I am convinced that under this administration, people have felt more emboldened to allow their bigoted and otherwise backward views on life bubble to the surface without shame or fear of consequences. When the leader of the free world refers to a sitting member of Congress as what most people deem to be a racial slur, it is no surprise to hear his supporters refer to another accomplished woman of color as an ape.
Sadly, it has taken an outrageous act of stupidity and racism to rid the networks of Roseanne Barr despite years of history of showing bizarre behavior. From her regurgitation of conspiracy theories seen on the front page of InfoWars to her photo shoot of a Nazi character taking burned Jewish gingerbread men out of an oven, she should have been gone years ago.
When racist and ignorant people are emboldened by the lack of push back, we arrive at a dystopian prequel to our future. Subtle racism becomes not so subtle and white supremacists feel comfortable espousing their hate in public and parade with torches in hand.
What can decent people do?
For me, it is a simple answer but one I have struggled with in the past.
My dentist is a mid 60s white male and everything about him screams Trump voter. He is full of conservative opinions that he shares freely with me as if he believes they are also the values that I hold. I assure you I do not. His off color comments on everything from religion, public schools, immigration, and socio-economic fallacies flow freely. In the past I have felt uncomfortable confronting the man with sharp objects jabbing around my mouth. But now I know that the only way to stop the bullshit behavior is to start calling it out. I may start subtly by asking questions such as “why do you feel that way” and anticipate ending with “I don’t share your views on that”… Ultimately I will probably leave the practice.
In any event, people with openly hostile viewpoints that imply superiority need to feel some discomfort in sharing their opinions in public. They need a reality check in the face of unashamed stupidity. I have little hope of reforming my dentist, but doing anything I can to make sure he knows his intolerance is noticed make me hope he goes back in the bigot closet where he belongs.