Hate speech can bring deadly results

Published on People’s World, by Jarvis Tyner, April 23 2010.

… In a recent interview, former President Bill Clinton, who was in office when the Oklahoma bombing took place, pointed out that before the bombing then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich had characterized the Clintons as “enemies of ordinary Americans.” That was done in the highly charged atmosphere after the Branch Davidian shootout that ended in tragedy in Waco, Texas.

In response to the anti government rhetoric coming from the tea party and politicians associated with them, Clinton said, “There can be real consequences when what you say animates people who do things you would never do.”

I am reminded of June 1963 when George Wallace stood in the doors of the University of Alabama and uttered those defiant words, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” This was a bold defense of Jim Crow racism but it was done in the name of “states’ rights.” That is the same rationale used by Republicans today to block health care reform in states they control.

But the most important thing to remember was Wallace’s words, standing in the door, gave license to the Klan, blinded by hate, to set that bomb off at the 16th St. Baptist church, which killed those four little girls. That August, 250,000 people came to Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

If these racist, government haters are not politically defeated and the authorities don’t do their job to protect the innocent, new hate crimes will be committed and a tragic part of our history will be repeated.

For starters, we all need to heed the words of AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka when he said, “What I believe is the only way to fight the forces of hatred” is with a “progressive tradition that includes working people in action, organizing unions and organizing to elect public officials committed to bold action to address economic suffering.”

Let’s do it! (full text).

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