Hate, Fear, and America

In the wake of the unspeakable horror in Orlando, we're seeing what hate and fear do to civilization. Fear is what terrorists seek. Anger only breeds hate and allows these murderers to point their fingers at us, saying, "Look, they hate us so much. They must be the enemy."

If we are to make America into the shining city on the hill that President Reagan imagined, we cannot allow ourselves to stoop to the level of our attackers. They are defined by their fear and their hatred. We must strive for love and understanding, not division. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

On Monday morning, while America grieved, the Republican presidential nominee forgot that lesson. When speaking about President Obama's response to the horrific attack, he said:

"Look, we're led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind... People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts... There's something going on. It's inconceivable. There's something going on."

Instead of calling for hope and mourning the loss of the innocent, he blamed the president. The suggestion that the President of the United States knew about the Orlando attack and did nothing to stop it is beyond the pale. Conspiracy theories crop up when fear and hatred grip our nation. In the days after the bombing in Oklahoma City fear and conspiracy swept the nation, and some on the right blamed President Clinton for a supposed cover-up. During the horrors of 9/11 some on the left claimed that President George W. Bush was behind the attack.

These conspiracy theories are fear and hate manifest. They make it harder to work together to fix the problems that led to these horrors, harder to trust your neighbor, and lead us, as a country, down a dark path. But even as these conspiracies grip the worst parts of our psyche, Americans stand together and help each other.

I wish it were possible to reach back in time and touch this troubled man and teach him that our differences are what make us beautiful, that our differences make us American. I wish we could show him his Muslim brothers and sisters donating blood to save the lives of those he hurt. Like countless other Americans today, I am wishing the impossible.

So we need to focus on the possible and that means reaching out and reminding each other what America is all about. We are a country that was built on diversity. It is a calling found in the very roots of our founding, and now is the time to band together and remember all that makes America, America.