Discrimination is bad...unless you're wearing a MAGA hat
National Book Award finalist Rebecca Makkai wants me to stop wearing my Phillies hat. Not because Makkai is from Chicago and the Phillies are battling the Cubs for the wild card, but because my Phillies hat is red and too closely resembles President Trump's MAGA hat.
"Is anyone else made really uncomfortable these days by anyone wearing any kind of red baseball cap?" she recently tweeted, imploring "normal people" to refrain from wearing red hats because they are "making people scared."
As someone who's worn both a Phillies cap inside Wrigley Field in Chicago and a MAGA hat in Philadelphia, I can tell you Makkai has it backwards: the fear is clearly being felt by those wearing the hats, not the other way around.
Not that Makkai has probably ever worn a MAGA hat, or been threatened by a Trump-supporter. Other than in the pretend world of Jussie Smollett, Chicagoans aren't usually confronted by angry MAGA folk. Makkai's request that all red hats be removed most likely stems from her own concept of diversity and how conservatives fail to fit the bill.
The irony here is thick. When it comes to race, religion, sex, and sexuality, cultural gatekeepers like Makkai demand uncompromising inclusion. Yet when it comes to political affiliation, these same advocates become incredibly narrow-minded. Diversity of thought doesn't seem to be nearly as important as diversity of culture, and in a free and democratic society, this is cause for concern.
Makkai is employing a classic form of political affiliation discrimination, a kind of bigotry that silences opposing points of view via a two-part process. First, the party out of favor with cultural elites has its positions maligned or misrepresented, a technique that contorts differing beliefs into hate-filled ideals that pass as reality. Second, every person in the out-of-favor party is judged and stereotyped by these same public distortions, enabling the rest of society to discriminate against them without being accused of intolerance or bigotry.
For example, Trump believes in merit-based immigration over a random lottery and feels that refuges seeking asylum should come through legal ports of entry, therefore he and his supporters are "xenophobes" who hate all immigrants. Likewise, Trump supports Israel's right to exist, scrutinizes countries with high populations of Islamic extremists, and sanctions countries like Iran who openly support terrorism, therefore he and his supporters are "Islamophobes" who hate all Muslims.
What if you support Trump only on things like taxes, abortion, energy, or trade? Doesn't matter; you're still a prime candidate for harassment.
In his new book, R.I.P. G.O.P., leading Democratic pollster and political strategist Stanley Greenberg gleefully predicted "the death of the Republican Party as we've known it," prompting New York Times opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg to pen the article, "Dare We Dream of the End of the G.O.P.?" In her piece, she called the Republican Party a "foul agglomeration of bigotry and avarice that has turned American politics into a dystopian farce," fantasizing not just about their defeat, but about their complete and total destruction.
Those who aim to shut down debate don't want diversity; they want orthodoxy. As George Orwell writes in 1984: "Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."
This is why Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) tweeted the names and employers of dozens of San Antonians who made donations to President Donald Trump's re-election campaign, and why Will & Grace star Debra Messing demanded that the Hollywood Reporter publish the names of actors planning to attend the Republican National Committee fundraiser in Beverly Hills.
And why Reza Aslan, HBO producer and former CNN host, called Trump and his supporters terrorists, insisting that "this evil, racist scourge must be eradicated from society."
And why Zack Ford, a writer for ThinkProgress, stated "you can't both wear a MAGA hat and claim to love thy neighbor," stereotyping millions of kind, good-hearted Americans in a single sentence.
Unfortunately, our nation's anti-discrimination laws protect Americans based on race, religion, sex, and sexuality, but not political affiliation. In other words, you can't throw someone out of a theater or restaurant for being black, female, gay, or Muslim, but it seems you can run him out on a rail for wearing a MAGA hat.
"And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd," Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said at a rally in Los Angeles last year. "And you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere."
I'm going to continue to wear all my red hats, despite the objections from people like Rebecca Makkai. Our nation's equality laws should be expanded to protect the right to do so.
Christopher Paslay is a Philadelphia schoolteacher who writes a blog titled "Philly Teachers For Trump."