We Must Deflect and Debunk Hate Speech

We Must Deflect and Debunk Hate Speech
Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP

Until the deadly shootings over the weekend, national headlines had been dominated by attacks denigrating the vibrant and diverse city of Baltimore. The two stories have more in common than you might think.

The depiction of Baltimore as a "rat and rodent-infested mess" is a form of hate speech. In his tweets about Baltimore, as in so many of his pronouncements, our president seems to have forgotten the inexorable link between verbal and physical violence. It starts with dehumanizing the "other" with words: rapist, swine; towel head; vermin, filth; ape; parasite; fag.  Words such as these empty others of their humanity and reduce them to caricatures that evoke contempt.

It then becomes a small thing to move from these caricatures of contempt to walking into a Walmart with a rifle to shoot at them, or seeing them swing from a lynching tree or to shove them into the fires of a Nazi oven.

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