different minority groups resenting each other because they feel the other groups steal their jobs, etc.
  4. And for many it is a combination of any or all of these.

As you can see, there are actual causes for racism and bigotry and hate. It isn’t because they are stupid or that they are born that way. It’s because they were taught to be that way, or their limited experiences have given them an inaccurate view of the world, or because these groups are competing against each other for limited resources.

This is actually a good thing to know, because it means that hate and prejudice can be combated and people can be shown a better way. Sure, some people are stubborn and incredibly arrogant, but most people’s world view starts to change when they are exposed to other ideas, and actually get to know people from other social groups. Tensions between social groups can be eased by making sure each group is economically prosperous.

There are solutions to hatred and racism. We just have to find them.

So, now that we know we have a bigger racism and prejudice problem in this country than most people thought, what now?

We need to deal with the open hatred that was previously lurking in the background. Attacks, hate and violence needs to stop.

We need to make sure local, state and federal officials are protecting people, and we need to step up and protect people too.

We need to make sure that our elected officials, regardless of party, know that we don’t think racism and discrimination is okay, and put pressure on them to protect marginalized populations.

We need to continue make the world a better place by being a better person yourself and leading by example.

And most importantly, we need to change our tactics if we really want to reduce hate and discrimination and injustice in our society. What we have tried for years, which is political correctness, and putting social pressure on people to conform clearly has not had the desired effect where it really matters. Instead of changing the hearts and minds of the people, all it did was silence them, to a point where some started to think they didn’t really exist in large numbers.

As Jonathan Pile, a UK reporter and satirist, said in this viral video:

It is time to stop ignoring your opponents, or worse trying to silence them…. Being offended doesn’t work anymore. Throwing insults doesn’t work anymore. The only thing that works is @#$%ing bothering. Doing something. And all you have to do is engage in the debate. Talk to people who think differently than you and persuade them of your argument…. Stop thinking that everyone who disagrees with you is evil, or racist, or sexist, or stupid, and talk to them. Persuade them otherwise….

Because if you don’t, what you are going to get is more racism and hate and discrimination. You aren’t actually going to make much of a difference where it counts.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said,

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

So what does that mean for our future?

What it means is that we have a long way to go, much longer than we thought. Many view this as a setback, but for me, it’s just a revealing of what was already there. Shocking for some, sickening for others, it means the world is not how many thought it was. Others are relieved that people are starting to see what they knew for some time; that discrimination and hate is still a huge problem.

Donald Trump claims that he wants to be a President for all people, and has publicly stated that the hateful actions done by some of his followers must stop.

This is a good sign, and we need to hold him to it, but the reality is we really don’t know what the future will bring.

But, we can continue to influence our community, our local government, our state government, and our federal government and tell them that we are concerned about this, and that the hate needs to stop. Trump may be the top leader of this country, but there are millions of local and state officials that all have way more impact on your day-to-day personal life and your community.

We all need to do our part to end racism and discrimination and hate. And that means we need to stop hating the haters ourselves, and actually going out there an talking to people and showing them a better way.

Now that our eyes are open again, what future are we going to create? As we can clearly see now, the battle is not over.

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Scott M. Stolz

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