If this is current America, what will the future look like?
A Democrat already holding a statewide elected in the Commonwealth of Virginia calls the president of the United States a “narcissistic maniac.” The man, who is an Army veteran and a physician, wants to be governor.
In Montgomery County, Maryland, one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, religious hate is fast becoming a mainstay. Of 94 hate crimes in the county in 2016, religion was a factor in 38 cases, race was the factor in 34 cases, ethnicity played a role in 12, and gender/sexual orientation factored into six.
Ever heard of a “coal burner”? It’s crass jargon for “a white girl who is spoiled rotten and rebels against her wealthy or middle-class parents for some imagined affront sometime in their short lives” by having sex with a black guy, according to urbandictionary.com.
The Paris-born James Smithson, the Briton whose philanthropy gave us the Smithsonian Institution, must be rolling over in his crypt beneath the Castle building. On Friday authorities found a noose hanging from a tree outside the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. In another “Strange Fruit” move, authorities on Wednesday discovered a noose at an exhibit on segregation at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
And then there’s the shiny veneer of Portland, Oregon, whose soothing shades of Pacific blue manifested in the bloody attack aboard the MAX light rail. The killer spewed white supremacist rants before turning a knife on unarmed passengers. Some observers now are pointing out that progressive Portland has long been the mask of regressive Portland.
The city of East Lansing, Michigan, is rowing another boat. As farmers markets prepare for their spring and summer gathering spots across America, East Lansing has ousted Country Mill Farms and Orchard. An old-school, pick-your-own family farm, Country Mill is stocked with apples, berries, a kiddie pumpkin patch and hay rides, and even organic apple butter, ciders and vinegar (if those suit your taste buds). Now the owner, Steve Tennes, has taken on the LGBT community because he won’t sign onto hosting gay weddings. Mr. Tennes, whose family is Roman Catholic, has filed a lawsuit against East Lansing.
Makes you wonder if religious freedom has become another of America’s one-way streets.
American University, Howard University and the University of Maryland have more in common than being sought-after institutions of higher learning. They also have intruders who use bloodshed and racially tinged hate messages to mar those schools’ campuses.
At UMd.-College Park in April, a noose was found inside the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house. Last month a young man named Richard Collins III was fatally stabbed at a bus shelter. Collins, who was black and a recently commissioned Army 2nd lieutenant, was mortally wounded by Maryland student Sean Urbanski, who law enforcers said belonged to a Facebook group that disparaged minorities. The weapon of choice was a knife, and the feds are investing.
In early May, bananas inscribed with the words “HARAMBE BAIT” were hung from nooses at American University, an urban campus of diversity if ever there were one. And yes, the feds are looking into the case.
The Department of Justice also knows what’s going on in Chicago, too. However, while the media has been focusing on the unacceptable high rates of gun violence, the law enforcers also have looked into a rising suicide rate among members of the Chicago Police Department.
Last year was clearly the deadliest on record for Chicago: There were more than 800 murders and more than 2,300 shootings in 2016. This year, meanwhile, has recorded 233 killings and more than 1,250 shootings. As important are the police suicides.
Reports Breitbart.com: “In its report, the DOJ noted that the rate of suicide among Chicago officers is 60 percent higher than the national average. The Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago told the DOJ that there were 29.4 suicides per 100,000 officers from 2013 to 2015. Official department numbers place that rate at 22.7 suicides per 100,000.”
The national average for police officers reportedly is 18.1.
There also are the sideshow acts: “Comedian” Kathy Griffin holding a bloodied, detached head of President Trump in a deranged photo shoot. The N-word scrolled on the home fence of NBA great LeBron James. Jimmy Kimmel feeling “wealth guilt” after his son is born sickly.
And there is the mother of all current movements.
Stick and stones, for sure, can break you bones, as do nooses, if knotted correctly to break your neck. And, unfortunately, bloodshed has become as much a part of daily American life as beer, pizza and car commercials.
As for words — those nasty, inciteful, derogatory words that lye soap and parental admonishment used to take off? Well, they have been replaced by emojis and blasts we hoped would stay in the past.
Much of what Americans are doing is reacting to one simple, two-syllable word: “RESIST!” It means different things to different people of different ages, cultures, ethnicities, religions and genders.
Indeed, this is America.
The question for the resisters is, Do you even envision a future America?
• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.