Gerald G. Doane: Targeting with hate bombs
Social and political conflict in America has always promoted hostility and prejudice toward one’s perceived enemy. Targeting your opponent with hate bombs is part of the social and political game in America.
Today’s targeting and hatemongering are no different than during an earlier period in my life. But the terms have changed, and yesterday’s shoe seems to be on today’s other foot.
Racial, religious, and sexual orientation minorities were in completely different worlds from the majority when I was growing up, and the rhetoric used against them was ugly.
The minority were the targets of the majority and epithets were many and crude.
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Often the hatemongering was nuanced, repeated by persons you loved, lived with, or worked amongst.
My own experiences go back to my early childhood. Born in California but raised in the Jim Crow states of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, I experienced what hate looked like.
When seven years old and living in Arkansas, I recall walking a short distance from my home to visit an old man who worked at a gas station. I probably never knew his name, but I liked him a lot.
He would teach me the difference between a Ford, Chevrolet, and Plymouth. We would sit in front of the station and he would ask me to identify the brand of car driving into the station.
At the time I really didn’t understand this, but my friend was described to me by my parents as being “a colored.” My parents told me not to associate with him because the Klan might get word of our friendship and do something terrible to him and me.
I had no real knowledge of the Klan, but my parent’s hatemongering (some would say they were only protecting me, but I disagree) left me sufficiently afraid that I never went back to visit my friend again.
Later, when nine years old, we lived in a Texas town that would not allow certain “colored races” within the city limits after sundown. I never really saw another race there, other than white, so I didn’t think much about the restriction other than associating it with my previous experience in Arkansas. Somehow, I related the two together, thinking the Klan had something to do with both.
When 12 years old and living in Oklahoma, I became a Boy Scout, eventually earning the “Star” rank and entering the “Order of the Arrow” in a church affiliated troop. However, I was targeted for abuse by two different adult male scout leaders. I quit scouting, without telling anyone my reasons, out of fear that I would be hatemongered, accused of not fighting the abuse hard enough, or perhaps that I had even encouraged it.
When 13 years old and living elsewhere in Oklahoma, I entered ninth grade in a community that had separate waiting rooms, restrooms and drinking fountains in the railroad station and elsewhere within the community. There was a separate school, including a high school for the “colored race.” In my senior year the first black student, a girl, enrolled in our high school. She was accepted by many, but certainly not by most.
After high school and still 17 years old, I entered college. I worked at a frat house bussing and washing dishes and serving meals to pay for my board. I roomed at a church-run dormitory until I became a fraternity pledge.
While watching the 1956 World Series on the fraternity’s small, grainy TV, we saw Don Larsen pitch the first in Series history, no-hit, no-run game. Some fraternity members railed against the Dodgers because they had black players on their team.
These were some of my experiences with targeting and hatemongering prior to my adulthood. They had a profoundly negative impact on me.
We are becoming a nation of minorities. The “white only” classification currently is at the 60 percent level according to census data, but today’s majority will soon become a minority.
The rhetoric of today seems refined compared to the past with epithets such as “racist,” “homophobe,” “xenophobe,” “Islamophobic” and “misogynistic.” Refined as those words may seem, hate bombs they can be, as these words can project the same hate and prejudice as did past ones.
Why are they the same you ask? Because these words project fear, anger and prejudice toward a class of targeted people.
Will it ever end? I doubt it!
Gerald G. Doane lives in Grass Valley.
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