Fanning the Flames of Hatred: We Have Been Here Before
Updated: Oct 29, 2018
By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published on October 26, 2018
We have been here before. We have seen the violence that flows when a political demagogue stokes the flames of hatred against fellow Americans and other targeted groups of human beings.
For over a century, we have seen social and political activists in America maimed, lynched, assassinated, and killed in the bombings of churches, homes, and offices because of this hatred.
As a child growing up in Montgomery, Alabama during the early 1960s, I watched Governor George C. Wallace repeatedly fan the flames of racial hatred in Alabama until they became a towering inferno.
In 1958, Wallace ran in the Democratic primary for governor. At the time, the Democratic Party was virtually the only party in Alabama. After Wallace lost the race to Alabama Attorney General John Malcolm Patterson, he told aide Seymore Trammell, “I was outniggered by John Patterson. And I'll tell you here and now, I will never be outniggered again."
Wallace thereafter adopted a hard-line segregationist stance and used this mantra to court the white vote in the 1962 gubernatorial election. When asked why he used racist messages on the campaign trail, Wallace replied, "You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor."
In the 1962, Wallace defeated State Senator Ryan DeGraffenried Sr., by running as a staunch segregationist. Wallace took the oath of office on January 14, 1963, standing on the gold star marking the spot where, nearly 102 years earlier, Jefferson Davis was sworn in as provisional president of the Confederate States of America. In his inaugural speech, Wallace said: “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
Nine months later, four little girls died in a church bombing in Birmingham that was a direct result of the hatred Wallace had fanned.
Donald Trump Has Resurrected Wallace’s Old Politics of Hatred
George Wallace ran for president in 1968. He did not make it.
In 2016, Donald Trump ran for president and won.
As a candidate and again as an elected official, Trump wasted no time in dehumanizing and stoking the flames of hatred toward entire categories of people. The targets of this hatred are mostly women, Muslims, Americans of color, and non-white immigrants from poor “shithole” countries. Trump has described members of these groups as “dogs”, “pigs”, “rapists”, “criminals”, “lazy”, “low IQ”, “mobs”, and “thugs.”
Trump celebrates violence against people who oppose his political views. Recently, he praised a Congressman who body-slammed a reporter.
In true Wallace fashion, Trump has praised Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who fought against the American flag during the Civil War.
Last year, Trump defended violent neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. He claimed there were some “good” people in the Nazi group, even though one of them murdered an innocent female counter-protester. He has never condemned those in the Nazi group who were chanting, “Jews will not replace us.”
While campaigning for President in 2015 and 2016, Trump encouraged supporters at his rallies to beat up protesters. He even pledged to pay the legal fees incurred for assaulting the protesters.
As was the case with Wallace, Trump’s reckless political rhetoric has inspired predictable violence. This week, pipe bombs were delivered to Trump’s high-profile political and media targets, including President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, actor Robert DeNiro, billionaire philanthropist George Soros and CNN, among others.
A total of twelve bombs have been located to date. Fortunately, none of the bombs detonated.
A Repeat of the Edmund Pettus Bridge Bloody Scene
In 1965, George Wallace ordered Alabama State Trooper Colonel Al Lingo to stop civil rights activists, whom he labeled “troublemakers” and “outside agitators,” from marching from Selma to Montgomery. In what is known as “Bloody Sunday,” Lingo and his armed troopers brutally attacked the unarmed marchers with horses, billy clubs, and tear gas at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma as they were attempting to march to the state capital in Montgomery.
Fast-forward to 2018. Donald Trump has alerted the military and federal border authorities that a U.S.-bound caravan of 7,000 migrants from Central America constitutes a “national emergency." He has promised to turn the unarmed migrants around at the border. The White House has dispatched 800 troops to the border to confront marchers in the caravan.
Of course, any migrant can apply for political asylum at the border and there is nothing illegal about traveling to the border to make such an application. With no evidence to back up his claims, Trump has labeled the migrants as “terrorists” and “drug-dealers.” In reality, they are innocent men, women, and children who are escaping abject poverty and gang violence in their country.
This is Trump’s “Edmund Pettus Bridge” moment. This is his opportunity to inflict violence on unarmed men, women, and children just like Wallace did at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Merely separating babies and young children from their parents at the Southern border was not a sadistic enough move for Trump and his diehard supporters. The President obviously senses that his supporters want to see migrant blood running in the streets.
We have been here before and it was not good. As a nation, we are better than this.
PHOTO: Pipe bomb mailed to John Brennan.