How true, Mike.

As a resident of the South, we can be charmingly polite to a fault. Well, at least my social group in the South. The “rednecks” have become increasingly brash in their defense of Trump even to the point of spewing out their hatred of all those different from them in public arenas.

But for the rest of us “Never say anything unkind” is still the mantra. The question is what constitutes unkind?

Is it unkind to be truthful? Is it rude to defend the ideals of democracy?

My personal experience has been:

If I speak out, politely, to a loudmouth who is spewing hateful, racist comments, that person gets louder, drowning out what I am saying. Then, their intense anger and vulgarity begins, followed by personal attacks on me, often threatening in nature. If others like that person are near by, they join in the verbal attack on me. No matter how loud I become, they become louder and the threats increase.

If I am in disagreement with a soft-spoken Christian type, she (these are almost always shes), shuts down the conversation completely with a reply like: I will not have this conversation with you. Jesus influences how I vote and what you say is irrelevant. If I continue to attempt to make my point, she will smile sweetly and walk away usually saying Have a blessed day!

Every. Single. Time.

Before Trump, these sorts of people mostly expressed their racist and hateful views in groups comprised of people with similar views as theirs —in their living rooms, churches, VFW and American Legion halls, gun and hunting clubs, and sporting events. Now they are emboldened to spew hate at offices and schools and grocery stores, in parking lots and parks and playgrounds, at gatherings of any sort in any place. Their outrageous behavior is sanctioned by our president and often ignored by officials and the police. Even the threats are overlooked.

In my town, which is much more liberal than others in the South, it’s become more and more dangerous to speak the truth. Physically dangerous, yes, but you are also at risk of losing your job or of harassment. Many accept those risks but rarely is one’s voice heard above the rabble.

I’ve lived more than 60 years. Lived through integration, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War protests. But, I’ve never encountered so much blatant, outspoken racism and hatred. Never seen so many people unwilling to have a discussion without resorting to threats. It is truly an epidemic.

And, I am only addressing in-person encounters. Online behavior and speech is a hundred times worse.

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