Hate Begets Hate

So, I had a pretty heartbreaking conversation with a stranger today and thought I would share it with whomever reads this blog.  Maybe it will do some good.  Or raise some hell.  I don’t know, but I do know that I have to get it out.  I was at Old Navy, perusing the uber-clearance racks for a flowy pirate shirt for Offspring #1 to wear for Halloween.  He is going as Labyrinth-era Bowie, but I digress.  There was a woman next to me and I asked her opinion as to whether a particular shirt was sufficiently piratey.  We got to talking and immediately recognized that we were both midwestern transplants, which inevitably lead to a conversation about culture shock. As most liberals down here know, it is both rare and wonderful to encounter a previously unknown and like-minded person.  And you have that moment where you think to yourself – ‘Just how liberal is this person? Will they freak out if I mention how much I hate the homophobia? Can I safely make fun of the idiots who are afraid of Obama?’ You know what I mean. So when you make such a comment, and they respond with a big ‘No SHIT!’ you breathe a sigh of relief.  There aren’t that many of us, so anytime I meet another person of liberal persuasion, it does my heart good.

But then she told me that they were leaving. They have a young child and just couldn’t bear the thought of their child growing up in this sort of cultural environment.  See, as it turns out, they saw a lot of ugliness during the 2008 campaigns.  I think most of us did.  But the straw that broke their hearts was when they were at a local flea market  [EDIT:  a reader has clarified that that is not the farmers market in Jonesborough, rather it is the flea market on the way to Greeneville on 11-E] and there was a vendor there selling Klan material.  And as it turns out, this woman and her family are of a group that is frequently targeted by the Klan (I don’t mean to be obtuse, I just don’t want to give out any personal information on this woman or her family).  And, to make it worse, the Klan asshole had a young child with him.  And as the woman said, how can I allow my child to go to school here, knowing that kids like this one are pretty damn likely to my child’s classmate?  

Just writing about this makes me cry again.  I am all about 1st Amendment rights, but this is about something more than that. How in the hell can we ever move forward as a people when there is still so much hate and anger and violence?  When wonderful people are effectively driven out of communities because they are not the same? Where supposed “godly” people threaten to “get rid” of people that dare to stand up for their Constitutional rights? Where gaybashing is considered an appropriate recreational activity?  How do we fight this?

 

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14 Comments

  1. southern female lawyer said,

    October 2, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    I should point out that I have never been to the Jonesboro Farmers’ Market. If anyone has, and has seen this vendor, please comment and let me know.

  2. Ash-Lee W. Henderson said,

    October 2, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    I’ve never actually been to the Jonesboro Farmers’ Market, but there used to be someone(s) at the Jonesboro Flea Market who sold confederate flags and klan memorabilia. I’m pretty sure Jared’s been and seen it. I just remember being able to see their stuff from 11E…

  3. Chenoa said,

    October 2, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Sigh… I was conversing with my partner this week and mentioned that I worry I won’t be able to let my children, when I have them, even visit my family because of the homophobia (e.g. my brother’s facebook status, the song lyric “aint goin down on brokeback mountain…that sh*t aint right”). I realized MOVING back to East Tennessee might be a bad idea when I came out, but I’m not even sure I’d let my kiddos near half of my family; I’m quite sure that they’d come back thinking there was something deathly wrong with having 2 moms. (Well, that’s a hurdle to cross in a few years, considering this “fucking queer” isn’t welcome in her mother’s home at the moment – yay, homophobes.)

  4. southern female lawyer said,

    October 2, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Chenoa, fuck them. Eventually they will come around or at least learn to be civil. We would love to be your surrogate family. You and your partner are totally welcome to stay with us anytime. We even have heat now! And as for kids, I can’t believe that any kid of yours would be anything short of awesome – if any jackhole ever said anything to them, I would fully expect a smart and smartass reply. And probably some pity for the ignorant cretins of the world.

  5. rob gunnin said,

    October 2, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    that is not the farmers market in Jonesborough, rather it is the flea market on the way to Greeneville on 11-E, I have seen this klan person and firmly believe that he is an ignorant and scared fool that just needs to be educated and loved and shown more compassion the he would give to anyone else.

