I severed two 30+-year-old friendships this past year, both were coworkers of mine from when I worked as a warehouseman. Both were staunch Goldwater/Reagan conservatives, and both were very kind people. Neither was a particularly rabid extremist when I quit that job in 1994. One, the man, began emailing me outrageous racist emails about a year go, and after some drama, that ended things for us. The other, a woman, sent me a right-wing “explanation” for that Missouri rodeo clown incident around 2-3 weeks ago, mocking any notion that it was a racist jab at the president… and it didn’t end well for our friendship. We’ve blocked each other at long-last.
Both of these two people are white, in their sixties, both are union members, both are relatively intelligent blue-collar workers, and neither ever showed the slightest inkling of racist tendencies when I worked with them. In fact, neither seemed all that radical under Bill Clinton, or the prospect of a Hillary presidency … so what happened here?
The man listened to Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. He got so into it, he was parroting Limbaugh’s talking points verbatim in our conversations. The woman was a huge Glenn Beck fan, and is an active Tea Party member to this day. If she couldn’t catch his TV program (when he was on Fox) and radio show live, she’d record them for later. And she never, EVER bothered to listen to anybody else. Slowly but surely, both of these two decent, hard-working dues-paying union members morphed into racists, yet neither recognized their arguments as racist. And it all began after the election of Barack Obama – which coincided with the emergence of the vitriol that came forth soon thereafter in the form of the Tea Party.
The whole point being, racists aren’t necessarily nurtured beginning from childhood. They can be hewn from otherwise normal, kind people, at any station in life. All that’s required, is a willing subject, a daily dose of propaganda, an absence of intellectual curiosity, and a symbol of “the Other” to focus all that hate upon. I won’t miss either of these two people, but watching what happened to the two of them does concern me. As long as hate-mongers and propagandists continue to spew blatant racism, then we should expect more of this. It’s no wonder we’ve entered an era of unenlightenment.