This week has made me feel indescribably sad for my country. A comedian posing with a fake severed head of our president. Nooses left in the Smithsonian African American History Museum & in front of the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum (and that’s just this week – we’ve had other noose incidents in our capital in recent months that haven’t gotten the same press). An anti-Muslim terrorist stabbing people on a train and calling it patriotism. I’m grieving our lack of empathy, our inability to see beyond our own priorities.
But here’s the thing: my current sadness isn’t because these actions are anything new for our country. We’ve been doing this and much worse from the start. My current state of sadness is based on how connected our emotional response is to where we identify politically.
I believe the vast majority of Americans are sad about these actions. But we only become livid if it is something the other side has done.
Where is the liberal rage over Griffin’s photo? We had plenty of it when we witnessed images of effigies of Obama hanging from nooses. We’re very fast to pull them out in response to Trump’s comment about liberal violence. But we are not mustering the same level of rage over Griffin’s photo that we are over the Nugent/Palin/Kid Rock photo in front of Hilary Clinton’s portrait, and it is hypocritical and intensely wrong. Griffin’s photo was inexcusable, and we need to stop sitting quietly and ignoring it – we need to speak up.
Where is the conservative rage over the nooses and stabbings? You’ve told marginalized groups that white supremacists didn’t reflect the average Trump voter and you absolutely weren’t voting for that hatred when you voted for Trump, that your policies would better protect people of color than liberal policies, and even in some situations that the images we’ve seen are a liberal plant to make conservatives look bad. Yet when I’ve scrolled social media, I have yet to see a conservative friend even talk about these acts, let alone express sorrow or outrage. They have been largely ignored. Why aren’t conservatives speaking out about this? It flies in the face of conservative values. The stabbings are not patriotism, and were motivated by a rejection of religious freedom. The nooses do not make America safe. Vigilantism rejects the justice system our founding fathers created.
Americans, we are fighting the same fight. This is the same fight. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The dignity of human life. Pluralism. Empathy. Civility. Our faith that democracy can solve our problems by bringing people with different views together and finding compromises so all can be free. If we only speak out when the other guy violates these principles, we’re going to lose this fight.