Yes, please, denounce hatred

Published 10:47 am Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Anyone who thought the divisiveness of the 2016 presidential elections would come to an end with the announcement of the winner will have been sorely disappointed as Election Night flowed into Wednesday, Thursday and Friday without the slightest pause in vitriol.

Social media continues to be a cesspool of hatred and intolerance from both sides of the political divide. There have been riots in the streets of major — and minor — American cities. And good people who voted for one or the other flawed candidates from both major political parties have been vilified — their character trashed, their motives disparaged and their patriotism challenged — all because they chose to vote for one candidate over the other.

Considering the bitterness evident throughout the long campaign season, perhaps it is unsurprising that so much anger lingers after the election. Folks who allowed themselves to be lathered into a pre-election frenzy of ill-regard for those who hold different political views can, perhaps, not easily put aside the negativity just because the votes have all been counted.

But if this nation is ever to heal, we must do so.

How does it advance the cause of brotherhood to be gleeful at the (doubtful) prospect of a former secretary of state going to prison? Imagining such a thing should be heartbreaking to those who call themselves patriots. How does it advance the level of discourse to engage in ad hominem attacks on those who voted for the man who is set to be the nation’s next president?

Out of nearly 121 million votes cast for president between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the difference in the popular vote came down to less than one half of 1 percent. In other words, half the country supported one candidate, and half the country supported the other one.

Are we really to believe — as the popular narrative from one side plainly states — that one in two Americans is a knuckle-dragging, inbred imbecile? Can the great red swath of America’s electoral map really hide that kind of dark secret? Are the great cities of America, which gave Clinton 228 electoral votes, really populated by lawless people who hate this nation?

Some of the smartest people I know voted for Donald Trump — and I know a lot of intelligent people. On the other hand, some of the greatest patriots I know voted for Hillary Clinton — and I have been blessed to know some great lovers of this nation.

If you really believe all Trump voters are Neanderthals, or if you really believe all Clinton voters are secretly out to destroy this nation, perhaps you should get out more and meet some more of your neighbors.

The rich tapestry of this nation is woven with threads of many different colors, textures and sizes. Each of those threads contributes something special to the whole, which would be something far less impressive and beautiful for lack of any of its constituent parts.

The New York Times on Thursday suggested that President-Elect Trump should “denounce the hate” that it said characterized his campaign. Whether that’s a fair assessment of his campaign or not, I’ll leave to the historians. But denouncing hatred is something I can get behind.

I wish we all — Republican, Democrat or none of the above — would take that advice. The first step is to stop vilifying one another with dehumanizing caricatures that only serve to build walls between one another.

If I demonize you on the basis of whether you voted blue or red, then I am the one demonstrating a problem with hatred and intolerance.

RES SPEARS is a former writer and editor for The Tidewater News and is managing editor of The Suffolk News-Herald. He can be reached at