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Discrimination against anyone is harmful for our future

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:03 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 23, 2009

*Emmett Till was murdered in 1955. An earlier version of this column incorrectly stated the year Till died.

I remember well when domestic terrorism first affected my life. It was when I first heard about the murder of Emmett Till. Till was a 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago who was murdered in Money, Miss., in 1955* after being accused of flirting with a white woman. His eye was gouged out, and he was shot in the head and thrown into the Tallahatchie River with a cotton gin fan tied to his body. The two white men accused of the crime were acquitted. According to my family, their entire Kansas City neighborhood was under a cloud of gloom for months because of the murder.

Later on, I heard other horror stories about how blankets that had been used to cover victims of typhoid fever were given to Native Americans and about experiments carried on at Tuskegee Institute conducted by health officials in which participants were injected with syphilis but never informed or treated. Domestic terrorism carried on by Americans against other Americans is an old story. The fact that it continues in the U. S. is no surprise to some of us.

The political leaders and media personalities who stir the pot of hatred that encourages people to perform hostile acts know exactly what they are doing. They understand that when these acts are committed, they can deny any involvement and they will suffer no harm. This way, they get what they want and don't have to pay for it.

This is just another example of freedom gone awry into territory I'm sure the Founding Fathers never intended for it to go. It is these kinds of abuses that will forever blur whatever good the country accomplishes. It is too bad that some people truly think America is the property of one group of people and everyone else should be subservient to them.

Many people are living under the kind of economic conditions they have never had to face. It's all they can do to try to keep the wolf away from the door. We all know people who have lost their jobs and their homes or are in danger of losing them. Even some of those who have kept their jobs are suffering loss of income from having to take weeklong furloughs or periodic layoffs. Inciting the fears and anxieties of people under tension is not good for the country. Behaving in such a way to gain political advantage is about as low as one can stoop.

But for some people, a political career is everthing, and they can't imagine survival by any other means. So encouraging people with mental defects to commit criminal acts is, for them, a way of survival. They couldn't care less about the destruction of families that occurs when one member acts unlawfully.

A lot of people think we are in a new day in America, one in which people have finally put racial and gender prejudice to rest and are willing to debate their political and social grievances in a peaceful manner. And certainly many people, through education and life experience, have reached that point. But there are many others who have aligned themselves with hate groups and go around the country sewing seeds of unrest. They spread rumors that have absolutely no basis in fact. They contend that the government is trying to take away their guns and cannot even imagine that the rumors are started by people who sell guns. Unfortunately, pleading for them to use common sense does no good. Their hatred has blinded them to the facts.

My greatest fear for a long time, because of our indifference to education, was that we would become a Third World country. Now, I fear illiteracy will cause the country to fall into the hands of a dictator. It probably won't happen in our lifetime, but in the lifetime of the next two generations.

I am absolutely astounded by parents who don't seem to think that education is important to the future of their children. And I am amazed that school administrators are reluctant to take strong measures to ensure that children at least graduate from high school. Obviously, these people are not concerned about the well-being of the country. They only have to look at nations that have high populations of uneducated people to see how that works.

Well, one thing's for sure: the people who harbor grudges have access to the weapons they need to act on them. The possibilities are scary, but there is no hope that our political leaders will take action. Money talks, and votes count.

The future of the country may be at stake, but there are plenty of people who feel that if they rid the country of certain kinds of individuals, everything will be OK. All we can do is hope they never have the opportunity to hurt anyone.

 

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at nolen@iland.net.


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