A Sharpening of Discourse and A Growing Intolerance
By Thought Merchant
Has anyone noticed that way we speak about issues of race, ethnicity, and religion in America have become more coarse and demonstrably less civil? This year we witnessed a variety of occurrences that brought about the traditional discussions of identity in our society. However, the tone of these discussions have become more harsh, more bitter, and tend to be less likely to bring unity among the aggrieved parties.
Some of the stories this year that involved the use of harsh racial language, or caused a hardening of racial attitudes were: the Don Imus nappy headed hoes comment; the Michael Vick arrest; the Jena 6 case; the return of O.J. Simpson; the Republican candidates decision to avoid debates in front of African Americans and Latinos; and the recent statements by Bill O’Reilly illustrating his shock at how civilized Black people in Harlem carry themselves while dining. More vividly, we cannot negate the fracas that was made over immigration reform this summer by conservative media outlets and the way they bolstered a groundswell among sectors of America to fight the “amnesty” bill.
These are but a few of the illustrations of my point, and I’m sure we all can think about more. But generally something is going on in America that is causing a diminution of tolerance for anyone who isn’t…well…White and Christian.
Why is this happening? Because American right wing media has a vested interest in playing on the fear of the average White person to assure his or her allegiance to a politics that plays on the perception of “us” against “them.” Talk radio and Fox News are officially the voice the disgruntled White masses who quiver in horror whenver they have to “press one for english” or tremble with anguish when that Black professional couple moves into their neighborhood because they fear their property values might go down.
Even worse, since 9/11 the usually racial/ethnic based fear mongering of the right has taken on a new turn with the addition of the “rising Islamic threat.” So the “we must attack them over there” rational becomes the justification for invading sovereign Muslim lands that posed no threat to America and had nothing to do with 9/11. Hence, once again the right wing media becomes the voice for all things holy, White, and Christian in America to the exclusion of all else. Is it sheer irony that this is occuring while population shifts show that within the next 50 years Whites will be a minority in most of the counties in the U.S.? I think not. What do you think?