I’m interrupting my blog series with something from a book I’ve just read: Howard Thurman’s, Jesus and the Disinherited. At the start of his chapter, “Hate,” Thurman suddenly takes me from World War II right into the present day in our nation. The book was published in 1949, so “the last war” was for Thurman then WWII.
To even the casual observer during the last war it was obvious that the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese gave many persons in our country an apparent justification for indulging all of their anticolored feelings. In a Chicago cab, enroute to the University from Englewood, this fact was dramatized for me. The cab had stopped for a red light. Apropos of no conversation the driver turned to me, saying, “Who do they think they are? Those little yellow dogs think they can do that to white men and get away with it!” (64)
During the early days of the war I noticed a definite rise in rudeness and overt expressions of color prejudice, especially in trains and other public conveyances. It was very simple; hatred could be brought out into the open, given a formal dignity and a place of respectability. (74)
Are we not in that moment again: that moment when hatred can be brought out into the open and given a supposedly formal dignity and place of respectability? For many people, Donald Trump has validated hatred, giving it free expression and the appearance of a respectability it can never truly have. How can such license to express hatred and inflict it upon strangers be rationalized by the people so doing? Thurman explains.
If a man’s attitude is life-negating in his relationships with those to whom he recognizes no moral responsibility, his conduct is without condemnation in his own mind.
God, help us.