Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Biggest Story Of 2015? - The Re-Emergence Of Bigotry!

Most of the news media are celebrating the ending of 2015 by relating what they believe the top stories of the year were. There's not a lot of difference between their lists, but I think they are ignoring the biggest story of 2015 -- a stunning and frightening re-emergence of bigotry in the United States.

It could have been celebrated as a year with some great accomplishments. For instance, the Supreme Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriages. For the first time in this nation's history, every single American has the right to marry the person of their choice -- the person they love. So, what happened to this good story? The politicians, especially those on the right, turned it into an excuse to promote bigotry (in the name of religion). And the media went along with it -- covering the stories of this religious bigotry (like the county clerk in Kentucky refusing to issue same-sex licenses) as though they had some merit. In effect, the politicians and the media strengthened the cause of bigotry.

The same could be said for immigration. The truth (and the story that should have been reported and praised) is that in 2015, just like in 2014, the rate of new undocumented immigrants entering this country was less than zero -- meaning that more undocumented immigrants left this country than entered it. But right-wing politicians ignored that story. Instead they demonized those immigrants, especially those from Mexico, and accused them of being rapists, murderers, and criminals -- and part of a "massive invasion of immigrants". And the media went along with that. Most of what we heard from them was the "problems" due to undocumented immigrants (in spite of the fact that almost all are hard-working, law-abiding, and tax-paying people -- who contribute far more to this country than they take from it). Once again, the politicians/media strengthened the cause of bigotry.

And it wasn't just good stories that were turned into an excuse for bigotry. The tragedies of terrorist attacks, both in France and the United States, and the sad attempt to escape the violence in Syria by many, should have brought Americans together to deal with terrorism and help those trying to escape violence. Instead, thanks to politicians and the media, it turned into another excuse for bigotry -- this time against muslims. There were calls by politicians to register all muslims, close mosques, and deny muslims entry into this country -- and the media duly reported that as though it was not rank bigotry disguised as protectionism. Once again, the politicians/media strengthened the cause of bigotry.

Then we have the exposure of far too many killings by police of unarmed Blacks, and the rise of the "Black Lives Matter" movement. This should have been seen as how much still needs to be done to conquer racist bigotry in this country -- especially that institutionally-based. Instead, once again due to politicians and the media, it resulted in the unquestioning support of police and an unwarranted backlash against the movement to make things better (such as the silly "All Lives Matter" meme). This appealed to those clinging to white privilege (a form of bigotry), and in at least one poll, showed that whites now consider themselves as discriminated against as much as minorities (a ridiculous assertion at best). Once again, the politicians and media actually strengthened the cause of bigotry.

There are probably other examples, but that is enough to convince me that the dominate (most important) story of 2015 was the virulent re-emergence of bigotry in the United States -- a re-emergence helped by politicians and the media, both of whom should be ashamed of themselves.

Americans want the rest of the world to see us as a bastion of freedom and equality. But I fear that what we have shown the rest of the world in 2015 is that we are one of the most bigoted nations that exists. We must do better in 2016.

(Both of the cartoon images above are by Bill Day at cagle.com.)

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