My right-wing brother-in-law is a confused and angry man. His father would roll over if he knew how far right he had drifted in his political thinking. His sister wonders when the 'love' left his soul. "Our father was a kind, loving, and tolerant man," she said to me yesterday after talking with her brother on the phone. "Apparently he didn't get his DNA," she sadly stated as she stared out of the window.
She had called him to invite him out to dinner as we were pulling away from the Obama Headquarters in Toledo; she mentioned that to him. It was as if she lit a fuse. He began a sarcastic tirade, dripping with hate, no doubt learned through hours of listening to Rush Limbaugh. We had just spent two hours tramping through the snow and ice to knock on doors, offering literature for Obama. There were no sidewalks in the area we were assigned, so getting to the door without slipping was a challenge. My wife did not need right-wing sarcasm after that.
Interestingly, I had read a piece by Jim Shea of the Hartford Courant yesterday morning titled, "Who Will the Haters Love?" Shea notes that 'hate radio' seemingly backed the wrong guy for president and they are angry. He says, "Of course, the maestros of hate radio — the Michael Savages, the Glenn Becks, the Big Kahuna of Hate his own self, Rush Limbaugh — have only themselves to blame for their predicament." He goes on, "So, for the mullahs of the microphones to start supporting McCain, they would have to ease up on their hatred of illegal immigrants, and that's just not going to happen. Life's too short."
Indeed, life's to short, especially if one embraces hate. Where does it come from? I read an article on a science website recently that postulated that prehistoric groups of people were keen observers of 'others.' They knew their own; they taught their children to identify the foreigner and to be weary. Apparently, fear of 'the other' is a survival trait deep in our DNA. Being tolerant of 'the other' must be taught, modeled by the parent.
Which brings up my wife's comment about her father as a model. She caught on, her brother didn't. I'm reminded of that cheap cliche' that was bandied around just after 9-11, the one that goes, "Why do they hate us so?" Naturally, that was a green light to those who already missed the tolerance lesson in their own childhood. Those folks had all of the answers, culminating in that newly-manufactured word, 'islamofascists.' There's the answer. That's what 'they' hate us.