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Red Hats are the new White Hoods

Bigotry has always done more damage in the shadows, below the surface, and beneath a disguise.

It actually helps you when it shows itself, when it brazenly parades uncovered through your streets, when it announces itself in unapologetic social media rants—when it crowns itself in crimson and joyfully spews forth venom.

Our nation’s hatred used to hide behind white hoods, peering through tiny scissor-cut eye holes—and that made it difficult to identify and a challenge to confront. It stayed below the radar, cleverly concealing itself in decorum and civility and pretending.

You always knew it was in the neighborhood, but you weren’t sure of its actual address, you didn’t know just how close to home it actually was, you weren’t aware it was sitting across the table from you.

It’s easy to grieve the days we find ourselves in, to see such visible evidence of how much hatred human hearts are still capable of manufacturing toward people because of their pigmentation or orientation or religion or nation of origin. But this clarity is actually a gift: we know what we’re dealing with here.

Things are getting easier now that shame is becoming obsolete in America. There is no mistaking who we are and how deep this sickness runs in us; how close and how prevalent and how emboldened the bigots are. The bullies now have a messiah and their religious fervor is stratospheric.

This President didn’t create prejudice, he simply uncovered it, invited it out into the light, and gave it permission to celebrate itself. He’s encouraged it to plaster its enmity on campaign posters, to wear its contempt on its sleeve in partisan talk show monologues, to trumpet itself in verbal assaults on strangers, to pound its fist on vicious bully pulpits, to glory in its violence in midday Confederate flag/Swastika processions.

We have white supremacists in the President’s Cabinet and hosting FoxNews evening shows and running for office—not covered in sheets, but willingly showing their faces—all because they have the Commander in Chief’s seal of approval.

And yes, it’s all right sickening to those of us who can’t comprehend how such fear can take root in people—but it’s helpful to us, too. We have no more illusions about our shared coexistence or about the progress we thought we’d made or about the need to actively resist what has now been revealed.

It was a glorious sight this weekend in DC; watching the massive, disparate army of lovers and healers and believers, vastly outnumber the UniteTheRighters. It was a clear and visible statement that we are not going backwards, that this country refuses to relinquish our future, that love is the only path forward.

We need more of this, America.

We need it in our politics and in our churches and in our neighborhoods and on our social media platforms. We who believe in the inherent worth of all people need to stop apologizing for our convictions and to stop being shouted down by proud people who’d like to make the table smaller.

In days when bigotry takes pride in itself, we who believe America’s beauty is in its diversity, need to find our outside voices, steady our feet, and stand together with equal ferocity. We need to be loud about something worth being loud about. As sad as it is to see it all—the malice, the boldness, the blind hatred—seeing it all makes it easier to oppose it all.

The supremacists and the nationalists and the Nazis and the bigots have decided they aren’t ashamed anymore. This is the best news for the rest of us.

John Pavlovitz

James McNellis

The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com

John Pavlovitz launched an online ministry to help connect people who want community, encouragement, and to grow spiritually. Individuals who want to support his work can sponsor his mission on Patreon, and help the very real pastoral missionary expand its impact in the world.

About The Author

John Pavlovitz

John Pavlovitz is a 20-year ministry veteran trying to figure out how to love people well and to live-out the red letters of Jesus, both online in this global community.

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