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Assassination Attempt Shows Need for Political Tolerance

by Todd A. Smith

Where is the Love?

By Todd A. Smith

            In the hit song “Where is the Love,” the Black Eyed Peas sing: “Whatever happened to the values of humanity, whatever happened to the fairness and equality, Instead of spreading love, we’re spreading animosity, Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity.”

            The recent assassination attempt of U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona is a clear indication of the consequences of angry rhetoric that sometimes spills over from the void of political tolerance.  Since the election of President Barack Obama, political polarization has reached a boiling point that unfortunately led to deaths of six innocent victims, and also led to 14 others being wounded.

            With the popularity of the Tea Party growing almost daily, the conservative right has taken much of the blame for the assassination of attempt of Giffords, but liberals are not totally innocent of adding fuel to the fire of political polarization either.

            While Congress was considering passing President Obama's healthcare plan in 2010, many on the extreme right were threatening politicians who supported the bill.  Political offices were vandalized and some Black politicians, who supported the bill, were constantly insulted by racial epithets on their way to the halls of Congress.  Many Democrats and supporters of President Obama were even called socialists and tyrants for wanting all Americans to enjoy quality healthcare.

            In 2008, many Californians who supported Proposition 8, which outlawed same sex marriage, found their homes vandalized and had to deal with protestors on their jobs, by those on the far left who called them homophobic for simply staying true to their religious beliefs.

            As a journalism professor at Texas Southern University, I am constantly in contact with students who have different political and religious beliefs than me.  Like many in the real world, some of my students hate talking about religion and politics because they know they are polarizing issues that could lead to animosity amongst their peers. 

            However, as budding journalists, my students cannot ignore the events of the day, but like all Americans, they must learn to accept the different schools of thought without necessarily agreeing with everyone’s thoughts and beliefs.

            The lack of religious and/or political tolerance that we see broadcasted on mainstream media on a daily basis leads to the polarization, not necessarily politics or religion as a whole.

            We must learn to respect that fact that everyone on Earth is not going to agree with each other and that does not make that person a tyrant, socialist, terrorist, bigot, homophobe or any other derogatory term that we come up with for someone who does not think exactly the way we do.

            President Obama once said that no political party has a monopoly on good ideas, so it is imperative that we learn to appreciate our differences and practice political tolerance if we are to continue to move forward as a nation.

            The angry rhetoric on both sides of the political spectrum must cease and we must exude some sort of political tolerance, or the assassination attempt on Jan. 9, quite possibly might become the norm in the new millennium rather than the exception.

            The Black Eyed Peas concluded their hit song by singing: “People killing people dying, Children hurtin’ you hear them crying, Can you practice what you preach, Would you turn the other cheek?  Father, Father, Father help us, Send some guidance from above, cause people got me questioning Where is the Love?”

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men's Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

This article was published on Friday 14 January, 2011.
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