While reporting Hate In America I met an inspiring group of people. People who have dedicated their lives to calling out hate and the purveyors of hate by name. People like Morris Dees, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center and an American hero, who has devoted his life to the words of the Founding Fathers that “all men are created equal.”
In the course of reporting Hate In America, I also met people who have had their lives run off the rails by others’ self-righteous delusion of who Americans really are.
I now better understand just how dark, corrosive, and soul-destroying hate can be. It’s worse than you might think. People who hate in the context of race, religion, or sexual orientation believe that the country they love is being taken from them and transformed in ways they find unacceptable. They blame the failings in their lives on “those others” who aren’t white, heterosexual and God fearing.
And unfortunately, once those feelings take root, there is an indoctrination machine of intolerance in America, and sadly, around that world that is ready with a warm embrace.
But it is up to those of us who truly believe in the value of pluralism and diversity to show hate groups and lone wolves that they are the outliers.
My thanks to James Bradfield for introducing me to the man he loved, James Craig Anderson. Anderson was killed by a group of young people in Jackson, Mississippi because of the color of his skin. They took Anderson’s life and in the process, because of lengthy jail sentences, took their own.
Thank you, Nick Porto, for allowing us to tell the under reported story of attacks in this country against members of the LGBT community. You walked your personal Edmund Pettus Bridge and stood tall even as you and your partner were beaten bloodied.
And lastly, for a model of what facing down intolerance looks like, look no further than Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The way the Sikh community has responded to a mass shooting in 2012 at its sacred temple is the bright light in an otherwise troubling hour of television.
I hope you get to watch Hate In America, and I hope it starts or continues a conversation about intolerance in this country. Our nation is so much brighter than its darker impulses. Let the unbundling of Hate In America begin. Hate In America premieres tonight at 8/7c only on Investigation Discovery.