The Coming of The Hatespeakers

Several dozen students from a Middle School in New Jersey refused to pose with Speaker Paul Ryan in a photo op at the Capital. Later they bombarded his Instagram account saying they hate him for opposition to LGBTQ rights, because he’s shadowing President Trump’s agenda and well -- you know the drill and you can read the full story and see copies of the Instagrams  in the Daily Mail and Washington Post.  

One of the mothers concerned, first name Elissa, (pictured with her son Matthew) a public school librarian supported her son’s decision not to appear with Speaker Ryan saying that this was his own choice and telling the Daily Mail she was proud of him and the rest of the children for standing up for what they believe in. 

“We've always talked about politics so we've always been a family that has been politically active. We didn't indoctrinate him, he has had a mind of his own ever since he was a small child and he's gathered up his own views.”

Now if you believe she didn’t indoctrinate him, you’re also one of those who knows for a fact that you can open a trap door in Steve Bannon’s office in the White House, climb down a ladder, and find Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin’s secret command headquarters from which he orchestrates Donald Trump’s every move. 

Of course she indoctrinated him. And of course, those other students who declined to be photographed were indoctrinated by liberal parents and teachers. How after all, in an age when elementary school students (and their teachers) struggle to name all the continents and the oceans did they learn about LGBTQ rights. Or the idea that President Trump was an evil man whom Ryan “shadows,” if not by having these leftist mantras constantly recited to them.

So fine, smile when you can, Elissa. The public school as we know it today, with all of its not so subtle programming, is going the way of the DoDo bird because it’s not, to use a favorite liberal term, sustainable. But the real issue is not the lies that are taught, but the attitude these parents and these schools impart. The attitude that those who do not agree with them are bad, bad people. Racist, misogynist, homophobic, mean, greedy, and xenophobic, planning to break up families as they imprison minorities in camps before deportation while at the same time denying food and medical care to the poor and dispossessed, and so they deserve no respect whatsoever. That even though you are only twelve it’s okay for you to send hate messages to certain high public officials. And later on in life, to go on to deny any contrary opinion free speech, burn down any building that offends you by hosting one of these bad, bad people, hit these beyond the pale humans over the head with a bicycle lock. In other words, pull a “Berkeley” on them because they deserve what’s coming to them.

The problem, of course, is that little Matthew the so-called Self-Motivated Opinion Gatherer might not shake off this nonsense in enough time in later life that another person he insults or ridicules doesn’t punch his grin into next week. Which is how those on the other side of certain questions are being beginning to feel is the only way to deal with people like Matthew, his public school librarian Mom, and his teachers.

It’s a conundrum, isn’t it?

That the weakest snivelers among us are doing everything they can to tear down the social fabric that physically protects them. Most Americans agree that violence isn’t the way we deal with each other, rather that we establish institutions within which we can deal with each other in mutual respect. But the fact is, any agreement has limits and those institutions only last as long as we continue to nourish them with that same mutual respect.

And once we lose that respect for one another, once the hatespeakers among gain us ascendency, there is no turning back, because we’re in a “fight where dark riders ride in darker valley night.” Which has happened, we should remember,  once before in American history and when it did some of the most beautiful countryside in the world had the bodies of our sons piled on it up like cordwood.

Richard F. Miniter is the acclaimed author of The Things I Want Most and his most recent book  What Sort Of Parents Should We Be?: A Man’s Guide To Raising Exceptional Children is now available Here