I like to think that Sen. Michael Willette must have some conscience, however weak, nudging him to understand thathis racist remarksare damaging to our social fabric. But something much stronger than conscience must motivate his remarks.
I believe that something is the cultural support of many voices in power encouraging him in his prejudices. There is widespread support among conservative leaders for such racist hatred of President Barack Obama and for other forms of prejudice against immigrants, women, LGBTs, non-Christian religions, a variety of ethnicities, workers, the poor. Though prejudice of national leaders is often more subtle thanWillette’s Facebook posts, it is more damaging when disguised because it results in legislation occurring now that legitimizes prejudice such as restrictions on environmental protections, on consumers’ rights to know, on voting rights, on workers’ rights to organize, on women’s reproductive freedom, on health-care rights, and on numerous other rights.
Such prejudice is a profound threat to our democracy. It drowns out voices of conscience for equality that our Constitution promises and for love and compassion that Christ and Pope Francis call for. The only solution is a politically enlightened and engaged public who will demand better from our politicians. For this reason, I support the social reprimand of Willette and the call for his resignation. I urge his other constituents to do likewise.
Presque Isle Published also in The Star Herald, March18, 2015