The new normal under the Trump regime is to treat bigotry and racism like nothing more than a bothersome growl from a grumpy dog.
All summer, each time Trump dog whistled or growled to his faithful followers about transgender soldiers or that there are some really fine white supremacists out there among the bad dudes, much of the party faithful — some right here in Colorado — would dismiss yowling from the left as just so much yowling from the left.
This week’s snarl, however, came from Colorado Republican Party leaders, who were barking inexplicably about the Southern Poverty Law Center being a bastion of slayers of free thought. The famous civil rights soldiers are accused of being so many Nazi socialists working to undermine the American way.
State party officials last week regurgitated tweets by Fox News about the SPLC. “The Southern Poverty Law Center serves one useful purpose. It lets readers know not to trust stories citing it. #SPLC is like the bright coloring on a poisonous frog,” the Colorado GOP said in a tweet. The flap over that missive was first reported by ColoradoPolitics.com.
Welcome to Trump’s America. For the naive and the dead wrong, the SPLC is not the 1980s PETA of human rights protection groups, throwing the equivalent of red paint on benign activist agencies. This venerable and time-honored organization has worked hard and long to out groups that often couch their racism and bigotry inside the Bill of Rights. For generations, the SPLC has worked to prevent Jewish and black people from being harassed and quietly killed, first in the South and then all over the country. They’ve done this making clear what the real intention is of groups such as The Soldiers of Odin, an anti-Muslim group, and Aryan Strikeforce Colorado. You can guess what they do.
Many groups promoting hate are far less obvious. They hide their bigotry behind misleading names and ideas. They’re groups with monikers like Team America Political Action Committee. That’s a funding and action group founded by infamous former Congressman Tom Tancredo, who essentially thinks President Trump is a sissy when it comes to booting Muslims and anyone without a birth certificate.
Modern bigotry is much more insidious than the open and once-accepted hatred perpetrated by the KKK. It shields groups like Nation of Islam and, here in Colorado, Focus on the Family. Camouflaging itself in their own brand of Christianity, Focus on the Family works hard to promote discrimination of LGBT Americans, trying to undermine their rights to marry and raise families. This hateful organization lobbies the state Legislature annually in an effort to protect the rights of bigots over homosexuals. They hide that bigotry by twisting the First Amendment. Focus on the Family works to promote a form of quackery masquerading as psychiatry intent on supposedly brainwashing the gayness right of homosexuals. Despite being called out for the charlatan cruelty that it really is, Focus on the Family insists that fakers should be allowed to practice pseudo-science, because Jesus tells them so.
Endless groups sprout like weeds across the country, bent on concealing their hate and bigotry with seemingly benign names like Westboro Baptist Church and the Idaho Campaign for Radical Truth in History. Westboro you may know as the infamous kooks who bust up solemn funerals of soldiers with protests insisting that the deaths are America’s punishment for not wiping out homosexuals. The “Radical Truth” is an Idaho group trying to get out the word that the Holocaust was a hoax.
There are hundreds of these groups, and the SPLC is one of the few organizations that watches them, reports on them and watches for new ones.
A growing number of far-right conservatives like what they see in the Trump movement: fire away at the messenger. They believe that by discrediting the important work of the SPLC, they discredit their research about sick groups like Family Research Institute, another pseudo-science anti-gay group that seeks to undermine the rights of gay Americans.
These people point to many of these SPLC-identified hate groups and say, they’re not all bad and many even do some good.
See how that works? How bad can a Christian-based family-focused group in Colorado Springs actually be? Not that bad if you’re a bigot. For the rest of us though, it’s not OK to violate the equal rights of any American. None. If you pick on gays, blacks, Muslims, Asians, Jews, Mexicans or whites, you pick a fight with all of us.
These values have always been important, but they’ve never been more critical than now as the far right seeks to weaken and dismantle generations of work to ensure one uniquely American phrase that stands above all others: All men are created equal. Thanks to the SPLC and groups like it, “all” still means “all.”
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