The politics of hate is getting increasing press these days, with most of the rhetoric coming from the radical Republican right wing.
Make no mistake about it, we do not believe many of the views of the radical right represent those of reasonable Republicans. But they are clearly tarring the Grand Old Party with a brush of bigotry and hate.
The most reviled man in this country right now, by their standards, would be a gay Hispanic muslim. If that poor man accidentally walked into a Tea Party convention he'd probably be stoned to death.
Proposition 8 in California has focused attention on the rights of people who have "alternate sexual orientations." Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, gay-bashers are convinced that homosexuals will destroy the fabric of society and are trying to drive them back into the closet, seeking to deny them basic and fundamental rights. Proposition 8 was a knee-jerk and visceral reaction to a change in society's attitudes, and the arguments being used remind us eerily of the 18th-century arguments to oppose marriages based on "love," not family arrangement.
The mosque in New York City has become a lightning rod for those who believe all muslims are evil. They would toss out the constitutional right to freedom of religion in favor of their hate for muslims. Granted, the people who proposed the mosque could (and should) have been a little more sensitive and found a site a little further away than ground zero of the 9/11 attacks.
But simply because some radical muslim clerics around the world have preached a message of hate doesn't mean all muslims embrace that message. We've had nationally-recognized Christian religious leaders in this country (many warmly embraced by the radical right) who also have preached messages of hate, violence and intolerance, but that doesn't make all Christians evil people. Hardly.
Finally, the significant problem of illegal immigrants in this country, most of them Hispanic, and the rising tide of narco-terrorism in Mexico that is starting to spill over into the United States, have resulted in a growing resentment -- egged on by the hate-mongers, many of them seeking personal political advantage we might note -- against anyone of Hispanic descent in the United States, citizen or not.
They've even turned to attacking children now, those born in the United States by parents who aren't American citizens. In that specific case, the 14th Amendment probably does need to be clarified. We'd just change it to grant citizenship to any child born anywhere in the world, who has at least one parent who is an American citizen (which would have cleared up the silly arguments involving President Reagan's birth).
We also clearly need to make a serious effort to stop illegal immigration and remove those in our country who are here illegally, but we need to do it through a set of constitutionally acceptable laws that don't simply target people with brown skin. We can do it by firming up laws to make sure people don't hire illegal immigrants and by allowing law enforcement agencies to check on citizenship status for anyone and everyone arrested for a crime.
And we need a greatly expanded border patrol (interesting that Arizona's governor didn't use her National Guard to improve border security, because she didn't want to pay for it, but demanded the national government federalize guardsmen to do the job, even though as federal troops -- unlike a state militia called out by a governor-- they have no law-enforcement power).
Opponents of these hate-mongers are standing on the firm foundation of the Constitution, which among other things was designed to stifle even a majority of opinion if it would lead to a tyranny. Sometimes, the Constitution is a slippery surface, but in the face of all adversity it is always wise to stand on its basic principals, even if some of us wish we could solve our problems by other, often more draconian, means.
The Constitution protects us all, including those we sometimes wish it wouldn't. That gay Hispanic muslim should have no fewer rights than any of the rest of us. The Constitution says so.
H.L. Mencken once noted, "The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all."
Which is why the hate-mongers among us must be repudiated. For if they succeed, what might their next target be? Oppression tends to gain momentum, like an avalanche, until all are caught in its path and destroyed.
We need reasoned debate and reasonable solutions to our problems, not the pitchforks and torches of mob rule that the hate-mongers are trying to incite.
They are far more dangerous to our nation than any terrorist could ever dream of being.