Update: I wrote this in June 2016. Now, in November, President-Elect Trump has named one of their leaders, Steve Bannon, as his chief strategist and said Bannon will work as a partner to his chief of staff. Trump supporters and voters who said you'd speak up for my family if my concerns proved right, did you mean it? Now's your chance. Let him know that Bannon isn't an acceptable choice for your non-white friends.
A week and a half ago, Christianity Today featured my thoughts on inclusive ministry for families affected by disability and childhood trauma. I was both thankful and humbled to lend my voice in that outlet.
I'm proud of this piece. I'm grateful to Dan Darling and the folks at Christianity Today for running it. I'm honored to have had so many opportunities to speak up for vulnerable kids and families and encourage the church to love us well.
And then, I discovered the Alt-Right.
Please be warned, the tweets below are both graphic and horrific.
But I think we need to see them for what they are, so I'm sharing them along with my thoughts on the issue.
(I know this post might make our family a target again, but I figure I'm probably doing something right if I'm drawing the ire of white supremacists. Thankfully, some of these users have been banned from Twitter for hate, which is why they show up as quotes rather than embedded texts now, but I've provided screen shots as well.)
I know they're sickening (and I censored out a few by not including them here). Also, happy birthday to me, as they were posted the night I turned 34. (Ugh.) But who are these people and the 100+ folks who liked or retweeted their remarks? To answer that, here's a snippet from the always accurate Wikipedia:
I didn't know what they meant by cucked when I first saw the tweets. Someone dear to me texted, "I don't know what that word means and I'm not going to look it up." I tried not to. I tried to just ignore it all. (Obviously, I didn't succeed in those efforts.)
I'm writing this because I believe these tweets are symptoms of a larger issue. I think we have to speak up against hate. I won't sugarcoat it. The Alt-Right is defined by hate. Not patriotism. Not principle. Not nationalism.
This is a hate group, no question. And they've been mobilized by Trump, by their own assertions.
As silence doesn't suit me, the day after the Christianity Today piece and Twitter hate, I shared this on Facebook:
I don't consider this a political blog post. To me, this is a moral issue, as much as diversity in dolls or outrage about sexual assault are. Dinglefest isn't going to become a blog about politics, but I won't be quiet on this topic. I think it's important to shed light on what our political climate is creating.
I deliberated long and hard before sharing the troubling tweets above. I might go back and remove them at some point, because I don't want to amplify their voices. But? I think we need to be willing to see the ugliness, because I think it's our refusal to look upon hate speech like this that makes us say "I'm shocked!" about Orlando and Charleston while so many of our friends in the LGBT and black communities weren't in the same ways. After all, they've been watching the hate storms brew, while our white and/or heterosexual eyes have looked the other way, simply because our privilege allows that.
So what can we do?
Listen. Identify those who are marginalized and start listening. Your eyes might just be opened to the hate you've been glossing over without even knowing it.
Love. Create your own love storms, right where you are. (And, please, drop the conditions. Not "I love you, but..." or "I love you if..." or "I love you, even though..." Just communicate "I love you." Period. Full stop. No stipulations.)
Do. Take action - with your voice and your votes and your time and your money - to act against hate and show value to all people.
Finally, I feel compelled to say I do value both Trump and the AltRight. While I don't like their speech, they have a right to express it. As angry and hurt as I was reading their tweets, I know each Twitter handle represents an actual person created by God to do greater things than spread hate online. So please don't interpret this post as a hateful response to hate. No. This is a call for us to look and see the hate storm, but love the people. When everything went down a week and a half ago, a friend asked what she could do. I still stand by my response: "Just be kind. While these are faceless trolls, they are also real people behind a screen. And I can only think that they need a whole lot more kindness in their lives if they're saying what they're saying, even anonymously. So be kind."
I think kindness can be dangerous to this brand of hate. So let's listen, love, and do, all while showing grace to everyone, even those who don't seem to deserve it.