Living in Paradise

Hateful Rhetoric Thrives

Hateful Rhetoric Thrives

A friend of mine who hates Governor DeSantis – even though he doesn’t live in Florida – had some unkind words about the move of 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard on Facebook.

I tried to let it go and ended up posting a TIF of a giraffe chewing. It wasn’t the response I wanted to make. I wanted to talk about the drug lords and cartels and people suffering to get to the land of opportunity. But the giraffe seemed to be the least offensive of my options.

There was no deterring my friend from his mission. His response to my giraffe was:

“Chew on it and see what he does for you. Oh, I forgot you have money, you’re past child bearing age and are not a woman of color? Why would you care?”

So that’s how you talk to your longtime friends these days? Nuclear response. No hesitation. Let it rip. When people say we are already involved in a civil war, that’s what they mean.

I fired off a round in Messenger and let him have it. That’s how skirmishes begin.

I said: What did he know about me and my ability to bear children? Where was he when I was earning 50 cents an hour and saving every penny to help my parents pay for college … working two jobs to make my house payments and then being paid a pittance for working 60 hours a week as a reporter? And as to skin color … I’m stuck with what I’m born with, but back in the sixties and seventies being a career woman – no matter what the color – was an uphill battle on many fronts. I gladly fought them and didn’t complain. Then I went to work in corporate America and still had hills to climb.

He, on the other hand, worked most of his life for the same company that also gave his two sons and ex-wife a job after he retired. He lives in a nice house with his dog; I assume the house and the dog are paid for. I’m not sure how he passes the time, but I spend part of my year raising money for local charities.

I said all of that and felt better afterward. For at least fifteen minutes.

Then I thought about it and wrote a second note that said to forget it. I told him that as far as I was concerned, we are still friends and I’m not letting the divide and conquer mentality that rules our country today ruin our friendship.

He responded quickly saying I had mis-read his comments … that they were directed at the governor. And that we would be friends forever despite our politics. Okay. I believe him. All is well.

But the episode reminded me that many in this country – and I’m not excluding myself – enjoy “hating” every now and then. We hate this and that. We complain about others without ever looking in the mirror or trying to understand their point of view.

When Queen Elizabeth died there were many outpourings of sympathy for a woman who devoted almost her entire life to serving her country. Sure, her country has done some things in the past for which criticism is justly deserved. What country hasn’t? But here was a woman who conducted herself with dignity – a woman who would never have said the things that some of today’s world leaders, celebrities and ordinary citizens feel they have license to say without filters.

And then there were the haters. Like the college professor who tweeted that she hoped the queen died a horrible death because of what her country did to the people of Nigeria. After reading about what has happened to Nigeria since 1960 when Britain gave the country its independence, I’m thinking this woman will be wishing painful deaths on a lot of people.

Not sure any of that is on the late queen.

The professor had her reasons. Maybe she could have expressed them to her friends, instead, and saved herself from exposure to fifteen minutes of “infamy.”

The predominance of hate speech is staggering. It starts in politics with both parties and then filters down to our friends and families. It needs to end with us. I’m taking the pledge.

As my Dad, the fisherman, used to say: “I won’t be rising to the [hate] bait anymore.”