Since Donald Trump’s defeat, there has been lots of talk about healing. But it is nothing more than talk. For many, healing is not on the immediate horizon.
That doesn’t mean that we might not one day be able to put the past behind us. But we won’t suddenly wake up one morning soon feeling as though the last four years never happened.
Our nation is too badly bruised, and its wounds are still gushing.
Some of the animosity has been personal and unnecessarily cruel. Some incidents have been more serious than others, but all of it is hurtful. Forgiving requires an overwhelming amount of grace that some of us have not yet been able to muster.
No olive branch
If you are one of those people who called me the N-word, the B-word or the C-word in an email or letter, I will never forgive you. In time, I will forget the horrible things you said. But I’m never going to reach out to you with an olive branch.
I will not take the first step. Responsibility for your hatefulness does not rest with me. Haters must own their hatred if they are to overcome it. And so far, I haven’t seen very many signs that haters are ready to stop hating.
It is not incumbent on the target of hatred to reconcile with the hater. Nor am I the one who needs healing the most. It’s the haters who are rotting with vitriol.
I would be naive to think that some people aren’t going to react negatively to my columns. I believe in speaking the truth bluntly and, admittedly, sometimes abrasively. I realize that my truth is not everyone’s truth. I expect people to charge back, sometimes angrily.
Respectful and civil debates among people who disagree are healthy and often productive. Occasionally, someone convinces me that I am wrong. But once the discussion drifts into that dark place where name-calling and baseless accusations take over, it is useless. That’s when the “block” option comes in handy.
Hate crime record
We could consider ourselves lucky if the only problems we’ve had recently were a few harsh words thrown at each other. Unfortunately, irreparable damage has been done to some. People have lost their lives. Their houses of worship, their homes and their businesses have been destroyed because of hatred.
When it comes to hatred, we have broken records. Hate crimes in the United States last year rose to the highest level in more than a decade, according to the FBI. At the same time, more people were murdered as a result of hatred.
There were 7,314 hate crimes reported in 2019, the highest number since 2008 — the year Barack Obama was elected president — when 7,783 were charted. Last year marked the third consecutive year that hate crimes due to race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation surpassed 7,100.
The actual numbers probably are higher, federal officials said, given that local agencies aren’t required to report hate crime data to the FBI.
Post Trump blame
It is easy to blame Trump for the blatant hatred we’ve seen the past five years. But he did not create it. It was always there.
While Trump did much to fuel the flames, he didn’t light the fire. We owe much of that to Sarah Palin, whose failed vice presidential bid 12 years ago attracted throngs of racists and bigots whose voices had been silenced since the 1960s.
Presidential candidate John McCain, who selected Palin as his running mate, refused to embrace these societal outcasts. But Trump saw an opening and exploited it.
I can’t count the number of emails I have received from people blaming Obama for turning America into a racist nation. When I ask them to explain, they can’t — or won’t.
The election of an African American president did not prove that racism was gone from America, as some naively contended at the time.
To the contrary, it eventually proved that America was more racist than many people realized.
Dahleen Glanton is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.