  6. southern female lawyer said,

    October 2, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    And I should add that it isn’t so easy to just say ‘fuck off’ to one’s family when they cannot accept who you are. I just get so irate and distressed when I hear stories like Chenoa’s. All the pressure is put on the child to somehow get their parents’ reaffirmation of their relationship. Our children are who they are, the only people we can change are ourselves.

  7. southern female lawyer said,

    October 2, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Thanks for the clarification Rob. I wanted to make sure I had the story straight and will update the post to reflect this.

  8. Amy T said,

    October 2, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    I’ve lived in uber conservative places so long that I truly forget there are places that aren’t like this. I remember during the 2000 presidential election, I had a colleague visit our office in Brentwood, TN, from northern CA and she couldn’t believe all of the Bush signs and anti-Gore signs (in TN, no less). In fact, she said, “I had heard places like this existed, but I didn’t believe it.” I thought to myself, I had heard places like YOURS existed, but I didn’t believe it. What a bizarre feeling that would be to live around politically like-minded people – like a whole area of stress would be just gone!

  9. Salvador Dalai Llama said,

    October 3, 2009 at 12:57 am

    @Rob: I’ll take your word for it that love, education, and compassion will help this guy, as you’ve seen him and I’ve not. I’ve become less sanguine of late about the power of love to effect change in such people. The problem is compounded, though, by the fact that, as the post title reminds us “hate begets hate.” And also by the fact that we do have to respect first amendment rights. I still haven’t sorted all that out for myself yet.

  10. October 3, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Yeah, I’m betting it’s the Flea Market, too. I haven’t been to that FM in years, but now that I know you can buy Pygmy Goats AND Klan paraphernalia, I am SOOOO there.

  11. October 3, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks for this post. Very interesting conundrum. As a transplant myself I can relate.

    Having children changes everything. I would never in a million years presume to know better than this mother as to the safest/best place to raise her child. I don’t walk in her shoes and I’m sure she is doing the right thing.

    But it certainly breaks my heart. It makes me think that if this woman and her child move away, an opportunity to change the world is lost.

    Anyway, you’ve given me much to think about.

  12. Snad said,

    October 4, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Chenoa,

    For what it’s worth, it took 10 years for my brother-in-law to go from “If I see that freak I will put it down and it won’t get back up” to “You wanna get together for a beer?” with his transgender stepchild. It took about half the time I expected it to.

    If you want to keep the door open for your obstinate family, and BE THERE FOR THEM, great. They will gain much. And in the meantime, create a new family. You both will gain much.

    And finally, remember: Jesus had two fathers!

    Much good luck!

  13. fearlessvampirekiller said,

    October 5, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Yeah, let’s not confuse the Jonesborough Farmer’s Market with the nearby flea market. The farmer’s market deals in only locally made, organic hate propaganda. On the other hand, the Klan materials found at the flea market have not been certified for sustainability.

    There are plenty of progressive types to be found in the region – unfortunately, the relative lack of cultural diversity allows ignorance to fester. A significant issue is whether this woman’s children can find a comfortable environment in the schools. Frankly, I could see how it could be quite difficult to be “different” in terms of ethnicity or sexual orientation in some of our schools.

  14. Karen Vargas said,

    October 9, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Children are our own personal mirrors. Simply put, one never needs to observe the homefront in order to tell the politics that may be manifesting behind closed doors. My child is patient and tolerant and has respect for all walks of life. Obviously, I have raised her like that as those are my own personal beliefs. In regards to Mr. Klan apparel King, he should be brought up on criminal charges. To peddle his ignorant goods at the local fleamarket is one thing. To take his ignorant crap and shove it down the throat of an innocent child is another. A child who is exposed to such crap at an early age has no shot of seeking his own value system. Instead, he has been raised by a bunch of yard-bird hooligans who waste their time selling hate products when they could be investing in QUALITY time with their children. The kid will grow up, obviously, with the same values as the ignorant parent and hence, it will only be a matter of time before a hate crime is comitted. This kind of nonsesnse absolutely nauseates me. It is sad that your new friend feels she needs to leave the area in order to escape this.


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